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.
May 15, 2010 – Stephen Barris
ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association has published the 4rth edition of its report and maps on State Sponsored Homophobia based on research by Daniel Ottosson.
One sixth of the LGBTI world population is freer this year thanks to India. But 76 countries around the world still consider homosexuality illegal, five of them punish homosexual acts with death. ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association has published the 4rth edition of its report and maps on State Sponsored Homophobia based on research by Daniel Ottosson. The report is a collection of legislation criminalizing consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex in private over the age of consent. In addition to a world map, this year, ILGA also proposes maps on laws affecting gays and lesbians in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Gloria Careaga, co-secretary general of ILGA said:
“Compared to last year’s report, where we listed the 77 countries prosecuting people on ground of their sexual orientation, this year you will find “only” 76 in the same list, including the infamous 5 which put people to death for their sexual orientation: Iran, Mauritania, Sauda Arabia, Sudan and Yemen (plus some parts of Nigeria and Somalia). One country less compared to the 2009 list may seem little progress, until one realizes that it hosts one sixth of the human population, as the country in question is India.“
Renato Sabbadini, Co-secretary general of ILGA said:
“Naming and shaming homophobic countries is essential but it is also important to recognize countries where progress is being made. For this year we are happy to see the Federal District of Mexico City and Argentina joining the community of states and local authorities recognizing equal marriage rights to same-sex couples – an example of genuine inclusiveness, which will set the standard for many to follow”.
With this report, ILGA, a world-wide network of national and local groups, with more than 700 member organizations from every continent and representing 110 countries, dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people, wants to name and shame the States which at the end of the first decade of the 21st century still treat their LGBTI citizens like lesser persons, unworthy of consideration. The unworthiness rests entirely on these States, for theirs is the shame of depriving a significant number of their citizens of dignity, respect and the enjoyment of equal rights.
(Laws relating to such acts in public, with under aged persons, by force or by any other reason are not included in the report. Nor does it include countries where such acts are legal.)
ILGA is the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
It is a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people everywhere. Founded in 1978, it now has more than 700 member organizations. Every continent and approximately 110 countries are represented. ILGA is to this day the only international non-governmental community-based association focused on fighting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity as a global issue.
For more information on State Sponsored Homophobia and legislation affecting LGBTI people, ILGA’s activities around the world and at the United Nations please contact: Stephen Barris / ILGA: 00 32 2 502 24 71
June 7th, 2010 – Behind The Mask
Countries Try To Ban Gay Rights NGO From UN
On Friday, Reuters reported that a number of countries in the United Nations have tried to block the IGLHRC’s status as an accredited organisation at the UN. The countries – including Egypt, Sudan, Qatar, Pakistan, China, Russia, Angola and Burundi – are members of a committee in the UN who decide which non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can be accredited to the UN. Other countries on the committee who supported the NGO include the US, the UK, and Romania. Turkey abstained from the vote. (It’s not clear how the remaining committee members voted: Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, Guinea, India, Israel and Peru.)
The IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) was seeking accreditation to the important Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The vote has prevented the committee from making a decision on accepting the IGLHRC’s accreditation. Accreditation allows organisations to make representations to the UN on human rights issues within their expertise.
Reuters quoted the head of the IGLHRC:
“IGLHRC is disappointed by the vote of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to block action on our application,” Cary Alan Johnson, head of the New York-based group, said in a statement to Reuters. Johnson said it was “a clear case of discrimination against an organization because it defends the human rights of LGBT people around the world and promotes non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Radio Netherlands Worldwide has an audio interview with Johnson, here. The UN was was established as a result of World War II and its atrocities, including the atrocities perpetrated against minorities, the marginalised, and political dissedents, among others; and following the relatively short-lived League of Nations (itself set up following World War I). Eleanor Roosevelt played a crucial role in the formation of the UN, and was instrumental in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The records of those trying to halt the work of the IGLHRC on gay rights are pretty appalling. In Egypt, homosexual behaviour is not specifically criminalised. Since the beginning of this century, however, the authorities have used “Public Order & Public Morals” laws dating from the 1990s to persecute homosexuals. Famously, the authorities raided a boat party on the Nile in Cairo, charging 52 men with violating vaguely-worded laws, such as “violating the teachings of religion”, “propagating depraved ideas”, “contempt of religion” and “moral depravity.” Sudan jailed a woman, Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, in 2009 after she refused to pay a fine for wearing trousers.
Earlier in the same year, several women who were arrested with her were subjected to “lashes” for the same supposed crime. The laws in Sudan are based on Shari’ah. The penalty for homosexual behaviour is death. The death penalty is also applied in Qatar for same-sex relationships between both males and females. In Pakistan, homosexuality is outlawed under both colonial laws which remain in force, and under Islamic laws. Islamic law applies particularly in the tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan, which are effectively autonomous.
China appears to have a complicated relationship with homosexuality. There are no laws explicitly criminalising homosexual behaviour. Until now, however, gays and lesbians were barely tolerated. This vote appears to clarify matters on how Chinese officialdom views gay rights. Homosexual acts were decriminalised in Russia in 1993. There are no protections under law for LGBTs, however. The authorities in Russia – notably in Moscow – have in recent years cracked down, often violently, on attempts to hold Pride marches.
