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By Tony Grew, Pink News • December 5, 2008

Several nations with sizable gay communities have not signed up to a declaration on the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to be presented at the UN this month.

The French initiative is backed by all EU nations along with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In the Americas the most notable absence is the United States.

Canada has signed up alongside Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

Three African nations – Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau – are committed to the declaration alongside New Zealand, Israel, Armenia and Japan.

Louis Georges Tin, the founder of the Inernational Day Against Homophobia, is behind the universal decriminalisation declaration.

He met with Rama Yade, France’s minister of human rights and foreign affairs, earlier this year.

In September she confirmed that she will appeal at the United Nations for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Until the end of 2008 France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly, as they hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

The French initiative on decrminalisation will take the form of a solemn declaration from UN states, rather than a vote in the UN on the matter.

France will submit a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly between December 15th and 20th. The British government already advocates universal decriminalisation.

More than 80 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances.

The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment.

In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.

More than 50 nations have signed up to support the initiative, but the Vatican has attacked it and claims that as many countries have not signed up, it they are in the right.

“It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone,” a Vatican spokesman said earlier this week.

The Holy See does not have a vote at the UN, but its observer has tried to claim that “states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure,” as a result of the declaration.

Mr Tin said:

“If your government has not yet signed the text, and if you think it is relevant to ask them, you could then lobby the Foreign Ministry in your capital.

“It might be also useful to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador at the United Nations.

“You can explain that it is a declaration (it is not compelling), it is only about decriminalising homosexuality (there is no link with marriage) and that more than 50 countries have already signed.

“If your government has already signed the text, you may ask them to contact other close friend states. For instance, Canada and UK might contact other countries of the Commonwealth, Mexico and Spain might contact other countries of Latin America.”

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Gay refugees face prejudice across the world
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/view.php?id=7403

15th April 2008 18:20
Adam Lake

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.

Last week the International Lesbian and Gay Association released the latest version of their map of LGBT rights across the world.

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.

Full Article Pink News