Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Iran: Three Hanged For Sodomy

The Advocate reports:

Three men were executed in Iran on Sunday for having gay sex, according to Iran Human Rights, an organization that monitors state news there.The group noted in a blog post today that the state-run Iranian news agency, ISNA, reports that three people who were hanged had been convicted of sodomy and other crimes such as robbery. A Sharia judge is allowed to decide how to kill any man who violates the anti-sodomy article of the law.IHR says the men were identified in the report only by initials: “M.T.”, “T.T.” and M. Ch.” IHR spokesman Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said these were “rare cases” in which the Iranian government had put someone to death explicitly for homosexual acts. “Iranian authorities normally present such cases as rape,” Amiry-Moghaddam said in a statement.So far, IHR is the only group reporting these deaths.Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once famously told a reporter during a news conference that, ”In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you that we have it.”

Iran: Three Hanged For Sodomy

The Advocate reports:

Three men were executed in Iran on Sunday for having gay sex, according to Iran Human Rights, an organization that monitors state news there.

The group noted in a blog post today that the state-run Iranian news agency, ISNA, reports that three people who were hanged had been convicted of sodomy and other crimes such as robbery. A Sharia judge is allowed to decide how to kill any man who violates the anti-sodomy article of the law.

IHR says the men were identified in the report only by initials: “M.T.”, “T.T.” and M. Ch.” 

IHR spokesman Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said these were “rare cases” in which the Iranian government had put someone to death explicitly for homosexual acts. “Iranian authorities normally present such cases as rape,” Amiry-Moghaddam said in a statement.

So far, IHR is the only group reporting these deaths.
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once famously told a reporter during a news conference that, ”In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you that we have it.”


Saturday, August 27, 2011

 

Trailer: Circumstances 

The Huffington Post - Canada reports:

Iranian filmmaker Maryan Keshavarz’s new film, Circumstance, chronicles the lives of two sixteen-year-old girls navigating a lesbian relationship in Iran. An official statement reads: ”set in contemporary Iran in the unseen world of Iranian youth culture, filled with underground parties, sex, drugs and defiance, CIRCUMSTANCE is the story of two vivacious young girls — wealthy Atafeh and orphaned Shireen — discovering their burgeoning sexuality and, like 16 year-old girls anywhere, struggling with their desires and the boundaries placed upon them by the world they were born into.”
Keshavarz told Reuters that the scarcity of coverage on the topic inspired her, saying, “I’ve seen very few films that address women’s sexuality — in Iran, in the Muslim world, at all. As much as some people are upset about the film, there are other people who are like, ‘Finally! Something that’s us!’
In a Wall Street Journal interview, Keshavarz explained her reaction to criticism of the film: “It’s usually Iranian men in their 50s and 60s. Often, the questions are framed in terms of authenticity. Like I don’t have the right to speak because I don’t live in Iran. But I’ve always been very upfront that I go back and forth, and I have a different perspective than a filmmaker from Iran would. But I also have a difference perspective than an American filmmaker would. And because I go back and forth, I see change in a different light.”
Early versions of Circumstance were not so forthright on the intimate nature of the relationship between its two leads, Keshavarz notes: “everything was implied; nothing was shown.” But as she continued to refine her vision at the Sundance Writers she realized that honest portrayal of her subject was essential: “as I started writing more truthfully and the characters became more real as opposed to symbols, I really started to strip away my self-censorship, and I realized that if I was going to make the film, I had to make it as truthfully as possible, and once I got that in the script, I would never be able to return to Iran.”
Keshavarz understands that many people will be upset by her deliberately provocative film, saying “people are threatened by the film, and not just the issues of sexuality, but it also deals with repression and how it affects individuals. They’re really unnerving topics, and they’re addressed in different ways in Iran. They can’t show the scenes that I do and that’s uncomfortable for them. But I think it’s good to have that discomfort.”
The controversial nature of the film meant that filming in Iran wasn’t a possibility, so Keshavarz substituted Beirut for Tehran. Since homosexuality is illegal in Lebanon and Keshavarz had to get permission from the government to film the movie, she had to submit a script without scenes that involved sexuality and religion. “We shot those scenes anyway. We just didn’t submit them,” Keshavarz said.
The Daily Beast reported that one day during the filming of an erotic fantasy sequence the police paid a visit, so the actresses quickly improvised a scene of them talking about their boyfriends.
Keshavarz admits that the reaction has been ”a little hostile.” But, she continues, “it’s strangely satisfying that even if some people don’t like it, they engage in a conversation afterwards, and even if it’s hostile, it’s still a conversation, and I appreciate that.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

