Showing posts with label Commonwealth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commonwealth. Show all posts

April 27, 2018

Theresa May Sorry For Colonial Anti Gay Laws But Wont Help in Annulling Them Today



 The UK wrote these anti gay laws for these countries now is is ot lifting a finger to undue the harm

When British prime minister Theresa May, who’d been pushed hard byactivists in her country, apologized to the citizens of Commonwealth nations last week for inflicting dreaded anti-gay laws upon them it was momentous. Historic even.
“I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country,” she told leaders at the just concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM2018) in London. “They were wrong then and they are wrong now.”
The colonial-era ‘sodomy laws’ are in place in 36 out of 53 Commonwealth nations. And they’ve remained in place for well over 60 years in many African countries with the occasional controversial update at election time. As the West has gained more knowledge on human sexuality and moved away from classifying it as disease or criminal, the UK has changed its laws, and, eventually, fully embraced marriage equality between people of the same gender.
But will May’s ‘deep regret’ move the needle for gay, lesbian or transgender Africans who more often than not have to deal with brute force of the state and the stigma some in society openly heap on them?
Probably not. 
In 2018, many on the continent aren’t expecting May’s regrets to make much difference as they navigate staying alive while loving and living with dignity. In Nairobi, Kenya, Nguru Karugu, a longtime social justice advocate heard the remarks and thought they were of little significance.
“The Kenyan LGBT movement has continued to exert itself supported by a progressive constitution. Britain’s statement does not increase or decrease the trajectory the movement has embarked upon on its justice journey,” Karugu, the executive director of Public Health Innovations consulting firm, said. This rapidly growing movement however is one that the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta refuses to even acknowledge. Shortly after May’s remarks, he told CNN that LGBT equality in the Kenyan republic was a nonissue.
“I will not engage in a subject of no … it is not of any major importance to the people and the Republic of Kenya. This is not an issue, as you would want to put it, of human rights. This is an issue of society, of our own base, as a culture as a people,” he said adding that 99% of his fellow citizens agree with him.
Bur lately, courtrooms in Kenya tell a different story and are slowlyaffirming Kenyan gays who refuse to stay silent. And few say, Kenyatta is not speaking for them.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, the climate is increasingly hostile, particularly in former British colonies. Anyone can be arrested for on suspicion of being part of the LGBT family. In Zimbabwe there are recent reports of arrests of people simply on a night out; In Nigeria, it remains open season with entrapment of gays being the norm since former president Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law a draconian anti-gay bill in an Election Year gambit that he lost in 2015.
Of course the apology by May was received in Nigeria by scorn being heaped on her and media commentators there conflating decriminalization of adult consensual sexual activity that May called for, with marriage for same sex couples. Over in Tanzania, the state continues to bully activists, arresting anyone they deem to have any whiff of homosexual sympathies. And in Ghana, one prominent Christian leader, Emmanuel Martey, of the Presbyterian church of Ghana deems all gay Ghanaians as ‘Satanists’. And Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, the deputy speaker of parliament claimed homosexuality is worse than an atomic bomb. In Ghana at election time, gay hysteria seems to ramp up like it does in Nigeria.
A few years ago I asked one of Ghana’s noted historians why the Ghanaian sodomy laws which condemned men was silent on women. Nat Amarteifio, Accra’s former mayor howled with laughter then explained: “These laws were written fifty years ago when they didn’t dare think their women had sexual drives for men much less for women.”
So for some May’s apology was a day late and a dollar short.
“Why didn’t she simply condemn the fellow Commonwealth members to repeal their laws, not say the UK will stand by countries who want to reform? ” wondered Nairobi resident Kevin Mwachiro, 45, who felt perhaps she ought to have pointed out the worst offenders. “She should have been more forthright in condemning member countries that still have those laws.”
Still there are glimpses of hope. And resilience.
LGBT people in tiny Kingdom of eSwatini, (Swaziland) are refusing to hide anymore and planning a commemoration of Pride. While Ugandan police keep shutting down, LGBT cultural events, they continue to happen. Nigerian queer women are taking steps away from the shadows too as their queer stories are going public. ‘She Called Me Woman’ (Cassava Republic) hits Lagos bookstores in June. 
WRITTEN BY 
Quartz


April 22, 2018

Laws Banning Being LGBT Need To Be Banned~~List of Commonwealth Countries Banning Being Gay





