organization:british government

  • Inside immigration detention centres: Uncoupling detention from a criminal justice imagination

    As the British government holds its first public inquiry into the conditions and nature of immigration detention, it is a good time to take stock of this form of custody. These institutions are volatile and contested sites. They are also places about which we know very little. What is their goal? How are they justified? Who is detained and why? What is detention like?

    #migration #asile #réfugiés #détention #détention_administrative #rétention #UK #Angleterre #carte #visualisation

  • Space tourists could soon be blasting off from Scotland - Quartz

    The first commercial space flights from anywhere outside of the United States could be taking off from Scotland. The British government is planning to launch a port for commercial space flights by 2018, and six out of the eight potential sites in the UK are in Scotland.

    (...) the spaceport would likely also facilitate rocket and satellite launches.

    (...) The UK wants Sir Richard Branson to build the port in #Scotland (...) nine spaceports in the US built and designed specifically to ferry passengers back and forth for sub-orbital flights.


    Alexander’s announcement comes just weeks before Scotland votes on whether to become an independent nation—and the fast-growing space sector is featuring in the economic debate.

    #espace #tourisme #Écosse #Royaume-Uni

    liste des spaceports :

  • The #business of child detention: charitable co-option, migrant advocacy and activist outrage

    In 2010 the British government announced that the outrage of child detention for immigration purposes was to end. Simultaneously, however, it commissioned the opening of a new family detention centre called #CEDARS. An acronym for Compassion, Empathy, Dignity, Approachability, Respect and Support, CEDARS is run under novel governance arrangements by the Home Office, private security company #G4S and the children’s charity Barnardo’s. This article draws on focus group research with migrant advocacy groups, to examine the ways in which Barnardo’s’ role within CEDARS is variously imagined as mitigating and/or legitimating the use of detention as a border control mechanism. In particular we ask: what are the consequences of the co-option of charities and voluntary organisations within the immigration detention market? Has the neoliberal trend towards the ‘professionalisation of dissent’ diminished political opposition to immigration detention in Britain and the wider world?1 Has humanitarian activism on behalf of migrants (unintentionally) contributed to the exponential growth of for-profit migrant detention markets?

    #UK #Angleterre #enfant #mineur #détention #détention_administrative #rétention #charité #activisme #activisme_humanitaire #marché

  • “The dark side of .io: How the U.K. is making web domain profits from a shady Cold War land deal

    The .io domain is a hit, but few startups using it appreciate the associations it carries — a mass expulsion that took place within living memory, and a crucial staging-post for the “War on Terror”.”


  • Definition: “Scrounger”

    Salma Yaqoob confronts Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith on poverty, austerity and the government’s labelling of those on benefits as “scroungers” | BBC Question Time, 12 June 2014: So glad that Yaqoob said this. Like so many, I’ve been disgusted by the vilification of poor people under the current British government, and the political impunity […]

    #MEDIA #TELEVISION #David_Dimbleby #Ian_Duncan_Smith #Salma_Yaqoob #Scroungers #Welfare_Reform

  • Israeli minister Tzipi Livni given diplomatic immunity for UK visit

    The British government has granted temporary diplomatic immunity to a prominent Israeli politician ahead of a visit to the UK this week to protect her against arrest and potential prosecution for alleged breaches of international law, including war crimes.

    The Foreign Office confirmed “special mission” status – effectively, diplomatic immunity – has been granted to Tzipi Livni, Israel’s justice minister and lead negotiator in recent peace talks, who will meet Foreign Office ministers in London.

    “Since the visit meets all the essential elements for a special mission, and for avoidance of any doubt on the matter, the FCO has confirmed consent to the visit as a special mission,” the FCO said.

    The move comes amid efforts to secure a warrant for Livni’s arrest by London lawyers Hickman and Rose, acting on behalf of a relative of a Palestinian killed in the bombing of a police compound on the first day of Israel’s military assault on Gaza, which began in December 2008.

  • Britain Increasingly Invoking Power to Disown Its Citizens -

    LONDON — The letter informing Mohamed Sakr that he had been stripped of his British citizenship arrived at his family’s house in London in September 2010. Mr. Sakr, born and raised here by British-Egyptian parents, was in Somalia at the time and was suspected by Western intelligence agencies of being a senior figure in the Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.

