Trinidad and Tobago prime minister: gay rights ‘not legally possible’
Kamla Persad-Bissessar hinted that a referendum may be called on decriminalizing gay sex
Photo via Wikipedia

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago has said decriminalising homosexuality and gay rights are not possible in the country because public opinion is too divided.

The first female prime minister made the comments on Thursday at the Trinidad and Tobago Investment Conference in New York.

She said, ‘At this moment it is not legally possible. The draft gender policy came to the Cabinet, discussed at length and given the very divided voices of Trinidad and Tobago.

'It will not be prudent for Government to proceed in that direction… it’s too divided. There is no consensus on that issue.'

In 2012 Persad-Bissessar promised to put an end to gay hate in the country’s proposed national gender policy. She said it had never seen the light of day because of opposition strong opposition, especially from the Catholic church.

Persad-Bissessar said decriminalizing gay sex was ‘a very touchy and sensitive’ issue in the Caribbean country and not for the government to decide.

She said, ‘I think that is an issue that is not really for the Government to decide at this time in our country. It is an issue that the people must decide and therefore one that may require as a referendum to get the views of the people… personal views are not good enough.’

LGBTI groups dennounced her comments.

Colin Robinson, executive director of the Coalition Advocation Inclusion of Sexual Orientation, said, ’Mrs Persad-Bissessar was blunt about her reasons for not protecting some of her citizens: political cowardice.’

'The Prime Minister embarrassed herself on the international stage by saying that her Government practices human rights by referendum.'

'If it’s popular to hate one social group, or pass laws against what they can do with their own bodies or who they can love, the Government will just go along.'

The defense – which is often used to get more lenient sentences for criminals after assaults and murders – is based around the claim that a perpetrator was “panicked” into committing a violent crime due to an unwanted advance from a gay person.

More recently, the panic defense has also been used to justify crimes against transgender people after discovering their gender identity.

Rights campaigners have long argued that it is deeply homophobic, and last month a bill axing it was passed by the state assembly by a vote of 50-10.

UN Human Rights Council condemns violence and discrimination against LGBTI people
After surviving a total of seven hostile amendments from Egypt, resolution passes 21-16 with seven abstentions
Photo: UN.org

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday (26 September) passed a resolution which condemns discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Chile, one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, states that it ‘does not seek to create new rights. … There are some whose rights are more violated and need more protection.’

Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay were joined by 42 additional co-sponsors.

'The leadership of these Latin American states reflects strong commitment to human rights for all and follows the significant progress that is being made by governments and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, travesti, and intersex activists in the region,' said Andres Rivera Duarte from the Observatorio Derechos Humanos y Legislación, Chile.

The resolution survived seven hostile amendments introduced by Egypt on behalf of ten States which sought to strip the resolution of all references to sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the end, the resolution passed 21-16 with seven abstentions (see list of votes below).

The resolution asks the High Commissioner for Human Rights to update a 2012 study on violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and it also expresses grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination in all regions of the world committed against LGBTI people.

Below is the full list of how each country voted:

States supporting: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Romania, South Africa, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela

States against: Algeria, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, The Russian Federation

Abstentions: Burkina Faso, China, Congo, Kazakhastan, India, Namibia, Sierra Leone

Absent: Benin

Uganda’s Constitutional Court Knocks Down Anti-Homosexuality Law

Posted on August 1, 2014 at 8:56 am

Uganda’s Constitutional Court Knocks Down Anti-Homosexuality Law

Judge Stephen Kavuma reads the verdict dismissing Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Judge Stephen Kavuma reads the verdict dismissing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Rebecca Vassie

Uganda’s Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, has struck down the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Law, ruling that Parliament passed it illegally. House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, a proponent of the policy, ignored a quorum call before holding a vote last December with less than a third of lawmakers present.

As one of the judges explained, “The illegal act of the Speaker tainted the process and rendered it a nullity.” The Court did not weigh the merits of the bill, which criminalized homosexuality and advocacy for gay rights with life sentences in prison.

The Anti-Homosexuality Law, at times known as the “Kill The Gays” bill because various versions contained the death penalty for homosexuality, had stalled in Uganda’s Parliament for many years before being illegally advanced in December. President Yoweri Museveni sign it into law after being convinced by Ugandan scientists that “whereas, some homosexuals may take up the behavior as an open choice, for others it may be due to indoctrination.” The government defended the law by claiming that it was designed to protect Uganda’s children.

Since the law’s passage, the country’s gay population experienced a huge uptick in hate-crime violence. It also contributed to the country’s health crisis, as many HIV advocacy organizations were targeted for being LGBT-friendly.

