Wednesday 25 January 2012

"Ich bin ein Niemand" ["I'm a nobody"]: Gay Iranian refused German asylum

Sepehr Nazari
Source: Frankfurter Rundschau (via Google translate)

By Von Marian Brehmer

Sepehr Nazari is gay and comes from Iran. Where gays are executed when they are discovered. Nazari took refuge in Germany, presented an application for asylum, and learned that he is not welcome here.

Sepehr Nazari, 25 years old, would like to start a new life without fear. But it's not that simple.

In Iran, the country Sepehr Nazari comes from, men like him do not exist. At least, says the  Iranian president,Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When asked in 2007 during a visit to New York's Columbia University about homosexuality in Iran, he shrugged his shoulders. He did not know what was the question. There are gays in America perhaps, but not in Iran.

The country Nazari talks of seems to be another one to Ahmadinejad's. He knew many gay men in Iran. He tells of secret hangouts and gay cafes, five queer identified online newspapers he has written for. At an international Online Dating Service for homosexuals were just in his home city of Tehran thousands of gays with profiles - more than in Berlin, he says.

Being gay in Iran is dangerous. The article 110 of the "hadd punishments for homosexuality" is: "The hadd punishment for homosexuality in the form of transport is the death penalty. The method of killing is at the discretion of the judge." But even "who has a kissing another of sensuality, is punished with a Tazir penalty of up to 60 lashes." Since 1979, according to Iranian human rights activist, four thousand homosexuals have been executed.

Sepehr Nazari in the spring of 2011 sought asylum in Germany, he currently resides in Dresden, and often comes to Berlin. As a meeting place the 25-year-old has picked his favorite cafe, located in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin Reichenberg. In perfect English he tells his story.

Sent to the psychologist

At fourteen, he knew he was gay. Once, when his friend was visiting, Sepehr's mother burst into the room. She saw her son, entwined with a man, "This is immoral! I knew that you're spoiled," she shrieked. The friend fled from the apartment. Sepehr locked himself in the shower, until his father persuaded him to come out. This is only a phase that will pass soon, his father said. Since then the two have never spoken a word about his homosexuality.

Homosexuality is against nature, it is contrary to God's will. How often has Sepehr heard this. However, his parents are not religious, but rather concerned about the family, neighbors and friends. What to think? "I've always asked my mother what she really thinks," said Sepehr. He never received a reply.

Instead, his mother sent him to a psychologist. Some doctors in Iran are focused on the "disease" of homosexuality, prescribing electric shocks as therapy. Sepehr Nazari was lucky. The lady examined him and asked many questions. The result: He had a strong personality. Nothing more.

Sepehr never had trouble with the police. In the university no one knew about his homosexuality, he never talked to anyone about it. A double life? He laughs. "No, a multiple life. A life for the university, one for work, one for friends, one for close friends and one for the family. "

Once, Sepehr complained about a professor at the university because the language students had been only hours to translate Koran verses. He wrote a complaint letter to the dean.

Shortly after Sepehr got a call from the Secret Service. They want to meet with him to clarify a few things, it said. Through friends at the university he learned that the agency knew of his homosexuality. In March, the Persian New Year holidays, Nazari was flying on a Schengen visa to the Netherlands. There he wanted to visit some friends he knew from student exchange. The return ticket was already booked for Iran. But then he came to Berlin, met old friends from the German course. They convinced him not to return to Iran. Only then did he realize that his return could actually be dangerous for him.

He applied for in June 2011. Priority is given to applicants who have been tortured or leave their homeland for political reasons. Homosexuals are not considered hardship cases and thus can not count on a quick settlement of the asylum application. Not even when they face the death penalty in their homeland.

"War zone" in Chemnitz

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Evil against LGBT: Ostensibly in the name of god + the law

English: Christian Bible, rosary, and crucifix.
Image via Wikipedia
Source: Gay Kenya

By Danny

Shocking, but true, is to learn that out of 76 countries that currently criminalize homosexuality, 45 are former British anti gay colonies whose modern elites in charge of current governments are largely Christian.

The legacy of Christianity and British rule and morality in many parts of the modern world need careful and urgent scrutiny in the light of millions of suffering human lives as a result of the consequences of that legacy.

The legacy is weighing heavily on the shoulders of the LGB who, among other evils, risk suffering the death penalty or life imprisonment for being gay and are excluded from national HIV strategies in many countries because (according to the Law), they remain an illegal group.

In recent times, we have witnessed the worst homophobia and anti-gay hate incidences in countries like Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria. Coalitions have been formed (like; Coalition for the Restoration of Moral Values; headed by Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, former Ugandan Ethics minister) and registered with government departments to have a legal mandate for their work.

Legislations have been drafted with clear and legalized objectives to systemically commit evil against innocent citizens (members of the LGBT community).  These activities are spearheaded and supported by religious leaders and protected by the law.

More than half of the countries, who deny basic information and health services to gender and sexual minorities within their national boundaries, do so because of religious and largely Christian beliefs that strongly influence public policies.

Public health and human rights advocates have spoken for over a decade about the risks of creating these significant holes in the fabric of comprehensive national health policies, but leaders in homophobic counties have chosen to keep their ears shut to this calling. This has left a gap in global interventions for universal access to health care, which is regrettable.

One wonders what leaders of today (both religious and political) want to be remembered for, 50 years from now. Do they want to be remembered for gross violations of global and fundamental human rights and a failed public policy on HIV/AIDS? Or do they want to be remembered for being a diverse global community that disagreed about a lot of things, but drew a sacred line at protecting human life and promoting families of birth and families of choice? 

Sunday 22 January 2012

'Homosexual panic' grips Tunisian politics

111019 Tunisian Islamists, unity activists sta...
Image by Magharebia via Flickr
Source: Gay Middle East

By Dan Littauer

Tunisia’s new interior minister, Ali Larayedh, has been embroiled in controversy and scandal as a leaked video allegedly shows him in a gay prison sex video. This scandal has outraged and inflamed public opinion regarding homosexuality which was already jittery due to the electoral political tactics that used sexuality in order to discredit various opponents.

18 January, a 45 minute long black and white video, dating from 1991, showing two men having sex, was posted on YouTube.  The occasional close-up on one of the men’s faces resembles Ali Larayedh, the current interior minister and a member of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda who won last years’ October elections after the first Arab spring rebellion which deposed dictator Ben Ali. The poor quality of the video makes it difficult to determine the video’s authenticity, or whether Larayedh is actually in the video.  The video on the site was quickly removed, although it is still available on file-sharing sites.

In 1990 Ali Larayedh was arrested by Ben Ali's police for his activity as a member of the then illegal Ennahda party and was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a show trial. He alleges that he has been tortured while serving his jail sentence, while in 1992 his wife was sexually assaulted during an investigation at the Ministry of the Interior.

The alleged video of Ali Larayedh from his time in prison was posted shortly after an announcement by the Tunisian government that three arrest warrants had been issued for senior officials at the Ministry of the Interior. Tarek, Tunisian Editor for Gay Middle East notes that “the security forces of Tunisia have largely remained intact since the time of Ben-Ali and thus many of its personnel are potentially hostile to the Ennahda party.” In other words, the video may have been leaked by someone in the Ministry of the Interior, or perhaps former a high-ranking police officer, wishing to undermine Ali Larayedh by further inciting public opinion using a tactic dubbed “porno politics” by Tunisian activist Ahmed Manaï.  According Manaï’s book, book, “Tunisian Torture: The Secret Garden of General Ben Ali”, tactics to discredit political opponents through exposing sexual scandals, and in particular homosexual ones were used by the deposed Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, during the early 1990s.

The background to this scandal is important to note.  Two days before this incident (16.1.12) Naji Behiri, the brother of the Tunisian Minister of Justice, Noureddine Behiri, was released from prison under presidential amnesty, despite allegation from his hometown that he raped a young boy. Tarek attests: “A wave of public anger erupted across the nation accusing Ennahda party of being at league with homosexuals and paedophiles, terms that were used interchangeably.  Highly homophobic comments were posted on related news articles and throughout the social networking sites, mostly asking that Naji Behiri remains in prison and tried and punished for sodomy.  Conspiracy theories of homosexual corruption and cover up within the Ennahda party have become commonplace.”

Friday 20 January 2012

Video: In US, another gay bi-national couple faces deportation

Via Towleroad

22 years after they first met, Mark and Frédéric, now with four children, faced a hearing at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Philadelphia to be interviewed in connection with the marriage-based immigration petition they filed last summer.

If the petition is not accepted, the family will be forced to leave the country. They will not separate. All because the federal government does not recognize same-sex married couples under DOMA and outdated immigration laws.

Stop the Deportations has a lengthy, detailed story on the couple's struggle.

And CNN has just done a story on Mark and Frédéric and their family.

New research on mental health of LGBT refugees

English: Image for mental health stubs, uses t...
Image via Wikipedia
The Research Institute Without Walls, an NGO that does collaborative research on the impact of human rights violations on LGBT mental health, invites you to join the Collaborative Working Group for LGBT Asylum and Refugees.

Physician for Human RightsImmigration Equality, and Psychologists for Social Responsibility are our first member groups.

The purpose of the Collaborative Working Group is to share information and coordinate research on the psychological effects of persecution and torture because of sexual orientation and gender identity in asylum seekers. This population faces special mental health challenges when navigating the challenges of rebuilding their lives.

We invite groups and individuals to join us in the formation and development of a working group that will allow us to collaborate on documenting the experiences of our clients. Gathering empirical data will allow us to more effectively help LGBT asylum seekers and refugees.

Our first project is a collaboration with Mike Corradini, asylum advocacy associate and attorney at Physicians for Human Rights. We are conducting the first empirical study on the impact of immigration detention on the mental health of LGBT refugees.

We are seeking LGBT persons who have been in detention who are willing to be interviewed about their experiences.

Please let us know if you would be interested in joining the Collaborative Working Group and/or might be able to refer to us LGBT persons who’ve been in immigration detention, who may be willing to be interviewed. Participation is confidential and interviews can be conducted by telephone. For more information you can contact Ariel Shidlo, PhD at
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Israel refuses citizenship for Israeli man's husband

Maayan Zafrir, an Israeli citizen, and his husband Felipe Javier Episcopo
Source: Dos manzanas via Google translate

Israel has refused to grant citizenship to a Uruguayan citizen married since 2008 with an Israeli. The couple, who have two young children, may be forced to appeal to the country's Supreme Court, which in 2006 accepted the request of five gay couples married to Israeli nationals abroad who asked to see their marriage recognized and forced the administration to register their marriages. What happened once again highlighted the complexity and paradoxical nature of the rules in matrimonial matters in Israel.

Felipe Javier Episcopo and Maayan Zafrir met online in 1999 and have lived together in Israel since 2001, where they are legally recognized as a couple, according to Israeli law. Episcopo legally immigrated to Israel where he was initially granted a visa and work permit in 2005 and obtained a temporary residence permit. In 2008 the couple married in Canada. Initially, there were no problems, the authorities accepted the marriage and updated the status of both. However, when Episcopo applied for citizenship (continued temporary residence permit), the Ministry of Interior refused to fully recognize the marriage, citing as the reason the existence of a regulation that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman and rejected the request.

The couple is thus confronted with the paradox that the state recognizes marriage only in part. Zafrir denounced the attitude of the Ministry of Interior, stating that what most concerns him are his children (two years old twins) because, as things stand, if he died Felipe could no longer care for them. The couple spoke to New Family, an advocacy group fighting for LGBT rights. The group's founder, Irit Rosenblum, has denounced what he considers "a clear case of discrimination." "It is difficult to understand why the state has to act as discriminatory and humiliating, since the couple are already recognized," he said, noting that they are willing to go to the Supreme Court.

Last September we reported here in dosmanzanas the Israeli Interior Ministry decision to grant Israeli citizenship to Bayardo Alvarez, the non-Jewish spouse of a gay marriage. It was a historic decision, the first time that the 'law of return' was applied to a gay marriage. However, a ministry spokesman stressed that the decision would not necessarily be similar in other cases.

The law on marriage in Israel
What happened once again highlighted the need for reform of marriage laws in Israel. This is a situation that does not, of course, apply only to same-sex couples. In December, for example, the Ministry of Interior  refused entry to the country to the Nigerian husband of an Israeli woman, calling him 'just a sperm donor'.

In Israel there is only religious marriage, and most of the population used to join the rabbinate as Jewish orthodoxy (religious marriages may also be held Christians or Muslims). If a heterosexual couple wants to marry Israeli in a non-religious ceremony they must do so abroad, and then apply for registration in Israel. Many, in fact, of those who choose to cross the border to celebrate a secular marriage do it in Cyprus. According to polls, two thirds of the Israeli population supports the adoption of a civil marriage law. However, last year the Knesset (Israeli parliament) again rejected a proposal to that effect.
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Torture killing of another trans person in Mexico

By Paul Canning

Mexican media reported 17 January on the brutal killing of an apparently transsexual person in Apodaca, near Monterrey in Northern Mexico.

The body of a man wearing women's clothes was found by police after local residents heard gun shots and explosions.

According to the police report, the body was found lying face down and was about 25 years old. It showed signs of torture, of being shot as he was beaten, his hands were semi-amputated and there was a written message that said "For Rat" ("Por Rata").

The body has reportedly not yet been identified but had a major identifying mark, a tattoo with the name "Pamela".

The Trans Murder Monitoring project recorded 23 reports of murders of trans people in Mexico in 2011. Last August, in Mexico City, the first national march against anti-gay hate crime took place. That claimed that 700 LGBT people had been murdered in 2011.

Last year it was reported that LGBT Mexicans fleeing for US sanctuary are increasingly finding their asylum requests turned down.
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