arvan's picture

Call for equal rights for all forms of family

Religious beliefs should not influence decisions to enact laws giving equal rights to gay people because it is the role of parliamentarians to ensure there is no discrimination between citizens.

"We need the necessary legislation changes to ensure different forms of families are recognised as equal before the law, irrespective of sexual orientation... This is not about religion but basic human rights," Malta Gay Rights Movement coordinator Gabi Calleja said.

Ms Calleja echoed the words of Labour education spokesman Evarist Bartolo who insisted gay rights were human rights and the government should not adopt the argument that the country was not ready to uphold them.

"The time is now. Countries can afford to wait but life is too short for those men and women who just want to be treated like the heterosexuals around them," he said during a conference organised by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe).

arvan's picture

Q&A: "Women Will Benefit From Secularism"

Cam McGrath interviews Egyptian feminist author NAWAL EL-SAADAWI

CAIRO, Oct 23 (IPS) - Controversy stalks dissident writer Nawal El-Saadawi, whose views on women and religion have put her at odds with Egyptian conservatives.

Recently she returned to Cairo after nearly three years in exile, and has already created a stir with the launch of a local chapter of her global campaign for the separation of religion and state.

"God has no place in politics," El-Saadawi told IPS. "Religion is a powerful weapon to divide people. You are Christian and I am Muslim, and so we kill each other."

Clerics have described her secularism campaign as blasphemous and opponents are now seeking to have her imprisoned. It's nothing new for the outspoken 77-year-old civil activist, who has paid a price for outspokenness. Over the years she’s been removed from her post as a public health official, put in jail for criticising the regime, hounded by lawsuits, and marked for death by Islamists.

Yet she persists.

From her home in Cairo, El-Saadawi spoke to IPS about her efforts to counter the rising tide of religious fundamentalism and free women from all forms of oppression. Excerpts from the interview.

arvan's picture

Latest Anti-Gay Surge in Turkey Against Another LGBT Organization

Black Pink Triangle Association in Izmir is the fifth LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) organization that faces closure threat from the Turkish government.  The first hearing will take place on February 19, 2010. The reason for closure threat is once again being “against the law and morality.”

According to the information provided to the association, the Governor’s Office of the City of Izmir is demanding closure of the Black Pink Triangle Association.

Black Pink Triangle Association members stated that: "The prosecutor's demand for closure of our association is clearly a violation of civil rights.  Establishing an organization a constitutional right and they want to take that right from us.”

When Black Pink Triangle Association was founded on February 20, 2009, all the necessary legal documentation was filed to the Governor’s Office.

arvan's picture

Uganda Civil Rights Coalition Denounces Anti-Homosexuality Bill

By Jim Burroway

A coalition of twenty-two Ugandan professional and civil rights advocacy groups have joined together to denounce (PDF: 52KB/4 pages) the barbaric Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2009 that was introduced before Parliament last week. The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law describes the bill as not just an “anti-homosexuality” bill, but also as “the ‘Anti Civil Society Bill,’ the ‘Anti Public Health Bill,’ or the ‘Anti-Constitution Bill,’” or more specifically, “the Anti Human Rights Bill.” And they liken the bill’s measures with some of the more repressive practices of the Idi Amin era.

The coalition points out eight specific constitutional articles which the proposed bill violates, and a long list of people who would be put at risk of serious criminal penalties should the bill pass. This list includes not only LGBT people themselves, but also parents, teachers, landlords, doctors, human rights activists, religious counselors, publishers, and even Internet cafe operators.

The proposed bill would:

  • Reaffirm the lifetime sentence currently provided upon conviction of homosexuality, and extends the definition from sexual activity to merely “touch[ing] another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality.”
  • Create a new category of “aggravated homosexuality” which provides for the death penalty for “repeat offenders” and for cases where the individual is HIV-positive.
  • Criminalizes all speech and peaceful assembly for those who advocate on behalf of LGBT citizens in Uganda with fines and imprisonment of between five and seven years.
  • Criminalizes the act of obtaining a same-sex marriage abroad with lifetime imprisonment.
  • Adds a clause which forces friends or family members to report LGBT persons to police within 24-hours of learning about that individual’s homosexuality or face fines or imprisonment of up to three years.
  • Adds an extra-territorial and extradition provisions, allowing Uganda to prosecute LGBT Ugandans living abroad.
Christina Engela's picture

A Summary Of Straight Privilege In Daily Life

The other day I found online a list of observations made by a class of heterosexual university students in the USA, asked to think about advantages held by heterosexual students over their non-heterosexual counterparts. I think they made a very good effort, and I think doing such an exercise helps to broaden the mind.

