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‘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:
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ProtestthePope/
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:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/lancet-says-pope-distorting-condom-facts-1655647.html

“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:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3176982.stm

“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:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

“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:
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Some+considerations+concerning+the+Catholic+response+to+legislative…-a0128671084

“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:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7869565.stm

“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:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/21/pope-benedict-moves-pius-closer-sainthood
http://www.concordatwatch.eu/showkb.php?org_id=858&kb_header_id=752&order=kb_rank+ASC&kb_id=1212

“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:
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23369148-pope-led-cover-up-of-child-abuse-by-priests.do
and see BBC Panorama 1 October 2006:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/5402928.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/5389684.stm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06qhnIwEdHE&feature=related

“Pope Benedict is complicit with human rights abuses and should not be accorded the honour of a State Visit to Britain,” said Mr Tatchell.

Peter Tatchell

False Gay Marriage Rumor Sparks Kenyan Riots
BY DOUG IRELAND
GAY CITY NEWS, Thursday, February 18, 2010 12:28 PM CST

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLM0vagfOgY&feature=player_embedded

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 :

homop_09_6Here comes the second annual campaign “Month against Homophobia” in Belarus.

Sent by Gay.by

It is going to be two years on end when Belarusian LGBT-groups are carrying on a campaign to resist homophobia and homosexual discrimination in Belarus. The campaign “Month against Homophobia” will be conducted from the 17th of April till the 17th of May in Minsk, Grodno and Luninets.

The campaign is organized by Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality and Remedial Project “Gay Belarus”, supported by portal Gay.by, Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Youth Social Democrats – Young Community, Republican Youth Association “Meeting” and Belarusian “Green” Party. The campaign includes a range of seminars dedicated to the problem of discrimination and homophobia in Belarus, a round table
discussion with non-state organizations and religion representatives invited. There are planned some educational and informational activities for both the LGBT community and the society on the whole.

Among the main objectives of “Month against Homophobia in Belarus” there are:

– To resist any kind of physical, moral and symbolic violence to people with a different sexual orientation and gender identity;

– To show solidarity to all the gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the world, including those unable to defend their rights;

– To carry on a wider campaign for human right defense;

“Month against Homophobia in Belarus” starts with a premiere demonstration of the film “The Birds Cannot Fly” which tells about LGBT Christians.

homophobiabelarus1The representatives of the Belarusian LGBT-movement are going to take part in the “Chernobyl path” which is annually held in the memory of victims of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station Disaster.

The 16th of May is the day of memory for people who died of AIDS. There will be the special activities carried on in all the regional centres, Minsk and Svetlogorsk.

The campaign is to end on the 17th of May, the international day of Homophobia resistance. On that day the representatives of “Gay Belarus” project will take part in “Slavic Pride” in Moscow while in Minsk the Belarusian Initiative for Sexual and Gender Equality will lay flowers to the Trostenets Memorial in order to commemorate Nazi concentration camps victims among who there were also gays tortured in Nazi Germany.

You can find all the detailed information about the activities within the campaign “Month against Homophobia in Belarus” on the site www.homophobia.gay.by.

gayblood1

Bloody Bigots: The National Blood Service claims it wants to protect patients from HIV, but its indiscriminate ban on gay donors is flawed.

By Peter Tatchell

The Guardian – 1 December 2008

It is World AIDS Day and many gay people overseas are donating blood. Encouraged to donate by their national blood services, they are doing their civic duty, alongside their heterosexual families and friends, to help ensure that there are plentiful blood supplies for patients and accident victims who need emergency transfusions.

But this is not happening in the UK. Gay blood has been officially declared queer, tainted and a menace to the health of the nation. Gay and bisexual men are banned as blood donors by the National Blood Service (NBS).

We all now carry the mark of the HIV ‘Anti-Christ’. Every single same-sexer in Britain is categorised by the NBS as a potential purveyor of death and destruction. We are all reckless liars, who can never be trusted to behave with sexual responsibility or to tell the truth about our sexual history and HIV risk factors. Every last one of us – including gay doctors, priests and HIV educators – are prohibited from giving blood, now and forever.

This NBS ban applies to all men who have had oral or anal sex with another man, at any point in their life – even just once with a condom. It has introduced this catch-all ban in the name of protecting the blood supply from contamination with HIV. This is a laudable aim but the indiscriminate gay ban is an unjustified and flawed way of achieving it.

On the basis that roughly 5% to 10% of the male population is gay or bisexual for all or part of their lives, this policy excludes around one to two million potential blood donors. This is madness at a time when the NBS is crying out for donors to “do some amazing.”

If the NBS is seriously concerned about screening out HIV contaminated blood donations, why is it refusing to test donated blood for the HIV virus? What is its excuse for adopting the cheaper, less safe option of testing for HIV antibodies?

