The U.S. Embassy in Kenya on Tuesday held what is believed to be the country’s first-ever Pride event.
According to Voice of America, the event was a small, invitation-only forum attended by activists and diplomats, but it’s still considered a milestone for Kenya. Other embassies around the world are observing Pride, part of the Obama administration’s plan for fighting anti-LGBT discrimination across the world.
“The U.S. government for its part has made it clear that the advancement of human rights for LGBT people is central to our human rights policies around the world and to the realization of our foreign policy goals,” said John Haynes, a public affairs officer at the embassy in Nairobi, in opening the event.
MaqC Gitau, general manager of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, acknowledged the forum’s groundbreaking nature. “What makes this day stand out for us here in Kenya … is that more than anything else, it is about visibility,” he said.Great move on the part of the Obama administration and all the people it took to make this happen!
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wishes You ‘Happy Pride’: VIDEO
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recorded a message for LGBT Pride Month in a video released by the State Dept. Clinton notes the advances being made in the world toward LGBT rights but cautions there is still much left to do: This month, and every month, we proudly reaffirm our commitment to making sure that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. In the United States and around the world, progress is being made. The tireless advocacy of generations is bending the arc of history. Barriers are being torn down, discriminatory laws repealed, and millions are now able to live more freely and participate in the future of their communities and countries. But there is still much more to be done. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender men and women continue to be persecuted and attacked. They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, and even executed.
Ireland ‘missed opportunity to protect LGBT employees’ in Seanad vote
The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network in Ireland has expressed disappointment at the defeat of the Employment Equality (Amendment) Bill 2012 in the Seanad yesterday.
The Bill, brought forward by Senator Averil Power of Fianna Fáil, sought to amend Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 to remove any prospect of employees in religious run institutions being discriminated against.
“We supported this Bill and applaud Senator Power for proposing it. The defeat of the Bill is very disappointing and represents a missed opportunity to address the fear of discrimination felt by many, in particular lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teachers, before the beginning of another school year” said Kieran Rose, GLEN Chair.
The Bill aimed to remove the fear of employees and prospective employees in religious run institutions, such as schools and hospitals, that they could be discriminated against because they are married, single, divorced or in a civil partnership, or because they are lesbian or gay.
“While the debate was overwhelmingly supportive, issues were raised on some complexities consequent on the proposed Bill. It is unfortunate that the Bill was voted down by the Government. If it had been accepted, the next Stage, Committee Stage, could have been used as an opportunity to discuss further any legal complexities” said Rose.
“Strong statements of support addressing the issues of protection of LGBT teachers were expressed by both Ministers Alan Shatter and Ruairi Quinn, who both attended the debate, and by Senators from across all Parties. We welcome the commitment of the Government to address the issues and GLEN will continue work with Government and the Oireachtas to seek progress on this issue,” said Rose.
“While no case has yet been brought which alleges discrimination in this context, the threat implied by Section 37.1 has acted as a ‘chill factor’ for lesbian and gay teachers. It has meant that employees or prospective employees, whose lives may possibly be interpreted to be contrary to the religious ethos of some religions, have lived in fear for their jobs and their prospects within their employment” said Rose.
GLEN note that the current Programme for Government commits to address the issue, which has been continually identified by Teachers Unions, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teachers groups and LGBT groups as a potential barrier to employment by LGBT people in religious run institutions. The Programme for Government commits that “publically identified LGBT people should not be deterred from training or taking up employment as teachers in the State.”
Ben and Jerry’s flavor for marriage equality.
Gay rights campaigners raised the alarm today after Cameroon arrested 10 women on suspicion of being lesbians.
Public broadcaster Cameroon Radio Television said on Thursday that they were being held in Ambam, 190 miles from the capital Yaounde.
Gay sex is a criminal offence in Cameroon, with sentences ranging from six months to five years in jail plus a fine.
Association for the Defence of Homosexuals founder Alice Nkom said the country’s police often use torture to extract confessions from people suspected of having same-sex relationships.
She said that “intense homophobia” was an increasingly serious threat in many African countries.
“It’s getting worse. People accused of homosexuality are put in jail straight away.”
Ms Nkom has received death threats for defending suspected gay people and the Ministry of Justice has tried to get her disbarred.
Other countries in the region are heading in the same direction with Nigeria having recently criminalised “gay advocacy groups” and “same-sex public displays of affection.”
The Ugandan parliament has been fighting for more than a year over a Bill which would introduce the death penalty for homosexual activity, and a new Bill was presented to the Liberian parliament this week to strengthen existing anti-gay laws.
Liberian Senator Jewel Taylor proposed “upgrading” gay relationships from “first-degree misdemeanors” worth a year in prison to “first-degree felonies,” which can incur a 10-year sentence.
She told reporters that she was not homophobic because she had never suggested punishing gay sex with death.
Senators are likely to approve the Bill but President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said she will not sign it into law.
The country’s recently founded Movement for the Defence of Gays and Lesbians said it would keep up the fight despite a campaign of intimidation which has seen activists attacked and their families’ homes set on fire.
Founder Archie Ponpon said: “We will not relent. People will come to the realisation that individuals should be free to practise what they wish.”
UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon told African leaders in January to stop treating gay people as “second-class citizens or even criminals,” but met a frosty reception.