This year’s Pride march took place only due to the organisers releasing false details of the event. Homosexual acts are criminalised in Angola as “an offense against public morality”. The penalty for “repeat offenders” is to be sentenced to a labour camp. Earlier this year, Angola refused to accept the Ambassador for Israel, Isi Yanouka, due to the fact that he is a gay man. In 2008, Burundi criminalised homosexuality when the president, Pierre Nkurunziza, secretly signed the legislation into law. Those convicted face imprisonment of two to three years and a fine of 50,000 to 100,000 Burundian francs (42 to 84 US dollars). The Vatican and the Organisation of Islamic Countries hold observer status at the UN.
June 9, 2010 – Rev. Rowland Jide Macaulay
International Lesbian and Gay Association (European Region)
Statement by Rowland Jide Macaulay on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Human Rights
Presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva, 9th June 2010.
Mr. President, distinguished delegates,
My name is Rowland Jide Macaulay, I am an ordained reverend with the Metropolitan Community Church, founded in 1968. I grew up and studied both in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. I am a Clergy and Human Rights Activist, I have focused my career to support Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people who have been alienated by society, tradition, culture, religion and State government.
In 2006 I started in Nigeria the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church. This organisation is not a pressure or political group, our focus was based on religious equality of all persons against injustices. We are primarily a Christian group, supporting LGBTI people of all faith to reconcile Sexuality and Spirituality.
In February 2007, I presented a paper rejecting the attempts to introduce the Same Sex Prohibition Bill 2006, and have consistently spoken out against the injustice towards LGBTI people in Nigeria and through the rest of Africa.
By 2008, I became recognisable for my work and support for LGBTI rights. My life was endangered. I became a scapegoat of the Nigerian Media, which published many headlines, with my name, photographs and home address which threatened my safety and incited ordinary citizens to attack me and our members. My home was vandalised beyond recognition and looted of every valuable item. I faced daily harassment and verbal abuses from my neighbours and at random from people in the streets. I was subjected to hate and received numerous death threats, my family members in Nigeria and abroad also received death threats and malicious abuses.
On the 14th September 2008, after numerous and unethical media intrusion of our organisation and my work in Nigeria, I was forced into exile to the United Kingdom. Since arriving in the UK, the Nigerian media continued to write sensational stories, jeopardising any possibility of my returning safely to Nigeria. I continue to receive hate mail and death threats. My father who lives and works in Nigeria is continually harassed and receives homophobic abuses and insults.
In 2008 we were forced to close the physical presence of our church. More than 11 of our members were attacked, several were evicted from the homes, rejected by family members and some fired from their employment. We have been unable to continue the important work of reaching LGBTI people with other interventions including HIV prevention work. Many members of House Of Rainbow now seek asylum in Europe with little hope of being accepted as legitimate claimants. Many have been returned to face serious hostilily and danger which could cost lives.
Homosexuality in Africa has been blamed on Western European influence. Yet homosexuality has been present in the African culture throughout history, and without exception the laws criminalising homosexuality on our continent are foreign imports, brought by the injustice of colonialism.
The struggle against HIV/AIDS is also undermined by criminalization of same sex union. Former president of Botswana Festus Mogae and UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Elizabeth Mataka, have spoken out firmly and forcefully, against criminalization of homosexuality in Africa.
Mr President, we are deeply shocked and saddened by the killing of Floribert Chebeya, a few days ago, one of the most prominent and courageous Human Rights Activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We call on the Human Right Council to endorse the appeal for an immediate, credible, impartial and independent investigation into this killing. Speaking recently in Malawi, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called for an end to criminal laws against homosexuality. We commend the commitment of Mauritius during its UPR to decriminalise homosexuality, and the position of Rwanda that same-sex conduct will not be criminalised since it is essentially a private matter.
I urge States to return to the values of dignity and respect for all peoples, and to:
• urgently repeal discriminatory laws and legally reinforce security for LGBTI people and the full protection of human rights in the context of HIV/AIDS;
• address underlying prejudices and discrimination through education programs and community dialogue, to help create a more supportive environment for LGBTI persons;
• promote media training, explicitly designed to discourage attitudes of discrimination, incitement to violence and stigmatisation, especially in respect of HIV/AIDS.
I hope that this brief account gives a clearer understanding of the struggles we share in seeking respect for our rights, our dignity and our lives. Thank You.
23 June 2010 – Fridae
Gay and transgender struggle for acceptance in Indonesia
by News Editor
The BBC highlights the challenges faced by gays, bisexuals and transgenders in Indonesia as a growing number of radical Muslim groups are actively campaigning against them.
The BBC reported on June 19, 2010:
In the corner, instead of a urinal, there is a female toilet, hidden by a modest wall designed to discourage peeping toms. But among the women is a man – or certainly a person who looks like a man, judging by the way he is dressed and from his demeanour. Alter Hofan says he is a man, but doctors say he was born a woman. Alter is charged with falsifying his identity papers. He was reported to police by his mother-in-law, who says he changed his gender on his birth certificate in order to marry her daughter.
A few miles away from Alter’s Jakarta cell, Hartoyo is also fighting for his right to be accepted. A devout Muslim and a gay activist, he has suffered for his sexual orientation. Three years ago he was living with his boyfriend in Aceh, one of Indonesia’s most devoutly Islamic provinces, when a dozen people raided his house and turned the couple over to the police. Hartoyo thought the police would protect them. Instead, the police assaulted them. He cannot contain his emotion as he recalls what happened that night. "I get so angry when I remember what happened," he says. "The police urinated on my head and beat the two of us up. I am still traumatised by that experience."
Read full article here.
23 June 2010 – Fridae
United Nations: NGO Committee votes to block action on IGLHRC application for consultative status
by International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission
A bloc of anti-gay nations has blocked the NGO Committee from voting on whether to accredit the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) which had applied for "consultative status" at the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) three years ago.
On June 3, 2010, the UN Committee on Non Governmental Organizations (NGO Committee), which reviews applications from non governmental organizations for consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), voted to block any action in this session on the application of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), which was first submitted for consideration by the NGO Committee three years ago. The United States of America called for immediate action to be taken on the merits of IGLHRC’s application, stating that IGLHRC had responded to numerous rounds of questioning since it had first submitted its application in 2008.
In response, Egypt called for a motion of no-action on that vote, arguing wryly that IGLHRC’s answers to its questions were not sufficiently "straight." Representatives of Romania and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland spoke against the no-action motion, noting that a call for a vote on IGLHRC’s application after three years of consideration was not "hasty" or "sudden," and that further questions would be a stalling tactic by States pushing a political agenda. "The UK deeply regrets that the committee has to go through this motion and thus signalling that it does not recognise the work carried out by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission," stated the representative from the United Kingdom. "We regret that we cannot reach consensus on the application but we know from the past that their further responses will never satisfy certain delegations."
The no-action motion carried, preventing IGLHRC’s application from proceeding. Though no explanation for the votes was required, several states — including Romania, the United Kingdom, US, and Colombia — chose to make statements denouncing the results of the vote as discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, or as an abuse of procedure for discriminatory ends.
The United Kingdom stated that, "This act of simple discrimination runs contrary to the principles of the UN, of ECOSOC and of the NGO Committee. It serves to do nothing more than reinforce the view that this Committee can not be trusted to undertake properly the work with which it is tasked. Chair, My delegation will continue to argue for the full inclusion and involvement of NGOs representing the gay and lesbian community in the work of the UN. Simply put, it is their right."
The representative from Qatar conversely argued that it was "merciful" of the States to postpone action, rather than close the application outright. Many observer states, including Australia (representing Australia, Canada, and New Zealand), Chile, Switzerland, and Spain (representing the European Union), also denounced the results of the vote. Spain, on behalf of the European Union, stressed that discrimination in any form, including that based on sexual orientation and gender identity, ran counter to the spirit of general debate within the United Nations.
Votes on the no-action motion:
Colombia, Israel, Peru, Romania, United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America
Angola, Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Sudan
Absent/No Vote (1):
July 19, 2010 – PinkNews
US gay group gains UN accreditation
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has been granted consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council. The US-based gay rights body has been lobbying for accreditation since 2007 and becomes the tenth LGBT rights organisation to be recognised by the council. The 54-member council approved the group’s application for consultative status by a vote of 23-13 with 13 abstentions.
The decision means that the IGLHRC can participate in a more formal way with the UN through attending meetings, submitting statements and collaborating with the UN and world governments. Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC’s executive director, said: "Today’s decision is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have a place at the United Nations as part of a vital civil society community.
"The clear message here is that these voices should not be silenced and that human rights cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." The group has been struggling to gain accreditation for the last three years and believes it was subjected to homophobic questioning and procedural roadblocks because it is a gay organisation.
20 September 2010 – Fridae
UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges repeal of anti-gay law
by United Nations News
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on countries to abolish laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians during a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the 15th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council. Top United Nations officials today appealed to all countries that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity to reform such laws and to ensure the protection of basic human rights for all. “No doubt deeply-rooted cultural sensitivities can be aroused when we talk about sexual orientation. Social attitudes run deep and take time to change. But cultural considerations should not stand in the way of basic human rights,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
In a message to a panel discussion in Geneva on ending violence and criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which was delivered by UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, Mr. Ban noted that the responsibilities of the UN and the obligations of States are clear. “No one, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. No one should be prosecuted for their ideas or beliefs. No one should be punished for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
In May, during a visit to Malawi, the Secretary-General called for laws criminalizing people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity to be reformed worldwide. Such laws, he noted, fuel violence, help to legitimize homophobia and contribute to a climate of hate. While in Malawi, he had also lauded the “courageous” decision by the country’s leader to pardon a gay couple who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison, voicing hope that the African nation will update its laws to reflect international standards.
Ms. Pillay noted in her own remarks that, despite significant progress made in a number of States, there is still no region in the world today where people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender or intersex (LGBTI) can live entirely free from discrimination or from the threat of harassment and physical attack. “But in 78 countries, individuals still face criminal sanctions on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” she told the event, which was held on the sidelines of the 15th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council.
“We should be looking for ways to ensure that everyone enjoys the full protection of international human rights law, not for grounds to justify excluding certain individuals.” She said the first priority should be decriminalization worldwide, which should be accompanied by greater efforts to counter discrimination and homophobia, including both legislative and educational initiatives.
“If we are all entitled to the full range of human rights and to equal protection of the law then, I believe, it can never be acceptable to deprive certain individuals of their rights, indeed to impose criminal sanctions on those individuals, not because they have inflicted harm on others or pose a threat to the well-being of others, but simply for being who they are, for being born with a particular sexual orientation or gender identity. To do so is deliberately to exclude a whole lot of people from the protection of international human rights law. It is, in short, an affront to the very principles of human rights and non-discrimination,” she stated.
06 October 2010 – Eurobserver
Belgium keeping alive EU anti-discrimination bill
by Andrew Rettman
Brussels (Euobserver) – The Belgian EU presidency is keeping alive hopes that disabled, gay and old people will in the coming years have equal access to services in the Union’s single market. The bill – dubbed "the fourth anti-discrimination directive" – was originally put forward by the European Commission in 2008 but disappeared into the legal machinery of the EU Council and has stayed off the political agenda for the past two years.
Asked by EUobserver at a seminar by the German centre-right foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, in Brussels on Tuesday (5 October) if the law will ever see the light of day, EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding said there is no real progress because of German-led opposition. "One has to speak to every member state that is blocking the directive. This is first and foremost Germany, but there are lots of other countries hiding behind Germany as well. I am speaking regularly to German ministers. They tell me ‘nyet’ and that that’s it," she said, speaking in German, but using the Russian word for ‘No.’
EU diplomatic sources say that the eight-or-so countries "hiding" behind Berlin include the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania and Malta. Each of the five named countries have conservative governments. But the objections are not related to Christian mores on sexual orientation so much as based on fears about extra costs of installing disabled access to buildings and on "legal uncertainty." A ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2005 that German labour law failed to protect the rights of 56-year-old lawyer Werner Mangold in line with a previous EU law on non-discrimination in the workplace has raised fears that the draft bill on services will spawn additional court rulings along the same lines.
Given the problems, the Belgian EU presidency has limited its ambition on the new directive to submitting a progress report on work done so far to EU social affairs ministers in Brussels on 6 December. The Belgian team is keeping discussion on the troubled project alive in the meantime. On 21 September, it chaired a meeting of delegates from EU interior ministries on the subject of discrimination in the financial services.
The debate was based on a study by the German firm Civic Consulting, which looked at current practice in banks and insurance firms, focusing on Belgium, Germany, Sweden and the UK. With the exception of one bank and one insurer that had created products designed to comply with Islamic sharia law, companies surveyed by Civic Consulting said "almost universally" that race, religion and sexual orientation "play no part at all in their business." The EU meeting agreed that there are problems relating to age and disability, however.
"Just because you have one arm, it does not mean that your fire insurance should automatically cost more. The company should have to prove that your underlying medical condition increases the risk and there should be more transparency for the consumer," a contact present at the meeting said. The European Commission is also investing a lot of resources in protecting its original vision of the services anti-discrimintion law. "The commission comes to these meetings with a football team of legal advisers, each one responsible for a different aspect of the directive. This means the discussion stays at a very technical level rather than a political level," an EU official said.
Belgium has tabled two more working group meetings, on 19 and 21 October, to tackle the "most sensitive" part of the dossier: access to housing. The housing part of the bill covers issues such as whether hoteliers can deny renting a room to a gay couple. But the sensitivity of the area comes more from the potential cost of installing wheelchair access to all sorts of small establishments across Europe at a time of economic austerity.
Amid the risk that the draft directive will be buried still further, the NGO community is keenly interested in keeping discussion going. Prospects for the bill will feature at a discussion by Swedish and Dutch government officials at the annual conference of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) in The Hague on 28 October. Hungary is not one of the countries blocking the law. But when asked by this website if the directive will feature in the work programme of the upcoming Hungarian EU presidency, Budapest’s new ambassador to the EU, Peter Gyorkos, was unable to give a firm commitment. "It is too early to say," the diplomat said.
27 October 2010 – Fridae
How we can fight back against homophobia
by Navanethem Pillay
Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, says it’s time society spoke up against homophobia and hates crimes, and calls for homosexuality to be decriminalised.
The following was first published as an op-ed in The Washington Post on Oct 23, 2010. The writer is the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.
Seth Walsh walked into the garden of his family’s home in Tehachapi, Calif., last month and hanged himself. He was just 13. Before making the tragic decision to end his life, however, he had endured years of homophobic taunting and abuse from his peers at school and in his neighborhood. He is one of six teenage boys in the United States known to have committed suicide in September after suffering at the hands of homophobic bullies.
In the past few weeks there has been a spate of attacks directed against people perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. In New York on Oct. 3, three young men, believed to be gay, were kidnapped, taken to a vacant apartment in the Bronx and subjected to appalling torture and abuse. In Belgrade on Oct. 10, a group of protesters shouting abuse hurled Molotov cocktails and stun grenades into a peaceful gay pride parade, injuring 150 people. In South Africa on Sept. 25, a large-scale march in Soweto brought attention to the widespread rape of lesbians in the townships, assaults that perpetrators often try to justify as an attempt to "correct" the victims’ sexuality.
Homophobia, like racism and xenophobia, exists to varying degrees in all societies. Every day, in every country, individuals are persecuted, vilified or violently assaulted, even killed, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Covert or overt, homophobic violence causes enormous suffering that is often shrouded in silence and endured in isolation.
It is time we all spoke up. While responsibility for hate crimes rests with the perpetrators, we all share a duty to counter intolerance and prejudice and demand that attackers be held to account.
The first priority is to press for decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide. In more than 70 countries, individuals still face criminal sanctions on the basis of their sexual orientation. Such laws expose those concerned to the constant risk of arrest, detention and, in some cases, torture or even execution. They also perpetuate stigma and contribute to a climate of intolerance and violence.
But as important as decriminalization is, it is only a first step. We know from experience in those countries that have removed criminal sanctions that greater concerted efforts are needed to counter discrimination and homophobia, including legislative and educational initiatives. Here again, we all have roles to play, particularly those in positions of authority and influence, such as politicians, community leaders, teachers and journalists.
Sadly, those who should be exercising restraint or using their influence to promote tolerance too often do just the opposite, reinforcing popular prejudice. In Uganda, for example, where violence against people based on their sexual orientation is commonplace, and activists defending the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face harassment and the threat of arrest, a newspaper published a front-page story on Oct. 2 "outing" 100 Ugandans it identified as gay or lesbian and printed their photographs alongside the headline "Hang Them."
We must recognize such "journalism" for what it is: incitement to hatred and violence.
Political leaders and those who aspire to public office have a particularly important duty to use their words wisely. The candidate for public office who, rather than appealing for tolerance, makes casual remarks denigrating people on the basis of their sexuality may do so in the belief that he or she is indulging in harmless populism — but the effect is to legitimize homophobia.
Last month I spoke in Geneva as part of a panel discussion on decriminalizing homosexuality. The event was sponsored by a diverse group of 14 European, North American, South American and Asian countries. In a video message, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu lent his support and spoke with passion about the lessons of apartheid and the challenge of securing equal rights for all. "Whenever one group of human beings is treated as inferior to another, hatred and intolerance will triumph," he said. It should not take hundreds more deaths and beatings to convince us of this truth. It is up to all of us to demand equality for all our fellow human beings, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
November 7, 2010 – The Syndey Morning Herald
Gay travel emerges as an out and out success
Hotels can no longer afford to simply hang a rainbow flag if they want to attract the pink dollar. It’s a market now counted in the billions.
by Jane E. Fraser
Australia’s gay and lesbian travel market is worth a whopping $4 billion a year, according to a study to be published in London on Wednesday. The research provides new insight into what has always been considered a niche market but should clearly not be dismissed as a small one.
The results, revealed to The Sun-Herald ahead of the official release at the World Travel Market in London, show the median leisure travel spend for the Australian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) market was $1500 last year. Twelve per cent of respondents spent more than $10,000 on leisure travel last year. The wide-ranging 2010 global LGBT study was done by consultancy Out Now, spanning 23 countries and 10 languages. In Australia, where the international consultancy worked in collaboration with the Sydney Star Observer, Southern Star Melbourne and QNews, about 1500 people completed the detailed questionnaire.
The Australian-born founder and chief executive of Out Now, Ian Johnson, says there were surprises in the results, not least the high-spending figure. Johnson was also surprised to discover that the top two items bought online by the Australian LGBT community are airline tickets and hotel rooms. "That’s even ahead of people buying music online," he says. The study reveals that Britain tops the list of the most desired travel destination. Johnson says London is obviously a big attraction but many LGBT travellers also head to the seaside city of Brighton, which has a huge gay population, and the city of Manchester, which has a popular pink precinct. Johnson says that while Sydney has lost much of the character of its Oxford Street area, Manchester has made an effort to protect the character of its gay village.
Second on the list of desired destinations for Australian LGBT travellers is France, followed by the US. Johnson is surprised France bumped the US, because the latter’s big cities, particularly New York and San Francisco, have long been among the biggest drawcards for the LGBT market. Making up the remainder of the top 10 desired destinations are Canada, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece and Japan.
Johnson attributes the large number of European destinations to a more ready acceptance of LGBT lifestyles in European countries. Johnson says tourist boards are often quick to hang their shingle on "big gay events" such as the Mardi Gras and Pride festivals but the research shows these play a limited role in determining travel plans.
Of Australian respondents, 16 per cent said big events were very important in motivating them to travel, with almost as many saying they were not very important at all. "With the tourist boards we work with, we pull back from [focusing on gay events]," Johnson says. "We tell them to focus on their local assets rather than on those obvious events. The consumer can be gayed-out."
Johnson says it’s easy to assume that LGBT travellers will be looking for gay-specific attractions; however, this is often not the case. The No. 1 activity for Australian LGBT travellers is dining, followed by museums. Nightlife comes in third, followed by art galleries, local history and beaches. Johnson says the tourism industry needs to recognise LGBT travellers are no different to other travellers in that they just want to feel comfortable and welcome in their surrounds.
"These days, when it comes to pink dollars, suddenly everyone’s ‘gay-friendly’ and the consumer is highly wary of that," he says. "Businesses think they can bung on a rainbow flag, put ‘gay-friendly’ on their website and take the money. Unfortunately, the reality doesn’t always match the promise." Johnson says the most common issue LGBT travellers face is at hotel check-in, when their bedding arrangements are questioned or the attitude of a staff member suddenly changes.
Room service can also be an uncomfortable experience in hotels where staff are not accustomed to LBGT guests. "Well-trained staff make all the difference when it comes to letting the LGBT guest enjoy what other travellers take for granted," Johnson says. "LGBT travellers don’t want anything weird or different, they just want to relax and feel comfortable."
Gold Coast Tourism has become the first Australian organisation to adopt a new accreditation program for "gay welcoming" accommodation. Ten Gold Coast hotels have signed up to the GayComfort training program, aimed at ensuring hospitality staff are genuinely adept at dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender guests. Overseas, the program has been adopted by Europe’s largest tour operator, TUI, along with many other tourist boards. From early next year, LGBT travellers will be able to search a website for all GayComfort-accredited accommodation around the world.
November 2010 – ISHR
New tool for LGBTI activism launched
The International Service for Human Rights welcomes the launch of a new tool for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons) advocacy.This Activist Guide is a ttoolkit which provides an introduction to the Yogyakaa Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.Please Read more about it.
The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) welcomes the launch of a new tool for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons) advocacy, the Activist’s Guide to the Yogyakarta Principles, by ARC International (10 November 2010).
The new Activist’s Guide is a ttoolkit which provides an introduction to the Yogyakaa Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, and explores how they can enhance the work of LGBTI activists to promote equality on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It presents creative examples of how the Principles have already been used to make significant gains in terms of legal protection of the rights of LGBTI persons, and suggests strategies for further engagement.
The Yogyakarta Principles are a set of legal principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. They were developed in 2006 by a group of international human rights experts, in response to patterns of abuse directed towards people because of their sexual identity. ISHR, together with the International Commission of Jurists, was instrumental in the process of drafting the Principles.
Since their adoption, the Yogyakarta Principles have been widely used by human rights defenders in countries such as Brazil, South Africa, India, Poland, and the Netherlands to claim and defend human rights for LGBTI persons on the basis of the principles of universality and non-discrimination. The Yogyakarta Principles give international weight to such efforts through their solid grounding in international human rights law.
ISHR believes the new Activist’s Guide will be an excellent and very practical tool for human rights defenders seeking to better understand and use the Yogyakarta Principles to advance human rights protection.
ARC International is also marking the launch of a new website www.ypinaction.org where the Activist’s Guide can be downloaded free of charge. The website will also track the use of the Yogyakarta Principles and thus allow for sharing of experiences and achievements.
The Activist’s Guide to the Yogyakarta Principles is the result of collective effort by many groups and individuals.
International Service for Human Rights
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Geneva 20 CIC, GE 1211
November 17, 2010 – IGLHRC
Governments Remove Sexual Orientation from UN Resolution
(New York) – The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and ARC International are deeply disappointed with yesterday’s vote in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly to remove a reference to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The resolution urges States to protect the right to life of all people, including by calling on states to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. For the past 10 years, the resolution has included sexual orientation in the list of discriminatory grounds on which killings are often based.
The removed reference was originally contained in a non-exhaustive list in the resolution highlighting the many groups of people that are particularly targeted by killings – including persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, persons acting as human rights defenders (such as lawyers, journalists or demonstrators) as well as street children and members of indigenous communities. Mentioning sexual orientation as a basis on which people are targeted for killing highlights a situation in which particular vigilance is required in order for all people to be afforded equal protection. The amendment removing the reference to sexual orientation was sponsored by Benin on behalf of the African Group in the UN General Assembly and was adopted with 79 votes in favor, 70 against, 17 abstentions and 26 absent.
"This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development,” said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality."
This decision in the General Assembly flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that people are routinely killed around the world because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and renders these killings invisible or unimportant. The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has highlighted documented cases of extrajudicial killings on the grounds of sexual orientation including individuals facing the death penalty for consensual same-sex conduct; individuals tortured to death by State actors because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; paramilitary groups killing individuals because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation as part of “social cleansing” campaigns; individuals murdered by police officers with impunity because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; and States failing to investigate hate crimes and killings of persons because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
"It is a matter of great shame that the responsible Committee of the United Nations General Assembly failed in its responsibility to explicitly condemn well-documented killings based on sexual orientation," said John Fisher, Co-Director of ARC international. "The credibility of the United Nations requires protection of all persons from violations of their fundamental human rights, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. We thank those States which supported the inclusion of sexual orientation in the text, and will redouble our collective efforts to ensure that Member States of the United Nations maintain the standards they have sworn to uphold."
The amendment runs counter to other positive developments in UN and regional human rights systems where there is increased recognition of the need for protection from discrimination regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. At a September 2010 panel held in conjunction with a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unequivocally recognized "the particular vulnerability of individuals who face criminal sanctions, including imprisonment and in some cases the death penalty, on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Sixty-eight countries have also signed a joint statement in the UN General Assembly on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity which calls for an end to "human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity … in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground [and] extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions." IGLHRC and ARC International urge all States, regardless of their vote on this amendment, to sign the UNGA joint statement affirming support of the human rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity and to continue in efforts to decriminalize same-sex conduct and to end other discrimination, including violence, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The votes to amend the resolution were as follows:
In favor of the amendment to remove sexual orientation from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (79):
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Opposed to the amendment to remove sexual orientation from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (70):
Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Micronesia (FS), Monaco, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela
Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Fiji, Mauritius, Mongolia, Papau New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
Albania, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Marshall Island, Mauritania, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Sao Tome Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan
December 16, 2010 – RH Reality Check
Stigma and Violence Against Transgender Sex Workers
by Khartini Slamah and Sam Winter and Kemal Ordek
This article is part of a series published by RH Reality Check in partnership with the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) to commemorate the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, December 17th, 2010. It is excerpted from Research For Sex Work 12, published 17 December 2010 by the NSWP, an organization that upholds the voice of sex workers globally and connects regional networks advocating for the rights of female, male, and transgender sex workers. Download the full journal, with eight more articles about sex work and violence, for free at nswp.org. See all articles in this series here.
