By Junior Mayema,
It is about time for Francois Hollande to live up to his declaration at the UN General assembly on the decriminalization of homosexuality and condemn homophobic attacks and crimes in the strongest terms and sanctions. Homophobic crimes must rise to the level of crime against humanity the UN security council must utilize its international criminal court to start apprehending and prosecuting state actors who condone or partake to homophobic crimes in their countries and they get away with impunity because the national laws in their countries legalize homophobic violences and attacks, Francois Holland must criminalize homophobic violence and attacks not only in France but including in its former colonies such as Cameroon where, It’s not safe to be gay or support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersexual (LGBTI) rights in Cameroon, according to a new report by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
The report, presented Wednesday in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, shows that violence against the LGBTI community and its advocates has increased significantly over the last few years.
Cameroon is one of 38 African countries where homosexuality is still illegal. Violators of section 347 of the country’s penal code, which bans “consensual sexual relations between persons of the same sex,” face heavy fines and up to five years in jail.
According to FIDH, the prosecution of the LGBTI community has trickled down into society, where homophobic persecution is now rampant. Gay men and women and LGBTI rights activists in Cameroon are at risk of having their homes broken into or burned, the report said. They are also subject to constant threats and intimidation via text message and social media.
Yves Yomb, who runs Alternatives-Cameroun, the country’s oldest LGBTI rights group, told VICE News the report substantiates longstanding claims that persecution is on the rise.
“Every time we meet government officials to talk to them about violations of LGBT rights in Cameroon we’re told there is no evidence,” Yomb said. “This report is evidence.”
The report details the case of Eric Ohena Lembembe, an outspoken journalist and gay rights activist who was tortured and killed in his home in July 2013, just weeks after he criticized government inaction over the threat posed by “anti-gay thugs.”
Lembembe’s neck and feet were broken, and his face, hands, and feet were burned with an iron. The case, which shocked the international community, still hasn’t been solved.
“The irregularities and the lack of thoroughness in the legal proceedings in the Eric Ohena Lembembe case prove the indifference of the national judiciary in cases of violence against homosexuals,” the FIDH report said.
‘Every time we meet government officials to talk to them about violations of LGBT rights in Cameroon we’re told there is no evidence. This report is evidence.’
Victor Ndoki, secretary general of national security in Cameroon, defended the government’s actions in the Lembembe case.
“The police did everything it was supposed to do in this case,” Ndoki told FIDH. “That’s why we were very surprised by the international reactions and the direct attacks against the president.”
Paris attorney Catherine Daoud, a coauthor of the report, said Lembembe’s case is indicative of the dangers routinely faced by Cameroonian activists, who “take many risks” on a daily basis.
Alternatives-Cameroun, which was established in Douala in 2006, has weathered its own share of homophobic hatred. The group’s headquarters were torched in 2013 and their official complaint about the incident went nowhere.
Daoud told VICE News that the organization had since “opened up its doors,” in an attempt to “minimize” the stigma associated with the group. The center provides legal aid to individuals charged with breaking the country’s anti-gay laws and offers HIV/AIDS prevention and screening programs.
Daoud said the group even opened “a bar, where anyone can come and have a drink, including local young people.” The goal, he said, is to dispel the prejudice surrounding the LGBTI community by showing that advocates are not “a bunch of weird people who engage in dubious activities.”
Yomb said the center was initially considered by many “a place for fags,” but the community-targeted outreach — such as the HIV/AIDS screening program — has encouraged more members of the LGBTI community to use the center.
According to FIDH, at least 28 people have been arrested under the country’s anti-homosexuality law since 2011.
In January 2013, a court in Cameroon overturned the convictions of two men who were arrested outside a nightclub and sentenced to five years in jail for “looking gay.”
The FIDH report accuses Cameroon’s Catholic and Muslim communities of fueling the anti-gay sentiment. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Yaoundé reportedly told FIDH researchers that, “homosexuality is a defect.” Simon-Victor Tonye Bakot, the former Archbishop of Yaoundé, was vehemently anti-gay and blamed homosexuals “for the misery in Cameroon and the unemployment of our graduates.” He also called same-sex marriage a “crime against humanity.” Bakot resigned in 2013 around the same time that Pope Francistold reporters, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Cameroon’s media have carried out their own anti-gay witch-hunt. In 2006, three newspapers published a list of “The top 50 gay public figures.” Cameroonian President Paul Biya — who had members of his inner-circle named on the list — has called for people’s private lives to be respected but has not repealed the anti-gay law.
In August 2013, a government spokesman told journalists gathered at a press conference that the great majority of Cameroonians condemn homosexuality “because their religious beliefs are incompatible with homosexuality,” and said, “the president’s duty is to respect the will of the people and to enforce the current law.”
The government reiterated its stance in January 2014, declaring it would not repeal a law endorsed by the majority of the people. Cameroon’s government declined to comment in response to a VICE News inquiry.
“Perhaps the powers that be think that society would be critical if they removed this section of the penal code,” Daoud told VICE News. He added that the government’s inaction is “contributing to a climate where homophobic individuals believe they are within their right [to carry out violence].”
Yomb said he hoped the FIDH report would pave the way for improving the rights of the LGBT community in Cameroon, and of the activists who have helped “bring the struggle to light.”
Here is a video about the walking out of member statez during the introduction on SOGI(sexual orientaion and gender identity) resolution within the United Nations human rights council https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLW2O1jx-wM
France must follow the leadership on the USA on one the remaining human rights violation of our time and appoint a special envoy as well as the USA did here is what French President Francois Hollande said the UN general assembly below :
French President François Hollande made an impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday calling for countries across the globe to end the criminalization of homosexuality. Echoing a commitment made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year, Hollande said that France will work to ensure the citizens of all countries live free of persecution:
HOLLANDE: France will continue to engage in all these struggles: for the abolition of the death penalty, for women’s rights to equality and dignity, for the universal decriminalization of homosexuality, which should not be recognised as a crime but, on the contrary, recognized as a [sexual] orientation.
All members countries have the obligation to guarantee the security of their citizens, and if one nation adheres to this obligation, it is then imperative that we, the United Nations, facilitate the necessary means to make that guarantee. These are the issues that France will lead and defend in the United Nations. I say this with seriousness. When there is paralysis… and inaction, then injustice and intolerance can find their place.
Watch a clip of some of Hollande’s remarks:
And here is the report about the new move by the french president below :
Speaking yesterday at an annual dinner hosted by the country’s Jewish community, the President called for “faster, more effective sanctions” against hate speech and added: “I want such speech to come under criminal law rather than press laws.”
President Hollande said anti-semitism should be treated as an aggravating circumstance in the prosecution of all offences.
His proposals come after 17 people were killed during the Charlie Hebdo shootings and an attack on a kosher supermarket last month.
France is still on high alert following the attacks.
Hundreds of Jewish graves were desecrated in eastern France earlier this month.
French Muslim groups have also reported a rise in Islamophobic incidents following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
The introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013 by President Hollande was met with a steep rise in homophobic attacks.
France’s hate crime watchdog said in May last year: “There’s no doubt the rise in homophobic acts was linked to the context of the opposition against gay marriage
“Homophobic words and statements became trivialised during this period and helped legitimise insults and homophobic violence.”
And meanwhile in the USA where we are seeing progress on LGBT rights and the cases of marriage equality are now before the USA Supreme Court, there is backlash and repression as well where people are using religious beliefs to legalize homophobia and transphobia these two articles below shed light on the scope of LGBT rights in the USA :
WASHINGTON — If any Republican former state attorney general from the South announced his support for LGBT advocates’ side of a political issue, the move would make news.
When Mike Bowers decided to do so, it was more than that. For 17 years, Bowers’ name was synonymous with the legal inferiority of gay people.
Bowers v. Hardwick, the 1986 Supreme Court decision allowing state bans on “homosexual sodomy,” was only before the Supreme Court because Bowers, then the attorney general of Georgia, asked the justices to hear the case and uphold the constitutionality of the ban.
Nearly 30 years later, Bowers says he’s “changed as society has changed.”
On Tuesday, Bowers released a scathing seven-page memo detailing his legal conclusion that pending “religious liberty” legislation in Georgia — as he put it in an extensive interview with BuzzFeed News — “is an excuse to discriminate.”
The proposals, modeled in part on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, are “a trend all over the country,” Bowers said, and their timing — coming in the wake of this past year’s many marriage equality decisions — makes them suspect. The bills provide religious exemptions for laws that otherwise apply to all, but many of the state bills have provided for even broader exemptions that could reach further than the direct government burdens intended to be lessened by the federal law.
