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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Nigeria coach: 'I never said I banned lesbians'

No lesbians here
By Paul Canning

The controversy over the banning of lesbians from Nigeria's women's football team is dominating coverage of their bid for World Cup in Germany.

Today they face the German World Champions and are expected to lose and hence be out of the Cup.

The controversy began with a report in a Nigerian newspaper which was subsequently covered by the New York Times. In the report Nigeria Coach Eucharia Uche, the former NFF technical assistant Sir James Peters, and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)'s Chief Media Officer, Ademola Olajire, had all bragged to a Nigerian newspaper about driving lesbians out of the women's team.

In Germany, Uche has said that she cannot understand the fuss over her remarks. "What has this got to do with the World Cup," she told the German broadcaster ARD.

After Nigeria lost their opening game 1-0 to France on Sunday, Uche repeated her remarks that she had acted to remove any lesbians from the team, known as the Super Falcons.

Then on Wednesday she claimed it was a misunderstanding, saying "I'm sorry that such a situation has arisen. I've never made such statements."

World football body FIFA has been the subject of a campaign on the issue of the Nigerian lesbian ban. allout.org which is coordinating the campaign today reported that 35,000 petitions had gone to the organisation.

The campaign is asking FIFA president Joseph 'Seph' Blatter to:
"Play by FIFAs own rules, and investigate the harassment and termination of players “suspected” of being gay. Blatter needs to condemn this blatant discrimination, as well as make moves to include sexual orientation and gender identity into FIFA’s anti-discrimination policy."

Speaking to German television channel ARD, Tatjana Haenni, FIFA's head of women's competitions, said that "FIFA is against all forms of discrimination." Haenni said FIFA will be talking to Uche about her comments and reminding the coach of the governing bodies statutes.

After initially refusing comment the German Football Federation issued the following statement yesterday:
"Our association resolutely combats any kind of discrimination. This also includes the fight against homophobia. The current issue around the coach of the Nigerian national team certainly requires further discussion. But this can only be done by the tournament host, which is FIFA."

Nigerian exiled activist Rev. Rowland Jide Maccauley, who has supported the campaign, warned, however, in comments to the Associated Press, that homosexuality was perceived in Nigeria as 'western decadence' and therefore it was important that African gay voices are heard. Any 'knee-jerk outcry from the West' was not always helpful, he said.
"We tell our European friends:.... Support us, but go with us on the small steps. Recognise our concerns Discuss with us before you act on our behalf"

Discussion in German media about the Nigeria scandal has also focused on how the World Champion German team includes a number of lesbian and bisexual women whose presence arouses little interest. However six years ago they became the focus of tabloid interest after a 'love triangle' between players Inka Grings, Linda Bresonik and coach Holger Fach was exposed.
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Israel refusing citizenship for gay Jew's partner

Alvarez and Goldberg
Source: Ha'aretz

The Israel Interior Ministry is refusing citizenship and new immigrant status to a homosexual married to a Jewish new immigrant, despite the law's stipulation that the child, grandchild and partner of a Jew are entitled to Jewish immigrant rights.

Joshua Goldberg and Bayardo Alvarez, both American citizens, immigrated to Israel two weeks ago. Goldberg, who is Jewish, received an Israeli identity card and immigrant certificate on arrival, under the Law of Return. Alvarez, despite exerting much pressure on the ministry, was granted only temporary residence.

The Law of Return stipulates:
"A Jew's rights and an immigrant's rights ... are also imparted to the child, grandchild and partner of a Jew, except in the case of a Jew who willingly converted to another religion."
Attorney Nicky Maor, director of the Legal Aid Center for Olim, says if the couple were a man and woman, there is no doubt they would both have received Israeli citizenship.
"The only reason the Interior Ministry doesn't know how to handle it is that they're gay," Maor said. "The Law of Return says 'partner,' not husband and wife. There is no definition preventing recognition of same-sex partners."
Goldberg and Alvarez, from Baltimore, Maryland, have been living together for 11 years. At the end of 2007, they were married in Canada, where same-sex marriages have been legalized, even for non-Canadians. They started immigration procedures about six months ago, with the help of the Israel Religious Action Committee.

In 2006, the High Court of Justice instructed the Interior Ministry to register same-sex marriages of couples who were married outside Israel in the Population Registry. In the wake of this ruling, the Interior Ministry registered Goldberg and Alvarez as married when they came to Israel. But despite the implications, the ministry refused to give Alvarez citizenship and an immigrant's certificate.
"We demanded an immigrant's status for Alvarez before Passover," says Maor. "Since then they've promised they are discussing it on all levels, and say they must discuss it with the State Prosecution department and formulate a stand."
The ministry knows that if it refuses, the issue will be brought to the High Court of Justice. "They want the prosecution's backing. They say this is holding things up," Maor says.

Goldberg, 40, a publicist and PR agent, and Alvarez, 33, a flower arranger for weddings and events, both work as waiters in an Eilat hotel and are looking for work and housing in the central region.

Alvarez was granted temporary residence after the couple had been summoned six times to the Interior Ministry branch in Eilat, where they say they were treated in a hostile, humiliating way by the clerk. Goldberg claims it was clear they were looking for excuses not to grant him residence.

"Now they're refusing to make a decision one way or another about his [Alvarez'] immigrant status," Goldberg says.
"The religious interior minister doesn't want to be accountable for giving immigrant status to a gay half-Jewish couple. It is much more convenient to say 'I didn't do it, the ultra-liberal High Court forced it on me.'"

