Jamaican gay man wins U.S. asylum
A Jamaican gay man, Ven Messam (pictured) , won asylum in the United States Nov. 8 because he had been threatened by anti-gay mobs that run rampant on the island.
With the assistance of Columbia University Law School's new Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, Messam convinced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that he faced persecution or death if forced to return to Jamaica.
'Within just the last month, gay Jamaicans have been murdered and the government has not intervened,' the clinic said in a statement. 'Rampant rumors that hostile groups are plotting the social cleansing of hundreds of gay people by year's end have forced countless GLBT people into hiding. Far from a tropical paradise, this Caribbean nation continues to imprison and kill its gay citizens with relative impunity.'
'I am grateful to the United States government for saving my life,' Messam said. 'My life in Jamaica was constantly in danger, with angry mobs carrying machetes, stones, knives and guns threatening to kill me because I am gay. When I tried to contact the police for help, the police instead threatened to arrest me and told me to leave the country if I wanted to stay safe.'
Amnesty International says Lithuania is failing to respect GLBT people's rights to freedom of assembly and expression.
On Oct. 24, the City Council in the capital, Vilnius, refused to permit the display of a 30-meter rainbow flag in Town Hall Square.
The event was planned as a focal point for the International Lesbian and Gay Association European Region's annual convention that was taking place in the city.
The city banned the display on claims that construction activity in the square could endanger participants.
However, the square remained open to the public, and officials offered ILGA-Europe no alternative venue.
Vilnius banned an identical flag display in May during the city's first gay-pride activities. It also banned the European Union's traveling 'anti-discrimination truck' from visiting the city at the same time.
On the national level, Parliament is considering legislation to ban 'propagation of homosexuality' to children.
The proposal amends the Law on Protection of Minors Against Detrimental Effects of Public Information, which currently bans portrayals of physical or psychological violence or vandalism; displays of dead or cruelly mutilated human bodies; and information that arouses fear or horror, or encourages self-mutilation or suicide.
The bill's authors have written that 'the propagation of a non-traditional sexual orientation and exposure to information containing positive coverage of homosexual relations may ... cause negative consequences for the physical, mental and, first and foremost, moral development of minors.'
Amnesty urged 'the Lithuanian authorities to respect the right to peaceful freedom of assembly for all [ and ] the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.'
Assistance: Bill Kelley
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