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United Nations claims homophobia costs global economies billions (VIDEO)

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United Nations claims homophobia costs global economies billions (VIDEO) · PinkNews

The United Nations anti-LGBT discrimination campaign ‘Free & Equal’ has released some startling statistics that show that homophobia and transphobia are still major problems across the world.

The video, titled ‘The Price of Exclusion’, focuses on the cost of global discrimination financially and to the people who suffer under social and legal discrimination due to their sexual and gender identities.

Openly gay Star Trek actor Zachery Quinto narrates the video, and reveals the uncomfortable reality of being LGBT in the world today, including how 40% of homeless youth in major US cities identify as LGBT.

Bullying and family rejection are cited as some of the causes of this high rate of LGBT homelessness.

“For the individuals in question, these are personal tragedies,” Quinto says in the video.

“For the wider community they represent an enormous waste of human potential, of talent, of creativity and productivity that weighs heavily on society and the economy”.

Citing a world bank pilot study, the video claims that global LGBT discrimination could cost a country the size of India $32 billion a year.

On top of this, the video also says that young lesbian, gay and bisexual people are four times more likely to attempt suicide, with the number rising to ten times more likely for young transgender people.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that the video aims to “challenges the myth that the impact of LGBT discrimination is small, or marginal, or confined to only a small part of the community.

“It’s not only LGBT people who pay the price; we all do. Every trans kid thrown out of home or forced out of school is a loss for society. Every gay or lesbian worker denied work or driven to emigrate is a lost opportunity.”

The ‘Free & Equal’ campaign was first launched by the United Nations Human Rights office back in 2013 and has released a number of videos in the past including a Bollywood style LGBT equality music video.

Back in August, the members of the UN stripped LGBT eqaulity from its historic global developement goals agreement.

Watch the video below.

Letter From Syria – Subhi Nahas

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Subhi Nahas

Life for gay men in Syria, like Subhi Nahas, has become unendurable with the rise of ISIS, but things were bad long before the militants took power

 

In August, Subhi Nahas made history, testifying before the United Nations Security Council’s first summit on violence against LGBT people by the so-called Islamic State.

Speaking to a packed room that included an extraordinary number of U.N. member states, Nahas and an Iraqi gay man, who appeared by phone to protect his identity, shared their experiences as LGBT people in their home countries. Participants sat in attentive silence as they heard the shocking details of the men’s experiences being beaten, imprisoned, and threatened with death, as well as their terror when they learned about the fate of gay men they knew, or saw the widely publicized videos of ISIS executingallegedly gay men.

Nahas tells his story to James McDonald. 

Before the revolution, the regime forces of President Bashar al-Assad were doing a routine sweep at a checkpoint while I was on my way to university, and they took all the young people to a detention place, a house in the woods. Immediately I could see that there had been people there before. I could see their blood, their stains. They noticed that I’m a little bit different in the way that I walk and talk, and they started to call me names. They asked questions about my family. They released the others, but they kept me, and I really thought that they would rape and kill me. But then they just released me. I don’t know why.

I couldn’t risk going back to university, so I stayed home. A few months later, Islamists came and things really deteriorated. My father was at home a lot too, which meant he was seeing me more. He didn’t like what he saw, and things got violent.

An Islamist group, an al-Qaeda branch, took over my city of Idlib, in northern Syria, and enforced Sharia law. One day, they arrested someone I knew and accused him of being homosexual, because of something on his phone. They announced in the mosques that they would cleanse the city of sodomites. If you looked a little bit different, wore jeans that were a little bit tight, they would target you and interrogate you for five or six hours.

Within two or three months I planned to leave Syria. Some friends in Lebanon said they’d welcome me to their houses. I arranged a taxi and told the driver that he had to take care of all the procedures at the borders and checkpoints, because if I spoke, they might have noticed how I am and not let me leave.