"I wish they'd refuse our request or approve it," he adds, frustratedly. "It will end in the same way. If we petition against them, they will lose and grant us the temporary residence."
It's not all bad news, though. Goldberg says he's quite pleased with the Israelis he's met so far.
"The Israelis we've met until now have been so sympathetic, I'm all the more amazed by how malicious the Interior Ministry can be," he says.
Attorney Dan Yakir, of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, believes the High Court will grant Alvarez citizenship if asked to rule on the issue.
"It's a question the courts haven't dealt with yet," he says, "whether 'partner' in the Law of Return also applies to a same-sex partner. In view of the court rulings that have equalized the rights of same-sex couples and in view of the constitutional right for equality, it is obvious that the Law of Return must be interpreted as applying to same-sex couples, and that means an immigrant's partner must be given citizenship."
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Audio: LGBT asylum seekers in South Africa

Source: Outspoken Radio

The South African refugee support group People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) announced a new programme 6 May "in light of the increasing number of 'sexual refugees'." It will provide support and advocacy in partnership with LGBTI rights organisations.

"The asylum application process is fraught with problems and many LGBTI people are turned away unjustly," they say.

"Moreover, those who are granted status still often face discrimination and harassment in their new communities in South Africa. When xenophobia is compounded with homophobia, it leaves many gay and transgender people in conditions not unlike those in the countries they fled in the first place."
This interview is with a Ugandan gay refugee, Arafat, who is involved with the new programme. He says that the programme is already looking after asylum seekers from Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Congo, Zambia and Bangladesh.



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Rainbow flag banned in Belarus

Parada Równości 2006 in Warsaw.Image via Wikipedia
By Paul Canning

gay.by reports that the Executive Committee of the Belarus' capital Minsk has banned the display of the rainbow flag, the international symbol of the LGBT movement designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978.

The use of rainbow flags as a sign of diversity, inclusiveness, hope and of yearning actually has a long history. Some Christians have objected to the LGBT use of the flag as they see the rainbow as holy and symbolic. Earlier this month rainbows were banned at a Catholic school in Ontario, Canada. The flying of the flag for LGBT Pride month has drawn objections all over the World, such as this protest in the UK.

The ban in Minsk is because the rainbow does not have a special 'heraldic registration' in the 'Heraldic Council under the President of the Republic of Belarus' and is thus prohibited in Belarus under the law "On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus."

Says gay.by:
"In the country no officially registered LGBT organisations which could begin to initiate the process for registration of the flag have been allowed. But if this flag will be registered by another organisation, the symbol is available only for members of that organization. So use by LGBT or their friends will once again break the law by using 'foreign symbolism'."
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Resource: Persian Gay and Lesbian Liberators. Event: PGLL at London Pride 2011

PGLL @ Pride 2010
Source: Persian Gay and Lesbian Liberators

Persian Gay and Lesbian Liberators is proud to announce that we will again be at this year's Gay and Lesbian pride in London on Saturday 2 July, raising awareness for LGBTs for those whom are living in such homophobic disasters as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
  • time to meet :12 noon
  • place: Piccadilly circuses

We assist LGBT Asylum seekers and Refugees who are native Persian speakers such as Afghans, Tajiks and Iranians in the UK.

Help we have given includes:
  • Receiving Legal requirement, e.g finding convenient lawyer or Solicitors.
  • Assisting with Education e.g finding suitable or local College or school for studying English and learn the English language.
  • Assisting with communication such as contact with their designated organisation e.g Home Office, National Asylum Support service (NASS), Asylum Registration card (ARC).
  • Assisting with filling necessary forms such as Housing, Hospital, Home office, Job centre, Educational etc.
  • Health: register the Client (LGBT Asylum) with their local General Practitioner (GP)
The Persian Gay and Lesbian Liberators (PGLL) is an asylum and refugee support group organization in the UK that advocates for civil and human rights for Persian speaker such as Afghan, Tajikistan, and Iranian LGBT asylum seekers.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Serbian government displays rainbow flag for LGBT Pride Day

Rainbow flag hanging from Serbian Ministry, 27 June
By Paul Canning

In a visible representation of the Serbian government's commitment to LGBT equality, a rainbow flag was hung 27 June, International Gay Pride Day, from the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self-Government.

Head of the Directorate for Human and Minority Rights Nenad Djurdjevic explained that the flag display was intended to show that Serbia is ready to improve the status of its LGBT population.

Djurdjevic said that the Ministry will work on the implementation of the Law on discrimination that should "enable those belonging to the LGBT community to feel as equal members of the society".

"We will work to raise awareness of citizens of Serbia so that we could improve the rights of LGBT people and raise them to the level that exists in developed countries", he said, noting that in Serbia LGBT are highly marginalised.

Writing in the Serbian newspaper Blic 27 June, the US Ambassador Mary Warlick said that she is extremely encouraged by the government's attitude but LGBT people remain at very high risk of violence.

Warnick attended the 2010 Pride March in Belgrade where a huge contingent of police was required to protect marches from a large demonstration by far-right and religious protesters who subsequently rioted against police.

She writes:
"In last year’s poll 14 percent of interviewed people said that violence and beating were legitimate ways for elimination of homosexuality. Many members of the LGBT populations who were victims of crime are not going to the police in fear of making the matter even worse. A lot more has to be done so that members of the LGBT population feel safe at their homes and in the streets."
"In the name of the USA Government and on the occasion of the Month of the LGBT Pride, I hope that the year of 2011 shall be the year which shall bring more equality, justice and hope to all people in Serbia."

Serbia as well as Croatia, where a pride march suffered a viscous attack in Split 11 June, are candidates for the expansion of the European Union, and their treatment of LGBT people is a crucial factor in whether they will be admitted.


Jovanka Todorović Savović of the Serbian LGBT group Labris said that whilst the symbolic display of the rainbow flag was welcomed it wasn't a substitute for the right of assembly and that a Pride March was planned for September.

