Archive for Homophobia

SPLC: Number of Anti-Muslim Groups ‘Tripled’ in 2011

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by loonwatch

My guess is there are even more anti-Muslim hate groups then reported:

SPLC reports growth of US hate groups

The Southern Poverty Law Center has published the Spring 2012 issue of its Intelligence Report, on “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2011″, which identifies a continued growth in the number of hate groups operating in the United States.

In “The ‘Patriot’ Movement Explodes” Mark Potok states: “The radical right grew explosively in 2011, the third such dramatic expansion in as many years.” Potok writes:

The number of anti-Muslim groups tripled in 2011, jumping from 10 groups in 2010 to 30 last year. That rapid growth in Islamophobia, marked by the vilification of Muslims by opportunistic politicians and anti-Muslim activists, began in August 2010, when controversy over a planned Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan reached a fever pitch. Things got worse later in the year, when Oklahoma residents voted to amend the state constitution to forbid the use of Islamic Shariah law in state courts – a completely unnecessary change, given that the U.S. Constitution rules that out. The overheated atmosphere generated by these events also helped spur a 50% jump in the FBI’s count of anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2010. Then, in March 2011, U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) held hearings on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims that seemed meant to demonize them. At the same time, there was a swelling of truly vicious propaganda like this remarkable Jan. 14, 2011, comment from columnist Debbie Schlussel: “They are animals, yes, but a lower form than the dog, as they won’t learn to change their behavior for a carrot or a reward.”

In connection with anti-gay groups Potok points out:

In another development, most of the religious right groups that started out opposing abortion but moved on to attacking LGBT people have recently begun to adopt anti-Muslim propaganda en masse. The gay-bashing Traditional Values Coalition, for instance, last year redesigned its website to emphasize a new section entitled “Islam vs. the Constitution,” published a report on Shariah law, and joined anti-Shariah conferences.

Gay Africans Flee Persecution

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2011 by loonwatch
Anti-gay sentiment in Africa is creating a new kind of refugee  (Credit: Reuters/James Akena)Anti-gay sentiment in Africa is creating a new kind of refugee (Credit: Reuters/James Akena)

Can you imagine if they were fleeing because of the insidious and all encompassing horror of Sharia’? It would be international news and the Islamophobes would be all over it, their silence on the matter is quite telling. (Hat tip: Daniel Bartholomew)

Gay Africans flee persecution

by NAOMI ABRAHAM

As Uganda revives anti-gay legislation, gays seek haven in other countries

I first met Fred at a prayer service for gay men in an industrial part of Nairobi where even on a Sunday morning, the noise was deafening. The service was part biblical study and part support group. The other men who were worshipping with Fred in the dingy and cavernous room that day were Kenyans, but he was not.

Fred, a lanky Ugandan, became a refugee in December 2009 after he was brutally assaulted by a mob in Kampala for being gay.

Fred, who asked that his last name not be used, bought a one-way ticket to Nairobi days after the assault with the intention of never returning. “It’s OK to kill me,” he said. “People would be happy to see me dead, even some of my family.” I asked what he meant by OK, and he explained that no one would ever have to pay a price for his murder.

Within the last decade, rancorous anti-gay rhetoric has infiltrated public discourse in many African  countries. Just last week, the Ugandan parliament revived a proposal to legalize capital punishment for people who engage in homosexual acts. This is new for Africa. In the past, homosexuality was rarely brought up privately let alone in the public sphere. The new acrimonious tone against homosexuality espoused by politicians and religious leaders has percolated across all strata of African society including the media. It has also given rise to increasing homophobic and transphobic violence, which for a growing number of gay Africans has meant that life in their own countries has become untenable.

Fred’s journey from Uganda to Kenya followed the same logic as that of other Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) African refugees I spoke to. They move to urban centers in neighboring countries not necessarily because these places are any less hostile to homosexuals but for the anonymity that comes with being a newcomer in a densely populated area.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, went on record last May saying that anti-gay hate crimes are increasing around the world and now account for a high percentage of all reported hate crimes.

Homophobia is not necessarily a new attitude for most African societies. Being gay is a crime in 38 of the 54 countries in Africa. Many of these laws have been on the books since colonial times. But it’s a stretch to think, as some have claimed, that homophobia is simply a vestige of colonial times.

