Good news has come out of Katmandu, Nepal, where officials have announced the government will start issuing citizenship certificates displaying the third gender category. This designation has been created to accommodate those individuals who do not wish to be described according to the gender binary as strictly male or female. The third gender will simply appear as “others”.
This new policy has been passed throughout Nepal, and follows the country’s supreme court decision that granted the designation on citizenship documents back in 2007. The Nepalese government took 5-years to implement the practice. For those 5-years individuals without the citizenship paperwork were unable to be employed, enroll of college, or own property. In 2011, Nepal made history by being the first nation to conduct a national census including the “others” gender category.
It is not clear, from what I’ve read, why these individuals could not accomplish these tasks with their previous documentation labeling them as either male or female. I suspect that government officials may have been hesitant to accept the documentation of a person designated as one gender on paper and appearing as another in person.
The plight of Cameroon’s gay community continues. Earlier this month, a man was stoned to death by an angry mob earlier for having been caught engaging in same-sex sexual relations. Now police in Cameroon are not only targeting the gays themselves, but now have set their sights on the straight people who defend them.
Joseph Messina, 25, has been arrested and is being held at Yaounde Central Prison for interfering his friend’s planned attack on Messina’s gay friend, F. Belinga. Messina informed Belinga that he was going to be attacked by Messina’s friend, and allowed Belinga to escape the homophobic assault. Belinga then called his future attacker and told him he knew he was being targeted. The would be attacker contacted the police, because he suspected Messina was involved in informing Belinga. The police ambushed Messina after he was invited to the Vieux Panier area of Yaounde under false pretenses.
Police beat Messina brutally for protecting his friend, and he is being charged with assault and being a defender of gays. I am not sure if defending gay men is illegal in Cameroon, what I am sure about is thatthe charge is being used to build public displeasure with Messina. After all, this is the same country whose court has upheld a 3 year sentence against a man for texting another man saying, “I am very much in love with you”. Can you imagine? 3 years for one text!
Messina has signed investigatory documents under the duress of beatings and police intimidation before even being informed of the charges brought against him. Human rights activists have cited many issues with Messina’s legal treatment since his arrest. His hearing will be held on the 28th of January, and I hope that the courts do not treat him harshly.
(VORONEZH, RUSSIA) Yesterday lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (Hereafter, “LGBT”) rights activists were attacked by a crowd of anti-LGBT citizens infuriated by picketers gathered in protest of Russia’s proposed legislation banning LGBT propaganda.
Activists took to the streets of Voronezh to protest a homophobic bill being pushed forward by the Russian Orthodox Church. The bill will soon be discussed by Russia’s parliament, and would make it illegal to provide any minor with information about homosexuality or gay rights. This kind of legislation has already been instituted incities like St. Petersburg, which is being used as an example for the rest of the Russian Federation.
The activists obtained the proper permits to hold a protest near the Ivan Nikitin monument last month. After the event was publicized, anti-LGBT groups used social media outlets to plan a a break up of the protest. Detractors threw snowballs and physically assaulted the LGBT advocates, while also injuring some bystanders.
Although homosexuality has been legal in the Russian Federation since 1993, attitudes toward same-sex relationships have not progressed very quickly. According to recent polls, as many as 2/3 of Russian citizens think same-sex relationships are immoral and that gay rights should not be put on the law books. Homosexuality is often cited by the populace as one of the main reasons for Russia’s birthrate decline down to 1.3 births per woman.
Last month, in Moscow, a kiss-in was held to combat the new legislation. One of the ‘kissers’ was charged with hooliganism for his public display of affection. Heterosexual couples may kiss and hug freely in the streets, but this gentleman, Pavel Samburov, has been sentenced to 30 hours of detention and a fine amounting to about $16.
This penalty is mild compared to what a public display of same-sex affection would bring if the new anti-lgbt propaganda legislation is passed nationally. In the event that the laws are passed, Samburov would have faced a fine of up to $16,000, because, according to the legislation, a same-sex kiss is lgbt propaganda encouraging same-sex sexual activity amongst minors.
