Archive for August, 2009
Human rights — including justice, equality, humanity, respect and freedom of expression — and the rule of law are the foundations upon which democratic states are built. Indeed, international human rights law is grounded on the premise that all individuals are entitled to the same rights and freedoms, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is this respect for fundamental human values that obliges governments to protect all citizens from violence and to ensure that all people enjoy equal opportunities.
Today, many individuals face discrimination, both systemic and overt, based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Our governments seek to combat such discrimination by promoting the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge all governments to ensure that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity form the basis for criminal penalties.
Our governments` policies in this area are in accordance with the principles set out in the Joint statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December, 2008.
Link to the Budapest Pride website: http://www.budapestpride.hu/en
Budapest Pride March 2008:
St. Petersburg – The International Festival of Queer Culture 2009 – September 17-27, 2009 – will take place in this Russian city as the largest-scale event of this type in this country so far. Several public organisations and initiative groups of St. Petersburg, both LBGT and non-LBGT, have joined forces to create this 10-day multi-event festival which is supported by partners varying from the Swedish and Dutch consulates to the St. Petersburg guidebooks.
The program includes theatrical performances, photo and art exhibitions, poetry slams, seminars, workshops, discussions, and music. Rockfest, the closing festival event, presents several emerging as well as well-established bands from St. Petersburg and is head-lined by the American group, Betty.
The events also include the 3rd stage of this year’s ILGCN (International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network) World Rainbow Cultural Conference (earlier stages in Bucharest and Budapest) on September 21 – with a special focus on Nordic rainbow cultural co-operation with collegues in Eastern Europe. It will also include the ILGCN’s and Tupilak’s (Nordic rain bow cultural workers) travelling art and photo exhibition with works from 25 nations.
“Queer” is the chosen concept for the festival aiming to celebrate university and diversity and as a rebellion against stigmas and labels. The term “queer” aims to go beyond the LGBT-sphere and to include everyone, expanding the rigid frameworks surrounding social stereotypes and stereotypes of identity, sex and gender. The message the festival hopes to bring forward is that all are different but all are united by one language – the language of art, and by common values – values of love, tolerance and mutual respect. The ambition of the festival is also to unite different people around constructive creativity and positive emotions.
More information and questions: http://www.queerfest.ru/en/index.shtml
Information concerning the ILGCN conference and activities: www.ilgcn.tupilak.org
Queer Bard Fest:
* Olga Krauze
* Yulia Sivakova and Olga Vasilyeva
* Tatiana Puchko
* Uliana Angelevskaya
* Yelena Tsertlih
* Olga Vorontsova
* Vasiliy Romanov
* Oleg Razygrin
* Maria Sabunaeva
* Samolety ne tayut
* Dance performance by dance groups Amsterdam and 3dance
* Final of the “Drag King” competition
* Performance by the Drag Queen Diva Ursula
Opening of the Photo Fest:
* Official opening ceremony of the photo exhibitions
Theatrical performances by:
* Theater group Dvanadva (Twobytwo)
* Masterskaya Teatralnyh Eksperimentov (Workshop of Theatrical Experiments)
* One-Person Show by Uliana Angelevskaya “Letters to Lilechka” based on letters and songs of Alexander Vertinsky
Seminars, Workshops and Discussions:
* Art Workshop by Insight (Ukraine)
* Seminar “Nordic Rainbow Cooperation with Eastern Europe” by Bill Schiller (ILGCN, Sweden)
Seminars, Workshops and Discussions:
* Round table/discussion by the Organizing Committee of the Festival on promotion of tolerance through art and culture and social responsibility of an artist
Seminars, Workshops and Discussions:
* Seminar by St. Petersburg Organization Gender
Seminars, Workshops and Discussions:
* Seminar by the Coalition “Ksenofobia.net” (No to Xenophobia)
* Art Workshop by Lia Kirgetova
