Archive for the ‘Sexual Orientation’ Category

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

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“Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation in the EU Members States” by Olivier de Schutter

Upload the PDF here :

http://www.si-lgbt.org/article.php3?id_article=158

More informations : Solidarité Internationale LGBT

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

http://www.rue89.com/2008/04/15/la-police-sapprete-t-elle-a-ficher-les-homosexuels
Par Antonin Sabot | Etudiant en journalisme | 15/04/2008 | 16H04

Le fichier informatique Ardoise permettra de préciser si une victime, un témoin ou un suspect est homosexuel, SDF, syndicaliste…

Pas encore en service, le prochain système d’exploitation des données de la Police, baptisé Ardoise fait déjà débat. Recueillant les informations lors des enquêtes de police et de gendarmerie, il devrait remplacer les actuels logiciels Stic et Judix. Lundi 14 avril, le Collectif contre l’homophobie (CCH), basé à Montpellier, a saisi la la Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations (Halde) et la Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (Cnil) pour s’opposer à sa mise en oeuvre. L’association dénonce un recueil abusif de données à caractère personnel par ce logiciel.

Lorsque les fonctionnaires rempliront le ficher Ardoise, une fenêtre s’ouvrira leur demandant de spécifier “l’état de la personne”. Etat qui pourra contenir des données personnelles comme savoir si elle est homosexuelle, handicapée ou représentante syndicale; quel que soit son rapport avec l’affaire en cours, simple témoin, victime ou suspecte.

Averti par des fonctionnaires de police en formation sur Ardoise, le Collectif contre l’homophobie s’inquiète de la possibilité de création de fichiers catégoriels. Pour l’association, la police doit qualifier des faits et non pas “profiler des personnes”. “Rien n’exclut qu’ici où là quelqu’un fasse des extractions des données”, explique Hussein Bourgi président du CCH:

De son côté, le ministère de l’Intérieur joue l’apaisement. Selon lui, les fichiers Ardoise ne contiendront pas d’informations qui ne figuraient pas déjà dans le logiciel Stic employé jusqu’à aujourd’hui. En effet, ces fichiers contiennent bien une entrée “état de la personne”, mais qui n’était remplie que pour la victime et le suspect. Ardoise ne serait qu’une modernisation des précédents logiciels et permettrait l’unification des données détenues par la gendarmerie et la police.

Le porte-parole du ministère, Gérard Gachet, fait valoir que “lors d’une affaire avec des circonstances aggravantes comme une agression de personne homosexuelle, il faut bien que ces renseignements apparaissent quelque part”. Mais ce type d’information n’apparaît pas lorsque la personne est hétérosexuelle fait valoir le CCH. Ces informations doivent aussi aider les enquêteurs à résoudre certaines affaires et elles ne seront d’ailleurs renseignées que si elles ont un lien avec l’affaire assure le ministère: “Un avertissement clair sera affiché à ce propos.” Argument qui ne convainc pas Hussein Bourgi:

Quant à la date d’entrée en vigueur de ce système d’exploitation, le porte-parole du ministère avoue qu’il “ne sait pas” lui-même quand elle aura lieu. Elle devait intervenir au second semestre 2008, mais les tests (à Ecully, en région Lyonnaise) et les formations ne sont pas encore finies. De plus le logiciel devra être validé par la Cnil avant d’être installé.

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Mehdi must stay demo

Iran’s homophobic persecution condemned

Call to reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees
London – 25 March 2008

Over 120 protesters braved hail and rain to demand that gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, be granted refuge in the UK.

They also urged asylum for the Iranian lesbian refugee, Pegah Emambakhsh, and an estimated 12 other gay Iranians who are at risk of deportation back to Tehran.

There were calls for a “fundamental reform” of the way the Home Office treats LGBTI asylum applicants.

The demonstration took place opposite the Prime Minister’s residence, Downing Street, on Saturday 22 March.

See photos of the protest:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157604215757814/
(credit: OutRage! – free use, no charge)

“The British government had ordered Mr Kazemi to be deported back to Iran,” said protest speaker Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for the LGBTI human rights group OutRage!.

“Following worldwide protests, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP, has agreed to review Mehdi’s case. While there is no guarantee that this review will result in him being allowed to stay, we are hopeful that he will be permitted to lodge a fresh asylum claim and that this will result in Mehdi being given refugee status in the UK.”

Saturday’s protest was sponsored by Middle East Workers’ Solidarity and the National Union of Students LGBT campaign, with the support of OutRage!

The protest’s three main demands were:

– Don’t send Mehdi Kazemi back to Iran
– Iran’s homophobic laws violate human rights
– Give the victims of homophobic persecution the right to settle in the UK

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Peter Tatchell told the rally:

“There needs to be a fundamental reform of the way the Home Office processes LGBTI asylum applications.

“The government is currently failing LGBTI refugees:

“Asylum staff and adjudicators receive race and gender awareness training but no training at all on sexual orientation issues. As a result, they often make stereotyped assumptions: that a feminine woman can’t be a lesbian or that a masculine man cannot be gay. They sometimes rule that someone who has been married must be faking their homosexuality.