    Seventeen months later, an American drone streaked out of the sky in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia and killed Mr. Sakr. An intelligence official quoted in news reports called him a “very senior Egyptian,” though he never held an Egyptian passport. A childhood friend of Mr. Sakr, Bilal al-Berjawi, a Lebanese-Briton also stripped of his citizenship by the British government, was killed in a drone strike a month earlier, after having escaped an attack in June 2011.

    Senior American and British officials said there was no link between the British government’s decision to strip the men of their citizenship and the subsequent drone strikes against them, though they said the same intelligence may have led to both actions.
    Britain, along with Israel, is one of the few countries that can revoke the citizenship of dual nationals — even if they are native born — if they are suspected or convicted of terrorist offenses or acts of disloyalty.

    Britain is seeking to expand the practice to naturalized citizens who have no other nationality and would be rendered stateless. Citizenship, in the words of Home Secretary Theresa May, is a “privilege, not a right.”

    The issue is beginning to stir public debate. A government-sponsored amendment expanding the practice to naturalized citizens who have no other nationality sailed through the House of Commons this year. But on Monday, in a rare act of parliamentary rebellion, the House of Lords rejected the amendment and asked instead for a joint committee of both houses to examine whether the additional powers are necessary. The draft legislation will now return to the House of Commons.

    Britain typically strips people of citizenship when they are outside the country. The procedure requires only that the home secretary find that stripping someone of citizenship would be “conducive to the public good,” then sign a deprivation order and send a letter to the person’s last known address. Loss of citizenship is effective immediately. It can be challenged in court, but that is a difficult task in most cases, given the inability of a targeted person to return to Britain for any proceedings.

    Mr. Sakr, who was killed in February 2012, had appealed on the grounds that the British government was rendering him stateless. He had never sought an Egyptian passport despite being eligible for one because of his parents’ heritage. He eventually abandoned his appeal for fear that frequent communication with his lawyer on a cellphone or computer would make him vulnerable to a drone strike by giving away his location, according to his lawyer at the time, Saghir Hussain.

    Mr. Berjawi was killed in January 2012, hours after using a cellphone to call his wife in a London hospital on the day their son was born.

    In a case involving the United States, a Somali-born Briton, Mahdi Hashi, was stripped of his British citizenship in June 2012 and then captured and detained on an American base in Djibouti two months later. He was taken to the United States, where he awaits trial on terrorism-related charges.

    “The sequence of events does not look accidental,” said Mr. Hussain, who is also representing Mr. Hashi in a separate appeal against his deprivation order.

    Forty-two people have been stripped of their British citizenship since 2006, 20 of them last year, according to a freedom of information request filed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a research organization at City University London that first drew attention to the practice in December 2012. In Israel, by comparison, the power to revoke citizenship has been used only twice since 2000, according to the Interior Ministry there.

    Hilal al-Jedda, an Iraqi-born, naturalized Briton, lost his British nationality in 2007 after being detained in Iraq on suspicion of smuggling explosives.

    Out of 15 appeals, his is the only one to have succeeded. Britain’s Supreme Court ruled in October that Mr. Jedda could not be deprived of his British nationality because it would make him stateless: Iraq bans dual citizenship and canceled Mr. Jedda’s passport in 2000 when he was naturalized in Britain. The British government was forced to reinstate his citizenship on Oct. 9, 2013.

    But on Nov. 1, Mr. Jedda was stripped of his nationality a second time, and in January the Home Office rushed the amendment before Parliament allowing deprivation even if it results in statelessness, provided that a suspect’s citizenship is “seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom.”

  • Detention, Deportation or Death: The Stark Choice for Many Migrants to the UK Who Can be Detained Indefinitely Without Trial

    The treatment of people that the British government wants to deport is among the harshest in the world. The UK is the only country in the European Union that detains people for years with no time...

  • Germany warns citizens to avoid using Wi-Fi - Green Living - Environment - The Independent

    Germany warns citizens to avoid using Wi-Fi

    Environment Ministry’s verdict on the health risks from wireless technology puts the British government to shame.
    By Geoffrey Lean

    Sunday 09 September 2007

    Its surprise ruling – the most damning made by any government on the fast-growing technology – will shake the industry and British ministers, and vindicates the questions that The Independent on Sunday has been raising over the past four months.

