Τρίτη, 3 Απριλίου 2012

Protesters call for release of gay Ugandan refugee.

Campaigners picketed Dutch embassy in London and handed over petition demanding asylum for gay man fleeing persecution in Uganda
Campaigners picket Dutch embassy in London over Ugandan gay asylum seeker
Campaigners demonstrated outside the Dutch embassy in London yesterday (2 April) demanding freedom and asylum for a gay Ugandan.
Members of the Movement for Justice group called for the Netherlands to release Kalanzi Marvin Richard, who was refused asylum in the European country and was imprisoned after refusing to sign deportation papers.
The protesters, who included Ugandan lesbian and gay asylum seekers and refugees, also handed over a petition of more than 700 signatures to the embassy.
Antonia Bright of the Movement for Justice said: 'Kalanzi’s case stands for thousands more.
'What the Dutch Government is doing is part a wider move by EU governments, including Britain, to undermine the right of asylum.
'We will keep fighting until Kalanzi is free and we have won an amnesty for asylum seekers and other immigrants across Europe.'
Kalanzi lived openly as a gay man in Uganda and his life would be in danger if he is deported back to the country where a bill advocating the death penalty for homosexuality is currently in parliament.
'Kalanzi lived openly and proudly as a gay man in Uganda, despite the abuse and threats he faced,' said gay Ugandan refugee Abbey Kiwanuka, who knew Kalanzi when they were still living there.
'His sexuality was common knowledge and anti-gay bigots campaigned for his arrest. As a result he was imprisoned, beaten and tortured.'
He added: 'LGBT people in Uganda are subjected to a vicious anti-gay campaign led by politicians and pastors.
'Violence toward LGBT people is rampant. The new Anti-Gay Bill is back to Parliament. In spite of this the Dutch authorities are still trying to send Kalanzi Marvin back there.'
The Dutch immigration authority has already agreed to look at Kalanzi's case again.
Last week a demonstration for Kalanzi’s release was held in the Dutch city of the Hague and a demonstration is planned in Rotterdam, where he is being held, later this week.


EU hopefuls told to improve gay rights.

European Parliament calls on Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo to tackle LGBT discrimination.
Gay pride parade in İstiklal Avenue in İstanbul, Turkey
Photo by Turkish Flame
The European Parliament is urging EU hopefuls Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo to improve gay rights.
In its 2012 accession report, the parliament called on the four countries which all candidates to join the EU in the future to make greater efforts in tackling discrimination against LGBT people.
Turkey's government was asked to include homophobia and transphobia in its hate crime laws, condemned for the frequent prosecution of LGBT people and asked that Turkish Armed Forces end classifying homosexuality as a ‘psychosexual illness’.
The parliament expressed serious concern about Serbia's 'lack of political will...to ensure the safety of the participants of the Pride Parade' in 2011, and 'strongly condemned inflammatory and discriminatory remarks on the topic by some politicians and members of the Orthodox clergy.'
While the resolution on Kosovo highlighted that 'discrimination is still a serious problem in the country and calls on the government to implement a broad anti-discrimination strategy' on all grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
However, Montenegro was praised for positive developments in the country and the parliament's resolution 'welcomes the recent adoption of the Law Against Discrimination, which explicitly mentions sexual orientation and gender identity'.
Jelko Kacin MEP, official investigator for the accession of Serbia and member of Europe's LGBT Intergroup, said: 'We will continue to encourage the authorities in Belgrade to make sure that the next trip of an MEP to the Belgrade Pride will not only be to a press conference, like mine was last year.
'LGBT rights should be respected throughout the year and the first convictions for hate violence set an important precedent.'
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, LGBT Intergroup co-president, said the reports showed the EU was committed to promoting human rights, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
'Now the Commission must take note of these recommendations and closely monitor developments for LGBT rights in 2012,' she said.
'In the European Parliament and especially the LGBT Intergroup we will follow developments and insist that progress is essential for LGBT people to be able to live their lives and loves without fear.'
Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro are all official candidates to join the EU and Kosovo is currently considered a potential candidate.


London buses carry pro-gay marriage posters.

