Monthly Archives: December 2009

Pakistani gays flogged in public

by Ashok DEB

The sexual minorities of Pakistan have witnessed grave human rights violation on the grounds of their gender identity or sexual orientation over the past decade. The sodomy legalisation of Pakistan is empowered to condemn the victim to an imprisonment upto 25 years, which itself amounts to a severe violation of  basic human rights. Sex between two consenting adults strictly pertains to their own private lifestyle and personal prefferences and could no way be crminalised by justifying through tenents of religion, norms or so-called morality.

This video is a glaring example to what extent persons of non-normative gender identities are victimised and humilated in this puritan islamic nation. This video clearly demonstrates the extra-judicial torture the gays had to face in addition to the ruthless anti-homosexuality legalisations. If you watch the clip carefully you can notice that the gay prisoners are boarded off the blue police van. This clearly implies that the victims were under police custody when this public flogging took place. Nowhere in a civilised world could we imagine that the law enforcers actually meant for protecting  the rights and dignity of the citizens could hand them over to a group of unruly mob.

We could get a glimpse of these atrocities only because an invisible angel shot and uploaded the video over the net. These fragrant violation of human rights often go unpublished as the local media equates the issue of homosexuality to perversion. Thus to the international observers these crimes go unnoticed and hence unpublished.Even our country Bangladesh is no exception to this rule. The silence of the victims adds up to the lethal cocktail of intolerance, homophobia violations. This is what the modern activism terms as TYRANNY OF SILENCE.

Still have doubts in your mind that these individuals are hardened criminals rather than same sex lovers? Then have a careful re-look at 15 sec instant of the video where a man kisses his  lover before the inhuman degrading torture starts.  I feel that time has come for the human rights actvists of Pakistan to distinctively address,speak out and protest against such gross derogatory punishments and humilations. As a part of International community and same sex rights activists we strictly denounce such abhorrent actions of Pakistani authorities and stand up beside the victims in solidarity.

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Filed under International - Persecution of Homosexuals, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-Indian Subcontinent

One Day, One Struggle: Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies

Parts of the article have been crossposted from ILGHRC website. Get the original articles here

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/1026.html

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/1039.html

Hundreds joined forces across the globe to establish a milestone in the struggle for sexual and reproductive rights in Muslim societies
11/20/2009

IGLHRC believes that a vital part of our mission is supporting the work of activist organizations and allies by disseminating important information on human rights issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide. To this end we are reposting the following announcement from one of our partners.

Updates from Bangladesh

On November 9, 2009, a diverse group of nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions and activists across the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia carried out “One Day, One Struggle” events to promote sexual and bodily rights as human rights. Below are some of the campaign updates, including the national launch of a pioneering research on sexuality and rights; a panel and cultural show on what it means to be a hijra (transgender) in Bangladesh, a discussion on the place of sexuality and pleasure in the Koran, and a queer-straight alliance meeting in Pakistan

Bangladesh: Pioneering research is being done on sexuality and rights in Bangladesh

Bangladesh: The Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS (CGSH) at the James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) of BRAC University shared the findings of a pioneering research project on sexuality and rights in urban Bangladesh.

The Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS (CGSH) at the James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) of BRAC University shared the findings of a trailblazing research project on sexuality and rights in urban Bangladesh. This exploratory study, the first of its kind, maps the manifold and changing understandings of sexuality, identity and rights among university students, factory workers, and sexual and gender minorities in Dhaka city. Dr. Dina Siddiqi, Sexuality Network Coordinator and Visiting Professor at the CGSH presented research findings on sexuality and rights in Dhaka. Other speakers were Dr. Sabina Faiz Rashid and Dr. Anwar Islam from the James P. Grant School of Public Health, Dr. Hilary Standing from the Realizing Rights Research Consortium, and Dr. Firdous Azim from the BRAC University Department of English and Humanities. A total of approximately 100 participants including journalists from the Bangladesh media, leaders of groups representing people of marginalized sexual orientations, independent researchers, anthropologists, public health professionals and NGO representatives were also present at the panel.

Bangladesh: A First for the Queer Members of Bengali Society

Boys of Bangladesh (BoB) arranged an event titled “Jaago” (Wake-up) with a movie screening followed by an informal public forum targeting the Bangladeshi LGBTT community and its supporters, selected media, other supportive NGOs and the public.

Torch Song Trilogy was screened to a diverse audience and was met with enthusiasm by both queer and straight participants. These two BoB events aimed to increase affirmative awareness and visibility on sexuality, initiate a dialogue around marginalized genders and sexualities, strengthen the bond among the LGBTT community and strengthen the alliance between queer and straight members of Bengali society. One remarkable aspect of these activities was that BoB organized a public event for the first time since its foundation.

