Proposal in Chad would make gay sex a crime

La localisation du Tchad en Afrique.

Location of Chad in Africa.

The north African country of Chad is considering adopting a new penal code that would punish homosexual activity with up to 20 years in prison, Agence France-Presse reports.

The proposed legislation was adopted by the country’s cabinet on Sept. 4, but would need parliamentary approval to become law. AFP obtained a copy of it last week.

Article 361 bis of the draft of a new penal code calls for punishments of 15 to 20 years in prison and fines of  50,000 to 500,000 CFA francs (76 to 762 euros) for same-sex activity.

The issue of homosexuality, “has never really been an issue” in Chad, according to Florent Geel, Africa director of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

FIDH logo

FIDH logo

He called the proposal discriminatory, demagogic and counter-productive and urged parliament to amend the text before passing it.

According to the latest report from the ILGA (International Association of lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex), Chad has no law against homosexual activity, although the AFP article said homosexual activity is currently a misdemeanor.

According to Radio France Internationale, “The old code was not explicit enough. This time, homosexuality is strongly repressed. Officials in Chad say that law is needed to ‘protect the family and to comply with the Chadian society.’ “

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Indonesia plan: 100 lashes for gay sex, Muslim or not

Indonesia map shows Aceh province. (Map courtesy of PBS.org)

Indonesia map shows Aceh province. (Map courtesy of PBS.org)

The Indonesia’s Aceh province is considering adopting a new bylaw that would impose public floggings for homosexual activity by non-Muslims as well as Muslims.

Under sharia law, which is in effect in Aceh, Muslims are already subject to that punishment for gay sex, as well as penalties for adultery, public intimacy and wearing shorts or tight dresses.

Agence France-Presse reported today:

“Gay sex could be punishable by 100 lashes of the cane in Indonesia’s staunchly conservative Aceh province if parliament passes a draft law that critics say violates basic human rights.

“Aceh is the only part of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation to enforce Islamic sharia law and has been slowly implementing it since 2001, when it gained some powers of autonomy.

“A draft bylaw sent to AFP on Saturday outlaws anal sex between men and “the rubbing of body parts between women for stimulation”, and for the first time applies Islamic laws and punishments to non-Muslims.

“The bylaw also punishes adultery with 100 lashes of the cane.”

Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, deputy mayor of Banda Aceh (Photo courtesy of Acehterkini.com)

Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, deputy mayor of Banda Aceh (Photo courtesy of Acehterkini.com)

Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, the deputy mayor of Banda Aceh, the province’s capital, has been pushing for the legislation since at least May 2014, according to the Jakarta Globe.

“There is no law that could be used to charge them,” the newspaper quoted Illiza as saying. “The existing [regulations] only stipulate about khalwat [being in close proximity] for intimate relations between unmarried males and females.” Banda Aceh’s Shariah Police have struggled to crack down on same-sex relationships, Illiza said. Couples meet in rented rooms and pursue relationships under a veil of secrecy, she said.

“Even if one case of homosexuality found, it’s already a problem… we are really concerned about the behavior and activities of the gay community, because their behavior is deviating from the Islamic Shariah,” Illiza stated.

The Aceh proposal continues a legislative and human-rights struggle that has been going on for years.  As the Star Observer of Australia reported in 2009:

“In 2002 the Indonesian Government granted legal autonomy to Aceh, allowing the province to institute Islamic Sharia law, a framework that explicitly punishes homosexual acts.

“It was subsequently reported that 52 regions across the islands of Sumatra and Java adopted laws prohibiting homosexuality, including the city of Palembang in South Sumatra where punishment includes jail and fines.

“Indonesian lobby group Arus Pelangi launched a campaign against these regional statutes in October 2006. Many LGBT people are arrested and detained, often without charges or clear reason, only to be released after a few days, Arus Pelangi spokesman Widodo Budi said.”

 

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Court decision coming in suit vs. Nigeria’s anti-gay law

Nigeria Justice Abdul Kafarati (Photo courtesy of 247ureports.com)

Nigeria Justice Abdul Kafarati (Photo courtesy of 247ureports.com)

A Nigerian High Court judge is expected to rule Sept. 25 whether the country’s new anti-gay law is constitutional.