However, some pundits believe that the shift to a more sinister form of homophobia in many African countries over the last decade has its root in conservative religious indoctrination. Some reports suggest that U.S. evangelical groups have had a hand in creating the venomous anti-gay attitudes and violence that have swept over the continent and pushed gay Africans out of their countries.

“It wasn’t until the late 1990s that we saw Africans with the help of American conservative religious groups using this issue (homosexuality) as an organizing tool,” said Rev. Kapya Kaoma, an Anglican priest from Zambia who has studied the U.S. evangelical influence on African societies.

Fred, who looks a decade or so younger than his 48 years, said that for most of his life he had guarded his sexuality with the utmost care for fear of social retribution and becoming estranged from loved ones. He lived his life relatively undisturbed until 2009 when the “Kill the Gays” bill, which sought to legalize capital punishment for homosexuality, was first introduced. Fred says it was during this time that he started to fear for his life.

His neighbors began to suspect he was gay and threatened to turn him in to authorities or to kill him themselves. On the night of his near fatal assault, he says, a large group of people from his neighborhood stood outside his bedroom quietly waiting to get the final proof they needed to confirm their suspicions. When they had heard enough, they broke his window and attacked him and his partner.

“People don’t leave their countries on a lark seeking more gay bars,” says Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.  He adds that in places like Uganda it is because of an overwhelming sense of fear for their lives.

Kaoma says Uganda is unique only in that it has gotten more international attention. Other African countries continue to take steps to criminalize homosexuality. This, he says, will increase the flow of LGBT refugees if the international community doesn’t put pressure on these governments.

Also, because some gay African advocates have chosen to become more visible in their fight for equality, anti-gay factions have become more vehement. Some gay rights advocates have been driven  into hiding.

Larry, a leading Kenyan gay rights advocate who now lives in Texas after being granted political asylum, was forced to relocate to Uganda in 2007 after he appeared on Kenyan national television as an openly gay man. “I left for Uganda because I needed to go undercover since there were multiple threats to my life.” He says he chose Uganda because of its proximity to Kenya and because he had friends there.

Neil Grungas, executive director of Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration, a San Francisco-based organization assisting LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, says that while there is no way of knowing exactly how many LGBT African refugees there are, it is a growing problem. “We know that it’s an enormous issue in Africa because the continent has the most concentrated persecution against gay people,” he said in a phone interview.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.S. State Department do not track refugees who are displaced because of their sexual orientation. But even if those numbers existed, Duncan Breen, senior associate at Human Rights First, a D.C.- and New York City-based human rights organization, says the numbers would be grossly inaccurate given how many of these refugees might be afraid to reveal their sexuality.

But those working on refugee issues believe that the flow of LGBT refugees is on the rise. They point to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees issuing guidelines for working with LGBT refugees and providing sensitivity trainings to its field staff. Also this past summer, the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services funded the very first LGBT resource center, at Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, a Chicago-based organization that provides services to immigrants and refugees. Under the grant, the group is to come up with best practices for resettling LGBT refugees in the U.S.

Still, advocates and some U.S. politicians say the U.S. government should do more to expedite the resettlement process for refugees fleeing antigay persecution.  In a February 2010 letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and  Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) urge Clinton to take decisive steps to protect LGBT refugees, who are targets of violence in the countries they have escaped from as well as the ones they’ve escaped to.

Danny Dyson, one of the first African refugees to be resettled in the United States because of the anti-gay persecution he faced in Uganda, went back and forth between Uganda and Kenya before his arrival in San Francisco. “It was a nightmare in Kenya,” he said. “At first I didn’t have any help, and I had to leave the refugee camp I went to because other refugees started harassing me for being gay.”  Dyson finally found help with a U.S. nongovernmental refugee assistance group, which asked that it not be named because they feared recriminations for their work with LGBT refugees.

Dyson and Fred met in Kenya as refugees. Fred awaits a decision from the U.S. government on his application for resettlement. Having heard about Danny’s successful resettlement in America, he asked me, “Is it true there are lots of us there and I don’t have to hide?”

