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posted Friday, April 9, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 15

National News
U.S. State Dept. reports on LGBT life in nearly every nation

This year's U.S. State Department "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" looked at LGBT life in nearly every nation on the planet and did an excellent job of documenting anti-LGBT abuse across the globe, the Council for Global Equality said March 11.

The council further applauded the State Department for urging "the use of diplomacy to counter this trend" of anti-Gay hostility.

Introducing the report, Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, singled out the situation in Uganda, where a proposed draconian anti-Gay bill has resulted in a seriously deteriorating atmosphere for LGBT people.

Among much else, the bill punishes "aggravated homosexuality" and a second conviction for "the offense of homosexuality" with the death penalty.

"The report ... documents LGBT-related incidents in almost every country in the world, including a range of cases involving arbitrary arrest and detention, police abuse, rape, and murder," the council said. "For the first time ever, most of the reports have a dedicated section examining 'societal abuses, discrimination, and acts of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.'"

In Jamaica, for example, the report says LGBT people suffer "arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of ... patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings."

In Iraq, it says, Gays "were assaulted and murdered by having their anuses glued shut or their genitals cut off and stuffed down their throats until they suffocated."

"The level of reporting on LGBT abuses this year is remarkably detailed and truly commendable, and unfortunately this new level of detail shows just how dangerous it is for LGBT individuals to go about their daily lives as ordinary citizens in so many parts of the world," said council Chair Mark Bromley.

Michael Guest, the openly Gay former U.S. ambassador to Romania, and an adviser to the council, commended "President Obama's and Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton's principled belief that the human rights of LGBT people cannot be separated from those of all of society."

The report's LGBT content stretches to 137 pages of 12-point type. Here is just a tiny amount of what was reported:

o Australia: "[T]he government amended 84 laws to eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples and their children in a wide range of areas, including taxes, child support, immigration, pensions, and social security."

o Azerbaijan: "[P]olice raided Gay bars on four occasions and arrested almost 50 persons. Police reportedly held the individuals and threatened to expose their sexuality publicly unless they paid a bribe. The human rights Ombudsman's Office intervened to resolve the incidents."

o Burundi: "[R]evisions to the penal code enacted during the year included a provision that criminalizes homosexual acts. ... On March 6, a demonstration with an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 participants took place in Bujumbura in support of the law criminalizing homosexuality. The march was sponsored by the ruling party, CNDD-FDD. Participants in the antihomosexual demonstration wore CNDD-FDD T-shirts and sang party anthems. Buses were hired to bring large numbers to the march, including school-aged children; schools were closed for the event."

o Croatia: "On June 13, an anti-Gay protest was staged during the annual Gay Pride Parade. Members of the protest carried banners with abusive language such as 'kill the faggots.' Organizers of the parade considered the protest a hate crime and criticized authorities for having allowed it to take place."

o Cuba: "[S]ocietal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity persisted, as police occasionally conducted sweeps in areas where Gay men congregated, particularly along sections of Havana's waterfront. On March 24, police arrested 20 male Transvestites in Central Havana. Some were reportedly detained for several hours and ordered to stop dressing in women's clothing. Gay rights organizations also reported cases of individuals discharged from their jobs due to their sexual orientation. Mariela Castro, the president's daughter, headed the national Center for Sexual Education and continued to be outspoken in promoting Gay rights. Despite these efforts, several non-government Gay rights activists asserted that the government had done nothing to stop frequent cases of police brutality and harassment of LGBT persons. In August two LGBT activists were detained without charges for 13 days in connection with their efforts to plan a 'Mr. Gay Cuba' competition. During the detention, police destroyed or damaged personal property and seized computer equipment used by the activists. The activists were held incommunicado for more than 24 hours. On September 3, the contest winner reported that he had been detained for several hours and threatened with expulsion from medical school as a result of his participation in the contest."

o Ecuador: "The new constitution includes the principle of nondiscrimination and establishes choice of sexual orientation as a right."

o Equatorial Guinea: "Societal stigmatization and discrimination against homosexual persons was strong, and the government made little effort to combat it."

o Gambia: "In a March 27 speech before the National Assembly, President Jammeh called homosexual conduct 'strange behavior that even God will not tolerate.' The president previously described homosexual conduct as a criminal practice and told police to arrest persons practicing homosexual activity and to close motels and hotels that accommodated them. In May 2008 the president ordered all LGBT persons to leave the country within 24 hours and threatened to cut off their heads. There were no LGBT organizations in the country."

o Indonesia: "On May 16, LGBT organizations held Gay pride marches in Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Makassar, and Banda Aceh commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia. Organizers were able to obtain necessary permits from the government and police provided protection to the marchers."

o Iran: "[T]he last confirmed death sentences for homosexual conduct were handed down in 2005, although there were allegations of executions related to homosexual conduct in 2006 and 2007."

o Kuwait: "[T]here were more than a dozen reports of police arresting Transgender persons at malls and markets, taking them into custody, beating them and shaving their heads, and then releasing them without charges."

o Malawi: "On December 28, two men were arrested in Blantyre and charged with illegal carnal knowledge and committing acts of 'gross indecency with another male person.' The men were denied bail and were in jail awaiting trial at the end of the year."

o Mexico: "Activists organized Gay pride marches in cities across the country; the largest, in which 400,000 people participated, was held in June in Mexico City. In December Mexico City legalized Gay marriage and adoption, effective in March 2010."

o Nigeria: "In the 12 northern states that have adopted Shari'a law, adults convicted of engaging in homosexual activity may be subject to execution by stoning, although no such sentences have been imposed."

o Russia: "Project GayRussia attempted to stage a Gay pride parade timed to coincide with the annual Eurovision song contest hosted by Russia. Authorities arrested all 50 participants in the Sparrow Hills park before they could organize. ... Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, who in the past had called homosexuality 'satanic,' told the television program 'Facing the City' that 'the morals of society' do not accept Gay persons, to whom he referred using a slur."

o Samoa: "The Censorship Board banned the film Milk due to its homosexual scenes."

o Sierra Leone: "Social discrimination based on sexual orientation occurs in nearly every facet of life for known Gays and Lesbians, and many choose to have heterosexual relationships and family units to shield them."

o Somalia: "Sexual orientation is considered a taboo topic, and there is no public discussion of this issue in any region of the country."

o Taiwan: "The seventh Gay pride march was held in October. More than 25,000 individuals participated."

o Uganda: "The September introduction in parliament of a bill providing the death penalty for 'aggravated homosexuality' and for homosexual 'serial offenders' resulted in increased harassment and intimidation of LGBT persons during the year; the proposed legislation also provides for a fine and three years' imprisonment for persons who fail to report acts of homosexual conduct to authorities within 24 hours."

o Yemen: "Homosexual activity is a crime punishable by death under the country's interpretation of Islamic law. There were no Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) persons' organizations. ... Few, if any, LGBT residents were open about their orientation or identity because of heavy societal pressure."

To see all the lengthy LGBT excerpts, visit tinyurl.com/statelgbt. The Council for Global Equality is a project of Public Interest Projects, a New York-based nonprofit organization. Member organizations include American Jewish World Service, Amnesty International USA, Anti-Defamation League, Center for American Progress, Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute, Global Rights, Heartland Alliance, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Immigration Equality, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Metropolitan Community Churches, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Open Society Institute, and Out & Equal. With assistance from Bill Kelley



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