Posts Tagged 'Human Rights Watch'

LGBTI Rights Around the World: A Work in Progress

kyleknight-photoRepost: IRIN Humanitarian News

BANGKOK (IRIN) — In recent years, the world has seen enormous human rights gains with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. However, there have also been substantial setbacks — ranging from discriminatory legislation, to impunity for brutal violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Charles Radcliffe, chief of the Global Issues Section at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), noted: “Supporting LGBT rights work around the world is about recognizing that hostilities toward LGBT people are deeply ingrained in societies and that changing those mindsets and protecting these people is the duty of governments.”

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 countries and parts of two others; a handful of countries legally recognize gender based on self-identification alone, with Argentinaand Nepal leading the way and Denmark recently joining their ranks. A 2014 Indian Supreme Court judgment in favour of transgender rights showed what one legal scholar, gesturing to Nepali and Pakistani court cases, called “the possibility of developing a unique South Asian jurisprudence on transgender rights.” Continue Reading

Gambia: President Should Reject Homophobic Law

President Yahya Jammeh of GambiaRepost from Human Rights Watch

(Dakar) – President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia should not sign a new Criminal Code amendment that would increase the punishment for “aggravated homosexuality” to life in prison, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The measure would further add to the climate of fear for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Gambia.

Several provisions of the law violate international human rights law and amount to persecution on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Sections of the law are similar to the harsh homophobic legislation that was annulled in August 2014 in Uganda.

“President Jammeh should not approve this profoundly damaging act that violates international human rights law,” said Stephen Cockburn, deputy regional Director for West and Central Africa director at Amnesty International. “Gambia’s National Assembly and the President should not endorse state-sponsored homophobia.” Continue Reading

International Law and the Uncertainty of Rights for LGBT People

Human Rights WatchRepost from Human Rights Watch
Written by Graeme Reid

For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)people the law is a paradox. The law can operate as an instrument of repression and control, but also as a tool for resistance and liberation. We find fragments of our collective histories in court records. Here we find a sorry history of people in countries across the world convicted of loitering, sodomy, cross-dressing or so-called “crimes against nature.”

For a vulnerable minority, and an unpopular one, domestic and international law has proven to be an indispensable tool, sometimes the only tool, for LGBT people to claim a space in the world. Two decades ago in a 1994 case, the UN Human Rights Committee in Toonen v. Australia asserted the right to privacy for same-sex consenting adults under international law. In 1998, South African courts repealed the Immorality Act and five years later, in 2003, Lawrence v. Texas saw the remaining sodomy laws in the US declared unconstitutional.

Yet some 76 countries around the world maintain discriminatory LGBT laws. Britain exported its sodomy laws to the empire, where many remain in force. These laws not only hold the threat of arrest and prosecution, but have other profound implications for LGBT people as well. Even in the many countries where sodomy laws are seldom enforced, such as India and Uganda, they still symbolize national discrimination against LGBT people.

Human Rights Watch has reported these laws are routinely used for blackmail and extortion, in settings as diverse as KyrgyzstanJamaica and Uganda. Such laws contribute to a climate of prejudice and hostility in which violence occurs with impunity. The passage of the anti-propaganda laws in Russia led to a peak in violence against LGBT people. In Nigeria, the immediate effect following the enactment of draconian legislation was mob violence against gay men. The law in these places means that LGBT people must live a shadow existence under the threat of violence. Continue Reading

Cameroon: Rights Abuses in ‘Homosexuality’ Prosecutions


Human Rights Watch has released a 55 page report titled “Guilty by Association: Human Rights Violations in the Enforcement of Cameroon’s Anti-Homosexuality Law,” which documents 10 case studies of arrests and prosecutions under article 347 bis of Cameroon’s penal code, which punishes “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” with up to five years in prison. The report finds that most cases are prosecuted with little or no evidence.

Visit Human Rights Watch to download the report as well as to read a summary of the report.