It certainly helps to show others how fortunate they are - and highlights the clear advantages straight people have over us - and thereby reveals the inequalities in society we face today. Hopefully this will show people why it is we fight for equal rights - and that we really have a few good reasons to gripe after all.

I thought about it and worked through the original posting, making some additions of my own - and this is what I came up with:

arvan's picture

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.

arvan's picture

Living on the Extreme Margin: Social Exclusion of the Transgender Population (Hijra) in Bangladesh

By Sharful Islam Khan, Mohammed Iftekher Hussain, Shaila Parveen, Mahbubul Islam Bhuiyan, Gorkey Gourab, Golam Faruk Sarker, Shohael Mahmud Arafat and Joya Sikder


The transgender people (hijra), who claim to be neither male nor female, are socially excluded in Bangladesh.  This paper describes social exclusion of hijra [The term is used in this abstract both in singular and plural sense] focusing on the pathway between exclusion and sexual health. In an ethnographic study, 50 in-depth interviews with hijra, 20 key-informant interviews, and 10 focus-group discussions (FGDs), along with extensive field observations, were conducted. 

The findings revealed that hijra are located at the extreme margin of exclusion having no sociopolitical space where a hijra can lead life of a human being with dignity.  Their deprivations are grounded in non-recognition as a separate gendered human being beyond the male-female dichotomy. 

Being outside this norm has prevented them from positioning themselves in greater society with human potential and security.  They are physically, verbally, and sexually abused.  Extreme social exclusion diminishes self-esteem and sense of social responsibility. 

Before safer sex interventions can be effective in a broader scale, hijra need to be recognized as having a space on society’s gender continuum.  Hijra, as the citizens of Bangladesh and part of society’s diversity, have gender, sexual and citizenship rights, that need to be protected.

Read the full report here.

arvan's picture

China: Stop Police Discrimination Against Gay Men in Guangzhou

[via IGLHRC website]

The Issue

On March 30 and April 3, 2009, in Renmin Gongyuan People's Park, police officers from the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau detained and questioned 50 and 60 men, respectively, who authorities believed to be engaging in sexual activities, as well as outreach workers from the Chi Heng Foundation who were providing safe sex education as part of an HIV prevention program.  No formal charges were filed.  Then, on August 25, 2009, the police attempted to forcibly eject 100 men from the park as well as outreach workers.  The men protested this discriminatory treatment and ultimately convinced the police to leave the park.  The police justified this most recent attempt to arrest and exclude men from the park by claiming to be responding to allegations by park visitors that some men, believed to be gay, were "harassing" people and committing minor property crimes, though the targeted men themselves were also being harassed and robbed.

arvan's picture

A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

October 15, 2009

A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision.  I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone.  I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility.  I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured."  Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy.  I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired.  I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people.  I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant."  I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin."  That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.  I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric."  The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me.  I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer.  The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance.  They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression.  There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied.  That can be a resting place no longer for anyone.  An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!"  Time waits for no one.

arvan's picture

Global South LGBTQI Sign-on Statement of Rights

Pass this on, sign it, tweet it, and repost it far and wide - arvan

In view of the recently-concluded Twelfth Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the October 10-11 National Equality March in the United States, October 10 World Mental Health Day, October 11 International Coming Out Day, October 16 United Nations World Food Day, October 17 United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, October 17 Global Action to Stop Trans Pathologization, October 24 United Nations Day, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on 1-18 December 2009, and December 10 United Nations Human Rights Day, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, transsexuals, intersex, and other sexual and gender minorities from the Global South through the Global South LGBTIQ Activists’ Forum drafted and are releasing the attached sign-on statement inviting the support of LGBTIQs from the Global South and the Global North.

Translations of this statement in various languages will be available soon.

To have your individual and organizational names listed in this statement you may email us at globalsouthlgbtiqactivists@gmail.com

Global South LGBTIQ Activists’ Forum

Equality and Justice for the People of the Global South!

Equality and Justice for All LGBTIQ People in the World!

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

And today, we, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, transsexuals, intersex, queers (LGBTIQs) and other ’sexual and gender minorities’ (SGMs) from the Global South and the Global North commemorate that message of Martin Luther King Jr. as we join our sisters and brothers in the United States and all over the world in marching for justice and equality in civil and political rights.  But more than marching for these rights, we LGBTIs and other SGMs from the Global South and the Global North are today also marching for our economic, social, cultural, and collective rights.  We believe that there can never be a genuine and more meaningful justice and equality for ALL lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersex  and other ’sexual and gender minorities’  in the world if there is economic, social,  cultural and collective injustice, oppression and violence committed against the people of the Global South by International Financial Institutions (IFIs), States, governments, corporations and multinational-transnational companies from and based in the Global North.

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