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Peter Tatchell: The global struggle for queer freedom

By Peter Tatchell

Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2009

Delivered 13 October 2009 at Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln, UK.

It is a very great honour, and joy, to deliver the Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2009. Caroline was a friend and comrade. I remember her with much affection. She left us with a fine humanitarian legacy as a leading advocate of comprehensive education and better educational opportunities. She also lives on, in spirit, through her inspiring, passionate support for socialism, trade union rights, women’s equality and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) freedom. She was a true progressive, who dedicated her life, with much honour and nobility, to the upliftment of humanity. I am very proud to have known Caroline, and salute her life and work with this lecture.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have made great progress in Britain, especially in the last decade. But in large parts of the world, homophobic and transphobic oppression remains rife.

Take Jamaica, a country with which Britain has close ties. It is a parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth. It is not a police-state dictatorship. Yet male homosexuality is criminalised and punishable with up to 10 years hard labour. Homophobic discrimination and violence is endemic and the government refuses to take any serious action to protect LGBT Jamaicans.

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Call for Contributions: "Latin American and Caribbean Sexualities: Identities, Intersections and Social Movements"

The IRN is a project based at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies of the City University of New York and financed by the Ford Foundation. Through this call for contributions the IRN wants to gather insight into gay and lesbian organizational strengthening and movement building in Latin America that they intend to share with IRN members and researchers around the world. Objectives are to increase the availability of high quality research in the subject area coming from Latin America.

Deadline for submissions: December 31, 2009.

The competition promotes the work of emerging and established academics and researchers publishing and disseminating new research on gender and sexuality throughout the Latin American and Caribbean region. Researchers and academics in Latin-America and Diaspora countries are invited to submit a single, original and previously-unpublished essay of no more than 8000 words in English, Spanish or Portuguese.

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Women’s Peace Offensive In Asia

Analysis by Beena Sarwar

KABUL, Oct 18 (IPS) - ‘Give peace a chance’ may just be another cliché for many, but for women who have suffered the ravages of war, endless strife and other forms of conflict, joining hands to find meaningful solutions to their collective aspiration lends it a whole new meaning.

Within the South Asian region, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have for decades been torn by internal and external conflicts that have cried out for, but have not quite found, a lasting resolution.

"We waited for a long time to see what the men would do for peace," Zahira Khattak, a member the think-tank formed by Pakistan’s Awami National Party (ANP), told IPS.

For Khattak and scores of other women in this region, not only has peace proved elusive, they have also been left out of much of the peace efforts by their respective states.

"Why should this be so?" argued Khattak. "For 5,000 years women have been sitting in ‘jirgas’ (tribal councils), at least in Afghanistan.  We have ‘jirgas’ all over Pakistan’s tribal areas also, and we thought why not introduce this concept?"

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Laila Hijra Passes away

(via the bideshis)

We got the news that on Tuesday september 18th, Guru Laila Hijra passed away. 

Even though certain Hijra groups tend to clash, everybody could agree that they highly respected and admired Laila Hijra. Being one of the first Hijras in Bangladesh to speak out publicly  about their community’s  issues, Laila gained notoriety both on a nation and international level. She was one of the founding members and president until her death of ‘Shustha Jibon’; the first (and officially recognized by international ngos) Hijra community center of Bangladesh. 

Shustha Jibon is one of the places where we teach our English classes to Hijras. We met Laila Hijra when we tried to convince her and her team to let us come and help out. Quiet and reserved, Laila was very kind and open to our idea, giving us advice but also being very efficient and organized with her decision making.We thank her for accepting us into her community, and we thank her for  giving us the opportunity to meet such wonderful people. Without her, our project wouldn’t be where it’s at right now. 

I can’t imagine how the members of Shustha Jibon are feeling right now.

Are thoughts are with her friends and her family.