“The government refuses to explicitly rule that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum. This signals to asylum staff and judges that claims by LGBTI people are not as worthy as those based on persecution because of a person’s ethnicity, gender, politics or faith.

“The Home Office country reports on homophobic and transphobic persecution are often partial, inaccurate and misleading. They consistently downplay the severity of victimisation suffered by LGBTI people in violently homophobic countries like Iran, Nigeria, Iraq, Uganda, Palestine, Algeria and Jamaica.

“Cuts in the funding of legal aid for asylum claims means that most asylum applicants – gay and straight – are unable to prepare an adequate submission at their asylum hearing. Most solicitors don’t get paid enough to procure the necessary witness statements, medical reports and other vital corroborative evidence.

“The Home Office has failed to take action to stamp out anti-gay abuse, threats and violence in UK asylum detention centres. Some LGBTI detainees report suffering homophobic or transphobic victimisation, and say they have failed to receive adequate protection or support from detention centre staff,” said Mr Tatchell.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

Protest photos:

Photos of the protest can be viewed and used free of charge for publication from the OutRage! photo website:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157604215757814/

Professional photos by photojournalist Marc Vallée can be viewed here:
http://www.marcvallee.co.uk/blog_mehdi_220308.html

Permission is required from Marc Vallee for publication:
Mark Valee:

http://www.marcvallee.co.uk

http://www.blog.marcvallee.co.uk

http://www.archive.marcvallee.co.uk

ENDS

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Nepal: Kathmandu, Third Sex Launches Election Campaign in East Nepal

Kathmandu: Sexual minorities of an eastern Nepal town, Itahari kicked off their first election rally wearing colourful dresses and playing music bands to canvass for three gay candidates.

Dipak Rai and Shrawan Chaudhari, both gay, are contesting the election under the banner of Nepal Communist Party (United) and while the third, Suryanarayan Chaudhari is contesting as an independent candidate.

The campaign jointly organized by Blue Diamond Society and Human Welfare Society with a dancing group has helped in warming up election climate in the district, a participant said.

Hundreds of demonstrators participated in the rally carrying placard with the slogan “rights to sexual minorities,” “gay freedom” and “equal status to third sex in the constitution.”

The three candidates are representing some 4,000 lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-sexual communities residing in the district.

A landmark ruling of Nepal Supreme Court in favour of third sex, which includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals and intersexuals, in December last year granted them recognition and directed the government to promulgate a new act or amend the existing ones to ensure rights of the third sex.

Sunil Pant, Blue Diamond Society, an Organisation for Lesbians, Gays, Bixesuals and Transgenders in Nepal

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Defend Mehdi Kazemi

Oppose Iran’s homophobic persecution

Reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees

Join the protest

This Saturday, 22 March

2pm to 3pm

Opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, SW1

Friends and supporters of gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, are asking you to join our protest opposite Downing Street this Saturday, March 22nd:

Our demands are:

– Don’t send Mehdi Kazemi back to his death in Iran
– Down with Iran’s homophobic laws
– For the right to settle in the UK.

The event is sponsored by Middle East Workers’ Solidarity and the National Union of Students LGBT campaign, and is supported by the LGBT human rights group, OutRage!

www.union-solidarity.org has more details.

OutRage! is highlighting the five failings of the Home Office with regard to LGBT refugees:

– No training on sexual orientation issues for asylum staff and adjudicators

– No explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation

– No action to stamp out the abuse of LGBT refugees in UK asylum detention camps

– No accurate, up-to-date information on the victimisation of LGBT people in violently homophobic countries

– No access to adequate legal representation for LGBT asylum applicants

We hope to see you on Saturday at 2pm.

Solidarity and appreciation, Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

 

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Mehdi must stay – No deportation to Iran
The Home Office bid to deport an Iranian gay asylum seeker will put him at risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture and execution
London – 7 March 2008
Gay Iranian asylum applicant Mehdi Kazemi is in detention in the Netherlands. He is fighting attempts by the Dutch government to return him to the UK. Mehdi fled Britain and sought asylum in the Netherlands because the British government wants to deport him back to Iran. The gay human rights group OutRage! campaigns on asylum issues and supports Mehdi Kazemi’s claim for refugee status. OutRage! spokesperson Peter Tatchell said: “The Home Office decision to deport Mehdi back to Iran is shameful and reckless. “If returned to Tehran, he will be at risk of imprisonment, torture and execution. “Gay men in Iran are hanged from public cranes using the barbaric method of slow strangulation, which is deliberately designed to cause maximum suffering. “This deportation order borders on a criminal decision. It violates the government’s legal obligations under the Refugee Convention. “The Home Office country report on Iran ignores the true scale of homophobic repression, in order to justify the deportation of lesbian and gay Iranians. “I have been tipped off by a senior Home Office official that government orders are to cut asylum numbers at almost any price. “Staff are encouraged to assume that all asylum applicants are bogus and to play down the merits of individual cases, such as Medhi’s,” said Mr Tatchell. Background Here is the Everyone organisation’s link about Medhi’s case. Please scroll down to read Mehdi’s own statement, as given to the Iranian Queer Rights Organisation: http://www.everyonegroup.com/
Need to reform the handling of LGBT asylum claims “The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP, must urgently remedy her department’s five failings with regard to the treatment of LGBT asylum claimants,” added Mr Tatchell. “Currently, the Home Office stands accused of: – No training on sexual orientation issues for asylum staff and adjudicators – No explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation – No action to stamp out the abuse of LGBT refugees in UK asylum detention camps – No accurate, up-to-date information on the victimisation of LGBT people in violently homophobic countries – No access to adequate legal representation for LGBT asylum applicants “These are systemic failings by a callous and indifferent government that is more interested in cutting asylum numbers than in ensuring a fair, just and compassionate asylum system,” concluded Mr Tatchell.
ENDS
Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
http://www.greenoxford.com/ and www.petertatchell.net
PETER TATCHELL HUMAN RIGHTS FUND
Donations are requested to help fund Peter Tatchell’s campaigns promoting human rights, democracy and global justice. Peter is unpaid and receives no grants. To continue his human rights work, he depends on donations from friends and supporters. Please make cheques payable to: “Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund”. Send to: Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund, PO Box 35253, London E1 4YF To download a donation form or a standing order mandate, go to Donations at: www.tatchellrightsfund.org To email PTHRF: info@tatchellrightsfund.org
Thank you. Richard Kirker, Treasurer PTHRF
For information about Peter Tatchell’s campaigns: www.petertatchell.net

