Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

UK Scouts condemn Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

World scout movement acts on threat to gays, including scouts

Geneva scout HQ refers concerns to Scout Association of Uganda

London – 1 March 2010

The Chief Executive of the Scout Association UK, Derek Twine, has expressed opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, describing the legislation as “discriminatory” and “incompatible” with scouting values. The Bill has been tabled by David Bahati MP, who is also Chairman of the Scout Association of Uganda.

Mr Twine’s statement (copy in full below) follows representations to the UK and international scout movement by the London-based LGBT human rights organisation, OutRage!

Mr Twine wrote to Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, as follows:

“We find the Bill not only discriminatory and contrary to the sanctity of life, but also completely incompatible with our interpretation of the values of our worldwide Scouting Movement.”

“We have already drawn our grave concerns on this to the attention of the Secretary General of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), and we are subsequently aware that the issues are now subject both to WOSM’s direct engagement with the Chief Scout of Uganda (Mrs Maggie Kigozi) and to ongoing global consideration by members of the World Scout Committee,” wrote Mr Twine.

This statement from the UK Scout Association follows simultaneous direct representations by OutRage! to the World Organisation of the Scout Movement in Geneva.

“At our request, the world scout headquarters has written to the Chief Scout and the Chief Commissioner of the Uganda Scout Association concerning the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the sponsorship of this Bill by the Chairman of the Uganda Scout Association, David Bahati MP,” reports Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

“This swift action followed our protests against Mr Bahati to the Scout Association UK.

“Scouting is very big in Uganda and Mr Bahati derives great prestige from his position as Chairman of the Scout Association of Uganda. If we can get him removed from office it will be a significant personal blow to him. He’ll be weakened and his credibility undermined.

“OutRage! is urging the disaffiliation of the Ugandan scout organisation from the world scouting movement, as a way of adding further pressure on the Ugandan government to drop the Bill.

“Our request for disaffiliation was immediately forwarded by the Scout Association UK to the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) in Geneva.

“OutRage!’s actions are an attempt to open up a new front in the campaign against the Bill and to graphically expose the full ramifications of the proposed legislation on youth and civic organisations in Uganda, which have received little coverage so far.

“By highlighting the particular threat to LGBT scout members, we are not detracting in any way from the wider issues and consequences of Mr Bahati’s draconian legislation.

“LGBT scouts and scout leaders are, of course, only one section of the Ugandan LGBT community. All Ugandan LGBTs are at risk if this Bill becomes law. We are concerned about the danger to them all – and the threat to their straight families, friends, supporters and allies,” said Mr Tatchell.

OutRage!’s appeal to WOSM for international scout action is being handled by Jim Sharp, Executive Director, General Management, World Scout Bureau, 5 rue du Pré-Jérôme, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland.

Tel: (+41.22) 705 10 10 (switchboard)
Fax: (+41.22) 705 10 20

OutRage!’s appeal to the UK Scout Association is being addressed by Derek Twine, Chief Executive
Tel: 07889 130 812 (from within the UK) and +44 (0) 7889 130 812 (from overseas). Or 020 8433 7107 or 7261 (from within the UK)

Full statement by the Scout Association UK

UGANDA

Since the mid-1990s, The Scout Association has been clear and unequivocal in our equal opportunities policy and practice especially regarding sexual orientation, as befitting our role in contemporary society.

We are recently aware that the Ugandan Parliament has received a Bill that calls for the death sentence for repeat practicing of homosexuality. This Bill is presented by a Ugandan MP (David Bahati) who is also currently the National Chairman of the Uganda Scout Association. In terms of our own policies and understandings, we find the Bill not only discriminatory and contrary to the sanctity of life, but also completely incompatible with our interpretation of the values of our worldwide Scouting Movement.

We have already drawn our grave concerns on this to the attention of the Secretary General of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM), and we are subsequently aware that the issues are now subject both to WOSM’s direct engagement with the Chief Scout of Uganda (Mrs Maggie Kigozi) and to ongoing global consideration by members of the World Scout Committee.

We hope that the bilateral and very positive educational and solidarity projects that have been fostered for many years between Scout Groups in the UK and Scout Groups in Uganda on such matters as health and community development will not be prejudiced or compromised by this situation; we await the formal and public response from the Scout Association of Uganda and from WOSM, whereupon we will review our position.

Derek Twine Chief Executive
07889 130 812 (from within the UK) and +44 (0) 7889 130 812 (from overseas). Or 020 8433 7107 or 7261 (from within the UK)

Peter Tatchell
peter@petertatchell.net

www.petertatchell.net

See also:

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‘Protest the Pope’ Downing Street Petition launched

Gordon Brown urged to disassociate the government from Pope’s views

Already over 3,000 signatures

London – 22 February 2010

A Downing Street petition has been launched, urging Prime Minister Gordon Brown to “disassociate the British government from the Pope’s intolerant views.”

The petition has been launched ahead of the Papal visit to Britain in September this year. It has been submitted by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and has already attracted over 3,000 signatures.

View the petition here:
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ProtestthePope/
Note: only UK residents with a UK address are eligible to sign the petition

A petition by Mr Tatchell on the same subject last year was refused inclusion on the Downing Street website.

“The Pope opposes universal human rights. He rejects equality for women and gay people, condemns the use of life-saving condoms, colludes with Holocaust appeasers and he is implicated in the cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic priests,” said Mr Tatchell.

“A man with such objectionable views should not be honoured with an official State Visit. If he wants to come to Britain, he should pay his own way. The public should not be expected to cover the estimated £20 million cost. This money would be far better spent on schools and hospitals,” added Mr Tatchell.

The petition reads:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to disassociate the British government from the Pope’s intolerant views ahead of the Papal visit to Britain in September 2010. We urge the Prime Minister to make it clear that his government disagrees with the Pope’s opposition to women’s reproductive rights, gay equality, embryonic stem cell research and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. We ask the Prime Minister to express his disagreement with the Pope’s role in the cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy, his rehabilitation of the Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson, and his decree paving the way for the beatification and sainthood of the war-time Pope, Pius XII, who stands accused of failing to speak out against the Holocaust. We also request the Prime Minister to assure us that the Pope’s visit will not be financed by the British taxpayer.”

