Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category
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
Our gorgeous posters have been trashed
By Out In Africa • Sep 15th, 2009 • Category: Film Festival News •
A gay and lesbian film festival has been “devastated” after more than 700 posters showing same-sex couples kissing were removed from lamp posts.
An outraged Out in Africa South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival director Nodi Murphy has lodged a complaint with police.
“Some stupid twits with more time on their hands than brains trashed our gorgeous posters. And for what?”
Launched in 1994 to celebrate the constitution prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, the festival is on at the Nu Metro V&A waterfront until Sunday.
Alerted by a Sea Point resident, Murphy had driven around the city and had “seen empty places where my posters have been”.
She said she suspects the “two-day systematic removal of the 700 posters” had been carried out by fundamentalist religious or right-wing groups.
Murphy said she hoped to see the vandals “in the court of law, with them doing community service at a gay and lesbian project”.
She said the organisers had been advised to lodge a complaint so that they could receive permission to view CCTV footage of where many of the posters had been.
The office of the executive mayor of Cape Town approved and paid R32 000 for the posters, Murphy said: “It’s their money that’s been wasted and I can’t imagine them being too happy. I’ll be in their office tomorrow discussing the matter.”
She believed the festival had helped to promote tolerance.
“I kept thinking that there was an end to my work and that people have come to tolerate gays and lesbians. I don’t know why there has been this upsurge (in homophobia) all of a sudden. I think it’s because we’re an easy target. When there’s fear in the world its easier to go after a minority group.”
Murphy said there had been many messages praising the poster design as well as queries as to where the posters had gone.
“I’m outraged. It’s my right to advertise, we have a constitution and our rights are protected.
This breaking news flash was supplied exclusively to iol.co.za by the news desk at our sister title, The Cape Times.
A conference in Uganda which begins today has been condemned by human rights groups.
The 3-day seminar in Kampala, which opens today, features several American speakers known for their efforts to dehumanise LGBT people and for their belief that homosexuality can be “cured.”
The speakers include Scott Lively, Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge—leading voices in the crusade by religious extremists to roll back basic human rights for LGBT people in the United States.
IGLHRC said that Brundidge is affiliated with Extreme Prophetic Ministry in Phoenix, Arizona. Schmierer is on the board of the so-called “ex-gay” organization Exodus International. Lively is well known for his belief that the Nazi Holocaust never happened.
“The American religious right is finally showing its hand and revealing the depth of its support for homophobia in Africa,” said IGLHRC‘s Executive Director Cary Alan Johnson.
Bigoted clerics stir up anti-gay witch-hunts in Africa
London – 2 July 2008
“This breakaway Anglican faction is fundamentalist, homophobic and sexist. It opposes equal rights for women and gay people, and is allied with hardline church leaders whose bigoted teachings are fuelling anti-gay witch-hunts in many countries.”
The condemnation comes from human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who yesterday (1 July) picketed a meeting at All Soul’s Church in London of the newly-formed Anglican fundamentalist sect, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA). Mr Tatchell was joined by his OutRage! African colleague Brett Lock and gay Christian and Ugandan gay rights activist, Kizza Musinguzi.
When they tried to enter the church, they were violently ejected. Mr Tatchell was punched in the chest by a church steward.
Photos of the protest are here:
“Archbishop Peter Akinola is backing the state-sponsored persecution of lesbians and gays in Nigeria. He is orchestrating a wicked victimisation campaign against the Nigerian gay Christian leader, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria,” added Mr Tatchell.
“The Archisbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, has stirred up prejudice against gay Ugandans in a society where anti-gay hatred and violence is rife. In 2006, he excommunicated a heterosexual bishop, Christopher Senyonjo, because he defended gay people against persecution.
“Jesus Christ is recorded in The Bible as condemning many sins but he never once condemned homosexuality. The anti-gay campaign of the breakaway Anglican leaders is a perversion of Christ’s gospel of love and compassion. These splitters are Old Testament fundamentalists, not true followers of Jesus Christ,” concluded Mr Tatchell.
