|Dear All… A Letter From Eve in Congo
Eve Ensler has been in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the last month. Here she shares with you all her experiences with the women at City of Joy, life on the V-World farm, and how she ROSE with women and girls of Congo on 14 February.
First let me begin with the deepest thank you to all of you who believed in City of Joy and have stood by us with your confidence and support. I have spent the month here and all I can say, is you would be proud. Let me start by describing the current state of Bukavu. It is nothing short of catastrophic. In one of the richest resourced countries in the world, the poverty is inconceivable. In a place where it rains almost every day, there is no water.
It is a country with the most fertile green fields, people are starving. There is no electricity. Most of the month the children have been sent home from school as the teachers are on strike. (they have not been paid). Even the policemen are begging for food. The road is better but most of the time we have not driven on it as there are so many reasons for detours. This is the environment our director Christine and her astounding staff face and transcend every day. Then of course there is the issue of security. The month I have been here there have been no incidents, but it feels arbitrary as there is no real political basis for security and one feels anything can happen at any time.
I will not even begin to tackle here the many proposals that seem to be circulating for peace in Congo. They either feel rhetorical or implausible. I think it is safe to say that if Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi were to get out of Congo, if there were real leadership and a functioning government in Kinshasa, there would be change. But that is not the nature of what I am writing about. We made a decision four years ago to put our energy into the grassroots women of Congo, to support their visions, their plans, their desires, their futures. To believe in their strength. To find the support for them to heal from gender violence of all forms, to be trained and educated in skills and their rights, to become leaders in their communities so that they could build a grassroots movement that eventually would be strong enough to transform this country and turn pain to power.
Special thank you to Paula Allen for the photographs featured here.
The speaker of the Ugandan parliament has promised she will pass the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill in the next two weeks — she called it a “Christmas gift” for the Ugandan people. The bill would legalize the death penalty for LGBT people and people with HIV or AIDS.
Uganda experts say that one way to stop this bill is to get pressure from banks that have significant resources invested in the country, such as Citibank and Barclays.
Citibank and Barclays together have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Uganda and wield significant influence in the country, just as banking lobbyists wield influence with Congress in the US. Citibank and Barclays speaking out against the “Kill the Gays” bill might be the best — and only — chance to stop it.
Collin Burton is a Citibank customer who is also gay. Collin started a petition on Change.org asking Citibank and Barclays to speak out against the “Kill the Gays” bill. Click here to sign Collin’s petition right now.
Citibank and Barclays are both big supporters of LGBT rights for their own employees, yet they invest money with a government that is threatening to execute LGBT people. “I expect Citibank and Barclays to live up to the values of equality and fairness, not just list them on their websites,” Collin says.
If Citibank and Barclays speak out against the “Kill the Gays” bill, Ugandan legislators will see that they are risking the business relationships that keep their government afloat.
Click here to sign Collin’s petition asking Citibank and Barclays to issue strong statements condemning Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill. The bill could come up for a vote any day, so swift action is essential.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Mark Anthony and the Change.org team
|In hours, Uganda could pass a law that could impose the death penalty for homosexuality. An international outcry shelved this bill last year — we urgently need to ramp up the pressure to press President Museveni to stand up for human rights and stop this brutal law. Sign below, and tell everyone:|
We’ve helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again. After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill’s progress. But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law. We can show them that the world is still watching.
We have no time to lose. Let’s get one million voices against Uganda’s gay death penalty in the next 24 hours — we’ll deliver it to Uganda’s leaders and key countries. Click here to take action, then forward this email to everyone:
Being gay in Uganda is already dangerous and terrifying. LGBT Ugandans are regularly harassed and beaten, and just last year gay rights activist David Kato (pictured above) was brutally murdered in his own home. Now they are threatened by this draconian law which could impose life imprisonment for people convicted of same-sex relations, and the death penalty for “serial offenders”. Even NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV can be imprisoned for “promoting homosexuality” under this hate-filled law.
