Showing posts with label International Homophobia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International Homophobia. Show all posts

May 25, 2019

Brazil Supreme Court Votes to Make Homophobia and Transphobia A Crime

 By Tim Marcin

A majority of judges on Brazil’s Supreme Court voted Thursday to make homophobia and transphobia a crime, marking a major victory for the country’s LGBT population as they face an increasingly threatening environment, with dozens of people having been killed this year and President Jair Bolsonaro proudly declaring his dislike of the community.

Six of the Court’s 11 judges voted to make discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender unconstitutional. The five other judges will have a court session in June, but the results won’t be changed and the decision will take effect after they’ve all voted. The ruling would make it possible for those who experience such discrimination to sue. 

The decision “comes at a very good moment, when we have a head of state who is LGBT-phobic,” Bruna Benevides, president of the Niteroi Diversity group, told the AP. “The Supreme Court assumed the responsibility to protect us.”

The protection is needed, as it’s a dangerous time for LGBT people in Brazil: At least 141 LGBT people have been killed so far in 2019, the Associated Press reports, citing a watchdog group.

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has said he’s proud of his homophobia. The president has declared in interviews that he’d rather have a dead son than a gay son and that Brazil must not become a “gay tourism paradise.”

“If you want to come here and have sex with a woman, go for your life,” Bolsonaro told journalists in April. “But we can’t let this place become known as a gay tourism paradise. Brazil can’t be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families.”

LGBT advocates have said this sort of rhetoric puts the population at even further risk. And just this week Amnesty International warned that the Bolsonaro administration was turning anti-human-rights rhetoric into action by adopting “measures that threaten the rights to life, health, freedom, land and territory of Brazilians.” citing such moves as the president’s decision to relax gun laws and the rollout of a new, more punitive national drug policy.

The effort to make homophobia a crime in Brazil goes back decades but has been met with strong resistance from conservatives and religious groups. The court ruling mandates that homophobic and transphobic offenses will be covered within a racism law passed in 1989. Meanwhile, Brazil’s Senate is also considering a bill that would criminalize discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender.

The court’s decision was an open rebuke of the homophobic rhetoric from Bolsonaro, who rose to power with strong conservative support, and an attempt to secure protections for the LGBT community regardless of what Congress does.

“There is no guarantee the bill will pass, and even if it does, it can be vetoed and homophobia will continue,” said Judge Luiz Fox, according to the Independent. “The judiciary must act in defense of minorities against violence by the majority.”

November 16, 2018

Denmark Withholds Aid to Tanzania Because It's Anti Gay Stance and Latest Homophobic Comments

Denmark is withholding 65m krone (£7.5m; $9.8m) in aid to Tanzania after "unacceptable homophobic comments" from a senior politician, a minister says.
Development minister Ulla Tornaes did not name the official but said she was "very concerned" by the comments.
Last month, Paul Makonda, commissioner for the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, called on the public to report suspected gay men to the police.
He said he would set up a surveillance squad to track down gay people.
The government said at the time that Mr Makonda was expressing his personal opinion, not government policy.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Correspondents say statements against gay people have increased since President John Magufuli's election in 2015.
In 2017, the country's deputy health minister defended a threat to publish a list of gay people.
"I am very concerned about the negative development in Tanzania. Most recently the totally unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner," Ms Tornaes said on Twitter.
"I have therefore decided to withhold DKK 65m in the country. Respect for human rights is crucial for Denmark."
Denmark is Tanzania's second biggest aid donor.
Ms Tornaes has also postponed a planned trip to the east African country, Danish broadcaster DR reported.
The Tanzanian government has not yet commented.
Mr Makonda - a staunch ally of the president - said last month that he expected international criticism for his stance, but added: "I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God."
The government distanced itself from his views, saying that he "was only airing his personal opinion".
It said the government would "continue to respect and uphold all human rights as provided for in the country's constitution".
Earlier this month, ten men were arrested for allegedly conducting a same-sex marriage ceremony on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar.
The move was condemned by human rights groups.