* Seminar by St. Petersburg Organization “Egida of St. Petersburg” on the topic of discrimination of women in the sphere of labor
Queer Rock Fest:
* Iva Nova
And to close the Festival:
* American Rock Group Betty
* As well as a show of Body Art
Poetic Slam Fest:
* Irina Goryunova (Moscow)
* Yelena Novozhilova (Moscow)
* Dita Karelina (Minsk)
* Martha Yakovleva (Moscow)
* Anya Ru (Moscow)
* Marina Lebedeva (St. Petersburg)
* Rio del Magra (St. Petersburg)
* Nikita Podvysotsky (St. Petersburg)
* Lia Kirgetova (Moscow)
* Katya Erdesh (St. Petersburg)
* Ruslan Zhelubovsky (St. Petersburg)
* Vladimir Khrustalev (St. Petersburg)
* Tanya Ivanova (St. Petersburg)
* Closing of the International Queer Festival party (with participation by the group Betty)
* Film Beyond the Pink Curtain (UK)
Belgrade Pride invites lesbians, gays, bisexuals, asexuals, intersexuals, trans and queer folk, their friends, families and all those who wish to build society free of fear, violence and discrimination – to join us in Pride parade!
On September 20th 2009 together we will write new history of our town; it will be the day when Serbia makes a big brave step forward in struggle for equality and freedom of all its citizens.
Let’s go out to the streets together and create a free space where regardless of our differences there will be respect and solidarity, where we will promote tolerance and understanding!
Its our basic human right to freely use public spaces – so let’s use it!
We will gather on September 20th in all our diversity to show that there are many ways that people love one another.
Belgrade Pride poziva lezbejke, gejeve, biseksualne , interseksualne, aseksualne, trans i queer osobe, njihove prijateljice i prijatelje, porodice i sve one koji žele da zajedno gradimo društvo slobodno od straha, nasilja i diskriminacije, da nam se pridruže u Povorci ponosa!
BELGRADE — Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said that the police will uphold public order and safety during the gay pride parade, expected to take place on September 20.
“In this country, no one is allowed to threaten or bother anyone,” Dacic said, adding that the event will be laden with safety risks and that police will do everything they can to ensure order and safety.
The Pride Parade 2009 organizational committee said it supported the minister’s statement, as the first clear public comment giving a guarantee that police will do everything to secure the event.
Dacic said that while signing the protocol on Tuesday on a donation from the city assembly to Belgrade police, that the joint goal of police and the city is to make Belgrade a place where personal and property security are guaranteed for all citizens, “and where police are always ready to help in emergency situations”.
Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas said that city workers have started painting over graffiti that express threats to participants in the parade, “because it is necessary for everyone to feel safe”.
He said that there are small groups that are hiding behind football supporter groups, and who use any kind of public gathering as a chance to cause riots.
Several weeks ago, the graffiti that appeared all over Belgrade threatened gay and lesbian population and those who plan on participating in the parade.
“The organizational committee informed the Interior Ministry of a study done by Zoran Dragisic of the Security University and his colleagues with an analysis of the situation and recommendations for organizing the Pride Parade,” a member of the committee, Milica Djordjevic, told B92, and added that the analysis was presented to top MUP officials.
MUP officials are prepared to coordinate with the organizational committee to make sure that everything will go safely on September 20.
“Our police and its administration have experience and have already demonstrated to the citizens that they can protect them when necessary,” Djordjevic said.
The organizers hope that the city will be interest in cooperation with the parade just as much as the police, human and minority rights ministry, ombudsman, and non-governmental organizations are interested.
The organizational committee asked to meet with Mayor Djilas two weeks ago, but has not heard from his office yet.
Links of the Belgrade LGBT Pride:
Allegations of prison authorities’ use of rape as a means of punishment or intimidation in the Islamic republic are nothing new.
But for the first time, a high-profile figure in the Islamic establishment has acknowledged the apparent rise in the practice, and is calling for an investigation.
