Last edited: February 14, 2005

Protest To Mark 100th Anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s Death Newscenter, November 28, 2000

By Beth Shapiro

New York — The Lavender and Green Alliance, a New York-based Irish lesbian and gay community group will be joined by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in a demonstration on Thursday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s death.

Wilde, the Irish dramatist and social critic, was sentenced by the British government to two years’ hard labor for his homosexuality in 1895. He died in exile in Paris on November 30, 1900.

"Wilde was a gay man from a colonized country, and he was persecuted for daring to defy social as well as sexual conventions," said Brendan Fay, co-chair of the Lavender and Green Alliance. "His legacy lives on—but so do the unjust laws which were used against him. 19 states in the US still have so-called ‘sodomy laws.’ Indeed, it was only in 1993, after a long legal struggle, that Ireland, Wilde’s mother country, repealed its own law against homosexuality."

According to Scott Long, IGLHRC’s Director of Programs and Research, "The same laws under which Oscar Wilde was convicted were exported by British colonialism to all the countries where it raised the flag. Today, dozens of countries from Jamaica to India to Zambia still carry a version of this colonial legislation in their law books. And millions of people have their rights denied as a result."

Long stated that "Violence and police brutality are a fact of life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people worldwide."

The protest will be held in front of the Argentine Consulate where protestors will mark the death of Vanesa Ledesma, an Argentinian transgender activist, who was tortured and murdered while in police custody in the city of Cordoba in February, 2000. The policemen allegedly responsible for her death were recently acquitted in what observers describe as a biased judicial proceeding.

"Wilde, who was tortured in prison, would stand in solidarity with all those who face abuse because of their gender identity or sexual orientation," said Fay. "It is appropriate that we celebrate the centenary of this fighter for human freedom by remembering those around the world who still find their freedom denied, or their lives endangered."

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