Tuesday, July 28, 2009

World OUTGames Copenhagen 2009

The Opening event at the World Out Games in Copenhagen on the 27th July 2009, was exemplary, the list of speakers were extra ordinary.

Rebeca Sevilla from Peru and Svend Robinson a Canadian citizen with roots in Denmark were very proud to welcome all the delegates participating from all over the world, 750 delegates from over 89 countries.

Julia Applegate from the USA and Director of Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association expanded on her joy to lead the sport aspect of the World Out Games.

Uffe Elbaek of Denmark also the CEO of World Out Games 2009 welcomed all the guest and introduce the invaluable team leaders and scores of volunteers.

The highlight of the moment with numerous standing ovation was the introduction and speech of the Honouree guest 95 years old Axel Axgil of Denmark and his partner who made history by being the first same sex couple to have their relationship legally recognised by the state and law, as an activist of many decades, he also led the emergence of organisations which led to the Celebrating 20th Anniversary of Register Partnership Act 1989.

Personally I could not contain my joy to meet this veteran, Yemisi Ilesanmi commented as we rose in many ovation that this is for her history made tantamount to the first time man landed in the moon. It was a significant 20 years ago that Axel Axgil made history that has since led many other nations to give laws and allow same sex relationship.

It is our hope that Africa and especially Nigeria one day and in the life of many LGBT people legalise same sex marriage and also honour LGBT law abiding citizen, respect their freedom to love, Other Keynote speakers include Virginia Apuzzo, a feminist, activist and politician from the USA and John Amaechi retired NBA player, author and Amnesty International ambassador from the UK.

At the Parade of Nations, we held high the name of Nigeria representing LGBT people.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Growth of "House Of Rainbow" the Virtual Queer Church

Growth of "House Of Rainbow" the Virtual Queer Church

Greetings in the many names of the Holy One,

DONT GIVE UP, lets trust God in all matters, I am a Nigerian Pastor who is also gay, I love God with all my heart and I always want to reach out with love to other gays and lesbians, for pastoral care and counselling, you can chat with me at revjide@yahoo.com.

Invite others and Join our online forum here, with over 400 members, let your curiosity and quest for knowledge lead you to a place where you can reconcile spirituality and sexuality. http://spiritualityandsexuality.ning.com/

I am determined, on a mission to share the inclusive messages and gospel of Jesus.
Come along online to view, share and comment, add as favorite, there are over 20,000 hits http://www.youtube.com/houseofrainbow

Be blessed Rev Jide Macaulay

Friday, July 17, 2009

LGBT friendly and Human Rights Organisations in Nigeria

LGBT friendly and Human Rights Organisations in Nigeria

For LGBT people's information, there are a few groups and organisations developing in Nigeria and they are not exclusive clubs, some have been around for many years, the ability to survive the Nigerian atmospheres is a testament of the endurance of the people.

I will endeavour to list a few that are also part of the Coalition for the defense of Sexual Rights in Nigeria and were party to leading the Community at the debates in the Nigerian Parliament, both in 2007 and 2009. These organisations have worked together for many years developing useful information including a 2007 survey of sexual minorities in Nigeria due for dissemination this year.

Lawyers Alert, Nigeria
The Independent Project for Equal Rights, Nigeria
House Of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church, Nigeria
INCRESE, Nigeria
Global Right Nigeria
Queer Alliance Nigeria
Youths Together Network Nigeria
Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria

There are other groups in Nigeria, not mentioned here, however those that lead in matters of inclusion and LGBT rights are listed above and are also part of the Coalition. There are other organisations who are part of the Coalition such as Lawyers Alert who are not necessarily LGBT led however are representatives of human right for LGBT people in Nigeria. There are also individuals who are fighting at home and abroad for the equal rights of LGBT Nigerians whereever they are, for example Mr Bisi Alimi, Mr Davis Mac-Iyalla just to mention two.

I am sure anyone at home or abroad who wishes to collaborate with good intention can always make enquiries about the public duties of these organisations.

Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay
Founder and Pastor of House Of Rainbow MCC Nigeria

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rev Jide Macaulay goes to Copenhagen for the World OutGames

Rev Jide Macaulay goes to Copenhagen for the World OutGames

What is the World OutGames?

Serious sport, serious culture and totally serious fun
You’ll find it all at the 2nd World Outgames in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 25 July to 2 August 2009.
There will be tournaments in 38 different sports disciplines, from aerobics to wrestling, for competitors at all skills levels. In addition, there will be a wide variety of cultural events including performances, exhibitions and parties to inspire, provoke and make you dance like crazy.
World Outgames 2009 will also feature a human rights conference addressing issues and concerns of the LGBT community and all others for whom love of freedom and freedom to love is self-evident.So mark you calendar and come all the way out at World Outgames 2009.

Religious And Spiritual Impact on LGBT lives

Religious and spiritual impact on LGBT lives - Spirituality and faith communities are important for many LGBT people around the world. Religious institutions are often seen as undermining claims for acceptance, but this panel explores the work that has been accomplished within faith communities to increase respect for sexual diversity. Presenters will draw from examples of advocacy within Christian and Muslim communities in Asia, Nigeria and North America. JonipherKwong will mainly focus on the work of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) in working towards greater tolerance in the Philippines, by raising levels of awareness and sensitivity among LGBT activists in approaching governments and other religious communities -- in a region where Roman Catholic and fundamentalist streams of Christianity are dominant. In Nigeria there are currently neither legislative processes nor any other power to protect against sexual orientation discrimination and social phobias.Rowland Jide Macaulay will present the program "Sexuality and Spirituality" which is meant to promote and assist LGBTI people on a journey to reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation. David Rayside and Momin Rahman will discuss the emergence of LGBT-positive voices within the Muslim minorities in the West, and the challenges they face in the broader Muslim Canadian and Muslim American communities.

Moderator: Rowland Macaulay (Nigeria), House Of Rainbow MCC

Jonipher Kwong (USA), Metropolitan Community ChurchRowland Macaulay (Nigeria), House Of Rainbow MCCDavid Rayside (Canada), Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity StudiesMomin Rahman (Canada), Sociology Department at Trent University

Theme: Human Rights and Politics
Language: English
Room: ITU Level 1 - room 2

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why can't Muslims be gay and proud?

Why can't Muslims be gay and proud?
Theologian Amanullah De Sondy wants Islam to tolerate homosexuality again, just as it did generations ago


