Archive for October, 2009
Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko, Russian Lesbian Couple Just Married in Toronto by GayRussia.Ru.
The couple intends to start a legal battle to have their union recognized in Russia.
Despite all obsticles and legal restrictions in Russia, a lesbian couple entered into same-sex marriage in Toronto yesterday. Numerous media and local activists were present at the ceremony during which Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko exchanged woes.
The wedding was held by Harvey Brownstone, a well-known openly gay judge at the family court of northern Toronto. The newly wed couple received their marriage certificate which they intend to use upon their return to Russia to have their Canadian marriage also recognized in their home country.
The couple together with their lawyer and organiser of Moscow Gay Pride Nikolai Alekseev as well as local activists hosted a press conference at the Toronto City Hall before the ceremony during which Canadian gay activists spoke about their struggle for marriage equality stressing the importance of supporting similar movements in other countries, including Russia. They compared the fight for same sex marriage in Russia with a similar campaign which started in Canada two decades ago.
After the press conference, Toronto Mayor David Miller congratulated Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko and thanked the couple for having chosen Toronto for their marriage. Later he wrote in his Twitter blog: “Just met Irena and Irena from russia here to get married; then going home to fight for human rights. Well done women, well done”.
Mayor Miller commented: “They’re so happy you can feel their happiness. And what a great statement from our city that we can lead the world in human rights and that people will come to Toronto to seek equal treatment and respect and joy and love”.
On Friday night dozens of people attended the wedding reception which was held in a restaurant of the gay village of Toronto. During the party, the audience watched pictures of the couple’s attempt to register their marriage in Moscow last May, as well as a video footage of this year’s Slavic Gay Pride in Moscow.
Nikolai Alekseev said on Friday: “We are delighted with the warm welcome in this wonderful country and in this stunning city of Toronto. Even though it is not my marriage, this is a day I will hardly forget. We are grateful to the Canadian LGBT organization EGALE for helping us in organizing the wedding of our Irinas in Toronto”.
Organizer of the Moscow gay Pride stressed: “Many in Russia, including in the LGBT community, think that same sex marriage is impossible but the fight for marriage equality in Russia today is an investment in a democratic and free future of the country. We know that we will get it one day and this is the reason why we have to start now”.
“I salute the courage of Irina and Irina who are showing today that there are no barriers to love. They give a great message of hope”.
Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko explained during a press conference after the registration of their marriage, that they intend to fight to have their marriage recognized in Russia. They stressed that “This is only the beginning of a long journey of recognition of family rights for same-sex couples in Russia.”
The couple explained that “We get a lot of mails and messages of congratulations from gays and lesbians in Russia who also want to have their union recognized but most of them are not able to fight for their rights. We are confident that our struggle will soon benefit to them”.
On Saturday, Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko will celebrate their union in Niagara Falls – a place famous with honeymooners.
On May 12, the Tverskoi Registry Office refused to register the marriage of Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko arguing that under the Family Code a marriage can only be registered between a man and a woman. A judge of the Tverskoi district court upheld the refusal on October 6. The couple appealed the decision and further announced that they are ready to take their case up to the European Court of Human Rights.
Malcolm X was bisexual. Get over it
Black History Month should help break down homophobia by celebrating the sexuality of black heroes such as Malcolm X
By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
The Guardian – Comment is Free – London – 20 October 2009
October is Black History Month in Britain – a wonderful celebration of the huge, important and valuable contribution that black people have made to humanity and to popular culture.
It is also worth celebrating that many leading black icons have been lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), most notably the US black liberation hero Malcolm X. Other prominent black LGBTs include jazz singer Billie Holiday, author and civil rights activist James Baldwin, soul singer-songwriter Luther Vandross, blues singer Bessie Smith, poet and short story writer Langston Hughes, singer Johnny Mathis, novelist Alice Walker, civil rights activist and organiser of the 1963 March on Washington Bayard Rustin, blues singer Ma Rainey, dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, actress, singer and dancer Josephine Baker, Olympic diving gold medallist Greg Louganis, singer and songwriter Little Richard, political activist and philosopher Angela Davis, singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman and drag performer and singer RuPaul.
Few of these prominent black LGBT achievers are listed on the most comprehensive UK Black History Month website, which hosts biographies of notable black men and women. In the section on people, only Davis is mentioned and her lesbianism is not acknowledged. The website fails to identify the vast majority of black public and historical figures who are LGBT. The Official Guide to Black History Month UK is equally remiss. Why these omissions? Black people are not one homogenous heterosexual mass. Where is the recognition of sexual diversity within the black communities and black history?
In contrast, LGBT History Month, which takes place in the UK in February, devotes a whole section of its website to the lives of leading black LGBT people and links to the websites for Black History Month. Disappointingly, this solidarity is not reciprocated. On the Black History Month websites I could not find a LGBT section or a LGBT History Month link.
