International

Nigeria “unfit” to host 2014 Commonwealth Games

Left to right: Mike Hersee, Peter Tatchell, Davis Mac-Iyalla and Rev Stephen Coles

Human rights abuses disqualify the city of Abuja

LGBT athletes, officials and spectators at risk of arrest & violence

Gay delegation meets 2014 Chief Executive in London

London – 3 August 2007

“It would not be right for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Nigeria, given the country’s appalling human rights record, including its systematic persecution of lesbian and gay Nigerians,” said Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder and leader of the gay Christian group, Changing Attitude Nigeria.

“Nigeria’s homophobic oppression is a violation of the Commonwealth Games ethos of equality, humanity, peace, unity, cooperation and understanding. Unless Nigeria radically improves its human rights record, it should be ruled out of consideration as a host for the 2014 Games,” add Mr Mac-Iyalla.

Mr Mac-Iyalla was speaking immediately after leading a delegation which met Mike Hooper, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, at the CGF headquarters in Piccadilly, London, on 3 August 2007.

The delegation presented the CGF with an 11-page report setting out why it should reject the bid by the Nigerian city of Abuja to host the 2014 Games.

The report, which is entitled “Abuja’s Bid – Sins of Omission”, was authored by Mr Mac-Iyalla and Mike Hersee, both members of Changing Attitude Nigeria, the Anglican church pressure group which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights.

Mr Hooper agreed to present their report to the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Michael Fennell, later this month.

The final decision on which city will host the 2014 Games will be taken in early November.

As well as Davis Mac-Iyalla and Mike Hersee the delegation to the CGF included Peter Tatchell of the British gay human rights group OutRage!, and the Reverend Stephen Coles, a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and Vicar of St Thomas’, Finsbury Park, London.

“Abuja’s bid to be the venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games should be rejected on the grounds of Nigeria’s long history of anti-gay discrimination,“ added Mr MacIyalla.

“Homophobic discrimination violates one of the CGF’s core values, equality. Unless Nigeria swiftly calls a halt to the victimisation of LGBT people, Abuja should be ruled out of the running.

“In many Nigerian states, the maximum penalty for sex between mutually consenting adult men in private is 14 years in prison. In states that have introduced Sharia law, it is death by stoning.

“Violence against LGBT people in Nigeria has increased dramatically, in the wake of attacks on gay people by the Anglican Church of Nigeria and attempts by the Nigerian government to introduce sweeping new anti-gay laws. This legislation would have banned same-sex marriage, gay organisations and churches, safer sex advice for gay men, and the advocacy of gay human rights. Backed by the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, the anti-gay bill only failed because it ran out of legislative time when the general election was called earlier this year. We fear the bill may be revived. Nigeria is a very threatening, intimidating place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” added Mr Mac-Iyalla.

Mike Hersee, co-author of the report to the CGF, said:

“There will be many lesbian and gay athletes, officials, spectators and reporters at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. They could be at risk of arrest and violence if the Games go ahead in Abuja.

“The Nigerian government must scrap its anti-gay laws and crackdown on homophobic hate crime in order to ensure that Abuja is a safe, welcoming place for gay and lesbian participants. Without these changes, Nigeria is not a suitable country in which to hold the 2014 Games.”

“Other human rights commentators have recently suggested that Abuja’s bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games is in conflict with the core values and stated aims of the CGF, but this is the first time a Nigerian organisation has put the case so comprehensively,” concluded Mr Hersee.

Davis Mac-Iyalla is visiting the UK until 6 August, after a tour of churches in the US.

“OutRage! is supporting Changing Attitude Nigeria. We urge that Abuja is not be accepted as the host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games unless the state and federal government agree to improve Nigeria’s human rights record, including an end to the state-sanctioned persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Nigerians,” said Peter Tatchell.

“Davis has done a magnificent job exposing the victimisation of gay people in Nigeria – a victimisation that is incited and endorsed by the Anglican Church of Nigeria and its leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola.

“Earlier this year Mr Mac-Iyalla was forced to flee Nigeria and seek exile in a nearby African country, due to threats to kill him.

“These threats were prompted by his public condemnation of homophobic discrimination and violence in Nigeria, and by his public witness as an openly gay Christian.

“Davis is a truly remarkable, courageous man. He is taking a defiant stand in support of gay human rights, despite the serious danger that he could be murdered. We salute him,” said Mr Tatchell.

END

Contacts:
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria
+44 (0) 7948 237399 (until 6 August)
+228 993 7680 (in Africa)
davis@nigeria.changingattitude.org

Mike Hersee, member of Changing Attitude Nigeria and co-author of report
+44 (0) 1582 895422
+44 (0) 7890 475889
mikehersee@crownlight.freeserve.co.uk

Reverend Stephen Coles, Member of the General Synod of the Church of England and Vicar of St Thomas’s, Finsbury Park.
+44 (0) 20 7359 5741
Cardinal.jeoffry@btconnect.com

Gay Iraqi victims of Islamist death squads

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157600042494571″]

LGBT victims of homophobic assassinations by the Sadr and Badr fundamentalist militias in Iraq.