In Lebanon, there were not a lot of job opportunities. After six months, I moved to Turkey, secured a senior position at a nonprofit, Save the Children, and stayed there for two years. I was living near the Syrian border. As ISIS took more land, things became more dangerous. For a time, I was moving from safehouse to safehouse, until I finally ended up in Istanbul and registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The killing of gays in Syria was not as brutal before ISIS, but it was happening. ISIS says they are protecting the community from “perverts,” people who will destroy society’s morality. They can’t offer water or services, but they can offer that.

UNHCR interviewed me and accepted me. The United States accepted my case, and I was referred to Homeland Security. It all took about 12 months, and then I moved to San Francisco a few months ago — I had a job set up already.

I’m a systems administrator with the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration. The U.N. was looking for people willing to speak about their experiences at a meeting on LGBT abuses around the world. It was going to be the first time that a voice from Asia or the Middle East was heard like that, and I wanted to be a part of it.

There were a lot of countries and organizations there, even two representatives from Syria. And the countries that spoke were very positive — I was expecting hostility. Russia and China were there but refused to speak. But of those that did speak, everyone wanted to do something; everyone wanted change.

My story is typical, but many others have had to endure far worse horrors. I’m very lucky that I had all this help, and that’s what I’m trying to establish with my work: a system that allows people to get help faster, that will protect them where they are now — and help them when they finally arrive in places like America.

Saudi Arabia Rules?

Adel-Al-Jubeir-with-Ban-Ki-moon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets Saudi Arabian Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir. Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

 

Editorial:  Is there a conflict  within the United Nations regarding the appointment of Mr Faisal Bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador at the UN in Geneva, as he has been elected as Chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council. (LINK)

To any reasonable minded person you would definetly think so, especially as Saudi Arabia has insisted that the  UN keeps LGBT rights out of its development goals (LINK)

We ask you the readers what do you think of this situation?

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Syrian Refugee Subhi Nahas On Being Persecuted for Being Gay and Speaking at the United Nations

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Photo: Michelle Nichols

Photo: Michelle Nichols

On August 24, Subhi Nahas made history, testifying before the United Nations Security Council’sfirst summit on violence perpetrated against LGBT people by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). A Systems Administrator and Designer for the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration(ORAM), Nahas has lived in San Francsico for four months, a situation made possible after he was granted refugee status by the United States government.

Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, half of the country’s population has been displaced, many internally. As ISIS has grown in strength and territory, however, more and more are fleeing the country, with hundreds of thousands now risking the perilous journey to Europe. While Nahas was not a part of the wave of refugees Europe is currently struggling—or, in some cases, resisting—to accomodate, he nonetheless remains a part of the wider Syrian exodus, one of the many millions who have been forced to leave their homes in the hope of finding safety.

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From the city of Idlib in northern Syria, Nahas was the firstborn son in his family, a position that carries with it heavy societal expectations. He was different however, in a way that he wasn’t able to understand or articulate until he met with a psychologist at the age of 15—a man who would betray his young trust, inform his family, and recommend strict measures to curb his sexuality. Life for gay men in Syria has become unendurable with the rise of ISIS, but as Nahas attests to, things were bad long before the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate took power.

Out: What was it like for gay people before the Arab Spring revolution in 2011?

Subhi Nahas: There was never a true gay community, not even in Damascus. There was a very small group, and it was always under attack from the Secret Police. They would try to make you feel comfortable, feel like you had a safe place, and then they would raid those places, arrest people and imprison them. Homosexuality is criminalized in the penal code and punishable by up to three years in prison. Homophobia is deeply ingrained, and society takes it upon themselves to enforce the laws. If you’re caught, they blackmail you, extort you, and threaten to tell your family. It’s been like that for a long time. Older generations tell of being mistreated, being blocked from services, facilities, medical treatment, just for being gay.

What was your first experience with these attitudes and laws?

The first encounter I had was with regime [President Bashir al-Assad, before the revolution] forces. They were doing a routine sweep at a checkpoint while I was on my way to university, and they took all the young people, including me, out to a detention place. It was this house in the woods, and immediately you could see that there had been people there before, you could see their blood, their stains. It was really scary.

