Slew of arrests in Egypt

In a much longer blog, “a paper bird,” published today by human rights activist Scott Long, he writes that a teacher and several of his students were arrested in Egypt last week.  We re-publish Scott’s account of these arrests below:

Defendants cover their faces during Cairo trial that followed the last wholesale arrests of LGBTI Egyptians, back in 2001. (Photo courtesy of Scott Long)

Defendants cover their faces during Cairo trial that followed wholesale arrests of LGBTI Egyptians, back in 2001. (Photo courtesy of Scott Long)

“If you are a lesbian, gay, or trans Egyptian, your life is not your own.

It’s not just that police could smash the door and seize your body at any moment; it’s that your desires and emotions, the most intimate elements of existence, now nourish somebody else’s political agenda.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpieces trumpet that their archenemies in the military regime encourage “gay marriage.” The government responds by blaming the Brotherhood for spreading immoral sex.

In a slew of arrests last week, cops hauled in a teacher in the Cairo suburb of Helwan, accused of homosexual conduct along with several students. The press called the lead defendant a terrorist who tried to recruit men to Islamism by sleeping with them. Prosecutors added that he liked to flash the Brotherhood’s four-finger salute during sex.

To be gay or trans in Egypt is to be naked in no man’s land, not just caught in crossfire but used for target practice by warring sides…

English: Egyptian Initiative for Personal Righ...

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dalia Abd El-Hameed heads the Gender Program at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). The EIPR has provided legal assistance to people persecuted for alleged homosexual conduct in Egypt ever since it was founded in 2002.  She writes:

For months, we have been busy trying to sort out news on the crackdown on gays and LGBT people in Egypt. Activists and people from the community were trying to do their best whether in terms of legal intervention, documentation of the violations and keeping record of the crackdown, and responding to the fierce media campaign demonizing and pathologizing homosexuality.

Personally, I do not separate this crackdown on LGBT from the general oppressive climate and the regressive rights and liberties status. Journalists, students, human rights activists and gender and religious non- conformists are all under attack by the regime.”

Click on this link to read the complete Blog by Scott Long

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Eyesight saved, battered LGBTI Ugandan thanks supporters

Hush Ainebyona after her eye surgery. (Photo courtesy of Hush Ainebyona)

Hush Ainebyona after her eye surgery. (Photo courtesy of Hush Ainebyona)

Friends, LGBTI activists and journalists rallied behind a Ugandan trans woman last month, raising enough money to pay for surgery she needed to save her eyesight, which was severely damaged in a transphobic attack two years ago.

“I am glad to tell you that I have recovered,” says Hush (also known as Mich or Mish) Ainebyona. “Thank you so much for the support.”

Ainebyona is executive Director of the small activist group Action for Community Change Initiative (ACCI).

A total of $7,148 was contributed toward her medical care through an appeal on YouCaring.com. The operation, performed Sept. 29 at International Hospital in Kampala, was a success.

Hush Ainebyona with her right eye bandaged. (Photo courtesy of Hush Ainebyona)

Hush Ainebyona with her right eye bandaged. (Photo courtesy of Hush Ainebyona)

The surgery made a huge difference, Hush said. “It feels good to be able to see again.”

Her right eye was covered for three days after the surgery, which removed a blood clot that had formed in the eye after the attack. When the bandages were taken off, her vision was blurry at first, but it become clearer and clearer with time, Hush said.

“I can now read much better with glasses, compared to before,” Hush said. “They provided me with two pairs of glasses — one for reading, which has stronger lenses, and the other to use for other things.”

In the days before the surgery, she wrote a message of thanksgiving to her supporters and admitted to them, “It’s been a tough process and a very sad one for me, losing my eyesight to homophobic individuals who didn’t know any better than to choose hate over tolerance, love and acceptance.”

The story of the attack on Hush (also known as Mich or Mish) appeared in this blog in 2012 in the article “For assaulted LGBT, Uganda medical care must be anonymous.” It also appeared in the longer article “A Day In Kampala” by journalist Andy Kopsa and human rights activist Clare Byarugaba. Last year, it appeared in the book “From Wrongs to Gay Rights.”

Hush ("Mich") Ainebyona

Hush (“Mich”) Ainebyona before her eye surgery.

To read Hush’s story, including her personal background, difficult family life, self-discovery, rape, assault, life on the streets and sex work, see the blog article “Seeking to save the eyesight of battered trans Ugandan.”

