Why we should reflect on the state of LGBT persecution this Christmas

Rainbow Flag BANNEROn Dec 25, 2014 Pink News reported: The head of the Human Dignity Trust writes for PinkNews on why we should look to other countries this Christmas, where LGBT people are still persecuted.

2014 has taken the persecution of gay men and lesbians to a new level. Not content with the existing criminal laws which already outlawed gay sex, Nigeria, Uganda and Gambia introduced new laws which criminalised simply being gay and lesbian and/or supporting gay and lesbian people. The Nigerian law even makes it a crime for gay and lesbian couples to live together. The fear is that these laws could be adopted across the globe. Russia already has in place something similar. Within days of the annexation of the Crimea, the gay pride march there was cancelled.

In August in Uganda there was a temporary reprieve when the Anti-Homosexuality Act was declared void by the courts. But this was only for technical reasons. A new Bill has emerged. If that Bill sees the light of day, along with a raft of other persecutory provisions, it will even become a crime to match-make.

The British, Americans, the EU, Canadians, Dutch and the Scandinavians have individually been critical of these new laws. But we need the international community to keep the pressure on those countries which are actively persecuting their gay and lesbian citizens. We need smart, clever and creative responses which are supported by local activists.

As the New Year dawned, news emerged that Jean-Claude Roger Mbede had died in Cameroon. Mbede was only in his early 30s. He had been convicted of homosexuality because he had texted a man and told him he fancied him. He had been released from prison on compassionate grounds due to his ill health. His family, we are told, locked him away until he died. With treatment he would have recovered.

Mbede’s story is just one of countless other experiences in 2014 in which gay men, lesbians and trans people were subjected to brutality. From Russia to Ghana, the Caribbean to India there have been gratuitous and violent attacks on people simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Two women were set upon by a mob in Cameroon and then they were arrested. The year ends with an attack on a Ugandan gay man who was left for dead. Luckily, he has survived. And further violence against LGBT activists has been reported in Zimbabwe.

In October, the Singapore Court of Appeal upheld the validity of the laws criminalising gay sex. Therefore, to all intents and purposes, it remains a crime to be gay there. Singapore claims to be a global business hub. How can the international business community permit this situation to continue? Discrimination is bad for business. Corporations must take a co-ordinated stand to end LGBT discrimination.

Continued at PinkNews

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