May 16, 2017

Australia Lagging Behind Its Peers on New ILGBT Rights Score Card

A NEW map has graphically illustrated how Australia is lagging behind its peers. 
On first glance, it might be difficult to see why. After all, Australia is painted green along with much of the Western world. In contrast, much of the Arab world is painted a dark shade of red.
But look closer. Whereas the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand are a deep green, Australia is a far lighter hue.
The map is from the Geneva based International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and, at a glance, shows which countries provide gay people with the most legal protections. And which don’t.
Australia’s light green hue means it has failed to make the top tier of nations when it comes to LGBTI rights. Instead, it is in a secondary league alongside Hungary, Ecuador, Greece, Israel and Croatia.
The map from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s State Sponsored Homophobia report. Nations in green have protections for gay people, those in yellow and orange do not but being gay is not illegal, nations in red are where being gay is illegal.
The map from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s State Sponsored Homophobia report. Nations in green have protections for gay people, those in yellow and orange do not but being gay is not illegal, nations in red are where being gay is illegal.Source:Supplied
An LGBTI rights advocate has said Australia should be “embarrassed” at the lack of progress made while other nations have streaked ahead.
ILGA’s 2017 State Sponsored Homophobia report, which has been published prior to the annual International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on Wednesday, shows 23 nations recognise gay marriage including South Africa, Brazil, the US, Canada and Spain. Most recently, Bermuda, Guernsey and Finland joined the club.
Conversely, same-sex relations were illegal an 72 countries — down from 92 in 2006. Eight countries impose the death penalty for homosexual activity. This punishment is known to be carried out in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as by Islamic militants in parts of Iraq and Syria.
In just the past few months, there have been allegations of “concentration camps” for gay men set up in the Russian region of Chechnya. Human rights groups say some of the men detained have died. But Chechan officials have denied any gay men live in the deeply religious area.
Police detain gay rights activists during a rally marking May Day in St. Petersburg, Russia. Picture: AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky.
Police detain gay rights activists during a rally marking May Day in St. Petersburg, Russia. Picture: AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky.Source:AP
“A simple look at the map starkly indicates the absence of positive provisions in most parts of the world,” said the report’s co-author Lucas Ramon Mendos.
“They offer food for thought on how states are faring when it comes to denying or upholding our rights, to scapegoating our communities, or situating us on ideological battlefields in national and international political spaces.”
Globally, the picture is a little brighter for gay people in 2017 with a general increase in anti — discrimination efforts.
“Although laws that recognise our relationships and families are on the increase, less than 25 per cent of the world’s states recognise or protect us — that is a sobering thought,” said co-author Aengus Carroll.
Just the weekend, Singapore — where a blind eye is often turned to homosexuality despite its illegality — organisers of the Pink Dot LGBTI rally said recent law changes meant any non-Singaporeans who turned up to the July event could be arrested.
Around a third of UN members states criminalise homosexuality. Picture: Supplied.
Around a third of UN members states criminalise homosexuality. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied
In our own region, the report ranks New Zealand as the most forward thinking on gay rights.
Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu all outlaw homosexuality but only PNG has actually arrested anyone for being gay in the past three years.
Samoa and Tuvalu also have anti-gay laws but the island nations have a lenient approach to transgender people which is far more culturally accepted.
Australia is second only to the kiwis in Asia Pacific. But there has been no progress on same-sex marriage, meaning that Australia is now out of step with much of Western Europe and North America.
Co-convener of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Chris Pycroft, told the report’s release showed that Australia was lagging behind its peers in LGBTI equality.
“It’s embarrassing because we are seeing progress made in so many other countries and yet, when you see this report, it show’s absolutely no change (on marriage equality) in our community. 
“It’s something we should be a bit ashamed of when we know the majority of Australians support equality for LGBTI people,” said Mr Pycroft.
The Coalition went to the polls promising a non-binding plebiscite on the issue but the legislation stalled with opponents arguing it was unnecessary and any campaign would cause harm to vulnerable gay people.
So far, calls for a parliamentary vote have gone unheeded.
But despite the lack of action on marriage equality, on a state level some changes to laws have been made during the last year.
Queensland has lowered the age of consent for gay people to 16, to match that of heterosexuals. The state is also erasing the criminal convictions of gay people convicted of crimes, now struck off the statute books, that were committed generations ago.
South Australia has made it easier for trans people to change their gender on birth certificates and now recognise oversee same-sex marriage. This followed the outcry over the heartless treatment of a British man who was honeymooning in Adelaide when his husband died.
“The state’s standing out for the wrong reasons are now NSW and Western Australia,” said Mr Pycroft.
“NSW is now the only state that doesn’t have bisexual people recognized in its anti-discrimination law and that needs to be fixed.”