Former parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi was a losing reformist candidate for president in Iran’s contentious June 12 election, but in the aftermath has strengthened his position as a leading opposition figure by taking a number of stances that make the regime uncomfortable.
None has been more controversial than his revelation in a letter published earlier this month to former President and Assembly of Experts head Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani that a number of protesters, women and young boys alike, detained in the postelection unrest had been subjected to brutal rapes.
Calling for an investigation, Karrubi urged Rafsanjani to bring the issue up with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Hard-liners were quick to attack Karrubi, calling for his prosecution for “libeling the system” unless he could prove the allegations. In response, Karrubi has upped the ante, publishing on his website a graphic account of the rape of a young male detainee.
The individual says in the account, published this week, that he was nearly beaten to death and raped. “Worse than all of that, they did something to me that even unbelievers and idol worshipers would denounce.”
Karrubi has also handed the names of four individuals who say they were raped in prison to a special parliamentary commission that is in charge of investigating the postelection unrest.
A member of the parliamentary commission, who did not want to be named, was quoted on August 26 by the “Parlemannews” website as saying that it’s clear that some detainees were raped with batons and bottles.
And Karrubi’s son told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda on August 25 that his father will present other rape cases to parliament in the future.
Long History Of Abuse
Abdol Karim Lahidji, the deputy director of the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, describes Karrubi’s move as very significant.
He says his organization has been condemning rape in Iran’s prisons in its annual reports to United Nations human rights bodies, “but now a well-known figure in the Islamic republic who has twice been parliament speaker and a presidential candidate, has not only spoken about it but he has identified several victims and called on the parliament to give them protection.”
Lahidji says that if the victims are given protection, then the investigation might lead to some results.
Lahidji, who has been monitoring human rights in Iran for three decades, says that over the years he’s received a number reports about political prisoners being raped by their interrogators.
“Unfortunately, in the 1980s we used to receive a lot of news about girls being raped in prison before being executed,” he says.
Lahidji says that he also personally dealt with rape cases following the student uprising of 1999; “one of the students whom I interviewed in Europe said many of the boys had been raped in prison.”
Monireh Baradaran is a former political prisoner who has published a prison memoir about her nine years in prison from 1981 to 1991. She tells RFE/RL she met a girl in prison who had become mentally ill after being raped by her interrogator.
“She was then a beautiful, 16-year-old girl. She wouldn’t talk, she was silent all the time , but I had heard from people close to her including her sister, who was also in jail, that she had been raped,” Baradaran says.
“She was in total silence; she would distance herself from others.”
Baradaran says rape is used as a torture method intended to crush detainees’ spirit.
Azar Ale Kanaan, a former political prisoner, says the memories of her rape some 20 years ago in a prison in Sanandaj are still unbearable. Her interrogator, who had promised to break her down, raped her while her hands were tied and she was blindfolded.
Video interview with Azar Ale Kanaan by well-known Iranian filmmaker Reza Allamezadeh (English subtitles):
“I knew he was my enemy and my enemy has done this to me, the enemy has touched me, raped me. Even when he was lashing me, it was a rape in a sense,” Ale Kanaan says.
“But I could deal with the lashes and cable much easier than this because the physical pain of lashes goes away after a while , but the pain of rape, the pain of those dirty hands touching me…. For me, remembering it is like…like a mother in front of whom her only dearest child is killed.”
Breaking The Silence
Former political prisoner Nasrin Parvaz says many of those who endured rape in Iranian prisons, women and men alike, choose to remain silent.
She says she personally knows three men now living in Britain who were raped in Iranian prisons. She adds that for some reason they won’t speak about it, “and I don’t judge them. It has to do with the society’s culture.”
Parvaz says one of the three men was raped 12 years ago while the case of the other two is two years old. She adds that they have not only been damaged psychologically, but one of them is still being treated for “physical damage.”