Kizza Musinguzi is a gay member of the Anglican Church of Uganda. He has witnessed first hand the homophobic campaign by his church leaders. Mr Musinguzi was jailed and tortured in Uganda because of his gay rights activism. He is currently seeking asylum in the UK.
“The church is supposed to be all-loving. It is not acceptable that it has one set of rights for straight Christians and a lesser set of rights for gay Christians,” said Mr Musinguzi.
“When Archbishop Orombi takes a stand against gay people, he signals to the population that it is okay to discriminate against gay people. He supports Uganda’s vicious anti-gay laws, which stipulate life imprisonment for consenting same-sex relationships. Orombi is encouraging prejudice and hatred. His victimisation of Bishop Senyonjo is cruel and vindictive.
“Gay people in Uganda face imprisonment, torture and mob violence. Many are driven out their communities and left destitute. The government excludes gay people from its HIV programmes, leaving them to die without medication. The Church of Uganda is exacerbating this homophobia, neglect and persecution,” said Mr Musinguzi.
Many of you know that violence against foreigners, primarily other Africans, has broken out in South African townships, with killings and mayhem in the Johannesburg area, and less violent, but potent harassment happening in Cape Town. As of this morning more than 50 people have been killed and over 20,000 displaced from their homes.
In Cape Town, probably 10,000 or so people have fled their homes to the safety of police stations, churches, committee centres. The city has opened up 4 refugee camps as well over the weekend.
Though they are not refugee rights or relief organizations, the Treatment Action Campaign and the AIDS Law Project here in Cape Town have been leading the civil society response to the crisis. The office building where TAC, ALP (ARASA and Sonke Gender Justice) share offices has been turned into gigantic relief operation led by TAC and ALP.
Hundreds of people have streamed through the offices volunteering their help, packing up blankets, food, and other essential supplies to bring out to the refugees. In addition, TAC and ALP are providing much of the political leadership in this emergency pushing the city and the province to work together. Tuesday there will be a big anti-xenophobia rally at St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town.
It’s hard doing the work we do – fighting the epidemic when the world seems to want to move on to “bigger” issues, to leave AIDS behind.
What I find truly extraordinary is that even despite our struggles, AIDS activists here in South Africa have stopped what they are doing to help their fellow men and women in this crisis. TAC and ALP staff and volunteers, and those with the other organizations, and the many individuals who have stopped by the offices are special people – they give us all hope that our struggles against AIDS, and for social justice for our communities will some day become a reality…
TAC is spending down quickly and needs donations, please go to http://www.tac.org.za/community/donate to see how you can help.
AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa
c/o AIDS Law Project
Westminster House, 4th Floor
122 Longmarket Street
Cape Town, 8001
New York, May 22, 2008
In a strongly worded letter to Gambian President Yahyeh Jammeh, Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) condemned statements by the West African leader ordering homosexuals out of the country, threatening hotel owners who rented rooms to gay and lesbian people, and threatening summary executions. Ettelbrick also called for the repeal of Gambia’s antiquated sodomy law, inherited from its days as British colony. (See below for the full text of the letter.)
A former army lieutenant, Jammeh overthrew the democratically elected government of the Gambia in 1994, while the Gambian President was on a visiting U.S. warship. Since 1994 there have been many well-documented examples of human rights violations in Gambia perpetrated against journalists, human rights defenders and members of the political opposition. These have included arbitrary arrests and detentions, expulsions and extra-judicial executions. In 2007 President Jammeh announced that he had developed a “miracle cure” for HIV/AIDS.
In February 2008, a number of Senegalese gay men were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in nearby countries, including the Gambia, as a result of a campaign of persecution of lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender people that included arbitrary arrests, violence by mobs, and media attacks.
IGLHRC will be inviting other groups and individuals to take action against homophobic statements by the Gambian head-of-state in the next few days.
23 May 2008
President Yayeh Jammeh
Private Mail Bag
Banjul, The Gambia
I write on behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) to express our concern and outrage over reports that you have given gay men and lesbians twenty-four hours to leave the Gambia, or face “serious consequences”. Reports in the Daily Observer indicate that you have warned landlords, hotel owners and others who might rent dwellings to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people that they must expel gay men and lesbians from their dwellings.
