Archive for the ‘Therion’ Category

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Lesbians in South Africa subjected to ‘corrective rape’ by Therion

A report from the international NGO ActionAid, says that horrific assaults against lesbians in South Africa are going unrecognized by the state and unpunished by the legal system. ActionAid backed by the South African Human Rights Commission has condemned what it describes as ‘a culture of impunity’.

These crimes received greater attention when Eudy Simelane, a star of South Africa’s national female football squad, was gang-raped and viciously beaten and stabbed. Her body was found in a creek in a park in Kwa Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

Campaigners say that the attacks are viewed by the perpetrators as “corrective rape”. Research by Triangle, a leading S. African gay rights organization indicates that 86% of black lesbians from Western Cape live in fear of sexual assault. Triangle says it is dealing with up to 10 cases of “corrective rape” every week.

Carrie Shelver of the women’s group Powa, a South African NGO, says that the root of the problem is “… a macho culture that seeks to oppress women and sees them merely as sexual beings. So when there is a lesbian woman she is an absolute affront to this kind of masculinity”.

For more on this story, link to the Guardian here.

Also link to a video here featuring interviews with victims of ‘corrective rape’.

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Vatican refusal to back UN gay rights declaration is true to form by Therion

The Vatican refusal to sign the declaration before the UN that seeks to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide is true to form. In a recent ‘clarification’ the Vatican claims that while it has declined to sign-on, it condemns ‘unjust’ discrimination against homosexuals – without saying what exactly might constitute just discrimination.

By exempting itself from the list of states calling for decriminalization, the Vatican is in effect handing moral authority to those nations that are determined to keep homosexuals on the periphery of society, under fear of being persecuted for the ‘crime’ of gay orientation.

The two-faced position adopted by the Vatican is nothing new.

In a recent Guardian article, Peter Tatchell covers part of the Vatican’s abysmal track record on gay rights.

Unsurprisingly, the Vatican and the Organisation of Islamic States are leading the fight against the UN declaration. The opposition of the Pope is truly sickening, depraved and shameless.Of course, the Vatican has form. In 2004, it teamed up with Islamist dictatorships in the UN Commission on Human Rights to thwart a resolution sponsored by Brazil that opposed homophobic violence and discrimination. The Holy See is so viciously homophobic that it opposed the UN condemnation of the murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Recently a sit-in was staged near St Peter’s Square to protest the Vatican’s position on the declaration. Protesters sat under the banners of Arcigay and Arcilesbica – the two main gay and lesbian advocacy groups in Italy.

pope-22The main thrust of the Vatican position hinges on UN envoy Migliore’s convoluted contention that signing the document might “pillory” countries where homosexuality is illegal and force them to create “new categories (gay people) protected from discrimination.” And this is a bad thing?

Of course the main concern is that ‘normalizing’ homosexuality might lead to same-sex unions. But this makes little sense. The social sanctions and taboos against same-sex marriage in countries where homosexuality is outlawed makes the Vatican’s stated concerns about same-sex marriage little more than a red herring. It is an excuse to avoid stepping up to the plate on this issue… a posture consistent with the Vatican’s homophobic agenda.

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By Therion

When Italian TV aired Brokeback Mountain recently, gay love scenes had been excised. The missing scenes featured a kiss between actors Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal along with a love scene in a tent.

This wasn’t because the censor had a problem with sexual content per se … a heterosexual love scene stayed in place.

State TV network Rai Due isn’t exactly progressive. It has a fondness for airing biopics of popes. It has as-good-as banned the comedian Sabina Guzzanti – best known for her satirical attacks on the pope and Berlusconi.

It is interesting that the removal of gay content from Brokeback Mountain comes on the same week the Vatican launched an attack on an EU proposal to have the UN move to condemn discrimination against gay people. The Vatican thinks that defending the human rights of homosexuals might open the door for gay marriage … duh.

When a row erupted over the censored content, Rai Due offered some far-fetched excuse related to technical and administrative matters in an effort to claim that it was all an honest mistake. Not many buy this, certainly not opposition senator Luigi Vimercati who described Rai Due’s excuse as “embarrassing” and is calling for a parliamentary enquiry.

The Italian gay rights organization Arcigay believes the suppressing of gay content in the movie is a reflection of the times. There has been a rise in violence against gay people in Italy. Arcigay spokesperson, Matteo Ricci said: “The resistance by politicians of all stripes, backed by the Vatican, to same-sex unions has created the basis for the climate of hostility.”

“Queer Beograd: LGBT festival in Serbia kicks off in Belgrade this week” By Therion

Serbia is one of the least gay-friendly countries in Europe. Discrimination is widespread and impacts not only members of the LGBT community, but also persons with disabilities and the Roma community.

All of which makes it remarkable that the festival, Queer Beograd, is taking pride to the streets of Belgrade:

Pink News reports: “Cabaret, street performance and film will all be on show at next week’s Queer Beograd X5 in Belgrade.
The festival begins on Thursday 18th with cabaret Direcktno featuring activists turned performers from London, Amsterdam and Berlin, and runs until Sunday.”

