Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Blog Debate: Global Gay Issues, State Dept, HRW, IGLHRC, OutRage! & Me

This post should be read only by those who are intensely curious about renewed efforts to deal with the large gatekeeping ways of Human Rights Watch's Scott Long, his active organizing to undermine efforts of other global gay organizers in the USA and UK, the ever-sleepy IGLHRC, the inability of HRW and IGLHRC to say anything on their sites or an official news release about the latest State Dept annual human rights report's wide inclusion of gay and HIV references.

In a message dated 3/9/2007 1:12:38 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, M Petrelis writes:

A writer for the New Republic speaks much criticism and truth about Ettelbrick and IGLHRC, which is supposedly devoted to working on advancing gay human rights protections everywhere on the planet.

----- Original Message ----
From: Scott Long

As Michael continues his various vendettas, I have to note that the author of this particular piece on the New Republic’s blog distinguished himself some months ago by a vicious attack in the Advocate on Rauda Morcos and the heroic Palestinian women’s group ASWAT. In that hatchet job, he accused Morcos of being insufficiently a single-issue activist, of allowing her concern for Palestinian freedom as well as gay rights to inhibit her from voicing what should be her gratitude to Israel—occupation, checkpoints, wall, and all. He actually illustrated this piece on human rights abuses in Palestine with a photograph which many of us recognized as that of an Iranian torture victim. That’s a pretty gross error which the Advocate never corrected, but it obviously stemmed from the author’s belief that all those countries—Arab, Persian, whatever—are just the same old hellhole, and who cares which is which? People whose grasp of both justice and geography is so tenuous can be disregarded in their commentary on other issues.



In a message dated 3/10/2007 8:49:27 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

I doubt that this on going cat fight will be of much interest to many of the recipients or that the Observer and Guardian will be holding
their front pages with bated breath as it develops. Nonetheless I feel contrained to say something about this and respond to both Scott and Michael. Apologies to those who can bear to read no more.
So far as the issue of pursuing vendettas is concerned given that some workers in HRW and IGLHRC saw fit to lend credence and support to recent personal attacks on Peter Tatchell (who has a 25 year history of smear campaigns against him), then I would gently suggest that
those in glass houses should stop throwing stones.
Re the New Republic article and Michael's endorsement of that, actually I don't agree that Kirchick makes fair criticisms of the ILGHRC. In fact they do a great deal of extremely good work. I pay particular tribute to Dusty Aráujo's work on asylum. By making sweeping statements that good work is being trashed.
Whatever differences we may have had with him, Scott himself does excellent work on asylum. He efforts are truly tireless. He earns every cent of his salary and some. Peter of course does a great deal of work on individual asylum cases himself - unpaid in his case.
So far as Paula is concerned I feel she is more sinned against than sinning. She had nothing to do with the recent attacks on Peter from what I can gather.
Michael, try to look at the positive and the negative. We should try to give constructive feedback to people like HRW and the IGLHRC. Ways in which they can improve on good work. We may have genuine differences, but let's not just trash, trash, trash.
Yes the IGLHRC should make critical comments (and make them publicly) about country study reports like that of the US State Department. They are used by the immigration authorities in asylum claims and often play down or deny the level of repression of LGBT people in countries like Iran.
Such reports are then used as a basis for refusing claims based on sexual orientation. In Britain, that's routine. Dealing with such reports should be a priority. You make a valid point there.
However, so far as the IGLHRC not going to Israel is concerned and Kirchick's comments on that issue, I am not prepared to take the position that criticises Iran for killing kids and then refuse to criticise Israel for doing the same thing in the Lebanon plus a whole load of other innocent civilians in their indiscriminate bombings of Lebanon last year.
Too right that the ILGHRC did not go to Jerusalem last year. Speaking for myself, I had not the slightest intention of going there or to the 'rival' event in Tel Aviv.
So far The Advocate misusing Amir's picture (a clear violation of IRQO copyright - no picture credit for a start) to make a pro-Israeli regime propaganda point, I have to agree with Scott. That's sick.
Furthermore, I am fed up with people like myself being called 'anti-Semites' simply because we criticise disproportionate and indiscrimate acts of retaliation against helpless civilians within Palestine and neighbouring countries, and the repeated invasions of their neighbours (the Lebanon alone - 1978, 1982, 2006) just as I am tired of listening to those who denounce people like myself as 'Zionists' simply because we think Israel has a right to exist, we condemn terrorist atrocities against Jews, we refuse to endorse anti-semitic conspiracy theories about 9-11 etc and we refuse to accept that Jews in Israel should be pushed into the sea.
Cuba hardly compares to the situation in Israel. Yes it is still a dictatorship, yes people can be locked up for dissident activity. Israel is a democracy - if not for all the inhabitants of the territory it occupies. However, when was the last time Cuba bombed or invaded its neighbours? How many massacres of civilians have there been on its territory?
The lionisation of Israel and the demonisation of Cuba has everything to do with US foreign policy and nothing to do with real comparisons between the two countries. The Castro brothers can hardly be compared with Pinochet and an assortment of other post War pro US caudillos, who some were pleased to claim were part of the 'Free World.'
So far as the situation for LGBTs is concerned that has improved dramatically in Cuba in the past 15 years or so. The days are long gone (the 1960s) when gays were rounded up and put into camps. How 'kind' were the US authorities to gays in the 1960s, even in the Castro district?
It is true that there is a military base in Cuba where people have been detained indefinitely without trial. Where there has been persistent abuse of inmates and where conditions are abominable. However, the Castro regime have no control over what goes on there. The US government does. I speak of course of Guantanamo Bay.
Simon Forbes

In a message dated 3/10/2007 9:32:25 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

What a way to spin our wheels and spend precious time--- throwing stones at each other. Wow. that is really advancing sexual freedom!


How about identifying real targets, instead of people in the movement you don't agree with?

I look to those whose task it is to watch the international sphere regarding LGBT rights and abuses, to give me insight and guidance-- instead I get boring, self agrandizing, destructive and other wise time wasting diatribes from with activists accusing one and other of failures--- or worse --

Please let me know when there is something to say that reaches beyond these angels dancing on the head of a pin.

I'd like to be supportive to your "worK" but this list serve rarely helps me to discern know just what that work is beyond attacking one and other.

I am sincere in my sentiments.

Roberta Sklar
Director of Communications
National Gay and LesbianTask Force

In a message dated 3/12/2007 10:24:41 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

As far as I have seen, Michael's "vendettas" against IGLHRC have consisted
mainly of pressing Paula to issue a statement drawing attention to the
State Department's Country Reports for 2006. If Michael's jabs come across
to her as constant attacks, that only confirms reports of the insular
regnant at IGLHRC.

The New Republic is one of the most venerable and highly respected journals
opinion in this country. Once again, Paula refuses to recognize the
between news stories on the one hand and news analysis and opinion on the
Last year, she and her staff denounced my criticism in Bay Windows of their
response to the boycott of Jerusalem World Pride 2006, falsely accused me of
inaccuracy despite my having accurately quoted her own statement, falsely
characterized my commentary as a news article, and faulted me for not having
called her to get her spin before writing it. She wouldn't even admit what
were doing, saying essentially, we're not boycotting it, we're just not
The fact is that Israel is the only country in the region where a Gay Pride
celebration is even conceivable, and if (as Jamie and I pointed out last
IGLHRC can see fit to send representatives to conferences to totalitarian
capitals like Havana and Beijing, it's laughable for them to cite human
concerns for staying away from Jerusalem.

Unlike the leftists who object to my editors for having published my
who mischaracterize my writing, and who quickly change the subject rather
seriously address my criticisms, I have stressed my respect for the work of
IGLHRC and HRW. So does Michael, who wouldn't be pressing them to do things
he didn't. But Paula appears to be more thin-skinned than she is prepared
admit, so instead of responding to Michael's specific criticisms she just
whines that he is attacking her. That tactic is past tiresome.

I am not surprised to see Simon Forbes' comments. It is in the nature of
coalition work that one does not see eye to eye on everything with one's
coalition partners. As for Israel's "repeated invasions of their
I have to question Simon's claimed even-handedness given his failure to
mention that Israel was responding to attacks. Granted, Israel's prime
minister and defense minister demonstrated last summer that they are
probably the most inept in that nation's history, but people who live next
door to Hezbollah should not be surprised when missiles rain down on their
heads -- and Palestinians who vote for Hamas should not be treated as
helpless victims. I am glad, however, that Simon breaks with many of
similar sentiments in defending Israel's right to exist. One of the things
I most respect about his colleague Peter Tatchell, who like Simon is a good
distance to my left (I consider myself a centrist), is Peter's intellectual
honesty and willingness to criticize his own side. Scott Long, on the other
hand, has done far more personal sniping than Michael or Peter have done
(for all their outspoken agitation). Yet I continue to point out the
enormous amount of highly valuable work that Scott does. By contrast, all
Scott seems interested in doing with regard to independent activists like
Peter is to tell them to shut up and go away and accuse them of acting
only for personal catharsis. The single most annoying thing about the
behavior of IGLHRC and HRW is their arrogant gatekeeping efforts, as
displayed last summer when many of us overcame our differences to join
in an international day of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in
Iran, who expressed appreciation for our efforts.

One point of Simon's that I would like to quibble over: He writes that
the U.S. State Department reports (the gay- and HIV-related portions of
which I have extracted and loaded on a single webpage at
"often play down or deny the level of repression of LGBT people in
like Iran. Such reports are then used as a basis for refusing claims
based on sexual orientation." Michael's own point is nearly the opposite
of what Simon claims. The State Department reports depend on a variety
of sources, including NGOs like HRW (which is one of the most frequently
cited NGOs in the country reports); but this year's reports appear to
have more information, which suggests they are getting more cooperation.
The reports are used by lawyers to support asylum claims. We are a very
long way from the goal in all of this, of course, which is a reason to
publicize the reports and encourage more people around the world to feed
information to the State Department -- rather than making a sniping
anti-American comment as Scott did in an email that was forwarded to me
last week. He should be emphasizing why people SHOULD value the State
Department reports, and explaining that they are not a personal
projection of George W. Bush. There is a tendency on the part of the
media to trivialize these things, as when NBC gleefully reported that
the Borat movie was included in the reports as a target of censorship,
and NBC then suggested that even Condi Rice could not resist Sasha
Baron Cohen. The print length of the 2000 reports must be close to
6000 pages, but all NBC cares to say about this massive documentation
of human rights violations is to make a joke. That is why we all need
to make some effort to get over ourselves and work with one another
as best we can. But we ARE going to have serious ideological
disagreements. We can do that because we, unlike many of those for
whom we advocate, live in freedom.

Rick Rosendall
Washington, DC

In a message dated 3/12/2007 6:36:37 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:


Please take me off of your mailing list. Your constant attacks, with absolutely no information about what any of us do, are demoralizing and wasteful. You, as well as the New Republic apparently, keep beating the drum on a single issue that has been answered and explained many times. You don't like the answer, what am I to do? You are not part of the constituency of LGBT people to whom IGLHRC's work is primarily directed. Nor to do you ever bother to pay attention to the range of work that we do and have succeeded in, sometimes on our own, often with the alliance of a small but incredibly talented and committed group of colleagues determined to build a better world for sexual minorities, using a variety of strategies. For most of us, our disagreements are handled directly and respectfully. Your reliance on articles from rags like the New Republic (defined by me as a "rag" to distinguish it from journalism where the author of the article actually contacts the organization before bashing them or, god, forbid, discovering that the group had a valid strategic reason for following a certain course) only to cause trouble and dissension. Frankly, I believe in the work that IGLHRC is doing and the impact we have had in hundreds of crisis and movement-building contexts throughout our history. Do I wish we could do more? Naturally. But there is a little thing called limited resources that somehow keeps us from taking on the entire world at once. I am always - and have always been in my 28+ years of political activism - willing to respond to critics and those with other perspectives. But, at this point in time, the world is much to chaotic to respond to a single blogger who seems to have no other agenda than to spread dissension and chaos among the small group of us who are engaged in simply trying our best to build a commitment to justice and rights for LGBT people and all sexual minorities. It is simply a better use of my time to engage in those discussions with those who share a positive commitment, not those who just want to criticize.

So, as I asked, and as I see my colleague Roberta Sklar has asked, please take me off of your listserve, Michael.



Paula L. Ettelbrick

Executive Director

International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission

In a message dated 3/14/2007 10:11:08 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Regarding Scott's scandalous misrepresentation of the OutRage! letter to President Kufuor of Ghana:

This is part of Scott's on-going political vendetta against me and OutRage! He is working worldwide against us and this attack is just another example of his sectarianism and untruths. Instead of battling homophobia, Scott devotes an inordinate amount of time to rubbishing, smearing and belittling other campaigners (remember his recent slight against the Russian gay activist, Nikolai Alekseev, on the Euro-Queer e-list?). My message of Scott is this: stop bashing other activists and spend the time fighting homophobia.

Below is a letter I have emailed to Prince Kweku MacDonald in response the email Scott quoted.

It shows that we acted in response to Prince Kewku's requests. He asked us to protest.

Contrary to Scott's insinuations, we did not "expose" Prince Kweku. He has long been known as a gay campaigner in Ghana and has been widely reported in the Ghana and world media over many years.

Our letter to the President, and Ghana and world media, did NOT mention Prince Kweku's name (they already know it anyway). We only mentioned his name, as he himself has done many times, when we circulated a copy of our letter to selected gay activists and gay journalists.

I hope this explains the facts, as opposed to Scott's poisonous, malicious spin.

BTW: Scott: I have archived EVERY email you have ever sent anywhere attacking and smearing me (already there are HUNDREDS!!!). Copies are being deposited in gay archives in the US, Australia and Britain, so there will be a permanent historical record of all your smears and slurs (and those you have orchestrated others to make. Some of the people you think are on your side are secretly sending me copies of your vile character assassinations and plots to discredit me and OutRage!.

Best wishes, Peter

In a message dated 3/12/2007 8:10:33 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

I have no particular desire to get into this; experience suggests it can go on for months. But I will respond to the notion Rick falsely disseminates that I have engaged in some frivolous "anti-american sniping." HRW did a culling of references to sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status in the State Department reports last week. We sent it to thousands of activists around the world. In the accompaying e-mail I noted that "the usefulness of this will very much depend on how much or little credibility the US’s own human rights record leaves its reporting in your own country or community."