President Jammeh, your statements are in direct violation of your country’s own Constitution and compromise Gambia’s adherence to several international and regional human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Gambian Constitution states that “every person shall have the right to liberty and security of the person.” The African Charter, in Article 2 states that “every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.”
Your statements tell the people of Gambia that it is acceptable to turn away its neighbors who are need. Article 12 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, of which your country is a signatory, states that, “every individual shall have the right, when persecuted, to seek and obtain asylum in other countries in accordance with laws of those countries and international conventions.” Any gay or lesbian person, be they a Gambian national or a refugee from a neighboring country, has the right to the protection of the Gambian government, not its enmity. By threatening hotel owners who rent rooms to LGBT people, you are further denying individuals the rights to housing and security and ordering business owners to discriminate based on their fear of government reprisal.
You were also quoted, President Jammeh, to have threatened “to cut off the head” of any homosexual caught in the Gambia. The ICCPR and the African Charter condemn extra-judicial executions and political killings. The Yogyakarta Principles, signed by several prominent African jurists, have made clear that “everyone has the right to life” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to considerations of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Your threats are creating an environment of fear and persecution in your country.
Gambia hosts the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and several key human rights non-governmental organizations. As such, you have a special responsibility to move above your personal moral or religious beliefs and recognize that while viewpoints on homosexuality may differ in the Gambia, your country is committed to a human rights regime that includes the basic human rights of all minorities. Intolerance and hatred are distinctly unspiritual values denounced by the Bible, the Koran, and all other major religious texts.
President Jammeh, we ask that you immediately retract your statements and make clear to the Gambian public that violence against any segment of the population will not be tolerated. We will be vigilantly monitoring the human rights situation in the Gambia, with particular focus on the treatment of LGBT Gambians, to ensure that your statements do not escalate levels of violence. Thousands of visitors come to your country each year from Africa, Europe and North America and experience the warm and open hospitality of the Gambian people. Our belief is that the Gambian people are accepting and tolerant of differences, be they linguistic, ethnic or sexual.
Furthermore, we ask that you begin the process of repealing Article 144 of the Criminal Code of 1965, which calls for the imprisonment of people convicted of consensual homosexual acts for up to 14 years. This law, inherited from the British penal code, is no longer acceptable in a modern society, respectful of human rights and values.
Blaming sexual minorities for the problems of the country is a strategy that has been tried in other countries. Gay and lesbian people are not your problem or your enemy. They are your sons and daughters, the teachers of your children, the pastors of your churches, the leaders of your mosques, the seller of tomatoes in the market. We are everywhere, making contributions everyday to the development of our countries.
Gambian authorities must respect and protect the human rights of all those living within the country’s borders, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We look forward to your rapid response.
Paula Ettelbrick Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
Gay refugees face prejudice across the world
15th April 2008 18:20
Biplob Hossain, a gay refugee from Bangladesh who is seeking asylum in Australia, and Joaquin Ramirez, facing deportation to El Salvador, have highlighted the plight of gay men who flee their countries to escape persecution.
Mr Hossain, 25, moved to Australia on a student visa when he was 19.
He applied for asylum on the basis that he would suffer persecution in Bangladesh. He was placed in a detention centre for 29 months.
After three rejections by the Refugee Review Tribunal and a failed High Court bid, Mr Hossain is hoping for a personal intervention from the Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans.
He was released from Villawood Detention Centre in October 2006, but is not allowed to work or collect social security benefits.
Sandi Logan, a spokesperson for the Immigration Department, told Australian SX News:
“A person’s sexual orientation does not of itself enable that person to be granted asylum.”
“We provide protection for asylum seekers under the UN definition of a refugee, under the Convention 67 protocol, which doesn’t include their sexual orientation or their fears of persecution associated with that orientation.”
Bangladeshi law states that gay sex acts are illegal and will be punished with deportation, fines and life imprisonment.
The national law itself is rarely directly enforced however there have been numerous reports of incidents of vigilantism.
People suspected of homosexuality have also been sentenced to death by a fatwa.