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Iranian gay refugee risks deportation from the United Kingdom. Urgent appeal to Europe

Petition for Mehdi Kazemi: Europe Must Stop Deportation of Iranian Queers

He lived a marginalized and terrorized life as an Iranian homosexual in Iran; the burden of such a life became so strenuous that he finally left Iran for the UK with a student visa. Mehdi Kazemi is another Iranian gay refugee who left his home country with the hope of securing a more dignified life for himself in the West; and yet he is another young refugee who sees his hopes for safety and human dignity fading in the face of European governments’ lack of respect for even the most basic human rights. The European governments claim to be the champions of human rights and democracy and condemn Iran frequently for its violation of human rights; and yet they willingly pave the road for the government of Iran to go ahead with its human rights abuses, and arrest and execute an identified Iranian gay. Today, they sentence Mehdi to torture and possible death by deporting him to Iran, and tomorrow they issue statements commending this violent and unlawful act of execution.

Time after time we have read the statements of European governments against the Islamic Republic of Iran: “The Republic does not respect human rights” and yet these European powers deport Medi to the very government they criticize for violating gay rights. It must be known that such acts of deportation equally violate human rights. The UK government deports Mehdi Kazemi to Iran despite the well-known fact that there is a serious risk of his prosecution, torture and execution.

European governments in general and the UK government in particular must immediately change these oppressive anti-refugee policies and must make a serious effort in protecting the rights of human beings.

Mehdi Kazemi should not be deported back to Iran.
————————–

Petition: Europe Must Stop Deportation of Iranian Queers

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Morocco: Protect Rights to Privacy and Fair Trial
Petition Calls for Repeal of Repressive Law

(New York, February 26, 2008-)
The Moroccan government should protect the rights to privacy and a fair trial, Human Rights Watch and the Moroccan Human Rights Association said today. Human Rights Watch and the Moroccan Human Rights Association called on the government to repeal a law that provides prison terms for consensual homosexual acts, and launched a petition demanding that the government repeal article 489 of the penal code. They also demanded the release of the six men currently imprisoned under this article.
“This trial shows how an unjust law can be used to violate the basic right to privacy and fuel social prejudice.”
Joe Stork, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division.

Police arrested the men in November 2007, after a video was circulated on the internet showing a private party in Ksar el-Kbir, a town between Rabat and Tangiers. The prosecution produced no evidence at trial that the defendants had violated Article 489, which provides prison terms for persons who commit lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.� The men all denied the charges. On December 10, after demonstrators marched through the town demanding that the men be punished, a court in Ksar el-Kbir sentenced them to between four and 10 months in prison. A Tangiers appeal court on January 15 upheld their conviction but reduced their sentences slightly.

This trial shows how an unjust law can be used to violate the basic right to privacy and fuel social prejudice, said Joe Stork, director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division.

The Moroccan Human Rights Association and Human Rights Watch invite people from anywhere in the world to sign the petition by emailing petitionmaroc@hrw.org with their name and country of origin, or by visiting:
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/15/morocc18076.htm
The petition will eventually be presented to the Moroccan government but names will not otherwise be made public.

When a trial is as unfair as this one, people should protest to the authorities, added Khadija Ryadi, president of the Moroccan Human Rights Association. Beliefs may differ, but everyone shares the desire for justice�

Ksar el-Kbir Case Prompts Moroccan Association for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch to Launch Petition for Fair Trials and Privacy

L’affaire de Ksar el- Kébir incite L’Association Marocaine des Droits Humains et Human Rights Watch à lancer une pétition pour le respect du droit a un procès équitable et le droit à la vie privée

More informations in French:
Maroc : Protéger le droit au respect de la vie privée et à un procès équitable

See also: Solidarité Internationale LGBT (SI-LGBT)