Monday, September 12, 2011

12/09 Elton John tells world leaders: stop anti-gay discrimination

By Oliver Wright, Whitehall Editor
Monday, 12 September 2011
Elton John will attend the official launch of Kaleidoscope, which aims to get 19th-century British colonial anti-gay laws revoked in the Commonwealth and beyond
Elton John will attend the official launch of Kaleidoscope, which aims to get 19th-century British colonial anti-gay laws revoked in the Commonwealth and beyond
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The leaders of all three main political parties in Britain are to throw their support behind a new international gay-rights group trying to combat homophobic discrimination in the Commonwealth.
Top UK music stars Elton John and George Michael have been invited to attend the official launch in the House of Commons of Kaleidoscope, which aims to get 19th-century British colonial anti-gay laws revoked in the Commonwealth and beyond, using business and political pressure.
It comes after campaigners grew increasingly concerned at how homosexual persecution is being actively encouraged by some Commonwealth states – particularly in Africa.
In January, a Ugandan gay rights campaigner was beaten to death after being "outed" by a local newspaper which published photographs of people that it said were gay with the headline: "Hang them."
Lesbians in South Africa have been murdered and subjected to violent attacks, including so-called "corrective rapes", while activists in Kenya and Ghana have also been targeted.
Currently, 38 of the 54 members of the Commonwealth criminalise homosexuality. Penalties include 25 years imprisonment in Trinidad and Tobago and 20 years plus flogging in Malaysia. Several countries, including Sierra Leone, Pakistan Tanzania and Bangladesh impose life imprisonment.
Kaleidoscope says while many countries have national gay rights organisations there is no overall international body which can coordinate action.
London has become the base for the new organisation, partly due to the Commonwealth link, but also because it is an international business hub.
The group wants large multi-nationals to pressure regimes to change laws, particularly in more developed Commonwealth countries like Singapore where homosexuality is illegal.
Nearly all the Commonwealth's anti-gay laws are a colonial legacy. They were introduced by Britain in the nineteenth century and never repealed when colonies won independence. Bisi Alimi, who became the first Nigerian to come out on national TV, is one of Kaleidoscope's founding members.
Yesterday he said: "As a result of coming out I was attacked, tied up and beaten in my own home in Lagos. For the first time in my life I not only saw a gun but I felt it right against my head. I was forced to leave my country.
"My dream is that others like me will be free to stay and be happy surrounded by the love of their friends and families."
Kaeleidoscope is supported by Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, as well as by Labour leader Ed Miliband. Mr Cameron said: "In some countries, it's simply appalling how people can be treated – how their rights are trampled on and the prejudices, and even violence, they suffer. I want Britain to be a global beacon for reform."
Mr Miliband said: "I am proud to offer my support to Kaleidoscope to protect people from prejudice and persecution across the world."
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has agreed to become Kaleidoscope's honorary president
Veteran broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who has donated money to the charity, said: "It is time for those of us who enjoy our rights in the UK to support movements for dignity and decency wherever they are located."
Although not illegal, numerous cases have been brought against homosexuals in recent years. In 2004 a 27-year-old student was imprisoned for 17 years including 2 years hard labour for posting a personal profile on a gay dating site.
The law states that any man performing anal sex is liable for a fine or imprisonment of up to a year. In 2006 a law was passed making it illegal for two people of the same sex to hold hands, hug, or kiss.
Homosexuality remains illegal between males under the country's Penal Code, punishable by up to two years in prison.
Thejudicial systemis based on the Shari'a and rules that same-sex sexuality activity is illegal and punishable by capital punishment. For homosexual men, lashes are given for the first offence, with the death penalty following the third offence.
Despite making homosexuality legal in 1994, households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

  • So anti-gay hate in Africa and Caribbean countries is all Britain faults? I suppose they were all 'pro-gay' utopias before the British arrived?