Baghdad refuses to protect gays and denounces UN report

“Iraqi lesbians and gays continue to be subjected a systematic reign of terror by Shia death squads. The government of Iraq refuses to crack down on the killers or to take any action to protect its gay citizens. It is a regime that is dominated by Shia fanatics and homophobes,” according to Ali Hili, the coordinator of the human rights group Iraqi LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).

Mr Hili lists below a few examples of the many death squad killings of gay Iraqis.

“Supporters of the fundamentalist Sadr and Badr militias boast that they are cleansing Iraq of what they call ‘sexual perverts’. They are open about terrorising gay Iraqis to make them flee the country and murdering those who fail to leave. Their goal is a queer-free, pro-homophobic Iraq. They are dragging our country back to the dark ages,” said the London-based Mr Hili, who is also Middle East spokesperson for the gay human rights group, OutRage!

“Some members of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government are linked to the anti-gay death squads. They are the political representatives of the Muqtada al-Sadr movement and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Both these parties have militias, respectively the Mahdi army and the Badr brigades, who are responsible for the execution-style killing of lesbian and gay Iraqis – and the murder of many other Iraqis, including Sunni Muslims, trade unionists, unveiled women, journalists and men wearing shorts, jeans or western-style haircuts.

“The murder of gay Iraqis has the support of highly influential religious leaders, such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. He issued a fatwa in late 2005, calling for the execution of gay people in the ‘most severe way possible’. After international protests, he removed the fatwa from his website, but the fatwa itself has not been rescinded. It remains in force and is the spiritual sanction for the death squads to murder gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” said Mr Hili.

The United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) has corroborated Iraqi LGBT’s claims of “sexual cleansing” by the death squads and Islamist courts:

“Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them,” January’s UNAMI report said.

“There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq…At least five homosexual males were reported to have been kidnapped from Shaab area in the first week of November (2006) by one of the main militias. The mutilated body of Amjad, one of the kidnapped, appeared in the same area after a few days. [We were] also alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly
would be ‘tried,’ ‘sentenced’ to death and then executed,” UNAMI said.

This UNAMI report provoked a hostile reaction from the government of Iraq, which suggested that gay people are unIraqi and unIslamic:

“There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of homosexuality and giving them their rights,” said Mr al-Dabbagh, a spokesperson for the Iraqi government. “Such statements are not suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected. They (the UN) should respect the values and traditions here in Iraq.”

Iraq’s many LGBT victims of the death squads

Here are details of a few of the LGBTs who have been murdered in Iraq in recent months:

“Anwar, aged 34, a taxi driver, was a member of Iraqi LGBT and helped run one of the group’s safe houses in the city of Najaf. He disappeared in January 2007. He was arrested in his taxi after being stopped at a police and militia checkpoint. His body was found in March 2007. He had been subjected to an execution-style killing.

“Nouri, aged 29, a tailor, was kidnapped in the city of Karbala in February 2007. He had received many death threats by letter and phone in the past, accusing him of leading a gay life. He was found dead a few days later, with his body mutilated and his head severed.

“Hazim, a 21-year-old man, was taken by police officers from his house in Baghdad in February 2007. He was well-known to be gay. After threats because of his homosexuality, his family was forced to leave their home. Hazim’s body was subsequently found with several shots to the head.

“Sayf, a gay 25-year-old, worked for the Iraqi police as a translator. He was kidnapped in the Al-Adhamya suburb by black masked men in Ministry of Interior security force uniforms who drove a marked police car. Almost certainly they were members of the Badr militia which has infiltrated the Interior Ministry and police. Sayf’s body was found several days later, with his head cut off.

“Khaldon, a 45 year old gay man lived in al-Hurriya, a mainly Shia neighborhood of Baghdad. He worked as a chef. The Sadr militia, the Mahdi army, kidnapped him in November 2006. His decaying corpse was found in February 2007.

“Khalid, a 19 year old gay man, a college student who lived in al-Kadomya, was kidnapped in December 2006. Three months later, his family was handed his tortured and burned remains.

“Hasan Sabeh, a 34 year old transvestite – also known as Tamara – worked in the fashion industry designing women’s clothes. He lived in the al-Mansor district of Baghdad. Hasan was seized in the street by an Islamist death squad and hanged in public on the holy Shia religious day, 11 January 2007. His body was mutilated and cut to pieces. When his brother-in-law tried to defend him, he was also murdered.