Peter Tatchell has criticised at length the Pope Benedict XVI’s “illiberal” and “often extreme” stance on key social issues:

“The Pope is an opponent of women’s rights. He not only opposes the right of women to choose to have an abortion but also their right to contraception, which can help reduce the abortion rate,” said Mr Tatchell.

“He opposes women’s access to IVF fertility treatment, to give childless couples the chance of parenthood.

“The Pope supports gender discrimination, including a ban on women priests and bishops, and he wants the Catholic Church to be exempt from equality and anti-discrimination laws that apply to everyone else.

“He has sought to block potentially life-saving embryonic stem cell research, and he rejects the right of suffering, terminally ill people to die with dignity at a moment of the their own free choice.

“Pope Benedict denounces the use of condoms, even to stop the spread of HIV, and he has falsely claimed that condom usage “increases” the rate of HIV infection. His teachings put millions of lives at risk.
See The Independent, 27 March 2009:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/lancet-says-pope-distorting-condom-facts-1655647.html

“He has acquiesced with the Vatican’s lie that condoms spread HIV and that the virus can pass through the latex (sic). This outrageous falsehood has been condemned as untrue and irresponsible by the World Health Organisation and Christian Aid.
See the BBC website, 9 October 2003:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3176982.stm

“He rejects legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and their full protection in law against homophobic and transphobic discrimination

“The Pope has approved the Catholic Catechism, which condemns same-sex relationships as a “grave depravity,” “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to natural law.”
See The Vatican website, Catechism 2357:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

“In 1992, he authored a Vatican document that condemned homosexuality as an “objective disorder” and a “strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil.” Rejecting the concept of gay human rights, the document asserted that there is no “right” to laws protecting homosexual people against discrimination, suggesting that the civil liberties of lesbians and gay men can be “legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct.”
See in full the Vatican document – Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons:
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Some+considerations+concerning+the+Catholic+response+to+legislative…-a0128671084

“The Pope has attacked same-sex marriages as “evil” and vilified supporters of gay equality as “gravely immoral.” He has also vilified homosexual equality as a “deviant trend” and condemned same-sex love as being “without any social value.”

“Pope Benedict colludes with anti-semitism, including with holocaust deniers and with Catholic leaders who were complicit with the Nazi regime.

“He rescinded the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson who, in 2008, denied key elements of the Holocaust with claims that a maximum of 300,000 Jews died in concentration camps and that none were gassed by the Nazis.
See the BBC website, 4 February 2009:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7869565.stm

“He has also paved the way for the beatification and eventual sainthood of Pope Pius XII by issuing a decree in 2009 celebrating his virtues, despite the war-time pontiff’s 1933 Concordat with Adolf Hitler and his silence concerning the Nazi mass murder of six million Jews.
See The Guardian, 22 December 2009:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/21/pope-benedict-moves-pius-closer-sainthood
http://www.concordatwatch.eu/showkb.php?org_id=858&kb_header_id=752&order=kb_rank+ASC&kb_id=1212

“While condemning loving, consenting adult same-sex relations, the Pope helped shield from prosecution Catholic clergy guilty of child sex abuse. He colluded with the cover up of their crimes and with the policy of relocating paedophile priests to other parishes, where they often went on to commit further sexual abuse, as revealed in the 2006 BBC Panorama programme, Sex crimes and the Vatican.
See the Evening Standard, 30 September 2006:
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23369148-pope-led-cover-up-of-child-abuse-by-priests.do
and see BBC Panorama 1 October 2006:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/5402928.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/5389684.stm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06qhnIwEdHE&feature=related

“Pope Benedict is complicit with human rights abuses and should not be accorded the honour of a State Visit to Britain,” said Mr Tatchell.

Peter Tatchell

Bahati is decorated with a scouts scarf – Photograph by Geoffrey Sseruyange

CORRECTION re “Execute gay scouts” news release

London – 17 February 2010

On 16 February, I issued a news release about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda and the Bill’s sponsorship by David Bahati MP, who is also Chairman of the Scout Board of Uganda.

I should have made it clear that Mr Bahati was not explicitly calling for the execution of gay scouts and scout leaders. His Bill proposes the execution of gay serial offenders, which could, of course, include gay scout members. But his Bill does not target gay scouts in particular and he has not specifically called for the execution of scouts who are gay. The threat to gay scouts in Uganda is implicit, not explicit.

Apologies for my lack of clarity. Below is a revised, corrected version of the news release, together with some new information about the Uganda Bill.

Peter Tatchell – London, UK

Gay scouts may face death penalty in Uganda

Execution of gays proposed by Ugandan scout leader

World scout movement urged to expel Uganda

Call for UK Scout Association to sever links with Uganda scout movement

London, UK – 17 February 2010

“A leader of the scout movement in Uganda is demanding the execution of anyone who is convicted of repeated homosexual acts or related offences. This could include the execution of gay scouts and scout leaders,” reports human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

“Chairman of the Scout Board of Uganda, David Bahati, is proposing that all serial homosexual offenders should be sentenced to death. This could include young people, such as scouts.

“Mr Bahati is a Ugandan MP. His Anti-Homosexuality Bill is currently before the Ugandan Parliament. It stipulates the death penalty for serial offenders who have previous convictions for same-sex relations or for related non-sexual offences such as aiding and abetting homosexuality, funding gay advocacy groups, having a same-sex marriage or promoting homosexuality. Some of these related offences could also be committed by heterosexual Ugandans. They would also be liable to a death sentence for repeat offences.

“In other words, a person does not have to be gay or to have gay sex in order to be sentenced to death under the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Serial offending and previous convictions for the non-sexual offences are sufficient grounds for execution.

“The Bill also specifies life imprisonment for minor same-sex acts, such as kissing, touching or caressing with homosexual intent.

“Although Mr Bahati and his Anti-Homosexuality Bill do not explicitly mention or target the scout movement, the draconian clauses and punishments threaten all lesbian, gay and bisexual Ugandans, including members of his own scouting movement.