    #internet #wifi #santé #it_has_begun

  • Britain reaches Eurofighter price deal with Saudi: BAE

    Britain has reached an agreement over the rising cost of providing Saudi Arabia with Typhoon Eurofighter jets, British defense company BAE Systems said on Wednesday. BAE, working in close co-operation with the British government, signed a $7.5 billion deal in 2007 to supply 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia. Even though some planes have been delivered, the contract has faced obstacles over rising costs. “Both governments have now agreed price escalation terms relating to the Typhoon aircraft under the Salam program,” BAE said in a statement. read more


  • Iranian #bank sues UK govt for $4 billion over #sanctions

    Iran’s largest private bank is suing the British government for almost $4 billion in damages after the Supreme Court quashed sanctions imposed against it over alleged links to Tehran’s nuclear program. Bank Mellat wants compensation for the “significant pecuniary loss” it sustained as a result of the sanctions that were placed in 2009, according to a claim filed in London’s High Court and seen by Reuters on Monday. read more

    #Iran #Top_News

  • ‘Illegal UK state aid’ probe hits nuclear plans | Climate News Network

    By Paul Brown

    An EU investigation into the UK’s financial support for new nuclear power stations is dividing Europe, with critics saying London is flouting EU rules by offering illegal subsidies.

    LONDON, 12 December – A full-scale investigation is being launched into whether Britain’s deal with French nuclear giant EDF, backed with money from Chinese nuclear generators, to build new stations at Hinkley Point in the west of England, is illegal state aid.

    The investigation by the European Commission is a serious blow to the nuclear industry in Europe and across the western world, because it delays any expansion of the industry for at least a year and may possibly permanently damage its prospects.

    #climat #nucléaire #royaume-uni

    • One curious aspect of the saga is that the British Government pledged before the last election that nuclear power stations would be built only if they could compete with other forms of generation without subsidy. They then spent two years negotiating with EDF and agreed to pay £92.50 per megawatt hour for the electricity over 35 years, double the existing price of electricity.

      The Government is therefore gambling that the price of electricity will double before the station starts up and that it will therefore not have to pay the subsidy. Among the issues the commission will be looking at is whether the deal gives EDF and its Chinese backers excess profits at the expense of British consumers.

  • Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt

    To have even a 50/50 chance of hitting the 2° target (which, they and many others warn, already involves facing an array of hugely damaging climate impacts), the industrialised countries need to start cutting their greenhouse-gas emissions by something like 10 per cent a year – and they need to start right now . But Anderson and Bows go further, pointing out that this target cannot be met with the array of modest carbon pricing or green-tech solutions usually advocated by big green groups. These measures will certainly help, to be sure, but they are simply not enough: a 10 per cent drop in emissions, year after year, is virtually unprecedented since we started powering our economies with coal. In fact, cuts above 1 per cent per year “have historically been associated only with economic recession or upheaval” , as the economist Nicholas Stern put it in his 2006 report for the British government.

    Even after the Soviet Union collapsed, reductions of this duration and depth did not happen (the former Soviet countries experienced average annual reductions of roughly 5 per cent over a period of ten years). They did not happen after Wall Street crashed in 2008 (wealthy countries experienced about a 7 per cent drop between 2008 and 2009, but their CO2 emissions rebounded with gusto in 2010 and emissions in China and India had continued to rise). Only in the immediate aftermath of the great market crash of 1929 did the United States, for instance, see emissions drop for several consecutive years by more than 10 per cent annually , according to historical data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre. But that was the worst economic crisis of modern times.