Perhaps it is unintentional but Black History Month sometimes feels like Straight Black History Month. Famous black LGBT people are not acknowledged and celebrated. Either their contribution to black history and culture is ignored or their sexuality is airbrushed out of their biographies.
A good example of this neglect is the denialism surrounding the bisexuality of one of the greatest modern black liberation heroes: Malcolm X. The lack of recognition is perhaps not surprising, given that some of his family and many black activists have made strenuous efforts to deny his same-sex relationships and suppress recognition of the full spectrum of his sexuality.
Why the cover-up? So what if Malcolm X was bisexual? Does this diminish his reputation and achievements? Of course not. Whether he was gay, straight or bisexual should not matter. His stature remains, regardless of his sexual orientation. Yet many of the people who revere him seem reluctant to accept that their hero, and mine, was bisexual.
Malcolm X’s bisexuality is more than just a question of truth and historical fact. There has never been any black person of similar global prominence and recognition who has been publicly known to be gay or bisexual. Young black lesbian, gay and bisexual people can, like their white counterparts, often feel isolated, guilty and insecure about their sexuality. They could benefit from positive, high-achieving role models, to give them confidence and inspiration. Who better than Malcolm X? He inspired my human rights activism and was a trailblazer in the black freedom struggle. He can inspire other LGBT people too.
Right now, there is not a single living black person who is a worldwide household name and who is also openly gay. That’s why the issue of Malcolm X’s sexuality is so important. Having an internationally renowned gay or bisexual black icon would do much to help challenge homophobia, especially in the black communities and particularly in Africa and the Caribbean where homosexuality and bisexuality are often dismissed as a “white man’s disease”.
So what is the evidence for Malcolm X’s bisexual orientation? Most people remember him as the foremost US black nationalist leader of the 1960s. Despite the downsides of his anti-white rhetoric, black separatism and religious superstition, he was America’s leading spokesperson for black consciousness, pride and self-help. He spoke with fierce eloquence and defiance for black upliftment and freedom.
Malcolm’s complex, changing sexuality was never part of the narrative of his life until the publication of Bruce Perry’s acclaimed biography, Malcolm – The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America. Perry is a great admirer and defender of Malcolm X, but not an uncritical one. He wrote the facts, based on interviews with over 420 people who knew Malcolm personally at various stages in his life, from childhood to his tragic assassination in 1965. His book is not a hatchet job, as some black critics claim, it is the exact opposite. Perry presents an honest, rounded story of Malcolm’s life and achievements which, in my opinion, is far more moving and humane than the better known but somewhat hagiographic The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told To Alex Haley.
Based on interviews with Malcolm’s closest boyhood and adult friends, Perry suggests the US black liberation leader was not as solidly heterosexual as his Nation of Islam colleagues and black nationalist acolytes have always claimed. While Perry did not make Malcolm’s sexuality a big part of his biography – in fact, it is a very minor aspect – he did not shy away from writing about what he heard in his many interviews.
He documents Malcolm’s many same-sex relations and his activities as a male sex worker, which spanned at least a 10-year period, from his mid-teens to his 20s, as I described in some detail in a previous article for the Guardian. Although Malcolm later married and, as far as we know, abandoned sex with men, his earlier same-sex relations suggest that he was bisexual rather than heterosexual. Abstaining from gay sex after his marriage does not change the fundamentals of his sexual orientation and does not mean that he was wholly straight.
Towards the end of his life, Malcolm’s ideas were evolving in new directions. Politically, he gravitated leftwards. Faith-wise, after his trip to Mecca, he began to embrace a non-racial mainstream Islam. His mind was becoming open to new ideas and values.
Had he not been murdered in 1965, Malcolm might have eventually, like Huey Newton of the Black Panthers and the black power leader Angela Davis, embraced the lesbian and gay liberation movement as part of the struggle for human emancipation. Instead, to serve their homophobic political agenda, for over half a century the Nation of Islam and many black nationalists have suppressed knowledge of Malcolm’s same-sex relations. It is now time for Black History Month to speak the truth. Malcolm X was bisexual. Get over it.
Malcolm X’s gay life:
The following specifics about Malcolm X’s same-sex experiences are documented in Bruce Perry’s biography:
Malcolm’s schoolmate Bob Bebee recalls the day they stumbled on a local boy jerking off in the woods. Malcolm ordered the youth to masturbate him, and subsequently boasted he had been given oral sex.
Later, from the age of 20, Malcolm did sex with men for money and had at least one sustained gay sexual liaison. While living in Flint, Michigan, his roommate noticed that instead of sleeping in the room they were sharing, Malcolm sneaked down the hall to spend the night with Willie Mae Jones.
In New York, two of Malcolm’s friends from Michigan remember bumping into him at the YMCA, where Malcolm bragged that he earned money servicing “queers”, who he also jokingly referred to as “little girls.” Later Malcolm worked as a “butler” to a wealthy Boston bachelor, William Paul Lennon. According to his sidekick Malcolm Jarvis, he was paid to sprinkle Lennon with talcum powder and bring him to orgasm.
