Ugandan Activist Wins RFK Human Rights Award
Frank Mugisha, one of the few openly gay Ugandan gay rights activists, was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington on Nov. 10. The 29-year-old Mugisha is the leader of the underground group, Sexual Minorities Uganda, whose members must frequently move locations for their safety because homosexuality is considered a criminal offense. Mugsisha told RFKCenter.org that winning the award gives him the courage to continue fighting for LGBT equality in Uganda.
“For me, it is about standing out and speaking in an environment where you are not sure if you will survive the next day,” he said. “It is this fear that makes me strong, to work hard and fight on to see a better life for LGBTI persons in Uganda.”
In related news, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) reported that the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has denied funding to the country because their policies were “deemed harsh on sexual minorities.” For more on that story, visit: ilga.org
Thousands Support Gay Rights in Hong Kong
Thousands of people gathered to march for gay rights in Hong Kong’s Gay Pride Parade on Nov. 12. Asia One reported that the crowd was mostly members of the LGBT community, gay rights activists from Taiwan, and mainland China and campaigners from the non-LGBT community.
Hong Kong decriminalized homosexuality in 1991, but in June the Chinese government hired a psychiatrist who said that homosexuals can be “cured” to train government counselors. According to Asia One, Hong Kong has not enacted laws barring discrimination against gay men and lesbians, and it doesn’t recognize the unions of gay couples. The military also bans gay troops, and there is no right to legally alter a person’s gender.
Kiss-In to Protest Nigeria’s Bid to Criminalize Same-Sex Marriage
In an effort to protest Nigeria’s Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill, a kiss-in took place on Nov. 15 outside of the Nigeria House. The event was organized by Nigerian LGBTIs in the Diaspora Against Anti-Same-Sex Laws, as a “gesture of defiance,” where Nigerian LGBTI people and allies held hands, hugged, and kissed.
“The new Nigerian bill aims to further criminalize same sex relationships,” said Yemisi Ilesanmi, the group’s Nigerian coordinator in a press release. “Already, consensual same-sex conduct between adults is a criminal offense carrying up to 14 years imprisonment and in some parts of the country there is the death penalty under Sharia law.”
The bill will not only outlaw same-sex marriage, but punished anyone who “witnesses, abet and aids” a same-sex marriage.
According to Peter Tatchell, director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, the proposed law violates the equality and non-discrimination guarantees of Article 42 of the Nigerian Constitution. It also violates Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which Nigeria has signed and pledged to uphold. However, Nigerian lawmakers appear intent on passing the bill.
“Lawmakers are fast tracking the bill. [It] has already passed its second reading,” Ilesanmi said. To sign a petition in support of the Nigerian LGBTQI community, visit chn.ge/q4sHvX
St. Petersburg Passes "Draconian" Anti-Gay Bill
Amnesty International is urging St. Petersburg—the second largest city in Russia—not to enact the homophobic bill St. Petersburg’s city assembly passed nearly unanimously on Nov. 16.
According to Amnesty.org, if enacted, the law would allow authorities to impose fines of up to the equivalent of $1,600 for “public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.”
Consensual, same-sex activity was decriminalized in Russia in 1993; however this new law would prohibit all LGBTQI events where children might be present as well as publications anything relating to LGBTI rights or providing assistance or advice.
Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia program director called the bill “a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.”
“The notion that LGBTI rights activists are somehow converting Russia’s youth through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable, if the potential effects of this new law weren’t so dangerous and wide-reaching,” she said in a statement on the organization’s website.