Right now, Uganda is in political turmoil — missing millions of aid money has embroiled the Parliament in scandal. This upheaval has provided religious extremists in Parliament the perfect chance to slip in the shelved anti-gay bill, calling it a “Christmas gift” to Ugandans.
President Museveni backed away from this bill before, after international pressure threatened Uganda’s support. Let’s build a million strong petition to stop the gay death penalty bill again, and save lives. We only have hours — sign below, then tell friends and family:
Last time, our international petition condemning the gay death penalty law was delivered to Parliament – spurring a global news story and enough pressure to block the bill for months. When a tabloid newspaper published 100 names, pictures and addresses, of suspected gays and those identified were threatened, Avaaz supported a legal case against the paper and we won! Together we have stood up, time and time again, for Uganda’s gay community — now they need us more than ever.
With hope and determination,
Emma, Iain, Alice, Luis, Ricken, Joseph, Michelle and the whole Avaaz team
Ugandan lawmakers hold hearings on anti-gay bill (AP)
Uganda gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera hailed (BBC)
Pulling Out All the Stops to Push an Antigay Bill (New York Times)
Ugandan Speaker Wants ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill Passed by Tuesday (Towleroad)
Order paper Tuesday 20th November 2012 (Parliament of Uganda)
Happy New Year!! It’s going to be a big one.
Democracy is on the march across the world, and our community is at the heart of the struggle, but to win we’re going to need to choose our course wisely. Click below to take the annual Avaaz all-member poll, and let’s decide together where to focus our energies in 2012.
The poll takes a few minutes to complete, but the more of us take it, the wiser our course will be:
And if you don’t have time to take the poll right now, we can all see the results as they come in here:
Last year we ran hundreds of campaigns and played a key role in dozens of victories, including:
• Putting a wrench in Media-Mogul Rupert Murdoch’s march to world domination
• Breaking the Syria media blackout and supporting courageous democracy movements across the Middle East
• Taking on Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi at every turn until his corrupt regime fell
• Blocking the Gay Death Penalty Bill in Uganda
• Stopping a mega highway that sliced right through indigenous protected lands in Bolivia
• Building a massive anti corruption movement in India that has repeatedly forced the government to back down
• Building a global movement for Palestinian independence
• Saving the Kyoto Protocol and UN climate process from polluting powers determined to wreck it
..and much, much more.
With the world undergoing profound change, and our community twice the size it was last January, imagine what this year’s list could look like. The challenges may be coming thick and fast, but when we stick together, we can transform them into opportunities to build the world we all dream of. Here’s to building dreams in 2012.
Ricken, Alice, Benjamin, Diego, Emma, and the whole Avaaz team
Uganda‘s anti-gay law has failed! It looked sure to pass last week, but after 1.6 million petition signatures delivered to Parliament, tens of thousands of phone calls to our own governments, hundreds of media stories about our campaign and a massive global outcry, Ugandan politicians dropped the bill!
It was down to the wire – religious extremists tried to push the bill through on Wednesday, and then convened an unprecedented emergency session of Parliament on Friday. But each time, within hours, we reacted. A huge congratulations to everyone who signed, called, forwarded and donated to this campaign – with our help, thousands of innocent people in Uganda’s gay community do not wake up this morning facing execution for whom they chose to love.
Frank Mugisha, a courageous leader of the gay community in Uganda sent us this message:
“Brave Ugandan LGBT activists and millions of people around the world have stood together and faced down this horrendous anti-homosexuality bill.The support from the Avaaz global community has tipped the scales to prevent this Bill going forward. Global solidarity has made a huge difference.”
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs’ Office also wrote to Avaaz:
“Many thanks. As you know, thanks to a very large extent to the intensive lobbying and combined effort of you, other civil society representatives, EU and other governments, plus our delegation and embassies on the ground the Bill was not presented to the Parliament this morning.”