Perry suggests Malcolm’s gay encounters may not have been entirely financially motivated. His self-acknowledged masculine insecurities and ambivalence towards women fit the archetype of a repressed gay man and point to latent homosexuality.
After the death of his father, when Malcolm was six, his main boyhood influences were strong women – especially his mother. By his own admission, he seemed to fear women and his early sexual relationships with girls were mostly unsatisfactory.
According to Perry: “His male-to-male encounters, which rendered it unnecessary for him to compete for women, afforded him an opportunity for sexual release without the attendant risk of dependence on women”.
Far from macho, Malcolm hated fighting and was beaten up by other men. His later passionate assertion that the need to feel masculine is a man’s “greatest urge” indicates someone doubtful of his own manliness.
As for his sporadic gay hustling, Perry notes: “There were other ways he could have earned money”. Dope-dealing, thieving and pimping were sources of income he pursued with success. There was no imperative to sell his body. Why, then, did he prostitute himself? Misogyny and repressed homosexuality might be the answer.
Biographies of famous lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender black people (most of which do not acknowledge their sexuality):
Billy Holiday, jazz singer
James Baldwin, author and civil rights activist
Luther Vandross, soul singer-songwriter
Bessie Smith. blues singer
Langston Hughes, poet and short story writer
Johnny Mathis, singer
Alice Walker, novelist
Bayard Rustin, civil rights activist and organiser of the 1963 March on Washington
Ma Rainey, blues singer
Alvin Ailey, dancer and choreographer
Josephine Baker, actress, singer and dancer
Greg Louganis, Olympic diving gold medallist
Little Richard, singer and songwriter
Angela Davis, political activist and philosopher
Tracy Chapman, singer-songwriter
RuPaul, drag performer and singer
The reason why we’ve decided to contact you is because we believe that your support to our cause is vital. It could help us raise the profile of the struggle for equality that we are fighting in our own country.
We are outraged and appalled at the wave of homophobia we are seeing growing every day, and at the increasing number of hate crimes being committed against people because of their sexual orientation, both in Italy and abroad. The recent cases in Italy as in the rest of Europe are testimony to this awful spread in violence.
But we would like to draw your attention on something which might be happening at thousands of kilometres away, but nevertheless affect us all because it shows how barbaric, violent and homophobic our so-called “Western civilisation” is becoming.
The Italian parliament just yesterday scrapped a bill aimed at protecting gay people from hate crimes, on the grounds that it would violate the country’s national constitution. A debate over the introduction of such legislation had stemmed from the wave of murders, beatings, verbal aggressions and acts of bullying against LGBT people occurred in Italy in the last few months.
However, the Italian parliament’s justification for throwing out the bill – which would have raised penalties against acts of violence motivated by homophobia – was simply absurd: they said that it would give “unequal protection” to gays compared to other groups, violating the principle of equality.
A number of MPs even motivated their choice by saying that the very expression “sexual orientation” is in itself “ambiguous”, as it could include things like paedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia, incest and so on. And they didn’t simply state it verbally, but put it writing in a legal document that the majority of the parliament then approved.
This is delirious and insulting for our own dignity of Italians, but also for the dignity of every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual person living anywhere in Europe and in the world. It effectively touches each and every one of us living in the EU, because we are all part of the same Union, and there are basic principles of equality and respect that all of our governments are bound to respect.
Following the bill rejection, the United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the Italian Parliament’s stance is a “step backward for human rights in Italy”.
We ask you to support us in our battle for equality, by helping us organise and hold a protest/demonstration in front of the Italian embassy as soon as possible, involving as many people as possible to have our voice clearly heard.
Helping us protect LGBT rights in Italy today also means protecting your own rights to be yourselves, to live and to exist tomorrow in every part of the world.
Arcigay – Gay & Lesbian Italian Association
Italian Embassies All Around The World
Write An E-Mail To:
Giorgio Napolitano – President of Italian Republic
Gianfranco Fini – President of House of Representatives
Renato Schifani – President of Senate
Silvio Berlusconi – Prime Minister
Mara Carfagna – Minister for Equal Opportunities
The global struggle for queer freedom
Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2009
by Peter Tatchell
Most of the world is still living in the homophobic dark ages, but LGBT people are defiant and making gains.
Delivered 13 October 2009 at Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln, UK.
It is a very great honour, and joy, to deliver the Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2009. Caroline was a friend and comrade. I remember her with much affection. She left us with a fine humanitarian legacy as a leading advocate of comprehensive education and better educational opportunities. She also lives on, in spirit, through her inspiring, passionate support for socialism, trade union rights, women’s equality and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) freedom. She was a true progressive, who dedicated her life, with much honour and nobility, to the upliftment of humanity. I am very proud to have known Caroline, and salute her life and work with this lecture.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have made great progress in Britain, especially in the last decade. But in large parts of the world, homophobic and transphobic oppression remains rife.
