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Immediate Arrest of All Homosexuals in Ghana

21 Jul

According to MyJoyOnline, a Ghana news source, The Western Region Minister Paul Evans Aidoo has ordered the immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the region.

He has enlisted the services of the Bureau of National Investigations in addition to landlords, tenants and anyone else who can “provide reliable information which will lead to the arrest of homosexuals.” According to their report:

“Only yesterday, the Christian Council of Ghana capped months of protestations against the practice of homosexuality with a strongly worded message against the practice and courting Ghanaians not to vote for any politician who believes in the rights of homosexuals.”

“The Western Region has been a beehive of activities linked with homosexuality. A recent media report claimed the Western and Central Regions together have a total of about 8,000 homosexuals and lesbians.”

“That report sparked a series of religious demonstrations with the Moslem and Christian communities in the region hitting the streets to protest what they claim is an ungodly and demonic act.”

Currently in Ghana, homosexual sex between men is illegal while sex between females is legal. And naturally there are no legal protections for same-sex couples, nor against discrimination in Ghana. Back in September, 2006, an LGBT rights conference scheduled to be held in Ghana was banned by the Ghanaian government.

A Change.org petition has been started asking The President of the United States Barack Obama, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Donald G. Teitelbaum, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, and U.S. State Department Johnnie Carson. We’ve also contacted the incredible International LGBT Rights organization, ALL OUT to see what else is being planned to stop the arrest and possible extermination of homosexuals in Ghana.

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NY Marriage Equality: How Did We Get There? A Photo Retrospective

26 Jun

I moved from New York to Washington DC three weeks ago to be with my boyfriend. It’s hard not to still consider New York City home after nearly 13 years living there, but after last night – my struggle to move on became even more difficult. For the past several years, I’ve proudly fought alongside some incredible activists, lobbyists, politicians and allies in the struggle for equality. And last night in New York, we finally won.

I thought of writing a diatribe about how much we have to learn from this victory – how for one of the first times in our movement’s history, we worked together to accomplish something. I could be heavy-handed and speak endlessly at the incredible work done by this partnership of several organizations all working towards the same thing. I could even go so far as to reflect on the fact that even though we have this beautiful victory at long last, that there are still 1,138 rights not afforded to legally married gay and lesbian couples and that we MUST focus on equality on the federal level. But instead, I decided to post some photos.

For the past 3+ years, I’ve discovered a love for photography and in my own way, I’ve been documenting some of the movement from my perspective as a New Yorker. So please enjoy these photos which reflect some of my favorite moments and people involved in the recent part of our struggle for equality. Please note: there are photos here from swanky cocktail parties, from pride marches, from rallies, protests, political speeches, phone banks and even a living room or two. New York Marriage Equality happened because of ALL of it, not some.

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All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com

UPDATE: Is DOMA Sinking? AG Holder Vacates Gay Deportation Case

5 May

While Organizations like ALL OUT and GetEQUAL are pushing to stop tomorrow’s deportation of Henry Valendia, thus tearing him away from his legal marriage with Joshua Vandiver, it seems Attorney General Eric Holder is taking further steps to discredit the ant-gay Defense of Marriage Act.

According to Chris Geidner at Metroweekly, AG Holder has vacated a decision made by a Board of Immigration Appeals decision.

Holder writes:

“Pursuant to my authority set forth in 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(h)(1)(i), I order that the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“Board”) in this case applying Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, be vacated, and that this matter be referred to me for review.”

Geidner continues:

Saying the attorney general “has taken [an] extraordinary step” with the decision, attorney Eric Berndt — the supervising attorney for the National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities at the National Immigrant Justice Center — told Metro Weekly, “It adds some heft to our requests for prosecutorial discretion in individual cases in which the foreign partner” of a same-sex bi-national couple is seeking a green card because of his or her citizen same-sex partner.

Holder goes on to state four questions that he directs the BIA to consider:

In the exercise of my review authority under that regulation, and upon consideration of the record in this case, I direct that the order of the Board be vacated and that this matter be remanded to the Board to make such findings as may be necessary to determine whether and how the constitutionality of DOMA is presented in this case, including, but not limited to: 1) whether respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union qualifies him to be considered a “spouse” under New Jersey law; 2) whether, absent the requirements of DOMA, respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union would qualify him to be considered a “spouse” under the Immigration and Nationality Act; 3) what, if any, impact the timing of respondent’s civil union should have on his request for that discretionary relief; and 4) whether, if he had a “qualifying relative,” the respondent would be able to satisfy the exceptional and unusual hardship requirement for cancellation of removal.

