Posts tagged ‘rights’

April 16, 2012

The Younger Generation Is Braver than Us? Really?

At the last CAISO meeting  the youth group said they are braver than previous generations. Really?  I think not.  Brave is resisting arrest in New York, Toronto ( my home at the time) and lots of other places.

 

December 21, 2011

In other developments….

Those of you who follow my serial postings might have noticed a wee gap for the last couple of days. This dry spell was occasioned by me being in the air en route to Toronto, sleep deprivation, my birthday and a few more martinis than might have been deemed absolutely necessary.  I am also working feverishly on Fodor’s  travel  chapters for my usual islands in a mad effort to finish them before Xmas. Those few things, however, pale in comparison to another development that has occurred recently – the folks at ACTUP.org have agreed to have me as part of their team which is dedicated to activism on a global scale in a variety of languages. I consider my inclusion to be a tremendous honor.

For those who don’t know the history of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) , it was founded in the 1980s in the midst of the AIDS crisis and became an hugely  influential force in moving the fight for LGBT rights forward .   Wikipedia has an extensive entry about the colorful history of ACT UP:

ACT UP was effectively formed in March 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New YorkLarry Kramer was asked to speak as part of a rotating speaker series, and his well-attended speech focused on action to fight AIDS. Kramer spoke out against the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which he perceived as politically impotent. Kramer had co-founded the GMHC but had resigned from its board of directors in 1983. According to Douglas Crimp, Kramer posed a question to the audience: “Do we want to start a new organization devoted to political action?” The answer was “a resounding yes.” Approximately 300 people met two days later to form ACT UP.[2]

ACT UP was effectively formed in March 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New YorkLarry Kramer was asked to speak as part of a rotating speaker series, and his well-attended speech focused on action to fight AIDS. Kramer spoke out against the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which he perceived as politically impotent. Kramer had co-founded the GMHC but had resigned from its board of directors in 1983. According to Douglas Crimp, Kramer posed a question to the audience: “Do we want to start a new organization devoted to political action?” The answer was “a resounding yes.” Approximately 300 people met two days later to form ACT UP.[2]

Read the entry here.

This blog will, of course, continue with its heady mix of subjects but there will undoubtedly be an increased cross-posting of  links to articles and news on ACTUP.org.

Looking forward even more to 2012 now.

 

November 22, 2011

Wonderful LGBT campaign from Argentina.

Thanks to Blabbeando as usual.

A year ago, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to grant same-sex couples full marriage rights. Before this year is over, the Argentinean congress might very well pass a groundbreaking transgender-rights law extending health care protections to transgender individuals and making it easier for trans folk to change their ID’s to better reflect their gender identity without requiring proof of gender reassignment surgery.

Getting to this point has certainly taken years of work by Argentinean LGBT organizations, activists, advocates and allies.  It has also inspired some pretty amazing television and online video ads.

Read the rest and see the series of videos  from Blabbeando here.

In case the  Argentine situation confuses anyone here is a link.

 

February 19, 2011

Interesting result from a disturbing question.

Latest poll results @7pm T&T time

There has been a lot of media discussion in Trinidad & Tobago over the last week on the matter of LGBT rights and even ( rather amazingly)  same-sex marriage. This is a result of  a debate in the senate on an unrelated matter (the Statutory Authorities Amendment Bill)  that took a surprising turn when some  senators brought up the subject saying the discussion could lead to same-sex marriage. Since the debate was specifically about people who are NOT married that was patently ridiculous but Government Senator and Minister of  Planning, Mary King took the matter and ran with it indicating that LGBT matters should be discussed in the future. Local LGBT groups, most notably CAISO, have leveraged the discussion through the media and  are getting a great deal of local and regional mileage.

Having interviewed both Minister King and Colin Robinson of CAISO in the last week I can report that the matter is definitely building up some momentum. The question is what will this momentum lead to?   The current government hinted on the campaign trail that the matter of  equality could be dealt with by a referendum – a suggestion so patently silly it is surprising anyone was misguided enough to bring it up. When human rights are involved it usually requires a government willing to ignore a fear of political fallout and do the moral thing.  No one in their right mind would suggest that a referendum be held to give Catholics or left handed people equal rights.

In any case, the Trinidad Express has noted the debate and is conducting a referendum of their own by posting a poll asking “Do you support calls for the government to grant equal rights to members of the gay community?”  This being the developing world  and part of the highly homophobic English Caribbean one would have expected a bloodbath. While members and friends of the LGBT community might certainly leverage the internet to add to the ‘yes’ votes – the same opportunity is available to those who think that all people should not have equality. Being a loud and  generally boisterous group it would have been likely that the anti-equality forces, buoyed by sheer numbers would have dominated the poll. Strangely, this has not been the case. The current result has been holding at 56% ‘yes’ to 46% ‘no .

There may be mitigating factors given that more educated people may be more likely to take the poll, or that large numbers of anti-equality folks may not have internet access or do not bother to read the online papers. There is also another possibility – maybe a large portion of the population actually really does feel that all citizens are entitled to protection under the law. Yes, it is depressing that so many people have voted ‘no’, but in the context of this part of the world it is still encouraging that they are in the minority.

Will anything come of the current discussion in terms of  changing the current legislation? The government would need balls to make such changes  and in this country no government so far has had anything even close  to that.

For background on Trinidad & Tobago’s current laws that omit protection based on sexual orientation have a gander at Lisa Allen-Agostini’s excellent blog post “About those gay rights” here.

Keep an eye on the poll here.

February 10, 2011

Human Rights First looks at the Muslim Brotherhood

Human Rights First has posted an interesting true or false series of questions about the Muslim Brotherhood ( no women there I guess) as it relates to the current struggle in Egypt.

