Showing posts with label Human Rights Violations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Human Rights Violations. Show all posts

October 29, 2016

Russia Lost Seat on UN Human Rights Council





 Aleppo, Syria after a Russian bombing




[UN] Russia narrowly lost its seat on the main United Nations body devoted to human rights on Friday, signaling international dismay over the military power’s conduct in Syria.

The vote was to select countries to represent Eastern Europe on the United Nations Human Rights Council. Russia lost by two votes to Croatia and by 32 votes to Hungary. All 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly voted, and when the results were announced, there was a “small intake of air” in the large hall, said the New Zealand envoy, Gerard van Bohemen.

He said he believed that Russia’s conduct in the war in Syria, including the aerial bombardment of Aleppo, “must have played a part.”

The Russian ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, declined to answer a reporter’s question about whether Syria had anything to do with the vote. “We need a break,” he said.

Mr. Churkin said his country was more “exposed to the winds of international diplomacy” than the two countries from his region selected for the council.

The Human Rights Council, made up of 47 member nations, is sometimes described by critics as a rogues’ gallery of rights abusers. Current members include Burundi, China, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

In Friday’s vote, both China and Saudi Arabia were re-elected, essentially unopposed for seats representing Asian countries. Britain and the United States were also re-elected, essentially unopposed.

In the contested races, Russia’s loss was the most significant.

It was the first time a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council had lost a seat on the Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental body established in 2006 to strengthen “the promotion and protection of human rights.” The council’s members are elected for three-year terms.

The United States previously experienced a similar blow. In 2001, it lost an election to the council’s predecessor, known as the Human Rights Commission. At the time, the Bush administration appeared surprised by the setback, which it attributed to contentious American positions on China, Cuba and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, said that “we left a little blood on the floor.”

The United States regained its seat on that body the next year.

In 2006, the United States also lost a seat on the International Law Commission. That was seen as a response to the Bush administration’s perceived repudiation of international law. That commission, though lesser known, usually writes first drafts of far-reaching global treaties.

The Human Rights Council is politically influential. Its responsibilities include establishing panels to investigate human rights abuses in specific countries. Human rights advocates had hoped that the council would impanel an inquiry into rights abuses in Yemen. It was vigorously opposed by Saudi Arabia, which was re-elected on Friday for another three-year seat.

“It’s hard to imagine the atrocities happening in Aleppo were not on the minds of those casting their ballots today,” said Akshaya Kumar of Human Rights Watch, which had vigorously lobbied against both Russia and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. The group called for competitive elections for all geographic blocs.

July 27, 2016

In Singapore A Man Fights For His Life After Unauthorized Naked Vid Shown













A Singaporean man who recently discovered his nude video was circulating online has hit back against online bullies.
Lokies Khan, a 24-year-old online personality, claims that he discovered a video that he shot privately started getting passed around on Tumblr without his consent or prior knowledge.

SEE ALSO: 78-year-old describes heart-rending realities of living as a trans woman in '70s Singapore

The virality of the media was heightened by people making GIFs from his video, he said.

The openly gay blogger later started receiving comments online calling him a "slut" and a "disgrace to the gay community," he added.

In response, Khan decided to film a four-minute long video with online LGBTQ publication Dear Straight People, directly addressing his critics. In the video, he addresses how his privacy was violated, and that the issue of privacy invasion shouldn't be disregarded.

"I have been swamped with messages since the video came out, which has been extremely positive and supportive," Khan told Mashable.

There however remain those accusing him of trying to gain sympathy through the video, he added. He maintains that his intention is to reach out to others who find themselves in similar situations.


"The issue here was, somebody took what was meant to be private and intimate, and abused it. I’m not the only person in this world who takes nudes. But having it leaked by somebody else other than yourself without your knowledge, is [an] absolute violation,” he said.