This could be extraordinary news, considering Holder’s specific questions. It’s apparent from his requests to the BIA that state’s rights may be violated by DOMA, considering his mention of “New Jersey law.” Let us hope this is good news for Joshua and Henry (who is set for deportation tomorrow).

There is a rally scheduled for tomorrow in Newark from 11-12am – Department of Homeland Security/Newark Immigration Court – Peter Rodino Federal Building, 970 Broad Street, Newark, NJ. Please attend if you can and also please visit ALL OUT’s Petition to help stop this cruel punishment for a couple whose only crime was getting married.

***************UPDATE********************

According to Metroweekly’s Chris Geidner:

Attorney Lavi Soloway tells Metro Weekly that Henry Velandia’s deportation proceedings have been adjourned, in part, because of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to vacate the Board of Immigration Appeals decision in another case involving a same-sex couple on Thursday. Moreover, Soloway says, “The government attorney agreed to adjourn the case.”

This is excellent news and proves that when we rally and get people to join together around something, we can win. Please keep this in mind and kep working hard when we ware called to action. We CAN make a difference!

Gay Ugandan Man Facing US Deportation

9 Apr

Joseph Bocombe (10news.com)

The fight for amnesty from Uganda has come to the United States. Earlier this year – after the gruesome murder of Ugandan gay rights activist, David Kato, a fight to stop the deportation of Ugandan Brenda Namigadde from the UK was successful after a great deal of publicity was brought to the situation.

Uganda’s parliament, after shelving the “Kill the Gays” Bill, is bringing it back to the table. One of the bill’s authors David Bahati gathered 2 million signatures to keep the bill alive. The bill, introduced in 2009, could bring a death sentence to repeat homosexual “offenders,” as well as HIV+ gays and lesbians.

When the news of Brenda’s story reached Bahati, he said:

“Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.”

Moments before her flight was to depart for Uganda, our work, led by LezGetReal’s Melanie Nathan and ALL OUT, stopped Brenda’s deportation.

Now Joseph Bokombe, an openly gay Ugandan musician who came to the US five years ago on a cultural exchange visa, is now fighting deportation. His visa has long since expired, but friends say he was afraid to go home and decided to stay. Bokombe is now in detention awaiting his deportation.

A friend of Bokombe’s and a Ugandan native, Awichu Akwanya said “Actually I don’t think even past the airport. They just get him and then put him in detention. In detention, he can get poisoned or [they will] hire some people in jail to kill him.”

This led Hector Martinez to start a petition to keep his friend here. Bokombe volunteers at a church and for several local groups, including Mental Health America of San Diego County, which is the mental health non-profit Martinez works at.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released this statement to 10News:

“Over the course of the last year, Mr. Bukombe’s immigration case has undergone extensive review by judges at multiple levels of our legal system. In those proceedings, the courts have held that he has failed to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States. ICE is now in the process of seeking to carry out the deportation order handed down by the immigration court.”

I ask fellow activists, bloggers and readers to please forward this story to anyone you know, tell Joseph’s story and get people to sign this petition. This is your opportunity to save someone’s life.


PHOTOS: GLAAD Awards Featuring Ricky Martin, Andy Cohen and More

20 Mar

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives.

Over the years, GLAAD has done the work which has paved the way for so many of us to live openly in the world. This year, they celebrate their 25th anniversary and their history shows us exactly how far we have come.

Enjoy the photos from tonight’s event. Other awards not presented this evening are listed here. Additional categories will be presented at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on April 10 and in San Francisco on May 14. The following were the awards presented last night.

  • Excellence in Media Award: Russell Simmons
  • Vito Russo Award:  Ricky Martin
  • Outstanding Drama Series: True Blood (HBO) [Accepted by: Denis O’Hare]
  • Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character):  “Klaus & Greta” 30 Rock (NBC) [Accepted by: Tina Fey]
  • Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia: “Bridal Bliss: Aisha and Danielle” by Bobbi Misick (Essence.com) [Accepted by: Aisha Mills and Danielle Moodie, with Essence.com editor, Emil Wilbekin]

The following is a list of all other award recipients announced at the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York.