Take Jamaica, a country with which Britain has close ties. It is a parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth. It is not a police-state dictatorship. Yet male homosexuality is criminalised and punishable with up to 10 years hard labour. Homophobic discrimination and violence is endemic and the government refuses to take any serious action to protect LGBT Jamaicans.
One of my Jamaican colleagues was the AIDS educator and gay rights activist, Steve Harvey. He was a trail-blazer for LGBT people and especially for people with HIV. In late 2005, a gang burst into his home, kidnapped him, took him to a remote place and shot him dead in an execution-style killing.
Soon afterwards, Nokia Cowen drowned when he jumped into Kingston harbour to escape a violent homophobic mob that had chased him through town. A few weeks later, Jamaica’s trade ambassador, Peter King, was found dead with his throat slashed and multiple stab wounds. Then there was the gruesome discovery of the mutilated bodies of two lesbians, who were found dumped in a septic pit behind the house they shared. All these horrific, homophobic killings happened just weeks apart.
Only this summer, John Terry, the British consul in Jamaica, was brutally mudered in his own home by a killer who left a note abusing him as a “batty man” (Jamaican patois slang for faggot), and warning that the same fate would happen to “all gays.”
Homophobic violence is routine in Jamaica, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. LGBT victims of hate crimes seldom get justice. Police sometimes ignore anti-gay attacks and some officers have been known to abuse, threaten, beat and arrest gay-bashing victims. The perpetrators of homophobic violence are rarely put on trial and convicted.
What is happening in Jamaica is symptomatic of a much wider homophobic persecution.
Around 80 countries continue to outlaw homosexuality, with penalties ranging from one year’s jail to life imprisonment. Just under half these countries are former British colonies and current members of the Commonwealth – a community of nations supposedly committed to uphold democracy and human rights. The anti-gay laws in these Commonwealth nations were originally legislated by the British government in the nineteenth century during the period of colonial rule. They were never repealed when these nations won their independence from Britain.
As well as homophobic laws, British imperalism imposed homophobic prejudice, by means of the fire and brimstone Christian fundamentalist missionaries who sought to “civilise” the so-called “heathen” peoples of the colonies. Some civilisation! The British conquerers instilled in these countries a homophobic hatred that lives on to this day, which is wrecking the lives of LGBT people.
Homophobia is particularly extreme in the Islamist states that impose the death penalty for same-sex relations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan and the Yemen. In some regions of other countries, such as Nigeria and Pakistan, Sharia law is enforced and lesbians and gays can be stoned to death.
Amid this gloom, last December something truly remarkable and historic happened. Sixty-six countries signed a United Nations’ statement calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality and condemning homophobic discrimination and violence. This was the first time the UN General Assembly had addressed the issue of LGBT human rights. Previously, all resolutions that attempted to get UN committees to endorse LGBT equality had been blocked by an unholy alliance of the Vatican and Islamic states.
Despite this breakthrough statement, even today no international human rights convention specifically acknowledges sexual rights as human rights. None explicitly guarantee equality and non-discrimination to LGBT people. The right to love a person of one’s choice is absent from global humanitatrian statutes. Relationships between partners of the same sex are not officially recognised in any international law. There is nothing in the many UN conventions that concretely guarantees LGBT equality and prohibits homophobic discrimination
Nor are specific LGBT rights and protections included within the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It is only in the last decade or so that the ECHR’s equality and privacy clauses been interpreted to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
In the late 1990s, British LGBT citizens filed appeals at the European Court of Human Rights, against the UK’s then discriminatory, homophobic laws. They cited the ECHR’s right-to-privacy and anti-discrimination clauses to successfully challenge centuries-old anti-gay UK legislation. These victories at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg forced the British government to repeal the unequal age of consent for gay men, discriminatory sexual offences laws and the ban on lesbians and gays serving in the armed forces.
ECHR judgments also successfully pressured Romania and Cyprus to decriminalise homosexuality. The ECHR has thus played an important role in challenging and overturning homophobic legislation.
Of the 192 member states of the UN, only a handful have repealed all major legal inequalities against LGBT people: including the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Canada, New Zealand and, more recently, the UK.
Britain’s record was not always so positive. In the 1980s, the UK had a greater number of homophobic laws than the then communist-ruled Soviet Union. Nowadays, we are one of the most progressive European countries. We’ve gone from zero to hero in a mere decade.
In large parts of the world, however, homophobia is still rampant. Hundreds of millions of LGBT people are forced to hide their sexuality; fearing ostracism, harassment, discrimination, imprisonment, torture and even murder.
Some of this violence is perpetrated by vigilantes, including right-wing death squads in countries like Mexico and Brazil. They justify the killing of queers as “social cleansing.”
Other homophobic persecution is officially encouraged and enforced by governments, police, courts, media and religious leaders.
This persecution is happening even in Europe and the US. In echoes of Margaret Thatcher’s notorious Section 28, Lithuania has just passed a new law banning the so-called “promotion” of homosexuality. The US maintains a federal ban on same-sex marriage and openly LGBT people are not allowed to serve in the armed forces.