    In a 2012 essay that appeared in the influential scientific journal Nature Climate Change, Anderson and Bows laid down something of a gauntlet, accusing many of their fellow scientists of failing to come clean about the kind of changes that climate change demands of humanity . On this it is worth quoting the pair at length:

    . . . in developing emission scenarios scientists repeatedly and severely underplay the implications of their analyses. When it comes to avoiding a 2°C rise, “impossible” is translated into “difficult but doable”, whereas “urgent and radical” emerge as “challenging” – all to appease the god of economics (or, more precisely, finance). For example, to avoid exceeding the maximum rate of emission reduction dictated by economists, “impossibly” early peaks in emissions are assumed, together with naive notions about “big” engineering and the deployment rates of low-carbon infrastructure. More disturbingly, as emissions budgets dwindle, so geoengineering is increasingly proposed to ensure that the diktat of economists remains unquestioned.

    In other words, in order to appear reasonable within neoliberal economic circles, scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research. By August 2013, Anderson was willing to be even more blunt, writing that the boat had sailed on gradual change. “Perhaps at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit, or even at the turn of the millennium, 2°C levels of mitigation could have been achieved through significant evolutionary changes within the political and economic hegemony. But climate change is a cumulative issue! Now, in 2013, we in high-emitting (post-)industrial nations face a very different prospect. Our ongoing and collective carbon profligacy has squandered any opportunity for the ‘evolutionary change’ afforded by our earlier (and larger) 2°C carbon budget. Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony” (his emphasis).


  • The Economist explains: Why is the Royal Mail being privatised? | The Economist

    ON October 11th the British government will sell around 60% of its stake in the Royal Mail, the state-owned postal service, via a flotation on the London Stock Exchange. Unlike other former state-owned businesses such as telecoms firms, energy providers and the railways, Royal Mail has so far avoided privatisation. Previous attempts failed due to backbench revolts by wayward MPs. Even Margaret Thatcher, who as prime minister started Britain’s sell-off of public assets, was “not prepared to have the Queen’s head privatised”, a reference to the iconic stamps which bear a motif of the bejewelled monarch. So why is the Royal Mail being privatised now?
    The British government claims privatisation will give the company access to private capital and improve its competitiveness. The need for more investment is urgent. Changing demand for postal services have transformed its business model. Parcel volumes are increasing because of the boom in internet shopping, but the numbers of letters sent daily fell from 82m in 2004 to just 58m in 2013. The government says it cannot afford to invest itself to help Royal Mail cope with this shift. It has already ploughed £3 billion ($4.7 billion) into modernising the Post Office’s network of 11,500 branches, which are not included in the sale. Last month George Osborne, the chancellor, said that public-sector spending cuts may last until 2020. Tapping the stockmarket is seen as the only way of ensuring sufficient investment over the next few years. The government notes that the injection of private capital into postal services seems to have worked elsewhere. Belgium’s postal service returned to profitability soon after its part-privatisation in 2006 and it now enjoys profit margins of 17%. Similar increases in productivity and profitability can be seen at Austria Post and at Deutsche Post. Both companies have profit margins double that of Royal Mail.
    Privatisation also offers the government other benefits. A privately owned Royal Mail would mean that future disputes with the Communications Workers Union over postmen’s pay and conditions might cause less political damage to ministers. The sale will also help Mr Osborne meet his deficit-reduction targets; this week’s sale will produce up to £2 billion for the Treasury.  A privatised Royal Mail would be less likely to be a liability in the future, as it would be harder to justify a public bail-out if it got into financial difficulties. Political motivations may play a role too. The coalition government privately hopes that a large sale of discounted shares to the public will bring back positive memories of the popular sell-offs of the 1980s, boosting its flagging poll ratings.
    But it is doubtful whether floating Royal Mail as a public company, rather than selling it to a single buyer, is the best way to achieve some of these aims. New research suggests that private companies invest more in the long term than publicly listed ones, which tend to focus on short-run profitability. Private companies are more able to absorb the financial costs associated with breaking intransigent unions and making big long-term investments, problems Royal Mail will face in the coming years. A private buyer might also make more money for the government than a flotation. Analysts at Canaccord Genuity, a bank, have suggested that Royal Mail is worth as much as 80% more than the value the government is floating it at. As Harold Macmillan, a former prime minister, once suggested, the British government may well find it is selling off the family silver too cheaply and to poor effect.

    –> “New research suggests that private companies invest more in the long term than publicly listed ones, which tend to focus on short-run profitability” !