You don’t expect to start an interview with a leading Muslim academic by discussing the state of Rafael Nadal’s knees. But Dr Amanullah De Sondy, from Glasgow University’s School of Divinity, is a bit different from your average theologian. He has just returned to Scotland from Wimbledon, where he worked as an umpire for the second year running. Our dinner-time meeting has to be rescheduled because of the late finish of the men’s final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick.
De Sondy was living in All England Lawn Tennis Club accommodation overlooking Federer’s garden until the day before we meet. But it is where he chose to watch the Centre Court action last Sunday that is most interesting. He could have stayed in London, but had promised to attend church in Dumbarton with a Christian friend; “as I do now and then”. They joined the minister for lunch, and spent an enjoyable afternoon watching the tennis from the comfort of the manse.
When we finally meet he is charming and informal. He wears jeans and a loose, embroidered tunic in the traditional South Asian style. It makes him look rather like a Bollywood heart-throb. Recently poached by a leading New York college, it is easy to imagine him making quite an impact on the American academic circuit.
De Sondy is militantly ecumenical; he counts priests and rabbis among his friends. However, his commitment to good interfaith relations is the least controversial thing about him.
Several leading publishers are vying to buy his recently completed PhD thesis as a book. At the moment it is called “Constructions of masculinities in Islamic traditions, societies and cultures, with a specific focus on India and Pakistan between the 18th and the 21st century”. With a racier title (How about “Men, Sex and Islam”?) it is easy to see its commercial potential.
It challenges assumptions about what it means to be a Muslim man. The Koran does not, says De Sondy, demand a bearded
patriarch with several wives and dozens of children. There are dysfunctional families in Islamic tradition, he says, prophets without father figures and revered holy men who led “effeminate” lifestyles. Most controversially, he challenges homophobia in Islam. “Homosexuality is not incompatible with Islam. The two can and have co-existed. The important thing is to link it with living a good life and creating a good society.”
He disagrees with those who claim the Koran condemns homosexual practices. Gay men are regularly put to death in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, so this is explosive stuff.
“If you ask them privately, the vast majority of my generation of Muslims are deeply homophobic,” he says. “I think it is particularly entrenched because so many Muslim societies are rooted in traditional ideas of the family and patriarchy. It’s time to challenge all of that.”
De Sondy knows his conservative opponents will use one particular story, which appears in both the Koran and the Bible, to justify oppression. This is when God sends angels to destroy the sinful inhabitants of Sodom.
“It is often said to illustrate God’s disappproval of homosexuality. But on closer inspection it is really about his disapproval of the rape of young boys that was happening in the place. There is a big difference.”
Intolerance is not necessarily part of Muslim tradition, De Sondy argues. Islamic cultures are diverse and, historically, there are examples of people living openly in same-sex relationships. He blames conservative political Islam, spread by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi Wahhabi sect, for creating a puritanism which limits sexual freedom and demands the subjugation of women.
“In the 16th-century Punjab, there lived a Sufi \ saint and poet called Shah Hussain who is greatly venerated. He fell in love with a Hindu boy. They lived together and are buried side by side in the same tomb. Pilgrims come to the tomb and shrine in Lahore district even today, but some people want to rewrite history, saying the boy was in fact a girl.”
He also points to the presence of “antinomian Sufis in the Indian subcontinent — men who have pierced ears and dance in women’s clothing”.
The concept of antinomianism probably comes close to describing De Sondy’s own academic approach. Rooted in the Greek word for unlawful, it can be applied to people of any religious denomination who do not consider themselves bound by traditional ethics or morality. They believe salvation comes through faith alone.
De Sondy argues that the central tenet of Islam is submission to God; this is what the word means. “Everything else is secondary to that, whether it be ideas about women being second-class or veiled, or men being patriarchs. These are cultural constructions. They are rituals. What we really need to ask if we want to know whether something is right or wrong is: ‘Does it affect our relationship with God?’”
Still only 29, De Sondy is a second-generation Scottish Pakistani who grew up in the shadow of the Gothic university in the west end of Glasgow, where he attended Hillhead high school. His father travelled the world before settling in Scotland and served as a policeman in Hong Kong. His mother, a talented seamstress, did not finish primary school. Although conservative in religious belief, they had friends from diverse backgrounds and De Sondy’s father was popular with the white Scottish customers at his newsagents in Pollokshields.
It was one of these customers, an elderly catholic woman, who changed the course of De Sondy’s life. When she stopped coming to the shop, she wrote to his father to say she was ill and in a hospice. De Sondy, then 16, found the letter and began visiting her. They struck up an unlikely but strong friendship. When she died, she left him a small legacy, which he spent studying Arabic at religious schools in France, Jordan and Syria. “I began to realise that these schools were very conservative. It made me ask questions,” he recalls.
On his return to Scotland, he enrolled for a degree in religious studies and education at Stirling University and is qualified to teach about all world religions.
“Some Muslims have asked me how on earth I can teach about other religions. But there is no reason why not.”
Forced conversion and demonisation of “the infidel” are not Islamic, he says. He points out that the Prophet Mohammed took as his wife a Coptic Christian woman. She refused to convert to his new religion and he accepted this. Although De Sondy argues that the Koran was written for a tribal society and should not be interpreted literally, he still believes in its primacy. “The Islamists are free to interpret it in their own way. I hope to challenge that, however,” he says.
Outwith academia, he writes a popular blog called Progressive Scottish Muslims. Many Muslims privately approve of it, but remain wary of publicly supporting him for fear of a backlash from hard liners.
He likes to undermine stereotypes. He has just returned the kilt he wore to receive his PhD at Glasgow University two weeks ago. “I am very proud of both my Pakistani and Scottish heritage,” he says.
As a student, he was a member of the SNP but worries the Scottish government is too close to conservative Islam. “They should be careful. The Westminster government allied itself closely with the Muslim Council of Britain, then discovered some of its leaders opposed commemorating the Jewish Holocaust annd supported the jihad against Salman Rushdie.”
Soon he will fly to America, where he has accepted a post as assistant professor in world religions at Ithaca College, one of the country’s most respected teaching universities, in upstate New York.
“I think it is easier to speak out and ask questions in the US,” he says. “Many Muslims in this country, because they originate in Pakistan and India, have been shaped by the Raj, by notions of anti-imperialism. In the States, it’s different. They are not obsessed with Islam versus the West and they are obviously not anti-American. They can therefore concentrate on nuances of faith and how it is practised.”
There is the added attraction of more tennis. He hopes to umpire at the US Open, which, by fortunate coincidence, takes place in New York City, a short hop from his new home.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Michael Jackson's Good Deeds VS The Media Crap we know... MJ Gave His All..

Michael Jackson's Good Deeds VS The Media Crap we know...MJ Gaves His All

Dear Friends,

We have received many positive responses regarding our recent broadcastabout Michael's Passing.Many of you have learned about Michaels life through the media, whichhas always highlighted the crap, mistakes, and oddness, as that is theirbusiness.Sadly, people gossip about this around the water cooler at work, and tofamily and friends, while keeping their own flaws locked up tightly.

I ask you to think about if, and when you are in the spotlight, and themedia publishes every thing about your life to the world, your mistakes,regrets and deepest secrets, etc..., how happy you would feel.Especially if the media, and people in the world, continued to focusmainly on the crap "after" you died.I can't speak for you,but all I know is that if my name was Michael Jackson, and I knew that Idid even just a fraction of the things mentioned below before I died...I'd be extremely proud.January 10, 1984: Michael visits the unit for burn victims atBrotman-Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles.April 9, 1984: David Smithee, a 14-year-old boy who suffers from cysticfibroses is invited to Michael's home.It was David's last wish to meet Michael. He dies 7 weeks later.April 14, 1984: Michael equips a 19-bed-unit at Mount Sinai New YorkMedical Center.

This center is part of the T.J. Martell-Foundation forleukemia and cancer research.July 5, 1984: During the Jackson's press conference at Tavern On TheGreen, Michael announces that his part of the earnings from the VictoryTour will be donated to three charitable organizations:The United Negro College Fund, Camp Good Times, and the T.J.Martell-Foundation.July 14, 1984: After the first concert of the Victory Tour, Michaelmeets 8 terminally ill children backstage.

December 13, 1984:Michael visits the Brotman Memorial Hospital, where hehad been treated when he was burned very badly during the producing of aPepsi commercial.He donates all the money he receives from Pepsi, $1.5 million, to theMichael Jackson Burn Center for Children.January 28, 1985: Michael and 44 other artists meet to record "We AreThe World", written by Michael and Lionel Ritchie.The proceeds of this record are donated to the starving people inAfrica.

1986: Michael set up the "Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed ScholarshipFund"..This $1.5 million fund is aimed towards students majoring in performanceart and communications, with money given each year to students attendinga UNCF member college or university.February 28, 1986: After having had a heart-transplant, 14-year-oldDonna Ashlock from California gets a call from Michael Jackson.He had heard that she is a big fan of his.Michael invites her to his home as soon as she is feeling better.This visit takes place on March 8th. Donna stays for dinner and watchesa movie together with Michael.

September 13, 1987: Michael supports a campaign against racism.He supports efforts of the NAACP,to fight prejudices against black artists.October 1987: At the end of his Bad Tour, Michael donates some personalitems to the UNESCO for a charitable auction.The proceeds will be for the education of children in developingcountries.February 1, 1988: The Song "Man In the Mirror" enters the charts.The proceeds from the sales of this record goes to Camp Ronald McDonaldfor Good Times, a camp for children who suffer from cancer.March 1, 1988: At a press conference held by his sponsor Pepsi, Michaelpresents a $600,000 check to the United Negro College Fund.April 1988: Free tickets are given away for three concerts in Atlanta,Georgia to the Make A Wish Foundation.

May 22, 1988: Michael visits children who suffer from cancer in theBambini-Gesu Children's Hospital in Rome. He signs autographs and givesaway sweets and records to the little patients. He promises a check of100,000 pounds to the hospital.July 16, 1988: Before a concert at Wembley Stadium Michael meets thePrince of Wales and his wife Diana. He hands over a check of 150,000pounds for the Prince's Trust, and a check of 100,000 pounds for thechildren's hospital at Great Ormond Street.

July 20, 1988: Michael visits terminally ill children at Great OrmondStreet Hospital. At a unit for less critical patients he stays a littlebit longer and tells a story.August 29, 1988: At his 30th birthday Michael performs a concert inLeeds, England for the English charity-organization "Give For Life". Thegoal of this organization is the immunization of children. Michaelpresents a check for 65,000 pounds.

