Lesbian and Gay Rights in the World—Geography of Bigotry and Oppression

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This amazing map, developed by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Organization, portrays, as of May 2012, the status of critical LGBT protections and persecutions world wide. We hope all people interested in international issues will examine it and understand where progress is being made and where horrible persecution and enforced neglect endure.

It is encouraging to see signs of great progress in areas of South America and most of Western Europe, where a modicum of equality is emerging, in spite of entrenched religious opposition by atheistic religionists deeply embedded in the pastoral hierarchies of these societies.

It is painful to see how pervasive persecution and ignorance continue unopposed and unabated throughout Asia, Africa, and North and Central America, omitting only Canada. This horror persists and advances in such economically advanced nations as the United States, Russia, and China.

At the same time, the atheist leadership of the false religions of fundamentalism—regardless of the mythological origins of their beliefs—have made it their worldwide business to oppose education, and anything else which would broaden people’s perspectives on the realities of living in a modernizing society.

Nowhere is this atheistic negation of the most basic tenets of the faith they claim to espouse more apparent than in the United States, where the bigoted leadership of christianist cults, who know nothing of the “Christ” they claim to extol, expend vast sums to export their hatred to the third world in hope of colonializing the minds of uninformed citizens while quietly seizing financial control of undeveloped natural resources for personal advantage.

There are seated U.S. Congressmen that hold allegiance to their egocentric interpretation of “god’s law” as supreme. They respect neither teachings of great world religions, nor the U.S. Constitution, which they once swore to uphold. Their behavior hovers on the border of treason. They encourage bizarre religious hysteria in client country populations, while personally profiting from abuse of their government position to influence U.S. Foreign Aid, taken from your tax dollars, into back-end income from third world development projects and exploitation of those countries’ rich natural resources.

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of position papers Dan Massey and I are creating and will soon index on our home page. They briefly explore the evolution of our points of view about a range of issues related to sex, gender, and racial freedom. Your feedback is always welcome.

Bill Gates gives $750 million to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

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News of Note: Gates Foundation gives $750 million to Global Fund

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $750 million Thursday to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to help assure that the organization can keep supplying AIDS drugs while it seeks to adjust to the economic downturn.

The Global Fund, which has disbursed $15.1 billion to low-income countries over the past decade, said in November that it would not award any new grants until 2014. Nearly all of the fund’s money comes from governments in the industrialized world, many of which were unwilling to increase their donations or, in a few cases, fulfill previous pledges.

The fear has been that some AIDS programs in Africa might run out of money, forcing patients to stop taking the antiretroviral drugs that are keeping them alive. While such dire events were never likely, they are even less likely now.

Seven hundred and fifty million dollars? That is a profound amount of money, thank you Bill Gates! Now I’m curious how much of this money will make it into the right hands as well as how much will contribute to finding a cure for HIV. The Global Fund has raised nearly 30 billion in pledges from developed nations since 2002. That is a tremendous amount of money floating around, and a significant portion of that is being spent on treatment. I just hope that no one involved in the distribution of this wealth sees treating HIV/AIDS as more profitable than finding a cure. Never the less, I applaud anyone who donates $750 million to relieve human suffering.

Creative Commons Image: Source

Chocolate’s Child Slaves

News of Note: Chocolate’s Child Slaves

Everyone loves chocolate. But for thousands of people, chocolate is the reason for their enslavement.

The chocolate bar you snack on likely starts at a plant in a West African cocoa plantation, and often the people who harvest it are children. Many are slaves to a system that produces something almost all of us consume and enjoy.

The CNN Freedom Project sent correspondent David McKenzie into the heart of the Ivory Coast – the world’s largest cocoa producer – to investigate what’s happening to children working in the fields.

His work has resulted in a shocking, eye-opening documentary showing that despite all the promises the global chocolate industry made a decade ago, much of the trade remains unchanged. There are still child slaves harvesting cocoa, even though some have never even tasted chocolate and some don’t even know what the word “chocolate” means.

Slavery still exists in our modern world. It is easy for most people in developed countries to live oblivious lives without ever hearing of these atrocities going on across the world. We all know that slavery is not okay; it is the fundamental denial of ones humanity. At the very least, we can be educated consumers that do not fuel these inhumane practices.

Wartime Sexual Abuse — of Men and Boys

“Everybody has heard the women’s stories. But nobody has heard the men’s,” says Stewart M. Patrick, a senior fellow at the DC-based, non-partisan think tank The Council on Foreign Relations, writing for The Internationalist. His recent report was widely circulated this summer on the startling 22% of males and 30% of females who have been sexually assaulted as a terror tactic and weapon of war used throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Lisa F. Jackson’s award-winning documentary,  The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, likewise offers disturbing data on this nascent crisis. The film won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2008 and subsequently inspired a UN resolution condemning rape as a weapon of war.