That isn’t sniping. It is the truth. When I was advocacy director for IGLHRC in the 1990s, I did a lot of lobbying to push the State Department to report on sexual orientation- and gender identity-based abuses. I was at a historic meeting with Harold Koh, then Assistant Secretary for DRL (accompanied by Amnesty, Global Rights, and Human Rights Watch) at which he finally agreed to include a standard reference to sexual orientation in State’s cable to post setting out the terms of reporting. A little checking of the record, then, would refute the idea that I belittle the reports. In fact, there are still countries where the US’s reporting has considerable influence. In Jamaica, for instance, we cooperated closely with activists last year in submitting information, because the US’ word counts. But any sensible person would have to admit that, in country after country, the US’s credibility on human rights issues has been severely damaged by Guantanamo, by Abu Ghraib, by secret renditions, by the erosion of civil liberties at home. Denying this seems to me a wilful and peculiar blindness. To name a few nations where there have been abuses against LGBT people in recent years: in Uzbekistan, the US aggressively supports a brutal regime which tortures and murders Islamists and dissenters. In Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and probably Saudi Arabia, the US renders suspects to the torture regimes to extract information—and therefore is in a paradoxical position condemning their activities In Poland and Romania the US has run secret prisons and torturre centers. And, even beyond that, in much of Latin America, people’s memories—sometimes the marks on their bodies—still recall the US Army School of the Americas, which trained the torturers who served the dictators for a generation or more. When I was working in Egypt during the second Gulf War, the government rammed through, with three hours’ debate, a renewal of the Emergency Law, which allows indefinite detention and torture of tens of thousands of Islamists and thousands of leftist dissidents (and under which the Queen Boat suspects were tried in 2001). I was at a meeting where the speaker of the Shura was asked about it; he said, "Now that the US has an emergency law, how can they say we do not need one too?" There were good people working at the US embassy in Cairo who cared deeply about human rights; some of them even monitored the cases of people arrested (and tortured) for demonstrating outside the US embassy. But there is a higher level; and there, the US lost the last shred of moral credibility in Egypt it was trying to scrape from the bottom of the barrel when Condoleeza Rice abjectly, cravenly abandoned Ayman Nour to imprisonment, to curry favor with Mubarak against the Muslim Brotherhood. No respectable Egyptian human rights activist is going to "use" the State Department report in advocacy. And no one working on LGBT rights there is going to touch it with a ten foot pole.

HRW sent the information from the report to our constituencies, and left it to them to decide how to employ it. That’s appropriate. Rick writes that I "should be emphasizing why people SHOULD value the State Department reports." No, Rick, I shouldn’t. It is patronizing to suppose that I should be teaching activists in their own countries about the utility of the US’s reporting. They don’t need me to tell them whether the State Department will help or hinder them. In almost twenty years of working with LGBT activists on the international stage, I have found them to be profoundly politically savvy people from whom Americans could learn much, though we are generally reluctant to do so. They know international human rights better than most US advocates; they know more about the US’s human rights record, at home and abroad, than most US citizens. To suppose that they need to be taught how the US can serve or save them is the kind of arrogance that leads other advocates to organize campaigns around a country, without ever asking anyone in the country itself.

Simon has a great deal to say about Africa and Iran Concerning the former, I’ll only note that Outrage appears now to be responding—having presided over a couple of weeks of impugning African activists’ credibility on the listserves-- by encouraging African activists to attack one another. That suggests to me, clearly, a concern less with the realities of Africa than with reputations in the UK. On Iran: HRW shared the facts it had documented on Mashhad, and on the unsupported claims of a "pogrom," and we did so in a straightforward and responsible way. What ensued was three months of vitriol and nonsense, all of it coming from about four people—one of whom, of distinctly doubtful mental stability, was directly egged on by Peter and Michael themselves, as the back e-mails show. The spectacle may have been embarrassing, but I’m not the one embarrassed. We’ve stated and documented our case and will document the situation further, and to the best of our ability accurately, in a forthcoming report. We continue to work closely with the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (now the Iranian Queer Organization): unlike some others, I can at least say we never misrepresented them or manipulated them in press releases. In fact, we’re in contact with them almost every day. I’m sure we differ on some subjects, and I’m equally sure they’re grateful for any responsible help they receive from any quarter. But, to be honest—and to belittle no one’s very considerable dedication and work-- the fact that the IRQO appears to respect us, and vice-versa, matters much more to me than whether people in London or San Francisco approve of us.

I am now getting back to real work.

In a message dated 3/14/2007 8:26:22 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:


This discussion has degenerated into exactly the kind of pointlessness I’ve seen before. HRW sent around information about the State Department report to thousands of people around the globe. You and Michael aren’t even willing to acknowledge that. Instead, you want to dictate the language we use to do it.