Homophobic injustice is rife in much of Africa. Cameroonian gay men have been arrested and jailed in the last year, without any clear evidence that they had same-sex relations.
In Nigeria, in 2005, six teenage lesbians, one only 12 years old, were ordered to be punished with an agonising 90 lashes for consensual same-sex relations. Last year, a Nigerian gay pastor and another Christian gay activist were forced to flee the country after threats to kill them.
In Nepal, there is a long, sad history of transgender people being regularly beaten, raped, arrested and detained without trial.
Government ministers in Namibia, echoing the homo-hatred of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, have denounced lesbians and gays as unAfrican, as traitors and as spreaders of HIV/AIDS.
In the new post-Saddam Hussein “democratic” Iraq, the rise of Islamist fundamentalism has led to the creeping, de facto imposition of Sharia law, with deadly consequences for LGBTs – and for women who refuse to be veiled. Iraqis who murder LGBT people to defend the “honour” of their family escape punishment. The US and UK-backed Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has issued a fatwa calling for the execution of lesbians and gays in the “worst, most severe way possible.” Islamist death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias are assassinating LGBT people in their homes and streets, with impunity.
Russian religious leaders have united to orchestrate a campaign of hatred against the LGBT community. The Orthodox Church has denounced homosexuality as a “sin which destroys human beings and condemns them to a spiritual death.” The Chief Mufti of Russia’s Muslims, Talgat Tajuddin, says gay campaigners “should be bashed… Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime against God.” Russian Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, has condemned gay pride parades as “a blow for morality,” adding that there is no right to “sexual perversions.”
The Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, has denounced gay people as “satanic.” He has repeatedly banned Gay Pride marches. This violates Russia’s constitution and law, which guarantee freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest. LGBT people who have attempted to march have been violently arrested.
The Iranian persecution of LGBTs continues unabated. Twenty-two year old Amir was entrapped by via a gay dating website. The person he arranged to meet turned out to be a member of the morality police. Amir was jailed, tortured and sentenced to 100 lashes, which caused him to lose consciousness and left his whole back covered in huge bloody welts. He is just one of many Iranian LGBTs who have been subjected to lashings, torture, imprisonment and, sometimes, execution.
The western-backed regime in Saudi Arabia retains the death penalty – usually beheading – for homosexuality. In early 2006, its neighbour, the United Arab Emirates, imposed six years jail on 11 gay men arrested at a private party. They were not imprisoned for sexual acts, but merely for being gay and attending a gay social gathering.
The election of a right-wing, Catholic fundamentalist government in Poland in 2005 resulted in the abolition of the government office for combating discrimination against women and LGBTs. The same year, the Mayor of Poznan banned the Gay Pride parade. LGBT people marched anyway. Over 60 were arrested. Many more were injured after the police failed to protect them from the violence of far right counter-protesters.
Uganda is gripped by the state-sponsored victimisation of LGBT people. Typical is the fate of gay rights activist Kizza Musinguzi. He was jailed in 2004 and subjected to four months of forced labour, water torture, beatings and rape. Another gay Ugandan, Isaac K, narrowly escaped an attempted summary execution by a homophobic mob acting with the connivance of local government officials.
Those who speak out against anti-gay violence risk dire consequences. Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo was dismissed by the Church of Uganda for defending the human rights of LGBT people.
In recent years, the Ugandan government has passed a law banning same-sex marriage, fined Radio Simba for broadcasting a discussion of LGBT issues, and expelled a UN AIDS agency director for meeting with gay activists.
LGBT people have nevertheless made huge strides forward in many parts of the world. A mere four decades ago, “queers” were almost universally seen as mad, bad and sad. Same-sex relations were deemed a sin, a crime and a sickness. It was in only 1991 that the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as an illness, and that Amnesty International agreed to campaign for LGBT human rights and to adopt jailed LGBTs as prisoners of conscience.
Nowadays, the global tide is shifting in favour of LGBT emanicipation. An out gay man and LGBT activist, Sunil Pant, was elected to the parliament of Nepal in the post-monarchy elections. In 1999, Georgina Beyer took office in New Zealand, becoming the world’s first openly transgender MP. Uruguay, formerly a military dictatorship, this summer lifted its prohibition on gay servicemen and women. The Lebanon has made history by becoming the first Arab Middle East nation to allow the open, legal establishment of an LGBT welfare and human rights group, Helem.
While fundamentalist religion is still a major threat to LGBT equality, we also have our allies in many faiths. The anti-aparheid hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has compared homophobia to racism, and described the battle for LGBT freedom as the moral equivalent of the fight against apartheid.
Six countries now outlaw sexual orientation discrimination in their constitutions: South Africa (1996), Fiji (1997), Ecuador (1998), Switzerland (2000), Sweden (2003) and Portugal (2004).
In almost every country on earth, there are LGBT freedom movements – some open, others clandestine.
