Sunday, 31 October 2010

Case dismissed against transgender activists in Turkey

Source: IGLHRC

A Turkish judge has dismissed the case against 5 transgender activists from Pembe Hayat LGBT Solidarity group – an Ankara-based transgender rights organization, citing the lack of evidence against the defendants.

At the start of the two-hour court session, the presiding judge made it clear that his decision in the case would "not be given based on our prejudices about sexual identities " of the defendants. During the court session, the judge also reprimanded police officers - who were the plaintiffs in this case- for their mistreatment of the transgender activists, stating that the style of their intervention "against these five people was totally wrong."

The activists had been indicted by Ankara's public prosecutor and charged with resisting authorities after an incident on May 17, 2010 during which the Turkish police arbitrarily detained and brutally attacked the five activists. Pembe Hayat, IGLHRC and other organizations wrote to Turkish authorities to protest this abuse and to call for the charges to be dropped.

Croatia rejects Phillipine transsexual's asylum claim

Coat of arms of the Republic of CroatiaImage via Wikipedia  
Source: Croatian Times

Zagreb resident Marko’s transgender partner April is to be deported from Croatia to the Philippines where she could possibly be stoned to death.

The police are currently keeping April in Jezevo center where she is awaiting deportation even after the court declared that she is not to leave the country until they reach a final verdict on her case.

April had applied for asylum in Croatia, but both her application and her appeal were refused, the daily Jutarnji List writes.

She was then taken to the magistrate court, which postponed its decision until a later time. During this time, April was free but forbidden from leaving the country.

Despite the court’s decision to wait on the verdict, the police detained April, her desperate partner Marko has told the local newspaper.

The couple had met over the internet in 2008. Soon their love blossomed and Marko decided to move to Philippines to be with April. They opened a grocery store together. But April was continuously assaulted by the residents of her small town, some of whom had tried to stone her on the street. Police laughed at her when she called for help, Marko says. April's brother had even threatened to kill her.

The two decided to move to Croatia in October of last year and April had a three-month visa. Since she is biologically male – born as Henry – the two cannot marry in Croatia. Marriage would have ensured legal documents for her stay.

Marko says that they will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in order to stop the deportation.

"She is very frightened," says Marko about his partner. He has been able to visit her every day since her detention. "They humiliated her even there." Allegedly the police asked April to remove her clothes and but when she implored them to turn around, they refused, the daily writes.
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Sexual assault and abuse rampant in America’s immigration detention centers

CBP Border Patrol agent conducts a pat down of...Image via Wikipedia

Source: Campus Progress

By Catherine Traywick

A year ago, the Obama administration touted the newly overhauled T. Don Hutto Residential Center as a model detention facility.

Three years earlier, the facility, located in Taylor, Texas, had come under fire after news broke that a guard had engaged in sexual acts with a detainee—while her young son lay sleeping in the same small cell. Security cameras had caught the man entering and exiting the room. The guard was fired, but he was not prosecuted.

Months later, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) documented the prison-like conditions to which Hutto subjected detainees of all ages: Confining them in small cells for up to 12 hours a day, forcing them to wear prison uniforms, and routinely depriving them of access to education, health care, and privacy.  The ACLU, on behalf of prisoners, sued the Department of Homeland Security over the issue and won.

Last year, administration officials billed the facility as transformed from an inhospitable prison for families into a “person-centered” facility for women. Hutto was supposed to set the stage for the administration’s vision of truly “civil detention reform.” Hutto’s bad reputation made it a good candidate for reform. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the for-profit company that operates Hutto and most other immigration detention centers in this country, worked with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to rehabilitate the facility. It was duly relieved of housing families and revamped to provide women detainees with a less punitive residential experience.

Then this August another guard at the facility, Donald Charles Dunn, was arrested for sexually assaulting several detainees while transporting them for release. To date, no one knows exactly how many women he assaulted before deportation or release. The incident stood standing out as a remarkable failure of justice and publicly revived Hutto’s troubling legacy of bad management and misconduct.

Now, of course, Hutto is a blight on the administration’s vision for detention reform—an ugly reminder that our detention system remains woefully impaired and anything but civil.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

In Kenya, one transsexual blogs her life

A portal icon for Portal:Transgender, based on... Image via Wikipedia  
Source: Global Voices

By Haute Haiku

Lindsay is a transgendered woman living in Kenya who shares her life and her journey to womanhood on her blog Living Lindsay- My life as a transgender girl in Kenya. She describes herself as “I'm a normal girl with not-so-normal traits. I am transgender, or transsexual if you like.”

This is going to be her sixth month since her surgery and she feels that she is more at ease with her life than before. Her main goal is to educate the public on transgender issues in Kenya by answering questions from the public about her journey on her blog. She has blogged about her surgery orchidectomy, blogging and challenges she has to go through; violent encounters, how she had to move houses and her struggle with her identification documents. Her story has also been highlighted in one of the Kenyan daily newspaper and she hopes that she will make a difference in the Kenyan society.

I recently interviewed Lindsay about her transitional journey, blogging and other issues relating to transgender community in Kenya and Africa.

Question: What inspired you to start a blog?
Answer: At the time, I felt I needed to share out my views, rant, have a place to be free and talk about my thoughts feelings and stuff. It was the perfect place where I could be myself without hiding. I also thought I could reach out to others like me and learn from them.