“A person in authority who fails to report an offender to the police within 24 hours will face three years in jail, which could apply to scout leaders who fail to inform on gay scouts. Likewise, the promotion of homosexuality carries a sentence of five to seven years jail. This could criminalise any scout leader who provides affirmative, supportive advice to a gay or bisexual scout. The offending scout leader does not have to be gay. They could be heterosexual.

“Mr Bahati’s proposed legislation promotes extreme prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence, contrary to scout principles,” said Mr Tatchell.

See a summary and link to the full text Anti-Homosexuality Bill here:
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/uganda-anti-homosexuality-bill-a-briefing.html

Mr Tatchell has written on behalf of OutRage! to the Chief Executive of the Scout Association UK, Derek Twine.

A copy of his letter follows below.

Mr Twine has already referred OutRage!’s concerns to the General Secretary of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) in Geneva. WOSM has written to the scout movement in Uganda expressing its concern.

“I have asked the Scout Association UK to press the world scouting movement to disaffiliate the scout organisation of Uganda, on the grounds that its leader has violated scouting values by proposing the execution of gay people, including gay Ugandan scouts and scout leaders,” added Mr Tatchell.

“My letter calls on the British scout organisation to condemn Mr Bahati and his Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and to refuse to host him again in the UK.

“The British and world scouting movement cannot remain silent, given this threat to execute its gay members in Uganda. They must break all links with the Ugandan scout organisation while it remains under the leadership of David ‘kill the gays’ Bahati.

“The international scout movement has a duty to defend its values of universal respect, equality and brotherhood,” concluded Mr Tatchell.

What you can do – see the end of this email.

Copy of Peter Tatchell’s email to the Scout Association UK:

Derek Twine
Chief Executive
The Scout Association
Gilwell Park
London E4 7QW

11 February 2010

Dear Derek Twine,

Uganda Scout leader David Bahati and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Your letter dated 21 January 2010 – Ref: DMT/AEB

Sincere thanks for your reply to the letter of my OutRage! colleague, David Allison.

We are most appreciative of the efforts made by the Scout Association UK to ensure equal opportunity and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, such wisdom and fairness is not replicated by the leader of the scouting movement in Uganda, David Bahati MP. As you know, he is head of the Scout Board of Uganda; in effect Chief Scout.

He is calling for the execution of lesbian and gay scouts, and other lesbian and gay Ugandans.

His Anti-Homosexuality Bill, currently before the Parliament of Uganda, proposes that repeat homosexual acts will carry a sentence of death, and that anyone – gay or heterosexual – who advocates gay equality or offers welfare support to homosexuals will be sentenced to five to seven years jail. A person in authority – a parent, teacher or scout leader – who fails to report a gay person to the police within 24 hours will be jailed for three years.

Mr Bahati’s proposals to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are a complete contradiction of scouting values and of the fundamental principles of equality and human rights, as enshrined in international humanitarian laws, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

I am most grateful that you have referred our concerns about Mr Bahati’s plan to execute LGBT Ugandans, including lesbian and gay scouts, to the General Secretary of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM). Please advise me of the reply you have received.

While we appreciate that every National Scout Organisation (NSO) is independent, we also understand that the WOSM membership of each NSO is conditional on them conforming to the WOSM’s scouting values.

David Bahati, the leader of the Uganda scout movement, is promoting hatred, discrimination and the state-sponsored murder of LGBT Ugandans – some of whom will be scouts and scout leaders. His stance and actions are incompatible with scouting values.

If the leader of a NSO was advocating racism and the execution of black people, I am sure the WOSM would take swift steps to rule that the NSO’s membership of the WOSM could not continue while such a person remained in a position of authority within the NSO.

FIRST: We therefore request that you ask the WOSM to disaffiliate the Ugandan scout organisation from the WOSM, until such time as David Bahati ceases to hold office in the Ugandan scout movement or until he withdraws and renounces his Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This is something that the UK Scout Association and the WOSM can do. It is within your powers.

SECOND: We realise that the Scout Association UK is not in a position to intervene in the internal affairs of the scouting organisation of Uganda. However, we do believe that the British Scout Association can and should issue a public statement deploring David Bahati’s homophobia and his Anti-Homosexuality Bill; making clear that his views and his Bill are incompatible with scouting values and are likely to lead to the persecution of Ugandan LGBT scouts and scouting officials. We respectfully ask you to do this.

THIRD: We reiterate our request that the Scout Association UK announces publicly that it will refuse to host Mr Bahati again in Britain (I believe that you did host him at the time of the 2007 Jamboree), as you would refuse to host an anti-Semitic scout leader who advocated the execution of Jewish people. Again, this is a reasonable and justifiable sanction that is within your powers.

The core of the issue is this: Mr Bahati wants to execute lesbian and gay scouts and scout leaders, as well as other lesbian and gay people. He is Uganda’s head scout, and while he remains head scout his actions reflect badly on the whole international scouting movement. It is imperative that the British and world scouting authorities speak out against him and his bill which, if passed, will have deadly consequences for scout members in Uganda.

The reputation of the scout movement depends on action being taken against those in positions of leadership, like Mr Bahati, who abuse and violate scouting values.

Please advise. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell
OutRage! – The LGBT Human Rights Campaign

What you can do

Please ask your MP to sign EDM 575 on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

You can email your MP direct via this website:

www.writetothem.com

Just click on the link and enter your postcode. It will tell you who is your MP and you can email him or her direct.

All you need to do is write as follows:

Draft letter to your MP

Dear (insert your MP’s name),

As one of your constituents, I urge you to sign EDM 575, tabled by Harry Cohen MP. It condemns Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This Bill proposes the death penalty for some same-sex acts and life imprisonment for others. The Bill also proposes up to seven years jail for anyone who advocates gay equality and three years jail for parents who fail to report their gay sons or daughters to the police.

See a copy of the Bill here:
http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/09/Nov/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009_Uganda.pdf

And a summary of the key points of the Bill here:
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/uganda-anti-homosexuality-bill-a-briefing.html

Please also consider writing to the Uganda High Commissioner in London:

Her Excellency, High Commissioner Joan Rwabyomere, Uganda High Commission, Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX. Phone 020-7839-5783, Fax 020-7839-8925 or E-mail: info@ugandahighcommission.co.uk

Thank you.