It’s not "Western guilt" to maintain that domestic activists in the global South should determine their own lives and lead their own movements. It’s not "patronizing Westerners" to insist that we acknowledge who and where we are, recognize the structures of power in which we are implicated, and question our governments’ claims to a moral purity that putatively transcends history and political reality. On Monday the National Association of Evangelicals—pro-Bush, pro-War-on-Terror, and not notably a friend of human rights movements in the past—issued a statement condemning US policy on torture, observing that "The United States historically has been a leader in supporting international human rights efforts, but our moral vision has blurred since 9/11. We need to regain our moral clarity." That needs to be said again and again in addressing the people who are affected by our policies. If that’s "Western guilt," tell it to Ted Haggard.

Resources in the international human rights movement are still overwhelmingly concentrated in the US and Europe. Vision, courage, and real leadership are not. The movement needs to change, and all of us who are activists in the North—myself included--need to abandon the UNICEF-card model in which we are representing, and rescuing, people who cannot speak for or act for themselves. I make no apologies for seeing the PGLO as a constituency to which I am morally obligated to respond, while Mike Petrelis isn’t. And I will continue to speak out when I see movements wilfully divided, the credibility of courageous activists questioned, or people in situations of danger treated with disrespect.

I opened my inbox this morning to find an email from one of the leaders of the Ghanaian gay movement. He asked for action when his President visited London. He didn’t ask Outrage to use his name in a widely circulated press release; nor, it seems, did they ever talk to him or ask his permission to do so.

In a message dated 3/14/2007 9:50:35 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Sigh. Thus, presumably, African activists are unable to speak or act or think for themselves, and are simply to be manipulated for our overarching ends. This has become the standard line. Not a nice one.

I believe the question is not how many news references there are to Mac-Darling or his group out there, but whether he gave permission for his name to be used in THIS context in THIS press release, and whether anybody asked him. I was as surprised as anyone by his email this morning, and I assure you I had nothing to do with the business. (I could raise some questions about why Outrage is publishing attacks, by African allies among others, on Victor Mukasa in Uganda, who's already undergone police harassment for her heroic work, but let it pass.) Jessica is on the phone with Mac-Darling and trying to determine if anything can be done about his safety, and surely that ought to be others' priority now?

In a message dated 3/14/2007 10:57:35 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Dear Peter,

I do recommend being in direct contact with Mac-Darling on the matter. It's more productive than arguing with me.

As far as the vile conspiracies go--I have repeatedly expressed my admiration for aspects of your work in the past, even as you and those around you attacked those who disagreed with you as apologists for fundamentalism, cowards beholden to dictators, etc. I am relieved now to hear there is an archive. I have my doubts that history will find either one of us of much interest; but if so, I surrender final judgment to the Ph.D. students of the future.

Best wishes,

In a message dated 3/12/2007 5:52:18 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

