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Uganda anti-gay law challenged in court

Yoweri Museveni signed statute last month

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Uganda, gay news, Washington Blade

Uganda, gay news, Washington Blade

Ugandan human rights advocates on Tuesday petitioned the Ugandan Constitutional Court to block an anti-gay law the country’s president signed last month. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Sturtz)

A coalition of Ugandan human rights organizations and activists on Tuesday challenged a law that imposes a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts.

Ugandan LGBT rights advocates Frank Mugisha, Julian Pepe Onziema and Jacqueline Kasha Nabagesera are among those who signed onto the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law’s challenge of the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill that President Yoweri Museveni signed into law on Feb. 24.

They argue in their petition to the Ugandan Constitutional Court that the statute violates the right to equality and privacy outlined in the country’s constitution. The advocates said the anti-gay law also discriminates against people with HIV and disabilities and imposes a “disproportionate punishment for the offense (of homosexuality) in contravention of the right to equality and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

The activists also contend Ugandan parliamentarians approved the measure late last year without the necessary quorum.

“The spirit of the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014, by promoting and encouraging homophobia, amounts to institutionalized promotion of a culture of hatred and constitutes a contravention of the right to dignity,” reads the petition. “The Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014, by encouraging homophobia and stigmatization, is in contravention of the duty of the government to respect, protect and promote the rights and freedoms of persons likely to be affected by the act.”

The activists’ petition asks the court to block enforcement of the law and prevent Ugandan media outlets and websites from publishing the names and pictures of those who are open about their sexual orientation or suspected of being gay.

Jeffrey Smith of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, which honored Mugisha in 2012 and whose president, Kerry Kennedy, discussed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill with Museveni in January, welcomed the petition to the Ugandan Constitutional Court.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Law clearly violates a host of constitutionally protected rights in Uganda, not to mention international human rights standards pertaining to nondiscrimination, the right to privacy, and freedom of expression,” Smith told the Blade on Tuesday. “These rights belong to every Ugandan citizen, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and the government has a duty to not only protect these rights, but to both promote and advance them as well. Today’s constitutional challenge is therefore a significant step forward in the struggle for the respect of basic human rights for all Ugandans.”

The Obama administration announced after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law that it has begun reviewing its relationship with Uganda. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who met with Museveni in January during a trip to the East African country with other members of Congress, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay are among those who also criticized the measure.

“I certainly disagree with the controversial legislation that Uganda may enact in the coming days,” Inhofe told the Washington Blade before Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Ugandan LGBT rights advocates and their supporters maintain U.S. evangelicals exploited homophobic attitudes in the East African country and encouraged lawmakers to approve the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. A federal judge in Massachusetts last August ruled a lawsuit the Center for Constitutional Rights filed against Scott Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a Ugandan LGBT advocacy group of which Mugisha is executive director, can proceed.

Lively described the law as “overly harsh on its face,” but “typical of African criminal law across the country” to the Blade during a press conference last month at the National Press Club in downtown Washington.

“Poor countries with limited criminal justice systems tend to rely on the harshness of the letter of the law to be a deterrent to criminals,” said Lively. “In practice, the sentencing is usually pretty lenient. Kenya, for example, has the death penalty for burglary, but burglars are definitely not being executed there.”

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¿De qué hablaron Xiomara Castro y Kamala Harris?

Discutieron la migración, la corrupción y el desarrollo económico

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La vicepresidenta estadounidense, Kamala Harris, con la presidenta hondureña, Xiomara Castro, el 27 de enero durante su reunión en la Casa Presidencial en Tegucigalpa, Honduras. (Foto cortesía de Twitter)

Reportar sin Miedo es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Honduras. Esta nota salió en sitio web el 27 de enero.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — “He estado convocando a directores ejecutivos y empresas estadounidenses que se han comprometido a apoyar a esta región. Su promesa ha alcanzado los 1,200 millones de dólares”, le dijo la vicepresidenta estadounidense Kamala Harris a la mandataria de Honduras, Xiomara Castro, en la reunión oficial que ambas tuvieron hoy en Casa Presidencial luego de la toma de posesión en el Estadio Nacional, según el archivo en poder de la revista estadounidense Washington Blade, socia de Reportar sin Miedo.

Harris llegó a Honduras la madrugada de hoy, resguardada por un gigantesco dispositivo de seguridad que incluyó al menos tres modernos helicópteros. Tras el traspaso de mando, la vicepresidenta se reunió con Castro. Las dos poderosas mujeres platicaron de varios temas que incluyen la migración forzada, la economía, las soluciones para la pandemia y la educación.

“Me gustaría felicitarla públicamente por su elección”, dijo Harris. “En nombre del presidente Biden y el mío, le deseamos un gran éxito. Apreciamos que su elección haya sido democrática, que el pueblo haya hablado. Está claro que tiene usted el apoyo de muchos de los habitantes de este importante y hermoso país”.

La meta: menos migración

En la reunión que tuvo lugar en uno de los salones de Casa Presidencial, Harris mencionó la necesidad de “abordar la prosperidad económica de Honduras”. La funcionaria destacó la importancia de impulsar más la economía hondureña mediante la “creación de empleos y lo que significa en el tema de la migración”.

La migración es un aspecto muy importante para Estados Unidos, ya que más de 309,000 ciudadanos de Honduras han sido arrestados desde septiembre del 2020 hasta octubre del 2021 en su intento de migrar a Estados Unidos, según datos de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza.

Pero para combatir la migración irregular a Estados Unidos es necesario reducir las causas que incluyen el desempleo, la destrucción dejada por los fenómenos naturales, la violencia y, sobre todo, el fantasma de la corrupción que se convirtió en la seña de identidad de los 12 años de gobierno nacionalista de Porfirio Lobo y Juan Orlando Hernández.

“La mayoría de la gente no quiere dejar su casa… los lugares donde rinde culto: su iglesia; su abuela. Y si se van, suele ser porque huyen de algún daño o porque simplemente no pueden satisfacer sus necesidades básicas o las de su familia si se quedan”, reflexionó Harris durante su reunión con la presidenta Castro.

La “cooperación y el trabajo que realizaremos juntos en materia de prosperidad económica serán fundamentales para la migración irregular”, agregó la funcionaria estadounidense.

Duro con los corruptos

Para parar la ola migratoria, Estados Unidos tiene claro que es necesario apoyar la lucha contra la corrupción, que drena los recursos monetarios hondureños y destruye la confianza del pueblo en sus autoridades.

“Hemos hablado de la importancia de la lucha contra la corrupción”, le dijo la vicepresidenta Harris a la mandataria hondureña. “Compartimos una prioridad en torno a hacer lo que podemos hacer como socios para abordar esa cuestión relacionada con la cuestión de la prosperidad económica”.

Para cerrar la productiva plática, Harris explicó que su gobierno reforzará la ayuda en salud para Honduras, especialmente en el combate contra la COVID-19. Para lograrlo, señaló que Estados Unidos ha donado a Honduras 3.9 millones de vacunas contra la enfermedad, pero que entregará en los próximos meses “cientos de miles de dosis más”, además de “medio millón de jeringuillas pediátricas y millones de dólares para mejorar las instalaciones sanitarias y educativas”.

Con la colaboración de Michael K. Lavers, de Washington Blade.

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World

Two arrested for lesbian couple’s murder, dismemberment in Mexico border city

Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez killed earlier this month

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From left: Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez</strong. (Photo via Facebook)

Two people have been arrested in connection with the murder and dismemberment of a lesbian couple in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez.

The Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday announced authorities arrested a 25-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man and charged them with aggravated femicide.

Authorities on Jan. 16 found the dismembered body parts of Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez in plastic bags that had been placed along the Juárez-El Porvenir Highway. The Chihuahua Attorney General’s Office in a press release notes the suspects murdered Ramírez and Medina in a house in Ciudad Juárez’s San Isidro neighborhood on Jan. 15.

Ciudad Juárez, which is located in Mexico’s Chihuahua state, is across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

Members of Comité de la Diversidad Sexual de Chihuahua, a local LGBTQ rights group, and Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos Galván are among those who have expressed outrage over the women’s murders. Activists have also urged local and state authorities to investigate whether the murder was a hate crime based on Ramírez and Medina’s sexual orientation.

Local media reports said nine women — including Ramírez and Medina — were killed in Ciudad Juárez from Jan. 1-15.

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Virginia

Va. Senate subcommittee tables anti-transgender student athlete bill

Virginia Beach Republican introduced SB 766

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transgender, Gender Conference East, trans, transgender flag, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Thursday tabled a bill that would have banned transgender students from joining school sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 766, which state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) introduced on earlier this month, would have required “each elementary or secondary school or a private school that competes in sponsored athletic events against such public schools to designate athletic teams, whether a school athletic team or an intramural team sponsored by such school, based on biological sex as follows: (i) ‘males,’ ‘men,’ or ‘boys’; (ii) ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; or (iii) ‘coed’ or ‘mixed.’”

“SB 766 (trans sports ban) was passed by indefinitely (it died!) after a long line of speakers testified against it, affirming trans students’ rights to participate in sports just like their cisgender peers,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia after the vote. “Trans students belong in sports. Period.”

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin during his campaign said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Democrats still control the Senate by a 21-19 margin.

A bill that would have eliminated the requirement that school districts implement the Virginia Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines died in a Senate subcommittee on Thursday. The Senate General Laws and Technology on Thursday also tabled a religious freedom measure that would have undermined Virginia’s LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law.

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