Ugandan court scraps anti-LGBTQ law


The Constitutional Court in Uganda has been packed this week for the hearings about the anti-gay legislation

From the BBC:

1 August 2014 Last updated at 12:07 GMT

Uganda court annuls anti-homosexuality law

Uganda’s Constitutional Court has annulled tough anti-gay legislation signed into law in February.

It ruled that the bill was passed by MPs in December without the requisite quorum and was therefore illegal.

Homosexual acts were already illegal, but the new law allowed for life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality” and banned the “promotion of homosexuality”.

Several donors have cut aid to Uganda since the law was adopted.

‘Null and void’

Earlier drafts of the anti-homosexuality act made it a crime not to report gay people – which would have made it impossible to live as openly gay – but this clause was removed.

However the legislation that was passed in parliament was “null and void”, the presiding judge at the Constitutional Court said, as not enough lawmakers had been present to vote on the bill.

The law, which was signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, toughened up existing laws.

Lesbians were covered for the first time and those found living in a same-sex marriage could have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The challenge to the law was brought by 10 petitioners, including academics, journalists, both ruling and opposition MPs, human rights activists and rights groups.

“The retrogressive anti-homosexuality act of Uganda has been struck down by the constitutional court – it’s now dead as a door nail,” the AFP news agency quotes prominent journalist Andrew Mwenda, one of the petitioners, as saying.

Kosiya Kasibayo, a lawyer for the state, said a decision had not been made on whether to appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court, the Associate Press news agency reports.

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala, says supporters of the anti-gay laws have been angered by the ruling of the five judges.

Pastor Martin Ssempa, a vocal backer of the anti-homosexuality legislation, told the BBC his supporters would be asking parliament to investigate the impartiality of the judiciary.

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act:

Life imprisonment for gay sex, including oral sex
Life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”, including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive
Life imprisonment for living in a same-sex marriage
Seven years for “attempting to commit homosexuality”
Between five and seven years in jail or a $40,700 (£24,500) fine or both for the promotion of homosexuality
Businesses or non-governmental organisations found guilty of the promotion of homosexuality would have their certificates of registration cancelled and directors could face seven years in jail.

Scottish rainbow flags during Commonwealth Games


This video from the USA says about itself:

Lawmaker Proposes LGBT Rainbow Flag Ban in Louisiana

19 July 2013

Andy Naquin, a Republican City-Parish Councilman in Lafayette, Louisiana has proposed a bill that would ban the LGBT rainbow flag.

By Peter Lazenby:

Scotland shows true colours-with solidarity rainbow flag

Wednesday 23rd July 2014

Gesture highlights Commonwealth persecution of LGBT people

THE rainbow flag is be flown on buildings across Scotland in solidarity with persecuted LGBT people in Commonwealth countries.

Trade union offices in Glasgow will fly the flag for the duration of the Commonwealth games, which start today.

The Scottish government will also fly the rainbow flag outside St Andrew’s House for the first time in its history, alongside those of the Commonwealth and Scotland.

STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: “By flying the rainbow flag, the international symbol of LGBT equality, we aim to recognise the human rights of LGBT people and celebrate the distance that Scotland has come in promoting equality.”

He said the campaign offers a message of hope to LGBT people and a rejection of the anti-homosexuality laws that still exist in 80 per cent of Commonwealth nations.

Forty-two out of 53 Commonwealth countries criminalise homosexuality and LGBT people are at risk of death, imprisonment, harassment and degrading treatment.

“This is simply unacceptable and it is right that we should use our Commonwealth Games to raise awareness and promote a more positive vision of the future for a persecuted minority,” added Mr Smith.

Several councils have also pledged to fly the rainbow flag throughout the campaign.

The public is also being encouraged to support the campaign by sharing images using the hashtag #gamespride on social media site Twitter.

Commonwealth Games cabinet secretary Shona Robison said: “It’s important we reinforce our strong support for and commitment to progressing equality and human rights issues.”

See also here.

British disabled poet Mark Burnhope interviewed


This video from Britain says about itself:

27 November 2011

Mark Burnhope reads ‘The Well and the Ceiling Rose’, ‘The Snowboy’ and ‘Shinglehenge’ (from The Snowboy).

By Jody Powell in Britain:

A Christian outsider, maybe-Quaker, physically disabled and queer

Thursday 17th July 2017

32-YEAR-OLD MARK BURNHOPE is a poet, editor and disability activist whose new book Species is his first full verse collection. Here he tells Jody Porter all about what impels him to write

What are your religious/political beliefs and how have they affected your poetry in the past and now in this book?

I’m a Christian outsider, maybe-Quaker, physically disabled and queer.

My religions are poetry, contemplation, social action and disability rights. I’m agnostic about the nature of “God” but her presence will always permeate my work and identity as “other,” even in contexts where I’m told I belong.

My chapbooks, The Snowboy and Lever Arch, dealt with religious disenfranchisement in their own ways. Species explores otherness as “natural/unnatural,” so people occupy the same space as animals, birds and monsters.

My politics are just my self, primarily filtered through disability/queerness.

I’m on the left but recoil from its tendency to exclude disenfranchised people in spite of its purported ethos of inclusion.

Recent examples include Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) having their wheelchair-using speakers turned away from the recent large London protest on the basis that it was their responsibility to pay for access to the stage, and not the event organisers — the People’s Assembly, who were quick to apologise and hopefully take steps to improving the situation for the future.

Then there was the discomfort I felt when certain people sharing pictures of DPAC protesters at Westminster Abbey fighting to keep the Independent Living Fund infantilised us, joked about us as defenceless, ultimately harmless and no genuine threat to government. Too often, that’s the able-bodied left for you.

I’m on the left because that’s where I find myself. But all this time, disabled people themselves have been leading a grass-roots, self-advocating charge against welfare reform and it saddens me when that’s co-opted by a non-disabled majority left that considers us only an optional piece of a larger puzzle — the “bigger fish to fry” syndrome — then depicts our efforts as quaint have-a-go attempts to join in.

I appreciate the sentiment behind a phrase like “solidarity with disabled people” but we’ve never spoken of “solidarity with able-bodied people,” we just call them the left.

I wish we received the same treatment but I find myself having to watch the action from the periphery too often.

What’s the significance of the collection’s title Species and the Darwin quote at the front of the book?

The book’s first epigraph, from theologian Francis Turretin in the 17th century, says that the law given to Moses “is usually distinguished into three species: moral… ceremonial… and civil.”

The book of Exodus contains the “clobber passages” which Christianity has used to oppress queer people alongside lesser-known verses which designate women, disabled people and others as “abominations.”

It’s not just gay people. The continual reinforcement of these prejudices in our day and age is due, in part, to this arbitrary and textually unsupported division of the law into three “species.”

The Darwin quote — “We will now discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence” — relates to natural selection, that the strongest survive and the weakest conveniently die out for the continuation of “the whole.”

Species includes a sequence about the Atos-sponsored London Paralympics 2012, the government systemic ableism of eugenics-inflected propaganda and the dismantlement of the welfare state under the guise of “reform.”

The Darwin quote is a joke, meant to lead the reader into the book with a wry smile. I used the quote because it made me laugh. We have to laugh, or we’d cry.

What are abnominals?

The abnominal is a form invented by Scottish poet Andrew Philip, described in his second collection The North End Of The Possible: “The abnominal is a form I have developed using only the letters of the dedicatee’s name, each of which must appear at least once per stanza.

“The poem, which is 20 lines long, should begin and end by addressing the dedicatee in some way. The title must also be an anagram of their name.”

This allowed me to directly address relevant personalities: David Cameron, David Attenborough, Maurice Sendak and a few more.

Who in contemporary poetry do you admire?

Many mainstream magazines exclude disenfranchised writers and the writing modes central to their practice. In those spaces, everything tends to just melt into a generalised “best-of-British poetry.”

Yet if a poet’s work is inclusive, intersectional and concerned with representing disenfranchised writers, I’m probably going to read it.

On that list are radical feminist and disability/crip work and poetries of race, colour and queerdom.

One group that’s given me more confidence in writing my own bodily experience is the disability or “crip” poetics movement in America.

Mike Northern, Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Fiona Black and all the poets collected in Wordgathering online, along with the Beauty Is A Verb anthology and feminist works breaking down the barriers, are writing my revolution.

