Archive for October, 2008

SEXUAL CLEANSING OF IRAQ – FILM SCREENING ON MONDAY

Please can you tell everyone that we are screening the new film about LFBT people in Iraq on Monday coming – November 3rd, 6.30pm, Euston.

Queer Fear 2 features Ali Hilli & Haytham from LGBT Iraq (UK) and Peter Tatchell from Outrage!
It has been cut as a fundraiser for LGBT Iraq (UK).

The film recaps the story, emphasises Iraqi government inactivity, and calls for financial support for the provision of safe houses by LGBT Iraq. Entry is free but we are holding a voluntary collection and will donate half the proceeds to LGBT Iraq (UK).

Queer Fear 2 is on in the first half of a programme of shorts, plus the feature length documentary Iraq for Sale – the War Profiteers.

So please, please, please pass this on, post it to web lists, and advertise the trailer for the event.
Thanks for your help.

IRAQI LGBT

The World Premiere of David Grey’s new documentary short about gays and lesbians being murdered by militias linked to the Iraqi government.
This is the updated sequel to 2007’s Queer Fear: Gay Life, Gay Death in Iraq which first told this shocking story.

WHEN?
6.30pm to 9.00 pm, Monday 3rd November

WHERE?
Birkbeck Cinema, 41 Gordon Square, London WCIH 0PD
5 minutes walk from Euston, Euston Square or Russell Square tube stations

See also: Sexual Cleansing in Iraq: Bashar, Coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad Assassinated – Islamist Death Squads Are Hunting Down Gay Iraqis and Summarily Executing Them

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Welcome to the Mt. Everest Blue Diamond Project:
80% of funds raised will support the Blue Diamond Society’s need for a basic health care clinic.

Click link for more details…
First, there are a few things I want you to know… and I want to tell you what they all have to do with one another.

* On December 10, 2008 the world will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the articles of this declaration with the premise that all human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.

* In November of 2006 twenty-nine distinguished experts from twenty-five countries with expertise in human rights law met at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. These experts unanimously adopted the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

* In existence since 1988 and incorporated in 1996 Project 10East is New England’s stronghold for the work of creating and sustaining safe space in schools and communities where young people can experience mutual respect with a focus on personal excellence, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation or the perception thereof.

* In 2001, in Kathmandu, Nepal the Blue Diamond Society was established with the vision to create societies which respect and value all sexual and gender minorities and where each sexual and gender minorities can live with equal rights and dignity and have hopes and opportunities for the future.

In recognition of the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to promote the Yogyakarta Principles, Project 10East is partnering with me on my trek in Nepal.

The trek will support the work of both Project 10East and the Blue Diamond Society.

Sunil Pant

Task Force Pride (TFP) would like to invite you and/or your group to participate in the 2008 Manila Pride March, which will happen in Malate on 6 December 2008, Saturday, from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. On-site registration and assembly is from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM at the Remedios Circle or you can pre-register your participation online at www.manilapride2008.com.

Theme.
This year’s Pride March pays tribute to: our rights, our lives, our loves, our selves. Thus, we envision the 2008 Manila Pride March to be the most visually spectacular to date. We encourage you to put on your best fairytale and fantasy costume, design your float accordingly and help transform the streets of Malate into a bursting display of rainbow colors and pride. The March is open to all human rights – and equal rights – believing individuals regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Route.
The route of this year’s march is: Remedios Circle – Remedios Street – MH Del Pilar – Pedro Gil – Maria Orosa Street.

The march will be followed by the coronation of Miss Queen Philippines, the official Pride Queen of the 2008 Manila Pride March with a brief cultural program showcasing both LGBT and non-LGBT talents and culminate in a street party along Maria Orosa Street by the Orosa-Nakpil Courtyard.

Significance.
The Pride March is known for its overwhelming attendance. It attracts thousands of participants and generates extensive local and international media attention.

