Posts Tagged ‘homophobia’

Human Rights Defenders from York: Katsiaryna Borsuk

January 25, 2015

On 16 February 2015, the York Press carried a feature story by Stephen Lewis about 5 human rights defenders in the temporary shelter programme at York University. The aim of the placements is to give those fighting for human rights around the world a breather, as well as the chance to forge contacts with other human rights workers and organisations around the world.

Katsiaryna Borsuk was born in a village not far from Chernobyl, Belarus, a year after the nuclear accident which made it infamous. The village was radioactively polluted. When she was four, her family were evacuated to the city of Gomel where, as a child, she was taunted for being ‘radioactive’ herself. Many people of her generation have chronic health problems, she says – her own brother has problems with his eyes and his throat.

Interested in environmental protection, she studied natural sciences at university in Gomel. She got caught up in student environmental protests, then became involved with the youth movement. When she graduated, she began working for a banned youth organisation – one that promoted democracy and civil rights. She was several times questioned by the KGB. “They pretended to not be KGB. But they took notes,” she says. “They mostly took you somewhere. Once, they came by car, and interviewed me in the car.”

York Press:
Katsiaryna Borsuk

In 2012, although heterosexual herself, she became involved with Gay Belarus. Homophobia is widespread in Belarus, and there are very few people willing to stand up for LGBT people, she says. They are regularly subjected to homophobic attacks – attacks which are often filmed and posted on social media. Her organisation works with the victims of homophobia, trying to convince families to prosecute cases, talking to police and prosecutors’ offices, arranging free legal representation and even psychological support. But it is not easy. “The police are homophobic. They won’t protect you. Even if people are killed – there have been murders – the police don’t take the case.”

5 human rights defenders in York tell their incredible stories (From York Press).

Greek justice minister shows clear signs of homophobia

December 3, 2014

The Guardian of 2 December 2014 reports that Greece’s justice minister, Haralambos Athanasiou, has been accused of homophobia after unequivocally denouncing gay marriage and opposing even same-sex unions, saying they pose dangers to society, especially a society that “respected traditions”.  Complying with EU demands to legalise partnerships for homosexual couples was also problematic, he said, because it was not without potentially adverse consequences for society.

[Athens was fined by the European court of human rights last year for failing to extend protective rights, including domestic partnerships, to gays and lesbians, a move the tribunal described as discriminating to same-sex couples. Following the judgment, the prime minister Antonis Samaras’s conservative-dominated coalition signalled that it would redress the wrong but got cold feet when rightwingers and clerics reacted in fury. Greece and Lithuania stand alone in refusing to grant such rights.]

[This year the Greek Orthodox bishop of Thessaloniki, Anthimos, called homosexuality “a perversion of human existence”.]

Andrea Gilbert, a LGBT activist, said: “Greece wants to present itself to Europe and the rest of the world as a modern democratic country that respects the rights of all its citizens. These are really very shocking statements when the man making them is the minister of justice, the person who is meant to protect citizens, not a crackpot member of Golden Dawn.” [In April, Ilias Panagiotaros of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, denounced same-sex relationships as a “sickness”]

Greek justice minister denounces gay marriage | World news | The Guardian.

Thilaga Sulathireh, Malaysian LGBTI human rights defender, in the limelight

April 27, 2014

The ISHR Newsletter of 24 April carries an interesting portrait of Malaysian human rights defender Thilaga Sulathireh. She states that she initially joined the struggle for LGBTI rights in Malaysia in response to her own experience of discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. She now devotes herself to promoting and protecting the rights of others. The violence and discrimination inflicted on the LGBTI community in Malaysia, particularly on trans people, strengthened Thilaga’s determination to promote transgender rights, and challenge patriarchal norms and oppressive religious traditions and values.

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‘God Loves Uganda’ shows that anti-gay campaign is western-inspired

March 22, 2014

One of the most striking aspects of the controversy surrounding the Ugandan anti-gay bill is that the Ugandan government – and quite a few media – stress the ‘african’ aspect of resisting ‘western values”. The film “God Loves Uganda” (2013) should put that argument to rest. The documentary is a powerful exploration of the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. The film follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law.

For those based in Washington there is a showing and debate on 8 April organized by Global Rights. Others will have to find it on the internet or rent it. It is worth it!

http://www.globalrights.org/events/uganda.html.

Where is it (il)legal to be gay?

February 6, 2014

The BBC has produced a map which shows the broad legal status of gay people living in UN member states, according to data provided by the UN’s human right’s office, who built on information from the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association.

