Moscow Mayor enters homophobic ‘hall of shame’

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Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has been named in a homophobia hall of shame, as he stands firmly behind a gay pride ban, a week before the event is due to take place.

Human Rights Watch compiled a list of public officials who the groups claims is actively promoting prejudice, for the International Day Against Homophobia yesterday.

The list names five public officials, Senior Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Pandey of Lucknow, India, whose agents used the Internet to entrap four men and jailed them under his country’s colonial-era sodomy law and Netherlands Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk of the Netherlands, who sought to deny asylum to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iranians, threatening to deport them back to a country that imposes the death penalty on homosexual conduct.

Also included is Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, who supports a law imposing five years of imprisonment on anyone who is involved in a lesbian and gay organization or publication, publicly supports lesbian and gay people’s rights, or even publicly displays a “same-sex amorous relationship.”

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov made the list after vowing to ban Russia’s first-ever lesbian and gay pride parade, claiming he had to protect the rights of “the majority,” and Alabama State Representative Gerald Allen, in the United States, who moved to strip public libraries of books by lesbian or gay authors, promising to “dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them” is also included.

Human Rights Watch director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights programme, said: “This ‘hall of shame’ does not claim to include the worst offenders, but it highlights public officials who have failed in their basic duty to respect human rights for all.

“The abuses these officials have caused or countenanced symbolize the daily, invidious forms of homophobia that countless people face around the world.

“Sodomy laws and surveillance, censorship and silencing, inequality and official discrimination, arrest and torture, are realities for many LGBT people on every continent.

“Homophobia has a global reach.”

Human Rights Watch also highlighted five countries that have made progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Brazil, where a landmark government campaign for a “Brazil without Homophobia” supports LGBT groups in the struggle for equality, Fiji, where in August the High Court ruled that the country’s sodomy law was unconstitutional holding that, “What the constitution requires is that the law acknowledges difference, affirms dignity and allows equal respect to every citizen as they are,” Romania, where a decade of domestic and international pressure led to the repeal of a sodomy law and to the passage of broad anti discrimination protections.

South Africa, where a Constitutional Court ruling in December opened equality in civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples for the first time on the African continent; and Spain, where in the wake of marriage equality, parliament is debating a bill to give transgender people expansive rights to legal recognition of their gender identity, based on a psychological evaluation and without making surgery a prerequisite for those rights.