Justice Abdul Kafarati is currently considering the lawsuit filed in March in the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court by Joseph Teriah Ebah, a straight Nigerian living in the United Kingdom.

Ebah alleges that this year’s new “Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act” violates Nigerians’ human rights as protected by the country’s constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

In his suit, Ebah states that:

“Nigerians, particularly those whose sex is Gay, Lesbian, bisexual or transgender are, by natural design, biologically and physiologically, without any fault of theirs, share unique sexual orientation. …

“I know as a fact that there is a constitutional provision in Nigeria which forbids discrimination against any Nigerian on the basis of their sex, community and/or circumstances of their birth.

“That I know as a fact that the recently assented Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013, by the President Jonathan violates the Nigerian Constitution which forbids discrimination against any Nigerian by virtue of their sex, community and/or circumstances of their birth. …

“That I know as a fact that Individuals do not choose their sexual orientation, be you straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual. It is not a matter of choice. You are who you are. By circumstance of our Birth, we are born straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

“That I know as a fact that the sexual orientation of a citizen of Nigeria does not impair upon his or her ability to participate fully in all economic and social activities and/or institutions in Nigeria or elsewhere in the world.”

He also accuses the supporters of the new law of attempted genocide, stating:

“That I am aware that since the inception of Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013, an estimated number of about Thirty Eight (38) Nigerians have been arrested in about four (4) states of the federation on the basis of their sexual orientation.

“That I am aware that in Bauchi alone, an estimated number of about 12 Nigerians were arrested and subjected to prosecution on the basis of their sexual orientation.

“That I verily believe that this arrest, persecution and prosecution of these Nigerians is an attempt at genetic genocide meant to exterminate these Nigerians. …

The law calls for prison sentences of up to 14 years for any Nigerian who enters into a same-sex marriage and up to 10 years to anyone who attends or assists in a same-sex wedding in Nigeria. Those provisions are extreme, but their actual effect will be limited, because the idea of same-sex marriage has attracted little attention in Nigeria except from the people who fear it.

The new law expands on a harsh existing Nigerian law that already provides for a 14-year prison sentence for homosexual acts involving either men or women. The old law apparently applied to same-sex intercourse; the new law prohibits a simple “public show of same-sex amorous relationship” and would impose a 10-year prison sentence for those convicted.

It also threatens 10-year prison terms for anyone who organizes or takes part in a meeting of gay men in order to inform them about how to avoid HIV infection, as well as anyone who belongs to any organization that could be classified as a “gay organization,” whether it is seeking recognition of human rights for LGBT people, meeting the spiritual needs of LGBT people, or providing health care for LGBT people.

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

Goal: Boost safety, effectiveness of LGBTI rights defenders

Justitia et Pax logo

Justitia et Pax logo

The human rights group Justice and Peace Netherlands (Justitia et Pax) is offering a training program for human rights defenders who want to increase their effectiveness as activists and reduce the risks they run as they challenge the status quo.

The one-week course in The Hague, the Netherlands, is offered specifically to LGBT rights activists as well as to people who advocate for human rights more broadly.

It promises participants “the knowledge, skills and international contacts to reduce their vulnerabilities and to strengthen them in their work.”

The course, for up to 20 participants, will cover:

  • Physical and digital security.
  • Guidelines and protection mechanisms.
  • Impunity and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • Reporting of human rights violations,
  • Financial and legal restrictions.
  • Gender and security.
  • Policy influencing and network building.

Accommodations will be in The Hague. Participants’ expenses will be covered by Justice and Peace.

Course organizers provided this information for prospective applicants:

1. The training participants should work as a Human Rights Defender (HRD). A HRD is anyone working for the promotion and protection of human rights. This broad definition includes professional as well non-professional human rights workers, volunteers, journalists, lawyers and anyone else carrying out a human rights activity.

2. The HRD should have adequate skills to communicate in English.

3. The HRD is willing and able to participate in an intensive training course in the Netherlands from the 3rd of December till the 10th of December.