The Eurovision Song Contest was held in Belgrade earlier in the year. Far right groups issued warnings that gays would be targeted. One of these groups, Obraz, is classified as an ‘Orthodox clero-fascist’ organization and is well known for its virulent anti-gay views – also for assaults on gay people.

An organizer of Queer Beograd offered his assessment of some of the challenges:

“Serbia has seen some changes in the last year, a referendum, the ‘passing’ of the so called constitution, the fall of government, the independence of Kosovo, yet another election. All the time the political climate moves increasingly to the far right neo fascist identity.”

“It is from this position that we place the agenda for our festival as direct action and antifascism – because we always want to take the most concrete steps to build bridges to smash borders, to see our liberation linked with everyones.”

Read the full report here.

“Documentary ‘Be Like Others’ exposes Iran’s solution for homosexuals” By Therion

A disturbing documentary titled Be Like Others, exposes the twisted remedy Iran proposes for gay and lesbian people.

Filmmaker, Tanaz Eshaghian, explores the world of sex change operations – all fully funded by the state, in an effort to make homosexuals conform to Iran’s theocratic standards.

A CBC article describes the homophobic agenda that lies behind this policy:

(What the Eshaghian) film reveals is a culture so steeped in hatred of gays and lesbians that it deems a sex change preferable to simply accepting differences in sexual orientation. The shift in policy came more than two decades ago, when Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini issued a fatwa (religious decree) declaring sex changes permissible for “diagnosed transsexuals.” Be Like Others introduces us to a number of the people who have been given this label. Some have accepted their fate, and feel the sex change to be a way to avoid further persecution; others are clearly uncomfortable with the idea, but have agreed to it simply because of intense outside pressure.

Those who undergo the procedure are often ostracized by friends and family. Most of the candidates are poor individuals who don’t have the options available to the wealthy. They believe they have no choice except to conform to the demands of the state.

Eshaghian relates that during her filming, a reporter from government controlled media showed up and proceeded to berate and criticize the young people waiting to undergo the operation. The reporter claimed they had brought their troubles with the authorities upon themselves by breaking the rules and cross-dressing before they had the operation.

Iranian authorities suffer from a bad case of myopia when it comes to even acknowledging the existence of homosexuality in their society. This would explain the bizarre statement by Ahmadinejad during his visit to the US, when he claimed that unlike the US – ‘there are no homosexuals in Iran.’

Be Like Others screens as part of Montreal’s World Film Festival which runs until September 1.

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Gay Rights in Iran: Walking the Fine Line Between Tehran and Washington by Therion

At the Pride London celebrations earlier this month, Labour MP Harriet Harman was heckled and booed.

The reaction of the crowd was hardly surprising. The Labour government’s handling of gay asylum seekers in the UK is a disgrace. Many asylum seekers who are fleeing from persecution in their home countries, live under threat of deportation.

Gay activist Peter Tatchell who attended London Pride, marched alongside Sir Ian McKellan and Davis Mac-Iyalla, a leader of the Nigerian gay rights movement.

When asked about the dire situation facing the gay community in Iran, Tatchell said:

“Ahmadinejad leads a regime that arrests, jails, flogs, tortures and sometimes executes gay people. It also terrorises trade unionists, students, women activists, journalists, bloggers, Sunni Muslims and ethnic minorities like the Ahwazi Arabs, Baluchs and Kurds.

I don’t support a military attack on Iran, but I do urge greater international solidarity with democratic, liberal and progressive Iranians who are struggling to overthrow the clerical dictatorship from within.”

Tatchell has been unfairly accused of being Islamophobic, whereas in fact he is opposed to religious fundamentalism and bigotry in all religions. He has defended Muslim victims of injustice and in his writing has pointedly condemned Islamophobia: “Any form of prejudice, hatred, discrimination or violence against Muslims is wrong. Full stop.”

Taking on the Iranians for their human rights record, is viewed by some on the left as giving comfort to American hawks. Given the record of the Iranians when it comes to the treatment of homosexuals, looking the other way is simply not a viable option.

During his trip to the US, Ahmadinejad said “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country (US).”

This is a preposterous lie that masks an ugly reality. Gay Iranians live in fear of persecution. Many have fled to Turkey and destinations in Europe to escape the suffocating climate in Iran, where “coming out” in an overtly public fashion can have dire consequences.

The Iranian people deserve better. But the choice has to be theirs. American aggression is not the answer.

Those activists who support the right of Iranians to live in a society free of oppression, are walking a fine line between the politics of Tehran and the politics of Washington. But it is a line that has to be staked out in the name of justice and human rights.

Full article here

See also : London’s Gay Pride Parade: “My Penis Is This Big” – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian President, Murderer, Homophobe, Mocked by Gays

Ahmet Yildiz: first gay victim of honor killing in Turkey? By Therion

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.”

Full article here

See also: Was Ahmet Yildiz the victim of Turkey’s first gay honour killing?