Showing posts with label Threats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Threats. Show all posts

September 28, 2018

One Week After Coming Out Gay Zimbabwe Teacher Quits After Death Threats




Picture of Neal HovelmeierImage copyright



 
Image captionHe wanted to address the issue of homophobia in the school

A gay teacher at a top Zimbabwean boys' school has resigned after death threats and pressure from parents. 
Neal Hovelmeier, deputy head for St John's College's sixth form, came out to his students last week. 
He was encouraged to do so as a Zimbabwean newspaper was planning on outing Mr Hovelmeier, the school's chairman wrote in a letter. 
Some parents threatened legal action against him in a country where homosexual acts are illegal.  
"I will not submit myself to a sham trial," Mr Hovelmeier wrote in his resignation letter. 
The teacher, who has worked in the elite school for 15 years, apologised for the distress caused by revealing his sexuality, saying it has since led to "death threats as well as threats of physical danger to myself and my pets". 
"I have come to realise that my current position as deputy headmaster is now untenable," he wrote in the resignation letter. 
Mr Hovelmeier came out to the student body on 21 September when the school, which is based in the capital Harare, released a statement by him. 
He wrote that former students had confided to him that they had felt intimidated and ostracised at the school amidst a homophobic atmosphere. 
He said he could only deal with the issue if he was "open and transparent about it myself".

Presentational grey line

The emotive issue of homosexuality in Zimbabwe

By Shingai Nyoka, BBC Africa, Harare
The issue of gay rights has always been both controversial and emotive within Zimbabwe's conservative society.
It was one of the most contentious matters as a new constitution - adopted in 2013 - was being drawn up. The majority of Zimbabweans appeared to support the continued outlawing of homosexual acts - and a clause banning same-sex marriage was added to the country's laws.
Zimbabwe's gay community is small and largely operates underground. Secret gay bars do exist and the Gay and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (Galz) is formally registered and recognised as a civil society group, but in the past it has been raided by police. 
Former President Robert Mugabe was most outspoken against gay rights, describing gay people as "worse than pigs and dogs". Other government ministers have been at pains to say that no person should be denied healthcare, or have their children lose access to education, because of their sexuality.
More recently when asked whether he would champion gay rights, Mr Mugabe's successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said a constitution voted for by the people was in place, hinting that amidst the myriad challenges facing the country, the issue was not a priority.

Presentational grey line

The move was applauded by rights activists, but also led to uproar among some of the parents. 
Footage of an emergency parents' meeting on 24 September showed participants angrily shouting at one another. 
On the same day, the school's chairman Charles Msipa released a letter to the parents. 
He took responsibility for Mr Hovelmeier coming out to the school, saying their hand was forced as a newspaper planned on revealing the teacher's sexuality. 
Mr Msipa thought it was in the college's best interest if Mr Hovelmeier "communicate directly to stakeholders in an open, transparent manner".
"The publication of the story in the Daily News newspaper of Saturday September 22 was based on the management communication of the matter - rather than conjecture and rumours," Mr Msipa wrote.  The following day, a law firm hired by some of the parents threatened legal action against the school if its board did not resign, according to a letter by the firm seen by the BBC.
It said the teacher's decision to come out "has no place whatsoever in a school environment where they are minors, who look up to your staff as their life models as they exercise their role". 
They also cited the country's Section 73 criminal law that criminalises gay sex, and said that their clients therefore reserved "a right to place criminal charges against your staff member". 
The British curriculum boys school was founded in 1986 and admits boys from the age of 12 to 18, its website says.

May 5, 2018

Chicago Man Who Threatened Pulse-Style Massacre Tracked Down, Then Let Go!

 Shane Sleeper reportedly planned to gun down members of his local LGBT community at gay bars.



Police in Illinois have located a suspect accused of planning terror attacks on gay bars after mistakenly releasing him from jail.
Shane Sleeper, 31, was initially arrested by police in February and has been held in jail since then. Originally, he faced misdemeanor charges of obstructing and resisting a police officer. The state attorney’s office later dropped those charges, but only to streamline the process of charging Sleeper with a felony for making a terrorist threat. (Previously, Sleeper had announced plans to “[make] Orlando come to Chicago” by gunning down members of the LGBT community at Chicago gay bars.)

Chicago Police Department
But wires were crossed when the attorney’s office failed to notify local police of the reason behind the change—and when jail officials saw that Sleeper’s misdemeanor charges were dropped on May 1, he was released from custody.
“We were never notified by the State’s Attorney’s office or the Chicago Police Department that he was to be indicted on felony charges,” a spokesperson from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office told NBC Chicago.
Local authorities quickly banded together once news of the mishap came to light, and Sleeper was tracked down this afternoon, less than two days after his accidental release. He was arrested without incident around 12:30pm on Chicago’s North Side, reports The Chicago Tribune.
A man charged with threatening violence at gay bars in Lakeview was taken into custody Thursday afternoon, two days after he was accidentally released from Cook County Jail, officials said.
Shane Sleeper was arrested without incident at about 12:30 p.m. on the North Side by the sheriff’s fugitive apprehension unit, according to Cara Smith, policy chief for Cook County Sherif Tom Dart.
Officials say an apparent communication breakdown between the state's attorney's office and the sheriff's office led to the release of Sleeper, 31, on Tuesday night.
Sleeper was arrested in February and initially charged with misdemeanor charges of obstructing and resisting a peace officer, according to Smith. In one of his threats, Sleeper allegedly said “Orlando will come to Chicago,’’ an apparent reference to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
On Tuesday, the misdemeanor charges were dismissed and felony charges of state terrorism, hate crime and harassment were filed against Sleeper, according to state’s attorney’s office spokesman Robert Foley. Sleeper was ordered held without bail.
Smith said the sheriff's office only knew of the misdemeanor charges being dismissed, not about new felony charges being filed against Sleeper. So he was released.
“Preliminarily, it appears that the only cases he was being held on were dismissed and the sheriff’s office was never notified of any additional charges that were brought,’’ Smith said. “We were never notified. Our phones are on 24 hours a day. We complied with the only court order we received."
But Foley countered that the sheriff’s office is responsible for custody of defendants.
“Mr. Sleeper was in custody when the sheriff’s office brought him to court yesterday,’’ Foley said in emailed statement. “He was arraigned in a felony trial court room, where he was assigned a no bail status and left in the custody of the sheriff’s office.”
During the hearing before Cook County Judge Matthew Coghlan, Sleeper was arraigned on charges of falsely making a terrorist threat, a hate crime, harassment through electronic communications, criminal trespassing, stalking, assault, false personation of a police officer and telephone harassment, Foley said.

August 13, 2017

Elon Musk Warns Artificial Intelligence Poses More Threat to HumansThan N.Korea








Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said that people should be more concerned with Artificial Intelligence (AI) than the risk posed by escalating tensions with North Korea, the media reported.

"If you're not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea," Musk tweeted on Friday.
Musk's comments were in reference to his non-profit start-up, OpenAI, defeating several of the world's best players at a video game, reports The Hill magazine. Musk has called for regulation of AI in the past, saying just last month that regulation is needed now or "by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it's too late".
His comments also follow heightened tensions between the US and North Korea. The communist regime has continued testing and expanding its nuclear program, reporting this week that it can now fit nuclear warheads on missiles. Recently, Facebook shut down AI bots that were talking to each other in a language unintelligible to humans. The news came in soon after a very public spat between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.The bots in question were being trained to negotiate with each other. There were a limited number of basketballs, books, and hats, and each bot had to negotiate the distribution of the items.

Reuters


June 24, 2017

Some of The Ways LGBT Rights Are Being Trample Around The World



 Finland Pride
June is Pride Month — and while it's certainly a time to celebrate and reflect on the progress made in LGBTQ rights and visibility over the last several decades, it's also a time to raise awareness about how greatly LGBTQ people are still threatened the world over. And unfortunately, 2017 hasn't exactly been a banner year for LGBTQ rights thus far. While Taiwan's forthcoming legalization of same-sex marriage marks a watershed moment for LGBTQ rights in Asia, there is a climate of rising oppression elsewhere. While greater LGBTQ representation in media and vigorous activism around the world may make many of us believe that LGBTQ rights are a settled issue, that's actually quite far from the truth — and threats to rights and wellbeing vary greatly depending on where in the world you're standing.
The world remains, on the whole, a place where LGBTQ people must fight constantly for personal rights, freedoms and acceptance. Even many highly publicized progressive moments don't actually yield much fruit when it comes to real advances in rights; for instance, while Pope Francis said in 2016 that gay people should be "accepted and embraced" by Catholics, he has still continued to advocate against teaching about LGBTQ issues in schools. Elsewhere in the world, religious beliefs and personal prejudice continue to make living life openly as an LGBTQ person difficult, and, in some cases, extremely dangerous. It's important that as we celebrate at Pride marches and drape ourselves in our best rainbow finery, we also take in the worldwide picture and make ourselves into activists as well as partiers.
So how can you help? Spread the word, stay aware, and donate to organizations that do work to help LGBTQ activists worldwide. The Human Rights Campaign often focuses on the US, while Amnesty International, the ILGA, Human Rights Watch and specific national organizations work in other countries to help fight discrimination and protect vulnerable LGBTQ people. 

Chechnya: Gay Men Are Allegedly Persecuted & Tortured By The State 

Inspired @StateDept sent letter to  on  arrest of .@StateDept Condemns LGBT Killings 
http://www.advocate.com/world/2017/4/05/state-department-condemns-lgbt-killings-russia 

 Among LGBTQ issues worldwide, the most pressing may be reports of ongoing persecution of gay men by the authorities in Chechnya. These reports have been officially denied by Chechneyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has claimed that "In Chechen society, there is no such thing as nontraditional orientation...we have never had [LGBTQ people] among us Chechens," but an investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch reported that "police in Chechnya rounded up, beat, and humiliated dozens of gay or bisexual men in an apparent effort to purge them from Chechen society." Men who have fled tell horror stories of being detained and tortured, of neighbors and family members turned informants to the authorities, and of the high likelihood that several Chechnyan gay men have been killed as part of this persecution. 
The reporter who revealed the situation and its extent (six prisons, and possibly more, are thought to be involved) has gone into hiding, activists have been arrested for attempting to deliver a petition condemning the persecution, and Chechnyan men are seeking refuge in other countries. (The new French President Emmanuel Macron has openly welcomed refugees fleeing the purge.) Those who have escaped describe their horrifying limbo: if they return and manage to evade the authorities, their own families may kill them instead. It is a horrifying reminder of the perilous state of gay rights outside of safe legal bubbles.  
"The humiliation of gay men in Indonesia". Our Asia Correspondent @skystallard writes in http://trib.al/8auxOwW 
As CNN reported, Indonesia has seen a rapid change in its attitudes towards LGBT people in the past 18 months, with a sudden rise in imprisonments and anti-gay violence. One of the most upsetting and widely reported incidents involved the public caning of two men allegedly caught having sex; the caning was staged in front of a crowd and filmed. The province of Aceh, in which the caning occurred, is one of the biggest flashpoints for violence in the area, with vigilantes empowered by the police to "raid" areas looking for gay men; these kinds of actions are permitted by local law. However, the capital of Jakarta is also seeing a big shift, with a recent raid arresting 114 men at a gay sauna.  
Sadly, LGBTQ equality has become a partisan issue. Kudos to one Republican who is putting principle before party. http://qklnk.co/rYwCRB 
Orange has never looked like a more dangerous part of the rainbow flag than with President Trump in charge. In the past few months, the Trump administration has reversed the Obama administration's guidelines allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms consistent with their gender, thrown out the Obama order protecting federal workers from being fired for their sexual orientation, and placed many long-time opponents of LGBTQ rights, like Mike Pence and Neil Gorsuch, in positions of power.
State protections of LGBTQ equality also remain strongly under threat. A bill called the Equality Act that would give federal-level protections against discrimination to all LGBTQ Americans is strongly supported — the Human Rights Campaign reports that it had "241 original cosponsors—the most congressional support that any piece of pro-LGBTQ legislation has received upon introduction" — but it's widely expected to falter and fail. LGBTQ people across dozens of states can still face firing, housing discrimination and other forms of prejudice without the law having anything to say about it.  
In China, the news of Taiwan's LGBT rights victory brought hope to activists, and there have been some small triumphs — but it remains a problematic place for LGBTQ people in many ways. 
Homosexuality was only removed from the nation's official list of psychological conditions in 2001, and he "conversion industry," where Chinese families pay for their children and relatives to be "converted to straightness" using occasionally brutal methods including beatings and electroshock therapy, is a huge business. 
However, in the past decade or so, there have been some moves forward; some transgender celebrities have managed to make a splash in the media, and there's a rise in the number of LGBTQ discrimination cases being heard by courts, even if they don't win. 
However, all is not well; a big LGBTQ event due to be held in Xi'an in May was cancelled and the nine organizers arrested under spurious charges. They were only let go after they gave up their mobile phones and the contact details of all the speakers at the event.  
Despite Nigeria’s Laws,  Acceptance Is On The Rise http://tinyurl.com/mlvpv5o    
Nigeria is one of the world's most dangerous places to be gay. A 2017 report shows that 90 percent of the population supports making gay sex illegal, though there have been small improvements in people's attitudes towards LGBTQ access to public services and education. Anti-gay laws mean that gay people can be sentenced to punishments ranging from 14 years in prison to death by stoning. There is, according to Human Rights Watch, "widespread extortion, mob violence, arbitrary arrest, torture in detention, and physical and sexual violence" against the LGBTQ community in Nigeria, often by the authorities or with their complicity as mobs and gangs target LGBTQ individuals. In April, 53 people were arrested on the charge of attending a gay wedding, though they all claimed they were actually at a birthday party and were illegally detained for more than 24 hours.  
Bangladesh’s LGBT Community Launches a Blog Commemorating Slain Activists · Global Voices https://globalvoices.org/2017/05/12/bangladeshs-lgbt-community-launches-a-blog-commemorating-slain-activists/ 
2017 has been an extremely bad time for LGBTQ rights activists in Bangladesh. In what the Huffington Post called "a deliberate attempt to silence the LGBT community," 27 young men were arrested in the capital of Dhaka on the grounds of homosexuality this past May. It's added to a poisonous atmosphere of round-ups, mob violence and murder; activists and people attending LGBT marches have been arrested regularly, and just a month before the Dhaka arrests, in April, the founder of Bangladesh's only LGBTQ magazine was hacked to death by men posing as couriers, in a crime that may have been motivated by religious extremism. 
Many activists, according to the Washington Post, have been forced into exile rather than endure continual harassment and the threat of life in prison — the official maximum punishment for homosexual acts ("carnal intercourse against the order of nature") under the country's law. 
It's also a country where transgender people endure much discrimination. The Human Rights Watch points out that, despite the official recognition of a "third gender" in 2014 — hijras, or men who identify as women and are a strong part of ancient South Asian tradition — hijras themselves continue to face widespread discrimination, rejection by their families, and violence, including abusive physical examinations in hospitals.  
Australia: A Sports Great Publicly Denounced LGBTQ People 
View image on Twitter
AJ+ 
@ajplus
Tennis legend @Martina calls to rename the Margaret Court Arena after its namesake said homosexuality is an ungodly "lust for the flesh."
In contrast to levels of violence that LGBTQ people are subjected to in many other areas, Australia's anti-LGBTQ struggles appear quite mild, but they're perfidious all the same. An attempt to have a non-binding vote in the Australian senate last year on whether or not to allow gay marriage (which, I've got to tell you as an Australian, the majority of our citizens support) was dogged by controversy for being weak and eventually shouted down. 
And now the country is mired in another scandal after one of its greatest tennis legends, Margaret Court, publicly made anti-gay slurs and said thatLGBTQ culture was corrupting the people "like Hitler and communism." The response from the tennis world has been swift and appalled, with everybody from Martina Navratilova to Andy Murray repudiating her comments. But the revelation has shown that even nations that appear progressive and tolerant are far from free of bigotry. No matter where you live, you should engage with the LGBTQ rights struggle in other countries — and realize that no matter how good things may seem at home, there is likely still work to do.
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