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Chege and Ngengi; the accidental gay rights trailblazers

By Charles Onyango Obbo 

After the Sunday Nation broke the story of the gay wedding of Kenyans Daniel Chege and Charles Ngengi in London, hardly any other subject could get attention on call-ins into FM stations, the Kenyan blogosphere, and in Nairobi pub conversations.

Chege and Ngegi are the first Kenyan gay couple known to have publicly wedded. Chege has been in a previous gay partnership that broke up.

Most of the comments were, predictably, critical—and some downright hostile.  By almost a ration of 10 to 1, Kenyans thought what Chege and Ngegi had done was disgraceful, a shame upon the country, their families, an affront to God and good old African values.

But then something that no one seems to have paid attention to happened. In a follow-up, KTN TV station went to the village of Chege’s parents, and in one scene that has proved particularly controversial, stopped a very elderly relative of Chege along the village path, flashed the photo of the gay couple, and wanted to know her views.

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Women's Rights Laws in Place

By Stephen de Tarczynski

MANILA, Oct 28 (IPS) - Although the enacting in August of the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) - a major law aiming to end discrimination against women across the archipelago - was well-received here, there remain concerns about whether the legislation will be fully implemented.

Mary Joan Guan, executive director of the Centre for Women's Research, a Manila-based advocacy and training organisation, says that the efficacy of the MCW relies on its implementation going against the trend of previous women's rights legislation.

The Philippines "already has 27 laws concerning women's rights…[but] in reality these laws are not implemented at all," she says. It ratified the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981.

The Magna Carta is the end product of two separate bills introduced in Congress in 2002. After years of debate and opposition, it was finally signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Aug. 14.

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2009 Global Gender Gap Report

New York, USA, 27 OctoberIceland (1) has claimed the top spot of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2009 from Norway (3) which slipped to third position behind Finland (2). Sweden (4) completed the Nordic countries’ continued dominance of the top four.  The report’s Index assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities.

South Africa and Lesotho made great strides in closing their gender gaps to enter the top 10, at sixth and 10th position respectively.  The latest data reveals that South Africa in particular made significant improvements in female labour force participation. Gains for women in parliament and women ministers in the new government also helped close the gender gap in the country.  The Philippines (9) lost ground for the first time in four years but remains the leading Asian country in the rankings.


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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.

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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.

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Call for Papers - Good Sex, Bad Sex: Sex Law, Crime & Ethics 2nd International Conference

Monday 3rd May 2010 – Wednesday 5th May 2010
Prague, Czech Republic

After the success of the inaugural conference for this project, we are pleased to announce the Second Annual Conference, to be held in Prague in May 2010. The conference is a keystone of the ’Good Sex, Bad Sex’ project that seeks to explore the nature, character and issues around the prohibition, regulation or permission of different and distinct forms of sexuality and debates around their legal, ethical and cultural status in contemporary societies.

The sorts of questions the project wishes to address are: How do we regulate and seek to deter sex crime? How do we support victims, prosecute perpetrators and encourage lawful and discourage unlawful sexual conduct? Should our startegies for perpetrators be rehabilitation, punishment or deterrence and what are the implications of elements of each? What about when the law prosecutes ‘victimless crimes’ or seems unjust in relation to particular sexualities? Or fails to adequately protect the innocent or regulate the guilty? How does law relate to ethics and our understanding about what good and bad sex are? What ethical grounds do we have for distinguishing good sex and bad sex?

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Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Condemn the Tabled Anti-Homosexuality Bill

[via IGLHRC]

As a network of human rights activists, working in the areas of sexual rights as well as other human rights issues, we write to urge you to oppose a repressive bill which was tabled in Parliament of Uganda on 14th October 2009.  This bill is a blow to the steady progress of democracy in Uganda. It proposes criminalization of advocacy and support for the rights of homosexual Ugandans.  It also prohibits any public discussion or expression of gay and lesbian lives and any organizing around sexual orientation.  In doing so, it violates the basic rights to freedom of
expression, conscience, association, and assembly, as well as internationally recognized protections against discrimination.  The proposed bill intention is to divide and discriminate against the Ugandan homosexual population, and exclude them from participation in public life, which goes against the inclusive spirit necessary for our economic as well as political development. Its spirit is profoundly undemocratic and un-African.