  • UK grants judicial immunity to Israel army chief suspected of war crimes

    The British government granted Gantz’s trip the status of “special mission,” thus giving him immunity from prosecution by the UK’s criminal justice system, according to a statement by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

  • Britain refused Israel military equipment for fear it would add to ’internal repression’
    By Aluf Benn

    Britain refused to provide Israel with certain types of military equipment in recent years out of fears there was a “risk of their use for internal repression” and a “risk of contributing to internal tensions or conflict in the recipient country.” The equipment, Britain worried, might also damage “regional stability” or be transferred from Israel due to the “risk of diversion or re-export to undesirable end-users.”

    From January 2008 to December 2012, Britain rejected 52 Israeli requests to buy military or dual-use equipment ‏(which can be used for both civilian and military purposes‏), according to a new report by the the British government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The department oversees security exports and publishes regular reports on permits granted or denied to purchase arms, military equipment or civilian items that are monitored because they can be put to security uses.


    Very good article showing the power of (meta)data analysis, using the data about the American rebels collected by the british government. Most users are (wrongly) unafraid of Google or Facebook spying on them because they believe they are hidden like a needle in a haystack. This paper will show them that modern techniques allow to find the needle, using only metadata, not the actual contents of the communication.

    #PRISM #privacy #data

  • Israel selling military wares to Mideast countries, Britain says -
    By Aluf Benn

    Haaretz Daily Newspaper

    Israel has exported security equipment over the past five years to Pakistan and four Arab countries, according to a British government report. The report, which deals with British government permits for arms and security equipment exports, says that in addition to Pakistan, Israel has exported such equipment to Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

    The report was released by Britain’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which oversees security exports and publishes regular reports on permits granted or denied to purchase arms, military equipment or civilian items that are monitored because they can be put to security uses.

  • UK signs deal with Jordan to expel Abu Qatada

    Britain has signed a new legal treaty with Jordan in the hope of being able to deport a cleric accused of being Osama bin Laden’s “right-hand man in Europe” later this year, the interior minister has said.

    The British government has for years been unable to deport Abu Qatada back to his native Jordan, where he is wanted on
    terrorism charges, because judges have said evidence obtained through torture could be used against him.

    “I have signed a comprehensive mutual legal assistance agreement with Jordan,” Home Secretary Theresa May told parliament on Wednesday, a day after a court rejected the government’s latest appeal of a judicial decision to block Abu Qatada’s extradition to Jordan. 

    “The agreement also includes a number of fair trial guarantees ... I believe these guarantees will provide the courts with the assurance that Qatada will not face evidence that might have been obtained by torture.”

    The new treaty is expected to be ratified by the Jordanian and British parliaments by the end of June, but May said it could still take several months to secure Abu Qatada’s deportation.

    The case has been embarrassing for the Conservative-led government, which wants to appear tough on security and immigration, and in particular for  May, who has been tipped as a future party leader.

  • Le gouvernement britannique épinglé pour son manque de régulation dans l’exportation de technologies de surveillance vers des régimes autocratiques. RT

    Privacy International, the human rights group, is suing the British government, filing an application for judicial review of Her Majesty’s Revenue and customs (HMRC) on account of its role in allowing the export of advanced surveillance technology that has been used by repressive regimes worldwide, including that of Bahrain, to spy on dissidents.

    Privacy International’s lawsuit is over the government’s refusal to say whether it was investigating UK-based Gamma International (GI). GI’s FinFisher software has allegedly been used by some two dozen countries worldwide

  • Wilson and Plame: The whistleblowers who waited too long to blow the whistle — War in Context

    Ten years after Colin Powell lied to the UN Security Council to help start the war on Iraq, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame recount some of the events that led to war, but the final line of their commentary is perhaps all they needed to say:

    We did not do nearly enough to prevent this tragedy perpetrated on Iraq, on the world, and on ourselves.

    On January 28, 2003, President Bush said: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

    Joe Wilson knew at that time that Bush was lying, but he waited until July 6, 2003 before speaking out.

    When Valerie Plame heard Powell lying to the UNSC she kept quiet. She didn’t want to lose her job at the CIA.

    How many other careerists around Washington are there, who when their consciences told them to speak out, decided to put their material and professional interests first and remain silent — even when as a consequence, hundreds of thousands of people ended up losing their lives?