Iran’s Writers Association has said in a statement that torturers who use rape play on their victims’ sense of shame. The group has praised rape victims who have had the courage to come forward about their experience, and has characterized the disclosure of rape as commitment to freedom of expression.
Former political prisoner and artist Soudabeh Ardavan says that during the ’80s “social and political conditions” were not appropriate for rape victims to talk about their experience.
“We have many of these cases that are still hidden,” she says. “Some of my friends are reaching, after 30 years, a stage where they slowly start to talk about what happened to them [ in detention].”
But Ardavan sees the recent revelations as a positive sign, in the sense that the problem is out in the open.
Observers say the Islamic republic’s legitimacy has already been severely damaged as the result of the postelection crisis. The supreme leader has been publicly challenged and a rift in the country’s leadership has widened. There have been reports of peaceful protesters being shot dead, and prisoners brutally tortured.
And with the recent allegations of rape, the Islamic establishment — whose officials claim to rule the country based on moral and religious values — faces another severe test.
As Karrubi wrote in his letter to Rafsanjani on August 9, if any of the allegations of rape proved to be true it would be a tragedy for the establishment.
Radio Farda broadcaster Elahe Ravanshad contributed to this report
This 67-page report documents a wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men that began in early 2009. The killings began in the vast Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, and spread to many cities across Iraq. Mahdi Army spokesmen have promoted fears about the “third sex” and the “feminization” of Iraq men, and suggested that militia action was the remedy. Some people told Human Rights Watch that Iraqi security forces have colluded and joined in the killing.
Iraq: Stop Killings for Homosexual Conduct
No Protection by Authorities from Widening Murder Campaign
August 17, 2009
“They Want Us Exterminated”
Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate. Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi.
Scott Long, Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch
(Beirut) – Iraqi militias are carrying out a spreading campaign of torture and murder against men suspected of homosexual conduct, or of not being “manly” enough, and Iraq authorities have done nothing to stop the killing, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch called on Iraq’s government to act urgently to rein in militia abuses, punish the perpetrators, and stop a new resurgence of violence that threatens all Iraqis’ safety.
“Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi.”
Silence and stigma surrounding sexuality and gender in Iraq make placing a precise figure on the number killed almost impossible, but indications are that hundreds of men may have died.
One man told Human Rights Watch that militiamen kidnapped and killed his partner of 10 years in April: “It was late one night, and they came to take my partner at his parents’ home. Four armed men barged into the house, masked and wearing black. They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. … He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.”
The killers invade homes and pick people up in the street, witnesses and survivors said, interrogating them before murdering them to extract names of other potential victims. They practice grotesque tortures, including gluing men’s anuses shut as punishment. Human Rights Watch spoke to doctors who said that hospitals and morgues have received dozens of mutilated bodies, living and dead.
“Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality,” said Rasha Moumneh, Middle East and North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq’s post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens.”
Consensual homosexual conduct between adults is not a criminal offense under Iraqi law. Although many militias in Iraq claim to be enforcers of Islamic law, the Human Rights Watch report also shows how the killings – committed without evidence or trial, on the basis of prejudice and whim – violate standards in Sharia law for legality, proof, and privacy.
International human rights law forbids all forms of torture and inhuman treatment and guarantees the right to life, including the right to effective state protection. In its 1994 decision in the landmark case of Toonen v. Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Committee held that the protections against unequal treatment in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) extend to sexual orientation as a protected status.
The report also documents how fears that Iraqi men’s masculinity is under threat propel the killings as much as prejudices about sexuality. Many men told Human Rights Watch that their parents or brothers have threatened them with honor killings because their “unmanly” behavior threatens the reputation of the family or tribe. In a provision left over from the Saddam Hussein era, Iraqi law allows mitigated penalties for crimes committed “with honorable motives.” This exception encourages gender-based violence.