If You Take Down Israel, What Else Goes With It?

Lillian Faderman, for The Advocate, comments: 

Americans have every reason to envy Israel’s enlightened policies toward their LGBT citizens. So it puzzles me deeply when I hear of LGBT groups lending their sympathy to opponents of Israel.The rights we have been fighting for and still have not fully achieved in the United States, LGBT Israelis already enjoy. I came out in the middle of the last century and witnessed firsthand the persecution and oppression of LGBT people. It was because of those early experiences that I devoted the last 40 years of my life to writing books and articles about our community’s history and progress.In America, as late as 2003 there were still 14 states that punished gay men under sodomy laws. Israel abolished all sodomy laws in 1988. In America, we’ve been fighting for decades for a law that would end employment discrimination against LGBT people. A few states have passed such laws, but the federal government has not. Israel passed a law in 1992 that protects any citizen (Jewish, Christian, or Arab) from employment discrimination for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In America at mid-century, lesbians and gays in the military had to be absolutely closeted; they were witch-hunted and given dishonorable discharges if found out. The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that was passed during the Clinton administration was actually considered “progressive”—a big improvement over the old policy—because lesbians and gays were to be booted out of the military only if they drew attention to their homosexuality. Finally now, 11 years into the 21st century, America is getting around to permitting lesbians and gays to serve openly in the military. Our Israeli brothers and sisters have been able to serve openly since 1993, and since 1997 a same-sex partner is recognized by the Israeli Defense Department as a member of the soldier’s family. When I was doing research for my 2006 book, Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians, I interviewed an 83-year-old lesbian who had just lost her partner of almost 50 years. Their house had been in her partner’s name and because the partner died without a will, the law granted the house to the deceased woman’s distant cousin, with whom she’d had no contact for decades. My 83-year-old interviewee was left without a place to live. If she’d been an Israeli citizen—whether Jewish, Christian, or Arab—she would be living in her home until her death because lesbian and gay couples have full inheritance rights under Israeli law.My partner and I have been together for 40 years. Like 18,000 other same-sex couples in California, we got married in 2008. Though all 36,000 of us are still married as far as the State of California is concerned, Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage for all others. Because federal laws don’t recognize our marriage, our legal bond doesn’t do us much good anyway. If we should decide to move next door to Arizona or Las Vegas or Oregon—or almost anywhere else in America—we wouldn’t be considered legally married. We both pay federal income tax, of course, but under the law we get none of the federal benefits that opposite-sex couples receive. In fact, the only result of our marriage with regard to taxes is that we have to pay our accountant triple: once for doing our state income tax as a married couple, a second and third time for doing our federal income tax as two single payers. And if one of us should die, that’s the end of her Social Security benefits for which she’d paid in for more than half a century; the surviving spouse gets absolutely nothing of those benefits. If we’d lived in Israel, we’d be much better off. In 1994, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples. In 2004, the court ruled that LGBT couples could qualify for common-law marriage status. In 2005, legislation was passed in Israel recognizing all same-sex marriages that are performed abroad.So there can be no explanation for LGBT groups participating in wrong-headed actions such as the BDS movement that seeks boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Outside of Israel, everywhere in the Middle East, LGBT people are utterly despised under the law. Indeed, official treatment of LGBT people in other Middle East countries makes the bar raids and job losses and police entrapments that we experienced in the 1950s and ‘60s seem like coddling. If a family wishes to rid itself of the embarrassment of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender member by “honor killing” there would be no legal consequences in the area governed by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, or in Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Syria.Needless to say, and as even the Amnesty International LGBT website shows, there’s no Middle Eastern country other than Israel in which lesbian or gay couples can receive spousal benefits, none other than Israel in which lesbians and gays can serve openly in the military, none other than Israel that protects lesbians and gays from discrimination or hate crimes. In Iran and Saudi Arabia we’re put to death. In Syria we’re thrown in prison for three years. In Egypt, we’re prosecuted under lewd conduct laws, and we’re illegal in Lebanon and Libya, too.After long years of struggle, American LGBT people have finally won a modicum of freedom and justice. Only insane logic or misinformation could justify withholding our sympathies from a country that grants our LGBT brothers and sisters not only the benefits that we enjoy but even more. Why would we work against such a country? 