Ambassador Robert P. Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon released this statement to the Cameroonian press as a response to the report.

We commend Cameroon for its ongoing efforts to enhance socio-economic development and modernize its economy, as outlined in the Vision 2035 strategy.  We consider these goals to be fully achievable and well within Cameroon’s reach.  Just as achieving these goals will be a national accomplishment, undertaking them must be a national effort, involving the full participation of every Cameroonian.  It follows that in order for every citizen to make a meaningful contribution, he or she should enjoy the full measure of his or her fundamental freedoms, as guaranteed in the universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As we approach the International Day Against Homophobia (“IDAHO”), we would like to underscore that human rights pertain to all persons, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or other differences, including sexual preferences.  Under no circumstances in this day and age should hate crimes, violence, or discrimination be socially acceptable or legally permissible.  Imprisoning people on the basis of unproven accusations or text messages violates the freedoms guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  A pluralistic society can only thrive when each member acknowledges and respects the diversity within it. Incidents of torture and physical abuse, as documented by Human Rights Watch, are a sobering reminder of the work that remains to be done if we are to achieve, in practice, what we so often propose, in theory:  “On Est Ensemble.”

‘Traditional Values’ code for human rights abuse?

Repost from CNN.com by Graeme Reid, Human Rights Watch

The U.N. Human Rights Council recently passed a resolution on “traditional values of humankind” as a vehicle for “promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It sounds innocuous, but its implications are ominous. Indeed, it is an immediate threat to the rights of many vulnerable groups – including women and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people. And it flies in the face of the founding principles of universality and indivisibility enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This is the third Russian-sponsored traditional values resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council. The second, in 2011, called for a study, and the resulting draft study is highly critical of “traditional values” as a framework, criticizing the concept as “vague, subjective and unclear.” The third, though, adopted on September 27, affirms traditional values as a valid framework for human rights.

Underpinning this is an argument that homosexuality is a moral issue and not a rights issue at all. A pernicious development is the recent proliferation of laws in Eastern Europe and Central Asia that seek to curtain freedom of speech by clamping down on “homosexual propaganda” under the pretext of “protecting children.” These laws are vaguely defined and have the effect of outlawing any supportive messages or activism around LGBT issues. Continue Reading

Serbia: Revoke Ban on Belgrade Pride Parade

Repost from Human Rights Watch

(Berlin) – Serbia’s ban on the Belgrade Pride Parade, scheduled for October 6, 2012, violates the country’s international legal obligations and should be immediately repealed. On October 3, the Interior Ministry announced that based on an assessment of security risks, it was blocking the peaceful demonstration and all other public gatherings on the same date.

“The government of Serbia should protect the freedom of assembly and expression of the Serbian lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and their straight allies instead of forbidding them to assemble and march on the streets of Belgrade,” said Boris Dittrich, LGBT rights advocacy director. “Pointing to security risks without any visible effort to come up with a reasonable plan to make the Belgrade Pride Parade happen is succumbing to threats of violence. Basic human rights are being thrown overboard.” Continue Reading

Uganda: Growing Intimidation, Threats to Civil Society

HRW report Curtailing Criticism: Intimidation and Obstruction of Civil Society in Uganda(Nairobi, August 21, 2012) – Research and advocacy organizations in Uganda that deal with controversial topics are facing increasing harassment by Uganda’s government, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Groups have recently faced forced closure of meetings, threats, harassment, arrest, and punitive bureaucratic interference. The Ugandan government should end its hostile rhetoric and repeated obstructions of nongovernmental organizations, Human Rights Watch said.

The 50-page report, “Curtailing Criticism: Intimidation and Obstruction of Civil Society in Uganda,” documents increasing government attacks on organizations whose focus includes oil revenue transparency, land acquisition compensation, legal and governance reform, and protection of human rights, particularly the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Both government ministers and district-level officials have engaged in obstruction, Human Rights Watch said. Continue reading ‘Uganda: Growing Intimidation, Threats to Civil Society’


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