Friday, February 17 2012 01:50

International News, February 17 - March 1, 2012

By  Rachel Roth

Landmark Judgment in Hate Speech Case by European Court

The European Court of Human Rights delivered a unanimous decision declaring language offensive to homosexuals “hate speech,” and not protected by freedom of expression laws.

In the case of Vejdeland v. Sweden, leaflets were distributed that stated gays and lesbians were “a morally destructive effect on the substance of society” and responsible for the developments of HIV and AIDS, and that “the homosexual lobby” tried to play down pedophilia.

ILGA-Europe welcomes this important judgment which for the first time deals with the hate speech towards homosexual people.

“This is a truly important and landmark judgment,” said Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, in a statement on ILGA-Europe.org. “This is a serious signal to a number of organizations and individuals across Europe who continue making defamatory and offensive statements about LGBTI people, that the expression of hatred is unacceptable, and that the Convention’s protection of freedom of expression cannot be used as a pretext not to prevent and punish it by law."

 

Russia’s Second Largest City Moves to Vote on Gay “Gag Rule”

The Russian city of St. Petersburg is close to passing a bill that would criminalize almost all activity related to defending or promoting LGBT equality.

AllOut.org, an international LGBT rights group, is reporting that if the law passes, speech about gay and transgender issues will be akin to committing acts of pedophilia.

“This bill, which would violate Russia's own constitution as well as any number of international treaties, is an outrageous attack on the freedom of expression for all Russians—straight and gay. It must not be allowed to stand,” AllOut.org Co-founder Andre Banks said.

It would also be a criminal offense to participate in any event, regardless of how small, related to the LGBT lifestyle. The publication of anything relating to LGBT rights or providing assistance or advice, like pamphlets leaflets, books, videos, or blogs would all be considered violations under the new law.

 

Uganda Government Denies Backing Anti-Gay Bill

Uganda’s government is distancing itself from a controversial anti-gay bill that calls for severe penalties on homosexuality.

According to the AFP, the bill was introduced in parliament on Feb. 7 by David Bahati. Last year, lawmakers voted to automatically pass the issue over to the new session because Members of Parliament (MPs) failed to debate it, and because of “widespread condemnation."

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the proposed bill would introduce the death sentence for anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time, as well as for gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV. It also proposes to criminalize public discussion of homosexuality—including by rights groups—with a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

In a statement released to the AFP, the government said that parliament had a right to debate the legislation, but that it “does not form part of the government's legislative program, and it does not enjoy the support of the prime minister or the cabinet.”

 

LGBT Advocacy Site Banned in Indonesia

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) website has been banned in Indonesia because of its “pornographic elements.”

An article in the Jakarta Globe states that reporters were able to access the site on mobile devices running on the Indosat and XL networks but not on Telkomsel and IM2, mobile phone operators.

Ricardo Indra, a Telkomsel spokesman, told the Globe that internet service providers block pornographic websites based on a list recommendations by the Communication and Information Ministry.

“[Telkomsel] adheres to the regulations set by regulating bodies and the government regarding the blockage of the websites.”

Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of IGLHRC, called the move an attack to freedom of expression.

“This is not the first time that attempts to organize and educate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies have been met with state censorship,” he said in a statement.

“Oppressive governments can’t stop the tide of LGBT voices—whether they are on the internet, in the media, or on the streets.” Johnson continued. “IGLHRC stands with human rights defenders in Indonesia in their struggle to keep the web free for dialog on basic human rights issues.”

According to the Globe article, the only Indonesian internet service provider refusing to ban IGLHRC.org is First Media.

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