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04/19/2007


Obama Denounces Russia for 'Targeting' Gays in Speech to EU: VIDEO

Brussels_obama

In a speech on Wednesday at the Palais Des Beaux-Arts in Brussels after talks with EU and NATO leaders on Russia's military backed annexation of Crimea, President Obama gave a speech about taking a stand against Russia, part of which mentioned Russia's attitude toward gay rights, CNN reports:

In making the case for a united stand against what he characterized as Russian aggression, Obama borrowed from the language that helped win him the White House for a second term.

"We believe in human dignity - that every person is created equal, no matter who you are, or what you look like, or who you love, or where you come from," he said.

Later, Obama reiterated criticism of Russian intolerance spawned by a law passed before the Sochi Olympics that outlawed promoting gay rights to children.

Western ideals and values of openness and tolerance would endure long past repression, he argued.

"Instead of targeting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, we can use our laws to protect their rights," he said. "Instead of defining ourselves in opposition to others, we can affirm the aspirations that we hold in common. That's what will make America strong. That's what will make Europe strong. That's what makes us who we are."

Watch the full speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Did the EU Just Sell Out Ukraine's Gay Community?

BY EMILY LODISH / GlobalPost

Ukraine says the EU dropped a requirement that the country protect 'sexual minorities' as part of visa negotiations. The EU denies it.

Ukraine is looking for a legal makeover, but it may not benefit everyone.

PetrenkoOn Monday, Ukraine's parliament finalized a new anti-discrimination law, but in a worrying move for the country's LGBT community, the country's justice minister said the law would not include a clause to protect "sexual minorities."

"We did find an understanding with the European Commission on the draft law on discrimination," said Ukraine's Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko (pictured).

"And they removed their demands concerning the indication in the law of guarantees for sexual minorities."

But David Stulik, a spokesman for the European Commission delegation to Kyiv, denied the minister's claim. He told BuzzFeed that the EU had not dropped the requirement.

The law, which is part of a plan to do away with visas for Ukrainians traveling to the EU, does guarantee protection of all persons for race and religion, according to Petrenko.

Ukraine's parliament has previously considered anti-"gay propaganda" laws, though none have passed. Negotiations, it seems, are ongoing.


United States, EU, Australian Diplomats Issue Joint Denunciation of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Law

Diplomats from the European Union released a statement denouncing Uganda's anti-gay law.

MuseveniStatement below:

STATEMENT FROM EUROPEAN UNION DIPLOMATS ON THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY LAW

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned and disappointed about the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

We strongly believe that all humans share common indivisible rights. The Anti-Homosexuality Law contradicts this universal principle and the Ugandan commitment to protect the fundamental human rights of all of its citizens.

We would like to remind the Government of Uganda of its constitutional and international human rights obligations. Having ratified the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Uganda is obliged to guarantee the human rights infringed by the Anti-Homosexuality Law.

Signed by:

Urban Andersson, Ambassador of Sweden
David Angel, Canadian High Commissioner
Alison Blackburne, British High Commissioner
Dónal Cronin, Chargé d'Affaires of Ireland
Stefano A Dejak, Ambassador of Italy
Scott H. DeLisi, U.S Ambassador
Klaus Dieter Düxmann, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
Dan E. Frederiksen, Ambassador of Denmark
Sofie From-Emmesberger, Ambassador of Finland
Thorbjørn Gaustadsæther, Ambassador of Norway
Alain Hanssen, Ambassador of Belgium
Alphons Hennekens, Ambassador of the Netherlands
Simone Knapp, Head of Office, Austrian Embassy Development Cooperation
Sophie Makame, Ambassador of France
Gisli Palsson, Chargé d'Affaires a.i of Iceland
Kristian Schmidt, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union
Geoff Tooth, Australian High Commissioner


EU Commissioner Boycotts Sochi Olympics, Joins German President

Viviane Reding tweet
And another high-profile political leader joins the boycott of Russia for their heinous witch hunt of homosexuals. 

RedingEuropean Union commissioner Viviane Reding, like German President Joachim Gauck, has publicly announced that she will not be attending the Olympics in Sochi. Whereas Gauck's decision is implied to be a response to Russia's human rights violations, Reding explicitly stated in a tweet that she would be staying away because of how the country treats its minorities: 

I will certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian legislation.

Here's hoping that the courage of these two leaders will inspire action on the part of others who have yet to speak up.


European Court of Human Rights: Greece Must Allow Civil Unions for Gay Couples

Yesterday we reported that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that persecuted gays from Africa have grounds for asylum in European Union member countries.

GreeceBut there's more, the WSJ reports:

A separate ruling was issued by the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the EU and has jurisdiction over 47 countries, including Russia and Turkey. That court said that countries that legally recognize relationships outside marriage, such as civil unions, must extend that option to same-sex couples. That ruling could force legal changes in Greece and Lithuania, which currently permit civil unions only for heterosexual couples...

The civil union judgment was prompted by a case brought by two Greek gay couples:

The Strasbourg-based court said that the Greek government failed to explain convincingly why such unions shouldn't be open to same-sex partnerships. The court noted that, in 17 of the 19 European countries with legal alternatives to marriage, those unions also included gay couples.

"The decision is a small revolution. Greece has finally lost the case and the Greek government is being dragged into becoming European," said Grigoris Vallianatos, one of the complainants. "The issue of gays is no longer one of sex hidden behind the bushes, rather something that relates to the Greek family."


European Court of Human Rights: Persecuted Gays from Africa Have Grounds for Asylum

Africa

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that persecuted gays in African have grounds for asylum, offering an opinion in a case brought by The Netherlands concerning three gay citizens from Uganda, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, the BBC reports:

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) says asylum can be granted in cases where people are actually jailed for homosexuality in their home country. ECJ rulings apply to all EU members.

Homosexual acts are illegal in most African countries, including key Western allies such as Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and Botswana. In June a report by Amnesty International said homophobic attacks had reached dangerous levels in sub-Saharan Africa and must stop.

The ECJ judgment on Thursday was a response to the Dutch Council of State, a top advisory body, which had asked whether homosexuals could be considered a "particular social group" and whether criminalisation and possible imprisonment amounted to persecution.

The ECJ says laws specifically targeting homosexuals do make them a separate group. But it is up to the national authorities - in this case the Netherlands - to determine "whether, in the applicant's country of origin, the term of imprisonment... is applied in practice".


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