December 1988: Michael visits 12-year-old David Rothenburg. His fatherhad 5 years earlier burned him very badly in an act of revenge againsthis former wife.January 1989: The proceeds of one of Michael's shows in Los Angeles aredonated to Childhelp USA, the biggest charity-organization againstchild-abuse. In appreciation of the contributions of Michael, Childhelpof Southern California is founding the "Michael Jackson InternationalInstitute for Research On Child Abuse".January 10, 1989: The Bad Tour comes to an end. Under-privilegedchildren are donated tickets for each concert and Michael donates moneyto hospitals, orphanages and charity-organizations.February 7, 1989: Michael visits the Cleveland Elementary School inStockton, California. Some weeks earlier a 25-year-old man had fired atthe school's playground. 5 children had been killed and 39 had beenwounded.March 5, 1989: Michael invites 200 deprived children of the St.Vincent Institute for handicapped children and of the organization BigBrothers and Big Sisters to the Circus Vargas in Santa Barbara.After this event he invites them to his ranch to introduce his privatezoo at his Neverland Ranch to them.

November 13, 1989: The organization "Wishes Granted" helps 4-year-oldDarian Pagan, who suffers from leukemia to meet Michael.Michael invites the little boy to a performance of Canadian acrobats.December 28, 1989: Young Ryan White, who suffers from haemophilia,spends his holidays on Michael's ranch. Ryan had been infected with AIDSby contaminated blood transfusions in 1984. After he was excluded fromhis school in Kokomo, Ryan fought against the discrimination of AIDSvictims.

January 6, 1990: Michael invites 82 abused and neglected childrenthrough Childhelp to his Neverland Ranch. There are games, a Barbequeand a movie show provided for them.July 1990: 45 children from the Project Dream Street, Los Angeles, forchildren with life-threatening illness are invited to Neverland Valley.August 18, 1990: Michael invites 130 children of the YMCA summer programof Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to his Neverland Ranch.

May 6, 1991: Michael is invited to the Jane Goodall Charity event.Michael supports her, an advocate of behavioral research concerningchimpanzees in Gombe, Nigeria for more than 30 years.July 26, 1991: Michael pays a visit to the Youth Sports & Art Foundationin Los Angeles. This Foundation supports families of gang members, andhelps dealing with drug-abuse. Michael talks to the kids and presentsthem with a wide-screen TV set and a financial gift.December 1991: Michael's office MJJ Productions treats needy families inLos Angeles with more than 200 turkey dinners.

February 1992: Within 11 days Michael covers 30,000 miles in Africa, tovisit hospitals, orphanages, schools, churches, and institutions formentally handicapped children.February 3, 1992: At a press conference at the New York Radio City MusicHall, Michael announces that he is planning a new world tour, to raisefunds for his new "Heal The World" Foundation. This Foundation willsupport the fight against AIDS, Juvenile Diabetes and will support theCamp Ronald McDonald and the Make A Wish Foundation.May 6, 1992: Michael defrays the funeral-expenses for Ramon Sanchez, whowas killed during the Los Angeles riots.

June 23, 1992: At a press conference in London, Michael makes anannouncement about his Heal The World Foundation.June 26, 1992: Michael presents the Mayor of Munich, Mr.Kronawitter, with a 40,000 DM-check for the needy people of the city.June 29, 1992: Michael visits the Sophia Children's Hospital inRotterdam and presents a check for 100,000 pounds..July 1992: Michael donated L. 821,477,296 to La Partita del Cuore (TheHeart Match) in Rome and donated 120,000 DM to children's charities inEstonia and Latvia.July 25, 1992: On the occasion of a concert in Dublin, Ireland, Michaelannounces that he will give 400,000 pounds of the tour earnings to various charities.

July 29, 1992: Michael visits the Queen Elizabeth Children's Hospital inLondon. To the surprise the children, he brings Mickey Mouse and MinnieMouse from Euro-Disney to the hospital.July 31, 1992: On the Eve of his second concert at Wembley Stadium,Michael presents Prince Charles with a check of 200,000 pounds for thePrince's Trust.August 16, 1992: 6 year old Nicholas Killen, who lost his eyesightcaused by a life aiding cancer surgery, meets Michael backstage inLeeds, England.September 1992: Michael donated 1 million pesetas to charity headed bythe Queen of Spain.September 30, 1992: President Iliescu of Romania inaugurates aplayground for 500 orphans which Michael has financed. Michael discusseshis Heal The World Foundation.October 1, 1992: Michael chooses a concert in Bucharest, Romania forworldwide television broadcast. Bucharest is a logical choice due to thenumerous orphanages the country is known for.November 24, 1992: At Kennedy Airport in New York, Michael supervisesthe loading of 43 tons of medication, blankets, and winter clothesdestined for Sarajevo.

The Heal The World Foundation collaborates withAmeriCares to bring resources totalling $2.1 million to Sarajevo. Theywill be allocated under the supervision of the United Nations.December 10, 1992: During a press conference at the American Ambassy inTokyo Michael is presented with a check for $100,000 for the Heal TheWorld Foundation by Tour Sponsor Pepsi.December 26, 1992: During a broadcast request for donations to theUnited Negro College Fund, Michael declares: "Black Colleges andUniversities are breeding some of the leading personalities of our time.They are on top in business, justice, science and technologies, politicsand religion.

I am proud, that the Michael Jackson Scholarship Programenabled more than 200 young men and women to get a qualified education."January 19, 1993: Michael is one of the stars to perform at thePresidential Inauguration of Bill Clinton. Before he sings "Gone TooSoon" he draws the attention to the plights of the victims of AIDS andmentions his friend Ryan White.January 26, 1993: At a press conference held at Century Plaza Hotel inCentury City, Los Angeles, Michael is presented with a $200,000 donationfrom the National Football League and the Sponsors of the Super Bowl. Hegets another $500,000 from the BEST Foundation for his Heal The WorldFoundation. At this occasion the foundation of "Heal L..A." is officiallyannounced.February 1993: In association with Sega, launched an initiative todistribute more than $108,000 of computer games and equipment tochildren's hospitals, children's homes, and children's charitiesthroughout the U.K.

March 1993: The foundation of an independent film company is announced.They will produce family-oriented movies. A part of the earnings will goto the Heal The World Foundation.March 27, 1993: At a meeting at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles,Michael gives a 5-minute speech to 1200 teachers and politicians..April 26, 1993: Within his "Heal LA" tour, Michael visits the WattaHealth Foundation, and two schools in Los Angeles South Central.May 5, 1993: Former President Jimmy Carter and Michael, who are chairmenof the "Heal Our Children/Heal The World" initiative, are in Atlanta topromote their "Atlanta Project Immunization Drive".June 1993: Michael has announced that he will donate $1.25 million forchildren who have suffered from the riots in Los Angeles.June 1993: 100 children from the Challengers Boys and Girls Club visitNeverland.June 10, 1993: Michael promotes the new DARE-program.

The purpose of theprogram is to inform children about the dangers of drug abuse.June 18, 1993: Michael pays a visit to a hospital in Washington. Hespends several hours with the young patients and plays chess with someof them.August 1993: With Pepsi-Cola Thailand, donated $40,000 to Crown PrincessMaha Chakri Sirindhorn's charity, the Rural School Children and YouthDevelopment Fund, in support of school lunch programs in rural villagesin Thailand.

August 1993: In conjunction with Pepsi-Cola International, donated newambulances to the Contacts One Independent Living Center for Children inMoscow, Russia and the Hospital de Ninos Dr. Ricardo Gutierrez in BuenosAires, Argentina.October 1993: Donated $100,000 to the Children's Defence Fund, theChildren's Diabetes Foundation, the Atlanta Project, and the Boys andGirl Clubs of Newark, New Jersey.

October 22, 1993: Michael visits a hospital in Santiago.October 28, 1993: Michael makes it possible for 5000 underprivilegedchildren to visit the Reino Aventura Park, where the whale Keiko ("FreeWilly") is living.November 5, 1993: Michael is guest at a children's party at the HardRock Cafe in Mexico City.December 1993: With the Gorbachev Foundation, airlifted 60,000 doses ofchildren's vaccines to Tblisi, Georgia.December 16, 1993: The Heal The World Foundation UK supports "OperationChristmas Child" delivering toys, sweets, gifts and food to children informer Yugoslavia.1994: Michael donates $500,000 to Elizabeth Taylor's AIDS Foundation.January 7, 1994: On the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday,Michael gives a party for more than 100 underprivileged children at hisNeverland Ranch.