  • Outstanding Talk Show Episode: “Ricky Martin Coming Out as a Gay Man and a New Dad” The Oprah Winfrey Show (syndicated)
  • Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Gay Teen Suicides” (series) Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN)
  • Outstanding Newspaper Article: “Rutgers Student Tyler Clementi’s Suicide Spurs Action Across U.S.” by Judy Peet (The Star-Ledger [Newark, N.J.])
  • Outstanding Newspaper Columnist: Frank Rich (The New York Times)
  • Outstanding Newspaper Overall Coverage: Denver Post
  • Outstanding Magazine Article: “What Happens When You Find the One…And He’s Nothing – Nothing – Like You Expected?” by Allison Cooper (O, The Oprah Magazine)
  • Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate/Out
  • Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: “View From Washington” (series) by Kerry Eleveld (Advocate.com)
  • Outstanding Blog: Joe. My. God. (http://joemygod.blogspot.com/)
  • Outstanding Music Artist: Scissor Sisters, Night Work (Downtown Records)
  • Outstanding Comic Book: X-Factor by Peter David (Marvel Comics)
  • Outstanding Los Angeles Theater: Something Happened by L. Trey Wilson
  • Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway & Off–Broadway: The Pride by Alexi Kaye Campbell
  • Outstanding New York Theater: Off–Off Broadway: When Last We Flew by Harrison David Rivers

All photos copyright Jamie McGonnigal, TalkAboutEquality.com – for reprint permission, please email talkaboutequality@gmail.com


Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin

 

Wilson Cruz

 

Tina Fey

 

Sandra Lee and her niece

 

Sahara Davenport, Manila Luzon and friends

 

Sandra Lee and the Fabulous Beekman Boys Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

 

True Blood's Denis O'Hare

 

Wilson Cruz and his boyfriend

 

Tina Fey

 

Erik Bottcher and friends

 

The team from ALL OUT

 

Ru Paul's Drag Race's Manila Luzon and Sahara Davenport

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and his chief of staff

 

Outstanding Blog winner, Joe Jervis of JoeMyGod.com

 

The Fabulous Beekman Boys Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

 

Ugandan Gay Activist Murdered, Another’s Life Hangs in the Balance

26 Jan

David Kato Kisulle

According to Box Turtle Bulletin and the BBC, Ugandan activist David Kato Kisulle was murdered in his home in Kampala.

He was found having been beaten in the skull with a hammer a his home and there is little more information than that at this time. What we do know is that David was featured in the Ugandan tabloid, “Rolling Stone,” which featured names and photos of gay men under the headline “HANG THEM!”

He was one of three plaintiffs seeking a permanent injunction against the tabloid, which was successful. And in recent days, David had told friends of several death threats he’d received and was in fear for his life.

Since the introduction last year of the “Anti-Homosexual Bill” which has come to be known as the “Kill the Gays Bill” has been the topic of outrage from LGBT organizations around the country. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has brought this bill to light in the US and featured the author of the bill, David Bahati in a two-part interview last month.

 

Brenda Namigadde (photo courtesy ALLOUT.org)

Today’s murder also highlights an important case regarding Ugandan Brenda Namigadde living in the UK and facing deportation back to Uganda after failed please for asylum. All Out has launched a campaign to keep Brenda in the UK, which may quite literally save her life. “Kill the Gays Bill” Author Bahati said of Brenda:

“Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.”

It would seem Bahati may be correct, Uganda is doing far worse than harassing homosexuals.

 

UK Gay Couple Wins Discrimination Suit Against Bigoted B & B

18 Jan

News out of the UK today, where a gay couple won a landmark decision against discrimination.

Steven Preddy & Martyn Hall

Partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy tried to rent a room at Peter and Hazelmary Bull’s seaside bed & breakfast. The Bulls believe that their Christian values dictate that two men cannot sleep in the same bed and therefore refused the double-bed room to Hall & Preddy, they said it would be “an affront to their faith”. But seeing as the gay couple was only trying to do what thousands of other couples do every year, they decided to bring the Bulls to court.

Today, a Bristol County Court judge awarded the gay couple £1,800 in damages. Judge Rutherford’s decision read:

“The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the refusal to allow them to occupy the double room which they had booked was because of their sexual orientation… and that this is direct discrimination.”

Hall & Preddy were extremely happy with the outcome, saying:

“We’re really pleased that the judge has confirmed what we already know – that in these circumstances our civil partnership has the same status in law as a marriage between a man and a woman, and that, regardless of each person’s religious beliefs, no-one is above the law.”

While this is clearly a case that will be used by the National Organization for Marriage and the like, to say that Christians are being discriminated against for practicing their beliefs, it is the exact same argument used against bi-racial couples who wanted equality in the latter-half of the 20th century. But in the end, equality won out…and it will in our case as well. Congrats to Martyn Hall & Steven Preddy for striking a blow against discrimination everywhere.

Some of you may have heard about the gay couple in Cornwall, England, who sued the owners of a small bed & breakfast who refused to allow them to sleep in a room with a double-bed.