“Four gay friends had been receiving threatening letters at their Baghdad houses. All four were arrested on 26 December 2006 by militia at a roadside checkpoint. They were interrogated about whether they were Sunnis. Their identity cards showed that three of the men were Shia. These three men were released after several hours of interrogation. The fourth man, Samer, a 26 year old a Sunni who lived in Zayona, was later found with gunshot wounds to his head, his eyes blindfolded and his hands tied behind his back. His body showed marks of torture and many burns. It is not clear whether Samer was executed because he was Sunni or gay or both.

“Alan Thomas, was a 23 year old, Christian gay Iraqi who lived in al-Gadeer, a Shia majority district of Baghdad. He received many threats for being gay and was eventually kidnapped and executed by Shia death squads in late 2006. His older sister spoke to me over the phone from Baghdad; explaining how the murder of her only brother caused the death of their sick elderly mother. She told me: ‘The new Iraqi evil regime does not provide effective protection to the population of Iraq. Shia militias act in collusion with security force gangs to take revenge on the Sunni’s and other minorities.’

“Occasionally, some victims of the fundamentalists have been able to buy their survival. Hamid A, a 44 year old bisexual man, from the Al-Talibya district. He was kidnapped twice by the Sadr militia. The first instance was in April 2006 when he, his nephew and his brother were kidnapped and tortured. He was released in May 2006 after his tribe members paid a huge ransom to save his life and the lives of his relatives. Hamid was kidnapped for a second time in November 2006 by the same Sadr militia, when an informant reported that he was drinking alcohol and that he was suspected of being gay. He was held in a big office in Sadr city, along with other detainees – most of them Sunnis and Christians. Again, he was ransomed and is now in hiding; a rare survivor of the Sadr militia interrogation centres.

“Heterosexual friends of gays are also executed. This happened to Majid Sahi, aged 28, a civil engineer. He had been helping Iraqi LGBT members in Baghdad. Abducted by the Badr militia from his home, they objected to his association with gay Iraqis. His family was advised by the Badr forces that their son’s “immoral behavior” was the reason for his kidnapping. His body was found in Baghdad, with bullet wounds in the back of his head, on 23 February 2007.

“Despite the great danger involved, Iraqi LGBT has established a clandestine network of lesbian and gay activists inside Iraq’s major cities, including Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Hilla and Basra,” reports Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who is working closely with Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT.

“These heroic activists are helping gay people on the run from fundamentalist death squads; hiding them in safe houses in Baghdad, and helping them escape to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon,” said Mr Tatchell.

Ali Hili is making an appeal for donations to fund the work of Iraqi LGBT:

“Iraqi LGBT needs donations to help gay people in Iraq who are fleeing the death squads. We need money for safe houses, food, electricity, security protection and clothing – and to help pay the phone bills of members of the Iraqi LGBT group. They are sending us information about the homophobic killings, at great risk to their own lives.

“Many of the people we are helping had nothing but the clothes on their backs, when they fled the attacks by fundamentalist militias.

“We are also paying for medication for members who are HIV positive. Otherwise, they will not get treatment. If it is discovered that they have HIV, they will surely be killed,” said Mr Hili.

The UK-based gay rights group OutRage! is working with Iraqi LGBT to support its work. Iraqi LGBT is coordinated by Ali Hili from the safety of London UK. The group does not yet have a bank account. Operating an Iraqi LGBT bank account in Baghdad would be suicide. For this reason, it has to operate its finances from London. All the group’s members in London are Iraqi refugees seeking asylum. Their lack of proper legal status makes it difficult for them to open a bank account in the UK. This is why Iraqi LGBT is asking that cheques be made payable to:

“OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England, UK. OutRage! then forwards the donations received to Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT for wire transfer to Baghdad.

Moscow Mayor – Met Police inquiry

Press Secretary’s Alleged Assault on Gay Russian Journalist

The Metropolitan Police in London are investigating a complaint of alleged assault on Russian gay activist and journalist, Nikolai Alekseev, by a member of the Mayor of Moscow’s staff.

The incident happened following the press conference given by the mayors of London, Berlin, Paris, Moscow and Beijing at City Hall in London on 28 February.

According to Mr. Alekseev, Sergi Tsoi, the press secretary of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, apparently took exception to him unfurling a flag featuring the rainbow-coloured Moscow Pride logo. Tsoi grabbed the flag and aggressively attempted to wrest it from Alekseev.

The incident was broadcast on Russian television last week. The Russian channel NTV devoted six minutes of prime time TV – the weekly news programme “Segodnya” on Sunday 4 March – to the mayor’s press conference, including Tsoi’s bid to wrestle the Moscow Gay Pride flag from Mr Alekseev.

To view the programme and the incident with Mr Alekseev, see:
http://news.ntv.ru/104695/

Mr. Alekseev said he had reported the incident as a homophobic assault to the Metropolitan Police at Uxbridge police station in west London on Saturday 3 March. A spokesman for the police has confirmed to the editor of UK Gay News, Andy Harley, that officers are “investigating a report of an alleged assault at City Hall.”

