17 Apr 2009

Iran, Nigeria, Jamaica and 67 more

Living in the UK is great. I mean sure, it rains a lot, the food is rubbish and it's horrendously expensive but what I want to point at is that we have so many rights here and freedom we take for granted. I was shocked when I went to China three years ago and found out that there are hotels (mostly low-budget) that are legally not allowed to accommodate foreigners. I felt discriminated but I (or better my wallet) was happily welcomed in millions of other places. Still I started to realise what difference the feeling of not being treated equally means.

So I'm going to talk about equality. There is something I'd like to set as a base of understanding before I continue: All are born equal! Nobody chooses their sex, skin-colour, height, sexual orientation or eye-shape after birth. So there is no reason to be treated differently!
We did tho until recently: Women had significantly fewer rights than men a hundred years ago and black or 'coloured' people were treated like second-class citizens in South Africa just 15 years ago.
Let's go a bite more into extremes: When were people jailed and killed for what they are? The Jewish people in Europe in the 1940s. Or gays and lesbians in several countries in 2009.
As you are reading, people have to fear for their live and don't have the choice to go to another places. I want to look at some of the 70 countries worldwide where being gay is a crime.

Most countries that enforce a set of Islamic penalty code (Sharia) officially sentence homosexuals to death. Iran is one of the worst offenders. While common practise since 1979, the case of two teen boys in 2005 sparked international outrage. While President Ahmadinejad denied Iran had any gays at all, other officials openly defend the executions. While enforced rarely, the same law is still in use in the UAE, including Dubai.

The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria also enforces sharia law in the mostly-Islamic states in the north, but Christian and tribal societies in the south are just as hostile.

Jamaica was recently named the most homophobic place on earth. The state does not impose the death penalty, but the hatred is so common in the population that violent mobs regularly 'go gay-hunting' and individuals do not receive protection form the police.

I made a YouTube video to highlight these horrible circumstances and spread awareness.

(there is a great article with the complete list of countries on Wikipedia, which I was helped setting up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lgbt_rights_by_country).