Archive for April, 2013

Campaign Against Homophobia Issues New Report on Social Situation of LGBT Persons in Poland

Report on Social Situation of LGBT persons in PolandCampaign Against Homophobia has issued a new report on social situation of LGBT persons in Poland. This unique publication shows results of the biggest in Poland quantative research conducted on the group of 14,000 gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trangender persons. The questions pertain to spheres of life such as education, work and family life in the context of discrimination or the influence of non-heterosexual orientation on social functioning.

Download the report here.

Serious Human Rights Abuses Directed at LGBT Populations in Every Region

2012 Human Rights ReportsThe State Department’s latest country human rights reports, released April 19, confirm the lack of respect that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people face in many areas of the world. However, the reports also point to a range of serious human rights abuses directed at LGBT populations in every region.

The Obama Administration has made a commendable effort to catalog instances and trends of LGBT abuse worldwide. We were pleased that Secretary Kerry specifically lauded the Department’s expanded coverage of LGBT rights in a speech marking the release of this year’s reports.

Of no surprise, hate crimes top the list of violent actions directed against LGBT people in many countries. But even more appalling, are the numerous instances of government officials’ complicity in LGBT abuse. For instance:

  • In Jamaica, prison wardens reportedly were involved in numerous incidents of violence against gay inmates.
  • In Chile, gay prisoners were denied access to hygienic services.
  • In Libya, a government-affiliated brigade arrested, detained, and beat 12 allegedly gay men who were at a private party.
  • A military unit in Moldova beat two gay men while verbally abusing them on grounds of their sexual orientation.
  • Cameroonian police detained three men, and jailed them for a week, because two of the men appeared effeminate; beat them until they confessed to being gay; then sentenced them to five years in prison.
  • In El Salvador, police officers allegedly physically abused a gay teenager, then made a phone call after which three gang members appeared and beat the teenager further.
  • In Kyrgyz Republic, LGBT groups documented 18 cases of police extortion.
  • Zimbabwean police raided the offices of an LGBT support organization; arrested 44 of its members; outed those members to families and employers (with consequences to jobs and family ties); and effectively closed the organization.

Many country reports also offer clear examples in which government authorities failed to fulfill their responsibility to protect the rights of LGBT citizens. As examples:

  • In El Salvador, for instance, police officers are alleged to have verbally and physically abused a 17-year-old gay adolescent, forcing him off a bus and then calling local gang members who beat the victim unconscious.
  • In Namibia, police ridiculed LGBT citizens who reported abuse.
  • When hundreds of demonstrators in Burkina Faso demanded that a gay couple leave their home, police took no protective action.
  • And LGBT citizens in the former Soviet Union faced extreme challenges to their democratic freedoms of speech and assembly: in Ukraine, a gay pride event was canceled after police said they would not protect participants in the face of extremist threats of violence; in Russia, the city of Moscow refused to allow a gay pride march to proceed.

These and other cases of government action and inaction deserve serious protest, and we trust that the State Department has directed our ambassadors to make clear our government’s official concern. Equally important, we hope our embassies in these and other countries are using all other available diplomatic tools to raise the profile of LGBT rights, and are targeting our foreign assistance to respond to the needs of LGBT communities.

The 2012 reports also underscore a clear need for attention to infringements of the rights of transgender people, including cases of extreme violence and targeted killings:

  • In Nicaragua the report highlights the murder of a young transgender woman, whose body was found with signs of sexual assault.
  • Transgender individuals in Indonesia are routinely abused, detained, and forced to pay bribes by local authorities.
  • Japanese authorities refused to list a married transgender man’s two-year-old son, who was conceived by artificial insemination, as a legitimate child.
  • In Malaysia, transgender Muslim citizens were fined under Sharia law for dressing and posing as women.
  • In Uganda, a local news station aired a video of police taunting a transgender individual by forcing the individual to undress in front of jeering onlookers.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, a transgender sex worker was beaten, tortured, and raped repeatedly while in prison.

Unfortunately these cases are not unique. The reports bear witness to similar violations and indignities against transgender individuals in every region of the world. We hope that all embassies will examine more carefully the situation of transgender people in their host countries, with a view to raising awareness with government officials well in advance of next year’s reports.

Some of this year’s reports also indicate emerging areas of human rights concern:

  • “Reparative Therapy”: The United Arab Emirates government forced some caught in consensual same-sex activity to undergo psychological treatment and counseling, while the Chinese government and some school districts promoted “reparative therapy” to avoid having LGBT children.
  • Internet and Religious Freedom: LGBT religious groups in South Korea saw their internet forum taken down, and Korea’s National Human Rights Commission refused to rectify this infringement of religious freedom.

We urge the Administration to take suitable steps to address these new efforts at intolerance, which we know are spreading to other countries and regions.

We are not raising these country-specific examples from the reports because they are in any way unique. To the contrary, these specific instances are highlighted here because we know them to be extremely typical of violations we have seen replicated the world over. Our hope, however, is that the human rights reports will cast an uncommon light – and appropriate shame – on these common violations.

Finally, despite all of these concerns, we are encouraged by a number of positive signs that some governments are beginning to address inequalities in how LGBT people are treated. For instance:

  • Colombian authorities created a national public policy framework for LGBT rights, along with a working group aimed at identifying problems of LGBT abuse and exclusion that call for community solutions.
  • The Cypriot Ministry of Education allowed an anti-homophobia training program to be carried out for teachers, the first-ever LGBT awareness training allowed in that country’s schools.
  • In Bangladesh, two government ministries led a pilot job training project for transgender citizens, instituted an awareness program to alter negative views of transgender people, and established a foundation through which the program can continue.
  • Montenegro passed legislation to provide government funds for gender reassignment surgery.
  • An Algerian gay rights group has been allowed to advertise advocacy and support efforts for the Algerian LGBT community through a website and Facebook account.
  • Increased media freedom in Tunisia has increased the flow of LGBT-related information to members of the LGBT community.
  • Kenyan LGBT advocacy organizations noted that homophobic hate speech had declined due to improved enforcement of hate speech laws and better media self-regulation.
  • And Poland’s legislature now includes both openly gay and transgender members – a political process breakthrough that portends greater awareness of the rights of LGBT citizens in that country.

We applaud these instances of leadership in efforts to promote fully inclusive societies. They both echo and amplify the growing appreciation in our own country that LGBT citizens deserve nothing more, or less, than full dignity and equal treatment under the law.

Download the full compendium of sexual orientation and gender identity references in the report here.

The Immigration Bill: What’s There, What’s Missing & What’s Next

The Immigration Bill: What’s There, What’s Missing & What’s NextRepost from Immigration Equality

This afternoon, the long-anticipated comprehensive immigration reform bill from the Senate’s “Gang of 8” will finally be introduced. It is a big, complex piece of legislation that addresses many different immigration issues. Our legal team is hard at work reading the bill and analyzing its many proposals, and what those mean for LGBT immigrants and their families.

We already know, however, some of the high – and low – points of the bill.

The legislation includes a path to citizenship for many undocumented people. It also includes the DREAM Act, which will allow young, undocumented youth (many of whom are LGBT) a path to citizenship as well. Both of these components will help countless immigrants – including LGBT immigrants – finally emerge from the shadows and have an opportunity to fully participate in the life of our country. The bill also includes repeal of the 1-year filing deadline for individuals seeking asylum in the United States, which is a significant obstacle faced by many LGBT asylum seekers. Immigration Equality supports all of these important measures.

As we anticipated, however, the base bill does not include the Uniting American Families Act. (A “base bill” is the first version of the legislation, before any lawmakers have an opportunity to make amendments, or changes, to the language.)

UAFA’s exclusion renders the bill incomplete. It is not comprehensive and is does not reflect the values or diversity of our country. Senators on the Judiciary Committee must allow a full and open amendment process that provides an opportunity to add UAFA as an amendment during that process.  We need a majority of Committee members to support adding UAFA to the bill. This means the time is NOW to contact Judiciary Committee Senators and demand they vote for UAFA during the amendment process. Continue Reading

United Nations Moves Forward on LGBT Rights

Opening up U.S. assistance programs to LGBT populationsThe United Nations process to discuss a Human Rights Council resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity ended in Oslo on Tuesday with a conclusions document that calls for a special UN mechanism for ongoing attention to human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2011, the South African government, together with a group of other supportive nations, led a successful resolution on LGBT issues that called for a high-level panel discussion as well as a report outlining the vast array of human rights abuses that take place every day across the globe based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Oslo was the wrap up event after regional meetings took place earlier this year in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. Over 200 governmental and non-governmental delegates were invited to Oslo for an event co-hosted by South Africa and Norway, representing over 60 countries for two days of intense discussions and debates. Highlights of the conference included video messages from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillar. Both strongly called for a new mechanism to regularly track and report on human rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as chronicle promising practices for combating such abuses. Many side conversations about promising developments took place with government representatives in attendance. Moldovan government officials talked about their new Equality Council, which will launch in the summer to help implement their new Anti-Discrimination Law, which should help protect against anti-LGBT bias. Vietnam is revising their Family Law, and the government is seriously considering expanding the definition of family to be fully inclusive of same-sex relationships. Many other governments discussed both their problems as well as their practices in addressing discrimination and violence.

The Council for Global Equality participated in two regional pre-meetings together with two of our member organizations, the National Center for Transgender Equality as well as the National Center for Lesbian Rights. We drew attention to the many issues here in the United States that stand in the way of full equality for LGBT Americans. We also worked with our colleagues from the regions to ensure that the array of LGBT human rights concerns would be addressed in the next steps that the UN Human Rights Council takes in its next resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Council was very pleased that the United States government’s participation in this important process was strong and steadfastly supportive of its LGBT citizenry, as well as its commitments to LGBT people globally. Other governments, particularly South Africa, were similarly clearly supportive of moving the bar higher in the next iteration of this resolution coming up in June. LGBT advocates and supportive governments around the world are ready to encourage additional governmental co-sponsors of the coming resolution, as well as to ensure that the 47 members of the HRC vote in favor of it’s passage. As Ban Ki -Moon said in his video message to the conference: Together we can make the world safer, freer, and more equal for everyone.

International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Desmond Tutu on LGBT Rights in Africa

Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, Welcomes Participants to the International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

South Africa and Norway are co-hosting The International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with over 200 government and NGO’s are participating in the dialog. You can follow the discussions for a second Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity resolution at the United Nations, happening now in Oslo, on Twitter with the hashtag #hr4all. Or you can live stream video from the conference here.

Julie Dorf of The Council for Global Equality is participating in this conference and we will bring you updates from the conference periodically.

For written transcripts of the video click here.

Divided Ex-gay Movement Still Encouraging “Conversion” Therapy in Latin America

Repost from Political Research Associates

Boston, MA, April 2, 2013: Exodus International, the U.S. network of Christian ministries prominent in the “ex-gay” movement, dramatically changed its position in January 2012 when Executive Director Alan Chambers announced that he no longer believed there was a “cure” to homosexuality. This allegedly put an end to the organization’s 35-year effort to “convert…LGBTQ people to heterosexuality through ‘submission to Jesus Christ.’” However, a new report by the social justice think tank Political Research Associates, The “Ex-Gay” Movement in Latin America: Therapy and Ministry in the Exodus Network, finds that the global network remains divided in its stance on harmful “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ individuals, particularly in Latin America. Continue reading ‘Divided Ex-gay Movement Still Encouraging “Conversion” Therapy in Latin America’


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