February 2, 2017

UK: If you Believes Gays Choose that Glamourous Life UR Dense

After all the information available about gays, if you still believe gays choose that glamorous non bigotry, love by all, hate by none and with none of the rights of straights including lying to everyone you know especially your parents about who you are, then you are beyond being uninformed…you are either afraid of gay people(homophobe) or you just don’t give a shit about the people around you and then you should not be involved in equal rights events because you don’t know what that means!! Hope I got that right.

JEREMY Corbyn is under fire for saying people “chose to be gay” at the launch of LGBT History Month
The Labour leader made the embarrassing gaffe during an event last night.

Jeremy Corbyn made the gaffe during a speech to mark the beginning of LGBT History Month
Mr Corbyn told an audience: “We’re with you, we’re in solidarity with you. Your triumphs are our triumphs.”
He went on: “Our defense of you is a defence of all of humanity and the right of people to practise the life they want to practise, rather than be criminalised, brutalised and murdered, simply because they chose to be gay, they chose to be lesbian, they were LGBT in any form.” A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said today: "Jeremy obviously meant people should be able to choose how they live their lives."

And Benjamin Cohen, the CEO of PinkNews and a journalist who was at the event, said the remarks were being taken "out of context".
But some members have said they can’t remain part of the Labour party after he made the comments - whether they were a mistake or not.

January 11, 2016

Homophobia and Hatred as a Political Tool


 Horrifying images posted on social media for all the world to see show men accused of homosexuality thrown off high buildings, stoned to death, or shot in the head by extremist groups, including the Islamic State (known as ISIS) in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

This was the worst, but by no means the only, violence directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in all parts of the world. According to a report on discrimination and violence against LGBT people by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in June:

Since 2011, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more injured in brutal, violent attacks… Other documented violations include torture, arbitrary detention, denial of rights to assembly and expression, and discrimination in health care, education, employment and housing.
But there was also very good news for LGBT people in 2015. In May, Mexico and Ireland extended marriage to same-sex couples. A month later, Mozambique decriminalized homosexuality, and the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, allowing same-sex marriages throughout the country.

Malta, Ireland, and Colombia all separated the legal process for transgender recognition from medical procedures. In June, Colombia delivered a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of 72 countries, from all regions of the world, affirming a commitment to end violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Extreme violence – and rapid progress

Extreme violence and rapid progress toward equality are the bookends of 2015. Negative snapshots include proposed draft laws that would mimic Russia’s notorious “propaganda law” by setting penalties for providing objective or positive information about homosexuality in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

In a setback for transgender women, a Malaysian federal court reversed a ruling that had found unconstitutional a Sharia (Islamic law) provision that forbids “a male person posing as a woman,” and religious authorities continued arresting trans women. In Brunei and Indonesia’s Aceh province, new Sharia laws call for public lashing, imprisonment and even the death penalty for same-sex conduct. Egypt imprisoned gay men and transgender women on “debauchery” charges and Morocco routinely imprisoned men accused of homosexuality.