Serbia continues to be a source of a 'flood' of asylum seekers to the European Union, an unknown number  of which would be LGBT. The numbers have led to threats that visa-travel between Serbia and the EU could be reinstated.
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Will the Bahamas lead on LGBT rights in English-speaking Caribbean?

(en) World Map (pt) Mapa Mundo (de) Weltkarte ...Image via Wikipedia
By Paul Canning

The oldest political party in the Bahamas has come out in support of LGBT rights.

The leader of The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), who are currently in opposition, Perry Christie, said last week that his party supports “progressive policies.”

Christie was answering a question about the historic passage June 20 of a LGBT human rights resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Christie said the resolution is humane and therefore the party is in favor of it.

“I think from our point of view we understand the sensitivity of this matter,” said Christie, adding that the PLP has “always been committed to progressive policies — policies that emphasize our commitment to human rights.”

The Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, from the Free National Movement party, which is described as 'socially liberal and economically conservative', said last week that The Bahamas supports the UN resolution “in principle.”

The support was welcomed by The Rainbow Alliance, the Bahamas' LGBT group, but they said that the 'words will only be taken seriously when The Bahamas actually corrects its unjust laws against LGBT people'.

The Bahamas does not have a seat on the council. Cuba is the only Caribbean nation on the Council and they voted for the resolution.
“The (PLP) is always committed to ensuring that our policies and our commitments are consistent with the obligations of international agencies and most certainly respecting the rule of law,” Christie said.
The resolution was the first of its kind passed by the Council. It was fiercely opposed by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, among other countries.

The resolution said that the council study discrimination then form a panel to discuss “constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Homosexual sex is not illegal in The Bahamas, it was legalised in 1991, neither are LGBT banned from the armed forces. Recommendations by the Constitutional Reform Commission to include protections against discrimination for LGBT in a new, revised Constitution were blocked by members of a PLP Government in 2006.

In 2007, a pastor who had written many articles against homosexuality in The Nassau Guardian daily newspaper held a “Save the Family Rally” in Freeport. Hundreds of people attended the event including PLP cabinet ministers and signed a petition calling for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in The Bahamas. Also in 2007 police raided a gay cruise party in downtown Nassau.

In 2001, an Employment Bill was proposed which included a ban on discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, but after much debate it was passed with that clause removed.

In 2008 four gay men were reported to have been murdered in suspected hate crimes in Nassau over eight months. Two were prominent Bahamians.

In 2009 a jury acquitted a man charged with murdering a gay, HIV-positive male. The man had used the so-called “gay panic defense”.

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Audio: Progress on LGBT asylum in the European Union

Back in April, the European Parliament voted on a resolution to provide more protection to LGBT people seeking asylum in the EU. Another similar text is being worked on right now, but what does it all mean for LGBT asylum-seekers?

To find out, the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights interviewed Members of the European Parliament Jean Lambert (Greens-EFA/UK) and Tanja Fajon (S&D/Slovenia). They are both working on asylum and migration issues in their political groups. They present the state of play around current negotiations, and what could change for LGBT people claiming asylum in the European Union.



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Obituary: Lord Rodger

By S. Chelvan

I am sure that all lesbian and gay asylum seekers, and those who work with them, wish to convey our condolences with the family of Lord Rodger of Earlsefield.

His passing marks a sad note to what would have been the first anniversary since his lead judgement in the UK Supreme Court case of HJ (Iran) and HT (Cameroon), which was handed down on the 7th of July.  His guidelines, provide a required template which recognises the fact the lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers have the right to "live openly and freely", just as straight men and women do in their counties of origin.

The fact that the case will be eternally known as the "Kylie concert case" is with reference to his using the example of a gay man's right in the UK to go to a Kylie concert, drink exotically coloured cocktails and speak about boys with their female mates. I laughed with joy at such an illustration of our right to be different and equal.

His was one voice, in a united Supreme Court, which shows how important it is to have an independent, well-informed judiciary, which we can appeal to, to right a historical wrong, for from 2006 onwards, LGBTI asylum seekers were removed to live a life of eternal lies, in what was termed the "reasonably tolerable discretion test".

So I  now, with countless others, raise my glass, to salute Lord Rodger, who celebrated our right to sing with joy and happiness, and not cry out in pain and fear.
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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Another new Iranian film explores gay life

Source: Bridge+Tunnel


I Am Nasrine (Official Trailer) from Bridge+Tunnel on Vimeo.

In new Iranian film 'I Am Nasrine' Ali begins to discover his sexuality as Nasrine finds her strength. Tragic events turn their world upside for a pair who are just trying to find a better world.

In Bahrain, another ripple from UN historic vote on LGBT rights

Coastal area in Bahrain.Image via Wikipedia
By Paul Canning

At the beginning of the year we reported on how the overturning of a vote at the United Nations to exclude sexual orientation from a resolution against extrajudicial killings has sparked reaction all around the world.

The 17 June vote at the UN Human Rights Council, which backed LGBT human rights for the first time, is causing similar ripples.

In Bahrain, that country's vote against LGBT human rights caused an unprecedented statement from civil society.

The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society secretary-general Faisal Fulad said it was time the rights of gays, lesbians and transsexuals were recognised.
"There are gay MPs in Europe and hundreds of societies working actively to protect their rights worldwide," he said.

"Either we accept this or reject it. There is no other option in our society. These people have their rights that should be respected. I am not saying not to respect religion and culture, but gradual acceptance can slowly change the mindset."
Former Bahrain Human Rights Society secretary-general Abdulla Al Deerazi agreed:
"They are first human beings and have their rights. They have their freedom of choice which cannot be ignored but respected," he said.

