Posts Tagged 'bi-sexual'

Homophobia is Defeated but Not Yet Deterred: Next Steps in the Struggle for Equality in Uganda and Beyond

Reports from Uganda this week suggest that the notorious “Anti-Homosexuality” bill, which has been pending in the country’s parliament since last year, may finally be quashed.  The head of a special committee that was set up by the President to investigate the proposal announced the committee’s recommendation that the bill should be withdrawn from parliament.  This is welcome news, even if many human rights activists are justifiably concerned that the bill could be revived at a later date, when the rest of the world is not paying as close attention.  But for now, following an unprecedented campaign of condemnation that was led at every step by Uganda’s own civil society movement and amplified by governments and civil society leaders the world over, it looks like this sad effort is finally about to tossed on the junk heap of intolerance, where it belongs.

The “kill the gays bill,” as it came to be known in many circles, represented one of the most pernicious assaults on LGBT rights in any country anywhere, with provisions that would have instated the death penalty as punishment for same-sex relationships, while requiring every Ugandan to turn suspected homosexuals over to the authorities.  It was breathtaking in its unrelenting intolerance.  But even if the reports are true and the President of Uganda has decided that the bill’s popularity is outweighed by its potential cost to Uganda’s reputation and foreign aid, the bill’s proponents show no sign of giving up.  To the contrary, they remain committed to an agenda of hate, and they are still being encouraged in that campaign by religious bigots from the United States.  Earlier this month, U.S. evangelist and anti-gay crusader Lou Engel was in Uganda encouraging the bill’s passage.  He called Uganda “ground zero” in the global crusade against civil liberties for LGBT individuals.  And so it is.  But while the dust has yet to settle over that distant ground, it appears that homophobia and transphobia have been temporarily defeated, even if the proponents of intolerance have hardly been deterred.

This is an important time to take stock of where we are, and where we need to go.  Even with the defeat of the kill the gays bill, homosexual conduct still remains criminalized in Uganda.  The existence of the law continues to provide cover—and encouragement—to the police and the public, often even to family members, to harass, extort and commit violence against the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.  That intolerance is amplified in the media, and it seems to be spreading to other regions of Africa, with the help of religious bigots from various faith traditions.  The human rights landscape is bleak, but the struggle continues and the human rights community is more united than ever.

There is more good news to be found in the campaign itself.  The campaign against the bill was waged and won by Ugandans for Ugandans.  They requested and directed outside pressure, but they were very much in charge of the timing and tactics of the international campaign against the bill. Indeed, there is an impressive coalition website in Uganda, www.ugandans4rights.org, to help coordinate the struggle against the bill and the larger movement for LGBT equality in the country.  Moreover, after responding so forcefully to the request for international solidarity, the Obama Administration and leaders from both political parties in the U.S. Congress have pledged to carry on, declaring that the effort must now shift to broader legal reform, including total decriminalization of consensual conduct in Uganda and elsewhere.

Decriminalization has emerged as a leading human rights priority of the Obama Administration, and Secretary Clinton is one of the most outspoken proponents of this new doctrine.  In the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a homosexual sodomy law in Texas, stating that sometimes “laws once thought necessary and proper serve only to oppress.”  As a matter of foreign policy, the Obama Administration, with Secretary Clinton on the diplomatic offensive, now makes this same argument on the world stage.  In an odd way, a handful of religious bigots in the United States and Uganda provided the necessary clarity to help crystallize this new foreign policy doctrine.

In Uganda, the United States is flexing its diplomatic muscle.  We are defeating intolerance, we are formulating policy, and we are assembling a new diplomatic toolkit to confront these sensitive human rights issues.  But much more remains to be done to help build a human rights culture.  As we continue to address these human rights struggles in Uganda, while also meeting them head on in other countries and different diplomatic contexts, we must do so with the humility of our own national shortcomings and the understanding that tolerance alone is not enough.  It is relatively easy to stand in opposition to ludicrous laws in other countries.  It is another matter altogether to commit ourselves and our human rights policy to building global equality.  This will require a new investment of development assistance to prioritize the rights and needs of LGBT communities abroad, including through broad-based legal reform.  As the dust settles on ground zero, we see that the arc of justice is indeed long, but as it bends it takes on a refracted hue.

News from the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2010 (IDAHO).

From our friends at IDAHO

Once again, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia will be marked by hundreds of events across all continents and will witness some historic initiatives.

Projects to join, projects to watch out for – a glimpse of diversity!

In Turkey, LGBT and Human Rights organizations have put together an impressive week-long program, including Pride marches in different cities and an international congress on May 15/16, that will witness the presence of several European MPs, members of the LGBT intergroup, several Ambassadors and representatives of the international Human Rights community. The renowned queer feminist writer and philosopher Judith Butler will be holding a conference as part of the program. Find all the details on www.antihomofobi.org

This year again, Cambodia Pride will mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia with a vast programme of activities. Alongside the Pride march itself, Cambodia Pride is organising an impressive series of events between the 10th and the 17th of May to celebrate IDAHO. Check the detailed programme on http://www.phnompenhpride.blogspot.com/

Havana, the brand new site dedicated to the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Israel, is born. Check out all that is happening around the country and stay in touch with the IDAHO Israel team at http://www.havana.org.il/

More than 150 events mark IDAHO across France, including a national conference on Religions, Homophobia and Transphobia, with high level representatives of the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faiths, and the launch of a National Campaign against Homophobia in all secondary schools across the country. Check out the Campaign website for more info on this.

In Romania, the LGBT festival GayFest starts right on 17th of May and will be placed under the sign of IDAHO
The programme in in English and in Romanian at www.gay-fest.ro

In Kenya, this year GALCK will mark the day once more by reaching out to the public to try to change misconceptions and misrepresentations of LGBT people. As part of the program Galck member organisations will be presenting dances and acting a play based on the Ugandan Law. IDAHO shall also be marked in at least two other cities in Kenya, including Nakuru and Kisumu.

In Russia, 17 May 2010 will be the day GayRussia applies officially to the Mayor of Moscow for permission to organise the Jubelee 5th Moscow Pride on 29 May. GayRussia will also celebrate its 5th anniversary on 17 May.

At the same time, GayRussia will support organisations in Belarus for the Slavic Pride that is planned to take place for IDAHO in Minsk

Still in Russia, . organisations who launched last year the Rainbow Flashmob initiative have this year expanded their initiative to the Czeck Republic and various cities across Germany and invite more cities and countries to join in. Check participating cities on the RainbowFlash 2010 Google Map. More info to join this initiative on the Flashmob webite

In Germany still, the anti-homophobia project Maneo is once more gearing up for IDAHO with a special edition of its traditional Kiss-in,  this year as part of the Great Global Kiss-in :

In at least 20 different cities in 11 countries, groups will come together to peacefully celebrate the freedom to love under the “Great Global Kiss-in” initiative. Individuals all over the world can join into this project by sending a videokiss message on gays.com//idaho or to kissin@idaholophobia.org

In the UK, an impressive programme of action is once again on the IDAHO menu. Check out all the details on http://idahomophobia.org/wp/?p=1948&lang=en

This year ILGA Europe will mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia by organising a public event right in the heart of the EU quarter in Brussels. The aim of the ‘Rainbow Buzz’ action is to raise awareness of the rights of LGBT people and promote objectives to advance the rights of LGBT people in Europe. ILGA Europe is also preparing an updated and amended edition of the Rainbow Europe maps, including a new ‘European Rainbow County Index’

In Ukraine, IDAHO will be marked by the Queer Week Festival. The goal is to create positive visibility for LGBTQ people and celebrate diversity. There will be a lot of different activities, such as photo exhibits and a film festival called “Different love. For more details about the Queer Week Festival, see the programme on www.insight-ukraine.org.ua.

More information is coming in every minute. Watch out for updates and check out www.idahomophobia.org for details.

Severe Human Rights Abuses against LGBT People Documented in State Department Report to Congress

Washington, DC – March 11, 2010 – The Council for Global Equality applauds this year’s State Department human rights report to Congress for underscoring the clear and growing crisis in human rights abuse directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide, and urges the use of diplomacy to counter this trend.

In introducing the report, Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, singled out the case of Uganda, where introduction of a draconian anti-gay bill has resulted in serious abuse directed against Uganda’s LGBT community.  The report further documents LGBT-related incidents in almost every country in the world, including a range of cases involving arbitrary arrest and detention, police abuse, rape, and murder.  For instance, the report notes serious assaults against LGBT individuals in Jamaica, “including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of such persons.”  In Iraq, the report notes that “numerous press reports indicate that some victims were assaulted and murdered by having their anuses glued shut or their genitals cut off and stuffed down their throats until they suffocated.”  The report highlights numerous instances in which police and other authorities have failed to investigate or prosecute such incidents.

Council Chair Mark Bromley, while recognizing that the State Department report examines a broad range of human rights concerns impacting various minority communities, nonetheless emphasized that “the level of reporting on LGBT abuses this year is remarkably detailed and truly commendable, and unfortunately this new level of detail shows just how dangerous it is for LGBT individuals to go about their daily lives as ordinary citizens in so many parts of the world.”  For the first time ever, most of the reports have a dedicated section examining “societal abuses, discrimination, and acts of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”  Bromley insisted that “the report makes clear that LGBT rights are firmly rooted in basic human rights protections and that those protections are under severe attack in the world today.

Senior Council adviser and former U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest applauded “President Obama’s and Secretary Clinton’s principled belief that the human rights of LGBT people cannot be separated from those of all of society.”  Emphasizing that “many of the most egregious abuses have been committed in countries considered to be friends and allies of the United States,” he urged that the State Department develop strategies to counter intolerance and homophobia in every region, drawing on all the tools of American diplomacy.

Julie Dorf, another senior adviser to the Council, noted that “the Council has been working closely with the State Department over the past year to help move the Department’s human rights bureau from a traditional human rights reporting agenda to an active, human rights protection agenda.”  Dorf explained that “in an ironic and unfortunate way, the intensity of the homophobia surrounding the ‘kill the gays’ bill in Uganda has helped raise awareness within the State Department, within Congress and within the international community more generally on the global impact of LGBT discrimination and abuse.”

Excerpts of the report’s findings on LGBT issues in every country can be found on the Council’s website at www.globalequality.org.


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