As Bowers put it Tuesday, “Any time a person wished to refuse to act in response to a government requirement, he or she could assert the protection of the proposed RFRA.” An example, often cited by LGBT advocates in fighting these bills, is a baker who wishes not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple despite state public accommodation protections that include sexual orientation.
Bowers hadn’t spent much time considering the bills, he said, until the state’s LGBT organization, Georgia Equality, asked him if he would consider taking on an analysis of the ones pending in Georgia. Once he’d read the bill, he decided it needed to be killed.
“I thought it was just terrible, absolutely terrible,” he said. “I believe it’s not that complex. All this is for is to discriminate. If you’re not going to discriminate, you don’t need the darn thing.”
The proposed law, Bowers said, would allow people “to use religion as an excuse for his or her interpretation of the law and to get out from under this, that, or the other law.”
As a longtime state lawyer, however, Bowers got most exercised when describing what he felt is one of the biggest issues with the legislation: administration of the law. The religious liberty bills would put the onus of enforcement on regular people to adjudicate between what is fair and unfair, he argued.
“It’s not so much what gets into court,” he said, “it’s what’s happening on the front line of education or the front line for the policeman or for health care. It’s just going to be a mess — and it’s going to take a long, long time to unravel, if ever.”
And though Bowers repeatedly stressed that he is “not trying to make some big, national statement,” his past makes it hard to avoid doing so — a fact that he acknowledged likely was the reason why Georgia Equality approached him in the first place.
“I’ve got nothing to lose!” he shouted excitedly. “I’m 73. They can’t send me to Iraq or Afghanistan. And I’m never going to run for office again. What the hell. I’m trying to tell it like it is.”
Bowers’ views were once very different.
In 1986, Bowers, then a Democrat, asked the Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court decision “holding that the sodomy statute violates the fundamental rights of homosexuals.”
The Supreme Court took Bowers’ case against Michael Hardwick, a gay man, leading to a decision that haunted cases over gay rights for decades.
Justice Byron White wrote the court’s 5-4 opinion upholding Georgia’s sodomy ban, calling the claim that the Constitution bars such laws, “at best, facetious.” White called it “obvious” that prior court decisions asserting which fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution would not include “a fundamental right to homosexuals to engage in acts of consensual sodomy.”
Asked about the distinction between his position today and his position then, Bowers registers that this clearly is an issue he’s considered — both aware of the consequences of his actions and changes in his views since then, yet still of the belief that he was just doing his job in 1986.
“This is all I can tell you, I was trying to uphold the laws, which was my duty,” he said. “They were the law, and I took an oath to uphold the law, and I did that. And the Supreme Court of the United States said that they were legitimate.”
He is keenly aware that, for some, the memory of his actions in office will be strong.
“I will leave it to others to judge me, I’m not going to judge myself. For better or worse, that’s for others to do,” he said. Then, without prompting, he continued, “I never had an evil animus toward gay people. I never did. I worked with an awful lot of gay people in the attorney general’s office, here in this law firm — but, that’s for other people to judge.”
Then, more: “Have I changed? Of course I’ve changed. I’m 30 years older, life changes all of us. We grow. That’s the best I can tell you.”
That was nearly 30 years ago. The justices themselves revisited the issue inLawrence v. Texas 17 years later.
In the meantime, though, sodomy laws — and the constitutional permission slip provided for them by the Bowers decision — were used to justify a range of anti-gay treatment, from adoption laws to employment policies to security clearances.
Bowers, although he didn’t go into specifics, does acknowledge that effect. “I realize all of it, of course,” he said simply.
In 2003, though, the Supreme Court rejected and invalidated the ruling in the case that bears Bowers’ name.
“The rationale of Bowers does not withstand careful analysis,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the court’s Lawrence opinion. His conclusion was direct and unambiguous: “Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled.”
So, which decision — Bowers or Lawrence — does Mike Bowers think is right?
“They both were right — for their time,” Bowers said, unwilling to tear down his own career — but also acknowledging that others might.
“Should either one of them have been different? I’ll leave that to the Supreme Court; I’m not going to second-guess the Supreme Court. That’s done and over and passed. I mean, even our president has changed his view on gay marriage,” he said. “But I’m not trying to justify myself — I will let other folks [judge me].”
But, Bowers — and his views — have changed.
“Part of that’s getting older, having grandchildren,” Bowers said, laughing. “I’ve probably mellowed a lot.”
President Obama, in announcing his changed view on same-sex couples’ marriage rights in 2012, mentioned his children’s views on the issue as part of the reason why he was announcing his changed position. Asked if Bowers has had similar conversations with his grandchildren, he bristled.
“No. Hell no. I’ve got seven boys and one girl. They talk about baseball, hunting, ATVs, a couple of them ride horses with me. They’re outdoorsmen and they’re athletes; they don’t talk about that. Good grief,” he said. “I have a farm. They’re outdoor people. They like to hunt. They don’t talk about politics, good lord.”
Although Bowers doesn’t default to a common refrain among public officials who have changed their views about gay people — about children or grandchildren persuading them — he does acknowledge that change. And the change is real.
When asked about the Supreme Court’s pending marriage cases, Bowers said nationwide marriage equality was “the most likely end-point,” adding that if some states recognize the marriages as legal, ultimately the others will follow.
He went further when it comes to his own view of same-sex couples’ right to marry, giving two answers.
His first answer was quick and painless: “I want people to be left alone.” But then, he gave a second answer: “I genuinely believe that everybody, all people, need someone to love and be loved by. I truly believe that.”
He went on. “I’ve been married to the same woman for almost 52 years. It has not been perfect, there’s no question. And a lot of that’s been very public,” he said, referencing an affair Bowers had, which was revealed during his 1997 gubernatorial run. “But, we are still married. We still love each other very, very much. It is the most important thing in my life. We have survived. We’ll be married 52 years the eighth day of June. And that is terribly, terribly important — for all of us — to have someone to love and be loved by.”
“That’s, I hope, why I am sensitive,” he said, adding, “And, my faith says that the second most important commandant of my faith is to love your neighbor as yourself.”
The man who represented Michael Hardwick before the Supreme Court, Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, is taking in this week’s developments with a similar gracious-but-not-ignoring-the-past approach to Bowers.
“I’ve been delighted to watch Mr. Bowers evolve,” Tribe told BuzzFeed News. “Better late than never!”
And here is the second article :
US’ FIRST-EVER SPECIAL ENVOY ON LGBT RIGHTS APPOINTED AMIDST ARKANSAS PASSING DISCRIMINATORY LAWS
JULIE GREKSA — FEBRUARY 26, 2015
capitol hill congress washington DC US USA America
THE US appointed its first-ever special envoy on Monday to advocate for LGBT rights worldwide.
Senior diplomat Randy Berry, who is openly-gay, will work to secure equality for LGBT people.
“Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally – the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a media statement.
Berry previously served as US Consul General in The Netherlands, and before that he worked for the State Department in Washington DC, Nepal, Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda, South Africa, and New Zealand.
Advocacy groups have praised the State Department’s appointment of a Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons, an idea first introduced in a bill sponsored by two Democrat senators.
Senator Edward Markey, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the envoy “will be a global model for defending LGBT rights around the world”.
Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said in a statement: “The US envoy can contribute to a new era in which the conscience of governments everywhere can be focused on the destabilising impact of prejudice that inflicts suffering on millions worldwide.”
“At a moment when many LGBT people around the world are facing persecution and daily violence, this unprecedented appointment shows a historic commitment to the principle that LGBT rights are human rights,” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin said, according to a HRC blog post.
The appointment recognises that “in too many countries, LGBT persons are threatened, jailed, and prosecuted because of who they are or what they love”.
Berry’s appointment follows the inclusion of human rights protection for LGBT people for the first time in the White House’s national security strategy, and Obama’s recognition of LGBT people in his State of the Union address this year.
“Too often, in too many countries, LGBT persons are threatened, jailed, and prosecuted because of who they are or who they love,” Kerry commented on the current state of LGBT rights.
“I’m confident that Randy’s leadership as our new special envoy will significantly advance efforts underway to move towards a world free from violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.”
The news also comes after potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, George Bush’s brother, appointed an openly-gay man in his campaign team to head communications.
On Tuesday, Arkansas also enacted a law that fails to recognise discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving the state’s LGBT residents without legal protection.