Andrea is in her early twenties. She comes from a poor family in the provinces of a Southeast Asian country. Unlike most women, she has a male birth certificate. She is a transgender woman.
Andrea has felt female as long as she can remember, and began living a female life as soon as she could. For this she was insulted by neighbours, teased by teachers and classmates at school, beaten up and raped by a bunch of young boys one night, and eventually beaten and disowned by her father. She dropped out of school, left home and migrated to the city, to stay with an older transwoman from her home town who, it turned out, was a transgender sex worker working the streets. Andrea didn’t much like the idea of sex work, but without education or connections was unable to get a job. Being ‘trans’ worked against her. No one wanted to employ her, even as a waitress or shop assistant. She turned to the ‘entertainment’ sector. Unable to get a job as a bar dancer or hostess, and barred from nightclubs and discos (all because she is trans), she too began to work on the streets. She has done it for five years, earning money for food and lodging, and a little extra for hormones and new silicon injections for her hips and breasts.
Andrea’s story is one of many thousands of transwomen worldwide (especially those like Andrea who are rural, less educated and socially isolated) who turn to sex work, not as the most attractive of a range of job options, but as the sole viable option for survival. Doubly stigmatised as transsexuals and as sex workers, pushed into street work, they become victims of abuse and violence perpetrated by bystanders, customers, their own ‘sisters,’ and (sadly) even by those who should be protecting them – the police.
As Andrea soon found out, competition on the streets is tough. There are too many trans sex workers and too few customers. Increasingly, her competitors are younger and more attractive. There have been fights over customers. Bystanders often abuse her verbally. Customers sometimes refuse to pay, angrily claiming they did not know she is trans. She has been beaten a few times. She knows others have been murdered. Nowadays, in order to avoid violence, she makes clear to every man who approaches her that she is transgender, even if that loses her customers.
December 17, 2010 – Feministing
“Their words are killing us”: Violent language of anti-sex work groups
Today marks the 7th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
To mark this important day, we’re featuring this guest post on the impact of violent language of anti-sex work groups by Calum Bennachie & Jan Marie. The article was excerpted from “Research for Sex Work 12”, a journal published this month. Both the journal and the website amplify the voices of sex worker-led organizations around the world that speak out about violence from police, institutions, clients, and intimate partners, while challenging the myth that sex work is inherently violence against women. You can download the full journal, with eight more articles about sex work and violence, for free here.
Written by Calum Bennachie & Jan Marie
When most people discuss violence against sex workers, they talk about the physical violence that they perceive sex workers are exposed to by clients, by authorities, and by others. However, violence takes many forms, and what is often omitted from discussions of violence against sex workers is the verbal violence of anti-sex work groups. The language they use reflects not merely a dislike of sex work, but a hatred of sex workers, especially those who act contrary to what Ronald Weitzer calls the ‘oppression paradigm’ these abolitionist groups have adopted. Their language has several severe consequences, one of which is that it actively encourages violence against sex workers.
Abolitionists often use a language of war, and their hatred towards sex workers, which does not show remorse, can almost be tasted. For example, it could be argued that their descriptions of sex workers’ vaginas are more women-hating than those in any mainstream pornography. Statements such as these make a major contribution to both popular and theoretical academic representations of sex work. They receive much attention and wide acceptance, which impacts on the lives of sex workers in relation to stigma, stereotypes, media representation, funding and implementation of interventions, and the construction of government policy. If everything they say is true, then obviously the sex industry is bad and all people who try to close it down are good. Within this belief system, it makes sense that those who support the industry should be punished and sex workers should be rescued out or punished for staying in.
This Is What They Say
The sex industry:
* Is ‘an institution of male violence and racial and economic privilege’ that objectifies and keeps women in their place to fulfill male desires.
* Is a ‘symptom’ of all that is wrong with masculinities.
* Forces and traffics sex workers, especially migrant sex workers.
* Is ‘rape that’s paid for’.
* Enjoy rape and domination and accept pain and humiliation to get rewards and avoid further abuse.
* Are predators who contribute to rape, battery, and violence against women and children.
* Are misled about the concept of having choice because they are victims of the system of male domination and individual males within that.
* Have permanent emotional scarring and other ongoing consequences such as changed appearance.
* Have vaginas that are receptacles to be masturbated into and are filthy with semen and lubricant.