Speaking from Moscow, Mr. Alekseev commented: “In Russia, people of such high standing get away with such incidents, but in Britain there is a slightly different perception of law.

“According to British law, Mr. Tsoi appears to have committed a crime. He should be held responsible for his actions. Although he has returned to Moscow, if he comes back to Britain he should be interviewed by the police and charges should be laid against him.

“Mr. Tsoi has used homophobic statements before. This time he has resorted to physical force, even in front of the media. He thinks himself untouchable. He assumed that he can get away in London with things that he can get away with in Moscow,” Mr. Alekseev added.

Gay human rights activist, Peter Tatchell of Outrage! in London, who was demonstrating with others outside City Hall against the Moscow Mayor’s banning of Moscow Gay Pride, described the incident as “thuggish bullying” when he saw the television footage.

“It reveals, yet again, the repressive, authoritarian nature of the Mayor of Moscow’s regime,” said Mr Tatchell.

“Mayor Luzhkov may be able to muzzle free speech and the right to protest in Moscow, but he cannot get away with such tactics in London.

“It was exceedingly discourteous for a member of Mr Luzhkov’s staff to abuse the hospitality of the Mayor of London in this way.

“The mistreatment of Mr Alekseev was filmed by TV crews. It provides irrefutable evidence. I hope the London police will press charges,” said Mr. Tatchell.

Free photos of the London protest against the Moscow Mayor, see here:
MoscowGLA-TatchellJohnsonNicolai

Further information:

Nikolai Alekseev: nicolas_alexeyev@yahoo.com

Briefing: Moscow Gay Pride

Background briefing by Nikolai Alekseev, Organiser of Moscow Gay Pride

“Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov routinely breaches Russia’s constitution and laws, and the European Convention, by depriving gay people of their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“The real reason behind the ban of the first ever Moscow Gay Pride, held in May 2006, is not because the Mayor is concerned for the security of the participants, as he claims. The ban is motivated by his deep-rooted hatred toward homosexual people.

“Recently the Moscow Mayor said that ‘gay parades are nothing else but satanic’ and promised to ban this year’s Moscow Gay Pride march, scheduled for May, 27.

“The legal case against the ban of the first gay pride in the Russian capital is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Due to the length of the procedures, the decision will not be handed down before the Moscow Gay Pride march this year.

“Mr. Luzhkov frequently uses insulting statements against homosexual people in his speeches. He uses every possible vile argument to discredit the LGBT movement and incite hatred towards LGBT people.

“In May last year, the homophobic hysteria of the Moscow Mayor led to massive violations of the rights of homosexual people in Russia. He gave a carte blanche to fascists, ultra-nationalists and religious extremists to attack gay people without fear of being punished.

Whatever the stance of the Moscow Mayor, we are going ahead with plans for a second Moscow Gay Pride on 27 May,” concluded Mr Alekseev.

Moscow Mayor protest gets big Russian coverage

Russian gay leader threatened: “we will get you”

Yuri Luzhkov bans Moscow Gay Pride, due 27 May

Gays denounced as “satanic,” “unnatural” and “deviations”

Russian gay leader Nikolai Alekseev expressed “delight” at the “massive coverage in the Russian media” of Wednesday’s London protest against Moscow’s notoriously homophobic mayor, Yuri Luzhkov.

Mr Alekseev joined the protest, alongside the openly gay Green Party member of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson, and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The protest took place outside City Hall in London on Wednesday 28 February. It was coordinated by LGBTI human rights group OutRage!.

Protesters waved placards with the slogans: “Mayor of Moscow! Mayor of hate!,” and “Luzhkov! Gays aren’t satanic, you are!” and “Stalin! Luzhkov! No to Homophobia!”

Free photos of the protest, see here:
MoscowGLA-TatchellJohnsonNicolai

Mr Luzhkov was in London for a summit with the mayors of Paris, London and Berlin. He recently denounced gay pride celebrations as “satanic.” He has also condemned same-sex relationships as “unnatural”, “licentiousness”, deviations”, “blasphemy” and “deadly moral poison.”

“Russian media reporting of the protest has been very beneficial. It has put gay rights on the political agenda in Moscow,” said Mr Alekseev.

“The TV and press coverage has generated a big public debate. It is helping to break down homophobic attitudes.

“The demonstration was very important and effective. It helped keep the pressure on the Moscow Mayor. The protest was widely shown on Russian TV. The issue of gay rights got through to millions of Russians. This is a very positive achievement.

“The protests are working. We saw Luzhkov’s position change for the better during his visit to London. Contrary to his usually strident homophobic outbursts, he did not condemn homosexuality as unnatural, satanic or against religion. His criticisms were relatively mild. This time he said only that homosexuality is ‘wrong and unusual.’

