Priest, young man arrested; Cameroon police seek bribe

In 2014, Cameroon was ranked by Transparency International as among the world's worst in terms of corruption -- the 136th out of 174 countries. (Photo courtesy of Cameroun24.net)

In 2014, Cameroon was ranked by Transparency International as among the world’s worst in terms of corruption — the 136th out of 174 countries. (Photo courtesy of Cameroun24.net)

We received the following statement from the CAMFAIDS (Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS), based in Yaounde, Cameroon (slightly modified):

Priest and a young man arrested for homosexuality in Yaounde last Friday (Jan. 16) at around 10 pm by officers from the special operations group (GSO).

According to facts gathered by CAMFAIDS’ legal officer, during the ride to the GSO police headquarters, the priest said:

“I was going to the market when I met this young man. He was going in the same direction as me, and we started to chat when a police team arrived.  After police inquired, I introduced myself. But the young man, having no identity documents, told police in his defense that I had offered him money in exchange for sex.”

Arrested on the spot, the two individuals ended up spending the night in cells at the police station under the supervision of officer Biumla.

Blackmail and barbaric threats ensued during an animated discussion between the legal representative of CAMFAIDS and officer Biumla. In order to preserve his reputation, honor and freedom, and without forgetting the weight of his obligations to his rectory, the priest was forced to pay 100.000 FCFA (approx. US $ 175) to these first-class scammers to regain his freedom and that of his acquaintance.

“At the present time, he is safe and free, but a victim of his sexual orientation and of the widespread corruption in Cameroon,” added E. J. Ella Ella, executive director of CAMFAIDS.

Posted in Africa (Sub Saharan), Anti-LGBT laws and legislation | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mozambique: Anti-gay law is gone, anti-gay bias remains

Image from Lambda's website.

Image from Lambda’s website.

Add Mozambique to the list of countries with no law against same-sex intimacy, which isn’t to say that LGBTI people in that east African nation enjoy equal treatment under the law.

The country’s LGBTI advocacy organization, Lambda, has been fighting since 2008 for official government recognition.

Last year, Mozambique revised a Penal Code that had been in effect, with some amendments, since it was  a Portuguese colony.

In the process, legislators removed a section that allowed “security measures” to be taken against people “who habitually engage in vices against nature.” Acceptable measures in response to those “vices against nature” included requiring a bond to assure good behavior, putting violators on probation, or confining them to a workhouse or agricultural colony for up to three years.

Location of Mozambique in southeast Africa.

Location of Mozambique in southeast Africa.

Because of that section of the Penal Code, arguments occasionally erupted over whether Mozambique deserved to be included in lists of countries with anti-gay laws.

Until now, this blog included it, following the lead of the annual State-Sponsored Homophobia report from the  International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or ILGA.

However, the Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, as quoted in AllAfrica, states:

“Homosexuality is not, and never has been, illegal in Mozambique. The colonial Penal Code, as amended in 1954, contained a clause which thundered against ‘those who habitually engage in vices against nature,’ ” [because] Portuguese legislators had been too coy to mention gay sex explicitly, and so a meaningless clause entered the statute books, which no court could act upon.”

“The new Penal Code sweeps away a great deal of the musty colonial legacy, including the mention of ‘vices against nature.’ Now not even the most contorted of arguments could claim that acts of gay sex between consenting adults are somehow illegal.”

Last year, Lambda renewed its campaign for official recognition. As SOGI News reported:

“In a ploy to avoid registering the group, the Ministry of Justice, which is tasked with this responsibility, has been conspicuous by their silence by not responding to any of the organisation’s applications since 2008. Under the country’s laws, any group of ten or more Mozambican citizens, over the age of 18, can form an association, and legal registration should not take more than 45 days.”

AllAfrica reported:

“United Nations Human Rights Council [in 2011] … recommended that Mozambique should register ‘the organisations which work on questions of sexual orientation and gender identity.’ But still the Ministry remained mute.

“In February 2013, Lambda submitted a complaint to the ombudsman, Jose Abudo. He too did not bother to reply. In June 2013, Lambda submitted a protest to the petitions commission of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

“In September 2013, Justice Minister Benvinda Levi finally granted an audience to Lambda. But still Lambda did not receive the legal recognition it had requested.

“Also in September 2013, Lambda protested to the National Human Rights Commission. This was another body that did not reply – even when, in June [2014], Lambda submitted a ‘request for rapidity’ to the Commission.”