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African Commission to promote LGBTI interests

Logo of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. (Click on the image to donate to Justice 4 Eric Lembembe)

Logo of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights recently adopted a historic multilateral agreement, along with 25 nations, the EU, UNAIDS and the UNDP. Owing to its importance for Africa in particular, we are publishing the entire communique.  This could well serve African and other LGBTI advocates well and be one more instrument to persuade their own nations in their advocacy efforts.

The African Commission on its own could well use this declaration to influence or persuade African nations to come around and decriminalize homosexuality. It could initiate discussions on human rights protections or advocate for development for all LGBTI. The next annual meeting of this multilateral human rights group will be in the Netherlands in early 2016. Unusually for us, we publish no photos to accompany the lengthy text.

What follows is the communique, as issued by this year’s host, the Department of State of the United Sates of America:

Joint Government and Multilateral Agency Communique From Conference to Advance the Human Rights of and Promote Inclusive Development for LGBTI Persons

US Department of State Logo

US Department of State Logo

Washington, DC  November 20, 2014

On the Occasion of the Annual Conference to Advance the Human Rights of and Promote Inclusive Development for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Persons held in Washington from November 12-14, 2014, the governments of Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay, as well as the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the European Union, UNAIDS – the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the United Nations Development Programme, adopt the following communique:

Introduction

Collectively, as a group of governments and multilateral agencies committed to equality and inclusive development for all persons everywhere, we have gathered here in Washington, D.C. to share information, best practices and lessons learned as we work to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons around the world, and empower them to secure productive livelihoods.

We recognize that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As we work to advance human rights globally, we also remain committed to continue to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons in our own countries.

We are deeply concerned about the ongoing human rights abuses that LGBTI persons experience in all regions, in particular violence and other forms of intimidation that undermine their ability to live freely and safely and without discrimination. We recognize that LGBTI persons experience human rights abuses along with other vulnerable persons. A comprehensive, inclusive and participatory approach to human rights challenges is needed to ensure equality for all.

We welcome the adoption of the UN Human Rights Council resolution 27/32 on “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity, ” that followed the first-ever UN Human Rights Council resolution on the issue, 17/19, and look forward to further efforts on this issue in multilateral fora and institutions. Through these resolutions, governments have expressed their grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge all governments to continue their efforts in this regard.

We also welcome and commend the recent actions taken by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Organization of American States, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Council of Europe in strengthening the global resolve to further human rights protection for LGBTI persons.

We recall the Co-Chairs’ Summary of Conclusions from the Oslo Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity held in April 2013 and specifically the Co-Chairs’ conclusion that “we look forward to working with all parties to take concrete and practical steps to address violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” We note that the Oslo conference included diverse and strong participation from all global regions.

We further recall that the Oslo Conference affirmed the ongoing need for systematic integration of human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity issues within all aspects of the United Nations system. We reaffirm this need and encourage all stakeholders, including governments, civil society organizations and inter-governmental organizations such as the United Nations to work collaboratively to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons. We furthermore applaud the positive steps taken in various countries in all regions to address acts of violence, repeal discriminatory laws and raise awareness about human rights. We encourage that such engagement be strengthened collectively.

We emphasize the importance of continuing to work together with diverse stakeholders and non-traditional allies such as the private sector, academic institutions, media, local authorities, faith leaders and civil society as we work to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons.

We further recognize the work of civil society organizations and human rights defenders from whom we have heard over the last three days. We commend their tremendous dedication and resolve to bring about a world free from violence and discrimination. We are gravely concerned by the serious challenges, difficult circumstances, and in some instances violent attacks that human rights defenders and organizations face as they work to achieve this important goal. We are inspired by their commitment, and recognize their rich diversity and unique views from different regions and across different cultures and traditions.