  • The global struggle for queer freedom

    By Peter Tatchell

    London - 8 November 2012 - Global magazine

    Homophobic persecution and discrimination is rife in large parts of the world, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are still not recognised or protected by international law. Nonetheless, progress towards equality is being made thanks to the defiance and bravery of activists.

    Over the last two decades, the impoverished South Asian nation of Nepal has made an extraordinary transition from monarchical tyranny to a secular democratic republic. This progress has included significant advances for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Thanks to the campaigns of the LGBT or­ganisation, the Blue Diamond Society (BDS), there is cross-party consensus on LGBT equality in parliament, and the Supreme Court of Nepal ruled in 2007 that the government must repeal all laws that discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

    As a consequence, citizenship and ID documents now include the option of ‘third gender’ to address the demands of people who do not identify themselves as either male or female; Nepal has opened South Asia’s first LGBT community centre; MPs are considering the legalisation of same-sex marriage; and the openly gay leader of the BDS, Sunil Pant, was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 2008 and now hosts one of Nepal’s most popular TV talk shows. Progress indeed.

    However, in large parts of the world, homophobic and transphobic oppression remains rife. It is estimated that the global LGBT population is somewhere between 250 million and 500 million people (5-10 percent of the world population aged over 16). Most of these people – hundreds of millions of them – are forced to hide their sexuality, fearing ostracism, harassment, discrimination, imprisonment, torture and even murder.

    Some of this violence is perpetrated by vigilantes, including right-wing death squads in certain regions of countries like Mexico and Brazil. They justify the killing of queers as ‘social cleansing’. Other homophobic persecution is officially encouraged and enforced by governments, police, courts, media and religious leaders. MPs in Latvia, Ukraine, Lithuania, some Moldovan cities and several Russian regions have proposed or passed laws banning so-called homosexual propaganda and promotion.

    In Russia, religious leaders have united to denounce the LGBT community. The Orthodox Church has called homosexuality a “sin which destroys human beings and condemns them to a spiritual death”. The Supreme Mufti of Russia’s Muslims, Talgat Tajuddin, says gay campaigners “should be bashed…Sexual minorities have no rights, because they have crossed the line. Alternative sexuality is a crime against God.” Russia’s Chief Rabbi, Berel Lazar, has condemned Gay Pride parades as “a blow for morality”, adding that there is no right to “sexual perversions”. Successive Moscow mayors have repeatedly banned Gay Pride marches. This violates Russia’s constitution and law, which guarantee freedom of expression and the right to peaceful protest. LGBT people who have attempted to march have been beaten and arrested.

    Meanwhile, the total criminalisation of homosexuality continues in nearly 80 countries – including most of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East – with penalties ranging from a one-year jail sentence to life imprisonment. Half of these countries are former British colonies and current members of the Commonwealth – an association of nations that is supposedly committed to uphold democracy and human rights. The anti-gay laws in these Commonwealth nations were originally legislated by the British government in the 19th century during the period of colonial rule. They were never repealed when these nations won their independence from Britain.

    As well as homophobic laws, British imperialism imposed homophobic prejudice by means of the fire-and-brimstone Christian fundamentalist missionaries who sought to ‘civilise’ the so-called ‘heathen’ peoples of the colonies. They instilled in these countries an intolerance of homosexuality that continues to this day. As a result, in part at least, homophobia is rampant in much of Africa.

    In the last year, more than 20 men have been arrested in Cameroon on suspicion of homosexuality, often without any clear evi­dence that they had same-sex relations. Roger Jean-Claude Mbédé has spent a year in prison for sending an SMS text message to an­other man: “I’m very much in love w/u.” He is facing another two years behind bars in a filthy, insanitary prison where he suffers daily abuse from guards and inmates. In Nigeria, in 2005, six teenage lesbians, one only 12 years old, were ordered to be punished with an agonising 90 lashes for consensual same-sex relations. More recently, a Nigerian gay pastor from the House of Rainbow church and another Christian gay activist were forced to flee the country after receiving death threats. They were given no police protection. Government ministers in Namibia, echoing the hatred of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, have denounced lesbians and gays as “un-African”, as traitors and as spreaders of HIV/AIDS.