Many Iraqis who fear being attacked have sought safety in surrounding countries, but those countries are no safe haven, the report says. Consensual homosexual conduct is criminalized in most of these countries, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity fosters violence and discrimination in all of them. Human Rights Watch urges the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as governments that accept Iraqi refugees, to offer rapid resettlement to these endangered people.
Accounts from the report (all names are aliases, to protect the speakers)
“[The killers’] measuring rod to judge people is who they have sex with. It is not by their conscience, it is not by their conduct or their values, it is who they have sex with. The cheapest thing in Iraq is a human being, a human life. It is cheaper than an animal, than a pair of used-up batteries you buy on the street. Especially people like us. … I can’t believe I’m here talking to you because it’s all just been repressed, repressed, repressed. For years it’s been like that – if I walk down the street, I would feel everyone pointing at me. I feel as if I’m dying all the time. And now this, in the last month – I don’t understand what we did to deserve this. They want us exterminated. All the violence and all this hatred: the people who are suffering from it don’t deserve it.”
– Hamid, in Iraq, April 24, 2009
“We’ve been hearing about this, about gay men being killed, for more than a month. It’s like background noise now, every day. The stories started spreading in February about this campaign against gay people by the Mahdi Army: everyone was talking about it, I was hearing about it from my straight friends. In a coffee shop in Karada, on the streets in Harithiya [Baghdad neighborhoods], they were talking about it. I didn’t worry at first. My friends and I, we look extremely masculine, there is nothing visibly “feminine” about us. None of us ever, ever believed this would happen to us. But then at the end of March we heard on the street that 30 men had been killed already.”
– Idris, in Iraq, April 24, 2009
“They did many things to us, the Mahdi Army. … They kidnapped [my partner] for six days. He will not talk about what they did to him. There were bruises on his side as if he was dragged on the street. They did things to him he can’t describe, even to me. They wrote in the dust on the windshield of his car: ‘Death to the people of Lot and to collaborators.’ They sent us veiled threats in text messages: ‘You are on the list.’ They sent him a piece of paper in an envelope, to his home: there were three bullets wrapped in plastic, of different size. The note said, ‘Which one do you want in your heart?’ … I want to be a regular person, lead a normal life, walk around the city, drink coffee on the street. But because of who I am, I can’t. There is no way out.”
– Mohammad, in Iraq, April 21, 2009
“At 10 a.m., [Ministry of Interior officers] cuffed my hands behind my back. Then they tied a rope around my legs, and they hung me upside down from a hook in the ceiling, from morning till sunset. I passed out. I was stripped down to my underwear while I hung upside down. They cut me down that night, but they gave me no water or food. Next day, they told me to put my clothes back on and they took me to the investigating officer. He said, ‘You like that? We’re going to do that to you more and more, until you confess.’ Confess to what? I asked. ‘To the work you do, to the organization you belong to, and that you are a tanta’ [queen]. For days, there were severe beatings, and constant humiliation and insults. … It was the same form of abuse every day. They beat me all over my body; when they had me hanging upside down, they used me like a punching bag. … They used electric prods all over my body. Then they raped me. Over three days. The first day, 15 of them raped me; the second day, six; the third day, four. There was a bag on my head every time.”