For the first time ever, countries like the Philippines, Estonia, Lebanon, Columbia, Russia, Sri Lanka, and China are hosting LGBT conferences and Pride celebrations. Via the internet and pop culture, LGBT people in small towns in Ghana, Peru, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Vietnam, St Lucia, Palestine, Fiji and Kenya are connecting with the worldwide LGBT community. The struggle for LGBT liberation has gone global. We’ve begun to roll back the homophobia of centuries. Bravo!
LGBT movements worldwide are urging every government to legislate LGBT equality and human rights and to tackle homophobic and transphobic prejudice, harassment, discriminatiion and violence. These demands include:
1 – Decriminalise same-sex relations; in particular, abolish the death penalty and flogging.
2 – Allow the formation of LGBT organisations and the advocacy of LGBT human rights; and consult with these organisations and their spokespeople when drafting new laws and policies.
3 – Outlaw discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in employment, housing, education, advertising, health-care and the provision of goods and services, such as hotel accommodation and service in bars and restaurants.
4 – Establish an equal age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual acts.
5 – Grant legal recognition and rights to same-sex partners; either via civil marriage or civil partnerships / civil unions.
6 – Teach gay-inclusive sex and civic education in schools, in order to challenge homophobia and promote understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.
7 – Crackdown on homophobic hate crimes, to protect LGBTs from hate-motivated violence.
8 – Revise all laws to make them sexuality-neutral, so there is no legislative differentiation between heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality, and so that heterosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual people have the same rights and responsibilities in law.
9 – Provide access for same-sex couples to fertility treatment and give them the right to foster and adopt children.
10 – Offer gay-inclusive HIV education and prevention campaigns, non-discriminatory HIV care and support services, and LGBT access to free or low-cost condoms.
Onward, upward and forward to queer liberation worldwide.
* Peter Tatchell has campaigned for LGBT human rights for over 40 years. For more information about his campaigns and to make a donation: http://www.petertatchell.net
NOTE: Please do not reply via this automated email system.
A Ugandan MP has proposed that lawmakers should create a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, which would be punishable by death.
Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, of the ruling party, tabled the private member’s bill in parliament on Tuesday.
According to his bill, those convicted of having gay sex with disabled people and those under the 18 would face the death penalty.
The bill, titled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, would give the same punishment to anyone infected with HIV who has sex with someone of the same gender.
It also imposes life imprisonment on those who have homosexual sex. Although this is already the case in Uganda, the new law widens the definition of the offence.
Other offence include promoting homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality and keeping a house “for purposes of homosexuality”.
Bahati said his bill would protect children, youths and the “traditional family”.
Human rights activists say Uganda, with a population of 31 million, has some 500,000 gays and lesbians.
Ugandan officials have previously blamed Europe and human rights groups for ‘spreading’ homosexuality.
President of Uganda Kaguta Yoweri Museveni and other officials have spoken out against gays on numerous occasions.
Mr Museveni spoke of his country’s “rejection” of homosexuality during a speech he gave at the wedding of a former MP’s daughter last year.
He said the purpose of life was to create children and that homosexuality was a “negative foreign culture.”
Earlier this year, a number of gay groups were accused of “recruiting” children into homosexuality by methods such as giving them pocket money.
It was reported that men describing themselves as born-again Christians were “confessing” to persuading children to become gay before finding God and “quitting” homosexuality.
Sami, one of the perhaps thousands of gay men recently attacked in Iraq, in an undisclosed location abroad. (Photo: Lynsey Addario/VII Network)
Thanks and appreciation to every individual and organisation that has supported and raised awareness of the plight of Iraqi LGBTs, and who has lobbied politicians and news editors to get stories on this issue published, like this excellent piece in the New York Times:
But I would also like to remind everyone that despite all the criticisms thrown at him, it was Ali Hili of Iraqi LGBT who first alerted the world to the organised killing of LGBT people in Iraq – way back in 2005. For a long time, he was a lone voice.
Although people have criticised Ali for various failings, he nevertheless deserves a great deal of praise for his pioneering, ground-breaking and life-saving work.
It is wonderful that Time Magazine, CNN and the New York Times have now reported the terrorisation of our LGBT sisters and brothers in Iraq, and that Human Rights Watch and other human rights organisations have produced some very powerful and valuable reports on the subject. Our thanks to them.
While I would not wish to detract one iota from the contributions of others, I think it is also important that we should show due generosity and humility by acknowledging that it was Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT who first bought this issue to public consciousness. They deserve our gratitude.
New York Times: The Hunted By Matt McAllester
From Baghdad—frightening reports of gay pogroms, where homosexual men are targeted, tortured, slayed. From New York—a scurry to find those same men before they are killed, and shepherd them to safety.
Published Oct 4, 2009.
