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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".


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


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.


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