Jamaican police propose LGBT shelter, raid gully again

New Kingston Police Supt. Christopher Murdock. (Photo courtesy of CVM News)

New Kingston Police Supt. Christopher Murdock. (Photo courtesy of CVM News)

Jamaican police have again raided the gully where dozens of homeless LGBT youth have taken refuge.

Police have often raided the storm water diversion gully, sometimes called a sewer, even though a Jamaican court ruled  in March that the youths, who have nowhere else to go, have a right to be there because gullies are public spaces.

The raid came a month after Supt. Christopher Murdock, who heads the New Kingston Police, gave his support to the idea of establishing a shelter where homeless LGBT people can have access to medication, psychological help, counselling and vocational training.

Dwayne's House logo

Dwayne’s House logo

Similar proposals have been made in the past, but so far they have not come to fruition.  Murdock did not mention the most recent proposal, Dwayne’s House, which has been put forward by supporters of the homeless youths.

In the latest raid, Murdock said, police were searching for several people suspected of criminal activity in the area, including the theft of J$100,000 (US$888).

Stone-throwing skirmishes broke out between the homeless youths and onlookers, according to a CVM News video posted on YouTube by GLBTQ Jamaica. The Jamaica Observer said that two of the police were injured in the raid, which occurred after the youths started throwing bottles at them.

Six people were arrested, including a man who Murdock said tried to choke him and inflicted a cut on Murdock’s arm.

Last month, after Murdock presented his statement in favor of establishing a shelter, the proposal attracted support.

Dane Lewis, president of J-FLAG

Dane Lewis, president of J-FLAG

“If we could convince members of the civic coalition and those who are spending millions on security to help, we could go a far way,” said Dane Lewis, president of J-FLAG (the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays).

“We have to have land, pay people who are going to come and look after health care and other benefits. We’ve had enough of these sessions; we need to come to a solution,” Lewis added.

Member of parliament Julian Robinson, whose constituency includes the affected area, said he would help find land for the shelter. Murdock said a small group should be chosen to organize the project.

Representatives from the  National Council on Drug Abuse and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition said they would help after adequate funding is assured and the Government steps out to provide more than simply a location for the shelter.


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Ghana student faces anti-gay threats, so police arrest him

Yakubu Abdul Kadrito in police custody. (Photo courtesy of PeaceFMonline.com)

Yakubu Abdul Kadrito in police custody. (Photo courtesy of PeaceFMonline.com)

Police in northern Ghana in West Africa have arrested a 21-year-old student in response to area residents’ threats that they would kill him for wearing women’s clothing, having gay sex and seeking gay partners.

The police commander in the small town of Walewale, capital of the West Mamprusi district, said police arrested Yakubu Abdul Kadrito, age 21, to save him from a lynching, the website of Peace FM radio reported.

It also published pictures of the suspect in handcuffs and in women’s clothing. Gay Star News reported:

A Muslim sheik, Mahamadu Alhassan, condemned the young man and reportedly led a crusade of locals against him.

The suspect’s family were targeted by an angry group with weapons at their home, and were told their son should not return if he is released, and are now living in fear.

Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) have spoken out against the uproar, saying the treatment of the suspect and his family is a violation of human rights.

They have called for protection of the suspected gay man and his family.

According to PeaceFMonline.com, police had not decided how to handle the situation, in which area residents threatened to kill the young man and his family if he is released locally.

Sheik Mahamadu Alhassan led a raid on the family home by “angry weapon-wielding residents,” the website said.

Under the laws of Ghana, sex between men is a misdemeanor punishable by one to three years in prison.

In addition, mob justice is a problem. Gay Star News reported that in May, a gay man was lynched by an anti-gay mob of 30 Muslim young men.

PeaceFMonline also reported that Alhaji Ismael Ridwan, age 35, was arrested near Tamale, also in northern Ghana, on charges of engaging in “gay practice with a number of boys.” He was granted release on 500 GHc bail (US $132) while police conduct an investigation.

Ghana President John Dramani Mahama (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Ghana President John Dramani Mahama (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

In an interview last year, Ghana President John Dramani Mahama said that the country’s intense anti-gay hostility creates barriers to even  discussing the possibility of fair treatment for LGBT people, especially by politicians.

“I believe that laws must prevail,” he said. “For instance, people must not be beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, but in my country there is a strong cultural hostility towards it,” Mahama told the Marietta Daily Journal in Marietta, Georgia.

“It’s a difficult situation, but I guess it’s something that –– it’s very difficult to comment on because often it creates more problems,” Mahama said.