LGBT people in Nigeria experienced violence and abuse under the shadow of an extreme anti-LGBT law. In Gambia, home of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, gay men and lesbians fled a politically motivated crackdown. In the United States, after a campaign of fear-mongering against transgender people, voters in the city of Houston rejected a non-discrimination ordinance that would have prevented discrimination not only on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation, but also for race, age, and other categories.

Slovenia, in a referendum, shot down marriage equality just months after parliament extended marriage to same-sex couples.

Positive snapshots during the year include progress for transgender people in India and Thailand, where legal developments hold the promise for increased protection and social inclusion. LGBT groups in Kenya and Tunisia have been allowed to register and operate in an important assertion of the right to association. Malawi upheld a moratorium on arrests for consensual same-sex conduct, pending a court review in which activists challenged discriminatory laws. And Nepal’s otherwise deeply flawed constitution includes a ray of light in a clause protecting sexual and gender minorities.

While the past year has seen significant gains, many challenges lie ahead. In countries where repressive governments attack civil society organizations and prevent them operating freely and openly, LGBT people will be forced to live a shadow existence. 
Developments at the United Nations give insight into global trends and emerging patterns on matters relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. On September 29, at a high-level LGBT core group event at UN headquarters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered an impassioned plea for the protection of LGBT people worldwide, and on the same day 12 UN agencies issued a joint statement on combatting violence and discrimination against LGBT and intersex people – the first of its kind.

But there is strong pushback. Russia has for years been positioning itself as the champion of “traditional values,” in alliance with other countries, primarily from the Middle East and Africa. This provides a convenient positive spin for rights-abusing states to cloak crackdowns on independent groups, restrictions on the political opposition, and moves to curtail individual freedoms as upholding “traditional values.”

Russian-sponsored UN resolutions on “traditional values” have attempted to undermine the universality of human rights. Russia and its allies have sought to create a false dichotomy between traditional values and human rights. And the rights of LGBT people, along with women’s reproductive rights, are the lightning rods in this debate.

This dynamic played itself out in an Egypt-led resolution on the “protection of the family” that the Human Rights Council adopted in June. The resolution seeks to enshrine a narrow conception of the family as the protector of “morals” and “traditions,” with no meaningful consideration of whether these comply with international human rights standards. Russia blocked attempts by South Africa, Brazil and Uruguay to recognize a broader definition of family.

Homophobia as a political tool

Such resolutions are thinly veiled attempts to use the language and institutions of human rights to push back against the rights of LGBT people, and all those who don’t fit patriarchal norms. This coincides with the increased political use of homophobia, by leaders who have portrayed themselves as guardians of embattled “traditional values” to distract attention from their failures of governance.

Rhetoric that positions LGBT people as the antithesis of “morality” and “tradition” is dangerous and contributes to a hostile climate in which extreme violence occurs.

While the past year has seen significant gains, many challenges lie ahead. In countries where repressive governments attack civil society organizations and prevent them operating freely and openly, LGBT people will be forced to live a shadow existence. Civil society organizations should reject attempts by governments to manipulate anti-LGBT animus for short-term political gain, and LGBT groups should avoid working in isolation and support a broader human rights agenda.

Reid Graeme

June 12, 2015

US Sends Powerful LGBT Delegation to New President of No Gays Nigeria


This week General Muhammadu Buhari will be inaugurated as Nigerian’s president, a position he won by campaigning on a platform of change. But will that change include the people on the fringe of society, like lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals? Will he eliminate the current repressive policies that his predecessor President Ebele Goodluck Jonathan approved? Can the U.S. and other governments pressure him to do so?
So far, Buhari has offered no public opinion on the matter. This includes when he was a military general and in 1983, toppled a democratically elected civilian government and ruled for 18 months until he himself was overthrown in another coup. At that time, LGBT issues were not part of the public discourse. 
It was only in 2004 that the issue came to the forefront during a famous TV interviewbetween Funmi Iyanda and myself, an openly gay Nigerian actor. Attention to the issue grew two years later with the introduction of the Same Sex (Prohibition) Act. Then in 2014, President Jonathan passed a harsher law that mandated a 14-year prison sentence for anyone in a same-sex relationship and a 10-year term for anyone who supports gay clubs, meetings or societies. Anti-gay violence has increased in the year since it passed.
In a recent report released by the LGBT Coalition in Nigeria, more than 100 cases of abuse against the LGBT community was recorded in 2014 alone. Thirty-nine instances of this abuse were carried out by state actors, including the police and it includes; arbitrary arrest, extortion, unlawful detention and “consensual” outing to family members.
As a presidential candidate, Buhari made no public pronouncement about this controversial law or the abuse of LGBT people. Nor did he comment when the opposition accused him of planning a deal with the countries in the West to repeal the law. So what will he do now?
Of course, at this point, there are really only two options: continue to support the repressive law or repeal it.
Supporting it would be the easier and more popular route. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes and Trends report, 98 percent of Nigerians said they believed homosexuality was not a way of life that society should support. In 2013, NOI, a Nigeria based opinion polling agency, showed 92 percent of Nigerians supported the anti-gay bill, largely because of their religious beliefs. But as more countries approve LGBT rights – with Ireland being the most recent example – and as entities like the World Bank refuse to loan money to countries that have anti-LGBT laws, he risks losing international support.
If Buhari decides to repeal the law, he will have more international support, but he will be swimming against the tide and the wishes of most Nigerian people. On the other hand, a Buhari government that supports and upholds the law will be committing a grave mistake by denying many Nigerians the right to live a safe and full existence. Further, because it’s unsafe for them in Nigeria, LGBT individuals account for one of the highest number of migrants from Nigeria to Europe and America, taking with them years of investment in term of education and expertise. Isn’t it in Nigeria’s best interest for them to be able to stay at home and contribute to the development of the country?
While at least for now, Buhari might be silent on this issue, the global community should not be. His inauguration gives them an open window for new engagement and re-negotiation with Nigeria on the issue of social liberty, justice and LGBT rights. The U.S., UK, Germany and the Nordic countries should see this as a chance to support, mentor and encourage Buhari to take the lead in championing true democracy, not just in Nigeria but across Africa. If he is given the right international support through soft power negotiation and not bullying, through encouragement and not probing, through mentoring and not dictating I hope it can happen.
Fortunately, President Barack Obama is sending a powerful delegation led by Secretary of State John Kerry to Buhari’s inauguration, signaling the important role Nigeria is playing in trade and security in West Africa and Africa as a whole. While I have openly criticized the U.S. LGBT Special Envoy Randy Berry, I acknowledge this is a golden opportunity for the U.S. to make good use of his office and support him in working with Nigerian LGBT and civil society.
Clearly Buhari has a lot of competing interests on his time, like fighting Boko Haram, creating jobs and crushing corruption. And his human rights record has not always been good. Like when he curtailed the freedom of the press and endorsed the flogging of civilians for simple infractions like crossing the road instead using footbridge. However, many of his other actions show him to often be a leader who has at the core of his politics humanity and human rights.
While I will not hold my breath that it will happen immediately, I do have hope that one day he will extend those human rights to all Nigerian citizens, especially if there is pressure from the international community like the U.S., from LGBT Nigerians who live abroad, and from activists within the country.
 Bisi Alimi
Alimi is a lecturer in pre- and post-colonial sexual orientation and gender identity in Africa at Berlin’s Freie Universtat and an alumni of the Aspen Institute’s New Voices Fellowship.

May 17, 2015

PresObama: LGBT ARE Priority Around the World, Calls Gambia,Jamaica,Russia Homophobic


The White House said Saturday that LGBT rights around the world are a “government priority” and slammed the president of Gambia for threats made against gays in his country.
Yahya Jammeh told a crowd in the Gambian town of Farafeni last week, “If you do it I will slit your throat — if you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it.” 
“The recent unconscionable comments by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh underscore why we must continue to seek a world in which no one lives in fear of violence or persecution because of who they are or whom they love,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a statement. “We condemn his comments, and note these threats come amid an alarming deterioration of the broader human rights situation in The Gambia. We are deeply concerned about credible reports of torture, suspicious disappearances – including of two American citizens – and arbitrary detention at the government’s hands.”
Late last year, the U.S. stopped trade preferences with Gambia because of its “crackdown against its LGBT community and wider human rights violations,” Rice noted, and “we are reviewing what additional actions are appropriate to respond to this worsening situation.”
“We repeat our call for the Gambian government, and all governments, to lead inclusively, repudiate intolerance, and promote respect for the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all people,” she added.
Tomorrow is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
President Obama issued a statement today stressing “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights are human rights, to celebrate the dignity of every person, and to underscore that all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love.”
“We work toward this goal every day. Here at home, we are working to end bias-motivated violence, combat discrimination in the workplace, and address the specific needs of transgender persons. Overseas, I am proud of the steps that the United States has taken to prioritize the protection and promotion of LGBT rights in our diplomacy and global outreach,” the president said.
“There is much more to do, and this fight for equality will not be won in a day. But we will keep working, at home and abroad, and we will keep fighting, for however long it takes until we are all able to live free and equal in dignity and rights.”
The administration also released a fact sheet detailing what it’s done to promote LGBT rights, including reviewing passport rules so couples in states with same-sex marriage can use married names on international travel documents and diplomats marching in gay pride parades. This past February, Secretary of State John Kerry appointed Randy Berry as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, and there are six openly gay U.S. ambassadors.
“The U.S. Government has pushed back publicly and privately against discriminatory legislation, including in Uganda and The Gambia,” the White House said. “And senior U.S. officials continue to speak in support of LGBT persons around the world, as President Obama has done in trips to Russia, Senegal and, most recently, Jamaica.                        

November 24, 2013

Uganda a Piece of Hell for Young Gays

Bernard Randall
Bernard Randall in the Entebbe chief magistrates court. Photograph: Isaac Kasamani/AFP/Getty Images
Bernard Randall, the British gay man charged with homosexuality-related offences in a Ugandan court, glances up sceptically when I walk into his lawyer's chambers. His Ugandan partner, Albert Cheptoyek, sits protectively in front of him, closer to the door, on a rickety wooden bench. Cheptoyek's white shirt illuminates his dark sweaty skin, while Randall's oversize dull-coloured clothes match his face, making him almost invisible.
And that perhaps may just be the effect he needs to get through the ordeal of having the content of a sex tape of him and his 30-year-old partner splashed over newspapers and across the media here. And not just any media, but the media of a country that has declared homosexuality to be an evil practice, a cancer imported from the west that must be stamped out no matter what the cost.
In 2009, Ugandan MPs proposed the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. The anti-homosexuality bill was shelved after international pressure, but it remains on parliament's order paper and could be debated and passed at any time.
In Uganda the media routinely out gay people in an attempt to "protect" the moral fabric of society. In 2010 a tabloid called the Rolling Stoneprinted the names and addresses of people perceived to be gay and called on the public to hang them.
Randall, 65, says that he became a victim of such an outing after his computer was stolen, a video of him and his partner leaked and pictures from it published in a tabloid. He faces the possibility of two years in prison. His partner faces the more serious charge of carrying out acts of gross indecency that carries a seven-year prison sentence.
The charges are visibly weighing down on them. Randall's eyes, fatigued and bloodshot, have big bags under them. He involuntarily sits on the edge of the seat, as far from me as possible, protecting himself subtly with his arms. He seems to age before my eyes.
Certainly it is easy to see that Cheptoyek, perhaps more familiar with Uganda's anti-homosexuality outbursts, is his protector. He declares there will be no interview, even though I have an appointment.
"How do I know you are who you say you are? How do I know that you are not from NTV?" he says, referring to one of the TV stations that he feels covered their story unfairly.
Their eyes are pleading. Cheptoyek asks me firmly to leave them alone. And then out of nowhere, almost weeping, he says: "We have been through so much. Those people put my photos all over the place. We do not know what to do."
They are lost. Life after this ordeal will be almost impossible. They know that the Ugandan public, an estimated 90% of whom support the anti-homosexuality bill, will not welcome them back. Like other outed Ugandans before them, they risk threats, evictions, even death. As a result, Cheptoyek and Randall will trust only foreign journalists. Their only hope lies in the west after the country they call home – in Randall's case, chose to call home – has become hostile beyond their imagination.
Uganda has been called the worst nation in which to be gay. It was its anti-homosexuality bill that first brought its homophobic attitudes to the attention of the world, attracting powerful criticism from Europe and America, where it was dubbed barbaric and a violation of fundamental human rights. Britain and the US both threatened to cut aid to Uganda if it passed the bill. Uganda interpreted this reaction as evidence that the west was imposing a "gay agenda" on Africa.
Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's president for the last 27 years, described homosexuality as a decadent culture from the west and a threat to African values and Christianity. He showed open support for the bill but later backed down in the face of widespread international pressure. However, his ministers have continued to preach anti-gay rhetoric, urging gays to leave the country.
But Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, thinks that the accusation that the west is promoting homosexuality is misguided. "People are exaggerating the influence of foreigners in the gay rightscampaign in Uganda. The same people who fund other activities fund gay rights organisations. We do not have special donors," he says. "When we started our campaigns in 2007, we did not have any foreign funders. It was a naive gamble rather than a foreign-aided campaign."
In fact, the greatest foreign influence in the gay rights debate in Uganda comes from the western evangelical movement that is spreading radical ideas rejected in their own countries, Mugisha says. His organisation is suing evangelist Scott Lively in a US court for his involvement in what Mugisha calls persecution of gays and abuse of their fundamental rights.
Homosexuality is a common theme in churches in Uganda, with religious leaders castigating gay people at every opportunity. The country has held national prayers against homosexuality. In 2010 a pastor, Martin Ssempa, showed videos in his church of gay people having sex in a bid to convince his congregation of the dangers and to try to trigger disgust about gays.
Funded by evangelical movements from America, anti-gay churches have linked the high prevalence of HIV and Aids in the country to homosexuality. They have accused homosexuals of going to school and "recruiting" underage children.
Mugisha says evangelists have played on the psyche of many Ugandans. "They come here with their own agenda. It is like colonialism."
But to the ordinary Ugandan the Randall trial is yet more proof that there are foreigners who come to Uganda with one mission – to spread homosexuality. Mugisha argues that the socio-legal regime that sanctions homophobia and the idea that homosexuality is foreign has made foreigners an easy target for extortionists.
"We have seen this before. Many people blackmail white men and even rich black people known to be gay. Randall is unfortunate that his story reached the public."
Frederick Juuko, a Ugandan law professor and critic of foreign influence in Ugandan politics, agrees that homosexuality is a pawn for many in times of desperation, including government. He says Uganda is a failed state and that blaming foreigners for homosexuality is a handy distraction.
My encounter with Randall and Cheptoyek comes to a rapid end; it is soon time for them to make their daily trip to the police station – a condition of their bail.
"We have to go and deal with this," Cheptoyek says. They drive off, stopping after a few metros to let a guard slither into the back seat, just in case.

November 16, 2013

Kuwait is Planning to Check Homosexuality at Its Border-Anal Tests in the Arab World?

