Uganda study probes anti-gay acts, offers brighter future

HRAPF logo

HRAPF logo

Human rights violations for LGBTI people in Uganda are a persistent problem, according to a methodical examination of reported incidents stretching back for 10 years.

The report’s findings contradict the often-made claim in Uganda that there are no violations of human rights or dignity in that country on the basis of people’s real or apparent sexual orientation or gender identity, the researchers concluded. Their report also proposed specific steps forward for organizations ranging from the Ugandan police to the Ministry of Health.

LGBTI rights activists in Uganda excluded incidents from their November 2014 report, Uganda Report of Violations based on Sex Determination, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation, if alleged incidents could not be verified by “a rigorous verification process that required [each incident] to be supported by three different witnesses and documentary evidence.”

The report found 78 cases of violations of rights and dignity of individuals based on sex determination, gender identity and sexual orientation, including:

  • 30 violations in 2013.
  • 21 violations in 2012.
  • 9 violations in 2011.
  • 10 violations in 2010.
  • 5 or fewer violations in each year from 1995 through 2009.

The researchers said that the lower level of reported and verified violations before 2010 was because fewer LGBTI organizations were active then and because older incidents were harder to verify.

By category, the verified incidents included:

  • 43 cases involving violations of due process rights by members of the police forces, often involving arrest and unlawful detention.
  • 15 involving violations of the right to privacy.
  • 14 involving violations of the right to property, including eviction from rented houses.
Logo of Uganda's Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law

Logo of Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law

The study was conducted by  the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL), Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), Rainbow Health Foundation (RHF), Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the Support Initiative for Persons with Congenital Disorders (SIPD).  Benetech Inc. provided technical and financial support for the report,  including the company’s Martus Software, which was used to document violations.

“We hope the report will be useful in advocacy work in Uganda especially in these times when efforts to reintroduce the Anti-Homosexuality Bill seem to be gaining momentum,” said Adrian Jjuuko, executive director of HRAPF.

The report stated:

“Not surprisingly, this report includes more cases from Kampala than from anywhere else in the country. Violations occurring in rural areas are underrepresented in this report.

“In most rural districts, community organising for LGBTI rights is not as vibrant as it is in Kampala, and many cases of abuse go unreported.

“On the other hand, the fact that most rural areas in Uganda do not have many ‘out’ LGBTI persons suggest that violations may be less likely to occur outside of Kampala.”

As a result, the report said, “the data in this report does not accurately represent the true geographic variance of violations occurring across Uganda but rather reflects the current status of the reach of documentation and verification efforts that [activist] organisations could conduct.”

Of the 106 victims of human rights abuses who were interviewed for the report:

  • 37 self-identified as gay men;
  • 32 declined to identify their sex, gender, or sexual orientation status;
  • 15 self-identified as lesbians;
  • 9 as intersex;
  • 7 as transwomen; and
  • 6 as transmen.
  • No individuals self-identified as bisexual.

The report added: “While there were no indications of specific targeting of gay men as compared to others among the LGBTI group, research showed that they are the most likely to be reached by researchers to report cases to organisations that document them, while other populations were more difficult to reach or did not come forward to report violations as frequently.”

The researchers also stated:

“This report demonstrates in conclusive fashion that virulent forms of discrimination are an unfortunate fact of life for many members of the LGBTI community in Uganda. LGBTI individuals in Uganda are at increased risk of human rights abuses ranging from unlawful pre-trial detention to violations of the right to form a family. They are exposed to situations that threaten their physical security; they are denied their rights to freedom of assembly, expression and association. …

“The abuses detailed in this report violate the Constitution of Uganda as well as international human rights instruments. …

“Even though the Constitution guarantees rights to everyone equally, and even though the Penal Code in principle criminalizes specific sexual acts rather than LGBTI identities [prison sentences for same-sex intimacy], in practice the Code is used as an excuse for harassment of actual and presumed LGBTI persons, regardless of whether they have or have not committed the acts stipulated in the Penal Code Act.”

Harassment by family members

The report added:

“It is an unfortunate reflection of the virulence of homophobia, transphobia, and intersexphobia that exists in Ugandathat many of the reported abuses against LGBTI individuals were carried out by members of their immediate family.

“On the evening of January 10, 2012 in Kampala, a gay man was detained and assaulted by his parents, who believed him to be a homosexual. The house assistant helped the man’s parents tie him to a bed, whereupon the mother and father beat him with shoes and a length of rope. The man’s brother was
locked in a separate room so that he could not intervene to release him until 6 am the next morning.”

Criticism and some praise for police

Police in Entebbe, Uganda, arrive at the Aug. 4 pride event, which they dispersed. (Photo by David Robinson)

Police in Entebbe, Uganda, arrive at an August 2012 pride event, which they dispersed. (Photo by David Robinson)

The report paid particular attention to police conduct in dealings with LGBTI Ugandans:

“Police officers routinely violate people’s right to privacy and ‘out’ suspected LGBTI people to the media and other Ugandans. Members of the police have arrested LGBTI persons without following due process and without giving them the details of their arrests. In many cases, those arrested are subjected to lengthy pre-trial detention. …

“When faced with threatening situations, many LGBTI persons opt to relocate in order avoid confrontation with the police and others in their communities. The fear of being outed has led to members of the LGBTI community to distrust the police and refuse to report to them when their rights are violated. This puts many LGBTI people at risk and denies them access to justice.

