UK: Amnesty International celebrates ten years of ‘Breaking the Silence’ and campaigning for LGBT rights

Celebration event hosted by special guest Lynda Baron with Ali Hili of Iraq Gays

On 27 February Amnesty International will be celebrating ten years since the publication of the ground-breaking book ‘Breaking the Silence’, which was the first to research and expose the abuse of LGBTI people’s rights all over the world, and the tenth birthday of Amnesty’s LGBT Network, set up to campaign for gay people’s human rights.

The celebration will include special guests Lynda Baron (1) and Ali Hili, of gay Iraqi support group Abu Nawas, who will talk about the persecution now being faced by LGBT people in Iraq.

Ben Bradshaw MP and representatives from the London Mayor’s Office will join friends and supporters at this celebration.

While Amnesty International had already begun campaigning on behalf of people who were persecuted for their sexuality, the publication of Breaking the Silence ten years ago and founding of the LGBT Network led to a step-change in Amnesty’s work in this area.

Over the past ten years Amnesty has issued over 400 urgent appeals on behalf of LGBT people in just about every corner of the globe, and has lobbied governments to end persecution of gay people. This work has put a spotlight on the abuse of LGBT people’s human rights, and has lead to greater protection from persecution for many individuals.

Carol Budd, Chair of Amnesty’s LGBT Network, said:

“Almost daily I receive emails describing the reality of life for LGBT people all over the world. In the last week they have included Iraq, Jamaica, South Africa, Nigeria and one ‘good news’ story of a Nicaraguan man being granted leave to say for two months in Canada to appeal his deportation.

“And legality is no guarantee of safety. In South Africa the ‘rainbow constitution’ guarantees equality but there are still catastrophic levels of homophobic violence. And here in the UK, the Mental Health Bill currently in Parliament includes reference to homosexuality as a mental disorder.

“We have come a long way in the last 10 years, we have won a few battles, but the war on prejudice has only just begun.”

As Amnesty International celebrates this important anniversary, the LGBT Network members will be mindful of those currently facing persecution who need international support and solidarity. Amnesty International is alarmed by a Bill before the Nigerian Parliament proposing the criminalisation of homosexuality. The organisation is campaigning for the Nigerian government to drop this proposal.

Amnesty International is also gearing up for a busy Pride season this year, both in the UK and in eastern Europe, where activists will be showing solidarity with gay communities in some countries there who are facing threats, intimidation and even legal proceedings when they attempt to march openly.

The birthday celebration, at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Bishopsgate in the City of London (7-9pm), will have limited space and guests are requested to RSVP. To reserve a place contact Lsw05@tiscali.co.uk

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Notes to editors

1. Lynda Baron, most famous for her role as Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, in Open All Hours (and more recently in Being Stanley Kubrick with John Malkovich and EastEnders), has been a long-term supporter of Amnesty’s work on behalf of the LGBT community.

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