Homosexuality Laws Around the World The countries of the world have a wide variety of laws relating to sexual relations between people of the same sex – everything from full legal recognition of same-sex marriage to the death penalty as punishment for homosexual conduct.
In addition to laws against same-sex relationships, many countries have laws geared towards a homosexual orientation, everything from passing anti-discrimination laws to barring those with a homosexual orientation from adoption.
2 Proposed bill in U.S. Senate hopes to unite gay couples split by nationality 7/05
Measure would allow U.S. citizens to sponsor partners; Passage unlikely.
5 H.H. Dalai Lama’s Human Rights Statement:
In Support of Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People 3/06
From: "Queer Peace International" <email@example.com>
June 18, 2005
Queer Peace International’s new website
Queer Peace International Initiative and Website Launch Queer Peace International is a consortium of gay, lesbian, trans-identified, questioning and straight allies identifying as Queer which aims to build peace and reconciliation through Queer communities around the world. QPI is based in Toronto, Canada and represents a network of non-political organizations in 25 countries. QPI’s activities include consolidating efforts to address relevant concerns and issues addressing Queer citizens at international and world forums.
QPI will work with its international partners in facilitating fact-seeking and skills-building development missions; and acting as a global networking agent to further create positive and sustainable change for all. Queer Peace International is pleased to announce the launch of its new website <www.queerpeace.org> which will further actualize international efforts for peace-building and raising the standards of living conditions for LGBT people across the globe.
To join or learn more about QPI, please visit our website or contact Robert Mizzi, Executive Director.
Robert Mizzi Executive Coordinator
Queer Peace International
297 Springbank Drive
London, Ontario Canada N6J 1G4
July 1, 2005
Proposed bill in U.S. Senate hopes to unite gay couples split by nationality–Measure would allow U.S. citizens to sponsor partners; Passage unlikely.
by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg
Joanne, an illegal immigrant from Poland, fell in love with an American woman in 2003 when she was 21. When her family found out she was a lesbian, they threatened to have her deported. The threat was made more frightening because American citizens and permanent residents cannot sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration benefits the way that straight married couples can. The Defense of Marriage Act prohibits gay couples from receiving the federal benefits of marriage, including immigration rights, even if they are legally married in Massachusetts, Canada or elsewhere.
But Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) recently introduced the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), formerly the Permanent Partners Immigration Act, to allow same-sex "permanent partners" to stay together.
Leahy and Nadler were not available for comment this week. The bill would create the new "permanent partner" category for immigration purposes only. Same-sex couples would be subject to the same evaluations that straight couples go through to verify authenticity of a relationship.
The current immigration restrictions have forced many "bi-national" gay couples – where the partners are from different countries – to move outside the United States to one of the 16 countries that provide immigration benefits for same-sex couples. Gay citizens of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom can sponsor their same-sex partner for citizenship.
But Joanne and her partner want to stay in the United States. After her family’s threat, they moved together to California, then back to New York, where they settled in Harlem. Joanne spoke to the Blade on the condition that her real name not be used.Living in the shadows Joanne’s status puts her at risk, like so many illegal immigrants, of exploitation and limited employment options. Employers won’t sponsor her because she doesn’t have enough years of training or education, she said. When Joanne worked at a laundromat in New York for $6 an hour, her boss withheld a week’s pay when she told him she was quitting. She couldn’t protest because of the familiar threat of deportation. " I basically don’t exist in this country," she said.
For lower-income people like Joanne, the immigration restrictions on gays hit hardest, according to Adam Francoeur, program coordinator for Immigration Equality, a group that advocates on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered immigrants.
There are two ways to access the immigration system, through family or employment, he said. The family option is largely unavailable to same-sex couples, so that leaves them with employment, which carries training and education requirements, Francoeur explained.
" An immigration system without the family unification option can extremely favor higher income individuals," he said.
Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Equality, said the current laws rip families apart for no reason other than their sexual orientation. In fact, she said, having an American partner can be reason to deny a visa because foreign visitors have to show they do not intend to stay in the U.S. permanently. " It has a devastating impact on families," she said.
The bill’s chances of passage are unlikely, its supporters say. It has been introduced every year since 2000 and has never come to a vote, although Francoeur said it enjoys bipartisan support. Those who oppose the bill often say it is a backdoor to gay marriage, he said. Focus on the Family, a conservative group that usually opposes any pro-gay bills, was not available for comment.
Others have criticized the measure because they claim it would open the floodgates and allow too many people entry to the country, Francoeur said. There are about 36,000 bi-national gay couples living in the U.S. according to a 2000 census, he said. Jack Martin, spokesperson for the conservative group Federation for American Immigration Reform, said his group would lean against the legislation if it increased the number of immigrants in the U.S. " Current immigration is too large, therefore any change that would have the effect of increasing immigration we would probably oppose," he said. "We haven’t taken any specific position with regard to the specific bill."
‘Two tough hurdles’
In today’s conservative Congress, the UAFA has the double obstacle of being pro-immigrant and pro-gay. " It’s a pretty anti-immigrant Congress [and] a pretty anti-LGBT Congress," Neilson said. "Two tough hurdles to overcome."
The post-9/11 crackdown on immigrants has made it harder for bi-national same-sex couples. While some laws have stayed the same on paper, student and work visas of the type many gay couples use to stay together are now the subject of much closer scrutiny, said Francoeur. Also, employers are more reticent to sponsor foreign nationals. " Extra scrutiny often leads to denial," Francoeur said. That is just what happened when Shane, a British citizen, tried to visit his partner, Jeremy, an American citizen, in Georgia. Shane spoke on the condition that the Blade not use his or his partner’s real name.
Frustrated by U.S. immigration rules, Shane and Jeremy moved to Britain in 2004 where they can establish permanent residency. After a same-sex couple lives together for two years, a British citizen can sponsor his partner, Shane said. When they lived together in the U.S., Shane could only visit for 90 days at a time. " For two years, I lived as a third-class citizen," he said. "I could be taken away from [Jeremy] at any stage."
