A quick glance at Wikipedia or this ILGA report is enough to tell you that there are a LOT of countries where it’s dangerous or deadly to be (or even to be perceived as) lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
There are still more than 80 countries with sodomy laws, and punishment can include flogging, imprisonment, and in about a dozen jurisdictions, the death penalty. Those suspected of being LGBT are also routinely the victims of harassment, discrimination and violence. Many of those who speak up for LGBT rights – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – are themselves persecuted with impunity.
Here are 7 countries Amnesty International has recently had particular concerns about:
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Last week, the U.S. Senate was unanimous as it passed a resolution calling on members of the Ugandan Parliament to reject the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill and to repeal similar laws aimed at discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation.
Co-sponsors of the Senate resolution stressed the “universality of human rights,” while sending a message to Secretary of State Clinton to more closely monitor human rights abuses that are motivated by sexual orientation. We have been a part of the fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and have expressed serious concerns over the bill, joining other human rights groups in calling for the bill’s repeal. The passing of the Senate’s resolution is a victory for human rights defenders and a boost for our calls for equality and human rights.
Widespread international criticism of the bill has led the Ugandan Parliament to establish a committee to review the bill, which recommended changes be made to the bill but without actually calling for the bill’s repeal. The bill is currently before the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee. The Committee has given no indication of when they would begin to debate the bill but we are continuing to monitor this very closely.
Msia Clark, Uganda Country Specialist, contributed to this post
Back in early January, we called for the unconditional release of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, two men who were arrested after having a traditional engagement ceremony in Malawi. They were charged with “unnatural practices between males and gross public indecency” and were reportedly beaten while in custody. In Malawi, homosexual acts can carry a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. And just yesterday, the BBC reported that there will be a full trial for the two men beginning in April. The men deny the charges and will soon have to begin calling defense witnesses.
This case serves as a sad reminder of the state of LGBT rights in much of Africa. In Uganda, the debate rages on over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that was introduced in December 2009. In Kenya, anti-gay rallies have been held and attacks have been carried out against openly gay citizens. And in Malawi, religious leaders are responding to the trial by reaffirming their stance against homosexuality. In this climate of hate, those crying out for acceptance cannot be heard.
The trial of these men, purely on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation, is a gross violation of their rights to freedom of conscience, expression and privacy – Véronique Aubert, Amnesty International’s Deputy Africa Director
Help us stand up and speak out against the trial of Steven and Tiwonge, and remind the Malawian government that criminalization of homosexuality and sexual identity is banned under many of the treaties Malawi has ratified, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Rebecca Friedrichs contributed to this blog post.