Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Pope and Bush say 'No' to stopping hate crimes

Well, life on the rock can be grim, and we only got rid of James Anderton's most famous protegee a few months back, but we never had it as rough as Kyrgyzstan, where lesbian and bisexual women and transgender men face violent abuse, including rape, both in family settings and from strangers on the street, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued yesterday.
But they also point out the Vatican and the US government are preventing an OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) program to combat hate crime and identity-based violence throughout Europe from including sexual orientation in the mandate.
Well, business as usual amongst godbothering throwbacks then.
Based on detailed interviews, the 49-page report, 'These Everyday Humiliations: Violence Against Lesbians, Bisexual Women and Transgender Men in Kyrgzstan',
tells of beatings, forced marriages, and physical and psychological abuse.
Several people interviewed for the report said they had been raped to punish them for not conforming to gender norms, or to “cure” them of their difference. One lesbian told how, when she was 15, her girlfriend’s brothers raped her brutally, saying: “This is your punishment for being this way and hanging around our sister.”
The police themselves sometimes abuse lesbian and bisexual women and transgender men, say HRW. And police have also raided and harassed organizations that defend the basic rights of these groups.
In all of Kyrgyzstan, only one shelter for survivors of domestic violence – run by a nongovernmental organization – helps lesbians or transgender people.
A sweeping law passed in 2003 should protect all victims of domestic violence. However, the report found that much more needs to be done to carry out the law, including training criminal justice officials to investigate domestic violence and educating the general public about the law’s provisions.
In some cases, officials have even endorsed hatred and violence. In 2005, a Ministry of Interior official said of lesbians and gay men at a human rights roundtable: “I would also beat them. Let’s say I walk in a park with my son. And there are two guys walking holding each other’s hands. I would beat them up too.”
Human Rights Watch called on Kyrgyz authorities to improve direct services for lesbians and transgender men; to train state officials in issues of sexual orientation and gender identity; to educate the public about domestic violence and sexual-rights issues, and to create measures for legal identity change to respect and recognize each person’s self-defined gender identity.
HRW also urged the OSCE to address human rights issues, including discrimination and violence against lesbians and transgender men, in its trainings for police and other programs in Kyrgyzstan.
“Programs to stop violence will not work unless they reach everyone who is vulnerable,” said Boris Dittrich, HRW's advocacy director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program . “Europe should not join Kyrgyzstan’s government in turning a blind eye.”
Well, Bush isn't European, and the Pope probably isn't human, so guess that leaves the rest of us to sort the mess out as usual.

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