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    January 29, 2014

    Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire must urgently investigate the unprecedented wave of homophobic attacks in Abidjan, which has forced many HIV workers to go into hiding, Amnesty International said.

    “The only way to stop the unprecedented homophobic witch-hunt taking place in Côte d’Ivoire is for the authorities to investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice. Failing to do that will only lead for more violence,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, West Africa researcher at Amnesty International.

    On 25 January 2014, the office of Alternative Côte d’Ivoire – an organization working for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people (LGBTI) living with HIV -- was ransacked by a mob of around 200 people. Computers were stolen and the security officer was beaten so badly he required medical treatment.

    When members of the organization contacted the police they were accused of being homosexuals and working as pimps and told that the police had more important work to do.

    January 16, 2014

     

    Jean-Claude Roger Mbede, a 34-year-old former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, recently died an untimely death in Cameroon.        © Private

    Jean-Claude Roger Mbede died an untimely death on 10 January in his hometown, Ngoumou, Cameroon.

    According to media reports, his family prevented him from receiving necessary medical treatment – leaving him fighting for his life whilst his lawyers fought in the courts to appeal his earlier conviction for “homosexuality”.

    January 15, 2014

    Nigeria must immediately release the more than 10 people already arrested under a deeply oppressive new law that runs roughshod over a range of human rights and discriminates based on real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, Amnesty International said.

    The arrests have been made in several Nigerian states such as Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Oyo states since Monday, when it was revealed that President Goodluck Jonathan had signed the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act into law.

    “Those arrested under this draconian new legislation must be released immediately and the charges against them dropped. Locking someone up for their sexual orientation violates the most basic human rights standards,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Researcher.

    “Reports that the police in one state are apparently drawing up lists of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community to target are extremely worrying.”

    December 20, 2013

    Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni must veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which was passed in a surprise vote this morning, Amnesty International said. The passage of the Bill – which dramatically increases the criminal penalties for consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex – amounts to a grave assault on human rights. 

    In addition to violating rights to privacy, family life and equality, the bill threatens freedom of association and expression – all protected under Ugandan and international human rights law. It institutionalizes discrimination against already marginalized lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals in the country.

    “President Museveni must veto this wildly discriminatory legislation, which amounts to a grave assault on human rights and makes a mockery of the Ugandan constitution,” said Aster van Kregten, Deputy Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    December 11, 2013

    A ruling by India’s Supreme Court making consensual same-sex conduct between adults a criminal offence marks a black day for freedom in India, Amnesty International India said today.

    “This decision is a body blow to people’s rights to equality, privacy and dignity,” said G Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive, Amnesty International India. “It is hard not to feel let down by this judgement, which has taken India back several years in its commitment to protect basic rights.”

    The Supreme Court overturned a historic ruling by the Delhi High Court in 2009 which had decriminalized consensual same-sex activity between adults. The Supreme Court said that Section 377 - which criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”- was constitutionally valid, and said that the Government could take legislative steps to repeal the law.

    The Delhi High Court had ruled in 2009 that the outlawing of consensual adult same-sex relations was discriminatory and violated the rights to equality, privacy and dignity set forth in the Indian Constitution.

    November 07, 2013

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today declined to hold that the criminalization of consensual same-sex activity constitutes “persecution” for the purposes of EU asylum law, showing it is out of step with international human rights and refugee law, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists said.  

    In X, Y and Z v Minister voor Immigratie, Integratie en Asiel the Luxembourg-based CJEU considered three joined cases arising from asylum requests lodged in the Netherlands by nationals of Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The three men claimed that they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on their – undisputed – same-sex sexual orientation and the fact that sex between men is criminalized in their home countries.

    November 04, 2013

    The Russian authorities must promptly find and bring to justice all those responsible for a violent homophobic attack in St Petersburg that has left two people injured, including one who has been left blind in one eye, Amnesty International said.

    According to local activists in St Petersburg, on Sunday night two masked men brandishing air guns and baseball bats attacked the office of LaSky, a non-governmental organization that provides support to gay people living with HIV.

    “This latest insidious attack is sadly characteristic of a widespread atmosphere of homophobia in Russia today. If nothing is done to combat the hate, the ground is fertile for further violence,” said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Russian authorities must seek out, investigate and prosecute all those responsible for these violent attacks. Russian President Putin has publicly said the country would welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists at the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics, but such pledges ring hollow in the face of these ongoing hate crimes.”

    September 27, 2013

    Amnesty International is disappointed by the failure of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to see the detrimental effect that Russia’s discriminatory legislation will have on the Games in Sochi.  

    "Russia’s law banning propaganda of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ among minors is clearly discriminatory and in this it violates international law and runs counter to the Olympic Charter. Moreover, the introduction of the law creates an atmosphere in Russia that has already encouraged brutal crimes against people only because of their real or perceived sexual orientation,” Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

    “The fact that the IOC has satisfied itself with Russian officials’ assurances of non-discrimination is not enough. It disregards the fact that Russian law effectively prohibits people from public expression of ‘non-traditional’ sexual orientation. This is an affront to gay and lesbian athletes and spectators. It is also a disappointment to sports fans across the world who care about the Olympic ideal.”