4. The HRD will organize a training for at least 5 colleagues or partners to share the knowledge that was gained during the training within three months after the The Hague Training Course.

Deadline for applications is Oct. 16.

For more information, contact  Janita Visser-Zwarteveld [janita.visser (at) justitiaetpax.nl], program officer for The Hague Training Course.

 

Posted in Africa, Africa (Sub Saharan), Europe, International pressure for LGBT rights | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

2 LGBT views of Israel-Palestine hostilities

In Israel, gay Palestinians are unwelcome. In the Gaza Strip, they face the possibility of up to 10 years in prison for sexual acts between men. On the West Bank, they face social stigma, but not criminal prosecution. Here are two perspectives on those problems.

First, excerpts from the recent Daily Beast article by on these “Invisible Men.”

Second, excerpts from the Electronic Intifada article “Eight questions Palestinian queers are tired of hearing.”

DAILY BEAST — Gay Palestinians In Israel: The ‘Invisible Men’ 

On the run from their Palestinian families, living illegally in Israel—treated by both sides as the enemy—gays from the Palestinian territories can’t go home again.

Palestinian gays in Israel (Photo courtesy of The Daily Beast)

Palestinian gays in Israel (Photo courtesy of The Daily Beast)

On January 26, 2010, Rawashda was picked up by the Palestinian secret police in the middle of the night. Cops had gone through his friend’s cellphone, where they found text messages sent from Rawashda that made it clear they were both gay. Next thing he knew, he was in an interrogation room being accused of collaborating with Israel. “I’d never even been to Israel before. But anyone who’s gay is immediately accused of spying for the enemy.”

For the next 16 hours, Rawashda was brutally beaten and tortured. Twelve thugs in uniform dunked his head in a toilet, trying to get him to sign a confession. “It was the worst night of my life. I don’t like talking about it.” When Rawashda refused, they picked up the phone, at 5 a.m., called his dad and told him his son was gay.

“They knew it was my biggest fear. They wanted to punish me.” His mom told him over the phone not to return home because his father and brother were going to come after him. “I had ‘dishonored’ the family.”

With the help of some friends, Rawashda escaped to Jordan, then Israel. He was in awe of Tel Aviv, a gay-friendly city with Pride parades rivaling those in Berlin and Amsterdam. As we chat about his life in Israel, Rawashda tells me to pan the camera so he could see the street behind me. “How is Tel Aviv?” he asks. “I miss it.”

Less than two weeks after finally making it to safety, Rawashda was picked up again, this time by the Tel Aviv PD. “Something was going down, and they were checking people’s IDs.” Rawashda, an undocumented Palestinian in Israel illegally, was taken into custody. Fearing deportation, he appealed to the officer’s sense of compassion. “I cried. I told him if they send me back, my life would be in danger.”

Instead, he was offered a deal: permission to stay, if he became an informant. The irony wasn’t lost on him. “I was almost killed by my own people who accused me of being an informant for Israel, and now Israelis were trying to get me to do it. Everyone just wanted to use me.”

When he refused, Israeli security forces escorted him to the checkpoint. But Rawashda managed to return, time and time again. He’d get caught, cops would send him across the border, and Rawashda would find a way back: a dangerous Sisyphean game he played with Israeli security people for more than two months. …

So far no gay Palestinian has ever been granted asylum in Israel. In fact Palestinians, gay or straight, are barred from even applying for refugee status in Israel.

Rawashda’s story has a happy-ish ending. Thanks to Israeli lawyers and NGOs, he was granted asylum in a small town in Norway, population 20,000. “I left my country and gave up everything so that I could be gay. Only there were no gay people there. I missed my home, the weather, the language. I was very depressed.”

Eventually, Rawashda moved to Oslo, one of the most progressive cities in the world. He has a boyfriend now, a job, and a tiny, yet homey, place in one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. His relationship with his family is “fine.”

He’s not a fan of Israel. In fact, Rawashda blames the occupation for Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s treatment of gays, “you need to liberate the people so they can liberate themselves,” he told me, even though the PA’s views are consistent with other Arab countries who have never been under Israeli occupation. But he’s thankful for those Israelis, most of them gay, who took him in and saved his life. “I watch the news now. There is so much fighting back home,” he said with sadness. “If gay people ran that region, on both sides, there would be no war.”