Gay rights activists from Commonwealth countries are demanding that laws banning homosexuality should be overturned.
Campaigner Peter Tatchell has said people face violence and imprisonment just because they are gay.
The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, promised the Olympic diver Tom Daley that he would raise the issue at the Commonwealth summit. 
So, where is homosexuality still outlawed?
There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth and most of them are former British colonies.
Out of those, 37 have laws that criminalize homosexuality.
That number will fall by one after a court ruling in Trinidad and Tobago this month found that laws banning gay sex were unconstitutional
Tom Daley poses with two medal he won at the the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships on July 22, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.However, there may be an appeal.  Many of the laws criminalizing homosexual relations originate from British colonial times. 
And in many places, breaking these laws could be punishable by long prison sentences.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (Ilga) monitors the progress of laws relating to homosexuality around the world. 
According to its research, there have been arrests for homosexual acts in 15 Commonwealth countries in the last three years.
For instance, in 2017 the BBC reported that 40 men in Nigeria had been arrested during one weekend for performing homosexual acts.
Some observers note that the risk of prosecution in some places is minimal. 
For example, a 2017 report on Jamaica by the UK Home Office said that Jamaica was regarded as a homophobic society but that the "authorities do not actively seek to prosecute LGBT persons". 
On the other hand, some countries' existing laws have been tightened, including Nigeria and Uganda. 
Countries that criminalize homosexuality today include criminal penalties against women who have sex with women, although the original British laws applied only to men.
An Indian gay rights activist protests a ruling in the Supreme Court in 2013 that upheld a law which criminalises gay sex.Meanwhile, activist groups say the ability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) organizations to carry out advocacy work is being restricted.
A spokesperson from the Commonwealth Secretariat said: "We work with national human rights commissions to help encourage national dialogue when it comes to LGBT rights. 
"They are in the unique position of being able to advise government and parliament." There is a global trend toward decriminalizing same-sex acts and some Commonwealth countries have taken similar steps in the last few years. 
Despite many differences among Commonwealth countries, similar legal frameworks and a shared language make advocacy and initiatives for reform easier, says Tea Braun, director of the Human Dignity Trust, which advises on gay rights legal cases.
For instance, in Belize, laws that criminalize same-sex acts were struck down by the court in 2016 and in the same year, the parliaments in the Seychelles and Nauru voted to decriminalize homosexuality. 
The year before, Mozambique dropped a colonial-era clause outlawing "vices against nature". 

What next?

Campaigners around the world are involved in a number of legal cases and some high profile ones may come to a conclusion in the near future. 
This year the high court in Kenya is due to announce a judgment on whether it will remove sections of its penal code that criminalize homosexuality. 
A decriminalization case has been started in Botswana.
Judges in the Supreme Court in India said they will review a colonial-era law that was reinstated in 2013
The Indian law that banned gay sex was initially overturned in 2009.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has included references to sexual orientation and gender identity in its revised draft constitution.

The full list of countries where homosexuality is outlawed:

Botswana, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, 
Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, Brunei Kingdom, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Antigua and Barbuda Barbados Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Kiribati, Papua, New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon, IslandsTonga, Tuvalu.

November 15, 2013

Homophobia in the Commonwealth Colonial Nations


Wednesday's protest (Photo: Peter Tatchell Foundation)


Wednesday's protest (Photo: Peter Tatchell Foundation)

The Kaleidoscope Trust this week released a report on LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual/transgender and intersex) rights in Commonwealth countries. It found that 41 of the 53 member states still criminalise homosexual sex. This equates to almost 80% of the Commonwealth members, and over half of the 78 states globally in which gay sex is illegal.
But contrary to the report’s explanation, homophobia in the Commonwealth isn’t just a relic of colonialism.

CHOGM and human rights

The report was timed to influence the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, which starts tomorrow and follows on from previous attempts to address discrimination at the forum. In March 2013, a new Commonwealth Charter was adopted which states that:
We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.
The charter failed, however, to include LGBTI identities in the list of protected attributes.
Human rights have already become a major theme in the lead-up to CHOGM. Several heads of government have signalled they will not be attending in protest against Sri Lanka’s human rights record. Media attention has so-far focused on alleged war crimes perpetuated in Sri Lanka’s recent brutal civil war.
The Kaleidoscope report draws attention to other rights violations, including the criminalisation of homosexual sex and the harassment of LGBTI activists.
Other Commonwealth nations have also made global headlines recently for persecuting homosexuals. In 2009, the Ugandan parliament debated a bill that would have introduced the death penalty for serial offenders, HIV-positive people who engage in homosexual activity, and people having homosexual sex with a disabled partner. A revised version of the bill was debated in 2012.