I read the post from HRF earlier but after watching a discussion on Anderson Cooper 360 which included Somalia born Dutch feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her concerns about the effects that the Muslim Brotherhood government could have on the rights of women and LGBT people I thought it was important to post it.

The Neil Hicks article paints the overall picture and then goes on to answer the questions:

A major problem with speculations about the future role of the Brotherhood is that they are just that—speculations. This is uncharted territory for Egypt. No one—possibly not even the Brotherhood—knows right now what it might do if it is presented with an opportunity to run openly in free elections. Bold assertions of what they will or will not do should be viewed with skepticism. The Brotherhood have already stated that they do not intend to run a candidate for the presidency. There is no doubt that in a future, more open political climate in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will be a force on the scene.

There are valid concerns about what the impact of the Muslim Brotherhood might be, and there are steps that responsible authorities in Egypt (whoever they might be) would be well advised to take to guard against threats to human rights and the development of an enduring democratic system in a new Egypt.

Interestingly, while the article paints a picture of the Muslim Brotherhood as moderate it notes that when it comes to the rights of women and religious minorities ( and one would assume other minorities too) there needs to be constitutional protection ASAP.

A stronger role for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s government presents a potential threat to women’s rights, the rights of religious minorities and basic political freedoms. TRUE

    The Brotherhood has an ambiguous position on many human rights issues, notably on the rights of women and religious minorities and on freedom of expression. For example, a policy platform that was released in 2007 required that the President of the Republic could not be a woman, and provided for a Council of Islamic scholars who would vet legislation for its compatibility with Islam, following the pattern of the Council of Guardians in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The publication of this regressive platform caused rare open disputes between Brotherhood leaders, some of whom objected strongly to its contents. One can speculate about what the public platform of a free Muslim Brotherhood would include, but there’s no question that the tendency of the Brotherhood to arrogate to itself the right to judge what constitutes proper Islamic practice and to condemn practice it finds un-Islamic presents risks to the enjoyment of basic rights and freedoms by many Egyptians. Brotherhood supporters speak of “Islamic democracy;” they note that the overwhelming majority of Egyptians are Muslims (which is true) and that many are pious believers (also true). Some take the leap of suggesting that as the Brotherhood is the party of Islam, they automatically speak for this majority and should therefore prevail. Such thinking is a threat to democratic principles.

    Read the full Q & A here.

 

February 2, 2011

They’re at the gate and you can’t ignore them.

The events in Cairo have been unsettling today to put it mildly. Anyone who has the slightest belief that all people have a right to be heard by their government  and to have their fundamental rights protected cannot fail to be horrified. After over a week of relatively peaceful protest so-called pro-Mubarak rental mobs have suddenly appeared on the scene inciting violence. A situation that an Al Jazeera anchor has described as the Egyptian Government  exploring the Nero option.

I don’t have many connections with Egypt, but like many around the world who believe in human rights and the rights of people to have decent governments I am gripped by developments.  To see a leader so enamored with power after thirty years that he will cut off  the internet and set the police on his own people  speaks volumes about the depth of his own evil.

To me it is analogous  to numerous other  struggles going on within countries by groups of people who demand the right to be heard.  In the US and worldwide LGBT people are engaged in a battle for their own rights – often in countries where doing so puts their own lives in peril.  Just as  the poor and dispossessed around the world are also demanding that their governments provide a path to economic and social improvement. There is something about the human spirit that forces us to eventually reach the end of our leash and demand our rights. The threshold may take years to reach or sometimes it only comes when some other factor like technology allows for empowerment and organization.

Facebook and Twitter may have been accelerants for the  initial protests in Egypt and Tunisia but they just made things more convenient for activists. History will tell us that Russia, the USA and France didn’t need  modern social networking to have real change and neither do Tunisia or Egypt.  Successful activists of all sorts will make use of any tools available. In this case they were also able to use emergency tools provided by tech giants like Google and ISPs in other countries that reached out to countermand Mubarak’s censorship of  free communication.

Mubarak must come to terms that the Barbarians may well be at the gate – but he’s in their house.

December 12, 2010

State of the World

Here’s some food for thought. The ILGA has a map of the world showing the current state of the world as regards LGBT rights ( or complete lack thereof) which I find very telling and more than a little depressing. A quick glance should illustrate that the scope of the ‘civilized world’ can now be redefined based on those countries in green. Most puzzling is South Africa which , while being excellent in terms of legislation, voted for the removal of sexual orientation as a cause for protection from extrajudicial killing in that recent UN 3rd committee vote.

See the full map as a PDF on the ILGA website here. ( warning – it is 1.9 megabytes)

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November 8, 2010

Well done Trinidad Express

The newspaper I read most here is the Trinidad Express. Today their editorial showed me why they are my paper of choice. I can’t think of a similar editorial here in recent memory that took such a firm and unequivocal stand on the issue of equal rights for LGBT people.

This society still bears the scars of generations of legal and social discrimination and prejudice against people whose only crime was to have been born black, or Indian, or female, or to have been brought up in a faith other than certain officially approved forms of Christianity. Much of the history of this country is the story of the long, hard-fought struggle against such oppression.

When it comes to those whose sexuality differs from that of the mainstream, however, different rules apply. The Equal Opportunities Act, passed a decade ago, outlawed discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, origin or religion. There is an anomaly, however, which cries out for correction. Parliament explicitly omitted sexual orientation: that is, the lawmakers ruled that it is not illegal to deprive a fellow citizen of his or her fundamental rights if he or she is gay.

Read the rest here.

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