ELECTRONIC INTIFADA — “Eight questions Palestinian queers are tired of hearing.”

Graffiti in Ramallah reads “Queers passed through here.” (Photo courtesy of Al-Qaws and Electronic Intifada)

Graffiti in Ramallah reads “Queers passed through here.” (Photo courtesy of Al-Qaws and Electronic Intifada)

Aren’t all Palestinians homophobic?

Are all Americans homophobic? Of course not. Unfortunately, Western representations of Palestinians, particularly lesbian, gay, transgender or queer Palestinians, tend to ignore diversity in Palestinian society.

That being said, Palestinians are living under a decades-long military occupation. The occupation amplifies the diverse forms of oppression that are experienced in every society.

However, homophobia is not the way we contextualize our struggle. This is a notion comes from specific type of activism in the global north.

How can we single out homophobia from a complex oppressive system (patriarchy) that oppresses women, and gender non-conforming people? …

Are there any out Palestinians?

I’m glad you asked that question. We have great Palestinian gay carpenters who build such amazing closets for queers with all the Western comforts you can dream of — we never want to leave.

Once again the notion of coming out — or the politics of visibility — is a strategy that has been adopted by some LGBT activists in the global north, due to specific circumstances. Imposing this strategy on the rest of the world, without understanding context, is a colonial project.

Ask us instead what social change strategies apply to our context, and whether the notion of coming out even makes sense. …

I saw this film about gay Palestinians (Invisible Men/Bubble/Out In The Dark, etc.) and I feel I learned a lot about your struggle

You mean the films that were made by privileged Israeli or Jewish filmmakers portraying white Israelis as saviors and Palestinians as victims that needed saving?

These films strip the voice and agency of Palestinian queers, portraying them as victims that need saving from their own society.

Moreover, these films rely on racist tropes of Arab men as volatile and dangerous. These films are simply pinkwashing propaganda, funded by the Israeli government, with a poignant oppressed/oppressor love story the glitter on top.

If you want to learn about the reality of our community and our struggle, try listening to what queer Palestinians have to say, at the Al-Qaws or Palestinian Queers for BDS websites.

For more information, read the full Daily Beast article, “Gay Palestinians In Israel: The ‘Invisible Men.’ “ and the full Electronic Intifada article, “Eight questions Palestinian queers are tired of hearing.”

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Rainbow Sudan seeks LGBTI rights in Sudan

Image from Freedom Sudan website

Image from Freedom Sudan website

The LGBTI community of Sudan rarely appears in the media, but Sharon Wagiella of SOGI News recently interviewed a leader of that community’s anti-AIDS, pro-human rights group Rainbow Sudan, which was founded on Feb. 5, 2012. These are excerpts from that interview:

Can you tell me about the LGBTQI community in Sudan?

Throughout the generations, since the early ’60s, there was an LGBTQI community, and there was an acceptance in society. Then Islamic law was implemented in all of the north as of September 1983, by President Jafar An-Numeri. That’s when things changed here.

The LGBTQI community had to hide and some even left the country, but most of them are still known to the LGBTQI community. The law created a gap between the generations and there is less understanding now than before.

What problems do LGBTQI individuals face in Sudan?

Well, as you know, homosexuality is illegal under Article 148 of the 1991 penal code. But check The Niles النيلان [a German-funded media site covering Sudan and South Sudan. For example, the 2011 article "Quietly, Sudan’s underground gay movement grows online"].

Freedom Sudan [with a rudimentary web site and a Facebook page] was the first group to ever come out online.

[LGBTQI individuals face] legal challenges and social and religious impunity as well as psychological pressure as a result of isolation. …

Sudan did use to be more LGBTQI-friendly.

The potential of intergenerational LGBTQI work is significant. The evidence shows that young and old LGBTQI individuals face distinct challenges and potential discrimination in everyday life. We also know the opportunity for younger and older LGBTQI people to interact and understand different stages of life has been historically limited.

Rainbow Sudan graphic

Rainbow Sudan graphic

Rainbow Sudan’s objectives include:

Legal reform. Providing legal advice and assistance to LGBTQI people who are victims of existing anti-LGBTQI laws or who are victims of physical violence or any form of discrimination that may be related to their known or presumed sexual orientation. Provide research done by Rainbow Sudan; play leading role in LGBTQI-related research.

  • Strategic Communication. Rainbow Sudan aims to reach out to all LGBTQI people in Sudan and the general public with information, education and communications that counter ignorance and prejudice; change attitudes and behaviors and embrace the arts, entertainment and sports and use a wide range of methods and media: meetings, workshops, courses, counseling sessions, print, internet, radio, television, film, live performances, exhibitions and other special events, such as information booths at conferences.
  • Health and Social Services. Rainbow Sudan aims to ensure that all LBGTQI people in Sudan are provided with the physical and mental health and social services they need, including any special prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care services that may be required by MSM, WSW, transgender or intersex people.
  • Social Spaces and Events. Rainbow Sudan aims to advocate for, support and/or execute actions to provide LGBTQI-friendly social spaces and arrange LGBTQI-friendly events.

For more information, see:

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5 reasons to fix Jamaica’s flawed Sexual Offences Act

An open letter to all Jamaican parliamentarians

Jamaican Parliament

Jamaican Parliament

On Sept. 17, 2014, a joint select committee of the Jamaican Parliament will begin reviewing the country’s 2009 Sexual Offences Act.

Among other things, this law retains sections 76, 77 and 79 of the 1864 British colonially imposed Offences Against the Person Act, which criminalizes private consensual adult male same-gender intimacy (the anti-sodomy law).

The committee has been accepting submissions from the public to aid in its deliberations on reviewing the law.

Below is an open letter sent to all Jamaican parliamentarians calling for essential changes in the law to recognize the rights of gay men and straight women.

5 Reasons to Revise the Sexual Offences Act

OBJECTIVES:

  • Decriminalize Private Consensual Adult Same-Gender Intimacy
  • Equalize the Punishment for Rape.

1) The law does not prevent HIV: The Sexual Offences Act of 2009 preserves the ban on private consensual adult male same-gender intimacy found in the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act (the anti-sodomy law). However, despite the continued existence of this colonially imposed law, Jamaica has the highest HIV prevalence rate among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Western Hemisphere (33%). Hence, the law violates the right to privacy of consenting adults, with no societal benefit.

Peter Figueroa, former director of Jamaica's national HIV/STI program

Peter Figueroa, professor of public health at the University of the West Indies. (Photo courtesy of W.H.O.)

2) The law hurts women: By banning private consensual adult male same-gender intimacy, the law contributes to homophobia. This homophobia drives MSM underground. Professor Peter Figueroa, head of public health at the University of the West Indies, and former head of the National HIV/STI Programme, has identified that about 60% of Jamaican MSM also have sex with women. Many MSM enter these relationships to hide their homosexuality. The result is that HIV can bridge between the two populations.

3) The law cannot easily be enforced: To enforce the anti-sodomy law would most likely require breaching the enhanced right to privacy of the home found in s. 13 (3) (j) (i-ii) of the 2011 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

4) Repealing the law will NOT lead to gay marriages: Many countries in the world have decriminalized private consensual adult same-gender intimacy and have still not recognized gay marriages. These include our CARICOM [Caribbean Community] neighbors, Suriname (1869), Haiti (1986) and The Bahamas (1991). Further, s. 18 of our Charter bans the recognition of same-gender relationships. It would require a constitutional amendment to get marriage equality. This is a very complicated matter.

5) The law is unfair to women: The law preserves the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act, which provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for anal rape and life imprisonment for vaginal rape. Hence, if a man raped a woman anally he would get significantly less time than if he raped her vaginally. This is patently unjust.

I would be happy to present additional information to support these points, if I am granted an opportunity to make a submission to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament that is currently reviewing the Sexual Offences Act.

Yours Truly,
Maurice Tomlinson

Posted in Americas, Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, HIV / AIDS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment