Fresh reports of attacks on men perceived to be gay are coming out of Nigeria.
The AP reports:
A mob armed with wooden clubs and iron bars, screaming that they were going to "cleanse" their neighborhood of gay people, dragged 14 young men from their beds and assaulted them, human rights activists said Saturday.
Four of the victims were marched to a police station, where they allegedly were kicked and punched by police officers who yelled pejoratives at them, said Ifeanyi Orazulike (pictured) of the International Center on Advocacy for the Right to Health.
Police threatened that the men would be incarcerated for 14 years, he said, the maximum prison sentence under Nigeria's new Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, dubbed the "Jail the Gays" law.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has received reports that approximately 10 men, perceived to be gay, were beaten by a mob of some 40 persons in the community of Geshiri near Abuja last night or early this morning. The local police reportedly arrested 5 of the victims of the attack and later released them. Most of the men suffered injuries from the attack and are now in hiding.
The attack is part of what seems to be a recent surge of arrests and vigilante violence against individuals and groups perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). These incidents surfaced after Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law into effect that not only criminalizes same-sex unions, broadly speaking, but also applies harsh jail sentences to anyone found guilty of directly or indirectly depicting homosexual relations in public or who is in any way linked to the operations of organizations advocating for the human rights of those in same-sex relationships.
“What we see in Nigeria is the sadly predictable breakdown of the rule of law that comes after such an anti-democratic law went into effect,” said Jessica Stern, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “Regardless of what anyone thinks of homosexuality or transgenderism, the state has an obligation to ensure the safety of all Nigerians.”
The AP adds:
Orazulike said he got a panicked email from a colleague who said he was hiding from a mob of 40 people who struck around 1 a.m. Thursday, going from house to house saying their mission was "to cleanse" the area of gays. He said they used pieces of wood and iron to beat up 14 young men. Orazulike said he drove from his home at 4 a.m. Thursday to save the man in Gishiri, a shantytown with mud roads near central Abuja.
Those attacked are in hiding and too scared to speak to reporters, he said, recounting their story.
"They were told 'If you come back, we will kill you.'"
The walls of houses where the men lived have been painted with graffiti declaring "Homosexuals, pack and leave," he said.
The four men brought to the police station were beaten and later released because of lack of evidence.
Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator whose 11 hour filibuster of a abortion bill last summer gained her national headlines and a platform for a gubernatorial run, has come out publicly for marriage equality and has urged Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop defending the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The San Antonio Express-News reports:
“It's my strong belief that when people love each other and are desirous of creating a committed relationship with each other that they should be allowed to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Davis told the Express-News editorial board.
Davis, D-Fort Worth, said she is “pleased” that the state's constitutional definition of marriage, as being between a man and a woman, is under challenge in federal court.
“I think that what we see happening at the federal level in terms of constitutional interpretations on that provide some hope that it may be found unconstitutional,” she said.
Greg Abbott, who is Davis's presumed general-election opponent in the race for governor later this year, scoffed at her request to stop defending the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Said a spokesman for the Abbott campaign:
“Unlike Senator Davis' positions on the issues, the Texas constitution is not subject to change on the latest whims of the day. Senator Davis' comment suggesting the Attorney General not enforce the Constitution mimics an Obama-style approach to government, and Texans deserve better,”
Watch Davis' announcement and call to the Attorney General, AFTER THE JUMP...
Davis’ campaign for governor is seen as the first real test for Battleground Texas, the Political Action Committee founded by top political strategists, campaign operatives, and field directors from the Obama 2012 campaign. The PAC’s long-term goal is turning Texas into a presidential swing state, something that Republicans in the state are increasingly worried about.
Abbot, to his credit, realizes that Texas’ 38 electoral votes are “the last line of defense” in keeping Republicans electorally competitive in presidential elections. So naturally, he’s already on record saying that Battleground Texas represents a greater threat than North Korea.
Do you resemble these remarks?
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
Cornerback for the New York Giants Terrell Thomas thinks that the world is ready for gay athletes, but the NFL isn't. In addition to the usual "but there are naked guys in the showers" canard, expresses a new concern: being asked questions. In an interview with ESPN.com Thomas expressed his discomfort, saying in part,
You just look at what happened this year with the Miami Dolphins' situation. That became something we were being asked about every day in our locker room, and it wasn't even our team. And they're the kinds of questions where you have to think carefully about how you phrase things.
