Archive for February, 2010
Eight transgenders join UML Party
Sent by Sunil Pant
KATHMANDU: Political parties in Nepal seem to be getting friendly and welcoming with sexual minorities in recent days. A few months after Bhumika Shreshta, a transsexual, joined the Nepali Congress, the ruling CPN-UML welcomed eight sexual minorities in. UML Vice Chairman Ashok Rai welcomed them amid a function at party headquarters in Balkhu on Friday. Rai said they would be recognised as zonal committee members. Newly joined UML activists include Sandhya Lama, Badri Pun, Suman Chepang, Bishnu Chepang, Sumit Paudel, Raju Silwal and Sthapa Chaudhary. “We are quite happy with your entry into our party,” said Aasta Laxmi Shakya, a UML politburo member. “Your entry will be easier in mainstreaming your agenda as well.” UML leaders KP Sharma Oli, Binda Paney and Rai were also present at the function.
Russia denied registering a Gay Group campaigning for Marriage Equality
Sent by Nicolas Alexeyev
The Russian Ministry of Justice turned down the application of a group of gay and lesbian activists to register the first All Russia NGO dedicated to support the campaign for Same-Sex Marriage.
“Your organization cannot be registered on the basis that its aims contradict the law on NGOs and provisions of the family code which define marriage as a union between a man and a woman“ says the letter received by the board of the organization.
The board said today that “we asked today the Russian justice to reverse this illegal decision, and we will go all the way up the European Court of Human Rights if necessary”
‘Marriage Equality Russia’ is backed by a group of Moscow and St Petersburg LGBT groups as well as individuals, also heterosexuals.
The campaign is already running since last May when the group helped a lesbian couple to register their union in Moscow. After getting a denial from the Civil Registrar, the couple entered into Marriage last October in Toronto.
The couple is about to introduce an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights after the Russian justice twice upheld the denial.
One of the spouses, Irina Fedotova (Fet), a board member of ‘Marriage Equality Russia’ said about her participation in the organization:
“This campaign is not only about my marriage with Irina. We want to bring our contribution to help opening the way to marriage to other gays and lesbians and not only in Russia”.
Nikolai Alekseev, spokesman for ‘Marriage Equality Russia’ said:
“Russia is a country where you cannot hold a march in the streets if you openly advertize it as gay, and this is the same with registering an openly gay organization”
“We could probably succeed in registering a NGO and remain discreet on its aim or organize a march without applying it as a gay march, but there is simply no sense in staying in the closet. Only the fight for visibility gets you in the media and help with time to make more people open about us.”
“Knocking at each door in secret and quietly explain what is homosexuality is not going to take us anywhere in a country of 141 million”
Last October, a group of UN experts found that discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation is “systematic”.
Marriage Equality Russia
‘Protest the Pope’ Downing Street Petition launched
Gordon Brown urged to disassociate the government from Pope’s views
Already over 3,000 signatures
London – 22 February 2010
A Downing Street petition has been launched, urging Prime Minister Gordon Brown to “disassociate the British government from the Pope’s intolerant views.”
The petition has been launched ahead of the Papal visit to Britain in September this year. It has been submitted by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and has already attracted over 3,000 signatures.
View the petition here:
Note: only UK residents with a UK address are eligible to sign the petition
A petition by Mr Tatchell on the same subject last year was refused inclusion on the Downing Street website.
“The Pope opposes universal human rights. He rejects equality for women and gay people, condemns the use of life-saving condoms, colludes with Holocaust appeasers and he is implicated in the cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic priests,” said Mr Tatchell.
“A man with such objectionable views should not be honoured with an official State Visit. If he wants to come to Britain, he should pay his own way. The public should not be expected to cover the estimated £20 million cost. This money would be far better spent on schools and hospitals,” added Mr Tatchell.
The petition reads:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to disassociate the British government from the Pope’s intolerant views ahead of the Papal visit to Britain in September 2010. We urge the Prime Minister to make it clear that his government disagrees with the Pope’s opposition to women’s reproductive rights, gay equality, embryonic stem cell research and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. We ask the Prime Minister to express his disagreement with the Pope’s role in the cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy, his rehabilitation of the Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson, and his decree paving the way for the beatification and sainthood of the war-time Pope, Pius XII, who stands accused of failing to speak out against the Holocaust. We also request the Prime Minister to assure us that the Pope’s visit will not be financed by the British taxpayer.”
Peter Tatchell has criticised at length the Pope Benedict XVI’s “illiberal” and “often extreme” stance on key social issues:
“The Pope is an opponent of women’s rights. He not only opposes the right of women to choose to have an abortion but also their right to contraception, which can help reduce the abortion rate,” said Mr Tatchell.
“He opposes women’s access to IVF fertility treatment, to give childless couples the chance of parenthood.
“The Pope supports gender discrimination, including a ban on women priests and bishops, and he wants the Catholic Church to be exempt from equality and anti-discrimination laws that apply to everyone else.
“He has sought to block potentially life-saving embryonic stem cell research, and he rejects the right of suffering, terminally ill people to die with dignity at a moment of the their own free choice.
“Pope Benedict denounces the use of condoms, even to stop the spread of HIV, and he has falsely claimed that condom usage “increases” the rate of HIV infection. His teachings put millions of lives at risk.