“Very significantly, Luzhkov told the post-summit press conference at City Hall that if the courts decide a gay pride march should be allowed in Moscow then he will not block it. But I wonder whether this was just said to satisfy a western audience. Will he say the same thing back in Russia? I am not sure,” added Mr Alekseev.

A similar view was echoed by fellow protester, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!:

“The fact that Mayor Luzhkov is now saying less vicious things about gay people shows he is feeling the heat. He seems less confident in his homophobic stance,” said Mr Tatchell.

“He has been unnerved by the criticisms and protests. He seems to realise that his extreme homophobia is creating problems.

“Mr Luzhkov is concerned about his negative public image in the West and how this might affect western investment, tourism and cultural relations with Moscow. He is vulnerable to pressure,” concluded Mr Tatchell.

Immediately after the press conference at City Hall ended, Mr Alekseev incurred the wrath of Luzhkov’s minders. He unfurled a rainbow flag with the Moscow Gay Pride logo, as Mr Luzhkov was giving an interview to the Russian media.

“I was about two or three metres behind Luzhkov,” recalls Mr Alekseev.

“This infuriated his staff. Luzhkov’s press secretary, Sergei Tsoi, who is well-known for his homophobic remarks, ordered me to put away the flag. When I refused, he tried to grab it from me by force. Tsoi threatened me. He said they will not leave it like that. I interpreted this as an implied threat.

“I later received two phone calls that seem to have been from someone in Mayor Luzhkov’s entourage. The calls threatened that ‘we will get you.’ It is quite worrying,” confided Mr Alekseev.

Mayor Luzhkov had only recently announced that he was banning the 2007 Moscow Gay Pride parade, scheduled for 27 May. Last year’s march was also banned and some marchers were beaten, tear-gassed and arrested by the Moscow riot police, the OMON.

Mr Alekseev is currently appealing to the European Court of Human Rights against Mayor Luzhkov’s ban on last year’s Moscow Gay Pride. He is also suing the Mayor of Moscow for libel after the Mayor in January this year labeled Moscow Gay Pride as “satanic”.

“Whatever the stance of the Moscow Mayor, we are going ahead with plans for a second Moscow Gay Pride on 27 May,” said Mr Alekseev.

“On behalf of Russian gays and lesbians, I would like to thank OutRage!, particularly Peter Tatchell and Brett Lock, for organising the protest. My thanks also to everyone who attended, despite the appalling weather and transport problems,” said Mr Alekseev.

Moscow Mayor Luzhkov Protest

London, 28 February 2007 – Protest against homophobic Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov who was in London to meet the mayors of London, Paris and Berlin. Luzhkov has banned Moscow Pride and denounced gay people as ‘satanic’.

© OutRage! 1990-2010. You are free to use this photo to illustrate news stories and articles about OutRage!, the lesbian and gay human rights group, with credit to the group and photographer. For all other uses, please inquire. Photos: Brett Lock, OutRage!

Moscow Mayor protest, City Hall, London

Russian gay leader will join London demo

Yuri Luzhkov bans Moscow Gay Pride

Gays are “satanic,” “unnatural” and “deviations”

The Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, will face gay rights protesters, headed by Peter Tatchell of OutRage! and Russian gay leader Nikolai Alekseev, when he meets London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, at City Hall, London, tomorrow, Wednesday, 28 February, at 11.30am. Also present at the mayoral meeting will be the Mayors of Berlin and Paris.

The notoriously homophobic Mayor of Moscow has denounced same-sex relationships and gay pride events as “satanic”, “unnatural”, “deviations”, “blasphemy” and “deadly moral poison.”

He recently announced that he was banning the 2007 Moscow Gay Pride parade, scheduled for 27 May. Last year’s march was also banned and some marchers were beaten, tear-gassed and arrested by the Moscow riot police, the OMON.

Nikolai Alekseev, organiser of Moscow Gay Pride, has flown to London to join the protest. He will speak in London tonight (Tuesday) at the 10th anniversary celebrations of Amnesty International’s LGBT human rights campaign.

Mr Alekseev is currently appealing to the European Court of Human Rights against Mayor Luzhkov’s ban on last year’s Moscow Gay Pride. He is also suing the Mayor of Moscow for libel after the Mayor in January this year labeled Moscow Gay Pride as “satanic”.

“We appeal to the Mayors of London, Paris and Berlin to protest to Luzhkov against his ban on Moscow Gay Pride. Whatever the stance of the Moscow Mayor, we are going ahead with plans for a second Moscow Gay Pride on 27 May,” said Mr Alekseev.

“We know Mr Luzhkov feels more and more isolated from other European leaders. He is concerned about his public image in the West and how this might affect western investment and cultural relations with Moscow. He is vulnerable to pressure,” added Mr Alekseev.

