A police officer confronted a cross-dresser last week in northwest Cameroon, insulted him and then bludgeoned him out of frustration when the man held his tongue.
Bamenda is located in the English-speaking northwest region of Cameroon. (Map courtesy of Economist.com)
Mur (a pseudonym) is a 34-year-old resident of Bamenda in the English-speaking northwest region of Cameroon.
he Mur is a merchant an effeminate air,who lives in a popular area of the city.
At around 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, on his way to a friend’s house, Mur was wearing panties and showing cleavage.
In the middle of the road, he was stopped by a police officer who demanded to see his national identity card, which Mur presented to him. Despite that cooperation, the policeman grew angry and asked Mur why he was dressed like a woman.
Mur did not answer. Aggravated, the policeman asked him if was a faggot. Mur remained silent. The officer slapped him twice, punched him in the face and began beating him with his nightstick.
Mur called for help, but no one came to rescue the local cross-dresser. Blows from the nightstick left him with extensive injuries, including a broken arm, as well as a broken phone.
After the attack, the police officer fled. Mur dragged himself home, where a neighbor found him and escorted him to a health center.He was put into intensive care.
Mur wishes he could file a complaint against the police officer but does not know the man’s name.
In any case, because of the current political crisis in the English–speaking region of Cameroon — strikes, protests, violence and repression — residents of Bamenda do not have access to competent public services.
This account is based on information provided by a defender of children’s rights working for the Denis Miki Foundation in Bamenda.
A wave of politically motivated anti-gay arrests is under way in Senegal.
Senegal’s location in Africa.
The latest LGBT people arrested were two women and two men, detained in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, for “acts against the order of nature.” According to reports, videos portraying the couples having sex had begun circulating in their neighborhood.
“As the elections in Senegal approach, parties are making their stand against the LGBTIQ+ community by arresting members of the community. The Senegalese candidates and government need to be held accountable for their homophobic stance and the human rights violations being perpetrated as a platform for election. We stand in solidarity with our Senegalese comrades.”
This article includes information from ILGA’s LGBulleTIn.
Despite the persistent homophobia and repression of Russian society, the Russian Pride festival QueerFest is under way for the 10th year in a row — this time without violence or other disruptions.
Russian Pride: Part of the celebration of QueerFest 2018 has been the publication of the “Everybody Has a Body” collection of eight personal stories by LGBT people.
QueerFest issued this report:
Russian Pride festival QueerFest celebrates its 10th anniversary
The Russian annual Pride festival QueerFest opened for the 10th time [Sept. 20] at an art space in St. Petersburg’s historic region, Vasilyevskiy Island. Over 200 guests -– members of LGBT* community, civil society, European diplomatic missions in St. Petersburg, and the St. Petersburg ombudsman office -– gathered to reflect on the festival’s path and evolution, remember its challenges and toast achievements. Guests also enjoyed the photo exhibition “Transgender Military” by U.S. photographer Jeff Sheng.
For the third year in a row, the festival opened with no problems: no venue closures, police pressure, fake bomb threats, or attacks by homophobic groups. Instead, the police again demonstrated interest in that the festival proceeds safely.
Ana Anisimova, the festival coordinator, said:
“When we were 5, it felt like we’ve done it all. And now, at the age of 10, the feeling is that we’re just beginning. Only 3 years ago, to “survive” and complete the festival felt like a big success. Today we can concentrate all our efforts on putting together the best, and most interesting program for the audiences, to provide the peaceful and celebratory atmosphere for the communities.”
QueerFest’s efforts to claim the rightful place for LGBT* communities in the cultural and social landscape of St. Petersburg in these 10 years are coming to fruition. From an unknown event, today QueerFest enjoys the support of allies and St. Petersburg media, collaborates with businesses, and brings together artists, and activists from all corners of the world.
Russian Pride: Opening ceremony of QueerFest 2018. (Photo courtesy of QueerFest/Alba Photography)
Head of the St. Petersburg ombudsman’s office, Olga Shtannikova, observed the festival’s path for several years:
“Values and norms are not constant. People themselves change the society, and you do so much in this respect,” were her words of greeting. “I would like to see your efforts become the norm.”