Uganda’s colonial-era sodomy law remains on the books, continuing to put the gay community at risk of criminal persecution. Additionally, nothing prevents the Parliament from reconsidering the Anti-Homosexuality Act and passing it with quorum.

"Homosexuality is not a western import, but homophobia is.’ As are the robes and wigs the judges and lawyers are wearing.

"It was a full house in the morning as the Constitutional Court began hearing the petition challenging the constitutionality of the controversial Anti-homosexuality Act. President Yoweri Museveni signed the Act into law in February this year in full glare of local and international media. The petitioners argue that the new law not only violates fundamental freedoms but was also passed in Parliament without quorum. But before proceedings could begin, the the principle state attorney unsuccessfully sought an adjournment, citing short notice of service. The petition is before five justices. NTV’s Solomon Serwanjja attended court and now reports"

"Kenyan transgender rights group Transgender Education and Advocacy (TEA) have won a major court battle, with the country’s high court ruling that the government’s Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) coordination board must allow them to register."

Read more at the source link.

Gay man sentenced for twitter debauchery in Saudi Arabia

Confiscated mobile proves extent of contacts, communication through microblog

    • By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief
    • Published: 16:18 July 23, 2014

Manama: A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced an homosexual man to three years in prison and 450 lashes for using his Twitter account to promote homosexual contacts.

The man, 24, was arrested after he posted several tweets calling for homosexual relations and expressing his readiness to meet gay men, local daily Al Watan reported on Tuesday.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the religious police, was alerted about the tweets and was able to apprehend the young man after it set him up using an undercover agent.

His mobile phone was searched and several “immoral” pictures were discovered, prompting the Commission to refer his case to the public prosecution.

During the trial, the prosecutor requested a harsh punishment and the confiscation of the mobile phone on charges of promoting debauchery.

The suspect reportedly admitted to using his account on the microblog to contact and communicate with homosexuals.

The court decided that the 450 lashes would be given over 15 sessions.

Homosexuality is banned in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states that also comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

Married trans people living in countries without same-sex marriage must divorce if they want their true gender recognized, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

Victory: Croatia adopts civil union law for gay couples
Eastern European country’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor to give gay couples the right to enter into life partnerships
Croatia has given gay couples the right to enter into life partnerships.

Gay couples are celebrating as Croatia has adopted a law on life partnerships.

It allows couples to enter into a legal union that gives them many of the same rights that married couples enjoy, but does not allow them to adopt.

The law passed 89 votes in support and 16 against today (15 July).

Zoran Milanovic, Croatia’s liberal Prime Minister, proposed the legislation saying he was determined to bring in rights for same-sex couples.

The law will give same-sex couples access to equality in inheritance, pensions, tax and medical care.

Marko Jurčić, anti-discrimination coordinator for Zagreb Pride, told Gay Star News it was a ‘big step forward’.

‘Of course marriage equality is something we all demand, but it is still a huge step.

‘Almost every country that now has marriage equality has had this step in between.

‘While in one hand anyone who wants to get married can in the meantime still enjoy a huge number of rights, rights they deserve. On the other, this is a block in the path to marriage equality.’

Last year, the Catholic Church gathered 750,000 signatures – over one fifth of Croatia’s population – to demand the Constitution ban same-sex marriage.

It led to a change in the constitution, banning gay couples from marriage by defining it as between a man and a woman.

(via Belgium: First transgender parliamentarian appointed to Senate · PinkNews.co.uk)

"Professor Petra De Sutter has become Belgium’s first transgender Member of Parliament, making her the second serving transgender MP in Europe, following the country’s recent elections."

Read more at the source link.

(via Belgium: First transgender parliamentarian appointed to Senate · PinkNews.co.uk)

"Professor Petra De Sutter has become Belgium’s first transgender Member of Parliament, making her the second serving transgender MP in Europe, following the country’s recent elections."

Read more at the source link.

Rob Ford is the lone vote against LGBT homeless youth shelter proposal

Measure passes 37-1

CBC News Posted: Jul 10, 2014 3:48 PM ET Last Updated: Jul 10, 2014 3:48 PM ET


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in city council on July 9, 2014. (CBC)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was the only member of city council to vote against a report looking into a potential homeless shelter for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth in Toronto.

The shelter report recommendation passed on Thursday by a vote of 37-1. Several councillors, including the mayor’s brother Doug, were absent for or abstained from the vote.

The vote means that council has requested a report on the feasibility of allocating 25 per cent of shelter beds to LGBT youth in an existing shelter for the coming winter.

Alex Abramovich, a research co-ordinator with the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital, has spent eight years studying the issue and proposed a shelter exclusively for LGBT youth.

Meaning of title established

The court heard the Tsilhqot’in people were “semi-nomadic,” with few permanent encampments, even though they saw the area as their own and protected it from outsiders.