If You Take Down Israel, What Else Goes With It?

Lillian Faderman, for The Advocate, comments: 

Americans have every reason to envy Israel’s enlightened policies toward their LGBT citizens. So it puzzles me deeply when I hear of LGBT groups lending their sympathy to opponents of Israel.
The rights we have been fighting for and still have not fully achieved in the United States, LGBT Israelis already enjoy. I came out in the middle of the last century and witnessed firsthand the persecution and oppression of LGBT people. It was because of those early experiences that I devoted the last 40 years of my life to writing books and articles about our community’s history and progress.
In America, as late as 2003 there were still 14 states that punished gay men under sodomy laws. Israel abolished all sodomy laws in 1988. In America, we’ve been fighting for decades for a law that would end employment discrimination against LGBT people. A few states have passed such laws, but the federal government has not. Israel passed a law in 1992 that protects any citizen (Jewish, Christian, or Arab) from employment discrimination for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. 

In America at mid-century, lesbians and gays in the military had to be absolutely closeted; they were witch-hunted and given dishonorable discharges if found out. The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that was passed during the Clinton administration was actually considered “progressive”—a big improvement over the old policy—because lesbians and gays were to be booted out of the military only if they drew attention to their homosexuality. Finally now, 11 years into the 21st century, America is getting around to permitting lesbians and gays to serve openly in the military. Our Israeli brothers and sisters have been able to serve openly since 1993, and since 1997 a same-sex partner is recognized by the Israeli Defense Department as a member of the soldier’s family. 

When I was doing research for my 2006 book, Gay L.A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, and Lipstick Lesbians, I interviewed an 83-year-old lesbian who had just lost her partner of almost 50 years. Their house had been in her partner’s name and because the partner died without a will, the law granted the house to the deceased woman’s distant cousin, with whom she’d had no contact for decades. My 83-year-old interviewee was left without a place to live. If she’d been an Israeli citizen—whether Jewish, Christian, or Arab—she would be living in her home until her death because lesbian and gay couples have full inheritance rights under Israeli law.

My partner and I have been together for 40 years. Like 18,000 other same-sex couples in California, we got married in 2008. Though all 36,000 of us are still married as far as the State of California is concerned, Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage for all others. Because federal laws don’t recognize our marriage, our legal bond doesn’t do us much good anyway. If we should decide to move next door to Arizona or Las Vegas or Oregon—or almost anywhere else in America—we wouldn’t be considered legally married. We both pay federal income tax, of course, but under the law we get none of the federal benefits that opposite-sex couples receive. In fact, the only result of our marriage with regard to taxes is that we have to pay our accountant triple: once for doing our state income tax as a married couple, a second and third time for doing our federal income tax as two single payers. And if one of us should die, that’s the end of her Social Security benefits for which she’d paid in for more than half a century; the surviving spouse gets absolutely nothing of those benefits. 