Insert your name, address and email.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell

If you would like to contact Peter Tatchell, please email on peter@petertatchell.net.

www.petertatchell.net

See also :

Execute gay scouts, says Uganda chief scout

Scout children to be hanged under proposed law

World scout movement urged to expel Uganda

Call for UK Scout Association to sever links with Uganda scout movement

London, UK – 16 February 2010

“The leader of the scout movement in Uganda is demanding the execution of all scouts and scout leaders who commit repeated homosexual acts,” reports human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

“Chief of the Scout Board of Uganda, David Bahati, is proposing that all serial homosexual offenders, including scouts and scout leaders, should be hanged – even children.

“Mr Bahati is a Ugandan MP. His Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is currently before the Ugandan Parliament, stipulates the death penalty for repeat same-sex relations and life imprisonment for all other homosexual acts, even for mere kissing, touching or caressing.

“Scout leaders who fail to report gay scouts to the police will face three years in jail. Any scout leader who provides supportive advice to a gay scout will be jailed for five to seven years.

“This Bill is an expression of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence, contrary to scout principles,” said Mr Tatchell.

See a summary and link to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill here:
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/uganda-anti-homosexuality-bill-a-briefing.html

Mr Tatchell has written on behalf of OutRage! to the Chief Executive of the Scout Association UK, Derek Twine.

A copy of this letter follows below.

Mr Twine has already referred OutRage!’s concerns to the General Secretary of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement.

“I have asked the Scout Association UK to press the world scouting movement to disaffiliate the scout organisation of Uganda, on the grounds that its leader has violated scouting values by proposing the execution of gay people, including gay Ugandan scouts and scout leaders,” added Mr Tatchell.

“My letter calls on the British scout organisation to condemn Mr Bahati and his Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and to refuse to host him again in the UK.

“The British and world scouting movement cannot remain silent, given this threat to kill its members in Uganda. They must break all links with the Ugandan scout organisation while it remains under the leadership of David ‘kill the gays’ Bahati.

“The international scout movement has a duty to defend its values of universal respect, equality and brotherhood,” concluded Mr Tatchell.

What you can do – see the end of this email.

Copy of Peter Tatchell’s email to the Scout Association UK:

Derek Twine
Chief Executive
The Scout Association
Gilwell Park
London E4 7QW

11 February 2010

Dear Derek Twine,

Uganda Scout leader David Bahati and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Your letter dated 21 January 2010 – Ref: DMT/AEB

Sincere thanks for your reply to the letter of my OutRage! colleague, David Allison.

We are most appreciative of the efforts made by the Scout Association UK to ensure equal opportunity and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, such wisdom and fairness is not replicated by the leader of the scouting movement in Uganda, David Bahati MP. As you know, he is head of the Scout Board of Uganda; in effect Chief Scout.

He is calling for the execution of lesbian and gay scouts, and other lesbian and gay Ugandans.

His Anti-Homosexuality Bill, currently before the Parliament of Uganda, proposes that repeat homosexual acts will carry a sentence of death, and that anyone – gay or heterosexual – who advocates gay equality or offers welfare support to homosexuals will be sentenced to five to seven years jail. A person in authority – a parent, teacher or scout leader – who fails to report a gay person to the police within 24 hours will be jailed for three years.

Mr Bahati’s proposals to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are a complete contradiction of scouting values and of the fundamental principles of equality and human rights, as enshrined in international humanitarian laws, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

I am most grateful that you have referred our concerns about Mr Bahati’s plan to execute LGBT Ugandans, including lesbian and gay scouts, to the General Secretary of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM). Please advise me of the reply you have received.

While we appreciate that every National Scout Organisation (NSO) is independent, we also understand that the WOSM membership of each NSO is conditional on them conforming to the WOSM’s scouting values.

David Bahati, the leader of the Uganda scout movement, is promoting hatred, discrimination and the state-sponsored murder of LGBT Ugandans – some of whom will be scouts and scout leaders. His stance and actions are incompatible with scouting values.

If the leader of a NSO was advocating racism and the execution of black people, I am sure the WOSM would take swift steps to rule that the NSO’s membership of the WOSM could not continue while such a person remained in a position of authority within the NSO.

FIRST: We therefore request that you ask the WOSM to disaffiliate the Ugandan scout organisation from the WOSM, until such time as David Bahati ceases to hold office in the Ugandan scout movement or until he withdraws and renounces his Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This is something that the UK Scout Association and the WOSM can do. It is within your powers.

SECOND: We realise that the Scout Association UK is not in a position to intervene in the internal affairs of the scouting organisation of Uganda. However, we do believe that the British Scout Association can and should issue a public statement deploring David Bahati’s homophobia and his Anti-Homosexuality Bill; making clear that his views and his Bill are incompatible with scouting values and are likely to lead to the persecution of Ugandan LGBT scouts and scouting officials. We respectfully ask you to do this.

THIRD: We reiterate our request that the Scout Association UK announces publicly that it will refuse to host Mr Bahati again in Britain (I believe that you did host him at the time of the 2007 Jamboree), as you would refuse to host an anti-Semitic scout leader who advocated the execution of Jewish people. Again, this is a reasonable and justifiable sanction that is within your powers.

The core of the issue is this: Mr Bahati wants to execute lesbian and gay scouts and scout leaders, as well as other lesbian and gay people. He is Uganda’s head scout, and while he remains head scout his actions reflect badly on the whole international scouting movement. It is imperative that the British and world scouting authorities speak out against him and his bill which, if passed, will have deadly consequences for scout members in Uganda.

The reputation of the scout movement depends on action being taken against those in positions of leadership, like Mr Bahati, who abuse and violate scouting values.

Please advise. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell
OutRage! – The LGBT Human Rights Campaign

What you can do

Please ask your MP to sign EDM 575 on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

You can email your MP direct via this website:

www.writetothem.com

Just click on the link and enter your postcode. It will tell you who is your MP and you can email him or her direct.