Colonial legacy

The Kaleidoscope Trust report offers a fairly simple explanation for why LGBTI discrimination so prevalent in the Commonwealth: homophobic legislation is a relic of British Imperial rule.
When the British invaded and took possession of their various colonies around the world, “the unreformed law of England was transported through criminal codes by imperial masters to far flung outposts of empire”. This included legislation against “sodomy”, “attempted sodomy”, and, after 1885, “gross indecency” between men.



Uganda considered imposing the death penalty for homosexual activity. Image from shutterstock.com

The British Empire began to be dismantled following World War Two. Decolonisation was largely accomplished by 1967 when gay law reform first passed in England and Wales.
Crudely speaking then, legislation banning gay sex in the Commonwealth is a legacy of colonisation. Homophobic law and “the attitudes that had followed the law” were imposed on colonised societies, and largely remained after decolonisation.

But it’s not so simple

While I unequivocally support the decriminalisation of same-sex acts, the explanation of Commonwealth homophobia presented in the report disturbs me. And for a number of reasons.
Ironically, the campaign for LGBTI rights in the Commonwealth repeats the narrative of colonisation that it is ostensibly attempting to remedy. In this case, it is sexual liberation - rather than repression - that is being exported to the former colonial world from the former colonial center.
The Kaleidoscope Trust is based in the United Kingdom, and its report explicitly locates its agenda in the legacy of British decriminalisation. The report’s preface commends the wisdom of Sir John Wolfenden, whose 1957 report recommended decriminalisation in Britain.
That wisdom must now inspire us in the countries of the Commonwealth to rid ourselves of this archaic legal inheritance.
The majority of countries in which gay sex is illegal are the poorer and less developed states in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Carribean. But the focus on non-white former colonies sidelines rights abuses in countries where gay sex is legal. The continued exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation given to religious organisations in Britain and Australia are one obvious example (although, to be fair, they are also mentioned in the report).
And it is also easy to forget how late decriminalisation came in these places too. Scotland did not reform its law till 1980, Northern Ireland until 1982, and the last Australian decriminalisation legislation did not pass until 1997.
Furthermore, the neocolonial narrative implicit in the report presents acceptance of homosexual rights as a marker of Western modernity. This may not be an attractive conjunction in countries still struggling with the legacy of colonialisation. It lends itself to the (not unfounded) critique that homosexuality is being imposed in a neocolonial manner on former colonial possessions.



Bangladesh now recognises a third gender. Image from shutterstock.com

Framing the debate in terms of LGBTI rights also obscures the diversity of non-western sexual orientations and gender identities. “LGBTI” are remarkably recent ways for sexually and gender diverse people to self identify. Even in the west, men didn’t start to refer to themselves as “gay” until the 1970s.
It is illustrative that on the very same day that Kaleidoscope released its report, the Bangladesh government recognised Hijras as a third gender. Traditional transgendered people have been able to be legally recognised in a society in which gay sex has not yet been able to be made legal.
Finally, and most importantly, the colonial explanation of Commonwealth homophobia ignores non-Western sources of opposition to sexual freedom. Why have places like Sri Lanka and Uganda criminilised sex between women when that was never illegal in colonising Britain? What about non-Christian religious opposition to LGBTI rights?
Locating homophobia (and LGBTI activism) in the colonial domain fails to recognize or engage with either the agency of postcolonial activists or that of postcolonial homophobes.
AUTHOR


 


November 8, 2013

What’s Happening at the Commonwealth Colonial Nations in Homophobia?

.

Homophobia in the Commonwealth isn’t just a relic of colonialism. Image from shutterstock.com
The Kaleidoscope Trust this week released a report on LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual/transgender and intersex) rights in Commonwealth countries. It found that 41 of the 53 member states still criminalise homosexual sex. This equates to almost 80% of the Commonwealth members, and over half of the 78 states globally in which gay sex is illegal.
But contrary to the report’s explanation, homophobia in the Commonwealth isn’t just a relic of colonialism.

