Archive for May, 2011



Human Rights First Condemns Decision to Ban Moscow Gay Pride

Moscow Skyline, Moscow PridePress Statement from Council Member Human Rights First

CONTACT: Jessica Rosenblum, Human Rights First,
C: 202-279-0005, W: 202-265-3000 | Jessica@rabinowitz-dorf.com

New York, NY—Human Rights First condemns the decision by the Moscow authorities—issued on the International Day Against Homophobia—to deny permission for a Moscow gay pride event. This is the sixth consecutive year that the Moscow City Hall has banned such an event. City officials cited numerous letters from public officials, religious organizations and private citizens urging the authorities to prohibit a demonstration. Similar bans were pronounced illegal by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in October 2010.

“We deeply regret the missed opportunity of the new Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to break with the discriminatory policies of his predecessor in this regard,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “Gay rights are human rights in Russia, just as they are in the rest of the world.  We call on the Moscow City Hall to reconsider the latest ban on Moscow Pride in line with the recent European Court of Human Rights verdict that upheld the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Russians to organize public events in accordance to the Russian Constitution.” Continue reading ‘Human Rights First Condemns Decision to Ban Moscow Gay Pride’

The Council marks “International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia”

IDAHO - GLOBE event, Council for Global Equality

L to R, Joel Gustave Nana, African Men for Sexual Health and Rights; Jaevion Nelson, Jamaican human rights advocate; Val Kalende, Ugandan LGBT rights advocate; Mark Bromley, Council for Global Equality; Philip W. Moeller, Lutherans Concerned/North America; and David Wilson, World Bank. photo courtesy of the World Bank

May 17, 2011, Washington, DC – The Council was pleased today to mark the “International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia,” also known as “IDAHO,” by co-sponsoring a panel discussion at the World Bank to highlight “The Effect of Homophobia on Development.” The panel was co-sponsored by the Council, UN AIDS, World Bank Globe, and the Inter-American Development Bank Globe.

IDAHO is celebrated worldwide on May 17 as the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. One of the themes this year is “As I Am,” which is a response to the daily homophobia and transphobia that seek to deny the individual worth of LGBT people. That theme has a vital development message, and the panel today highlighted the importance of recognizing the individuality of the various communities we seek to support through our development investments. It also comes at a time when leaders in the U.S. Congress are calling on the Secretary of the Treasury to oppose any financial assistance from multilateral development institutions to countries that “persecute people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or religious beliefs.” (Read more about the Congressional effort here.)

Continue reading ‘The Council marks “International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia”’

Pamela Bridgewater, US Ambassador to Jamaica Op Ed on Homophobia

US Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela BridgewaterReposted from The Gleaner

Promote equality

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Having served at home and around the world in the foreign service of the United States for more than 30 years, I have found that, often, those of us who can and should use our influence to promote tolerance fail to do so. In our silence, we inadvertently reinforce prejudices.

Homophobia exists to varying degrees in all societies. Every day, in countries all over the world, people are persecuted, vilified, beaten and even killed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Homophobia, either open or hidden, causes enormous suffering for those who perpetrate it, those who are the victims of it, and those who simply tolerate it.

While it is true that the responsibility for hate crimes rests with the perpetrators themselves, we all share a duty to counter intolerance and prejudice wherever we can. Continue Reading

U.S. State Department: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham ClintonPress Release: U.S. Department of State

WASHINGTON, DC – In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love. Homophobia, transphobia and the brutal hostility associated with them are often rooted in a lack of understanding of what it actually means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). So to combat this terrible scourge and break the cycle of fear and violence, we must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate. As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this May 17, let us resolve to redouble our efforts.

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am proud to reaffirm our support for LGBT communities at home and abroad, and to call for an end to discrimination and mistreatment of LGBT persons wherever it occurs. Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights.

Despite these gains and hard work, there is more to do to turn the tide of inequality and discrimination against the LGBT community. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, know that the United States stands with you and we are unwavering in our commitment to ending this cycle of hate.

