On the march against homophobia - from Finland to Zambia via the UK

Today is International Day Against Homophobia – and in all honesty it could hardly be a hotter topic.

The European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency released horrific statistics that revealed that 26 per cent of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Inter-sex people have been subjected to attacks or violent threats in the last five years.

With 93,000 people surveyed, it was the largest poll of its kind in history. There couldn’t be a more clearer message - homophobia is still a serious issue. The United Nations have even produced a video highlighting the issue and that’s certainly worth a look. Simply put, such level of violence simply cannot be tolerated.

In Zambia, news has filtered through to Amnesty that two 21-year-old men have been arrested on charges of having sex “against the order of nature”, and denied bail. They are detained and awaiting trial. They have been subjected to forcible anal examination.

The two, Phil Mubiana and James Mwansa, were arrested in the village of Ndeke, in Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia's Central Province, after a tip off from one their neighbours. Same-sex sexual conduct is considered a crime under Zambia’s penal code.

Closer to home, the issue of gay rights is even overtaking Eurovision and its all to do with the Finland entry from Kirsta Siegfrid. Her song is called ‘Marry Me’ and in rehearsals she finishes by kissing one of her female backing singers. Her reason for doing so is to send a none too subtle message to her nation’s politicians – Finland does not allow gay marriage.

Kirsta’s determination to replicate the stunt in Saturday’s final is apparently the reason why Turkish television has decided to take Eurovision off the airwaves. Amnesty Finland is on the case with this and you can add your own comment on their Facebook page.

Kirsta’s actions are certainly likely to influence my voting patterns this weekend….

Next week sees Kiev attempt to hold its first ever Pride event. And yesterday Amnesty launched a briefing on the bad state of LGBTI rights in the country. Hopefully the event will go ahead and send a stark message to Ukraine’s politicians, who are currently debating two homophobic laws in their parliament.

Talking about politics, next week will also see LGBTI rights take centre stage in the UK. The Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Bill goes through Report stage on Monday and Tuesday, followed by its Third Reading also on Tuesday. So expect lots of debate and even some last-minute amendments, before it heads to the Lords to be debated there.

Finally, for those of you with a bit of time this afternoon, Amnesty is running an online chat session focusing on the International Day Against Homophobia so do drop in on that too. There is certainly lots to talk about.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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