India joins the ‘arrest-the-gays’ gang

Bangalore radio personality Disha Oberoi interviewed the wife whose accusations landed her husband in jail. (Click the image for the audio link. The interview begins at about the 3:20 mark.)

Bangalore radio personality Disha Oberoi interviewed the wife whose accusations landed her husband in jail. (Click the image for the audio link. The interview begins at about the 3:20 mark.)

BuzzFeed reports:

Indian Man Arrested For Homosexuality After Being Filmed On Wife’s Spy Cameras

Police in the Indian technology hub Bangalore have arrested a 32-year-old man for homosexuality after his wife installed secret cameras in their house and recorded him having sex with another man.

This may be the first case of someone arrested for consensual sex under India’s law [Section 377] criminalizing “sex against the order of nature” since it was reinstated by India’s Supreme Court in December.

The wife said in a statement filed with police on October 20 obtained by BuzzFeed News that she decided to install secret cameras because, after one year of marriage, “there is no sexual contact between me and my husband.” She said she had been “suffering thinking that my life was ruined,” and called for the police to “take legal action against my homosexual husband.” …

The colonial-era anti-gay law Section 377 was suspended by the High Court in Delhi in 2009, but reinstated by India’s Supreme Court in December 2013. In April 2014, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments on whether to reconsider the reinstatement decision, but nothing has yet come of that ruling.6

The Supreme Court ruling of 2013 added India to the list of 76-plus countries that outlaw same-sex intimacy.

BuzzFeed added:

 Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya (Photo courtesy of SupremeCourtCaseLaw.com)

Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya (Photo courtesy of SupremeCourtCaseLaw.com)

Danish Sheikh, a lawyer with the Bangalore-based Alternative Law Forum — which worked on the challenge to 377 and is offering legal support to the arrested [husband] — said that this arrest challenges some of the logic used by the judges to uphold 377. During arguments on the provision, Sheikh said in an email, Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya implied that the law would never result in prosecutions of private, consensual sex because “If something is [done] in private, who knows?”

“The Supreme Court in its deliberations felt that the dangers of Section 377 existed only through blackmail and extortion,” Sheikh said. “What is particularly significant in [this] case is the blatant scale of intrusion of privacy which has allowed for prosecution under 377 to take place.”

 

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19 calamities where gays get the blame, besides Ebola

"STOP BEING GAY! Can't you see what you're doing, man?!" (Cartoon courtesy of Diatribes and Ovations blog. Click image for link.)

“STOP BEING GAY! Can’t you see what you’re doing, man?!” (Cartoon courtesy of Diatribes and Ovations blog. Click image for link.)

Now that some conservative Christians are blaming gays for the Ebola epidemic — with no rational reason, as usual — it’s a good time for a recap of other calamities that LGBTI people have been blamed for.

More than a dozen natural disasters are on the list, each one interpreted as God’s violent response to the existence of LGBTI people or the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage. Also on the list are various murders and massacres, somehow attributed to gays who weren’t on the scene, along with some surprising accusations, such as gays’ alleged responsibility for the existence of autism and the size of Spain’s national debt.

Regarding Ebola, the Liberian Council of Churches declared that God was punishing the nation with the disease because God was angry over Liberians’ corruption and immoral acts such as homosexuality.

Previous outbreaks of the blame-the-gays virus

In recent decades, gays have been blamed for causing the following 19 disasters, crimes and predicaments:

Famines in East Africa, from the 1970s onwards. (Televangelist Pat Robertson is an early contributor to the blame-the-gays list, as noted in “Robertson’s fault line” in The Advocate.)

Hurricane Andrew, 1992. (“Robertson’s fault line,” The Advocate.)

Northridge earthquake in California, 1994.  (“Robertson’s fault line,” The Advocate.)

Hurricane Bonnie heads toward Virginia Beach.

Hurricane Bonnie heads toward Virginia Beach.

Hurricane Bonnie and more, 1998. (Robertson predicted in June 1998 that God would punish Orlando, Florida, with hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombs and “possibly a meteor” because of a Gay Days promotion for Disney World. But when hurricane season arrived, the first major tropic storm, Hurricane Bonnie, hit land in the area of Robertson’s own headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “TV Preacher Pat Robertson Expands On ‘Gay Days’ Comments,” Americans United)

Terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (Jerry Falwell blames gays & others for 9/11,” YouTube, ABC, elsewhere)

Indian Ocean tsunami, 2004. (“They’re Going to Blame the Gays for Climate Change,” The Stranger. Author/columnist Dan Savage comments: “God may be all-knowing and all-powerful, but He is, it seems, a lousy shot, the Mr. Magoo of higher powers. Same-sex couples get married in Boston, Toronto and San Francisco, and a vengeful, near-sighted God triggers an earthquake that slams a killer wave into Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka, killing a quarter of a million people who weren’t even invited to the wedding.”)