Naomi Abraham is a multimedia journalist in New York City. She reported from Kenya and Uganda as part of a project sponsored by the International Center for Journalists. The Ford Foundation provided funding for this story. More Naomi Abraham

Gov. Rick Perry, Violating Church-State Separation by Supporting Extremist Christians

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by loonwatch

The story below from AlterNet is a must read, I don’t know why it is not being covered more. This is a clear and bold example of a high ranking politician meddling in religion and thereby comprising the separation between Church and State. If that wasn’t bad enough he happens to be propping up one of the most extremist, dominionist organizations and movements in the country, the AFA.

AFA is the same group whose rising star is the repugnant Bryan Fischer. Fischer has made radically hateful comments about Muslims and Gays. In light of the fact that the Islamophobesphere and twitterati are up in arms about the Imam who made homophobic statements, where is the outrage over Gov. Rick Perry? This is an issue that effects us ten times more than some Imam making bigoted remarks.

Interestingly enough I have just found out that Bruce Bawer, (a friend of Robert Spencer’s, who thinks the West is “appeasing Islam”) is now blogging on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish. Just today, under a blog titled “Islamophobia,” Bawer writes somewhat misleadingly that if you object to an Imam who preaches intolerance of gays you will be labeled an “Islamophobe.” How ridiculous is that?

I tweeted back, “Bigotry does not make bigotry OK. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Homophobia does not justify #Islamophobia and vice versa.”

No response yet. However, I noticed that neither Andrew Sullivan or any of his fellow bloggers at the Daily Dish have commented on Gov.Rick Perry’s endorsement of AFA or full frontal assault on the separation of Religion and State.

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Bizarre, Fringe Mass Prayer Rally — What Happened to No Gov Meddling in Religion?

Gov. Rick Perry’s call for a day-long event of prayer and fasting Aug. 6 at a sports stadium in Houston is a dramatic escalation of government meddling in religion.

AlterNet / By Rob Boston

American politicians love to invoke religion, and a generic form of an alleged “one-size-fits-all” piety is so common that scholars have even give it a fancy name: ceremonial deism.

Ceremonial deism is what explains “In God We Trust” on our money, “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance and the tendency of presidents and governors to attend interfaith prayer services whenever there’s a natural disaster.

Despite its short-comings – ceremonial deism doesn’t offer much to non-believers, for example, and many devoutly religious people find it sterile and bland – the practice at least recognizes that religious beliefs come in many forms. Thus, God is appealed to but not Jesus. Prayers are “non-sectarian.”

What’s planned for Texas in August is not ceremonial deism. It’s something else entirely. And it’s a big problem.

Gov. Rick Perry’s call for a day-long event of prayer and fasting Aug. 6 at a sports stadium in Houston is a dramatic escalation of government meddling in religion. Called “The Response,” the event is being coordinated by the American Family Association (AFA), an extreme Religious Right group, as well as other far-right religious groups and figures with controversial theological and political ideas. The rally is exclusively Christian in nature; in fact, it reflects a certain type of Christianity – the fringes of fundamentalism.

What brought this about? Perry’s theological allies claim that America is being punished by God for its wicked ways. They see a national day of repentance as the solution.

On The Response’s website, Perry writes, “Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”

Of course, this could be just a sheer political ploy. Perry has been openly flirting with a presidential run, and this event could be little more than an effort to curry favor with the Religious Right in advance of that.

Regardless, word is spreading quickly among the religio-political right. Potential attendees to The Response are told to bring a Bible and encouraged to fast – although there will be a few food vendors on site for those who can’t or won’t. The groups behind this effort tend to come from the fringes of Christianity that are obsessed with things like prophecy, direct messages from God, faith healing and so on. These charismatic Christians emphasize a highly charged form of worship that stresses emotional outbursts and a theology of judgment. They seem to be convinced that God has it in for America, mainly because we permit legal abortion, tolerate gays and have a secular government.

Many churches in America preach this theology, and Americans are free to attend these houses of worship and hear it whenever they like. But government endorsement of this sectarian message goes too far – and that’s why more and more people are speaking out over Perry’s prayer confab.