Earlier this month on Jeremy’s trip to the U.S., he asked Shane to come visit him. Shane flew in to Atlanta and, to his shock, was denied entry. He was told that on a previous visit he overstayed by one day but was not provided more details, Shane said. He had the choice between being held in a detention center until a flight was available or buying a $5,000 first-class ticket home, he said. " I was searched, detained, fingerprinted, photographed, had my passport marked, and returned on the next flight back to the United Kingdom," Shane wrote in a letter to an Atlanta newspaper.
The following day, two U.S. federal marshals went to Jeremy’s home, interviewed him and requested his banking and employment information, according to Shane. The next time Jeremy flew into the U.S., he was pulled into a second room and asked if he had "anti-American sentiments," Shane said.
When asked how his experiences have influenced his opinion of the U.S., he said, "I’ve been really careful not to bash the country because my partner is American." However, he added, "It astonishes me the way America acts like the freest country. We’ve struggled very hard just to stay together."
Gays And Globalism: Homosexuality: Progress vs Polarization
by Jeremy Seabrook
In 2005 the Delhi High Court upheld article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which outlaws homosexuality and any acts ‘against the order of nature’. The court stated: ‘Indian society is intolerant to the practice of homosexuality.’
There is, of course, a great difference between ‘homosexuality’ (a word coined only in 1869 by a Hungarian doctor) and same-sex relationships, which are universal and rooted in all cultures. This legacy of the Raj – rarely invoked – nevertheless remains; a signal that homosexuality is an alien concept contrary to Indian tradition, even though the practice is of great antiquity. One of the most sensitive and tangible monitors of the direction of human societies – whether they are becoming more progressive or more conservative – is their response to same-sex relationships between men.
In many countries – not all of them Western – there is a broad tendency to extend legal recognition to such relationships. Denmark was the first country to do so in 1989, followed by Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland. Britain followed suit at the end of 2005.
Much of Africa, and the Islamic world, are moving in the opposite direction. The West makes much of its enlightenment in these matters. This is a relatively recent development. If it is widely cited as evidence of the advance of social justice in the West, it also defines us against cultures which regard homosexuality as a sin, punishable in certain states by death. The last execution for sodomy in Britain took place in 1836. It remained a capital offence until 1861. Just over a century later same-sex relationships between men over 21 were decriminalized. Until the 1950s homosexuality was branded as a ‘sexual deviation’ by mental health professionals.
In the United States the last lobotomy designed to ‘cure’ homosexuality was carried out in 1951, although aversion therapy continued into the 1960s and beyond. The American Psychiatric Association declared homosexuality no longer a medical disorder in 1973. The World Health Organization removed it from its list of mental illnesses only 15 years ago.
China persecuted gays under ‘hooliganism’ laws, which were scrapped in 1997 and in 2001 removed from its list of mental illnesses. Japan had done so in 1995, but Thailand, perhaps surprisingly, waited until 2002. While South Africa was the first country to enshrine equal rights for same-sex and heterosexual couples in its 1996 Constitution, other African states have fiercely resisted social – as against economic – liberalization.
It seems that a reaffirmation of ‘traditional’ values is a symbolic gesture against globalization and the powerlessness of many African countries to withstand it. There is a supreme irony here. While repudiating the onslaught of the second wave of globalism, the rulers of Africa use the unreformed legislation of the first wave – laws introduced by former imperial masters. Thus Zimbabwe, struggling with hunger, corruption and misgovernment, makes a stand against what Mugabe describes as ‘a Western cultural practice’. He has said: ‘I find it extremely outrageous and repugnant to my human conscience that such immoral and repulsive organizations, like those of homosexuals who offend both against the law of nature and the morals of religious beliefs espoused by our society, should have any advocates in our midst or even elsewhere in the world.’
In Zambia, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria illiberal laws are also invoked as a defence against what some see as forces of disintegration, even though common sense suggests same-sex relationships are scarcely the source of breakdown of traditional societies, which have been through the tempests of imperialism and globalization. The former President of Kenya, Daniel Arap Moi, said homosexuality is ‘a scourge which runs counter to Christian teachings and African tradition’.
Nigeria is one of the most sensitive sites of conflict, since Sharia law exists in its northern Muslim states. In July 2005 a man was sentenced to death by stoning for a same-sex relationship. The sentence was suspended. In August 2005 two gay men who were facing the death penalty were bailed in the northern town of Katsina.
In Russia same-sex relationships were decriminalized in 1993. During the Soviet era these were outlawed and penalties were severe: the temptation to ‘blame’ homosexuality on a decadent capitalism proved too strong for the puritanical zealots of the Soviet state.
Brazil, too, has given de facto recognition to same-sex relationships by granting such couples the right to inherit each other’s pension and social security rights. A broader measure, tabled by Workers’ Party representative Marta Suplicy 10 years ago, remains stalled.
In the context of increasing polarization, should we regard the Indian decision as a re-assertion of a backward-looking social morality, out of keeping with the progressive temper of the age? Or is it a precursor of a new Puritanism, a re-assertion of tradition, under attack by the alien, invasive values of globalization? The idea that ‘progressive’ views have prevailed is too optimistic. The death penalty for homosexuality or for acts ‘against the order of nature’ is still in force in Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Life imprisonment remains a possibility in Bangladesh, Uganda, Bhutan, India, Guyana, Nepal, Singapore and the Maldives. In the West, too, liberal views have not gone uncontested. In 1992 the Vatican called homosexuality ‘an objective disorder’. In the United States about 70 million conservative Christians believe homosexuality and bisexuality are chosen preferences, that the former is unnatural and can be altered by means of prayer and ‘reparative counseling’.
In Sâo Paulo some three quarters of a million people joined the Gay Pride march in 2001, but scores of gay men are murdered every year in Brazil. An Orthodox priest who married two men in Russia in 2002 was defrocked, and in April 2004 the MP Gennady Raskov tried to recriminalize homosexuality. The Russian People’s Party blames gay men for HIV/AIDS and ‘the disintegration of the traditional family’.
In Britain the homophobic murders in 2005 of David Morley and Jody Dobrowski received wide publicity, as did the murder of the 85-year-old great-grandson of the poet Tennyson. It is generally assumed that the Islamic world has the greatest detestation of homosexuality. This is not the whole truth. Indonesia has no legislation against same-sex relationships, which have always been tolerated. In Bangladesh Article 377 remains but is almost never used.