In an infected person, the virus shows up in the blood with a few days, whereas the antibodies can take up to three months to become identifiable. Within this three month period, the antibodies may be present but not detectable. This means that a recently infected person might not be aware of their HIV status. When they donate blood, their blood will be passed as safe by the NBS and be offered for use in transfusions and blood products – potentially infecting dozens of people. This short-sighted policy of only testing for antibodies increases the likelihood of the blood supply becoming infected with HIV.

If the NBS switched to testing directly for the virus this would not only make the blood supply safer, it would also enable an easing of the ban on gay blood, which would boost blood stocks.

Because the HIV virus is manifest in the blood with a few days of infection, it would be feasible for the NBS to introduce a new policy whereby only men who’ve had sex with men in the preceding seven days would be excluded from donating blood. This would significantly increase the pool of available donors.

Already, several countries have ditched or qualified their ban on gay and bisexual blood donors.
http://www.gayblooddonation.org/globalreform.html

Spain and Italy only rule out donations from men who have engaged in risky sexual behaviour. Since these two countries relaxed their policies and allowed more gay men to become donors, the number of people who have become infected via blood donations has more than halved. Experts suggest that this is partly to do with the new emphasis on excluding donations from people who engage in risky sexual behaviour, as opposed to the previous blanket exclusion of entire high risk groups.

An easing of the gay ban has also taken place in Argentina, Australia, Japan and Hungary, where gay and bisexual men are only prohibited from donating blood if they’ve had sex in the last year. A five year deferral on gay donors operates in New Zealand and South Africa. In the UK, the NBS still insists on a lifetime ban.

Oddly, this unscientific, irrational policy is backed by gay-led HIV charities in the UK, such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and Gay Men Fighting Aids.
http://www.tht.org.uk/informationresources/policy/healthpolicy/blooddonations/
http://www.newshub.org/2007/?p=373

Now dependant on funding and goodwill from establishment bodies, they have joined the establishment. Unwilling to challenge a blanket ban that is irrational and ignorant, they collude with the NBS’s stereotyped and prejudiced assumptions about gay and bisexual men.

Scientists, doctors, HIV organisations and gay rights campaigners in many other countries take a different view. They say that a total ban on all blood donations from men who have sex with men lacks scientific credibility and medical justification. They are right.

The NBS gay blood ban is based on the ill-informed, homophobic presumption that all gay and bisexual men are “high risk” for HIV, regardless of their individual sexual behaviour. This is nonsense. Most gay men do not have HIV and will never have HIV.

Based on crass generalisations, the NBS policy lumps together all gay and bisexual men, without differentiation, as if we are all the same. We’re not. There is a wide diversity of same-sex behaviours and lifestyles. Some of us are at risk of HIV, and some of us are not. Those who are not at risk should not be excluded from doing “something amazing.”

For information about Peter Tatchell’s campaigns: www.petertatchell.net

gr08hivprevwallmap

Click on the map to get a larger size

WORLD AIDS DAY 2008

1 December 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. This year’s theme is “Lead – Empower – Deliver.” Designating leadership as the theme provides an opportunity to highlight both political leadership and celebrate leadership that has been witnessed at all levels of society. To mark the day, the UN Secretary General as well as UNAIDS Cosponsors and partners speak out in special World AIDS Day statements.

SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN WORLD AIDS DAY MESSAGE, SAYS AIDS NOT DISAPPEARING ANY TIME SOON; IT IS AS REAL, AS URGENT AS EVER TO LEAD, EMPOWER, DELIVER ON AIDS

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the occasion of World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December:

On this twentieth World AIDS Day, we are at the dawn of a new era.

Fewer people are being infected with HIV. Fewer people are dying of AIDS.

This success owes itself to people all over the world who are taking the lead to stop AIDS. Governments are delivering on their promises to scale up universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

But this is just the beginning. There is no room for complacency.

AIDS will not go away any time soon. People are still being infected with HIV faster than we can get them on treatment. AIDS is still one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, and it is the number one killer in Africa.

The challenge now is to sustain leadership. We have to build on what we have started. And we have to maintain this momentum.

We have to end the stigma and discrimination that still stop so many people from learning how to prevent HIV and get treatment. And we need resources — enough to provide services that will have a real impact in communities and on entire nations.

The need to lead, empower and deliver on AIDS is as real and urgent as ever.

Recently I read about a Congolese woman living with HIV who received medicine through the United Nations. She is now part of a group called the “hope-givers team”, which helps other families dealing with HIV.

On this World AIDS Day, let us all pledge to be “hope-givers” who offer encouragement and take action to create a future without AIDS.