“Everybody Has a Body”
As part of this year’s celebrations, QueerFest published “Everybody Has a Body,” a collection of eight personal stories by LGBT people. QueerFest described it as follows:
Everybody has a body. And almost everybody seems to have some uneasy moments in relationships with it. Our relationships with the body can reflect our interactions with the world around us, perception of own selves, difficult and happy moments of our lives. While we are alive, we are constantly building the relationships with our bodies.
«Everybody has a body» is a collection of 8 personal stories of LGBT+ people. Surely, one publication cannot possibly include experiences relatable to everyone (though it’d be so desirable!). We hope that those stories about different bodily experiences (whether being similar or not to your own) through either agreement or disagreement with oneself would become a reason to get in closer touch with one’s self — in all senses of the word.
Russian Pride: Part of the celebration of QueerFest 2018 is the publication of “My Intersex Story,” a collection of three intersex people’s personal stories.
“My Intersex Story”
QueerFest 2018 also published “My Intersex Story,” a collection of three intersex people’s personal stories. QueerFest writes:
Translated from medical and activist “languages”, intersex is a term used to describe people whose bodies do not fit into the conventional understanding of binary gender differences (‘male’ — ‘female’) because of their genetic traits and/or anatomic features.
Why do we know so little about intersex? Because of the common preposition that there is a ‘norm’ that all bodies should correspond to, the experience of intersex people has been hidden behind a wall of silence. Family secret, personal tragedy — such perception of the intersex identity has been the reason of shame and suffering for some people; in others’ minds, it has infixed the illusion of simplicity and binarity of human bodies and the whole world created by nature. However, it is much more complicated. People, their identities and their experiences are diverse.
Every story in this book is authentic. Every story is someone’s destiny. It represents a long way that an intersex person has gone to perceive and accept their corporeality, to break free from their fear, shame and pain. We are honoured to publish this book, and our team feels great responsibility about it. It is our contribution into people’s education and fight against stigmatization, stereotypes and suppression of various communities’ problems.
This is the program for QueerFest, which runs through Sept. 30:
Trinidad’s High Court has confirmed and clarified its April decision that overturned the Caribbean island nation’s colonial-era anti-sodomy law.
In London in April, Trinidadian/British activist Jason Jones celebrates the victory in his lawsuit to overturn the Trinidad anti-gay law — and pushes for other Commonwealth countries to follow suit. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Sesange)
CAISO: Sex & Gender Justice provided this summary of the Sept. 20 rulings on the Trinidad anti-gay law by High Court Justice Devindra Rampersad in the case filed by British/Trinidadian activist Jason Jones:
Anal intercourse between any two consenting adults, made legal on April 12, remains so.
Sexual intimacy between consenting adults of the same sex, made legal on April 12, remains so.
Young people 16 and 17 can now consent to non-penetrative sex with same-sex partners, in addition to opposite-sex partners.
The Government’s request for the judgment not to take immediate effect was denied.
The Government was ordered to pay Jason Jones’s court costs.
The case has concluded in the High Court. The Government is now able to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
It’s a tough life for transgender people in Guyana, as four feature profiles make clear. Excerpts below are reprinted from articles that previously appeared in the local Guyanan newspaper, the Stabroek News, and in the Caribbean IRN Blog.
Four trans citizens of Guyana (clockwise from upper left): Gulliver (Quincy) McEwan, Alessandra Hereman, Pheches (Joseph) Fraser and Angel Clarke. (Orpheao Griffith photos courtesy of Stabroek News and the Caribbean IRN Blog.
The articles focus on four trans citizens of Guyana:
“Guyana is a very depressing country. It’s a nice and beautiful place but the thinking of the people is bad. Everything is a threat to them. If you’re black, you’re a threat to Indian. If you’re Indian, you’re a threat to black. To make it worse, if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, it is seen as out of the norm”, Fraser says.
Angel Clarke is an independent woman. She has her own home, has her own transportation, and runs a successful catering business – despite the discrimination and challenges that she faces as a transgender person in Guyana. “Homophobia did not hold me back one bit. I don’t care what society has to say, I live my life to please me,” she said.