All you need to do is write as follows:

Draft letter to your MP

Dear (insert your MP’s name),

As one of your constituents, I urge you to sign EDM 575, tabled by Harry Cohen MP. It condemns Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This Bill proposes the death penalty for some same-sex acts and life imprisonment for others. The Bill also proposes up to seven years jail for anyone who advocates gay equality and three years jail for parents who fail to report their gay sons or daughters to the police.

See a copy of the Bill here:
http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/09/Nov/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009_Uganda.pdf

And a summary of the key points of the Bill here:
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/uganda-anti-homosexuality-bill-a-briefing.html

Please also consider writing to the Uganda High Commissioner in London:

Her Excellency, High Commissioner Joan Rwabyomere, Uganda High Commission, Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX. Phone 020-7839-5783, Fax 020-7839-8925 or E-mail: info@ugandahighcommission.co.uk

Thank you.

Insert your name, address and email

ENDS

If you would like to contact Peter Tatchell, email him at peter@petertatchell.net.

www.petertatchell.net

No Pope, No Vatican – London for a Secular Europe

Oppose Pope Benedict’s State Visit to the UK

Stop the Vatican’s crusade against women’s and gay rights

London – 10 February 2010

Protest the Pope

This Sunday 14 February 2010
Meet at 1pm outside Westminster Cathedral (not Westminster Abbey).

Victoria Street, London SW1 (near the corner with Ambrosden Avenue)

March to the Italian Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a rally at 3pm.

We support:
· Women’s equality and reproductive rights
· Equal rights for LGBT people
· A secular Europe – immune to the Vatican’s agenda
· One law for all, no religious exemptions from the law
· State neutrality in matters of religion and belief

We oppose:
· European Union collusion with religion (Lisbon Treaty Article 16c)
· The special status of the Vatican in the United Nations
· State-funded faith schools
· The economic privilege and political influence of the Vatican in Italy
· Taxpayers funding the Pope’s State Visit to the UK this September
· Misogyny, homophobia, fascism, racism and xenophobia

Protest against the Pope’s State Visit to the UK

“We want a secular Europe, where the Vatican and the Catholic church cease attempting to impose their harsh, intolerant morality on everyone else,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who is speaking at Sunday’s protest and assisting with its organisation.

“The Pope opposes women’s rights, gay equality, embryonic stem cell research, death with dignity and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

“He wants the Catholic Church to be exempt from equality and anti-discrimination laws that apply to everyone else.

“Pope Benedict played a key role in the cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy.

“He has rehabilitated the Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson, and even though Pope Pius XII failed to speak out against the Holocaust he plans to make him a saint.

“Given that he opposes universal equality and human rights, Pope Benedict should not be accorded the honour of a State Visit to Britain.

“The estimated £20 million cost of the visit will be funded by the taxpayer. The Pope has already denounced our equality laws. He is likely to abuse his presence in Britain to further attack our democratically-agreed legislation that gives equal rights to women and gay people.

“The Pope has discouraged the use of condoms in countries where HIV infections are decimating whole populations. Such teachings are irresponsible and immoral,” said Mr Tatchell.

Sunday’s demonstration is organised by the Central London Humanist Group in partnership with the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, One Law for All, the Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association, the Rationalist Association and OutRage!.

It is in solidarity with the demonstration happening the same weekend in Rome, also against the Vatican and its reactionary interference in Italian, European and world-wide politics.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=415005340443
http://www.meetup.com/Central-London-Humanists/calendar/12192702/

Program of the demonstration:

– Assemble: 1pm at Westminster Cathedral (not the Abbey)
– March: 2pm – 3pm from Westminster Cathedral to the Italian embassy
– Rally: 3pm – 5pm at the Italian embassy (Grosvenor square)

Speakers at the Italian embassy (3pm) :

* Bob Churchill (British Humanist Association),
* Derek Lennard (Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association)
* Maryam Namazie (One Law for All)
* Gerard Phillips (Protest The Pope)
* David Pollock (European Humanist Federation)
* Terry Sanderson (National Secular Society)
* Peter Tatchell (OutRage!)
* Josh Kutchinsky (Central London Humanist Group)

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE VATICAN

Protest organiser, Marco Tranchino, writes:

The tiny Vatican State is inhabited mainly by priests. It is extremely powerful and its “moral” crusades adversely affect the lives of millions of people in Europe and across the world.

Officially part of the UN, its “observer-state” status means it can access, influence and pressure UN debates on issues such as birth control, abortion and homosexuality. No other religion has such privileged UN status.

The Vatican has diplomatic relationships with almost all the countries in the world (174 when John Paul II died) and in many EU countries it benefits from the support of Catholic politicians and, in many cases, of Christian political parties.

Of the 27 countries of the European Union, 14 are bound to the Vatican by at least one treaty. No other faith has such political power in Europe and the world; prompting the Economist to publish an investigation about the diplomatic service of the Vatican, questioning whether it deserves its special status in the UN (21 July 2007)

The Catholic Church is an extremely profitable business. It owns businesses such as hotels, restaurants, shops and private schools and the Vatican pays no tax! On top of this, the Vatican receives public money in many countries: in Italy about 1000 million Euros in taxes paid to the Vatican every year (991 millions € in 2007 ).

Through its very considerable political, diplomatic and economic power, the Vatican adversely impacts on the lives of European citizens, and the wider humanity.

THE POPE’S OPPOSITION TO WOMEN’S & LGBT RIGHTS

The issue of women’s rights and the Catholic Church goes way beyond the hierarchy of the church, where women are unable to ascend to priesthood as a result of their gender. Women who have had a divorce, women who want to have an abortion and women who are living as single parents in Catholic countries are often victims of moral intimidation and discrimination. The Pope encourages us to view women as unequal to men, by consistently and publicly stating that the two genders are different and that women are naturally inclined to be mothers and child-carers. In some Catholic countries, like Ireland and Poland, abortion is illegal. In others, like Italy, the right to an abortion is constantly under threat from the Vatican’s pressure on the government.

The Pope says that being gay is an “objective disorder” and a “moral evil”. In nearly half the countries in the world, homosexuality is totally illegal and punishable by long terms of imprisonment. A proposal for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality was opposed by the Vatican in the UN in 2008. It has a long history of blocking attempted UN debates on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights; often refusing to condemn homophobia and opposing laws to protect LGBT people against discrimination.

