Declaration Linked to Gays
The Paris-based leaders of the International Day Against Homophobia in March issued a strong declaration against the death penalty, both because it has been used to execute gay people and it is a barbaric practice that all human rights advocates must oppose. IDAHO every May 17 organizes visibility actions and last year coordinated kiss-ins around the world.
Here in San Francisco, Natasha Minsker, who is the death penalty policy director for the ACLU of California, read my post on IDAHO's declaration and offered to not only make an official statement praising IDAHO firmly opposing the death penalty, she also wanted to ask other anti-DP groups to issue similar praise. I, of course, welcomed her initiatives and the results are below. Natasha is an out bisexual, by the way.
First of all, Natasha's comments were posted on the ACLU/Northern California's web site, stressing the interconnections of being pro-gay and anti-DP:
"The ACLU of California applauds the IDAHO Committee for issuing a strong, unequivocal statement against the death penalty in all cases. The death penalty has been used as a tool of government’s around the world to oppress the powerless and the unpopular, including LGBT people. Today, seven countries continue to have laws that call for a death sentence for individuals of the same sex engaging in consensual behavior, and Uganda recently considered a law that would have provided the death penalty for simply being gay. Strong, united opposition from the LGBT and anti-death penalty community, including statements like that issued by IDAHO, helped defeat the Uganda bill.
"To ensure that the human rights of all people are respected, we must work together to eliminate the death penalty and to ensure that LGBT people are afforded dignity and equality, worldwide. May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, is a perfect opportunity for people to take action in support of human rights by reading the IDAHO statement against the death penalty at community events. We look forward to working with the IDAHO Committee in our joint efforts to protect the human rights of all people."
Second, the national ACLU's blog also wrote about the IDAHO declaration, calling attention to it and Natasha's comments. Next, the Equal Justice USA organization that fights for a humane and fair criminal justice system embraced the declaration:
"Equal Justice USA welcomes the broad diversity of communities and organizations that have come to believe that the death penalty is broken. We build bridges between constituencies and stakeholders from across the political spectrum who are coming together around the common call for repeal of the death penalty. We appreciate IDAHO's statement in joining that list."
We also heard from Stefanie Faucher, the Associate Director of Death Penalty Focus, a San Francisco-based organization that has stood with gays at protests against Iran's hanging of two gay teenagers in 2005, who stated:
"The death penalty should never be used against individuals because of their sexual orientation. Death Penalty Focus applauds IDAHO for unequivocally supporting the basic human rights of all persons and for opposing the death penalty in all circumstances."
Over in Paris, two key IDAHO leaders were made aware of the statements, Joel Bedos and Louis-George Tin, who reacted to the expressions of solidarity from the American organizations with this communique:
"We at IDAHO receive with honor the supportive reaction of the U.S. civil rights and anti-death penalty groups regarding our declaration against capital punishment. Establishing and strengthening bridges between human rights advocates is vital to our international organizing. On behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and gender variant people who annually participate in our May 17 IDAHO actions, we say thank you to the organizations who issued their support for our statement calling for an end to all executions."
Many thanks to all the above-mentioned organizations and individuals who came together in recent weeks, standing on common ground to say yes to LGBT liberation and oppose capital punishment. Needless to say, I'm pleased to have played a bridge role in all this development.