“Notwithstanding its significant failures to protect and promote the rights of sexual minorities, Uganda’s police forces must be credited for doing the important work of defending the rights and interests of Ugandan citizens, including members of the LGBTI community, as demonstrated by the following examples:

  • On January 17, 2013, officers at the Jinja Road Police Station in Kampala opened an investigation after a woman came to them complaining about threatening text messages that accused her of promoting homosexuality.
  • In August 2012, police in the Ntinda neighbourhood of Kampala arrested one of three men accused of the corrective rape of a lesbian woman.
  • When a LGBTI organisation’s offices were broken into on December 26, 2012 and a number of items were stolen, including computers, Uganda Police Force officers visited the crime scene and took statements from three individuals associated with the organisation.

“In all too many instances, however, Uganda’s police forces have failed to uphold the rights of sexual minorities. In several documented cases, police officers have failed to protect LGBTI individuals or have proved unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute violations.

  • In one example, five men who were visiting a friend’s home in Kampala on April 19, 2013 were surrounded by unknown individuals who threatened to burn the men the death in the house for supposedly promoting homosexuality. The incident was reported to the police, who failed to investigate the matter. …
  • The failure of police officers to protect detainees extends in at least one instance to the failure to provide urgently needed medical treatment:
    A man beaten by a mob in Mbale in September 2009 was arrested and detained at the local police station on charges of taking part in homosexual sex. The man was not provided medical treatment for his injuries while in detention, and he died a few days after being released on bond. A post-mortem was not carried out to establish the cause of death, and the case was never disposed of by the court in Mbale.

Recommendations

The report proposed:

To the Uganda Police Force

Uganda Police Force logo

Uganda Police Force logo

The Uganda Police Force was cited as the entity responsible for most of the reported violations. Further, reports on corruption have repeatedly ranked the Uganda Police Force as the most bribery prone institution in the country.
Accordingly, the Uganda Police Force should:
• Introduce appropriate police training on human rights and violence
based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in order
to reduce unnecessary arrests, detentions and other violations of the
rights of LGBTI persons.
• Investigate all credible allegations of physical or verbal abuse against
individuals on the basis of gender identity or expression and sexual
orientation.
• Establish monitoring systems to evaluate police stations’ capacity to handle
matters relating to gender-based violence in a non-judgmental and efficient manner.
• Establish separate areas for the detention of transgender people to avoid
the violence that occurs to them as a result of being detained with people
of a different gender.
• Increase police salaries and police conditions in order to reduce
incentives to arrest people for the purpose of extortion.
• Put in place mechanisms to fight bribery and extortion by the police.

To the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC)

The Uganda Human Rights Commission is constitutionally mandated to promote and protect human rights in the country. It thus has powers to investigate and redress cases of violations. The UHRC should:
• Investigate and document reports of violence and abuse against
individuals based on sexual orientation, sex determination, and gender
identity or expression.
• Reach out to LGBTI organisations and individuals in order to enhance
collection of cases of violations of the rights of LGBTI persons.
• Work with civil society organisations to monitor, document, expose, and
address incitement to violence, homophobia, violence, and abuse
on the basis of sexual orientation, sex determination, and gender identity
or expression.
• Include violations of LGBTI rights in annual reports to Parliament and
include recommendations for policy changes.
• Advise parliament on laws and bills that may increase stigma and
discrimination against LGBTI persons.

To Members of Parliament

Parliament plays a vital role in promoting the wellbeing of all Ugandans. It also
has a mandate to make laws that conform to national and international standards of human rights and dignity. Members of Parliament should:
• End legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and
intersex people by repealing all existing laws criminalising same-sex
conduct, and reject adoption of new discriminatory legislation.
• Amend Uganda’s Constitution to include explicitly prohibit
discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex
determination.
• Publicly condemn attacks or incitement to violence against individuals or
groups on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or
expression.
• Call upon the Uganda Human Rights Commission to monitor violations
affecting LGBTI Ugandans.
• Use its Standing Committee on Human Rights to engage with LGBTI
persons and organisations regarding laws that may have an adverse
impact on LGBTI persons

To the Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC)

The Uganda Law Reform Commission has the Constitutional duty to suggest
areas of law reform, and it is in the process of reviewing the Penal Code Act.
This is the right time to end legal discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The ULRC should:
• Recommend that the Penal Code sections that explicitly discriminate on
the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity be repealed, including
Section 145 on carnal knowledge against the order of nature.
• Recommend the restriction of Penal Code sections that are used by the
police and private parties to harass people based on their sex determination,
sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, including Section 160
(common nuisance), Section 167 (idle and disorderly), and Section 168
(rogue and vagabond).

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

To the President of Uganda

The president has a constitutional mandate to assent to or reject laws passed by Parliament. The office of the president is therefore key to the law-making process and to ensuring that the laws enacted respect and observe the rights of all people without discrimination. The President should:
• Veto legislation that is discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
• Publicly condemn human rights violations based on sexual orientation
or gender identity.

To the Ministry Of Health

The Ministry of Health has the mandate to ensure access to health services. As
such the Ministry of Health should:
• Institute training for healthcare service providers on sexual orientation,
sex determination, and gender identity.
• Institute proper guidelines for providing medical care to all people
without discrimination.

Luzira Prison (Photo courtesy of Red Pepper)

Luzira Prison (Photo courtesy of Red Pepper)

To the Uganda Prisons Service

The Uganda Prisons Service is responsible for conditions and environment with which prisoners are detained. The Uganda Prisons Service should:
• Establish separate areas for the detention of transgender people to avoid the violence that occurs to them as a result of being detained with people of a different gender.
• Protect all prisoners including LGBTI prisoners from violence perpetrated by fellow prisoners or prison warders.

To Foreign Governments

• Call on the government of Uganda to improve and expand rights for
LGBTI individuals.
• Use quiet diplomacy to sensitise Ugandan leaders to LGBTI issues
domestically and abroad.

To Local Organisations

• Support public education and awareness-creation programs on sexuality,
sexual and health rights, and violence and discrimination by targeting law
enforcement agencies, health services, and educational institutions.
• Support the Uganda Human Rights Commissions’ mandate to monitor
and document reports of violence, abuse, and discrimination based on
sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
• Strengthen reporting systems, evidence collection and data storage to
facilitate easy verification of violations against people based on their
sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
• Create information sharing systems so that reports of violations can be
used simultaneously by multiple parties.
• Hold awareness sessions with staff members to sensitize them to issues
affecting LGBTI Ugandans.
• Create partnerships with other organisations to monitor and document
abuses of LGBTI rights.

The Red Pepper tabloid has been putting the lives of LGBT people in danger by sensationalizing their stories and publishing their names and photos.

The Red Pepper tabloid put the lives of LGBT people in danger by sensationalizing their stories and publishing their names and photos.

To Members of the Media

The media plays an important role of informing society and has power which must be used responsibility. Members of the media should:
• Treat all people with respect and dignity, regardless of sex determination, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
• Learn about, monitor, and report on abuses of human rights and dignity
that LGBTI Ugandans face.
• Protect the privacy of LGBTI individuals who may be threatened,
assaulted, or even killed as a result of being “outed” by the media.

Click here to read the entire report.

Posted in Africa, Africa (Sub Saharan), Harassment / murders | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

النشطاء يدينون غارة منى عراقي Activists condemn Egypt raid

Bath Raid, Cairo December 7, 2014 (Mona Iraqi Facebook photo)

Mona Iraqi films, on right, while police arrest men, Cairo December 7, 2014 (Mona Iraqi Facebook photo)

A statement written by activists from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the original Arabic language, followed by the English translation.  

The statement is endorsed by 11 groups and coalitions in the MENA region. Published originally today by Scott Long at his blog: A Paper Bird.  

Activists condemn TV presenter Mona Iraqi, who reported a group of men and filmed them while they were being arrested: and demand that the Egyptian government cease persecuting people for their sexual practices.

نشطاء يستنكرون قيام الإعلامية منى عراقي بالإبلاغ عن مجموعة من الرجال و تصويرها لهم أثناء القبض عليهم
ويطالبون الحكومة المصرية بالتوقف عن ملاحقة المواطنين بسبب ممارساتهم الجنسية
 

تابعت المجموعات الموقعة أدناه بمزيد من الصدمة والقلق الشديد واقعة قيام شرطة الآداب بمديرية أمن القاهرة بالقبض على حوالي ستة وعشرين شخصا أثناء تواجدهم بحمام عام للرجال بمنطقة رمسيس بدعوى ممارستهم “للشذوذ الجماعي” بمقابل مادي داخل الحمام. وجاءت هذه الواقعة بناء على بلاغ من الإعلامية منى عراقي والتي ادعت أن الرجال يحولون المكان إلى “وكر للشذوذ الجماعي”، ولم تكتف عراقي بالبلاغ ولكنها أيضا صاحبت قوات الشرطة أثناء عملية المداهمة التي وقعت في مساء الأحد في حوالي العاشرة مساء، وقامت بتصوير مجموعات الرجال داخل الحمام وهم متجمعين عرايا وغير مسموح لهم بارتداء ملابسهم ويحاولون بشتى الطرق إخفاء هوياتهم في انتهاك صريح لحقهم في الخصوصية وفي خرق واضح لمواد القانون.

تأتي هذه الحادثة استكمالاً لهجمة أمنية شرسة تشنها الدولة، متمثلة في شرطة الآداب، ضد المثليين والمتحولين جنسياً، هذه الحادثة والتي تعتبر أكبر واقعة قبض على أشخاص بتهمة “الفجور” منذعام 2001، سبقتها العشرات من وقائع القبض على مثليين أو متحولين جنسيا او أشخاص يشتبه في كونهم كذلك في هجمة هي الأشرس منذ الهجمة التي صاحبت “حادثة كوين بوت” الشهيرة في 2001، فبعد الثلاثين من يونيو 2013، رصد النشطاء القبض على اكثر من 150 شخصا على خلفية الاعتقاد بكونهم مثليين أو متحولين جنسياً، ووصلت العقوبات في بعض هذه القضايا إلى ثمان وتسع سنوات من السجن على خلفيات قانونية غير سليمة أو ملفقة. وغالبا ما صاحبت عمليات القبض هذه حملة إعلامية أكثر شراسة تنتهك بيانات المقبوض عليهم وتنشر صورهم وتسجل أحاديثا مصورة معهم، وتصور المثليين كمجموعات من المرضى والمجرمين الذين بحاجة للعلاج أو تصويرهم كمجموعات غريبة انتشرت بعد الثورة.

لم تقف الحملة الإعلامية عند هذا الحد ولكن قامت الإعلامية المذكورة بنقلها لمستوى جديد إذ حولت وظيفتها من إعلامية إلى مخبر يعمل لصالح البوليس ويقوم بالإبلاغ عما يعتقد بأنه جريمة، ورغم عدم ارتكاب المقبوض عليهم جريمة يعاقب عليها القانون فقد روجت وسائل الإعلام المختلفة للقبض على “أكبر شبكة للشذوذ” في مصر قبل أن تحكم عليهم أي محكمة أو يثبت ضدهم أي اتهام، وتفاخرت منى عراقي ببلاغها باعتباره عملا بطولياً و”انتصاراً أخلاقياً” بل وقامت بما ينافي أبسط قواعد آداب مهنة الصحافة وقامت بتصوير المقبوض عليهم، وإذ يدين بشدة الموقعون ما قامت به هذه الإعلامية من أفعال تسيء إلى مهنة الصحافة والإعلام فإنهم يؤكدون أن من خالف القانون في هذه الحالة هو هذه الإعلامية وليس الرجال المقبوض عليهم. فبعيدا عن التفتيش في نوايا الناس وممارساتهم الخاصة والرضائية فإن هذه الإعلامية خالفت بشكل واضح المادتين 58، 75 من قانون الإجراءات الجنائية والتي تعاقب قيام أي شخص بإفشاء معلومات عما تضبطه الشرطة لأشخاص غير ذوي صفة، ويطالب الموقعون بإعمال مواد القانون على الإعلامية منى عراقي التي تستغل مهنتها لانتهاك خصوصية الأفراد ونعتهم بما ليس فيهم من أجل التحصل على مكاسب مهنية.

وتؤكد المجموعات والمنظمات الموقعة استياءها الشديد من استغلال انتشار فيروس نقص المناعة المكتسبة (الإيدز) كحجة وغطاء شرعي لهذه الممارسات الإعلامية المهينة، فلا يمكن لمثل هذه البلاغات إلا أن تزيد من الوصم والتمييز تجاه مجموعات تعتبر من الأكثر عرضة للإصابة بالفيروس، وبالتالي تقلل من فرص لجوئهم إلى خدمات المشورة أو الفحوصات الاختيارية والعلاج. وفي النهاية تؤكد المنظمات الموقعة أن الدولة عليها أن تنهي ترصدها لممارسات الأفراد الخاصة وتتبعهم داخل غرف نومهم أو في الأماكن العامة والتجسس عليهم وعلى وسائل اتصالاتهم وتؤكد المنظمات مسئولية الدولة في حماية وتفعيل حقوق هؤلاء الأفراد ومن ضمنها حقوقهم في الخصوصية وعدم التشهير والوصم..

الموقعون:

من الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا:
المؤسسة العربية للحرية والمساواة
الجمعية التونسية للنساء الديمقراطيات
تحالف الحقوق الجنسية والجسدية في المجتمعات الإسلامية
حلم- لبنان
تحالف الميم- لبنان
موزاييك- المنظمية الشرق أوسطية للخدمات والتأييد والتكامل وبناء القدرات
اللجنة الاستشارية للشباب (مصر)
قوة ضد التحرش/ الاعتداء الجنسي الجماعي (أوبانتيش)
حملة التضامن مع مجتمع م م م م في مصر
انتفاضة المرأة في العالم العربي

Activists condemn TV presenter Mona Iraqi, who reported a group of men and filmed them while they were being arrested: and demand that the Egyptian government cease persecuting people for their sexual practices.

The undersigned groups have followed with much shock and increasing worry the arrest, by Egyptian morality police of the Cairo Security Directorate, of approximately 26 individuals while at a public bathhouse for men in the Ramsis neighbourhood. The men were arrested for the alleged “group practice of deviance” in exchange for money inside the bathhouse.

This incident happened after the bathhouse was reported to police by media presenter Mona Iraqi, who claimed that the men turned the place into a “den of group deviance.” Iraqi did not stop at reporting these men: she actually accompanied the police force while they stormed the place, at around 10 PM on Sunday, December 7. She photographed groups of men inside the bathhouse while police gathered them naked, denying them the right to put on their clothes. The men desperately tried to conceal their identities, but they were filmed and photographed in clear infringement of their privacy rights and in obvious disregard to the law.

This incident is the continuation of a vicious security campaign launched by the state, carried out by its morals police, against gay and transgender people. The incident is the largest mass arrest of individuals arrested on the charge of practising “debauchery” since the notorious raid on the Queen Boat in 2001. It was preceded by dozens of other arrests of gay and transgender people, or people suspected of being so.

After June 30, 2013, activists have documented the arrest of more than 150 individuals on the assumption that they are gay or transgender. In some cases prison sentences of eight or nine years have been imposed, on legal grounds that are incorrect or fabricated. The arrests have been accompanied by a still more monstrous media crusade, publicizing the personal information of those arrested, publishing their pictures, even posting filmed interviews with them. The media present homosexuals as a group of “sick” individuals and criminals in need of therapy — or paints them as a deviant community that spread after the revolution.

The media crusade has not stopped at that. Mona Iraqi took the media frenzy to a new level as she transformed the job of a presenter to that of an informant, working for the police, reporting to them what she thinks is a crime. Those who were arrested did not commit any crime punishable by law. Yet various media outlets promoted the idea that the biggest sex ring in Egypt for “practising deviance “ had been arrested, before any verdict was reached or any accusation against those individuals was actually proven. Iraqi boasted about her reporting, calling it a heroic deed and a “moral triumph.” She took pictures of those arrested, in clear violation of the basic ethics of journalism. The signatories to this statement condemn most strongly what this media presenter did. Her acts disgrace the professions of media and journalism. We assert that the person who violated the law is the presenter and not the men who were arrested.

Besides prying into people’s intentions and their private, consensual practices, this presenter clearly violated articles 75 and 58 of the law of criminal procedures: these prohibit anyone from disseminating information about persons arrested by the police to others who do not have standing in the case. We demand that the presenter, Mona Iraqi, be held accountable before the law for misusing her profession to violate the privacy of others and slander and misrepresent them, and for pursuing professional benefit regardless of consequences.

The groups and organizations signed below profess their deep distress that the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been used to justify and legitimate these demeaning media practices. These reports have done nothing but increase stigma and discrimination against the groups most vulnerable to the virus. Ultimately this will damage their opportunities to seek counselling services or voluntary testing and therapy.

In conclusion, the undersigned organizations affirm that the state has to end its prosecution of personal behaviour, its pursuit of individuals both into their bed rooms and in public spaces, and its spying on them and their means of communication. The organizations also stress the responsibility of the state to protect and realize the rights of these individuals, including their rights to privacy, and to freedom from stigma and slander.

MIDDLE EAST / NORTH AFRICA REGION:

Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality – regional
Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates (ATFD) – Tunisia
Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) – regional
HELEM – Lebanon
M-Coalition, Middle East/North Africa – regional
MOSAIC / MENA Organization For Services, Advocacy, Integration, and Capacity Building – regional
National Youth Advocacy Taskforce – Egypt
Operation Anti Sexual Harassment/Assault (OpAntiSH) – Egypt
Solidarity With Egypt LGBT – Egypt
Uprising of Women in the Arab World – regional

 

Posted in International pressure for LGBT rights, Middle East / North Africa | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gay in Ghana – A video

Skyline of Accra (en), Ghana

Skyline of Accra, Ghana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This hard hitting eight-minute video documentary is well worth watching.  It is the story of a young​ HIV positive​ gay man in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.  Released by AIDSPAN
its first-ever documentary is titled: “I didn’t want to bring shame on my family:”  being gay in Ghana. The description below edited from AIDSPAN’s description.

Click on this link to see the video on Vimeo.

The story is told from the perspective of Joe “Hillary” Afful, a dynamic and engaged leader in Ghana’s gay community. Hillary wants his story to help encourage gays and other men who have sex with men to not be afraid, to know their status and to take the appropriate measures to seek the right kind of medical attention.

His journey brings the viewer through the public health system in Ghana,  which is largely supported by international donors led by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria.

It reflects the challenges inherent in reaching those who are most vulnerable to infection by the disease, including gay men such as Hillary. This film underscores the impact of stigma, discrimination and ignorance on Ghana’s health system’s ability to effectively manage HIV.

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

Thousands in Gambian anti-gay protest

Protest in Banjul, Gambia December 10, 2014

Protest in Banjul, Gambia December 10, 2014 (courtesy observer.gm)

We re-publish here the un-edited news story  by the Banjul-based Gambia Observer published on December 10th, International Human Rights Day, so that you may read for yourselves the manner in which this kind of information is conveyed to Gambians.  

This government-backed demonstration, to distract Gambians from their real problems, was attended by President Jammeh, included the reading of a lengthy government petition against “homosexualism.”  

Gambia: Thousands March to Say ‘No to Homosexuality’

Authors: Alieu Ceesay & Musa Ndow; December 10, 2014

Anti-gay March in Banjul, Gambia (courtesy observer.gm)

Anti-gay Protest in Banjul, Gambia (courtesy observer.gm)

Thousands of Gambians drawn from all walks of life Tuesday afternoon took to the streets in Banjul to denounce attempts by outside forces – development partners – who advocate for homosexuality and lesbianism; vices forbidden by the laws of The Gambia.

The demonstrators, who were joined by the President of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhaji Yahya AJJ Jammeh, expressed their total disapproval of attempts to tie aid to The Gambia to so called homosexual and lesbian rights.

Protesters, who started the procession at the National Assembly through State House carried placards and banners bearing; “Homosexuality is Inhuman”; “Even cows don’t do it!” “Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam”. It was calculated move by the demonstrators in a way to show to Gambian development partners and the rest of the world that the West African nation is one of God-fearing people who will under no circumstances accept homosexuality, lesbianism and the likes.

At the July 22nd Square in Banjul where demonstrators gathered to mark the end of the procession, a petition against homosexualism was read on behalf of protesters by the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government, Saihou Sanyang.

It reads: “Your Excellency Mr. President, it is important to contextualise such a lofty statesmanship within the overall provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 1997. This, in clear terms and provisions has stipulated that The Gambia is an independent sovereign state on equal status with all other nations irrespective of geographic size, economic or political might or wherewithal.

It is on the basis of principles of the equality, self-determination, and mutual co-existence that our foreign policies, which are but extensions of our domestic policies, are based. It is important to state that the spirit of the Constitution irrespective of its legalistic architecture in both its totality and otherwise is not the voice of the philosophical, religious, ethical, moral, and social values. As a country of religious people who live by the dictate of Allah as commanded in the religious preachings and their protractors, the stance on the principle of secularity in no way admits or accepts the principle to immoralities.

“Your Excellency Mr. President, it goes without saying that our intolerance with the unnatural and abominable malpractices of homosexuality and lesbianism on the one hand, and the other, our government’s position are not negotiable. It is on the basis of such religious, social, moral and ethical upbringing built on high moral grounds that we stand by our government’s position to zero tolerance to either homosexuality or lesbianism or both. There shall not be any turning point and that the people are ready for eventuals in good defence of the people and country’s independence”.

PS Sanyang used the opportunity to urge Gambians to fully rally behind the President and the government in pursuit of things that are good for the masses. Reiterating that Gambians have spoken and that there will be no negotiations, he equally urged lawmakers to be at the forefront of guarding the interest of the country against such tendencies.

Other views

The Daily Observer also sampled the views of some demonstrators and they were unanimous in their views against these menaces.

“Homosexuality should not be tolerated in The Gambia because it is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an,” a grade 11 student of Muslim Senior School stated.

Making a contrast view on homosexuality as a human rights issue, Miss Jatta remarked: “We will never allow it and we are fully behind our President.”

Another demonstrator, Aji Kaddy Marenah, said Gambians should be more God-fearing and denounce homosexuality. “We are all created by God and let’s be contented in what we have,” she said, urging for all to rally behind the President.

Talibo Konjira of Latrikunda Sabiji said: “The Gambia is a decent country of decent people. Man to man marriage or woman to woman marriage will not be accepted because it is not acceptable by our tradition and cultures. Even animals know that it is not decent”.

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Digital security for LGBTI in sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Pride Map Courtesy Wikipedia

Africa Pride Map Courtesy Wikipedia

This is an important tool designed specifically for the needs of LGBTI in sub-Saharan Africa.  All applications and guides are free of charge.

We re-publish the information and links here directly from the Website.

Click here for more information About Security in-a-Box, including project funders, selection criteria, and other details.  

Community Focus: Digital security tools and Tactics for the LGBTI community in Sub-Saharan Africa

Security in-a-box is a collaborative effort of the Tactical Technology Collective and Front Line Defenders. It was created to meet the digital security and privacy needs of advocates and human rights defenders. Security in-a-box includes a How-to Booklet, which addresses a number of important digital security issues. It also provides a collection of Hands-on Guides, each of which includes a particular freeware or open source software tool, as well as instructions on how you can use that tool to secure your computer, protect your information or maintain the privacy of your Internet communication.

This Community Focus edition is part of a series of guides which aim to further integrate digital security into the context of particular communities and human rights defenders. This edition was created in particular for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* and Intersex individuals and human rights defenders in the sub-Saharan region in Africa. It was preceded by a similar guide for the Arabic-speaking LGBTI community, and includes some of the same content. Both guides were written in collaboration with human rights defenders from the community.

The guide includes:

Part I – Context

Part II – How-to Booklet

Download PDF  Click on the icon below to download the PDF version of Community Focus: Tools and Tactics for the LGBTI Community in sub-Saharan Africa

Introduction

In most sub-Saharan African countries, LGBTI persons are still far from gaining social recognition. Despite the various social and cultural differences within the region, silence remains a factor that prevails whenever such taboo issues as homosexuality or trans identity are broached.

In recent years, LGBTI persons have indeed become more visible and active in the public sphere. Nonetheless, the State and society all too often force them back “into the closet” with threats of ostracization, harassment, physical violence and even death. Generally, LGBTI persons are still deemed to be at best non-existent, and at worst cursed, possessed, deviant, immoral, abnormal and diseased. With homosexual acts directly criminalized in most countries in the region, in some of which one can face the death penalty, it is already difficult for LGBTI persons to come out, be visible, live out their identities or fight for their rights. While these laws are often ineffective and are not used systematically to prosecute individuals, the social and cultural condemnations of homosexuality remain the biggest threat for LGBTI communities across the region.

In view of the aforementioned context, the Internet has emerged as a viable option for LGBTI persons to gain visibility, communicate, network, and express what one cannot express in public. Social networks, blogging platforms and forums have become, in most African countries, the only spaces where LGBTI persons can have a voice, organize themselves, formulate their discourses around their issues and fight for recognition.

However, authorities and other opponents of LGBTI rights have endeavored to keep up with this change. The Ugandan parliament introduced a bill initially prescribing the death penalty for same sex relationships while the Nigerian parliament prescribed a 14 year prison sentence for same sex relationships and 10 years for LGBTI activists or those who witness civil unions and same-sex marriages. These incidents drew regional and international attention and constituted a pivotal point for LGBTI activists and individuals in the region.

In the years following the proposal of the bills, Uganda had the first ever pride parade, queer Nigerians went to the legislature to defend their rights and groups, blogs and websites started springing up to defend LGBTI rights. Within the same timeline, a man was arrested in Cameroon for sending an SMS text message to another man that said “I am very much in love with you”; another was charged in Uganda with “trafficking obscene publications” because his stolen laptop contained gay porn. A gay man from Sierra Leone was attacked after he visited a gay site from an internet café, and young men in Nigeria formed ‘punishment clubs’ where they engage gay men on social networks and dating sites to extort, and blackmail their victims. These incidents started to expose the pitfalls of the Internet and the many insecurities and problems that come with its use for a community who at the same time feel liberated by it.

Social networks and dating websites remain a common way of targeting LGBTI persons, through accessing their personal pages (blogs, email addresses, Facebook or Twitter accounts); using their information and at times pictures to blackmail or ‘out’ them to their families, and setting up fake accounts, by police and others, to ambush LGBTI persons and ultimately arrest, threaten and scandalize them. The insecurities of information on the Internet are considerable in number, and despite the recent increase in awareness about the dangers of insecure usage of the Internet, access to the most practical solutions that could ensure digital safety for LGBTI users remains limited.

Consequently, there is an increasing and dire need for both knowledge of the most recent methods and tools for digital security, as well as a stronger ethos of caution and care in our online activities, through which LGBTI persons and human rights defenders could ensure their online privacy, circumvent governmental censorship and threats, and protect their information, personal pages, profiles and websites from being hacked, accessed, and ultimately used against them.

There is an inherent tension between the desire to claim one’s rights openly and publically, and the desire to act cautiously and work out of the public eye. It is ultimately a personal decision to select a comfortable point in this range. However, we do believe that in all cases there is great value in studying security tactics to protect yourself, your colleagues, and your community.

With that in mind, we have created this guide in order to help contextualise digital security threats for LGBTI persons and human rights defenders from sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the tools and tactics that can be used for overcoming them.

The guide, which was designed and written in collaboration with the community it is intended to assist, serves an introduction to Tactical Technology Collective and Front Line Defenders’ Security in-a-Box toolkit for human rights defenders and expands upon its content to include important contextual information, tools and tips particularly relevant to the LGBTI community, as identified by members of the community in workshops and other interactions in 2013 and 2014. The aim of the toolkit is to make the issue of digital security clearer and easier to understand and implement in the personal and professional context of LGBTI individuals from the region.

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India, one year as criminals

India: One year as criminals

India: One year as criminals

In solidarity with India’s struggle for justice and rights, and to honour the one year anniversary of the India Supreme Court decision to re-criminalise LGBT people, we republish the Orinam Section 377 news release.

In India, on December 11, public protests and other events were being organised in all major cities, a 68 page book was published to document the struggle, and a short film released.

One year anniversary of the SC judgement

Today, the 11th of December 2014 marks the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to recriminalise the intimate lives of LGBT people and reintroduce Sec 377. The verdict saw an unprecedented mobilisation of our community and our allies, a publicly visible anger at the deep injustice done to us by the very institution we were looking up to, a passionate refusal to accept this verdict, and a strong resolve to fight this out to the very end.

Protest against Section 377 in Sangli, India (Aarthi Pai photo via Orinam)

Protest against Section 377 in Sangli, India (Aarthi Pai photo via Orinam)

To mark this anniversary of injustice, there are protests being organised around the country, various events to mark the occasion and articles being written in the media. In addition, the LGBT community itself has created films, booklets and other art to mark the demand for justice, which asks for a repeal of sec 377. This page seeks to collate as many of these as possible.

Public Protests

  • Bengaluru : Town Hall, 5-7 pm, 11 Dec 2014
  • Chennai : Gandhi statue, Marina, 5 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Hyderabad : Public Gardens, Nampally, 5-7 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • New Delhi : Rajghat, 4-6 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Kolkata : College Street, 3 pm, 11 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Kolkata : Ranu Chhaya Manch, 4 pm, 12 Dec 2014 [FB event page]
  • Guwahati : opp Dighalipukhuri Park, 4 pm, 14 Dec 2014 [FB event page]

Other events

  • New Delhi : A public hearing about s 377 and its effects, organised by Alliance India, 11 am – 5.30 pm, 11 Dec 2014
  • Online : an online protest campaign [FB event page]
  • Online : ‘Doodle your protest’ campaign, by Varta [Website]

A catalog of protests, events, and media coverage

377.orinam.net is maintaining documentation of protests and events across India related to the one year anniversary, as well as resources and media coverage.

Dignity First – a book

A booklet titled ‘Dignity First’, to mark one year of resistance to re-criminalisation of LGBT lives, published by CSMR, Bengaluru, analyses the failures of the judgment, tracks the legal struggle, maps the continuing and brave resistance by the LGBT community to re-criminalisation, catalogues cases filed under Section 377 and  concludes with a strong demand that the Government must repeal Section 377 as it is  the bounden responsibility of the Government, sworn to uphold the Constitution to recognized LGBT persons as full moral citizens.

The book can be viewed and downloaded here.

Dignity First – a film

A short film, titled ‘Dignity First’ has been created, which seeks to capture the anger of the community and its allies at the judgement.

Dignity First from Zeytoon Films on Vimeo. Please download, share and embed the video !

 

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Cook Islands queen: Our anti-gay law is unfair

Marie Pa Ariki, a queen of the Cook_Islands (Photo courtesy of GayNZ.com)

Marie Pa Ariki, a queen of the Cook_Islands (Photo courtesy of GayNZ.com)

A queen in the traditional royalty of the Cook Islands has spoken out against her  country’s law against same-sex intimacy.

Marie Pa Ariki, who is Takitumu paramount chief in the Cook Islands, says it is unfair and unjust for gay people to be treated as criminals due to who they love and how they express that love, GayNZ reported.

She has influence in the Cook Islands, but lacks the power to change its laws. The tiny South Pacific nation is a representative democracy, led by a chief minister who implements laws passed by its parliament.  The nation’s parliament building is unimposing, a former hotel.  The nation  is associated with New Zealand, which handles its foreign relations and defense.

Under the laws of the Cook Islands, sexual intimacy between men is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

GayNZ reported on its interview with Pa Ariki:

“[Gay] people are knowledgeable and contribute to society and to home life,” she says. “They are human like everyone else… we are all whanau [family].”

She acknowledges there is conservatism regarding homosexuality in the Pacific Islands.

Asked if it is right and reasonable that gay people, including the traditional akava’ine [trans women], are treated as criminals under the laws of many countries she said it is not.

Although her experience of homosexuality in Cook Island culture appears heavily influenced by the traditional place of akava’ine … people, she recalled with concern a situation known to her where a man returned to the Cook Islands with his “man friend… The family were all up in the air over it,” she says ruefully. “But Pacific Island conservatism is changing now,” she believes, “people are learning.”

The Cook Islands parliament building, a former hotel. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Cook Islands parliament building, which originally had been used as lodgings. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

GayNZ.com also provided this Pacific Islands-focused context for the Cook Islands law:

The islands of French Polynesia and the American state of Hawaii no longer criminalise homosexual intimacy and extend to GLBTI people broad rights of relationship recognition and even marriage.

Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Pitcairn, American Samoa, Niue and Tokelau have decriminalised homosexuality but extend few or no equal rights.

Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, the Solomons and the Cook Islands still proscribe homosexual intimacy with jail terms of up to fourteen years in some cases, and offer no relationship recognition or human rights equality.

The Oceania section of this blog’s list of 76-plus countries with anti-gay laws differs in part from the GayNZ.com list. Nations with anti-gay laws on both lists include:

  • Cook Islands
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu

Those that GayNZ omits, but included on the Erasing 76 Crimes list and in the latest ILGA report on State-Sponsored Homophobia are:

  • Indonesia (Aceh Province and South Sumatra)
  • Kirbati
  • Nauru

In addition, the tiny nation of Palau in the western Pacific Ocean also recently decriminalized homosexuality.

Posted in Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, International pressure for LGBT rights, Oceania, Positive steps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment