Last edited: February 14, 2005

Report Condemns Treatment of Gays

Hundreds Persecuted Worldwide for Their Sexual Orientation, Amnesty Says

Canadian Press, June 22, 2001

A Ugandan woman who was stripped, beaten and starved for three days in a jail cell for being a lesbian is among hundreds of people persecuted worldwide for their sexual orientation, according to a scathing Amnesty International report released Friday.

"This report presents a stark overview of the treatment that countless men and women suffer because of their sexual orientation," said Alex Neve, a spokesman for report author Amnesty International.

The report, entitled Crimes of Hate, Conspiracy of Silence, documents the treatment of gay people in more than 30 countries and provides a 12-point program for the prevention of torture and mistreatment by police forces and governments around the world.

"We all have a right to grow up to be the people who we are," said Hilary Holmes, national youth program co-ordinator for the international human rights organization.

Central to the report are dozens of examples of human rights abuses at the hands of state-sponsored officials in countries like Jamaica and Romania where homosexuality remains illegal.

In Malaysia, homosexuality is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and China only deleted homosexuality from a list of mental disorders in April 2001.

In the Bahamas, two 17-year-olds were arrested in August 1999 on suspicion of having sex in a parked car. They were stripped and beaten with an iron bar.

The report encourages all countries to adopt laws that condemn torture and protect and support gay human rights activists.

The report paints a stark contrast to the freedom experienced by Canadian homosexuals, said Neve on the eve of a weekend of parades and festivities to celebrate gay pride in Toronto.

Neve said Canadians must take initiatives that support global efforts to halt discrimination against gay people.

Vashti Campbell, a lesbian from London, Ont., who traveled to Toronto for pride week celebrations, applauded the group’s efforts to combat worldwide homophobia, but said more can be done to battle hate in Canada.

"I think there are cases of torture and abuse here at home too," said Campbell.

As recently as June 18, Regina held its first-ever Heterosexual Family Pride Day, focusing on anti-gay and anti-abortion messages.

Richard Elliott, co-chair of Amnesty’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered group, said education is a priority and the abuses must stop.

"As a community we are not going back into the closet," said Elliott.

The report was also released in Montreal, Vancouver and other major cities around the world with Amnesty offices.

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