Bandhu Social Welfare Organization had a lively discussion on different sexualities and identities as part of the international One Day, One Struggle campaign. In this event, LGBTT community members and their friends shared experiences and ideas about sexuality, identity, norms and freedoms.

Bangladesh: Discussing the place of sexuality and pleasure in the Koran

Naripokkho organized a panel discussion entitled “Sexuality and Our Rights” which was moderated by Naripokkho member English professor Firdous Azim. Tamanna Khan, the president of Naripokkho and Shuchi Karim, a doctoral student at ISS in the Netherlands working on female sexuality in Bangladesh gave short presentations that were followed by an open discussion on the place of sexuality and pleasure in the Koran. Approximately 30 Naripokkho members participated in this event.

Bangladesh: Being hijra (transgender) in Bangladesh

Kotha from Socheton Shilpi Shongho

Rangberong and Shochaton Shilpa Shangha organized a panel followed by a cultural show, both of which addressed specifically the hijra (transgender) community in Bangladesh. The panel hosted the speakers Ivan Ahmed Katha, the transgender president of the Shochetan Shilpa Shangha Association, Roksana Sultana, a journalist from BBC World, Nasrin Akhter Joli, the Deputy Director of the Hunger Project – Bangladesh and Mumtaz Begum, the former president of the Sex Workers’ Association. Police brutality and other problems faced by hijras on a daily basis were the main discussion topics of the panel. The cultural show afterwards included a musical performance specific to the hijra community that documented “why and how they became hijras, how this played havoc with their lives and how it is that they still love men.”

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Filed under Bandhu BSWS, Bangladesh LGBT events, Bangladesh- Policies and declarations, Boys of Bangladesh, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-International

Rwandan Parliament to Vote on Criminalizing Homosexuality this Week

Crossposted from ILGHRC website:

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/resourcecenter/1048.html

Inside view of the Rwandian Parliament


Rwandan Parliament to Vote on Criminalizing Homosexuality this Week

12/15/2009

On December 16, 2009, the lower house of the Rwandan Parliament will hold its final debate on a draft revision of the penal code that will, for the first time, make homosexuality a crime in Rwanda. A vote on this draft code will occur before the end of the week. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has learned that the proposed Article 217 of the draft Penal Code Act will criminalize “[a]ny person who practices, encourages or sensitizes people of the same sex, to sexual relation or any sexual practice.” If the Chamber of Deputies approves, the draft code will go before the Rwandan Senate most likely in early 2010.

Article 217 violates Rwandans’ basic human rights and is contradictory to the Rwandan Constitution as well as various regional and international conventions. IGLHRC, the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), and Rwanda’s Horizon Community Association (HOCA) will shortly issue a call to action to demand that the Rwandan Parliament withdraw this article. We urge the international community to act against this proposed law and support the equality, dignity, and privacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Rwanda.

This draft provision targeting LGBT people closely follows the introduction of a similar measure in neighboring Uganda, where the nation’s parliament is currently debating an Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The proposed Ugandan law would prohibit all LGBT activism and organizing, would further criminalize consensual same-sex conduct between adults, which is already illegal in Uganda, and in some cases apply the death penalty.


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Filed under International - Persecution of Homosexuals, International - Policies and Declaration, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-International

Walter Trochez, Honduran LGBT Activist Assassinated


Colleagues, friends, and comrades,

Walter Trochez, a well-known LGBT activist in Honduras who was an active member of the National Resistance Front against the coup d’etat there, was assassinated on December 13. Trochez, who had already been arrested and beaten for his sexual orientation after participating in a march against the coup, had been very active recently in documenting homophobic crimes committed by the forces behind the coup.

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Twelve Men Face Execution for Sodomy in Iran

Crossposted from ILGHRC website

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/pressroom/iglhrcinthenews/1041.html

IGLHRC’s Hossein Alizadeh Quoted in “Gay City News”
12/10/2009
Doug Ireland

Ten young Iranian men, including eight teenagers, are currently awaiting execution for sodomy, and two more are being re-tried on the same capital charge. And, in an exclusive interview with Gay City News, an Iranian student gay rights activist confirmed for the first time the existence of queer organizing on multiple university campuses throughout Iran.