This fight is not over. The extremists behind this bill could try again within just 18 months. But this is the second time we’ve helped defeat this bill, and we’ll keep going until the hate-mongers give up.
Transforming the deeper causes of ignorance and hatred behind homophobia is an historic, long term struggle, one of the great causes of our generation. But Uganda has become a front line in that struggle, and a powerful symbol. The victory there echoes across many other places where hope is desperately needed, showing that kindness, love, tolerance and respect can defeat hatred and ignorance. Again, a huge thanks to all who made it happen.
With enormous gratitude and admiration for this amazing community,
Ricken, Emma, Iain, Alice, Giulia, Saloni and the whole Avaaz team.
Anti-gay bill shelved:
Avaaz’s response to the outcome in the Guardian:
Ugandan President did not back bill because of “criticism of human rights groups”:
Anti-gay bill delayed amid outcry:
Uganda’s “kill the gays” bill defeated:
Amazing! Over 1.5 million have signed already, and the pressure is working! Parliament closed yesterday without debate on the bill, but anti-gay MPs want to bring it back in an emergency session tomorrow. We’ve got 24 hours to stop this vote — forward the email below, and click here to call your head of state! http://avaaz.org/en/uganda_call_to_stop_homophobia/?email
In 24 hours, Uganda could pass a law that imposes the death penalty for homosexuality. An international outcry shelved this bill last year — we urgently need to ramp up the pressure to press President Museveni to stand up for human rights and stop this brutal law. Sign below, and tell everyone:
In 24 hours, the Ugandan Parliament may vote on a brutal new law that carries the death penalty for homosexuality. Thousands of Ugandans could face execution — just for being gay.
We’ve helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again. After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill’s progress. But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law. We can show them that the world is still watching. If we block the vote for one more day until Parliament closes, the bill will expire forever.
We have no time to lose. 1.5 million of us have already joined the call — let’s get to two million voices against Uganda’s gay death penalty in the next 24 hours — click here to take action, then forward this email to everyone:
Being gay in Uganda is already dangerous and terrifying. They are regularly harassed and beaten, and just months ago, gay rights activist David Kato (pictured above) was brutally murdered in his own home. Now LGBT Ugandans are threatened by this draconian law which imposes life imprisonment for people convicted of same-sex relations and the death penalty for “serial offenders”. Even NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV can be imprisoned for “promoting homosexuality” under this hate-filled law.
Right now, Uganda is in political turmoil — in the wake of the Arab spring, people across the country are taking to the streets, protesting high food and gas prices. President Museveni has responded by violently cracking down on the opposition. This upheaval has provided religious extremists in Parliament the perfect chance to slip in the shelved anti-gay bill just days before Parliament closes and all proposed laws are wiped from the books.
President Museveni backed away from this bill last year after international pressure threatened Uganda’s aid and support. With violent protests sweeping the streets, his government is more vulnerable than ever. Let’s build a two million strong petition to stop the gay death penalty bill again and save lives. We only have 24 hours — sign below, then tell friends and family:
Earlier this year, we stood in solidarity with Uganda’s equality movement to show that every human life, no matter what creed, nationality or sexual orientation, is equally precious. Our international petition condemning the gay death penalty law was delivered to Parliament – spurring a global news story and enough pressure to block the bill for months. When a tabloid newspaper published 100 names, pictures and addresses, of suspected gays and those identified were threatened, Avaaz supported a legal case against the paper and we won! Together we have stood up, time and time again, for Uganda’s gay community — now they need us more than ever.
With hope and determination,
Emma, Iain, Alice, Morgan, Brianna and the rest of the Avaaz team
I’ve heard some Ugandans falsely cite a “study” that one in four homosexual men have sex with children. This view is no accident. It’s pure propaganda straight from the most extreme parts of the American right wing.