Over the recent months increased campaigns of violence have gone uncontrolled.  The violence directed at homosexual Ugandans has resulted in the unwarranted arrests of many people; there are eight ongoing cases in various courts all over Uganda of which four accused persons are unable to meet the harsh bail conditions set against them.  These acts of violence have now resulted in the deaths of several homosexual people, such as Brian Pande at Mbale Hospital as he awaited trial.  This bill aggravates stigma and hatred; and renders all promised protections enshrined in the constitution for all Ugandan citizens void.

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Rahim Mohammadi Executed in Iran for A Homosexual Act - Lavat (October 14, 2009)

On October 6, 2009, Rahim Mohammadi was executed in Tabriz, a city in northwest Iran, after being convicted of sexual abuse and rape during sexual relations between males (a homosexual act called Lavat).

According to Rahim’s lawyer (here), Mr. Mohammad Mostafayi, there was not enough evidence presented to the court to prove such accusations; the court nevertheless decided that once a person is convicted of Lavat, he must be executed.  Mostafayi, who had not been informed of the court’s decision once it was handed down - and was only contacted after his client Rahim had been executed - wrote a letter of further explanation to the authorities.

"Rahim Mohammadi was first arrested for blackmail in June 2008; over the years, due to financial problems, he had used his wife to seduce men, inviting them to their house in order for them to have sex with her.  He would record the encounters on tape and use these tapes to blackmail them.  There was no witness or evidence to prove that Rahim had committed a homosexual act; a complainant who had claimed that he’d been raped by Rahim withdrew the charges," says Mostafayi.  In Iran, in the case of an accusation of Lavat (based on the Islamic punishment code stated here), even if there are no witnesses or evidence, the judge can decide at his own discretion to condemn the accused.

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The Women’s Reservation Bill – Empowerment or Besides the Point?

By Martin Lehmann-Waldau (Posted at Ultra Violet)

The Indian parliament recently showed intense activity to promote women’s representation in decision-making bodies.  Some months back, a bill was passed that reserves a staggering 50% of seats for women on the panchayat level.  Currently under review and soon to be debated in the Lok Sabha is the Women’s Reservation Bill that promises 33% of seats in Parliament to women.

To give an international comparison: the current German Parliament has 32.1 % women in Parliament (1980: a mere 9 %).  In Germany, a legal quota system does not exist. However, parties have internally introduced certain reservation systems for women (Green Party: 50 %, Socialist Party 40% etc.).  Women however are still largely underrepresented in top ministries as well as top commercial jobs.


Therefore, I am surprised to notice that this new law that bears the potential of helping women into important positions within a culture that sees their role largely within the domain of household and family, does not get a lot of coverage in media and discussion forums.  The exchanges that do take place are dominated by male politicians such as Lalu Prasad and Jaswant Singh (both of whom, fortunately, now have other problems to deal with). 

A somehow lukewarm statement came from the young MP Agatha Sangma:

“Social and economic empowerment of women is “much more important” than the women’s reservation bill, which will only give political empowerment” (Indian Express, August 8, 2009).

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Ending Transphobia in the Human Resources Administration

Transgender activists and allies have been urging the New York department of Social Service's Human Resources Administration to address the issues of transphobia and harassment that gender variant folks face when seeking access to welfare and/or public assistance programs.

The TransJustice program of the Audre Lorde Project has developed a procedure to address these injustices. To date the HRA has not made any improvements for the trans community.

Steps to take action:

1) Sign the petition demanding the HRA review committee adopt the procedures.

2) Collect HRA Postcards:

Make your own copies - Download the HRA Postcard, print it, sign it, get others to sign and mail the signed postcards to TransJustice, ALP, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Download postcard here


Request postcards - Contact Mya Vazquez at 718-596-0342 x 23 or , tell us how many you want and where to mail them to.

3) Get involved with the campaign. To volunteer with the campaign or get more information contact

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