Hurricane Katrina, 2005. (“Religious leader blames hurricane on gays,” The Advocate)

Earthquake in Virginia, 2011. (“Rabbi Says Quake Is Your Fault,”  The Advocate)

Tsunami hits Japan. (Photo courtesy of The Australian)

Tsunami hits Japan. (Photo courtesy of The Australian)

Tsunami in Japan, 2011. (“Jacobs: Blame Gays for Tsunami,” The Advocate.)

Hurricane Isaac, 2012. (“Hurricane Isaac Blamed On New Orleans’ Southern Decadence Gay Festival By Pastor, Locals,” Huffington Post.

Death of U.S. ambassador in Libya, 2012. (Columnist Ben Shapiro claimed that the willingness of the U.S. State Department to hire gay security personnel contributed to lax security. “Why Libya Matters,” TownHall.com)

Damage caused by Hurricane Sandy (Photo courtesy of Woodland United Way)

Damage caused by Hurricane Sandy (Photo courtesy of Woodland United Way)

Hurricane Sandy, 2012. (“Pastor: Blame gays for Hurricane Sandy,” Salon)

Massacre of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut, 2012. (TV commentator and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said, “I would never say that simply taking prayer and Bible reading from our institutions or silencing Christmas carols is the direct cause of a mass murder. [But]  We dismiss the notion of natural law and the notion that there are moral absolutes and seemed amazed when some kids make it their own morality to kill innocent children. We diminish and even hold in contempt the natural family of a father and mother …” in “My Fox Show Monologue,” MikeHuckabee.com)

Massacre of 34 striking miners in South Africa, 2012. (“Preacher blames gays for Marikana shooting,” Mail & Guardian.)

Bushfires in Australia, 2013. (“Australian Christian group blames bushfires on gay marriage,” Gay Star News.)

Floods in Britain, 2013-2014. (“Ukip suspends councillor who claimed floods were caused by gay marriage,” The Guardian)

Freezing weather and tornadoes, 2014. (GOP Congressional candidate blames gays for weather, wants LGBT votes,” Windy City Times.

Spanish legislator Luz Elena Sanin says that gays are to blame for Spain's national debt. (Photo courtesy of Gay Star News)

Spanish legislator Luz Elena Sanin says that gays are to blame for Spain’s national debt. (Photo courtesy of Gay Star News)

Autism, 2014. (In addition to extreme weather, candidate  Susanne Atanus also accused gays of causing autism.  GOP Congressional candidate blames gays for weather, wants LGBT votes,” Windy City Times.

Spain’s $1.3 trillion national debt, 2014. (“Spanish Conservative Christian Senator Blames Gays For Country’s Trillion Dollar Debt,” The New Civil Rights Movement.)

Posted in Africa, Africa (Sub Saharan), Americas, Commentary, Faith and religion, Harassment / murders | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Singapore court rejects appeal of anti-gay law

Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee. (Click image to see video about them and their legal challenge of Singapore's anti-gay law)

Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee. (Click image to see video from 2013 about them and their legal challenge against Singapore’s anti-gay law)

Channel NewsAsia reports:

SINGAPORE — The nation’s highest court on Wednesday Oct 29 ruled that a law that criminalises sex between men is constitutional.

The ruling covers both cases contesting the law, one brought by two graphic designers who have been in a relationship for 16 years, and the other by an artistic therapist who had been arrested for a sexual act committed in a toilet. …

The judges found that Section 377A of the Penal Code [which provides for up to two years in prison for physical intimacy between men] did not infringe on the rights of Lim Meng Suang and Kenneth Chee Mun-Leon [Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee], who in 2012 argued that the statute was inconsistent with Article 12 of the Constitution, or 51-year-old artistic therapist and social volunteer Tan Eng Hong, who had been arrested for engaging in oral sex with another man in a public toilet in 2010. …

“While we understand the deeply held personal feelings of the appellants, there is nothing that this court can do to assist them. Their remedy lies, if at all, in the legislative sphere,” the Court of Appeal said in its judgment.

Human rights lawyer M Ravi, representing Tan, said, “Today’s decision has legitimised discrimination against gay men and approved the criminalisation of the conduct of their private lives by statute.” It is “huge step backwards for human rights in Singapore,” he added.

Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch, said, “Singapore likes to advertise itself as a modern Asian country and business destination, but this discriminatory anti-LGBT law is wholly out of step with international rights standards that guarantee protections, including for sexual orientation and gender identity.”

