Ethiopia LGBT activists to support Ugandans against anti-gay bill

Crisis in Tahrir from BIKYAMASR

ADDIS ABABA: A group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in Ethiopia are organizing themselves for what they hope will be action to show solidarity with the gay community in Uganda after their parliament promised to push through an anti-homosexuality bill to further criminalize the gay population.

“We will make certain that they know we are thinking about them and their struggle and make an effort to help however we can,” 24-year-old university student Amina told Bikyamasr.com on Saturday.

She and her fellow independent LGBT activists believe that what is happening in Uganda is a threat to all Africans’, gay or straight, and their freedoms.

“We know that this is the beginning of real attacks on all people and our freedom to live our lives as God created us,” said the lesbian activist.

They are not affiliated with any group, but still hope they can bring the community together in order to advance a better understanding of the LGBT community in Ethiopia, adding that there is too much antagonism between people over being gay.

“It really confuses me how angry people are when they learn I am a lesbian and have a girlfriend. It doesn’t make sense, but we have to help where we can to change people’s attitudes,” she added.

International human rights groups and leaders are calling for the immediate rejection of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill, which has been described as a “Christmas gift” to the country by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said.

Kadaga also said the new legislation that outlaws homosexuality and criminalizes the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, “would pass by the year’s end.”

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said in a statement that it is “extremely concerned by the speeding up of the voting process” and has called on Uganda to end the crackdown on the LGBT community.

The bill is aimed at putting into the national penal code provisions that would continue to criminalize the “offense of homosexuality.”

It was first introduced before Ugandan Parliament in October 2009. At the time, strong mobilization of civil society organizations as well as international governments and institutions enabled to halt the debate and set the bill aside for more than two years.

However, in February this year, it was reintroduced before the Ugandan Parliament in its original version. “With Ms. Kadaga’s recent declarations, the threat of its quick adoption is weighing more than ever over all Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people as well as on human rights organizations, and in particular those working for the protection of LGBTI persons’ rights,” FIDH said in their statement condemning the move.

“If adopted by the Ugandan Parliament, this bill will not only further entrench discrimination and inequality before law, but it will also be a sword of Damocles more dangling over all Ugandan LGBTI citizens’ head as well as over their relatives, friends and more generally those defending their rights. It has to be rejected unconditionally,” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

Desmond Tutu has also voiced concerns over the legislation, this week calling on the government to end its crackdown on human rights and dismiss the bill immediately.

FIDH has been strong in its continued attacks over the bill.

“Although lack of transparency surrounds the bill’s current content, information gathered by FIDH clearly suggest that no substantial changes have been made to the 2009 text. In the original version, the Bill contained a series of severe provisions.

The one which remains of utmost concern is that providing death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, in case of “same sex sexual acts” with someone under 18 or with “a person with disability”, of repeated conviction, or if the “offender is a person living with HIV”. Besides, this bill is putting at high risk civil society activists as well as doctors working with LGBTI persons on HIV and in the field of sexual health, and even parents and teachers, as complicity with or failing to “report” those who are, or believed to be LGBTI are severely sanctioned. This Bill further shocks by its extraterritorial jurisdiction provision making any Ugandan citizen living abroad likely to be charged and extradited,” it said.

“This bill and the debate surrounding its reintroduction before Parliament are symptomatic of the more general hindrances to civil and political rights prevailing in Uganda. In a State of Law, authorities are expected to guarantee and protect the rights of citizens, not to persecute and discriminate them. If passed, this bill will seriously jeopardize fundamental freedoms and represent a setback for our country,” denounced Sidiki Kaba, FIDH Honorary President.

BM

Foreign aid for African countries with anti-gay rights records to be slashed, pledges David Cameron

By DANIEL MARTIN of the Daily Mail

David Cameron has pledged to slash aid to African countries with poor records on homosexual rights.

The Prime Minister will tell struggling nations they will receive funding ‘fines’ if persecution of gays continues.

The Government has already cut aid to Malawi by £19million after two gay men were sentenced to 14 years hard labour. The southern African nation also plans to bring in tough anti-lesbian laws.

Malawi has received £200million from Britain over the past three years.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell could also reduce aid to Uganda and Ghana unless they drop laws against gays.

Uganda, which is due to receive £70million in 2011, plans to punish homosexuality with the death penalty

The president of Ghana, which gets £36million a year, has promised to bring in measures to ‘check the menace of homosexuality’.

However, no mention has been made of cutting aid to Zimbabwe, which got £69million last year. Gays there still face persecution from security forces.

Jailed: Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were convicted of unnatural acts and gross indecency, and sentenced to 14 years hard labour

Jailed: Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were convicted of unnatural acts and gross indecency, and sentenced to 14 years hard labour

In May, Malawi’s first openly gay couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were jailed for 14 years. They had been arrested after holding an engagement ceremony in December.

Just days ago, Mr Cameron told the Conservative Party conference that it was right to legalise gay marriage.

A spokesman for Mr Mitchell said: ‘The Government is committed to combating violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all circumstances, in this country and abroad. We take action where we have concerns.

‘We only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty and respect human rights.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2047254/David-Cameron-Foreign-aid-cut-anti-gay-countries.html#ixzz1aO4ZCu2E

ENDS

My two cents

But what will that do though in the long run if most states and including Jamaica outside of the region mentioned in the article have a strong beliefs or perception that homosexuality is an import and that actions such as this are forcing the hand of countries with “christian principles” and “high moral values” to capitulate to the powerful gay lobby from first world nations yet The Prime Minister David Cameron is not gay but could be viewed as a puppet in the scheme of this with the pressure coming and positions from the European Union side of things and other bodies such as the United Nations on sexual orientation.