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UNAIDS & WHO Release Case Study on HELEM

HELEM: A Case Study of the First Legal, Above-Ground LGBT Organization in the MENA Region

The Ministry of Public Health - National Aids Control Program (Lebanon), in coordination with the World Health Organization and UNAIDS and financed through a World Bank Grant: Institutional Development Fund, a Case Study on Helem as "the First Legal, Above-Ground LGBT Organization in the MENA Region. (Download the study here)

Helem is the first and only above-ground LGBT organization in the MENA region. Founded in 2004 and based in Beirut, Lebanon, Helem is a rights-based organization that focuses on advocating and lobbying for the legal and social rights of people with alternative sexuality. Helem seeks an end to the criminalization of, stigmatization and discrimination against MSM and all LGBT individuals.

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Wanted: New Messengers on Women's Rights in Uganda

By Evelyn Kiapi

ENTEBBE, Uganda, Oct 12 (IPS) - Activists have spent decades trying to get new laws passed to secure the rights of Ugandan women in the private sphere. As a fresh set of gender-related laws comes before parliament, activists are this time seeking to enlist male legislators as partners in advocating their passage.

Parliament is presently considering legislation on marriage and divorce, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. The Uganda Women Parliamentarians Association (UWOPA) recently held a two-day workshop aimed at bringing as many of the country's 230 male legislators as possible on board.

The focus of the discussion at the seminar, held in Entebbe, on the shores of Lake Victoria just east of the capital Kampala, was the draft Marriage and Divorce Bill, which in its draft form guarantees partners fair access to matrimonial wealth during and after a marriage. It would also recognise the crime of marital rape, acknowledging a partner's right to choose when to have sex.

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‘Gender Is No Distraction in Climate Change Talks’

Lynette Corporal interviews women’s rights activist CATE OWREN

BANGKOK, Sep 29 (IPS) - As the countdown to the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit draws to a close, gender and climate change advocates are doubling their efforts to make sure that 23 gender-related paragraphs in the negotiating text will make it to the new treaty that will be hammered out in December.

At the ongoing 12-day Bangkok Climate Change Talks, which opened Monday and the latest round in a series of global discussions leading to the Copenhagen conference, the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) is keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings.

Women's Environment and Development Organisation sustainable development programme coordinator Cate Owren explains the GGCA's stand and its next steps toward ensuring that gender equality is mainstreamed into climate change policies.

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In the aftermath of rape

DAKAR, 9 October 2009 (IRIN) - At an 8 October gathering of Guinean women beaten or raped during the recent military attack on demonstrators, all wept as one young woman presented torn clothes soldiers had ripped off of her.

“We all collapsed in tears. It is unspeakably painful what happened here in Guinea,” Aïssata Daffe of the Union des Forces Républicaines political party told IRIN.

The gathering was part of an ongoing effort by local NGOs and civil society organizations to collect information about the sexual violence during the 28 September military crackdown in order to appeal for assistance and justice.

NGOs are still trying to determine how many women and girls were raped. For now 33 cases have been documented, according to local and international aid agencies.

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New agreement boosts role of grassroots women

UN-HABITAT has signed a milestone agreement with the Huairou Commission to strengthen the involvement of grassroots women in projects and programmes for better housing and sustainable urban development. The agreement signed Monday on World Habitat Day strengthens areas of existing work, and also ventures into newer areas, such as information technology.

A highlight of the Memorandum of Understanding is a commitment to collaborative working on the creation of a grassroots women’s web portal on human settlements. The portal will enable grassroots women’s groups to network and exchange information on strengthening policies and programmes for gender equality in towns and cities.

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QUE(E)RY - a radical/queer/arts convergence Oct. 10 / Chicago

oct. 10th - THIS SATURDAY
10:30 a.m. to midnight
ida noyes hall, 1212 e 59th st.

a FREE one-day convergence of artists, activists, students, kinksters, queers, and awesome kids to discuss, dress up, explore intersectionality, make art, share skills, and dance hard.

there will be FREE vegan-friendly lunch & dinner for participants!

Choose among 20 workshops led by students, faculty, kinksters, artists, and more. Some titles include:

Trans Inclusion within Gay/Lesbian/Feminist communities
Do Cylons Have Rights?
Criminal (In)Justice and the Prison System
Radical Collaboration: Photography, Political Resistance, and Genderplay
BDSM As Bio-Political Resistance
Erotica Writing

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