Posted in Africa, Africa (Sub Saharan) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Warning: Lebanon police call to entrap gay suspects

Logo of Helem

Logo of Helem

Lebanese police have intensified their campaign against LGBTI people by using arrestees’  mobile phones to try to entrap other allegedly gay men,  according to Helem, Lebanon’s LGBTQI advocacy organisation.

Helem issued this warning today:


Helem has learned that the Hobeich police station has been arresting individuals in Beirut and going through their WHATSAPP [message service] contacts. They are summoning contacts from detainees based on their WHATSAPP conversations to go down to the police station for questioning. If you receive a phone call DO NOT GO, call 71 916 146 and Helem representatives will instruct you on what to do. DO NOT answer unknown numbers and save the Hobeich police station numbers on your phone so you can recognize them.

This is very important, please share with all of your friends and contacts either publicly or privately.

Under Lebanese law, same-sex intimacy is punishable by up to one year in prison.

Lebanon’s national police and security force arrested 27 people on Aug. 9 during a raid on a Turkish bath. They arrested another 18 men in two raids on Aug. 14.

Grindr logo

Grindr logo

The Helem warning came in the wake of a separate warning to users of the popular Grindr meetup app that it could allow them to be targeted if used in anti-gay regions.  The makers of the app said that users could and should control how information about their location is displayed.

A software developer told Grindr users via Huffington News, “If you don’t want somebody to know your location, don’t provide your distance or don’t use geo apps at all.”

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’76 Crimes’ on radio: The latest battles for LGBTI justice

Click on the image to read the article "32 anti-gay African leaders, 32 smiling Obama photos."

Click on the image to read the article “32 anti-gay African leaders, 32 smiling Obama photos.”


Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart

The Erasing 76 Crimes blog and the anti-gay laws of 76-plus countries moved to center stage last weekend during a 15-minute interview of editor/publisher Colin Stewart on the radio show/podcast “State of Belief.”

The show’s host, the Rev. Welton Gaddy, called the blog “an invaluable resource” and then asked about:

Why LGBT rights were not discussed at the recent U.S./African summit. (Gaddy noted the blog’s “rogues gallery” of anti-gay leaders who attended the summit. Stewart said he was disappointed about the summit’s failure to address LGBT issues. But he cited a bit of evidence that the United States is now working behind the scenes — and seeing some results from its more subtle approach — after the experience of African leaders publicly rejecting President Obama’s public call for LGBT rights during his African trip last year.)

The Rev. Welton Gaddy, host of the "State of Belief" radio show and podcast.

The Rev. Welton Gaddy, host of the “State of Belief” radio show and podcast.

The role of Christian and Muslim fundamentalists in supporting anti-gay laws. (Stewart discussed “deeply rooted” African evangelical churches and the additional trouble caused by visits from anti-gay American evangelists. He also noted the combination of anti-gay Christians and Muslims in Uganda’s anti-gay Inter-Religious Council, which just lost its American funding.)

Why much of Africa is so harshly anti-gay. (In many cases, Stewart said, Africa’s anti-gay laws are remnants of the anti-gay laws of the British Empire, and are especially repressive in countries with harshly anti-gay evangelical churches.)

What people can do to help. (Stewart urged support for the locally based organizations in each country that are working for basic human rights for LGBTI people.)

How Stewart became involved with the issue of LGBTI criminalization. (Initially, through personal contact with gay Episcopal priest the Rev. Albert Ogle.)

The full interview is online.


Also discussed during the radio show:

  • Eric Lembembe

    Eric Lembembe

    Zambia’s “gay scare” of last year, which Vice President Guy Scott admitted was motivated by fear of the political power of local evangelical churches.

  • Lebanon’s recent anti-gay raids.
  • Nigeria’s new anti-gay law, which was followed by arrests and reported beatings there.
  • Cameroon’s active repression of LGBTI people and advocacy for change by journalist/activist Eric Lembembe, who was murdered last year.
  • Malawi’s currently suspended anti-gay law.
  • India’s anti-gay, which was suspended, then reinstated.
  • Proposals for new anti-gay laws — so far without much popular support –in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya.

The following paragraph is the advance description of the show by “State of Belief”:

“Erasing 76 Crimes”: The Global Struggle to End LGBT Criminalization
Next, Welton invites on journalist and activist Colin Stewart whose website 76crimes.com is an invaluable resource for tracking the criminalization of homosexuality around the world. While the persecution of LGBT people across the globe has become an increasingly important issue for many Americans, faith communities, and the U.S. government, many were disappointed that the President did not push the issue at the White House’s recent summit of African leaders. Welton and Colin will discuss the administration’s work on this issue and whether the summit was a missed opportunity.

