Archive for January 28th, 2011

January 28, 2011

Social Networking – The New Human Rights Weapon

The last few days have seen an extraordinary thing happen in the Arab world. People in Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and now Egypt are flexing their power and making demands for change. Such has always been the case in the world when despots drive their people to the end of their patience – but these are developments with a difference. For the first time an unhappy population doesn’t have to resort to furtive meetings in dark rooms or flyers pasted on walls in the dead of night. Activists now have the most powerful communication tool on the planet that we call social networking.

A few years ago Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist but now they are a powerful tool for groups looking to coordinate activist events or for rallying people of similar mind to support a cause. The LGBT community has embraced the possibilities better than most and organizations  such as the Trevor Project are  using the internet to great effect  to stop the scourge of bullying. Social networking, without intending it, became the  magic tool for organizing large numbers of people seeking to make a difference. Like the old shampoo advert says ” you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on.”

Even in the developing world once one person has a smart phone or computer access they can reach hundreds of their friends. New social networking meets old-fashioned social networking.

Nobody knows what will happen in Egypt as the arrogant and clueless Mubarak seems completely out of touch with the mood of the people he governs without  legitimacy. One thing is sure – those of us who connect across borders and embrace this technology can achieve change. We can meet like-minded people and expand our knowledge of issues that affect our communities and that, as Martha Stewart says, is a good thing.

On a final note, Al Jazeera TV is to be commended for  some seriously excellent coverage and commentary. Sometimes old media shines too.

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January 28, 2011

RIP David Kato

As most will know by now, Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato was found murdered at his home on Wednesday. He campaigned tirelessly in a country which even now is considering imposing laws that will introduce stiff punishments – including death – to those Ugandans who are not considered acceptable by the moral mob. That their morality does not include tolerance or acceptance is something that defies logic.

Police there say they are treating his murder as a robbery gone bad. It seems that Uganda has a special part of their criminal code that classifies LGBT activists beaten to death with a hammer in their home when nothing was stolen as ‘robbery’.

Modern Ghana has an excellent piece on Kato and the environment he worked in. The environment, sadly, remains.

London-based Lesbian, gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) has joined the world to condemn the murder of a Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights activist.

David Kasule Kato, 46, a gay rights campaigner was brutally murdered in his house in Mukono, approximately 14 miles from Ugandan capital Kampala on Wednesday, January 26, in unclear circumstances.

Kato’s murder has stirred up, condemnation to Ugandan government for its stance against gay community in the country. The US’s Secretary of State for Africa Affairs, Jonnie Carson, in a Twitter message described Kato’s murder as a “horrified and saddened “incident.

Peter Tachell, the famous European gay-rights campaigner said: “My sincere condolences to Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and to the Ugandan LGBTI community concerning the tragic, brutal murder of David Kato.”

Kato, last month, had received homophobic death threats and had been pictured and named by Uganda’s Rolling Stone Magazine in an article that called for gay people to be killed.

Read the rest of the Modern Ghana article here.

January 28, 2011

Return from the wilderness

The writing is over and my self-imposed blog absence is now over – until the next time.

The last week has given me a lot of material to post and write about so let the games begin!