The legal status of people in same-sex relationships depends very much on where they live. At one end of the spectrum there are those countries that punish homosexuality with the death penalty – Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen – as well as in parts of Nigeria and Somalia. At the other end, there are those countries where gay couples have the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples. However, the categorisation of countries according to their approach to gay rights is not without problems. Some states have conflicting laws on same-sex relationships, simultaneously having laws that punish and protect, while other countries have different laws in different regions. This is reflected in the key. Countries have been categorised by their most progressive or regressive laws, apart from where laws are contradictory. Countries where gay rights vary between states have been coloured by their most progressive or regressive law. [The map does not reflect day-to-day experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans and intersex people. In many places where anti-discrimination laws exist, gay people continue to be persecuted by state authorities and wider society.]

There is also an interesting timeline, pulled together by the UN, which uses 1789 – the date of the French Revolution – as its starting point. It was chosen by the UN as a baseline, as it was a time when homosexuality was criminalised in many countries.

BBC News – Where is it illegal to be gay?.

Kasha about the Ugandan law against homosexuality

December 23, 2013

The Ugandan parliament has now passed the bill that many feared would come one day. Although it does not foresee the death penalty anymore it still puts life jail terms on ‘aggravated homosexuality’. Back on 3 February 2013, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a Ugandan LGBT activist, who was the 2011 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights, spoke with the Martin Ennals award about the risks and problems.

New campaign in Macedonia and Honduras makes use of radio announcements for LGBTI rights defenders

October 25, 2013

A post of 24 October in LGBT Weekly informs about a cooperation between Front Line Defenders and the LGBTI Support Centre of the of the Helsinki Committee for human rights of the Republic of Macedonia and the ACI-Particpa in Honduras in a new campaign RADIOHRD.  LGBTI rights defenders attempt to increase their recognition and capacity to carry out their work by sharing a clear message on Public Service Announcements [PSAs] in each country in order to change societal attitudes and institutional frameworks that lead to violence and discrimination. This new campaign utilizes radio as one of the most powerful tools for awareness raising and reform. “In a time where technologies of information play an increasingly important role in the processes of social change, we find that the radio is still the most reliable, trusted and widely used media amongst all sectors of society all around the world, and Honduras and Macedonia are no exception to this”, explains Kocho Andonovski, program director of the LGBTI Support Centre in Macedonia. Through this awareness raising campaign, eight human rights defenders give their testimony to illustrate the reality faced by the LGBTI communities and those working to promote their rights and end violence and discrimination. During the coming months, national and local radio stations in Macedonia and Honduras will broadcast the series of Public Service Announcements PSAs, short radio spots aimed to promote the recognition that LGBTI rights defenders are engaged in legitimate and valuable work to promote human rights. The campaign will also be broadcasted via the website http://www.radiohrd.org, where video interviews, petitions in support of the defenders and further information are also available.

via Front Line Defenders uses radio to promote the security of LGBTI rights defenders | LGBT Weekly.

 

First ministerial UN meeting on protection of gay rights held

September 27, 2013

On 26 September 2013 many countries attended the first ministerial meeting held at the United Nations on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

(UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)

Foreign ministers attending the meeting, held on the margins of the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate, adopted a declaration pledging not just to protect LGBT rights but also to counter homophobic and transphobic attitudes. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay commended

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Controversy surrounding the death of LGBT activist Eric Ohena Lembembe; Cameroon blames the victims and continues persecution

September 25, 2013

On 23 September Amy Bergquist of the Advocates for Human Rights writes in her blog: The International Justice Program doesn’t get to travel to Geneva very often, but thanks to the United Nations’ live webcasts, we can usually see and hear all the U.N.’s human rights action as it happens. On Friday morning, I was eager to watch the U.N. Human Rights Council’s consideration of the Universal Periodic Review of Cameroon. I was especially moved when one of our colleagues from the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS) took the floor to speak on behalf of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association and recounted his July 15 discovery of his tortured and murdered colleague, Eric Ohena Lembembe, Read the rest of this entry »

Desmond Tutu Chooses Hell Over Homophobic Heaven

July 30, 2013

Back from a long holiday absence I will resume today my blog on Human Rights Defenders and do with a quote from one the most outstanding HRDs, Bishop Tutu, who bettered the new Pope’s more conciliatory tone on gay rights: Speaking at the United Nations launch of its “Free & Equal” campaign to promote fair treatment of LGBT persons on 26 July in South Africa, former archbishop and South African anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu declared that the issue was so close to his heart that : “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.” He added, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.” Tutu went on to compare his advocacy for LGBT persons to his fight against apartheid, saying, “I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level.” A video recording of Tutus partial remarks can be viewed on YouTube. The United Nations “Free & Equal” campaign is a year-long effort led by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, to focus “on the need for both legal reforms and public education to counter homophobia and transphobia.”

via Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu Says He Would Choose Hell Over Homophobic Heaven.

 

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/FreeAndEqualCampaign.aspx