Nuri, on April 15 and 27, 2009
- Video: San Francisco Leaders Want End to Torture and Murder of GLBT Iraqis by Clinton Fein
- San Francisco: 100 Protest LGBT Iraqi Murders – $5K Raised by Michael Petrelis
- San Francisco Gays Organize Rally for LGBT Iraqis – Leaders Want End to Torture and Murder
- Chicago: Protest Focuses on Obama’s Failure to Denounce Rampant Anti-Gay Violence in Iraq
- Improving Security Prompts UN to Revise Guidelines for GAY Iraqi Asylum Claims
- They Kill People Like Us Says Gay Iraqi
- Iraqi Gays Face Gruesome Torture/Murder Technique by Doug Ireland
- Iraq: Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of LGBT People – Iraqi Militia Have Deployed a Painful Form of Torture Against Homosexuals by Closing Their Anuses With Glue
- Iraq: IGLHRC Asks the Iraqi Government to Protect LGBT People
- NYC: Brendan Fay – Protest At Iraq Mission Over Murders Of Gay Men In Iraq
- San Francisco Gays Protest 6 Gay Iraqi Murders – April 6, 5 PM, Harvey Milk Plaza
- Iraq: Six Gay Men Murdered in Iraqi Slum
- URGENT: Stop Executions of Gay Iraqis – Members of Iraqi LGBT Group on Death Row – Action Needed to Halt Judicial Executions
- Iraq’s Queer Underground Railroad: A Secret Network of Safe Houses and Escape Routes Is Saving Gay Iraqis From Execution by Islamist Death Squads
- Iraq’s Underground Queer Railroad – Safe Houses and Escape Routes Save LGBT Lives by Peter Tatchell
- UK: Queer Fear 2 – The Sexual Cleansing of Iraq – Film Screening November 3rd 2008
- Sexual Cleansing in Iraq: Bashar, Coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad Assassinated – Islamist Death Squads Are Hunting Down Gay Iraqis and Summarily Executing Them
- Iraq: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Do Kill – Newsweek’s Inquiry About Gays Persecuted
- Iraq: Out of the Gathering Darkness – Two Iraqi Lesbians, Amal and Zahra, Shot Dead and Decapitated
- U.S. Invasion Has Made Life Worse for Iraqi LGBT Community
- New York: Benefit Party for Iraqi LGBT at the North Star Fund
- Iraqi LGBT Have Recently Obtained New Video Evidence
- New Disappearances of Gay People in Iraq
- Treatment of LGBT People In Iraq by Police
- From Iran to New Iraq, Ayatollahs Are Murderers of Homosexuals: Massive Crimes Against Humanity Are Committed by the Pro-Iranian Iraqi Government Installed by the Amerikan Occupation and Its Sectarian Militias
- Three Iraq Safe Houses Forced to Close
- IRAQI LGBT: SAFE HOUSE CAMPAIGN
Ezra Nawi spared jail, for now
20,000 people sign petition, urging “don’t jail Ezra”
Prosecution to seek lesser sentence on 21 September
Thanks to everyone who signed, now get your friends to sign too
London – 17 August 2009
Jerusalem Magistrate Judge Eilata Ziskind has announced that a final decision on sentencing Palestinian human rights defender Ezra Nawi – an openly gay Israeli Jew – will now take place on 21 September.
“At yesterday’s court hearing, the judge was swamped by character witnesses, letters and an online petition with 20,000 signatures from the UK, US and all over the world, urging the court to not jail Ezra,” reports human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
“The online petition – http://www.freeezra.org – was organised and coordinated by the Jewish Voices for Peace campaign group.
“Ezra faces imprisonment over an alleged riot during his attempts to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli army and over an alleged assault on a police officer during his arrest – charges that Ezra, a well known pacifist, strongly denies.
“Among the witnesses who testified in court yesterday on Ezra’s behalf were Yehudit Karp, a former deputy attorney-general of Israel, and Hebrew University professors Galit Hazan-Rokem and David Shulman.
“Several of the witnesses explained to the court that Ezra’s actions in trying to stop Israel’s bulldozing of Palestinian homes had to be understood in the context of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, aggressive Israeli settlers trying to force the Palestinians off their land, and the extreme poverty of the displaced Palestinian families.
“In an apparent response to the global outpouring of support for Ezra Nawi, the prosecution has indicated that it is now not asking for the maximum sentence of 18 months to two years imprisonment; although it remains insistent that he should still serve a custodial sentence.