February 22, 1994: "The Jackson Family Honors" is televised. Theearnings of the show are given to their own newly formed charity,"Family Caring for Families".August 6, 1994: Michael and his wife Lisa Marie are visiting twochildren's hospitals in Budapest. They distribute toys to the illchildren.1995: Michael wants to free dolphins who have been locked up for years.He believes there should be legal guidelines about the way dolphins haveto live in zoos and parks.March 1995: Little Bela Farkas received a new liver. Michael and LisaMarie met this 4-year-old boy during their trip to Hungary in 1994.Michael did everything to help Bela, whose only chance to live wasgetting a new liver.

The Heal The World Foundation covered the surgeryand the cost for caring.June 21, 1996: Michael donated a four-times platinum disc of "HIStory"in aid of the Dunblane appeal at the Royal Oak Hotel, Sevenoaks inEngland.July 18, 1996: In Soweto, South Africa Michael is laying down a wreathof flowers for youngsters who have been killed during the fightsinvolving Apartheid.September 1996: The first Sports Festival "Hope" was held for orphansand disadvantaged children. 3000 children and 600 volunteers took partin the Sports Festival and Michael Jackson was a special guest.

September 6, 1996: Michael visits the children's unit of a hospital inPrague.October 1996: Michael visited a hospital for mentally challengedchildren in Kaoshiung, Taiwan and offered 2,000 free tickets to the soldout performance in Kaoshiung.October 1, 1996: Michael donated the proceeds of his Tunisia concert to"The National Solidarity Fund", a charity dedicated to fighting poverty.October 3, 1996: Michael visits a children's hospital and brings smallgifts for the patients during a HIStory tour visit in Amsterdam. A roomin the hospital (for parents who want to be with their children) isnamed after Michael.November 1, 1996: Michael donates most of the earnings from a HIStoryconcert in Bombay, India to the poor people of the country.

November 7, 1996: Before his first concert in Auckland, New Zealand,Michael fulfills the wish of little Emely Smith, who is suffering fromcancer, who wants to meet Michael.November 25, 1996: Michael visited the Royal Children's Hospital inMelbourne, delivering toys, signing autographs, and visiting withchildren.December 9, 1996: During a HIStory tour visit in Manila, Michael visitsa children's hospital. He announces that a part of his concert earningswill be donated to the renovation of the hospital.January 25, 1997: Michael waved his personal fee for his Bombayappearance and donated $1.1 million to a local charity helping toeducate children living in slums.

April 4, 1997: British magazine "OK!" is publishing exclusive photos ofMichael's son Prince. The magazine pays about 1 million pounds for thephotos. Michael donates the money to charity.June 18, 1997: Michael signed the "Children in Need" book auctioned bythe charity UNESCO.September 1998: Michael meets 5 year old Aza Woods, who suffers fromcancer, at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. Michael introduces Aza to theattraction "Star Trek: The Experience" and spends the rest of theafternoon with the little boy.

Finally Michael invites Aza to spend sometime with him at his Neverland Ranch.November 16, 1998: Michael arrives in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is a memberof the American Delegation invited by the Minister of Defense. Thedelegation thanks the government of Zimbabwe for helping to keep thepeace in this area.September 4, 1999: Michael presented Nelson Mandela with a check for1,000,000 South African rand for the "Nelson Mandela Children's Fund."January 22, 2000: During Christmas last year a violent storm ravaged thepark of the Chateau de Versailles and destroyed 10,000 trees in thepark. The estimated cost for rebuilding the park is around $20 million.Some celebrities are supporting the restoration of the park.

Frenchofficials are reporting that Michael Jackson is one of them. He was oneof the first people to donate money to this cause.October 28, 2000:Michael painted a plate to be auctioned for the"Carousel of Hope Ball" benefiting childhood diabetes research.March 6, 2001: Michael donated a black hat, a birthday phone-call and ajacket worn at the Monaco Music Awards in 2000 to the Movie Action forChildren auction, an event being given by UNICEF with all proceeds willgoing to UNICEF's efforts to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission inAfrica.March 26, 2001: Michael handed out books to young people at a Newark, NJtheater.

The event, which helped to launch the Michael JacksonInternational Book Club, part of his new Heal the Kids charity, aims topromote childhood reading and encourage parents to return to readingbedtime stories.September 15, 2002: Michael donated 16 exclusively autographed itemsconsisting of CD's, videos and 2 cotton napkins to aid in the support ofthe victims of a severe flood in Germany. These items were auctioned offfor charity and managed to raise 3935 Euro (US$ 3,814).October 12, 2002: Michael Jackson invited more than 200 Team Vandenbergmembers, who recently returned from overseas deployments, and theirfamilies to his Neverland Ranch. This was to show his appreciation forthe sacrifices the military in his community make.

November 19-29, 2002: Michael donated an autographed teddy bear dressedin his likeness to Siegfried & Roy's celebrity teddy bear auction. Thisauction benefits Opportunity Village which is a non-profit organizationbased in Las Vegas (USA) that enhances the lives of individuals withintellectual disabilities and their families.. Michael's autographedteddy bear raised $5,000 for the charity.November 21, 2002: Michael donated a jacket to the The Bambi CharityEvent in Berlin which raised $16,000.

April 25, 2002: Michael Jackson performed at a fundraiser for theDemocratic National Committee at the Apollo Theater in Harlem helping toraise nearly $3 million dollars towards voter registration.June 2003: The Wolf family, who experienced serious damages to theirbelongings during the flood in Saxony, Germany last August, was invitedto Berlin by Michael Jackson when he was at the Bambi Awards. On thatoccasion Michael invited them to Neverland. In June, they spent threedays at Neverland, meeting Michael and his children.Charity Awards

May 14, 1984: At a ceremony in the White House President Reagan presentsMichael an award for special efforts; he is honored for hisparticipation in a national ad campaign against drunk driving.January 1989: The "Say Yes To A Youngsters Future" program honorsMichael in recognition of his efforts to encourage children to naturalsciences and award him with the "National Urban CoalitionArtist/Humanitarian Of The Year Award".March 1989: At the Universal Amphitheater in Universal City, California,Michael receives the Black Radio Special Award for his humanitarianefforts.

September 22, 1989: The Capital Children's Museum awards Michael withthe Best Of Washington 1989 Humanitarian Award in recognition of hisefforts to raise money for the museum, and for his never-ending supportof children.February 3, 1990: From Japan Michael receives a Role Model Award.April 5, 1990: During a ceremony, where Michael is awarded as"Entertainer Of The Decade", Michael meets President George Bush, whohonors him with the "Point Of Light" award. Michael receives this awardfor his philanthropic activities. President Bush explains Michael'shumanitarian commitments to the press.

September 14, 1990: The Council of the American Scouts honors Michaelwith the first "Good Scout Humanitarian Award". Michael receives thisaward for his humanitarian activities by supporting the Make A WishFoundation, the Prince's Trust, the United Negro College Fund andChildhelp USA.October 23, 1990: Michael Jackson and Elton John will be the firstrecipients of the award in memory of Ryan White, which will be handedover in 1991.

May 1, 1992: President George Bush presents Michael with the "Point ofLight" award for his continuing support of deprived children.During his stay, Michael visits little Raynal Pope, who had been injuredvery badly by dogs.June 3, 1992: The organization "One To One", who is caring for betterliving conditions of young people, honors Michael with an award for hiscommitment to deprived youngsters.July 1993: The American Friends of Hebrew University honors Michael withthe Scopus Award 1993.August 1993: The Jack The Rapper Awards are presented and Michael ishonored with the "Our Children, Our Hope Of Tomorrow" award.

November 17, 1993: Michael rejects the Scopus Award. He was nominatedfor this award, which was planned to be given him on January 29th, 1994.April 12, 1994: On occasion of the 2nd Children's Choice Award ceremonyat Cit Center in New York, Michael is presented with the "Caring ForKids" award. This award is to honor celebrities, who take time for youngpeople. 100,000 children and young people from8 to 18 years old gave Michael their vote of confidence. The Children'sChoice Awards are sponsored by Body Sculpt, a charity organization, thatoffers drug-prevention programs for young people.November 2, 1995: Michael receives the award "Diamont of Africa".