However, in Saudi Arabia executions for homosexuality are frequent, while in Moshhad, north-east Iran, at the end of July 2005 two teenagers were hanged for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality. One was 18, the other a minor. They had been held for 14 months in jail and were given 228 lashes before being executed. This suggests that the younger one had probably been under 16 at the time of the ‘offence’. MPs from this very conservative part of Iran directed their anger at the domestic and foreign media for reporting the ages of the ‘criminals’. ‘The individuals were corrupt. Their sentence was carried out with the approval of the judiciary, and it served them right.’ Article 152 of the Penal Code states that if two men not related by blood are discovered naked under one cover without good reason, both will be punished at a judge’s discretion. Human rights organizations estimate that as many as 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
As greater economic integration is accepted as inevitable, it seems social and cultural differences come to bear all the more weight in defining the social values and independence of countries. Gains are fragile and impermanent, and maintaining them requires vigilance. The global response to homosexuality, far from showing signs of convergence, demonstrates clear divisions, ranging from the very liberal to the violently intolerant.
As greater economic integration is accepted as inevitable, it seems social and cultural differences come to bear all the more weight in defining the social values and independence of countries. On this issue, as on almost every other, a deeply divided world is further polarizing; a process in which the most impoverished are also the most prejudiced. This is, perhaps, difficult to acknowledge, since many prefer to see poor people as victims of prejudice rather than as perpetrators of it – yet another contradiction in the awkward complexity of globalism.
Jeremy Seabrook’s Second thoughts will appear regularly on the NI website.
March 23, 2006
Modern Gays in Modern Eastern Europe
by Richard Ammon
“ As greater economic integration is accepted as inevitable, it seems social and cultural differences come to bear all the more weight in defining the social values and independence of countries. Gains (in progress) are fragile and impermanent, and maintaining them requires vigilance. The global response to homosexuality, far from showing signs of convergence, demonstrates clear divisions, ranging from the very liberal to the violently intolerant.”
From: Gays And Globalism: Homosexuality And Progress
by Jeremy Seabrook http://www.newint.org/second-thoughts/18-01-06.htm
The progression of gay rights in Eastern Europe since the collapse of the communist Soviet Union has been fitful, erratic, uneven and punctuated with hope and grief. For every step forward there is a setback somewhere else.
A small step in the right direction was recently take by the Czech lower house of parliament voted to override a presidential veto of gay civil unions (March 15) In the opposite direction, we read, from Moldova, of a high ranking police officer declaring (March 2006): "For me, the main law is the Law of God, according to which homosexuality is a sin and those who commit it shall die."
In Poland, arguably eastern Europe’s most progressive and prosperous state, gay groups have played cat-and-mouse games with the government for several years as the authorities have tried to suppress gay parades and festivals. Yet, in recent years, gay marchers have taken to the street in spite of the rulings. The recent election of Lech Kaczynski, 56, as Poland’s president and his twin brother, Jaroslaw, as behind-the-scene advisor, is not a step forward for LGBT rights in Poland. The two men portray themselves as pillars of Poland’s conservative social values against what they see as too much liberalism of western Europe.
Both Kaczynskis have been verbal critics of gay rights, positive abortion laws and want the proposed EU constitution to refer to God and Christian origins. President Kaczynski claims his views are conservative but mainstream: “Contrary to what some people say, I am not for the discrimination against gays. They have the right to participate in public life. However, I am against the public display of their sexual preferences," he said in an interview. When Kaczynski visited Berlin in March 2006 he was picketed and heckled by gay rights activists. Ignoring their purpose, he ambiguously and foolishly declared, “I do not plan to persecute homosexuals or to hinder their careers. But there is no reason to encourage it because it would mean that mankind would slowly die out.”
Against such Polish resistance two government recognized organizations KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) and Lambda Warsaw strive to change homophobia slowly but steadily through political lobbying and . They are supported by NGO’s and people in academia. In small increments their efforts show, for example, as commercial banks regularly provide loans to gay and lesbian couples without problems.
Meanwhile, next door in Bucharest, Romania, a major news story appeared March 9, 2006 in the Bucharest Daily News
http://www.daily-news.ro/article_detail.php?idarticle=21830 The story was surprisingly progressive in its upbeat coverage of the apparent ‘glam’ gay scene in Bucharest. “ A city once puritanical and narrow-minded, has managed to offer its gay community all the necessary means for a hedonistic existence…the big cities of Romania, once stodgy and ashamed of sexual diversity, have recently witnessed a flowering of gay culture. Gay bars and dance clubs have sprung up since 2001, when homosexuality stopped being a criminal offence.” The story went on to quote happy clubbers and describe their thrilling night lives of dancing, drinking and hob-nobbing with friends.
Alluded to but not clarified was the other side–the day life–of LGBT Romanians who live in the closet out of fear of scandal, family rejection, personal shame, public exposure or being fired from their jobs and losing their homes–fears echoed throughout all of eastern Europe. The scene described in the news report is a shadow world that happens after dark when cautious, straight-appearing workers shed their coats and ties and don flashy dance outfits.
As a balance between night and day the article included a voice that not did not agree with this analysis of the flashy gay scene. In Bucharest, Florin Buhuceanu, the leader of ACCEPT, the largest and most visible LGBT advocacy organization in Romania, offered his view: "I know many stable gay couples, who have a beautiful quiet (gay) family life. The above opinions (of hedonism) cannot be used in reaching a viable conclusion about all gay and lesbian persons, as these opinions legitimize the prejudices against the gay community.”
Across the border in Russia, Moscow’s autocratic mayor, Yuri Lushkov–deciding that homosexuality is “an unnatural act”–denied a permit for Moscow’s first-ever Gay Pride march, festival and conference that had been in planning for 2006. Lushkov told reporters the LGBT activities will be “severely repressed.” Perhaps worse, some religious leaders, lead by the chief Muslim mufti, called for the use of violence to prevent the march: “The parade should be allowed in no circumstances. If they go into the streets, they should be thrashed.” As well, a leading Russian Rabbi, Berl Lazar, said that a gay parade “would be a blow for morality”. A cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church called such a Pride Parade "the propaganda of sin".
