January 20, 2007
Activists fight Nigerian anti-gay law
Friday, January 19, 2007 / 01:18 PM
via PlanetOut Warning: if the law is passed, any Nigerians clicking the above link to a "gay website" will face a mandatory 5-year prison sentence.
SUMMARY: The law now before the National Assembly levies a five-year automatic jail term on all pro-gay statements and expressions of gay sexuality.
Nigeria seems certain to legislate one of the world's most sweeping and repressive anti-gay laws unless international pressure is bought to bear on the Nigerian government in the next few weeks, according to Peter Tatchell of the London-based LGBT rights group OutRage!
"We appeal to gay and human rights groups worldwide to take urgent action to press the Nigerian government to uphold international human rights law and to drop this draconian legislation," Tatchell said in a statement that called the bill being debated in Abuja's parliament "the most comprehensively homophobic legislation ever proposed in any country in the world."
The law approved by the Federal Executive Council and now before the National Assembly levies a five-year automatic prison sentence not only on almost every expression of gay identity and sexuality but also on giving advice or support to lesbians or gay men.
Backed by Nigerian religious leaders including Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola, to whom several U.S. churches upset with the Episcopal Church's gay tolerance have switched allegiance, it is expected to be passed into law within weeks.
On Friday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu once again deplored the African church's position and urged it to concentrate on the continent's problems.
"To penalize somebody for their sexual orientation is the same as what used to happen to black South Africans for something about which we could do nothing," the South African Press Association quoted Tutu as saying.
Among other things, Tatchell said, Nigeria's proposed law "will outlaw membership of a gay group, attending a gay meeting or protest, advocating gay equality, donating money to a gay organization, hosting or visiting a gay website, the publication or possession of gay safer sex advice, renting or selling a property to a gay couple, expressions of same-sex love in letters or emails, attending a same-sex marriage or blessing ceremony, screening or watching a gay movie, taking or possessing photos of a gay couple, and publishing, selling or loaning a gay book or video."
Homosexuality is already illegal under Nigerian civil law, and carries the death penalty in the northern regions of the country that are governed by Muslim Sharia law.
January 16, 2007
World Health Org to focus on Women and Africa
Women and Africa, Paramount for New Female Director-General of WHO
Margaret Chan, the newly-elected Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), recently announced an agenda for her term centered around womenâ€™s health. Dr. Chan is focused on achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, which include the promotion of gender equality and female empowerment, as well as improving maternal health.
Chan is also focused on fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa, as it has begun to affect more women and children. According to WHO, in sub-Saharan Africa, women make up almost 60 percent of those infected with HIV and the infection rates among adolescent girls and young women are much higher than those of young males. Chan's goals reach beyond physical health and aim to empower women to "leverage their resources and their creativity and become change agents" because she believes that women who are empowered "can make changes, not only to themselves but also to their families and their communities."
Chan previously held the position of director of Health of Hong Kong, where she managed outbreaks of avian influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Her first job in her 30 years of public health service involved taking care of children and pregnant women. In November 2006, she was elected to replace Dr. Lee Jong-wook (who passed away suddenly last year) and will serve until 2012.
Media Resources: WHO 1/4/07; New York Times 1/5/07; UN News Service 11/10/06
January 10, 2007
Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality (JMMS)
Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality (JMMS) is a new online, scholarly, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal. The first issue is now available on an open access basis.
JMMS seeks to be as inclusive as possible in its area of enquiry. Papers address the full spectrum of masculinities and sexualities, particularly those which are seldom heard. Similarly, JMMS addresses not only monotheistic religions and spiritualities but also Eastern, indigenous, new religious movements and other spiritualities which resist categorization. JMMS papers address historical and contemporary phenomena as well as speculative essays about future spiritualities.
Please refer to the website for further information: http://www.jmmsweb.org