See The Independent, 27 March 2009:
“He has acquiesced with the Vatican’s lie that condoms spread HIV and that the virus can pass through the latex (sic). This outrageous falsehood has been condemned as untrue and irresponsible by the World Health Organisation and Christian Aid.
See the BBC website, 9 October 2003:
“He rejects legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and their full protection in law against homophobic and transphobic discrimination
“The Pope has approved the Catholic Catechism, which condemns same-sex relationships as a “grave depravity,” “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law.”
See The Vatican website, Catechism 2357:
“In 1992, he authored a Vatican document that condemned homosexuality as an “objective disorder” and a “strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil.” Rejecting the concept of gay human rights, the document asserted that there is no “right” to laws protecting homosexual people against discrimination, suggesting that the civil liberties of lesbians and gay men can be “legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct.”
See in full the Vatican document – Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons:
“The Pope has attacked same-sex marriages as “evil” and vilified supporters of gay equality as “gravely immoral.” He has also vilified homosexual equality as a “deviant trend” and condemned same-sex love as being “without any social value.”
“Pope Benedict colludes with anti-semitism, including with holocaust deniers and with Catholic leaders who were complicit with the Nazi regime.
“He rescinded the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson who, in 2008, denied key elements of the Holocaust with claims that a maximum of 300,000 Jews died in concentration camps and that none were gassed by the Nazis.
See the BBC website, 4 February 2009:
“He has also paved the way for the beatification and eventual sainthood of Pope Pius XII by issuing a decree in 2009 celebrating his virtues, despite the war-time pontiff’s 1933 Concordat with Adolf Hitler and his silence concerning the Nazi mass murder of six million Jews.
See The Guardian, 22 December 2009:
“While condemning loving, consenting adult same-sex relations, the Pope helped shield from prosecution Catholic clergy guilty of child sex abuse. He colluded with the cover up of their crimes and with the policy of relocating paedophile priests to other parishes, where they often went on to commit further sexual abuse, as revealed in the 2006 BBC Panorama programme, Sex crimes and the Vatican.
See the Evening Standard, 30 September 2006:
and see BBC Panorama 1 October 2006:
“Pope Benedict is complicit with human rights abuses and should not be accorded the honour of a State Visit to Britain,” said Mr Tatchell.
In the coastal town of Mtwapa in Kenya’s Kilifi district, media hysteria and outrage by clerics over a non-existent gay wedding whipped up mob violence that began on February 12, unleashing a house-to-house witch hunt by anti-gay vigilantes, street attacks targeting gay men, the sacking of an AIDS-fighting medical center, and a widening wave of ultra-homophobic national media coverage.
Many gay men have gone into hiding or fled the area.
From Nairobi, the nation’s capital, Denis Nzioka, a prominent 24-year-old gay activist, told Gay City News, “Ever since the outburst of violence in Mtwapa, gay people have had to fear for their lives. Vigilante groups are hunting down gay men, going door to door, and anyone who is overly flamboyant is attacked in the street.”
According to an internal report jointly prepared by on-scene representatives of both the leading Kenyan queer group, the two-year-old Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), a non-governmental organization formed two decades ago, the wave of anti-gay violence had Kafkaesque origins in a false rumor about a gay wedding supposedly planned for February 12.
“There is even a suggestion that it was a planted story,” said the GALCK-KHRC report, adding, “In any case, the most repeated version is that about two weeks ago a well-known and popular gay man in the Mtwapa area went to a barbershop for a haircut. When one of the barbers commented that his hair looked really nice and asked him where was going, he responded jokingly that he was going to get married. However, the barber took it seriously and went to his local mosque and reported that there was a planned gay wedding set for Friday, February 12 in Mtwapa.”
That mosque’s imam then announced the so-called “wedding” to his congregation and instructed his flock to begin monitoring any community gatherings to insure that no gay weddings could take place.
After this, “a local radio station, Kaya FM, picked up the story and started a series of programs on gays,” according to the GALCK-KHRC report, which Nzioka told this reporter included phone-in talk shows filled with homophobic discourse and incitements to violence.
“Kaya FM presents in Swahili and many of the Minikenda languages, and therefore has a real grassroots reach,” the report said, adding, “The main focus of the discussions was the impending ‘wedding’ of two men in Mtwapa. Other local radio stations also picked up the story, including Baraka FM, Rahma FM, and ultimately national radio stations including Kiss and Classic FM.”
Five days before the date of the alleged wedding, “many of the muftis and imams discussed the impending wedding during Friday prayers and asked the community to be vigilant against homosexuals. They told their congregants to demonstrate and to flush out homosexuals from the midst of Mtwapa and to ensure that no gay wedding took place,” the GALCK-KHRC report declared.
Nzioka told this reporter, “Mtwapa is predominantly Muslim, and the imams have a lot of power and influence there.”
Some 60 percent of Kenya’s Muslim population lives in the coastal area where Mtwapa is located. Kenya is roughly 10 percent Muslim, 33 percent Roman Catholic, and 45 percent Protestant, according to the country’s entry in the CIA World Factbook.
As a harbinger of things to come, on the evening of the February 7, following anti-gay preachings in Muslim mosques, a group of young men invaded Kalifornia, the main gay club in Mtwapa, and while dancing warned in the form of a song, “Gays have no joy and this time round they will have no joy or happiness for them.” In the days that followed, calls were heard from rioters to burn down Kalifornia.
On February 11, a homophobic press conference condemning the next day’s purported wedding was held by Sheikh Ali Hussein, regional coordinator of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), together with Bishop Lawrence Chai, regional representative of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK).