Against such daunting prejudice, there is no Russian gay group with enough presence or courage to stand up, resist repression and advocate for change. There is one modest LGBT organization in all of Russia–Together, which runs a website (http://www.gay.ru/english/)and offers support and information about homosexuality and HIV. (Wisely, they claim to be apolitical.) In the absence or weakness of native LGBT organizations in eastern Europe the international LGBT and human rights ‘community’ has often stepped in to denounce such overt bigotry and persecution.
In response to the Moscow ban, Human Rights Watch (HRW) vigorously denounced the ban: “Mayor Luzhkov is giving prejudice a veto over the rights to peaceful expression and assembly,” said Scott Long, director of HRW’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program. “Human rights are not a popularity contest,” said Long. “Letting this march proceed is an international obligation. If prejudice is allowed to trump the rights that all citizens should enjoy, then everyone’s freedoms are endangered.”
The protest was echoed by the Belgium-based ILGA—International Gay and Lesbian Association—as well as by New York-based IGLHRC—International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Amnesty International’s Gay and Lesbian division also concurred in the protest. (It should be noted that a generous amount of funding for eastern European gay projects and events comes from western European countries such as Holland and Scandinavia.)
Clearly demonstrated in Russia is the sad truth that virtually no eastern country has substantial LGBT organizations with sufficient financing and clout to counteract ‘old world’ thinking.
Such groups as Croatia’s Iskorak (Step Forward), Slovenia’s DIH (Assoc. for Integration of Homosexuals), Bulgaria’s Gemini, Latvia’s LGLYSG (Latvian Gay and Lesbian Youth Support Group) and Hatter Support Society in Hungary—all are run by small groups of dedicated, courageous and vigorous volunteers who run some risk of exposure. Some groups offer phone hotlines, print newsletters, organize sporting events, sponsor film festivals (that get threats) or send representative to international LGBT meetings to learn strategies for effective lobbying. Clearly none of these organizations can remotely afford to mount a national anti-homophobia or pro-gay media campaign in the press or on TV to counter embedded sentiments against them.
That said, it must not be forgotten that the brave folks from Warsaw’s LPH (Campaign Against Homophobia) mounted a public billboard program in 2003 called “Let Them See Us” in which life-sized photos of gay and lesbian couples were shown holding hands. (See their website to view the photos: http://www.niechnaszobacza.art.pl/index_en.htm)
Negative reactions to gay presence in eastern Europe are inevitable. Neo-Nazi, racist, anti-Semitic, skinhead nationalist groups appear to be the most visible and violent groups who grab headline news by their physical assaults on gay events, as happened most vehemently in Belgrade, Serbia in 2002 when squads of skinhead goons attacked not only the gay marchers but also the few police present to guard them.
Lost in the hysteria and shouting and club wielding of the moment were the thousands of citizens who were appalled by the attacks. Although they might not have approved of homosexuals in their society, most (not all) did not condone such brutality—perhaps recoiling from the memory of the killing fields across the Balkans in the mid-90s. Few have forgotten the massacres and assassinations that happened between ethnic groups and the extreme pain of those years. Most people want no more of violence, but young militants, ten years later, are roused by their own resentment—of poverty, lack of job opportunities, murdered relatives, homophobia and a fantasies of a new white-supremacist social order—continue to rage against ‘outsiders’, including gypsies, immigrants and gays.
One activist from Slovenia claimed that much of the homophobia in the east comes not from religious sources, since the atheistic communists ruled for most of the 20th century. Rather, the prejudice comes from, first, the strong influence of the Soviet criminal laws against homosexual acts; second, from a more general resistance to change. “People still think in the monolithic way—one system for all people. They are not used to diversity. They like the idea of freedom but not too much, especially if it includes ideas that move away from the old social ways.”
The desire to join the European Union, with it distinctly pro-gay regulations and standards, has had an ambiguous influence on eastern societies as they entered or prepared to enter the Union. Turkey, on one hand has softened it’s hard stand against gay groups and demonstrations and parades (by the courageous KOAS-GL organization). But other new Union members or members-to be like Macedonia or Lithuania have yet to offer any window of expression for organized LGBT organizations. In Macedonia, fear rules the public behavior of gay and lesbian citizens; at the same time some Lithuanian members of parliament are trying to collect signatures as part of a drive to ban gay marriage in the constitution.
Another threatening force against gays emerging in eastern states are the moderately successful attempts to re-assert religious values onto the once-secular authoritarian atheistic political stage. From Slovakia’s Roman Catholic Church to Serbia’s Orthodox Catholic clergy and Bosnia’s Muslim communities to Ukraine’s Russian Orthodoxy, the slow re-emergence of anti-gay religions presents a growing threat to gay liberation. In reality, religious fervor never really died during the Soviet years. Rather it went dormant and was allow to exist within the state as long as it appeared to sleep.
As one lesbian activist in Serbia put it, during the communist regime “political communist myths and rigid socialistic programs imposed on the various ethnic populations demanded fearful compliance and a semblance of order in daily affairs, from selling cooperative potatoes to systematic regulated housing. People were poor but not impoverished, religion was suppressed but beliefs ran deep, ancient ethnic feuds were quieted but seethed in silence.” Communism stigmatized homosexuality and everyone learned that as well.
The major exception to this daunting eastern European homophobia is the former East Germany. It has been spared a similar gray fate because it rejoined with western Germany, which has ‘redeemed’ itself from the horrors of the Nazi years. Gays and lesbians in modern reunified Germany are protected by numerous federal laws that fully legalize homosexuality and forbid anti-discrimination specifically against gay citizens (as well as other categories such as gender, age, race and religion).
Further, there is legislative recognition of LGBT couples that gives them the same rights and responsibilities as non-gay married couples. And in early 2006 the government approved a public monument to be built in Berlin in memory of the thousands of homosexuals murdered and tortured by the Nazis.
So the story of modern gay life in eastern Europe is, so far, a halting and stumbling progression toward more freedom and expression. The way forward is littered with religious and political and social prejudice. However, when measured longitudinally, the gay rights movement is less than two generations old–if one takes New York’s 1969 Stonewall ‘riots’ as a starting point.
