21 May 2007

2007 homophobia hall of shame

got this in my mail today. thought i'd share this here. bida kasi tayo, e, lalo na yung isang government official nating super...super. basta. read.

  • Bienvenido Abante, Member of the Philippine House of Representatives and Chair of the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights: for trying to force his sexual orientation on others. Representative Abante has urged that homosexuals be “cured” and turned into heterosexuals. He has repeatedly blocked a landmark bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Philippines. He has also suggested that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are excluded from the “definition” of human rights.

and he is a walking proof that politics in the philippines are really... hay nakuh, anything i say is an understatement to describe its enormous stupidity. ewan. kaya nawawalan ako ng gana sa pagboto dahil mga mokong like him ang nananalo, but at the same time ganado akong bumoto to prevent mokongs like him from winning. unless mandaya. hay nakuh. look at what happened to danton. grrrr.

for an extensive look at abante's paatras na stupid shenanigans in congress, read the accounts on the lagablab blog.

syempre hindi na surprise ang numero uno. aba, e mag-elect ba naman kasi sila ng third reich-ish pontifical chuva... gudlak sa world.

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For Immediate Release

‘Hall of Shame’ Exposes Dangers of High-Level Homophobia

International Day Against Homophobia Highlights Persistence of Prejudice

(New York, May 16, 2007) – Pope Benedict XVI, US President George W. Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have undermined human rights by actively promoting prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Human Rights Watch said today in its annual “hall of shame” to mark the International Day Against Homophobia.

On May 17, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups in more than 50 countries will commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, an initiative launched in 2005 that commemorates the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its roster of disorders.

At the same time, Human Rights Watch also pointed to four areas where advances in human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have given reason for hope.

“This ‘hall of shame’ does not claim to include the worst offenders, but it highlights leaders who have lent their authority to denying basic human rights,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Bush and Pope Benedict both speak of human dignity, but their homophobic words and actions undermine families and endanger health.”


Leaders named to the “Hall of Shame” for their actions in the past year are:

  • Pope Benedict XVI: for undermining families. The leader of the Holy See has gone well beyond expressing the Church’s theological views on homosexuality. The Pope has intervened in politics in many other countries to condemn and threaten figures who support equal rights or any form of recognition for lesbian and gay families. After Spain legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, Pope Benedict’s Pontifical Council on the Family commanded Spanish officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples or even to process the paperwork if they tried to adopt a child.

  • US President George W. Bush: for jeopardizing public health. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) requires that one-third of HIV-prevention spending go to so-called “abstinence-until-marriage” programs. These programs threaten the health of LGBT people by sending a message that there is no safe way for them to have sex, and by denying them life-saving information. In some countries, such as Uganda, grants from the $15 billion PEPFAR program have funded groups that actively promote homophobia; in others, they have drastically reduced condom provision.

  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: for creating public and private scandals. President Ahmadinejad has overseen a widening campaign to “counter public immorality,” arbitrarily arresting thousands of Iranians for dressing or behaving differently. In recent weeks, for example, thousands of women have been detained for not conforming to “correct” Islamic dress. In Iran’s surveillance society, Ahmadinejad also uses religious vigilantes to raid homes and other private places in search of “deviant” behavior – including homosexual conduct. The Iranian regime polices public behavior and violates the right to privacy on a massive scale.

  • Roman Giertych, Polish Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister: for endangering children. Part of a right-wing government that has made homophobia a centerpiece of policy, Giertych’s education ministry has proposed a law to fine or imprison teachers, school officials, or student human rights defenders who even mention homosexuality. Vital facts about safer sex and protection against HIV/AIDS could be banned from schools under the new law.

  • Bienvenido Abante, Member of the Philippine House of Representatives and Chair of the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights: for trying to force his sexual orientation on others. Representative Abante has urged that homosexuals be “cured” and turned into heterosexuals. He has repeatedly blocked a landmark bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Philippines. He has also suggested that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are excluded from the “definition” of human rights.

“Homophobia endangers basic human rights, and we should all be concerned by it,” said Long. “Governments devalue families when they deny any family recognition. They endanger children when they silence any child.”

Human Rights Watch also pointed to large and small gains that give reason for hope:

  • In Nepal, after years of abuse directed at lesbians, gays, and transgender people during a violent civil war, the authorities in February gave a meti (transgender person) in February an official citizenship ID with a gender listed as neither male nor female. This was first time that a government in South Asia has given transgender identity full state recognition.

