Tuesday, July 29, 2014

US Senators urge Obama to push for Nigeria and Uganda on LGBT rights


A dozen of America’s senators want US President Barack Obama to reconsider trade agreements with Nigeria and Uganda because of their homophobic laws.

These US senators have penned a letter to the president asking him to hold the two countries to their human rights commitments as members of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Approved by US Congress in 2000 to improve US-African relations and help boost sub-Saharan economies, the AGOA system is an annual membership that provides tax-free exports from Africa into the US.

Nigeria is reportedly one of the largest exporters under AGOA, and since the legislation has been extended to run until 2015, politicians want the Executive Branch to bring the two countries to task over their anti-gay laws.

Senators wrote to President Obama:

We write with deep concern over a growing trend of laws and proposed legislation targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Africa. These laws, combined with the growing public vitriol by government officials and the media, threaten to usher in an era of widespread oppression of the LGBT community in many African countries. We believe the enforcement of these laws would be a human rights abuse in violation of the standards set forth in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Already this year, both Nigeria and Uganda have enacted laws that impose harsh penalties for homosexual activity and activism on behalf of LGBT people. Despite strong opposition from the United States and many other nations, Nigeria enacted the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in January, and one month later, Uganda's President signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In Nigeria, the legislation immediately triggered an outbreak of violent anti-gay attacks.

We believe that the discriminatory anti-LGBT laws in those countries represent a clear violation of human rights and hope that the interagency process charged with AGOA's annual review will make this recommendation. We further ask that you not restore eligibility until these beneficiary countries have taken steps to eliminate harsh penalties for LGBT persons.

As the International Trade Commission (ITC) correctly stated when AGOA was first passed, Congress never intended AGOA to be a blank check for all African countries, without regard to performance. It was meant to offer tangible incentives for African governments to improve their political and economic governance, not to underwrite poor policies.

Some of the leaders who promote the benefits of AGOA in their respective countries, including Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, are the same leaders now presiding over the deterioration of LGBT rights in Africa. By revoking AGOA eligibility, the United States will be sending a clear message that countries must choose between enjoying the benefits of AGOA and violating the human rights of LGBT individuals. 


We have to stand up for LGBT rights in Africa


Monday, July 28, 2014

St Petersburg held LGBT Pride despite Russian Authorities


150 people gathered to attend an LGBTI pride event in a public park in Russia, despite being told by Russian authorities they should hold the event at a landfill site.

The event was held yesterday at the Field of Mars park in St Petersburg, a public park where federal law decrees such an event was allowed to be held.

The pride rally was organized by gay rights group Ravnopraviye (Equality), even though they were banned from marching, because of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law.

The group had previously applied for a permit from city authorities to hold a pride march but were flatly refused.

Despite official opposition, the pride event held yesterday went without any major incidents. 


Yuri Gavrikov, LGBT activist for St Petersburg Pride


#JewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies


Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies: Social media campaign goes viral.

As the Israeli operation Protective Edge has so far claimed over 1,000 dead, users have been flooding the web with dozens of photos of Jews and Arabs together showcasing peace and love, under the hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies on Twitter.

The campaign was launched by Abraham Gutman (Jewish) and Dania Darwish (Arab), both students at Hunter College in New York, immediately after the start of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza - and this week it gained momentum.

Abraham and Dania took a photo of themselves in Washington Square Park. They started a Facebook group and by now have been flooded with photos from around the world. The page has more than 5,000 fans.

Activists for peace. Stop the attacks!