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Friday, 11 December 2009

London, Chicago, San Francisco, Beirut host protests against Ugandan anti-LGBT bill

Source: Petrelis Files

SF Mayor: Halt Uganda's Homo-Hate 'Circle of Love' on Human Rights Day

(Activists link arms and send a message to Uganda. Photo credit: Clinton Fein.)

A crowd of nearly forty people gathered for thirty-minutes today at the Ugandan pillar in United Nations Plaza, and stood in unbending solidarity with gay Ugandans. Under a cloudy sky, signs were taped to the pillar, voices were raised, passersby offered support, and a successful visibility action took place, for gays on the other side of our small planet.

Mayor Gavin Newsom had a message read by Supervisor Bevan Dufty deploring the Anti-Homosexuality Bill under consideration in any form. Anna Damiani shared a statement from her boss state Sen. Mark Leno. South African-born Clinton Fein spoke about American Christians advising Uganda's president.

African-American transgender and HIV/AIDS advocate Jazzy Collins denounced Ugandan politicians. And Gary Virginia of Gays Without Borders criticized the demonization of gays everywhere.

Among the participants were representatives from many orgs including the Market Street Marijuana Cooperative, Restore Equality 2010, the Rainbow World Fund, St. Francis Lutheran Church, and One Struggle/One Fight.

From the media, Fox affiliate KTVU sent a cameraman, KCBS News Radio had a reporter cover us, as did the Bay Area Reporter and the Bay Times.

After everyone spoke and the reporters asked their questions, we assembled into a "Circle of Love" around the Ugandan pillar. We wanted to symbolize surrounding Uganda's borders with an embrace full of acceptance and tolerance from gays and allies in San Francisco, extended to all of Uganda.

We did some old-fashioned call-and-respond chants. As you read the words on your screen, say them, or if you prefer, shout them out, as a vocal act of solidarity:

"Gay Ugandans under attack. What do we do? ACT UP! Fight back!"

"Lesbian Ugandans under attack. What do we do? ACT UP! Fight back!"

"Transgender Ugandans under attack. What do we do? ACT UP! Fight back!"

"Ugandans with AIDS under attack. What do we do? ACT UP! Fight back!"

Many big thanks to all who made the vigil such an achieve of solidarity. It wouldn't have happened without you.

And to gay Ugandans, we have a message for you: San Francisco officially, politically, spiritually and unconditionally are with you in your time of need.

~~~~~~

Source: Peter Tatchell

London Uganda demo – Photos and report

Protesters urge: “Drop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill”


Human Rights Day protest against Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill - Ugandan Embassy, London, 10 December 2009. L-R: Michael Senyonjo, Richard S, Topher Campbell, Peter Tatchell, Godwyns Onwuchekwa, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay. Credit Brett Lock of OutRage!

Nearly 100 protesters rallied outside the Ugandan Embassy in London on Human Rights Day to support the Ugandan LBGTI community. They called on the Ugandan government to drop its draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is currently being debated by the Ugandan parliament.

Under this proposed law, LGBTI Ugandans will face execution for certain homosexual acts and life imprisonment for all other same-sex acts – even mere caressing and kissing.

The London protesters included LGBTI activists from the UK and of Jamican descent, plus LGBTI campaigners from Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, the Congo and Kenya.

See photos of the protest here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157622975859486/

These photos are free to use. Please credit Brett Lock of OutRage!

The keynote speakers were gay Ugandan John Bosco and straight Ugandan human rights activist, Michael Senyonjo.

John Bosco was recently jailed in Uganda, after he was illegally and forcibly returned to Uganda by the British Home office while seeking asylum in the UK.

He condemned the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as “an attack on the civil liberties of all Ugandans,” denouncing it as “dividing Ugandans against each other and requiring people to report on their own family members who are gay.”

Michael Senyonjo told the crowd:

“In the last five years we have seen Idi Amin return to Uganda and his name is (President) Yoweri Museveni. We cannot allow fascism to return to Uganda. He should leave power and go because he is not taking the country anywhere but to disaster," he said.

Peter Tatchell of the London LGBTI rights group OutRage! echoed this view:

"President Museveni is fast becoming the Robert Mugabe of Uganda and that's a threat to the civil rights of every Ugandan person - gay or straight....There's a huge ground swell of public opinion that this bill goes way too far. Even people who say they're against homosexuality say this bill is excessive and a threat to the human rights of all Ugandans.

The Ugandan government should drop this law and abide by international human rights legislation.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill violates the equality and non-discrimination clauses of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are merely asking Uganda to uphold international human rights law.

“This homophobic legislation undermines the right to privacy and individual liberty and thereby sets a dangerous legal precedent which threatens the human rights of all Ugandans. It is part of a wider drift towards an authoritarian state,” Mr Tatchell said.

The protest MC was Dennis Hambridge, global coordinator of the Gay Activists Alliance International (GAAI). He said the protest was about sending a message to the Uganda government – that the world is watching and that human rights supporters deplore this repressive bill.

Nigerian gay activists Godwyns Onwuchekwa, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay and Bisi Alimi declared that gay rights are human rights and expressed pan-African solidarity with Ugandan LGBTI people.

Other speakers condemned the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, including Skye Chirape (a Zimbabwean lesbian activist), Topher Campbell (a Black British gay man of Jamaican descent, who is a lead member of the black arts collective, the Rukus Foundation) and Josh Kutchinsky (a spokesperson for the British Humanist Association).

The London protest was coordinated by the Gay Activists Alliance International, with the support of OutRage! and Ugandan LGBTI exiles (most of whom were too afraid to be photographed or identified in case there are reprisals against their families in Uganda).

Other supporting organisations included Changing Attitudes, Rainbow Church, Queer Youth North, British Humanist Association, Rukus Foundation and the National Union of Students LGBT section.

See full details of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill here: http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/Archive/09/Nov/Bill-No-18-Anti-Homosexuality-Bill-2009_Uganda.pdf

“The new Anti-Homosexuality Bill, if passed, proposes the death penalty for ‘aggravated’ and ‘serial’ homosexual acts and extends the existing penalty of life imprisonment for anal sex to all other same-sex behaviour, including the mere touching of another person with the intent to have gay relations. Life imprisonment is also the penalty for contracting a same-sex mariage,” said Peter Tatchell of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights group OutRage!.

“Membership of LGBT organisations and funding for them, advocacy of LGBT human rights and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people will result in a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of seven years for “promoting” homosexuality. A person in authority who fails to report violators to the police within 24 hours will incur three years behind bars.

“Astonishingly, the new legislation has an extra-territorial jusridiction. It will also apply to Ugandans who commit these ‘crimes’ while living abroad, in countries where such behaviour is not a criminal offence. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda,” added Mr Tatchell.

According to Dennis Hambridge of GAAI:

“The bill is likely to be detrimental to the fight against HIV/AIDS by denying gay and bisexual men access to condoms and safer sex advice and driving countless numbers of them further underground. It will create even more stigma, discrimination and oppression

“Activists in Uganda have reported to GAAI that there are eight gay people currently awaiting trial or sentencing in Uganda.

“With immense pressure being put on the Ugandan Government to drop the bill, by human rights groups, governments and religious groups worldwide, we call on people in the UK to protest,” he said.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill has been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists and the World AIDS Campaign.

It violates the Commonwealth principles of human rights and human dignity. You can email the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, here: secretary-general@commonwealth.int

If you were not able to attend Thursday’s protest, please lobby your MP and MEP. Ask them to write to the Ugandan High Commissioner, Joan Rwabyomere, urging that the legislation is dropped. You can email your MP and MEP here: www.writetothem.com

You can also email the Ugandan High Commissioner, Joan Rwabyomere, yourself: info@ugandahighcommission.co.uk

Thank you.

All power to Ugandan LGBTI people! For a free, democratic, secular and humanitarian Uganda!

John Bosco – Gay Ugandan




Terry Conway – Lesbian trade union activist



Peter Tatchell - OutRage! gay activist





Michael Senyonjo – Ugandan human rights activist



Godwyns Onwuchekwa – Nigerian LGBT activist



Topher Campbell - Black gay activist, Rukus Foundation



Skye Chirape - Zimbabwean lesbian activist



Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay – Nigerian gay pastor



~~~~

Source: Chicago Indymedia

On coldest day of the year, we stand in solidarity with Ugandan LGBTs


CHICAGO, IL -- The cold was absolutely miserable tonight and the action was initiated just a few days ago despite the nasty weather forecast, but about 20 people still came out on International Human Rights Day to express their solidarity with Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans (LGBT) people facing that country's proposed "Anti-Homosexuality Bill."

As originally proposed, the Ugandan bill would impose the death penalty for some homosexual acts, make speaking out in favor of gay rights an imprisonable offence, and require imprisonment of those who didn't inform on their gay friends, neighbors and relatives.

At 8 degrees Fahrenheit (-13 C) and -20 F wind chill (-29 C), people gathered despite the cancellation of many other public activities in the city this evening. Lacking an official Ugandan consulate in the city, protesters instead held their action outside of the city's LGBT community center.

One of the central themes of speakers at the protest was the importation of Western anti-gay ideas into Africa. When African anti-gay leaders claim that homosexuality is a "Western" import into the continent, they turn reality on its head. Not only have many of the anti-gay actions on the continent been directly inspired by a U.S.-based group known as "The Family" -- which includes several high-ranking U.S. politicians from both major parties -- most of Africa's anti-gay laws are direct descendents of laws imposed by white colonial regimes during the early 20th Century.

Indeed, rather than being indigenous to Uganda, some of the language from Uganda's proposed bill uses language that sounds like it was pulled directly from statements by anti-gay activists in the United States: "This Bill aims at strengthening the nation's capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional family. This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic."

Another theme of tonight's action was that pro-gay actions and publicity around the world are beginning to have an effect on the bill. A few weeks ago Ugandan activists reported that the bill -- which proscribed the death penalty for "aggravated" and "serial" homosexuality -- seemed a virtual shoo-in to pass intact. But today came news that the death penalty provision was dropped, and that anti-gay leaders like evangelist Rick Warren and the Vatican have finally publicly condemned the proposed bill.

But while distancing themselves from Uganda's bill in recent statements, both the Catholic hierarchy and Warren also re-stated their moral condemnations of homosexuality. But the pogromist Ugandan bill is just the ultimate, logical extension of these condemnations, even if for the sake of public relations in the West, some anti-gay leaders feel they must reluctantly condemn it. By labeling Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people as an entire group "immoral," they dehumanize us. Dehumanizing a group of people is the first step towards legitimizing discrimination and violence against them.

The Gay Liberation Network (www.GayLiberation.net), the initiators of the Chicago action, look forward to future opportunities to work with activists in other countries, especially Uganda, to defeat this bill once and for all.

PLEASE CALL THE WHITE HOUSE
Tell Obama to Speak Out Against This Bill: 202-456-1111

PLEASE CALL THE UGANDAN AMBASSADOR
Perezi K. Kamunanwire
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
202-726 4758

For more information on US/Ugandan connection: www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2009/12/5195/

~~~~~

Helem Protest Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill




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