Tuesday, March 24, 2009
It’s been a month since we have returned from Indonesia. Steeped in the all encompassing daily rigors of our full-time jobs we’ve been remiss in our blog updates. Although we’ve been distracted, the LGBT human rights struggle rages on worldwide. We’ve assembled the following snap-shot report. The sources for this information include: the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission www.IGLHRC.org; Human Rights Watch www.HRW.org, www.365gay.com and Amnesty International www.AmnestyUSA.org. Visit these sites to read more and for guidance on action to support our bothers and sisters.
Homophobic Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi
Earlier this month the Family Life Network (FLN), a Ugandan non-governmental organization convened a 3-day seminar focused upon the "restoration of Ugandan family values and morals."
The FLN makes the sensationalist claim that homosexuality is "spreading like wildfire in schools." The event organizers have invited parents, teachers, government workers, politicians, counselors and faith leaders. Key note seminars were led by several American religious right leaders who believe homosexuality is a scourge than can be “cured.”
Alvaro Miguel Rivera on Horeseback
On March 6, 2009, unknown men killed the human rights defender Álvaro Miguel Rivera in the city of Cali, Colombia. Alvaro was a known LGBT advocate and has previously been a target of homophobic violence. Álvaro’s murder takes place in a city where violence against the LGBT community is constant. This is the second murder of an LGBT rights defender in Colombia in the past 13 months. On February 16, 2008, unknown assailants killed Fredys Pineda in Apartadó, a city in northwestern Colombia.
Chiang Mai Pride Parade Participants Caged
The second annual Pride Parade planned for February 21 in Chiang Mai, Thailand was abruptly cancelled when the parade participants were locked in the compound where they were gathering. They were subjected to violence by the Rak Chiang Mai 51 political group, also known as the ‘red shirts’ for their attire. Parade participants were harassed, hurt, and prevented from leaving or entering the compound for 4 ½ hours while 150 police looked on.
Republic of Guyana:
During a 4-day period in early February 2009, plainclothes policemen detained three people in downtown Georgetown near Stabroek Market, on the grounds that the defendants were men "wearing female attire." Police detained five other people, charging them under the same provision. Later the same week, police detained four more people; three had been arrested in the previous crackdowns. Acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson fined seven of the eight arrested persons for wearing "women's clothes."
Under pressure from the Orthodox Church and other conservative groups, the Serbian government recently withdrew an anti-discrimination law from its legislative process. The anti-discrimination law would have included sexual orientation, gender identity, and religious freedoms.
Philippine Army Insignia
In what appeared to be a promising development, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has opened enlistment to gays and lesbians as long as “proper decorum is maintained.” Translation: once inside the military, gays and lesbians must still ‘hide’ their sexuality in order to remain there. “Overt homosexuality will not be tolerated.” Hmmmm....
Hands in Marriage
Same-sex marriage continues to rattle cages from coast to coast. California awaits the State Supreme Court decision about voter approved Proposition 8. This California ballot initiative passed in the November 4, 2008 general election and changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples and eliminated same-sex couples' right to marry. Meanwhile, in Vermont, the Senate will vote next week on legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. The measure would replace Vermont’s first-in-the-nation civil union law with one that allows marriage of same-sex partners, beginning Sept. 1. Civil unions, which confer some rights similar to marriage, would still be recognized but no longer granted after Sept. 1.