December 20, 2010 – ForiegnPolicy.com
The Global Gay Rights Battlefields
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell might be finished in the United States but, in many countries, the fight for gay equality has far bigger challenges to overcome.
by Max Strasser
Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda, but a bill introduced to parliament last year would seriously up the ante. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill would legislate new criminal offenses and step up the punishment for existing ones. "Aggravated homosexuality," an offense that includes everything from statutory rape to being a "serial offender" of gay acts, for example, would become a crime punishable by death. Gay men who test positive for HIV could be executed as well. Human rights groups have condemned the legislation, which comes up for consideration in the Ugandan legislature early next year. But regardless of whether the law passes, anti-gay vigilantes aren’t relying on the government to do all the persecuting. A local tabloid published a list of known homosexuals earlier this year and called on readers to "hang them," NPR reported. Four of the men on the list were attacked shortly thereafter.
Among the many disturbing aspects of the homophobic tide sweeping Uganda is that many analysts believe it has its origins in the United States’ own culture wars. As conservative Christian missionaries have flocked to the East African country to evangelize, they’ve often brought with them strong views about homosexuality, which seem to have caught on. The bill’s sponsor is a member of "The Family," a Christian fundamentalist political and religious organization with ties to powerful members of the American evangelical movement.
In a country whose people are divided almost equally between Christian and Muslim faiths, all Nigerian religious leaders seem to come together around a single issue: the persecution of homosexuals. A sodomy conviction carries a 14-year prison sentence under federal law, and homosexuality is punishable by death in the 12 states that practice Islamic law. In the most dramatic example, 18 young men in the northern city of Bauchi were arrested for supposed cross-dressing in 2007, only to later be charged with sodomy — an offense that, in the Islamic courts of northern Nigeria, could have incurred execution by stoning. (Luckily, they were later released after international pressure was brought to bear.)
Despite the general agreement among faiths, it’s the Anglican Church that has been particularly outspoken against homosexuality in Nigeria. When the international Episcopal Church split over whether to allow openly gay men to serve as priests, it was Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola who conservatives turned to as a leading light for their splinter sect. As Akinola wrote, "homosexuality is flagrant disobedience to God, which enables people to pervert God’s ordained sexual expression with the opposite sex. In this way, homosexuals have missed the mark; they have shown themselves to be trespassers of God’s divine laws."
The Nigerian government is more than happy to defend these views, which remain widespread. In 2006, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations said in a statement to the U.N. Human Rights Council: "The notion that executions for offences such as homosexuality and lesbianism is excessive is judgmental rather than objective. What may be seen by some as disproportional penalty in such serious offences and odious conduct may be seen by others as appropriate and just punishment."
The Malaysian attitude toward homosexuality is perhaps best exemplified by the experience of Anwar Ibrahim, the country’s best-known opposition leader, who denies that he is gay. Nevertheless, his enemies in government saw the charge as one of the most potent ways to discredit him: Anwar was the deputy prime minister of Malaysia in 1998 when his political opponents accused him of the crime of practicing sodomy. He was fired, put on trial, and sentenced to nine years in prison. Although the charges were overturned in 2004, Anwar went back on trial in early 2010 on another charge of committing sodomy with a male aide.
The opposition leader claims that the charges are politically motivated, demonstrating just how far the ruling party is willing to go to stymie its opposition. But Malaysia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community takes away a different lesson: The moderate Islamic country is a dangerous place to be out.
Malaysia today boasts a morality police charged with arresting homosexuals. Being gay holds a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, and the government censorship board has banned films about lesbian and gay issues for being against Malaysian culture and Islam.
Still, things might be changing. An openly gay pastor founded the first pro-gay church in the country nearly three years ago, and has yet to be imprisoned, despite opposition from the government and other religious officials. It’s one step on a long road ahead.
21 December 2010 – IGLHRC
UN vote restores equal dignity for LGBTI rights: General Assembly overturns homophobic vote in the Third Committee last month
Brussels – The UN General Assembly reintroduced today the same reference to sexual orientation in the resolution on extra-judicial executions which was deleted by the Third committee one month ago thanks to the initiative of a group of Arab and African nations, led by Morocco and Mali, in a narrow vote (79-70). The reintroduction of the reference to sexual orientation was voted by 93 countries, including Argentina, Canada, the USA, the EU countries and several Southern countries like Timor Leste in Asia and Rwanda and South Africa. The whole resolution was in the end approved with 122 votes in favor, zero against and 59 abstentions…
"We are very happy for the outcome of this vote," said Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini, ILGA co-Secretaries General, "as it restores the original inclusive language of the resolution on extra-judicial executions and acknowledges that indeed many people around the world are killed every year because of their sexual orientation. We also know that many people are killed because of their gender identity or expression and we believe that the language of the resolution should refer to this as well – a proposal to be taken in consideration in the future by all UN Members which voted in favour of today’s amendment."
"In the meantime, however," continued the co-Secretaries General, "we want to celebrate the victory over the forces which tried to push the reference to sexual orientation into oblivion one month ago and still refuse, in theory and in practice, to acknowledge that human rights are truly for all, LGBTI people included."
"Today’s result," concluded Careaga and Sabbadini, "would have not been possible had it not been for the coordinated efforts of LGBTI activists everywhere – we would like to thank and congratulate them all, as well as the group of NGOs and ILGA Members which made this coordination possible: IGLHRC, Arc-International, Human Rights Watch and COC The Netherlands."
ILGA Press Officer
For commentary contact ILGA Co-Secretary General Renato Sabbadini
at +32 474857950 or +39 3356067158 or e-mail