Thank you very much.
United Nations Secretary General,
Ban Ki-moon
World AIDS Day, 1 December 2008

ACT UP PARIS: Journée mondiale de lutte contre le sida
De l’impossibilité scientifique de prouver qui a contaminé qui
Pourquoi Act Up-Paris manifestera contre la pénalisation de la transmission du VIH

burundi3

IGLHRC – For Immediate Release, November 24, 2008

(New York, November 24, 2008) – In an unexpected move, the National Assembly of Burundi passed a law on Friday November 21, 2008, making same-sex acts punishable by between 3 months and two years in prison, along with a substantial fine. The following day, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Association pour le Respect et les Droits des Homosexuels (ARDHO) issued strongly worded letters to the entire membership of Burundi’s Senate, asking them to vote against the legislation, which would criminalize homosexuality for the first time in the history of the country. The Senate may vote on the bill as early as tomorrow and if it passes Burundian President Nkurunziza will likely sign it into law.

IGLHRC and ARDHO also wrote to President Nkurunziza, asking him to veto the legislation should it be presented to him for his signature. Both groups encourage others to contact Burundian authorities to protest the measure.

“Imprisoning people simply because of who they love offends every principle of human rights practice, which is to ensure dignity and respect for all people,” said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director. “This is less about sexuality and more about the visibility of a growing community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Africa refusing to be treated as dirt. These laws are meant to silence and terrorize our community and must be stopped.”

Burundi—a small country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the south and east, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west—has been locked in an ethnically-based conflict for much of its post-independence history. A negotiated peace settlement, brokered with the assistance of a number of African states, has led to the installation of a multi-party government. The last few years have seen a certain level of reconstruction in the country, increased stability and the emergence of a nascent civil society.

The government of Burundi’s latest move comes in the context of considerable hostility to homosexuality in the region; two-thirds of African nations maintain criminal penalties for consensual same-sex behavior. In recent years several countries, including Nigeria and Uganda, have threatened to strengthen laws against homosexuality. New criminal codes in Zimbabwe broaden the definition of sodomy to include “any act that involves physical contact… that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act.” Several nations, including Burundi, have enacted legislation criminalizing same-sex marriage, though little or no advocacy to promote such marriages has taken place. These laws appear to be emerging in response to an increasingly visible, outspoken, and organized sexual rights movement.

The United Nations has condemned laws that criminalize homosexuality as being violations of the rights to privacy and equality and has called upon member states that maintain such laws to review them. Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights have condemned physical attacks on and the imprisonment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

International and local human rights defenders have expressed grave concern not only about the nature of the current legislation in Burundi, but also about the way in which it has been promulgated. “The government has moved this bill quickly and unjustly through the legislative process,” said a representative of ARDHO. “The whole process has happened over the course of a weekend, with no input from civil society or general discussion about the issue of homosexuality and freedom of expression within Burundi.”

If the current legislation passes, it is likely that the country’s HIV prevention efforts will suffer. Burundi has made commendable efforts to fight HIV and AIDS during the last decade. But IGLHRC’s 2007 report on HIV and AIDS in Africa, Off the Map, demonstrates how laws that criminalize homosexuality drive communities underground, making men who have sex with men less able to access HIV-related prevention information. UNAIDS, the Global Fund and other key international institutions concur.

An action alert related to this issue will be posted on IGLHRC’s website on November 25, 2008. For an update on the status of the legislation in Burundi, or to take action, visit: www.iglhrc.org.

Dr. Kamiar Alaei should be in Albany right now, continuing his 2nd year of doctoral studies at SUNY Albany School of Public Health. Instead, he and his brother, Dr. Arash Alaei – internationally respected HIV/AIDS physicians – have been detained by the Iranian government and are being held without charge. Next week, on Wednesday September 24 at Noon, Physicians for Human Rights and a coalition of health and human rights groups are holding a vigil to call for their release during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to NYC for the UN General Assembly.

Please attend this important event and call on the Iranian Government to respect the human rights of these two doctors.

Vigil Location: Iranian Mission to the UN, 622 Third Ave.

When: Wednesday, September 24 at Noon

Show your solidarity with the Drs’ Alaei: if you are a medical professional, wear your white coat. If you are coming from academia, wear a university shirt. If you are coming from an NGO, wear your organization’s shirt or insignia. Anything to show the support of the health and human rights community!

More information on this campaign can be found on www.iranfreethedocs.org, where you can also sign a petition in support of Kamiar and Arash.

With your help next week, we can pressure the Iranian Government to release the Dr.’s Alaei so that they can continue their important medical and public health work for the betterment of the people of Iran and the world.

If you can attend, please RSVP to Sarah Kalloch at skalloch@phrusa.org.

Please invite colleagues in the NYC area to attend this important event.

Sarah Kalloch

Outreach and Constituency Organizing Director

Physicians for Human Rights

2 Arrow St. Suite 301

Cambridge, MA 02138

(617) 301-4235

skalloch@phrusa.org

www.physiciansforhumanrights.org


Remballe ton pape !