In November 2014, Lambda took out a full-page newspaper advertisement to put pressure on the government to act. The advertisement stated that Lambda exists “to promote the self-esteem, positive visibility, sexual health and the economic, social and political rights” of gay, bisexual and transsexual Mozambicans.

“Our primary interest”, Lambda added, “is to precipitate a change in society so that it becomes more favourable to the free expression of sexual orientation and gender identity”.

“The silence of the Mozambican state”, it said, “legitimizes discrimination and strengthens the stigma to which LGBT people are subject in the communities, workplaces, schools, etc. Above all, it perpetuates the idea that LGBT citizens are less important than all other Mozambicans, thus placing them in a situation of inferiority, disadvantage and inequality”.

Posted in Africa, Africa (Sub Saharan), Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, Positive steps | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Anti-AIDS leader loses job for supporting anti-gay laws

Dr. Brendan Bain, professor of community health at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, (Photo courtesy of EverydayLeadership.org)

Brendan Bain (Photo courtesy of EverydayLeadership.org)

In Jamaica, Prof. Brendan Bain has finally lost his job running the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Training Network (CHART), where he lost the confidence of most anti-AIDS activists when they learned that he supports laws against homosexual activity.

The University of the West Indies, which oversaw CHART, fired Bain last May after news emerged about his testimony in a case involving the anti-homosexuality law of Belize. The university reached that decision after it became clear that Bain did not recognize that anti-gay laws limit the access of LGBT people to health care and thus tend to increase HIV infection rates by pushing the HIV epidemic underground.

In June, Bain obtained a court injunction against the firing, but the Jamaican Supreme Court yesterday turned down his request to extend that injunction.

He is still seeking damages from the university because of his dismissal.

Other staff members of the CHART program had already been let go after the United States ended its support of the program Sept. 1, saying that CHART did not qualify for funding under a new U.S. policy requiring heavy emphasis on direct care, rather than the educational and training activities that CHART offered.

Testimony in Bain’s lawsuit against the university made clear that he was surprised by the loss of funding.

According to an account in the Jamaica Observer, Bain testified that:

Vice-Chancellor Nigel Harris … asked him to reach out to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and was asked to inform them that he did not mean to hurt them when he gave evidence [in Belize].Bain testified that one of Harris’ concerns was that funding could be stopped for [CHART] if the tension continued.

Bain testified, however, that he did not reach out to the community because he had called a representative of the Health Resources and Services Administration, an arm of the US Department of Health and Human Services that funded CHART, and was satisfied that funding of the programme would continue.

He testified further that he decided against reaching out to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community because they did not write to him expressing a problem. He said it would have been inappropriate had he done so.

 

Posted in Americas, HIV / AIDS | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

European Parliament urges Kyrgyzstan to drop anti-LGBTI bill

Protest against Kyrgyzstan's proposed anti-"gay propaganda" law

2014 protest against Kyrgyzstan’s proposed anti-“gay propaganda” law

The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBTI Rights reports:

In a resolution adopted today, the European Parliament calls on Kyrgyzstan to reject a bill which would censor information on LGBTI issues. The draft law would punish the dissemination of information “aimed at forming positive attitudes toward non-traditional sexual relations.”

Kyrgyzstan flag

Kyrgyzstan flag

The Kyrgyz bill closely resembles the Russian anti-propaganda law, but foresees harsher punishments: persons found ‘guilty’ face up to one year imprisonment.

The European Parliament – acknowledging general democratic progress in the country – calls on the Kyrgyz Parliament to reject the bill, and urges politicians to refrain from hate speech against LGBTI people.

Furthermore, the Parliament supports the recommendations by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which highlight Kyrgyzstan should combat all forms of discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity (see 15.24, 15.25, 15.26).

Earlier, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHCR) already urged Kyrgyzstan to reject the bill.

Relations between the EU and Kyrgyzstan are organised through the 1999 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which includes a clause allowing sanctions in case of human rights breaches.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup and co-author of the resolution, reacted: “If this bill is passed, anyone who speaks positively about LGBTI issues can be imprisoned. This is an attack on the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly and the right to non-discrimination for the Kyrgyz people, in particular LGBTI people.”

Arrow indicates the location of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia.

Arrow indicates the location of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia.

“If the Kyrgyz parliament is serious about its constitution which protects human and civil rights, it should reject this bill.”