    As for Pakistan etc I think we know the position of mainstream Islam on homosexuality....not much to do with Britain.
  • UpLabour 1 day ago
    I wish he would just stick to singing!
  • Interesting that the Indie chooses to spew bile predominately at the Brown races of the Earth eh, and dragging the Belarus folk through the mud too? The very worst form of cultural Imperialism is to hide your racial superiority behind a veil of "equality". I assume as the debaye moves along and the Editor becomes more certain of the validity of his righteous hatred, you'll soon be labelling Africans as savages, and Slavs as untermenshen in the Indie, in what will feel like a wink of an eye...... liberal-fascism...... hate those who disagree with you ..... perhaps a call from the comment section soon for "re-education" Gulags for those of us who disagree ..... or just disposal .... Hitler would be proud.
  • Well, I thought it was more about human rights and highlighting the murderous behaviour of some countries.
    Is that so wrong?
  • Government time would be better spent concentrating on the economic system of this nation than wasting their time on social engineering, as this has up until now, worked very badly (as Elton John and his pals in the entertainment "industry" would know if they ever left their self centred, self indulgent, amoral little world).
  • How has promoting social equality worked badly?

    And what's amoral about the entertainment industry that can't be found in the financial industry?
  • Guest 1 day ago
    Comment removed.
  • OOO....cheeky!!
  • Alastair_93 1 day ago
    Good on Elton John for speaking out against homophobia. But part of me wonders whether they should elect a more diverse range of gay figureheads to speak out against bigotry.

    Picking Elton John and George Michael reinforces the false image of gay men as nothing more than camp, flamboyant entertainers. Why aren't the gay MPs, scientists, authors and doctors speaking out? Or perhaps more accurately, why aren't they given more press coverage?

    It's important for people not to become complacent about worldwide persecution of gays, since poverty and tough times are giving rise to far-right, lunatic political movements.
  • Yeah! Me! I could that....I am not flamboyant, I don't care about fashion and I don't conform to those stereotypes. I'm just not gay enough sometimes...(Although I am 100% gay )
    I'll do it for £40 K plus expenses. I need a career change......
  • davidt37 1 day ago
    For me, British people should create laws for the UK and people of other countries should create laws for their country. I don't see the need to interfere.
  • When it comes to people being murdered and violently attacked because they are Gay then no country should have the right to do that surely?
  • I apparently have a radical approach to people I meet. I just like people who are friendly and thoughtful, regardless of color, or sexual orientation, and try to respond to them the  same way. If they're gay, so what? Incidentally Elton John will be appearing in Las Vegas in 2012, and will be welcomed here.
  • That indeed is radical....You and me are the future.......
  • Davross 1 day ago
    "Anti Gay Discrimination". Isn't that discrimination against pepole who are opposed to homsoexuality?
  • The British empire is dead..Why should there be a commonwealth with the 'Queen!' as its head? ceremonial or not!
  • It's the Commonwealth of Nations. Perhaps that will put you out of some of your anti-monarchist misery.  It contains 54 sovereign states, including states not connected at any time to the former Empire, and membership is voluntary.

    There are several other Commonwealths throughout the world, including four American states that carry that appellation. Why aren't you whingeing about them?
  • Because it is the 'commonwealth of the british' which concerns me as i am a 'native' to one of their erstwhile 'colonies' and I see that they want to come back and forcefully revoke laws in my country which they had forcefully imposed when they came around announcing that they happen to be the only 'civilized' people of this world.
  • I've already explained there is no such entity as the 'commonwealth of the british'. It would help to know which country you are taking about.  I assume this is the Caribbean one (please forgive my memory loss) which is so out of control that talks are in progress to retake control until we can re-establish democracy.

    If you want to be 'civilised' about this then it would help if you avoided untrue and inflammatory comments such as insisting that we announced we were the only civilised people of the world.  I cannot imagine such a thing occurred and actually neither can you, since you were not there at the time.

    It seems you have joined Disqus especially to comment on this matter, since you are hijacking another topic to make your assertions. Why, I wonder?
  • "Top UK music stars Elton John and George Michael have been invited to attend the official launch in the House of Commons of Kaleidoscope, which aims to get 19th-century British colonial anti-gay laws revoked in the Commonwealth and beyond, using business and political pressure". Even if I admit that there is nothing like the 'commonwealth of the british' it is quite clear which group of nations Indy is refering to. History, you should accept, is written by the winner...hence you may not have heard it in your country but the general view in the 'colonies' is eactly as I said i.e 'civilise them'. Also, let it be quite clear that I've not hijacked this topic as it is totally relevant. It is simple...why should the commonwealth route be used for a topic as controversial as this?? It will surely meet a lot of criticism in the erstwhile colonies. Britain has not used the commonwealth to do anything else of a positive nature in the erstwhile colonies...why this?
  • Stop being so evasive and answer the question I put to you. You have a real chip on your shoulder, far more than ayone else I've known from former 'colonies'.
  • I_See_Dead_Truth 2 days ago
    I'm straight, yet I am discriminated against by people, I also discriminate when it comes to choosing my friends...funny thing is though that I don't feel the need nor desire to shout to the world that I much prefer to have "intimate relations" with women.  I think that if I did go about announcing to everyone and anyone "I prefer to have intimate relations with women", they would either regard me as looney, odd, extremely offensive, insecure, overly self-conscious with an over-active ego for thinking that they would even care. 

    There is a word that describes a true lady/gentleman, "discretion".  If you "kiss n tell" regardless of who you choose then really, you should be prepared for the fact that someone, somewhere, sometime in the world may not quite like you.  If you feel there is anti-gay discrimination out there that you find offensive, think about how the anti-anti-gay discrimination supporters would feel, doubtless just as offended.  People won't change their minds and surrender their personal opinions simply because some law changes to make it illegal for someone to have a certain opinion, it would be undemocratic and dictatorial.  Just try and live with the fact that not every man, woman and child will not like you whether gay, straight or anything else, thats life as a grown-up.  But from what I have seen and heard of Mr John, he is far from one of the more pleasantly behaved people alive.

    I won't like nor hate anyone more or less for who they choose to loudly announce as their partner...the key is in their discretion, manners, interests, style...etc etc etc
  • Don't be so pathetic. No-one beats you up, threatens you with imprisonment or capital punishment just because you happen to like women. Anyone would get the impression you are defending homophobia.
  • sorry but not a good arguement. gay people are not asking straight people to like them when the fight for the gay rights...they doing it so they are equal. equal at work, equal by the law, so they are not bullied in school to point some kids commit suicide and in some countries so they dont get stoned to death for being openly gay.

    is the key still in their discretion, manners, interests, style...etc etc etc?
  • The difference here is that being straight is not illegal anywhere in the world and religious groups do not preach against sex between men and women.
    Some people like me, some don't , but some people don't like me just because I exist ( because I am Gay )
    I'll stop going on about it when religious groups,politicians etc stay out of my business and stop preaching hatred.
  • You don't seem to understand the gravity of the situation. In these countries, homosexuality is illegal and can be punished by imprisonment. In Uganda, there is still a movement to push for execution of homosexuals.

    You make it sound like gay people simply won't be invited for a Sunday roast with the neighbours if they make their homosexuality too obvious. Sorry, but it's a bit more serious than that. We're talking about active murder of people for having relationships with the same sex. It's both chilling and disgusting -- and goes beyond trivial concerns with being a gentleman or lady.

    Try going to Uganda and telling people you're a gay man. If you make it out alive, *then* you can come back to the UK and lecture about gays being 'pleasantly behaved'.
  • 1) Heterosexuality is legal in 100% of countries. As a man, you will be shunned, insulted, beaten up and murdered precisely nowhere in the world for sleeping with women. This means you have straight privilege, which means that you have certain freedoms that LGBTQI people do not have, which means you cannot use your own experience as a yardstick when discussing the experience of gay people.

    2) I find discretion regarding sex to be tiresome and prudish. I wish people of all sexual orientations would be more open and honest about their sexuality. The discomfort felt in Western culture towards sex is a relic of our ascetic Christian past and the more people are able to overcome it the better.
  • Well, it still depends on the manner of the straight sex you have. Adultery and fornication are punishable variously accross the Middle Eastern world by corporal and capital punishment, which are surely also just as bad. I know adultery is more debateable but it certainly doesn't deserve the death penalty.

    With regard to your second point, I disagree because there will always be disagreements about what people find tasteful and distasteful about sex, regardless of their background. Best thing is for everyone to keep their sex lives private. We should not shy away from talking about things which relate to sexual health but this shuld be on a purely factual basis. Now, when someone starts talking about what they did with their girlfriend (or sheep) the other day, please keep that to yourself, thanks.
  • I would love to keep my private life private, but as long as religion and politics keeps making it a big deal then I have no choice but to defend myself and speak out.

    PS, Why do some people end up mentioning bestiality when they talk about homosexuality? Are they trying to tell us something?
  • But this isn't about privacy to do as you wish,  is it? it's about State enforced sanction of certain white, liberal cultural norms and values at the expense of racial, social and philosophical/ moral diversity of opinion.
    I'd be far more disturbed by the long stated support for lowering the age of consent far below sixteen by a number of Homosexual activists than spurious and unfounded tales of their involvement in bestiality.

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