"This UN resolution is a step forward recognising them in society. But the challenge is social sensitivity to this subject coupled with religious beliefs of people. They are living like any other citizen and should enjoy full rights."
Mr Fulad said gays and lesbians were often considered carriers of diseases.
"Some even consider them untouchable. But they have their own culture that is growing worldwide."
The Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society, (BHRWS) was established in November 2004 to protect housemaids and to fight for women’s rights.

The Bahrain Human Rights Society is the main human rights group in Bahrain. Abdulla Al Deerazi was interrogated by the military in May during the current unrest in Bahrain.

The statement by the two human rights groups was followed up by a letter of support published by Gulf News from 'a High School student' who said:
"Being gay isn't a lifestyle choice or a preference, people were born that way, just like I was born Asian or you were born Arab."
In February this year over 100 men were arrested for "conduct against public morality."

Gay Middle East commented at the time:
"Traditionally Bahrain is known as relatively open minded and as the playground for the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) – where people can relax, drink and enjoy prostitution. This is the second incident in less than three months where the police raided such establishments. These incidents raise questions if this is a change of policy and of the traditional tolerance in Bahrain."
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Audio: How five Canadians can help one LGBT refugee

David Pepper helps GLBT refugees find safety. He is traveling across Canada promoting the idea of "Group 5 sponsorships," where 5 Canadians can sponsor a refugee. He talked with Matt Rainnie on CBC's Island Morning show on Prince Edward Island about his idea.



David Pepper
Source: xtra.ca

By Noreen Fagan

David Pepper's idea of a sabbatical involves travelling across Canada on a Greyhound bus, couch surfing or staying in hostels and arranging meetings to talk about an issue that is dear to him but alien to many.

Since April 13, Pepper has clocked more than 10,000 kilometres on his North Star Triangle Project. His mission is complex but his message is simple: it takes a group of only five Canadians to sponsor a refugee to come to Canada.

Pepper has been involved with gay and lesbian issues for more than 20 years. For many years he has been concerned about refugee rights, especially for gay and lesbian people living in countries where the threat of persecution is real.

Five years ago, Pepper and four friends were in the process of sponsoring an Eritrean refugee to come to Canada. The sponsorship fell through, but the desire to help remained.

In June 2010, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that private organizations - like gay and lesbian groups - needed to reach out and sponsor more refugees to Canada.
"It was somewhat coincidental that I was aware what Jason Kenney was talking about, and I didn't necessarily accept his premise that the LGBT community was sitting on its laurels doing nothing," says Pepper.

Are Cuba's communists getting ready to support LGBT rights?

Mariela Castro at Cuba IDAHO rally
By Paul Canning

Mariela Castro Espín, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and a leader for LGBT rights on that island, told the 20th World Congress for Sexual Health, held in the Scottish city of Glasgow 18 June, that Cuba’s Communist Party may soon be ready to recognise gay and lesbian rights, even though her father has cautioned her that the time may not yet be ripe.
“I’ll be frank with you. My father, with all his experience in outlining strategies, and getting them implemented, has told me one first has to create the right conditions - and Cuban society lacks them in many areas," she said.
"When the Revolution declared itself socialist after the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, people took up arms to defend it, hardly knowing what socialism was exactly. It seems a contradiction, but what I’m trying to say is that, in this macho culture, we’ve made a lot of progress regarding women’s rights."
"So I’d tell my father: why don’t we do the same thing with these issues? But he’d say: look, some things have such deeps roots in our culture, that you’ll face a lot of resistance unless you sort out some other things first. That’s why it’s necessary to wait until the party conference in January [2012] and make progress informing the population with the help of the media. That way we’ll get things ready in order to get a good result."
June 17 Cuba supported the historic resolution for LGBT rights at the United Nations Human Rights Council. At the UN, Cuban activists had previously scored an abstention as a victory.

The official blog of the Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (National Center for Sexual Education, CENESEX), the organisation which Mariela Castro Espín heads, said:
"Cuba’s affirmative vote shows the political will of our Party and State to eliminate all forms of discrimination that unfortunately still persist in Cuban society."
LGBT rights march in Santiago
However independent LGBT groups have also been lobbying the government, including to support the June 17 UN resolution, such as this march held in the Eastern city of Santiago.

Alejandro Armengol, a Miami-based commentator and veteran observer of Cuban politics, says that the change in attitudes at the UN demonstrates: "how forceful the gay movement in Cuba has become."
"There are times when Cuba uses gays, or certain gays, especially writers and artists, to show how things have gotten better," says Armengol. 
"That’s how they throw the focus off matters of censorship and repression, for sure. But that can’t erase that there’s real progress in this area, sometimes even more than the government bargained for."
Cuba's history on LGBT rights includes anti-gay statements by Fidel Castro, sanctioned anti-gay persecutions and purges, and labor camps in the 1960s created specifically for LGBT people (which Fidel has since apologised for). This period was dramatically documented by the 1980s documentary "Improper Conduct", and by the renowned author Reinaldo Arenas in his 1992 autobiography, Before Night Falls, as well as his fiction, most notably The Color of Summer and Farewell to the Sea. The criminal laws against homosexuality were gradually liberalised, starting in 1979.

Continuing police harassment in Cuba, including arrests, has been reported on gay Cuban blogs, particularly that of the Reinaldo Arenas Memorial Foundation.

Herb Sosa, president of Unity Coalition, a Latino LGBT organization based in Miami that has provided materials and resources to LGBT groups, has accused the Cuban government of engaging in extrajudicial executions.