RELIGIOUS POWER IN THE UK

Although Britain is a fairly “secular” society, Christianity still has considerable influence in many British institutions and it continues to enjoy unfair privileges.

A limited right to abortion has been granted to women living in England, Scotland and Wales, but in Northern Ireland it remains illegal. This anomaly is significantly due to religious influence, including that of the Catholic Church. Christian lobbies are engaged in continual efforts to restrict a woman’s right to abortion and have succeeded in reducing the time limits for an abortion.

Religion retains undue influence and power in various ways. With increasing numbers of state funded faith schools (1 in 3 of all schools in the UK is either Catholic or Church of England), religious institutions continue to exercise an influence on many young people.

The churches (especially the Catholic church) made sure that the proposed EU Constitution – and the now approved Lisbon Treaty (article 16c) – dangerously commits the European Union to “an open, transparent and regular dialogue with Churches and religious organisations”. Why should religious bodies receive this special treaty guarantee, which is denied to humanists and human rights advocates?

WE DEMAND A SECULAR EUROPE

The state should be neutral in matters of religion or belief.
No faith should have privileged legal or social status, or special access to government
The beliefs of one group should not be used to limit the rights of others.
We affirm the common values of the people of Europe as expressed in the Brussels Declaration.

https://www.iheu.org/v4e/html/the_declaration.html

We want to protect democracy and to champion human rights against those who seek to retain undemocratic influence and deny equality and protection against discrimination to others.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

Protest coordinator: Marco Tranchino – marco.tranchino@gmail.com

ENDS

Peter Tatchell

Pope attacks British equality laws

Coded attack on the legal rights of women and gay people

London – 2 February 2010

The Pope has criticised UK equality laws, including the Equality Bill that is currently before parliament. This attack comes ahead of the pontiff’s State Visit to Britain, scheduled for September this year.

“Pope Benedict is unhappy with the new rights and protections afforded to women and LGBT people. He objects to the fact that religious institutions can no longer lawfully discriminate at will on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

“The Pope’s criticism that British equality legislation ‘violates the natural law’ is a coded attack on the legal rights granted to women and gay people. It is a de facto defence of faith-based discrimination.

“His ill-informed claim that our equality laws undermine religious freedom suggests that he supports the right of faith organisations to discriminate in accordance with their religious ethos. He seems to be defending discrimination by religious institutions and demanding that they should be above the law.

“This outburst signals that Benedict is likely to make highly partisan political criticisms during his visit to the UK in September. Most British people will not welcome a meddlesome pontiff who opposes our equality laws.

“They will especially resent the fact that the UK government is asking taxpayers to cough up around £20 million to finance his visit. This money would be far better spent on schools and hospitals,” said Mr Tatchell.

ENDS

www.petertatchell.net

Human Rights Day protest against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill – Ugandan Embassy, London, 10 December 2009 – Photograph by Brett Lock

Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill – Briefing

Death penalty proposed for consenting same-sex relations

Misreported & unreported aspects of the legislation

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

London, UK – 11 January 2010

Below is a full and comprehensive briefing on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is currently before the Ugandan Parliament and which proposes the death penalty for certain consenting homosexual acts.

Sponsored by the Ugandan MP, David Bahati, the Bill is expected to be debated and voted on in the coming weeks.

This briefing includes details of the already existing extreme homophobic laws in Uganda and their hateful social effects, a link to a full copy of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and my summary of its key elements.

Although there have been reports that death penalty clauses will be dropped, to date the Bill has not been amended, watered down or scrapped. All the original provisions, including the death penalty, remain.

Indeed, the Bill’s sponsor, MP David Bahati, said late last week that he stands by the Bill and will not withdraw it.

Read the full text of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/09/Nov/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009_Uganda.pdf

Summary of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Peter Tatchell of the London-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights group OutRage! said:

“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposes the death penalty for two classes of same-sex acts.

“First, for ‘aggravated’ homosexuality, which is defined as gay sex with under 18s or disabled persons and gay sex by a person in authority or by a person with HIV, even if they use a condom.

“Second, for ‘serial’ homosexual acts, meaning for persons who have repeated same-sex relations ie. more than once or twice.

“The Bill extends the existing penalty of life imprisonment for same- sex intercourse to all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have homosexual relations.

“Life imprisonment is also the penalty for contracting a same-sex marriage.

“Promoting homosexuality and aiding and abetting others to commit homosexual acts will be punishable by five to seven years jail. These new crimes are likely to include membership and funding of LGBT organisations, advocacy of LGBT human rights, supportive counselling of LGBT persons and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people.

“A person in authority – gay or heterosexual – who fails to report violators to the police within 24 hours will be sentenced to three years behind bars.

“Astonishingly, the new legislation has an extra-territorial jurisdiction. It will also apply to Ugandan citizens or foreign residents of Uganda who commit these ‘crimes’ while abroad, in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda.

“This bill is even more draconian than the extreme homophobic laws of countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“It is part of a wide attack on civil society and is symptomatic of Uganda’s drift to Mugabe-style authoritarianism,” added Mr Tatchell.

Read this report by me on the tyranny of President Yoweri Museveni’s Ugandan regime:
http://www.blackstarnews.com/news/135/ARTICLE/6164/2009-12-18.html

Existing anti-gay laws in Uganda – and their consequences

The Uganda Penal Code Act of 1950 (Chapter 120) (as amended)

Section 145. Unnatural offences.
–Any person who– (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for life.

Section 146. Attempt to commit unnatural offences.
–Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in section 145 commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

Section 148. Indecent practices.
–Any person who, whether in public or in private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person or procures another person to commit any act of gross indecency with him or her or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any person with himself or herself or with another person, whether in public or in private, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

“The current anti-homosexual laws were originally imposed on Uganda by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century, during the period of imperial subjugation. They are not authentic Ugandan or African laws,” added Peter Tatchell of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights group OutRage!

“The consequences of this already existing legislation can include long terms of imprisonment for homosexual relations between consenting adults in private.