CHOGM and human rights

The report was timed to influence the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, which starts tomorrow and follows on from previous attempts to address discrimination at the forum. In March 2013, a new Commonwealth Charter was adopted which states that:
We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.
The charter failed, however, to include LGBTI identities in the list of protected attributes.
Human rights have already become a major theme in the lead-up to CHOGM. Several heads of government have signalled they will not be attending in protest against Sri Lanka’s human rights record. Media attention has so-far focused on alleged war crimes perpetuated in Sri Lanka’s recent brutal civil war.
The Kaleidoscope report draws attention to other rights violations, including the criminalisation of homosexual sex and the harassment of LGBTI activists.
Other Commonwealth nations have also made global headlines recently for persecuting homosexuals. In 2009, the Ugandan parliament debated a bill that would have introduced the death penalty for serial offenders, HIV-positive people who engage in homosexual activity, and people having homosexual sex with a disabled partner. A revised version of the bill was debated in 2012.

Colonial legacy

The Kaleidoscope Trust report offers a fairly simple explanation for why LGBTI discrimination so prevalent in the Commonwealth: homophobic legislation is a relic of British Imperial rule.
When the British invaded and took possession of their various colonies around the world, “the unreformed law of England was transported through criminal codes by imperial masters to far flung outposts of empire”. This included legislation against “sodomy”, “attempted sodomy”, and, after 1885, “gross indecency” between men.
Uganda considered imposing the death penalty for homosexual activity. Image from shutterstock.com
The British Empire began to be dismantled following World War Two. Decolonisation was largely accomplished by 1967 when gay law reform first passed in England and Wales.
Crudely speaking then, legislation banning gay sex in the Commonwealth is a legacy of colonisation. Homophobic law and “the attitudes that had followed the law” were imposed on colonised societies, and largely remained after decolonisation.

But it’s not so simple

While I unequivocally support the decriminalisation of same-sex acts, the explanation of Commonwealth homophobia presented in the report disturbs me. And for a number of reasons.
Ironically, the campaign for LGBTI rights in the Commonwealth repeats the narrative of colonisation that it is ostensibly attempting to remedy. In this case, it is sexual liberation - rather than repression - that is being exported to the former colonial world from the former colonial center.
The Kaleidoscope Trust is based in the United Kingdom, and its report explicitly locates its agenda in the legacy of British decriminalisation. The report’s preface commends the wisdom of Sir John Wolfenden, whose 1957 report recommended decriminalisation in Britain.
That wisdom must now inspire us in the countries of the Commonwealth to rid ourselves of this archaic legal inheritance.
The majority of countries in which gay sex is illegal are the poorer and less developed states in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Carribean. But the focus on non-white former colonies sidelines rights abuses in countries where gay sex is legal. The continued exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation given to religious organisations in Britain and Australia are one obvious example (although, to be fair, they are also mentioned in the report).
And it is also easy to forget how late decriminalisation came in these places too. Scotland did not reform its law till 1980, Northern Ireland until 1982, and the last Australian decriminalisation legislation did not pass until 1997.
Furthermore, the neocolonial narrative implicit in the report presents acceptance of homosexual rights as a marker of Western modernity. This may not be an attractive conjunction in countries still struggling with the legacy of colonialisation. It lends itself to the (not unfounded) critique that homosexuality is being imposed in a neocolonial manner on former colonial possessions.
Bangladesh now recognises a third gender. Image from shutterstock.com
Framing the debate in terms of LGBTI rights also obscures the diversity of non-western sexual orientations and gender identities. “LGBTI” are remarkably recent ways for sexually and gender diverse people to self identify. Even in the west, men didn’t start to refer to themselves as “gay” until the 1970s.
It is illustrative that on the very same day that Kaleidoscope released its report, the Bangladesh government recognised Hijras as a third gender. Traditional transgendered people have been able to be legally recognised in a society in which gay sex has not yet been able to be made legal.
Finally, and most importantly, the colonial explanation of Commonwealth homophobia ignores non-Western sources of opposition to sexual freedom. Why have places like Sri Lanka and Uganda criminilised sex between women when that was never illegal in colonising Britain? What about non-Christian religious opposition to LGBTI rights?
Locating homophobia (and LGBTI activism) in the colonial domain fails to recognize or engage with either the agency of postcolonial activists or that of postcolonial homophobes.

AUTHOR

DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

Timothy Jones receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

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