Mashable.com





October 20, 2015

Misery is… 'Being Gay in Syria’ [See 4 Cases]




Khalid*, 36, a gay man from Iraq who fled rape and persecution for the relative safety of Lebanon. Photo: Robin Hammond
The high-summer fields stretch towards the distant Mediterranean like a billowing patchwork quilt. Following the contours of Lebanon’s foothills, a small group of hard-faced Arab youths slip in and out of view between derelict farmsteads and crumbling, bullet-pocked minarets.

Behind them is, literally, the road to Damascus. The refugees have just crossed illegally from Syria into Lebanon, in the narrow margins between the only two official border crossings left open between the countries. The Mount Lebanon range has long been the cruellest of demarcations. Those who are crossing it now are in fear of their lives. Most are young and, mercifully, fit enough to flit nimbly between checkpoints. Some are gay - and they've embarked upon this journey not knowing if they will find safety or further persecution on the other side of the border in Lebanon. It is a risk they are prepared to take.

"In my opinion, it cannot get any worse than being gay in Syria today," Halim*, a human-rights campaigner, tells me in a packed bar in Lebanon's capital, Beirut. "It's a place where you don't know your enemy. Seeing people you have had casual sex with being taken in on the street, and wondering if they will take you down with them. Lovers turning on lovers. 
Wolfheart*, 29, a gay man from Lebanon, was arrested, tortured and imprisoned for cruising. Photo: Robin Hammond
         
"Also, this isn't just an Islamic State story," he continues. "If you are gay, you have many enemies intent on your persecution: the government, Islamic State (IS), al-Nusra [the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda]. That's not including your own extended family: they are often enemy number one." On the table in front of us is an untidy ring-binder detailing the torture that has been inflicted on gay men in Syria. Methods include the shabeh, which roughly translates as "the ghost" and involves handcuffing the victims' arms behind their backs and using them to hoist their bodies into the air, putting extreme pressure on the shoulder sockets, often until they pop out.
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Other men accused of being gay, who have been abducted in the night by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's agents, describe being placed, helpless and motionless, inside the rims of large tyres and brutalised with electrodes and iron bars. The testimony of one Homs teenager details, in spidery writing, how he had his testicles smashed with a hammer by a member of the Syrian Republican Guard.

For gay people on the run from Syria, being "out" in Lebanon isn't an option, either. Lebanon now has the highest proportion of refugees in the world, with Syrian refugees making up a quarter of the country's population. "We know hundreds, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] refugees are coming across, but if we start counting, it could be used against them and us," says Halim. "It's better they slip unnoticed into Lebanon. Prejudice against gay men and women doesn't stop at the border. The trouble is, they are being arrested and abused here in Lebanon, too.”
Sally*, a gay man who identifies as a woman, had to flee her Islamic State-held home town in Syria. Photo: Robin Hammond
       

Later, we sit in a cafe as it winds down for the night, restlessly sipping strong black coffee and examining a map showing routes across the border. Halim plays a video montage on his tablet. Frantic Arabic news commentators begin speaking over slow-motion footage of a masked IS executioner clutching what looks like a gleaming saif sword. In the dirt before him kneel four condemned souls, each accused of sodomy. An elderly man, a magistrate, steps up.

To me, he is familiar - I have seen him before in IS showreels. The magistrate uses a microphone to read to the crowd a few adulterated utterances from the Koran, and their fates are sealed.
I remain glued to the screen, waiting for the camera to pan away from the execution, but no respite comes. A head rolls in the dust, then a second and a third. Fountains of blood jerk from the necks of the men. As I give the tablet a final, reluctant glance, the camera pans to the crowd. No longer baying 
over the bodies, they have moved on, bored and traumatized all at once. 


Nathalie*, 41, who describes herself as a woman who used to be a man, is from Syria, where she was tortured. Photo: Robin Hammond
In recent months, the photojournalist Robin Hammond and I have interviewed gay citizens in Africa and the Middle East. Theirs is a narrative of great pain and desperate suffering. Here in the Middle East, it is clear that the taboo against same-sex activity is getting stronger, not weaker, and a corrupted version of Islam finds itself at the heart of much of this hatred.