In its decision, Canada’s top court agreed that a semi-nomadic tribe can claim land title even if it uses it only some of the time, and set out a three-point test to determine land titles, considering:

Continuity of habitation on the land.
Exclusivity in area.

The court also established what title means, including the right to the benefits associated with the land, and the right to use it, enjoy it and profit from it.

However, the court declared that title is not absolute, meaning economic development can still proceed on land where title is established as long as one of two conditions is met:

Economic development on land where title is established has the consent of the First Nation.
Failing that, the government must make the case that development is pressing and substantial, and meet its fiduciary duty to the aboriginal group.

In other words, the decision places a greater burden on governments to justify economic development on aboriginal land.

The court also makes it clear that provincial law still applies to land over which aboriginal title has been declared, subject to constitutional limits.

Mongolian Government plans to protect LGBTIs from hate crimes
The Government of Mongolia is proposing to pass new laws protecting LGBTIs and ethnic minorities from hate crimes after a wave of attacks by neo-Nazis against vulnerable groups in recent years
A temple sits in the shadow of a skyscraper in the Mongolian capital Ulaan Baatar
Photo by Franco Visintainer

LGBTI people and ethnic minorities will be protected from being subjected to hate crimes in Mongolia if a government proposal goes forward.

Homosexuality has been legal in Mongolia since 1961 but homophobic views are pervasive throughout society and LGBTI rights were only discussed in parliament for the first time in April of last year.

LGBTI people have been subjected to a number of severe violent attacks in recent years, as have ethnic minorities, as there has been an up swell in neo-Nazi inspired nationalist groups in the country.

In February this year a gay man was sexually tortured by homophobic nationalists but police initially did not accept the case as male-on-male rape is not covered in the criminal code.

The man later died but it is not known whether he was murdered or committed suicide following his ordeal - while in 2009 three transgender women were kidnapped and taken to a cemetery where they were beaten and sexually humiliated.

In 2012 Mongolia’s National Human Rights Commission found that 80% of LGBTI Mongolians had been subjected to some kind of violation of their human rights over their identity in the last three years.

Under the new proposal by Mongolia’s Justice Minister Kh Temuujin law enforcement agencies would be trained to recognize and report crimes motivated by discrimination and prejudice.

The proposal would also see greater penalties for crimes that were motivated by discrimination and also greater compensation for victims of such crimes.

An initial draft produced in January by human rights groups and justice ministry officials contained language describing ‘hate bias,’ but the latest version replaces this with more general language covering ‘discrimination.’

Some human rights advocates are concerned about how such general language would be enforced.

‘They had intended to draft hate crimes into law,’ executive director of Ulaanbaatar’s LGBT Center Anaraa Nyamdorj told Al Jazeera.

‘Instead they’ve codified discrimination, drafting it in such a way - so broad - that it will be very difficult to bring down to an implementation level. It means that Mongolia could very well be one of the first countries in the world to criminalize the very concept of discrimination almost entirely.’

State Department to Block Ugandan Officials from Entering U.S., Cut Funding Over Anti-Gay Law


The State Department has announced new measures in reaction to Uganda’s passage of its Anti-Homosexuality Law earlier this year. The measures include restricting Ugandan officials’ entry into U.S., cutting funding to certain programs, and canceling participation in Africom military exercises.


NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden released a statement on the response:

As President Obama has stated, the Government of Uganda’s enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) runs counter to universal human rights and complicates our bilateral relationship. We announced in April a series of initial responses, and we have since considered how further to reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Today, we are announcing several additional steps. Specifically, the Department of State is taking measures to prevent entry into the United States by certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals. In addition, the United States will take steps, consistent with current authorities, to prevent entry into the United States by Ugandans who are found responsible for significant public corruption.  We are also discontinuing or redirecting funds for certain additional programs involving the Ugandan Police Force, Ministry of Health, and National Public Health Institute, and cancelling plans to hold a U.S. military-sponsored aviation exercise in Uganda.

None of these steps diminishes our commitment to providing development and humanitarian support for the Ugandan people, or our partnership with the Ugandan government to counter the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army and improve security in Africa. We will seek to advance these interests even as we continue—in Uganda and around the world—to oppose discriminatory practices and champion human rights for all.

"An unknown assailant sprayed butyric acid at the politician as she was giving an interview on the sidelines of the parade. Lunacek and the interview team were not injured.

The acid damaged the Greens MP’s clothes and the camera equipment. According to police spokeswoman Barbara Riehs, the acid caused around €50,000 worth of damage to the electronic equipment. The attacker had not yet been found on Sunday.”

Thankfully, no one was injured. Read more at the source link.