If we’d lived in Israel, we’d be much better off. In 1994, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples. In 2004, the court ruled that LGBT couples could qualify for common-law marriage status. In 2005, legislation was passed in Israel recognizing all same-sex marriages that are performed abroad.

So there can be no explanation for LGBT groups participating in wrong-headed actions such as the BDS movement that seeks boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Outside of Israel, everywhere in the Middle East, LGBT people are utterly despised under the law. Indeed, official treatment of LGBT people in other Middle East countries makes the bar raids and job losses and police entrapments that we experienced in the 1950s and ‘60s seem like coddling. If a family wishes to rid itself of the embarrassment of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender member by “honor killing” there would be no legal consequences in the area governed by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, or in Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Syria.
Needless to say, and as even the Amnesty International LGBT website shows, there’s no Middle Eastern country other than Israel in which lesbian or gay couples can receive spousal benefits, none other than Israel in which lesbians and gays can serve openly in the military, none other than Israel that protects lesbians and gays from discrimination or hate crimes. In Iran and Saudi Arabia we’re put to death. In Syria we’re thrown in prison for three years. In Egypt, we’re prosecuted under lewd conduct laws, and we’re illegal in Lebanon and Libya, too.

After long years of struggle, American LGBT people have finally won a modicum of freedom and justice. Only insane logic or misinformation could justify withholding our sympathies from a country that grants our LGBT brothers and sisters not only the benefits that we enjoy but even more. Why would we work against such a country? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Transgender Woman Murdered in Istanbul

The Advocate reports:

A man has been taken into custody in Istanbul after allegedly confessing to killing a sex worker because she was transgender. Transgender Europe  is reporting that the murder took place Sunday, after the suspect hooked up with the victim via Facebook and agreed to pay her for sex. When the man, who is reportedly a fugitive, found out she was transgender, he killed her. The victim’s screams alerted police and the suspect was taken into custody.According to the article, the man told police, “I thought that she was a woman, but she was a travesti. After learning this, I killed her.”Read the article here.

Transgender Woman Murdered in Istanbul

The Advocate reports:

A man has been taken into custody in Istanbul after allegedly confessing to killing a sex worker because she was transgender.

 Transgender Europe  is reporting that the murder took place Sunday, after the suspect hooked up with the victim via Facebook and agreed to pay her for sex. When the man, who is reportedly a fugitive, found out she was transgender, he killed her. The victim’s screams alerted police and the suspect was taken into custody.

According to the article, the man told police, “I thought that she was a woman, but she was a travesti. After learning this, I killed her.”

Read the article here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
 
Gay Pakistani Muslim Writer Ifti Nasim Dead at 64
The Advocate reports:

Ifti Nasim, the gay Pakistani Muslim poet who authored Myrmecophile (in English) and Narman(mostly in Urdu), died Friday following a heart attack.According to the Associated Press, ”Nasim was a fixture in Chicago’s South Asian community, known for his activism, flamboyant fashion and touching poetry that dealt with themes including homosexuality, politics and his native Pakistan.” The founder of SANGAT/Chicago, a South Asian LGBT organization and former president of South Asian Performing Arts Council of America, Nasim was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996.His first book, Narman, was believed to be the first book of gay-themed poetry to be published in Urdu. It told the story of his transition from immigrant (30 years ago) to all-American gay writer and activist, tackling tradition, religion, and gay desire.Nasim, who wrote in Punjabi as well as Urdu and English, was 64.

