UN issues first report on human rights of
gay and lesbian people
15 Dec. 2011
The first ever United Nations report on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people details how around the world people are killed or endure hate-motivated violence, torture, detention, criminalization and discrimination in jobs, health care and education because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
The report, released today by the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, outlines “a pattern of human rights violations… that demands a response,” and says governments have too often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Homophobic and transphobic violence has been recorded in every region of the world, the report finds, and ranges from murder, kidnappings, assaults and rapes to psychological threats and arbitrary deprivations of liberty.
LGBT people are often targets of organized abuse from religious extremists, paramilitary groups, neo-Nazis, extreme nationalists and others, as well as family and community violence, with lesbians and transgender women at particular risk.
“Violence against LGBT persons tends to be especially vicious compared to other bias-motivated crimes,” the report notes, citing data indicating that homophobic hate crimes often include “a high degree of cruelty and brutality.”
Violent incidents or acts of discrimination frequently go unreported because victims do not trust police, are afraid of reprisals or are unwilling to identify themselves as LGBT.
The report – prepared in response to a request from the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year – draws from information included in past UN reporting, official statistics on hate crimes where there are available, and reporting by regional organizations and some non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
In the report, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calls on countries to repeal laws that criminalize homosexuality, abolish the death penalty for offences involving consensual sexual relations, harmonize the age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual conduct, and enact comprehensive anti-discrimination laws.
In 76 countries it remains illegal to engage in same-sex conduct and in at least five countries – Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen – the death penalty prevails.
Ms. Pillay recommends that Member States also promptly investigate all killings or serious violent incidents perpetrated because of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and to establish systems to record such incidents.
The High Commissioner also calls on countries to ensure that no one fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is returned to a territory where their life or freedom is at threat, and that asylum laws recognize that sexual orientation or gender identity is a valid basis for claiming persecution.
Public information campaigns should be introduced, especially in schools, to counter homophobia, and police and law enforcement officials should also receive training to ensure LGBT people are treated appropriately and fairly.
Charles Radcliffe, the chief of OHCHR’s global issues section, told UN Radio that “one of the things we found is if the law essentially reflects homophobic sentiment, then it legitimizes homophobia in society at large. If the State treats people as second class or second rate or, worse, as criminals, then it’s inviting people to do the same thing.”
He stressed that all UN Member States have an obligation under international human rights law to decriminalize homosexuality, adding it was important to persuade rather than lecture States to change their laws.
“I think we have seen the balance of opinion amongst States really shifting significantly in recent years. Some 30 countries have decriminalized homosexuality in the last two decades or so.”
Mr. Radcliffe said that while all people have freedom of religion, “no religious belief or prevailing cultural values can justify stripping people of their basic rights.”
The report, which will be discussed by Council members at a meeting in March next year, has been released as top UN officials have increasingly raised concerns about human rights violations against LGBT people.
Last year, in a speech marking Human Rights Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “as men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Ms. Pillay, during a public conversation last week on social media, also called for an end to bullying and other forms of persecution of LGBT people.
Here is the full report:
The December 3rd "Claim, Scale-up, and Sustain" event was planned as a "pre-conference" ahead of the 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa that began the following day, also in Addis Ababa.
Around 80 MSM activists from across the continent, including countries such as Togo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania and Nigeria, gathered to engage on common issues.
The event was hosted by African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHER), a network of African MSM/LGBT led organisations, and was set to take place at the Jupiter International Hotel.
It was, however, marred by a number of incidents that reflected the homophobic environment facing many LGBT and MSM activists in Africa.
According to Dawie Nel, director of the Pretoria-based LGBT health and well-being organisation OUT, who attended the pre-conference, the day before the event was set to begin "AMSHER was notified that they could no longer proceed in the planned venue as ‘there was a rumour that it was about homosexuality’".
He said that the hotel refused to refund the already paid monies, leaving organisers in a predicament to secure a new venue.
"AMSHER delegates felt unsure about their own safety and had to secure new venues and make needed logistical changes within one day," explained Nel.
While the pre-conference was moved into the United Nations compound, Nel said that threats against the delegates and the event continued.
"The interpreters’ booth was stormed and recordings of conversations confiscated. There was also a police presence outside the AMSHeR delegates’ hotel and protests by Christians outside of the venue," he revealed.
There were reports that a press conference planned by religious groups to condemn the pre-conference and possibly call for action against the event was cancelled after the Ethiopian government intervened to avoid international embarrassment.
Nel reported that, despite the difficulties, the pre-conference was a "huge success".
"What stands out was the presence of young activists who are also open about their HIV status," he said. "Issues on the agenda included funding of local work where there was a strong feeling that community efforts are being side-lined by the bigger funders, the stigma and discrimination experienced in the vast amount of African countries and how this makes work difficult, and how to mainstream MSM work in the individual countries."
He added that a highlight was the support from senior decision makers from the Global Fund, UNAIDS and CDC who "pledged their on-going support to AMSHER and the work of its members".
A 2007 global survey found Ethiopians to have the second highest anti-gay sentiment in the world, with 97% saying that homosexuality should be rejected by society.
Obama, Clinton to world: Stop gay discrimination
GENEVA (AP) — The Obama administration has bluntly warned the world against gay and lesbian discrimination, declaring the U.S. will use foreign assistance as well as diplomacy to back its insistence that gay rights are fully equal to other basic human rights. In unusually strong language, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday compared the struggle for gay equality to difficult passages toward women's rights and racial equality, and she said a country's cultural or religious traditions are no excuse for discrimination. “Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights," she said. "It should never be a crime to be gay."
Clinton's audience included diplomats from Arab, African and other nations where homosexuality is criminalized or where brutality and discrimination against gay people is tolerated or encouraged.Many of the ambassadors in the audience responded with stony faces and rushed out of the room as soon as Clinton finished speaking.
President Barack Obama directed the State Department and other agencies to make sure U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote gay rights and fight discrimination. But there are no specific new consequences for poor performers, meaning the directive is more of a challenge to other governments than a threat.
In announcing the policy the U.S. did not point to individual countries with specifically poor records on gay rights, although an annual State Department accounting of global human rights has cited abuses against gays by such friends as Saudi Arabia.The White House said Tuesday's announcement marked the first U.S. government strategy to combat human rights abuses against gays and lesbians abroad.
The speech in Geneva, home of the United Nations' human rights body, is also part of the Obama administration's outreach to gays and lesbians, a core Democratic constituency at home. Since taking office, Obama has advocated the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members — now accomplished — and has ordered the administration to stop defending a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.However, Obama has stopped short of backing gay marriage, saying only that his personal views on the matter are evolving. That position and a long delay repealing the military ban have left some gay supporters disgruntled.
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney suggested that gay rights should not be a test for U.S. engagement abroad."I will be looking (at) foreign aid, whether it meets our national security interests and, number two, whether these nations are friends of ours and are willing to be friendly with us in ways when it matters the most," he said on Fox News Channel.
Another Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, went further."Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America's interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers' money," a Perry campaign statement said.
Clinton said she knows the United States has an imperfect record on gay rights, and she noted that until 2003 some states had laws on the books that made gay sex a crime. But there is no reason to suggest that gay rights are something only liberal, Western nations can or should embrace, she said. She said nothing about gay marriage.
"Gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world," Clinton said. "Being gay is not a Western invention. It is a human reality."
In her most direct challenge to nations with conservative cultural or religious mores, Clinton catalogued abuses such as targeted killings of gays, "corrective rape" of lesbians or forced hormone treatments. She likened the targeting of gays for mistreatment to "honor killings" of women, widow-burning or female genital mutilation, examples of practices the U.S. decries but has not penalized friends, including Afghanistan, for carrying out.
"Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition," she said. "But violence toward women isn't cultural; it's criminal."
She also compared the evolution of cultural attitudes toward homosexuality to the changing view of slavery.
"What was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights," she said.
The audience included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists who applauded loudly and whooped in approval when Clinton finished.
Some of the diplomats who were invited were unaware of the topic beforehand, and Clinton introduced her subject gingerly. She said she knew it was sensitive and cut against ingrained traditions and expectations.
"Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for the dignity of all citizens and persuading your people to do the same," she said.
In the memorandum issued in Washington, Obama directed U.S. agencies working abroad, including the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to use foreign aid to assist gays and lesbians who are facing human rights violations. And he ordered U.S. agencies to protect vulnerable gay and lesbian refugees and asylum seekers.
"The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States' commitment to promoting human rights," Obama said in a statement.
Gay rights groups praised the order as a significant step for ensuring that gays and lesbians are treated equally around the world.
"Today's actions by President Obama make clear that the United States will not turn a blind eye when governments commit or allow abuses to the human rights of LGBT people," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy organization.
60,000 petition Nigerian President not to sign anti-gay law
Dec 6, 2011
Activists have delivered a copy of a 60,000-strong global petition addressed to the Nigerian President, urging him not to sign in new laws that target gays.
Representatives from the Nigerian LGBTQI in Diaspora, and campaigners from AllOut.org, who are running the petition on their website, rallied outside the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations, New York yesterday.
All-Out.org says the text of the bill includes any public relationship between two people of the same gender under its definition of same-sex marriage.
In three days, more than 8,000 people had added their names to the letter by Nigerian activist Ifeanyi Orazulike, asking President Goodluck Johnson not to sign the bill into law.
Ifeanyi Orazulike said the government needed to stop turning gays into “refugees”.
She said: “Instead of passing anti-gay laws, Nigeria needs to focus on repealing its sodomy laws, laws that were originally imposed by British colonialism.”
AllOut.org co-founder Andre Banks, said: “The measure of every great democracy is how it treats its minority citizens. ALL Nigerians deserve the same rights and privileges guaranteed by the constitution.
“AllOut.org stands with our friends in Nigeria, and everywhere around the world, where opportunistic politicians seek to take away fundamental rights from LGBT people.”
The petition, which is asking people around the world to add their support to the letter, can be found on the All-Out.org website, at www.allout.org/nigeria. The full text of Ms Orazulike’s letter is reproduced below.
To President Goodluck Jonathan,
My name is Ifeanyi Orazulike, and I am not illegal.
As a Nigerian citizen, and a public health advocate, I call upon you to stop the draconian, anti-human rights, anti- HIV/AIDS prevention and un-democratic legislation just passed by the national Senate.
if this bill is approved Nigeria will place itself outside the community of democratic nations, in a moment in which the country is facing serious internal and external anti-democratic threats. The implications of the bill with its recent modification would affect tireless and long years of work in the protection and promotion of human rights, HIV/AIDS prevention, and the entrenchment of democracy in our country.
As the elected guardian of the human and civil rights of ALL Nigerians, I urge you to show respect for the diversity in our great democracy, and refuse to sign this bill.
Ifeanyi Kelly Orazulike
Director, International Center for Advocacy on Right to Health (ICARH)
Anti-Gay Sentiment Flares in Ethiopia as Addis Ababa Preps for AIDS Conference 29 Nov 2011
Ethiopia's religious leaders have abruptly canceled a news conference called to denounce a planned meeting of gay rights activists on the fringes of an international meeting on AIDS. Ethiopia's attitude toward homosexuality is shaping up as a potential flash point as some of the world's leading experts gather to discuss trends in AIDS treatment and prevention.
The leaders of Ethiopia's main religious denominations faced journalists briefly in an Addis Ababa conference room Tuesday. Abune Paulos, the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was there, along with representatives of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, the Roman Catholic Church, and Protestant denominations.
But before anything could be said, Ethiopia's Health Minister Tewodros Adhanom arrived and asked for a word with the religious leaders in private.
After nearly an hour, the leaders left without comment. The Reverend Iteffa Gobena Molte, president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Council Mekane Yesus told reporters the event would be rescheduled.