OutRage! is coordinating Wednesday’s picket outside City Hall in protest at the Moscow Mayor.

Nikolai Alekseev, Organiser of Moscow Gay Pride, has issued a statement in advance of Wednesday’s protest at City Hall in London:

“Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov routinely breaches Russia’s constitution and laws, and the European Convention, by depriving gay people of their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

“The real reason behind the ban of the first ever Moscow Gay Pride, held in May 2006, is not because the Mayor is concerned for the security of the participants, as he claims. The ban is motivated by his deep-rooted hatred toward homosexual people.

“Recently the Moscow Mayor said that ‘gay parades are nothing else but satanic’ and promised to ban this year’s Moscow Gay Pride march, scheduled for May, 27.

“The legal case against the ban of the first gay pride in the Russian capital is now pending before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Due to the length of the procedures, the decision will not be handed down before the Moscow Gay Pride march this year.

“Mr. Luzhkov frequently uses insulting statements against homosexual people in his speeches. He uses every possible vile argument to discredit the LGBT movement and incite hatred towards LGBT people.

“In May last year, the homophobic hysteria of the Moscow Mayor led to massive violations of the rights of homosexual people in Russia. He gave a carte blanche to fascists, ultra-nationalists and religious extremists to attack gay people without fear of being punished.

“On Tuesday and Wednesday this week Mayor Luzhkov is going to be in London – a city renowned for its respect for democratic values and freedom. He will be meeting the openly gay Mayors of Paris and Berlin, as well as the gay-friendly Mayor of London. This is probably our last international opportunity to raise the issue of homophobia by Moscow Mayor at such a high level.

“We know Mr Luzhkov feels more and more isolated from other European leaders. He is concerned about his public image in the West and how this might affect western investment and cultural relations with Moscow. He is vulnerable to pressure.

“The organisers of Moscow Gay Pride appeal to our friends in London to join Wednesday’s protest at City Hall against the homophobic Mayor of Moscow, to show him that homophobes are not tolerated in Britain.

“We need your help to prevent further violations of the rights of gay people in Moscow in May this year

“We appeal to the Mayors of London, Paris and Berlin to protest to Luzhkov against his ban on Moscow Gay Pride. Whatever the stance of the Moscow Mayor, we are going ahead with plans for a second Moscow Gay Pride on 27 May,” concluded Mr Alekseev.

Jamaican gays escape lynching

Police batter victim of homophobic mob

Four men narrowly escaped being lynched by a homophobic mob in Kingston, Jamaica, on Valentine’s Day, last Wednesday, 14 February 2007.

A crowd of around 200 people besieged the men in a pharmacy in the Tropical Plaza shopping centre, abusing them with anti-gay taunts and threats to kill them.

Fearing a possible Valentine’s Day massacre, the pharmacy staff called the police. When officers arrived on the scene they homophobically abused the four men. One man – Gareth, a leader of the Jamaican gay rights group J-Flag – was struck with a gun butt and hit on the face and head by the police.

As the police escorted the four men out of the pharmacy to be driven to safety, another of the four men was hit on the head by an object thrown by the angry homophobic mob.

Below is a firsthand eye-witness account of what happened, narrated by Gareth, who was present throughout the incident. Gareth is a leader of the Jamaican lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights group, J-Flag. His full name cannot be revealed because this would enable him to be tracked down and make it likely that he would be targeted for assassination.

Acting in consultation with Gareth and J-Flag, OutRage! is urging people to protest to their local Jamaican Ambassador.

Brett Lock of OutRage! said:

“Despite abusive treatment at the hands of the police, it is progress that officers escorted the men to safety. In the past, the Jamaican police have been accused of allowing gay men to be battered and killed by homophobic mobs. Nevertheless, the abuse of these men by officers who are supposed to uphold the law is totally unacceptable.”

Mr Lock added:

“We urge LGBT individuals and organisations to press the Jamaican government to:

  1. “Prosecute the police officers who homophobically abused and assaulted the four men.
  2. “Enact comprehensive hate crimes laws to protect all Jamaicans, including
    gay people, women and people with HIV.
  3. “Introduce police training in human rights issues, to ensure protection and justice for people who are threatened and attacked on account of their sexual orientation, gender or HIV status,” said Mr Lock.

Please email your protest to the Jamaican High Commissioner in London:

His Excellency, Burchell Whiteman
hc@jhcuk.com
Fax: 020 7589 5154
Jamaican High Commission, 1-2 Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BZ

A firsthand eye-witness account from Gareth of J-Flag:

“On Wednesday 14 February 2007, three guys were followed by an angry, homophobic woman into a pharmacy at the Tropical Plaza shopping centre in Kingston. She cursed and called them names, accusing them of being gay and saying that battymen (queers) must be killed. She attracted the attention of other shoppers in the plaza, who quickly gathered at the door of the pharmacy. This homophobic mob began shouting abuse and violent threats.