Rape is always a crime of opportunity wherein the victim is not targeted based on appearance, gender, or behavior but because he or she is simply available. War only enlarges and magnifies the politics of this violence.

The male rape epidemic has affected men in Bosnia, El Salvador, and many other war-torn nations, and in the androcentric world, focused on men, the image of a weak man has not been sympathetic.

How will this male-on-male rape be incorporated in and be fairly addressed by the United Nations, the individual state, and/or Non-Governmental Organizations? Patrick addresses this question and encourages you to take progressive action for these victims.


 Adrianna Midbama contributed to this post. The full article appears below.

Stewart M. Patrick’s, “Stopping Wartime Sexual Abuse – of Men

Today, I would like to draw your attention to a disturbing phenomenon ignored by the foreign policy community but all too common in global conflict zones: The pervasive sexual abuse of men in war.

Women, of course, bear the main brunt of wartime sexual violence—as they always have. Last December, my CFR colleague Mark Lagon hosted a sobering meeting with the eminent legal scholar and activist Catharine MacKinnon. Now the special gender adviser to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Mackinnon in 2000 argued the path-breaking legal case Kadic vs. Karadzic — about mass Serbian rape of Bosnian women — which for the first time established mass rape as an act of genocide. Over the past two decades, international attention to rape as a weapon of war has been growing. Documentary filmmakers have often been in the forefront. In 2006 Lisa F. Jackson traveled to DRC to interview thousands of rape victims, and their perpetrators. Her resulting film, The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2008 and subsequently inspired a UN resolution-condemning rape as a weapon of war. Several of my CFR colleagues — including Laurie Garrett, Isobel Coleman, and Matthew Waxman — have spoken and written eloquently on the scope of such atrocities and the need to hold perpetrators accountable.

At the same time, as the Guardian reported on Sunday, the United Nations (UN) and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) “barely acknowledge” the pervasive sexual violence against men that occurs in modern war.

The article documents the terrible suffering of a Congolese refugee who was captured by rebels and raped multiple times per day, and watched countless other men be similarly brutalized. 22% of men in Eastern Congo reported being victims of sexual violence, compared to 30% of women. One victim reported the crime to police, and was laughed at. A doctor in whom he confided merely gave him Panadol (a local equivalent of Tylenol). He described:

Everybody has heard the women’s stories. But nobody has heard the men’s.”

The violence, and the disregard, is global. 80% of Bosnian males imprisoned in concentration camps and 76% of El Salvadoran male political prisoners report sexual abuse. Yet, of roughly 4,000 NGOs addressing wartime sexual violence, only 3% mentioned male victims (and usually only in passing).

Read: U.S. trade policy; is America AWOL?

International institutions are also falling short. They should be lauded for attempting to address mass violence against women during wartime, but the protection and outreach must be extended to all victims.

The Guardian quoted one refugee who sought help from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and was told “‘we have a programme for vulnerable women, but not men.’” Margot Wallström, the UN special representative of the secretary-general for sexual violence in conflict counters that UNHCR does assist both men and women, but that women are “overwhelmingly” the victims. Emerging studies, however, suggest sexual violence against men is more widespread than commonly acknowledged.

Part of the difficulty stems from the fact that some countries do not criminalize sexual abuse of men, as this report (PDF) by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs documents. International humanitarian law criminalized rape in the twentieth century, but “prosecution was nonexistent” during the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and its Rwandan counterpart (ICTR) included rape in the category of crimes against humanity, war crime, and genocide, but abuse against women earned harsher punishment than abuse against men.

However, Lara Stemple of the University of California’s Health and Human Rights Law project also notes that:

“There are dozens of references to “violence against women” — defined to include sexual violence — in United Nations human rights resolutions, treaties and agreements, but most don’t mention sexual violence against men.”

The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000 treats wartime sexual violence as something that only impacts on women and girls… Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced $44m to implement this resolution.”

“Because of its entirely exclusive focus on female victims, it seems unlikely that any of these new funds will reach the thousands of men and boys who suffer from this kind of abuse. Ignoring male rape not only neglects men, it also harms women by reinforcing a viewpoint that equates ‘female’ with ‘victim’, thus hampering our ability to see women as strong and empowered. In the same way, silence about male victims reinforces unhealthy expectations about men and their supposed invulnerability.”

I recognize that this is not an easy subject for men, in particular, to acknowledge. But we all need to shine the spotlight on such suffering to underscore that sexual abuse, no matter the gender of the victim, is abhorrent—and that perpetrators must be held to account. And the world needs to provide legal resources and psychological support to men who demonstrate the courage to come forward in reporting such crimes, despite the social stigma so often attached to their plight.