Which is evidently in contrast to interviews where you don't have to think carefully about how you answer. You can watch ESPN discuss the Thomas interview AFTER THE JUMP...
The 26-year-old actress Ellen Page — most famous for her role as the precocious pregnant teenager in Diablo Cody's film Juno — came out on Valentine's Day during a speech she made at the Human Rights Campaign's Time to Thrive youth conference in Las Vegas.
She said, "I am here today because I am gay... and because maybe I can make a difference to help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless for me I feel a personal obligation and a personal responsibility. I also do it selfishly because I’m tired of hiding and I’m tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationship suffered. And I’m standing here today with all of you on the other side of that pain."
She added, "And I am young yes. But what I have learned is that love — the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes even the pain of it — is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being."
See the video and full transcript of her speech, AFTER THE JUMP...
”Thank you Chad for those kind words and for the even kinder work that you and the Human Rights Campaign foundation do everyday on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender your people here and across America. It is such an honor to be here at the inaugural Time To Thrive conference, but it’s a little weird too.
Here I am in this room because of an organization whose work I deeply deeply admire. And I’m surrounded by people who make it their life’s work to make other people’s lives better, profoundly better. Some of you teach young people. Some of you help young people heal and find their voice. Some of you listen. Some of you take action. Some of you are young people yourselves, in which case it’s even weirder for a young person like me to be speaking to you.
It’s weird because here I am — an actress, representing in at least some sense an industry that places crushing standards on all of us; and not just young people. Everyone. Standards of beauty, of a good life, of success. Standards that, I hate to admit, have affected me. You have ideas planted in your head, thoughts that you never had before that tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress and who you have to be.
And I have been trying to push back, to be authentic and to follow my heart. But it can be hard. But that’s why I’m here. In this room, all of you, all of us can do so much more together than any one person can do alone. And I hope that that thought bolsters you as much as it does me. I hope that the workshops you go to over the next few days give you strength because I can only imagine that there are days when you’ve worked longer hours than your boss realizes or care about just to help a kid who you know can make it. Days when you feel completely alone, undermined or hopeless.
And I know there are people in this room who go to school every day and get treated like shit for no reason. Or you go home and you feel like you can’t tell your parents the whole truth about yourself. And beyond putting yourself in one box or another you worry about the future; about college or work or even your physical safety. And trying to create that mental picture of your life, of what on earth is going to happen to you can crush you a little bit every day. And it is toxic and painful and deeply unfair.
And sometimes it’s the little insignificant stuff that can tear you down. Now I try not to read gossip as a rule, but the other day a website ran an article with a picture of me wearing sweatpants on the way to the gym. And the writer asked, “Why does this petite beauty insist upon dressing as a massive man?” (pause) Because I like to be comfortable. (laughter, light applause) There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we’re all supposed to act, dress and speak and they serve no one. Anyone who defies these so-called norms becomes worthy of comment and scrutiny. And the LGBT community knows this all to well.
Yet there is courage all around us. The football hero Michael Sam, the actress Laverne Cox, the musicians Tegan and Sara Quinn, the family who supports their daughter or son who has come out. And there is courage in this room. All of you. And I’m inspired to be in this room because every single one of you is here for the same reason. You’re here because you’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. (light applause)
If we took just five minutes to recognize each other’s beauty instead of attacking each other for our differences. That’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately it saves lives. Then again it can be the hardest thing. Because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. And I know many of you have struggled with this. And I draw upon your strength and your support in ways that you will never know.
And I am here today because I am gay (cheering, applause) Whooo! Hahaha. Thank you. And because maybe I can make a difference to help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless for me I feel a personal obligation and a personal responsibility. I also do it selfishly because I’m tired of hiding and I’m tired of lying by omission. (applause) I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationship suffered. And I’m standing here today with all of you on the other side of that pain.
And I am young yes. But what I have learned is that love — the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes even the pain of it — is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love, fully, equally, without shame and without compromise. There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection or simply being mistreated for who they are. Too many dropouts. Too much abuse. Too many homeless. Too many suicides. You can change that and you are changing it. But you never needed me to tell you that. And that’s why this was a little bit weird.
The only thing I can really say — and this is what I have been building up to for the last five minutes — thank you. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for giving me hope. And please keep changing the world for people like me. Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.