Section 7: Current persecution, by country


SOUTH AFRICA

General:

  • 20140226 “‘No special comment needed’ on Ugandan law criminalising homosexuality – Pandor” – (“South Africa’s position on gay and lesbian rights are unchanged, but government will not comment on Uganda’s new legislation criminalising homosexuality, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor has said. Answering questions from reporters on government’s work in Parliament this morning, Pandor said: “Countries pass many bills and we don’t really comment on them, so I don’t know why you need a special comment by the government on this.” She said Uganda’s new laws won’t change anything to  South Africa’s stance either. “The position of South Africa on sexual orientation and the rights to equality are very clear, both in the bill of rights and the legislation that has been passed in this country. Our position is very clear and it’s not changed by any policy adopted by any country.” She said South Africa allowed homosexual people to marry and promoted equality in employment and other areas. “I don’t think we have moved away as South Africa from these positions,” she said. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni this week signed into law a bill that made homosexual acts punishable by life in prison.”)

Methodist Church of SA – Unfair Dismissal of Lesbian Minister:

Moreletta Park NGK Homophobia Discrimination Case (2008):

Jon Qwelane (2008):

  • 20130927 – Jon Qwelane is so proud of his hate – (“I recall the chilling effect of Jon Qwelane’s homage to homophobia – “Call me names, gay’s not okay” – published in the Sunday Sun in July 2008.  It came soon after a spate of brutal murders of black lesbians, around which there had been heightened media attention and political action for justice and state intervention. Against this backdrop, the article spurred hundreds of complaints to the South African Human Rights Commission and a public demonstration at Media24, the company that owns the Sunday Sun. The commission launched a court application against Qwelane for hate speech. In response, he recently launched a constitutional challenge to the Equality Act, arguing that section 10(1), the hate speech provision of the Act, places unconstitutional limitations on freedom of speech. The heart of the dispute is about who is free to say what. The intention implicit in Qwelane’s article and his fervent defence of it must be publicly scrutinised. His intentions must also be read against the content and meaning of the very speech he seeks to defend. In his article, Qwelane says gays and lesbians go against “the natural order of things”. He compares their relationships to bestiality. He also charges lesbians and gays with the “rapid degradation of values and traditions” and calls for the removal of their constitutional rights. Cocking a pre-emptive snook at the damage he knew his piece would cause, Qwelane refused to apologise: “And by the way,” he wrote, “please tell the Human Rights Commission that I totally refuse to withdraw or apologise for my views. I will write no letters to the commission either, explaining my thoughts.” Such is his contempt for human rights.Fundamental to the principle of freedom of speech as lived reality is “freedom” itself. For many lesbian and gay people, speaking out about their continued marginalisation and exclusion is not a right that they are able to safely exercise. They are unfree. The speech Qwelane defends has the effect of refusing gays and lesbians equal citizenship in our democracy. The Psychological Society of South Africa, which has been admitted as a friend of the court, will argue that the Equality Act’s prohibition of hate speech should be understood in context: one in which those who don’t conform to dominant sexual and gender roles are verbally and physically attacked and, in extreme cases, raped and murdered. Language that ridicules, assaults and denigrates certain identities creates the conditions for prejudice-motivated violence against those people. Qwelane’s words undermine human dignity and contribute to an environment that makes it okay to otherise, marginalise, silence and eliminate certain people. Homophobic speech contracts democratic space and provides the language that legitimates prejudice. Some libertarians argue that, as a society, we should “let speech loose”. But who bears the brunt? Jews, Boers and others are being discursively “shot”. Such utterances do little to bring any of us closer to the prospect of freedom. The freedom of a young, black lesbian to speak back without fear of reprisal to those who might taunt her on the streets or at school is what makes freedom of speech real. Qwelane’s challenge has nothing to do with expanding the possibilities of free speech for those who are least able to exercise the right. His beef with the queers signifies wider cultural contestations about who has the power to limit the constitutional principles of dignity, equality and freedom. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed (LGBTI) people across the globe are increasingly claiming their rights, so the Qwelanes of the world are in backlash mode. On this score, Qwelane will be happy in Uganda, where he is now South Africa’s ambassador. Uganda is caught in the grip of a new form of colonisation: the concerted efforts of American evangelical Christians to export homophobia to Africa has directly fuelled that country’s “anti-homosexuality bill”, which would legally sanction the hounding and killing of LGBTI people. Qwelane’s challenge to the Equality Act is not about equality at all. It is a reassertion of his power to propagate speech of a profoundly unequal kind, speech that is harmful and dangerous, that fuels and legitimises existing homo-prejudice, and that labels gay and lesbian people as unworthy of the protection of the law. South Africans will not achieve freedom through shooting down – metaphorically or not – those whose identities we find offensive. Neither will we do so by advancing the bellowing of bigotry and its violent consequences. – Melanie Judge is a feminist activist.”)
  • 20130904 – Qwelane May Win Hate Speech Challenge (“Constitutional law expert Pierre De Vos argues that disgraced former journalist Jon Qwelane may be successful in his bid to overturn his 2011 hate speech conviction for his notoriously homophobic 2008 article “Call me names, but gay is NOT okay…” Jon Qwelane, South Africa’s Ambassador to Uganda (that bastion of respect for the human dignity of all), is a self-confessed homophobe. He also used to be a spectacularly unaccomplished columnist. His Sunday missives often read like the first draft of a stag party speech written in a bar on the back of a cigarette box. But he must have a talent for constitutional law, because his contention that the hate speech clause in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) is unconstitutional, is sound. In 2011, former Sunday Sun columnist, Jon Qwelane, was found guilty of hate speech for contravening section 10 of PEPUDA. The Court found that an article he wrote (as well as an accompanying cartoon) propagated hatred and harm against gay men and lesbians and ordered him to apologise unconditionally and to pay a R100,000 fine to the Human Rights Commission. In the article Qwelane fumed against “gays” and “lesbians”, stating in apparent horror: “nowadays; (sic) you regularly see men kissing other men in public, walking holding hands and shamelessly flaunting what are misleadingly termed their ‘lifestyle’ and ‘sexual preferences’”. He concluded: “I do pray that some day (sic) a bunch of politicians with their heads affixed firmly to their necks will muster the balls to rewrite the constitution of this country, to excise those sections which give licence to men ‘marrying’ other men, and ditto women. Otherwise, at this rate, how soon before some idiot demands to ‘marry’ an animal, and argues that this constitution ‘allows’ it?” I assume when Qwelane referred to men kissing other men in public he was not referring to Premier League Football players regularly celebrating the scoring of a goal by hugging, kissing each other and flaunting their joy at “scoring” with such gay abandon. Neither am I sure why flaunting one’s love for another adult human being in public would horrify anybody – unless it stimulates delightful longings in them that they would rather like to repress. I regularly see heterosexual couples kissing and holding hands in public and shamelessly flaunting their so called heterosexual “lifestyles” and it does not bother me at all. Really, it does not. (I may have issues with the way in which some heterosexual suburban couples decorate their houses – I mean, really, a braai inside the house – but after serious soul searching I have concluded that this horror I have of suburban kitsch is not enough to warrant support for discrimination against all heterosexuals.) I assume my broad-mindedness stems at least partly from the fact that I have no secret yearnings (suppressed by religiously instilled self-hatred) to engage in a so called heterosexual lifestyle myself. I am relatively ambitious, so I obviously do not aspire to the heterosexual lifestyle (I tend to aim a bit higher) but I firmly support equal rights for all heterosexuals. Neither do I believe just because the constitution prohibits the law from discriminating against heterosexuals and allows them to marry that one of these days an idiot heterosexual would demand to marry an animal (of a different sex, I would assume). This is because – unlike Qwelane – I do not associate sexual intimacy with having my way with a goat. Call me old fashioned or unadventurous, but usually when I think of sex I