Homosexuality is legal in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank, but not in Hamas-controlled Gaza. In nearly 50 Muslim-dominated countries, individuals face criminal sanctions for private consensual relations with another adult of the same sex. But in the IS-controlled regions of Syria and northern Iraq, the persecution of gay men and women has reached a new level of malice.
In the early evening in a crumbling tenement in Beirut's southern suburbs, we meet four gay Syrian men. Safehouses have a uniformity of sorts. There are always broken TVs. Strong black tea is offered. Furniture is sparse, curtains torn. Threadbare carpets are laid out with small low tables. Without exception, cigarettes are passed around to calm the nerves. A battered Toshiba laptop sits in the centre of the one-bedroom apartment. On its screen, another film is on a loop.

A middle-aged man, handsome, grey-bearded, hands bound, is being held by his ankles from a 10-storey building by IS thugs dressed in leather jackets and long blue tunics. The man is held for several minutes as he weeps, before he is dropped onto the concrete some 30 metres below. On impact the baying mob, including children, cheer and laugh. As has been the case in other rooftop-to-ground murders of allegedly gay men at the hands of IS, the victim survives the fall, twitching in the dirt, but is stoned to death by the bloodthirsty crowds. For their convenience, jagged rocks have been supplied and left in small piles.

"They are holding out his mobile phone on the ledge as evidence," says Sami*, a gay man in his early 30s, from Raqqa, the IS heartland in northern Syria. "They are using it to justify the execution. Social media is killing our brothers. It is the first thing IS are asking for at checkpoints now: 'Hand over your mobile!' If they find anything that links you to another man - photographs, your Facebook profile, a single text you cannot explain, anything - then you are dead. It is over for you."
To prove his point, Sami opens Manjam, which he describes as a popular gay "hook-up" app, adopted from Turkey into Syria and surrounding countries. "Look at this," he says. "In 2013, there were perhaps a few thousand Syrians active on Manjam. The Assad regime generally looked away - in the north, at least.”

Sami counts the active accounts within Syria and finds 26 profiles in use in Raqqa. "How many of those 26 are IS hunting?" he asks. "Who would have a death wish to use a gay app there?" The broader truth is that governments across the region are also using digital surveillance to entrap, detain and harass homosexuals.

Police in states where homosexuality is outlawed frequently use apps to convince men to meet them, before arresting them, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based NGO that monitors the use of technology in the violation of human rights. A 30-year-old man was recently arrested in Saudi Arabia after asking men out for dates on Facebook.

Everyone in this shabby room acknowledges that IS alone did not bring homophobia to Syria. Gay men there have long been the target of "honour killings", as they are considered a disgrace to their families. Others have been imprisoned.

The civil war, however, has intensified the persecution. At the heart of the IS plan to target and wipe out the LGBT community are the Hisbah - the religious police, named after a Muslim doctrine that translates roughly as “accountability".

"IS want the Muslim world to know that they are executing gays, because it displays their credentials as enforcers of sharia law," says Ryan Mauro, a security analyst at the Clarion Project, a US-based NGO that works to combat extremism. “There is widespread anti-homosexual sentiment in the Muslim world because of the belief that sharia requires the execution of gays."

The language of persecution comes from both sides. To prove his point, Sami recites a description of "gay traits" found in IS pamphlets in Raqqa, later discovered to have been taken from a government-controlled Syrian newspaper. " 'A gay man can have a loose wrist, a noticeable way of using the fingers, sitting and crossing the legs together in a feminine manner and an interest in gossip and whispers. These are among homosexuals’ main distinctive features.' "

Knowing who the enemy is has become increasingly difficult for gay people. From the ranks of its own religious police force, IS is believed to have deployed undercover agents to entrap those who have been accused by others of being gay.