They noticed that I’m a little bit different in the way that I walk and talk, and they started to call me names. They asked me questions, about my family, about why I spoke the way I did. They started to say things that I’d rather not repeat. They released the others, but they kept me for at least 30 minutes more, and I really thought that they would rape and kill me, I had no idea what would happen. But then they just released me. I don’t know why, but they did.

What happened after that?

After that, I couldn’t risk going back to university, so I stayed home, and that meant things escalated with my family. Especially because, a few months later, Islamists came and things really deteriorated. My father stayed home then a lot too, which meant he was seeing me more. He didn’t like what he saw, and things got violent.

How did things change when Islamist groups took control after the revolution?

What happened was, an Islamist group, an al-Qaeda branch, took over the city of Idlib. And as they gained more power, they started to enforce Sharia law. They started to put checkpoints, and they started to target anyone who was different. One day, they arrested someone I knew and accused him of being homosexual, I think because of something they found on his phone. After that, they went into the mosques and announced that they would cleanse the city of anyone involved in sodomy, which took the insecurity to a whole new level. Now, even if you looked a little bit different, wore jeans that were a little bit tight, they would target you and interrogate you for five or six hours. And even if they believed that you weren’t, after being released you had to follow their strict rules for acting and dressing.

When did you realize you had to leave Syria?

Within two or three months of the Islamists taking control, I left Syria. I called some of my friends in Lebanon, explained the whole situation, and they were generous enough to welcome me to their houses. I arranged a taxi, and told the driver that he had to take care of all the procedures at the borders and checkpoints, because if I spoke, if I had any interaction with these people, they might have noticed how I am and not let me leave. It was a lot of work, a lot of planning, but it worked, and I’m very thankful for that.

What happened after you got to Lebanon?

There were not a lot of job opportunities, so I was very underemployed. After six months, I was able to get a job in Turkey for a magazine I was working for remotely. So I moved to Turkey, secured a senior position at a non-profit, Save the Children, and ended up staying there for about two years.

Why did you leave Turkey?

I was living in a city close to the Syrian border, and as ISIS gained more power and took more land, things became more dangerous. A friend of mine told me that someone we had known in high school had joined ISIS and said he wanted to kill me because I was gay, and because I was also working with an LGBT NGO in Turkey, and working on an Arabic gay magazine. And where I lived, there were ISIS operatives roaming free—it was an open border, and they passed through easily. If you were Syrian, you were never safe, they always knew who you were and what you were doing. So for a time, I was moving from safe house to safe house, until I finally ended up in Istanbul and registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR].

What has changed since ISIS took control?

Well, thankfully, I was not there to witness ISIS. But all they’ve done is publicize what everyone else was doing before. The killing of gays were not as brutal, but they were still happening. The Free Syrian Army, Jabhat al Nusra, I personally know at least two people they killed, but they never talked about it. They didn’t want that spotlight. But ISIS does. They say that they are protecting the community from these “perverts,” from people who will destroy society’s morality. They can’t offer water or services, but they can offer that. And it seems like it’s working. We’ve seen from videos that if a gay person doesn’t die from the fall off a building, the people watching stone him to death. ISIS is being this brutal, this public, to gain support.

What was the process of applying for refugee status like?

First, UNHCR processed my case, interviewed me, and accepted me. Then they went about looking for a country to accept me. So there were more interviews to build up my case. I was told that the United States had accepted my case, and then they set up an interview with an American legal team. Then I was referred to Homeland Security, who then sent a representative to do another interview to see if I met US standards. And I did. It all took about 12 months, and then I moved to San Francisco—I had a job set up already.

What was it like speaking in front of the United Nations Security Council?

It came about because I work with ORAM [Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration], and the CEO got a message asking for recommendations for people willing to speak about their experience at this UN meeting on LGBT abuses around the world. It was going to be the first time that a voice from Asia or the Middle East was heard like that, and I wanted to be a part of it.

There were a lot of countries and organizations there, even two representatives from Syria. And the countries that spoke, they were very positive. Which was so weird. I was expecting hostility. Russia and China, for example, they were there, but they refused to speak, but of those that did speak, everyone wanted to do something, everyone wanted change. It’s a small step, but one that we needed.