In Congo, sexual violence affects men too

Source: Guardian Weekly,

By Natalie Bennett, talking with Chris Dolan

I've been working in the development field for a long time, and I've increasingly been frustrated by the way that when gender was talked about, it was always in terms of women. We talked about engaging men in reducing violence against women, rather than engaging them with their own issues. The underlying assumption is that men are still in positions of power and therefore they can't ever be vulnerable. A lot of men have experienced vulnerability and they don't relate to these discussions.

I'd been doing a lot of thinking around issues of sexuality, writing country reports for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual] asylum seekers. It became clear to me that all the assumptions about gender being just about women's rights have a tremendous negative impact on other areas of work.

So I have been studying how gender is done in development field, and finding it very limited and inadequate. It does take this very dumbed-down version of gender – I see women's rights as incredibly important, but that's not what gender is only about.

In 2008 I was part of the team putting together the documentary Gender against Men. In the work I had been doing in Uganda in the preceding years, the rape of men was a constant theme, it was almost like an urban legend where something had occupied an immense space in people's minds, yet it was very much under the radar of aid groups and public discussion.

But at our refugee aid project, with refugees from all over the region, we were seeing a lot of male survivors of sexual violence. There were many different organisations working with survivors, but they didn't really provide any kind of service for these men, and we found a lot of men who hadn't been accessing medical care as well.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Beware! US immigration police may be watching you

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 25: In this photo illu...Image by Getty Images via @daylife  
Source: Immigration Equality

By Victoria Neilson

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently received information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request. The memo, entitled Social Networking Sites and Their Importance to FDNS [Office of Fraud Detection and National Security], advises officers to monitor social networking sites as a way to root out fraud.

The memo states
“Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of “friends” link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know. . . This social networking gives FDNS an opportunity to reveal fraud by browsing these sites to see if petitioners and beneficiaries are in a valid relationship or are attempting to deceive [United States Citizen and Immigration Services] about their relationship. . . In essence, using MySpace and other like sites is akin to doing an unannounced cyber “site-visit” on a [sic] petitioners and beneficiaries.”
While we would never encourage anyone to engage in immigration fraud, it is disturbing to think of government officials “friending” unknowing immigrants to use the information in their personal posts against them. In these times of technology speeding forward, it’s important to remember that when you post anything on a public site you have to anticipate that it could be used against you.
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In Congo, move to criminalise homosexuality gathers pace

The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of...Image via Wikipedia
Source: Media Congo

By Charles Mukonkole

[Google translation]

The lower house of Parliament declared admissible Congo, Friday, October 22, 2010, the draft law initiated by the national deputy EJIBA YAMAPIA on the prohibition of certain sexual nature cons. This vote came after the National MP's responses to questions from his colleagues expressed during the general debate held last Thursday, October 21. With this vote, the national politicians have sent the text to the social and cultural committee of the National Assembly for further consideration.

It should be noted that this legislation has been a true plebiscite contrary to the text of national deputy TSHIBANGU KALALA code for foreigners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was overwhelmingly rejected by the plenary for the simple reason that the law professor has seen fit to legislate on a matter within the regulatory domain.

A No problem EJIBA YAMAPIA, MP RCD and bishop of his state, has managed a mini revolution in the modern world where freedom is the rule and where it is increasingly difficult to impose a universal guideline for men become refractory to moral rules. Indeed, the current trend worldwide is towards tolerance including sexual practices that are inconsistent with the acquired moral immemorial. Therefore there is a growing outbreak of homosexuality and bestiality.

The National Assembly of the DRC, especially in its female component, does not see things this way since she decided to support the approach EJIBA YAMAPIA who proposed to amend certain articles of the penal code punishing a imprisonment and a fine, any person who practiced homosexuality and / or bestiality. Meanwhile the work of the Commission and the Senate debate, we can say that the DRC is moving towards the repression of homosexuality and is added to an already packed African countries that have legislated against this practice which is contrary to African culture.

Although a large majority was in favor of this text, it should be noted that the debate was not easy because both sides clashed. On one side of the camp pro punishment and the other that of those who think that this law violates individual freedoms dearly proclaimed by the Constitution and goes against the current trend. National deputies are required by this support, combat homosexuality begins to grow in our society still attached to traditional values. This is what we must remember that debate and this vote. But the major difficulty that proponents of this law will face will be the implementation of a law that aims to punish individual behavior that is usually consumed in private.

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In Canada, Australian-American lesbian couple's asylum claim rejected

canada immigrationImage by TheTruthAbout via Flickr  
Source: Toronto Sun

By Tom Godfrey

A female same-sex couple is appealing a decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to throw out their cases after claiming they’d be persecuted for their sexual orientation if they’re sent packing.

The couple, who can’t be identified because they have filed refugee cases, were married in Toronto in 2006 and claimed asylum alleging they’d be in danger due to their sexual preferences if returned to their native U.S. and Australia.

“This decision is very unfair,” said Paul VanderVennen, a Toronto lawyer representing the couple. “They would be very good for this country.”

VanderVennen said the couple is entitled to a pre-removal risk assessment, a final hearing before they have to leave Canada.

He said the women can return to visit since Americans and Australians do not require a visa to be here.
Board member Douglas Cryer was told gay marriages are not legal in Australia or the U.S., where both women would not be able to sponsor a partner.