Is it any wonder that we are beaten, and attacked, and raped? Is it shocking that our own government sanctions cruelty and murder? With such hate flooding in from overseas, is it any surprise that gay Ugandans who dare to speak up – like my friend David Kato – have lost their lives?
I have seen the ugly extremism of a few anti-gay Americans, but I have also witnessed kindness and courage from many more. Hundreds joined me this week in vigils for the Ugandan dead. And my friends at the Human Rights Campaign tell me that since they sent the message below more than 36,000 of you have signed a petition calling on radical American pastors to stop exporting hate abroad. I cannot tell you how much I thank you.
If you haven’t signed the petition yet, I hope you will do so now. To all those who have raised their voice already, I hope you will continue to fight by passing on the message below to your friends and family. Thousands of Ugandans are counting on you.
We simply want our neighbors to understand that gay and lesbian Ugandans deserve dignity and respect. My organization, Sexual Minorities Uganda, has fought the “kill the gays” bill and will continue to advocate for the freedom to be who we are. But we need your help to stop American extremists who are making our struggle so much harder.
Thank you for speaking up.
- Frank Mugisha
Below is from: the Human Rights Campaign
U.S. pastors are exporting bigotry to Uganda, with brutal results.
This is an issue close to my heart, because I’ve spent over a decade working for equality as a lay leader in my own church, and now, as acting director of HRC’s Religion and Faith program – which helps religious leaders of all stripes speak out for equality and fight back when hatred is promoted in the name of religion.
On Thursday, that perversion of faith cost Ugandan gay rights advocate David Kato his life. He was bludgeoned to death in his home after his name was among those listed in an anti-gay magazine, under the headline “Hang them!”
Since at least 2009, radical U.S. Christian missionaries have added anti-gay conferences and workshops in Uganda to their anti-gay efforts in the U.S. – and now they’re beginning to ordain ministers and build churches across East Africa focused almost entirely on preaching against homosexuality.
These American extremists didn’t call for David’s death. But they created a climate of hate that breeds violence – and they must stop and acknowledge they were wrong.
We’ll deliver your signature to three men who have gone out of their way to promote hatred:
Scott Lively of Massachusetts held an anti-gay conference in Uganda with two other U.S. pastors. A few months later, a bill was introduced in Uganda that would make homosexuality punishable by death.
Lou Engle, a Missouri preacher whose rallies draw tens of thousands in the U.S., spoke at a rally in Uganda this year that focused on praying for the bill’s passage. (Engle claims not to support some parts of the bill, but internal documents show he came to speak about “the threat of homosexuality,” and defend the Ugandan government’s efforts to “curb the growth of the vice using the law.”)
And Carl Ellis Jenkins of Georgia is presiding over a group that’s opening 50 new churches in Uganda to “help clean up bad morals, including homosexuality” according to his staff.
They have been stirring up hostility in a country where homosexuality is already illegal, violent attacks are common, rape is used to ‘cure’ people of their sexual orientation – and a shocking law has been proposed that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or even death.
And they’re in lockstep with some of the largest and wealthiest right-wing groups in the U.S. When the U.S. Congress considered a resolution denouncing the grotesque Ugandan death-penalty-for-gays bill, the extreme-right Family Research Council – now classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – spent $25,000 lobbying to stop the resolution from passing.
Religion should never be used to spread hate. These men do not speak for me or the millions of diverse religious people who support equality not in spite of our faith, but because of it.
That’s what our Religion and Faith program is all about: helping people of faith from all different traditions speak out so we can reclaim the core religious values we hold dear in America.
At the heart of every religious tradition is love of humanity and love of creator – not hatred for our neighbors. Creating a climate of hate runs contrary to the very idea of faith – but that’s exactly what the right wing in America is doing.
Tell missionaries and radical hate groups: “Stop exporting hate.”
Whether or not we’re people of faith, we cannot stay silent or stand idly by while a radical minority pushes a hateful agenda in God’s name. Please stand with us and speak out today.
Religion and Faith Program