Elmo*, a doctor now working in a call centre in Beirut, fled his IS-held town in Syria after a member of his family - a cousin attempting to curry favour with his new masters - betrayed him to the militants. Such betrayals are common.

"The attitude now if you are gay and trapped inside [Syria] is, 'Trust nobody', " says Elmo. "Not your mother, nor your closest friend. The only difference between all the factions is that some will torture you before they kill you if you are outed and caught.”

Testimonies gathered by Proud, a campaign group set up by Bertho Makso, a gay Lebanese man, include reports of decapitations, and one of a transgender woman in a Damascus suburb who was hanged by her breasts until she died.

A similar database compiled by New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) late last year detailed a male couple who were captured by the Syrian government after being identified as gay, based on text messages between them. The men were beaten, referred to pejoratively as tante (auntie), and for 10 nights were forced to strip and have sex with each other in front of their Syrian army interrogators, who used chalk to make up their faces.

Another man, who used to work in the fashion industry, was abducted by unidentified armed men in an area of Damascus controlled by the Syrian army. He said they similarly referred to him as tante, forced him to strip and raped him.

HRW says that the ordeal for gay men doesn't necessarily end at the Lebanese border. In a number of cases, the NGO has documented gay men being subjected to excruciating and abusive anal exams by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. This, despite calls by Lebanese doctors and the justice minister in 2012 to abolish the practice, which amounts to torture.

The road back towards the Qalamoun mountains in Syria passes through Ersal. This town in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, whose name means "Throne of God" in Aramaic, has become one of the flashpoints of the region. This isn't my first time travelling along this confusing line in the sand. Here, portraits of Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and fallen Hezbollah fighters dot the walls of residences.
Elsewhere, Sunni-populated areas have become de facto safe havens for Syrian rebel fighters. Equally, Shia areas of the northern Bekaa Valley look out with trepidation at the rise of extremist Sunni Salafi-jihadi groups. To the outsider, the whole area is impenetrable.
For the Syrian refugees who have made it to the fragile sanctuary of the Bekaa, the journeys of exile are far from tales of liberation.

"The road to the Lebanese border has become known as the Corridor of Death," says Sally*, a gay man who now identifies as a woman, whom I meet in Beirut. "There are perhaps 50 or 60 checkpoints. The soldiers are bored and isolated. They single out anyone they suspect of being gay.

"They keep us behind at night," she continues, looking away, wincing. Sally was living in Deir ez-Zor, the largest city in eastern Syria, when IS entered her district. "I knew from reports that they were carrying out executions for 'crimes' like pre-marital sex and homosexuality. The Hisbah, their religious police, hunted from house to house. Families were turning on families. I knew it was only a matter of time before one of my relatives reported me. Because I am feminine, I knew I would be singled out.”

Sally details her journey, on which Syrian soldiers sexually abused her at a number of checkpoints. In return for "favours", she was allowed to pass. Eventually, she reached the Lebanese border. A journey that should have taken seven hours took almost a week.

increasingly, those in flight like sally have nowhere to run. Lebanon is turning the taps off, managing its borders through just two official crossings, Masnaa in the Bekaa Valley, and Arida, to the north. Lebanon's border with Syria stretches 375 kilometres and covers rough terrain that cannot be monitored through human efforts alone. Helicopters mounted with infrared cameras fly overhead. But those determined to cross still do, making their way across country to the suburbs of Beirut.

IS is not the first organisation to use barbarism against LGBT people as a weapon of war, and they won't be the last. But their levels of violence and depravity are unprecedented. Without some kind of intervention, this civil war will continue to drive Syria's gay men and women to make the perilous journey into Lebanon via the foothills of Mount Lebanon - or across the Kabir River, which forms the northern border of the two countries - with no guarantee of a safe haven on the other side. 

* Names have been changed
This is an edited version of a story first published in The Sunday Times Magazine, London.

  Sydney Morning Herald 

August 3, 2014

We are No longer Here. Do You Care? Who is to blame in Gaza?