 

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Ugandan court dismisses case against activist Sam Ganafa

Sam K. Ganafa, executive director of Spectrum Uganda (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Samuel K. Ganafa, executive director of Spectrum Uganda (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

A Ugandan court has dismissed criminal charges against high-profile LGBTI rights activist Samuel K. Ganafa.

Ganafa, executive director of the LGBTI rights group Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, and three colleagues had been charged with “unnatural offenses,” a crime that is punishable by as much as a life sentence.

Ganafa, who also serves as board chair for the Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) network, was arrested with those colleagues in early November 2013. All four were released on bail, but only Ganafa faced a trial.

His defense was handled by Onyango & Co. Advocates, which was hired by SMUG.

He was subjected to forced HIV testing and then, as the trial against him proceeded, the prosecution repeatedly requested delays.  On Oct. 8, nearly a year after his arrest, the prosecution asked for another delay, but the court rejected the request and dismissed the charges.

Ganafa said via Facebook messages:

“The court action is a good sign, because it’s independent and opens a window of hope for us. We also expect the same action to be taken in other cases currently before the courts. I pray that the courts will ward off possible pressures from the anti-gay lobby.

“In the same independent stance, the Constitutional Court earlier struck down the anti-gay law, citing the lack of quorum in its passing.
“It’s good for the people of Uganda to respect the human rights of sexual minorities. I know it will take time for the majority to appreciate the sexual diversity amid our society and humanity.”

Over the years, activists said, Ganafa has opened his home to many homeless LGBTI persons and it was also used as a Spectrum Uganda office for more than eight years.

Anti-gay Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper reported Sam Ganafa's arrest under the headline "Telecom boss sodomy scandal."

Anti-gay Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper reported Sam Ganafa’s arrest under the headline “Telecom boss sodomy scandal.”

An employee of a Ugandan telecommunications company, he is greatly respected, a good role model, and one of the few elderly persons who have openly lived as gay in Uganda, activists said.

Ganafa added:

“Regarding my personal security, it remains a priority because some of our adversaries have vowed to strike again. That means that I and others need to be very careful with people who come close to us.”

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Gay life in Cameroon: Battered, with no legal recourse

By Erin Royal Brokovitch

Marc was injured by his abusive former friend, but has no legal recourse against him. (Photo by Erin Royal Brokovitch)

Marc was injured by his abusive former friend, but has no legal recourse against him. (Photo by Erin Royal Brokovitch)

In Cameroon,  gay victims of violence have no recourse to the justice system because of the repressive law known as Section 347 bis.

According to that section of the Penal Code, same-sex intimacy is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to 200,000 CFA francs (about US  $400).

As a result, if an  LGBTI person in Cameroon goes to a local police station to file a complaint, often he or she is immediately arrested under Section 347 bis.

The partners of gay men in Cameroon sometimes take advantage of this situation. In the heat of an argument, they beat up their partner, confident that he will not be able to turn them in to police.

Marc’s story

Such is the case of Marc, a human rights activist whose five-month relationship with Bertin recently ended in violence.

This is the story as described by Marc. (Bertin could not be reached to give his version of events.)

Bertin, a government employee and a student, cheated on Marc with another man at Marc’s home in the Ngoa-Ekele neighborhood of Yaounde while Marc was away on a work trip. On his return, Marc learned about Bertin’s infidelity.

On the night of Sept. 23, when Marc asked Bertin about what had happened, Bertin reacted violently, beating him, strangling him and injuring his nose.  He then threatened to kill Marc.

This is Marc’s account:

“Bertin and I had been lovers since May 2014. We had an argument because he cheated on me by bringing another man into my house while I was away. I had been so confident in him that I had handed over a set of keys.

“I asked him for an explanation, and I decided that I should leave. But instead of discussing it with me as an adult, Bertin began to beat me.

“This wasn’t the first time he had done it, but this time he went too far. Look for yourself: a bite on the nose. In order to resolve the problem amicably, I asked him to pay for my medical care, but he refused. Instead, he threatened to kill me and said he would track me down wherever I went.

“I cannot complain to the police for fear of being arrested under Article 347 bis. I’m even afraid to leave the house. He might kill me when no one is around.

“My family does not know my sexual orientation, so  I cannot tell them what happened. I just told them that I am getting death threats. I cannot complain because the law would turn against me — and he knows it!

“He made ​​me understand that I cannot do anything to him because he has great relationships in this country, so I should just disappear.

“We still remember the case of Eric Ohena Lembembe  [the journalist and LGBTI human rights activist] who was murdered in his home in Yaoundé on July 15. Investigators still have not determined the cause of his death.