Together we affirm the following:

1. We reaffirm the primary responsibility of states to promote and protect the human rights of all persons;

2. We recognize and celebrate the diversity that exists within and across LGBTI movements. We seek deeper understanding of and responsiveness to the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons;

3. We remain deeply concerned about the high levels of violence and discrimination targeting LGBTI persons, and pledge to redouble our efforts to promote human rights protection of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity;

4. As we support institutions and civil society to advance human rights and inclusive development, we affirm the importance and primacy of the principle of “do no harm” in assistance and diplomacy efforts. We intend to continue to work in close consultation and collaboration with civil society to ensure our individual and combined international efforts do not undermine or further marginalize LGBTI or other marginalized or vulnerable persons;

5. We aim to integrate the human rights and development concerns of LGBTI persons in assistance and diplomacy efforts. In particular, we intend to continue to use an approach to development that respects human rights. As we work with partners in government and civil society, we seek to support access to services across sectors in a way that appropriately accounts for the needs of all persons without discrimination and with dignity;

6. We dedicate ourselves to exploring ways to strengthen our international assistance and diplomacy efforts to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTI persons, through cooperating with additional governments and identifying new sources of funding and engagement, including from the private sector;

7. We will strive to ensure flexible and timely support, especially to meet the needs of the most vulnerable persons worldwide, including LGBTI persons;

8. We intend to guide our assistance and diplomacy efforts on the basis of need and when possible on the basis of needs assessments. We also recall the importance of co-ownership of assistance and diplomatic efforts with host governments as we work to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons;

9. We underline that governments, funders, civil society organizations and other implementing organizations should ensure involvement of local LGBTI communities and their allies in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of human rights and development cooperation efforts as appropriate;

10. We encourage the funds and programs of the United Nations and other international organizations to strengthen efforts to integrate the development and human rights concerns of LGBTI persons into their work;

11. As is best appropriate and feasible, we seek to provide technical assistance to governments who have committed to advance the human rights of LGBTI persons and/or support their inclusion in development programs;

12. To further strengthen cooperation, coordination and communication of assistance and diplomatic efforts, we plan to continue to meet annually to discuss implementation of this communiqué and other relevant issues. The next meeting is expected to be organized by the Netherlands in early 2016.

 

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Medical centre stripped bare in Douala, Cameroon

Empower Medical Centre in Douala

Empower Medical Centre in Douala (Photo: Aids Acodev Cameroon)

The Empower Medical Centre run by Aids Acodev Cameroon in Douala, is again object of criminal thievery. Douala, with more than 3,000,000 inhabitants, is Cameroon`s largest city.

Overnight on November 21 – 22, unidentified thieves broke into the Centre in the Ndogbong neighbourhood, at Carrefour Citadelles, penetrating through the ceiling.

These criminals almost cleared out the Centre. There are insufficient materials for the Centre to offer its medical and other services.

The bandits took most of the useful inventory: an Olympus microscope, a blood pressure monitor, two complete Compaq computers, a Camtel landline, a Camtel internet key, two laser printers, a glucometer, the fridge, a Samsung television set, two mattresses, a bed, twenty-six chairs and two tables.

Room emptied, inside the Center on November 23, 2014 (by Adonis Tchoudja)

Room emptied, inside the Center on November 23, 2014 (Photo by Aids Acodev 11cameroon )

The criminals slipped away undetected, “blending into nature with the stolen goods. It was not until 8 am on November 22nd that one of our nurses discovered the theft,” explained Adonis Tchoudja, the association’s president.

He added that “it is our second theft at the center; we suffered our first break-in on December 13, 2013 when thieves took away several items.”

Tchoudja pleads for help from the community to replace these materials, vital to enable the Centre to continue its mission as soon as possible.

Aids Acodev Cameroon was founded in 2009 by a group of young sex workers who were aware that sex work may increase the risk of STDs, including HIV and viral hepatitis. The group helps the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the Douala community, particularly sex workers.

Adonis Tchoudja (Photo by Aids Acodev Cameroon)

Adonis Tchoudja (Photo by Aids Acodev Cameroon)

We “campaign for the human rights of sex workers, particularly their right to have access to medical services, information, training and education. We also fight against all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, real or imagined,” said Tchoudja.

The group urgently needs to get its medical centre back to work. We ask the greater community to answer this call for assistance. If you can help, please contact directly: Aids Acodev Cameroon: acodes2007@gmail.com

 

Click this link for all of this blog’s news stories on Cameroon at 76Crimes.com

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Cameroon: Accuser relents, but police won’t free alleged gay man

By Erin Royal Brokovitch

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

Yaoundé, Capital of Cameroon (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Yaoundé, Capital of Cameroon (Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

A 22-year-old Cameroonian man, identified here as A.H., was held in police custody from Nov. 17 to Nov. 20 after a Facebook correspondent entrapped him and denounced him to police as a homosexual.

The accuser, Serge, turned A.H. over to police when the two men met for the second time — an occasion that had seemed like a date but ended up more like a trap.

At 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 15, the two met briefly for the first time after corresponding for three months on Facebook. They agreed to meet again on Monday afternoon, Nov. 17. When they met, Serge asked A.H. for proof of his identity. They went together to the nearest police station, in the Ekounou district of Yaounde.

There, A.H. was accused of sexual harassment.

Like an “anti-gay steamroller,” the police leaped on the case. ‘They seized A.H.’s phone to look for proof of homosexuality.  A police investigator and the local police captain looked into A .H.’s messages, seeking evidence that he is gay. The  captain used A.H.’s  directory to call his contacts, masquerading as a gay man, again seeking evidence against him.

Humanity First logo

Humanity First logo

The captain tried to force A.H. to admit that he is gay.  Serge told A.H.’s family a few hours later that A.H. had admitted to police that he is gay, that he had been openly homosexual for four years and that his family already knew.

If true, this would pose a serious risk to his defense, from the perspective of the activist organization Humanity First Cameroon, which is following this case.

But after A.H. was placed in custody around 7 p.m., we spoke with him, and he told us that he had absolutely not confessed to anything. He denied all the accusations leveled at him by police.

When we mentioned the accused’s lawyer, Michel Togué, police officer Joseph Komono denied us permission to speak further with A.H.

A.H., a young man without a prior record, was held in the jail because police sensed that they had a big case on their hands, which is a common practice for police in Cameroon in dealing with alleged homosexuals.

On Tuesday, November 18,  Humanity First and A.H.’s family obtained a promise from Serge that he would withdraw his complaint. But when the police investigator heard this, he pushed both parties aside and told them to “go away with these stories.”

The prosecution vowed to continue pressing charges even without Serge’s complaint. The investigator told A.H.’s mother, “Your son is a homosexual. This is very serious.”

Togué, the defense attorney, arrived at the police station around noon, and after some discussion with the police investigator, Togué believed that the matter would be quickly resolved. That turned out to be overly optimistic.

At first, Togué was not allowed to  speak with A.H. He spoke with investigator Joseph Komono, requesting a meeting with his client. The investigator gave the impression this was a legitimate request, and directed Togué to the police officer responsible for supervising the holding cells to allow him to speak with his client.

The cell supervisor rejected Togué’s request and said of Komono, “He has no responsibility for the cells.”

Togué pointed out that the law gives him the right to meet with his client. The supervisor then revealed they had received orders from the police captain not to allow anyone to communicate with A.H.

Togué continued to argue that it is a detainee’s right to talk to his lawyer. Another police  officer replied, “The captain has power over the law” and can impose his will in his own unit.  Togué was again denied permission to meet his client.

A few minutes later, Serge, the complainant, arrived with a letter withdrawing his complaint.  The investigating office, Joseph Komono tried to dissuade him from filing it. One argument that he used: The defense brought in a lawyer to “put pressure on the case.” He suggested that Serge might also become a suspect if he withdrew the complaint.

After speaking with A.H.’s family and with Humanity First, Serge filed the letter of withdrawal.

Cameroonian law condemns sexual acts between two persons of the same sex, but the police didn’t care.

Police requested the records of telephone conversations between Serge and A.H., seeking to demonstrate homosexual intent and harassment by A.H.

Togué said that the doggedness of the police captain suggests that he wants to make A.H.’s case into “the case of the century.”

As a result, A.H. remained in a cell until Nov. 20.

It’s a hard life for homosexuals in Cameroon!

Click this link to access the many related stories on Cameroon at 76Crimes.com. 

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Gambia: Life Sentence for ‘Aggravated Homosexuality’

We are republishing the entire news release from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on the worsening situation for LGBTI in Gambia. 

New Law Threatens LGBTI Community

The Obamas pose with His Excellency Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia, and Mrs. Zineb Jammeh

The Obamas pose with His Excellency Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia, and Mrs. Zineb Jammeh at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in August

(Dakar, November 21, 2014) – Gambia’s recent passage of a homophobic law puts the already persecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community at even greater risk of abuse, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

The new crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” which carries punishments of up to life in prison, is part of a criminal code President Yahya Jammeh approved on October 9, 2014, documents uncovered in mid-November show. Among those who could be charged with “aggravated homosexuality” are “serial offenders” and people living with HIV who are deemed to be gay or lesbian. Exactly what constitutes “homosexuality” or a “homosexual act” is not defined in Gambian law. That makes Gambia’s criminalization of homosexual activity – which already violates international law – even more likely to be used broadly and arbitrarily.

Amnesty International Logo

Amnesty International Logo

“The new law treats consensual, private sexual activity between adults of the same sex – which should not be a crime – in the same way as rape and incest,” said Steve Cockburn, deputy regional director for West and Central Africa at Amnesty International.

“The vague and imprecise provisions of this law could be used to arrest and detain anyone who is believed to be gay or lesbian, and contributes to the already severe climate of hostility and fear for LGBTI people in the country.”

The Gambian authorities failed to acknowledge the enactment of the “aggravated homosexuality” law, despite repeated questioning during a United Nations review of the country’s human rights record on October 28. Legislation in force in the country already criminalizes consensual, private sexual activity between adults of the same sex, in violation of international human rights law.

Passing the law appears to form part of a broader attack on the LGBTI community in Gambia. At least three women, four men, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested between November 7 and 13 and threatened with torture because of their presumed sexual orientation. Another six women were arrested on November 18 and 19 and remain in detention, a member of the LGBTI community in Gambia reported.

The detainees said that they were told that if they did not “confess,” including by providing the names of others, a device would be forced into their anus or vagina to “test” their sexual orientation. Such treatment would violate international law prohibiting torture and ill-treatment.

“Arresting and torturing people based on their sexual orientation is shameful, and inventing new crimes with even harsher sentences is scandalous,” Cockburn said. “Gambia’s new law not only flouts African human rights obligations, it violates its own constitution, which says that all people must be equal and free from discrimination before the law.”

Human Rights WatchPresident Jammeh should have used his constitutional powers to reject this homophobic bill, which was proposed by the National Assembly on August 25, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said.

“President Jammeh’s inflammatory public statements against LGBTI people have been put into practice through this odious law and the witch hunt that followed its secretive passage,” said Monica Tabengwa, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The law and practice are an affront to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights resolution condemning violence against LGBTI people and calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.”

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Exporting hate from Canada to Tanzania, part 2

 

St Philips College

St Philips College

A Toronto, Ontario, Canada woman, just returned from Tanzania, attended and heard the anti-gay keynote address delivered by the by Canadian theologian, Dr. Gary Badcock, at St. Philip’s Theological College in Kongwa, on November 8th.

Yesterday, on November 20th, she wrote to request Huron University College strongly sanction the professor for his homophobic speech in Tanzania, which she found “offensive and inappropriate.”  Our reporter, Maurice Tomlinson, knows the author.  She has requested anonymity for privacy reasons.

Huron University College Chapel (Photo: Wikipedia)

Huron University College Chapel (Photo: Wikipedia)

St. Philip’s Theological College in Kongwa, Tanzania, founded by a Huron College alumnus, was celebrating its 100th anniversary and had invited a speaker from Huron University College, now affiliated with the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.

We reproduce here, in part, her letter to Huron’s Principal.

During his speech he (Dr. Gary Badcock) commented that he had hoped that all the Bishops would have been present since the Bishops in Canada would not listen to him…

Towards the end of his talk he decided to address homosexuality.  He claimed that homosexuality is a “first world problem”…it is a matter of economics, i.e. those in Tanzania need to have children for economic reasons so they can’t be gay.., whereas those in the West don’t have those same economic needs….(Tanzanians) should be very worried about homosexuals coming to “steal” their children.

I am sure I don’t have to point out how offensive and inappropriate this was, however, it was also factually incorrect.  The law in mainland Tanzania punishes male homosexuality with 30 years to life imprisonment, and on Zanzibar it is 25 years to life for men, and 5 years imprisonment or a 500,000 Tsh fine for women.

These laws have recently been affirmed, this is not some archaic provision.

As to Dr. Babcock’s hate mongering … He clearly did not even bother to check out the laws of Tanzania which are incredibly strong when it comes to the adoption of children by foreigners.  The laws are such that there is simply no way a gay or lesbian couple could arrive and ‘steal’ a child, because residency is the first condition of adoption.  Obviously Dr. Badcock was more concerned with his agenda than the veracity of his claims…

…it was inappropriate and harmful to the reputation of Huron University College to send Dr. Badcock as your representative.  Dr. Badcock’s views should reasonably have been known to your office, and his private agenda in going should not have been too difficult to ascertain…since Huron University College, is funded in part by Canadian Taxpayers, this exporting of homophobia is particularly problematic.

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