"It's postponed to another time. And when they are ready they will call upon you to come and record them," said Iteffa.
Reporters initially were told the news conference had been called to condemn a planned conference on "men who have sex with men."
The website of a group called the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, or AMSHER, says the meeting is to be held Saturday at an Addis Ababa hotel. A list of speakers posted on the website include Michel Sidibe, director of UNAIDS, and Eric Goosby, the United States Global AIDS Coordinator.
That gathering was to coincide with the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa, which opens Sunday in the Ethiopian capital. More than 8,000 experts and activists are expected to attend, and former U.S. President George W. Bush is slated to be an honored guest.
The sudden cancelation of the news briefing underscores Ethiopia's strong anti-gay sentiment. At a 2008 meeting with reporters, many of the same religious leaders urged passage of a constitutional amendment banning homosexuality.
News reports at the time quoted the clergy as calling homosexuality “the pinnacle of immorality.” Ethiopian Orthodox leader Paulos was quoted as condemning gay sex, saying, “for people to act in this manner, they have to be stupid, like animals."
Condemnation of gay sex
Reverend Iteffa said Ethiopian Protestants believe homosexuality is unnatural.
"The Protestant church teaches about homosexuality that it is not God's creation. God had created man and woman. So that is the proper creation and it continues to be there, and the Bible explicitly says in many parts of the Bible, so we claim that to be our faith as a Protestant," he said.
A statement distributed to reporters at Tuesday's canceled news conference quoted a survey showing 97 percent of Ethiopians consider gay behavior immoral. It said scheduling a conference on homosexuality in Addis Ababa shows a disregard for Ethiopia's laws and morals.
An email asking for AMSHER's response was not immediately answered.
An official standing outside Tuesday's news conference site suggested that the intervention of the Health Ministry, a major backer of the AIDS conference, indicates that the AMSHER meeting might not take place. A call to the hotel being advertised as the meeting site showed no facilities are currently reserved in AMSHER's name.
Michael Lucas: Beware of the risk of homophobia arising from the Arab Spring 17 Nov 2011 Gay entertainment mogul Michael Lucas warns of the risks of homophobic Islamist governments forming after the Arab Spring.
After decades in power, a brutal dictator in a Muslim country is dramatically deposed by a massive popular uprising. Sound familiar? Of course: that’s what happened in Egypt and Libya this year, as part of what’s known as the Arab Spring. But it’s also what happened in Iran in 1979 — and that should make us pause for a moment.
It’s easy to cheer for democratic change and celebrate the downfall of tyrants like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. But what if the end of one kind of oppression brings about the rise of another? As history has shown us time and again, revolutions are often turns for the worse.
Gay people should be especially wary when the forces of religious fundamentalism are involved. And nowhere are those forces stronger today than in the Muslim world. The power behind the Arab Spring came in large part from the coiled energy of Islamic groups that had been suppressed by secular dictatorships; as the old regimes crumble, hard-core Islamists are eager to take their place.
If the past is any guide, that’s bad news for gays in the Muslim world. Consider Iran. Under the Shah, Tehran had room for gay nightclubs and artists. That tolerance ended when the ayatollahs took over in the Islamic revolution of 1979 and instituted a fundamentalist form of Quranic law, or Shariah, under which gay sex is punishable by death. (Three Iranian men were hanged for sodomy in September, and hundreds of others have reportedly been executed for gay-related offenses.)
Or consider the explosion of anti-gay violence that followed the end of Saddam Hussein’s secular regime in Iraq. The powerful cleric Ali al-Sistani, who had been kept in check by Saddam, issued a 2005 fatwa calling for gay men and lesbians to be killed “in the worst, most severe way of killing.” In recent years, according to human-rights groups, scores of Iraqi gays have been abducted and murdered — often through gruesome torture and mutilation — by sectarian death squads and even by members of their own families (in so-called “honor killings”).
Iraqi authorities have mostly turned a blind eye to this “sexual cleansing.” Should we be surprised? After all, Shariah is now officially the law of the land. The 2005 Iraqi constitution includes talk about equal rights for all citizens, but its Article 2 calls Islam “the official religion of the State” and says that “no law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.”
Whether by law (in Iran) or by acceptance of lawlessness (in Iraq), the increased power of Islam in daily life has been a disaster for Muslim gays. Will things be different in the Arab Spring countries?
We have reason to worry. Egypt’s constitution also has an Article 2, which says the same thing as Iraq’s, that “Islam is the religion of the state,” and that “the principal source of legislation is Shariah.” Egyptian voters had the chance to change that language in a March referendum, but they chose to keep it.
Mubarak was no friend to gay Egyptians, and in the past decade his government stepped up its persecution. But as the Egyptian-born LGBT scholar Hassan El Menyawi has pointed out, this policy was largely motivated by Mubarek’s desire to “shore up [his] Islamic credentials” with a radicalized Egyptian population that was happy to see gays targeted.
A Pew Research Center poll last year found that 82 percent of Egyptian Muslims support stoning people who commit adultery, and 84 percent support the death penalty for Muslims who leave the religion. It’s not hard to imagine the same group’s attitudes toward homosexuality. Any government that results from Egypt’s planned 2012 elections is sure to reflect the country’s widespread religious conservatism.
In Libya, as well, the future will almost certainly be less rosy than we’d like. Last month, the world’s jubilation at the death of Gaddafi turned sour when graphic evidence emerged of the mob’s savagery toward the captured leader. (One video shows Gaddafi being sodomized with a stick.) Libyan liberals, and Western ones, were further disturbed a week later when the head of the transitional government suggested that polygamy should be legalized, in line with Shariah.
Optimists say that the practical concerns of democracy — getting elected, building coalitions — will keep radical Islam in check. I think they’re being deeply naïve. The expectations raised by the Arab Spring will be hard to live up to; soon, the new governments will start looking for scapegoats and distractions. Gays have always played those roles too well.
By supporting the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, the West has meddled where it didn’t belong and unleashed the beast of fundamentalism in those countries, just as it did in Iraq. It’s only a matter of time until that beast starts to bite. And when the tyranny of the religious majority starts trampling on sexual minorities — not to mention women and non-Muslims — the world’s pride in the Arab Spring will turn out to have gone before a very long, very hard fall.
Documentary by gay Israeli TV host Assi Azar screened Tuesday in San Francisco
The Ryan Seacrest of Israel, Assi Azar, warmly received at his San Francisco documentary screening on Tuesday, November 15.
Like many who come to San Francisco, Assi Azar was a little shocked by something he witnessed here. Azar, 32, is well-known in Israel as the host of the country’s Big Brother show. He was in town to promote his documentary, “Mom, Dad; I Have Something to Tell You.” The 45-minute doc looks at young people in Israel coming out to their parents, including Azar, who disclosed his sexuality when he was 24. The documentary looks at the coming out process through the eyes of the parents.
What surprised Azar here in San Francisco?
He was not only invited to speak before a high-school in San Francisco, it was a Catholic school. In his film tour, he also met a 14-year-old boy who was out since he was 12. Azar said he has never been asked to speak before a school in Israel, let alone a religious school and he was astounded that someone could be out at the age of 14. Azar said he would tell Rabbis in Israel of the religious acceptance of gays he observed in the US. Azar was also gratified that so many students would stay late after school voluntarily to watch a documentary about gay youth coming out.
Gays have more rights in Israel than the US and not surprisingly, more rights than any place else in the Muslim-dominated Middle East. Gay marriages are recognized in Israel, gays have the right to adopt, and gays have long been allowed to openly serve in the Israeli military.
Despite the legal protections and rights for gays, including the national recognition of gay marriage, the societal acceptance of gays in many sectors still has a way to go. The doc includes interviews with Azar’s parents. He notes that when he told his mother he was gay, that he saw her”age 30 years before my eyes. Her face just fell.” By contrast, his father, whom Azar thought wouldn’t take the news well, reacted with overwhelming support and love. Azar told the audience before the screening began that his mother at first said she would not participate in the documentary but later changed her mind when his father was interviewed for the film. Azar dutifully relayed the message that his mother wanted everyone to know that because she didn’t plan to participate in the film, she didn’t have time to fix her hair or apply makeup.
“My mother is better looking than my father,” Azar quipped.Azar interviewed a gay teenager whose parents found out he was gay after the tragic 2009 shooting at a gay youth club in Tel Aviv that killed two people and injured more 15. The teen was among those hurt. His parents disowned him after the shooting. But Azar noted in a question and answer period after the film screening at the Opera Plaza Cinema, that the boy has since reconciled with his parents.In some respects, the film resembled a documentary of gays coming out that would have been made in the US in the 1970s. One woman spoke anonymously in silhouette about the trauma and shock of having a lesbian daughter.
But in other respects, the doc brought home the family ties that are so important to the people of Israel, whose young people are required to serve in the military. Faced with the death of a son or daughter in the army, being gay doesn’t seem so bad.“Be what ever you want to be. Just keep breathing,” Azar explained is the philosophy of many parents.
The film was broadcast on Israeli television. Azar said he was surprised and pleased there was so much interest in the film outside of Israel. He didn’t expect that it would resonate with as many people as it has.Azar hopes to make another documentary about AIDS and HIV, noting that some in Israel have become complacent about the disease.
Azar also had high praise for a new documentary produced by filmmakers he knew entitled “The Invisible Man” about the struggles that gay Palestinians face. Some live illegally in Israel and live in fear of being found out and sent back to the West Bank or Gaza.
16 Nov 2011
Frank Mugisha, Uganda Gay Activist, Wins Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
10 Nov 2011
Award WASHINGTON — A gay rights activist in Uganda, where a bill that would punish gays with prison or death has stirred worldwide outrage, received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington on Thursday.Ethel Kennedy, the widow of the former U.S. attorney general, was joined by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in presenting the award to Frank Mugisha at a ceremony on Capitol Hill. It is the first time the award has been bestowed on an advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.
"It gives me more courage to continue doing the work I'm doing," Mugisha told The Associated Press ahead of the award. "It sends out a message, not only to my country but to other countries that criminalize homosexuality."The 29-year-old Mugisha leads the underground group called Sexual Minorities Uganda, whose members routinely shift locations in Uganda for their safety. Uganda, a conservative East African nation, is one of more than 70 nations that have imposed laws against being gay.
Mugisha blames U.S. evangelical activists in particular for stoking fears and promoting homophobia with a 2009 visit and conference on "rehabilitation" for gays in Uganda. Since then, violence against gays has increased, he said.After the visit, debate began over a Ugandan bill that would punish gay people with prison or death and would threaten jail time for those who don't report suspected gays to authorities. The bill was recently revived in Uganda's parliament.
"I think they are responsible for the bill," Mugisha said of the evangelical activists. "They held a seminar and openly told Ugandans that they needed to tighten their laws on homosexuality and told Ugandans that homosexuals can be healed."Scott Lively, a preacher who leads a group called Abiding Truth Ministries now based in Springfield, Mass., introduced ideas from the "ex-gay" movement to Ugandans and the idea that gays are "recruited," Mugisha said.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Lively did not oppose criminalization of gays but said he thinks imprisonment and the death penalty are too harsh. He said many criminal sanctions in African countries are harsh but aren't enforced."I advised the Ugandan parliament to focus on rehabilitation and not punishment, which they went the other way on that," Lively said. "But the law that they did draft is consistent with existing law on their books dealing with heterosexual sex crimes, and no one made a peep about that."
Ty Cobb, legislative counsel for the largest U.S. gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, said Mugisha is a role model for gays and lesbians in Africa and the world. The group has connected Mugisha with officials at the U.S. State Department."It's important to recognize that Frank has put his life on the line to represent this community that's silenced by a government that wants to put you to death for being gay," Cobb said.
