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National Equality March

National Equality March

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws.” By directly mentioning the role of the states, the 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and is cited in more litigation than any other amendment.

On October 10-11, 2009, we will gather in Washington, D.C. from all across America to let our elected leaders know that now is the time for full equal rights for LGBT people. We’ve had a moment thrust upon us by the election of President Barack Obama and the spirit of hope and change, and also by the sense of entitlement in the new generation of grassroots organizing. This march is a vehicle to a larger goal. We want to work to bridge the gap between the national organizations and the grassroots community organizers. We will gather. We will strategize. We will march. And we will leave energized and empowered to do the work that needs to be done in every community across the nation. This is only the beginning.

Our single demand: Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states.

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South African lawyer becomes new UN rights expert on violence against women

(UN News Centre)

27 August 2009 – A South African lawyer who has also worked as an academic in the human rights field and a campaigner against domestic violence has taken over as the new United Nations independent expert to tackle violence against women.

Rashida Manjoo succeeds Yakin Ertürk as the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, and has been initially appointed by the UN Human Rights Council until June 2012.

“Violence against women violates human dignity, as well as numerous rights, including the right to equality, physical integrity, freedom and non-discrimination,” said Ms. Manjoo, according to a press statement issued today in Geneva, where the Human Rights Council is based.

“I believe that equality and equal protection doctrines demand that we address violence against women, in all its manifestations, as discrimination against women. It is my hope to work within this framework during my mandate.”

Ms. Manjoo has both taught and conducted research at several universities, including Webster University and Harvard Law School, both in the United States, as well as the University of Cape Town.

In her native South Africa, Ms. Manjoo was also a former parliamentary commissioner of the Commission on Gender Equality, conducted training programmes for judges and lawyers on law, race and gender issues, and set up a domestic violence assistance programme at the Durban Magistrates Court, the first such project in a court in her country.

Like other rapporteurs who report to the Human Rights Council, Ms. Manjoo will serve in an unpaid and independent capacity.


Related audio links:

Database on violence against women is launched

Ukraine Centre awarded UN grant to combat violence against women

UN chief urges an end to violence against women on International Women's Day

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RIGHTS-GUATEMALA: One Arrest in Gender-Killing Epidemic

By Danilo Valladares

GUATEMALA CITY, Aug 18 (IPS) "Femicide," or gender-based
murder, has reached epidemic proportions in Guatemala. But at least for
Rosmery González - one of the more than 700 Guatemalan victims of
this crime in 2008 - justice is finally being done with the arrest of her
alleged killer earlier this month.

On Aug 6, Óscar Romero, the 19-year-old victim’s uncle, who was
the leading suspect in her murder since she turned up dead in July of last
year, was taken into police custody from his home in a poor district of
the capital.

Pressure from human rights organisations and the women’s movement,
combined with the unrelenting efforts of the victim’s parents finally led to Romero’s arrest. Just before she went missing, Rosmery had been on her way to meet with her uncle, who had promised to help her get a job at the National School of Agriculture (ENCA). Days after her disappearance, her body was found on the grounds of ENCA.

"On the one hand, I’m nervous and worried because there are a lot of risks involved, but I’m also happy because the authorities are now behind me," González’s mother, Elizabeth Chajón, told IPS.

Just a few days earlier, she had described to this reporter the impotence she felt at seeing how crimes like her daughter's murder went unpunished.

"When I went to the police to file the complaint (about Rosmery's disappearance), they told me she couldn't have been kidnapped and must have run off with her boyfriend," Chajón said.

Femicide is a term coined for misogynist or gender-related murders of women, sometimes accompanied by sexual violence.

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NIGERIA: Divorce a Tool To Relegate Women

Fijabi: 'Divorce is not favourable to women. Education can help women to assert their rights, but the law has to make provision for it first before they can seek for such rights.'

Toye Olori interviews MUFULIAT FIJABI, senior programme officer, BAOBAB

LAGOS, Aug 20 (IPS) - The high rate of divorce in Kano state, northern Nigeria has become a worrisome phenomenon. Six months ago, an organisation of widows and divorcees tried to stage a massive march through the city of Kano to draw attention to their situation.

Voices of Women, Divorcees and Orphans of Nigeria cancelled the march, under heavy pressure from religious authorities and others in the state. But the difficult conditions faced by divorced women and their children remains an urgent issue in Kano and elsewhere in the north.

Mufuliat Fijabi, a senior programme officer with BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights, an NGO based in Lagos, told IPS that "divorce is just a tool to relegate women to the background". Baobab has outreach teams working throughout northern Nigeria to educate women about their rights and how to defend them.

Excerpts of Fijabi's interview follow.