imagine this to be between two human beings. Qwelane must have a more fertile imagination. Qwelane has been stalling ever since he was found guilty of hate speech, but last week he announced that he was challenging the constitutionality of the relevant PEPUDA provisions. Contrary to popular belief, the Constitution does not prohibit hate speech. Section 16(1) of the Constitution allows “everyone” (even homophobes like Qwelane) the right to enjoy freedom of expression. However, section 16(2) excludes certain forms of speech from protection and thus allows the legislature to limit these excluded forms of speech. Section 16(2)(c) – sometimes referred to as the hate speech exclusion – thus states that advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm, is not protected by section 16(1). It would therefore be impossible to challenge the constitutionality of any legislative provision that mirrors the wording of section 16(2)(c). But PEPUDA goes much further than section 16(2)(c) and imposes a far more drastic limitation on freedom of expression than that allowed by section 16(2)(c). Section 10 of PEPUDA states that a person may not “publish, propagate, advocate or communicate” words against any person based on prohibited grounds such as race, sex, gender, disability, sexual orientation and religion “that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to be hurtful; be harmful or to incite harm; promote or propagate hatred”. Although bona fide engagement in artistic creativity, academic and scientific inquiry and fair and accurate reporting in the public interest are excluded from this prohibition, it would still include many forms of expression, including much of what is written in opinion pieces in newspapers and on blogs as well as much of what is preached in religious institutions. The provision may well therefore be overbroad and unconstitutional – just as Qwelane argues. Unlike the exclusionary provision in the Constitution, section 10 does not require the speech to constitute “incitement to cause harm”. All that is required is that a reasonable person must believe that the speech had the intention to be hurtful to a designated group. Unlike the exclusionary provision in the Constitution, section 10 does not only deal with speech based on race, gender, ethnicity or gender. It limits potentially hurtful speech based on all 16 grounds listed in section 9 of the Constitution, as well as all similar grounds. These include sexual orientation, age, marital status and disability. Section 10 does not require the aggrieved party actually to show that the person who engaged in the speech had the intention to be hurtful or to harm anyone. Neither that the speech actually incited or caused harm. All he or she will have to show is that a reasonable person, looking at the context within which the words were spoken, would have construed the person who uttered the words as having such an intention. Of course, the age-old problem about how we decide what a reasonable person would have thought when it seems impossible in a diverse society like ours to postulate a single universal standard of reasonableness, will raise its head in each case. Are we going to rely, yet again, on the view of the so-called reasonable, middle-class, white, heterosexual man when we must decide what a reasonable person would have thought – as the courts explicitly did until recently and often still do implicitly? A criticism levelled against the judgment in the Julius Malema hate speech case in which he was found guilty of hate speech on the basis of race when he sang “Awudubula (i) bhulu… Dubula amabhunu baya raypha”, is exactly that the judge used such a reasonable white man standard in concluding the words constituted hate speech. But even if we could overcome this problem and could, miraculously, conjure up a completely neutral standard against which to judge what is reasonable, section 10 of PEPUDA would still potentially have a severe chilling effect on freedom of expression (as well as on freedom of religion). Much of the teaching of mainstream religious groups on homosexuality, for example, would almost certainly fall foul of the hate speech provision. When a priest or imam targets “practicing” gay men and lesbians (as if we need any practice) in a talk and brands us as “sinners”, many so called reasonable people will surely assume that they had the intention to be hurtful to gay men and lesbians. After all, people who are hurting are more vulnerable and more likely to believe what you have to sell to them. Much of the less sophisticated rhetoric of (some, but not all) religious leaders are aimed at putting the fear of God into people and at making them feel bad about who they are and how they live their lives in order to present some sort of Messiah as the alternative that would cure you of your fear and your (religiously-instilled) self-disgust. How can this simplistic rhetoric so often employed by religious groups not be aimed at hurting gay men and lesbians? But should such speech be banned? I am far from certain that it should. After all, when someone peddles his or her sad and petty hatred of others because who they love, I pity the person and feel slightly embarrassed on his or her behalf. Why ban certain forms of speech just because it reveals that those who engage in it are wretched (and often lost and unthinking) fools? Of course, some speech may pose a threat to the constitutionally mandated objective of building the non-racial and non-sexist society based on human dignity and the achievement of equality. Such speech can and should be limited in a constitutionally permissible manner – even if it falls outside the exceptions carved out in section 16(2). But such a limitation on freedom of speech cannot be overbroad. Given the fact that section 10 clearly limits the right to free expression, that the reach of the section is extremely broad and that a more narrowly tailored provision would probably be able to serve the same important purpose of protecting our democracy against speech that hatefully incite harm against others, I suspect that Qwelane might just have gotten lucky and that his constitutional challenge will be successful. First published on Constitutionally Speaking.”)
  • 20130828 – Qwelane back in court for hate speech – (“The directions hearing in the hate speech case instituted by the SA Human Rights Commission [SAHRC] against Jon Qwelane is expected to take place in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday. On 1 September 2011, the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court granted an application for a rescission of judgement to South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda, Jon Qwelane. SAHRC brought the hate speech case against the ambassador and was ordered to pay the costs of his legal counsel. In April 2011, he was found guilty of hate speech, but was not present at the default judgement due to his job abroad. Qwelane’s counsel argued that the default judgement was not allowed and that an enquiry needed to be convened before such a judgement could be handed down. While still practising as a journalist in 2008, Qwelane wrote a column published by the Sunday Sun in which he expressed his opinion about homosexuals. The column was headlined “Call me names, but gay is NOT okay”. Qwelane was ordered to apologise through the Sunday Sun and to pay R100 000 to the commission. The money was to be used to promote gay rights. – SAPA”)
  • 20130828 – Qwelane To Use Constitution To Defend Himself (“The hate speech case against homophobic journalist Jon Qwelane is set to continue to drag on into its sixth year without finality. In addition, Qwelane will be challenging the constitutionality of the Equality Act, under which he was convicted, in an effort to avoid facing up to the consequences of his actions. Qwelane was found guilty of hate speech in May 2011 for his notorious 2008 article Call me names, but gay is NOT okay… While an Equality Court ruled that the article “propagates hatred and harm against homosexuals” and ordered Qwelane to apologise to the gay community and to pay damages of R100,000 towards an LGBT rights group, he has continued to challenge the ruling. On Wednesday, Qwelane’s legal representative and the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) appeared in the High Court in Johannesburg in order to finalise the procedures for another trial on the matter. Qwelane’s lawyer, Andrew Boerner, told Sapa that his client will challenge sections of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act that deal with hate speech and harassment. It is expected that the challenge will argue that these sections of the law infringe on Qwelane’s right to free speech.”)
  • 20100406 – Jon Qwelane sneaks into Uganda (“Jon Qwelane who was appointed South African ambassador to Uganda sneaked into the country during Jacob Zuma’s recent visit. Qwelane was appointed ambassador despite facing charges in the SA Equality Court for an article in the Sun written in July 2008 – “Call me Names But Gay Is Not OK”. In the article Qwelane praises President Mugabe for his “unflinching and unapologetic stance over homosexuals” and no doubt is cheering the recent endorsement by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Incidentally the statement by Tsvangirai contradicts the official MDC party statement so it is not clear what his motives were in making that statement. Under the Bill of Rights section, the MDC position paper states that: “In addition, the right to freedom from discrimination, given our history of discrimination and intolerance, must be broad to include the protection of personal preferences, that is gays and lesbians should be