European Parliament, U.S. legislators denounce anti-gay Nigerian bill
The European Parliament has called on Nigeria’s National Assembly not to pass an extreme anti-gay bill that would outlaw gay marriage, visiting a gay Internet site, public or private gatherings of gay people, and nearly everything else associated with being gay.
But the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association says the parliament’s March 16 move was not strong enough.
“We believe a more targeted resolution on the specific situation of LGBT human rights defenders would have sent a stronger message to Nigeria,” said Executive Director Patricia Prendiville. “We fear that the current outrageous bill outlawing any activities representing and protecting the human rights of LGBT people in Nigeria is not prominently dealt with by the Parliament, and this issue might lose its momentum by being shelved together with other ongoing human rights concerns in Nigeria.”
The bill states, in part: “Publicity, procession and public show of same-sex amorous relationship through the electronic or print media physically, directly, indirectly or otherwise are prohibited in Nigeria. Any person who is involved in the registration of gay clubs, societies and organizations, sustenance, procession or meetings, publicity and public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly in public and in private is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a term of five years imprisonment.”
In Washington on March 20, openly lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and 31 of her colleagues sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to contact the government of Nigeria and voice opposition to the legislation.
“The bill outlaws advocacy organizations or associations supporting the rights of lesbian and gay people, and prohibits public expressions of support for equal rights for gay and lesbian Nigerians,” the House members said. “Not only would lesbian and gay Nigerians be treated as second-class citizens and constantly in fear of arrest and prosecution for simply exercising free speech if this legislation were to pass, but it would also greatly hamper the vital mission of human rights defenders in advocating for basic and equal human rights, as well as Nigeria’s massive battle against HIV/AIDS.”
The legislators also urged the State Department to issue a public statement opposing the bill.
UK House of Lords refuses to block law banning anti-gay discrimination
In a 168-122 vote, the United Kingdom’s House of Lords refused March 21 to block a new law that bans anti-gay discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services.
The legislation takes effect April 30 everywhere but in Northern Ireland, where it already has come into force.
The Roman Catholic Church is upset over the measure and has threatened to close its seven adoption agencies rather than comply and place children with gay couples.
In response, the government granted the church 21 additional months to come into compliance with the law or transfer its knowledge and expertise to the secular sector and shut down its agencies.
English church head Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has said it is “unreasonable, unnecessary and unjust discrimination against Catholics for the government to insist that if they wish to continue to work with local authorities, Catholic adoption agencies must act against the teaching of the church and their own consciences.”
European Parliament intergroup denounces Poland’s anti-gay legislation
The European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights expressed alarm March 22 about government-sponsored legislation in Poland that would ban discussion of gay topics in schools and punish teachers who violate the proposed law with firing and a fine or jail time.
The group said such a law would “ban LGBT people from working in education and flagrantly violate the principles of non-discrimination enshrined in Article 13 of the Treaty on European Union and would also go against the [EU’s] Employment Framework Directive.”
Intergroup President Michael Cashman, a Parliament member representing Britain, said the group will push for European Commission “infringement proceedings” against Poland for “continually and repeatedly adopting decisions and considering actions which blatantly contravene existing EU laws.”
Polish Deputy Minister of Education Miroslaw Orzechowski said March 15 that under the proposal, teachers who come out at work or otherwise promote homosexuality “or other sexual deviance” will be fired and fined or jailed.
“These kinds of people cannot work with children,” he told local radio. “These activities need to be acted upon before it’s too late to make a difference.”
The measure also targets principals, who would be fired if they allow members of gay organizations to speak to students, the Polish Press Agency said.
According to the German news service Deutsche Presse-Agentur, the legislation is the handiwork of Roman Giertych, who serves as both minister of education and deputy prime minister.
At a recent meeting in Germany, Giertych told fellow European education ministers that “homosexual propaganda must be limited so children will have the correct view of the family. If we will not use all our power to strengthen the family, then as a continent there is no future for us. We will be a continent settled by representatives of the Islamic world who care for the family.”
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has called gays “perverse” and his twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, has warned that if homosexuality “were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear.”
Jamaican newspaper article claims island has large number of gay police
There are a “large number” of gay cops in Jamaica, the Jamaica Observer reported March 18.
One policeman told the paper homosexuality is “rampant” in the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Inspector Gladys Brown-Campbell, a spokeswoman with the police legal affairs division, acknowledged: “We have quite a large number of them in the force but they are not openly acknowledged. They are still in the closet.
“Those who we know are treated with a great level of respect as they themselves are respectful, refined and intelligent,” she added. “Their level of intelligence far outshines persons considered to be normal. The force has quite a number of them, men and women.”
Gay sex is illegal in Jamaica and Superintendent Norman Heywood, chairman of the Police Officers Association, told the paper “the rule of law would be enforced if the offense of buggery was committed by any police officer.”
But other cops told the paper that sexually active gay and lesbian cops are usually simply transferred to a certain division, which they declined to name.
In the Philippines, meanwhile, National Police spokesman Samuel Pagdilao issued a warning to gay cops March 21 that they must not exhibit sexually suggestive behavior while on duty, such as swaying their hips.
He told DZXL radio that hip-swaying or other lustful misbehavior is grounds for firing.
Editorial assistance by Bill Kelley
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 30, 2007