Uganda's anti-gay bill – and its connection to U.S. evangelicals – prompted international headlines, editorials and attention from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Its award comes with a $30,000 stipend and a six-year partnership to support Mugisha's work with advocacy and fundraising.
Kerry Kennedy, president of the center bearing her father's name, said Mugisha's work shows a rare kind of courage. She said the award is meant for someone who is "the Martin Luther King of their country, somebody who has stood up to government oppression at great personal risk."She said progressive churches, human rights groups, the U.S. government and the United Nations should take a stronger stand to counter the impact of "right-wing evangelicals" in Uganda.
"What we see here in Uganda is the U.S. exporting our so-called family values," she told the AP. "We bear responsibility for that as a country. We need to set the record straight about what true U.S. values are."Kennedy said the pursuit of gay rights is consistent with everything her father, the brother of President John F. Kennedy, had stood for."I grew up in a family where we believed the United States should stand for something and that it was important to export the U.S. vision of a more just and peaceful world," she said. "That's why Robert Kennedy traveled to South Africa in 1966 when most Americans had never heard of apartheid."Mugisha said he hopes to persuade other human rights groups to join the struggle for gay rights.
As a young gay activist, Mugisha said he has been beaten and harassed for speaking out. He added that he's not afraid of his government, but rather of the people on the street who want to eliminate gays.In January, his colleague David Kato was bludgeoned to death. That killing came shortly after a tabloid newspaper published names and photos of men it alleged were gay. The cover included the words, "Hang Them." Authorities had said Kato's sexual orientation had nothing to do with the killing.
On Thursday, Kato's convicted killer was sentenced by a Ugandan court to 30 years in prison. The man said he was provoked by sexual advances he said Kato had made toward him.Mugisha, reflecting on the Kennedy award, said it may afford some protection by raising his profile.The biggest motivation to continue his work, despite death threats, is his daily interactions with Ugandan gays and lesbians, he added."They just look at you when you talk to them, and they feel there's hope," he said. "They feel there's a voice out there speaking for them."
Kenya;The gay community demands recognition
Nov 2, 2011
Denying the existence of the gay community in Kenya can no longer be sustained. The group has regrouped and formed a union to champion its cause, and advocate for the end of what it terms as the government's violation of human rights. The group is now calling upon the government to accord it equal rights and protection being enjoyed by other Kenyans.
The group, which recently launched its official website to break the barrier and silence witnessed in the past, called on the public to warm up to the realisation that they form part of the society, and they must be accorded due respect as they engage themselves in the day to day running of their affairs as Kenyans.
The general manager of Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya Eric Gitau said the community is part of Kenya and should be involved in its development. “The composition of our community has changed dramatically. Kenya’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex persons are now more than ever before concerned with their welfare and national development issues,” says Gitau. He reiterated the need for conducive environment, aimed at enhancing freedom of speech through the provision of a platform to engage in vital debates about LGBTI’s contribution to larger topical issues.He is calling on the public to respect and uphold everyone’s right to express themselves, refrain from being judgmental, strive to give room to different perspectives in order to avoid the danger of misrepresentation of any information and eventual sensational validation of how morally right or wrong gay people are.Gitau is hailing the new constitutional order, which, he says, has numerous provisions that if properly implemented will correct the many wrongs that have been committed in the past, subjecting the group to public ridicule, and further appeals to people to engage the group in dialogue aimed at fostering mutual understanding and respect. “Let us create avenues for people to talk through the adoption of a multiple approach which really works well, by availing a chance to interviews, documentaries, features and all forms of communication,” he says.
Gitau is calling upon the media to seize the momentous period in the country, now that great strides have been realised through activism efforts by the LGBTI community, and expand outlets to disseminate positive information aimed at enhancing harmony. This, he says, will further embrace and appreciate diversity, draft anti-discrimination policies, and desist from painting a negative light to sexual orientation and gender identity.The gay community has constantly been at warpath with the larger community, which is mostly deemed conservative, and less flexible towards accommodation of divergent sexual orientations, mainly due to the religious beliefs and cultural practices. However, Gitau is already visualising a bright future for the minority community through the formation of its official website, www.gaykenya.com, which he affirms will ensure that the public is well informed.
“Today, with the launch of this platform, freedom of speech, all truthful, factual and creative stories, views, interviews, and reviews will find light of day,” he says. He adds that there are lots of stories from sexual and gender minorities in Kenya that have not been aired, but which are crucial in enhancing knowledge and awareness to the public.Acknowledging the challenges of covering gender and sexual stories in a multifaceted environment, Gitau is calling upon the media to dedicate more resources and efforts towards providing a voice to the group, and report soberly in order to present a balanced and non-opinionated look at the community.
“Go beyond rhetoric and live with the reality that the LGBTI community is now a core and integral population of Kenya that needs to be included in positive light, invite action by letting people get involved and take ownership,” he says, adding that the in-depths of psycho-spiritual, sociocultural, para-legal, economic, sustainable developmental and all other issues that touch on the LGBTIs must be addressed, devoid of myths.The chairman of Gay Kenya Elphas Njeru says the group is keen on getting involved in the country’s efforts towards sustainable development, Vision 2030 and attainment of MDGs. He is upbeat about the progress realized in the country thus far, which he affirms will go a long way in creating an environment where all forms of discrimination will be a thing of the past, paving way for the enjoyment of freedom of expression. “We are particularly happy with the realization of the new constitution, and can confirm to you that my group is committed towards abiding by the rule of law,” he says.
Among provisions that the group will be relying on to champion for their rights include the right to have opinions without interference, the right to freedom of expression, privacy laws, National Cohesion and Reconciliation Act among others; all at domestic level, while international laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the African Charter on Human People’s Rights (1986) will be vital in preserving the group’s identity.
Kate Kamunde from Afra Kenya is lesbian and proud about it. She is appealing to the public to abide by the constitution and co-exist with the community, which she says forms a minority group, but with equal human rights that cut across. She regrets that members from her community continue to be discriminated and stigmatised while attempting to access basic services, which in the end contribute to them retreating to their closets and then resort to drug and substance abuse to cope with the situation.She says they are denied access to health services, especially during the processes involving voluntary counseling and testing services and pap smears, which normally bring up questions about their sex lives. "The attitude by the medical practitioners is enough to keep us away from accessing medical care. We instead prefer to visit pharmacies instead of hospitals." Kate says that due to societal obligations, lesbians engage in sexual relationships with bisexual women who also engage sexually with men, and as a result, they put themselves at risks of contracting sexually transmitted infections.
She says the fact that a large population from the group engages in drugs and substance abuse exposes them to risks such as breast, uterine as well as cervical cancers. "We are punished for not conforming to cultural, social and religious norms, however we have a number of women that have managed to ‘come out’ and walked out of their marriages, even where kids are involved. They are denied access to their children upbringing and constantly tortured by their in-laws over their decisions to pursue happiness," she says.
“We are human beings and should be given an opportunity to enjoy life like any other people,” Kate says, adding that lesbians suffer depressions for lack of people to share their feelings with, while others are unable to disclose their identities for fear of discrimination and being termed abnormal. “We need to turn against the forces of discrimination; gay rights are human rights.”Kate is calling upon the public to respect her group members. "At the end of the day, who I go to bed with is a non-issue. I am a human being, capable and brave, a career woman and a loyal Kenyan. What matters is that I am human. There are no gay rights; the lesbian woman is entitled to the basic human rights accorded to every other Kenyan citizen regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity."
Kate is challenging the public to accommodate its members and stop stereotyping them. “Your attitude is costing a woman her precious life. If you ask me how I realised I was gay, I would answer you by asking you when you realized you were heterosexual.”
cut aid to anti-gay countries
The UK government
will cut aid to poor countries which persecute gay people,international
development secretary Andrew Mitchell has warned.
Aid ‘fines’ may
be imposed on countries such as Uganda and Ghana for hardline anti-gay laws,
the Mail on Sunday reported.
sentenced a couple to 14 years’ hard labour for contravening anti-gay laws, has
already had its aid cut by £19 million.
A spokesman for
Mr Mitchell told the newspaper that the government now regularly reviews
aid-receiving countries on their commitments to human rights.He said: “The
government is committed to combating violence and discrimination against
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all circumstances, in this
country and abroad. We take action where we have concerns.
“We now allocate
funds every three months, rather than every year, so that we can review a
country’s performance, for example on human rights, and take swift action when
governments fall short. We only provide aid directly to governments when we are
satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty and respect human
David Cameron has defended Britain’s spending on foreign aid, saying that
increasing the budget from £7.5 billion last year to £11.4 billion in 2013 is a
sign of “moral strength”.
In Ghana, a
government minister recently called for the arrest of all gay people in the
country’s western region. This followed president John Evans Atta Mills’ pledge
to curb the “menace” of homosexuality.
deputy Stephen O’Brien told the president earlier this year that Ghana would
lose its £36 million a year from Britain unless he stops persecuting gay
people. Uganda, which
expects to receive £70 million this year from Britain, has been considering
legislation to strengthen current laws against gay people.
provisions call for the death penalty in “aggravated” cases of homosexuality,
although parliament appears to have shelved the bill.
Uganda’s Constitutional Court will resume hearing a petition against the law that bars homosexuals from employment and accessing equal opportunities in Uganda today 4 October.
LGBTI activist Adrian Jjuko who is also the Executive Director of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) petitioned the court to nullify section 15(6) d of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act 2007.
The precedent setting petition is being heard by five judges of the Constitutional Court led by deputy chief justice Alice Mpagi Bahigeine. The other judges are Steven Kavuma, Arach Amoko, Remmy Kasule and Constance Byamugisha. The last time the case came up was on July 18, 2011.
Ladislus Rwakafuzi, a Kampala gay friendly lawyer representing Mr Jjuko said on Tuesday in Kampala that the court would proceed on the set date.
The law establishing the Equal Opportunities Commission, a body with tribunal powers is disputed by gay rights activists in Uganda. Amongst other things, the Commission is tasked with ensuring that all Ugandans have access to equal opportunities, irrespective of tribe, religion, political opinion, race or any other such impediments.
However, the section states that the “commission shall not investigate any matter involving behaviour which is considered to be immoral and socially harmful; or unacceptable by the majority of the cultural and social communities in Uganda.”
Homosexuals are not mentioned by name as one of the groups in the act, however during the debate to pass the law, the Parliamentary Hansard of December 12, 2006, records Ms Syda Bbumba, the former Finance Minister saying homosexuals should be targeted using the disputed clause. She was supported by other legislators. Hansard is the name of the printed transcripts of parliamentary debates in the Westminster system of government.
“It is very important that we include that clause. This is because the homosexuals and the like have managed to forge their way through in other countries by identifying with minorities,” reads the Hansard entry for the debate, quoting Ms Bbumba.
Minorities are not defined in the Constitution of Uganda. However, vulnerable groups have been defined in the National Equal Opportunities Policy of 2006 as categories of people who lack security and susceptible to risk.
Mr Jjuko maintains that that such a law was not good for human rights in Uganda, and called on all activists to stand and defend the rights of minority groups in Uganda.
Rwakafuzi said his client wants the section of the law declared unconstitutional.
Uganda’s judiciary has shown some level of independence when handling matters brought by groups advocating for homosexuals in the past. One of the judges handling this petition also faulted government in another case in which local village officials and the police intruded the privacy of LGBTI activist, Victor Mukasa and searched his home allegedly to find evidence of homosexuality.
CHRISTIAN LEADERS MEET GAYS AND DISCUSS THE BIBLE IN KENYA 05 Oct,2011
The Christian group Other Sheep on September 26 held a one-day workshop in the Kenyan town of Naivasha bringing together 45 religious leaders drawn from diverse Christian denominations.Other Sheep Africa-Kenya (OSA-K) is part of a worldwide ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to empowering sexual minorities throughout the world with Christianity.