Thanks for that Rick
In response to Paula, my reading of Roberta Sklar's comments are that they were directed against all of us, not just against Michael. People are increasingly weary of these spats, fatwas and counter fatwas and flame emails re international issues. Publicly that's all people do see. They don't see the good constructive work that does go on behind the scenes.
COC, who are also totally exasperated with all this, told me last Summer that they had moved on from these types of quarrels about tactics etc since the 1980s. I think that is a major reason to account for their success on the asylum issue last year. In the Netherlands people work together instead of concentrating on fighting each other. COC themselves combine professionalism with political courage.
No sooner do these disputes start to simmer down then something starts it all up again. I have in mind for instance the recent, vicious personal attacks against Peter Tatchell re Africa. The claim that the Nigerian bill in question was dormant and unlikely to be revived looks a bit silly now. Is Peter going to blamed for that? Because of a press release that was promptly withdrawn from his web site? (not that this withdrawal stopped a further and more vicious public attack being disseminated a few days later).
The whole hoo ha about Iran last year that Rick refers to could easily have been avoided. The whole dispute had long simmered down by then. People had worked together over the Netherlands crisis, focusing on the real opponents and not each other. Concerns could have have been communicated to myself and others about the Mashhad case and others should be dealt with - about not being over categorical about such cases given the nature of the indirect evidence on the Mashhad case and so on. Such concerns could have been taken on board, the wording of releases could have been changed before they went out and so on.
No, without any warning HRW went straight for confrontation. With days to go before the demonstrations this statement went out, widely circulated inside and outside the US with the unsurprising consequence that it was swiftly published on the web resulting in public statements in response, including Peter's open letter. A counter event was organised in NYC which seemed to do little except to snipe at what people were doing in a number of countries in the world. It achieved nothing except divide the community, open old wounds and give ammunition to our enemies.
Why did I contact Michael about this matter in the first place for which I have been criticised (repeatedly)? Because he was the ONLY person in the US to organise a demonstration against the Mashhad executions in 2005. Michael may be criticised for many things - but he should not be criticised for organising demonstrations against these executions in his own town in 2005 and motivating others in other cities and other countries to do likewise in 2006.
That first SF demonstration of August 2005 like others that took place at the same time, including London, was NOT premised on "arrogant certainty" about the circumstances of the case but in contrast on scepticism about the official lines about the case including the claims that the boys were above 18 - and the position that the executions should be condemned in any case.
At that time that scepticism was not shared by HRW and the IGLHRC who made categorical statements about the case endorsing official lines of the Iranian government. This was a major source of argument. The Iranian government have a long history of pinning bogus charges on people. The whole dispute could have been settled quite quickly but for that issue - and the NCRI conspiracy theory red herring.
Initial statements may have been categorical and contained errors such as the non-translation of 'Onf (an Arabic word that is obscure to most Iranians). However, campaigners swiftly moved from that early categorical position. Even Jama's initial revelations did not alter that. The London protest of October 2005 was again not premised on a categorical position about the Mashhad case.
I might add that the first person to publicly pour cold water on the suggestion that the Arak case of August 2005 involved consensual homosexuality was Michael if you look at his blog for August. He quoted a source inside Iran who said he knew 'Ali, the reported victim in this case.
In fact it probably wasn't until towards the end of the year about November 2005 that Peter, Michael et al became more categorical about such cases again. An HRW release about the 'gay' Gorgan case (ironically it was HRW who were the first to use the dreaded 'g' word with regard to this case) may well have had something to do with that shift in their position. By July 2006 of course HRW had shifted its position on that case - it is only in July we became aware of this with their public denunciation of the campaign. Not a shining example of good communication and how to win friends and influence people.
We would all dearly wish to move on from all these disputes believe me. I have seen the positive side of the work that HRW and IGLHRC do and I think on the whole it is positive. I believe there is far more common ground than these constant spats suggest. Does it all boil down to egos? How are we going to move on from all this?
I might note that Amnesty have never taken part in any of these disputes, which is to their credit. They remain unsure about what were the real circumstances of the Mashhad case, though they have no doubt that both Mahmoud and Ayaz were minors when arrested and never suggested otherwise. Their position has been pretty consistent from the start.

In a message dated 3/14/2007 12:38:45 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, M Petrelis writes:

In a message dated 3/14/2007 8:26:22 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:

This discussion has degenerated into exactly the kind of pointlessness I’ve seen before. HRW sent around information about the State Department report to thousands of people around the globe. You and Michael aren’t even willing to acknowledge that. Instead, you want to dictate the language we use to do it.

I wish to publicly thank you and the two HRW researchers for your valuable work thus far in examining the new State Dept report's gay HIV mentions, and the fact that you've also shared what was culled from it by the HRW researchers with listservs is laudable.
Seems to me you recognize the merit of the gay citations, otherwise you wouldn't have used HRW staffers and resources, and taken the time to share it with others via email.
So how about going two steps further? I suggest HRW post its extractions from the report on this page: . Of course, since its your group's site, you can also bash the USA records on gay human rights respects.
And how about HRW's press office issuing a release about the posting, assuming it happens, of the State citations on HRW's gay page?
Doing those two things would allow more attention in on the report, which may help our brothers and sisters globally.

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