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Uganda Court Hears Challenge to Anti-gay Law, Could Rule As Early As Tomorrow

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The Constitutional Court of Uganda opened arguments today on a challenge to the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that was passed by the country’s parliament late last year and signed by President  Yoweri Museveni in February.

Speaking again with Towleroad, Richard Lusimbo with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) said the arguments made against the law today centered on the controversial way the country’s parliament passed the bill without quorum – a constitutional requirement for any legislation to become law. After hearing the arguments, the court adjourned the case until tomorrow – with a possible ruling once the case resumes.

MuseveniTowleroad readers may recall that Ugandan President Museveni, who has a long history of spouting anti-LGBT comments, initially refused to sign the bill and accused parliament of lawlessly forcing it through after he recommended the law be shelved until the government could study it more clearly.

Buzzfeed adds:

If the court rules against the government, it would not be the first time that the Ugandan Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of LGBT rights. Trans activist Victor Mukasa successfully sued Uganda’s attorney general in 2006 for raiding his house while he was head of Sexual Minorities Uganda. Inspired by Mukasa’s victory, activist David Kato sued the now-defunct Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone over a series of articles outing LGBT people. Weeks after winning the case in 2011, Kato was bludgeoned to death.

The case comes as LGBT advocates renew pressure on President Obama to address LGBT rights in Africa. 


Barack Obama Must Raise LGBT Discrimination At U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: READ

Human and gay rights activists are urging Barack Obama to discuss anti-gay discrimination at next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with 50 African leaders, reports ABC News.

2_obamaThe Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights First issued a statement saying that the summit, with the theme “Investing in the Next Generation,” is a "once-in-a-generation moment" to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Africans.

According to the two advocacy groups, 37 African countries have laws criminalizing LGBT relationships. Leaders of 32 of those countries - including Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who signed harsh anti-gay laws earlier this year - have been invited to the summit.

In response to anti-gay laws, the U.S.government last month announced sanctions against Uganda including loss of funding and a ban on Ugandan citizens involved in human rights abuses entering the United States.

Shawn Gaylord, Human Rights First's advocacy counsel for LGBT rights said:

"We believe the U.S. can do more in both Nigeria and Uganda to ensure that U.S. funding is not being given to any institution or group that is abusing human rights, including actively discriminating against the LGBT community. We recognize that this is a difficult process with competing interests, made more difficult by the rhetoric espoused by some leaders that the movement for the rights of LGBT people is something invented in the West and being imposed upon African societies. "

Indicating that gay rights will be raised at the summit, Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, said:

"The Obama Administration has long spoken out — including with our African partners — in support of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. We expect the summit will provide an opportunity to continue these conversations."

Read Human Rights Campaign's report The State Of Human Rights For LGBT People In Africa, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Barack Obama Must Raise LGBT Discrimination At U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: READ" »


Malawi Solicitor General Says Country Has Suspended Anti-Gay Laws

Janet Chikaya-Banda

At a meeting with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva last week, Malawi’s Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General Janet Chikaya-Banda said that the southeast African nation has suspended arresting people for homosexuality until its anti-gay laws are reviewed.

MalawiBack in 2012, it was first reported that Malawi was suspending its anti-gay penal codes and ordering police not to arrest gays. However, the country’s Justice Minister quickly backed away from claims that he was reversing any anti-gay laws, leading to doubts as to whether gays in the country were safe from legal prosecution.

Nyasa Times adds that Banda told the committee the review of the anti-gay laws was stalled due to lack of financial resources but that there was political will to deal with the matter. 

Malawi, like most other African countries, has harsh laws on the books that criminalize consensual homosexual acts. Individuals convicted under Malawi’s anti-gay laws can be punished with up to 14 years imprisonment with hard labor.


60 Arrested In Raid On Gay Bar In Nairobi, Kenya

  Nairobi kenya

More than 60 people were arrested over the weekend during a raid on a gay bar in Nairobi, Kenya, reports Africa New Post.

Although there have been no moves to increase penalties for homosexuals in Kenya, the country’s penal code prescribes up to 14 years in prison for men who commit “acts of gross indecency” with other men or for any person who acts “against the order of nature.” A man was stoned to death in Nairobi in 2012 after he was discovered having sex with a co-worker.

According to Ghafla.co.ke, the arrests at Club Envy were made because of the bar patrons’ sexuality and not under Kenya’s Mututho law which restricts drinking hours and regulates the consumption of alcohol.

Speaking to Ghafla, Joji Baro, a well-known performer in the city, said:

“The arrests at Envy had nothing to do with Mututho law but just trying to suppress the visibility of gays and lesbians. So finally someone just realized gays and lesbians have money and they know where to spend it... Just a reminder of the little rights we enjoy."

The website reports that the arrests came after the government “sent their security apparatus to harass innocent homosexuals who were not even taking part in any buggery but rather enjoying their hard earned money.”

No information has been released regarding the charges faced by the detainees.


Gambia To Toughen Anti-gay Laws By Banning All LGBT Rights Organizations and Advocacy

Momodou SaballyIn a statement to the press on Friday, Gambia’s Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs Momodou Sabally announced legislation to further toughen anti-LGBT laws in the West African nation by banning all LGBT rights advocacy.

Homosexual acts are already illegal in Gambia and can be punished with up to 14 years in prison.  

Sabally said the government plans to strengthen its efforts to ward off any attempt to promote homosexuality, drug abuse and other crimes in The Gambia and that his country "will not import any western culture into the country in exchange for foreign aid" - likely in reference to the U.S. recently imposing a series of sanctions on Uganda over the country's own anti-gay laws.

In the past, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has been outspoken about his hatred of gays - announcing his plans back in 2008 to 'cut off the head' of any homosexual caught in his country. 


Activist Questions Denial of U.S. Visas to African LGBT SF Pride Invitees

MelanieNathanMelanie Nathan (right), director of the San Francisco African Leadership Institute, wrote a scathing piece about the state department's denial of visas for several LGBTI persons from African countries whom she had invited to march in the San Francisco Pride Parade. The 2014 celebration, called "Color Our World with Pride," should have been the perfect venue for the expression of oppressed communities from around the globe, particularly LGBTI Africans and particularly given the United States' response to anti-gay actions on the part of the Ugandan government, among others. Nathan found herself distressed at the notion of Secretary of State John Kerry touting the state department's commitment to global equality initiatives (as the speaker at the department's GLIFAA Pride event, no less) while denying visas to the people who need them most.

Writes Nathan at HuffPost:

The State Department denied seven people a platform to speak about the persecution in their countries, presumably for fear that they might not return home to the countries that persecute them. And after they were denied, a clear pattern emerged, and I pulled 11 of the remaining 14 applicants.

While the Obama administration and this secretary of state have supported the LGBT movement like none before, there is no excuse for this flagrant snub and the homophobic attitude expressed by some of the consular officials who did the interviewing.

JohnKerryNathan argues that by denying visas the U.S. government is abetting the oppression faced by many of the people she had invited for participation in the Pride event. "[By] denying these Pride visas, we may as well have added the victims of the persecution to the blacklist too," Nathan writes.

She believes that Kerry (left) and his department have done a disservice to the global community, and it is hard to deny the cruel irony of the situation:

"No matter where you are, no matter who you love, we stand with you," noted Kerry in that Pride-affirming speech. "And that's what pride means, and that's what drives us today."

And he further assured, "The journey isn't complete. The march isn't over. The promise isn't perfected. But we will march on together."

...

No, Mr. Secretary, it seems that in fact we are not marching together. You have denied us all that privilege.


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