According to a story in the Daily Nation about the press conference, “The clerics claimed that a large number of youths were being recruited into gay clubs and warned that ‘God is about to punish the fastest growing town in the Coast region. Come night, come day, we shall not allow that marriage to be conducted in this town tomorrow. We shall stand firm to flush out gays who throng this town every weekend from all corners of this country,’ the religious leaders said.”
The two clerics “said they had given the government seven days to close down night clubs they accused of fuelling homosexuality in the town,” the Daily Nation reported, adding that the two “asked the government to ‘save the country from the shame of being used to conduct a marriage between people of the same sex.’ They also warned the owner of a building in the town, who was allegedly renting rooms only to homosexuals, to evict them or face their wrath. They gave him a seven-day ultimatum to throw out tenants.”
The two clerics also denounced the Mtwapa clinic run by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), a large national organization with 750 staff members nationwide that runs a research program co-sponsored by Britain’s Oxford University. The clinic has an AIDS program for counseling and treating men who have sex with men.
Sheikh Hussein and Bishop Chai demanded that the government investigate the KEMRI clinic for providing services to homosexuals.
“How can a state institution be involved on the pretext of providing counseling to these criminals?,” the two clerics said, according to the Daily Nation, and they added, “We ask that the government shut it down with immediate effect or we will descend on its officials.”
The day after this inflammatory press conference, a well-organized mob of some 200 to 300 people armed with sticks, stones, and other weapons, and led by a vigilante leader named Faridi surrounded the KEMRI clinic, which was alleged to be the site of the non-existent wedding, and demanded that all the “shogas” come out of the building. “Shoga” is a Swahili word used as a pejorative against homosexuals — the equivalent of “faggot” — but also by women when referring to their close female friends.
Faridi, the vigilante leader, entered the clinic accompanied by police officers and confronted a staff member wearing a World AIDS Day T-shirt with a pink triangle that read “Condoms prevent AIDS” in Swahili. The vigilante is reported to have said, “This man is a shoga,” and at his demand, the police arrested him. Another KEMRI staffer was arrested later, also at Faridi’s insistence.
Nzioka told Gay City News that the KEMRI clinic was subsequently sacked, with material including computers destroyed, and was forced to shut down. This disruption of the clinic’s work means that many HIV-positive people who access care and treatment there have not been able to get their medications for days, which has serious health consequences for them.
Later that same day, “after Friday prayers” in Mtwapa’s mosques, “mobs of individuals went to the homes of suspected homosexuals looking for them,” said the GALCK-KHRC report, which also recounted speeches to a large mob that had gathered outside the local police station. Sheikh Hussein addressed the crowd in a manner “that was inciting, and he kept talking about Sodom and Gomorrah and the need to root out all homosexuals from the Mtwapa area,” the report said.
A former member of Kenya’s parliament, Omar Masumbuko, was one of several politicians who also addressed the mob. “He said that homosexuality must be stopped and every means used to make that happen,” according to the GALCK-KHRC report. “He told the crowd they should not even bother to bring the homosexuals they find to the police station but should take care of the issue themselves,”
Sodomy and sex “against the order of nature” are crimes in Kenya, punishable by ten years in prison, under a law inherited from the period of British colonial rule, which ended in 1963.
February 12 was punctuated by numerous attacks on gay people. At 8 that morning, before leading the mob attack on the KEMRI clinic, Faridi was joined by police in storming and ransacking the home of a gay man, who was arrested along with a friend who was visiting from abroad. While searching the guest’s luggage, they found jewelry that included some rings. Faridi immediately said that these were the rings for the intended wedding.
In a separate incident, a 23-year-old security guard was descending from a bus heading toward the center of Mtwapa when he was set upon by a mob that threatened him with death and beat him senseless. A female sex worker tried to protect him with her body and yelled at the crowd that they can’t kill people like that and that the man had not done anything, but the mob doused the man with kerosene, preparing to burn him alive. At this point the police arrived, but instead of arresting anyone in the mob, they arrested the man it had attacked. The bloodied, dazed man was incarcerated and denied medical attention.
The following day, a volunteer at the KEMRI clinic was attacked by a mob, which chanted that it was actually his wedding they had disrupted. The man was severely beaten and burnt with cigarette butts. As the mob prepared to douse the man with kerosene, he too was arrested. After his arrest, a mob attempted to attack the Mtwapa police station but was repulsed with tear gas.
In total, six men presumed to be gay were arrested, some of them forced to undergo medical examinations for evidence of sodomy, and all were scheduled for a court appearance on February 15. But Nzioka told this reporter that, after intervention by an attorney provided by KHRC, all six were released from custody, and have now fled the area.
Nzioka also said that the wave of anti-gay violence and protests in Mtwapa had received “huge” publicity in all the national media, particularly radio and television, but that “all of it was, sadly, very, very homophobic,” and that the media had utterly failed to reach out to representatives of the gay community. Instead, he said, gay-baiting commentaries and reactions from imams and other religious and anti-gay leaders were featured.
Asked by Gay City News if the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) was sending a staff member to Kenya from its branch office in Johannesburg, South Africa, the organization’s executive director, Cary Alan Johnson, replied in an e-mail, “We are not sending a staff member to Kenya at this point, as we have full confidence in the local LGBT movement, which is grouped together under the banner of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) to respond to the situation. Also, a number of national and local mainstream human rights partners, particularly the Kenya Human Rights Coalition, are engaging with the clear recognition that an attack on the rights of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity is an attack on the freedoms of all Kenyan citizens.”