On a bright afternoon in late March, an 18-year-old named Fadi stood in a friend’s clothing store in Baghdad checking out the new merchandise. A worker in a neighboring store walked into the boutique with a newspaper in his hand and shared a story he had just read. It was about “sexual deviants,” he said. Gay men’s rectums had been glued shut, and they had been force-fed laxatives and water until their insides exploded. They had been found dead on the street.
That evening Fadi met up with his three closest friends —Ahmed, Mazen, and Namir— in a coffee shop called the Shisha café in the Karada district of Baghdad. Karada is a mixed Shia-Christian neighborhood that has a more relaxed, cosmopolitan feel than many parts of the Iraqi capital. Fadi and his friends had been meeting there nearly every evening for a year, Fadi coming from his job cleaning toilets for Americans in the Green Zone and the three others from college. The coffee shop was relatively new and attracted a young crowd. The walls were colored in solid blocks of orange, green, and blue, the glass-topped tables painted red and black. It was the closest thing to hip that Baghdad had to offer. For Fadi and his three friends, who secretly referred to themselves as the 4 Cats, after a Pussycat Dolls–like Lebanese group, the Shisha was a refuge from the hostile, often violent anti-gay climate that they had grown up with in Iraq.
Fadi has a warm, irrepressible laugh; his eyes narrow under thick black eyebrows whenever someone tells a joke. He told his friends about the newspaper story, but insisted it couldn’t be true.
“They’re doing this to frighten us,” he said.
In recent weeks, with rumors of gay death squads and torture on the rise, the four friends had lowered their profile. They no longer went to the Shisha every night. “We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Fadi said, on the last night they met there.
On April 4, at about 8 p.m., Fadi’s cell phone rang. It was Mazen’s brother.
“Mazen and Namir have been killed,” he said.
The maimed bodies of the two friends had been discovered together in the vast Shia district of Baghdad named Sadr City, which is a stronghold of the Mahdi Army, a powerful Shia militia. Mazen had had his pectoral muscles cut off. There were two drill holes in Namir’s left leg, below the knee. Both had been shot in the head, apparently from close range.
“Two young men were killed on Thursday,” an unnamed Sadr City official told the Reuters news agency in a story published that same day. “They were sexual deviants. Their tribes killed them to restore their family honor.” In the same story, Reuters cited a police source as saying that the bodies of four other gay men had been found in Sadr City on March 25 with signs on their chests reading PERVERT.
Fadi called Ahmed. They spoke for an hour. They were devastated by their friends’ deaths, of course. They were also terrified. Under torture, Mazen and Namir may have given up their names…
Keith Goddard 1960 – 2009
Director of Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe
London – 11 October 2009
Members of the British LGBT human rights group OutRage! extend their condolences to our comrades in Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe and to the family and friends of Keith Goddard, following his illness and tragic death on 9 October 2009.
He was a true hero of the freedom struggle in Zimbabwe, and made a major contribution to GALZ’s campaigns and successes over a period of nearly two decades.
OutRage! is very proud and honoured to have worked with Keith and GALZ from the early 1990s onwards, supporting their many struggles against the homophobia and tyranny of the Mugabe / ZANU-PF regime.
We stood with Keith and his courageous GALZ comrades as they resisted state harassment, defended individual LGBT people, demanded their rightful place at successive Book Fairs and defied President Mugabe’s many public theats and attacks on LGBT Zimbabweans.
When OutRage! attempted its two citizen’s arrests of President Robert Mugabe, in London in 1999 and in Brussels in 2001, Keith offered his congratulations. He reported that these attempts had a huge positive effect inside Zimbabwe. They prompted, he said, the Zimbabwean media to interview GALZ many times over and to report LGBT human rights issues to an extent that had rarely, if ever, happened before. Keith was usually the GALZ person interviewed and he used these media opportunities very effectively to challenge homophobic ignorance and prejudice – and to eloquently set out the case for equality.
Politically astute and a highly effective campaign strategist, Keith built links with other human rights activists in Zimbabwe in a successful bid to put LGBT equality at the heart of the mainstream Zimbabwean human rights movment. He and his GALZ comrades have done magnificent work to build broad support for LGBT rights in a future post-ZANU-PF Zimbabwe, when Mugabe is history.
On a personal level, Keith was an immensely kind, generous, supportive, warm-hearted person. I remember some wonderful, enjoyable evenings with him during his periodic visits to London.
A non-sectarian bridge-builder, he despised personal attacks and infighting. He was supportive of myself and OutRage! at times when others were not . In 2007, a number of African LGBT activists were goaded by false allegations into a signing a letter denouncing us. Keith refused. He knew, from many years of working with OutRage!, that these allegations were untrue. We were very grateful for Keith’s honourable stand against political sectarianism.
Keith was also, like all GALZ activists, very brave: unafraid to take a public stand for LGBT human rights, despite police and government repression. He risked his liberty and life many times, speaking out against homophobia and transphobia, even though this marked him as a potential target for state and vigilante violence. The danger of kidnapping, arrest, imprisonment, torture and murder never deterred him.