Ms Castro has made the fight against homophobia in Cuba a personal struggle, giving countless talks and interviews.
"Prejudices are still deeply rooted in our culture and in our history as a nation. Finding new ways to change the reality of such views is very hard," she said.
"What I try to do is to dismantle prejudices and offer alternative perspectives on the sexual reality of human beings. Making progress in these areas, especially in those of gender and equal women’s rights, has helped us make progress in respecting sexual diversity and gender identity."
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Monday, 27 June 2011

In Moscow, 'bestial' murder of trans woman

Moscow Kremlin, thunderstorm brewingImage via Wikipedia
By Anton Schteinberg

Sources: GayRussia.Ru, Life News

On July 24, 2011, mutilated body of a young man in female dress was disclosed near Kazan railroad in Moscow. The homeless people living in self-built squatter settlement nearby noticed it first and informed police.

Experts determined that the murder was committed on Monday or Tuesday. Presumably, the victim was stunned by 2-3 head punches, and then the killer cut the one's throat.

There is absolutely no any doubt that the transvestite or transsexual person was killed intentionally. The most probable version of the crime ground is the detestation to homo- and transsexual people.

LGBT hate crimes become more and more frequent in Russia. Authorities absolutely do not take care of such hate actions at all, and do not consider any crimes against LGBT people as aggravated crimes.

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In Iran, report says brave LGBT distributed leaflets against homophobia

Iranian LGBT on a LGBT march in Ankara, Turkey
By Paul Canning

Elahe Amani reports on Women's News Network that the “We are everywhere” online campaign by Iranian LGBT for the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) extended to Iran itself.

A report on the Global Network of Iranian Women says that the Iranian “Rainbow Community” distributed leaflets about homophobia 17 May in Tehran and other cities in Iran. The report carries the text of the leaflets which say that 'homophobia is treatable' but people are born homosexual. It said that homosexuals are not pedophiles. It also says that homosexuals 'have no desire to change their gender' - many gay men have been forced to do this in Iran, which funds sex-reassignment surgery.

The report goes on to say that the Iranian diaspora media failed to report this extraordinarily brave action and  "in addressing various aspects of human rights violations and discriminations did not take full advantage of the opportunity to educate the public about homophobia.”

On Friday, The Guardian reported that condoms were being handed out to violent criminals in Iranian jails and encouraging them to systematically rape young activists locked up with them.

Amani says that many feminist activists inside the Iranian Diaspora do have LGBT rights "on their radar".

Both the annual conference of The Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation, as well as that of Iranian Women in Germany, have presented, discussed and debated the conditions of discrimination and human rights violations of the LGBT community inside Iran and among the Iranian Diaspora.

In 2005, a formal statement signed by a number of Iranian bloggers and activists along with organisations said:
“Solving social problem(s) requires conscious and responsible participation of all citizens. The repression, prejudice, discrimination and injustice toward homosexuals is a social problem and the solution requires participation of all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.”
The May 2011 “We Are Everywhere” campaign involved younger Iranians, many born and raised in Iran.

In his video on YouTube activist Ali Abdi stated:
“Hi! My name is Ali! I am recording this video because of May 17th, which is the international day against homophobia and transphobia. Homophobia is about all those practices, discourses, and beliefs that discriminate against homosexuals, those that increase violence and abuse against homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people and transsexuals.”
“I wish living in a world in which those people who do not consider themselves as “heterosexual” are not regarded as unnatural, abnormal, or patient. I wish living in a world that nobody is abused because of her/his sexual orientation or gender performances.”
“We, all standing beside each other, are members of a rainbow community without borders, and there are always opportunities and possibilities of improvisation in gender and sexual expressions.”
See more "We are everywhere" videos.

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In France, gay Senegalese man finally wins asylum

Rally in Grenoble for Abdou

Source: Yagg


By Julien Massillon

The precarious situation of gay Senegalese asylum seeker Abdou in France has ended.

Abdou fled to France after being expelled by his father because he was gay. June 23 he received  refugee status from the National Court of asylum. His case has received support from several associations in eastern France, where he lives, as well as local elected representatives.

He was arrested in October 2010 and told he would be removed to Dakar, where homosexuality is punishable by sentences of up to five years imprisonment.

Now out of danger, he can start a new life in France. The Lesbian and Gay Pride de Lyon , the collective CIGA.LE. Grenoble and SOS Racisme Rhône-Alpes in a statement expressed their relief.
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Audio: Fleeing Sri Lanka and Senegal: LGBT asylum seekers in the UK

Camden Community Radio celebrates Refugee Week with interviews with:

  • Hari, a gay asylum seeker from Sri Lanka, talks about how his blog, written from Jaffna, got him into serious and life-threatening trouble with the Tamil Tigers. After moving to Colombo his blogging gets him into more trouble with the government.
  • Peter Tatchell about the issues facing LGBT refugees and asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and how these are denied by the Home Office. Tatchell explains how the threat from families of 'honour killing' is not recognised.
  • A gay asylum seeker from Senegal. After being rejected by his family he is forced onto the streets and into prostitution to survive. There he is attacked several times and nearly killed. Helped to escape he gets to Spain, but that proved to be dangerous as well.
  • Presented by: Jayson Mansaray

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Sunday, 26 June 2011

In US, asylum and migrant detainees "bounced around the country"

Barbed tape at a prisonImage via Wikipedia
Source: Human Rights Watch

Detained immigrants facing deportation in the United States are being transferred, often repeatedly, to remote detention centers by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Human Rights Watch say in a new report analyzing 12 years of data.

The 37-page report, "A Costly Move: Far and Frequent Transfers Impede Hearings for Immigrant Detainees in the United States," says transfers separate detained immigrants, including legal permanent residents, refugees, and undocumented people, from the attorneys, witnesses, and evidence they need to defend against deportation. That can violate their right to fair treatment in court, slow down asylum or deportation proceedings, and extend their time in detention, Human Rights Watch said.