  • How does Kuwait plan to test for homosexuality at its border?
  • October was a difficult month to be gay in the Arab world.
  • On Oct 13, Egyptian police detained 14 people in Cairo pending investigations into allegations that they committed “homosexual acts” inside a medical centre in a middle-class neighbourhood in Cairo. The Egyptian prosecutor also ordered that they be sent to a pathologist for forensic reports and that the centre be shut down, the Arabic Ahram news site reported.
  • Rather than addressing its country’s problems — the current political struggle and the terrorism growing in the country — the Egyptian government is spending time and effort harassing gay people.
  • Egypt is infamous for its acts against gay people. In 2001, 52 Egyptian men stood trial on charges of “sexual immorality.”
  • Meanwhile the Kuwaiti government is spending time and money on finding the best ways to detect gay people in airports to prevent them from entering the country.
  • The proposal, put forth earlier in October by Kuwait’s director of public health, would ban anyone found to be homosexual, transgender or a crossdresser from entering the country. If adopted, it would add a new test to the medical assessments already required for migrants attempting to enter the Arab country.
  • And how exactly do they propose to test for homosexuality? Both the Kuwaitis and the Cairo police casually refer to "anal tests" as a means to detect homosexuality.
  • In April 2013, I stood outside the Ministry of Justice in Beirut, Lebanon with about 60 other people to protest the use of “anal tests” on Syrian gay people who were arrested in an underground nightclub famous for being gay-friendly.
  • “I was asked to take off my pants,” one of the men arrested said in an interview on a local TV station. “I was held in a public office, people were coming in and out, while some doctor was standing there casually having a conversation with someone that I couldn’t see, while I was standing naked in a corner, trying to hide my private parts.”
  • In the interview, the man’s face was hidden, his voice was altered. He was too shy to explain the exact test that he went through before his release.
  • Some rumours circulated around the time claimed that the test is a simple one: the authorities bring a doctor who uses a chicken’s egg and tries to insert it up the anus of the person suspected of being gay. According to how easily this operation goes, the doctor decides if the person is gay or not. This rumour was never documented or authenticated, naturally.
  • We call these tests in the gay society in the Arab world the “Shame Tests” — we all shiver under the possibility that one day we might go through it ourselves.
  • “Anal tests are not a medical practice, they are not scientific, and they do not indicate any form of finding the true sexuality, or gender identity of any person,” Ahmed Saleh, a spokesperson of Helem — the only LGBT non-governmental organization in the Arab World — tells
  • “These tests are done in a barbaric way, and they are an invasion of privacy and personal dignity of any person that is subjected to it.”
  • Helem used the incident to push for legal recognition that anal tests should not be performed by any licensed doctor in Lebanon. In response, The Lebanese Medical Association (LMA), in what is considered a healthcare milestone, listened.
  • On Aug 7, the LMA issued a memo demanding that doctors cease to conduct the anal probes. They have warned that any doctor who attempts to conduct them will face disciplinary action.
  • Speaking with the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, Dr Sharaf Abu Sharaf, the head of the LMA, said the procedure is ineffective, constitutes a gross violation of human rights, is humiliating, forced upon people without their consent, and in breach of the international convention against torture.
  • The country's public prosecutor, Judge Saeed Mirza, has argued for the tests to continue. He has stated that if police need ‘proof’ of homosexuality only the suspect can ‘consent to undergo the exam.’ However, if the detainee refuses to give his consent it can be used as ‘evidence’ against him.
  • This can still be considered a triumph in Lebanon, but it is also shadowed by the mentality of the rest of the Arab world, which is far yet from following Lebanon’s lead in this matter.
  • We are still wondering what kind of anal tests the 14 Egyptian detainees are going to face, and what kind of medical requirement migrants to Kuwait might have to endure.
  • Maybe they plan to test how firm your handshake is? Or how stylish your outfit is... although most Kuwaitis are known for overspending on designer clothing. Jokes aside, anal tests are still practiced across the Arab World, and the young men who have gone through them are still suffering in silence.
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