  • In Denmark, Parliament in June extended equal access to reproductive technologies to lesbians and single women. Denmark in 1989 became the first country in the world to create civil unions for same-sex partners, but such unions have still discriminated against same-sex couples in many areas, including reproduction. The Danish decision marked a recognition of women’s equal worth as parents, and a further step toward full equality.

  • In Mexico, Mexico City and the northeastern state of Coahuila passed civil-union laws opening recognition to same-sex couples. Unions solemnized in Coahuila must be recognized as valid across Mexico. These moves come after the 2003 passage of a sweeping federal antidiscrimination law offering protection against unequal treatment based on sexual orientation.

  • Internationally, the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Law in Relation to Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity were launched during the March session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Adopted in November at a meeting of international legal experts in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, these groundbreaking principles spell out the international legal standards under which governments and other actors should end violence, abuse and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and ensure full equality.

The 2007 Hall of Shame

For undermining families: Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican, which holds special observer status in the United Nations, has not been shy in using its political weight to oppose extending basic human rights to same-sex couples. Pope Benedict XVI has actively intervened in politics to quash recognition for lesbian and gay families, and to threaten people who support it. The result has been to stigmatize lesbian and gay couples and make their families more vulnerable.

In January, the Pope told Italian politicians that any plans to recognize unions other than traditional marriage would "appear dangerous and counterproductive.'' When the Italian government proposed civil unions for same-sex couples, Catholic bishops warned lawmakers that they had “the moral duty to clearly and publicly voice their disagreement and vote against any proposed law that would recognize homosexual couples.” In
Italy and other countries, church officials have suggested that supporters of gay rights as well as reproductive rights could be excommunicated.

When
Spain passed a law guaranteeing civil marriage to all in 2005, a high Vatican official warned Spaniards to defy the measure. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of Colombia, head of the Pontifical Council on the Family, said officials should refuse to marry same-sex couples or even process the paperwork if they tried to adopt a child. “A law as deeply inequitable as this one is not an obligation,” he said.

Church officials have supported legal discrimination and rejected lesbian and gay families in other ways. This year Catholic bishops in the
UK pushed hard, but unsuccessfully, for exemption of Catholic agencies from antidiscrimination legislation. In 2006, Catholic Charities in Massachusetts announced that it would cease adoption services altogether rather than obey an antidiscrimination law requiring equal treatment for same-sex couples in placing children who need homes.

For jeopardizing health: George W. Bush, President of the
United States. In 2003, the US Congress authorized President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a five-year, US$15 billion program to provide funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 countries. Under a provision supported by the Bush administration, however, at least one-third of PEPFAR prevention funds must be spent on programs promoting abstinence until marriage.

These programs discriminate against lesbians and gays and put their health at risk. Since lesbians and gays cannot marry in most countries, including all 15 PEPFAR countries, abstinence programs convey a message that there is no safe way for them to have sex, and deny them information that could save their lives. Funds devoted to abstinence-only education are funds taken away from prevention programs that could address the health and sexualities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. .

Moreover, abstinence-only programs convey a message about the intrinsic wrongfulness of homosexual conduct that reinforces social stigma and prejudice, to potentially devastating effect. In
Uganda, for instance, PEPFAR-funded safer-sex education materials were revised to state that premarital sex and homosexuality “violate religious or cultural moral standards” and are “immoral.” PEPFAR funds have been given to groups that explicitly promote homophobia in Uganda.

PEPFAR’s authorizing legislation also requires that nongovernmental organizations adopt agency-wide policies pledging their opposition to sex work as a condition of receiving US funds for international anti-AIDS work. These restrictions have had a devastating effect on anti-AIDS work among sex workers. Organizations doing lifesaving anti-AIDS work have lost US funding due to these restrictions, or have curtailed effective programs out of fear that they would be seen as “promoting prostitution.” This requirement jeopardizes groups’ ability to combat HIV/AIDS in high-risk communities, such as transgender sex workers. The provision clashes with internationally-recognized best practices on public health and human rights standards.

