Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Jack Straw blocks Cardinal Newman information
Collusion with Catholic Church
Media plan to deflect criticism
Catholic Minister approved Vatican request
London – 31 October 2008 – By Peter Tatchell
The Catholic Church put the government under sustained pressure to grant it a licence to exhume and rebury Cardinal Newman in Birmingham Oratory Church, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
This revelation comes on the eve of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor conducting a special service for Newman at Birmingham Oratory – a ceremonial first step on the road to making Newman a saint. This service will take place tomorrow, Saturday 1 November.
Newman’s casket will contain no exhumed bodily remains, as none was found when his grave was dug up last month.
“The documents show that the Ministry of Justice worked in close cooperation with the Catholic Church to deflect criticism of the reburial plans, which violated Cardinal Newman’s expressed wish to remain buried with the man he loved for over 30 years, Father Ambrose St John,” said Mr Tatchell.
“They reveal high level collusion between the government and the Catholic Church, including devising a ‘Media Plan’ to rebut criticisms.
“It is now apparent that the Ministry of Justice was initially slow and hesitant about granting the licence and delayed a decision until July this year. It took repeated emails from Peter Jennings of the Catholic Church, and reference to the concerns of the Vatican, to get ministerial authorisation.
“The licence application was approved by Catholic Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice MP, which raises conflict of interest issues. Did she show unwarranted favouritism towards the Vatican-backed request for the reburial of Newman?
“Most of the FOI documents are heavily censored, with whole pages blacked out. This suggests the Ministry of Justice has something hide.
“Nevertheless, we can see that the Catholic Church subjected the government to constant and strenuous lobbying to get its way.
“Fifty-five documents concerning legal advice have been withheld. Other documents have been suppressed by the Justice Minister under section 36 of the FOI, which concerns ‘Prejudice to effective conduct
of public affairs’. The government has declined to state the content of the suppressed documents.
“Answers to my FOI application to the Ministry of Justice took much longer than the 20-day rule. I had to make repeated reminders to get them released.
Regarding Newman’s sexuality and relationship with Ambrose St John, Mr Tatchell said:
“All the evidence from the letters and diaries suggests that Newman and St John had a passionate long-term same-sex relationship. No one can know for certain whether their relationship included sexual intimacy and affection; possibly not.
“They were mentally and spiritually in love; sharing a deep bond and intense relationship. They were inseparable; living together for over 30 years, like a married husband and wife. At Newman’s explicit request, he was buried in the same grave as St John.
“The Christian historian Alan Bray has done major research on the relationship between Newman and St John, sifting through the Cardinal’s diary, letters and notes. His findings are published in his book, The Friend (2003):
They include the following admission that Newman wrote in his diary about Ambrose’s love for him: “From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable.” He later added: “As far as this world was concerned, I was his first and last….he was my earthly light.'”
Newman stated that St John was “fair and Saxon-looking, my Angel Guardian,” who, he said, had come to him as Ruth came to Naomi and as the angel Raphael came to Tobias.
Reflecting on St John’s death in 1875, Newman compared their love to that of a married couple: “I have always thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s, but I feel it difficult to believe that anyone’s sorrow can be greater than mine….This is the greatest affliction I have had in my life.”
“There were allegations during his lifetime about his circle of young homosexual friends. Close relations with women did not feature at all in his life,” said Mr Tatchell.
Was Cardinal Newman gay?
Violating Cardinal Newman’s wishes
Cardinal Newman – nature thwarts Vatican plot
Catholic minister approved Pope’s request
Government collusion with attempt to violate Newman’s wishes
London – 6 October 2008
“Nature has thwarted the Vatican’s heartless plot to violate Cardinal Newman’s request to be buried with the man he loved, Father Ambrose St John,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
He was commenting on the revelation that Newman’s body has decomposed to nothing, leaving an empty grave and frustrating plans by the Catholic Church to dismember his body and display his bones as holy relics.