“The more I researched …, the more I became aware of who I was, and the more I started to identify as transgender. From there, everything else followed: growing my hair, changing my name and coming out as trans to some close friends. … It’s been eight years since I first identified as a trans woman. It has been a liberating yet challenging journey.”
“Everybody came to see this trans person, and when they realised it was just a normal human being, everybody left; because they felt it was this big show, this big performance to be a transgender.” Gulliver (Quincy) McEwan laughed as she remembered the response of an audience. In Guyana, LGBT persons are often perceived as outcasts who exist for public amusement –- a narrative that sections of the local media and theatre continue to push. There’s nothing amusing about Gulliver, she is not larger than life. She simply wants to educate Guyanese on transgender issues.
“We can use sports to build bridges instead of building walls,” says Kelvin Washiko of Kenya. “We can use sports to bring people together.” This is the fourth of four articles about gay athletes from repressive societies who competed last month in the Gay Games in Paris.
Kevin Mwachiro (left) and Kelvin Washiko at the Gay Games in Paris. Washiko wore Maasai-inspired attire for the opening ceremony. (Cyd Zeigler photo courtesy of OutSports.com)
These two gay Kenyan runners hope to bring ‘gay games’ back with them
Kevin Mwachiro was overcome with emotion hours before the Gay Games Opening Ceremony. Walking into the registration hall, he and his fellow Kenyan runner, Kelvin Washiko, came upon a wall created by Paris 2018 organizers that listed the names of every single Gay Games athlete competing in Paris [that] week.
Mwachiro had overcome much to reach the Gay Games. A battle with cancer. Unwelcoming attitudes from the Nairobi government. A sports world in Kenya he never felt he could be a part of.
When he found his name on that wall, along with the other 10,000 Gay Games 2018 competitors, tears welled in his eyes.
“I had now became part of a sporting community,” he said.
For these two men, like so many of the other competitors across Paris …, the Gay Games mean much more than some races and competitions. Certainly, the two men are competing. Mwachiro, who has been running for “as long as I can remember,” is running on the track, in both the 200-meter and 5,000-meter runs. Washiko, newer to running, ran the 10k. …
Yet maybe more importantly, Mwachiro and Washiko are in Paris to meet LGBTQ people from around the world and learn how they can utilize sports to build bridges in Kenya, where sex between two men or two women remains punishable by 14 years in prison.
Gay life in Kenya is already years ahead of other places, like Uganda. The men paint a patchwork picture of gay life in Nairobi. While some in the West may paint all of Africa with the same anti-gay brush, that isn’t the case in Kenya’s capital. There the community is able to host gay-themed parties, and there is even a film festival.
“The gay environment is much more accepting and tolerant,” Washiko said. “But at the same time you find people who are very ignorant, people who don’t understand the law, people who use the law they don’t understand to oppress you in terms of maybe the police will arrest you, maybe a landlord wouldn’t rent you a house because he doesn’t accept gay people. There are evictions. Some people will deny you services because you’re gay.”
Kelvin Washiko (left) models his Maasai-inspired attire while Kevin Mwachiro (right) just smiles at the Gay Games in Paris. (Cyd Zeigler photo courtesy of OutSports.com)
While parties and film festivals are popping up, the government does exercise anti-LGBTQ policies in ways beyond just criminalizing sex. Two LGBTQ-themed Kenyan movies — Rafiki and Stories Of Our Lives — have been outright banned in Kenya in recent years.
Mwachiro, who has been publicly out for about a dozen years, said he has seen positive change in that time.
“I never thought I would see us being able to have film festivals, having parties, get recognition from the health ministry where gay people are recognized in the national AIDS policy,” Mwachiro said. “We get lube. Some countries don’t get lube. We’ve created films, we’ve written books, we’ve had exhibitions, and hopefully we are on the cusp of seeing an old colonial law being thrown out.”
That old colonial law, which criminalizes sex between people of the same sex, has been challenged in federal court. It is one of the bases for the anti-gay rhetoric and practices across Africa. The British Empire brought laws banning same-sex sexual activity — even providing for the death sentence — that remain the law of the land across much of Africa today.