Meanwhile, in Canada, a gay man is facing deportation to his native El Salvador where he claims that three police officers who raped him are now out to kill him.
Joaquin Ramirez, a 39-year-old HIV-positive man said the accused perpetrators have visited his family and threatened to kill him because he infected them with the HIV virus.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board doubted Mr Ramirez’s claims, asking why he did not seek legal support in his own country when the incident occurred.
Mr Ramirez told Canadian newspaper The Star:
“How could I go to the same people and ask them to protect me when it’s those people who did this to me?”
Mr Ramirez worked as a volunteer outreach worker with the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Salvadoran Network of People Living with HIV.
He said he was picked on by three drunken officers at a restaurant in 2006 and driven to a plantation field where he was allegedly beaten and raped.
Five months later he claims a stranger called his sister and threatened to kill him for infecting them with the virus.
The refugee didn’t believe Ramirez left El Salvador because of the alleged assault as he had already planned to leave in November 2005.
The two stories come just weeks after the much published case of Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi.
Mr Kazemi came to London in 2005 to study English but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.
The UK rejected his first asylum plea, but Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has now granted him a temporary reprieve from deportation while she reconsiders his case.
In 76 countries people face jail for having gay sex.
Homosexual acts officially carry the death penalty in several nations including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen.
In many Muslim countries, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria and the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines, or corporal punishment.
In Egypt, openly gay men have been prosecuted under general public morality laws.
Some liberal Muslims, such as the members of the Al-Fatiha Foundation, accept and consider homosexuality as natural pointing out that the Qu’ran speaks out against homosexual lust, and is silent on homosexual love.
However, this position remains highly controversial even amongst liberal movements within Islam, and is considered beyond the pale by mainstream Islam.
The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that it has a responsibility under international law not to return refugees to a place where they would face persecution.
By Peter Tatchell
This weekend President Robert Mugabe will stride the stage at the EU-African Union Summit in Lisbon. He will be welcomed and feted, alongside all the other leaders of Africa and Europe.
For the people of Zimbabwe it will be a sickening spectacle to see their blood-soaked oppressor wined and dined by the Portuguese President, Aníbal António Cavaco Silva.
Mugabe is not the world’s only tyrant and not even the worst. Nevertheless, he has killed more black Africans than even the murderous apartheid regime in South Africa. His slaughter of 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland in the 1980s was the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for over nine months.
According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Mugabe’s despotic regime is guilty of detention without trial, torture, rape, extra-judicial killings, media censorship, financial corruption, election fraud, mass starvation and the violent suppression of strikes and protests.
Instead of embracing President Mugabe as an honoured guest, the Portuguese government should instruct its police to arrest him on charges of torture.
It is time to end the culture of impunity, which allows tyrannical leaders to get away with human rights abuses. Torture is a crime under international law. Mugabe, and other torture-condoning despots, should be prosecuted. Giving them state immunity is collusion with their crimes.
There is evidence from Amnesty International and from Zimbabwean human rights groups
that President Mugabe and his government have sanctioned and colluded with acts of torture. He should be arrested and put on trial, in the same way that President Milosevic of Yugoslavia was tried in The Hague.
Portugal is legally obliged to enforce the UN Convention Against Torture 1984, which it has ratified and pledged to uphold.
The Convention Against Torture has universal jurisdiction. It allows any signatory state to arrest and put on trial any person who authorises, commits or acquiesces in the infliction of torture anywhere in the world. In other words, Mugabe can be lawfully arrested and tried in Portugal for crimes that he has aided and abetted in Zimbabwe.
Despite past legal rulings granting government leaders exemption from prosecution, the trend in international law is towards rejecting the right of Heads of State to enjoy absolute immunity for crimes against humanity, such as torture.
This legal evolution began with the Versailles Treaty of 1919. The signatory nations accepted that high state officials who stand accused of “offences against international morality” cannot plead that they are above the law. Article 227 of the Treaty set the precedent in international law that Heads of State are not immune from prosecution, when it arraigned the German Emperor, William II.
The 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal reiterated this precedent by ruling that the top Nazi leaders, including Karl Doenitz, Hitler’s successor as German leader, did not enjoy immunity for crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal stipulated that: “The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.” Doenitz was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years jail.