GALCK is not a membership organization but an alliance of five other groups — Ishtar, a health group for men who have sex with men; Gaykenya.com, a web site; Minority Women in Action, a lesbian group; the Gender Education and Advocacy Project (GEAP), a group for transgendered and intersex people; and The Other Man in Kenya (TOMIKI), a social network of gay professionals in the medical, legal, and other fields, most of whom, Nzioka said, are “very discreet.”
The consciousness informing at least some in GALCK’s leadership has raised concerns. In a statement demanding government protection for gays published on the group’s website, its general manager, David Kuria, wrote, “We also call upon the religious leaders in Kenya to appreciate that compulsory heterosexuality is not the way to enforce their religion. GALCK members are willing to enter into dialogue with them, and if they truly have a cure for homosexuality, then we are most happy to take it, BUT NOT UNDER CONDITIONS OF DURESS.”
Since the American Psychiatric Association and most of its Western peer groups have not only completely discredited the notion that there can be a “cure” for homosexuality, but also affirmed that attempting to inflict such a “cure” on those with a same-sex orientation can be extremely harmful psychologically, it is quite disturbing to see the leader of a gay group like GALCK say that his members would be “happy to take” such a so-called cure if available.
Kuria could not be reached for comment by press time.
GALCK has five paid staff members and, Nzioka told this reporter, receives the bulk of its funding from LLH, the Norwegian LGBT Association.
There is no immediate prospect of repeal of the anti-gay sodomy statute in Kenya. Nzioka told Gay City News that Kenya’s gay community has “copiously” inundated the experts drafting a new national constitution with documents supporting the repeal of anti-gay laws and the extension of human rights to LGBT people, but that the committee has turned a deaf ear, and “has even buckled under to homophobia by removing a section which said that ‘every person has a right to start a family,’ which was interpreted as giving gays the right to have or adopt children.”
Moreover, said Nzioka, while there are a handful of friendly elected public officials and politicians with whom queer groups are in contact, “all are secretive, very discreet” about their support for gay rights and there is no organized evidence of that support in the national parliament.
Meanwhile, the Mtawapa witch-hunt shows no signs of letting up: at the beginning of this week, Sheikh Hussein launched radio appeals for a mass anti-gay demonstration in Mtawapa on February 19.
A video report on the Mtwapa incidents from Kenya’s NTV is at:
The web site of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) is at http://galck.org/index.php.
Gaykenya is at http://www.gaykenya.com.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission is at http://www.khrc.or.ke/.
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at http://direland.typepad.com/
Full Story :
By Paul Canning – LGBT Asylum News
- Human Rights Watch (HRW) confirms pogrom fears, writes demanding action from Kenyan authorities
- Six gay men released from police custody, told to leave the region
- HRW say no arrests for homosexual offences made
- Mob attacks spread to Mombasa from nearby towns
- Local politicians closely involved in attempted pogrom
- Public continue to identify gay men, police arrest them
- More reports of media incitement role
- Anti-gay forces plan further attacks
The HRW letter, organised by Dipika Nath, researcher in the LGBT rights program, details the investigations carried out by local human rights bodies and backs the account of events first circulated by Kenyan gay groups in the immediate aftermath of the attempted pogrom.
HRW say that events began with in late January with unsubstantiated rumours about a “gay wedding” scheduled for February 12 (other reports say it was a joke made in a barbers). Radio stations discussed the rumour then on February 7 several imams and muftis (Islamic scholars) told their congregations during Friday prayers to be vigilant and to “expose” homosexuals in Mtwapa, a town north of Mombasa.
On February 11 Sheikh Ali Hussein of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya and Bishop Lawrence Chai of the National Council of Churches of Kenya held a news conference.
As reported by Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation and confirmed by other witnesses who spoke to HRW, they demanded an investigation of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Mtwapa, a government health center that provides HIV/AIDS services. They criticized the government for “providing counselling services to these criminals” and demanded that the KEMRI office be shut down.
In a statement after the meeting, the religious leaders promised to “flush out gays”, local activists told HRW.
The next day an armed mob of 200 to 300 people, which HRW say appeared planned rather than spontaneous, surrounded the KEMRI health center. HRW say that a KEMRI staff member was pointed out as homosexual because he wore a T-shirt promoting safer sex and arrested, the report from local gay groups say the T-shirt had a pink triangle on it (the symbol worn by gays in Nazi death camps).
The mob continued to pull two people from a home and beat senseless another man who was approaching the health center and was about to set him on fire when the police arrived and took him into custody as well. Others went to the homes of gays and threatened them.
Local activists told HRW that none of the men were charged and they have all since been released, and that the police were attempting to protect them from violence by taking them into custody. However HRW says that the men were asked to submit to forensic examinations to determine if they are homosexual. Five of them refused and the sixth consented and was examined, although no “evidence” of homosexuality is reported to have been found.
Human Rights Watch said:
Forensic medical examinations to “prove” homosexual conduct are archaic and discredited. If conducted without genuine consent, they may constitute torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
The mob were addressed outside the police station where the gay men were being held by speakers including a religious leader saying all homosexuals should be driven out and another (a former local MP according to other reports) saying to not bother bringing homosexuals to the police but rather to take the law into its own hands.
A Dutch man, Jankees de Ridder, who was traveling through Mtwapa the next day, Saturday 13 Feb, reported that the mob were holding the Kenyan newspaper the Saturday Nation with their photograph on the front page.
Police in a pick-up could hardly prevent the mob from beating a man, lying in the vehicle. I was shocked. I was even more shocked as I had read about a bishop and a Imam in the Friday newspaper calling on youths to harass homosexuals.
GALCK’s David Kuria says that reports coming in to them are that police have initiated an operation to identify and arrest suspected homosexuals. Local politicians are actively involved in the exercise of identifying people as are members of the public.
Most of the people have been arrested from their offices or as in the case of two of the men, while boarding public transport – each in a different location.
Kuria says that medical professionals were relocated from attending normal hospital operations to help the police with quick identification of the homosexuals through medical examinations. He says that it is assumed that many people will be arrested during the police swoops and the medical professionals will help in filtering those who will be taken to court and those to be released.
The BBC say that police spokesman Martha Mutegi told them that the gay men taken into custody had been advised to leave the area for their own safety and ‘to avoid angering the local community’.
HRW say that attacks on gays have spread to Mombasa.
They say that none of the attackers have been arrested but that several people have gone into hiding; others are preparing to flee their homes at a moment’s notice.
Gay Uganda reports that further demonstrations are planned after Friday prayers (Feb 19). HRW say that Sheikh Ali Hussein had announced this on the radio and that local activists fear that demonstrations may extend to mosques along the coast, including in Mombasa. Hussein told Islam Online:
We are ready to shed our bloods to protect the dignity of Mtwapa town and we want our people to rise up against the vice.
Human Rights Watch’s Dipika Nath said:
The government is sitting silent while mobs try to kill human rights defenders and assault people they suspect are gay. Inaction is complicity, and silence can be lethal.
The police need to arrest the attackers and put a halt to what appears to be a coordinated nationwide attack on people perceived to be homosexual. The disruption of lifesaving HIV/AIDS work could mean a public health catastrophe as well as a human rights disaster.
The attacks and hate-mongering and the government’s failure to act have spread fear in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, Human Rights Watch said.
Meanwhile the BBC continues to carry a completely different account of events from those coming from human rights and gay groups.
Local reporter Odhiambo Joseph continues to claim that “five people [were] arrested for planning a “gay wedding”” and in its latest report now says that “the rallies were apparently sparked by US President Barack Obama’s condemnation of planned anti-gay legislation in neighbouring Uganda.”
He also claims that (my emphasis) “police began a crackdown on the gay community last week following anti-gay protests”.
The reporting echoed that of Islam Online which claimed that:
Muslim and Christian residents of Mtwapa, a district in the outskirts of the port city of Mombassa, recently joined hands in disrupting a planned nuptial involving two local tribesmen on the ground of being completely an alien practice in their largely conservative community.
They quote Bishop Laurence Chai, of the National Council of Churches of Kenya, about the non-existent marriage:
We may be on the verge of being doomed had these criminals managed to conduct their evil exercise within our neighborhood.
URGENT CALL TO ACTION
Italy, February 18th, 2010
ITALY, TWO HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FROM EVERYONE GROUP RECEIVE A PENAL ORDER (A CRIMINAL CONVICTION WITHOUT GOING TO TRIAL) FOR THEIR HUMANITARIAN WORK: “IT IS THE FIRST TIME IN THE WORLD”
THE NEWS GIVEN BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION: “A CONVICTION BASED ON INACCURATE EVIDENCE GIVEN BY A POLICE OFFICER. IT IS THE UMPTEENTH EPISODE OF ABUSE OF POWER BY THE ITALIAN AUTHORITIES”
EVERYONE GROUP APPEALS TO THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION AND THE FRONTLINE FOUNDATION: “WE ARE ASKING FOR SUPPORT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, VICTIMS IN ITALY OF VIOLENCE, INTIMIDATION AND JUDICIARY ABUSE OF POWER, A WORSE SITUATION THAN IN TOTALITARIAN REGIMES WHERE THE INDIVIDUAL IS AT LEAST GUARANTEED THE RIGHT TO DEFEND HIMSELF
On February 12th, 2010, Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau, co-presidents with Matteo Pegoraro of EveryOne Group, international human rights organization based in Italy, received notification of a penal order, with the prison sentence commuted into a heavy fine. In the decree, issued on 5/11/09 by the Pesaro Justice Court – Office of the Magistrate for Preliminary Investigations – condemns the activists for the offence punishable by art. 110, 340 of the Italian Criminal Code, because on December 20th, 2008 “in complicity with each other, they caused the interruption, or at least disturbed a police operation aimed at identifying three foreign citizens, and used abusive and disparaging language towards the officers from Pesaro-Urbino Police Headquarters, and interfered in the carrying out of their duty.”
“It is the umpteenth episode of abuse from the authorities (and in particular from the Police Headquarters) we have been subjected to in Pesaro and in Italy” say the co-presidents of the Group. ”Throughout 2008 and in the early months of 2009 we were repeatedly summoned to police headquarters because of our humanitarian work in defence of the Roma community living in our Country”.