For endangering children: Roman Giertych, Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister of
Poland. The leader of Poland’s far-right party, the League of Polish Families (Liga Polskich Rodzin), Giertych said, “There is no room, nor will there ever be any room, for homosexual activism within the school system in Poland on my watch.” In March, his ministry announced it would propose a law to “punish anyone who promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in education establishments.” Teachers, school principals, visiting educators and student human rights defenders who even mention homosexuality could face dismissal, fines and imprisonment. The ministry also announced that “teachers who reveal their homosexuality will be fired.” These proposals would also prohibit health educators advocating safer sex for lesbians and gays from entering the schools. Previously, the deputy minister of education had called safer-sex materials “negative propaganda.”

In 2005, under Giertych’s control, the ministry had vigorously condemned an international project training youth in issues of gender stereotypes and gender-based discrimination. A ministry official accused the project of “depraving young people.”

Giertych’s policies deprive Polish students of the chance to learn not just about human sexuality, but about tolerance, diversity, and equality. They deny them potentially life-saving information about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. And they promote an atmosphere of prejudice in schools which could lead to violence.

They are part of a consistent policy of homophobia promoted by President Lech Kaczynski. Last June, for instance, the State Prosecutor’s office ordered local prosecutors to launch investigations into the conduct of “homosexuals” on unsupported and defamatory allegations of “pedophilia.” In 2005 and 2006, authorities in
Warsaw and other cities tried to ban marches in support of LGBT rights. Last year a member of Parliament, Wojciech Wierzejski of the League of Polish Families, called for “deviants” to be “bashed with a baton.”

For trying to force his sexual orientation on others: Representative Bienvenido Abante, Chair, House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights,
Philippines. Claiming that homosexuals can be “cured” and turned into heterosexuals, Representative Abante has repeatedly blocked legislative consideration of a landmark bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Philippines.

Philippine LGBT activists, including the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network (LAGABLAB), have campaigned for the passage of antidiscrimination legislation for more than seven years.

Despite several religious organizations’ support for the bill, Representative Abante has cited both the Qur’an and the Bible in alleging that the legislation promotes a “culture of death.” In a speech in November, he called homosexuality “not normal” and urged “helping gays to learn to function heterosexually.” He claimed he had seen “hundreds of lesbians and gays” who had “changed their lifestyles.” He suggested that LGBT people are excluded from the “definition” of human rights, saying that “It is often the definition that decides whether someone has a human right or not; whether that someone has the right to protection, to a fair trial, to life.”

US-based religious groups working in the
Philippines have campaigned heavily against the bill, promoting the idea that homosexuality is a “curable” behavior and a “perverse deathstyle.”

For creating public and private scandals: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of
Iran. In a spreading campaign to “counter immoral behavior” in Iran, ordinary people who simply look or act differently are at risk. Since early May, thousands of women have been detained for not conforming to “correct” Islamic dress. In April, Iran’s Supreme Court overturned murder sentences against six religious police for killing people they considered “morally corrupt.” The sentence contributes to a growing climate of impunity for vigilante forces.

The Ahmadinejad government regularly violates the right to privacy. Its religious vigilantes carry out brutal raids on homes and other private places in search of “deviant” behavior—including homosexual conduct.

Islamic law and Qur’anic tradition set an extremely high standard of evidence for sexual offenses; proof of homosexual conduct requires a confession repeated four times, or four eyewitnesses to the act. Under these strict terms, convictions would be hard to achieve. However,
Iran’s regime allows conviction based on circumstantial evidence, or “the knowledge of the judge.” Suspicion can thus become proof, further eroding any safeguards for privacy.

Under
Iran’s criminal code, lavat (sexual intercourse between men) is “punishable by death,” while tafkhiz (non-penetrative “foreplay” between men) is punishable by 100 lashes for each partner, and by death on the fourth conviction. The punishment for sexual intercourse between women is 100 lashes, and death after the fourth offense.

The last person known with reasonable certainty to have been sentenced to execution in
Iran for consensual homosexual conduct was in March 2005. There is no information as to whether the sentence has been carried out or not.

For background on leaders named to the “Hall of Shame” for their actions in the past year, please visit: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/05/16/global15955.htm

For more of Human Rights Watch’s reporting on LGBT human rights, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/doc/?t=lgbt

For further information, please contact:

In New York, Scott Long (English): +1-212-216-1297; or +1-646-641-5655 (mobile)

In New York, Jessica Stern (English, Spanish): +1-212-216-1867; or +1-646-549-0130 (mobile)

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