    However, homophobic oppression is most extreme in the Islamist states that impose the death penalty for same-sex relations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen. In some regions of other countries – such as Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia – shariah law is enforced and LGBT people can be stoned to death. The Iranian persecution of LGBTs continues unabated. Twenty-two-year-old Amir was entrapped via a gay dating website. The person he arranged to meet turned out to be a member of the morality police. Amir was jailed, tortured and sentenced to 100 lashes, which caused him to lose consciousness and left his whole back covered in huge bloody welts. He is just one of many Iranian LGBTs who have been subjected to lashings, torture and imprisonment – and who are at risk of execution. In early 2006, Iran’s Gulf neighbour, the United Arab Emirates, imposed a six-year jail sentence on 11 gay men arrested at a private party. They were not imprisoned for sexual acts, but merely for being gay and attending a gay social gathering.

    Iraq is an example of extreme persecution – LGBT Iraqis suffer even more today than they did under the dictator Saddam Hussein. A BBC investigation in 2012 revealed that the police have colluded with the targeted murder of up to 1,000 LGBT people by Islamist militias and death squads who seek the total extermination of ‘sexual deviants’. Gang rape, torture and detention without trial are also commonplace. The Iraqi government is denying or ignoring this homophobic terror campaign. Francesco Motta, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Iraq, says the Iraqi government is in violation of international law and its failure to take action against the killings makes the state an accomplice to the crime.

    Amid this gloom, in 2008 something truly remarkable and historic happened: 66 countries signed a UN statement calling for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality and condemning homophobic discrimination and violence. Although the statement fell short of majority support and is not binding on UN member states, this was the first time the UN General Assembly had addressed the issue of LGBT human rights. Previous attempts had been blocked by an unholy alliance of the Vatican and Islamist states.

    In March 2011, a new version of the statement was signed by 85 countries. Three months later, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning anti-LGBT discrimination and hate crimes, urging a UN report on the issue. The report, authored by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, was published in December 2011, and noted with concern: “Homophobic and transphobic violence has been recorded in all regions. Such violence may be physical (including murder, beatings, kidnappings, rape and sexual assault) or psychological (including threats, coercion and arbitrary deprivations of liberty).”

    Despite these breakthroughs, even today no international hu­man rights convention specifically acknowledges love and sexual rights as human rights. None explicitly guarantees equality and non-discrimination to LGBT people. The right to love a person of one’s choice is absent from global humanitarian statutes. Relationships between partners of the same sex are not officially recognised in any international law. There is nothing in the many UN conventions that specifically upholds LGBT equality and prohibits homophobic discrimination. Some UN members and bodies have merely chosen to interpret the general commitments to equal rights and non-discrimination in the existing conventions as applying to LGBT people.

    Likewise with regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It is only in the last decade or so that the ECHR’s equality and privacy clauses have been interpreted to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. In the late 1990s, British LGBT citizens filed appeals at the European Court of Human Rights against the UK’s then discriminatory, homophobic laws. They cited the ECHR’s right to privacy and anti-discrimination clauses to successfully challenge anti-gay UK legislation dating back centuries. These victories in Strasbourg forced the British government to repeal the unequal age of consent for gay men, discriminatory sexual offences laws and the ban on lesbians and gays serving in the armed forces. ECHR judgements also successfully pressured other countries, such as Romania and Cyprus, to decriminalise homosexuality. The convention has thus played an important role in challenging and overturning homophobic legislation.

    Of the 193 member states of the UN, only a handful have repealed nearly all major legal inequalities against LGBT people: the Netherlands, South Africa, Belgium, Spain, France, Brazil, Germany, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Portugal, Canada, New Zealand and, more recently, the UK.

    Britain’s record was not always so positive. Until 1999, when legislative reform began, the UK had the largest number of homophobic laws of any country on earth – some of them dating back centuries. Thanks to an astute 20-year twin-track campaign of direct action protest and parliamentary lobbying, today the UK is one of the world’s most progressive countries on LGBT rights.