You wait ages for a pro-gay marriage poster, then 1,000 come along at once, courtesy of Stonewall.
Some buses have gay adverts on them, get over it – that's the message from gay group Stonewall.
Leading British gay campaign organization Stonewall have put posters on the side of 1,000 London buses to campaign for same-sex marriage.
The iconic red buses in the British capital will carry the slogan ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’ throughout April.
It is the largest gay marriage-focused campaign the UK has ever seen. Only Stonewall’s previous railway station posters, which first featured the popular slogan in 2008, have been on such a scale when it comes to sexuality-based campaigns.
The charity’s chief executive Ben Summerskill calls the posters ‘very moderate and straightforward’. They feature the slogan and a link to Stonewall’s equal marriage campaign website, which includes their response to government plans and calls for supporters to make their voices heard.
Stonewall’s Andy Wasley told Gay Star News: ‘The message resonates. We are finding there is an increase in positive sentiment towards gays, but there are still people who have who have a problem.’
To increase the campaign’s size further, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity is encouraging people to take photos when they see the posters and tweet them with the hashtag #equalmarriage or upload them to Stonewall’s Facebook page.


Δευτέρα, 2 Απριλίου 2012


Trans Italy celebrates and looks forward.

Italy is marking 30 years since it’s groundbreaking law allowing trans people to change gender – but the debate about their rights continues.
Marcella Di Folco, an Italian transgender activist who died in 2010, is having a street named in her honor.
Italy is preparing to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Law 164 – which allowed Italian transgenders to change sex for the first time – on 14 April with a national conference and smaller meetings in many cities, from north to south.
But, after 30 years, the discussions about how the legislation should work are still going on. The law, in fact, does not allow transgender people to change their identity on ID cards and official documents if they don’t undergo gender reassignment surgery. The Italian law was cutting edge – together with a similar one in Germany at roughly the same time – but the transgender citizens of the Mediterranean country want the act updated.
Porpora Marcasciano, president of the Bologna based MIT (Movimento identità transessuale), said: ‘We need new laws, against discrimination in workplaces and assuring new rights to transgender people.
‘Law 164 is still a good one, but something must be changed. Many transgenders don’t want to change sex, they fear the operation and it’s a long process. So, the Italian legislation should guarantee them the right to change their identity on official documents. Transgender people, even those who have not had an operation, should have this right.’
The MIT has organized a national conference, which will be held in Bologna’s Aula di Santa Cristina on 14 April, celebrating the 30th birthday of the act. Among the others, Susanna Camusso, leader of the main Italian union, CGIL, will speak to an audience of activists, lawyers, national and regional politicians. Also there will be Don Luigi Ciotti, a famous Catholic priest fighting for human rights, and Cathy La Torre, a lawyer and one of the speakers of the Bologna gay movement.
Despite Italy being the seat of the Catholic hierarchy and home of the Pope, the situation for transgender people is relatively advanced. They don’t have to pay for gender reassignment surgery, everything is guaranteed by the 20 regional legislatures.
Five national health system hospitals are in the network: Le Molinette in Turin, Gattinara in Trieste, San Camillo in Rome, Policlinico 2 in Naples and Policlinico in Bari.
‘But a lot of transitioning people go abroad or use private healthcare, so we don’t know the real number of transgender people who, every year, go through surgery,’ Marcasciano added.
Unofficial studies suggest that every 12 months more than 100 people decide to change gender.
ONIG (Osservatorio Nazionale Sulle Identità di Genere) is the umbrella organization for all the specialist consultants, psychology practises, hospitals, associations and groups of interest. ONIG will also be present at the 14 April Bologna conference, where the problems, limits and boundaries of Law 164 will be discussed.
Also there will be Avvocatura Diritti LGBT – Rete Lenford, the Italian association of lawyers and barristers fighting for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. Antonio Rotelli, its president, said: ‘One limit of the law is that only the operation is contemplated, but the act does not consider those not wanting to change sex, because they fear hospitals or because they just don’t want to.
‘The law should be renewed: now transgender people’s requests and needs are very different. We are no longer in 1982 and people’s identities have changed. That’s why I think we need a new 164 – also because the decisions of the judges have recently moved from a traditional approach to a more modern one.
‘The law, as every law, is subject to and dependent on interpretation, almost every day. And a recent decision ruled that the change of identity must be guaranteed also to those who can’t get an operation because of health reasons.
‘We have to make the judges change their minds. That’s why we’ll be at the Italian national gay pride, in Bologna, next summer. And on July we’ll be at a London conference about discrimination in workplaces.’
Italy’s transgender citizens, in fact, still have to fight against prejudice, sexual and professional discrimination. For someone changing sex it’s hard to find a job and to have their rights recognized.
But it’s not all negative, Italy has already had a transgender member of parliament – Vladimir Luxuria, elected in 2006 for the Italian Communist Party – while Marcella Di Folco, who died two years ago, was the first trans local councillor in history, having been elected in the Bologna council, for the Italian Green Party, in 1995. The city of Bologna, one of the gay capitals of Italy, has decided to name a street in her honor.


