Commonwealth Summit in Malta urged to back LGBTI equality

For 66 years, the Commonwealth has refused to even discuss LGBTI rights

London, UK – 26 November 2015

Fifty people rallied outside the London headquarters of the Commonwealth, two days before the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta.

They were demanding that all Commonwealth member states “decriminalise homosexuality and legislate equal rights for their LGBTI citizens, in accordance with the human rights principles of the Commonwealth Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

PHOTOS of the rally:
You are free to use these photos but please credit the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

The rally was organised by the African LGBTI organisation, the Out and Proud Diamond Group, and supported by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, Rainbow Across Borders, Rainbow International and African Rainbow Family.

“For 66 years, the Commonwealth Summit (CHOGM) has refused to even discuss LGBTI human rights, let alone support LGBTI equality. This CHOGM is no different. They won’t even allow LGBTI rights on the agenda,” noted Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, who has been lobbying the Commonwealth on LGBTI issues for over 20 years.

“Forty of the 53 member states of the Commonwealth criminalise homosexuality. They account for more than half of the world’s countries where same-sex relations are illegal.

“Ninety per cent of Commonwealth citizens live in Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence and where LGBTI people have no legal protection against discrimination and hate crime. It is state-sponsored homophobia and it is happening in 75% of the Commonwealth member nations, without any public rebuke by the Commonwealth leadership.

“This homophobic repression is getting worse in some Commonwealth nations; notably Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria and Brunei.

“What is the point of having a Commonwealth Charter committed to equality and non-discrimination if three quarters of the member states violate its principles and get away with it?

“Many of the anti-gay laws in the Commonwealth were imposed by Britain in the nineteenth century, during the era of colonial occupation. But this is no excuse for now independent self-governing nations to perpetuate foreign-dictated homophobic legislation,” said Mr Tatchell.

The LGBTI rally in London urged the Commonwealth to:

  1. Put LGBTI issues on the agenda at CHOGM in Malta and invite LGBTI organisations to participate
  2. Set a timetable for Commonwealth countries to decriminalise homosexuality and legislate legal protection against anti-LGBTI discrimination and hate crime
  3. Establish on-going consultations and partnerships with LGBTI organisations in the member states
  4. Promote adherence to the Commonwealth Charter and international human rights conventions that protect the rights of all citizens, including LGBTI citizens

“The Theme of next week’s CHOGM is: Adding Global Value. This is about using the Commonwealth’s strengths in international politics to influence and effect change on important global issues. It is all about making a positive difference to the lives of Commonwealth citizens. Adding Global Value seeks to unify the Commonwealth behind an ambitious policy agenda that bequeaths to young people a life of liberty, dignity and prosperity,” said Edwin Sesange, Director of the African LGBTI organisation, the Out and Proud Diamond Group.

“Most of these countries inherited their anti-gay laws from Britain when it was their colonial ruler. They are a colonial hang-over. The existence of these anti-gay laws over the last century has created a climate where many people believe that homophobic attitudes and laws are a part of their cultures,” said Mr Sesange.

His Out and Proud Diamond Group colleague, Abbey Kiwanuka, added:

“At least seven Commonwealth countries impose life imprisonment for homosexuality. Parts of northern Nigeria and rural Pakistan have the death penalty for LGBTI people, and Brunei plans to introduce death by stoning. This makes a mockery of the Commonwealth Charter.

“Most countries that are signatories to the Commonwealth Charter have failed to live up to it. The Commonwealth has continued to do nothing serious and effective to encourage these nations to respect the liberty and dignity of their LGBTI citizens.

“The criminalisation and demonisation of homosexuality in the Commonwealth has led to mob-violence and the murder of LGBTI people, their denial of employment, housing and medical care, as well as imprisonment, torture and sexual assault.

“The Commonwealth boasts that it is strong in terms of international politics and global issues. Why, then, has it not used its strength to influence the decriminalisation of homosexuality?” queried Mr Kiwanuka.

Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian refugee and founder of African Rainbow Family, which promotes LGBTIQ equality globally, said:

“The situation for LGBTI people in the 40 out of the 53 Commonwealth countries that criminalise homosexuality is getting worse. In Nigeria, for example, as well as 14 years imprisonment, same-sex relations also carry the penalty of death by stoning in some regions of the country where Sharia law prevails. In the last couple of years, Nigeria has introduced draconian new jail terms for organising, funding and belonging to LGBTIQ organisations – and for advocating LGBTIQ equality.