    Some supposedly liberal democracies have been slow to grant LGBT equality. The USA maintains a federal ban on same-sex marriage and not all states have full anti-discrimination protection. The Australian parliament recently voted down a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry, even though such legislation has overwhelming public support. Most of the emergent post-communist Central and Eastern European democracies maintain varying degrees of legal discrimination – and harbour public attitudes that are extremely homophobic.

    Despite this discrimination, LGBT people have made huge strides forward in many parts of the world. A mere four decades ago, ‘queers’ were almost universally seen as mad, bad and sad. Same-sex relations were deemed a sin, a crime and a sickness. It was only in the early 1990s that the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as an illness, and that Amnesty International agreed to campaign for LGBT human rights and to adopt jailed LGBTs as prisoners of conscience.

    Nowadays, the global tide is shifting in favour of LGBT emancipation. In 1999, in New Zealand, Georgina Beyer became the world’s first openly transgender MP. Uruguay, once a military dictatorship, has lifted its prohibition on gay servicemen and women. History has been made in Lebanon – the first Arab Middle East nation to allow the open, legal establishment of an LGBT welfare and human rights group, Helem.

    While fundamentalist religion is still a major threat to LGBT equality, campaigners also have allies in many faiths. The anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu has compared homophobia to racism, and described the battle for LGBT freedom as the moral equivalent of the fight against apartheid. Eight countries now outlaw sexual orientation discrimination in their constitutions: South Africa (1996), Ecuador (1998), Switzerland (2000), Sweden (2003), Portugal (2004), the British Virgin Islands (2007), Kosovo (2008) and Bolivia (2009).

    In almost every country on earth, there are LGBT freedom movements – some open, others clandestine. For the first time ever, countries like the Philippines, Estonia, Columbia, Russia, Sri Lanka and China are hosting LGBT conferences and Gay Pride celebrations. Via the internet and pop culture, LGBT people in small towns in Ghana, Peru, Uzbekistan, Kuwait, Vietnam, St Lucia, Palestine, Fiji and Kenya are connecting with the worldwide LGBT community. The struggle for LGBT liberation has gone global. We’ve begun to roll back the homophobia of centuries. Bravo!

    More info:

    About the author:

    Peter Tatchell has campaigned for human rights and LGBT freedom since 1967. In 1999, he made a citizen’s arrest of the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, for human rights abuses.

  • Colonised and coloniser, empire’s poison infects us all | George Monbiot (The Guardian)

    Last week three elderly Kenyans established the right to sue the British government for the torture that they suffered – castration, beating and rape – in the Kikuyu detention camps it ran in the 1950s. Many tens of thousands were detained and tortured in the camps. I won’t spare you the details: we have been sparing ourselves the details for far too long. Large numbers of men were castrated with pliers. Others were raped, sometimes with the use of knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels and scorpions. Women had similar instruments forced into their vaginas. The guards and officials sliced off ears and fingers, gouged out eyes, mutilated women’s breasts with pliers, poured paraffin over people and set them alight. Untold thousands died. (...) Source: The Guardian

  • Ces aspects positifs de la colonisation qui autorisent les occidentaux à brandir leur supériorité morale à tout bout de champ :

    Last week three elderly Kenyans established the right to sue the British government for the torture that they suffered – castration, beating and rape – in the Kikuyu detention camps it ran in the 1950s.

    Many tens of thousands were detained and tortured in the camps. I won’t spare you the details: we have been sparing ourselves the details for far too long. Large numbers of men were castrated with pliers. Others were raped, sometimes with the use of knives, broken bottles, rifle barrels and scorpions. Women had similar instruments forced into their vaginas. The guards and officials sliced off ears and fingers, gouged out eyes, mutilated women’s breasts with pliers, poured paraffin over people and set them alight. Untold thousands died.

    The government’s secret archive, revealed this April, shows that the attorney general, the colonial governor and the colonial secretary knew what was happening. The governor ensured that the perpetrators had legal immunity: including the British officers reported to him for roasting prisoners to death. In public the colonial secretary lied and kept lying.

  • Why Anonymous hacks UK government sites?: Voice of Russia

    The famous hacking collective @Anonymous has admitted that it has successfully hacked several British government websites, including that of the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry. According to the group’s blog on Twitter, the attack was carried out in retaliation for Britain’s handling of @WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.