“Ezra has become a legendary figure among the Palestinians in South Hebron, left-wing and pro-peace Israeli activists, LGBT campaigners and international opponents of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
“Being an out gay man is mostly easy in London or New York. But in the Middle East, it takes real guts, especially when there are fundamentalists on both sides who want to kill gay people.
“By supporting the human rights of the Palestinian people as an out gay man, Ezra is probably doing more than anyone else to undermine the homophobia that undoubtedly exists in sections of Palestinian society. His acceptance by growing numbers of Palestinians illustrates that homophobia can be overcome, even in very traditional communities. It refutes the common stereotype that all Arabs and Muslims are anti-gay.
“Ezra’s exemplary life shows the possibility of unity, solidarity and respect between gays and straights and between Palestinians and Israelis. It suggests that prejudice and division can be conquered; that a kinder, gentler, fairer future can be won for all the people of the Middle East,” said Mr Tatchell.
“Being gay has made me understand what it is like to be a despised minority,” explained Ezra.
Speaking of the harsh anti-Palestinian policies of the Israeli authorities, he laments:
“They can steal their land, demolish their homes, steal their water, imprison them for no reason and at times even kill them.”
“I’m here to change reality. The only Israelis these people know are settlers and soldiers. Through me they know a different Israeli. And I’ll keep coming until I know that the farmers here can work their fields,” he said.
“Several years ago, Ezra had a relationship with a gay Palestinian refugee, Fuad Mussa. Fuad fled the West Bank, fearing ‘honour killing’ because of his homosexuality. Ezra was convicted on charges of allowing his partner to live illegally in Israel. Fuad was jailed by the Israelis,” added Mr Tatchell.
“Because of Ezra’s human rights work, Israeli settlers, police and soldiers have subjected him to a torrent of homophobic abuse.”
“They did not hesitate to out me as a gay man; indeed, they spread rumours among the Palestinians with whom I work that I have AIDS,” reported Ezra.
You can watch a film of the protest that led to Ezra’s arrest and charges. Broadcast on Israel’s Channel 1, it shows only passive resistance:
It is not too late to help Ezra Nawi. He will not now be sentenced until 21 September. Between now and then we want to get even more signatures for the online petition. Please email your friends and ask them to take the following action
1) Sign the petition against Ezra being jailed
2) Protest to the Israeli Embassy
3) Ask your MP and MEP to protest to the Israeli Ambassador, Ron Prosor. You can email your MP and MEP direct via this website – www.writetothem.com
For more background about Ezra’s case see my article in The Independent’s online journal:
Peter Tatchell (London, UK)
As the story developed today, it turned that the club became the hostage of the electoral fight in one of Moscow’s constituencies for the upcoming City Duma elections.
“It’s not a question of a gay club, it’s not a question of the society of blind people, it’s not a question of sexual minorities, it is a question of an electoral campaign which started and in which I am running in the same constituency than the Prefect,” declared tonight Oleg Smolin, deputy and member of the Communist party.
The deputy announced that he will sue the Prefect in court over an attempt to spoil his reputation in the upcoming electoral campaign.
Mr Smolin claims 5 million roubles (approx 109’700 EUR) from the Prefect and 1 rouble from each TV channel which reported the story.
Mr Mitvol and Mr Smolin are running in the same constituency in two opposed lists.
Last Friday, the Prefect of the Northern administrative district of Moscow accused Mr Smolin of protecting the interests of the club “Body&Soul (ex-Chance)”.
“The Duma deputy of the Communist Party is protecting the interests of this club. Is it moral?” Mr Mitvol asked the journalists last Friday.
The same day the Prefect raided the club at night joined by the anti-drug police and the prosecution department, arresting two clients.
At the end of July Mr Mitvol initiated a campaign for morality in the city targeting gay clubs, saunas and love hotels saying that “such places which lead to the moral degradation of citizens and become the source of troubles should be closed”.