Mainline Christian, non-Christian and secularist groups have protested the Perry event – and rightly so. Perry and his supporters don’t try to downplay the proselytizing nature of the event; in fact, they brag about it. They say non-Christians are welcome to attend to hear a message about redemption through Christ.

Perry defended the event, tellingThe New York Times, “It is Christian-centered, yes, but I have invited and welcome people of all faiths to attend.” He also brushed off charges that the AFA is extreme, calling it “a group that promotes faith and strong families, and this event is about bringing Americans together in prayer.”

Read the rest at AlterNet

Ugandan Legislation Calls for Execution of Gays; What if they were Muslim?

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2009 by loonwatch
Martin SsempaMartin Ssempa

A prominent evangelical pastor in Uganda, Martin Ssempa has proposed and received wide backing for a law which would jail homosexuals and murder “flagrant” homosexuals. He has received support for this from the president of Uganda and a large number of politicians. Ssempa, is connected to a number of American Evangelical organizations and politicians. What would happen if it were an Imam or a Muslim country proposing this legislation, you could be sure Spencer and company would be howling to the wind about it, but on this news story we hear not a peep from them.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNirBgffRkM 300 250]

From Advocates to Outlaws

KAMPALA – If Uganda?s recently tabled Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law, Frank Mugisha and other individuals found campaigning for gay rights will face the choice of going to jail or leaving the country.

Mugisha heads Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a leading sexual rights advocacy group that could soon be classed a criminal organization.

“I have never really considered moving out of Uganda. But if I cannot work within the country, then I will have to leave,” said Mugisha.

The bill has baffled legal experts who read it as the product of an over-zealous Evangelical community that is clueless about both Uganda?s constitution and international law.

But for the bill?s proponents, chief among them Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who has repeatedly alleged that there exists an organized, western-backed plot to recruit people into homosexuality, the law is necessary to confront a national emergency.

Homosexuality is spreading, Buturo argues, and if people like Mugisha aren?t stopped they will continue to lure impressionable youths into their sinful lifestyle and thereby threaten the perpetuation of the Ugandan people.

“Who is going to occupy Uganda in 20 years if we all become homosexuals? We know that homosexuals don?t reproduce,” Buturo said last year when announcing plans to table the bill.

In one of its most curious provisions, the draft law calls on Uganda to nullify any international treaty or convention that is inconsistent with the spirit of anti-homosexuality.

“You cannot as a country say we will nullify all the treaties we have ratified in the past,” Sylvia Tamale of Kampala?s Makerere University Law School told AFP.

For Tamale, the bill?s composition reveals an absence of qualified legal input and an unhealthy amount of input from people like Martin Ssempa, a prominent Evangelical pastor and internationally known anti-gay crusader who has confirmed having contributed to the bill.

“It would be political suicide for any Ugandan politician to vote against this. Leaders will have to ask themselves, do I listen to my own people, or … to top down orders coming from New York and the UN,” he added.

Ssempa seems to relish the criticism hurled at him by western rights groups, but he is concerned the proposal will create a fissure within the Evangelical Church.

“The western church is going to find itself increasingly at odds with the African church and find itself in a situation where there is a split like in the Anglican Church,” he said.

Ssempa told AFP he was disappointed by a recent statement by American mega-Pastor Rick Warren, who delivered the convocation at US president Barack Obama?s Inauguration.

Warren did not mention the Anti-Homosexuality Bill specifically, but said he and his wife ended their relationship with Ssempa, “when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own”.

Mugisha is an unlikely candidate to be at the centre of such politically charged debate.

From SMUG?s humble three-room office in a Kampala suburb he explained he never wanted to become a political advocate.

While in university, he volunteered as an undercover health researcher, finding out which clinics could treat certain conditions and where gay men could access the things necessary for safe sex.

He distributed the information on-line and through a small support group he founded.

When SMUG?s leadership learned about his work, they lobbied him to get involved.

At first reluctant, he eventually gave in, and was appointed chairperson of the group in 2007.

He smiled when recounting his earlier health work.

“These young boys, they didn?t know anything about being protected,” he said, half-laughing.

If the new bill had been in place at the time, Mugisha?s attempts to promote safe sex could have qualified as a crime. “Aiding and abetting homosexuality” attracts seven years in prison.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.