“People were like, hello, these were your laws that we inherited, and you’re having a pride celebration within the comfort of your diplomatic space? That’s not right,” Mwachiro said. “There’s something wrong with that picture. It’s not fair.”
Washiko is a coordinator with Gay Kenya Trust, a human rights, media and religious advocacy group based in Nairobi. They have produced books, they publish a newsletter, they conduct trainings on human rights, and a whole host of other activities.
Richard Ervais, who runs with the San Francisco chapter of FrontRunners, said the organization created a GoFundMe page that quickly raised about $4,000 to cover travel and other costs for the men. Organizers worked with the French government to secure visas for Mwachiro and Washiko, and the two men were able to make the almost two-week trip.
While Mwachiro had lived in England for a time — even working at one point as a BBC correspondent — Washiko had never been outside Africa.
“I’ve never been to an event like this before.” Washiko said, “And I’m so grateful. I’m a little bit overwhelmed. It’s something out of my comfort zone, but I’m happy.”
After being in Paris for over a week, and interacting with LGBTQ athletes from around the world across sports disciplines, both of the men see an opportunity now to utilize the power of sports to the advantage of the Kenyan LGBTI community.
Track practice for Kevin Mwachiro (Photo courtesy of Instagram)
“In Africa we haven’t really used sports to be inclusive, and give the LGBTI community in Kenya the opportunity to express themselves through sport,” Mwachiro said. “I think it’s also a way to get mainstream society on board as well, through competition, through having physical activity together. We are a sporting nation, and this is another opportunity the LGBTI community can capitalize on building bridges in Kenya.”
There is already a gay netball team in Nairobi. While it might have seemed at times like a passing fancy before, now headed home from the Gay Games these two men are increasingly committed to building more opportunities like this in their home country.
“We can use sports to build bridges instead of building walls,” Washiko said. “We can use sports to bring people together.”
Activists have launched a campaign to stop homophobic Nigerian hate preacher Suleman Johnson from spreading his homophobic sermons to Canada.
Apostle Suleman Johnson, anti-gay hate preacher from Nigeria.
The controversial religious leader, who has been involved in several scandals, is the general overseer of Omega Fire Ministries International, a popular Nigerian Christian church with several branches spread across the country. Like many other conservative Christians, especially in Africa, Apostle Johnson he believes that homosexuality is evil and demonic.
He preaches that homophobic message to his congregation.
In one of his recent sermons in Edo State, his proclamations ranged from lies to misunderstandings, including misconceptions about the medical and economic bases for homosexuality. Instead of addressing the Biblical declaration that God’s whole creation is good, he relies on the worn-out claim that God did not create “Adam and Steve.”
He told the Edo State gathering:
“You can’t say you are a homosexual, that that is who you are. That is not who you are. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
“If you are a homosexual, you have four problems.
“Number 1, you have a demon living inside you. A registered demon from hellfire, a demon with capital letters.
“Number 2, you have a medical problem because your thinking is wrong.
“Number 3, economic situation can cause it. There are people that are being paid to be homosexual.
“Number 4, you are a pervert. You have tried the normal style and its not enough. Deal with it and stop forcing your lifestyle on people.”
Human rights activists and groups within and outside Nigeria, have condemned Johnson’s sermon as homophobic hate speech. They are working to bar him from entering Canada to spread more hate through his sermons. He plans to be in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, for a two-day church event on Sept. 18-19.
Here is a link to a Change.org petition “Stop Apostle Johnson from preaching his homophobic sermon in Canada.”
Here is a letter from the Dignity Network of Canada to the nation’s top border-control official, urging him to bar Johnson from the country. The letter states that “In recent sermons in Nigeria, Suleman has preached that homosexuality is the result of having demons from the pit of hell inside of them and that people need to ‘kill the spirit of homosexuality in the name of Jesus.’ ”
“I was so proud to wear the Ugandan flag,” said swimmer and LGBTI rights activist Clare Byarugaba about her attire during the Gay Games in Paris. This is the third of four articles about gay athletes from repressive societies who competed there last month.
Swimmer and LGBTI rights activist Clare Byarugaba (Lucas Barioulet photo courtesy of AFP)
For swimmer Clare Byarugaba, the joy of competing for the first time in the Gay Games could come at a price.
