Egyptian, Jamaican activists seek international outcry

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 the last wholesale arrests of LGBTI Egyptians, back in 2001. (Photo courtesy of Scott Long)

Activists in Egypt and Jamaica are seeking outpourings of international support for their efforts to combat homophobia.

The request from Egyptian activists is for online messages in blogs and on Twitter  on Sept. 24 and 25 to protest an ongoing wave of arrests and harassment of LGBTI people.

The request from Jamaican activists is for emails to the parliamentary committee that is reviewing the country’s Sexual Offenses Act, which includes an anti-sodomy provision that remains on the books from colonial times.

EGYPT — from activist commentator Scott Long

Graffiti in Cairo by street artist Keizer, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Scott Long)
Graffiti in Cairo by street artist Keizer, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Scott Long)

URGENT! This Wednesday and Thursday, September 24 and 25, Egyptian activists want a worldwide storm of tweeting and blogging to protest the recent, massive wave of brutal repression of LGBT people.

Here’s the call to action in English … (You can learn more and join the event on Facebook — and while you’re at it, check out the Solidarity with Egypt LGBT page as well.) …  Paste the hashtag #ضدحبسالمثليين in Arabic, or use it in English —  #stopjailinggays. Please share widely and join in!

Two days of tweeting and blogging: #StopJailingGays

Because the Egyptian government has recently focused its efforts on monitoring people’s private lives, whether in the bedroom or on their facebook accounts …

Because the police have paused in chasing “terrorists” and are going after people for their sexual orientation and gender identity …

Because since October 2013, police have arrested more than 80 people for the “crime” of being gay or transgender …

Because some of these people receive humiliating treatment including physical violence and rape threats in detention …

Because the Forensic Medical Authority conducts anal examinations on these people, considered sexual assault and a violation of human rights and medical ethi
cs …

Because they are sentenced for up to 10 years on charges of debauchery — a vague word …

Because the media has been waging a sensational campaign against LGBT people in Egypt, violating people’s privacy by publishing names and photos …

Because of all of this, on September 24 and 25 we will be tweeting and blogging using the hashtag  #ضدحبسالمثليين which means “Against the Jailing of Gays.”

Join us. Invite your friends. Raise your voices.

JAMAICA — from activist attorney Maurice Tomlinson

I have been asked how international allies can show support for the review of the Jamaican anti-sodomy law [which got under way this month].

Firstly, I think that the primary benefit of having US entities write to the joint select committee of Parliament reviewing the Sexual Offenses Act (that retains the anti-sodomy law) is that it will signal that the world is watching.

Mark Golding, Jamaica's minister of justice
Mark Golding, Jamaica’s minister of justice

So, allies could start their letter by saying who they are/represent and why the anti-sodomy law matters to them (e.g., they visit Jamaica, they work in HIV prevention and know the impact of punitive laws, they have heard and are concerned about homophobic abuses in Jamaica, etc.)

Then, they should acknowledge that the other countries also had these anti-gay laws and that it took some time for them to be repealed due to conservative religious thinking.  However, it was done, and those societies did not descend into chaos.  Neither will Jamaica.

Next, they should indicate the benefits to societies that have repealed these laws (more inclusive society, etc.), and respectfully suggest that the same will happen to Jamaica. Our national motto “Out of Many One People” and our national anthem which says “Teach us true respect for all” can also be invoked.

The aim is to keep the letter short (preferably no more than 1 page), respectful of the Jamaican legislative and democratic process, but expressing concern that the law is harming Jamaica’s citizens and international reputation.

The letter should be emailed to the Chair of the joint-select committee reviewing the Sexual Offences Act, Minister of Justice, Senator the Honourable Mark Golding: [email protected].

A copy should also be sent to the Clerk of the Houses of Parliament: [email protected].

And the clerk of the actual joint select committee: Monica Robinson at [email protected].

Thanks for considering this!  The anti-gay groups in Jamaica are massing their support.  We need to amplify the voices of reason and compassion globally to push back against their hate and misinformation.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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