Tag Archives: Uganda

LGBTQ History Month 2014: We Have A Long Way To Go

1 Jun

lgbtpridemonth2014June is recognized as LGBT History Month, a time for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community to come together and celebrate who we are and stand in solidarity with each other.  We celebrate in June because it was June of 1969 that jump-started the Gay Liberation Movement in our country’s history with the Stonewall Riots.  While we have witnessed much progress in some areas, we still witness mortifying discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

In 1969 it was illegal in the United States to be gay and we were targeted by police for raids and put in jail.  Sadly, the LGBT community is still policed disproportionately and there are still 29 states — mostly in the South — where it is still illegal to be gay, despite Lawrence v. Texas. Yes, most states in the South have zero protections for LGBT folk, so one can be denied employment, denied housing, and denied healthcare just for their sexual orientation.

As much as we think It Gets Better, we still have a long way to go.  One wonders why we don’t have a better campaign that says: Make It Get Better, and put the onus on the dominant culture.  We know from the 2010 National Health Report that harassment and violence against the LGBT community have increased by 20% and the increase of violence is even greater for LGBT folks of color.

Sadly, this trend is international and shows no sign of abating. India’s new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi,  supports the country’s lower court’s ruling, once again making gay sex a crime punishable by up to ten years in jail and putting tens of millions of Indians at risk of prosecution or harassment. Look at the spike in protesting and violence in France that started as marriage equality began to work its way through the legislative process. Look at the violence in Russia and the Ukraine and the official indifference — or outright support — it receives. Nigeria just passed “All Gays to Be Jailed” law. Even in supposedly progressive Oregon, look at the hate and discrimination practiced near Portland at Oregon City High School.

The closer we get to equality, the angrier — and more aggressive — our foes become.  While I am elated that we now have 19 states plus the District of Columbia that celebrate marriage equality, I am also fearful that there will be an enormous backlash. How many of us are still reeling from the injustice to Larry King, the 8th grader shot in the back of the head twice and murdered.

Granted, our heterosexual brothers and sisters do have to live in fear of the Gay Agenda…

I want to acknowledge gratefully that DOMA has now been overturned, as has Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. We still have a long way to go because of current LGBT hate crimes and because of the impact of multigenerational trauma.

LGBT History Month provides a time and place for the community to celebrate and come together in “numbers too big to be ignored.” (You know I love me some Helen Reddy.)  I ask all of our heterosexual brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity and support all LGBT folk in the many colors and lives we represent. This is not a time to grow complacent. We must be visible!

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Bigot of the Week Award: August 16, International Olympic Committee

16 Aug

SochiBoycottThanks to my friend and fierce LGBT ally Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this article. SJFA readers will remember the story about the violent homophobia in Russia right now, but I fear It Gets Worse. Now all athletes who show any type of solidarity for their LGBT brothers and sisters will be punished by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  My how very 19th Century of the IOC.  It is as if the history of the persecution of folks with the pink triangle by the Nazis during WWII never happened.

The IOC, in a very Gestapo like manner, declared that anyone trying to make it safe for LGBT athletes, “Any participant who steps out of line may be punished, not by the Russians but by Olympic chiefs themselves.”  The IOC is calling upon Rule 50 from the Olympic Charter which states that the Olympics is not for political or religious propaganda — and here we have the blatant hypocrisy.  All the folks spouting their religious hate are facing no consequences, but those trying to ensure the emotional and physical safety of other human beings are being arrested and punished. How sad that the IOC willfully suffers the delusion that promoting human rights is a “political” agenda.

Do we need to be worried that Putin seems obsessed with us gay folk? Do he and Scott Lively need to finally announce their “love that dare not speak its name.”   I find it ironic that Putin the dictator of Russia is willing to grant political asylum to Edward Snowden, but then tortures LGBT folk.  Yes, for those not reading the newspapers, LGBT teens in Russia are being tortured.