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Uganda’s Current Parliamentary Session Closed Without Vote on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Uganda Parliament

photo: Andrew Regan

May 13, 2011 – After two years of dangerous discussion, the current parliamentary session in Uganda closed today without a vote on the “anti-homosexuality” bill.  The coordinator of the civil society coalition opposing the bill, Adrian Jjuuko, put it this way: “The Ugandan parliament has closed today. . . . Thus the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has to be reintroduced in the new parliament and the whole process to begin all over again.  Thank you all for the efforts and solidarity in fighting this ominous bill. The struggle may have to begin all over again, but for now, the process is over.”

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was introduced in 2009.  It was an affront to the lives and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans and a threat to democracy and human rights throughout the country.  Indeed, it was the most extreme attempt by any country anywhere to criminalize same-sex relations and relationships, even imposing the death penalty in certain cases.  It also would have criminalized those who provide assistance to LGBT citizens, including medical professionals, family members, pastors or civil society organizations that support the fundamental rights of the country’s LGBT community.

A broad coalition of human rights leaders in Uganda came together to denounce the bill, insisting that it was a backward-looking attempt to divert attention away from growing civil unrest in the country, and from the alarming violence unleashed by the authorities in recent weeks to suppress peaceful protests.  Uganda’s own Human Rights Commission called the bill unconstitutional and inconsistent with the country’s human rights obligations.

The bill could be introduced in the next parliament, which convenes later this month.  And although never adopted, the debate around it has already created an atmosphere of extreme hostility and led to acts of targeted violence against LGBT citizens.  But for now, the brave civil society leaders who stood up to oppose the bill should take pride in their work to protect human rights for all Ugandans.  We are also grateful for the committed response of U.S. foreign policy leaders in the White House, the State Department and Congress who have engaged in a dialogue with Ugandan authorities for nearly two years to highlight the harms caused by this proposal.

Senator Coons: Uganda should end effort to criminalize homosexuality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 12, 2011
CONTACT: Ian Koski at 202-224-4216 or Ian_Koski@coons.senate.gov

Senator Coons: Uganda should end effort to criminalize homosexuality
Africa subcommittee chair calls on Uganda’s parliament to drop controversial legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, released the following statement today calling on Uganda’s parliament to drop the Anti Homosexuality Bill currently under consideration:

“Leaders in Uganda should end their efforts to criminalize homosexuality. The Anti Homosexuality Bill currently under consideration in the Ugandan Parliament is draconian, in contravention of international law, and simply wrong. It goes far beyond discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and makes homosexual conduct punishable by prison time or death.  It promotes a climate of oppression and fear, and violates human rights standards universally recognized by the international community.  It has also been decried by Uganda’s own Human Rights Commission, which issued a report in October 2010 concluding it was unconstitutional and inconsistent with international legal obligations.”

“I strongly support the efforts of President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and other international leaders urging Ugandan lawmakers to reject this bill and safeguard human rights for the people of Uganda.  Equality and human rights are intrinsic values that matter in America, in Uganda, and around the world. Criminalizing homosexuality moves Uganda further away from these values and further from the international community.  If the bill becomes law, it will impact Uganda’s relationship with the United States.”

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Anti-Homosexuality Bill on hold

May 11, 2011 – Parliament in Uganda adjourned today without voting on the “anti-homosexuality” bill.  The Council understands that the current lame duck parliament may convene again on Friday, May 13, and that the bill could still receive a vote in the final hours of this current parliamentary session.

The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional law Uganda (CSCHRCL) in Uganda notes that the bill, once believed to have been permanently stalled, “is being used to blind the world to everything else that is going on in Uganda right now.  Alternatively that re-opening the discussion about a backwards looking and harmful proposal is symptomatic of a more general problem of weak governance.”

The Council is grateful for the leadership of the White House, State Department and U.S. Congress in speaking out against this shocking effort, and we trust that the United States will continue to hold President Museveni to his assurance that the bill will not become law.  The State Department outlined recent U.S. government engagement in a statement on Box Turtle Bulletin here.  We appreciate the ongoing commitment of U.S. foreign policy leaders to human rights for all Ugandans, including the country’s LGBT community.


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