This year’s Pride March is particularly significant as it marks TFP’s 10th year, coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR60) and the launch in Manila of the Yogyakarta Principles (www.yogyakartaprinciples.org), an international declaration which affirms sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as fundamental human rights.

Bruce Amoroto

Anti-gay graffiti on a Jamaican wall.

Gays seek asylum outside Jamaica

Gays living in Jamaica face difficulty reconciling two parts of themselves—being gay and being Jamaican.

Homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica, and considered a sin by church-going Jamaicans. Pastors rail against homosexuality from the pulpit, reggae lyrics glamorize gay killings and sodomy laws make homosexuality punishable by a 10-year prison sentence of hard labor.

A Current.tv video captures the story of a gay Jamaican police officer and his search for asylum in Canada.

The “Jamaica Views blog” questions whether discrimination is getting worse and suggests that the situation can only improve when churches, schools and society as a whole reform their teachings.

Last May, Jamaica’s prime minister said he would not allow homosexuals into his cabinet. Jamaicans reacted to the prime minister’s public anti-gay declaration.

According to Immigration Equality, a New York-based national organization that works to seek asylum for persecuted gays, each month brings new stories and different versions of the same crimes — murder, attacks, beatings — against gays by Jamaican citizens and police. There has also been little effort by the government to outlaw the “buggery” or sodomy laws.

Jamaica’s intolerance for homosexuals and severe anti-gay record have proven to be grounds for gays to seek asylum in Britain, Canada and the U.S. Gays make up a small percentage of 12,000 asylum cases won in the U.S. every year.

October is LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] month in the U.S. To celebrate, “Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica: LGBT Blog” remembers Brian Williamson, a gay activist and J-FLAG founder, who was murdered in 2004.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Chrysaora under a Creative Commons license.

«Young Social Democrats – Maladaya Hramada» ready to cooperate with LGBT organizations in Belarus

«Young Social Democrats – Maladaya Hramada» in an interview for news agency «Belarusian news» said the possibility of including the elimination of homophobia and work towards a tolerant attitude people with «non-traditional» sexuality in the social commission, which has now created a «Young Democrats».

As described «Belarusian news» deputy chairman of the youth organization «Young Social Democrats – Maladaya Hramada» Alexandr Sigaev, until the establishment of a commission or organization structure for LGBT rights at the official level was not discussed. But «it is possible that the elimination of homophobia and bringing up tolerant attitude towards people with «non-traditional» sexuality will be dealt with Social Commission, which is currently being established in the Youth Democrats».

However, if talking about the party of Social Democrats of Belarus, Democrats has not yet shown a special solidarity with our European friends in this direction. There is no statement on the matter of former president BSDP Alexander Kozulin or present – Anatoly Levkovich.

Meanwhile, the Belarusian opposition, as well as the authorities are hesitant to acknowledge LGBT representatives «as a people» and take the right part of the overall system of human rights.

Gay and lesbians in Europe celebrate eighth anniversary of the special recommendations of PACE on the rights of gays and lesbians. One of the 11 items that recommendation sounds so: «disciplinary measures for those who discriminate against homosexuals». What is logical, because any violence (moral or physical) against any person should be punished.

Alexandr Paluyan

Gay.by on materials Naviny.by

Cardinal Newman – nature thwarts Vatican plot

Catholic minister approved Pope’s request

Government collusion with attempt to violate Newman’s wishes

London – 6 October 2008

“Nature has thwarted the Vatican’s heartless plot to violate Cardinal Newman’s request to be buried with the man he loved, Father Ambrose St John,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

He was commenting on the revelation that Newman’s body has decomposed to nothing, leaving an empty grave and frustrating plans by the Catholic Church to dismember his body and display his bones as holy relics.

“The Vatican wanted to rebury the Cardinal’s remains in a marble tomb, separate from St John, to dampen speculation that he might have been gay.

“Newman’s and St John’s bodies have decomposed together, uniting them forever in the same soil. They cannot now be separated, as the Catholic Church planned. Cardinal Newman’s wishes have triumphed over the Vatican’s homophobia,” said Mr Tatchell.

Only last week, Catholic MP and Justice minister, Bridget Prentice, wrote to Mr Tatchell reiterating and justifying the government’s decision to grant an exceptional exhumation and reburial licence to the Catholic Church:

“I was aware of Cardinal Newman’s own recorded views regarding his place of burial. I took these views into consideration when deciding to grant the licence but did not consider them to be the overriding consideration in this case,” wrote Ms Prentice.

Mr Tatchell had previously queried “whether it was appropriate for a Catholic minister to make the decision to accede to the Vatican’s request for Newman’s reburial and whether the minister’s Catholic faith may have influenced her ruling in favour of the church.”

He wrote to the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw MP, urging him to rescind the license granted to the Catholic Church for the exhumation and reburial of Cardinal Newman, on the grounds that it is “certainly unethical and probably illegal.”

“It is morally wrong and arguably unlawful for the Ministry of Justice to grant a reburial license that violates Newman’s instructions to his executors,” according to Mr Tatchell.

“It is indefensible for Jack Straw and Bridget Prentice to give a non-relative third party the right to veto the Cardinal’s will and to control his remains.

“Newman insisted that he should be buried with the man he loved, Father Ambrose St John. The two men would have been separated under Vatican plans to rebury the Cardinal in Birmingham Oratory church.

“The Ministry of Justice caved in to Vatican demands and gave the Catholic Church disposal rights over Newman’s body.

“It planned to move his remains to a church tomb, and to break up his body and distribute his bones as holy relics.

“The government’s collusion with these macabre plans is quite shameful.

“The Vatican’s bid to rebury Cardinal Newman comes ahead of him being made a saint. The Catholic hierarchy was embarrassed by Newman’s love for Father St John and the fact that they were buried together in a shared grave. It wanted to rebury Newman separately, in the hope of squashing suggestions that the Cardinal might have been gay,” said Mr Tatchell.

In his letter to Jack Straw, Mr Tatchell wrote:

“Could you please explain the Ministry of Justice’s justification for making a decision that goes against Cardinal Newman’s clear, unambiguous and emphatic instructions to his executors that he should be buried with Father Ambrose St John?

“Did the Ministry of Justice have full information about all Cardinal Newman’s repeated instructions to his executors when it made the decision to grant a licence for his exhumation and reburial?

“Could you please explain the Ministry of Justice’s legal and moral authority for granting a reburial license to a non-relative and non-descendant third party that is intent on violating Cardinal Newman’s explicit and repeated requests concerning his burial?

“I would respectfully request that in light of the overwhelming evidence that Cardinal Newman wished to be buried with Ambrose St John that you either revoke the licence in its entirety or amend it to stipulate that the Cardinal’s remains can only be exhumed and reburied on condition that Ambrose St John is also moved and reburied with him.

“I urge you to ensure that Cardinal Newman’s wishes are adhered to and respected.” concluded Mr Tatchell’s letter to the Justice Secretary.

For additional background about Cardinal Newman see:

Was Cardinal Newman gay?
http://www.petertatchell.net/religion/wascardinalnewmangay.htm

Violating Cardinal Newman’s wishes
http://www.petertatchell.net/religion/cardinalnewmanslove.htm

Cardinal’s body to be dismembered
http://www.petertatchell.net/religion/cardinalnewmanscorpse.htm

Further information:

Copy of Peter Tatchell’s letter to Justice Secretary, Jacks Straw MP:

Dear Jack Straw

The exhumation and reburial of Cardinal Newman

I understand that in July the Ministry of Justice gave the Catholic Church a license permitting it to exhume and rebury Cardinal John Henry Newman.

Did you personally agree and approve this license? If not, which Minister did?

Could you please explain the Ministry of Justice’s justification for making a decision that goes against Cardinal Newman’s clear, unambiguous and emphatic instructions to his executors that he should be buried with Father Ambrose St John?

These instructions – and their sources – are set out in my attached Guardian article.

Did the Ministry of Justice have full information about all Cardinal Newman’s repeated instructions to his executors when it made the decision to grant a licence for his exhumation and reburial?

Could you please explain the Ministry of Justice’s legal and moral authority for granting a reburial license to a non-relative and non-descendant third party that is intent on violating Cardinal Newman’s explicit and repeated requests concerning his burial?

I would respectfully request that in light of the overwhelming evidence that Cardinal Newman wished to be buried with Ambrose St John that you either revoke the licence in its entirety or amend it to stipulate that the Cardinal’s remains can only be exhumed and reburied on condition that Ambrose St John is also moved and reburied with him.

Moreover, it would be entirely justified and reasonable for the Ministry of Justice to revoke or amend the license if it was not fully aware of all Cardinal Newman’s various instructions to his executors when it granted the license in July.

I urge you to ensure that Cardinal Newman’s wishes are adhered to and respected.

Since this matter is of some urgency, given the reburial plans, I look forward to your reply at your earliest convenience.

Yours with appreciation and best wishes,

Peter Tatchell
Human rights campaigner
OutRage!

Iran admits it has gay people

But only a few, says President Ahmadinejad

Execution of lesbians and gays denied

London and New York – 29 September 2008, by Peter Tatchell

The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has done an astonishing volte-face by admitting in a US TV interview that there are lesbian and gay people in Iran.

Only last year, in a speech at Columbia University in New York, he notoriously claimed there were no lesbians and gays in his country.

“We do not have this phenomenon,” he declared.

Last week, however, Ahmadinejad grudgingly conceded there “might be a few” gay people in Iran.

“This about-turn shows that Iran realises its gay-denial stance has been widely condemned and ridiculed,” said Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights campaign group OutRage!, which has been campaigning in support of Iranian LGBT people for nearly 20 years.

“The fact that the President has moderated his ‘no gays’ position since last year is evidence that global gay protests are having an impact on the regime in Tehran,” said Mr Tatchell.

However, although Ahmadinejad has conceded the existence of gay Iranians, he went on to make it clear that he doesn’t approve of their existence one iota.

He denounced homosexuality as an “unlikable and foreign act” that is illegal because it is “against our values, and all divine laws… shakes the foundations of society… robs humanity… (and) brings about disease.”

The Iranian President made these remarks during his visit to New York to speak to the UN General Assembly last week. He was interviewed on 24 September by reporters Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman from the US current affairs TV programme, Democracy Now.

You can watch the full interview and read the full text on the Democracy Now website:
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/9/26/iranian_president_mahmoud_ahmedinejad_on_iran

A verbatim transcript of the key points of this interview follows below.

In the same TV interview, Ahmadinejad made this astonishing claim:

“Sure, if somebody engages in an [homosexual] act in their own house without being known to others, we don’t pay any attention to that. People are free to do what they like in their private realms. But nobody can engage in what breaks the law in public,” he said.

“This is complete nonsense,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

“Iranian law stipulates the death penalty for homosexuality, whether in public or private. People suspected of being gay have their homes raided. Private, discreet gay parties have been busted by the police and the party-goers arrested, tortured and flogged. Years ago, some of those arrested at private parties simply disappeared. They were never seen again. It is presumed they were secretly executed,” said Mr Tatchell.

When Gonzales and Goodman confronted Ahmadinejad with photos of two Iranian teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, who were hanged in July 2005, his reply showed either remarkable ignorance of Iranian law or wilful dishonesty:

“No, there is no law for their [gays] execution in Iran. Either they were drug traffickers or they killed someone else…. So, we don’t have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment. It’s basically an immoral act. There are a lot of acts that can be immoral, but there’s no capital punishment for them,” said the President.

“This claim is factually untrue,” reports Mr Tatchell. “None of the charges against Asgari and Marhoni involved drug trafficking or murder.”

“In years gone past, the Iranian government proudly boasted that it had the death penalty for gay sex and that it publicly hanged gay people,” Mr Tatchell added.

“These latest statements by Ahmadinejad are much more defensive. He strenuously denies that gay people can face execution. This shows that the regime no longer has the confidence to openly proclaim its violent homophobia. The persecution of gays continues in Iran but now, unlike before, the regime seeks to hide it and deny it.

“This is strong evidence that the homophobic dictatorship in Tehran has been stung by international protests against its flogging and hanging of men involved in same-sex relations. It realises this persecution has been a public relations disaster which has greatly harmed Iran’s international image. Hence the current denials by Ahmadinejad.

“It is proof that the global protests against Iran’s persecution of lesbian and gay people have been effective. We must maintain the worldwide campaign until Iran is so embarrassed by international condemnation that it completely halts the victimisation of gays,” added Mr Tatchell.

Elsewhere in their interview with the Iranian President, Goodman and Gonzales pressed him as to why Iran is one of the few countries in the world that still executes juveniles (Asgari and Marhoni were minors when they allegedly committed the acts for which they were hanged). Ahmadinejad replied:

“The legal age in Iran is different from yours. If a person who happens to be 17 years old and 9 months kills one of your relatives, would you just overlook that?”

According to Human Rights Watch, 26 of the last 32 juvenile executions worldwide were in Iran.

Further information:

Democracy Now

Text of the section of the interview relating to gay issues

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/9/26/iranian_president_mahmoud_ahmedinejad_on_iran

AMY GOODMAN: When the Iranian president visited New York last year, he gave a speech at Columbia University. He was asked about attitudes to homosexuality in his country.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: [translated] In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country.

AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday, I asked the Iranian president to clarify his statement.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: [translated] I didn’t say they don’t exist; I said not the way they are here. In Iran, it’s considered as a very unlikable and abhorrent act. People simply don’t like it. Our religious decrees tell us that it’s against our values, and all divine laws, actually, believe in the same. Who has given them permission to engage in homosexual acts? It’s considered as an abhorrent act. It shakes the foundations of a society, the family foundation. It robs humanity. It brings about diseases.

It should be of no pride to the American society to say that they defend homosexuals and support it. It’s not a good act, in and by itself, to then hold others accountable for banning it. And it’s not called freedom, either. Sure, if somebody engages in an act in their own house without being known to others, we don’t pay any attention to that. People are free to do what they like in their private realms. But nobody can engage in what breaks the law in public.

Why is it that in the West all moral boundaries have been shaken? Just because some people want to get votes, they are ready to overlook every morality? This goes against the values of a society. It is the divine rule of the Prophets. And then, of course, in Iran, it’s not an issue as big as it is of concern here in the United States. There might be a few people who are known. In general, our country would not accept it. And there’s a law about it, too, which one must follow.

AMY GOODMAN: July 19th is a day that is honored around the world, where two gay teenagers, Iranian teens, were hung. This is a picture of them hanging. They were two young men, named Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Do you think gay men and lesbians should die in Iran?

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: [translated] No, there is no law for their execution in Iran. Either they were drug traffickers or they had killed someone else. Those who kill someone else or engage in acts of rape could be punished by execution. Otherwise, homosexuals are not even known who they are to be hung, in the second place. So, we don’t have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment. It’s basically an immoral act. There are a lot of acts that can be immoral, but there’s no capital punishment for them.

I don’t know where you obtained these pictures from. Either they’re a network of drug traffickers or some other—or people who generally might have killed someone else. You know that we take our sort of social security seriously, because it’s important. What would you do in the United States if someone picked up a gun and killed a bunch of people? If there is a person to complain, then there’s capital punishment awaiting the person. Or drug traffickers, if they carry above a certain amount, volume, of drugs with them, they can be executed in Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: There is the death penalty in the United States, but many in the progressive community feel that it is wrong and are trying to have it abolished.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: [translated] Well, there are different opinions about it. It’s lawmakers, legal professionals and sociologists that must examine it, see what best suits every society, because the rights of the society sit above the rights of the individual. I don’t wish to say anything about it, to make a comment, because there are experts who must do it.

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