Sadly, the United States cannot approach this issues from a place of innocence. Most part of the southern United States and even parts here in Oregon LGBT folk have to live their lives in fear.  We do not get to claim righteous indignation and moral superiority over Putin and his homophobic merry band of haters and fear mongers, for we have the same closet cases here in our own backyard.

Call to action: Yes, I fully support boycotting the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, but I would also ask that all of us that are committed to social justice stand in solidarity with ALL of our LGBT brothers and sisters around the world: Russia, the United States, Uganda, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and My Birthday…

10 Dec
Me Age 6

Me Age 6

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights document, drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt.  Here is just a bit of it to treasure.

We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta for all men everywhere. We hope its proclamation by the General Assembly will be an event comparable to the proclamation in 1789 [the French Declaration of the Rights of Citizens], the adoption of the Bill of Rights by the people of the US, and the adoption of comparable declarations at different times in other countries.

I have felt very connected to both Eleanor Roosevelt and to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, maybe because it was on my birthday, or maybe just because I have spent most of my life working for basic human rights for all people.

Today, I am also sad at how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is just an abstract idea far removed from places like Uganda, where white, wealthy, heterosexual Americans fuel and finance hate. I find myself asking what can we do individually and collectively to make the world a better place.

My birthday wish is that all of humanity take some action, no matter how small a step, to STOP racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, ageism, classism, and all other forms of marginalization.  We must learn how to have courageous conversations and how to interrupt oppression.

Bigot of the Week Award: December 7, Sen. James Inhofe and his “Fellows”

7 Dec
BIgot of the Week

BIgot of the Week

This week a number of U.S. Senators have simultaneously taken one stand against human rights and refused to take another stand in favor of human rights. What ties these bitter white men together is their membership in a secretive faux-Christian sect known as the Fellowship. (It’s also called the Family — they couldn’t decide which word to misappropriate…) This nasty sect, founded in 1935, purports to be a prayer group celebrating the teachings of Jesus. What they really are is the worst of Who Would Jesus Hate hypocrites, pushing homophobia, misogyny, racism, and “traditional values” while secretly supporting the long-term extramarital affairs of Sen. John Ensign (R of course – NV) and former SC Governor Mark Sanford.

The Fellowship has international membership, and its members in Uganda, with support from U.S. members like Scott Lively, have been active sponsors of the viciously anti-gay bill currently working its way through the Ugandan Parliament. Five Republican U.S. Senators who are known members of the Fellowship — Charles Grassley (IA), James Inhofe and Tom Coburn (OK),  Jim DeMint (SC), Mike Enzi (WY) — (have actively resisted calls to condemn the bill. Sen. Inhofe notoriously argued with Rachel Maddow about the content of the bill and its connection to his organization in an interview last March. American “missionary” voices have been instrumental in fanning the flames of homophobia in Uganda. The refusal of these men to distance themselves from this potentially lethal legislation is inexcusable.  On the plus side, the nefarious Jim DeMint is leaving the Senate to lead the backwards hate group The Heritage Foundation–only white, heterosexual, homophobes need apply.

Another international manner arose in the Senate this week. Treaty 112-7, a resolution from the U.N. on the rights of people with disabilities came up for a vote. This treaty already ratified by 126 countries, supports equal rights and support for the disabled. Even though it proposes nothing that is not already U.S. law, a core group of U.S. Senators blocked the treaty as “intrusive.” Treaties require a 2/3 majority, so the 61/38 vote failed to pass. All five of the Fellowship Senators voted “nay.” What a nice way to show their KKKristian values.

As a sad coda, retired Sen. Bob Dole appeared in the Senate chambers to support the treaty. I’m hardly a fan of Sen. Dole, but he is a disabled veteran and served for years beside many of the current Senators. They greeted him, slapped him on back, listened to his plea for support for the disabled, and voted against him. What more proof do we need that these nasty, narrow-minded monsters have jumped the legislative shark?

Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill Poised to Pass

14 Nov

The Speaker is a drag in every sense of the word…

It’s baaaack! Thanks to my friend Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to write this story.  Sadly, Uganda may finally pass its toxic anti-gay legislation. First proposed in 2009, the bill has sat in three successive legislatures without final action. That may be about to change.