The workshop’s theme was, “Dialogue on Human Sexuality and Faith: Unlocking the Truth.”Among the participants were five United Methodist ministers from the Naivasha area. Behind The Mask learnt that the Methodist’s national leader was in the vicinity of the workshop venue but avoided the function.
During the meeting, Rev Michael Kimindu, the President of Other Sheep Africa facilitated discussions around human sexuality and the Bible.Rev Kimindu said, “The biggest problem is the way we as religious leaders misinterpret the Bible especially the traditions of the Biblical times which have no relevance in modern times. We should avoid literary interpretation of the Bible since this may cause spiritual violence and suffering of LGBTI in Kenya and the whole world. Let us instead follow the wonderful example of our Lord Jesus Christ who never condemned, rejected or hated.”
The meeting also discussed passages from the Bible, DVD clips and stories of gay Christians. The purpose of this part of the discussion was to provide an opportunity for the religious leaders to see and hear moving stories from the perspective of homosexuals and their families and to see how the church constantly misunderstood and persecuted them.
During the meeting participants were taken through the scientific aspect of sexual orientation. This session was facilitated by Akinyi Ocholla, the Chair of MWA, (Minority Women in Action) and a Trustee of OSA-K.The religious leaders really struggled to reconcile the scientific aspect of sexual orientation against their age old belief of homosexuality being an ‘abomination.’ Also during the meeting, educational materials that dealt with discussions around human sexuality and Bible passages related to this issue were distributed. It was suggested at the meeting, that the organizers initiate a resource centre available for clergy to research and study deeper on issues of human sexuality, faith and science.
Source; Behind the mask
Obama tells activists
he is committed to equality
President Barack Obama, speaking to a gathering of gay and lesbian activists,
said Saturday that he is committed to equality, citing the repeal of the
military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy as an example.
said his accomplishments on gay rights issues have been substantial since he
last headlined the annual National Dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, in
acknowledged "we have more work to do," including on the issue of
president currently supports same-sex civil unions, and has said his views on
gay marriage are "evolving." He recently announced his support of the
Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,
a 1996 law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
working actively to legalize same-sex marriage say they hope Obama eventually
changes his stance.
Obama spoke Saturday about equality, he did not speak on the marriage issue.
Obama: Booing American soldier
president chided participants in a Republican presidential debate last month
for not rebuking members of the audience who booed a gay soldier who asked
about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
don't believe in standing silent when that happens," Obama said of the
debate incident. "You want to be commander-in-chief, you can start by
standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States
even when it is not politically convenient."
the debate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said he hadn't heard the
booing when the question was asked. Santorum was being asked the question when
the incident occurred.
spoke of growing tolerance measured, he said, by ordinary Americans:
father realizes he doesn't just love his daughter but also her wife."
Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said after the speech that
Obama reaffirmed commitment to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
Americans. "It was a remarkable experience to see openly gay and lesbian
uniformed service members in the audience be able to salute their commander in
chief" about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
remarks were delivered to a key constituency that hasn't always been receptive
to the president's policies and style of leadership.
like to see the president bring his message of support for the freedom to marry
to a broader audience, perhaps in a conversational setting, so that all
Americans can hear him talk about why marriage matters to loving gay and
lesbian couples and their families," said Evan Wolfson, the founder and
president of Freedom to Marry. "It is important that the president lay out
the case for Americans opening their hearts to the values of fairness and
treating others as they would want to be treated."
along with other organizations advocating for legal same-sex marriages, said
the Obama administration had made significant progress on some issues, but that
support for marriage equality was still an important goal.
applaud the administration's progress, while we also encourage him to 'evolve
faster' on supporting full marriage equality," Stuart Gaffney, media
director for Marriage Equality USA, said Saturday. He said he wasn't aware of
any opposition within his organization to the HRC's selection of Obama as their
look forward to the day soon when our president stands with that pro-equality
majority," Gaffney added.
Log Cabin Republicans, an organization that represents gay and lesbian
conservatives, said Obama's appearance Saturday night was more about politics
than substantive policy change.
Obama's appearance at the Human Rights Campaign Dinner this evening is more
emblematic of their role as an ostensibly partisan organization than a
representation of the gay and lesbian community," said Christian Berle,
the group's deputy executive director.
said Obama's stance on gay marriage didn't match that of most Americans.
all Americans are becoming open to marriage equality, the president is taking a
retreat," Berle said. "Instead he is turning to the gay community for
money and applause.
the president wants to deserve all the money and adulation he has already
received from the gay community, he should announce his firm support for
everyone's freedom to marry," Berle said.
event was expected to draw 3,000 gay activists, and took place at a convention
center in downtown Washington. The speech was streamed live online.
CNN/ORC International poll taken Sept. 9-11 showed 53% of Americans believe
marriages between gay and lesbian couples should be considered valid. That
number has steadily been rising in CNN/ORC International polls since 2008.
European Parliament welcomes recent UN developments on sexual orientation and gender identity
September 28th, 2011
Today the European Parliament joined the United Nations’ call for safeguarding the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the world. The text was co-signed by 6 out of 7 political groups, and adopted with a very wide majority.
Welcoming the adoption in June of the first-ever resolution on ‘Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity’ at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the European Parliament confirmed its concern regarding “human rights violations and widespread discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, both in the European Union and [abroad]”.
With today's text, the European Parliament welcomed the work done by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and High Commisioner for the Human Rights Navanetem Pillay for the human rights of LGBT people worldwide. MEPs also addressed a range of recommendations to the European Commission and EU states in order to improve the EU’s own human rights record.
The resolution followed a short debate during which ,Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, presented the important work done by the EU and Member States to safeguard the human rights of LGBT people in the world. She also expressed her support for the proposal of an EU-wide comprehensive roadmap against homophobia and transphobia.
Reacting to the vote, Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for LGBT Rights, said: “Catherine Ashton and the European External Action Service showed their clear commitment to universal and indivisible human rights, including for LGBT people. Today the elected representatives of 500 million citizens stood by this commitment, joining countries from around the world such as South Africa and Brazil.”
Ulrike Linacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, continued: “The Parliament adopted a very strong and sensible resolution, repeating that the EU itself still hasn’t achieved genuine equality in the struggle against homophobia and transphobia. Our demand for global equality is not isolated: the Organization of American States adopted a similar resolution in June, and ever more countries from all continents keep raising their concern about violence and discrimination of LGBT people. This is a truly global call.”
The West African country whose over-reaching attempt in 2009 to impose severe penalties on human rights advocacy and free association for its LGBT citizens under the guise of “banning” same sex marriage was met with international alarm from human rights activists, is at it again. The Nigerian Senate debated a bill yesterday which would make entering into a same-sex marriage a criminal offense, with three years’ imprisonment for couples convicted of being married, and five years’ imprisonment for anyone who “witnesses, abets and aides” the solemnization of the marriage. Homosexuality is already a criminal offense in Nigeria, where it carries a penalty of fourteen years imprisonment in the south and capital punishment in areas in the north which are under Sharia Islamic Law. Nigeria’s The Daily Times reports that the bill passed it first reading on July 13, and that no Senators rose to oppose the bill during Tuesday’s debate.
It is unknown at this time what the exact provisions under the new law would be [see below for more]. The proposed 2009 law which ostensibly banned same-sex marriage went much further than simply addressing same sex marriage. The 2009 proposal, like its current incarnation, provided for a prison sentence of three years for anyone who has “entered into a same gender marriage contract,” and it also would have defined same-sex marriage as any gay couples found living together. Also like the new proposal, it also provided for five years’ imprisonment or a fine for anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids the solemnization” of a same-sex marriage. But the 2009 law also went much further, by making criminals of anyone working in organizations which advocate for gay rights. LGBT advocates point pointed out that the proposed bill law would punish those who “aids and abets” people to live together with a tougher sentence than the couple concerned.
It is unknown at this time what, if any, additional provisions are included in the current proposal.
Spokesperson for the Nigerian Senate expect the bill to pass by the end of next year. The United States State Department have joined international human rights groups in strongly condemning the bill, pointing out that it would the freedoms of expression, association and assembly guaranteed by international law as well as by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The law would also impose an impediment to the struggle against the spread of AIDS in the oil-producing west African nation.
A BTB reader found a copy of Nigeria’s latest proposal to not just ban same-sex marriage (it’s already illegal in Nigeria), but to impose criminal penalties on anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage — as well as for anyone who “witnesses, abets and aids the solemnization of a same gender marriage contract.” The penalty for entering into a same-sex marriage under the proposed measure would be three years’ imprisonment. The penalty for witnessing/aiding/abeting a marriage would bring five years imprisonment or a fine of ₦2,000 (2,000 naria, or US$13 in a country where the average annual income is US$1,200). If a group of persons witness/aid/abet a marriage, the fine is ₦50,000. It’s unclear whether two people at a wedding would be considered two individuals or a group. The bill also does not define what constitutes witnessing, abetting or aiding in the solemnization of a marriage.
Frank mugisha-Exec director of sexual minorities uganda(SMUG)
UGANDAN LGBTI RIGHTS ACTIVIST FRANK MUGISHA TO RECEIVE 2011 ROBERT F. KENNEDY HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD
19 sept 2011
Frank Mugisha, a prominent young advocate for the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda,
has been chosen to receive the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
Mr Mugisha is the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a leading organization of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) movement in the East African country.
In Uganda, LGBTI organizations operate in a dangerously hostile climate, and Mugisha is one of the few openly gay LGBTI activists. As a spokesperson for the movement, he amplifies the voice of one of the most vulnerable groups in the country.
“Frank Mugisha’s unbending advocacy for gay rights in Uganda in the face of deep-rooted homophobia is a testament to the indomitability of the human spirit,” said RFK Human Rights Award Judge Dean Makau Mutua, Professor of Law and Dean of the University at Buffalo Law School (SUNY).
Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Uganda, and the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill would make homosexual activities punishable by life in prison, and, in certain cases, by death. Currently, 80 per cent of Ugandans support the bill.
Mr Mugisha courageously pursues his work at great personal risk, and has received numerous death threats. In January 2011, Mugisha’s colleague David Kato, a former advocacy and litigation officer for SMUG, was murdered. It is believed that Kato was targeted for his role in the Ugandan LGBTI movement.
“Frank Mugisha has fought courageously in support of the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda, despite death threats and even exile,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights. “He has become a leading advocate for sexual minorities in a country where they are persecuted, jailed, and their lives destroyed. We are proud at the RFK Centre to begin our partnership with Mr Mugisha to advance his invaluable work within this movement.”
Mrs Robert F. Kennedy and Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will present Mr Mugisha with the 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington, D.C., in a ceremony on November 10th at the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building. Mr Mugisha joins 42 RFK Human Rights Award Laureates from 25 countries as the recipient of the 28th annual prize, initiating a multi-year partnership with the RFK Centre.
“For me, it is about standing out and speaking in an environment where you are not sure if you will survive the next day; it is this fear that makes me strong, to work hard and fight on to see a better life for LGBTI persons in Uganda,” said Mr Mugisha. “The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award gives me courage and hope that my work, which may not be accepted and recognized in my own country, is making a change with this international visibility.”
Mr Mugisha, 29, began advocating for LGBTI rights and HIV/Aids awareness as a university student in 2004. He spearheaded the support group Icebreakers Uganda, which provides resources and support to those who are openly gay or are coming out of the closet.
After being targeted for arrest, Mr Mugisha was smuggled out of the country to seek safety in exile, later returning to Uganda to resume his work. As a result of his vocal advocacy, Mr Mugisha has lost jobs and friends and become estranged from family. Still, Mr Mugisha is held in the highest esteem by the LGBTI community, and activists and supporters chose him to lead SMUG on the basis of his effectiveness, credibility, and integrity.
SMUG, a network of Ugandan organizations advocating on behalf of the LGBTI communities, was founded in 2004 as a coalition of LGBTI human rights organizations to unify and strengthen sexual minority groups and communities in Uganda. SMUG’s objectives are to advocate and lobby for equality for all, to bolster LGBTI visibility through media and literature, and to empower activists through leadership and social entrepreneurship trainings. The organization also fights against HIV/AIDS in LGBTI communities and speaks out against sexual orientation-based violence.
About the RFK Human Rights Award
The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to honour courageous and innovative individuals striving for social justice throughout the world. Each year, the RFK Centre awards an individual whose courageous activism is at the heart of the human rights movement and in the spirit of Robert Kennedy. The Human Rights Award Laureates have made significant contributions to their countries through years of dedicated work. Laureates are chosen through an exhaustive annual nomination and selection process with nominations submitted from all over the world. The RFK Centre offers not only a monetary contribution to their cause, but a six-year partnership in the fight for justice. Recent RFK Human Rights Award Laureates include Abel Barrera Hernández (Mexico, 2010), Magodonga Mahlangu and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Zimbabwe, 2009), and Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara, 2008).
About The Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights
The Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice & Human Rights (www.rfkcenter.org) was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy’s family and friends as a living memorial to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world. Through long-term partnerships and cutting-edge methods at the Centre for Human Rights, we engage in long-term partnerships with human rights activists who have won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award to initiate and support sustainable social justice movements. We support authors and investigative journalists who bring light to injustice through the RFK Book and Journalism Awards. Our Speak Truth to Power program educates the public and provides students with a toolkit for action to create change in the classroom, the community, nationally, and internationally. The RFK Compass Program works with institutional investors to advance a discussion of the connections among investment performance, fiduciary duty, and public interest issues to optimize risk-adjusted rates of returns and address current and future global challenges. Partnering with RFK Europe, we provide human rights education advocacy programs to schools and communities across the continent. With RFK Children’s Action Corps, we urge legislative reform of juvenile justice systems.
International Gay rights initiative launched in London
Wed 14 Sept,2011
Kaleidoscope is a major new initiative in the global campaign for diversity, launched in London in 13 September 2011.
"Many of us are fortunate to live in countries where there has been significant progress towards ending discrimination against people on grounds of their sexuality. Homophobia hasn’t disappeared but attitudes have changed for the better.
"Around the world there are signs of progress. But in many countries laws and cultural attitudes still make it impossible for gay men and women to live full and productive lives free from fear.
Monday night saw the launch of Kaleidoscope Diversity Trust, at the house of current Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP.
Kaleidoscope is a new global initiative created to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, focussing on preventing the persecution of homosexuals across the world, with particular focus on Africa and the Middle East.
The leaders of the UK’s three main political parties have pledged their support for the initiative and Mr Bercow is the honorary president. Prime Minister David Cameron said: “In some countries, it’s simply appalling how people can be treated – how their rights are trampled on and the prejudices, and even violence, they suffer. So I want Britain to be a global beacon for reform. That’s why I am delighted to send my best wishes to Kaleidoscope, and wish them well in their work.”
Deputy PM Nick Clegg added: “I have no doubt that Kaleidoscope’s innovative and unique approach will prove hugely important in the fight for LGB&T rights, both here and across the world.”
Figures given by Kaleidoscope suggest that more than a third of all countries still have laws against consensual homosexual acts and 38 of the 54 members of the Commonwealth criminalise homosexuality.Some of these countries, such as Belarus and Lithuania, have been targeted for their discriminatory treatment of the LGBT community by Amnesty International in past campaigns. The launch follows a series of violent persecutions of sexual minorities in Commonwealth countries such as Uganda, where homosexuality is condemned. Bisi Alimi, another founder of Kaleidoscope, was attacked by authorities in Nigeria after campaigning for gay rights. He said: “I was forced to leave my home country, Nigeria, because of my sexuality. My dream is that others like me will be free to stay and be happy surrounded by the love of their friends and families.”
Kaleidoscope’s founders have pointed out that LGBT rights needed an organisation that could tackle international problems from a united base. It aims to “apply pressure for change” on governments, international organisations and influential business leaders.
Kaleidoscope is directed by Lance Price, a prominent human rights activist and former political advisor. He said: “So many people have given up their time and energy to make Kaleidoscope possible. They know who they are it’s now our responsibility to translate their hopes and efforts into something that can really make a difference. I am especially grateful to those women and men born and brought up in countries where just to be gay is to be in danger. Their experiences and their views have helped shaped everything we plan to do at Kaleidoscope.”
VOICE FROM THE KENYAN SEX WORKER MOVEMENT – LIVING POSITIVELY IN ALL WAYS 7 Sept,2011
Behind the Mask Correspondent Melissa Wainaina spoke to Kenyan male sex worker John Mathenge (pictured) about his work raising awareness amongst fellow sex workers and those living positively with HIV or Aids.
John Mathenge; founder of HOYMAS
Please tell us about yourself and what you do?
I am John Mathenge Mukaburu, a sex worker and founder of Hoymas, a male sex worker support group. I am also the country coordinator of Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA). I am also a member of Gay Kenya and my work entails advocating for sex workers right to health care and social wellbeing as well as pushing for access to health care for People Living with HIV or Aids – PLWHAs. I am also living positively for close to 10 years now.
Tell us about Hoymas. How did you get into setting it up and why? Hoymas stand for “Health Options for Young Men on Aids and STIs”. It’s a group of male sex workers and PLWHA’s. It began in 2009 when we noticed the lack support towards male sex workers and especially those who were living positively. Most groups, even LGBT ones, often side-lined sex workers and this would be further complicated if they had HIV. Many of our members did not fit in the other existing groups and were therefore were left without social support. In my interactions with male sex workers, I felt the best way to help them was to form a group that was ready to accept and support them as well as address specific issues the group might have, health being the major one.So far, we have over 200 registered members who are living positively from Nairobi alone, though others are registered but live in other towns like Mombasa and Kisumu. Of these, more than 150 are living positively and many are sex workers. Hoymas advocates for safer sex among sex workers as well as access to ARV drugs for those living with HIV; we also provide social support through meetings and outreaches. Our core mandate is prevention and this we do via distribution of condoms, lubes and safer sex brochures to our members, their clients and other potentials. To this end, we visit hot spots and brothels frequented by male sex workers. In addition, we do referrals for people who need them as well as providing legal assistance through contracting lawyers and legal aid in case of any eventuality such as arrests and so on.
You are also the country coordinator for the Africa Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA). Give us some insight on your mission and your core mandate there?
The mission of ASWA is to empower sex workers to access their human rights, social justice and health care. This means we undertake programs that ensure this is achieved. In addition, we mobilize and capacitate sex workers to advocate for their health and human rights. We do this through training, community education and other skill-empowering avenues.
You have had a special focus on those who work and live in the streets and those living with HIV/Aids. Tell us a little about that. What is the situation on the ground? What are the gains and what are the challenges?
There is a lot of stigma associated with HIV and Aids. There is also stigma towards sex workers and more so persons who identify as gay or are MSMs. This has led people being afraid of coming out and accessing health care.
There is also a gap in HIV treatment reaching PLWHAs. However, some gains have been made considering sex workers and MSMs are now included in HIV interventions by the Kenyan government.Another gain is that sex work and MSM groups operate with relative openness and are registered which means they can reach out to these communities that other players in the healthcare sector (such as the government or health providers) may not reach.
One challenge is adherence to the medicine. Many MSMs who are PLWHA’s do not follow ARV regimes consistently due to one factor or another. Issues like constant arrests, alcoholism or drug dependence interfere with the regular intake necessary to benefit from ARV medication.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on UNFPA on a programme dealing with people aged under 18 years selling sex. The purpose is to implement a life skills program for these young persons through outreach and education workshops. Please tell us what you see is the future of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, SOGI, rights work in Kenya?
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are still grounds for discrimination in Kenya. Persons who identify as gay, lesbian or transgender often face harsh realities and challenges. There is still no respect or legal recognition of rights to persons who do not necessarily identify as ‘heterosexual.’
However, there is a live and active SOGI movement in Kenya, led by groups such as Gay Kenya that seek to push SOGI rights and recognition of such in public sphere and this respect there is remarkable progress made in the movement. Gays and lesbians advocacy is more open and public now which is a far cry from past years. Challenges will not miss but these can be overcome through dialogue, openness and change in people’s attitude to homosexuals.
The new Constitution in Kenya is very broad and I think the gay and lesbian community has much to celebrate in that there are opportunities that can be looked into to push for non discrimination and equality. As I said, this will take time and for people to change. This is where the real work is.
US State Dept. Opposes “Kill the Gays” Uganda Bill
6 Sept,2011 At very last,the land of the free seems to have woken up to the horrendous human rights abuses in sub-Saharan Africa.At last,perhaps its about time that the universality of human rights would not be of any less value wether its for a minority of a certain color,race,sex,sexuality,sexual identity or the like...
Central Voice correspondent Michael Petrelis, San Fransisco, receved a reply from US State Dept. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson on the proposed Sept. 7 vote in the Ugandan legislature regarding that country’s latest “Kill the Gays” measure.
Johnnie Carson, US State Dept., African Affairs
From Petrelis: On behalf of the Gays Without Borders activist group, I wish to acknowledge with much gratitude and pleasure that it took less than 24-hours to receive this substantive reply from Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson (pictured), whose portfolio for the U.S. State Department is African Affairs.
We initiated a drive to send letters, emails or faxes to Secretary Carson requesting comments opposing an effort in the Ugandan parliament on September 7 to push forward a draconian and deadly bill targeting LGBT persons, HIV positive people and their supporters. Many thanks to all who contacted him. He wasted little time sending back this powerful and frank statement, and we will maintain communications with him and his colleagues.
We at Gays Without Borders feel our activism that produced this US State Department affirmation for gay citizens of Uganda is one piece of a larger global network of non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups, grassroots activists and diplomats working to advance respect for the human rights of gay and HIV positive Ugandans.
Like many others, we remain very worried about the September 7 parliamentary hearing and will be monitoring the situation closely, and we stand ready to again activate on Ugandan matters.
Please share this US State Department statement far and wide:
September 4, 2011
Dear Mr. Petrelis:
Thank you for your email expressing your concern about an anti-homosexual bill that may be introduced shortly in the Ugandan parliament. We too are concerned about the passage of any legislation in Uganda (or anywhere else in Sub- Saharan Africa) that would criminalize or punish homosexual activities between consenting adults.
We believe that gay and lesbian citizens should enjoy the same rights and individual freedoms as other citizens. The Department of State has spoken out clearly and repeatedly against this type of discriminatory legislation in Uganda, and we will continue to do so.
In this regard, I have spoken to the most senior officials in the Ugandan government about this issue, and stand ready to add my voice as required in the future. Our ambassador and embassy in Kampala will continue to monitor any anti-gay and lesbian legislation and we will speak out forcefully to prevent its passage.
I will pass your letter to our ambassador in Kampala, who may provide you with more information on this specific bill. Thank you again for your interest and your concern about this issue.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Ghana: Government will not decriminalize Homosexuality
Saltpond (C/R) GNA – President John Evans Atta Mills has stated that the Government would not legalize the practice of homosexuality and lesbianism in the country.
The President said the Government would not encourage anything that goes against the culture of the country and cautioned homosexuals and lesbians to stop the practice.
President Mills made the statement in a speech read for him by Mr Alexander Asum-Ahensah, Minister for Culture and Chieftaincy Affairs at a durbar to mark the celebration of the Odambea Festival of the people of Nkusukum Traditional Area at Saltpond at the weekend.
