Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Malawi launches operation against high-profile gay and lesbian people

Steven Monjeza, left, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga face up to 14 years in jail after being arrested for conducting a gay wedding. Photograph: Eldson Chagara/Reuters

Fears of backlash across Africa as US evangelists accused of spreading religious zeal behind homophobic campaigns 

    * David Smith and agencies
    * guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 16 February 2010 19.29 GMT

Police in Malawi have launched an operation to hunt down and arrest high-profile gays and lesbians in the southern African state.

Fears of an anti-gay backlash across Africa are intensifying after the prosecution of the first gay couple to seek marriage in Malawi, and thousands of Ugandans demonstrated this week in support of a bill proposing the death penalty for some offences involving homosexual acts. Last week five men were arrested at an alleged gay wedding in Kenya.

Dave Chingwalu, a spokesman for police in Malawi, said a 60-year-old man was arrested yesterday and charged with sodomy. Chingwalu said he received a complaint from a young man that he had been asked to undress by the older man and was then sodomised. Police investigations had uncovered a network of high-profile people involved homosexual acts, investigations were under way "and we will arrest them all", Chingwalu said.

Malawi has been criticised by international groups for the prosecution of Steven Monjeza, 26, and 20-year-old Tiwonge Chimbalanga, jailed in December for holding a wedding ceremony. The men were charged with unnatural acts and gross indecency and could be imprisoned for up to 14 years if found guilty.

A 21-year-old man was recently sentenced to two months' community service for putting up pro-gay rights posters, and a senior minister expelled a woman from her town even after a court acquitted her on charges of having sex with two girls.

Campaigners in Malawi say homophobic legislation is driving gays and lesbians underground, making them hard to reach with information that could protect them from Aids."In Malawi it's a complete witch-hunt that denies the people the right to self-determination," said Phumi Mtetwa, executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, based in South Africa. "We are deeply concerned about this spate of homophobia across the continent."

Mtetwa said the recent series of incidents was no accident but rather the work of US evangelical Christian groups. "It's very well calculated. It's exploding at the moment but it's been happening for a year and a half. We have proof of American evangelical churches driving the religious fundamentalism in Uganda."

The Ugandan parliament is considering a bill that would impose life imprisonment as the minimum punishment for anyone convicted of having gay sex. If the accused person is HIV positive or a serial offender, or a "person of authority" over the other partner, or if the "victim" is under 18, a conviction will result in the death penalty.

Members of the public are obliged to report any homosexual activity to police within 24 hours or risk up to three years in jail.

The legislation has earned international condemnation - Barack Obama described it as "odious" - but has received vocal backing within Uganda. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Jinja, about 40 miles east of the capital, Kampala, in the biggest demonstration against homosexuals since the bill was introduced.

Okware Romano, a protester, said: "I have a verse in the bible in Leviticus 20 verse 13. It says that homosexuals should be put to death ... yes."

Last week police in Kenya said they had arrested five men whom they believed were homosexual in Kikambala beach resort near Mombasa. District officer George Matandura said two of the men had been found with wedding rings, attempting to get married.

"It is an offence, an unnatural offence, and also their behaviour is repugnant to the morality of the people," Matandura said.

The other three men were turned in to the police by members of the public. Two of them had reportedly been beaten.

Gay sex is illegal in 36 countries in Africa. Only South Africa has legalised same sex marriage, and even there campaigners say the fight against bigotry is far from over.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stop Uganda’s gay death law


I've just signed a petition calling on the Ugandan government to withdraw a proposed anti-gay law that would punish gay people with prison -- or even death.

There are only a few days left. Please sign the petition below -- it will be delivered to Uganda's president and to Ugandan embassies and consulates around the world:



Thursday, February 4, 2010

Baptist Pastor Advocates Killing Gays

Baptist Pastor Advocates Killing Gays

11132 There's a Baptist minister in Tempe, Arizona, who makes Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern look like Kathy Griffin.  Reverend Stephen L. Anderson is telling his parishioners that gays and lesbians should be executed because that's what God wants.  Pam Spaulding has posted a video of the conservative Christian calling for the murder of "faggots" in one of his sermons.  Kyle at Right Wing Watch transcribed this from the audio of another sermon:
You want to know who the biggest hypocrite in the world is? The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers and not for homosexuals. Hypocrite. The same God who instituted the death penalty for murderers is the same God who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals - sodomites, queers! That's what it was instituted for, okay? That's God, he hasn't changed. Oh, God doesn't feel that way in the New Testament ... God never "felt" anything about it, He commanded it and said they should be taken out and killed.
Why? Because the sodomites are infectious, that's why. Because they're not reproducers, that goes without saying, they're recruiters. And you know who they're after? Your children. Remember you dropped off your kids last week? That's who they're after. You drop them off as some day care, you drop them off as some school somewhere, you don't know where they're at. I'll tell you where they're at: they're being recruited by the sodomites. They're being molested by the sodomites... They recruit through rape. They recruit through molestation. They recruit through violation. They are infecting our society. They are spreading their disease. It's not a physical disease, it's a sin disease, it's a wicked, filthy sin disease and it's spreading on a rampage. Can't you see that it's spreading on a rampage? I mean, can you not see that? Can you not see that it's just exploding in growth? Why? Because each sodomite recruits far more than one other sodomite because his whole life is about recruiting other sodomites, his whole life is about violating and hurting people and molesting 'em.
Has any Baptist Church stepped up and condemned Anderson's loathsome speech?  Nope. If a Christian minister from any mainstream denomination called for the murder of African-Americans, wouldn't there be a public outcry?  If a preacher was advocating the extermination of Jews, would his sermons be greeted with silence? 
What does this man have to do before he's censured by his fellow Baptists?  Hand out guns with the directions to houses where gay folks live?

Obama Boldy Speaks Out Against Uganda Bill at National Prayer Breakfast

Truth Wins Out

HuckabeeContact: Wayne Besen, Executive Director
E-mail: wbesen@truthwinsout.org
Phone: 917-691-5118

Obama Boldy Speaks Out Against Uganda Bill at National Prayer Breakfast

Truth Wins Out praised President Barack Obama today for his bo ld speech at the National Prayer Breakfast condemning Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The bill aims to imprison, hunt down and even execute gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The bill also threatens imprisonment for those who do not turn in their LGBT friends and family members to authorities.
In his speech, Obama said:
"We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are -- whether it's here in the United States or, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda."
The President's words were particularly powerful given the setting of this breakfast, which is hosted by the fundamentalist group known as The Family. This secretive organization is directly linked to the "Kill the Gays" bill in Uganda. The bill's sponsor, David Bahati, is a key member of The Family.
"We applaud President Obama for having the courage to confront those responsible for the heinous anti-gay bill in Uganda," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. "We hope that the President's laudable stand makes it clear to Family members in the United States and Uganda that the world is watching. Religion can no longer be used to justify bigotry, intolerance and persecution anywhere on the face of the earth."
Besen is the coordinator of The American Prayer Hour, which is an alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast. Fifteen national organization's launched the American Prayer Hour to shine a spotlight on The Family's nefarious role in Uganda on the week of their annual National Prayer Breakfast.  There are American Prayer Hour events in 20 cities across the nation.
"The safe course would have been for President Obama to remain silent," said TWO's Besen. "Instead, he walked into The Family's house and held them accountable for their actions in Uganda. It was a huge victory for human rights and the president's actions were courageous and honorable."
Truth Wins Out is a New York City-based non-profit organization that fights religious extremism and the ex-gay industry.