"Transfers don't just move people, they push aside their rights," said Alison Parker, US program director and author of the report. "They can prevent immigrants, like those lawfully here or in need of asylum from persecution, from having an attorney or defending their right to remain in the United States."

Human Rights Watch's analysis of 2 million transfer records over 12 years shows that over 46 percent of transferred detainees were moved two or more times. One egregious case involved a detainee who was transferred 66 times. On average, each transferred detainee traveled 370 miles; and one frequent transfer pattern (from Pennsylvania to Texas) covered 1,642 miles. Such long-distance and repetitive transfers can make attorney-client relationships unworkable, separate immigrants from the evidence they need to present in court, and make family visits so costly that they rarely, if ever, occur.

One immigration attorney said:
"I have never represented someone who has not been in more than three detention facilities. Could be El Paso, Texas, a facility in Arizona, or they send people to Hawaii.... I have been practicing immigration law for more than a decade. Never once have I been notified of [my client's] transfer. Never."

In the US, abuse of LGBT asylum seeker and migrant detainees "is on the rise"

Caldwell County JailImage by adamj1555 via Flickr
Source: The Arizona Republic

By Daniel González

The assault took place while Ramon Catalan, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was detained by federal immigration authorities in a Pinal County jail.

Catalan, a transgender man who lives as a woman, was in a cell when four other immigration detainees began insulting her in Spanish.

"One guy said he didn't want to be around a (homosexual)," said Catalan, who prefers to be called Monica and wears her hair long and plucks her eyebrows.

Then, the beating started. While one man stood lookout, the others threw her onto the floor, then repeatedly punched and kicked her. The attack lasted four or five minutes. By the time it was over, Catalan's face was covered in blood.

The assault was not an isolated incident, immigrant advocates and lawyers say.

Reports of similar attacks and other abuses against gay and transgender detainees are on the rise around the nation as the number of undocumented immigrants in custody has skyrocketed as part of the federal government's crackdown on illegal immigration.

In Arizona alone, the ACLU found five cases of transgender or gay detainees who were sexually assaulted or abused over a two-year period, according to a study released Thursday. Catalan was not among them.

The 36-page report, "In Their Own Words: Enduring Abuse in Arizona Immigration Detention Centers," [PDF] is based on 115 interviews with detainees in facilities in Eloy and Florence from March 2009 through March 2011. ACLU attorney Victoria Lopez also reviewed hundreds of reports and records, including 500 grievances, some of which were filed by gay and transgender detainees like Catalan who were abused while in detention.
"While (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) does not systemically track the number of sexual assaults in detention facilities across the country, these and other reported cases very likely represent only a fraction of the actual cases of sexual abuse of immigrants in detention," Lopez wrote.

Assaults, arrests at St Petersberg Slavic Pride

Homophobe attacking Alexander Sheremetyev, an organizer of the Pride
Source: GayRussia.Ru

Saturday 25 June was the second attempt by LGBT activists of St. Petersburg to host an annual Gay Pride March. Last year's attempt was banned by the city hall. Despite the ban, two dozen LGBT activists defied the ban and walked in front of the famous Hermitage Museum. The police arrested 5 participants.

The same scenario happened this year as the Pride was again banned and organizers again said they will not cancel their plan. As was announced 24 June during a press-conference, the banned Pride started at 2pm at the statue of Peter the Great in the center of the city. 20 people showed up for the event and 14 were arrested. One was assaulted by a homophobe (can be seen in the photo) and one at the police station by a police officer.

This year, St. Petersburg Pride is hosting the third Slavic Gay Pride. Slavic Gay Pride is a union of Russian-Belarusian-Ukrainian Pride organizers. Previous Slavic Gay Pride in Moscow (2009) and Minsk (2010) were banned and participants were arrested.

Arrest of Nikolai Alekseev
At the 24 May press conference it was announced that next year's Slavic Gay Pride will take place between Finland and Russia.
"We believe that by starting in Finland, we might finally have a chance to march legaly at least for the first part," said organiser Nikolai Alekseev.
In a press release the President of the IDAHO Committee Louis-Georges Tin called for a protest from the French government.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is being lobbied to condemn the arrests at an LGBT Pride month event taking place today in Washington DC.

Yesterday during Berlin Pride a protest took place outside the Russian Embassy. Next weekend one is planned for London.
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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Video: Qatar's World Cup hosting questioned again as Queen launches anti-gay charity

Source


This is a video produced by a Qatari media house for a local charity, the Social Rehabilitation Center (al-Aween). It's title? 'Abnormality'.

The charity's patron is Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, glamorous wife of the Emir (King) of the fabulously rich Gulf state of Qatar, host of the 2022 football World Cup.

She is founder and chair of the Arab Democracy Foundation, she has served as a special envoy for Unesco, and she sits on the Board of Overseers for Weill Cornell Medical College in the United States. She is also an Honorary Dame of the British Empire, a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in France and holder of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

But that's not all she is.

Brian Whittaker on the al-bab blog says.

I began to have doubts about Sheikha Moza's enlightenment a few years ago, when she hosted a conference in Qatar which brought together some of the world's most reactionary religious elements – Mormons and Catholics as well as Muslims – to "defend the family". The family is in peril, she warned in her opening speech, because of attempts to "redefine the concept of family in a manner contrary to religious precepts".
Her new charity al-Aween, which she established, is billed as Qatar's first centre to combat "deviation from acceptable social behaviour" and "provide specialised treatment for all kinds of behavioural deviation that require thorough intervention and treatment by specialists".

This includes "treatment" for homosexuality.
Their 'experts' include Dr Dalia al-Moumen, a psychiatric consultant whose lectures, Whittaker reports, for al-Aween have dealt with the "problem" of men with long hair and girls wearing trousers – and the "negative impacts" of that on mental health, society, religion and the family.

Another is Dr Abdul Alim Ibrahim, a senior consultant in psychiatry, who asks: "How much do Homosexuals impact on society?" – and answers the question with a gay-conspiracy theory. 
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, "went too far" in describing homosexuals as lower than pigs and dogs, the doctor says, but the development of gay rights in some countries was "not based on scientific studies". Rather, it was the result of "tension made by powerful homosexuals which affected many civil organisations, human rights organisations, decisions and law makers".
Dr Ibrahim is also worried about the effect of this on future generations. "What will be the sexual direction for the next generation," he wonders, "when they will have the right to choose" and "where inconvenient circumstances will lead them to be homosexual"?
Homosexuality is criminalised in Qatar but both the President of World Cup organisers FIFA Seph Blatter and the Qatari organising committee have shrugged off concerns about the treatment of gay fans and players during the tournament - as well as the ethics of awarding the event to the country in the first place.

Writing for Gay Middle East, 'Gay Qatar' said:
"The issue is clear. Locking people up for 5 years because they are gay is a slap in the face of human rights. Allowing for gays and lesbians to be forced into hormone therapy in an attempt to cure them of their homosexuality is a slap in the face of human rights.  Trying to entrap gays in [Qatar's capital] Doha’s malls, streets and on gay chat rooms and websites by Qatari agents is a slap in the face of human rights."

"There are still absolutely no answers as to what will happen to gays and lesbians if and when they decide to go to the 2022 World Cup, not to mention removing the horrible legislation against LGBT Qataris."

Video: award-winning gay journalist 'comes out' as undocumented immigrant

Source:

Jose Antonio Vargas is a gay journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage in the Washington Post of the Virginia Tech shootings. On Wednesday 22 June he wrote for the New York Times about 'coming out' a second time - as an "undocumented immigrant."

In this video he talks about his experience.

Friday, 24 June 2011

FIFA targeted after news of ban on lesbian football players

By Paul Canning

The International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA), the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) with AllOut.org, a community of 500,000 people in every country in the world, have launched a campaign calling on football's governing body FIFA to pull out the "red card" on a homophobic witch-hunt of the Nigerian women's football team.

The campaign calls on FIFA to live up to its own ethics guidelines, and publicly condemn the systematic homophobic discrimination by the Nigerian soccer league.

On Wednesday we reported how Coach Eucharia Uche, the former NFF technical assistant Sir James Peters, and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)'s Chief Media Officer, Ademola Olajire, had all bragged to a Nigerian newspaper about driving lesbians out of the women's team.
"When I was drafted to work with the Falcons last year, I decamped some of the players, not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians. It did not go down well with some of the players because we made sure that neither the 'husband' nor the 'wife' made the team,” Peters said.
"We have seen the result of our efforts and I can tell you that lesbianism is now a thing of the past in the camp of the Super Falcons [the team's nickname]," said Uche
The campaign is asking FIFA president Joseph 'Seph' Blatter to:
"Play by FIFAs own rules, and investigate the harassment and termination of players “suspected” of being gay. Blatter needs to condemn this blatant discrimination, as well as make moves to include sexual orientation and gender identity into FIFA’s anti-discrimination policy."
“FIFA has a truly admirable track record of challenging racism and discrimination,” says Andre Banks, co-founder of AllOut.org.
“Now it’s time to bring soccer in to the 21st century. FIFA can use its hard-earned moral authority to make sure that homophobia also no longer has a place on the playing field.”
"Like anyone else, LGBT people have the right to participate in sport without fear of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity," says Mr Rowland Jide Macaulay, Co-Chair of Pan Africa ILGA (International Lesbian & Gay Association).
"We condemn the action of the Nigerian Football Association in its attempt to bring hatred to the passionate games of football."
FIFA has run a global “Say No to Racism” campaign and in its mission statement states a desire to use the game in, “overcoming social and cultural obstacles for women with the ultimate aim of improving women’s standing in society.”

“Sport can be, must be, a power for good. We must make sure that every athlete has the right to be part of sport’s mission for a better world, regardless of sex, race, religion or sexual orientation,” says Klaus Heusslein, Co-President of IGLFA.
“The right to participate in sport is a human right, a right for everybody, for all Nigerians, for all women, for all whomever they love.”
“The truest values of sport are those of sport for all. This means sport in which everyone is welcome and everyone is safe, whatever their sexual identity and sexual orientation,” says Emy Ritt, co-president of the FGG.
“The actions of the Nigerian team are contrary to our values of participation, inclusion and personal best for all, which should be the values of FIFA and sportspeople everywhere.”
FIFA has earlier been heavily criticised for awarding the Men's Word Cup to Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

The Women’s World Cup competition opens this weekend with a kick-off game between Nigeria and France, followed by a Nigeria vs Germany game 30 June.

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The testimony of a veteran worker for LGBT asylum seekers

Erin Power
Source: The Testimony Project

Erin Power is the Group Manager for the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), a charity that promotes equality and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people who seek asylum in the UK, or who wish to immigrate here to be with their same-sex partner.  The group provides legal and social support for LGBT people claiming asylum. Erin lends her voice to The Testimony Project.

Why do you do the work that you do?

As an organisation, we started out as a group that was assisting British people who had foreign partners who weren’t able to live with their lesbian or gay partner in this country. When we knew that we were going to win that battle and reach a level of equality, which came in with the civil partnership legislation, we realised that we could use the resources that we have to help with asylum. We had a reputation, we had lots of contacts and we had all these lawyers willing to volunteer their expertise so we totally shifted our focus.

For me personally, every time I meet a new asylum seeker and talk to them about their lives, they feed me with their courage and their hope. A lot of what we do is giving people hope - but they have already fought enormous battles and still they are smiling, still they will be incredibly polite, still they will ask you how your day is. They are much stronger, braver, more generous people than you meet every day in any other context. They give us a lot more than we give them.

