Archive for the ‘Death Penalty’ Category
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently wrote an article for Gay City News about 12 Iranian youths now threatened with or sentenced to execution for “sodomy”. Now I’ve just received the following press release from my friend Arsham Parsi, the Iranian gay activist:
Today, five human rights advocacy groups in five Western nations announced the official launching of the 346 No Executions campaign, a coordinated worldwide effort to inspire at least 346 citizens in each member nation to submit letters of petition to their respective foreign ministries, specifically requesting that diplomatic pressure be applied to the government of Iran to abolish its death penalty. The Iranian regime routinely carries out government-sanctioned executions in arbitrary, capricious and inhumane fashion to homosexuals, women, young girls, religious minorities, minors and now Green protesters, all of which are in defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Iran is a signatory.
The five participating groups in the 346 No Executions campaign to date are: The Iranian Homosexual Human Rights Councils (Canada, United States), OutRage! (United Kingdom), The Hirschfeld-Eddy Foundation (Germany) and the Everyone Group (Italy). The participants hope to recruit more human rights groups in other countries to the campaign as word spreads. ‘346’ is derived from the official figure of executions carried out in Iran in 2008, according to the latest Amnesty International report.
Mr. Arsham Parsi, who represents the campaign as communications director of the Iranian Homosexual Human Rights Councils, recently stated that AI’s official figure of 346 does not accurately reflect the actual number of executions carried out annually by the Iranian regime:
“Three-hundred and forty-six is a conservative estimate,” Mr. Parsi stated in a recent interview. “The unofficial number is likely much higher. Iran must stop taking innocent lives in such cavalier, arbitrary and brutal ways. Our campaign’s mission is to petition member governments to apply diplomatic pressure on Iran to cease and desist with these barbaric and unjust executions.
“It is the express goal of the 346 No Executions campaign to bring these arbitrary executions in Iran to an end. We seek to do this through letters of petition and by expanding the campaign to other nations, particularly in the European Union. Many EU member states conduct a great deal of commercial trade with Iran, yet the EU is also signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This dichotomy between principles and actions represents a clear conflict of interest in the EU vis-a-vis trade with Iran and the fundamental human rights EU member nations swore to uphold in the Universal Declaration.
“It is our hope that these letters of petition will compel as many governments as possible to address the situation in Iran, and will as a result apply diplomatic pressure on the regime to uphold its own legal, moral and human rights obligations under the Universal Declaration. We also hope that by increasing awareness of this intolerable situation in Iran to concerned citizens and human rights advocacy groups around the globe, that even more governments will pressure Iran. There is great strength in numbers.”
For more information on the 346 No Executions Campaign, members of the press and the media are welcome to inquire further at email@example.com and www.noexecution.com.
If you are a member of a human rights organization or NGO and would like launch your own 346 No Executions campaign in your country, we will gladly assist you.
Please contact Mr. Arsham Parsi direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A letter to His Majesty The King Harald V of Norway , the Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, the Chief Justice Topre Schei, the minister of Justice Knut Storberget, the Immigration Appeals Board of Norway – Utlendingsnemnda and the Norwegian Ministers and Parliamentarians.
28th Jan 2010
His Majesty The King Harald V the King Of Norway
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
Minister of Justice Knut Storberget
The Immigration Appeals Board of Norway
Honorable Norwegian Ministers and Parliamentarians
The European Parliament
The European Commission
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
we are contacting you to request your assistance on a very urgent case involving Asghar Hedayati a gay Iranian, who is currently in Norway. We received some information about him through the IRanian Railroad for Queer Refugees, based in Toronto, Canada.
Asghar Hedayati is a citizen of Iran, with case number DUF 2003 046 114 08. He escaped Iran in 2003 because of his well-known fear of persecution on basis of his sexual orientation. He applied for asylum in August 2003, but the Norwegian Government unfortunately denied his asylum status for several times and he is now at risk for deportation.
His asylum judge said that he can live in Iran if does not ‘come out’, which is against fundamental human rights. We would like to express our deep concern about his situation, as he will experience imprisonment, torture, and even execution upon his forced return to Iran.
We are urging you to reconsider this case under the spirit of respect for human rights and we are requesting you to grant Iranian queer refugees the full state of asylum in Norway because there a lot of evidence that Iranian queers in Iran are threatened because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro,
Dario Picciau, Glenys Robinson
A Ugandan MP has proposed that lawmakers should create a new crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, which would be punishable by death.
Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, of the ruling party, tabled the private member’s bill in parliament on Tuesday.
According to his bill, those convicted of having gay sex with disabled people and those under the 18 would face the death penalty.
The bill, titled the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, would give the same punishment to anyone infected with HIV who has sex with someone of the same gender.
It also imposes life imprisonment on those who have homosexual sex. Although this is already the case in Uganda, the new law widens the definition of the offence.
Other offence include promoting homosexuality, aiding and abetting homosexuality and keeping a house “for purposes of homosexuality”.
Bahati said his bill would protect children, youths and the “traditional family”.
Human rights activists say Uganda, with a population of 31 million, has some 500,000 gays and lesbians.
Ugandan officials have previously blamed Europe and human rights groups for ‘spreading’ homosexuality.
President of Uganda Kaguta Yoweri Museveni and other officials have spoken out against gays on numerous occasions.
Mr Museveni spoke of his country’s “rejection” of homosexuality during a speech he gave at the wedding of a former MP’s daughter last year.
He said the purpose of life was to create children and that homosexuality was a “negative foreign culture.”
Earlier this year, a number of gay groups were accused of “recruiting” children into homosexuality by methods such as giving them pocket money.
It was reported that men describing themselves as born-again Christians were “confessing” to persuading children to become gay before finding God and “quitting” homosexuality.
Last year in Iran on December 5, 2007 Makvan Mouloodzadeh 21-years old was executed. Homophobia runs deep into Iranian society. This, of course, partly reflects the influence of the conservative Islamic legal and religious standards promoted by the government.
Within the region, Iran is distinguished by the overt severity of the penalties; it imposes on consensual, adult homosexual conduct. Lavat, or sodomy, is punishable by execution on the first offence, regardless of whether the partner is passive or active. Article 111 of the Islamic Penal Code states that, “Lavat is punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will.” Death is also the punishment for the first offence involving sex between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. According to Articles 121 and 122 of the Penal Code, Tafkhiz (the rubbing together of thighs or buttocks, or other forms of non-penetrative “foreplay” between men) is punishable by one hundred lashes for each partner. Upon a fourth conviction of Tafkhiz the punishment is death. Article 123 of the Penal Code further provides that, “if two men who are not related by blood lie naked under the same cover without any necessity,” each will receive ninety-nine lashes.
According to Iran’s Penal Code, an accused person can be convicted of sodomy if he reiterates a confession to the act four times, or if four “righteous men” testify that they have witnessed the act. The Code also offers ways to circumvent this nominally high standard of evidence. Judges may lodge a conviction for sodomy based on “the knowledge of the judge,” in practice allowing a wide range of circumstantial evidence to be adduced as proof. Furthermore, the practice of torture is prevalent in Iran, and the practice of torturing prisoners to extract confessions is common. Forced confessions are openly accepted as evidence in criminal trials.
The death penalty for lavat does not merely exist on paper: it is practiced and enforced. Trials on morals charges in Iran are held in camera; yet, international outrage over the frequency of executions (Iran has the second highest rate of executions per capita in the world) has led the government to exercise tight controls over press reporting of the death penalty. For these reasons, confirming the frequency of executions for lavat is effectively impossible.
On December 5, 2007, Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year-old Iranian man was executed in Kermanshah Central Prison. He was found guilty of multiple counts of anal rape (ighab), allegedly committed when he was as young as 13 years old. At his trials, all the witnesses retracted their pre-trial testimonies, claiming to have lied to the authorities under duress. Makvan also told the court that his confession was made under coercion and pleaded not guilty. The Seventh District Criminal Court of Kermanshah in Western Iran and the Supreme Court nonetheless found him guilty and sentenced him to death. This ruling directly violated various legal codes of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Makvan was born on March 31, 1986, making him a minor back in 1999, at the time of the alleged crime. Article 113 of the Islamic Penal Code declares: “If a minor sodomizes another minor, both should be punished by up to 74 lashes, unless one of them is forced to do so.” Since the alleged sodomy happened when the defendant and his alleged partners were 13 years old, the death penalty was not technically applicable to this case. Although all the alleged witnesses and victims dismissed the sodomy charges, the defendant pleaded not guilty and there was no medical examination conducted to verify the case, the judge employed the “Knowledge of the Judge” clause as a way to prove sodomy in this case. This case caused an international uproar. In response to mounting public pressure, and following a detailed petition submitted to the Iranian Chief Justice by Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s lawyer, the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, nullified the impending death sentence. The Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land. However, in defiance of the Chief Justice, the judges ultimately decided to ratify the original court’s ruling and ordered the local authorities to carry out the execution. This case is a clear example of how convictions of sodomy can be obtained despite the absence of any credible evidence.
We are in 21st centaury but still discrimination for queer community do exist. Unfortunately in most of international reports about Iran, governments and United Nations are pointing to all human rights violation except queer people who are facing persecution on base of their sexual orientation.
Few days ago, France, on behalf of a member of the European Union, has tabled a resolution at the United Nations as the UN marks the 60th anniversary of its Declaration on Human Rights calling for governments worldwide to decriminalize homosexuality. The UN General Assembly is expected to adopt the resolution on December 10. If adopted, it will be non-binding on member states.
IRanian Queer Railroad would like to express its support and urges governments and United Nations to adopt this resolution because queer rights are human rights.
IRanian Queer Railroad – IRQR
Iran – 4 July 2008
Alarm over bill that would extend death penalty to online crimes
Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by a draft law that would extend the death penalty to crimes committed online. Passed by parliament on first reading on 2 July, the proposed law would, for example, apply the death penalty to bloggers and website editors who “promote corruption, prostitution or apostasy.”
“This proposal is horrifying,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Iranian Internet users and bloggers already have to cope with very aggressive filtering policies. The passage of such a law, based on ill-defined concepts and giving judges a lot of room for interpretation, would have disastrous consequences for online freedom. We urge the parliament’s members to oppose this bill and instead to starting working on a moratorium on the death penalty.”
The press freedom organisation added: “Death sentences were already passed last year on two journalists – Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed “Hiva” Botimar – after judicial proceedings marked by many irregularities. They have been held for more than a year without any certainty as to what will happen to them, and we urge the authorities to free them at once.”
Submitted by a score of pro-government parliamentarians and consisting of 13 articles with the declared aim of “reinforcing the penalties for crimes against society’s moral security,” the bill was passed on first reading by 180 votes in favour, 29 against and 10 abstentions.
Article 2 of the bill lists the crimes that are already subject to the death penalty, including armed robbery, rape and creating prostitution networks. If the law is adopted, “the creation of blogs and websites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy” will also become capital crimes.
According to article 3, judges will be able to decide whether the person found guilty of these crimes is “mohareb” (enemy of God) or “corrupter on earth.” Article 190 of the criminal code stipulates that these crimes are punishable by “hanging” or by “amputation of the right hand and left foot.”
A blogger, Mojtaba Saminejad, was tried before a Tehran court in 2005 on a charge of “insulting the prophets,” which carries the death penalty. In the end, the court acquitted him.
Hassanpour, 28, and Botimar, 30, were sentenced to death on 16 July 2007 by a revolutionary court in the Kurdish city of Marivan on charges of “subversive activities against national security,” spying and “separatist propaganda.” Their convictions were overturned by the supreme court in Tehran on procedural grounds. The Marivan court reimposed the death sentence on Botimar in April of this year, while Hassanpour is awaiting a new trial.
A journalist is also under sentence of death in neighbouring Afghanistan. It is Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, of Jahan-e Naw (“The New World) who was arrested on 27 October 2007 in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and was given the death sentence on 22 January, at the end of a trial held behind closed doors and without any lawyer acting for the defence.
Kambakhsh was arrested after downloading a controversial article from an Iranian website that quoted suras from the Koran about women. He was convicted of blasphemy although it was established that he was not the article’s author.
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.
Activist Peter Tatchell explains the life-threatening situation for lesbian and gay people in Iran, during the BBC News – 12 March 2008 – item on gay asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi.
Gay activists have told PinkNews.co.uk that the government need to reconsider the cases of other gay asylum seekers following the reprieve of Iranian teenager Mehdi Kazemi’s.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced yesterday that in the light of “new circumstances” gay Iranian Mehdi Kazemi should have his case reconsidered upon his return from the Netherlands, where he fled when his first application was denied.
The 19-year old, who has lived in Britain since 2005, was facing deportation and possible execution in Iran, where homosexuality is illegal.
Although the decision has been met with support, gay activists have warned that there are many similar cases which are being overlooked by the government.
Omar Kuddus, a gay rights activist who campaigned for Kazemi’s case, told PinkNews.co.uk:
“The British government has for once done the right thing and given this young man a chance and hope for his future.
“There is no question of the fate awaiting Madhi if he is deported back to Iran – execution, just for being gay.
“Homosexuality is not accepted and the state kills and punishes those guilty of being gay.
“To say that homosexuals are safe as long as they are discreet and live their lives in private, is to say that Anne Frank was safe from the Nazis in World War Two as long as she hid in her attic, there is no difference.
“Homosexuality shall never be acceptable in Iran as long as the Ayatollahs and Sharia law is in place.
“I am grateful that Mehdi can now make his case and establish the true dangers awaiting him in Iran.”
The Home Office said last week that even though homosexuality is illegal in Iran and homosexuals do experience discrimination, it does not believe that homosexuals are routinely persecuted purely on the basis of their sexuality.
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and member of gay rights group OutRage! believes that there are dozens of other gay asylum seekers whose cases the government are refusing to review.
Mr Tatchell said:
“The review of this case is welcome, but there are still many more which need to be reconsidered, including Pegah Emambakhsh and many other individuals who are fleeing violently homophobic countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe and Palestine.
“The underlying problem is the government’s whole asylum system and the way it is rigged to fail as many applicants as possible, combined with the homophobic biases of the asylum process.
“Asylum staff and adjudicators are given no training on sexual orientation and there is no explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation.”
The growing public outcry over the issue prompted a response from the European Parliament and 60 MEPs signed a petition asking Gordon Brown to reverse the decision on Kazemi.
Liberal Democrat European justice spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP welcomed the change of heart by Jacqui Smith, but believes the decision should have been made sooner.
Baroness Ludford said: “This is a welcome move, even if it should have come voluntarily and without the need for so much pressure.
“We must not forget other gay Iranians fearing not only their liberty but their lives, such as Pegah Emambakhsh. They deserve justice too.”
Ms Ludford has written to the Home Secretary requesting a review of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who faces deportation after losing the latest round in her battle to be granted asylum.
Ms Emambakhsh, 40, who fled to Britain in 2005 after her girlfriend was sentenced to the death penalty, narrowly avoided deportation in August last year when her local MP Richard Caborn persuaded the government to allow her to stay while further avenues of appeal were explored.
Last month, however, the Court of Appeal turned down her application for permission for a full hearing and she now plans to apply for a judicial review at the High Court.
Activists Peter Tatchell and Arsham Parsi explain the life-threatening situation for lesbian and gay people in Iran, during the BBC News (12 March 2008) item on gay asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi.