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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warning: Lebanon police call to entrap gay suspects

Logo of Helem

Logo of Helem

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

Helem issued this warning today:

URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT:

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

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

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

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

Grindr logo

Grindr logo

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

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

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

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

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

 

Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full interview is online.

OTHER TOPICS

Also discussed during the radio show:

  • Eric Lembembe

    Eric Lembembe

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

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

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

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

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12 still in Lebanese jail 17 days after Turkish bath raid

Promotional photo for Agha Hamman.

Photo promotionnelle de Agha Hamman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be ready to get baffled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cameroon lesbians freed after 9 months awaiting trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related articles

 

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Jamaica: Inching towards legal equality

In Jamaica, government employees have more protection from discrimination than the general public whom they serve.

Protesters urge repeal of Jamaica's anti-buggery law. (Photo courtesy of Jamaican Anti-Homophobia Stand)

Protesters urge repeal of Jamaica’s anti-buggery law. (Photo courtesy of Jamaican Anti-Homophobia Stand)

In 2004, the Staff Orders for the Jamaican Civil Service (which have the force of law) were revised.  Quietly and without fanfare, this update from the 1976 document expanded the protections of public servants to include the right to non-discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation (s. 13.1.9).  This created an anomaly where government employees had more protections from discrimination than the general public whom they were meant to serve.

It was therefore reasonable to expect that in 2011 when the country adopted a new Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms the grounds for non-discrimination would be expanded to include sexual orientation.  Regrettably, the Parliament caved to fear-mongering by fundamentalist evangelicals (some from the global north) and created a closed list of grounds for non-discrimination, which specifically excluded homosexuals.

Upholding the rights of all citizens

This situation did not stop the Constitutional Court from ruling in 2013 that gay Jamaicans are still covered by the Charter.  In the case of Tomlinson v. TVJ et. al., which AIDS-Free World brought to challenge the refusal of local TV stations to air an ad promoting tolerance for gays that the organization had produced, the President of the Court said:

“It is perhaps to be recognized that the claimant cannot seek redress for any allegations of discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation as the Charter does not afford that protection specifically.  This may be viewed as a significant deficiency in this Charter but it is to noted that the first paragraph of the Charter [which declares that the state and private individuals are obligated to uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens] is comprehensive enough to point to a view that it be interpreted to embrace all rights and responsibilities of all Jamaicans.” (para. 28)

Sometimes you have to lose to win

So, although the court ruled against the right to air the ad, this very useful dicta clarifies that the Charter does in fact protect gays.  The extent of this protection will certainly have to be “teased out” in subsequent cases, but this judicial statement is a very promising start.  Sometimes you have to lose to win.

The Caribbean’s highest court, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), also recently opined on anti-gay laws in a case that originated from Jamaica and which was again brought by AIDS-Free World.

Caribbean Court of Justice. (Photo courtesy of WelchMorris.com)

Caribbean Court of Justice. (Photo courtesy of WelchMorris.com)

In Tomlinson v Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, the unanimous 5 panel bench said that:

“In relation to homosexuals, there is indeed international case law, in particular jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee which suggests that under certain circumstances the mere existence of legislation, even if not enforced, may justify a natural or legal person to be considered a victim of a violation of his or her rights under an international human rights instrument.” (para. 6)

Harm even from unenforced laws

The fact that the region’s highest court took judicial notice of the harmful impact of unenforced laws that discriminate against homosexuals will be significant in the ongoing Jamaican cases, which are challenging the British colonially imposed anti-sodomy law.

Sections 76, 77 and 79 of the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act criminalize private consensual adult same-gender intimacy between men and imposes a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment with hard labour.  Apart from the direct invasion of the right to privacy created by this statute, it also provides licence for a host of other egregious human rights violations against LGBTI Jamaicans, which has earned the country the unenviable reputation as one of the worst places in the western hemisphere, if not the world, to be gay.

In seeking to strike down this law, while simultaneously working to dispel the homophobic myths being spun by the right-wing evangelicals, Jamaican LGBTI activists and their allies are inching the country towards legal, and social equality.  The process will be incremental, but it is certainly inevitable.

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