David Bahati, a member of Uganda’s parliament, not content to merely criminalize homosexuality as many sub-Saharan nations do, created this bill to “protect the cherished culture of the people of Uganda, legal, religious, and traditional family values of the people of Uganda against the attempts of sexual rights activists seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda.” If that language sounds familiar, it should. Bahati had help from a number of far-right U.S. evangelicals — including the notorious Scott Lively — helped craft the bill, imposing yet another layer of colonization.

The original bill called for the death penalty for any acts of “aggravated homosexuality”, which includes the broad categories of homosexual behavior by a person impacted by HIV, is a parent or authority figure, or who administers intoxicating substances, homosexual acts committed on minors or people with disabilities, and repeat offenders. The mere “offence” of homosexuality incurs life imprisonment. After an outcry by human rights groups and the threat of the loss of foreign aid — including from the U.S., where President Obama has called the bill “odious” — the death penalty was lowered to life imprisonment for most offences. Isn’t that lovely?

All the debate and international pressure have left the bill’s final fate uncertain — until this week. The Charm Free Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, has said that she will ensure its passage before the end of the year as a <wait for it> CHRISTMAS GIFT to her people! Hey Jesus, who do you want imprisoned as your birthday gift this year?

Kadaga insists that the people of Uganda are demanding that the law be passed to “protect the children” and curb the “destructive behavior.” Sounds like more hate speech imported by Mr. Lively and his minions, doesn’t it? It seems likely that the parliament will pass the bill. That will leave things up to President Museveni, who could veto it. He has strong ties to Lively’s group, the Fellowship, but is also concerned about international reaction.  We must stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda–take action now! Let President Museveni know this is a crime against humanity!

p.s. I’m pretty sure David Bahati was on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Rowan Williams Retires with a Muddled Mea Culpa

10 Sep

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and symbolic head of the Anglican Communion, has announced his impending retirement after nearly a decade. At 61, he intends to return to academia for the final phase of his public life as master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Williams’ term as Archbishop has been challenging for him, the Communion, and the faithful around the world as the church has struggled to maintain its relevance and integrity in the modern world.

One of the largest issues facing this (and most protestant denominations) is that of gay rights. Large and vocal diocese in Africa and Latin America are very conservative. Perhaps the wealthiest and most influential sector of the Communion, however, is the Episcopal church in the United States, which took major strides in recognizing same-sex partnerships and transgender rights this year. Navigating this divide has been Williams’ greatest challenge, and his quiet middle ground has frustrated both supporters and opponents of equality.

Dr. Williams offered a final interview to the Telegraph, addressing his challenges and failures as well as those of the church. On the issue of being a public spokesman and a spiritual leader at the same time, he acknowledges, “I don’t think I cracked it.” Describing himself as a “hairy lefty” (I would hardly qualify him as a lefty) and alluding to his personal progressive views, he expresses the frustration of trying to hold together the Communion in the face of major social change. Most tellingly, he offers this analysis of the Communion and its leadership:

We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that.

It’s a pleasant change of pace from his usual vague vacillations, but he tempers it with a long discussion of the “tangle” of mixing civil and ecclesiastical demands in the realm of marriage. A thoughtful academic to the core, his final welcome words are muddied by his persistent wandering in the moors of the middle ground.

Sadly, his likely successor is John Sentamu, Archbishop of York. A native of Uganda, where LGBT citizens are threatened with death by the state itself, his position on marriage equality is quite clear. One of only four English bishops to refuse to sign the 1999 Cambridge Accord that affirmed the human rights of the LGBT community, he has said,

Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman […] We’ve seen dictators [redefine marriage] in different contexts and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time.

While this may please the conservatives in the Communion, it hardly serves as good shepherding to the millions of LGBT Anglicans and is likely to further fracture relations between Canterbury and the Episcopals. What a sad and pathetic choice for a successor.