Is forcing countries to comply the way to go?

Or hitting them economically?

I don’t think so, certainly other diplomatic methods can be employed but what about the notion that anti gay forces in the United States are in effect exporting homophobia and funding anti gay and religious fanaticism especially in parts of Africa in recent times. What does Mr. Cameron et al have to say or do about that?, these powerful backers behind such moves are said to be numerous and are some of the biggest companies and individuals allegedly. Will the UK also criticize those backers and demand they stop this kind of clandestine support or be made to stop? Can or will the UK Prime Minister stand up to the police man of the world and call it for what it is? Are we going to solve the issue of tolerance this way folks? I don’t think so, the hitting of the economic prosperity of these non compliant states as it were may only serve to bring more harm to the voices and populations on the ground who are made to pay the price as involuntary martyrs for this kind of pressure.

While I can understand the need for rights and recognition to be extended to the common man this incessant push to seemingly impose it on the rest of the problematic states is unjustified for now, I say more dialogue bearing in mind also other countries who may have similar anti gay positions and laws with dire societal consequences are watching this and may feel justified in tacitly supporting homophobic acts even more so whilst becoming hardlined on budging from their no ease on buggery positions. We saw the recent comments but the Antiguan and Barbudan Attorney General on the law there on the strength of a legal challenge mounted by a group in Belize named UNIBAM

This debate has no end soon so let us see.

Peace and tolerance

H

Proposal to decriminalise homosexuality in Zimbabwe

Source: 

BY JENNIFER DUBE

 

A consultant hired by the National Aids Council (NAC) to review Zimbabwe’s response to the Aids pandemic has recommended a review of the Sexual Offences Act to deal with “homosexuality and prostitution in a pragmatic way.”
The law in its present form criminalises homosexuality and prostitution.
Zimbabwe, which is predominantly Christian, also considers both practices alien.
But the study carried out by the consultant who cannot be named for professional reasons encourages Zimbabweans to be open-minded about homosexuality and other sexual practices if the pandemic, killing thousands of people every week, is to be brought under control.
The same document calls for the review of the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council Act so that “contraceptives should be made available in schools,…stipulates placing condoms in hotels, night clubs and beer halls.”
The recommendation on condoms in schools, first reported in The Standard, has sparked a fierce debate but it is likely to be paled by the suggestion that the country must have a relook at its anti-sodomy laws.
Men having sex with other men (MSM) have been singled out along commercial sex workers as some of the most vulnerable groups in HIV transmission in Zimbabwe.
A recent study on the modes of HIV transmission in the country indicated that MSM accounted for 4% of new infections and 0,4% for female partners of MSM.
Commercial sex workers account for 1,4% of new infections.
The Zimbabwe National HIV and Aids Strategic Plan (ZNASP) also calls for “a review and update of the national regulatory framework to reflect the latest developments in the HIV situation and response to the epidemic.”
NAC said the consultant was hired to review all the Acts, declarations and protocols that deal with the fight against HIV and Aids.
The council says it is not actively advocating for the recommendations, such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality, but would encourage debate around the issues.
Tapuwa Magure, the NAC CEO said the organisation was yet to consider the recommendations and come up of with a position, especially on the controversial issues such as placing condoms in schools and homosexuality.
“We hired a consultant who made those recommendations but we have not yet sat down to go through them as an organisation so we currently do not have a position regarding them,” he said.
“We however believe that all populations, be it the disabled or prisoners, should have access to interventions and as a country, we are doing well in this regard.
“It was a bit premature to present those recommendations to the media but we will be having a position in due course.”
The country’s HIV prevalence rate in adults currently stands at 13,1% and is considered to be among the highest in the world.
President Robert Mugabe once labelled homosexuals as worse than dogs and pigs.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also angered civic groups last year when he strongly spoke against homosexuality.
Zimbabwe has also resisted calls to provide prisoners with condoms despite widespread reports that inmates engage in sexual activities. South Africa is the only African country that has decriminalised homosexuality.

 

‘Gays forced underground’

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) said the criminalisation of homosexuality and the prevailing homophobic climate was driving most gay people underground.
“Service providers such as doctors and nurses also tend to develop negative attitudes when dealing with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gendered) people as a result of lack of information,” GALZ said.
“In terms of HIV prevention this is serious, particularly as GALZ is the only organisation in Zimbabwe providing services specifically to the lesbian and gay community; and very few other HIV/Aids organisations even consider MSM/ women having sex with women (WSW) in their intervention work.”
Zimbabwe has no data for sexual minorities, but studies done in Botswana and Malawi among other regional countries estimate that HIV prevalence among MSM is between 20% to 33%.
The studies also concluded that the risk of men acquiring HIV during unprotected receptive anal sex is 10 times higher than during insensitive anal sex or unprotected vaginal sex with a woman.
GALZ said while HIV/Aids issues were being “heterosexualised” in Zimbabwe, minority groups were even more at risk of contracting HIV through anal sex and some MSM had female partners thus, expanding the HIV network.

“The right to health should be accorded to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender, sex or creed,” GALZ said in response to the recommendations by the NAC consultant.
“Decriminalising consensual same sex practise will reduce fear, stigma and discrimination as it has to be accompanied by education, trainings and sensitisation of all stakeholders including the police.
“Availability of information and proper protective barrier methods for MSM will go a long way in preventing further new infections among MSM who do contribute to the generalised epidemic in Zimbabwe (and) reduction of sexual networks or multiple concurrent relationships among these groups through education and empowerment without fear or persecution (can help).”