Human trafficking

A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together. — Margaret Atwood

Back in 2009 while in Uganda, I found myself involved in a scam that fell neatly in the stereotype that Nigeria is the NO.1 source of scammers. I am not sure about that but I was conned by a South African-Nigerian. His name was Nick Oppenheimer, a supposed COO of a family business in South Africa.

He promised to offer me a job. He told me that it would be easier to start with owning shares in the company and because I was poor, he offered to buy shares for me, which he “did” through this address:  Barnard Jacobs & Mellet Holdings Ltd,  24 Fricker Rd, Illovo, Johannesburg  2196 .

Apparently, huge amounts were paid for stock in my name and I started receiving trade alerts of this nature Mr. MOSES MWOREKO KUSHABA,  Petrosa shares of 4400 units have been credited to your A/C registered with us.  Barn Mell Ltd.

I was then asked to send some money to my  account through an Inter-Bank transfer in Lagos, Nigeria, after which, my employment letter would be sent to me by Mr. John Cray.

I was so excited and borrowed $100 to send to Lagos, and subsequently I received the employment letter. Then I was asked to send more money.

Nicky, my supposed boss to be, was on a tour of the company’s business in Nigeria. He told me he would pass through Uganda to take me to South Africa.

While in Nigeria, I talked to “him” on phone and he started telling me to send more money. At this point, I began to investigate the company.

I sent an inquiry to the actual organization about my accounts status, and quickly learned this was a scam. During that same time, there were many employment agencies that were recruiting people for jobs in UAE, and in talking to my friends, we remembered this. This ended my search for employment in those companies.

Human trafficking is real. Desperate situations put people in compromised situations leading to suffering, like Masud’s story. Many end up as domestic slaves or indentured sex workers.

Masud was 12. His parents were persuaded, tricked, to let him be taken from his home in Bangladesh to a new life in England. He was sold, “Trafficked.”

He left his home with an unknown man who travelled with him to London then onto the southwest where he was abandoned in an Indian restaurant. To survive he worked in the restaurant, lived in one of its small store rooms, sleeping next to jars of chutney and bags of onions. Sometimes when there was no work he was forced to sleep on the streets. He was not able to go to school and his life was controlled by the restaurant owners.

When he was 28, with the help of STOP THE TRAFFIK, he contacted the local police and immigration team who helped him to obtain a passport and identity documents, resulting in him being able to return to Bangladesh.

Stories like Masud’s are happening all the time, making people trafficking the world’s fastest growing illegal trade.

Let’s take a moment and look at the statistics from UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.

1.4 million – 56% – are in Asia and the Pacific

250,000 – 10% – are in Latin America and the Caribbean

230,000 – 9.2% – are in the Middle East and North Africa

130,000 – 5.2% – are in sub-Saharan countries. An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking.

270,000 – 10.8% – are in industrialised countries

200,000 – 8%- are in countries in transition

Sexual Trafficking – The Facts – VIDEO

These helpless people need a voice. There are many operators just like “Nicky” out there who need to be exposed and dealt with to avoid more stories like Masud’s.

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2011 provides a detailed account on this issue.

What do you think of when you hear the term “human trafficking?” Do you know someone who is in your country as a result of it? Tell us your ideas for solving this most horrid aspect the the global culture of sexual violence?


Image by Steve Weaver, used under a Creative Commons Attribution License.
Image Description; An exhibition set up in Trafalgar square from September 22nd to the 30th 2007 by the Helen Bamber organization to highlight and lobby the government to the shocking trade of sex trafficking and enslavement happening on our doorsteps. To find out more and to sign a petition go here.

We are our pride – Kushaba Moses Mworeko

It was June 5, 1981, when the first cases of HIV were reported (

Yes, in the USA, this was referred to as a gay disease and to some people it still is. But to a person like me who comes from a place where the disease was and is heavily among heterosexuals, I have to disagree.

As years have gone by, education and awareness campaigns and research on this disease have helped to dispel the myths. It has taken years for Africans to understand that a witch doctor’s diagnosis and prescription of expensive sacrifices for this disease were not only hurting the patient but the whole family, culture, and tribe. On this other side of the world, in North America, where technology flourishes, people have come to understand that HIV/AIDS is a non-discriminatory disease and is not a curse deserved by sexual minorities because of alleged deviant behavior.

While attending an HIV/AIDS conference in South Padre, Texas, two years ago, I shared the impact of this disease on me, and practically everyone on this planet. Everybody has either been infected, knows someone who is, or been affected in one way or the other. Some may argue there has been no personal effect on them personally, but consider that by just going school and hearing about or being taught something about HIV/AIDS, or just listening the nightly news makes an impact on each person’s attitude.