Gay Pakistani Muslim Writer Ifti Nasim Dead at 64

The Advocate reports:

Ifti Nasim, the gay Pakistani Muslim poet who authored Myrmecophile (in English) and Narman(mostly in Urdu), died Friday following a heart attack.
According to the Associated Press, ”Nasim was a fixture in Chicago’s South Asian community, known for his activism, flamboyant fashion and touching poetry that dealt with themes including homosexuality, politics and his native Pakistan.” The founder of SANGAT/Chicago, a South Asian LGBT organization and former president of South Asian Performing Arts Council of America, Nasim was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996.
His first book, Narman, was believed to be the first book of gay-themed poetry to be published in Urdu. It told the story of his transition from immigrant (30 years ago) to all-American gay writer and activist, tackling tradition, religion, and gay desire.
Nasim, who wrote in Punjabi as well as Urdu and English, was 64.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trans Bashers Arrested in Pakistan

The Advocate reports:

Police in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday arrested seven men for assaulting, sexually harassing, and then shaving the heads of five transgender people. Local police representative Raz Mohammad KhantoldThe Express Tribunethat the accused were arrested after the victims “approached the police with a written complaint detailing their ordeal.”Earlier in the day, trans folks from around Pakistan protested outside the Peshawar Press Club to calling for an end to harassment and gender violence and calling for the government to offer more protections for its marginalized citizens. Peshawar is the capital and main cultural center of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and though the conservative city’s population is 99% Muslim, it’s been home to at least nine different ethnic groups (Pashtun, Hindkowa, Punjabi to name a few) as well as several other religious communities (including Bukharan Jews and those of the Bahai faith). The city’s main transgender organization, the Shemale Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, gathered protesters who beat their heads and chests in a appeal to authorities to arrest men from the Bakhshi Pul village who allegedly held them at gunpoint and sexually abused them. It wasn’t the first such attack. In Pakistan transgender people are often paid to celebrate the birth of a son or to dance at weddings, but today many end up homeless or working as prostitutes in a country where being gay or having sex outside marriage are very much taboo. Trans women are often the victims of rape or other assaults. Farzana Riaz, president of the Shemale Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told Dawn.com reporters a group of people in Bakhshu Pul asked a dozen trans performers to appear at a dance party. “My colleagues performed on Sunday night, but on return another group of people took them to an unknown place at gunpoint,” Riaz said. Many of the victims were sexually abused, and those who resisted had their hair cut. “This has become a routine,” Riaz said. “We are peaceful people. We provide entertainment to the people but these people insult and harass us. We cannot do other jobs. We earn our livelihood through dancing but these criminals snatched the amount from us and now they are demanding Rs50,000 from each and every eunuch that we cannot afford.” (The wordeunuch is sometimes used for transgender people.) Riaz told reporters that at least 20 other trans people had been victimized in the same fashion, and many of them have since left the city in fear. The same perpetrators may have been responsible for a previous incident in which a group of trans performers was attacked by up to 20 men who filmed the attack and uploaded the video online. Trans activists say they have asked the province’s chief minister, Ameer Haider Hoti, to arrest the culprits and protect Pakistan’s trans people. No word on how Hoti will respond, but police say getting the victims to come forward on record will be equally important to finding justice for people like Riaz.

Trans Bashers Arrested in Pakistan

The Advocate reports:

Police in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday arrested seven men for assaulting, sexually harassing, and then shaving the heads of five transgender people. Local police representative Raz Mohammad KhantoldThe Express Tribunethat the accused were arrested after the victims “approached the police with a written complaint detailing their ordeal.”

Earlier in the day, trans folks from around Pakistan protested outside the Peshawar Press Club to calling for an end to harassment and gender violence and calling for the government to offer more protections for its marginalized citizens.
 
Peshawar is the capital and main cultural center of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and though the conservative city’s population is 99% Muslim, it’s been home to at least nine different ethnic groups (Pashtun, Hindkowa, Punjabi to name a few) as well as several other religious communities (including Bukharan Jews and those of the Bahai faith).
 
The city’s main transgender organization, the Shemale Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, gathered protesters who beat their heads and chests in a appeal to authorities to arrest men from the Bakhshi Pul village who allegedly held them at gunpoint and sexually abused them. It wasn’t the first such attack.
 
In Pakistan transgender people are often paid to celebrate the birth of a son or to dance at weddings, but today many end up homeless or working as prostitutes in a country where being gay or having sex outside marriage are very much taboo. Trans women are often the victims of rape or other assaults.
 