Citing complaints from residents to his office, Mr Mitvol received an unsurprising backing of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians (Pentecostals) which gathered 70 persons during a protest held in front of the club “Body&Soul (ex-Chance)” on Saturday. The action was authorized by the city authorities.
Earlier today, the LGBT Network, asked the Criminal Prosecution to open an investigation against the Prefect for incitation to hatred and degradation of human dignity.
“There is nothing in the words of the Prefect which can lead to his prosecution on the basis of Article 282 of Russian Criminal Code”, declared head of Russian LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru Nikolai Alekseev.
“In comparison to what we heard in 2005 from the Mufti Tadjuddin and in 2008 from the Governor of Tambov region Oleg Betin, Mr Mitvol did not call to beat or kill gays and lesbians”, Alekseev added.
Following the request, sent to the prosecution, the Prefect declared tonight that “gays have started a campaign to support communists and became their lawyers”.
Mr Mitvol’s campaign for increased morality targeted only one gay club.
Local observers mention that surprisingly the Prefect targeted so far only a gay club which happens to rent its hall from an organization of which the Vice President is Mr Smolin, his direct competitor in the upcoming elections.
Mr Smolin said tonight that his complain to court will argue that the words of the Prefect saying he protects a gay club is an attempt to spoil his reputation over the electoral campaign.
This case will not be a premiere in Russian court history.
In September Moscow Court will hear the complaint of a former participant in the Russian version of Big Brother’s TV show against the newspaper “Express Gazeta” and the gay internet portal Gay.ru
Vasiliy Pechen is suing over allegation in which he was described as gay and working as a male prostitute. He told the journalists that he was refused several jobs after the allegations were published.
The claimant is seeking financial damages of 3 million roubles (approx 65’800 EUR) from “Express Gazeta” and 1 million roubles (approx 22’000 EUR) from Gay.ru. In addition, Mr Pechen demands a refutation to be published by the defendants.
“Sexual orientation on its own should not be considered as spoiling a reputation. This goes exactly against what we are fighting for,” said Nikolai Alekseev, before adding that “being gay is not unlawful in Russia”.
“However, information that someone is getting money for sex services is a different story especially since prostitution carries an administrative fine according to the law,” he added.
They claim compensation of 100,000 Euros
In 2006 Ryazan, a city 180 km from Moscow, became the first and only region of Russia to adopt a law that forbids any form of propaganda of homosexuality to minors.
In March 2009 LGBT Human Rights Projects GayRussia.Ru initiated a campaign asking the law to be repealed after two of its activists were arrested by the police for showing posters “Homosexuality is normal” and “I am proud to be homosexual” near the local children’s library. A local court sentenced Nikolai Baev and Irina Fet to a fine of 1,500 Roubles each (approx. 33 euro). Later the appeal court confirmed the decision.
The same day the activists informed the city authorities of their intention to host two public actions in Ryazan.
The first one was a picket, scheduled on 4 April aimed to ask the repeal of the law of 2006. The second was a march in support for tolerance and respect for the rights and freedoms of homosexual people in Russia planned for 11 April.
Both applications were turned down by the city authorities on the basis that such events would contradict with the law of 2006 as they could be seen by children.
The authorities further stated that the events could be seen by the population as “an insult to their morals and religion” which creates threat to the security of the participants.
On 23 April a local judge said that the decision of the authorities was lawful. The appeal of gay activists was also rejected on 1 July.
“This regional law breaches the Russian Constitution and our campaign is directed at making it repealed either via a decision of the Constitutional Court or the European Court” said Nikolai Alekseev in April.
On 5 August gay activists appealed the bans of their events in Ryazan to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) asking for the compensation of 100,000 Euros.
After Moscow, Tambov, Saint Petersburg and Liski, Ryazan is the fifth Russian city to officially ban a public action organized by the LGBT community.
To date, several cases concerning the bans of Moscow Pride 2006, 2007, 2008 as well as other public events in Moscow and Tambov are awaiting consideration by ECHR.