After the protests of our Organization for the endless camp clearances of Roma families (without any offer of assistance) and after our protests over the illegitimate expulsion of a group of Afghan refugees who had applied for asylum, the Pesaro Police Commissioner issued Roberto Malini a verbal warning on the following grounds: “Seeing the Roma are notorious criminals, I consider EveryOne Group part of a criminal organization and I invite it to cease its activity”. Following this warning, the activists of EveryOne Group were subjected to various episodes of intimidation and provocation, while the brutal operations aimed at driving the Roma out of the city continued. The attitude of the Police Commissioner and the anti-Roma programme carried out by the Pesaro authorities have been the subject of various Parliamentary questions, leading to the transfer of the Police Commissioner to a different detachment.
Following the camp clearance (in mid winter) of the last Roma families to take refuge in Pesaro, EveryOne Group filed a complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the same Pesaro Justice Court – reporting both the violation of human rights and the open hostility shown towards human rights defenders.
“We were expecting the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the abuse committed by the local authorities towards the Roma community”, say Malini, Pegoraro and Picciau, “actions that have led to several deaths (due to the hardship suffered by seriously ill people, who were suddenly left without a shelter over their heads), miscarriages (due to the stress and fear experienced by the pregnant women faced with so many armed police officers) and serious humanitarian emergencies.
Instead, the same authorities made use of a legal instrument that exists only in Italy, an instrument that violates article 24 of the Italian Constitution. We are talking about a conviction without a trial, yet another intimidatory tool used against human rights defenders which allows an untrue statement made by a police officer to become law without the accused being given the opportunity to contradict him.
We are aware that there is a danger of falling into a legal ‘black hole’, but we have decided to oppose the sentence and we will continue to oppose it on all levels, even if this means taking the case before the European Court of Human Rights. It is a fundamental principle of civility and democracy which does not only concern this episode, but international activism as whole, and the endless obstacles and dangers involved in defending the lives and the dignity of our most vulnerable citizens”.
As for the case in question, Roberto Malini and Dario Picciau say “on the evening of December 20th, 2008 a police officer was talking in an arrogant manner to a young Roma man, while his colleague waited in the patrol car in front of the bar to be served with sandwiches and drinks. We greeted the young man, Nico Grancea, who we knew very well seeing we had been offering him assistance for over year. In answer, we received from the first officer a brusque and threatening invitation to show some identification. We have had dealings with the police force for years and therefore have sufficient experience to know not to rise to the bait. The police officer took down our details without issuing any notification. The magistrates investigating the case did not listen to what the owner of the bar, Mr. Grancea, or the EveryOne activists had to say. The Pesaro investigating magistrate then decided for “a conviction without a trial”.
“Through our appeal and the relevant procedures for defending our humanitarian work” says EveryOne Group, “we intend to bring the case to the attention of the authorities in charge of protecting human rights defenders, in order for them to establish efficient organisms that defend the work of activists who are forced to operate in extremely difficult conditions”.
On February 14th, 2010 Malini and Picciau’s case was brought up by the co-president of EveryOne, Matteo Pegoraro, in Dublin, during the 5th Frontline Platform for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, which EveryOne Group (the only European organization) had been invited to attend along with 99 other human rights defenders from all over the world – activists who have received several threats during the course of their human rights activities. “We are appealing to the Frontline Foundation (which protects human rights activists all over the world in cooperation with the United Nations and European institutions) to take up our case. We hope too that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, – always very alert to episodes of this kind – to immediately intervene against this judiciary abuse, which has no precedent in European activism. We will fight” says Pegoraro, “to ensure that these two human rights defenders – who have been involved for many years in difficult campaigns in defence of minority groups – are not subjected to this violation, even more so if we consider that as co-presidents of EveryOne, they were operating in Pesaro and on Italian territory on behalf of the European MP, Viktoria Mohacsi with the precise aim of investigating the behaviour of the authorities towards the Roma people in Italy.
On behalf of our group, we invite civil society, the politicians who are more alert to matters of fundamental rights, the human and civil rights associations and organizations and the European and international institutions and authorites, to express their criticism of an action that goes against all the charters on the human rights of the individual – as well as violating the international laws on the protection and freedom of action and movement of human rights defenders”.
For further information:
+39 393 4010237 :: +39 334 3449180 :: :: +39 331 3585406
www.everyonegroup.com :: firstname.lastname@example.org
MUST WATCH video on Uganda anti-gay Bill
Death penalty for straights and for non-sex offences too
London – 18 February 2010
Peter Tatchell writes:
I am very grateful to Rob Tisinai for making a masterclass YouTube video that explains the full horrors of the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill. It shows that this Bill is far more lethal and wide-reaching than most people realise.
Ugandans don’t have to be gay or to have gay sex to be sentenced to death.
Read this summary of these little known aspects of the Bill, then watch the video (the link is below).
Under the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the crime of “serial offender” is punishable by execution.
A serial offender is a person who has “previous convictions” for “homosexuality OR RELATED OFFENCES.”
In other words, if a Ugandan person has previous convictions for offences in the Bill and then has a subsequent conviction he or she will be classified as a serial offender and face execution.
“Related offences” in the Bill, which can result in a death sentence for serial offenders, include non-sexual acts such as:
· aiding and abetting homosexuality
· advocating same-sex relationships or LGBT rights
· having a same-sex marriage
· publicising or funding pro-LGBT organisations
· using the internet or a mobile phone for the purpose of homosexuality or its promotion
· being a person in authority who fails to report an offender to the police within 24 hours
These related offences are crimes that could be also committed by a heterosexual person. It is not just LGBT Ugandans who are threatened by this legislation.
Under the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, all convicted serial offenders are liable to execution, regardless of their sexuality.
Rob’s brilliant short video explains the FULL and DEADLY clauses of the Bill. Please take a look and send it to your friends. We need to get the word out far and wide.
Watch Rob’s video here:
See the full text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill here:
Huge thanks to Rob Tisinai for taking the time to make this superb video. It is the clearest, most detailed exposition of the true severity of the proposed new law.
Solidarity! Peter Tatchell
If you would like to contact Peter Tatchell, please email email@example.com.
CORRECTION re “Execute gay scouts” news release
London – 17 February 2010
On 16 February, I issued a news release about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda and the Bill’s sponsorship by David Bahati MP, who is also Chairman of the Scout Board of Uganda.
I should have made it clear that Mr Bahati was not explicitly calling for the execution of gay scouts and scout leaders. His Bill proposes the execution of gay serial offenders, which could, of course, include gay scout members. But his Bill does not target gay scouts in particular and he has not specifically called for the execution of scouts who are gay. The threat to gay scouts in Uganda is implicit, not explicit.
Apologies for my lack of clarity. Below is a revised, corrected version of the news release, together with some new information about the Uganda Bill.
Peter Tatchell – London, UK
Gay scouts may face death penalty in Uganda
Execution of gays proposed by Ugandan scout leader
World scout movement urged to expel Uganda
Call for UK Scout Association to sever links with Uganda scout movement
London, UK – 17 February 2010
“A leader of the scout movement in Uganda is demanding the execution of anyone who is convicted of repeated homosexual acts or related offences. This could include the execution of gay scouts and scout leaders,” reports human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.
“Chairman of the Scout Board of Uganda, David Bahati, is proposing that all serial homosexual offenders should be sentenced to death. This could include young people, such as scouts.
“Mr Bahati is a Ugandan MP. His Anti-Homosexuality Bill is currently before the Ugandan Parliament. It stipulates the death penalty for serial offenders who have previous convictions for same-sex relations or for related non-sexual offences such as aiding and abetting homosexuality, funding gay advocacy groups, having a same-sex marriage or promoting homosexuality. Some of these related offences could also be committed by heterosexual Ugandans. They would also be liable to a death sentence for repeat offences.
“In other words, a person does not have to be gay or to have gay sex in order to be sentenced to death under the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Serial offending and previous convictions for the non-sexual offences are sufficient grounds for execution.
“The Bill also specifies life imprisonment for minor same-sex acts, such as kissing, touching or caressing with homosexual intent.
“Although Mr Bahati and his Anti-Homosexuality Bill do not explicitly mention or target the scout movement, the draconian clauses and punishments threaten all lesbian, gay and bisexual Ugandans, including members of his own scouting movement.
“A person in authority who fails to report an offender to the police within 24 hours will face three years in jail, which could apply to scout leaders who fail to inform on gay scouts. Likewise, the promotion of homosexuality carries a sentence of five to seven years jail. This could criminalise any scout leader who provides affirmative, supportive advice to a gay or bisexual scout. The offending scout leader does not have to be gay. They could be heterosexual.
“Mr Bahati’s proposed legislation promotes extreme prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence, contrary to scout principles,” said Mr Tatchell.
See a summary and link to the full text Anti-Homosexuality Bill here:
Mr Tatchell has written on behalf of OutRage! to the Chief Executive of the Scout Association UK, Derek Twine.
A copy of his letter follows below.
Mr Twine has already referred OutRage!’s concerns to the General Secretary of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) in Geneva. WOSM has written to the scout movement in Uganda expressing its concern.
“I have asked the Scout Association UK to press the world scouting movement to disaffiliate the scout organisation of Uganda, on the grounds that its leader has violated scouting values by proposing the execution of gay people, including gay Ugandan scouts and scout leaders,” added Mr Tatchell.
“My letter calls on the British scout organisation to condemn Mr Bahati and his Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and to refuse to host him again in the UK.
“The British and world scouting movement cannot remain silent, given this threat to execute its gay members in Uganda. They must break all links with the Ugandan scout organisation while it remains under the leadership of David ‘kill the gays’ Bahati.
“The international scout movement has a duty to defend its values of universal respect, equality and brotherhood,” concluded Mr Tatchell.
What you can do – see the end of this email.
Copy of Peter Tatchell’s email to the Scout Association UK:
The Scout Association
London E4 7QW
11 February 2010
Dear Derek Twine,
Uganda Scout leader David Bahati and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Your letter dated 21 January 2010 – Ref: DMT/AEB
Sincere thanks for your reply to the letter of my OutRage! colleague, David Allison.
We are most appreciative of the efforts made by the Scout Association UK to ensure equal opportunity and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Unfortunately, such wisdom and fairness is not replicated by the leader of the scouting movement in Uganda, David Bahati MP. As you know, he is head of the Scout Board of Uganda; in effect Chief Scout.
He is calling for the execution of lesbian and gay scouts, and other lesbian and gay Ugandans.
His Anti-Homosexuality Bill, currently before the Parliament of Uganda, proposes that repeat homosexual acts will carry a sentence of death, and that anyone – gay or heterosexual – who advocates gay equality or offers welfare support to homosexuals will be sentenced to five to seven years jail. A person in authority – a parent, teacher or scout leader – who fails to report a gay person to the police within 24 hours will be jailed for three years.
Mr Bahati’s proposals to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are a complete contradiction of scouting values and of the fundamental principles of equality and human rights, as enshrined in international humanitarian laws, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
I am most grateful that you have referred our concerns about Mr Bahati’s plan to execute LGBT Ugandans, including lesbian and gay scouts, to the General Secretary of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM). Please advise me of the reply you have received.
While we appreciate that every National Scout Organisation (NSO) is independent, we also understand that the WOSM membership of each NSO is conditional on them conforming to the WOSM’s scouting values.
David Bahati, the leader of the Uganda scout movement, is promoting hatred, discrimination and the state-sponsored murder of LGBT Ugandans – some of whom will be scouts and scout leaders. His stance and actions are incompatible with scouting values.
If the leader of a NSO was advocating racism and the execution of black people, I am sure the WOSM would take swift steps to rule that the NSO’s membership of the WOSM could not continue while such a person remained in a position of authority within the NSO.
FIRST: We therefore request that you ask the WOSM to disaffiliate the Ugandan scout organisation from the WOSM, until such time as David Bahati ceases to hold office in the Ugandan scout movement or until he withdraws and renounces his Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This is something that the UK Scout Association and the WOSM can do. It is within your powers.
SECOND: We realise that the Scout Association UK is not in a position to intervene in the internal affairs of the scouting organisation of Uganda. However, we do believe that the British Scout Association can and should issue a public statement deploring David Bahati’s homophobia and his Anti-Homosexuality Bill; making clear that his views and his Bill are incompatible with scouting values and are likely to lead to the persecution of Ugandan LGBT scouts and scouting officials. We respectfully ask you to do this.
THIRD: We reiterate our request that the Scout Association UK announces publicly that it will refuse to host Mr Bahati again in Britain (I believe that you did host him at the time of the 2007 Jamboree), as you would refuse to host an anti-Semitic scout leader who advocated the execution of Jewish people. Again, this is a reasonable and justifiable sanction that is within your powers.
The core of the issue is this: Mr Bahati wants to execute lesbian and gay scouts and scout leaders, as well as other lesbian and gay people. He is Uganda’s head scout, and while he remains head scout his actions reflect badly on the whole international scouting movement. It is imperative that the British and world scouting authorities speak out against him and his bill which, if passed, will have deadly consequences for scout members in Uganda.
The reputation of the scout movement depends on action being taken against those in positions of leadership, like Mr Bahati, who abuse and violate scouting values.
Please advise. Thank you.
OutRage! – The LGBT Human Rights Campaign
What you can do
Please ask your MP to sign EDM 575 on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
You can email your MP direct via this website:
Just click on the link and enter your postcode. It will tell you who is your MP and you can email him or her direct.
All you need to do is write as follows:
Draft letter to your MP
Dear (insert your MP’s name),
As one of your constituents, I urge you to sign EDM 575, tabled by Harry Cohen MP. It condemns Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This Bill proposes the death penalty for some same-sex acts and life imprisonment for others. The Bill also proposes up to seven years jail for anyone who advocates gay equality and three years jail for parents who fail to report their gay sons or daughters to the police.
See a copy of the Bill here:
And a summary of the key points of the Bill here:
Please also consider writing to the Uganda High Commissioner in London:
Her Excellency, High Commissioner Joan Rwabyomere, Uganda High Commission, Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX. Phone 020-7839-5783, Fax 020-7839-8925 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Insert your name, address and email.
If you would like to contact Peter Tatchell, please email on email@example.com.
See also :
Russian Culture Center in Nepal discriminate sexual and Gender minorities based on Russian Law and Religion
I am writing this mail with grave concern with discriminatory behavior from Russian Culture Center in Nepal against sexual and gender minority communities.
Manoj Pandey, a documentary filmmaker and trade union activists, made “Struggle Within“, a ground breaking documentary on Nepalese sexual and gender minorities facing work and labour related dissemination. Main issues covered by the documentary were: Two Lesbian fired by Nepal Army in 2007, another Two Lesbians fired by Maoist Army in 2005. Third gender fired by a restaurant in Pokhara.
Blue Diamond Society made this documentary with the support from European Union Funding support and was preparing to show at Russian Culture Center, booked the Russian Culture Center but at the last moment Russian Culture Canter coordinator Mr. Arseny Starkov cancelled the show of the documentary saying “sexual and gender minorities issues are against Russian Law and Religion”.
This is very unfortunate that Russian Culture Center tried to impose Russian law and religion in Nepali soil.
Nepal supreme court said on its verdict in 21 Dec 2007 “Discrimination against sexual and gender minorities is not allowed”. Nepal government also have supportive and inclusive policy and programs for sexual and gender minorities.
We all Nepali sexual and gender minorities condemned Russian Culture center’s unfortunate decision which is against the Supreme court’s decision and against the Nepal government’s policy that is inclusive of sexual and gender minorities.
We demand Russian culture canter to explain Nepal government and Nepali people: ” Whether Nepali law or Russian law we should follow in Nepali soil, Nepali territory?”
We call Nepal government to issue directives to such parties like Russian Culture Center that such parties MUST follow Nepali law in Nepali soil and any discrimination against any Nepali citizens regardless of sexual orientation and gender identities are prohibited in Nepal.
We call trade unions to look at this matter seriously and condemn such act of discrimination against minority citizens.
Sunil Babu Pant
Member of Parliament and Founder of Blue Diamond Society