“A wave of homophobia is being whipped up constantly against LGBTIQ people and anyone working with or supporting them. Many LGBTIQ people have fled Commonwealth countries in search of safety elsewhere. They have been driven out as a result of mob attacks, police harassment, eviction from their homes and job refusals and dismissals. Those who remain face grave state and non-state persecution,” she said.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
0207 403 1790

Edwin Sesange
Director, African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group
0744 806 3053

Why a Climate Deal Is the Best Hope for Peace

Climate change is a growing cause of displacement and conflict where land has been devastated by drought. (photo: B. Bannon/UNHCR)
Climate change is a growing cause of displacement and conflict where land has been devastated by drought. (photo: B. Bannon/UNHCR)


Naomi Klein and Jason Box | The New Yorker | Reader Supported News | November 27, 2015

oon after the horrific terror attacks in Paris, last Friday, our phones filled with messages from friends and colleagues: “So are they going to cancel the Paris climate summit?” “The drums of war are beating. Count on climate change being drowned out.” The assumption is reasonable enough. While many politicians pay lip service to the existential urgency of the climate crisis, as soon as another more immediate crisis rears its head—war, a market shock, an epidemic—climate reliably falls off the political map.

After the attacks, the French government stated that the COP21 climate summit would begin as scheduled at the end of November. Yet the police have just barred the huge planned marches and protests, effectively silencing the voices of people who are directly affected by these high-level talks. And it’s hard to see how sea-level rise and parched farmland—tough media sells at the best of times—will have a hope of competing with rapid military escalation and calls for fortressed borders.

All of this is perfectly understandable. When our safety feels threatened, it’s difficult to think of anything else. Major shocks like the Paris attacks are awfully good at changing the subject. But what if we decided to not let it happen? What if, instead of changing the subject, we deepened the discussion of climate change and expanded the range of solutions, which are fundamental for real human security? What if, instead of being pushed aside in the name of war, climate action took center stage as the planet’s best hope for peace?

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Calls for Rahm Emanuel’s Resignation Flood Social Media Following Release of Laquan McDonald Video

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy hold a press conference to address the arrest of Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke on November 24, 2015, in Chicago. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy hold a press conference to address the arrest of Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke on November 24, 2015, in Chicago. (photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)


ALSO SEE: Protesters Plan to Target Chicago’s Main Shopping Area on Black Friday

Colleen Connolly | NBC Chicago | Reader Supported News | November 27, 2015

On Wednesday morning, the hashtag #ResignRahm was trending on Twitter in Chicago


hicago residents and activists have taken to social media following the release of the dash-cam video showing the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to call for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has come under fire recently for his stance on the release of the video.

On Wednesday morning, the hashtag #ResignRahm was trending on Twitter in Chicago. More than a week before the video was released to the public, Emanuel said it would be premature to release it due to the ongoing FBI investigation.

Critics attacked Emanuel, along with Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, for the 13 months it took to file charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, and release the video to the public.

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‘Modern Family’ Star Reid Ewing Casually Comes Out as Gay on Twitter: ‘I Was Never In’

‘Modern Family’ Star Reid Ewing Casually Comes Out as Gay on Twitter: ‘I Was Never In’
Itay Hod | The Wrap | Yahoo News | November 23, 2015

Though actor Reid Ewing was praised last week for a brave admission over his plastic surgery addiction and body images issues – blink and you’d miss the 27-year-old coming out of the closet on Twitter over the weekend.

On Saturday, Ewing, best known for his role as Sarah Hyland‘s bumbly boyfriend Dylan on “Modern Family,” was watching a “Good Morning America” segment on body dysmorphia tweeting he thought the man featured in the story was “hot af,” as in hot as f–k.

The tweet prompted a fan to ask, “Did you also just out yourself?”

Ewing simply responded by saying, “I was never in.”

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Inside the “ISIS Stronghold,” Civilians Face a Multifront War

In a handout photo, the guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea launches an attack against Islamic State targets in Syria on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. (Eric Garst / U.S. Navy via The New York Times)In a handout photo, the guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea launches an attack against Islamic State targets in Syria on September 23, 2014. (Eric Garst / US Navy via The New York Times)


Anna Lekas Miller | Truthout | November 21, 2105

It is still possible to take the bus from Beirut to Raqqa, the Syrian city just east of Aleppo that is now the de facto capital of the Islamic State. The journey once took seven hours, but it now takes a minimum of 20, due to roads destroyed by clashes and dozens of checkpoints from the trifecta of the Syrian regime, al-Nusra and the Islamic State. According to accounts from those who have recently made this journey, there are still some passengers on the largely empty bus leaving from Beirut’s Charles Helou bus station every other day, provided that passengers don’t have cigarettes in their pockets and are prepared to obey modesty laws dictated by the Islamic State.