March, 30, 1996: The Ark Trust-Foundation, who wants to draw theattention of the public eye on animal's problems, presents the 10thGenesis Award. Michael is presented with the 1995 Doris Day Award.He gets this award for the "Earth Song" video, which draws attention tothe plight of the animals.

May 1, 1999: At the Bollywood awards in New York, Michael is presentedwith an award for his humanitarian activities. The award is signed:"Though he comes from the young American tradition, Michael is theembodiment of an old indian soul. His actions are an expression of thephilosophy of Weda, which asked to work for the people - not for one'sown interests."OrganizationsThe Millennium-Issue of the "Guinness Book Of Records" names Michael asthe Pop Star who supports the most charity organizations.

The followingprojects are supported by MichaelJackson:AIDS Project L.A.American Cancer SocietyAngel FoodBig Brothers of Greater Los AngelesBMI FoundationBrotherhood CrusadeBrothman Burn CenterCamp Ronald McDonaldChildhelp U.S.A.Children's Institute InternationalCities and Schools Scholarship FundCommunity Youth Sports & Arts Foundation Congressional Black CaucusDakar Foundation Dreamstreet Kids Dreams Come True Charity ElizabethTaylor Aids Foundation Heal The World Foundation Juvenile DiabetesFoundation Love Match Make A Wish Foundation Minority Aids ProjectMotown Museum NAACP National Rainbow Coalition Rotary Club of AustraliaSociety of Singers Starlight Foundation The Carter Center's AtlantaProject The Sickle Cell Research Foundation Transafrica United NegroCollege Fund United Negro College Fund Ladder's of Hope Volunteers ofAmerica Watts Summer Festival Wish Granting YMCA - 28th Street/CrenshawBig Brothers/Big Sisters of AmericaWith 750+ Million Records SoldMichael Jackson Has Given More Than$300+ Million to Charities!Sadly, most people will choose to remember and pass on about Michaelonly what they know from the Media, because the above mentioned, is justnot gossip worthy.

All I ask is that you spend a few minutes taking in some of the thingsmentioned above, for the next time you are asked to participate in aconversation about Michael Jackson.I ask you to do your part and help highlight the good in other people.You may become, or are already famous and newsworthy, so do unto others...

Guest Preacher Rev Jide Macaulay 12th July 2009

Guest Preacher
Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay

Sunday 12th July 2009, 6pm @ River Of Life MCC Dorset.

Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay will be the special guest at the Sunday Worship with River Of Life.

Rev Jide Macaulay, is the founding Pastor of House Of Rainbow MCC Nigeria. He will be sharing Worship and Preaching this week.

Rev Catherine Dearlove the host pastor describe Rev Jide as an extraordinary man, a liberator of people and a preacher of radical justice. She commented that Rev Macaulya has worked tirelessly for the people of Nigeria to provide a safe and inclusive worship space for those who cannot find a welcome in the mainstream churches. Rev Jide Macaulay has risked his own life to bring a liberating and inclusive Gospel message to the people of Nigeria.

You are all enncouraged to come to the service on Sunday night to share with Rev Jide and the congregation at River of Life, for more information see http://www.river-of-life.org.uk/. You will find it a uniquely inspiring occasion, God bless you as you do so, Come One come All.

Monday, July 6, 2009

House Of Rainbow Remembers Femi Fadipe two years on.

House Of Rainbow Remembers Femi Fadipe two years on.

It was this time two years that Femi was pronounced dead after sudden and unexpected illness, he was a great person with a perfect heart and soul, and at House Of Rainbow we miss his welcoming smiles as one of our brothers, friends and dedicated ushers.

Femi will be remembered for his kindness to his family, friends and dedication to the work of God and our community. May his soul continue to rest in peace and we hold his family and friends in our prayers and thoughts.

Matthew 22:23-30 “The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection... Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven".

Let us pray,

Loving God, we ask you to bless Femi, his friends, relatives and those that care deeply for our community. Show them a new revelation of your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask you to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through your grace. Where there is need, I ask you to fulfil their needs. All these and more we pray in the precious name of our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

We celebrate his life and are rest assured would all meet in heaven.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rashidi - Fighting For His Rights

I first read about Rashidi Williams online when he was fighting for the rights of the Homosexuals just as the National Assembly was about to pass a bill prohibiting Gay marriages and relationships. I was impressed at the fact that a 24 year old guy was moved and passionate about the fight against the bill being passed. I was particularly impressed that he, being a voice of Gay people in Nigeria, was given the chance to speak by the leaders of this nation. This to me was a sign of democracy.

Who really was this Rashidi Williams?

A young agile, learned, Laboratory Technologist, fighting a passionate cause of bravery (in my opinion) against all odds and deciding to brace discriminations, the derogatory words, the sneers, the stares and the ‘bad-mouthing’ that he is bound to experience.
Rashidi, as he describes himself is, “a simple, outspoken individual who dares to tread where others refuse. Most of all, he declares, “I am openly GAY”. READ UP ON HIS INTERVIEW

How does it feel to be a gay activist in Nigeria?
Very challenging, especially as a young person. Most people think I am too young for this and probably do not know what I am doing. But there is one sure bet and that is, I know what I want for myself and my community.

Do your parents know you’re gay? If yes, how did they react when you told them or when they found out?
Yes they do, but have not come to accept me fully as a gay man. But I know they will one day look me in the eyes and say I am proud of you child.

Are there other homosexual activists in Nigeria?
Sure I am not alone in this and not everyone who speaks out against to discrimination we face as sexual minorities are sexual minorities themselves.

Do you associate yourself with other homosexual activists within or outside Nigeria?
Yes I do associate myself with other activists in the country.

What change will you like to see in the future on this homosexuality issue?
That the fundamental Human Rights of Sexual minorities be enshrined in the laws of the land. That sexual minorities are counted and accounted for in the legislation of the country. Also that irrespective of sexual orientation everyone is treated equal before the law.

What’s the commonest stereotype that gay people face?
Spiritual abnormality. I mean being afflicted by a demonic spirit

What are you fighting for? How has the response been?
The fundamental Human Rights of Sexual minorities. So far so good we have been able to bring to the surface issues affecting sexual minorities. There was a time when government and people said we never existed in this country. But now that has changed. You cannot just say something disgusting or want to put a law in place that will discriminate and further send these persons underground and not get a stiff non violent resistance on such things. So I would say the response have been stimulating for us to carry on our activism.

Aren’t you afraid of being ostracized or discriminated upon?
These two things are the farthest things on my mind now. If I was afraid of discrimination and being ostracized I would not have even stood to speak publicly about my sexual orientation, let alone become an activist for my people. So it does not really bother me.

What were the 1st reactions you got from people when they knew you were gay?
You can’t be. You are joking. What about all those girls I see around you. You can guess the rest yourself.

How bad is discrimination in Nigeria?
The word BAD is an understatement. If there is any other adjective apart from BAD, please do use it. You are compelled to be a hypocrite on the basis of your sexuality all because you want to be accepted into your own society. You suffer silently and psychologically. One could even commit suicide in the name of discrimination. This is just a piece of the iceberg on how terrible discrimination can be.

Have you ever been given a favored status due to being a gay guy?
Maybe when they never knew I am gay.

How do you stay positive in view of all you’ve faced and still has to face?
Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet. This is a quote by Alice Walker and whenever I read this positivism comes from nowhere. I have my dreams and I have to fulfill them. My sexual orientation should not be a barrier. It is rather a stepping stone for me to greater heights.

How did you feel coming out and open about your sexuality?
There is no particular word that I can use to describe my coming out open and publicly as a gay man. But one thing I do know that I will not go back to the darkest of all darkness and that is the CLOSET. Therefore coming out open and public about my sexuality has been very challenging for me as far as I am a Nigerian living in Nigeria. And until the legislation changes it will be challenging.

Tell us, what’s the psychological impact of prejudice and discriminations?
It’s devastating. Do you know what it means not to be accepted into your own community or society at large? Every blessed day you keep the fears of letting others know your sexuality buried deep inside you. You cannot tell anyone your secret longings just for the fear of discrimination and ostracization. You live in constant fear that someone will pick you out one day. You suffer silently and can’t tell anyone. It is more devastating than this.

What does the term “coming out” mean? Why, do you think, it’s important?
Coming out to me means freely accepting who you are emotionally and sexually and also not denying it to yourself. It does not mean that you have to be public about it, but it does mean that you are open about your sexuality. As for the importance of coming out, I would say that the first thing you experience is an inner peace within you. If all the homosexuals in Nigeria are to come out at once and declaring their sexuality, you would be amazed at how large this community is. Please do not be surprised if you saw someone you never thought could be gay. It could be your father or someone very close to you.

What’s the nature of same sex relationships?
Let me be blunt here. It is just as same as that of the opposite sex relationship.

What, in your own opinion determines a person’s sexual orientation?
THE EMOTIONS. When I say emotions, I say it is the principal factor. I say this from the view point of what sexuality is and its definition by the medical community. Sexuality is the complex of emotions of one's self and eroticism. Need to say the fact that my characters, attitudes, preferences and what have you are embedded in emotions. And when something is a complex it is something you cannot change and you do not have control over. It is a dilemma you cannot overcome. So I will be right by defining a homosexual by concluding the above definition with the phrase 'of one's self and eroticism to one's own gender or sex'. The opposite goes for heterosexuality.

May I also say at this juncture that sex does not determine one's sexual orientation. But then the nature of the relationships are the same. The object is just the difference. Why? There are so many homosexuals out there who are into heterosexual relationships but the fact that they are into this relationship do not make them heterosexuals. They are still essentially homosexuals. The same applies in the opposite…Therefore your emotions determine your sexual orientation or sexuality.

What are the common myths about homosexuals?
That homosexuals are promiscuous and do not value relationship. That homosexuality is unnatural and un-African. Also that homosexuality is a choice. I could go on to list some more but the truth is that all this is just ways of discriminating against homosexuals .If you say homosexuals are promiscuous are heterosexuals too not promiscuous. But you don’t condemn them on that. So why homosexuals. No all homosexuals are promiscuous the same way that not all heterosexuals are and they value relationship the way heterosexuals value relationships. One sexual orientation is not chosen. Homosexuality has never been un-African. It was there before the invasion of the white men. So don’t say homosexuality is western. For all I care homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality.

Do you believe you’re different?
It is a blunt NO. I am not different from anyone
Then some more:
Are there different levels of homosexuality or is it based on the person’s character?
ABEG! Homosexuality no get levels. Abi you no any levels wey dey for inside homosexuality make you tell me

What’s the most annoying question you've been asked?
When someone asked me if I was an hermaphrodite. The person even asked in the question in an annoying manner.

Do you feel you have to always have your guard up?
Not really but at times with my common sense.
What do you think the first reaction is when you tell people your GAY?
I can’t tell unless they tell me.

Do you think people can ever accept your sexuality?
Yes they can and they will. In fact some have already come to terms with it and see me no different.
Fun stuff

Your favorite movies?
”Little Britain” and “Queer as folks”. Little Britain makes me laugh out my intestines.
Chic flicks or Action?

Best song and why?
I do not have a best song. I listen to music that inspires my soul.

What or who inspires you?
When it comes to activism, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay does.

In your view, what’s your greatest achievement?
I have had many great achievements but I cannot say for now that this is my greatest. But may be I will say one of my great achievements was the day I won an award courtesy of the Lagos State Government (the First Lady). This was during the Bola Ahmed Tinubu Regime in the year 2002, Dec 23rd.I wrote an essay on HIV/AIDS just one day to the submission deadline. I never believed I could be the winner in my Local government. At least I took my Parents to the State Government House, including some of my colleagues back then in Secondary School. This to me was a great feat I achieved then. You want a Picture? pictures for that I could provide (lol)
LOL! Most embarrassing moment?

The day one of my lecturers referred to me as a hermaphrodite in front of the whole class with everyone laughing. Not only did he embarrassed me but ridiculed me. What if I was? It was discriminatory to me as he did not stop there.

What ticks you off?

Thanx Rashidi for your time!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Gay, Christian and Black, Fighting for Gay Rights in Nigeria

Gay, Christian and Black
Fighting for Gay Rights, from Nigeria to NYC

In the past year, the fight for gay equality among Christians in America has become inextricably tied to a country that previously hadn’t garnered much attention here — Nigeria. Africa’s most populous nation is now a point of debate for many of America’s gay activists who, in the age of globalization, have come to realize that how gay people are treated in other countries may influence how they are treated here.As conservative churches have begun to leave the liberal Episcopal communion — many in reaction to the 2003 ordaining of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson — the vehemently anti-gay Anglican Church of Nigeria has sought them out, making significant inroads into the American religious scene over the last five years.

On the flip side, the Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination founded in the United States specifically to minister to gay people ostracized by mainstream Christianity, recently opened its first church in Nigeria, and is increasingly attracting more members.Coming to AmericaGay people in Nigeria face a constant threat of violence, exclusion and persecution. Under secular law throughout the country, homosexual conduct is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, a remnant of colonial provisions under British rule.

In the Muslim north, which adopted Shari’ah law in 2000, gay sex is a capital crime, punishable with death by stoning. But according to Davis Mac-Iyalla, a Nigerian gay rights activist in the Anglican Church, recent events have made it even more dangerous to be gay in the Christian south.“It is much harder in the south. It is supposed to be more difficult to be gay in the north because you have the Muslims and the Shari’ah, but you have more Muslim gays and lesbians than Christians. The Anglican Church is targeting and drawing attention against the LGBT people. We face more violence and crisis in the south,” he says. Last year, a bill was fast-tracked through the Nigerian National Assembly that would make illegal any public approval of same-sex relationships, including associating with gay people or publishing a gay newspaper.

The bill, which was strongly endorsed by the Anglican Church, was widely expected to pass before the elections in April, but has since been tabled. It is not known whether it will resurface.Currently, both the anti-gay and pro-gay factions from Nigeria are coming to America, seeking to gain allies in their fight for the future of the Anglican Church.The Anglican Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has compared homosexuality to bestiality and slavery, and called movements to create a gay-inclusive church an attack on God. “What we are talking about is an attack on the Church by some whose aim is to discredit the gospel, pollute the Church, neutralize its power and pull it down,” he wrote in 2003.

Currently, Akinola oversees 34 orthodox Anglican churches in the United States that have left the Episcopal Church since December; Akinola has appointed the American bishop Martyn Minns to oversee the Nigerian mission in America. Jim Robb, the media officer to the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, says that the conservative churches have been unhappy with trends in the Episcopal Church for a while.

“This movement of theological liberalism, which you might call non-orthodoxy, has swept through seminaries and has taken a real grip on the church. The issue of homosexual leadership is just the latest thing. There had to be some natural places where we’d say we can’t compromise anymore.” Akinola recently threatened a boycott of the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of worldwide Anglican bishops that occurs once a decade, objecting to the snubbing of Minns, who, along with Robinson, were the only two bishops not invited. Mac-Iyalla is taking a stand against the Anglican Church’s condemnation of homosexuality, however.

Mac-Iyalla, an openly gay man, founded Changing Attitudes Nigeria almost two years ago in the capital, Abuja, to foment gay-positive change within the Church. Now, the organization boasts more than two thousand members and branches in nine cities. Because of constant threats of violence, frequent arrests and threats to his home, Mac-Iyalla recently chose to leave Nigeria. In addition, the Anglican Church has issued statements which deny that Mac-Iyalla was ever a member of the Church, and that claim he was in fact stealing from it, even though he was awarded a knighthood by the Bishop of Otupko.

But Mac-Iyalla’s love for the Anglican Church persists. “Nobody can stop me from the Church,” he says. “When things change, and I think it is safe to go back to Nigeria, I’ll go back to Nigeria and I’ll go to church. Nobody can keep me from the Anglican Church.”Mac-Iyalla now leads CAN in exile, and is touring the United States to drum up support for his cause. He will be visiting numerous cities, even riding in a convertible in the San Francisco Pride Parade with Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus. He says he wants Americans to organize and put pressure on Nigeria to change, be it in the form of sanctions, divestment or moral indignation. “The gay American is the same as the gay Nigerian,” Mac-Iyalla says.

“We need to work together as a voice to achieve our common aim. We need an inclusive world. We want everyone to be free.”Furthermore, in concert with Akinola’s protest over Minns’ exclusion from Lambeth, Mac-Iyalla is determined to make sure the gay voice is heard there, even though Robinson will not be present. “Gene Robinson is a model of honesty and truth,” he says. “His not being invited to the Lambeth conference weakens me, but I still believe there is hope. With or without invitations, LGBT Anglicans from all around the world will be present. We must be there to tell our story.”

Going to Nigeria

The Metropolitan Community Church, founded in 1968 in Los Angeles as an inclusive place of worship for gay Christians, currently claims more than 43,000 members worldwide, and has congregations in 22 countries. The House of Rainbow congregation in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, is one of MCC’s newest, and is quickly becoming an important bulwark against anti-gay forces.The Reverend Rowland Jide Macaulay, leader of the House of Rainbow, says his church is an important alternative to the established religions in Nigeria, in that it reaches out to gay people who have been rejected or cast away. He also says that since Akinola began his anti-gay crusade, the situation in Nigeria has become much worse, and a church like his is all the more necessary. “We are always looking for ways to meet the needs of these people because we assure them that even though the government may be trying to pass a bill to ban gay marriage or same-sex amorous relationships, we want people to understand that God loves them nonetheless. That is so important,” he says.Macaulay himself left another church over the issue of homosexuality.

He was raised in the Pentecostal Church, and was ordained in his father’s ministry in 1998. But when the Church found out he was gay in 2001, he was forced to leave, and his father has since come out in favor of stricter anti-gay laws. Soon after he left the Pentecostal faith, Macaulay also left Nigeria, eventually joining MCC in London.Founded in 2006, after Macaulay returned to Nigeria, the House of Rainbow quickly flourished. The congregation now has a steady attendance of at least 50 people every week, with a constant rotation of new people. Macaulay estimates that more than 300 people have attended services at his church in the last six months.This is a stark contrast to MCC in the United States, which is going through a rough phase.

While new denominations are springing up across the country, many more have been closing, and MCC has not been able to regain the membership it had in the 1980s. A similar predicament has been plaguing many other congregations.One of the largest problems facing the MCC in the United States is that as churches grow older, they have been unable to attract younger generations to replenish their ranks. In Nigeria, Macaulay is facing the opposite. His members, who come from many different tribes and traditions, tend to be between the ages of 16 and 32. Nevertheless, a large reason for that is that many older gay Nigerians have had the means to flee the country in search of more accepting societies.

Given the immense challenges facing the gay community in Nigeria, Macaulay sees the need for House of Rainbow only growing stronger. To aid with growth, he is currently looking for an institution in Nigeria to instruct ministers for the organization, but says it is a difficult battle. “Other churches are saying that we’re the anti-Christ, so certainly the religious communities are not welcoming us at all.”But Macaulay says that his greatest challenge is reaching people who are afraid of being seen. “People are afraid to come to House of Rainbow. They are afraid that someone will attack them if they find out.”

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Activists welcome India gay ruling

Activists welcome India gay ruling .

Gay rights activists in India say a ruling by the Delhi High Court decriminalising homosexuality in the country is a landmark. The judgement overturns a 148-year-old colonial law which described a same-sex relationship as an "unnatural offence".
The ruling is a huge step forward. It is fantastic. I hope the government of India accepts the Delhi High Court decision. It has been an eight-year battle and I am glad it came through.
In one way it changes nothing - there are many gay couples in India anyway. In another way, it changes everything.
Till now we were considered to be criminals. If a gay couple wanted to buy a house together, it was not possible. No financial institute would even consider them.

Rights groups have long campaigned for a repeal of the law
I am not saying they can do this now but now we can start fighting.
There are gangs who target gays as they would not go to a police station for the fear of being booked themselves. Even some policemen are part of these gangs.
In Lucknow there has been an incident where even social activists working with MSMs (Men having Sex with Men) for HIV prevention have been detained by the police. And these incidents happen everywhere.
For me, most importantly people who are afraid to come forward will be able to do so. It is very difficult to reach out to HIV-positive people.
Also families who use this section to scare their children and get them married forcibly won't be able to do so.
This ruling will contribute in making society's attitude more positive. Cases of police harassment may reduce. I have seen people driven to suicide. I hope this decision gives more confidence to gay people to come out, be less afraid.
We are elated. It's a path-breaking judgement. It's a historic judgement, it's India's Stonewall.
I think what now happens is that a lot of our fundamental rights and civic rights which were denied to us can now be reclaimed by us.
The government has so far been pandering to narrow parochial groups, religious groups but the court order shows that India is ruled by constitutional laws and not by vote-bank politics.
It's a fabulously written judgement, and it restores our faith in judiciary.
We have finally entered the 21st Century. The government can't ignore this.
This is a long-awaited and incredible judgement.
The judges in their verdict spoke about inclusivity, equality and dignity. They spoke about a vision of India as an open, tolerant society and to hear all this from the Delhi High Court was amazing.
This legal remnant of British colonialism has been used to deprive people of their basic rights for too long.
This long-awaited decision testifies to the reach of democracy and rights in India.
British colonisers introduced Section 377 to India in 1860. It became a model for similar sodomy laws imposed on other British colonies, and comparable provisions survive today from Singapore to Uganda.
Most of the world's sodomy laws are relics of colonialism. As the world's largest democracy, India has shown the way for other countries to rid themselves of these repressive burdens.
I'm overwhelmed. It's great not to be criminalised for being a human being and what you do in your bedroom.
It is a historic moment for all of India. It has been a long fight. Now, one is not a criminal when anyway one was not in the first place.
It is a move in the right direction and I would go further to say that India is not a religion-run state and this decision is restoring dignity to a community that has been fighting for a long time.

India: Historic Ruling Against Sodomy laws

India: Historic ruling against “sodomy” laws, the first step to equality

Amnesty International welcomes the historical decision by the high court in Delhi to decriminalize homosexuality. The decision is a significant step toward ensuring that people in India can express their sexual orientation or gender identity without fear or discrimination, said Amnesty International. “The decision is a significant step toward ensuring that people in India can express their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear or discrimination. This British colonial legacy has done untold harm to generations of individuals in India and across the Commonwealth” said Madhu Malhotra, Deputy Director, Asia Pacific, Amnesty International. The ruling overturns a 19th century British colonial law which bans engagement in consensual sex with an individual of the same sex as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

The law had been used to stifle the work of organizations working on HIV/AIDS prevention in India. The court rejected the law as discriminatory and “against constitutional morality”. “Amnesty International urges the Indian government to address abuse and discrimination by police and other officials and take measures to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in access to economic, social and cultural rights, including housing, employment and health services,” said Madhu Malhotra. The court’s ruling rejected every argument put forward by the government in defence of the law.

It found that section 377, the law criminalizing homosexuality, reflected an understanding of sexual orientation that is “at odds with the current scientific and professional understanding”. In particular, the government’s contention that the measure helped stop the spread of HIV/AIDS is “completely unfounded” and “based on incorrect and wrong notions,” the court said.

The court acknowledged that Section 377 has been used to “brutalis[e]” members of the gay community and other men who have sex with men, abuses that have long been documented by local human rights defenders and Amnesty International. The Judges ruled that popular morality or public disapproval of certain acts is not a valid justification for restriction of the fundamental rights set forth in the Indian Constitution. India has no laws specifically criminalizing child sexual abuse and has used Section 377 to address this gap.

The court’s ruling now restricts section 377 to cases of rape and child abuse. Amnesty International urges lawmakers to rewrite the law to deal explicitly with those crimes. The Naz Foundation, an Indian sexual rights organization which brought the case against Section 377, told Amnesty International: “It's an incredible day, it's been a long battle. Today homosexuality has been decriminalized but not legalized. It is a baby step but finally India has entered the 21st century.” With this decision, India becomes the latest country to join the global trend towards decriminalization. Amnesty International calls on those countries that continue to criminalize homosexuality to follow India’s example and repeal those laws. The majority of these laws are retained within Commonwealth countries.

For more information see, Love, hate and the law: Decriminalizing homosexuality (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/POL30/003/2008/en) Public Document

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The long road of the S. 377 case

The long road of the S।377 case

Vikram Doctor, Mumbai, 15/4/2009

On 7th November 2008 Chief Justice A.P.Shah of the Delhi High Court said a few short words that marked a huge step in the struggle to change Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which is used to criminalize homosexuality. The Honourable Chief Justice’s words were: “The Bench reserves judgment.” This may not sound particularly significant or dramatic, but it marked a major turning point in an eight year long battle simply to bring the case on S.377 to the point where a sufficiently senior Bench could consider the case and deliver a verdict.

Note that we are not even talking about what the verdict will be – the Bench’s words simply indicated that the time for arguing about the case in court was over and now it was up to the judges to write their verdict. That can itself take months, and at the time of writing this we still don’t know what the verdict will be. But regardless of the outcome, just getting to that point was a major step. When, almost a decade back, queer rights groups in India first started debating a challenge to the law we knew it would not be easy.

A change in the law seemed unlikely in a country where homosexuality was still seen as embarrassing or taboo. And experiences from around the world have shown that a change in the law can be a long drawn out and difficult prospect. There were essentially two ways in which change could be pursued – through the Legislature or the Judiciary. The first was what activists in the UK had done, fighting a battle in the House of Commons to get the law changed. This, we figured, was almost impossible to do in India. The track record of the Lok Sabha in passing laws of any kind, leave alone controversial ones, is so low, and the level of public support among elected representatives so non-existent, that this route might have taken us forever.

(A variation on the Legislative route is to push the measure through during a time of big Constitutional change, as part of general progressive reforms. This is what South Africa did at the time of the end of apartheid, and is what Nepal is doing now. But this sort of constititutional opportunity is rare, and not likely to come up in a country like India with a well-established constitution. The Law Commission, which was appointed to review laws in India to make them more effective, has recommended scrapping S.377, but nothing much has come of this).

The other route was through the Judiciary, as has been done in many countries, like the US, Australia, and Ireland. Opponents of queer rights attack this route as examples of ‘activist judges’ unfairly imposing laws on majority opinion in their countries. But this ignores one of the essential functions of the Judiciary, which is to review all laws of the country and see if they conform to the spirit of the Constitution that a country is founded on, regardless of what passing public opinion might feel. In doing so the Judiciary guards the basics of the Constitution against meddling by temporary political majorities, and protects minorities from being bullied by the majority. In extending their countries commitment to non-discrimination to sexual minorities, the judges in these countries had been performing their essential function.

This was obviously the route to follow in India, but again there were different tactics. One would have been to go with an actual case of a queer person harmed by the lawyer. This is what queer activists did in the US case of Lawrence vs. Texas, and it is a powerful strategy because it puts a face on the struggle, making clear the individual human harm caused by this law. But the problem would be finding such a case in India. This is not because, as opponents to changing the law have argued, the law is not applied in India. There is ample evidence of its use over the years (see Alok Gupta’s Section 377 and the Dignity of Indian Homosexuals, in Economic and Political Weekly, for a summary of the most prominent cases). But the people affected are, not surprisingly, afraid to fight for fear of public shame and reprisals under the law, so we knew it would be hard finding such a proper case. A second option was to base our case on general grounds of human rights.

This was the approach taken in Australia and Ireland, where individuals argued that their basic human rights were being curtailed by the law. This was more promising, but again we wondered if it would be effective. The track record of Indian courts protecting individual human rights is mixed, and this was a controversial area. There was also a more practical alternative. HIV/AIDs had become a huge problem and the need to tackle it strongly was widely accepted. One of the highest risk communities were men who had sex with men (MSM), and the government of India had tacitly accepted this, allowing groups like the Humsafar Trust to set up progammes tackling MSM. There was a contradiction here though, because these groups were engaged in giving out condoms that could be used in anal sex – which was illegal under S.377, so by extension giving out condoms was illegal too, for abetting the breaking of the law.

The police raid on the office of a NGO, Naz International, in Lucknow, confirmed this risk. This issue, activists decided, was a more practical one to on which to base a challenge to S.377.This approach had even been tried before, by a group called the AIDS Bedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA), which had filed a case in Delhi against the law. But while this was pathbreaking, ABVA had not been able to follow up this case, and at some point it was tossed out by the court. What activists now proposed to do was taken up the same point, with a tightly argued petition and a sustained campaign to follow it through in the court. But which court?

The most dramatic option was, obviously, to go straight to the top, to the Supreme Court of India. But the problem with that if the petition did badly there, there was no appeal – we would have to start from scratch. Whereas if we first filed in a High Court we could effectively test out the case there – and then if we lost we could always appeal to the Supreme Court. The Delhi High Court seemed the best place to do this in, and we duly opted to file there. The petition was drafted by Lawyer’s Collective, a legal rights NGO with a strong record in human rights activism, and was filed as Public Interest Litigation (PILs) by Naz India, a widely respected Delhi based NGO involved in HIV/AIDS work. And then nothing happened.

This was no surprise, given the slow progress of most cases in Indian courts. But then one day, after sitting on it for quite a bit, the Delhi High Court suddenly woke up. An unsympathetic Bench decided it didn't want to deal with this issue, so they threw it out on a technicality. They said that since the case did not involve anyone who had actually suffered harm under 377 it was a pointless case and Naz India had no locus standi. This was a shock, and it had two possible responses. We could appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and ask them to look at the petition itself. Or we could ask the Supreme Court to look at just the technical issue that the Delhi High Court used, and to rule on whether this was right. Since we still wanted to test out the actual case before going to the Supreme Court, we opted for the option two.

We were on strong grounds here. By throwing out our petition the Delhi High Court was not just attacking queer rights, but human rights in general, since it is a principle of human rights that they are so important that anyone can file a case for their protection. By saying that only directly affected people could file cases, the Delhi High Court was attacking the concept of a PIL itself. The Supreme Court agreed with us. They said that Naz India certainly had the right to file the case and that this was an important matter that the Delhi High Court had to listen to us. So we won there, but only on a narrow legal point and not really a gay rights point. We did not have then, and still do not have, any idea what the Supreme Court feels about queer rights.

But at least our case was back on track. It was back with the Delhi High Court and perhaps the passage of time had been a good thing. The Court had possibly become more supportive of progressive issues, with perhaps the best sign being the appointment as Chief Justice of Justice A.P.Shah, known for his strong support of human rights matters. It still took some time (this has not been a process designed for people expecting quick, dramatic developments!). It finally seemed to get going around May last year, but just before the Court’s term ended. This was a problem since we knew that after the Court resumed the judges assignments would change, so the judges who was assigned the case in May, Justices Sikri and Mirdha, would either be moved off the case, in which case we’d have to start from scratch, or would have to set up a special court once a week to hear it, in which case it would take forever.

The first is what happened, but with what we hope was a good twist for us – the Bench that was finally ready to hear the case in full was one with an excellent track record in human rights matters: Chief Justice A.P.Shah himself, and Justice Muralidharan. We have no idea how this will affect their verdict, but we were sure that our case would be given an attentive hearing. This is what took place over October and into the first week of November. It took so long because, in the eight years it has taken to reach this place, the case has become more complicated with more parties becoming involved. In support of the petition Naz India has now been joined by a petition filed by a Delhi based group Voices Against 377.

This has taken up the pure human rights argument that, when the process started eight years ago, was felt unlikely to work by itself. But in eight years things have changed a lot, there is more widespread support of queer rights in different sections of Indian society, and Voices felt the time was right to support Naz India’s HIV/AIDS based argument with one based on pure human rights arguments. Two parties have joined the case to oppose queer rights, along with the government which was de facto opposed to our petition in its capacity as defender of the Indian Penal Code. The two new parties are Mr.B.P.Singhal, a conservative activist, and Joint Action Committee, Kannur, an activist group that is opposed to HIV/AIDS organizing, and which claims to be opposing our petition because it is supported by HIV/IDS organizations like Naz India.

It is this multiplicity of interested parties, each with the right to argue its point, that lead to the time it took for the case to get heard. It is hard to say, from an outsider’s perspective, how the arguments went. But it certainly seemed that the Bench gave a fair hearing to the arguments put forth by our advocates, Anand Grover of Lawyer’s Collective for Naz India, and Shyam Divan for Voices Against 377. (Reports on the proceedings can be found at

In the opposing arguments what was somewhat unexpected was the vehemence with which the government argued its case. Members of the government, like Health Minister Shri Ambumani Ramadoss, and the Prime Minister, Shri Manmohan Singh himself, had said the law needed to change, but unfortunately it was the intransigent opinions of the Home and Law Ministries, which supported the law, that prevailed. But finally it was over.

On 7th November Chief Justice A.P.Shah ended the arguments by reserving the case for the final judgment, and we are still waiting for it. Once it comes it will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court – definitely by the opposing parties if the verdict goes in our favour. So the case is far from over, and it looks like the Supreme Court will finally get to consider it, and what happens there absolutely no one can say.

Whatever the verdict though, either now in the Delhi High Court or ultimately in the Supreme Court, the years that this process has taken have been crucial in giving a focus and rallying point for the queer movement in India. If today we seem significantly closer towards the goal of achieving real queer rights in India, the 377 case, with all its twists, turns and longeurs, has been a key route in reaching there.