Thursday, June 13, 2013

Are we witnesses to the beginning Genocide of the LGBT in Russia and Uganda?

By Sabrina Samone, TMP      

In 1948, after the atrocities of World War 2, the United Nations, at the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCF),  Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended  to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
While sexual orientation and gender identity was not defined as a potential group in 1948, maybe it’s time the world leaders in the LGBTQ movement urged, the United Nations to amend Article 2 to include such groups.  In the beginning of the genocide against the Jews, resulting in the Nazi Holocaust, 1938-1945, it was with simple boycotts of Jewish shops and ended with entire families of Jews (and members of the LGBT Community), in gas chambers at Auschwitz.  At the beginning of Hitler’s rise to power, Jews had only made up one percent of Germany’s population, but were blamed for the economic downturn of the area. They became the focus of hate for many Germans and slowly from boycotts of Jewish businesses; laws to silence their speech, to overlooked violence against Jews on the streets of Germany became accepted.
                                                                  A mass genocide of LGBT people has happened once before
 This week Russia’s dominant party proposed anti-trans/LGBTQ bills that passed the first reading at an unbelievable, 436-0 votes. This bill will effectively ban homosexuality and all members of LGBTI people within the nation’s borders. Making it illegal for LGBTI people to assemble, speak openly, write blogs of support of LGBT rights, to rally and without a doubt give a license to many to unleash unchecked bigotry and violence against LGBTI persons. The legislation still requires passage from Russia’s upper house and the signature of President Vladimir Putin, but both are virtually guaranteed. The bill, together with another would also make it illegal to “offend the religious feelings of the faithful.” For example; if a law such as this was proposed in the United States, any southern Baptist congregation that is offended by a local gay establishment could have all the patrons arrested and jailed. This law would also be subject to any foreign visitor to Russia, American or otherwise.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Canada has already taken to warning, its country’s, Gay travelers to tread carefully in Russia. The bill is aimed at introducing steep fines and jail terms for people who promote what the bill calls, a “homosexual propaganda” to minors, not unlike the first few bills passed against the Jews in Germany, pre- Holocaust.  Obviously, with this national level of discrimination, violence on LGBT people is rising rapidly in the streets of Russia. According to one blogger, an unidentified Duma official from the Communist Party approached and shook hands with a policeman, and reportedly said: “So are you guys ramping up the pressure on these faggots? Beat them up well! Cut their balls off!”           

According to the Moscow Times, Olga Lenkova, an activist with Vykhod, a gay rights group in St. Petersburg, said a similar measure introduced in her city last February prompted potential partner organizations, including those that would ordinarily host seminars and discussion groups, to shy away from working with the group for fear that they could be fined. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, reflecting on that countries history, has called on President Vladimir Putin to veto the bill out of concerns that it would lead to further discrimination. The bill is in contradiction to the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Reports are coming out of Russia of LGBT people beaten in the streets, while police officers do more than stand by, watch and escort the perpetrators away with pats on the back.  They left the victim, unattended on the streets to die. Shortly after the bill passed 436-0, a leading Gay Rights Activist, Yuri Gavirkov, was detained and carried off by Russian police at an LGBT rally near the City Hall in Moscow. People who oppose LGBT people are lashing out in the streets against them with little if any interference from the local police. In May of this year, a 23 year old man was found dead in Volgograd, apparently attacked by two men he had told he was gay. He had been beaten up, sodomized with bottles and had his genitals mutilated,  according to the, which also pictured and featured the arrest of Anno Komarov, a Transgender man speaking out against the laws being passed.     

The discrimination and violence against LGBT people have escaladed so rapidly that Amnesty International has released an in-depth report called, “Nothing to be Proud of: Discrimination Against LGBTQI People in Ukraine,” Denouncing the Ukrainian government for failing to follow international and European human rights laws: “Ukraine is failing to protect the basic rights of LGBTI people such as the right to be free from discrimination, the right to security of the person and the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and express,” the report reads. “Ukraine has an international obligation to uphold to the principle of non-discrimination and ensure that all individuals, including LGBTI people, are treated equally irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity in both law and fact.”
Sadly, Russia is not alone in its beginning efforts to bring about genocide of LGBT people.  Uganda is much further along and currently slaughtering gay, lesbian and transgender people nearly daily. The Genocide in Uganda of LGBT people has already begun. Many feel here in the U.S., and I’ve heard it from a member of our own camp, to why as Trans-Americans, should we be concerned with LGBT issues in other parts of the world. You can only be blinded by youth for so long my friend. Conservative Christian groups, right here in the United States of America, has supported (financially and otherwise) the push to ratify the anti-gay bill in Uganda. There is no outcry from our political leaders here in the US to what is happening in Russia as of yet or boycott from our LGBT leaders of these local Conservative American groups that are also responsible for the thousands of murders in Uganda to date. Who is to say that the same Conservative groups that are financially backing Uganda’s bigotry is not doing the same in Russia and may feel these are testing grounds to what they may yet achieve here in America. Far out thinking? Well twenty years ago would we be having the conversation of the NSA listening in on US citizens phone calls? Why were Conservative groups so quick to reject an immigration bill that was LGBT inclusive? Do they know something we don't, what may yet lay ahead? A mass exodus of LGBT people as refugees from other countries to the United States Of America?  The same tactics of Republican Conservative propaganda used to incite anger here over issues they deemed worthy are also being used in Uganda. Inciting the anger of the Ugandan population with stories that the “homo’s are raiding the schools”, and claims that homosexuals are out to recruit “100,000 innocent kids.” To our leaders in America, screw what is going on in Syria, this is public Genocide and there is no one in the world trying to stop it.
The bill proposed in Uganda, sparked unprecedented killings of LGBT people without successfully being passed. Life there is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials, where anyone suspected of homosexuality is dragged into the streets, beaten and killed. Even here in America, Since Marriage Equality has become a hot topic in our own politics there has been a rise in violence against LGBT people. In the most liberal city in our country, NYC, there have been rising violent attacks on LGBT people and recently the brutal murder of thirty-two year old Mark Carson in an alleged anti-gay shooting in of all places, Greenwich Village. So far, every month this year, we in the Trans Community have read about yet another young Trans-woman of color found dead. More needs to be done and more pressure placed on our government and LGBT organizations worldwide to push the United Nations to amend Article 2 of CPPCF, to include gender identity and sexual orientation. Without it we currently are witnessing a push, one country at a time, to an outright genocide of LGBT people without any major nation showing their outrage. One only needs to remember the sequence of events that lead to the persecution of the Jews during World War 2. In the beginning, now one opposed Hitler or question what he and the German government was doing to the Jews and when the war was over six million lay dead. Are we willing to wait until we reach that point? Seventy-six countries still criminalize consensual same-sex relationships and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people everywhere continue to suffer violent attacks and discriminatory treatment. It's past time to make a change.
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