    September 18, 2013

    The European Union (EU) and its member-states are failing to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crimes and to protect all individuals from discrimination, harassment and violence, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    “Hate-motivated violence has a particularly damaging and long-term effect on victims. Yet, the EU as well as many of its members do not recognize crimes based on the perceived sexual orientation or gender identity as hate crimes in their legislation. This is unacceptable because sexual orientation and gender identity are protected grounds of discrimination in international human rights law,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe and Central Asia.

    Amnesty International’s report, Because of who I am: Homophobia, transphobia and hate crime in Europe, highlights gaps in the legislation of many European countries where sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly included as grounds on which hate crimes can be perpetrated. The report also points out the inadequacy of current EU standards on hate crime for tackling homophobic and transphobic violence.

    September 17, 2013

    Zambia postpones same-sex conduct trial

    The postponement of the trial against two Zambian men charged with same-sex sexual conduct whilst they continue to languish in prison is compounding their suffering, Amnesty International said.

    “These men should not be facing the courts in the first place. Postponing the trial condemns these men to even more time in prison simply because of outrageous charges against them based on their perceived sexual orientation,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

    The trial, which was due to start yesterday, was deferred as the presiding magistrate, Mr John Mbudzi, had to attend an urgent family matter. No new date has been confirmed yet.

    Philip Mubiana, a hair dresser and James Mwape, a brick layer, were charged with committing acts “against the order of nature”. They have been in custody for more than four months after being denied bail. If convicted they face a minimum of 15 years in jail.

    September 11, 2013

    Zambia must immediately drop the charges against two men accused of same-sex sexual conduct and release them from prison unconditionally, Amnesty International said ahead of a court hearing Thursday.

    “It is high time that individuals stopped being persecuted because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Human rights are about the dignity and equality of all people,” Said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International’s Zambia researcher.

    James Mwape and Philip Mubiana, both 22 years old, will appear in court on 12 September in the Zambian town of Kapiri Mposhi for a remand hearing.  They have been in custody since 6 May 2013 facing two counts each of committing offences “against the order of nature”.
     
    The pair were initially arrested on 25 April 2013 and detained until 2 May 2013 when they were granted bail. After their release they were arrested for the second time just four days later following another report to police by a neighbour.

    September 06, 2013

    Ukraine’s bid to persuade the European Commission to release the country from its commitment to legislate against homophobia is an unacceptable attempt to deny equal rights in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “Ukraine cannot pick and choose which citizens should be protected from discrimination. Instead it must honour its commitment to develop a legal framework to combat homophobia and the EU must hold it to that commitment at every opportunity,” said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    On Thursday Ukraine’s Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Valeriya Lutkowska, announced that she and a number of parliamentarians said they will travel to Brussels to persuade the EU to release the country from its responsibility to legislate against discrimination.

    In June 2013, the Ukrainian government made a commitment to the EU that it would develop a legal framework to protect minorities from discrimination.

    September 04, 2013

    World leaders gathering in St. Petersburg this week must condemn Russia’s draconian homophobic law and do all in their power to persuade authorities to scrap it, Amnesty International said ahead of the G20 meeting starting next 5 September.

    “Russia’s new law effectively banning public activism by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals has done nothing but create a climate of intolerance and promote violence by vigilante groups,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.
     
    The law, which came into force last July, imposes fines on individuals and organizations accused of promoting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” which it says could morally corrupt children.

    August 19, 2013

    Capital Pride and Amnesty International are holding a Human Rights Vigil on Thursday August 22nd from 8:00–9:00pm at the Human Rights Monument, located on Elgin Street at Lisgar Street. The vigil will honour the many LGBTI people globally who have faced persecution, violence, and in many cases death because of their sexuality or gender identity.

    Leading LGBTI activists will speak about how difficult it is to “Be Loud, Be Proud” in many parts of the world, and a sneak peek at a new documentary film on homophobia in Jamaica will be screened. The names of those whose lives have been lost to homophobia in the past year will be read out, followed by a moment of silence.

    A contrast to the fun-filled parade and some of the other events during Capital Pride, the Human Rights Vigil serves as a reminder that for people in many parts of the world it is not possible to “Be Loud, Be Proud,” and there is much work left to be done to ensure that the human rights of LGBTI individuals the world over are protected.

    July 18, 2013

    The reintroduction of the regulation on the transmission of infectious diseases by the Greek Health Minister puts vulnerable groups including sex workers, HIV positive individuals and drug-injecting users at risk of further discrimination and stigmatization. Amnesty International calls on the Greek authorities to immediately overturn the new regulation and to end these discriminatory practices, which violate European and International human rights obligations.
    The regulation by Greece’s new Health Minister, Adonis Georgiadis, comes after Thessaloniki police escalated arbitrary ID checks of transgender women in late May this year.

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