Beatriz Becerra MEP, Member of the LGBTI Intergroup and co-author of the resolution, added: “In just one day, over 34 000 people have called on us to denounce this extreme anti-propaganda bill. This sends a strong signal to us, the Commission and the External Action Service to up the pressure on Kyrgyzstan to prevent this bill from turning into law.”

“We have all seen the horrible consequences of the Russian anti-propaganda bill: a clampdown on NGOs, forbidden prides and organised hate crime against LGBTI people. We urge Kyrgyzstan to not to follow the path of state-sponsored homophobia, and unreservedly support and promote the fundamental rights of all its citizens.”

The bill passed the first reading on 15 October 2014, but needs an additional two readings and presidential approval before turning into law.

The Intergroup on LGBTI Rights is an informal forum for Members of the European Parliament who wish to advance and protect the fundamental rights of LGBTI people.

 

Posted in Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, Asia, Europe, International pressure for LGBT rights | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Queen honors LGBTI leader seeking change in Barbados

 The Daily Nation / NationNews.com of Barbados reports:

Donnya Piggott (Photo courtesy of Barbados Today)

Donnya Piggott (Photo courtesy of Barbados Today)

The head of B-GLAD (Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination) Donnya Piggott, has been given a prestigious honour by Queen Elizabeth ll.

She was this evening [Jan. 12] named as one of 60 young people from across the Commonwealth, including three others from the Eastern Caribbean, to receive the inaugural Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

“I’m elated, happy for this award. What it does is it recognises the cause,” 24-year-old Piggott told NationNews.com.

B-GLAD is a fledgling non-governmental organisation involved in advocacy on behalf of gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgender people in the Barbadian society.

[Editor’s note: Similar coverage in Barbados Today “noted that Piggott ‘had to overcome prejudice and personal challenges’ when she decided to set up B-GLAD, an advocacy group for sexual minorities.”]

This year’s award winners, between ages 18 and 29, are working to support others, raise awareness and inspire change on a variety of different issues including; education, climate change, gender equality, mental health and disability equality.

Under the laws of Barbados, anal intercourse is punishable by life imprisonment; other same-sex relations, criminalized as “serious indecency,” are punishable by 10 years in prison.

Strangely, the law’s definition of “serious indecency” sounds as though, on paper, Barbados outlaws the most basic of sexual contact by all humans, gay or straight, unless the activity gives no pleasure: “ ‘serious indecency’ is an act, whether natural or unnatural by a person involving the use of the genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.”

For more information, read the full articles “Queen’s award for Donnya Piggott” on the Daily Nation’s website NationNews.com and “Queen’s honour” from Barbados Today.

Posted in Americas, Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, International pressure for LGBT rights | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Egyptian court acquits all 26 arrested in bathhouse raid

Families and supporters of acquitted defendants celebrate after Cairo court decision. Click image for video. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Families and supporters of acquitted defendants celebrate after Cairo court decision. Click image for video. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

BuzzFeed reports:

CAIRO — A Cairo court acquitted 26 men of charges of participating in a gay “sex party” at a public bathhouse in December. …

No trial court [previously had] ever cleared Egyptians of charges of homosexuality in a high profile case, say human rights activists.

The case became known throughout Egypt because a television broadcaster named Mona Iraqi was filming when police dragged them naked from the bathhouse on December 7. Iraqi claimed to have tipped police off to sexual activities inside the bathhouse, and she featured it in a program purporting to tell, “the whole story of the dens for spreading AIDS in Egypt,” on the three nights following the raid. …

The Egypt-based Aswat Masriya news organization reported:

The prosecution [had] accused the bath house owner and four others of running the place to “practice, facilitate and incite debauchery.” The 21 other men were accused of “debauchery” and violating public decency.

Human Rights Watch condemned the physical examination the defendants were subjected to, saying it “violates international standards against torture.” Men arrested for alleged homosexual behaviour [in Egypt and some other Middle Eastern countries] usually undergo anal examination.

Reuters stated:

Covering their faces with sweaters or hats, [the defendants] were marched into the courtroom on Monday, a police officer kicking one and urging them to hurry as they approached a cage used to hold defendants during court sessions.

Highlighting sensitivities in Egypt, a conservative Arab state, people in the court exploded in anger when a journalist took a picture of the men. Someone tried to choke the photographer.

Egyptian journalist Mona Iraqi (at right, with camera phone) records the police raid on the Bab el-Bahr public bathhouse, with men being herded into a police van, on Dec. 7, 2014. (Screenshot from Mona Iraqi's Facebook page, courtesy of Scott Long)

Egyptian journalist Mona Iraqi (at right, with camera phone) records the police raid on the Bab el-Bahr public bathhouse, with men being herded into a police van, on Dec. 7, 2014. (Screenshot from Mona Iraqi’s Facebook page, courtesy of Scott Long)

BuzzFeed added:

[Defense attorney Tarek] Al-Awady said he would file suit against the officer who led the raid, Lt. Col. Ahmed Hashad, whom lawyers accuse of fabricating his testimony on what he witnessed inside the bathhouse during the raid. He also said he would bring charges against Mona Iraqi. …

One of the pieces of evidence seized upon by defense lawyers was the anal exams performed by police medical experts after their arrest. Egyptian authorities maintain testing the tightness of the anal sphincter can establish whether or not a man is gay, though many international medical experts say the exams are unreliable and human rights groups have denounced them as a violation of basic human rights.

But instead of reporting many of them had been penetrated – as Hashad claims to have seen with his own eyes – the examiners reported only three had “wounds” in the anus. Defense attorney Mohamed Zaki told BuzzFeed News that in these cases the examiners reported scratches or tears, which could be evidence of trauma that actually occurred after the men were in police custody.

One [defendant] told lawyers that he had been raped after the group were thrown into a police cell while still naked alongside other prisoners, said  Zaki, who works with the Egyptian Center for Civil Reform, which is representing seven of the defendants.

Zaki said one of the defendants told him that the police presented them to the other prisoners as a prize, recounting the police saying, “today is your lucky day — enjoy, guys! Here’s your lollipop,” using an Egyptian expression that roughly corresponds to “here’s a hot piece of ass” in English. This defendant said he was then stripped of his towel, pushed to the floor, and raped, while police ignored his cries for help.

For more information, read the full articles here:

Posted in Middle East / North Africa, Trials / punishments | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Jamaican court to hear Bain case on HIV, anti-gay laws

Dr. Brendan Bain, professor of community health at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, (Photo courtesy of EverydayLeadership.org)

Brendan Bain (Photo courtesy of EverydayLeadership.org)

The case for wrongful dismissal filed by Prof. Brendan Bain against the University of the West Indies (UWI) will be heard tomorrow, Monday, Jan. 12. The UWI fired Bain as the head of a US-funded anti-HIV programme after Bain, a fundamentalist Christian, gave expert testimony on behalf of a coalition of churches in the Belize case challenging that country’s anti-sodomy law.

Prof. Bain claimed that the law was necessary to prevent HIV. This contradicts all the reputable data, as well as the university’s own declared position and therefore several anti-HIV groups in the region wrote to the university and indicated that they could no longer work with Bain because of this breach of trust.

The issue was a clear conflict of interest, however the courts seem to support Bain’s position and ordered his reinstatement pending the outcome of the trial. Ironically, the US funding for the programme Bain led was terminated, so the UWI filed an unsuccessful application to throw out the case as being moot.

Anti-gay protest in Jamaica (Photo courtesy of RJR News)

Anti-gay protest in Jamaica in June 2014. (Photo courtesy of RJR News)

Bain’s case has been used by religious fundamentalists on the island to whip up homophobic hysteria, claiming that, among other things, gays are threatening freedom of religion and free speech. One outcome of this latest moral panic has been massive anti-gay demonstrations islandwide, including an event that drew approximately 25,000 people (the largest homophobic protest in Jamaica’s history), which took place on June 29, 2014, the same day as the World Pride parade in Toronto.

This case coincides with the Parliamentary review of the country’s Sexual Offences Act. That Act retains the provisions of the 1864 British colonially imposed anti-sodomy law and criminalizes any form of private consensual intimacy between men. The law has also been identified by UNAIDS and Jamaica’s Ministry of Health officials as contributing to the island having the highest HIV prevalence rate among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the western hemisphere (33%).

Several groups have made submissions to Parliament calling for the repeal of the law, which drives MSM underground, away from effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support interventions. However, the fundamentalist religious groups see the law as essential to prevent the acceptance of human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and intersex (LGBTI) Jamaicans.

Bain’s case is very significant in the liberation struggle for gay Jamaicans, especially after a challenge to the island’s anti-sodomy law was terminated in 2014 because the claimant feared for his life, and the lives of his family members.

The outcome of this case will be closely watched by many LGBTI and HIV groups locally, regionally, and internationally.

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