How typical do you think your story is?

I think my story is typical, what I went through, but many others have had to endure far worse horrors, far more hardships trying to escape. I consider myself very lucky that I had all this help, and that’s what I’m trying to establish with my work: a system that allows people to get help faster, that will protect them where they are now—Syria, Lebanon, Turkey—and help them when they finally arrive in places like America. We need a system to protect these people when they are able to get out.

Watch: United Nations Free and Equal campaign launches new video

By John Mack Freeman

Free-and-EqualThis week, the United Nations Free and Equal campaign released a new video encouraging people to see past labels. The video played all day in Times Square on May 14. Here is the video and description:

This video from the United Nations Free & Equal campaign celebrates the contributions that millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people make to families and local communities around the world. The cast features “real people” (not actors), filmed in their workplaces and homes — among them, a firefighter, a police officer, a teacher, an electrician, a doctor and a volunteer, as well as prominent straight ally and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

https://youtu.be/JosMsjRNznM

What Does the Northern Ireland Assembly Know on Homosexuality?

A reflection of our times:

 

The City Hall in its coat of many colours

The City Hall in its coat of many colours

 

Stormont Northern Ireland

Stormont remains in its ‘vanilla’ coat

The following two motions were put forward to the Assembly in December 2012, both motions highlight just how the assembly still is failing the LGBT part of the community, because both motions have still be acted upon.

 

  • Lifting the Ban on Homosexual Men Donating Blood

That this Assembly notes that Northern Ireland is now the only region in the United Kingdom where homosexual men are banned from donating blood; further notes the findings of the report on Blood Donor Selection Criteria Review in April 2011; considers it to be unreasonable and intolerant to continue to turn away suitable donors; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to lift the ban and to adopt the same safeguards as those that have been implemented across the rest of the United Kingdom.

[Mr J McCallister]
[Mr S Gardiner]

 

  • Bullying in Schools

That this Assembly acknowledges the negative impacts of bullying in schools; recognises the increase in cyber bullying and the endemic nature of homophobic bullying in schools in Northern Ireland; notes that bullying is linked to an increased risk of isolation, depression, self harm and suicidal ideation among young people; calls on the Minister of Education to acknowledge the particular issue of homophobic bullying; and further calls on the Minister to develop immediately a comprehensive and wide ranging anti-bullying action plan and to begin a programme of work, with schools, to make them safe and welcoming environments for all our young people.

[Mr S Rogers]
[Mrs D Kelly]
[04 September 2012]

Notes from the Northern Ireland Assembly

An article by Eamonn McCann ‘Stormon in Dark Ages over homosexuality’, published  in the Belfast Telegraph 18 July 2013,  would seem to give further evidence towards this in a small way, but what was more enlightening was the off-the-cuff comment by the young woman at the desk of the British Museum on being told that there was little represenation of the Celts or the Ulsters Scots in the British Museum’s sumptuous collection of gay artifacts from civilisations across the globe and down the ages – “Well, they’ve always been a bit odd over there, haven’t they?”

In July 2011, Dolores Kelly said ‘…members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community must “push” to make their voice heard.

“I think they need to push hard and hold to account their political representatives,” Ms Kelly said.

“Particularly the leader of the biggest party here in the north which is of course the DUP and I think they have to be challenged on all fronts.”

Politics in Northern Ireland is not just about religion, it is about bias and ignorance on many fronts,  The LGBT community needs to organise itself and to communicate with and pursue its local and national representatives into supporting the needs of our community.  (UTV Report)

 

Just after I wrote this piece, I was forwarded an notification on the

UN Human Rights Office Launches Unprecedented Global Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality

I am attaching a copy of the document for information and look forward to our community being actively involved in delivering ‘Equality for the LGBT Community’

UN Human Rights Office Launches Unprecedented Global Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality

human rights defenderUnited Nations HUman Rights - Office of the High Commissioner

 

human-rights-not-an-option