protected by the constitution.” Qwelane’s article — which includes a despicable cartoon equating same sex relationships with bestiality, calls for a rewriting of the SA constitution and the criminalisation of same-sex relationships. Qwelane and his publishers Media 24 have been sued for his statements by the South African Human Rights Commission for hate speech. Given the increasing number of attacks — murder, rape, beatings — against lesbians this article is outrageous and irresponsible and does nothing but incite even more hate crimes against the LGBTI community in Africa. As well as being a direct attack against the rights of all, enshrined in the SA constitution, the appointment is an unequivocal support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill presently under discussion in Uganda. It’s also a terrible setback to LGBTI activists across the continent and especially Ugandans. The election of Jacob Zuma has seen SA turning away from the principles of rights for all towards bigotry, xenophobia and Christian fundamentalists such as Rhema leader Ray Mc Caulley. Recently the Culture and Information Minister Lulu Xingwana described the work of photographer and culural activist , Zanele Muholi’s exhibited work as “pornographic” and “Immoral, offensive and going against nation-building.” On reflection should we be really so surprised as homophobia has always been just below the surface and at odds with the Constitutional position. Zuma is known for his homophobic language in the past and this appointment simply reinforces his true feelings. It’s not hard to begin to think there is some sort of conspiracy taking place between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Uganda. For Ugandan LGBTI the entry of Qwelane at this time is alarming particularly the way he has been smuggled into the country and kept quiet. Uganda’s programmes co-ordinator of sexual minorities – [SMUG] Julian Pepe Onziema, told Independent Newspapers that they were working on a strategy to challenge Qwelane’s posting. “We are definitely talking about that with our allies, but at this stage we can’t reveal anything. (We are being secretive) about our plans because they are also being secretive about (Qwelane’s) presence in this country,” Onziema said. “The campaign (against him) is going to go ahead. “Because we haven’t heard from him we haven’t heard from the government.””)
  • 20100404 – Gay-bashing Qwelane goes to Kampala (“South Africa’s controversial gay-bashing High Commissioner to Uganda, Jon Qwelane – who is supposed to be the face of South Africa – quietly sneaked into Kampala during President Jacob Zuma’s state visit amid protests by gay groups for his recall. Qwelane’s presence has angered Ugandan gay groups, who feel his presence would reverse their fight against homophobia – given the country’s own repressive anti-gay laws. It is understood that interest groups had previously written to International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, requesting that the South African government reconsider Qwelane’s posting. It appears Zuma’s decision to post Qwelane was not reversed even when it was clear that it would cause diplomatic embarrassment for Pretoria. Qwelane publicly supported Zuma during the ANC’s ugly succession battle, including during the rape trial. To the shock of Uganda gay groups, they found out during Zuma’s visit that Qwelane was already in the country. Independent Newspapers has learnt that the authorities kept Qwelane’s presence in Uganda a low-key event – fearing a media storm that would overshadow Zuma’s visit. The usually outspoken Qwelane also kept a low profile during the state visit. When Zuma was in London last month, South Africa’s high commissioner to the UK, Zola Skweyiya, was at the forefront, briefing the media and diplomats and introducing the president to the host government. It is understood that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation has gagged Qwelane from commenting about homosexuality. Under Uganda’s penal code, homosexuality is criminalised. Uganda’s programmes co-ordinator of sexual minorities, Julian Pepe Onziema, told Independent Newspapers that they were working on a strategy to challenge Qwelane’s posting. “We are definitely talking about that with our allies, but at this stage we can’t reveal anything. (We are being secretive) about our plans because they are also being secretive about (Qwelane’s) presence in this country,” Onziema said. “The campaign (against him) is going to go ahead. “Because we haven’t heard from him we haven’t heard from the government.” It is understood that the groups also wanted to protest outside the South African High Commission – but Onziema denied this. Onziema said it was hypocritical for South Africa – with its gay-friendly laws – to post someone like Qwelane to the central African country. “How