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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".


Police Clash With Extremists As Montenegro's Capital Holds First Gay Pride March: VIDEO

Pop

As planned, Montenegro's capital of Podgorica held its first gay pride march today. While only an estimated 150 people marched, the event drew approximately 1,500 extremists who sought to disrupt the event, ultimately forcing police intervention, The Guardian reports.

Montenegran President Filip Vujanović had previously promised the group Queer Montenegro, who organized the march, that the government would do everything within its power to guarantee the safety of those involved. By all accounts, the government seems to have made good on that promise. Despite an explosion at the perimeter of the march, a barrage of rocks being hurled at marchers, and twelve protesters who came armed with molotov cocktails (all of whom were arrested by police), there are no reports that anyone who took part in the march was injured, according to BuzzFeed. Two thousand police officers, approximately fifty-percent of Montenegro's entire police force, were on hand for the event, Historia IME reports. Twenty police officers were injured and fourty extremist "hooligans" were also hurt as Police and anti-gay protesters butted heads throughout the day.

RainThe march in Podgorica comes as just the second Pride event in the country's history. As previously reported, the small town of Budva held its first Pride in July of this year. That event was also marred by the presence of anti-gay protesters. However, an important distinction between the march in Budva and the one in Podgorica was the presence and involvement of the government. BuzzFeed reports:

Activists were heartened by the presence of Montenegro’s minister of human and minority rights, Suad Numanović, which they took as a gesture of the government’s commitment to protecting LGBT rights. No government officials took part in the Budva march.

“In Budva, the message was … this is the Montenegro which does not support LGBT people,” said Ljiljiana Reicević, a march participant who also attended the Budva pride march. “But Podgorica is totally different. It proves that the government is stating, ‘No, We will not allow this [violence], we will stop this, and we will protect you.’”

Many have speculated that Montenegro's desire to join the European Union is a key factor behind the government's staunch support for the march in Podgorica, especially considering that dignitaries such as Mitja Drobnič, head of the European Union’s mission to Montenegro, and Laurent L. Stokvis, the Dutch ambassador to Serbia, were on hand for the event. Moreover, as BuzzFeed notes, Minister Numanović seems to believe that "Demonstrating progress towards securing LGBT rights is crucial to Montenegro’s aspirations to one day be part of the European Union":

“On the road to European integration, the government of Montenegro has shown its democratic capacity [and the pride march] shows that Montenegrin society is maturing in the protection of all minorities, including members of the LGBT community,” he said.

That was the message received by Ambassador Stokvis. “I think it is of great significance that the LGBT community here is holding this pride [and] that it is being supported and it is being safeguarded by the Montenegran government,” he said. “This of course a sign of democracy, about the right to assemble, the right to demonstrate, and the right to free speech … important values for all of us, for the European Union and for the Netherlands in particular.”

Check out some incredible photos via Joe.My.God and a video of the march AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay European Tourism Association Calls for Suspension of Visa-Free Travel to EU for Russian Officials

The Gay European Tourism Association is calling on the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström to suspend negotiations on proposals that would give 15,000 Russian officials the right to travel throughout the European Union without visas because of Russia’s recently introduced anti-gay laws.

MalmstromVia press release from GETA:

In the letter Carlos Kytka, Executive Director of GETA, says that “in the 1930s Europe’s failure to speak and act against the state sponsored attacks on sectors of German people, including homosexuals, sent the wrong message to the Nazi Party and emboldened its actions with disastrous consequences for Europe.  The European Union has recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and has a duty to act firmly to show its distaste for European countries that threaten the peace and nature of our continent through its repressive actions”.

GETA has also written to the 48 MEPs who earlier this year expressed their concerns about liberalising visa restrictions for Russian officials because of the country’s human rights record, drawing their attention to the subsequent worsening situation and asking them to maintain their opposition.  The European Parliament has the power of veto over all EU bilateral agreements and could scupper any deal with Russia.

GETA is also currently lobbying the International Olympic Committee and European sports ministers to ensure that gay people travelling to Sochi for the Winter Olympics are free to express their support for gay rights without fear of intimidation, violence and arrest.


Groundbreaking LGBTI Human Rights Guidelines Adopted By EU Today

The Council of the European Union, which previously adopted a non-binding toolkit to promote LGBT human rights, has upgraded their guidelines in order "to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons." The new document is binding and represents a huge step forward in international human rights law. EU 

The EU Intergroup on LGBT Rights reports:

Today the EU’s 27 foreign affairs ministers adopted a ground-breaking global policy. The LGBTI Guidelines instruct EU diplomats around the globe to defend the human rights of LGBTI people.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, welcomed the new document: “It is absolutely ground-breaking that the 27 foreign affairs ministers agreed to this, and only three years after the LGBT Toolkit. And I’m very happy the document pays particular attention to trans and intersex people, as well as lesbian and bisexual women at risk of gender-based violence.”

Michael Cashman MEP, also Intergroup Co-President, added: “We’re extremely happy with the Guidelines, and I can hardly add anything to this excellent document. The Council did an outstanding job, about which I have no reservations.”

The guidelines encompass four priorities: the elimination of discriminatory laws and policies, the promotion of non-discrimination at work, in schools, and in healthcare, combatting state and individual violence against LGBTI persons, and the support and protection of human rights defenders. The entire document can be read here.


Map Shows State of Human Rights for LGBT People in Europe: PHOTO

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ILGA Europe has released an updated map showing the state of human rights for LGBT people in Europe in May 2013. Click to enlarge. The scale goes from dark green (full equality, respect of human rights) to dark red (gross violations of human rights, discrimination).

Massive Survey of 93,000 Shows Most European LGBT People are Living in Fear: VIDEO

Survey

A massive survey of 93,000 Europeans taken by The European Union's Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and released to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, which is today, shows that most LGBT Europeans are living in fear.

Check out the results of the survey in an interactive map.

The FRA writes: Fra

According to the data collected, LGBT people start facing difficulties early at school, where they regularly experience bullying and harassment. For this reason, anti-bullying policies should be developed and implemented and teachers should be trained about how to better tackle bullying against LGBT students.

FRA research also shows that LGBT people face discrimination in many other walks of life, including work, housing, social services, and in access to goods and services. About half of all respondents had personally felt discriminated against or harassed in the year before the survey because they were LGBT.

Morten Kjaerum: “What is even more worrying is that LGBT people are frequently victims of hate crime and harassment. About a quarter of all respondents said they had been attacked or threatened with violence in the last five years. High levels of under-reporting were also detected: just 22% of the most serious violent incidents against LGBT people in the five year preceding the survey were reported to the police.”

These experiences of hate and discrimination result in LGBT people living in fear: two thirds of the respondents across all EU Member States were scared of holding hands in public with their same-sex partner. For gay and bisexual men this rose to about 75%.

Watch the FRA's video about the survey and a BBC report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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