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South Sudan: Referendum for New Democracy, But Not For Gays?

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Over eight million people, greater than the population of New York City, live in Southern Sudan, an English-speaking autonomous region of the African continent known as the “Heart of Africa.”

Yesterday, in the ten states of Southern Sudan an internationally-recognized public referendum — a vote for independence and democracy — began under the watchful eyes of the international community, led principally by the United States. A vote for independence and democracy, but a vote mired in anti-gay rhetoric by its own out-going president, who says Southern Sudan is no place for gays.

Southern Sudan, a region that has lost millions of people in its fifty-plus years of civil war, is populated mostly by Christians, and swarming with British and U.S. Christian missionaries, lies in the middle of Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic.

The United States earned this leadership role in 2005 when President George W. Bush sent to Sudan Episcolpalian minister and former U.S. Senator Jack Dansforth, who negotiated a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Sudan President Omar Hassan Al- Bashir, the Muslim leader of the North, and then-leader, now deceased, Dr. John Garang de Mabior of the Christian-dominated Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement.

The agreement, which called for a voter referendum scheduled for today, ended fifty-five years of war waged along the faultlines of religion between Arab Muslims in the North and Christians and Animists in the South that resulted in the deaths of more than two million people, and creating the phenomenon of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” just as a new war waged by the Al-Bashir government in Khartoum escalated into a genocide against the pastoral Dafuri peoples in the Western geographical area of Sudan.

Consequently, Al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in March, 2009.

Leaders of Southern Sudan, the largest country on the African continent, and the U.S., European capitals, as well as Japan, have hailed this referendum as a major step forward in its democratic development that is likely to result in Southern Sudan’s independence.  Invoking the memory of Dr. Garang de Mabior, the Government of Southern Sudan urged prospective voters to read a compelling statement posted on the government website by Garang just before he died in a tragic helicopter accident in 2005:

“I and those who joined me in the bush and fought for more than twenty years, have brought to you CPA in a golden plate. Our mission is accomplished. It is now your turn, especially those who did not have a chance to experience bush life. When time comes to vote at referendum, it is your golden choice to determine your fate. Would you like to vote to be second class citizens in your own country? It is absolutely your choice”.

But apparently Garang’s words don’t apply if you happen to be a gay person in Southern Sudan, acccording to an interview of President Salvaa Kiir by Radio Netherlands in July 2010.  Kiir said that Southern Sudan was no place for gays and they would never be accepted:

“It is not in our character […] it is not there and if anybody wants to import it to Sudan […] it will always be condemned by everybody.”

Kiir’s comments revealed anti-gay views, as most of South Sudan’s bi-lateral support is from mostly pro-gay rights countries like the U.S. and a number the EU countries, which reflects a lack of political sophistication on Kiir’s part.  Given the immense problems facing his fledgling region, including massive hunger with no food grown in Southern Sudan; a densely illiterate population; lack of infrastructure– only a few finished streets in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan; little or no housing with indoor plumbing; little or no access to potable water; few trained physicians, teachers and other sorely needed professionals and an overwhelmingly young country with more than half of the population under the age of eighteen years old.  Kiir and Southern Sudan need all the friends they can get.

Kiir’s apparent need to speak out against gays is also symptomatic of a troubling trend among East African governments.  In Kampala, the capital of Uganda to Sudan’s West and Nairobi, the capital of Kenya to Sudan’s South East, Kiir’s nascent government is surrounded by significantly notoriously homophobic leaders who have called for killing gays via legislation introduced by David Bahati, a member of Uganda’s parliament that is currently under deliberation and unopposed by President Yoweri Museveni (whose wife, Janet Museveni, has taken a visible and aggressive role espousing anti-gay views.) Most recently, in November 2010, Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya said that gays had no human rights and if caught in the act of having sex would be arrested.  But a public backlash ensued and his spokesman was compelled to walk back from these statement by indicating  that the prime minister had been misquoted.  Classic right?

Odinga comments were quite incendiary, provoking a strong rebuke from the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya:

In an audio recording of Sunday’s speech, the prime minister says in the Kenyan language of Kiswahili that “if a man is caught having sex with the other we jail them, or if a girl is caught with the other … we will jail them”. In the latter part of his statement he used profanity to explain lesbianism.

“We want a country that is clean, a clean way of doing thing has clean mannerisms … we do not want things to do with sodomy,” Mr.  Odinga said.

Kenya’s laws prohibit “sex against the order of nature.” That charge is punishable by up to fourteen years in prison.

The UN launched a major campaign in September for decriminalization of sodomy laws and the repeal of laws that stipulate gays should be executed because of their sexual orientation. UN Secretary General Ban-ki-moon made unprecedented supportive remarks last fall about the oppression of gays and lesbians calling for the decriminalization of discriminationatory laws arouund the world as a UN priority. He added that  “laws criminalizing people on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity violate the basic principle of non-discrimination.”  He also said that while attitudes take time to change, cultural arguments maintaining discrimination do not trump the human rights of  lesbians and gays.  Ban-ki-moon is the first UN secretary general to forcefully speak out on the of human rights of lesbians and gays.