Recent polls and surveys taken in many countries—east and west–consistently reveal that today’s younger generation, born in the 1980’s with full access to western ideas of democracy, free enterprise and diverse sexuality, are much more favorable toward gay rights than their parents’ generation. There may be fear in the hearts of gays, leftover from history, but there is a lot of hope and anticipation for the future.
By Richard Ammon is owner of GlobalGayz.com. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
30 March 2006
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA ISSUES STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF HUMAN RIGHTS OF LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER PEOPLE
Geneva – Participants at the XXIII World Conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) welcomed a message of support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The statement (attached) expresses H.H. the Dalai Lama’s concern at “reports of violence and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people” and “urges respect, tolerance and the full recognition of human rights for all.”
The statement was greeted by a standing ovation from participants at the Conference.
“ We are deeply grateful for the support expressed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama for human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity”, said Rosanna Flamer-Caldera and Philip Braun, Co-Secretaries-General of ILGA. “In a world where the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are regularly violated, His Holiness’ message of support is a beacon of hope and respect. We urge other world religious leaders to join with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in opposing violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and demonstrate a similar commitment to respect for the human rights.”
For further information, please contact:
Rosanna Flamer-Caldera & Philip Braun, Co-Secretaries-General, ILGA:
079-269-0276 or 079-508-3968
ILGA expresses its appreciation to the Tibet Bureau, Office of the
Representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama and to Mr. Rainer Funke, Former Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the German Parliament for their assistance and support.
The Tibet Bureau Office of the Representative of H.H. the Dalai Lama
“ I am pleased to bring you greetings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the occasion of the XXIII World Conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
His Holiness welcomes the special attention given at this conference to religious tolerance and respect for diversity.
His Holiness is greatly concerned by reports of violence and discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
His Holiness opposes violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and urges respect, tolerance, and the full recognition of human rights for all.
Finally, he expresses his best wishes for a successful conference.”
Geneva, 30 March 2006
14 April 2006
International Meeting a Success–ILGA 23rd World Conference in Geneva
A strong demonstration of how the LGBT movement and ILGA are alive and needed in the world today
With some 220 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists coming from all regions of the world, the 23rd World Conference of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, held in Geneva, from March 27 till April 3 2006 has been a strong demonstration of how alive and needed the LGBT movement and ILGA as its platform are in the world today.
Read the program of the conference
The ILGA office
Support ILGA! Make a donation!
May 2, 2006
Gay Couples Gain Right Of Movement Throughout Europe
by Malcolm Thornberry (Brussels)
A sweeping reform of residency requirements throughout the European Union went into effect on Tuesday including the right of same-sex couples to live anywhere in the EU and to have their relationships "facilitated" even in countries which do not have same-sex partner laws. Only five of the EU’s 25 member countries have ratified the new requirements but European justice commissioner Franco Frattini Tuesday warned national governments that the law was “immediately applicable” – whether implemented or not.
The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain allow same-sex couples to marry. Britain, Germany and several other western European countries allow varying forms of civil partnerships. Other states have limited partner rights but some central and eastern European countries offer nothing to same-sex couples. It was mainly those states to which Frattini’s warning was issued. Couples denied their rights can demand enforcement in national or EU courts or ask the European commission to take up their case.
Couples moving from one EU state to another would have to show the new country that they are in a long-term stable relationship. “ This new provision will facilitate the situation of gay couples across Europe,” said Frattini. But the International Lesbian and Gay Association says the new directive has a loophole. "Facilitation does not imply any obligation to recognize,” the ILGA said. Frattini’s office agrees, adding that the directive only requires member states to assess whether benefits should be given. “ We are preparing to test the legislation and see how the EU courts will go,” the ILGA said.
Earlier on Tuesday two human rights groups assailed the US government for what it called "inhumane" laws regarding binational same-sex couples.
MSM and HIV/AIDS: Risk in Asia: What Is Fueling the Epidemic Among MSM and How Can It Be Stopped?
High Risk Behaviors Leading to High HIV/AIDS Prevalence Ignorance about the extent of male-male sex results in a relative lack of MSM programming, which in turn leads to high levels of risk behaviors. In the past, HIV/AIDS prevention programming in Asia has often concentrated on heterosexual sex or injection drug users (IDUs).Therefore, many men see sex with women as being an HIV/AIDS risk and male-male sex as a safer option. MSM often show much higher condom use when having sex with women than with men.
The prevalence of consistent condom use among MSM is as low as 12%, and up to half of all MSM in some regions have never used a condom.Yet a majority of these men believe that they are at low risk. In several countries less than 20% have been tested for HIV.
Finally, up to half or more of these MSM also have sex with women—the result of a combination of situational sex and the social pressure to marry—and can thus serve as a bridge population for HIV/AIDS infection. The unsurprising outcome of a situation characterized by lack of programming, lack of knowledge, and high prevalence of unsafe sex is rising rates of HIV infection. Even in countries with low overall HIV/AIDS prevalence, cases among MSM contribute disproportionately to the total.
Other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are both a marker of unsafe sex and a contributing factor to the transmission of HIV. In some areas more than half of all MSM have an STI. Few doctors in the region have the knowledge or cultural sensitivity needed to diagnose the many cases of rectal STIs.
To read the full 85-page report, go to:
New Online Library Documents LGBT Human Rights Abuses Worldwide
New Online Documentation of Human Rights Abuses Against Gay, Lesbian and HIV+ People Now Available to Help Those Seeking Political Asylum
(New York City)
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) announced today the launch of a new online library that will provide support to worldwide claims for political asylum made by people who fear persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV/AIDS status.
The online library documents human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people living with HIV/AIDS in countries around the world. It is the most complete documentation resource of its kind in the world. The information now available online will enable asylum seekers or their legal advocates to quickly provide immigration authorities with proof of human rights abuses in their country of origin.
Working in partnership with asylumlaw.org, IGLHRC’s Asylum Documentation Program (ADP) has made its vast store of documentation available free and online to meet the urgent needs of thousands of asylum seekers and their attorneys. The instructions on how to use on our online library is available by going to http://www.iglhrc.org/site/iglhrc/content.php?type=1&id=138.