Keith will be remembered as a pioneer and hero of the LGBT liberation struggle in Africa. We salute him.
Peter Tatchell, OutRage!, London, UK
Montag, 5. Oktober 2009 (Photo Reuters)
A Franco-britannique deportation “charter” is scheduled for October 6 flying to Kabul. While the humanitarian situation and security continue to deteriorate in Afghanistan, that there has more civilian casualties than ever, and NGOs such as the Secretary General of UN expressed particular concern about the situation, France and Great Britain are trying, as they did in November 2008 with a joint operation. Afghanistan is a country at war. It is unacceptable to refer those that have fled to seek protection in Europe.
In France the Minister of immigration is mocking the decision of different courts to release 130 OF the 138 Afghans who had been arrested on September 22, for their removal, with the spectacular closure of the the largest “jungle” in Calais.
These courts have highlighted the inanity of this media operation recalling the respect of the people rights and fundamental freedoms Several courts have cancelled the papers obliging the migrants to leave the French territory (APRF) with the motivation of the non respect of the right to claim asylum. The government has not remedied this.
The government remains locked in his rhetoric about the magnetic effect of the jungle, according to which Afghans, Eritreans, Iraqis, Iranians, Sudanese, etc.. don’t come to Europe to save their lives and their freedoms, but for reasons of pleasure and comfort. According to this rhetoric, the current raids are supposed to carry disincentive messages in the countries of origin. So it like this that the Afghans of Calais are being taken hostage to try to terrorize their fellow victims of violence in the country.
These “cleaning operation” are continuing as well as the placement of Afghans in detention .
The joint charters which are contrary to the principle of collective deportation. They are leading to arbtitrary discriminatory and inhuman practices , in defiance of peoples fundamental rights.
We call upon the French and the Britsh authorities to waive any project of deportation to Afghanistan which would seriously endanger the lives of the Exiles.
We reaffirm the urgency of making sense of asylum in Europe by providing a mechanism for all refugees to seek protection in the country of his/her choice. In the meantime, that France can and must suspend the application of the Dublin Regulation so it may host on its territory those who continue to flee conflict and take refuge in Europe.
Cimade Julie Chansel 06 82 24 03 47
I am extremely concern and saddened when I heard: Taking his post at the opening of the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations, on 15 September 2009, Libyan Ali Abdussalam Treki suggested that homosexuality was unacceptable.
The newly-elected President was asked during his press conference about the UN Resolution calling for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality. “That matter is very sensitive, very touchy. As a Muslim, I am not in favour of it…it is not accepted by the majority of the countries. My opinion is not in favour of this matter at all, I think it is not really acceptable by our religion, our tradition”, he said.
I call on the President to represent all countries and people of all walks not only Muslims. He is there to defend the principles of the United Nations and that includes the Universal Declaration Human Rights Act 1948 and all following amendments and covenants of rights, including LGBT Human Rights.
His religious views should remain private and he must now speak on behalf of those who do not have a voice. He should know that the implications of his words could legitimize violence and hatred towards LGBTI people in country like Libya.
Nepal, along with 66 countries, signed the Resolution in favour of the decriminalization of homosexuality and passed last December. Nepal is very much committed to realize full equality and justice for all regardless of sexual orientations and gender identities.
Sunil Babu Pant
Founder, Blue Diamond Society
Coordinator, Parliamentary Action Team on Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.
Russian gay community leader Nikolai Alexeyev waves a flag during a banned gay rally in Moscow in 2008. (AFP/Dmitry Kostyukov)
Friday Oct 2, 2009 – MOSCOW (AFP) – A Russian court on Friday dismissed a long-shot libel suit filed by gay activists against Moscow’s veteran mayor in a ruling that they described as a blow to human dignity in Russia.
The suit had been filed after Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, speaking on television in June, called Russian gay activists seeking to organize a gay pride parade “gomiki,” a derogatory word that can be translated as “homos.”
“Our society has healthy morals and does not accept all these homos,” Luzhkov told TV Centre, a channel owned by his administration, according to the website GayRussia.ru, whose activists filed the libel suit.
A spokeswoman for Moscow’s Tverskoi court said the hearing had taken place Friday and the libel suit had been dismissed for lack of evidence.
“The court has refused to sustain the plaintiff’s claim,” said spokeswoman Alexandra Berezina.
Had he lost the suit, Luzhkov would have had to pay one kopeck, a Russian coin of the smallest denomination, as symbolic compensation to the gay activists.
Nikolai Alexeyev, Russia’s leading gay activist and an organiser of the gay pride parade, said he would appeal the court decision, adding that activists had not expected any other ruling in the run-up to local elections later this month.
“This is the de-facto legalization of discourtesy, offence, disparagement of human dignity,” Alexeyev said of the ruling.
“It means we live in a state where human dignity means nothing,” he told AFP.
Luzhkov has repeatedly banned gay pride parades, calling them “satanic acts” but arguing that he wanted to protect homosexuals in a society where homophobic sentiments run high.