Clare Byarugaba in 2014 (Photo by Joe Kohen courtesy of The Daily Beast)
[Years ago] She was forced to come out as gay in her native Uganda, after a local newspaper named her as lesbian.
“In my hometown, I can’t take the bus, I have to drive everywhere with my car. I am afraid that people will recognise me,” she said.
The LGBTQ activist is elated to be representing her country, but she can’t help of thinking of her return home.
[Publicity about the Gay Games might put her back in the spotlight, which often focused on her when she was a prominent leader of the Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which fought against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014. Later she worked for human rights at Chapter 4 Uganda and the Ugandan chapter of PFLAG.]
“I was so proud to wear the Uganda flag during the opening ceremony at this gay event. But now, I may face more problems when I return home.”
After Byarugaba was involuntarily outed by a Ugandan tabloid “witch hunt” earlier this year, she had to take a week off from work to cope with the personal fallout. “Coming out was supposed to be my journey,” she said. “Unfortunately the media did it for me when I was not ready.” She has seen friends lose their jobs and get assaulted by the police. “A transgender friend, a mob attacked her and undressed her in public,” Byarugaba said. “I know people who have tried to commit suicide. People call me on a daily basis and say, ‘Give me five reasons why I shouldn’t kill myself.’ ”
Acclaimed Nigerian LGBT rights activist Bisi Alimi has made an “unapologetic” declaration to members of the Nigerian LGBT community that he is not fighting for them, but for himself.
The celebrity activist, who over the past years has worked hard to build his brand on the bedrock of being “the first man to come out as gay on national TV in Nigeria,” wrote on his Facebook profile that he doesn’t owe the Nigerian LGBT community anything, and that his activism has been for his own benefit.
It is still unclear why he made the statement or who suggested that he owes them anything. But many members of the Nigerian LGBTI community are outraged about his comments, particularly because Alimi over the years has claimed to be a voice for the Nigerian gay community. He set up the Bisi Alimi Foundation (BAF), a diaspora not-for-profit with an announced mission of “advocating for the equal rights of LGBT people in Nigeria.”
Shortly after his controversial post, he wrote again on Facebook, “In other news, BAF is recruiting in Lagos, please come and work with us.”
That post linked to a notice of an opening for a program director who would receive a “very competitive” salary for leading two BAF training programs in Nigeria, the Media Justice Fellowship program and the Work Place Diversity Training program.
[Critical Nigerian activists say that Alimi refuses to collaborate with other initiatives or contribute to other activists’ work. “He comes to Nigeria with funders’ money, heavily guarded and stays at the best hotels,” one activist said. “He makes a lot of noise and doesn’t really do anything.” Some of this blog’s articles about Alisi’s work are listed below. ]
Members of the Nigerian LGBT community complained that they have been exploited and are aggrieved by Bisi’s comments. Based on his latest words, they believe that Alimi took advantage of their plight and fooled them all into thinking that he actually cared meanwhile his true intentions was to exploit, and quite a number have since come forward to state that they knew all along that the intentions of his so-called activism is purely selfish, but that they never expected that he will just arrogantly throw it in their face.
The thriving online Nigerian LGBT media platform KitoDiaries condemned Alimi’s comments, and reminded him of his place and allegiance to the Nigerian LGBT community from whose struggles he has continued to benefit:
How can you even say you do what you do for you – and call that activism? How can you think you are fighting for yourself – and believe you are fighting for anything?! Because if that’s the case, then you are not fighting for anything, Bisi Alimi.
U.S-based Nigerian LGBT rights activist Edafe Okporo, who spoke to NoStringsNG, condemned Alimi’s comments, calling him a thief and asked him to return all that he has “stolen” from the community in the guise of fighting for them.
“You collect grants on their behalf [the Nigerian LGBT community]. Then you should be arrested and charged for being a thief: a person who steals another person’s property. You should be stripped of all your accolade as an activist. You are not a true leader. I am really in rage, the community has been exploited”
Others have hailed him for his comments, asking gay people in Nigeria to fight for themselves and allow Alimi to enjoy the fruits of his hard labor.