Archive for the ‘Georges W. Bush’ Category
Gays Demand China Free AIDS Advocate at Olympic Torch Protest:
A press conference was supposed to be held today at 11 AM at United Nations Plaza by Tibetans living in the US, to demand China end its occupation of their country. I went to it expecting 2 or 3 dozen Tibetans and their supporters would be standing behind a microphone tree, explaining what they hope to accomplish as the Olympic torch passes through town.
What I found when I got there was a full-fledged rally, held in front of a large elevated stage near the north end of the plaza, and perhaps five-hundred protesters waving flags, chanting slogans and handing out flyers.
I hooked up with five other gay men who were there to call for the release of Chinese AIDS advocate Hu Jia, sentenced to three years in jail last week for pro-democracy advocacy, and to add our voices to the “Free Tibet” chorus.
Here are two photos of us posing for the cameras:
I’m proud a handful of us gays were present today, and will be attending other pro-Tibet events today and tomorrow, as the Olympic torch wends its way through San Francisco. And big thanks to the other gays who showed up today in support of our Tibetan friends and incarcerated AIDS advocate Hu Jia.
By Michael Petelis :
U.S. invasion has made life worse for Iraqi LGBT community
BY MELISSA MEINZER
Iraq has never been a great place to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. But since the U.S. invasion began five years ago, it has become much worse, according a gay Iraqi who fled to London two years ago.
“Are gay people in the United States, Britain and Australia aware of what their governments have done to our country?” writes Ali Hili on his group’s blog, Iraqi LGBT (iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com). “Their armies invaded and occupied our land, destroyed the infrastructure of government, and created the chaos and lawlessness that has allowed religious fundamentalism to flourish and to terrorize women and gay people.”
The chaos and resulting power grabs have made Iraq an extremely dangerous place to be queer or gender variant. “Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005,” he writes.
So Hili formed Iraqi LGBT, a group dedicated to providing safe houses for LGBT people living in the war-torn nation. And the University of Pittsburgh’s LGBT group, the Rainbow Alliance, is hoping to help.
The group, which recently had to close three of its five houses because of financial constraints, provides safe group housing, food and medical care for LGBT people living in Iraq. Many of the residents it serves need medical treatment for HIV or gender transitioning.
“With strong social and political oppression against homosexuals and specific targeting by Islamic militia groups, LGBT Iraqis face abduction and death in the streets,” says Sean Casey, director of the Global Equality Network for Heartland Alliance. A Chicago-based nonprofit human-rights organization, Heartland Alliance handles U.S. fund-raising for the group.
Aaron Arnold, the president of Pitt’s Rainbow Alliance, interned with Casey last summer and learned about Iraqi LGBT through him.
“We’d done some international issues before; we figured our membership would be pretty interested,” says Arnold, a junior majoring in sociology with certificates in African studies and women, gender and sexuality studies. The student group is collecting funds and plans to match students’ donations with money from its own coffers. Next week is Pride Week at the university, so Rainbow will be staffing a fund-raising table on campus and hopes to collect money then. (To donate without visiting campus, click the donation button on iraqilglbtuk.blogspot.com.)
Some students, says Arnold, have objected to their fund-raising efforts, but he thinks it’s because they’re misinformed about what the group seeks to do.
“I think a lot of people on the surface hear that we’re trying to support LGBT people in Iraq and [think] that it’s antiwar or not patriotic,” he says. “We’re just trying to emphasize that these are human beings that were leading relatively normal lives until the infrastructure of their country collapsed. It’s not a statement about war; it’s a statement about humanity.”
By Doug Ireland
I wrote the following article for Gay City News — New York’s largest lesbian and gay weekly newspaper — which published it today:
President George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not agree on much, but tragically they may find common ground about the disposability of Hassan Parhizkar’s life.
Since November 7, this mild-mannered 40-year-old gay Iranian businessman from Rockville, Maryland has been sitting in jail in the Frederick County, Maryland Detention Center, housed with common criminals, in the living hell of limbo between the freedom he has known since he came to the United States as a young man 17 years ago and the certain persecution, imprisonment, or worse that will be his fate as a gay man if he is sent back to Iran.
A deportation order to send him back to Iran has been issued, and any day he could be put on a plane back to Tehran, where he was born.
“I am very afraid, and so very frustrated,” Hassan Parhizkar told me in a truncated, collect telephone call from jail.
“My asylum request has never been before an immigration judge. I just don’t know what to do, I just don’t know what to do…” he added in a voice choked with tears.
“I work hard, I pay my taxes, and I live a quiet life without bothering anybody,” Parhizkar told this reporter.
Parhizkar was arrested out of the blue earlier this month during a routine visit to an immigration office. He and his attorney explained that for the past five years he fully observed the terms of a supervised probation that stemmed from a 1999 deportation order, of which he was unaware until 2002 because he had the bad fortune of hiring, back in 1992, a man fraudulently presenting himself as a licensed attorney to pursue an asylum claim. And those five years of waiting were years of unspeakable dread. Parhizkar said he has never been a burden on US taxpayers. When he came to this country, he joined his much older brother, who had emigrated to the US at the age of 17 and eventually opened a used car sales and repair business in which Parhizkar worked.
“My brother came to the US before the [1979 theocratic] revolution in Iran, and was completely Americanized, so he accepted me as I was, and never had an issue with my being gay,” Parhizkar told this reporter. “When my brother died, sadly, in 2003, he left the entire business to me. I also own the property on which it is located.”
To follow here :
October 10, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Hossein Alizadeh, IGLHRC Communications Coordinator, 212-430-6016
(New York, Monday October 10, 2007) – The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has uncovered evidence that the U.S. government has funded groups in Uganda that actively promote discrimination against lesbians and gay men. In a letter to U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul, IGLHRC has criticized funding the groups and has asked for assurances that U.S. government funds are not being used to support homophobic organizations anywhere in the world.
IGLHRC’s investigation followed a series of distressing events in Uganda. At an August 16 press conference, Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), a coalition of LGBT groups, launched Let us Live in Peace Campaign, calling for understanding and respect of sexual minorities. SMUG’s campaign was met with an increase in hate speech by religious groups. The primary instigator of the backlash was Pastor Martin Ssempa, leader of the Makerere University Community Church and spokesman for the Interfaith Family Culture Coalition Against Homosexuality in Uganda. Ssempa organized an August 21 rally in Kampala, the country’s largest city, at which more than one hundred demonstrators, including several government officials, demanded official action against LGBT people. Ssempa has called homosexual conduct, “a criminal act against the laws of nature,” and has said that, “there should be no rights granted to homosexuals in this country.”
According to the U.S. Embassy in Uganda’s website, Makerere University Community Church received a grant under a program designed to provide funds for AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs in Africa. Mr. Ssempa and his coalition, which includes Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, and Evangelicals, have threatened the safety of Ugandan LGBT rights activists by posting their names, photos and addresses on a website (http://kobsrugby.com/demo/). With support from conservative organizations such as Family Watch International in the United States, Ssempa has launched attacks not only on homosexuals but on Uganda’s women’s rights and HIV activists as well.
“The U.S. government’s funding is meant to alleviate suffering and support effective AIDS initiatives in Africa, not to further blame and stigmatize already marginalized groups,” said IGLHRC Executive Director Paula Ettelbrick. IGLHRC provided Ambassador Dybul with evidence of grants made by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Makerere University Community Church.
Furthermore, IGLHRC found that the Uganda Muslim Tabliqh Women’s Desk has also received a grant under the President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to implement HIV programs in Masaka District. Recently, Muslim Tabliqh youth announced a plan to form an ‘Anti-Gay Squad’ to fight homosexuality in Uganda. On 28 August 2007, Sheikh Multah Bukenya, a senior cleric in the Tabliqh Organization, was quoted during prayers at Noor Mosque in Kampala as saying that his followers are “ready to act swiftly and form this squad that will wipe out all abnormal practices like homosexuality in our society.”
PEPFAR is a $15 billion Bush administration fund to fight AIDS in Africa. According to IGLHRC’s 2007 report, “Off the Map: How HIV/AIDS Programming is Failing Same-Sex Practicing People in Africa,” less than U.S. $1 million targets HIV programs for men who have sex with men in Africa, despite strong evidence that HIV has a disproportionate impact on LGBT communities throughout the continent. According to IGLHRC, the complicated PEPFAR sub-granting process lacks transparency and makes it difficult to track the funding.
“What we do know, is that few PEPFAR dollars are being used to fight HIV among gay men in Africa,” said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Senior Specialist for Africa. “Not only have African men who have sex with men been largely ignored with regard to HIV prevention services, but avowedly homophobic organizations are receiving funding for programs that will only further stigmatize homosexuality. This has to stop.”
IGLHRC has called for increased transparency in the distribution of U.S. government HIV/AIDS funding internationally and a commitment by U.S. administrators that organizations espousing hate speech will not be funded
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and is punishable by between 14 years and life imprisonment. Last year, the Ugandan Parliament passed a constitutional amendment making same-sex marriages illegal.
TABLIQS PLAN SQUAD TO FIGHT GAYS IN UGANDA – Out LGBT Well-Being
Published on: 29 August 2007
August 28, Muslim Tabliq youth plan to form what they call an ‘Anti-Gay Squad’ to fight homosexuality in the country. Sheikh Multah Bukenya, a senior cleric in the Muslim Tabliq Sect said the vice is widely spreading among the young generation. “We are ready to act swiftly and form this squad that will wipe out all abnormal practices like homosexuality in our society,” he said last Friday during prayers at Noor Mosque in Kampala. “It is the work of the community to put an end to bad practices like homosexuality.” The debate on homosexuals intensified recently when they addressed an unprecedented press conference in Kampala, demanding recognition of their rights. A group of religious leaders later held a demonstration in the city, saying homosexuals have no place in society. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. “If prostitutes can line up on streets just next to State House and no one acts against them; how fast do you expect the government to crackdown homosexuals who operate in hiding?” Sheikh Bukenya wondered. Tabliqs are known for their militant approach to resolving conflicts. In 1991, they stormed the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) headquarters at Old Kampala and uprooted the then administration which they accused of not serving the interests of Islam. Some policemen and Tabliqs died in the clash. The UMSC publicist Haji Nsereko Mutumba supported the initiative. “We are against homosexuality on the spiritual side but also urge the government to enforce the laws. We support any non violent struggle against homosexuality,” he told Daily Monitor by phone. Mr Asan Kasingye the police publicist said: “The police welcome everybody who wants to work with us to fight crime but they should use legal means.” He said the police welcomes information that would help fight all forms of crime.