Κυριακή, 1 Απριλίου 2012

Equal marriage moves a step closer in Ireland.

Members of Fine Gael, a centrist party in the Republic of Ireland, have voted at the party’s Árd Fheis to prioritise the consideration of equal marriages in the country at the forthcoming Constitutional Convention.
According to reports in the Irish media, FG members have approved motions proposed by several branches of the party in Dublin, calling on the government to “ensure that the Constitutional Convention prioritises an analysis of the proposals for same-sex marriage in Ireland.” Among the speakers in favour of the motion were justice minister Alan Shatter and TD for Dublin South-Central, Catherine Byrne.
This is not to say that the call is an official party policy, but it does mean that FG is in favour of reviewing the current legal position, which outlaws civil marriage between two people of the same sex. With Labour and Fianna Fáil already in favour of marriage equality, all of the parties in Ireland are now prepared to look at the law with a view to revision.
So, the Constitution Convention is now likely to make the issue its top priority, which will now have the decision as to whether to allow a referendum on equal marriage.
Both the Marriage Equality Group and the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network have welcomed the move, with the former issuing a statement pointing to public opinion, measured by polls, pointing to almost three in four Irish nationals being in favour of extending marriage to same-sex couples.
Kieran Rose, chairman of GLEN, described the passing of the motion as “a great step forwards in further building a political consensus for civil marriage for same-sex couples.” She added that the vote also built on “the widespread acceptance and support for the Civil Partnerships that are taking place all across the country”.
“All we need now is for the legislation to catch up to public opinion,” said Moninne Griffith, director of Marriage Equality. “We will be engaging in debate with the members of the Convention, and other stakeholders, as to how marriage equality can be introduced as quickly as possible.”


Boys banned from graduation over Facebook kiss.

Six boys in the Phillipines have been banned from attending their graduation after posting a gay kiss on Facebook.
The Marikina campus of the Infant Jesus Academy where the boys attended
Infact Jesus Academy, Marikina, website
Six teenage boys in the Philippines, aged between 16 and 17, have been banned from attending their graduation after posting a simulated gay kiss on Facebook wearing their school uniforms.
The senior high-school students, who are due to graduate on Friday from the Infant Jesus Academy in Marikina City, were told after officials discovered the photos that they are not allowed to join in the ceremony or receive their diplomas.
Although they will be officially recognised as graduates, and receive a certificate to allow them to contact universities, the school deemed their actions as inappropriate as they have strict bans against “any conduct inside or outside the campus which brings the student, his/her family and the school in disrepute.”
According to talks with local media, the boys tried to explain that it was merely a “camera trick”, but the highly religious officials decided to go ahead with punitive actions as they believed the boys conduct to be “damaging” to the school's reputation.
One of the boy's mothers contacted the local radio station, Radyo Inquirer, to seek help. Quoting that the school's chancellor, Peter Mallonga, regarded the diploma as “sacred”.
“For them, the school diploma is sacred. They will give it to the students as the punishment will not be for life. But it will take two years, three years, four years, even eight years.
“The officials said they [the boys] are not deserving as of the moment to receive their diplomas.”
The Philippines is a highly Catholic country with officials and church groups regularly campaigning against divorce and birth control.
Homosexual relations between two consenting adults in private is legal, however the GLBTI community is not provided with any Civil Rights Laws.


Olympics adds gay pink ring to flag.