ILGA conference: LGBT asylum workshop report

Source: Equality Network

These notes on the workshops Jane Carnall attended at the ILGA-Europe conference are as accurate as she could make them but absolute accuracy is not guaranteed: if anyone feels misrepresented or misreported, contact and updates/corrections will be made.

Lunch was a brisk and busy affair - the food was better than the Bel Air hotel's grasp of queuing theory. (Two buffets, side by side, and 250 delegates all trying to eat at once.) But I had an interesting conversation with a delegate who was to speak at a workshop on Saturday about Islam and sexual minorities - he had also picked up on the rather one-way comment about "Muslim youths and gay youths" in the morning's plenary session, not quite right for the theme of the conference "challenging our prejudices".

After lunch I went on to the 2:30 panel, one of the smaller workshops on the Mezzanine floor, LGBT Asylum Seekers in Europe: improving decision-making standards.

Four speakers, three organisations: the first was Neil Grungras, ORAM (Organisation for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration), the first migration organisation focusing exclusively on refugees fleeing sexual and gender-based violence world-wide. ORAM is based in the US (San Francisco).

Grungras spoke about how many of the difficulties such refugees face are based on the way basic processes about asylum seekers are framed to assume you are heterosexual and your gender identity is cis.
  • Forms that asylum seekers have to fill in ask if they are male or female, if they are married, if they have a family: there is nowhere on the forms to come out. 
  • That training of the interviewers for asylum seekers does not include training on LGBT issues. 
  • The European Court of Human Rights has a good policy but the policy is not disseminated to people in the field.
  • The interviewers and adjudicators are not encouraged to reach out to people seeking asylum and encourage them to feel safe about coming out - and if they do come out, the questions intended to "prove" that this person is gay tend to be about sex acts, and humiliate the applicant.
Grungras pointed out that we as an LGBTI community do not want people to tell us where we fit into, what boxes we fit in, but this is what the asylum process is designed to do - to find out what box the applicant can be fitted into, what boxes the adjudicator can tick. He said that often interviewers come from the same homophobic background which the asylum seeker is fleeing - that even without intending to be abusive, interviewers use abusive or insulting language to applicants very often - example, a gay man from Iran was asked by an interviewer, for how long had he been a male prostitute? - because the interviewer knew of no other word to describe a male homosexual.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Please help gay Nigerian Hope Nwachukwu

Hope Nwachukwu is gay and faces persecution if he is returned to Nigeria. He has already suffered years of attacks and torture by fellow citizens who hold strong views on practicing gay men.

Hope arrived in the UK at the end of 2009 to try and escape his persecutors but since then he has spent six months in detention - where he has suffered attacks by fellow Nigerians who see he is gay. For Hope, the thought of returning to life in Nigeria is terrifying but the UK Border Agency insists that he is not gay.

Update 29 October

Hope has been released from detention. This is a major victory for the campaign - but we still need your help.

See how you can help at the Action Alert.

Update 27 October: Hope's lawyer won at the High Court a judicial review of his fresh claim. This was at the last minute as Hope had been prepared to be removed.

This reprieve means we need your help now if we are to save Hope

Video: reggae against gay bashing

Mista Majah P telling reggae artist and pollitian to stop the hate and discrimination against gays uplifts the world with a song that promotes kindness, equality, equal rights and justice for all people with a very strong plea to Stop The Hate and bullying against homosexuals and other gay and lesbian transgendered or sexual preference...He expects a lot of controversy to come out of this song since so many still feel animosity towards gay and lesbian lifestyle or equality.

Says Mista Majah P's manager Tony T: "What my artist hope to accomplish is to start a conversation between the gay community, the reggae artists and the world. The reason is my artist is tired of having door slam in his face and the face of all reggae artist and fellow Jamaican who get blame for what a few do or what they think or believe in. You have to remember that not all reggae artist or Jamaican hate or discriminate against gays. My artist biggest problem is he believes he is being stereotype by certain people or certain organization saying that you got dread and you come from Jamaica, right away they single you out saying there is another Jamaican who is using his music to spread hate and death and that has to stop."

Mista Majah P was born in Kingston Jamaica, but migrated to Canada at an early age. He was the recipient of the Canadian Reggae music award on several occasions. P now resides in the United States.

Video: in Uganda, a lesbian couple flees the mob

Source: CNNInternational

The member of the Ugandan Parliament behind a controversial "anti-gay" bill that would call for stiff penalties against homosexuality -- including life imprisonment and the death penalty -- says that the bill will become law "soon."

"We are very confident," David Bahati told CNN, "because this is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children."

Sex and the Ummah

Source: Religion Dispatches

By Amina Wadud

This was the title of a really good commentary for an online Islamic newsletter for quite some time. So, I’m not making it up on my own. This week has brought just a tad too many funny (or sad or sick) stories along these lines not to give it a shot myself. One of them was a report that Egypt was second for online porn inquiries. I didn’t read all the details—like second to which country? Actually, I thought it would have been second to Pakistan, which I had read a similar report about some time ago.

I know, you probably thought it would be some where in the Gulf, but it’s not. I’m not sure what that says (about you, or,) about the Gulf. Because then there was this story from the Gulf.

Some “Saudi Prince” is accused of the gruesome murder of his male servant, with whom he had been traveling for several months. He is also accused of being gay. He denies both claims. However, as for sleeping in the same bed, as reported from one of the hotels, he says, there was no other room in the inn. And although there was sofa in that same room, he did not want his servant sleeping on it, because he had always considered him an equal, and that would have been contrary to that claim.

I thought, are you joking? I’m not recounting all the details, many of which were already incredible, because that one clinched it for me. If there’s one thing I have learned living and traveling in countries that still make extensive use of in-home servants (in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East), it is that no one, not even the nicest ones, considers their servants as equal. It just doesn’t happen.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Prominent African ex-leaders calling for decriminalisation of homosexuality

Festus MogaeImage by cab234 via Flickr  
Source: Zambia Post

Former president of Botswana Festus Mogae has urged President Rupiah Banda’s government not to criminalise homosexuality and sex work because that would make the fight against HIV/AIDS difficult.

And President Rupiah Banda said he understood the need not to criminalise homosexuals.

Speaking when he led a group of prominent Africans that include Dr Kenneth Kaunda, former Vice-President of Uganda Dr Speciosa Wandira and former chairperson of Kenya’s National AIDS Control Prof Mirriam Were, who are calling themselves Champions of an HIV-Free Generation, Mogae said there was no need to enact laws that criminilise homosexuals and sex workers.

He explained that the Botswana constitution criminalized homosexuality and sex work but since he left office he had been arguing with the government to repeal the law.

Mogae said over the last three years nobody had been prosecuted for being homosexuals or sex workers in Botswana.

UNHCR poll: Iraqi refugees regret returning to Iraq, amid insecurity

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - NOVEMBER 10: People gather at ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife  
Source: UNHCR 

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 19 October 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

A poll of Iraqis who have returned to Baghdad from neighbouring countries found that physical insecurity, economic hardship and a lack of basic public services has led the majority to regret their decision to return to Iraq. The survey also found that 34 percent said they were uncertain whether they would stay permanently in Iraq and would consider seeking asylum in neighbouring countries once again if conditions do not improve.

The survey of 2,353 Iraqis, or 537 families, who returned to the Baghdad districts of Resafa and Karkh between 2007 and 2008, was conducted by UNHCR staff from April to September this year in person and by phone. Future surveys will cover the conditions of returnees to other parts of Iraq such as Kirkuk, Mosul, Anbar and Diyala.

During the course of these interviews, UNHCR staff were informed by returnees of numerous instances of explosions, harassment, military operations and kidnapping occurring in their areas of return. Many interviewed stated that they were obliged to return to Iraq because they could no longer afford the high cost of living in asylum states. In this context, UNHCR continues to remain concerned by occurrences of forcible deportations of Iraqi refugees from their countries of asylum to Iraq.

The survey found that 61 percent of the Iraqi returnees interviewed regretted returning to Iraq from their country of asylum with 60 percent of this number stating that this was mainly due to insecurity and personal safety concerns. Around 77 percent of those that returned to the two Baghdad districts of Karkh and Resafa said they did not return to their original place of residence either due to the general insecurity or because they still feared direct persecution. Some 11 percent cited poor economic conditions and unemployment as reasons for not returning to their former homes and neighbourhoods.

Most Iraqi returnees who did not return to their original homes live with relatives, and in some cases stay with friends or have rented other accommodation. The majority, 87 percent, stated that their current income is insufficient to cover their families' needs in Iraq.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

What will Britain's spending review mean for asylum seekers and refugees?

ScissorsImage via Wikipedia
Source: Refugee Council

By Philippa, in the Communications team

The Chancellor took to the podium on Wednesday to reveal the long awaited Comprehensive Spending Review. The headlines in yesterday's newspapers and websites told us all about the rising pension age, cuts in disability benefits, increasing rail fares… But what does this mean for asylum seekers and refugees?
There was very little mention of asylum in the spending review, and the finer details of how the cuts will affect our clients will no doubt be revealed in coming weeks and months. But what was clear yesterday is that the most vulnerable in our society are going to suffer the most. So here is our own attempt at breaking down how our clients will be affected.

1. UKBA spending will be cut by £500 million by reducing service costs, but they will increase productivity by investing more in asylum casework and border control.

Sounds ominous, although we’re encouraged that they will pour more money into asylum casework. It is also crucial that policing our borders is not achieved at the expense of those seeking protection from persecution. Those in need of safety must have access to effective systems for considering their asylum claims at the point that they are entering the country. We are also already concerned about the speed of processing of some asylum claims, and if speed is to be a UKBA priority, they must also make sure that the process is better and fairer. We hope the Asylum Improvement Project which the government is already undertaking, will make sure of that.

2. Major reforms to the legal aid system involving taking tough choices about the types of case that should receive public funding, focusing support on those who need it most, and giving better value for the taxpayer.

Video: Jamaican PM spins justification for homophobia & discrimination

Source: Gay News Bits

"Is Jamaica Homophobic?" - " Why are homosexual acts illegal in Jamaica?" -- Questions fit for a PM's spin...
In this BigThink interview, Bruce Golding, the Prime Minister of Jamaica says that the reason why homosexual acts are illegal in Jamaica is because they "are a predominately a Christian country and a fervently Christian country," that has some real fears -- real fears such as having gays flaunting and throwing their gay lifestyle in society's faces, undermining the family unit and the basic fabric of society. On the other hand he thinks Jamaican's aren't going to be particularly perturbed about gays and their "private relationships". He also notes: "What is illegal in Jamaica is buggery, which is in fact making homosexual acts illegal." And: "But I think much of what has been carried in the international media in terms of homophobia in Jamaica is grossly exaggerated." --Watch him spin:

Now Belgium stops sending asylum seekers back to Greece

Source: ECRE

Belgium’s Secretary of State for asylum, Melchior Wathelet, has announced that Belgium will not transfer asylum seekers to Greece and will give priority to the examination of these asylum claims. Amnesty International, CIRE, the Belgian Committee for Aid to Refugees, ECRE, JRS-Belgium and Flemish Refugee Action welcomed this decision but demanded a complete revision of the Dublin Regulation, which allows refugees to be sent back to countries that do not provide sufficient protection.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, has also called this week on the EU to stop transfers of asylum seekers to Greece and to renegotiate the Dublin II Regulation.

Belgium’s decision follows the reception of a letter in which the European Court of Human Rights states that pending the adoption of its judgment in MSS v. Belgium and Greece - which assesses whether sending asylum seekers back to Greece violate the European Human Rights Convention-, all transfers will be temporarily suspended in any case where an asylum seeker challenges his or her return to Greece.

The UK and Norway have also stopped tranfers to Greece and are applying the sovereignty clause and therefore assuming the examination of these asylum applications. The Netherlands is suspending transfers for those who appeal the decision.

ECRE supports the establishment of a mechanism to suspend transfers of asylum seekers to states that cannot guarantee a full and fair examination of their claims or proper receptions standards. Suspension should also be accompanied by supporting measures that seek to rectify the asylum situation in a Member State.

For further information:
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Monday, 25 October 2010

Audio: Gay life in Iraq: Interview with Michael Luongo

Interview with Michael Luongo, author of a four-part series on gay life in Iraq for Gay City News.

On The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC

Part One

Part two

Luongo's four-part series on gay life in Iraq

In the UK, deportation escorting turns into big business for private firms

[the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I'...Image by madamepsychosis via Flickr  

Source: Guardian

By Owen Bowcott

The scale of Britain's largely privatised deportation industry has mushroomed as the Home Office responds to political pressure for the faster removal of failed asylum-seekers and people overstaying their visas.

There are 11 immigration removal centres across the country with space for around 3,000 detainees. Most are operated by private security companies such as G4S, GEO Ltd or Serco; several are managed by the Prison Service.

G4S – formerly known as Group 4 Securicor – runs Dungavel in Scotland, Oakington near Cambridge, Brook House and Tinsley House, both on the perimeter of Gatwick Airport, on behalf of the UK Border Agency. Oakington is due to close next month.

The company, which claims to be the second largest private employer in the world with 595,000 staff, is also the main contractor providing services to escort those removed from the UK on repatriation flights overseas.

Additionally, G4S runs the UK Border Agency's Transport PLUS service, which shuttles asylum-seekers to and from their accommodation and key sites in the UK.

Uganda: The eight stages of gay genocide

By Gregory H. Stanton, President, Genocide Watch

Classification - Symbolization - Dehumanization - Organization - Polarization - Preparation - Extermination - Denial

Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The process is not linear. Logically, later stages must be preceded by earlier stages. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process.

1. CLASSIFICATION: All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide. The main preventive measure at this early stage is to develop universalistic institutions that transcend ethnic or racial divisions, that actively promote tolerance and understanding, and that promote classifications that transcend the divisions. The Catholic church could have played this role in Rwanda, had it not been riven by the same ethnic cleavages as Rwandan society. Promotion of a common language in countries like Tanzania has also promoted transcendent national identity. This search for common ground is vital to early prevention of genocide.

2. SYMBOLIZATION: We give names or other symbols to the classifications. We name people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguish them by colors or dress; and apply the symbols to members of groups. Classification and symbolization are universally human and do not necessarily result in genocide unless they lead to the next stage, dehumanization. When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups: the yellow star for Jews under Nazi rule, the blue scarf for people from the Eastern Zone in Khmer Rouge Cambodia. To combat symbolization, hate symbols can be legally forbidden (swastikas) as can hate speech. Group marking like gang clothing or tribal scarring can be outlawed, as well. The problem is that legal limitations will fail if unsupported by popular cultural enforcement. Though Hutu and Tutsi were forbidden words in Burundi until the 1980’s, code-words replaced them. If widely supported, however, denial of symbolization can be powerful, as it was in Bulgaria, where the government refused to supply enough yellow badges and at least eighty percent of Jews did not wear them, depriving the yellow star of its significance as a Nazi symbol for Jews.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Iraqi LGBT celebrates fifth birthday with London charity night


By Jessica Geen

Aid group Iraqi LGBT is to hold a fundraising night in central London next week.

The group is celebrating five years of supporting persecuted LGBT Iraqis and claims to have helped save the lives of 100 people.

The event will be held on Tuesday 26 October at Chloe in South Kensington. Gay celebrities Julian Bennett and Brian Dowling are supporting the evening, while a raffle and auction prizes will be offered.

Iraqi LGBT founder Ali Hili told that funds and awareness were needed to continue the group’s work in organising safe houses and ways out of Iraq for gay citizens who are in danger.

Iraq does not explicitly criminalise homosexuality but the country is a dangerous place for gays and lesbians.

A Human Rights Watch report in August suggested that hundreds of gay men in the country have been attacked and killed for their sexual orientation since 2004. The report claimed that members of militia groups are leading the anti-gay campaign.

Mr Hili said: “Since we established the group five years ago, we have saved the lives of over 100 people – we have relocated them from Iraq, we have removed them to safer countries [such as] the US, Germany, France and the UK.

Serial shooter targeting refugees, migrants in Sweden

Dark-skinned Swedes live in fear of racist gunman

Source: The First Post

By Jack Bremer

After the shooting of a black man waiting at a bus stop in the city of Malmo on Tuesday 19 October, Swedish police have been forced to issue a stark warning to all black or dark-skinned residents: they could be at risk from an apparently racist killer.

The 28-year-old shot this week has survived the shooting - the bullet just missed his spine. He is one of eight men who have been shot over the past year, ever since a young couple were targeted last October.

A 20-year-old white Swedish girl called Trez West Persson was sitting in a car in Malmo with a male friend from an ethnic minority when they were shot at by a stranger. Persson was killed and her friend survived.
It was only after the shootings continued that a pattern began to become clear.

"If you have dark skin you should be extra cautious," Lars-Haakan Lindholm, a police spokesman, said this week. "If you are in the risk group - that is, being coloured - then you should avoid lonely places like bus stops at night."

In the US, a new campaign: standing up for HIV-positive immigrants

Source: IRIN Plus News

A new campaign aims to beat stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive Africans in New York by urging the wider population to show solidarity with them.

"For those living outside their home turf, the vulnerability that comes with being HIV-positive really exacerbates HIV stigma," explained Kim Nichols, co-executive director of the African Service Committee (ASC), an NGO that provides HIV and other health services to African immigrants in New York.

"There's a fear of deportation, a fear of being rejected by family and friends if they find out about their status that is just as real, if not more, because of the small community they are living in," she added.

According to the ASC, while effective treatment has dramatically changed the fight against AIDS, stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive people remain as strong as ever.

The "Choose to Stand Up" campaign calls on people to break the silence surrounding HIV stigma; share information by talking about experiences and concerns about HIV with friends and family; and to treat those with HIV with respect and compassion.

Launching: LGBT India Foundation

United colours of IndiaImage by Marco Bellucci via Flickr   By Nitin Rao

Over 30 million of our fellow Indian citizens identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and deserve greater equality at colleges, in the workplace and society at large. By kick-starting a visible and mainstream conversation, we can work with you to get there.

As our first project, in Winter 2010, we will be building a much needed online resource to answer the "basics" on LGBT issues, and to bring gay-straight citizens together in one progressive community. For a country with the largest young LGBT population in the world, it shocks us that this doesn't quite exist as it should.

In 2011, we will accelerate work on two more initiatives:

  • Supporting large companies in creating "safe spaces" at the workspace for LGBT employees to confidentially connect with resources and mentors. Our initial partners will be companies in the technology, finance and consulting sectors, that already have LGBT initiatives outside of India
  • Supporting inspiring young leaders at Indian colleges launching gay-straight student clubs, by providing them with funding, opportunities to connect at a conference, and mentorship.
We are deeply grateful to TED for their support and inspiration, and will be sharing updates at Please feel free to send me a message over LinkedIn if you would like to get involved.

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Saturday, 23 October 2010

The US Religious Right and the LGBT crisis In Uganda

Source: Religion Dispatches

By Sarah Posner

Hang them.” Those were the words printed in the new Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone last week, in reference to the 100 gay men whose names, addresses, and photographs the paper published as the country’s “Top Homos” (see image, right). Although the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) remains stalled one year after it was first introduced in the Ugandan Parliament, the intimidation, harassment, and violence it was designed to incite remain an everyday part of life, and an urgent human rights crisis for LGBT Ugandans.

Ugandan human rights advocate, Julius Kaggwa, who visited Washington this week, told me that while the AHB would authorize the state to prosecute, imprison, and even put to death anyone the state deems homosexual, “to date we have more non-state violence directed at gay people.” That violence is both promoted by the government—one parliamentarian has said if he had a lesbian daughter, he would hang her—and carried out by private citizens with government complicity. If a lesbian victim of the common “corrective rape” were to go to the police station to report it, Kaggwa said, she would risk being raped again—by the police.

Kaggwa, who this week received the 2010 Human Rights First Award, has played a leading role in the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which formed in response to the AHB last year and whose principal goal is to prevent the passage of the bill or any of its provisions in other pieces of legislation. While serving as a leader in the coalition, Kaggwa said, men claiming to be criminal investigators detained him at the police station where they forced him to strip naked and interrogated him. His wife received harassing phone calls. Kaggwa appears to be the target of intimidation.

Video: the last gay Holocaust survivor

A plaque in memory of the deportees to the camp gay unveiled Struthof

Source: leParisien

[Google translation]

A plaque in memory of the deported for homosexuality was unveiled 25 September in the former concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof (Bas-Rhin) in the presence of probable last survivor of the "pink triangles", Rudolf Brazda.

The plaque, which reads: "To the memory of victims of Nazi barbarism, deported on grounds of homosexuality," was unveiled before about 150 people.

The sub-prefect Emmanuelle Bochenek-Puren was present on behalf of the Secretary of State for Defence and Veterans Affairs, Hubert Falco, held in Paris at the same time for a ceremony to honor the harkis.
Of the 51,684 persons deported to Struthof annexes and camps (22,000 of them died), 215 were for because of homosexuality, including 14 French. Jews were forced to wear a yellow star. Persons prosecuted for homosexuality should wear a pink triangle.

Rudolf Brazda, 97 years, probably the last survivor of those pink triangles, was present.

In DR Congo, are US funded evangelicals trying to get homosexuality criminalised?

Source: African Activist

MP Bishop Ejiba Yamapia
Bishop Ejiba Yamapia, an Evangelical Christian preacher and Member of Parliament, is working to criminalise homosexuality in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Juene Afrique reports that the text of the law came up for vote today.
Google Translate: Members of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must vote on Friday, October 22 on a text which criminalizes homosexuality and associational activity on gays and lesbians.
MP Bishop Ejiba Yamapia does not beat around the bush to justify his bill criminalizing "sexual practices against nature." "The moral rules tell us that homosexuality (lesbianism), zoophilia is a qualified moral depravity of abomination, references to the Bible and other writings. [...] This law has the merit of contributing to the recovery of morals, the family protection and preservation of cultural identity "of the DRC, said Yamapia in the preamble of the draft legislation released by the journal's web site Prosperity.
The final debate must take place October 22 in Kinshasa. The day before, the discussions had focused on the possible unconstitutionality of Ejiba Yamapia text, as well as the risk of violating international conventions ratified by countries such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter of human rights and peoples.
The bill specifies, among other things, that relations between consenting same sex are punishable by five years in prison and a fine of 500,000 Congolese francs. Any associational activity oriented gays and lesbians will also be prohibited and penalized. That raises fears the worst in the fight against HIV / AIDS ...

Boy raped for blackmail in Saudi Arabia

Seal of the CommitteeImage via Wikipedia
Source: Emirates 24/7

A Saudi man raped a 13-year-old boy and threatened that he would publish pictures of his naked body on the web if he refuses to give him part of his dead father’s inheritance, Kabar newspaper reported on Monday October 18.

The 22-year man used his new play station as a bait to lure his teen age neighbour into his house in the central town of Makkah, it said.

He then raped him, photographed him naked with his mobile phone and threatened that he would put the photos online unless he brings him SR6,000.

“The boy paid him but he later demanded part of his dead father’s inheritance…he kept blackmailing him for weeks before the scared boy told his sister about him,” the newspaper said.

“His sister informed the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which checked the boy’s mobile phone and saw 36 blackmail messages sent by that man…he was later arrested and handed over to the police.”
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Friday, 22 October 2010

The Church and the state of gay rights in Kenya

Anglican Church of Kenya Image via Wikipedia  
Source: Episcopal Cafe

By Peter Anaminyi

In a recent address last month to a national symposium on HIV/Aids targeting homosexuals, lesbians and sex workers in Kenya, Hon Esther Murugi, a Minister in the Office of the President in Kenya, told the participants that “We need to learn to live with men who have sex with other men… we are in the 21st century and things have changed.”

She went on to say that homosexuals and sex workers were an independent constituency and should not be stigmatised and called for statistics to enable the government to develop a policy to cut prevalence rates among the group.

The reaction of religious leaders was predictable, virulent, violent and swift.

The Organising Secretary of the Council of Imams and Preachers described her utterances as “satanic and contrary to African culture” and added that “God in his holy books (Quran and Bible) cursed homosexuality and directed us to fight it.’ He went on to urge the President and the Prime Minister to take stern action against the minister. His comments were supported by the Chairman of the Kenya National Muslim Advisory Council.

Not to be left behind more than 74 churches under the aegis of the Federation of Evangelical Indigenous Christian Churches of Kenya petitioned the President to sack the minister over her remarks and threatened to hold public demonstrations if this was not done. They warned that the Ministers statement would invite God’s wrath.

Airlines are not immigration authorities

Il messaggio di Thomas HammarbergImage by hidden side via Flickr  
Source: Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights

European states seek to reduce immigration through improper threats of sanctions against airlines and other transport companies. They pass heavy responsibility on to the carriers in order to limit access to their territories, said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, in his latest human rights comment. Travel personnel, who cannot possibly have the appropriate competencies for ensuring the rights of refugees under international law, have been made to decide if someone should be allowed to board an airplane or ship – or not.

For a refugee in need of international protection this is a serious barrier, as one must gain access to a state’s territory in order to seek and possibly obtain asylum. Not everyone who fears torture or repression has the proper documents to travel, especially if he or she fears persecution from national authorities, who control the issuing of passports and other travel documents.

This policy creates other problems as well. In order to reach safe havens, refugees may instead be obliged to use the services of smugglers who provide them with false documents in order to get around the vigilance of the carriers.

A way to prevent migration flows

Thursday, 21 October 2010

New report shows thousands of refugees denied protection due to asylum filing deadline

By Dusty Arunjo

Washington, D.C. - One in five refugees seeking protection in the United States is denied asylum because they do not apply within one year of their arrival and miss the 12-month deadline imposed by Congress, according to a study of the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) asylum decisions.
“The one-year deadline results in the denial of asylum, a basic human rights protection, because of a technicality,” said Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center. “The BIA is making a bad law worse by arbitrarily denying exceptions to the deadline and putting the lives of men, women, and children at risk.”
 The study’s conclusions are detailed in a new report, The One-Year Asylum Deadline and the BIA: No Protection, No Process (PDF), a collaboration among the National Immigrant Justice Center’s National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities, Human Rights First, and Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights. The report is the first to examine how the asylum deadline is handled by the BIA, the highest level of administrative appeal available to asylum seekers. The study analyzed 3,472 BIA asylum cases decided in January from 2005 to 2008.

The report is available at

Enacted in 1996, the one-year filing deadline requires asylum seekers to establish by “clear and convincing” evidence that their asylum applications were filed within one year of their arrival in the United States, or demonstrate that their applications were delayed due to changed or extraordinary circumstances. Asylum seekers who cannot meet these requirements, even if they are refugees with well-founded fears of persecution, are barred from asylum protection and face deportation to the countries from which they fled.
Among the report’s key findings are the following:
  • One out of five asylum cases was denied because it was filed after the deadline.
  • In 46 percent of the 662 filing deadline denials, the BIA did not provide any reason for the denial of the asylum application other than that it was submitted after the filing deadline. Of the 662 filing deadline denials, the BIA did not recognize any exceptions to the filing deadline.
  • When an immigration judge granted an exception to the one-year deadline, the BIA affirmed that decision 75 percent of the time. By contrast, when an immigration judge denied asylum based on the one-year deadline, the BIA affirmed the decision 96 percent of the time.
“Our study found that the one-year deadline serves no public policy purpose other than to bar legitimate refugees from obtaining the protection they deserve under international and U.S. law,” said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, clinical professor of law, Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights. “It is not being applied in the way Congress intended and should be repealed.”


Only legislative repeal of the deadline will ensure that refugees are not denied protection based on a technicality. The U.S. Attorney General, who supervises the BIA, also should take a number of steps outlined in the report – including to revise regulations governing exceptions to the deadline and require adjudicators to consider more circumstances that justify delayed filings.

“This study confirms that the filing deadline is leading the United States to deny asylum to credible refugees who are likely to face persecution in their home countries,” said Eleanor Acer, director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection Program. “Not only is the deadline inconsistent with this country’s commitment to protecting the persecuted, but it also wastes already limited government resources litigating a technicality. Congress should simply eliminate the asylum filing deadline.”

The One-Year Asylum Deadline and the BIA: No Protection, No Process is available for download as a PDF at

Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) is a Chicago-based organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. NIJC's National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities (NAPSM) applies a comprehensive human rights and due process framework to issues that particularly affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive immigrants.

Human Rights First (HRF) provides pro bono legal representation to refugees who seek asylum and advocates for their protection consistent with international refugee and human rights conventions and law. Based in Washington, D.C., and New York, HRF builds respect for human rights and the rule of law to help ensure the dignity to which everyone is entitled and to stem intolerance, tyranny, and violence. HRF safeguards the rights of refugees through direct legal services and advocacy by helping asylum seekers find safety in the United States and by advocating for progressive reform of asylum

Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights. Launched in 2008, the Center for Immigrants’ Rights is an immigration clinic where students work on innovative advocacy and policy projects relating to U.S. immigration primarily through representation of immigration organizations. The mission of the Center is to represent immigrants’ interests through legal excellence, advocacy, education, and collaboration with key stakeholders and the community.

Sick of inaction, binational husband separated from partner refuses to support Democrats again

By Madison Reed, LGBT Immigration Equality Rights

I have lived and traveled in many different places all over the planet, and experienced many cultures. For the past 20 years, I have been the owner of New Earth Resource Company, a spirit, mind and body wellness store in my hometown of Huntington, West Virginia. I'm also a licensed real estate agent and blog owner who writes for his blog, "Lotus Opening," - a blog devoted to news and information about enlightenment, human rights and innovation, and the inevitable rise of what I refer to as “enlightened capitalism.” I am very passionate about human rights of people all over the world.

Myself and other gay and lesbian Americans like me who have foreign-born partners, need the help of gays and lesbians all over the world to help them spotlight their terrible situation.

"U.S. federal law denies gay and lesbian American citizens any means to sponsor their foreign same-gender spouses or permanent partners for permanent residency. Under the acclaimed family uniting immigration law of the United States, only a citizen legally “married” to a foreign national has the right to sponsor his spouse for immigration to the United States and permanent residency – and that means a heterosexual marriage only.

To make matters worse for me, because my Belarusian partner Dzmitry lives in Belarus, a politically isolated and economically disadvantaged nation outside the visa waiver zone, and Dzmitry lacks strong ties to his home country required for him to obtain a U.S. visa - because he has no wife or children, no mortgage obligation or a good professional job to tie him to Belarus - he has never once been able to visit me in the United States, and there seems to be no hope of that changing unless the discriminatory and persecutory laws against American LGBT citizens are eliminated. In our seven years of relationship, myself and my partner have never been able to enjoy a single day of time together in a country that is not overridden with homophobia. We don't even possess a photo together!

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