“Criminalisation also often results in the failure of police to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) victims of mob violence. It gives a green light to blackmailers and to the police harassment of LGBT people, including the framing of LGBT Ugandans on false charges.

“The outing of LGBT people by the Kampala tabloid newspaper, Red Pepper, has resulted in some victims losing their jobs and homes. Others have been disowned by their families and forced to go into hiding.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is just the latest of many attacks on the LGBT community of Uganda.

“In recent years, the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni has passed a law banning same-sex civil marriage, fined Radio Simba for broadcasting a discussion of LGBT issues, and expelled a UN AIDS agency director for meeting with LGBT campaigners.

“Some years ago, a heterosexual Anglican bishop of the West Buganda diocese of Uganda, Christopher Senyonjo, was denied the right to preach and denied his pension by the Church of Uganda after he defended the human rights of LGBT people,” said Mr Tatchell.

See photos of the London protest against the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill on 10 December 2009:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157622975859486/
These photos are free to use. Please credit Brett Lock of OutRage!

See videos of this London protest:
http://www.petertatchell.net/international/videos-of-uganda-protest-in-london.html
These videos are free to use.

More information:

peter@petertatchell.net

www.petertatchell.net

Video from Pride London

Uganda Anti Homosexuality Bill Protest London 7th Nov 2009

Protest Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Thursday 10th December 2009

12pm- 2pm

Ugandan High Commission

58-59 Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross

London, WC2N 5DX

To coincide with International Human Rights Day, this Thursday 10 December, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has called for worldwide protests against the draconian Anti-Homsexuality Bill currently being debated by the Ugandan parliament.

Under this proposed new law, gay Ugandans will face execution for certain homosexual acts.

See details of the legislation here:

https://gayswithoutborders.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/bill-no-18-anti-homosexuality-bill-2009_uganda.pdf

If you can’t attend Thursday’s protest, please lobby your MP and MEP. Ask them to write to the Ugandan High Commissioner, Joan Rwabyomere, urging that the legislation is dropped. You can email your MP and MEP here: http://www.writetothem.com

You can also email the Ugandan High Commissioner, Joan Rwabyomere, yourself:

info@ugandahighcommission.co.uk

“The new Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if passed, proposes the death penalty for ‘aggravated’ and ‘serial’ homosexual acts and extends the existing penalty of life imprisonment for anal sex to all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have gay relations. Life imprisonment is also the penalty for contracting a same-sex mariage,” said Peter Tatchell of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights group OutRage!.

Out Rage! is backing the London protest, which is being coordinated by the Gay Activists Alliance International, with the support of Gay Uganda and Ugandan LGBT exiles. Mr Tatchell will speak at the rally, together with Davis Mac-Iyalla (Nigeria and co-founder of GAAI) and Skye Chirape (Zimbabwe)

“Membership of LGBT organisations and funding for them, advocacy of LGBT human rights and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people will result in a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of seven years for “promoting” homosexuality. A person in authority who fails to report violators to the police within 24 hours will incur three years behind bars,” added Mr Tatchell.

“Astonishingly, the new legislation has an extra-territorial jusridiction. It will also apply to Ugandans who commit these ‘crimes’ while living abroad, in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda,” he said.

According to Dennis Hambridge, GAAI global coordinator:

“The bill is likely to be detrimental to the fight against HIV/AIDS by denying gay and bisexual men access to condoms and safer sex advice and driving countless numbers of them further underground. It will create even more stigma, discrimination and oppression

“Activists in Uganda have reported to GAAI that there are eight gay people currently awaiting trial or sentencing in Uganda.

“With immense pressure being put on the Ugandan Government to drop the bill, by human rights groups, governments and religious groups worldwide, we call on our people in the UK to support this protest,” he said.

GAAI are also hoping that gay Ugandan John Bosco Nyombi will be able to attend Thursday’s protest. Earlier this year, the British courts ordered the return of John Bosco Nyombi to the UK after he was illegally and forcibly returned to Uganda while seeking asylum in the UK.

The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates the equality and non-discrimination provisions of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Uganda is a signatory. These breaches of international humanitarian commitments undermine the right to privacy and individual liberty and thereby set a dangerous legal precedent which threatens the human rights of all Ugandans. They are part of a wider drift towards an authoritarian state. President Museveni is fast turning into another Robert Mugabe.

http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/z1afchar.htm

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists and the World AIDS Campaign.

It violates the Commonwealth principles of human rights and human dignity. You can email the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, here:

secretary-general@commonwealth.int

ENDS

www.petertatchell.net

If you want to respond to this email, or at any time to contact Peter, please email him at his NEW email address: peter@petertatchell.net

You can also follow Peter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PeterTatchell or join the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Campaign Facebook group at http://tinyurl.com/cj9y6s

Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
www.greenoxford.com/peter and www.petertatchell.net

No Sharia rally in London
Oppose all religious laws & courts

Call for secularism & universal human rights

London – 21 November 2009

Muslims, ex-Muslims and non-Muslims joined forces in London to protest against Sharia and against all religious laws and courts.

The themes of the protest were “one law for all” and “universal human rights.”

Expressing solidarity with Muslims resisting the “inequalities and inhumanities” of Sharia law, the protesters affirmed their commitment to democracy, secularism, equality and human rights.

The rally took place in Hyde Park today, Saturday 21 November 2009

Among those addressing the crowds were speakers from Iran, Iraq, Bangladesh and the UK. They expressed solidarity with Muslim communities worldwide and condemned racist, anti-Muslim far right and fascist groups.

“Sharia law is a form of religious dogma and tyranny. It is homophobic, sexist and anti-democratic. It persecutes LGBT Muslims. Same-sex acts carry the death penalty in several Islamic states. Gay people can be stoned to death or hanged in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. We support LGBT Muslims – and all Muslims – who are fighting for their freedom,” said Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage! and Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.

“This protest supports secular democracy. Secularism is often confused with anti-clericalism. The two are not the same. Secularism is not against religion per se. It is against giving religion privileged status, rights and protections.

“We believe there should be a separation of religion from the state. No faith should dominate any government and seek to impose its creed on the rest of society. When this happens, freedom of expression is diminished and minority faiths are victimised.