Ugandan Homophobia Spreads to Ghana

31 Jul

For those of you following TSM, you have read several articles about the homophobia killing gays in Uganda.  Unfortunately, the brutal treatment of gays is now spreading to Ghana.  TSM is most fortunate to have Angel Mason as a contributor to report more on this horrific story.

A vicious immoral insanity has invaded Uganda like a biblical plague, and is now eating away at her soul and festering amongst her people like a virulent malignant disease. Moreover, this plague, if not stopped, excised and exorcised from Ugandan culture, will continue to incite more political oppression, more unjustified murders and more unwarranted and illegal imprisonments. This insanity that I refer to is extreme homophobia, which has been tragically and purposely imported into the country by Right wing Christian evangelical leaders, resulting in disastrous consequences for the people of Uganda. This intolerant mindset has been eagerly and cruelly embraced by Ugandan government officials, who have now codified this extreme form of homophobic genocide into their very country’s constitution…

These prophetic, compelling words grabbed the attention of the entire international community in an article penned by my personal assistant Asim (Editor, Author and Creative Writer) and I, entitled: An open letter to the architects of the Ugandan Gay Genocide.
Even though we both hoped these words would never come to fruition, and that somehow the human rights violations being committed against same-gender-loving people would at least taper off, if not stop all together, regretfully, they have not! In fact, on July 20, 2011, Paul Evans Aidoo, the Western Region Minister of Ghana, urged “landlords and tenants” to report suspected homosexuals and suggested gays should be rounded-up in an effort “to get rid of these people in the society.” These comments followed the announcement that 8,000 gay men have registered with AIDS charities in the area. Not long after this information was disclosed, Muslims and Christians began staging anti-gay protests and The Christian Council of Ghana called on Ghanaians not to vote for any politician who believes in the rights of homosexuals.

There are far more than just 8,000 LGBT people living in Ghana because it is a proven fact statistically that hundreds (if not thousands) of same-gender-loving people who live in areas where they are stigmatized and marginalized never disclose their sexual orientation to anyone! As an author, Civil Rights Activist, and AIDS advocate, I can personally attest to receiving countless emails from African same-gender-loving people who reach out to me all the time. I am often overwhelmed by their numerous requests for advice and reading materials, so I know firsthand that 8,000 is only a drop in the bucket! I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve spent agonizing over the plight of my brothers and sisters in Africa because they are so severely oppressed, jailed, abused and murdered because they are gay!

This heinous mandate (to round up the gays and kill them) bares a chilling resemblance to the recent proposed Ugandan Gay Genocide and the evil mandate issued by Adolph Hitler and his monstrous regime before the Enlightenment, when Jews (like same-gender-loving people) were hated because they were different and refused to assimilate. The word, “GENOCIDE” seems to be the theme of Africa, known also for the horrific Rwandan holocaust, where an estimated 800,000 people in the small African nation of Rwanda were brutally murdered!

You may recall that not long ago the Obama administration introduced its first statement calling for the United Nations’ top human rights body to combat discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world, implementing a U.S. reversal from years of ambiguity on the subject during the presidency of George W. Bush.  “We are very concerned that individuals continue to be killed, arrested and harassed around the world because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Suzanne Nossel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations.  This statement sends a strong message from across the globe that such abuse should not be tolerated. Again, I can only applaud the Obama administration for championing equal rights for all same-gender-loving people across the globe, especially in view of the recently proposed gay genocide in Uganda!

Both Ghana and Uganda and other surrounding countries’ inhumane acts of violence and overt discrimination directed at same-gender-loving people have blinded them to truth and compassion which subsequently has clouded their good judgment and sense of self-preservation. It now also threatens to undo 30 years of progress made against the spread of the virus as previously stated in the aforementioned article.

We are already seeing signs of these repercussions, since thousands refuse to seek medical care, fearing that doctors, nurses and practitioners will disclose their sexual preference–something mandated by both Ghanaian and Ugandan’s Legislators. The daunting reality is that millions more will die, not only in Ghana, but all throughout Africa needlessly because of fear, ignorance and intolerance.