                                                                           
 Does one feels more secure when one does this?

Please watch the film and make up your own mind about what is happening in Gaza. We know that Hamas is shooting missiles at Israel using people as shields but everything in life needs a balance. When you take the innocent human toll on the two countries you have to see that innocent people in Gaza are being killed by Israel everyday and in so much greater numbers. If someone slaps you in the face for no good reason and you are packing a gun, would you shoot them? Even though shooting them could cause you to hit the children playing where you both are.
No one in my life can be compared to my mom. My love for her has no limits. Yet she and I had awful arguments at one time when she took to silence over my brother Juan Orlando, He making a young sassy underage girl that was living with us pregnant. She would say that I most not criticize someone in the family and not go against the family. I would try to make her understand that not everything can be excused due to family and friendship. There are certain things that are so unequal and thereby so wrong that you can not keep quiet or you become guilty yourself.  Because as we learn with the AIDS crisis, silence=death.
Pleasure needs to be mounted on both sides.
This is no time to yell at each other but make the case with common sense and intelligence. A lower tone voice with smart lips over what you believe, which ever of the two issues you believe:
1. Should one nation do anything on the name of self defense?
2. Should the world put pressure on Hamas to stop using people as shields and stop supplying them with the weapons to attack not to defend themselves? Giving them the miles of cement to make tunnels and infiltrate Israel is not self defense for them. Supplying them with rockets is neither. The spot light has to be place at the complicit in this war. People talk about the US supplying Israel with weapons. which is true but this is being going way before this crisis. Before we crucify the US lets look at what other nations like Iran, Russia through Syria and even North Korea are doing. Hamas are like the people that killed all of those in 9/11. They believe they accomplish their goal by killing the innocent and then throwing blame at the other side. 
On the other hand the leader of Israel, elected by his people is not doing his country no favors. What Israel is doing will be remembered just like people remember the Holocaust. ‘ hey that should know better have fallen in the trap and have become murderers themselves'. What ever reason you give when you keep killing innocent people day by day, knowing what your actions are causing, then you have lost your moral high ground and you have joined those you fight down in the gutter.
There are humanitarian crimes being committed by both sides,the children are being both killed by Israel and Hamas. If Israel stops the killling is neither going to get invaded nor you going to have hundreds and thousands killed there. 
This two minute film, produced in Dutch, has highlighted the lives of eight Palestinian children killed during the latest conflict in Gaza.
Entitled, ‘We are no longer here, do you care?’ the images are striking: young children playing on the beach, an infant being put down for the night, and a young teenage girl playing on the computer. It’s only later in the video you realize that these were their final moments; these are the places where they died.
The children the Dutch actors portray are real-life stories from the victims of this tragedy:
Aahed Baker, 10 years old, with his family members, Ismail Baker, 9, Zakareyya Baker, 10 and Mohammed Baker, 11, died while running from attacks on a local beach.
Ranim Abdul-Ghafoor, a 1-year-old infant, died in her sleep when her house was shelled.
Anas Qandeel was a 17-year-old girl whose last message on Facebook read, “I can’t sleep, when are you going to attack my home?” She died an hour later, when the IDF did just that.
Nour Al-Najdi, a 10-year-old girl, died when her house collapsed after the building next door was shelled.
Sahir About Namous, a 5-year-old, discusses his love for the park; Sahir and his mother were playing at the park when they were hit by a missile and killed.
Source for film: care2care



May 9, 2014

One of Two Ugandans Charged with Gay Sex Granted Bail


                                                                              2 Ugandans charged after anti-homosexual law

Kampala, Uganda} One of two men set to go on trial for homosexual acts in Uganda has been granted bail in the first case since the nation adopted tough anti-gay laws.
After almost five months without trial, Jackson Mukasa, 26, a market vendor, received bail Wednesday after fulfilling conditions for his release.
His co-defendant, Hakim Mukisa, 19, a student, is still in jail because he’s not met residency conditions for bail.

Mukisa has yet to get his passport stamped by authorities in his suburb of Kampala. The stamp is a court requirement to verify his residence because he does not have an identification card.
 Gay Ugandan speaks out about new law Did Pastor promote homophobia in Uganda? Gay Ugandans committing suicide

Their trial is set to start on June 12 before a court in the capital, Kampala.
"They are being accused of carnal knowledge against the order of nature. It is the law of sodomy under Section 145 of the penal code," said their lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuzi.
"We will be contesting the charges because a similar law is being contested in the Constitutional Court," Rwakafuzi said, referring to a petition seeking to nullify the anti-gay law that President Yoweri Museveni signed in February. The law toughens penalties against gay people and defines some homosexual acts as crimes punishable by life in prison. The law’s harsh punishment for gays and lesbians has drawn international attention to Uganda.

The men are not being charged under that law because it's under appeal, said Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, a Ugandan human rights group. Instead, they're being prosecuted under a 1950 law.
"We will also ask the magistrates court to dismiss the matter, for there is no complainant. These are grounds we will be putting forward for the accused to be set free,” Rwakafuzi told journalists shortly after securing their long-awaited bail.

The case attracted attention from the media and local gay community, which found lawyers for the men jailed since December. Their relatives and friends were part of crowd in the small courtroom Wednesday afternoon.
Another suspect, Chris Mubiru, awaits trial for allegedly possessing video showing him in homosexual acts with young men. The former manager of the Cranes national football team was granted bail in February. His trial will be held in the same courtroom.

March 31, 2014

Uganda’s Cost in Money and Influence Lost Due to Their Anti Gay Laws


                                                                          
Ugandan President, Yoweri Musevani/AFP

KAMPALA,(AFP) - Uganda's tough new anti-gay law prompted stiff criticism and aid cuts by Western donors, and the East African nation is now facing a heavy diplomatic and economic fallout despite its role as a key regional ally, experts say.
Annual foreign aid to Uganda accounts for a fifth of Uganda's 12 billion dollar (8.6 billion euro) annual budget, but while several European nations have cut some aid, they appear unwilling to totally undermine veteran President Yoweri Museveni.
"It is not going to push Uganda into a huge recession, but it could shave off one or two percent off GDP growth," said Harry Verhoeven, who teaches African politics at Britain's University of Oxford.
"The resolve of the EU countries to hold up aid is stronger than President Museveni thinks," Verhoeven said. "I would not underestimate what the long term damage could be."
Museveni last month signed off on one of the world's most severe anti-gay laws, which states that "repeat homosexuals" should be jailed for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays to the police.
Diplomats and rights groups had been hoping the president, who is already under fire from key Western donors over alleged rampant graft and for stifling opposition groups and media, would refuse to sign the legislation into law.
US Secretary of State John Kerry likened the new law to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany and warned it could damage ties with Washington.
The World Bank froze a loan of $90 million (65 million euros), while Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have halted or changed aid programmes.
The aid cuts will impact the poorest, many warn.
Francois Audet, from Canada's Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid, warned that the "resources the country receives are indispensable to its survival."
"If aid is cut it would be very hard on services," said Bildard Baguma, deputy chief of Uganda's Red Cross.
"Even if it is just cut to government aid, it will certainly have an impact since so many programmes are funded with donor money. It would end up affecting mostly the poor."
Museveni's support for the law was seen as a move to bolster popular domestic support ahead of presidential elections scheduled for 2016, which will be his 30th year in power.
In a blunt speech after signing the law, Museveni warned Western nations not to meddle in Uganda's affairs and said he was not afraid of losing cash.
"The West can keep their 'aid' to Uganda over homos, we shall still develop without it," government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said in defiant message after cuts were announced.
But cuts could still hit Museveni, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, politically.
"It will harm some of the patronage instruments that President Museveni has for 2016 and that re-election campaign," Verhoeven said. "There will be less money to throw around. That will hurt, for sure."
However, the role of Uganda's army in international military missions will cushion diplomatic criticism.
Ugandan troops are a key part of the UN-mandated African Union force in Somalia, battling Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.
Ugandan troops are also working with US special forces in the hunt in the Central African Republic for fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, whose Lord's Resistance Army is accused of rape, murder and the kidnapping of children.
Despite Kerry's comments, Washington this week said it was sending more elite commandos to Uganda to bolster US support for the operations against Kony.
Others warn the laws will damage Uganda's international reputation, a worrying factor with tourism the country's second largest foreign exchange earner, estimated to be worth $662 million a year.
Sweden's Finance Minister Anders Borg, who was visiting Uganda when the law was signed, warned it presented an economic and "reputational risk" for the country, especially for investments and the tourist industry.
One tourist operator, who asked not to be named, said that some visitors at the top end of the market had cancelled.
"The concern is going on in all our minds," the operator said. "We are all talking among ourselves and trying to figure out what will happen."
For Verhoeven, the experienced and wily Museveni will try to "look for a way out to have the best of both worlds" -- scoring political points at home by playing up to homophobic sentiment, but also trying to allay the concerns of the West.
Museveni will say "he supported the bill, for his domestic constituency, but in the end he is not applying it, or there is a problem with it," Verhoeven said.

March 14, 2014

UN Chief Comes Down Hard on Nigeria on Gay Human Rights





The UN rights chief, Navi Pillay, Thursday said Nigeria's recent ban on same-sex marriage violated human rights and the nation's constitution.
"I'm concerned with the implication of the recently-passed Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act," Pillay said during a meeting with Nigeria's justice minister as part of her three-day official visit to Africa's most populous nation.
"In addition to the violation of fundamental human rights enshrined in the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), it is a violation also of the African Charter and the Nigerian constitution itself," she said.
Nigeria has been under fire internationally for banning gay marriage and alleged abuses while tackling Islamist insurgents in the north of the country.
President Goodluck Jonathan had in January approved a bill banning gay marriage and same-sex partnerships that sparked international condemnation.
Under the terms of the law -- criticised by the EU, US and Amnesty International among others -- anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or civil union can be sentenced to 14 years in prison.
"It (the law) may have negative consequences for public health in Nigeria," the UN chief said.
"It may deter LGBT persons from taking up HIV education, prevention treatment and care services and also hinder the ability of government as well as civil society and religious groups from implementing such services.
She called on authorities to observe a "moratorium on prosecution".
The anti-gay law follows similar legislation in Uganda that was condemned by US President Barack Obama as "odious" and compared to apartheid by South African peace icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Pillay, who ends her visit to Nigeria on Friday, also expressed her concern about "the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of human rights violations" in the country and urged authorities "to investigate and prosecute allegations of human rights violation".
She alleged that crimes committed by Boko Haram Islamists and security forces battling insurgents have "horrendous impact" on civilians.
Rights bodies and other groups have often accused security forces of human rights violations in their campaign to battle the insurgency which has claimed thousands of lives since 2009.
She said she would encourage Nigeria to take concrete steps to abolishing the death penalty by reducing the number of crimes punishable by it.
In response, Justice Minister Mohammed Bello Adoke said "the focus of the (anti-gay) Act is therefore discouragement of same-sex marriage which is a reflection of the overwhelming beliefs and cultural values of the Nigerian people".
He claimed that a 2013 opinion poll showed that 92 percent of Nigerians rejected same-sex marriage.
He added that the constitution did not approve extra-judicial killing and "has zero tolerance for any form of cruelty or inhuman treatment".
"While there have reports of extra-judicial killings, let me assure you that security officers that have been found culpable, irrespective of their position, are made to face the full weight of the law," he said.
Her visit is the first by UN human rights chief to Nigeria.
Agence France-Presse

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