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Kaleidoscope: new gay advocacy group launches

BY NOREEN FAGAN – An
international gay advocacy group will be launched in the UK on Tuesday, Sept
13.

The Kaleidoscope Diversity Trust aims to tackle the rise in
homophobic violence around the world, with a focus on Africa and the Middle
East.

According to the group, more than a third of all countries
still have laws against homosexual acts, and 38 of the 54 members of the
Commonwealth criminalize homosexuality.

An article in the UK’s Guardian quotes one of the founding members, Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian gay rights
activist, as saying, “I was attacked, tied up and beaten in my own home in Lagos. For the
first time in my life, I not only saw a gun but I felt it right against my head.
I was forced to leave my country. My dream is that others like me will be free
to stay and be happy, surrounded by the love of their friends and
families."

The launch of Kaleidoscope comes a week after three men were
executed for homosexuality in Ahvaz, the capital of Iran’s Khuzestan province.

ISNA,
a news organization run by Iranian university students, quoted a judiciary official in Khuzestan as
saying, “The three convicts were sentenced to death based on the articles
108 and 110 of Iran’s Islamic penal code, for acts against the sharia law and
bad deeds.”

An
independent non-governmental organization based in Norway said that the men
were charged with “laval” — sexual intercourse between two men. It was not
clear if the men were actually gay or were just accused of committing
homosexual acts.

The execution marks the first time in many years, it is believed, that any Iranians have been sentenced to death because of their sexuality. 

While Kaleidoscope revs up its advocacy engines, more than 1,900
people have shown their approval for a Facebook page established by members of
Iran’s gay and lesbian community.

“We are everywhere” encourages members, from inside and
outside Iran, to share their personal stories online. In a recent post, Mani wrote:

I was born in a country that calls my love illegal and me a
sinner. I was raised by a family that would never accept me. I spend time with
friends who feel disgust towards my highest dreams.
Even though
this country is full of people who want my death there is someone for whom I am
ready to die for. The reason why I am alive. It is you, my beloved
Iran.”

Mani’s
post is one of many. Other members have posted audio messages or videos that do
not reveal their identity, while some, posting from outside Iran, talked about their sexual
orientation freely.

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