“The Vatican wanted to rebury the Cardinal’s remains in a marble tomb, separate from St John, to dampen speculation that he might have been gay.
“Newman’s and St John’s bodies have decomposed together, uniting them forever in the same soil. They cannot now be separated, as the Catholic Church planned. Cardinal Newman’s wishes have triumphed over the Vatican’s homophobia,” said Mr Tatchell.
Only last week, Catholic MP and Justice minister, Bridget Prentice, wrote to Mr Tatchell reiterating and justifying the government’s decision to grant an exceptional exhumation and reburial licence to the Catholic Church:
“I was aware of Cardinal Newman’s own recorded views regarding his place of burial. I took these views into consideration when deciding to grant the licence but did not consider them to be the overriding consideration in this case,” wrote Ms Prentice.
Mr Tatchell had previously queried “whether it was appropriate for a Catholic minister to make the decision to accede to the Vatican’s request for Newman’s reburial and whether the minister’s Catholic faith may have influenced her ruling in favour of the church.”
He wrote to the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw MP, urging him to rescind the license granted to the Catholic Church for the exhumation and reburial of Cardinal Newman, on the grounds that it is “certainly unethical and probably illegal.”
“It is morally wrong and arguably unlawful for the Ministry of Justice to grant a reburial license that violates Newman’s instructions to his executors,” according to Mr Tatchell.
“It is indefensible for Jack Straw and Bridget Prentice to give a non-relative third party the right to veto the Cardinal’s will and to control his remains.
“Newman insisted that he should be buried with the man he loved, Father Ambrose St John. The two men would have been separated under Vatican plans to rebury the Cardinal in Birmingham Oratory church.
“The Ministry of Justice caved in to Vatican demands and gave the Catholic Church disposal rights over Newman’s body.
“It planned to move his remains to a church tomb, and to break up his body and distribute his bones as holy relics.
“The government’s collusion with these macabre plans is quite shameful.
“The Vatican’s bid to rebury Cardinal Newman comes ahead of him being made a saint. The Catholic hierarchy was embarrassed by Newman’s love for Father St John and the fact that they were buried together in a shared grave. It wanted to rebury Newman separately, in the hope of squashing suggestions that the Cardinal might have been gay,” said Mr Tatchell.
In his letter to Jack Straw, Mr Tatchell wrote:
“Could you please explain the Ministry of Justice’s justification for making a decision that goes against Cardinal Newman’s clear, unambiguous and emphatic instructions to his executors that he should be buried with Father Ambrose St John?
“Did the Ministry of Justice have full information about all Cardinal Newman’s repeated instructions to his executors when it made the decision to grant a licence for his exhumation and reburial?
“Could you please explain the Ministry of Justice’s legal and moral authority for granting a reburial license to a non-relative and non-descendant third party that is intent on violating Cardinal Newman’s explicit and repeated requests concerning his burial?
“I would respectfully request that in light of the overwhelming evidence that Cardinal Newman wished to be buried with Ambrose St John that you either revoke the licence in its entirety or amend it to stipulate that the Cardinal’s remains can only be exhumed and reburied on condition that Ambrose St John is also moved and reburied with him.
“I urge you to ensure that Cardinal Newman’s wishes are adhered to and respected.” concluded Mr Tatchell’s letter to the Justice Secretary.
For additional background about Cardinal Newman see:
Was Cardinal Newman gay?
Violating Cardinal Newman’s wishes
Cardinal’s body to be dismembered
Copy of Peter Tatchell’s letter to Justice Secretary, Jacks Straw MP:
Dear Jack Straw
The exhumation and reburial of Cardinal Newman
I understand that in July the Ministry of Justice gave the Catholic Church a license permitting it to exhume and rebury Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Did you personally agree and approve this license? If not, which Minister did?
Could you please explain the Ministry of Justice’s justification for making a decision that goes against Cardinal Newman’s clear, unambiguous and emphatic instructions to his executors that he should be buried with Father Ambrose St John?
These instructions – and their sources – are set out in my attached Guardian article.