“For these reasons, secularism is not only an important element of freedom of expression. It is also the best guarantee of religious freedom, as it prevents any one faith becoming politically dominant and abusing its powers to oppress people of other faiths,” Mr Tatchell added.

Lib Dem MP Evan Harris condemned the government for “caving in to religious pressure.” He cited the way Britain’s equality laws allow religious bodies to discriminate against LGBT people and people in certain circumstances. Mr Harris also condemned the government for giving privileged advisory status on policy and legislation to often unrepresentative faith leaders.

Roy Brown of the International Humanist and Ethical Union warned that over 50 Islamic states, with the support of many developing countries, are currently “demanding that the United Nations outlaw the defamation of religion.” This would restrict free speech by criminalising criticism and condemnation of religious beliefs and institutions, he said.

A speaker from Iraq, Issam Shukri, told the rally how Islamist militias linked to the cleric and MP Muqtada al-Sadr had executed dozens of women who they deemed to be improperly dressed because were not fully covered head-to-toe. These militias have also organised death squad executions of LGBT Iraqis.

Maryan Namazie, the rally organiser, told the crowd:

“Our rally is being held to mark Universal Children’s Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We are not defending western values. We are defending universal humanitarian values. Sharia adversely affects the rights, lives and freedoms of countless human beings across the world. Opposing Sharia law is a crucial step in defending universal equal rights and secularism, and showing real solidarity with people living under and resisting Sharia.”

Philosopher AC Grayling warned that Sharia law was an attack on precious, hard-won, civil liberties. It was a threat to freedom of speech, freedom of belief and freedom of conscience, he said.

Rahila Gupta from Southall Black Sisters highlighted the way religion and cultural tradition are often anti-women and homophobic. She urged solidarity with women resisting patriarchal clericalism and demanded equal rights for women, whatever their cultural, ethnic or religious background.

Excerpts from Peter Tatchell’s speech at the Hyde Park rally:

“We are here to defend Muslim people – and all people everywhere – who are victims of religious tyranny.

“We support the many victims of Sharia law, especially the Muslim women who are campaigning for equality. We cannot accept the way Islamic states, including western allies like Saudi Arabia, restrict women’s freedom of movement, make women subject to the control of male guardians, deny women access to certain jobs and positions in government and enforce the compulsory veiling of women with the hijab, niqab, jilbab or burqa.

“We stand in opposition to all religious laws in Britain and worldwide.

“We express our support for the many courageous, inspiring Muslims who are campaigning against the inequalities and inhumanities of Sharia law, often at great risk to their liberty and life.

“Contrary to the way our critics are trying to misrepresent our rally, this is not an attack on Muslims or Islam. We are here to support Muslims who are resisting Sharia law.

“We defend Muslims and people of all faiths against hatred and discrimination. The victimisation of people because of their religious beliefs is just as wrong as victimising people because of their race, gender or sexuality.

“In a democracy, everyone should be subject to the same laws, with the same rights and responsibilties. Religious rulings should not influence the laws or courts in any way.

“We believe that Muslims and all peoples worldwide should have rights, freedoms and choices, in accordance with the principles of equality and non-discrimination that are enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are not western values. They are international humanitarian values, agreed by the global consensus of the member states of the UN.

“It is wrong to tolerate the denial of human rights to non-white Muslims in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, when most of us would never tolerate the denial of these rights to white (and non-white) people in Britain.

“There should be no double standards. No moral or cultural relativism. Defend universal human rights. One law for all,” said Mr Tatchell.

For further information and photos, contact Maryam Namazie onelawforall@gmail.com

Web: www.onelawforall.org.uk

Peter Tatchell

Brussels says churches must lift ban on employing homosexuals
EU decides British government was wrong to allow exemptions under equality law

The government is being forced by the European commission to rip up controversial exemptions that allow church bodies to refuse to employ homosexual staff.

It has emerged that the commission wrote to the government last week raising concerns that the UK had incorrectly implemented an EU directive prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of a person’s sexual orientation.

The ruling follows a complaint from the National Secular Society, which argued that the opt-outs went further than was permitted under the directive and had created “illegal discrimination against homosexuals”.

The commission agreed. A “reasoned opinion” by its lawyers informs the government that its “exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for religious employers are broader than that permitted by the directive”.

The highly unusual move means that the government now has no choice but to redraft anti-discrimination laws, which is likely to prompt a furore among church groups.

In anticipation of a possible backlash from the commission, the government has already inserted new clauses into its equality bill. But even if the bill is jettisoned, future governments will be bound by the commission’s ruling.

Under the new proposals being drafted by the government, religious organisations will be able to refuse to employ homosexuals only if their job involves actively promoting or practising a religion. A blanket refusal to employ any homosexuals would no longer be possible.

“This ruling is a significant victory for gay equality and a serious setback for religious employers who have been granted exemptions from anti-discrimination law,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. “It is a big embarrassment for the British government, which has consistently sought to appease religious homophobes by granting them opt-outs from key equality laws. The European commission has ruled these opt-outs are excessive.”

The employment directive outlawing discrimination in the workplace was finalised by the European commission in 2000 and became law in the UK in early 2003, following a public consultation exercise. At the time there were accusations that the government had “caved in” to religious groups that mounted a fierce lobbying campaign to be exempted from the new laws.

Under the terms of the exemption, religious groups were allowed to refuse a position to a homosexual employee “so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers”.

“In other words, if a significant number of followers of an organised religion didn’t like it, there was no protection for a gay employee,” said Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society. “Now the government must demonstrate its commitment to equality, rather than continuing to jump to the church’s tune.”

The EU’s equal opportunities commissioner, Vladimir Špidla, said: “We call on the UK government to make the necessary changes to its anti-discrimination legislation as soon as possible so as to fully comply with the EU rules.”

But religious groups expressed alarm at the move. The Christian charity, Care, said: “If evangelical churches cannot be sure that they can employ practising evangelicals with respect to sexual ethics, how will they be able to continue?”

www.petertatchell.net

You can follow Peter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PeterTatchell or join the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Campaign Facebook group at http://tinyurl.com/cj9y6s

Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
www.greenoxford.com/peter