Farzana Riaz, president of the Shemale Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told Dawn.com reporters a group of people in Bakhshu Pul asked a dozen trans performers to appear at a dance party. “My colleagues performed on Sunday night, but on return another group of people took them to an unknown place at gunpoint,” Riaz said. Many of the victims were sexually abused, and those who resisted had their hair cut.
 
“This has become a routine,” Riaz said. “We are peaceful people. We provide entertainment to the people but these people insult and harass us. We cannot do other jobs. We earn our livelihood through dancing but these criminals snatched the amount from us and now they are demanding Rs50,000 from each and every eunuch that we cannot afford.” (The wordeunuch is sometimes used for transgender people.)
 
Riaz told reporters that at least 20 other trans people had been victimized in the same fashion, and many of them have since left the city in fear. The same perpetrators may have been responsible for a previous incident in which a group of trans performers was attacked by up to 20 men who filmed the attack and uploaded the video online. 

Trans activists say they have asked the province’s chief minister, Ameer Haider Hoti, to arrest the culprits and protect Pakistan’s trans people. No word on how Hoti will respond, but police say getting the victims to come forward on record will be equally important to finding justice for people like Riaz.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Turkey’s Kirpinar Oil-Wrestiling Tournament 

New Left Media's Chase Whiteside posts:

The 650th Kirpinar oil-wrestling tournament took place in Edime, Turkey over the weekend. Yes, please.

Gosh, I so want to go to Turkey.

Turkey’s Kirpinar Oil-Wrestiling Tournament 

New Left Media's Chase Whiteside posts:

The 650th Kirpinar oil-wrestling tournament took place in Edime, Turkey over the weekend.

 Yes, please.

Gosh, I so want to go to Turkey.

Friday, July 8, 2011
 
Pakistan: Antigay Protests Rock Islamabad
The Advocate reports:

Twenty-five people were arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday after protests broke out over a gay rights event hosted by the U.S. Embassy last month. Nine people, including four police officers, were injured in the melee, according to the  Daily Times,  a Pakistani publication. After Friday prayers, more than 200 members of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talba, or Islamic Organization of Male Students, gathered with signs, and started chanting against the U.S. Embassy as well as the Pakistani government for allowing such an event. The protesters shouted that “Pakistan is an Islamic country and they will not tolerate anything against the Islamic Laws and Sharia,” according to the report, and called for a holy war against the U.S. government. 

Pakistan: Antigay Protests Rock Islamabad

The Advocate reports:

Twenty-five people were arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday after protests broke out over a gay rights event hosted by the U.S. Embassy last month. Nine people, including four police officers, were injured in the melee, according to the  Daily Times a Pakistani publication. 

After Friday prayers, more than 200 members of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talba, or Islamic Organization of Male Students, gathered with signs, and started chanting against the U.S. Embassy as well as the Pakistani government for allowing such an event. The protesters shouted that “Pakistan is an Islamic country and they will not tolerate anything against the Islamic Laws and Sharia,” according to the report, and called for a holy war against the U.S. government. 


Monday, July 4, 2011

Pakistani Conservatives: Gays Are “Social Garbage”

The Advocate reports:

A group of conservative Pakistani religious and political leaders has spoken out against a gay rights event held last month at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city, Islamabad, issuing a statement calling LGBT people “social garbage.” Meanwhile, protesters staged antigay marches Monday in Islamabad and two other major Pakistani cities, Karachi and Lahore. “This meeting shows cruel America has unleashed a storm of immoral values on our great Islamic values, which we’ll resist at all costs,” said Mohammad Hussain Mehnati,  one of the leaders of Pakistan’s primary Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, at one of the events, according to  Agence France-Presse. The  right-wing group put out the statement Sunday, reports the Associated Press, which also notes that it called the meeting one of the most dangerous U.S. attacks on Pakistan — second only to missiles shot from unmanned drones. The meeting, held June 26, was hosted by U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Hoagland and cohosted by a gay employee group, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies. It was the first of its kind held by the embassy and was designed to promote the rights of LGBT people in Pakistan. Leaders of Pakistani gay groups attended, along with embassy officials, military representatives, and foreign diplomats. Hoagland assured the gathering that the U.S. and its embassy staff would support gay rights.The conservative group responded with its statement saying LGBT people “are the curse of society and social garbage. They don’t deserve to be Muslim or Pakistani, and the support and protection announced by the U.S. administration for them is the worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan.” The group called for the arrest of participants in the meeting, saying the event was “tantamount to stabbing the Muslim world in the chest.”

Pakistani Conservatives: Gays Are “Social Garbage”

The Advocate reports:

A group of conservative Pakistani religious and political leaders has spoken out against a gay rights event held last month at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city, Islamabad, issuing a statement calling LGBT people “social garbage.”
 
Meanwhile, protesters staged antigay marches Monday in Islamabad and two other major Pakistani cities, Karachi and Lahore. “This meeting shows cruel America has unleashed a storm of immoral values on our great Islamic values, which we’ll resist at all costs,” said Mohammad Hussain Mehnati,  one of the leaders of Pakistan’s primary Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, at one of the events, according to  Agence France-Presse

The  right-wing group put out the statement Sunday, reports the Associated Press, which also notes that it called the meeting one of the most dangerous U.S. attacks on Pakistan — second only to missiles shot from unmanned drones. 

The meeting, held June 26, was hosted by U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Hoagland and cohosted by a gay employee group, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies. It was the first of its kind held by the embassy and was designed to promote the rights of LGBT people in Pakistan. Leaders of Pakistani gay groups attended, along with embassy officials, military representatives, and foreign diplomats. Hoagland assured the gathering that the U.S. and its embassy staff would support gay rights.

The conservative group responded with its statement saying LGBT people “are the curse of society and social garbage. They don’t deserve to be Muslim or Pakistani, and the support and protection announced by the U.S. administration for them is the worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan.” The group called for the arrest of participants in the meeting, saying the event was “tantamount to stabbing the Muslim world in the chest.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amnesty International to Turkey: Protect LGBT Rights

The Advocate reports:

Human rights organization Amnesty International has called on Turkey to adopt laws protecting LGBT people against discrimination and violence, which according to Amnesty are widespread in the nation.Amnesty made the call in a report issued Tuesday, titled “‘Not an Illness nor a Crime’: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Turkey Demand Equality.” The report highlights the abuses of LGBT people in the country, such as a gay man being shot to death in what many believe to be an “honor killing” arranged by his family to save face; violence against transgender people, who often find that sex work is the only employment available to them and then face danger from their clients and hostility from police; and harassment of gays in military service, which is compulsory for Turkish men. Many crimes against LGBT people receive insufficient investigation by law enforcement, and government authorities frequently seek to prevent gay organizations from meeting.Amnesty urged Turkey’s newly elected parliament to take a strong stand against such persecution. “Homophobic statements by government officials have encouraged discrimination against individuals,” Andrew Gardner, the group’s researcher on Turkey, said in a press release. “Rather than repeat past failures, the new government must respect and protect their rights through words and actions.”He added, “It is the responsibility of all the parties in the parliament to ensure that any new constitutional settlement in Turkey outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexuality or gender identity. Comprehensive legislation to counter discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is a must — and it should come as soon as possible. However, the authorities must also show the political will to combat discrimination by demonstrating that homophobic public discourse is unacceptable.“Furthermore, LGBT solidarity associations need protection and respect. Now is the time for political figures to come forward and speak openly in support of them.”The press release and a PDF of the full report are available here.

Amnesty International to Turkey: Protect LGBT Rights

The Advocate reports:

Human rights organization Amnesty International has called on Turkey to adopt laws protecting LGBT people against discrimination and violence, which according to Amnesty are widespread in the nation.
Amnesty made the call in a report issued Tuesday, titled “‘Not an Illness nor a Crime’: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Turkey Demand Equality.” The report highlights the abuses of LGBT people in the country, such as a gay man being shot to death in what many believe to be an “honor killing” arranged by his family to save face; violence against transgender people, who often find that sex work is the only employment available to them and then face danger from their clients and hostility from police; and harassment of gays in military service, which is compulsory for Turkish men. Many crimes against LGBT people receive insufficient investigation by law enforcement, and government authorities frequently seek to prevent gay organizations from meeting.
Amnesty urged Turkey’s newly elected parliament to take a strong stand against such persecution. “Homophobic statements by government officials have encouraged discrimination against individuals,” Andrew Gardner, the group’s researcher on Turkey, said in a press release. “Rather than repeat past failures, the new government must respect and protect their rights through words and actions.”
He added, “It is the responsibility of all the parties in the parliament to ensure that any new constitutional settlement in Turkey outlaws discrimination on grounds of sexuality or gender identity. Comprehensive legislation to counter discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is a must — and it should come as soon as possible. However, the authorities must also show the political will to combat discrimination by demonstrating that homophobic public discourse is unacceptable.
“Furthermore, LGBT solidarity associations need protection and respect. Now is the time for political figures to come forward and speak openly in support of them.”
The press release and a PDF of the full report are available here.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

City Of The Week: Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Country Of The Week: Turkey 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Arab Spring
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Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Arab Spring

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Lesbian Blogger Kidnapped in Syria
The Advocate reports:

Amina Araf, author of the blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” and voice for the anti-government opposition in Syria, was kidnapped on the streets of Damascus on Monday.MSNBC reports that Araf, an American-Syrian citizen who wrote under the name Amina Abdallah, was walking with a friend when three armed men in the twenties grabbed her and forced her into a vehicle bearing a window sticker of Bassel Assad, the late brother of President Bashar Assad and former head of security services. Rania Ismail, who identified herself as a cousin of Araf, posted the account of the kidnapping to the blog.“The blog went on to say, ‘the men are assumed to be members of one of the security services or the Baath Party militia. Amina’s present location is unknown,’” reports MSNBC.Araf, who wrote openly in a country where homosexuality is illegal, has called for an end to the Bashir regime as the crackdown against demonstrators has intensified over the past two months. Human rights groups report that more than 1,000 Syrians have been killed.The cousin wrote that Araf’s father, who was in hiding, asked her to share the information about the kidnapping with the world. A Facebook page also has been created calling for her release.

UPDATE: The author of the blog turned out to be a guy living in Georgia, USA.

Lesbian Blogger Kidnapped in Syria

The Advocate reports:

Amina Araf, author of the blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” and voice for the anti-government opposition in Syria, was kidnapped on the streets of Damascus on Monday.
MSNBC reports that Araf, an American-Syrian citizen who wrote under the name Amina Abdallah, was walking with a friend when three armed men in the twenties grabbed her and forced her into a vehicle bearing a window sticker of Bassel Assad, the late brother of President Bashar Assad and former head of security services. Rania Ismail, who identified herself as a cousin of Araf, posted the account of the kidnapping to the blog.
“The blog went on to say, ‘the men are assumed to be members of one of the security services or the Baath Party militia. Amina’s present location is unknown,’” reports MSNBC.
Araf, who wrote openly in a country where homosexuality is illegal, has called for an end to the Bashir regime as the crackdown against demonstrators has intensified over the past two months. Human rights groups report that more than 1,000 Syrians have been killed.
The cousin wrote that Araf’s father, who was in hiding, asked her to share the information about the kidnapping with the world. A Facebook page also has been created calling for her release.

UPDATE: The author of the blog turned out to be a guy living in Georgia, USA.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Country Of The Week: Jordan