do you bring a very homophobic person to lead a diplomatic institution in a place where there is a lot of violation and discrimination of (gay and lesbian) people?” she asked. Onziema confirmed that they had lobbied local, regional and international interest groups to oppose Qwelane’s posting. But Qwelane said it was “news to me” that gay and lesbian groups in Uganda were against his posting. He denied that his arrival had been kept secret. “I don’t know what they are talking about. I was with (government) ministers the whole of last week,” he said, adding that he had arrived in the country on March 23. Zuma landed a day later. Qwelane refused to comment further. Meanwhile, the Ugandan parliament is sitting with the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill – which sent out shockwaves across the world with a clause which proposed that homosexuality should be punishable by death. Following international uproar, including a diplomatic protest from the US and UK governments, the offensive clause was removed. However, the bill is still considered to be harsh as it seeks to compel citizens to report anyone involved in homosexual activities. Qwelane has been quite open about his anti-gay views, and once wrote a homophobic column titled “Call me names, but Gay is not ok” in the Sunday Sun in 2008.The article compared homosexuality to bestiality. Qwelane even commended Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for his “unflinching and unapologetic stance over homosexuals”. The column also prayed for politicians to have “the balls” to rewrite the South African constitution to outlaw homosexuality. South African interest groups complained to the Equality Court about Qwelane’s column, arguing that it promoted hate speech. The outcome is still pending. South Africa is the only country on the African continent that recognises the rights of homosexuals, which legally acknowledges their matrimonial contract through the civil union bill. Department of International Relations spokesman Saul Molobi could not confirm Qwelane’s diplomatic posting. “The reason I can neither confirm nor deny Mr Jon Qwelane’s alleged appointment is that according to diplomatic protocol you can’t confirm an appointment until the head of state of the receiving country has accepted the credentials of such a high commissioner/ambassador designate,” said Molobi. “Any deviation from this norm is interpreted as disrespect to the head of the receiving country, as he or she reserves the right to accept or decline the approval of the appointment of the nominated candidate. “This means I can’t comment beyond this on the matter at this stage”.”)
  • 20100120 – Qwelane ‘the wrong man’ (“President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of veteran journalist Jon Qwelane as South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda, with the Democratic Alliance saying Qwelane is a self-confessed homophobe. Qwelane, who spoke out against the persecution of Zuma by the media and National Prosecuting Authority when Zuma was being investigated for fraud and corruption, is also seen as a Zuma loyalist. DA spokesperson Lindiwe Mazibuko said the appointment would “damage South Africa’s credibility internationally as a… READ FULL NEWS AT SOWETAN”)
  • 20100119 – Qwelane considered as SA’s Uganda envoy – (“The Democratic Alliance on Tuesday urged President Jacob Zuma not to appoint outspoken columnist Jon Qwelane as South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda because it would seem to endorse that country’s persecution of gays. “Jon Qwelane is a committed homophobe and his appointment could be seen as a tacit endorsement of the repressive stance Uganda is taking on homosexuality,” DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko said. Uganda is under international pressure to withdraw a bill that would impose the death penalty for homosexual acts. “The DA is of the opinion that the appointment of Mr Qwelane would not take into account the serious nature of this,” said Mazibuko. In his column in the Sunday Sun, Qwelane has stated that same sex marriage is “illogical” and that if any of his children had been gay, he would have disowned them. The veteran journalist was a vocal supporter of Zuma when the ANC leader battled fraud and corruption charges and it has been widely reported that he would soon be named ambassador to Kampala. The Sunday Times reported that the government was waiting for Uganda to approve the appointment. Mazibuko said Pretoria ought to be lobbying Uganda to drop plans to execute gays but instead “the president appears to be moving to appoint a man whose record for promoting intolerance, homophobia and prejudice in South Africa is well established and largely unparalleled”. Several rights groups have also signalled their opposition to Qwelane’s mooted appointment. – Sapa”)

