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GOP Congressman Chris Smith: 'I Do Not Construe Homosexual Rights As Human Rights'

Smith

Republican New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith made the anti-gay remark during a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday where the subject on hand was human rights in Nigeria.

Smith, who is also the chairman of the Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization Subcommittee, made the comment in response to Ambassador Robert P. Jackson, who had addressed LGBT rights in that African country to the full committee. Smith's comments in full:

"As you know there are fundamental differences in the United States over the whole LBGT (sic) issue. I am a strong believer in traditional marriage and do not construe homosexual rights as human rights. Others have a different view and I certainly respect them."

The HRC immediately issued a statement and made note that his comments fell on the same day a dozen people were arrested in Nigeria for taking part in a same-sex wedding:

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“On a day when 12 men were reportedly arrested for simply attending an alleged LGBT wedding in Nigeria, and as reports keep emerging about the impact of Nigeria’s anti-LGBT law on the lives of Nigerians, it is unconscionable that Representative Smith would not only object to the basic human rights of LGBT people, but argue that their rights should not be part of the administration’s policy in Nigeria,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global.

The LGBT Caucus of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee also slammed Smith:

“It’s simple: LGBT rights are human rights. It’s shocking that Smith — or anyone in his position — would make such close-minded comments to the contrary."

Even his fellow Republicans have criticized his anti-gay comments:

“Despite Congressman Smith’s views on civil marriage equality, the Board of Directors of Equality GOP New Jersey have long respected his outstanding record on Human Rights and his courage to fight a just fight for the good of humankind and to promote the dignity and welfare of human life.

Mr. Smith’s recent remarks. however, are completely outside the recognized global human rights framework, inconsistent with his solid pro life record, contrary to Catholic teachings regarding violence against LGBT people, and not at all reflective of the values of equality and inclusion that have been the bedrock of the U.S. Republican Party and the values of life and liberty that have been the foundation of American democracy.

You can watch the House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting here. Smith's anti-gay remarks come in at 1:42:26. 


12 Men Arrested In Northern Nigeria In Violation of Sharia Law Forbidding Gay Marriage

NigeriaYet another group of men suspected of being gay have been arrested in Nigeria, this time in the northern, predominantly Muslim city of Kano where Sharia law is in effect. The 12 men were accosted by Sharia law enforcement at what was described as a “gay wedding.”

“We got information of the wedding four days earlier and our men stormed the venue while the wedding was about to start,” said commading officer Aminu “We have 12 men in custody, including the bride. We arrested them at the venue of a planned gay wedding.”

Faruk Maidguri claims that the people taken into custody had actually gathered to celebrate his birthday. He went on to accuse the police of singling out his friends because of their outwardly feminine demeanor.

In accordance with Nigerian law same-sex marriage is expressly forbidden, as is being a part of LGBT activist organizations. Sharia law in Nigeria features similar prohibitions, but carry much more severe, though rarely exercised, penalties such as physical punishment and death.


Nigerian Author and Marketing Exec Kehinde Bademosi Comes Out As Gay

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Kehinde Bademosi, founder of Nigerian marketing school Orange Academy, has come out as gay in a public posting on Facebook. In a similar move Bademosi publically disclosed his HIV-positive status last December on World AIDS Day. Bademosi’s latest announcement coincides with the one-year anniversary of Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act being signed into law by president Goodluck Jonathan. Similar to bills passed in Uganda and Kenya, Nigeria’s anti-gay bill threatens gay couples attempting to marry with up to 14 years in prison.

In his Facebook post Bademosi describes his previous marriage to a woman (with whom he has a child) who could not accept his homosexuality:

“It will be exactly a year today, when Nigeria instituted a law to jail people like me. What’s our offense? Because we are simply wired differently.

There are only about 5 to 10% of homosexuals in every population as cited by popular findings and documents. Why is a 90% dominant population afraid of its 10%? Shouldn’t you care about us? Don’t you think it’s a lot easier to be seen as part of the 90%?”

Since dissolving his marriage in civil court, Bademosi has been a vocal advocate for Nigerian LGBT rights and made a point of dispelling some of the common misconceptions surrounding HIV. In particular Bademosi has focused on spreading information about being HIV positive and parenting children.

In a follow-up post earlier today, Bademosi wrote: 

 

Nigerian Expatriate Turned LGBT Activist Sees Anti-Homosexuality Laws As An Opportunity for Change

Alimi

In 2004 in an appearance on "New Dawn with Funmi," a morning talk show program on Nigeria’s largest television network, Adebisi Alimi announced to the world that he was gay. The 29 year-old was an aspiring stage performer studying acting at the University of Lagos and, facing blackmail, he made the decision to come out.

The fallout following his announcement nearly ruined his life. Shunned by friends and family, Alimi was repeatedly harassed by law enforcement and left the country after an attempt on his life. In spite of the hardship that he’s faced, however, he sees his time in Nigeria as having been invaluable.

"My story is not a story of a victim,” he told the BBC in 2007. “It's a human story."  

Since then Alimi’s become a vocal LGBT-rights activist and HIV educator based out of the United Kingdom. In an interview with NPR's Goats & Soda Alimi explained his complex relationship to his home country particularly in light of a version of the draconian anti-homosexuality bill currently working its way through many African countries’ legislative systems. In Alimi’s opinion Nigeria’s anti-homosexuality bill will be, in the long term, a boom to the fight for LGBT equality.

“I see the law as a catalyst for change for good in Nigeria,” he explained. “You don't understand what it is like to fight a beast that you cannot see.”

Nigeria“Before the signing of that law, between 95 and 98 percent of Nigerians were in support of it. The latest poll says 88 percent of Nigerians now support the law.

That's a 10 percent drop. Some people who are not LGBT are now saying, ‘Did we just support a law that criminalizes people ... for falling in love?. [When] you see that your uncle or cousin is gay, it kind of changes the conversation.”

Check out the fulll interview here

And watch Adebisi Alimi’s TEDxBerlin talk about the next steps in fighting the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Nigerian Expatriate Turned LGBT Activist Sees Anti-Homosexuality Laws As An Opportunity for Change" »


Nigerian Court Dismisses Challenge to Powerful Anti-Gay Law

Nigeria

On Wednesday, Nigeria's federal court dismissed a challenge to the nation's powerful anti-gay law, the Anti-Same Sex Marriage act, signed into law January 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan.

As David Mixner wrote earlier this year, "Not only does the law ban marriage equality but also any LGBT relationship. If discovered, gay couples will be sentenced to fourteen years in jail. That is bad enough. However, it also provides for ten years in jail for forming any LGBT organization or supporting the formation of one. The law criminalizes even meetings between homosexuals."

AlimiThe court tossed the case out because they said the person who brought the case could not prove he was effected by it — the man in question does not live in Nigeria and is married to a woman with wife and children. His name is Teriah Joseph Ebah, 42, and he's lived the last 14 years in the UK. Said Ebah to Buzzfeed News: “I decided I wasn’t going to accept a Nigeria that was discriminatory.” His official complaint cites a violation of human rights protections of Nigerian Law.

On the bright side, Buzzfeed reports, this may not be such a setback for Nigerian LGBT activists as you might expect. They say Ebah brought the case independent of them without consulting them. Buzzfeed quotes Nigerian activist Bisi Alimi (pictured), who says the dismissal “opens a better door for us to challenge the law."

[photo via Facebook]


LGBT Immigrants Hold Reform Rally in Front of White House: VIDEO

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A group of LGBT immigrants rallied in D.C. Tuesday to protest the federal government's immigration policies in light of news that President Obama will not make a move on immigration reform until after Election Day, The Washington Blade reports.

Protestors wore red shirts that read "Immigration is an LGBTQ Issue," encouraging people to consider the intersections between these two political issues. 

A 28-year-old gay man, "Oliver" (pseudonym), shared his story of fleeing Nigeria to escape homophobia. In light of recent laws in Nigeria, he cannot return to his country, so "Oliver" spoke on the importance of maintaining America's asylum system.

Two pseudonymous speakers shared horror stories of being placed in America's detention centers, a man "Jose" and a transwoman "Fernanda."

"Jose" originally fled El Salvador for being sexually abused an harassed based on his sexuality. Of the detention center, he said:

I felt scared...One of the detainees openly said that he was gay, and he was literally insulated from everyone. No one wanted to talk to him; no one wanted to be with him. That made me feel threatened. That made me feel scared of saying something. Day by day, being in that horrible place, in that detention center, I was living my nightmare again.

"Fernanda" is 36, and fled violence she faced in her home country of Honduras. At the protest, she described her experience in a detention center, where she was placed with mentally ill people.

It is time for this country to turn our attention to understand the stories of trans woman in detention who are mistreated psychologically, verbally, who are repeatedly assaulted and attacked for being who they are.

Check out video of the rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

(Photo via Twitter)

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