The information about the ten youths currently under sentence of death for sodomy (lavaat in Persian) was released on November 25 in a joint appeal by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), and COC of the Netherlands, the world’s oldest LGBT rights group, founded in 1946. The three organizations called on Western countries “with significant diplomatic and economic ties to Iran, including Germany, France, Canada, as well as the European Union, to pursue diplomatic efforts to cease these executions.”

It is extremely difficult to obtain information about death penalty cases involving homosexuality under today’s repressive theocratic regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the press is heavily censored and journalists, regime critics, and human rights advocates are routinely persecuted and arrested and where the subject of same-sex relations is officially considered a political and religious taboo. Defendants in sodomy cases are denied open trials. Last month, Human Rigths Watch, basing its finding on an Iranian newspaper report, told of the execution of two men for sodomy.

Most of the new information about the 12 defendants now threatened with execution for sodomy was provided by lawyers and activists with the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHHR) in Iran, according to Hossein Alizadeh, the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for IGLHRC, while contacts in Iran provided by IRQO yielded additional information, he told Gay City News.

CHRR, founded in 2005, has become one of the most important sources of information about human rights violations in Iran and recently became the first Iranian human rights organization to officially recognize the LGBT rights struggle by creating a Queer Committee to deal with persecution of sexual minorities. (“Queer” is the translation preferred by Alizadeh and other gay Iranians for the Persian word degar-bash, a term meaning “different” and which embraces gays, lesbians, and transpeople.)
Read the full article at http://www.gaycitynews.com/articles/2009/12/10/gay_city_news/news/doc4b2109624f65c652502853.txt

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Sass Sasot at UN: Reclaiming the lucidity of our hearts

UN Speech – Reclaiming the lucidity of our hearts

Opposing grave human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Thursday, December 10th 2009 at 1.15 p.m. – 2.45 p.m

Sass Rogando Sasot, transgender activist, Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)


Links to the entire webcast:

English: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ondemand/specialevents/2009/se091210pm2.rm

Spanish: http://webcast.un.org/ramgen/ondemand/specialevents/2009/se091210pm2-orig.rm

Let me begin by expressing my warmest gratitude to the Permanent Missions to the United Nations of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, and to the coalition of non-government organizations defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Thank you for making this event possible and for giving us this opportunity to contribute our voices to this ongoing conversation for change. Our esteemed participants, beautiful beings, and profound expressions of this Universe, a warm, vibrant, and dignified afternoon to each and every one of you!

Burned at stake. Strangled and hanged. Raped and shot and stabbed to death. Throats slashed. Left to bleed to death. These are just some of the ways transgender people were killed in different parts of the world, in different times in the history of humanity. These are just the tip, the violent tip, of the iceberg of our suffering. I can go on and on, reciting a litany of indignity upon indignity, but my time is not enough to name all the acts of atrocious cruelty that transgender people experience. But what is the point of counting the dead bodies of our fellow human beings, of narrating how we suffer, and of opposing violence against us if we don’t challenge the root of our oppression?

The sincerity of our intention to address the human rights violations against transgender people rests upon the depth of our appreciation of human diversity and the breadth of our understanding of why transgender people suffer these indignities.

The root of our oppression is the belief that there is only one and only one way to be male or female. And this starts from our birth. Upon a quick look on our genitals, we are assigned into either male or female. This declaration is more than just a statement of what’s between our legs. It is a prescription of how we should and must live our lives. It is a dictation of what we should think about ourselves, the roles we should play, the clothes we should wear, the way we should move, and the people with whom we should have romantic or erotic relationships. But the existence of people whose identities, bodies, and experiences do not conform to gender norms is a proof that this belief is wrong.

Nonetheless, even though the truth of human diversity is so evident and clear to us, we choose to hang on to our current beliefs about gender, a belief that rejects reality and forces people to live a lie. This is the belief that leads to attacks on our physical and mental integrity, to different forms of discrimination against us, and to our social marginalization. This is the belief that led to Joan of Arc to be burned at stake because she was cross-dressing. This is the belief that motivated the rape and murder of Brandon Teena on December 31, 1993. This is the belief that led to the stabbing to death of Ebru Soykan, a prominent transgender human rights activist in Turkey, on March 10, 2009. This is the belief that led to the arrest of 67 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia for cross-dressing in June this year. This is the belief that keeps the list of transgender people being harassed, killed, and violated growing year after year. And it is very unfortunate that our legal systems, religions, and cultures are being used to justify, glorify, and sanctify the violent expressions of this belief.

So we question: Is human life less precious than this belief? Is our right to life, to dignified existence, to liberty, and pursuit of happiness subservient to gender norms? This doesn’t need a complicated answer. You want to be born, to live, and die with dignity – so do we! You want the freedom to express the uniqueness of the life force within you – so do we! You want to live with authenticity – so do we!