 

ZIMBABWE

 

IRAQ

IRAN

 

UGANDA

 

RWANDA


NIGERIA

  • 20130730 Nigerian Christians Threaten To Throw Out Gay Diplomats (“The Nigerian government has since claimed that Ashiru was misquoted and denied that it would accredit spouses of gay diplomats. “Nigeria and majority of Nigerians are against gay rights and marriages as it is not part of our customs, religion or law,” Ogbole Amedu Ode, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told The Guardian Nigeria. Nigeria recently passed a bill that will not only jail same-sex couples who attempt to marry for up to 14 years but will also imprison anyone who was aware of or was involved in a same-sex marriage without reporting it. The bill will also ban any gay clubs and organisations and any public displays of same-sex affection.”)
  • Nigeria Approves Bill Criminalizing gay Marriage

 

MALAWI

 

JAMAICA

RUSSIA 

  • 20131021 – Putin’s anti-gay propaganda is costing innocent lives! Yet ANOTHER case in point that Scott Lively is a murdering hater that deserves to be tried CRIMINALLY (and not civilly as is currently the case for Uganda) for crimes against humanity!
  • 20131004 – Globalizing Homophobia, Part 4: The World Congress of Families and Russia’s ‘Christian Saviors’ – “Last week, Serbian authorities abruptly cancelled a planned gay pride parade in Belgrade, citing “serious security concerns” about right-wing groups opposing the event. A few days later, an American group stood up to claim credit: the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families.” “It’s no coincidence that the WCF was able to pull such a delegation to Belgrade: For the past several years, the organization has built  an organization in Russia to advocate for anti-gay policies there and throughout Eastern Europe. WCF staff in Russia actively advocated for recent anti-gay laws, including a ban on gay “propaganda” – essentially a gag rule on gay rights advocacy – and the curtailing of international adoptions to gay couples and single people in countries that allow marriage equality. Through WCF, American Religious Right groups are able to provide support to anti-gay movements in Russia and throughout the world. The World Congress of Families was founded in 1997 by Religious Right activist (and former Reagan National Commission on Children appointee) Allan Carlson as a project of the Rockford, Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society. WCF’s purpose is to be a multi-faith, multi-national coalition of social conservative groups working to push its vision in the United Nations and in governments around the world. But it draws its most prominent support from the American Religious Right.”
  • 20131004 – Globalizing Homophobia, Part 3: A New Life for Discredited Research – “When Russian lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlyov introduced a bill that would allow the state to remove children from openly gay parents – classifying homosexuality along with drug abuse and child abuse as offenses that merit the loss of custody – gay rights activists noticed something interesting in the text of the bill.Zhuravlyov, who insisted, “In the case when a parent has sexual contact with people of their own gender, the damage that can be inflicted on the psyche of a child is enormous,” had in the text of his bill quoted extensively from a 2012 study conducted by University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus that purports to show that having LGBT parents harms kids.New evidence shows that the Regnerus study also influenced the architects of Russia’s ban on gay “propaganda” and its ban on the adoption of Russian orphans by gay couples and single people living in countries that allow marriage equality.

    In the June 13 joint Duma committee hearing on the proposed gay adoption ban and a related “traditional values” roundtable discussion – attended by National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown and a number of far-right French activists – Regnerus’ research played a central role.

    In her speech at the committee hearing, Yelena Mizulina, the chairwoman of the Duma’s committee on family, women and children and the sponsor of the “propaganda” bill, cited Regnerus to advocate for the adoption measure, claiming that Regnerus had provided the only “reliable” research on same-sex parents:

    At the same time, the American scholar Mark Regnerus, who carried out an extensive study over the course of one and a half years of 3,000 people who had been raised in same-sex families, showed the opposite, and the data are absolutely stunning, they are published. They called for him to be fired from the university in Texas [where he worked]. An independent assessment was ordered, an independent commission, who totally confirmed the scientific validity of the study’s representativeness and the reliability of its conclusions.

    Mizulina went on to hypothesize that gay parents would teach their children to be gay just as alcoholics would likely have children who drink, and compared the “social experiment” of marriage equality to the experiment of communism in Russia:

    It is established that if the parents in a family smoke, their child will likely smoke. And in these families the share of children who smoke when they become adults is higher. If parents drink, the probability that children in these families will drink is much higher than in families where parents do not drink.