Now that we are no longer pointing fingers at each other, whether straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, young, old, educated, uneducated, upper-class, peasants, white or people, what do we know and what don’t we know still about this disease? How do we feel about ourselves now? Yes, progress has been made in our knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and advancements in technology, research, and medicine, is that all? Are we done?

Definitely NO, people are still getting it and dying, so what are we missing here?

Yes, there must be something missing because in spite of advancements in treatment there has been a RELAPSE. People need to wake up and look at this disease afresh, fear it as if were back in the 80s. Take precautions and use preventative measures at all time. Take medication as prescribed. And, TALK about it.

Last week on Thursday, June 2, 2011, I watched a documentary Messengers of Hope about a gospel choir from Oakland, California, that engages African American churches in conversation about HIV and AIDS. This whole concept of this documentary is a new strong voice about the importance of speaking out, especially in religious organizations where finger pointing remains common. The film goes a step further in urging pride in who we are, one of the choir members saying, “This is what HIV looks like; strong people, people of faith, black people.”

One thing I have noticed after coming to America is that people have taken for granted the privileges and rights that come with being an American. I am talking about the freedom, the liberty, the equality, the power . . . all this is taken for granted.

I was reading Ida B. Well’s (1862-1931) autobiography, Crusade for Justice (University of Chicago Press 1970) and came across this statement, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Ms. Wells argues that although the United States does have some ‘wonderful institutions’ to protect our liberty, we have grown complacent and need to be ‘alert as the watchman on the wall.’” I totally agree with her because it is still so relevant today, not just regarding the end of slavery, but all human rights.

Last weekend was Black Pride, and this weekend is Capital Pride in Washington, D.C. We must ask ourselves hat are we proud of?

Pride can be one of the times throughout each year we remind ourselves of our rights, human rights that we are born with, not man-made. We should embrace them and ponder what we have and what we have been denied.

Pride reminds me of the unforgettable occurrence of the pneumonia that was found in these gay men 30 years ago. It reminds me of the resistance that people have put on fighting this terrible disease.

It’s time to show the world that LGBT people are great people, with great potential. If gay men exit the church . . . there wouldn’t be any services. If we decided not to pay tax the states would file for bankruptcy. If we didn’t enlist, there would be shortages in the military. We are everywhere . . . we are not silent and never will be.

With Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” mantle still echoing in our ears, we say too,” The only thing I’m addicted to right now is winning.” Recently it seems like everyone is addicted to winning.

The White House launched a new page in concert with D.C.’s Pride Month 2011 called
Winning the Future: President Obama and the LGBT Community.” During its launch, the President said, “We’ve got a lot of hard work we still have to do, but we can already point to extraordinary progress that we’ve made . . . on behalf of Americans who are gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender”

I strongly believe that, we are going in the right direction to WINNING. I am talking about WINNING THE FUTURE.

Let us not be afraid or ashamed. Let us embrace who we are…it is our PRIDE.

— Kushaba Moses Mworeko, independent global LGBT and HIV+ rights activist, guest blogger, and Editor of VenusPlusX’s Global Sexual Freedom Annotated Bibliography.







What lies in our power — Kushaba Moses Mworeko

A few days ago I was watching CBS’s “Criminal Minds” and the show ended with this quote, “What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do,” which I remember from reading Aristotle’s writings.

It reminded me also of what most people have been asking me over the last 17 months: Moses, what do you intend to do? I have not been answering this question well because of the uncertainty surrounding my future.

Being in limbo for over a year has taught me a lot. My patience, assertiveness, and aggressiveness were all put to the test. These are qualities that all human rights activists and defenders have to have. You can’t wake up one day and go to Capitol Hill and tell them what you want and get it, no, no, there are procedures, there are bureaucracies, there are many stakeholders who have to be involved to help advance the cause by recognizing its legitimacy. Yes, we have what we believe in, and the fundamental human rights that we cannot be denied, so we have to keep fighting until…

Now the limbo part is over for me, and the threat to my own personhood has ended. After 17 months I have finally qualified for U.S. asylum and the ability to work in this country. At last, the fight, my fight, is restarted in earnest.

What next?

One goal has been with me since my teen years — reaching out to disadvantaged people, restoring them to their normal life functioning. This is what I have always wanted to do and it’s what I want to do and I will do it. It lies in my power.

Today, I can see with renewed clarity where I am going, that I will do whatever I can, for the sky is the limit.

May I humbly say thank you to all of you who have touched me and held my hand through these past tough 17 months. Thank you for being my friend.

–Kushaba Moses Mworeko

Editor’s Note: Moses is a frequent contributor to VenusPlusX and edits our Global Sexual Freedom Annotated Bibliography. He is also featured this week in Metro Weekly.