Because the people we work with are LGBT, they don’t get support from their home communities here and they don’t get support from the LGBT community. In the LGBT community as elsewhere, there is a lot of misunderstanding about asylum seekers, a lot of antagonism towards asylum seekers.   There is a lot of wealth in the LGBT community so there is a huge gap - asylum seekers can’t go to places that cost a lot of money. So they will frequently say, you (UKLGIG) are my family and they will genuinely mean that because they no longer have any other family.

What is the most pressing issue facing asylum seekers today?

Resource: UNHCR new diversity policy

"DIVERSITY refers to different values, attitudes, cultural perspectives, beliefs, ethnic background, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, health, social status, skill and other specific personal characteristics. While the age and gender dimensions are present in everyone, other characteristics vary from person to person. These differences must be recognized, understood and valued by UNHCR in each specific context and operation in order to ensure protection for all people."

UNHCR-Age Gender and Diversity Policy

In US, new bill aims to strengthen refugee protections

Official photo of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)Senator Patrick Leahy image via Wikipedia
Source: Human Rights First

March 15 Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Refugee Protection Act of 2011. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Carl Levin (D-MA), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Dick Durbin (D-IL). Companion legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

This bill would repair some of the most severe problems in the U.S. asylum and refugee systems and strengthen the U.S. commitment to providing refuge to victims of religious, political, ethnic, and other forms of persecution.
“Despite this country’s strong tradition of protecting refugees from persecution, a barrage of laws, policies, and practices have badly damaged our asylum system over the years,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer.
“These flaws have led the United States to deny its protection to refugees who have fled from serious religious, political, ethnic, and other forms of persecution. The Refugee Protection Act would address some of the most severe problems in the system and help restore our nation’s commitment to protecting vulnerable refugees.”
In 2010, Human Rights First issued “Renewing U.S. Commitment to Refugee Protection: Recommendations for Reform on the 30th Anniversary of the Refugee Act,” reporting that asylum seekers are detained in the United States without basic due process safeguards, and that their access to asylum has been limited because of technical filing deadlines, expedited screening procedures, overly broad exclusion provisions, and flawed maritime interdiction polices. Even refugees with well-founded fears of persecution are denied asylum due to these flawed laws and policies.

The new Refugee Protection Act of 2011 includes provisions that would:

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A day in the life of homophobic Russia

Elena Kostyuchenko
By Paul Canning

Earlier today a group of brave Russians organised a small peaceful demonstration against homophobic violence in Moscow's Pushkin Square (named for the gay-friendly famous poet).

They wore pink triangles - "a sign that marked the prisoners of concentration camps, were sentenced to destruction of their homosexuality" - distributed leaflets against violence against LGBT people and held signs.

25 people were detained by police without explanation despite obeying the rules by standing at a distance of more than three meters from each other which meant they did not need authorisation from Moscow City Council. Viscous 'death to gays' anti-gay protests are routinely approved by the same authorities. Today the planned Slavic Gay Pride march in St. Petersburg was banned by city authorities.

Among those detained were activists Yasin Igor, Elena Kostyuchenko, Anna Bruce. Kostyuchenko is an openly lesbian journalist for the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and was injured during the 28 May Moscow Pride protest.

The protesters said [Google translation]:
"When rapists and looters are indulgences from the church pulpit and the leniency of judges, and victims are surrounded by a conspiracy of silence, stigma of homosexuality can become fatal. The sign of pink triangle, which flash mob participants will go to Pushkin Square - a symbol of oppression. But it is - a symbol of pride and gay people who dared to be herself, in spite of rejection and persecution, despite the danger. And it is - a sign of solidarity among the protesters - many heterosexuals who support the oppressed, and ready to unite with the LGBT community in the fight for equal rights for all. In a society based on exploitation and inequality, there is only one "social group" are not discriminated against: the ruling class. Today all of us - gay."
For the International day Against Homophobia, Russian activists launched the 'Archives of Russian Homophobia' cataloging hate speech made by politicians, officials, public figures, as well as anti-gay initiatives taken by regional and federal authorities.

Among others, the database lists statements made by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov but also the ruling party United Russia, the Communist Party, the office of the General Prosecutor and the Ministry of Defense.

The protesters today listed hate crimes against LGBT:
... March 29, 2011: Artem Kalinin, one of the leaders of the LGBT movement Syktyvkar, was badly beaten in his own home ...
... 2007, Yekaterinburg. Next to a gay club "Milk" find the body of Denis N: inflicting severe beatings, the assailants of his own blood wrote his own blood on the chest of the victim the word "queer" ...
... In 2007, Vladivostok: the attack on vysheshih of gay club "Taboo," the journalist Konstantin Borovkov and his friend Dmitry Cherevko ...
Earlier we published the traumatic account of a Russian trans woman, held hostage in a Moscow brothel and raped by patrons many of which were security forces.

Also today two members of Moscow's police were arrested for extorting money from a closeted businessman.

Video


Today's protesters said:
Most of the facts are not investigated homophobic violence: forced to hide their orientation, the victims do not go to the police. Moreover, the police, they risk being attacked again: there are cases where the police refused to accept the statement by threatening and insulting the victims.
Russian courts have consistently ignored the hate motive for the crimes against LGBT people.

As one of the most oppressed groups, we have no illusions. LGBT people in Russia are under the shadow of the threat: every homosexual, whose focus would be open, is doomed to psychological violence - and the risk of being abused physically. We have nothing to lose - and no place to retreat: no gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans can not count on adequate protection. The only solution - to unite for the fight, at least for their own lives. We want security. That's why we demand justice!
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