Communiqué de presse

Un regroupement d’associations, syndicats et organisations politiques appellent à manifester à Paris dans la soirée du vendredi 12 septembre pour dénoncer, a l’occasion de sa venue en France, les positions prises par le pape. Les signataires s’opposent à l’intervention de la religion catholique dans les affaires publiques et dénoncent l’écoute bienveillante des propos du Vatican par nombre de responsables politiques français.

Les signataires refusent les retours en arrière concernant les droits à l’avortement et à la contraception, dénoncent les appels criminels du pape à ne pas utiliser les préservatifs, défendent le droit de choisir son genre et sa sexualité. Elles réaffirment leur attachement à la solidarité et aux luttes sociales visant à accéder ici-bas à des vies décentes.

Les signataires exigent :

– que l’Eglise catholique cesse de s’immiscer pas dans la politique,
– que l’Eglise catholique cesse ses déclarations criminelles,
– que les gouvernements français mettent tout en place pour s’affranchir de l’idéologie catholique,
– le libre accès et la totale gratuité des moyens de contraception et de l’avortement.

La manifestation partira du métro Filles du Calvaire le vendredi 12 septembre à 18h30

Signataires : Marche Mondiale des Femmes (MMF), Panthères roses, Alternative libertaire (AL), Offensive libertaire et sociale (OLS), Scalp, Collectif National Droits des Femmes (CNDF), Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR), Coordination des associations pour le droit à l’avortement et à la contraception (CADAC), Collectif libertaire de Bourges, Coordination des Collectif Unitaires pour une Alternative au Libéralisme de l’Hérault, Coordination Femmes Egalité, Scab (Suisse), Fédération Sud-PTT, Ligue du droit des femmes, Mouvement Français pour le planning familial (MFPF), Dones D’Enllac (Catalogne), Collectif de pratiques et de réflexions féministes “Ruptures”, Réseau féministes “Ruptures”, Act-Up – Paris, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (MRAP) – Marseille, Union Syndicale Solidaires, Association culturelle des travailleurs immigrés de Turquie (ACTIT), SOS sexisme, National Secular Society (Angleterre), Espoirs de femmes, Coordination égalité, Les Alternatifs, Mix-Cité – Paris, Jeunesses communistes révolutionnaires (JCR), Gauche Alternative 67, Initiative féministe européenne (IFE) – France, Les Amis de la Commune,

Lundi 8 septembre 2008

ENDitorial: Massive mobilization against EDVIGE, the new French database

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Remember the movie ‘Das Leben der Anderen’ (The Lives of Others), where a Stasi agent was monitoring a playwriter’s life? This doesn’t translate anymore in French into ‘La vie des autres’, but rather into EDVIGE, the name of a newly created database to be used by French intelligence services and the administrative police.

EDVIGE will file “individuals, groups, organisations and moral persons which, due to their individual or collective activity, are likely to attempt to public order”. Not only these persons will be filed (without any offence committed), but also “those who undertake or have undertaken direct and non fortuitous relations with them.” Filing starts at age 13.

This, clearly, means filing everyone, in view of “informing the government and the representatives of the State” in any and all French town and region. In other words, EDVIGE, which has been created by a decree issued on 27 June 2008 in the framework of the merging of two French intelligence services (RG and DST), is the perfect instrument of a political police.

EDVIGE will contains data on “civil status and occupation; physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses; physical characteristics, photographs and behaviour; identity papers; car plate numbers; fiscal and patrimonial information; moves and legal history.”

As highlighted by lesbians and gays associations, this will include data on sexual orientation and health, in particular HIV seropositivity. This has been confirmed by a representative of the Interior ministry, who declared that “the mention of these data will only be authorised for incidental need in relation with an activity. In the intelligence field, this mainly means activism.” Moreover, French EDRI member IRIS notes that the inclusion of “identity papers” in these data is particularly significant in the context of the newly created French biometric passport including 8 fingerprints and of the draft law in preparation on biometric ID cards.

A large mobilization against EDVIGE immediately started, with a petition calling for the withdrawal of this file. This petition is hosted and maintained by RAS (‘Réseau associatif et syndical’), an NGO acting as an ISP for its members, almost 200 activist NGOs and trade unions, among them EDRI member IRIS. The petition has already gathered since 10 July 2008 more than 16.000 individual signatures, and more than 170 signatures from associations, trade unions and political parties from the opposition. Signatories will organize into a global coordination against the EDVIGE file, and are preparing various actions starting from next September. In the mean time, some of these groups will file a complaint against the French government, requesting the annulment of the EDVIGE decree.

Full article

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Credit Photo : Lesbian and Gay Pride Lyon