The theme for the festival was, “Promoting Our Cultural Heritage to Eradicate Social Vices”.
President Mills said the theme was very appropriate considering the prevailing moral decline in the Ghanaian society today.
He said it was often said that when people lost their culture they had lost their identity.
“Our moral values are greatly threatened by our desperate pursuit of materialism as a measure of progress in society; as caution is thrown to the wind as we go to great length to do anything to achieve and satisfy these wanton desires”, he said.
He said drug abuse, armed robbery, child prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism as well as rape, defilement and other sex-related crimes were on the increase to day, attesting to the high rate of immorality prevalent in the society.
President Mills called on Nananom, as custodians of the nation’s rich cultural values to work closely with other opinion leaders in their traditional areas and partner the State institutions responsible for youth development to evolve strategies to address those social vices in the society.
He urged them to discard any form of obsolete and dehumanizing customary practices which were inimical to the fundamental human rights and self development of the people.
The President Mills urged the people to use the festival to forge unity and to ensure the peace and development of the area.
Mrs Ama Benyiwa Doe, Central Regional Minister appealed to the Regional House of Chiefs to expedite action on chieftaincy cases pending before the House to ensure peace and rapid development.
Mr Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, Member of Parliament for Mfantseman West and Deputy Minister for Local government and rural Development urged the people to bury their political differences and unite to develop the area.
He said plans were afoot to construct a modern mortuary for the Saltpond Municipal Hospital and the reconstruction of the Victoria Park, a durbar ground at Saltpond.
Mr Henry Kweku Hayfron, Mfantseman Municipal Chief Executive noted that one cultural heritage which was fading out gradually in the area was environmental cleanliness.
He said keeping one’s surroundings clean prevented contracting diseases which could drain scarce resources and appealed to the people to be serious with sanitation.
Mr Emmanuel Eshun, Secretary to Saltpond Federation of Youth Associations, urged the youth to desist from engaging in unproductive demonstrations but to channel their exuberances into productive activities which could benefit the nation and themselves.
He appealed to the traditional council to establish an Education Endowment Fund to support brilliant but needy children to further their education.
Nana Kwesi Brebo III, Acting President of the Traditional Council in a welcoming address, appealed to the Government to complete the abandoned Police headquarters and barracks at Saltpond and Mankessim to accommodate more police personnel to protect the people.
He appealed for the expansion of the Municipal Hospital and provision for nurses’ quarters.
President Mills presented assorted drinks and a cash of GH₵ 2,000.00 to the festival planning committee to meet their expenses.
Ugandan gay rights activists start campaign for respect 23 Aug.2011
Gay rights activists in Uganda have begun a campaign against homophobic abuse in the country after handing out a series of leaflets and posters with the aim of creating more respect and recognition for gays.
As reported by News 24, posters with the slogans “Uganda is for all of us” and “My body is not a battle field” were distributed throughout the country by gay rights campaigners on Friday.
Activists hope the posters will attempt to quell anti-
gay sentiment in Uganda that was exposed to the international community last October when local newspaper Rolling Stone published names, images and addresses of known gays, including prominent gay rights activist David Kato who was brutally murdered in January.
The head of Sexual Minorities Uganda Julian Pepe explained the reasons for the campaign. He told German press agency DPA: “We are aiming at that person who has never seen a gay or who hates gays so that they know that we are humans and that we are also parents, teachers, lawyers and doctors.
“We want them to know that besides what we do in the bedroom, we are also humans and need respect.”
The controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill, also known as the “Kill the Gays Bill”, which sought to impose the death penalty for a second conviction for engaging in gay sex, was dropped in May after worldwide condemnation. But the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) warned in July an amended bill could be introduced without a direct reference to the death penalty.
“A new version of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will appear to have removed the death penalty in order to avoid international outcry,” CCR said.
“In reality, it appears that provisions of the bill will link to other laws that will trigger the death penalty.
Lesotho is a landlocked country and enclave, surrounded by the Republic of South Africa, a constitutional monarchy with a population of 1.88 million people.
Lesotho’s Matrix Support Group, which specialises on LGBTI issues, is in the process of setting up a debate with the government of that country on the issue of homosexuality.
The president of the Matrix Support Group, Sherif Mothopeng, met last week with a senior government official to discuss the issues affecting LGBT people of Lesotho with the aim of sensitizing the government on the issues.
After the meeting, Mothopeng said the government official promised the Matrix that a debate would be organised with the aim to find out people`s opinion on the matter. The Justice Ministry has now organised a first seminar 30 August.
Matrix was established in 2008 March when a group of ten gay friends came together and formed what was known as the ‘discussion group’.
The group was registered as a Non-Profit Organisation by the Lesotho Law Office last November. Delegates attending the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN) annual general conference last year clashed over the association’s decision to help Matrix. LCN had been brought in as a technical partner when Matrix received some funds from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
UNDP has identified LGBT in Lesotho as at very high risk of HIV infection, in one study it found a self-reported HIV prevalence of 11.6% among a relatively young sample of MSM (men who have sex with men). Lesotho has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, 25% of the adult population is estimated to be HIV+.
In May this year the principal secretary in Lesotho’s Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Retslistsoe Maasenyetse, indicated that the government was studying the matter of homosexuality.
After his meeting with the government, Mothopeng said,:
“The government wants to get a clear picture about homosexuality and what we want them to do as human rights unit so we can get support in sensitizing the general community.”
Like many African countries Lesotho does not recognize homosexuals and has over the years appeared to cling to the myth that homosexuality is UnAfrican under cover of adherence to Basotho traditions and culture.
As a result, the voice of Lesotho’s gays and lesbians has been silenced for many years.
“We just need to have an open debate with the society that is with key speakers such as traditionalists, clergies all aspects and some professors from University,” said Mothopeng.
Source;Behind the mask
FREEDOM IN SUDAN: AN LBGT MOVEMENT AGAINST ALL ODDS
Source; Behind the mask
Ali* is the exiled co-founder and president of Freedom Sudan, a banned LGBT movement in that country. BTM Correspondent Melissa Wainaina interviewed him via email about the situation for sexual minorities there.
Please give us some background on the general situation in Sudan in terms of the LGBT movement.
The situation is really hard for all LGBT persons in Sudan. Sudan has criminalized homosexuality and is one of the countries in the world that recommends the death penalty for the LGBT’s. We have no rights or legal recognition so far, and the government is trying to shut down the LGBT Movement.
Our biggest problem in Sudan is homophobia. If a family found out one of their own is gay or lesbian, they would kill them out of shame even before reporting the matter to the police. Most of the LGBT are killed or tortured (and I am speaking from personal experience) so most resort or hiding their true self.
The following account is the graphic personal experience that Ali underwent at the hand of government agents. His story illustrates how tough the situation is for LGBT persons in Sudan. [Some details may disturbing for some readers]In April 2009 in Sudan, 11 friends and I were holding a private house party. Agents from the intelligence agency raided the party and took us away to an unknown location. Everyone was put in solitary confinement in cells.
The cells were very dirty and I was denied water and food for two days. In their interrogation they stripped me naked and began asking me about everything.
They wanted to know whether I am gay, who my friends, my family were and what were my political and LGBT association activities?Then they started to hit me. One of them put a pistol to my head and said he wished he could kill me right away. They dragged me by the legs and strung me up, and hit me with a metal rod all over my body. They grabbed my privates and hit me there too. They anally raped me with the metal object that they used to beat me, all the time laughing out loud and mocking me asking if I wanted more.
By this time I was screaming from pain and I was bleeding and hurt I couldn’t even control my bladder. They kept at this until I lost consciousness.I remained locked up for four weeks and spent another three and a half months in prison and while waiting for my trial in which I was expecting to be sentenced to death since I was caught “red handed.”
However some of my family members succeeded in smuggling me out of prison and then I escaped the country using a fake passport. My other friends did not have it easy either. Eight of them were flogged 100 lashes each while the fate of another three, including my boyfriend remains unknown.
Please give us outline of the LGBT organizing and the movement. Are you getting support or resources for the work your doing? What else can be done? At the moment we have a movement run primarily through volunteerism called Freedom Sudan. It is also the first and the only current LGBT movement. Our goal and is to seek recognition of homosexuality in Sudan. We also seek to gain social acceptance of homosexuality and acceptance of the rights of homosexual individuals in Sudan
We would also like to see the abrogation of the death penalty for homosexuals stated in Articles 148, 151, 316 and 318 of the constitution. We also hope to find synergies and networks with other LGBT organizations around the world so as to strengthen our movement.
Currently we are getting some support for our work from LGBTI movements and some individuals but we still do not have enough resources to sustain the movement and fight for rights in Sudan. We still have a long way to go.
What are the challenges facing the Sudanese LGBTI movement? Currently the movement faces two main challenges, the Islamist laws and the absence of democracy in ruling Sudan. As a result of this, most of the LGBT people in Sudan are in the closet and in a state of denial and would be too afraid to come out. This makes it hard to reach out and help them or let them know they are not alone.
What else do you think is pertinent to know about the LGBT movement struggle in Sudan?Despite all the complications we face, we still managed to put the LGBT problem in Sudan out to the world. With this we give a sense of hope and strength. One of our members had the immense courage to come out to the world and spoke to all the LGBT Sudanese through the net.
http://freedomsudan.webs.com/apps/videos/videos/show/14194712-my-first-youtube-video-for-all-sudanese-lgbt One of our members wrote some articles about LGBT situation in Sudan, which is a good platform to reach out to other LGBT Sudanese nationals. It helps paint a picture of what we face as Sudanese; we are requesting that you spread the word for us. Below is an excerpt:
LGBT in Sudan Under Islamist Laws, More Clouds on the Horizon The preparation of this article started on July 8, the eve of the secession of southern Sudan from the Republic of Sudan to become an independent country. Southerners were very excited, obviously, but both northerners and southerners were wondering about what the future might hold for them. Homosexuals on both sides have more than their fair share of concerns.
In December 2010 the Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir stated in a public speech which preceded the Southern Sudanese Referendum slated for January 2011 “If Southern Sudan chose the secession, the constitution will be then modified and there will be no place to talk about racial and cultural diversity and Islam and Sharia will be the main resources for legislation.”
This statement was said in the context of the “carrot and stick” policy attempted back then by the Northern government in order to persuade Southerners who were living in the North to vote for unity in the upcoming referendum. However its echo stirred the fears of liberals, human right activists and of course LGBT community who had already suffered a great deal even during the transitional period between 2005 and 2011 in the name of Sharia.
During this period, in concordance with the “Republic of Sudan Transitional Constitution for Year 2005”, Sharia remained the main resource of legislation on the national level and it has been actively implemented in the Northern states whereas the South was excluded.
Before the National Islamic Front came into power through the military coup d’état (National Salvation Revolution) which held up the logo of “Islamic State” and rejected the principle of “Secular State” in 1989, before that, there were no laws that criminalized same sex between adults. However, only two years after that in the 1991 Penal Code man to man sex was criminalized under the name of “Sodomy” with the “guilty” being lashed and maybe imprisoned for the first and second convictions and subjected to death penalty for the third and last conviction (the funny thing about this article is that anal sex between a man and a woman is included also as crime in the same article).
As for “Acts of Obscenity” (public or private display of affection or a sexual behaviour that does not reach the point of sexual intercourse) lashes, a year of imprisonment and a fine are all options. However, there is no clear mention in that law for same sex between women.”
Source: Freedom in Sudan http://freedomsudan.webs.com
*Ali had to flee his home country Sudan as he is a wanted man. He now lives in hiding abroad.