Principle Three of the Nuremberg Principles, agreed by the nations of Europe as international law, declared: “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law”.
For Portugal and the EU to now renege on the Nuremberg Principles is a monstrous betrayal of the millions who perished in the Holocaust and the millions more who sacrificed their lives to end the tyranny of the Third Reich.
Fight Homosexuality, Kolini Tells Churches by Vanrozenheim
(Rwanda) – Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini has called on churches in the East African region to fight against homosexuality for the ‘good of the society.’ The leader of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda insisted that Anglican churches in East Africa will not mingle with the homosexuals in the affairs of the church for the good of the community. “We are reformed Anglicans who want to adhere to the original creeds of the Bible, and that’s why our church has decided to ignore the 2008 Lambeth Conference because it has not done much to fight homosexuality in the communion,” he said on Sunday. He was addressing a big congregation gathered for a three-day ‘peace crusade’ at Remera St. Peter’s Church. The crusade, which was organised by the Anglican Church of Rwanda, brought together Christians from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and hosts Rwanda.
IGLHRC: The Treatment of LGBT Individuals in Rwandan Law and Society
The worsening situation of gays and lesbians in Rwanda poses a serious threat to the security and freedom of individuals in the country, and warrants immediate attention. Particularly alarming has been the recent use of the media to advocate violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation, and a seeming increase in arbitrary detention of individuals on the same basis. Rather than protecting the rights of gays and lesbians in the country, certain authorities have chosen to abuse their power in violation of the rights of these individuals.
Police officers and other officials must investigate and immediately put an end to illegal detentions of homosexuals, and must ensure that their safety and rights are being protected in their communities. The constitution clearly protects the privacy of individuals and in no way suggests that homosexuality be considered a criminal offense. Moreover, there are strong protections in place against discrimination and abuse of individual or group rights, which must be respected. There is also an urgent need for activism to encourage the government to immediately stop and punish any individuals who abuse the press as a tool to incite violence or discrimination against individuals, particularly given the painful past of Rwanda, when the radio was used to incite the population to commit genocide.
Finally, there is an urgent need for well-planned and targeted advocacy to oppose an amendment to the penal code to criminalize homosexuality. Institutionalizing discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation not only violates the fundamental principles and freedoms outlined in the constitution of the country, but also sets a dangerous precedent for discrimination and division in a country that has battled these issues for many decades.
This is a call to action for human rights defenders, both inside and outside of the country, to stand up for individuals whose rights are being abused on the basis of their sexual orientation, and for the government to take action to ensure that these individual’s rights are protected.
African and European LGBT organizations call on all States to fight homophobia and to adopt the Yogyakarta Principles.
On occasion of the Summit which will gather heads of states from the European Union and from Africa on December 8 and 9 in Lisbon, ILGA, Pan Africa ILGA and ILGA Europe join Solidarité Internationale LGBT to issue the following press release aimed at protesting against State Sponsored Homophobia on the African continent.
We invite LGBT groups from Europe and Africa as well as international NGOs to sign this statement. Please send your agreement to email@example.com
Les associations LGBT africaines et européennes demandent à tous les États de combattre l’homophobie et d’adopter les Principes de Jogjakarta.
Chères amies, chers amis,
A l’occasion du sommet qui réunira les chefs d’Etats de l’Union européenne et d’Afrique à Lisbonne les 8 et 9 Décembre prochains, ILGA, Pan Africa ILGA et ILGA Europe s’unissent à Solidarité Internationale LGBT pour diffuser le communiqué de presse ci-joint qui vise à protester contre l’homophobie d’état sur le continent africain.
Nous invitons les groupes LGBT d’Europe et d’Afrique ainsi que les ONGs internationales à signer cette déclaration. Envoyez votre accord à firstname.lastname@example.org
Philipp Braun & Rosanna Flamer-Caldera
ILGA International Lesbian and Gay Association
Danilo Da Silva & Linda Baumann
Pan Africa ILGA
Solidarité Internationale LGBT / Inter-LGBT