What I find amazing is that the use of laws to arrest, prosecute or imprison individuals for consensual same-sex relations in private or on the basis of their gender identity or expression is a violation of Ghana’s international human rights obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The rights enshrined in these international treaties include the rights to privacy, freedom from discrimination, equal treatment under the law, freedom of expression, association and assembly. The Ghanaian government has obligations under these standards to promote, respect and protect the human rights of its population without distinction or discrimination of any kind, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Ghana’s own constitution recognizes the right to freedom from discrimination in Article 17. Furthermore, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ratified by Ghana in 1989, affirms the equality of all people. Article 2 affirms the right to freedom from discrimination, article 3 guarantees equality before the law and article 26 outlines the duty of all individuals not to discriminate, and to “maintain relations aimed at promoting, safeguarding and reinforcing mutual respect and tolerance.”

It is well known globally that many African nations depend heavily on outside support from other countries because of the severe poverty ravaging the continent. This is why the threat of proposed sanctions against the Uganda government was effective and helped to neutralize and dismantle the “Kill the Gays Bill.” These distasteful, inhumane acts grieved the international community to such an extent that humanitarian activists united with an unrelenting resolve, driven by the spirit of justice, vowing never to rest until Uganda was forced to eschew, foreswear, and permanently renounce all efforts to imprison gays for life or kill them.
Often, international advocates warn that global pressure could be misconstrued and have an adverse effect. However, even though some caution that international sanctions could be seen as an attempt to impose foreign values on a sovereign country, we  cannot sit idly by and do nothing lest we also be found just as guilty as the crazed homophobic abusers, who beat, rob, rape, unjustly imprison, and even murder innocent same-gender-loving people in these oppressive nations. There is no doubt in my mind that despite the possibility of a backlash from African countries who may resist global intervention; international pressure is essential, necessary and needful in order to send a message to  reactionary African nations  that any such type of horrific  genocidal legislation will never be tolerated, nor condoned! Moreover, we, the civilized nations of the world community, must send these purveyors and architects of such cruel inhumane bigotry and genocide a clear strong, unambiguous, and resounding message! A message that proclaims such blatant and overt contempt and willful disregard for the rights and safety of its citizens will always be met with moral outrage, international censure, and financial sanctions, without question or hesitation.

It is important to note that even though American Right Wing Evangelicals were not directly responsible for inspiring this travesty of injustice in Ghana, still, they cannot be completely absolved of responsibility for it, since for decades they have infused African people with a spirit of intolerance and homophobia that has even grieved the heart of the very Creator Himself!!! While many discount the accuracy of the Holy Scriptures and multitudes flee legalistic driven houses of worship (and rightfully so) because of narrow-mindedness, homophobia and gay bashing from the pulpit, still I can’t help but wonder (as a proud same-gender-loving believer) if the following particular scriptures have accurately and historically framed this overt insane expression of hatred, when they foretold of a time when men would kill each other in the name of the Messiah, foolishly thinking that they are doing God a service; a time when the love of men would grow cold and men would be fierce despisers of those that are good, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, and extremely brutal?  Even so, I am encouraged because I know that these same scriptures declare that perfect love casts out fear, and that the power of love always triumphs over injustice!  While the mills of justice may grind slowly, ultimately justice will prevail if you and I will boldly step up to the plate and take aggressive action! We must never forget the words of Edmund Burke who said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

In conclusion, we should all turn our attention towards beautiful New York harbor, to Ellis Island, where stands The Statue of Liberty. This icon of Human Rights continues inspiring, illuminating, and enlightening the world. This wonderful gesture of kindness and symbol of freedom was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. This is why I call on all democratic nations of the world, the United Nations, Congress and President Obama to emulate and duplicate the heroic and compassionate example of The U.K. and likewise offer political asylum to the persecuted same sex community of Ghana and Uganda. Surely, these famous words inscribed upon the Statue of Liberty which I now quote, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” should include them as well!

Thank you, Angel. TSM readers hope we can look forward to more of your articles here. We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes.  Let us hope that President Obama’s latest move towards equality for the LGBT community will help the rest of the world.

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