International Olympic Committee will unveil new flag at London closing ceremony for Russia and Brazil games to push LGBT sport.
The new Olympic flag with the sixth, pink ring, will be unveiled at the closing ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic stadium.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is to alter the Olympic flag for four years in a global drive to tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport.
Gay Star News can exclusively reveal today (1 April) that a pink ring will be added to the Olympic flag to symbolize lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex sportspeople.
The new flag will be unveiled at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 games and will be used for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
It will also fly during the Paralympic Games in both countries.
An IOC source told Gay Star News: ‘The idea has been in the pipeline for the last couple of years.
‘The executive board [which runs the Olympics] hoped to have it all confirmed in time for the 2012 London games, but the merchandise had already been produced and it was just too late.
‘But now they are pressing ahead. The board now realize the level of homophobia and transphobia in sport is a major issue and know they won’t be able to retain credibility unless they do something dramatic to tackle it.
‘The executive have been persuaded they have to show leadership and other sporting bodies, clubs, managers and individuals will only follow if we lead.’
The five Olympic rings currently on the flag – blue, black, red, yellow and green – represent the five continents involved in the games.
The design dates from 1912 and the Olympic organizers apparently feel the temporary addition of a pink ring is an appropriate way to celebrate the 100th anniversary.
The IOC insider said: ‘What better way to celebrate the flag’s centenary than to show the way sport has to modernize if it’s truly going to embrace everyone in the world?’
Earlier this week, lesbian former jockey and BBC Sports presenter Clare Balding told guests at the Stonewall Equality Dinner that she believed the London 2012 Olympics would be the most gay-friendly to date.
But the IOC may have been influenced by the apparent homophobia of authorities in Russia, who are hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.
They have banned the planned LGBT Pride House festival from happening in Sochi with the judge in the case ruling that any gay event of that kind could ‘undermine the sovereignty and the territorial integrity’ of Russia itself.


Facebook warned over 'third gender' option.

Nepal's first openly gay politician Sunil Babu Pant warns Mark Zuckerberg after he failed to address gender concerns.
Nepal's first openly gay politician Sunil Babu Pant opens gender-neutral toilet
Nepal's first openly gay politician Sunil Babu Pant has threatened to publicly denounce Facebook unless the site allows users to list their gender as 'other'.
Pant, who this week opened the south Asian country's first 'third gender' toilet, says he is unhappy about not getting a reply from the social networking site to a letter he sent requesting the change.
In the correspondence, directed at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Pant appealed for an addition to the site's current male and female only gender options.
He hopes Facebook will add a facility for users to list themselves as neither male nor female.
'I write today as an avid user and admirer of Facebook,' said Pant in his letter.
'Your product has revolutionized the way we communicate and express ourselves around the world.
'It has brought communities together, which were otherwise thousands of miles apart, and resulted in collaboration and partnerships, which have improved the world.
'However, people who do not identify as male or female continue to be sidelined by Facebook’s options. As you allow users to identify only as male or female, many in the LGBTI community feel as if they are hidden on the site, unable to identify as their true selves.'
But an official Facebook statement, published by ZDNET.com, states that: 'People can already opt out of showing their sex on their profile.
'We’re constantly innovating on our products and features and we welcome input from everyone as we explore ways to improve the Facebook experience.'
Pant has reportedly branded the remarks 'irresponsible' and warned that, 'Until Facebook changes its position I am deactivating my Facebook account for now and if the genuine demand is not considered I will leave Facebook for good.'


‘This silence is what feeds the beast of oppression’.

Activist responds to claim campaign for LGBT rights is making life worse for gay people in Malaysia.
Pang Khee Teik, Malaysian LGBT rights activist
It's a dark hour for LGBT rights in Malaysia. Conservative Islamist politicians have decided to make suppression of homosexuality a political platform (one suggesting gay 'rehab' centres), there's been a series of gang attacks on transsexuals and the authorities quickly dismissed an appeal on the ban of the sexualities freedom festival Seksualiti Merdeka, which was held in 2008 to 2010 but banned in 2011.
One of the organisers of Seksualiti Merdeka, LGBT rights campaigner Pang Khee Teik has now responded to people within the community who have said that LGBT rights campaigning is making life worse for gay people in Malaysia.
Pang quotes a letter on the Seksualiti Merdeka blog that says: 'According to many of my friends, they were doing just fine getting around under the radar until Seksualiti Merdeka “decided” to fight for LGBT rights publicly. Now they blame Seksualiti Merdeka and its organisers for the scrutiny that they are being put through.'
In his response, Pang recognises the fears of the anonymous source of the letter, saying that he too was afraid to live openly as a gay man. ‘We live under the radar because we think under the radar is where we belong,’ he says.
But Pang argues that LGBT life doesn’t have to be underground in Malaysian society. ‘This silence is what feeds the beast of oppression,’ he says. ‘If we refuse to feed the beast, it will starve. Yes, it will get angry and it will sniff for blood. When we stop being afraid, the beast will find more ways to make us fear it again. It bares its fangs and howls louder. It snaps its jaws at us. It is afraid. Of us.’