“I was already in the pharmacy purchasing items. I recognised the three men and went over and spoke to them, asking them to calm down. I advised them to deal with the situation in a different manner, since the store management had already escorted the woman outside and called the police.

“Because I had intervened to calm the situation, I was pointed at and referred to as a friend of the three guys. People said that I must be gay too. The crowd demanded that I come outside, so they could beat me. After hearing these threats, I decided to wait until the police arrived to escort the three guys out. I thought it would safer for me to leave with them, at the same time.

“The three men were supported by the store staff but verbally abused by the police and by the store’s private security personnel.

“I was violently abused by members of the police team. They slapped me in the face, hit me on the head, and the handle of a M16 gun was used to strike me in the lower abdomen.

“According to the medical report, my injuries were: soft tissue injuries to right side of face (peri-orbital), right panetal scalp with minor soft haematoma, and blunt abdominal trauma and muscular spasm. These injuries are deemed serious by the doctor who examined me.

“This assault happened because one of the police officers was being very aggressive and homophobic. I told him that he should not abuse us in that manner. The officers forcibly dragged me towards the door. When I told them not to treat me like that, they became more hostile.

“I was the only one injured inside the pharmacy. But one of the three guys was hit on the head with an object when he went outside to get into the police car.

“The police refused to tell us how we were going to get safely outside amid the angry mob of approximately 200 people. This made us very anxious.

“The homophobic abuse by the police was wrong and they must be held accountable. The Jamaican Government and police force must ensure that homophobic brutality stops.

“It was good that the police helped take us to safety. We thank them. But it is bad that they insulted and assaulted us.

“We need a full and proper investigation into allegations of police misconduct in the pharmacy and en route to the police station. The political leadership of our country must take a stand against homophobia and protect the rights of gay and lesbian Jamaicans,” said Gareth of J-Flag.

J-Flag media statement on the homophobic attack on 14 February 2007:

“A mob surrounded a store in the Tropical Plaza (shopping centre) on Constant Spring Road, calling for three men to be handed over to be beaten to death because they were believed to be homosexuals.

“The police were summoned, and when they arrived, according to eyewitnesses, they began to beat a man (Gareth from J-Flag) who was trying to make peace in the situation and ended becoming a target as a result.

“The police did eventually help the three men and the peacemaker to leave the store, but only after four of them (the police officers) had beaten the peacemaker (Gareth) with their guns and fists, insulting him and calling him a homosexual.

“The men were whisked away in a police car. While in the vehicle, all the way to the police station, the men were taunted by the police with anti-gay epithets. The insults continued even when the men arrived at the Half-Way Tree police station, where other police joined in the name-calling. The policemen at the station told them that they should
be grateful and warned them never to return to Half-Way Tree.

“Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays are united in their outrage at this blatant violation of police codes of conduct and the laws against battery by police against citizens. Rather than carrying out their duties fair-mindedly and without prejudice, the policemen were themselves the perpetrators of a violent, homophobic attack on a citizen whom they had been called to serve and protect.

“We applaud the actions of the staff at the store who showed a fundamental humanity and respect for their fellow Jamaicans, and who called for the assistance of the police. The response of the police however shows that citizens perceived to be gay remain vulnerable to attacks both from violent members of the public as well as from the security forces themselves sworn to defend against the violation of their rights.

“We call upon the Commissioner of Police, the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Public Defender to ensure that the policemen involved in this assault are brought to justice.

“We wish to reiterate that a society in which any Jamaican can be denied his or her rights as a citizen is a Jamaica in which no Jamaican is guaranteed his or her rights. We urge the authorities to accord this matter the attention it deserves as a matter of justice and human rights,” said J-Flag.

To make donations to support J-Flag’s work, please contact:

admin@jflag.org or www.jflag.org

Homophobic terror in Iraq

Hasan Sabeh was a happy, talented 34 year old a transgender fashion designer, affectionately known as Tamara. He lived in the al-Mansor district of Baghdad. In January 2007, he was tending his fashion accessories stall in a street market. An Islamist death squad, wearing Iraqi police uniforms, seized Tamara, partially stripped his clothes off and, discovering that he was a man dressed as a woman, shot him dead. Tamara’s brother-in-law was nearby and rushed to cradle his body. He, too, was shot dead at point blank range. The killers then took Tamara’s body, hanged it in public, and mutilated it, as a warning to other gay and transgender Iraqis.

Late last year, five gay activists were abducted at gun-point by Iraqi police in Baghdad on 9 November. Nothing has been heard of them since then. It is feared they may have been murdered by death squads operating under the cover of the Iraqi police.

The kidnapped men are Amjad 27, Rafid 29, Hassan 24, Ayman 19 and Ali 21. All were members of Iraq’s clandestine gay rights movement, Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender).