Species is published by Nine Arches Press at £8.99.

British colonialist homophobic heritage


This 2013 video is called UK Gay Marriage Bill: 100 Conservative lawmakers expected to vote against draft law.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Britain ‘must tackle’ homophobia established in former colonies

Thursday 17th July 2014

BRITAIN should help end the homophobia it started in countries it once ruled as colonies, LGBT rights campaigners told David Cameron yesterday before the start of the Commonwealth Games.

Activists descended on Downing Street to urge the PM to speak out against the 42 commonwealth countries that criminalise homosexuality.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation said Mr Cameron should declare his support for article seven of the Commonwealth Games rules against discrimination.

Edwin Sesange was among the organisers of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group’s protest.

He said: “Britain imposed most of the existing anti-gay laws in Commonwealth nations when it was the colonial power in the 19th century.

“Homosexuality was not illegal in these countries prior to British colonisation.

“Britain has been part of the problem. Therefore it should be part of the solution by challenging homophobia and transphobia in the Commonwealth.”

British BNP nazi homophobia: here.

USA: New Mexico woman charged with hate crime for beating her lesbian daughter: here.

Bahrain absolute monarchy transphobia arrest


This video from the USA says about itself:

Bahrain Student Protesters In Prison

11 October 2011

Six college students were sentenced to 15 years in prison for their roles in protests against the government of Bahrain. Ana Kasparian and Jayar Jackson discuss on TYT University.

In the absolute monarchy Bahrain, people may be arrested for many reasons or pretexts. You may be arrested for supporting human rights; for playing as a child; for treating wounded patients if you are a doctor; for photographing if you are a photographer; for a sense of humour if you are a blogger; etc. etc.

One more reason for going to the infamous prison system in Bahrain, where torture is rampant: governmental hatred of LGBTQ people.

From Gulf News:

Man arrested for cross-dressing in Bahrain

Suspect says work at beauty salon demands fashionable, elegant looks

By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

12:09 July 7, 2014

Manama: A man was sentenced to one month in prison followed by deportation after he was apprehended for wearing women’s accessories and makeup in Bahrain.

The expatriate Arab was arrested by a police patrol as he was walking “in a feminine way” in the Bahraini capital Manama and attracted the attention of the servicemen.

He said that he worked in a women’s beauty salon and that his profession demanded that he always looked elegant and wore the latest fashion accessories to set a positive example for his clients.

The public prosecution was not convinced by the arguments and charged him with encouraging debauchery. He was subsequently referred to a court that ruled to keep him in jail for one month.

Cross-dressing is banned in Bahrain and in the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states — Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Foreigners who are apprehended for their “unacceptable looks” in public are often jailed for a short period before they are sent home.

Local conservatives have regularly called for tougher measures against cross-dressers and gays, accusing them of spreading vice, particularly among young people.

Bahrain: More Minors Detained for Prolonged Periods Without Conviction: here.

Victory for refugee Orashia Edwards


This video from England says about itself:

Judgement Day – Documentary – Orashia Edwards

30 June 2014

Following on from the documentary ‘State of Limbo’- here Orashia Edwards attends his ‘Judgement Day’ hearing at Leeds Crown Court.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bisexual asylum seeker’s deportation dropped

Thursday 3rd July 2014

PLANS to deport a Leeds asylum seeker who is escaping persecution in his country for his sexuality were yesterday dropped by Home Office immigration officials.

Orashia Edwards was due to be deported to Jamaica after being refused asylum.

But following a legal challenge, a judicial review into the refusal is to be heard next week.

Immigration officials had planned to deport him before the review was heard, but have now abandoned this idea.

Mr Edwards fled from Jamaica after being persecuted for being bisexual.

He made his home in Leeds where he has family and has become an active campaigner with the city’s LGBT community.

Emily Jennings of Leeds No Borders said the decision to cancel Mr Edwards’ flight had been taken a week ago but he had not been informed by the Home Office.

“This is yet again an example of how awfully asylum seekers are treated by the Home Office,” she said.

So, a partial victory for Orashia Edwards. However, the fight for his rights is not over yet.

Welcome to South Williamsport, Pennsylvania — the only place in America, outside of the Inhofe family, where there are no gays in the village: here.