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Senegal: Release the four men arrested in Darou Mousty for homosexuality

The arrest, detention and conviction because of alleged homosexuality is contrary to the rights of freedom against discrimination, equality before the law and to privacy.
The problem:

On 19 June 2009, four men were arrested and detained by police in the town of Darou Mousty, located in the department of Kébémer in the region of Louga. These four men were arrested because of allegations of sexual acts "against nature". There are also indications that the police forced the men to reveal the names of other supposed "homosexual." The week of 10 August 2009, two of these men were convicted despite the fact that the only evidence was the reporting of city dwellers. A man was sentenced to two years in prison and the other a penalty of five years. A third accused, who has seventeen years, still awaits trial on 24 August 2009 in a court for minors. The status of the fourth is unknown.

Senegal, according to Article 319 of the Penal Code, is one of few French-speaking countries that criminalize homosexuality. Last year, nine members of AID Senegal were arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison for 'indecent conduct and acts against nature "and" conspiracy ". The Court of Appeal in Dakar has quashed the sentences in April 2009.
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Expert proposes recommendation to protect women after divorce

Divorce affects men and women differently, so women need extra legal protection, according to an expert on the UN Anti-discrimination committee.

Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The committee just concluded its discussion of reports by 8 countries on how they are implementing the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). During this last session in New York, Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Vice President of the Committee, asked participants to provide input to a proposed General Recommendation on the economic consequences of divorce. Chris Weeks found out more from Professor Halperin Kaddari about this proposal.

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Ban Ki Moon calls for independent inquiry into use of rape as weapon in African wars



12-year-old girl, displaced by conflict in Darfur region of Sudan, was raped by government soldiers

7 August 2009 – Warning that rape is being used as a weapon of war with the same efficient brutality as a gun or a grenade, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the Security Council to set up an independent commission of inquiry into such abuses in the conflicts in Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan.

Such a panel, supported by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, should recommend to the Council “the most effective mechanisms to ensure accountability for these egregious crimes,” he told the 15-member body at the start of a day-long debate on women and peace and security.

“Despite some progress over two decades, the deliberate targeting of civilians through acts of sexual violence continues on a widespread and systematic basis,” Mr. Ban declared, also citing abuses perpetrated by the rebel Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda and the DRC.

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Gambia: Human Rights and Homophobia

(Posted at IGLHRC)

The Gambia, led by President Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, has had a track record of severe human rights violations with frequent use of security forces as a tool of repression. Jammeh came to power after a military coup in 1994.

Citizens are regularly detained without due process and, in 2008, three judges were unconstitutionally removed from office. Disappearances and unlawful killings of political opponents and human rights defenders have occurred without the Gambian government attempting to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

For more information about human rights violations in the Gambia, see Amnesty International’s 2009 Report here.

The government has also impeded the right to freedom of speech by routinely arresting journalists and, in some cases, charging them with criminal offenses for speaking out.

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India to re-think British Colonial anti-gay law: Section 377 of IPC

NEW DELHI(Times of India)

Even as the Delhi High Court is close to giving its verdict on a 19th century colonial law that treats homosexual activity as a crime, here’s a shot in the arm for gay rights. In an interview to a television channel on Thursday, law minister Veerappa Moily indicated that the government may do a rethink on the controversial Section 377 of IPC that criminalizes private consensual sex between adults of the same sex.

Moily admitted that some sections of the IPC are outdated and Section 377 may be one of them.

Those part of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights movement say a rethink by the government on Section 377 of IPC would be a big step forward. ‘‘It will be the best thing for the national Aids control programme since efforts to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS will no longer be impeded by the law,’’ said Ashok Row Kavi, consultant for UNAIDS and UNDP.

Moily’s statement comes at an interesting juncture as the high court has already finished hearing arguments on the petition filed by New Delhi-based non-profit group Naz Foundation in 2001, seeking a reading down of section 377. While the health ministry had supported the petition, the home and law ministries were against it. If the law ministry is indeed willing to do a rethink, experts say it has two options. It could submit before the court that it had changed its position and ask for hearings to be reopened.

NOTE: If you would like to contact Mr. Moily directly to voice your support of the change in the IPC, he can be reached at mvm@moily.com.

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LA City Council Condemns Iraqi Torture of Gay Men

Unite The Fight posted a detailed and compelling post: LA City Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Condemning Iraqi Torture of Gay Men.  

On Wednesday, after hearing several emotional speeches, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution that "calls upon the government of Iraq to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and protect the right to life and the right of all its citizens to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the United States and for them to pass this resolution is anything but a token gesture of empathy.  This is a demonstration of the civic population of one country exercising its political weight to alter the national and international awareness of this brutality.

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