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12 still in Lebanese jail 17 days after Turkish bath raid

Promotional photo for Agha Hamman.

Photo promotionnelle de Agha Hamman.

Twelve men remain in detention 17 days after at total of 27 people were arrested at a Turkish bath during an Aug. 9 raid by Lebanon’s national police and security force.

Helem, Lebanon’s LGBTQI advocacy organisation, provided that update today, citing the gay-friendly Lebanese human rights group The Legal Agenda. Helem stated:

“An article on the status of the Agha Hammam detainees by our friends at The Legal Agenda. As of today Helem learned that the 12 detainees are all still in prison with only one person being transferred to General Security [from which they can be released on bail]. They have been in custody since August 9.”

Some of the 27 have been released on bail.  Journalist Dan Littauer reported in the Huffington Post on Aug. 15 that “Six have been released on [Aug. 14] while the 21 others have been transferred to Zahle’s prison. … 16 of the detainees asked Helem … for legal help and can only be released with the payment of a substantial bail, to which the organisation is calling for donations.”

Helem said that the men had not been released even though their bail was paid five days ago. “This puts their lives under danger and puts them at risk of violence and abuse by other prisoners,” Helem added.

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Comment: Africa isn’t anti-gay, ‘just hopelessly confused’

An insightful commentary in the pan-African publication Mail & Guardian Africa notes not only that African countries are far from united in their attitudes toward homosexuality, but also that many individual countries have self-contradictory laws. An excerpt from the article “Forgive it. Africa is not anti-gay; the continent is just hopelessly confused”:

African countries where homosexuality is legal. (Click on the image for an interactive version of the map on the Mail & Guardian Africa website)

African countries where homosexuality is legal. (Click on the image for an interactive version of the map on the Mail & Guardian Africa website)

In Cote d’Ivoire, though homosexuality is legal the government has not stepped in to protect the community from attacks such as the one that shut down the headquarters of the LGBT-friendly anti-AIDS group “Alternative CI” earlier this year. Or in the case of Mali, even though this is a country where homosexuality is legal and there is an equal age of consent for heterosexuals and homosexuals, 98% of Malian adults believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept, which was the highest rate of non-acceptance in the 45 countries surveyed by the 2007 Global Pew Attitudes Project.

Be ready to get baffled

In other countries things are even more baffling – in Mozambique for example homosexuality is not considered legal, yet there are laws that prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the workplace.

Meanwhile in Lesotho, though homosexuality is legal homosexuals are prohibited from entering the country – how they expect to make the distinction between a gay and non-gay person is unclear.

In Libya and Tunisia, though homosexuality is clearly illegal both of these North African countries do not prohibit homosexuals from entering the country.

While there are clearly laws in place that state whether homosexuality is illegal, in three African countries the laws are completely contradictory. In Mozambique, Angola and Botswana homosexuality is considered illegal and yet anti-discrimination laws are also in place.

Whilst African nations debate the gay question, this has still not stopped the continent’s LGBTI community from adapting to the situation and continuing to live their lives as normally as possible – which for most means keeping a low profile. With no official discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at the national level, what these groups have to deal with the most on a daily basis is societal discrimination that continues to be widespread.

Mail & Guardian Africa is published by South Africa-based M&G Media, has a Zimbabwean majority owner and has a Ugandan editor.

Posted in Africa, Africa (Sub Saharan), Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, Middle East / North Africa | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cameroon lesbians freed after 9 months awaiting trial

Cameroon map shows the location of Ebolowa south of the capital city, Yaounde.

Cameroon map shows the location of Ebolowa south of the capital city, Yaounde.

Two lesbians in southern Cameroon were released on Aug. 22 after nine months in prison awaiting trial on homosexuality charges.

On Aug. 21, Liliane and Nicole each received a two-year prison sentence, which was converted into a three-year suspended sentence, according to their attorney, Michel Togué.

In November 2013, the women were arrested and jailed  on homosexuality charges in Ebolowa, 160 kilometers south of Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé.

For months, they had no legal representation, until Togué took their case in May. He is one of three lawyers in Cameroon who accept LGBT defendants and prisoners as clients.

The women’s trial ended in a conviction on Aug. 14.

Cameroonian law provides for prison sentences of up to five years for same-sex sexual activity. It is supposed to apply only to cases of same-sex intercourse in which a couple is “caught in the act,” but the law is often interpreted as justifying imprisonment for people who are merely suspected of being homosexual.

In this case, the women were charged with homosexual behavior involving another woman.

Togué said that Liliane and Nicole will need support as they seek to return to a productive life in Cameroonian society.

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