But civilian life is far from normal in Raqqa right now. First the US-led coalition to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) began pummeling the city, targeting fighters while also inadvertently killing several civilians. In recent weeks, the Russian military has launched airstrikes on the city, also – while allegedly fighting the Islamic State – causing several civilian casualties.

On November 15, French President François Hollande announced that France would launch airstrikes on the Islamic State, in retaliation for the now notorious ISIS-coordinated attack that left 129 dead and injured 350 in Paris on November 13. While some civilians living inside Raqqa support the international measures taken to drive the Islamic State from their city, the strikes nevertheless mean added chaos – and an additional danger – to their daily lives.

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U.S. Catholic Bishops Remain Opposed To Gay Marriage

Carlos Santoscoy | On Top Magazine | November 18, 2015

U.S. Roman Catholic bishops on Monday pledged to uphold marriage as a heterosexual union.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) held their first assembly in Baltimore since the Supreme Court declared that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry.

According to the AP, some who attended the gathering vowed to reverse the June ruling.

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Study: Up to 240,000 Texas women tried to self-induce abortions and GOP lawmakers are to blame

Image: Woman with abdominal pain (


 | Raw Story | November 17, 2015

A Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) study released on Tuesday asserted that nearly a quarter million women in the state may have induced abortions themselves because of “onerous” restrictions that lawmakers have put on reproductive choice.

The study, which was based at the University of Texas at Austin, found that between 100,000 and 240,000 women had performed self-induced abortions in Texas over the past five years, the Austin Chronicle reported.

According to the study, the “advent of onerous legislation imposing restrictions on legal abortion access” and the availability of abortion drugs — largely from Mexico — have combined to make self-induced abortions in Texas less rare than most U.S. states.

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Rachel Maddow Calls Out Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz For ‘Kill-The-Gays Rally’ Appearance


Carlos Santoscoy | On Top Magazine | November 11, 2015

Rachel Maddow on Monday called out three Republican presidential candidates for their participation in a “kill-the-gays” rally over the weekend.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took part in the National Religious Liberties Conference, which was organized by pastor Kevin Swanson, a Colorado-based Christian conservative who has previously called for the death penalty for homosexuality.

Swanson told attendees that he would protest a gay couple’s wedding by smearing cow dung over his body and reiterated his call for the government to execute unrepentant gays in the future.

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A Government Both More Secretive and More Open

The government’s collection of phone records remained secret for 12 years before the leaking of NSA documents by Edward Snowden, shown here during a video interview in March. Ole Spata/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images


Mary Graham |  American Prospect | November 6, 2015


The same decades that saw the growth of national-security secrecy saw the rise of the public’s “right to know.” 


he next president, whether Republican or Democrat, will inherit an unsettled and acrimonious debate about government secrecy. The debate was inflamed by President George W. Bush’s secret detention of terrorist suspects and warrantless surveillance of Americans and citizens of other countries. Far from putting the controversy to rest, President Barack Obama has only deepened it as he has expanded the use of armed drones and introduced offensive cyber weapons, altering the dynamics of international conflicts without any public debate.

Two important new books reach starkly different conclusions about whether the United States remains caught in an era of ever-increasing secrecy or has been transformed by a culture of openness. Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr. argues that the nation remains in a Secrecy Era (his caps) in which officials make decisions behind closed doors without even thinking about the benefits of public discussion. Excessive secrecy, motivated by long-standing bureaucratic incentives and intensified by fear of communism and terrorism, has turned America into a “democracy in the dark.”

Michael Schudson, in contrast, chronicles the emergence of sunlight. He documents the creation of a culture of openness between 1945 and 1975 that has made government and business so much more accountable that it has changed the character of American democracy. A better-educated, more critical public produced reformers in Congress, inquisitive civic advocates, skeptical journalists writing for knowledgeable audiences, and demanding consumers.

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I guess it’s time to cap the voting age — at 65

 | America Blog | November 11, 2015

In 1971, the United States ratified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.

The idea, in those Vietnam years, was that 18-year-olds, being old enough to be drafted, to marry and to serve on juries, deserved a vote. It seemed plausible at the time, and I myself have argued in the past that we should set the drinking age at 18 for the same reasons.

But now I’m starting to reconsider. To be a voter, one must be able to participate in adult political discussions. It’s necessary to be able to listen to opposing arguments and even — as I’m doing right here in this column — to change your mind in response to new evidence.

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