“I beg you. Help me find a solution. I do not want to die. “

Marc's home is in the Ngoa-Ekele area of Yaoundé, near the University of Yaounde I, shown above.

Marc’s home is in the Ngoa-Ekele area of Yaoundé, near the University of Yaounde I, shown above.

Unable to get any help from police, Marc must keep silent about his pain.

He now pleads for help from local  LGBTI organizations or the international community. With their help, Marc hopes that:

  • He will be protected from further violence;
  • Bertin will be forced to pay for Marc’s medical care;
  • Other victims of partners’ violence will  also be protected;
  • Justice will be done.

So far, none of that has happened.

Unfortunately, what happened to Marc is a typical aspect of the grim reality for Cameroonian gays who have no access to the justice system when they are victims of violence in the LGBTI community.

Emmanuel’s story

For 11 months, Emmanuel had a 29-year-old lover, until he became violent.  Then, on Sept. 1, the lover and the friend attacked him in the early hours of the morning, after the two of them had spent an evening together, Emmanuel said. A dispute over a few possessions triggered the confrontation.

Emmanuel recalled:

“It’s a sad memory, that evening. It’s traumatic to remember the hatred in my friend’s face and the intensity of the violence. He hit me on the head with a large piece of wood. Then he let his friend, who has a bad reputation, beat me up. Together they threw me on the floor, where they beat and kicked me. They they dragged me into the street.

“I’m thankful to people who had seen us together a few minutes before, and asked why the two of them why they were abusing their friend. That saved me. I had feared the worst.

“All this was because I had gotten annoyed at his misconduct and complained. He then took some of my things and I tried to reclaim them so I could take them home.

“That’s not even the full story, because that day he beat three times. There was just too much violence. “

Neither Emmanuel’s lover nor the friend was available to give his version of events.

Like Marc, Emmanuel was forced to abandon the idea of taking legal action:

“After what had been done to me, I wanted my lover to be punished, too. But the truth is that I knew that any complaint would be turned against me and would become a homosexuality case.

“I had become even more vulnerable in the eyes of my lover, who now knew that he could lay hands on me whenever he wanted to without worrying — at least not worrying that he would be brought to justice.”

Like Marc, Emmanuel is right.

The story of Gabrielle and “Stephanie”

In December 2013, a lesbian (here called “Stephanie”) became mad with jealousy and went to the police to denounce her partner, Gabrielle. In the heat of the moment, Stephanie admitted that she and Gabrielle were a lesbian couple. In the end, they were both arrested. Six months later, they were sentenced to 10 months in prison and a fine of 50,000 CFA francs (about US $100). That sentence was imposed on May 3.

Such is life for LGBTI people in Cameroon, the land of Article 347 bis.

And yet … Isn’t it the responsibility of the state to ensure access to justice for all citizens, and to respond when citizens are harmed?

The author of this article is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym.

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Sex, youth and politics in Algeria

By Pierre Daum, journalist.

Originally published in Le Monde Diplomatique, republished here with permission of the author.

Homosexuality, or “social death”

(Illustration by Aurel)

(Illustration by Aurel)

At first glance, as Latifa said, a lesbian I met in Oran, “the lives of homosexuals are much more simple and joyful in Algeria.”

Indeed, in this society where everyone lives partitioned between same sexes from an early age, dating opportunities and homosexuals pleasures are far more numerous.

At 15 or 25, a boy can bring his boyfriend home, shut himself up in his room with him, and even propose to spend the night, without the parents seeing any wickedness. Same thing for girls. At 30, 40 years of age, two men or two women can go away for a weekend, rent a double room at any hotel, and no one will say anything.

Zoheir Djazeiri is a leading activist among Algerian homosexuals. An activist with the group Abu Nawas(1) , his actions are strictly illegal; Zoheir Djazeiri (Zoheir the Algerian) is a pseudonym.

“All this is true, he admits, but beware, the negative consequences are very heavy! We live in a sexist society. Being gay, for a man, it’s considered degrading yourself to the inferior rank of women.” The law punishes very harshly the practices both as being “against nature” and prohibited by the state religion, Islam (Article 2 of the Constitution)(2) . “To be arrested for homosexuality means social death,” continues Zoheir. “You are obliged to leave all: your city, your family, your work, everything! “

An important detail: In Algeria, there is no lawyer willing to publicly defend homosexuals. “His career would be ruined,” says Zoheir.