In December, UN General Assembly members who are supportive of LGBT rights were successful in reinserting “sexual orientation” into a resolution on extra judicial killings to be included as a protected class.  Anti-gay forces had been successful in removing “sexual orientation” in a draft resolution in November. `

That’s the good news. Another piece of good news is that Kiir announced before the referendum that he would be stepping down after the votes were counted and certified.  Let’s hope that the new South Sudanese citizens receive the benefit of good advice from the United States and other Western capitals on extending rights to LGBT people, just as to more than 180 different indigenous tribes in Southern Sudan, to balance out the extreme homophobia in Eastern Africa.  The gay and lesbian Southern Sudanese need a hand up instead a one-way ticket out.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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Watch: America, We Just Got Our First Openly-Gay Active NFL Player

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America, meet your first openly-gay, active NFL player.

Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib, 28, in an Instagram video announced he is gay, HuffPost reports.

“What’s up people, I’m Carl Nassib. I’m at my house in West Chester, Pennsylvania,” Nassib says. “I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but, I finally feel comfortable now to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for.”

He also says he’s donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, which works to help young LGBTQ youth in crisis or feeling suicidal.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Carl Nassib (@carlnassib)

“I’m a pretty private person so I hope you guys know that I’m not doing this for attention,” Nassib adds. “I just think that representation and visibility are so important. I actually hope that one day, videos like this and the whole coming out process are not necessary, but until then I will do my best and my part to cultivate a culture that’s accepting and compassionate and I’m going to start by donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. They’re an incredible organization, they’re the number one suicide-prevention service for LGBTQ youth in America, and they’re truly doing incredible things, and I’m very excited to be a part of it, to help in any way that I can and I’m really pumped to see what the future holds.”

In one of the several text images on that post Nassib explains why this is so important:

Developing…

 

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‘Living Refutation of Manly Virtue’: Ted Cruz Mocked for Claiming ‘Nobody Is Banning’ Critical Race Theory

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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is being mocked and chastised after claiming on Monday that “nobody is banning” critical race theory, the now-highly contentious school of study used to examine societal issues and institutions that propagate and perpetuate systemic racism. Conservatives like Cruz have decided that any anti-racism instruction should be called “critical race theory,” with Fox News using the term 1300 times in under four months.

“Trump Derangement Syndrome is astonishing,” Cruz tweeted, inexplicably bringing the disgraced former president in to the conversation to attack anti-Trump conservative Charlie Sykes, “who used to be conservative, Cruz claimed, and “is now defending critical race theory.”

“He proffers a series of straw men, eg, don’t ‘ban’ it. Nobody is banning it; but we don’t have to allow schools to teach our kids to hate each other based on race.”

In fact, as NBC News reported, as of last week 21 states across the country are in the process of (16 states) or already have (5 states)  banned the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms.

Critical race theory does not “teach kids to hate each other based on race,” or based on anything else.

Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt unleashed his anger onto the Republican Senator from Texas.

“This is what racial demagoguery looks like in 2021,” Schmidt, a student of history, declared. Senator Cruz “is coloring in his part of the toxic mosaic, speaking in a code that when assembled completely says, militant black people who hate you and want to take your pocessions [sic] away are trying to brain wash your kids into hating you.”

Ted Cruz “is doing what he has always done,” Schmidt continued. “He is lying and trying to scare dim witted and vulnerable people into maintaining his political power by conning them into believing they need protection from something that in fact doesn’t exist in primary and secondary educational curriculum. It’s not real.”

Schmidt was far from the only one to go after Cruz.

By the way, Sykes replied. Twice.

 

 

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Meteorologist Is Latest Local Newscaster to Announce On-Air She Is Teaming Up With Right Wing Project Veritas

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A Detroit weekend weather anchor is the latest local reporter to announce on-air she is teaming up with the far right wing deception activists Project Veritas to attack their employer.

On Sunday April Moss, smack in the middle of her weather forecast, snuck in an announcement about the “discrimination” going of at her local CBS affiliated station.

“All good things must come to an end,” Moss told viewers as she announced “showers moving in around 8 AM.”

“Speaking of a brand new week I will be sitting down this week with Project Veritas to discuss the discrimination that CBS is enforcing upon its employees.”

Project Veritas is the group that has been repeatedly discredited for deceptively-edited videos created to attack the left.

And speaking of a brand new week, it appears that Moss may be planning on leaving the station – or getting fired. She’s worked for 9 years for CBS, but on Saturday created a new Instagram account without her “CBS” affiliation in the name.

Moss’ LinkedIn page lists among her interests Maria Bartiromo and Tim Tebow. The bio on her Instagram page says: “Galatians 2:20.”

Last week Fox 26 Houston reporter Ivory Hecker announced live, on-air “that Fox Corp. has been muzzling me to keep certain information from you, the viewers.”

She said just hours after she was fired.

What was that information that was so important for her to risk her job for?

Pushing hydroxychloroquine, which has been discredited as a cure for COVID-19.

No word yet on what “discrimination” Moss faces.

 

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