Now is the time that we realize that diversity does not diminish our humanity; that respecting diversity does not make us less human; that understanding and accepting our differences do not make us cruel. And in fact, history has shown us that denying and rejecting human variability is the one that has lead us to inflict indignity upon indignity towards each other.

We are human beings of transgender experience. We are your children, your partners, your friends, your siblings, your students, your teachers, your workers, your citizens.

Let our lives delight in the same freedom of expression that you enjoy as you manifest to the outside world your unique and graceful selves.

Let us live together in the fertile ground of our common humanity for this is the ground where religion is not a motivation to hate but a way to appreciate the profound beauty and mysteries of life;

for this is the ground where laws are not tools to eliminate those who are different from us but are there to facilitate our harmonious relationship with each other;

for this is the ground where culture is not a channel to express the brutality of our limited perception but a means to express the nobility of our souls;

for this is the ground where the promise of the universality of human rights can be fulfilled!

And we will be in this ground if we let the sanity of our desires, the tenacity of our compassion, and above all, the lucidity of our hearts to reign in our lives.

Thank you!

—————-

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Filed under International - Policies and Declaration, International Trans Issues, Media-International, Official reports and policy declarations, Sass Sasot

Goethe Institute-Dhaka hosts photo exhibition on male homosexuality

Submitted by Tanvir Alim

Compiled and Edited by Ashoka DEB


The Goethe-Institut acts as a liason centre of the foreign cultural policy of Germany. Currently the centre is hosting Under the Rainbow’ festival which showcases several programmes  employing the popular medium of dance, film and photography. The main theme of this event is to discover the beauty of loving , realising and revealing who and what you are, while breaking down the culture. A strong and bold statement indeed, in a nation where inter personal relationships are bruised,battered and dictated through pre-determined puritanistic norms and societal scrutiny.

Goethe will screen a few path breaking movies which have left lasting impressions in the field of gay rights and feminist movements.I will provide you here with a brief synopsis of the scheduled movies.

Brokeback Mountains:

In this story, two young men meet and fall in love on the Brokeback Mountain in Wmoying in 1963. The film documents their complex relationship over time and how they succumbed to the social norms of getting married and publicly deny their affection. This film somewhat mirrors  and reminds us of the typical end of  relationships which the closetted Bangladeshi gays are forced to face over time.

If those walls could talk :

Its a fascinating movie which depicts the plights of three different women and their experiences with abortion. Each of the three stories takes place in the same house in three different years: 1952, 1974, and 1996.  The movie vividly depicts each women’s experiences or to be more precise the helplessness across their individual circumstances demonstrating the dictates of puritan society over her own body. A very strong yet touching feminist film indeed.

Fried Green Tomatoes:

This film portrays how a timid housewife who is unhappy in her marital relationship befriends a tomboyish women, who teaches her to assert her rightful share of joy and later finally garners courage to invite her lesbian lover for a live in relationship. A textbook demonstration of transformation or metamorphosis what we non-normative genders aspire and dream of.

Photo exhibition:


I first saw the works of Ghazi Nafis on his project “Community” across his website which portrays the state of homosexuality in Bangladesh. Ghazi, a photo journalist of repute, often works on social issues for the oppressed and suppressed communities , and the Bangladeshi homosexual community is no exception to this.His images make subtle yet powerful statements about the severely depressed psychological state of the Bangladeshi gays who have pushed themselves deep inside the closets to avoid approbations of any sort.  I have noticed that many global LGBT activists consider internet based associations formed by party loving Bangladeshi gays belonging to the higher social strata as the sole barometer of  same sex culture. Ghazi Nafis has painstakingly caught the glimpses of those Forbidden Relationships which blossom secretly across closetted indoors, yet violently denied in public by cautiosly meandering away from societal scrutiny to mitigate harshness and ridiculing. Yes, his lenses caught the glimpses of real state of homosexuality or gay culture in Bangladesh in truest form, the way it exists and has always existed……the CLOSETTED WAY.



You can have a look at his works at the  PHOTO EXHIBITION ‘Looking at Inner Face’ which is scheduled between December 12, 06:00 pm – December 26 at Goethe Institute Dhaka

Location:


House 10,

Road 4 (new), Dhanmondi R/A,

Dhaka, Bangladesh
For more info mail
intern2@dhaka.goethe.org
Or log on to the Website:
http://www.goethe.de/dhaka


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Filed under Ashok DEB, Bangladesh LGBT events, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Tanvir Alim