Gay rights group fight back in Ghana 8 Aug 2011
A coalition of gay rights activists, known as the Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (CAHG), has been formed to tackle ongoing anti-gay sentiment throughout the countryugust 2011
A coalition of gay rights activists, known as the Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana (CAHG), has
been formed to tackle ongoing anti-gay sentiment throughout the country.
The coalition was formed last Thursday and consists of several gay rights organisations and activists from within the nation.
The coalition comments: “Recently, the President, John Evans Atta Mills, denounced homosexuality and promised to take steps, although unspecified, to combat it. Thus, it is no surprise that in this context, the Western Region Minister, Paul Evans Aidoo, made an order for the ‘immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the (Western) region’.”
“CAHG vehemently denounces these types of sensationalist, unfounded, and bigoted attacks against LGBT Ghanaians, who are brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, daughters and sons of Ghanaian families just like any other Ghanaians.”
Pink Paper previously reported that Ghanaian politicians, religious figures and press organizations had been involved in the homophobic wave sweeping across the nation.
The group also comment: “Contrary to unsubstantiated and speculative remarks that homosexuals are ‘evil’, ‘filthy’, and ‘ungodly’, LGBT people are our family members, co-workers, worshippers, taxpayers, voters, media people, pastors and lovers who deserve the same rights and protection under the Ghanaian Constitution as anyone else.”
"Kill the Gays" Bill Is Back and Moving Faster Than Before
29 July 2011
The on-again, off-again plan to kill the gays in Uganda is back once more. And this time proponents are moving more quickly to ensure they don't run out of time to vote.
Uganda expert Warren Throckmorton reports that Otto Odonga, a member of parliament, expects the Anti-Homosexuality Bill could return by the end of August. Odonga is known for once having said he'd kill his son if he were gay.
The Eighth Parliament's session expired earlier this year without a vote on the bill, but the legislation is on a faster track in the Ninth Parliament. Odonga said the bill is “back from the perspective of the new parliament starting from where the last parliament ended.”
The bill's language had seemed to change many times before it failed to come up for a vote. But a provision that included the death penalty as punishment for an evolving list of "crimes" seems to still be on the table, Throckmorton reports.
International Gay and Lesbian Association finally wins UN accreditation
26 July 2011
The International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) has f inally won United Nations
The group, which is one of the oldest international organisations fighting for gay rights, has been trying to gain recognition at the UN for years.
Yesterday, countries voted 30-16 to grant the group consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
ILGA gained consultative status in 1993 but lost it a year later.
Co-secretary general Renato Sabbadini said: “This is a historic day for our organisation, which heals a 17-year-old wound and we want to thank all, really all UN Members who voted in our favour.”
Countries which voted in favour: India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary.
Countries which voted against: Iraq, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Ghana.
Freedom Sudan, the Sudanese LGBT Association, has produced its first video. They describe it as "something to start putting LGBT Sudanese issues out there".
Freedom Sudan is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organisation in Sudan. The organisation was formed in December 2006. Their status is illegal. Homosexual behavior is illegal in Sudan and homosexuals face the death penalty.
"That's why our organization was formed in secret and all our activities are carried out secretly, hoping that one day we will get accepted in our communities and even in our families, and hope that we can be FREE to be the way we are. Freedom Sudan is an organization run by volunteers only."
A High Court Judge in Kenya’s second city Mombasa, on Wednesday July 6 announced a landmark ruling allowing a woman who was “married” to another woman to inherit her late “husband’s” property worth millions of Kenya shillings.
In the precedent-setting judgment, Judge Jackton Ojwang, who is currently waiting to join the Kenyan Supreme Court, gave the right of inheritance to Ms Monica Katam, 38, the petitioner. The judgement was in respect to a succession case filed by Ms Katam, who was seeking a grant of letters of administration intestate for her husband’s estate.
The judge discharged an application by Jackson Chepkwony and Selina Jemaiyo Tirop, who had moved to court to object the issuance of letters of administration to Katam for the estate of Cherotich Kimong’ony Kibserea.In her suit, Katam said she was the ‘widow’ of Cherotich who died in Kwa Hola, Magongo area in Mombasa on June 7, 2008. She was survived by two sons aged 16 and 12.Chepkwony and Tirop claimed to be stepson and niece to the deceased. They were demanding a share of cash in several bank accounts, household goods and a 11-roomed Swahili house, all valued at Sh2 million.
Chepkwony had written to the court seeking caveats over the estate, claiming that the deceased had left a will dated December 5, 2007.He told the court that Katam was not a wife to the deceased but a servant who had worked for her for three years and left before she died of diabetes.But Katam informed the court that she had the original death certificate issued to her on July 8, 2008, and that the objectors were not her dependants and had no relationship with her but only wanted to benefit from the estate left by the deceased.
In his ruling, Justice Ojwang’ made reference to Eugene Cotran’s The law of Marriage and Divorce (1968), which states that “woman to woman marriage is a recognised family institution in the Nandi customary law” and thus approved Monica Jesang Katam and her children to take over the estate of her ‘husband’. Justice Ojwang’ noted that the law placed her and her children first in line to the inherit her husband’s estate.The judge said in his ruling, “Since the petitioner is not the ‘wife’ in the conventional sense, nor are her sons ‘children’ of the deceased in the ordinary manner, it is necessary to consider how the law treats them, in relation to dependency under the deceased’s estate,” He concluded that woman to woman marriage is a recognized family institution in Nandi customary law.
In traditional Kalenjin culture, a barren woman could ‘marry’ another woman who would proceed to accept their children by men who would have no commitment towards them or their children. The children would belong to the barren woman or ‘husband’ as she had paid bride price. The practice also spread to neighbouring Kisii but has now largely died out. The name Chepkwony, meaning ‘of a woman’, traditionally signified that someone was a child of a marriage between two women.
Woman-woman marriage was found among Nandi, Kipsigis, and, since about the mid-twentieth century, among Keiyo. It is however not customary among other Kalenjin sub tribes.A female husband is a woman that has taken some of the traditional male role on behalf of the family. The Kalenjin culture gives her the ability to let her family name to live on, in a culturally acknowledged way. She provides a home and inheritance for the children in the family.Her other female God given gift that women have naturally like cherishing care and love with female conscience and intuition serve as strength and her family can enjoy them.
24 June 2011 New York became the sixth and the largest state to approve same-sex marriage Friday night after a contentious debate in the state legislature
With a historic vote by its Legislature late Friday, New York became the sixth — and by far the most populous — state to legalize same-sex marriage since Massachusetts led the way, under court order, in 2004.
With the new law, which takes effect after 30 days, the number of Americans in same-sex marriage states more than doubles? New York's population of 19 million surpasses the combined total of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa, plus the District of Columbia.
The outcome — a product of intensive lobbying by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo— will have nationwide repercussions. Activists hope the New York vote will help convince judges and politicians across the country, including a hesitant President Obama, that support of same-sex marriage is now a mainstream viewpoint and a winning political stance.
Wolfson, president of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, said the goal is attainable by 2020, or sooner, "if we do the work and keep making the case."
The work — as envisioned by leading activists — is a three-pronged strategy unfolding at the state level, in dealings with Congress and the Obama administration, and in the courts where several challenges to the federal ban on gay marriage are pending.
"This will be a big boost to our efforts nationally," said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay rights. "It will help in the pending court cases to show that more states are adopting same-sex marriage, and it will help in the court of public opinion."
The New York bill cleared the Republican-controlled Senate by a 33-29 margin, thanks to crucial support from four GOP senators who joined all but one Democrat in voting yes. The Democratic-led Assembly, which previously approved the bill, passed the Senate's stronger religious exemptions in the measure, and Cuomo swiftly signed it into law.
Gay rights activists have been heaping praise on Cuomo for leading the push for the bill, seizing on an issue that many politicians of both parties have skirted. Yet the Senate vote marked the first time a Republican-controlled legislative chamber in any state has supported same-sex marriage, and several prominent Republican donors contributed to the lobbying campaign on behalf of the bill.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed a same-sex marriage bill into law late Friday in his office at the State Capitol.
For those engaged in the marriage debate nationally, recent months have been a political rollercoaster.
Bills to legalize same-sex marriage failed in Maryland and Rhode Island despite gay rights activists' high hopes. However, Illinois, Hawaii and Delaware approved civil unions, joining five other states — California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington — that provide gay couples with extensive marriage-like rights.
Adding those eight states to the six that allow gay marriage, more than 35% of Americans now live in states where gay couples can effectively attain the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Just 11 years ago, no states offered such rights.
For now, gay couples cannot get married in 44 states, and 30 of them have taken the extra step of passing constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Minnesota's Republican-controlled Legislature has placed such an amendment on the 2012 ballot.
Brian Brown, president of the conservative National Organization for Marriage, vowed to seek defeat of the New York Republicans who helped the marriage bill pass. He also predicted victory for the amendment to ban gay marriage next year in Minnesota, and said this would belie the claims that the same-sex marriage campaign would inevitably prevail nationwide.
U.N. rights forum proclaims equal gay rights, Muslims states object 18 june2011 The top U.N. human rights body declared Friday there should be no discrimination or violence against people based on their sexual orientation, vote Western countries called historic but Islamic states firmly rejected.
The controversial resolution marked the first time that the Human Rights Council recognized the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, diplomats said.
The text, presented by South Africa, was adopted by 23 countries in favour, 19 against with 3 abstentions and one delegation absent during voting. Libya's membership in the 47-member Geneva forum was suspended in March.
"All over the world, people face human rights abuses and violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killing," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement issued in Washington."Today's landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal," she said, calling it a "historic moment."Britain, France joined the United States in voting in favour, while Russia voted against and China abstained, results showed.South African Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila said the aim was for a dialogue on discrimination and violence meted out to those "whose only crime seems to be their choice in life."
But delegations from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Bangladesh took the floor to reject the text in a heated debate held on the last day of the council's three-week session.Mauritania's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Cheikh Ahmed Ould Zahaf, said that the issue did not fall within the scope of any international human rights treaty.
"This issue has nothing to do with human rights," he said, speaking before the vote. "What we find here is an attempt to change the natural right of a human being with an unnatural right. That is why calls on all members to vote against it."
Homosexuality is generally taboo in Islamic states as it is seen as a violation of religious and cultural values. Homosexual men in the Gulf are regularly arrested and sentenced to prison terms.
Mexican Ambassador Juan Jose Gomez Camacho said the issue had nothing to do with imposing Western or other values, but with non-discrimination. People are already protected under international treaties against discrimination on grounds of race, religion, and gender, he said.
"Non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is exactly the same," Camacho said, winning applause.
The resolution calls on the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to draw up the first U.N. report on challenges faced by gay people worldwide.
Her report, due by December, should document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
A website for gay Kenyans has been launched in the capital, Nairobi, to help the small openly homosexual community cope with discrimination. The Freedom in Speech site would help gay people end their isolation by discussing their lives and the abuse they face, the founders told the BBC.
Kate Kamunde (r) said she would write a story about coming out for the site It would also create a forum to challenge homophobic politicians and religious leaders, they said. Homosexual acts are illegal in deeply conservative Kenya. David Wambua, a writer for the site, said it would contain "heart-wrenching stories" of the lives of gay Kenyans. “I guess it will be personal stories of growing up - of conflicts with one's sexuality - of living in a family which is not accepting of who you are," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme. He said the rights of gay people should be respected in Kenya.
"If the human rights of gays are affected, we speak out," Mr Wambua said.
Kate Kamunde said she intended to use the site to encourage other gay people to disclose their sexual orientation. “We have very many people who are still struggling to come out, so I'll first do a 'coming out' story," she said.
Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga stirred controversy last year when he said homosexuality would not be tolerated in the country. Gay and lesbian people risk a jail-term of up to 10 years if they are convicted of homosexual acts. Homosexuality is a criminal offence in many African states. In Uganda, the government considered passing a law that would have imposed the death sentence on gay people, sparking an international outcry. In Malawi, a gay couple were jailed last year. President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned them after strong protests from donor countries, including the US and UK. He had previously denounced homosexuality as alien to African culture. Most religious groups in Africa are also strongly opposed to homosexuality, equating it to Satanism.
9 million Americans estimated to be gay or bisexual, but solid figures elusive
Thursday, 7April 2011
In an attempt to encourage more research into the health and well-being of gay people, a California demographer has estimated that more than 9 million Americans are gay or bisexual, a number equivalent to the population of New Jersey.
Gary Gates, who studies the demographics of the gay community for the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, said in a report released Thursday that about 3.5 percent of Americans identify themselves in surveys as being gay or bisexual.
But those who said they have had same-sex encounters are almost evenly divided between gay people and bisexuals, leaving just 1.7 percent who say they are gay. The percentage more than doubles, however, if it includes people who say they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior at some point.
Gates arrived at the estimates by averaging the results of five surveys conducted in the United States between 2004 and 2009. In the survey results, the range of people who say they are gay or bisexual varied widely, from a low of 1.7 percent to a high of 5.6 percent. In contrast, studies conducted in other countries have made much smaller estimates — as low as 1.2 percent in a 2010 survey in Norway.
In a telephone interview, Gates said that only recently have researchers doing surveys on health and social characteristics started asking respondents for their sexual orientation. Gates has argued that people should be asked their sexual orientation on many surveys that have nothing to do with sexual behavior, such as those involving crime, for example. He says only then will it be possible to more accurately gauge the size of the gay community.
“The number matters,” he said. “An unfortunate part of our political system is that you don’t really count unless you’re counted. LGBT Americans still are not routinely counted. That allows legislators and policymakers to say they really don’t matter much, because if they did, we’d have this data.”
Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel) noted that the number was considerably smaller than estimates made by advocates of same-sex marriage.
“Delegates in Maryland heard from their constituents,” he said. “That’s why same-sex marriage failed this year. Until there’s a wide acceptance of it across the state of Maryland, I don’t think those bills are going to be successful.”
Officials with Equality Maryland, which has lobbied hard for same-sex marriage to be legalized in the state, cited previous studies estimating that Maryland’s gay community has 178,000 people, including 15,000 couples.
“Because folks are self-identified, the number is probably always a little lower than expected,” said Linsey Pecikonis, a spokeswoman for the group. “But I think having 9 million Americans be members of the LGBT community, that’s a fairly significant community.”
Estimates of the size of the gay community remain elusive four decades after the gay-activist movement was born in the wake of the Stonewall riots in New York City during the summer of 1969.
Gates said many people have heard of estimates as high as 10 percent of the population, a figure that stems from a 1948 study of male prisoners done by Alfred Kinsey. He wrote, in carefully parsed prose, that one in 10 men was “more or less, exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55.”
“The number stuck,” Gates said. “Here we are, decades later, and it’s still the most predominant number cited.”
First Irish public civil partnerships take place Tues, 5April 2011
In an attempt to encourage more research into the health and well-being of gay people, a California demographer has estimated that more than 9 million Americans are gay or bisexual, a number equivalent to the population Ireland’s first public civil partnership ceremonies were due to take place this afternoon.The law came into force on January 1st, although the vast majority of couples were required to give three months’ notice of their intent to tie the knot.Six couples who obtained a special court exemption have had civil partnerships since February 7th. The couples, who all requested privacy, will have been granted exemptions on compassionate grounds, for example, when one partner is terminally ill.Today, Dublin couple Hugh Walsh and Barry Dignam will be the first to have a civil partnership without a court exemption. Another couple is expected to follow them. Kieran Rose, of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network said: “The first public civil partnership ceremonies in Ireland mark another great milestone for Ireland and for lesbian and gay people.“It is a great day for the two couples, their families and friends, and we wish them much luck and happiness.”He added: “Lesbian and gay couples have been waiting for years to have their relationships recognised and protected by the State. For the two couples today and all those who will enter civil partnerships over the coming months, this is a very significant advance.” Another gay group, LGBT Noise, welcomed the first civil partnership but said that it was not equal to marriage.LGBT Noise organiser Max Krzyzanowski said: “I’m very happy for Mr Dignam and Mr Walsh. But this is not equality. Civil partnership legislation perpetuates the idea that gay relationships are not as valid as straight ones.
“As equal citizens and residents of Ireland, the LGBT community demand full access to all the rights and protections of marriage; civil partnership is simply not good enough.”
5000 year old gay cave man Found
Five thousand years after he died, the first known gay caveman has emerged into the daylight.According to archaeologists, the way he was buried suggests that he was of a news Skeleton was pointing eastwards and surrounded by domestic jugs - rituals only previously seen in female graves.Five thousand years after he died, the first known gay caveman has emerged into the daylight.
According to archaeologists, the way he was buried suggests that he was of a different sexual persuasion.The skeleton of the late Stone Age man, unearthed during excavations in the Czech Republic, is said to date back to between 2900 and 2500 BC.
The skeleton was found in a Prague suburb with its head pointing eastwards and surrounded by domestic jugs - rituals only previously seen in female graves. Men would normally be buried with weapons, hammers and flint knives.
During that period, men were traditionally buried lying on their right side with the head pointing towards the west; women on their left side with the head facing east.
In this case, the man was on his left side with his head facing west. Another clue is that men tended to be interred with weapons, hammers and flint knives as well as several portions of food and drink to accompany them to the other side.
Women would be buried with necklaces made from teeth, pets, and copper earrings, as well as domestic jugs and an egg-shaped pot placed near the feet.
The ‘gay caveman’ was buried with household jugs, and no weapons. Archaeologists do not think it was a mistake or coincidence given the importance attached to funerals during the period, known as the Corded Ware era because of the pottery it produced.
From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake,’ said lead researcher Kamila Remisova Vesinova.‘Far more likely is that he was a man with a different sexual orientation, homosexual or transvestite. What we see here does not add up to traditional Corded Ware cultural norms.’
An oval, egg-shaped container usually associated with female burials was also found at the feet of the skeleton.
Prominent Ugandan gay rights activist Murdered. Tuesday,27 jan2011
Brave, outspoken and undeterred. David Kato who was at the fore front of the battle against homophobia in Uganda was savagely bludgeoned to death at his residence in the out skirts of Kampala.
Tues18 jannuary,2011 According to news emerging from Piranshahr in the province of kurdistan, Ayub and Mosleh, 20 and 21 years old, are in danger of execution by stoning following the discovery of a video showing them having sex.This film fell into the hands of the regime’s agents in who immediately ordered the young men’s execution by stoning to instill fear in the people of Iran. The news indicates that they will be stoned
this Friday, Jan 21st 2011.
The International Committee Against Stoning calls for immediate action to protest the Islamic Regime’s medieval and brutal sentence against these two young men.
African UNAIDS director calls for end to criminalisation of gay sex Tues,7 Dec2010 source: IRIN
Sheila Tlou, former Minister of Health in Botswana, took over as UNAIDS director for East and southern Africa in November, just a month before the deadline for achieving universal access to treatment, prevention, care and support expires.
With only two countries in the region having met the target for treatment, Tlou talked to IRIN/PlusNews about the value of setting goals and what countries should aim for next.
QUESTION: How do you think the targets have contributed to the AIDS response, in light of the fact that many countries have not met them?
ANSWER: Universal access to me means access not just to treatment but prevention, care and support. And from the report, we’ve seen that a lot of countries have moved towards universal access. In the ones that have reached it – Botswana and Rwanda – it’s really contributed in that we’ve seen deaths from HIV go down... you’ve seen quite a lot of reductions even in countries that may not reach it and once people are on treatment their infectivity goes down so it contributes even to the prevention side.Read more >>
David Cameron message to British LGBT teens;you are not alone.
The secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has called for homosexuality to be decriminalised globally On international human rights day(11/12/2010),UN secretary-general Ban ki-moon recalled that we commemorate not the "partial" or "some times" declaration of human rights but the international declaration of human right.Mr Ban spoke at an event calling for an end to violence and discrimination against lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender LGBT persons.
Ban Ki-moon said cultural attitudes must not trump human rights.
10 December 2010
rejudice, Speak Out against Violence, Secretary-General Says at Event
On Ending Sanctions Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the event on “Ending Violence and Criminal Sanctions Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” in New York today, 10 December:
Thank you all for coming to this important event. Today is Human Rights Day — a day we dedicate to defending freedoms and protections for all people.We know how controversial the issues surrounding sexual orientation can be. In the search for solutions, we recognize that there can be very different perspectives. And yet, on one point we all agree — the sanctity of human rights.As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When individuals are attacked, abused or imprisoned because of their sexual orientation, we must speak out. We cannot stand by. We cannot be silent.This is all the more true in cases of violence. These are not merely assaults on individuals. They are attacks on all of us. They devastate families. They pit one group against another, dividing larger society.And when the perpetrators of violence escape without penalty, they make a mockery of the universal values we hold dear. We have a collective responsibility to stand against discrimination, to defend our fellow human beings and our fundamental principles.
Liberal democracy has spread in many parts of the world in recent decades. In general, more and more of us have learned to cherish our diversity. Today, many nations have modern constitutions that guarantee essential rights and liberties.And yet, homosexuality is considered a crime in more than 70 countries. This is not right.Yes, we recognize that social attitudes run deep. Yes, social change often comes only with time. Yet, let there be no confusion: where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day. Personal disapproval, even society’s disapproval, is no excuse to arrest, detain, imprison, harass or torture anyone - ever.From my first days in office as Secretary-General, I have spoken out against stigma and discrimination. I have worked, with some success, to persuade Governments to lift travel restrictions on people with HIV. During my recent trips to Africa, I urged leaders to do away with laws criminalizing homosexuality.I was particularly happy and pleased that, when I was visiting Malawi, I was able to secure the release of a young gay couple sentenced to 14 years in prison. President [Bingu wa] Mutharika kept his promise and he released them during my stay, on the very day when I urged him to do so.
Yesterday evening, I spoke to a Human Rights Day event at the Ford Foundation. It was called “Speak Up”, a conversation with human rights defenders. Some of you are wearing badges.One of my fellow speakers was a young activist from Uganda. Frank Mugisha has been working with a variety of civil society groups to stop legislation that institutionalizes discrimination against gay and lesbian people. With extraordinary eloquence, he appealed to us, the United Nations, for help. He asked us to rally support for the decriminalization of homosexuality everywhere in the world.And that is what we will do. We have been called upon and we will answer.
In all these kinds of cases, I put myself on the line. I take pains to find the right balance between public and private diplomacy to reach difficult solutions. I will continue to do so. I will continue to speak out, at every opportunity, wherever I go. And I will do so because this is the right thing to do. Because this cause is just.That is why this day, this very special day, means so much to me. Human Rights Day commemorates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not called the partial declaration of human rights. It is not the sometimes declaration of human rights. It is the Universal Declaration, guaranteeing all human beings their basic human rights, without exception.Violence will end only when we confront prejudice. Stigma and discrimination will end only when we agree to speak out. That requires all of us to do our part; to speak out at home, at work, in our schools and communities; to stand in solidarity.Your discussions today are part of that larger campaign, yours and mine. Together, we seek the repeal of laws that criminalize homosexuality, that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, that encourage violence.People were not put on this planet to live in fear of their fellow human beings. The watchwords of civilization have always been tolerance, understanding and mutual respect.That is why we are here today. And that is why we ask the nations and the peoples of the world to join us. To join us in common cause in the name of justice and a better life for all.
~* Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, also Spoke during an LGBT Core Group Event Marking Human Rights Day, ECOSOC Chamber Click for full speech