    Why and on what basis is there an exception regarding imitation of the behavior of parents when we’re talking about homosexuality? Why? Where do they get that children will not imitate this particular behavior? It’s untenable, even without scientific studies. But scientific studies would of course be important here, too.

    But this type of experiment, this sexual revolution as they call what is happening in Europe today, is a social experiment that the West is conducting on its own children.  Russia has had enough of social experiments.

    Last century we had social experiments where the family was destroyed. It was argued that there would be no more families, that this institution would die out, and many others. And the West watched and did the opposite.

    Mikhail Zoplev, a member of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, had his own take, claiming that gay couples “renounce the ability to have their own children, so they say, ‘Give us those of others.’””

  • 20131003 – Globalizing Homophobia, Part 2: ‘Today the Whole World Is Looking At Russia’ – “On June 13, 2013, just days after the Russian Duma passed laws banning on gay “propaganda” and actions that “offend religious feelings,” a delegation of five French Catholic anti-gay activists –at least one with ties to the far-right Front National party — traveled to Moscow at the invitation of the Duma committee on family, women and children to discuss, among other issues, Russia’s plans to tighten its ban on adoption by same-sex couples abroad. Joining them was one of the most well-known figures in the American anti-gay movement, National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown . Brown had worked closely with the French anti-gay movement in its protests of the country’s marriage equality law, traveling to Paris to demonstrate against the law and signing onto an email to members of the Collectif Famille Mariage, one of the most prominent groups working to oppose marriage equality in France. (Excerpt: “You are the people who invented Gothic art and built these wonderful cathedrals soaring toward the sky, inspiring the entire civilized world…The new cathedral that you are building right before our eyes is composed of living stones: you, dear Resistance fighters, young people and adults, men and women, boys and girls!” The French activists joining Brown were far-right thinker Aymeric Chauprade; activist Odile Téqui; François Legrier, president of the Mouvement Catholique des Familles; and Hugues Revel, president of Cahtoliques en Campagne. The French delegation was led by Fabrice Sorlin, head of the far-right nationalist group Dies Irae, which is named after a liturgical poemabout the Day of Judgment and has been accused of racist and anti-Semitic behavior and, according to Box Turtle Bulletin, “had been working to create autonomous militias in France under the inspiration of American white nationalist Luther Pierce’s conspiracy-laden novel The Turner Diaries.” (The group has denied the charges .) Sorlin is also a former candidate for the far-right Front National party, and chair of a group called Alliance France-Europe Russia, which is dedicated to forging a “strong connection between Europe and Russia” and uniting “the Anglo-Saxon world” against the emerging economies of China and India based, in part, on shared “Christian values.” The project of building a stronger alliance with Russia is a project held dear by the French far-right.”
  • 20131003 – Globalizing Homophobia, Part 1: How The American Right Came to Embrace Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown – “This summer, as part of a larger effort to channel political dissatisfaction by scapegoating minorities, the Russian government escalated its crackdown on the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual citizens. President Vladimir Putin and his allies found support and guidance in their anti-gay efforts from a group eager for an opportunity to notch some victories in the battle against LGBT freedom and equality: the American right. On June 11, the Russian Duma passed a law banning “propaganda” about homosexuality to minors, essentially a gag rule criminalizing any advocacy for LGBT equality. (Moscow had already instituted a 100-year ban on gay pride parades.) Weeks later, on July 3, Putin signed a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples abroad and by single people in countries that allow marriage equality. Shortly afterward, a member of the Duma proposed a law that would revoke gay people’s custody of their biological children. The bill’s sponsor said in an interview that children would be better off in orphanages than with a gay mother or father. Throughout this process, Russian gay rights groups reported a surge in anti-gay hate crimes. Journalist Julia Ioffe has documented some individual stories.”

GENERAL

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