Nonetheless, not only is it possible to live a homosexual life, with its meeting places, bars and cabarets in Algiers, Oran and Bejaia, but many Algerian heterosexuals practice homosexuality; at school, during military service and in the dorm, etc. “Women are rarely seen, we fall back on men” laughs Mourad, 25, met in Algiers, who does not know “if [he] prefers men or women.”

A French scholar working on male homosexuality in Algiers told me “Gay friends I met there eight years ago are all getting married! With marriage, they stop, more or less, their homosexual life. “

Any social or political activism presents a huge danger. The Abu Nawas Association, which claims 1500 members via the Internet, is considered by the state as an organization advocating crime. “We have a core of about twenty activists, all potentially subject to 10 years imprisonment,” said Zoheir the Algerian.

The president of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Photo BBC News)

The president of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Photo BBC News)

During the campaign against a fourth term of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (finally re-elected, wheelchair-bound, on April 17, 2014 – after suffering a stroke), Zoheir had to flee for two months, abroad.

A television channel had aired a report entitled “The Plot”, showing his picture in a circle. Was he afraid of being mugged or even killed? “No, that’s not it. But my mother and people in the neighborhood watch that channel; I was terrified that she would learn the truth about me.”

Notes:

1) See the Abu Nawas site. There is a second gay group in Algeria, Alouen.

(2) Section 333 of the penal code punishes Algeria the “outrage public decency.” And, Article 338 specifically mentions homosexuality. “Anyone guilty of a homosexual act is punishable by imprisonment of two months to two years and a fine of 500 to 2000 AD”. These are regularly applied, no figures are available.

Posted in Africa, Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uganda strategy joins gay rights to women’s rights, health

Amnesty International's "Rule of Law" report on Uganda. (Click image for link to PDF file.)

Amnesty International’s “Rule of Law” report on Uganda. (Click image for link to PDF file.)

Amnesty International is pushing for an end to repression in Uganda through a welcome strategy of including LGBTI rights issues in the context of that overall  human rights violations, abuse of women, and limitations on freedom of assembly and access to health services.

It’s a strategy that aims to avoid the misinterpretation that seeking LGBTI rights is an attempt to claim special treatment for homosexuals.

Sarah Jackson of Amnesty International presents "Rule of Law" report to Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda (James Budeyo photo courtesy of Chimp Reports)

Sarah Jackson of Amnesty International presents  the “Rule of Law” report to Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda (James Budeyo photo courtesy of Chimp Reports)

Amnesty’s new report, titled “Rule by Law,” shows that “Repression in Uganda is increasingly state-sanctioned through the use of blatantly discriminatory legislation that erodes rights guaranteed in the country’s Constitution,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for East Africa.

In Amnesty’s presentations, those rights include:

The rights of women — “In the days after the Anti-Pornography Act was signed, women were harassed by the police, and one lawyer was threatened with arrest because of her clothing.”

The rights of LGBTI people — “The Anti-Homosexuality Act also led to LGBTI people being evicted from their homes and losing their jobs. LGBTI people and women were subject to mob attacks in the streets while the Anti-Homosexuality Act was in force and immediately after the Anti-Pornography Act was signed.”

The rights of every citizen to freedom of assembly — That right “has come under attack through the Public Order Management Act, which imposes wide-ranging restrictions on public meetings. … This legislation has led to police suppressing gatherings involving political opposition groups and crackdowns on activists. … [It] has had a devastating effect on the ability of civil society to organize, even stymieing attempts to challenge the laws themselves.”

The right to adequate health care — “The Anti-Homosexuality Act was … invoked to restrict certain assistance to refugees. Most services of the Refugee Law Project (RLP), an organization that supports asylum seekers and refugees, have been suspended by the authorities since March 2014 following trumped-up allegations that it was ‘promoting homosexuality’.

Patience Akumu (Photo courtesy of The Independent)

Patience Akumu (Photo courtesy of The Independent)

“The Anti-Homosexuality Act also compromised access to healthcare. A police raid on the Walter Reed Project, a HIV-research project, in April 2014 made some LGBTI individuals too scared to access healthcare.

“In June 2014, the Ministry of Health issued a directive affirming non-discrimination in access to healthcare. Despite these positive commitments, overall the ability of organizations to provide healthcare has been negatively affected by the Anti-Homosexuality Act.”

In presenting the new report, Amnesty officials were joined by supporters of human rights, women’s rights, and LGBTI rights, including Stephen Oola, a program manager at the Refugee Law Project; Pepe Julian Onziema, program director of Sexual Minorities Uganda; and journalist Patience Akumu, a supporter of women’s and LGBTI rights in Uganda.

For more information, see:

Posted in Africa, Africa (Sub Saharan), Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, Human Rights, International pressure for LGBT rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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