Thursday, April 30, 2009

HRW Releasing 3 LGBT Iraq,
Honduras, Global Reports in May

The Human Rights Watch press office today issued an alert about reports they're releasing the next few weeks, including three on LGBT persons and activist strategies, and they may also put on a press conference in Washington. That is if diva Scott Long deigns to meet with the press and gay public.

He's such a drama queen about his reports, field investigations, and public appearances. I'm not surprised the HRW alert built up some drama in saying it's possible Long will be able to tear himself away from his globe-trotting to sit down with folks in DC.

Who knows? Long may be called away on urgent LGBT business in Tehran and unable to present his findings to a DC audience.

As we all wait for the release of these three HRW reports, I hope to hear from local gay activists, or others familiar with LGBT people in countries where HRW has has a hand in their affairs, about what exactly was gained and improved on the ground after the report came out.

For example, in 2004 Long published two melodramatically titled reports. "In a Time of Torture," about the Egyptian crackdown on gays; and "Hated to Death", a document proving homo-hatred in Jamaica.

Finely worded and referenced records of hatred against LGBT persons, and I wonder what affect they had, if any, on improving the on the ground situation for gays. Five years later, what can HRW point to that changed for the better for LGBT people in Egypt and Jamaica?

To get a second analysis, I sent the full HRW alert to a colleague for his opinion. He replied:

thanks for sharing this. i can't see any reason why it's privileged info. whatever.

i note that scott long's reports are the only ones that have no specific deadline. he gets special treatment, as geniuses should. maybe we'll see it by early august.

i do not want to prejudge this report, though. that would not be fair.

but between you and me, it looks like his solution is to call on western nations to support refugees and asylum seekers. certainly this is critical and maybe remotely possible, but it does nothing to intervene in the murder and torture.

what percentage of gay men actually have the resources (of all kinds) to leave the country? i think there are maybe a few dozen, compared to hundreds who have been killed.

if HRW has already decided that the hatred of homosexuality is so widely supported in Iraq by culture and religion that the murders cannot be stopped—that the evil behind them is intractable—we can already predict that the rest of the humanitarian community will follow suit.

Where does that leave the 97 percent of gay men in Iraq who can't emigrate?

I don't know the answer to that vexing question, but it must be asked until such time that we have a solution, or two, to save hundreds of LGBT Iraqis facing almost-certain death.

We cannot remain complacent or silent about the killings of our brothers and sisters over in Baghdad. If nothing else, when HRW's gay diva shows us his report, if nothing else, it will renew attention on LGBT Iraqis.

From the HRW alert:

Iraq: Violence Against Gay and Transgender People
(Late May; Scott Long, +1-212-216-1297, +1-646-641-5655,
In the last 60 days, Iraq has experienced a targeted campaign of murder and torture directed at gay men and transgender people. This report, based on detailed interviews with survivors during a mission to Iraq, documents the scope and horror of a crackdown that may have claimed hundreds of lives. It points to state officials’ misconduct as well as a lack of accountability for militia violence, and it calls on Western and allied governments to respond by accelerating resettlement of Iraq LGBT refugees.
Possible news conference in Washington, DC.

New Strategies Worldwide for LGBT Rights
(Late May; Scott Long, +1-212-216-1297, +1-646-641-5655,

In the last 20 years, groups defending lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people’s rights have achieved visibility, and political change, in many countries. Dozens of governments have repealed sodomy laws or prohibited discrimination. Yet visibility breeds violence, and the successes of LGBT activists have met ferocious backlash in many places. From Jamaica to Kenya and from Singapore to Sao Paulo, courageous rights defenders have found innovative strategies to push for rights protections. This report explores the strategies LGBT activists are pursuing throughout the global South. It sketches a worldwide map of a modern social movement that is transforming advocacy for human rights.

Honduras: Violence Against Transgender People
(Friday, May 29; Juliana Cano Nieto, +1-646-407-0020, At least 17 male-to-female transgender people have been killed since 2004 and 15 more died from health-related problems. Violence and discrimination by society and the state causes transgender people to live and die in the streets. Police officers abuse, extort and beat transgender people, using open-ended laws to justify their actions. The judiciary neglects the investigations; the government ignores the need to guarantee their rights. In a country where HIV continues to be of concern, health care providers provide substandard treatment and care to those considered a high-risk population, putting them and many other Honduran’s at risk. Other health needs of transgender people also go blatantly unaddressed.

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