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Posts for April, 2012

Liberian Leaflets Call for Vigilante Actions Against Gays

Jim Burroway

April 3rd, 2012

Liberia seems to be following a very familiar pattern. First, Liberia’s former first lady Sen. Jewel Howard Taylor (whose husband is being tried for war crimes in The Hague) introduced legislation making homosexuality a first degree felony, which reportedly could result in imprisonment of from ten years to life, or a death sentence at the discretion of the judge. Now fylers are being distributed in Monroeville, Liberia’s capital, by a group calling itself the Movement against Gays in Liberia (MOGAL), saying that those involved in gay rights “should not be given space to get a gulp of air“:

“Having conducted a comprehensive investigation, we are convinced that the below listed individuals are gays or supporters of the club who don’t mean well for our country,” the fliers read. “Therefore, we have agreed to go after them using all means in life.”

No individual members of MOGAL signed the flier. But Moses Tapleh, a 28-year-old resident of the main community where the flier was distributed, said he was affiliated with the group and stressed that its threats should be taken seriously.

“We will get to them one by one,” Tapleh said. “They want to spoil our country.”

Asked what specific action might be taken against those on the list, he said they could be subjected to “dangerous punishments” including “flogging and death.”

…The flier distributed in Liberia warned that the group would begin taking action shortly. “Let these individuals be aware that we are coming after them soon,” the flier reads. “We urge them to also begin saying their Lord’s prayers.”

Despite President Barack Obama’s announced policy stating that respecing the basic human rights of LGBT people will become a foreign policy focus, the AP reports that the Embassy in Monrovia has kept quiet, and is wary of being seen as “”seeking to impose Western values on more conservative African societies,” according to a spokesman in Washington.

It’s an almsot perfect déjà vu, isn’t it? First you introduce a bill calling for the potential death penalty for gay people, and then you orchestrate a vigilante campaign calling for public action to hunt gay people down and kill them. Liberia appears to be following a well-worn path.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 28

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2012

Liberian House of Representatives To Consider Increased Criminal Penalties for Homosexuality: Monroeville, Liberia. On February 18, Liberia’s former first lady, Senator Jewel Taylor, submitted a bill which would make homosexuality a first degree felony bringing anywhere from ten years to life in prison, or a death sentence at the discretion of the judge. It would also criminalize same-sex marriage. (Warren Throckmorton has the text of the bill here.) It appears that bill is now in committee in the Senate, but reports that a similar bill will be considered today in Liberia’s House of Representatives Last week, the AP reported that Liberia’s president, Nobel Peace Prize Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she will not sign any such bill into law.

Protests Against Russian Anti-Gay Bill: Russian Embassies and Consulates Worldwide. Earlier this month, The St. Petersburg city legislature passed the second of three readings a bill which prohibits “public actions aimed at promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgender minors” and the “uncontrolled dissemination of public information” including “misconceptions about the social equivalence of traditional and nontraditional marriage.” Individuals convicted under the proposed law would be fined 5,000 rubles (US$167) and organizations would be fined 500,000 rubles (US$16,698), a figure which would effectively shut down St. Petersburg’s LGBT organizations which include a prestigious international film festival.

An online campaign against the bill will take to the streets today in protests and flash mobs at Russian embassies and consulates around the world, including Paris, Hamburg, Brussels, Milan, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and New York. The New York protest will take place at the Russian Mission to the UN on 136 East 67th St beginning at 12:30 EST. Organizers say the protests are a “last ditch effort” to stop the bill which is due for a final vote Wednesday.

State Department Reported Firing 91 Homosexuals Over Previous Two Years: 1950. In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Deputy undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy said that the State Department had gotten rid of 202 employees over the past two years who were considered “poor security risks.” One person was fired and the rest were allowed to resign. According to Peurifoy, 91 of those let go were separated because they were suspected of being gay.

Karl-Maria Kertbeny: 1824. Born in Vienna, the family moved to Budapest when he was a child. When he was fourteen, a friend killed himself after being blackmailed by an extortionist for his homosexuality. Kertbeny, who had what he called “an instinctive drive to take issue with every injustice,” took up the cause of writing in support of “the rights of man,” against Prussian and German anti-sodomy laws. Kertbeny proposed what would be called “the medical model” of homosexuality: that it was inborn and not the result of mere wickedness. But to talk about homosexual people, he needed a new word: the very word “homosexual” hadn’t been coined yet. Instead, the words “sodomite” and “pederast” were more commonly used in the German speaking world. In a letter he wrote to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrich in 1868, Kertbeny used the word Homosexualität, which for the first time separated of the object of sexual or romantic desire from the gender role of the subject. This eventually allowed for the discussion of what we now know as butch gay men and lipstick lesbians because then, the idea that a gay man could be masculine was nearly impossible to imagine. The word later appeared in pamphlets and other writings, and made its English-language debut at around 1894 (see May 6), when Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Kertbeny insisted that he was not among the homosexuals he defended, but when he died in Budapest in 1882 at the age of 58, he was still unmarried.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Liberia Senate Takes Up Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2012

The Associated Press is reporting that the Liberian Senate is expected to debate today a bill which would make homosexuality a first-degree felony, which would provide a penalty of between ten years and life in prison, or the death penalty at the discretion of the judge. Liberia’s former first lady, Senator Jewel Taylor, submitted a bill last week that would also criminalize same-sex marriage.  The AP reports that Liberia’s president, Nobel Peace Prize Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she will not sign any such bill into law.

UPDATE: Warren Throckmorton has the text of the proposed bill here. I tried to get to it this morning but his web site was down.

Liberia’s Ex-First Lady Proposes Death Penalty for Gays

Jim Burroway

February 16th, 2012

According to AFP, Liberian Sen. Jewel Howard Taylor has introduced a bill into the West African nation’s Senate making homosexuality a first degree felony, which can bring anywhere from ten years to life, or a death sentence at the discretion of the judge.

AFP reports that this comes in response to a campaign by Liberian LGBT advocates who sought to repeal Liberia’s anti-sodomy law, which currently provides for three years’ imprisonment. In January, the Information Ministry responded, “The Liberian government will not allow the legalisation of gay and lesbian activities in Liberia. The president has vowed not to allow such a bill, and even if the bill goes before the president she will veto it.”

Sen. Taylor’s ex-husband, Charles Taylor, ran an oppressive dictatorship from 1996 to 2003 following a bloody seven year civil war. He finally resigned in 2003 after another brutal civil war left him ruling only about a third of Monrovia, Liberia’s capitol. He is now under arrest and being tried for war crimes in The Hague. Sen. Taylor divorced her husband in 2006, citing his exile and a UN travel ban which prevented her from visiting him.