“For the last few months they had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, relaying details of homophobic executions to our office in London, and providing safe houses and support to queers fleeing the death squads,” said Ali Hili, a gay Iraqi Muslim who is head of Iraqi LGBT and Middle East spokesperson for the British gay human rights group OutRage!

At the time of the police raid, the five men were holding a secret meeting in a safe house in the al-Shaab district of Baghdad. They were communicating with Mr Hili.

“Suddenly there was a lot of noise, then the connection ended,” recalls Mr Hili.

Just days after these five activists were abducted, Haydar Kamel, aged 35, the owner of famous men’s clothing shop in the al-Karada district of Baghdad, was kidnapped near his home in Sadr city. The kidnappers were members of the Mahdi army, an Islamist militia loyal to fundamentalist leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

“Haydar had previously received death threats because of rumours about his alleged homosexuality. For many months, he had financially supported several men who were in hiding after they had been threatened by death squads because of claims that they were gay,” said Mr Hili.

Another recent raid was on the Jar al-Qamar barber shop in the al-Karada district of Baghdad. It was popular with gay men, which is probably the reason it was targeted. All four employees were arrested and taken away by the Iraqi police. They have disappeared.

It is feared that these 10 kidnapped men have been summarily executed.

“These disappearances are the latest ‘sexual cleansing’ operations mounted by extremist Islamist death squads, many of whom have infiltrated the Iraqi police,” notes Mr Hili. He has obtained details of the kidnappings direct by phone and email from his underground Iraqi LGBT activist colleagues in Baghdad.

“They are systematically targeting gays and lesbians for extra-judicial execution, as part of their so-called moral purification campaign. The aim of the death squads is the creation of a fundamentalist state, along the lines of the religious dictatorship in Iran,” said Mr Hili.

Earlier, in June this year, extreme lslamist death squads burst into the home of two lesbians in the city of Najaf. They shot them dead, slashed their throats, and also murdered a young child the lesbians had rescued from the sex trade.

The two women, both in their mid-30s, were members of Iraqi LGBT. They were providing a safe house for gay men on the run from death squads. By sheer luck, none of the men being given shelter in the house were at home when the assassins struck. They have now fled to Baghdad and are hiding in an Iraqi LGBT safe house in the suburbs.

“These homophobic kidnappings and murders are a snapshot of the rapidly growing power and menace of fundamentalist death squads,” added Mr Hili.

“Gays are not their only targets. They enforce a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, summarily executing people for listening to western pop music, wearing shorts or jeans, drinking alcohol, selling videos, working in a barber’s shop, homosexuality, dancing, having a Sunni name, adultery and, in the case of women, not being veiled or walking in the street unaccompanied by a male relative.

“Two militias are doing most of the killing. They are the armed wings of parties in the Bush and Blair-backed Iraqi government. Badr is the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the leading political force in Baghdad’s government coalition. Madhi is the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr.

“Both militias want to establish an Iranian-style clerical tyranny. They have a perverted, corrupt and violent misinterpretation of Islam.

“The allied occupation of Iraq is bad enough. But victory for the Madhi or Badr militias would result in a reign of religious terror many times worse.

“The execution of lesbian and gay Iraqis by extreme Islamist death squads and militias is symptomatic of the fate that will befall all Iraqis if the fundamentalists continue to gain influence. The summary execution of queers is a warning of the barbarism to come.

“Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. It is good that he is no longer in power. I don’t want him back. But under Saddam discrete homosexuality was usually tolerated. There was no danger of gay people being assassinated in the street by religious fanatics.

“Since Saddam’s overthrow, the violent persecution of lesbians and gays is commonplace. It is actively encouraged by Iraq’s leading Muslim cleric, the British and US-backed Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In late 2005, he issued a fatwa ordering the execution of gay Iraqis. His followers in the extreme Islamist militias are now systematically assassinating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” said Mr Hili.

“Despite the great danger involved, Iraqi LGBT has established a clandestine network of gay activists inside Iraq’s major cities, including Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Hilla and Basra,” said Peter Tatchell of the UK-based LGBT rights group OutRage!, which is working with Iraqi LGBT.

“These courageous activists are helping gay people on the run from fundamentalist death squads; hiding them in safe houses in Baghdad, and helping them escape to Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

“The world ignores the fate of gay Iraqis at its peril. Their fate today is the fate of all Iraqis tomorrow,” said Mr Tatchell.

Protest against Uganda’s homophobic witch-hunts

Protest outside the Ugandan High Commission, London, against the homophobic witch-hunt of Ugandan lesbians and gays – 22 September 2006

© OutRage! 1990-2010. You are free to use this photo to illustrate news stories and articles about OutRage!, the lesbian and gay human rights group, with credit to the group and photographer. For all other uses, please inquire. Photos: Brett Lock, OutRage!