This country condition documentation library is organized by individual “country packets.” There are 144 different country packets that chart for each country various types of documentation, which may include court decisions, human rights declarations related to sexual minorities, as well as expert opinions, newspaper articles, and reports on human right conditions for LGBT and HIV-positive people.
“We get nearly 40 requests a week from people who call and need information to support their claims,” said Dusty Aráujo, Asylum Documentation Program Coordinator at IGLHRC. “By having our country packets online, it will be easier and more efficient to get the documentation out quickly to asylum seekers. When people are forced to flee a country, they take very little with them and usually not the information that shows how or why they were persecuted. The documentation we provide can clarify or confirm why they’re seeking asylum and the country packet can become evidence in their cases. While a person’s story can be compelling, often it is documents that prove a case.”
A former asylum seeker, Rafael Dominguez, shared his experience with IGLHRC, saying:
Applying for asylum is a very scary, painful, and emotional process. I had such a relief when I came across the Asylum Documentation Program at IGLHRC: it changed my outlook and the possibilities of success on my asylum claim. It was not enough having my story of why I was applying for asylum; I needed to provide reliable information about how the LGBT community in Mexico is being discriminated against. For one person to engage in that kind of research can be impossible: the window time to prepare and submit the documentation to the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] is very short…. Thanks to IGLHRC I was able to corroborate my claims and build a strong case for my asylum claim. In other circumstances, I would not have had the same success. I was granted asylum a year ago.
IGLHRC’s country conditions library began in 1990 and has assisted over 6,600 people worldwide. ADP’s information is critical not only to asylum seekers and their legal representatives, but also to researchers, academics, and journalists investigating persecution of LGBT people and those living with HIV/AIDS around the world.
Every day in countries throughout the world, the fundamental rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people living with HIV/AIDS are violated. These abuses include: murder, incarceration, forced psychiatric "treatment," torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, denial of the freedoms of association, self-expression, press and movement, denial of the right to seek refuge/asylum, immigration restrictions, forced marriage, the revocation of parental rights and numerous other forms of discrimination.
In addition to the country packets, the Asylum Documentation Program’s online library offers three thematic packets that may compliment a particular case on different topics.
Thematic Packets include:
Islamic World Country Packet: This packet illustrates the difficult juncture between Islam and homosexuality and the impact it may have on LGBT people and those living with HIV/AIDS in different countries.
Lesbian Issues Packet: This packet was created to further support the asylum claims of lesbians, who because they are women, may face other types of issues not shared with homosexual men.
Transgender Issues Packet: This packet has been put together to assist immigration attorneys and asylum seekers in front of an immigration judge or immigration authority who may be unfamiliar with transgender issues.
“We are tremendously excited about the new IGLHRC project,” said David Berten, president of asylumlaw.org, a non-profit dedicated to using the Internet to help lawyers and other accredited representatives worldwide prepare the best asylum cases they can. “IGLHRC’s Asylum Documentation Program has one of the most extensive collection of documents in the world relating to the persecution of sexual minorities. The ready availability of these documents on the Internet will help thousands of asylum seekers and their attorneys today and for years to come.”
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is the only human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or murder because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists on the ground in countries around the world, by monitoring and documenting abuses, by engaging offending governments, and by educating international human rights officials. A US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in San Francisco and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org.
Global warming to gay rights…The worldwide trend of recognizing same-sex marriage will likely continue.
December 4, 2006
by Paula L. Ettelbrick
While state after state in the U.S. closes its doors to the prospect of same-sex marriage, lesbian and gay relationships have been gaining acceptance in the rest of the world. Last month, South Africa joined the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Spain in opening civil marriage to same-sex couples, allowing them equal economic benefits, legal rights and social status as families. The law, passed by an astounding 230-41 margin in Parliament, was in response to an equally notable unanimous decision last year by the South African Constitutional Court. It ruled that the post-apartheid constitution ensures the dignity and equality of all people — and that includes lesbian and gay couples wishing to affirm their love and commitment through civil marriage.
Days afterward, when faced with five Israeli lesbian and gay couples who had married in Canada, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the government is required to officially register them as they would any other foreign marriage. In the U.S., only Massachusetts has enacted full marriage for same-sex couples. Vermont, Connecticut and California have elected to use the less inflammatory terms civil union" or "domestic partnership," and New Jersey is still hashing out its terminology. The majority of the states have laws or constitutional amendments restricting "marriage" to one woman and one man.
Denmark in 1989 became the first nation to legally recognize same-sex relationships, and Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland swiftly followed that lead. Much of Europe, including France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary, now recognizes same-sex partnerships for a range of purposes, including inheritance, property and social-benefits rights. Countries in formerly communist blocs — the Czech Republic and Slovenia — recognize partnerships, and Croatia has extended some economic benefits to same-sex couples.
In September, the Senate in Uruguay voted 25 to 2 to pass a broad partnership law, positioning that country to be the first Latin American nation to extend legal rights when it is passed by the full legislature. New Zealand’s and Australia’s domestic partnership laws allow some of the most important benefits, such as immigration, inheritance and property rights. The government in Taiwan suggested a bill allowing same-sex marriage, though nothing has yet come of it. In Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Switzerland, some economic and legal rights have been extended by city and regional authorities. Just last month, Mexico City broke ground as the first government entity in that country to recognize same-sex civil unions.
These developments clearly mean that the number of same-sex couples whose relationships are legally valid is on the rise. By the end of the decade, it is possible that hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples will have entered legal marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. When Britain’s domestic partnership registration law went into effect last December, government ministers predicted that between 11,000 and 22,000 couples would benefit from the law by 2010. More than 6,500 same-sex couples registered just in the first year.
About 12,000 Canadian, 7,000 Dutch, 2,500 Belgian and 1,300 Spanish same-sex couples are already married. These unions are already having ripple effects around the globe. In Ireland, a lesbian couple is asking the government to recognize their Canadian marriage. A court in the Caribbean country of Aruba ruled that the Dutch marriage of a lesbian couple must be registered in Aruba, which is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands.