This push for anti-lgbt legislation comes as the Russian government has passed many laws designed to “protect” minors. Some have banned any type of materials from being distributed over the internet that are “extremist” and could be of detriment to minors. A completely vague description that could easily be utilized by a bigoted government to oppress its opponents. Hopefully, Russia will get a clue before this homophobic legislation is passed.
The Chief Executive of Hong Kong has announced that no public consultations will be undertaken before adoption of the administrative regions‘ newest set of anti-discrimination laws. The new legislation will include provisions protecting sexual minorities, a first for Hong Kong.
Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying (pictured right), addressed the legislative council saying, “Last November, this Council discussed whether an anti-discrimination law is needed to protect people of different sexual orientation. The society is deeply divided over this issue. Some are in support from the perspective of equal opportunity. Others are concerned that launching a consultation exercise may deal a blow to family, religion and education. The Government understands that this is a highly controversial issue which must be tackled cautiously. We will continue to listen to different views from various sectors. At present, we have no plan to conduct consultation.
Hong Kong has enacted anti-discrimination legislation previously, including the Sex Discrimination Ordinance(1995), the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (1995), the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance(1997), and the Race Discrimination Ordinance (2008). Unfortunately, none of these ordinances deals with discrimination based on sexual orientation. That’s where the new laws to be set into law by the legislative council come into play.
Although the lack of public consult may lead to a lessening of anti-lgbt citizens’ sway on the government, it may also cause many issues left unconsidered by a council made up of heterosexuals who haven’t dealt with lgbt discrimination on a firsthand basis. The announcment was made by Chun-ying following a protest by thousands of Christians outside the government’s main offices. Why Christians are against someone not being discriminated against is beyond me. These aren’t laws that will permit same-sex marriage or affect the church. Hopefully the government can get it right, and does some thorough research.
Anonymous has struck again, this time against the government of Uganda as its parliament attempts to pass a bill outlawing homosexuality. The pending Ugandan bill would make homosexual activity punishable by not only prison but death.
This is the second time in the last few months that Anonymous has targeted a homophobic group. The first attack was against Westboro Baptist Church members known for their pickets of soldiers’ funerals, after the church announced it would picket the funerals of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
In Anonymous’ new quest, it set out to punish the Ugandan government and enlisted the help of GreySecurity. The two took aim at the Ugandan Petroleum Exploration and Production Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Department of Agriculture’s websites.
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development’s website was defaced with the Anonymous logo and a message from the collective.
“Citizens and government of Uganda, take heed, Anonymous is calling,” read the message.
“If nobody else will take action and the government of Uganda refuses to see reason, Anonymous will adopt a scorched earth policy towards Uganda’s network infrastructure. You should expect us, for we do not forgive and we will not forget.”
Anonymous also claims to have access to the Department of Agriculture’s official emails, usernames, and passwords. Hopefully, the group can call some officials to task for their own indiscretions. Anonymous has also hacked MyUganda.co.ug and posted a photo of murdered Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato, who was beaten to death allegedly for his LGBT rights work. Anonymous also posted the following on MyUganda.co.ug:
“We have been examining your servers from inside and out for some months now, what we have found should have you very troubled,” the message reads. “Files containing passwords in plaintext visible from the web, servers so misconfigured it is a wonder they even work well enough to be hacked, backdoors, spurious admin accounts and at least one of your government servers is currently forming part of a botnet that is now firmly under Anonymous control. Bottom line, we own you.”
These actions come in response to the Ugandan parliament’s speaker of the house, Rebecca Kadega, promising to pass anti-gay legislation. Somehow she was selected for a human rights conference in London last fall, meanwhile she has been spewing her hate against the LGBT communities claiming that we are a danger to children and that we should be imprisoned. Although homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, the bill would create harsher sentences for those found guilty.
A new battlefield has appeared, and this one luckily won’t involve physical violence or more deaths.