Did the Ministry of Justice have full information about all Cardinal Newman’s repeated instructions to his executors when it made the decision to grant a licence for his exhumation and reburial?
Could you please explain the Ministry of Justice’s legal and moral authority for granting a reburial license to a non-relative and non-descendant third party that is intent on violating Cardinal Newman’s explicit and repeated requests concerning his burial?
I would respectfully request that in light of the overwhelming evidence that Cardinal Newman wished to be buried with Ambrose St John that you either revoke the licence in its entirety or amend it to stipulate that the Cardinal’s remains can only be exhumed and reburied on condition that Ambrose St John is also moved and reburied with him.
Moreover, it would be entirely justified and reasonable for the Ministry of Justice to revoke or amend the license if it was not fully aware of all Cardinal Newman’s various instructions to his executors when it granted the license in July.
I urge you to ensure that Cardinal Newman’s wishes are adhered to and respected.
Since this matter is of some urgency, given the reburial plans, I look forward to your reply at your earliest convenience.
Yours with appreciation and best wishes,
Human rights campaigner
A gay couple who fled to Turkey from Iran may be separated after the United Nations accepted one man’s case and denied the other.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is meant to protect and support refugees and assist in their return or resettlement.
Kamal and Reza hoped could start a life together without the fear of being punished for their sexuality.
Kamal has been told he will be recognised as a refugee but Reza received word earlier this week that he will not.
“Reza will have a chance to appeal this decision with the aid of a different UNHCR legal officer,” said a spokesman for IRQO, the Canada-based Iranian Queer Organisation.
“We should urge UNHCR on appeal to recognize Reza as a refugee. The other option is for us to request UNHCR to present Kamal to the Canadian Embassy in Ankara for resettlement purposes.
“Then Kamal can apply for Reza as his common law partner.”
Human rights groups claim up to 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed since the 1979 revolution in Iran.
These are usually under the guise of honour killings, says a 2006 report released by LGBT activists OutRage!
The UK Independent reports that Ahmet Yildiz, an openly gay 26 year old physics student was shot as he left a cafe near the Bosphorus Strait this week. He tried to flee from the attackers in his car, but lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Yildiz died shortly afterwards in hospital.
Yildiz’ friends and associates believe he was the victim of so-called honor killing.
Turkish sociologist, Mazhar Bagli, has done extensive research involving people who have been convicted for honor killings. Bagli has little doubt that Yildiz’ death could indeed fall into the honor killing category:
“Honour killings cleanse illicit relationships. For women, that is a broad term. Men are allowed more sexual freedom, but homosexuality is still seen by some as beyond the pale.”
In Turkey it is believed that around 1,000 honor killings have been committed over the past five years. In virtually every case, the victims are young women who have transgressed against patriarchal rules governing conduct. In some cases females have been murdered for the ‘crime’ of having premarital sex. They have also been murdered for falling victim to rape and even for the offense of speaking to a stranger.
Ahmet Yildiz was openly gay. This was an affront to members of his family who believed his lifestyle brought shame on the family name.
Prior to the shooting, Yildiz was pressured by relatives who wanted him see a doctor so he could be “cured.” When he was in the company of relatives, there were continual arguments.
Yildiz openly gay lifestyle even made him the target of death threats. Yet despite the enormous pressure to underplay his homosexuality, he had the courage to stand his ground.
The courage of Ahmet Yildiz is the more remarkable since gay rights in Turkey have recently taken a few hits. As the Turkish gay community has become more visible, there has been a reactionary backlash with gays targeted for beatings, insults and threats.
Istanbul’s largest gay rights group, LAMDA, was forced to close in May as a result of a court order. The court proceeding against LAMDA was initiated by the Istanbul governor’s office that claimed the organization was “against law and morality.”
A former neighbor of Ahmet Yildiz said that his refusal to live-a-lie may have been too much for some people:
“He could have hidden who he was, but he wanted to live honestly. When the death threats started, his boyfriend tried to persuade him to get out of Turkey. But he stayed. He was too brave. He was too open.”
“Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Members States” by Olivier de Schutter
Upload the PDF here :
More informations : Solidarité Internationale LGBT
A gay asylum seeker has been refused permission to stay in Scotland and told he is likely to be safe in his homophobic homeland provided he behaves “discreetly”.
Scotland on Sunday revealed earlier this year that Syrian Jojo Jako Yakob was battling to stay here after suffering horrific abuse because of his sexuality and political activities.
It has now emerged that an immigration tribunal has turned down his request to stay in the UK, despite accepting that Yakob is gay and that Syria criminalises and represses homosexuality.
In a judgment that has appalled gay rights campaigners, the tribunal suggests Yakob is unlikely to come to any harm so long as he keeps his sexuality under wraps.
Lawyers for the 20-year-old are planning a last-ditch court bid to stop him being deported. Campaigners said they were in no doubt Yakob’s life would once again be placed in serious danger.
Yakob, a Christian member of the repressed Kurdish minority in the Arab state, fled to the UK two years ago after being arrested, shot and beaten. He left his home country after surviving a harrowing ordeal at the hands of Syrian police and prison guards. He had been arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets.
When prison guards discovered he was homosexual he suffered horrific beatings and was assaulted so badly that he fell into a coma.
Despite his attempts to start a new life in Scotland, the Home Office ordered his deportation in March and, last week, his appeal against the decision was denied.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the refusal was “irrational, ill-informed and insensitive”.
He added: “This young man’s life will be in danger if he is deported. It’s outrageous that our Government is showing such a callous disregard for human rights.
“The Government is fast losing its gay-friendly credentials by its heartless, cruel and vindictive mistreatment of gay asylum seekers.”
The closing of Lambda would be a devastating blow for the European LGBT emancipation movement.
A leading gay rights organisation has been ordered to dissolve itself by a court in Turkey.
A department of the Istanbul Governor’s office responsible for non-governmental organisations alleged that the group, Lambda Istanbul, violates Turkish laws on morality.
They claimed that Lambda violates both the Penal Code, as an association in violation of “law and morals,” and Article 41 of the Turkish constitution, which is concerned with “the peace and welfare of the family.”
Lambda Istanbul was founded in 1993 and registered as an association in May 2006.
The city government of Isatabnul claimed that the association’s statute was immoral and although the prosecutor initually rejected the claims citing freedom of association.
The city government then appeal to court and there have been a number of hearings, the most recent today in the Beyoglu 3rd Civil Court of First Instance.
The group said in a statement: “The way we see this process is that LGBT organizations that currently exist either in practice or as registered entities in Turkey are trying to be pushed out of the legal domain.
“Instead of accepting their existence and protecting their basic rights, the state authorities choose to condemn LGBT people, by depriving them of their right to association.”
Lambda Istanbul will appeal the decision at the Court of Appeal. They are the first gay rights group to be closed by any member or candidate member of the European Union.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement:
“A Beyoglu court today ordered the dissolution of Lambda Istanbul in the ongoing case brought against them.
“An HRW representative was at the court and witnessed the hearing.”
“Lambda will take the case to the Court of Appeal (Yargitay) but it represents sustained, prolonged, and legally indefensible harassment of a human rights organisation.”
Lambda Istanbul aims to “support all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to adopt equality as a value”.
It has actively lobbied for legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Government officials have made similar legal moves to shut down other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organisations in Turkey but failed.
Kaos GL, based in Ankara, faced a demand for closure from Ankara’s deputy governor, Selahattin Ekmenoglu, in 2005. The closure petition was dismissed by prosecutors.
The chairman of Dutch gay rights group COC, Frank van Dalen, says that closing Lambda Istanbul would be against non-discriminatory guidelines issued by the European Union and against the universal right to free speech.
Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership, but concerns about human rights are one factor frustrating negotiations.
The closing of Lambda would be a devastating blow for the European LGBT emancipation movement, according to COC.
Mr Van Dalen has called on the Dutch government to not support Turkey’s application for EU membership until “basic human rights are fully respected by Turkey.”
Le Camerounais homosexuel Paul Patience Nguimbous, sans papier depuis 2005, pourrait être expulsé «sans délai» si l’Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (Ofpra) rejette la demande d’asile qu’il déposera lundi 26 mai, révèle à Têtu l’Association de reconnaissance des droits des personnes homosexuelles et transsexuelles à l’immigration et au séjour (Ardhis). Interpellé le 13 mai dans la région de Lille (Nord), Paul Patience Nguimbous est actuellement placé en rétention administrative au centre Lesquin de Lille.
Le tribunal administratif de Lille a rejeté mercredi 21 mai son recours visant à annuler un arrêté de reconduite à la frontière malgré les preuves de répression des homosexuels camerounais rapportées par divers associations et médias. L’Ardhis explique que le jeune homme de 29 ans, «inscrit au Parti socialiste», était arrivé dans l’Hexagone en 2001 pour ses études mais aussi pour vivre tranquillement son orientation sexuelle, passible de cinq ans de prison dans son pays.
Homosexual acts are banned in Cameroon, and are punishable with up to five years in jail according to Section 347 of the country’s penal code.
See also :
EveryOne Group: “A memorable success we share with the Radical Party and Nessuno Tocchi Caino (Hands off Cain). Thanks to an extraordinary campaign the regulations for granting asylum in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe have been changed. We succeeded because we refuse to accept unjust laws that ignore the value of human life”.
Seyed Mehdi Kazemi, the 20-year-old Iranian homosexual, a member of EveryOne Group who risked deportation to Teheran on several occasions (where he would have suffered imprisonment, harsh corporal punishment and probably been hung) has obtained asylum in the United Kingdom. He received notification of the decision from the Home Office on Monday May 19th, 2008. The boy had attempted to escape deportation to Teheran from the United Kingdom by fleeing to Canada, but he was stopped on the German border and transferred temporarily to Holland, a nation usually in favour of granting asylum to Iranian homosexuals. But on February 26th a flight was arranged from Amsterdam to London and it seemed that once back in the UK Mehdi risked deportation to Teheran again. “They were days of great worry as we attempted an amazing nonviolent struggle”, say Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau of EveryOne”, “days in which we fought side by side with the Radical Party and the association Nessuno Tocchi Caino, literally inventing a new way of battling for human rights, drawing into our battle the world’s media, hundreds of associations and thousands of activists. Our first step was to block the deportation, appealing to the sense of justice of the Dutch government which agreed to review Mehdi’s case. In the meantime we also upset the expulsion system of refugees in the United Kingdom – an unjust system which was taking place among indifference and the silence of the media. Then with our friends from the Radical Party we presented a report-appeal to the European Parliament that showed without a doubt that Mehdi had a right to asylum and that serious abuse was being carried out by the Home Office itself”. The European Parliament approved an urgent resolution for Mehdi Kazemi’s case, a resolution that was also signed by 142 MPs from the British House of Commons and 62 Lords. Europe and the United Kingdom itself finally recognised the need to change the procedure for evaluating and granting refugee status and political asylum. “It was a resounding defeat for the persecutory policies of Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith,” say the leaders of EveryOne, “a defeat that marked the decline in their star – but for the rights of refugees, the gay community, for activists throughout the world, for the minorities in Iran and countries where freedom is denied, it was a victory to remember”. But the real good news for young Mehdi (whose partner Parham was murdered by the executioner in Iran) arrived on May 19th. The British Embassy in Rome, on behalf of the British Government, wrote to EveryOne Group, communicating their joy for an event that no one believed possible when we first began the campaign against the deportation of homosexual refugees from the UK, and saved from deportation (thanks to the worldwide success of the Flowers Campaign) Pegah Emambakhsh. “How can a group like yours, without funding or protection from powers high up, expect to change the attitude of one of the most powerful governments in the world?” they said. We won because we believed in what we were doing, because we refused to accept the logic of inhumanity and death.
We won because we refused to give up, because in the event of Mehdi being deported, we were willing to fly to Teheran to demonstrate with placards, appealing to the executioners to spare the lives of Mehdi and Pegah (whom we trust will also receive good news very soon) and all the innocent people condemned to death due to unjust laws that cancel out the value of human life.”
While they celebrate this news, the members of EveryOne flourish copies of the email received from the British Embassy: “We are extremely happy to communicate this news: today in London a final decision was reached on Seyed Mehdi Kazemi’s case. After a re-examination of the case and in light of the new circumstances, as requested by the British Home Secretary, Mr Kazemi is now free to remain in the United Kingdom”.
We’re Not Expendable Income or People!
LGBT Activists March To End Poverty on First Annual Community Day of Action for Economic Justice
Contact: Kenyon Farrow, 917.627.0853 or Joseph DeFilippis 646.685.9226
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Who: Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ) & hundreds of other Activists and community members
What: Community Day Of Action for Economic Justice
When: April 17th, 2008
Where: 3pm Rally at Union Square; 4pm March to Judson Memorial Church
Why: To highlight issues facing poor and working-class LGBT/Gender Nonconforming people
Dispelling the long-held notion that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community is “white, without dependents and with expendable income,” hundreds of LGBT activists will rally at Union Square to make visible the many bread and butter issues facing queer New Yorkers. Activists say that addressing poverty in the gay community is usually missing from the news stories, glossy ads, and television shows that too often represent the “gay” community.
“Gay cruises and a vacation home in Fire Island just isn’t the reality for many queers, who are simply trying to survive, says Joseph DeFilippis, Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice. “Many of us our are worried about keeping just one roof over our heads, making a decent wage, and getting access to healthcare and public benefits. This rally is the first step in making economic justice issues in the queer community visible.”
But visibility isn’t the only thing the marchers hope to achieve. Many poor LGBT people who access services public assistance programs through NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) are organizing to break the red tape that prevents many people from even getting access when they’re in need. In addition to preventing all recipients from attaining higher education and being subject to invasive “home visits,” queer people often face additional barriers to getting public assistance.
“There are new rules for increased proof of citizenship and identification that prevents many people from accessing benefits,” says Reg Gossett, Welfare organizer with Queers for Economic Justice. “Transgender people, homeless people, immigrants and anyone who doesn’t appear to the caseworker to match their ID can be prevented from getting benefits. Also, domestic partners can’t apply for benefits for their partner’s children.”
Though there is very little data on how poverty affects the lives of LGBT people, there are some indicators. The NYC City Council last year commissioned a study showing 30% of all homeless youth in NYC identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, many of whom are black or Latino. But the cycle of poverty doesn’t end at age 18. With a lack of affordable housing, educational or employment opportunities, those youth struggle to become financially secure well into adulthood.
In addition, New York City has nearly 2 million people on Medicaid, many of whom are living with HIV. There are over 100,000 people living with HIV in NYC, and black and Latino men who have sex with men are a large majority of people living with HIV. HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), a department of HRA, served over 31,000 New Yorkers in February, all of whom have to meet income requirements to qualify.
Queers for Economic Justice’s Welfare Warriors group is currently conducting a community research project, documenting the lives of low-income LGBT and gender-non-conforming people.
The groups co-sponsoring the march and rally include the Ali Forney Center, the Audre Lorde Project, Brecht Forum, Bronx Community Pride Center, Casa Abatex Ache, Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), Child Care Collective/Regeneration, Coalition for the Homeless, Domestic Workers United, Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services, FIERCE!, Generation Q, Housing Works, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Irish Queers, the LGBT Community Center, Metropolitan Community Church, Movement for Justice in El Barrio, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, NYC Association of Homeless and Street-Involved Youth Organizations, NYC Anti-Violence project, Q-Wave.