How this trend will play out in countries that have not yet recognized same-sex relationships is still up in the air. Will the United States, for instance, accommodate a major corporation’s desire to have one of its top executives from Canada move here with her legal spouse? Or a domestic-partnered diplomat from New Zealand? Or an American lucky enough to find the man of his dreams while working in South Africa? Will Sir Elton John’s highly publicized civil union with longtime partner David Furnish be recognized by a hospital emergency room in Las Vegas or St. Louis or Salt Lake City should one of them fall ill on a concert tour?
To Be Sure, the backlash prompted by increased gay and lesbian visibility, whether through marriage or other demands for equality, has been fierce. South Africa’s decision has drawn angry responses from religious and community leaders. Angry crowds in Moscow last May jeered a few dozen lesbian and gay marchers and demanded that Russia be cleansed of the evils of homosexuality. Likewise, an international gay pride event in Jerusalem had to be held in a stadium — instead of as a parade — because of threats and lobbying from ultra-Orthodox Jews and some Muslim and Christian groups.
Gay communities haven’t even raised the issue of marriage in Latvia, Uganda and Honduras — where police violence and state discrimination are still standard practice. Yet the governments of those countries have gone out of their way to promote anti-gay hostility by outlawing same-sex marriage. In Nigeria, a bill awaiting legislative action would impose criminal penalties for engaging in or performing a marriage ceremony for two men or two women.
In the United States, President Bush has consistently pushed the radical measure of amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, as has Australia’s prime minister, John Howard. Despite the backlash, one fact is self-evident. The trend toward recognizing the dignity and love of two people of the same sex will not disappear. As barriers to same-sex couples fall, courts, legislatures, religious denominations and businesses everywhere will need to respond.
As Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero proclaimed when his newly elected reform government approved same-sex marriage in 2005: "We are not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality."
Paula L. Ettelbrick is the executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
December 12, 2006
Historic recognition of LGBT organisations at the United Nations: one of ILGA’s regions and two of its members granted consultative status
Yesterday, 11 December 2006, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted consultative status to three gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organisations: to ILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, to the Danish and German national lesbian and gay association, LBL and LSVD. Consultative status granted by the ECOSOC allows NGOs to enter the United Nations, participate in its work and speak in their own name. No other LGBT group till this day enjoyed this right, apart from COAL, the Coalition of Activist Lesbians, a group based in Australia.
“State homophobia has been hit and will not remain unchallenged anymore,” says Rosanna Flamer Caldera, Co-Secretary General of the International Lesbian and Gay Association. “It is a very special moment for the LGBT movement: this historic decision follows the statement made by Norway at the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of 54 countries, pushing that forum to address sexual orientation and gender identity.
ILGA, a federation of 550 LGBT groups around the world, has been working for a number of years to have sexual orientation and gender identity come out at the United Nations. The first speech at the UN on LGBT rights was given in its name in 1992. In 2006, ILGA held its world conference in Geneva, European headquarters of the United Nations and organised four panels on LGBT issues at the second session of the Human Rights Council.
ILGA also initiated a campaign to have an increasing number of LGBT groups apply for ECOSOC status. In a clear demonstration of uneasiness and an attempt to avoid any debate on the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity, countries sitting at the ECOSOC postponed the debate, using procedural manoeuvres from one meeting to another. “This last meeting of the ECOSOC is the fourth this year where countries have had to discuss these applications from LGBT groups,” comments Rosanna Flamer-Caldera.
“Some states argue or fear we may be asking for special rights and use this as an alibi to block us from entering the UN,” she continues. “This is not a question of special rights. It is a basic question of equality and universality of human rights. We demand the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of who we are, as lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender persons. On the international level, this starts with the United Nations recognising the mere fact LGBT people exist, that they can organise as groups and, as such, participate in UN work and protest against the many human rights violations we still suffer from around the world”.
ILGA thanks the many NGOs which have supported this campaign – with special recognition to Arc International and ISHR, the International Service for Human Rights.
In 2007, applications from seven other LGBT groups will be considered by the ECOSOC.
Patricia Curzi & Stephen Barris
ILGA, International Lesbian and Gay Association
For more information:
Special report on this ECOSOC Campaign available at
Get involved! Make a donation to ILGA: http://ilga.org/donate.asp
Report on ILGA’s activities at the United Nations in 2006
The statement delivered by Norway this Friday December 1 is but a step, a glorious and historic one with the greatest government support ever, in a process started in 1992 with the first speech on gay rights ever given at the United Nations in the name of ILGA. An arduous process which fortunately and unexpectedly went through an acceleration in 2003 when Brazil presented the first resolution banning discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity.
ILGA, as the only worldwide federation of LGBT groups, has played its role in this process. Our efforts to have sexual orientation and gender identity come out at the United Nations grew in importance in 2006 and organised around three aspects:
– Gaining the right to speak in our own name at the United Nations: the ECOSOC campaign
– Maintaining an LGBT presence at the Human Rights Council: read the speeches given by actists at the UN in October 2006
– ILGA held its XXIII World Conference in Geneva, home of the UN Human Rights Council
READ OUR REPORT
Patricia Curzi & Stephen Barris
International Lesbian and Gay Association
18 December 2006
EU nations “sharply divided” over gay marriage
by Torsten Højer
Attitudes towards gay marriage are sharply divided depending on where in Europe you live, and survey has found. A EU funded Eurobarometer poll, which asks 30,000 people around Europe on a range of issues twice a year, found that European nations are split on whether gays should be allowed to marry. Attitudes also differ hugely depending on geographical location – with northern Europe coming out in support of gay rights but eastern European countries still against equality.
The Dutch are the biggest supporter of gay rights, with 82% backing same-sex marriage whereas less than 20 % supported the idea in several eastern and southern countries. Support is highest in northern European nations. Behind the Dutch, 71 percent of Swedes, 69 percent of Danes and 62 percent of Belgians back gay marraige. In contrast, only 11 percent of Romanians, 12 percent of Latvians and 14 percent of Cypriots agree. Overall, 44 percent of citizens in the 25-nation EU believe homosexual marriage should be allowed throughout the bloc, according to the poll.
December 28, 2006
The United Nations at the Fulcrum
by Doug Ireland
When future gay historians examine 2006, they may well conclude that this year marked the point at which the United Nations became the new battleground of struggle for the global LGBT movement. Several reasons stand out. In a historic breakthrough, in early November the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention condemned the detention of 11 men in Cameroon-whose only crime was having been caught in a raid on a semi-clandestine gay bar. The U.N. group said putting the men in prison constituted "an arbitrary deprivation of liberty" contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The 11 men had been arrested under Cameroon’s law criminalizing homosexuality and making it punishable by up to five years in prison. Their presence in the bar led to the presumption that they are gay.
One of the arrested men died in custody of complications from AIDS, his health having been aggravated by the inhumane, harsh conditions of his imprisonment. The U.N. decision marked the first time since 1994 that an official body of the world organization had condemned a member state for prosecuting homosexuality as a crime. In another victory, on December 11 three gay organizations were granted consultative status by the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)-the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians, the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, and the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).
The worldwide ILGA organization, as opposed to its European branch, once had ECOSOC status, for only one year from 1993 to 1994, but was stripped of it following a scandal orchestrated by the U.S. right wing in which a small number of ILGA’s member organizations around the world were accused of not taking a strong enough stance against pedophilia. Gay groups faced an uphill battle at the U.N. ever since. By allowing the three LGBT groups consultative status, ECOSOC overrode a January report of its Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, which had called on the Council to withhold status from the gay groups. The negative report had been instigated by Iran with the support of the Bush administration, which in January joined an "axis of evil" coalition of homophobic states, including Cameroon, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, to block the gay groups from joining the nearly 2,900 organizations which have ECOSOC consultative status.
These two encouraging developments gave added impetus to a new initiative hailed as "the next big thing" for the global LGBT movement-an initiative, launched in November, to put the U.N. on record in favor of the abrogation of the anti-gay laws in all 75 countries that still make homosexuality a crime. The worldwide petition campaign for such a declaration by the U.N. Human Rights Council was launched by the Paris-based International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), which in 2006-only its second year of existence-was observed on May 17 in more than 50 countries and endorsed by the European Parliament. The annual date of May 17 was chosen by IDAHO to mark the anniversary of the day in 1990 when the General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
The new IDAHO campaign was launched in Paris on November 20 with the support of ILGA and dozens of other international and country gay organizations, from Spain to Brazil, from Kenya and Senegal to Israel. The effort was also endorsed by a roster of V.I.P.s that included five Nobel Prize-winners, 11 Pulitzer Prize-winners, and six Academy Award-winners. Among the celebrity endorsers of the campaign are Desmond Tutu, David Bowie, Meryl Streep, Tony Kushner, Mike Nichols, Bernardo Bertolucci, Salman Rushdie, Gore Vidal, Tom Stoppard, and two former French prime ministers.
The IDAHO petition-entitled "For the Universal Decriminalization of Homosexuality" and based essentially on the articles of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights-says, in part, "We ask the United Nations to request a universal abolition of the so-called ‘crime of homosexuality,’ of all ‘sodomy laws,’ and laws against so-called ‘unnatural acts’ in all the countries where they still exist." The brilliance of this long-overdue idea is multi-fold. First, it provides a vivid way of highlighting the continued oppression of LGBT people around the world and the vital need for international gay solidarity. Second, it gives people in many countries a common goal around which to organize. Third, when the resolution is passed, it will serve notice on repressive nations that, as IDAHO’s founder, Professor Louis-Georges Tin of France-who also conceived the idea of the U.N. decriminalization effort-put it, "gays and lesbians around the world cannot wait any longer for their love to cease being made a crime. Many are in jail, or at risk of being jailed. Some are being killed. This has to stop now."
If you wish to join the IDAHO campaign, visit the group’s Web site at http://www.idahomophobia.org.
Gays, lesbians, and the transgendered here in the U.S. need to pressure our national institutions, like the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, to make this campaign for universal decriminalization of homosexuality a part of their agenda and to agitate for it. Unfortunately, 2006 was also the year of the dog that didn’t bark as these U.S. LGBT institutions continued to be largely silent on the oppression of gays and lesbians around the world.
This reporter’s work in the pages of this newspaper has regularly examined, in depth, the horrors that have befallen homosexuals in countries less free than the U.S., as well as their brave struggles that demand our support. We have reported-to name just a few examples-on the fight by a fledgling LGBT group in Indonesia to repeal 54 regional laws in the country’s provinces that penalize and criminalize homosexuality; on the dictatorial Belarus government’s anti-gay crackdown that forced cancellation of the country’s first public gay conference; on stepped-up police raids and arrests of lesbians and gays in Peru prior to local elections there; on the serial murders and lynching of gays in Jamaica, one of the globe’s most homophobic countries; on anti-gay witch-hunts in Ghana and Uganda; on the police and fascist assaults that broke up attempts to hold Gay Pride celebrations in Moscow, Estonia, and Latvia; on the theocratic death squads systematically murdering gays in Iraq, to the utter indifference of the country’s U.S. occupiers; and, of course, on the continuing lethal persecution of gays in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death.
If you doubt the desperate need for more international solidarity on the part of U.S. gays, listen to the voice of Mani, a 24-year-old underground gay activist in Iran this reporter interviewed in July-his words could speak just as well for all the LGBT people in the other 74 countries where homosexuality is still a crime: "You who live serenely and comfortably on the other side of Iran’s frontiers," Mani told Gay City News, "be aware that those who think and feel and love like you do in Iran are executed for the crime of homosexuality, are assassinated, kidnapped, and barred from working in offices. You have festivals, and they prisons. You select Mr. Gay of the Year, but they don’t even enjoy the right to have gravestones. Be fair and tell us what difference there is between us and you. Isn’t it time that all homosexuals around the world rise up and come to our defense? Listen to this poem by Sa’adi [the classic Persian 13th century poet who celebrated same-sex love’]:
All human beings are different parts of the same body, who
Have inherited the same essence in creation ?
No part will rest in peace
If one is suffering pain ?
You will not deserve the name of human
If you are indifferent to others’ pains ?
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at http://direland.typepad.com/direland/