Jus one of the many revolushunary organisations that we love, respekt and admire so, the ones that we have grown with en learnt so much from on building communities of (good) practice and the struggle for Afrikan liberation….

http://blog.trustafrica.org/blog.php?/archives/45-Hakima-Abbas-reflects-on-African-philanthropy.html

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/68376

these are (some of)  the hadithi of the q_t werd [ on the ground]…

the ones that haven’t been published (yet)….

Proposal – Queer African Reader

Project Consultant: Sokari Ekine
Proposed Editors: Sokari Ekine, Hakima Abbas

We are writing to invite you to participate in the publication of an African LGBTI Reader to be published by Pambazuka Press in June 2011. The African LGBTI Reader is being published in response to the increasing homophobia and transphobia across the continent which aims to silence the voices of African Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex people.

The African LGBTI Reader [Working Title] seeks to make a timely intervention by bringing together a collection of writings and artistic works that engage with the struggle for LGBTI liberation and inform sexual orientation and gender variance. The book seeks to engage with primarily an African audience focusing on intersectionality and will include experiences from rural communities, post-conflict situations, religious experience as well that of immigration and displacement.

We are proposing an alternative framework for the book based on a participatory model in which we ask prospective contributors and the broad queer activist community to discuss possible topics to be included that will push analysis and thinking within this distinct and diverse movement across the continent writing from the standpoint of both personal stories and experiences as activists. We feel this is important because of the multi layered issues which exist historically, regionally and politically with regards to sexual orientation and gender variance in Africa as well as the overall struggle for African liberation.

We hope to facilitate the writing of key African LGBTI leaders, activists and thinkers by providing a two week retreat where activists can create the space to reflect, share their ideas and writing, peer review each other’s work, have access to sources and resources provided by prominent academics and the institution. The writing retreat will be fully sponsored and contributors will be provided an honorarium for their writing which will enable them to take the time away from their activities to provide a critically reflective piece.

Possible Topics – not including personal stories, poems, stories

We have identified eight themes which are listed below with a brief summary of each. We are suggesting each of you think about the theme[s] that interest you and suggest specific topics on which you could write or would like to see addressed.

1. WHAT’S IN A LETTER:

We repeatedly use the terms lesbian, gay, bi-sexual transgender and intersex but what do these mean in your own experience, your own community and country? How limiting or inclusive are these labels? Are they appropriate and do they reflect your own experiences? Does the identity cause more problems than the behavior? Does gender variance or gender non-conforming provide a more appropriate entry point for discussion in Africa given silence around all sexualities? How do we organize across definitions? Why should we?

2. RESISTING OPPRESSION – TOWARDS LIBERATION:

What kind of strategies have been used or could be taken up to resist / challenge queer oppression?

Should we be talking about movement-building? What conceptualisations, experiences and visions of movements do we have / should there be?

Should the struggle for LGBTI Rights be framed within a Western construct which sees Rights as instruments and legislation or should the struggle for rights be constructed within a framework of movement building around which the oppressed organise?

How has the reliance on the NGO Industrial complex supported or hindered movement building? If the latter, what possible alternatives are there to organising and fund raising? How can we move towards more collaborative and collective ways of working which support movement building? What kind of strategies have been used or could be taken up to resist / challenge criminalisation and homophobia including that coming from religious institutions and the media? How should we understand and transcend the limits of the NGO-dominated activist space?

3. PINK COLONIALISM AND WESTERN MISSIONARIES:

What are the problematics of internationalising campaigns and how do we work with allies in the West? How do we overcome donor dependence as a movement? Do the donors and bilaterals save us from ourselves? How do we measure victory e.g. in Malawi and Uganda?

4. A CHANGING WORLD: SOUTH AFRICA AND THE BRICS:

Does South Africa have a particular role to play in supporting queer liberation in Africa? Does the shift in global power create opportunity or threat for African queer liberation? What other geo-political factors determine the course for queer liberation?

5. AFRICAN QUEER LIBERATION AND CLASS STRUGGLE:

What are the intersections between the broader social justice movement in Africa and the movement for queer liberation? Why should one care about the other?

6. ARE GAY MEN FEMINISTS?

What political frames are useful in our movement building? While LBT activists have tended towards feminism does it exclude GT men? How do we address patriarchy and sexism in our movements and personal relationships even among women-identified folks? Why do many straight identified African feminists resist taking on queer issues as a feminist issue in Africa?

7.         GOD AND QUEER –

INCOMPATIBLE OR INSEPARABLE IN AFRICA

Does the movement have to come from a secular space? Given that many African queer folks identify as religious how do we overcome fundamentalism?

The US right wing church are using Africa as a battleground for queer bashing – why is this effective?

What of countries with majority Muslim populations or Islamic law for queer liberation?

What is liberation theology today from a queer liberation and broader social justice perspective?

What are our strategies here?

Are there existing experiences of this, and what can we learn from there? What are the conceptual, spiritual and strategic challenges that the concept of liberation theology throws up to religious queers?

8. RECONCILING THE PERSONAL WITH THE POLITICAL:

What particular role has been/can be played by those engaged in activism through the creative arts? What has been/is the personal cost to working as social justice activists often working in relative isolation and in hostile environments? How can we better balance our lives as social justice activists with that of social people and the need to care for ourselves?

Submissions can be any of the following: essays, case studies of lived experiences on any of the suggested themes, personal stories, poems, art work, photography, short stories, short plays.

Submissions are welcome from Africans both on the continent and in the diaspora.

Download the Concept Note here.

http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/Announce/67004

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Recently a ‘rafiki’ (kiswahili for friend) of ours, offered critical feedback on the storyboard of dis’ documentary feature en the (wish-list of a) series, it came in the form of a rhetorical question, in the wake of goodbyes en hellos, masking many fears en hopes en deep scars, grasping at the heart of the matter…

[blogger’s note: ‘us’ (our.stories.n.people) in the q_t werd stands in for the non/fictional, biodramamythical collective of artists, artivists and village (organizer)s  aka. ‘bredrin and dadas in solidarity’]

bigger point is, dis dada said ”you know what your doc doesn’t have? an antagonist……..”

(leading us to the latest ‘episode’ in this quest of building solidarity en salaam [Arabic en kiswahili for peace], but first a lil’ background…..truthIs, we’ve been seeding, planting and sharing our ideas and the storyboard of the q_t werd in our villages since way before the inception of this blog, or the ‘other’ one/s – where behind the mask/‘we’ all get nekkyd)

Our roster of bio/mytho/biographies en interviews feature only people we love, respekt and admire, and reads like we’re totally in love with so so many of dem, n we unashamedly are;

those real talks that make the q_t werd are as fresh as the legends of jus dis week in review….from the highs of ‘our’  colour me dragg AND  cassie walker winning $5,000 @ manifesto, to ‘our’ community raising the roof @ granny boots for kim & nat, doing it revolushunary grassroots style…..

real talks as conflicted as the lows of last night with the drama n fuckery that defined the was the ‘powers that be’ hosting the AGM meeting for ‘our’ Pride Toronto

[in the spaces between, we continue to chart the journey in dub…..where a is for anitafrika dub theatre, b is for [the vision of] bredrin and dadas in solidarity, c is for colour me dragg and colour spill productions, all the way to p is for the people project and where m is for the myths that we’re relearning , taught by our kinda legends, in these hadithi of the q_t werd]

…………As women, we have been taught either to ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.”

[excerpt from: The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House
 
by Audre Lorde
 
From Sister Outsider, The Crossing Press Feminist Series (1984)]

These are the stories that make the q_t werd, as real as our children and lovers, institutionalised scandals, mashups and makeups, evolving bashes and (not-so) complicated backlash to ‘our’ community organising and village rebuilding, and all the lessons we’re relearning in our journeys.

the bigger point of this post is…… ‘that’ question,

the answer is….we have plenty antagonists, plenty of enemies BUT…… we choose to focus dis quest of documenting our healing en collective recovery, of rebuilding salaam and solidarity, on people we love

and even then, still……d is for drama is the crux of the q_t werd…

because the truth is….. we’re still working thru our shit, and even if we were to start jus with people we know en love, we would have more than nuff stories of conflict transformation and wishful fantasies for seven seasons.

The q_t werd is as simple as ABC en D [toZ] en as mysterious as the riddle of the sphinx…..

Hadithi? Hadithi?

Hadithi njoo……

Kesho ni: E is for elimu sanifu: in the q_t werd

[B is for bredrin en dadas in solidarity: our (vision) quest is to implement queer/trans youth arts collective/programs & circles for healing and self recovery in East & South Afrika in collaboration with anitafrika! dub theatre: an intersection of radical creativity, activity, and thought, human positive and moyo wa afrika: a coalition of Afrikans on the continent and in the diaspora who are committed to the reclamation of Indigenous Afrikan spiritualities, knowledge systems, economic praxis, and resources as the only viable means of addressing the colonially-induced dis-ease and dysfunction plaguing our peoples….

Lakini kwanza….]

A is for anitafrika! dub theatre: founded by artistic director d’bi.young in spring 2008 under the mentorship of visionary dub artist ahdri zhina mandiela, adt is a radical arts initiative rooted in the orplusi principles of storytelling, being developed by d’bi.young.

The 7 living/en/working principles are 

language, orality,

political context (or protext),

rhythm, urgency, sacredness, and integrity:

fundamental tools in the (re)emerging genre of bio-myth-solo-performance storytelling or ‘dubbin solo’,

according to artistic director d’bi.young.

[en between the lines: the Q_t werd is a documentary series/work in progress, charting the evolution of these principles  en reclaiming ancestral legacies……]

Through the intersection of these principles, the theatre seeks to explore and expand the relationship between the storyteller, their village(s), and transformation.

herstory

adt! is inspired by the seminal work of dubpoetry visionaries anita stewart and ahdri zhina mandiela. trained during the early to mid eighties at the jamaica school of drama (now the edna manley college of visual and performing arts), anita stewart wrote her thesis dubbin theatre: dub poetry as a theatre form on the progressive movement of dubpoetry into a theatrical realm which radically dramatized both the socio-economic tribulations of the jamaican people, as well as their potential for rebellion against their oppressors.

in her unpublished manuscript stewart identifies four major elements of the then emerging artform of dubpoetry — music, language, politics and performance — as bridges between the personal and the political and vice versa. stewart’s early documentation and analysis of dubpoetry as a working people’s socio-political movement, provide the primary lens through which adt! focuses.

in the late eighties early nineties, ahdri zhina mandiela coined and further developed the term dub theatre in reference to her own evolving work as a dub aatist. in the prelude to her dark diaspora… in dub: a dub theatre piece she defines dubtheatre as dramatized stage presentation comprised of varying performance component, including an indispensable/uniquely tailored dance language threading thru oral/choral work proliferating with endemic musical elements.

d’bi.young is a second generation dubpoet who learnt the artform from her her mother anita stewart and her mentor ahdri zhina mandiela. young is building on the foundational work of stewart and mandiela by developing dubpoetry/dubtheatre theory and practice through anitafrika! dub theatre: a launch pad of artistic training that locates itself within art for social change.

En A is for the legacies of audre lorde, that’s wassup!

Dream/songs from the moon of Beulah land I-V

I

How much love can I pour into you I said

Before it runs out of you

Like undigested spinach

Or shall i stuff you

Like a ritual goose

With whatever you think

You want of me

And for whose killing

Shall I grow you up

To leave me

To mourn

In the broken potsherds

Upon my doorstep

In silent tears of the empty morning?

But I’m not going anywhere you said

Why is there always

Another question

Beyond the last question

Answered

Out of your mouth

Another storm?

It’s happening

I said

II

Whenever I look for you the wind

Howls with danger

Beware the tree arms scream

What you are seeking

Will find you

In the night

In the fist of your dreaming

And in my mouth

The words became sabers

Cutting my boundaries

To ribbons

Of merciless light

IV.

You say I yam

Sound as a drum

But that’s very hard to be

As you covers your ears with academic parchment

Be careful

You might rip the cover

With your sharp nails

And then I will not sound at all.

To put us another way

What I come wrapped in

Should be familiar to you

As hate is

What I come wrapped in

Is close to you

As love is

Close

To death

Or your lying tongue

Surveying the countries of our mouths.

If I were drum

You would beat me

Listening for the echo

Of your own touch

Not seeking

The voice of the spirit

Inside the drum

Only the spreading out shape

Of your own hand on my skin

Cover.

If I ever really sounded

I would rupture your eardrums

Or your heart.

V.

Learning to say goodbye

Is finding a new tomorrow

On some cooler planet

Barren and unfamiliar

And guiltless.

It costs the journey

To learn

Letting go

Of the burn-out rockets

To learn  how

To light up space

With the quick fiya of refusal

Then drift gently down

To the dead surface of the moon.

Kesho……The (A, B, en C’s Of the) Q_t werd in dub video

Wahenga walisema, it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.

So the series starts before the turn of this century, not so long ago that many would have forgotten the major events in their lives, back in our youth’, when we analysed, questioned and instinctively rebelled, all the way to our growing (up) present selves, and our (collective) visions of the future.

Season one features 31 (+3) biomyth monodrama hadithi.

It only makes sense that we re-introduce ourselves, share the truth about our stories;

So we’ll start somewhere in the middle with these hadithi. In this place here, now…..

There are 4 afrikans (A,D,M en T) behind not only the q/t werd but, principally, the series that inspired dis’ quest for unity (with)in our diversity, Nekkyd.

There are also the growing villages, and the energies of many more who are weaving indigenUS & pan-afrikan narratives of ancestral memories and legacies; this tapestry includes those who are rebuilding healthy, loving, sustaining and sustainable communities.

[ between the lines: in The Q-t Werd is a vision of fundraising for yet another grassroots collective, bredrin en dadas in solidarity whose mission is to work on our own unity first by mobilising & sharing (capacity building) resources with grassroots groups working with queer/trans communities and sex workers in East & South Afrika.  Our inaugural project is the Queer/Trans Youth Arts Collective set to run in Kenya & Uganda from May 2011]

hapo zamani za kale, kulikuwa na (m)wana wa Obatala, Ogun, Olokun na Yemoja…….

hadithi no. 14 is for (the spaces between) nneka en nneke in

neKKyd: Each episode is a different journey inside Nneke’s (Tsholo Khalema) world as her wry observations take us into the mind of a screwed up, loved up, lustful queer world.

Being a lesbian is tough, Being a black immigrant Afrikan lesbian trying to fit in…

well lets just say, to survive you gotta know the RULEZ TA BEIN’ A STUD!

NEKKyD explores the world of Nneke Dumela and her earth-shattering lust for the gorgeous and sassy women

Hadithi no.13 is for Medusa en Molisa

bio(myth)drama: on using a pseudonym

molisa nyakale is a name that comes from my family. It is the name of my great-great-great-grandmother on my father’s side, and a mark-er of my true true home….claiming this name was a way to link my voice to an ancestral legacy of womban speaking

Molisa is originally from the Shona, maybe even the Ndorobo. Partially re/constructed from mawu-lisa. I first read about her in the stories of sista outsiders.

Nyakale was given to me in a marriage vow; I chose to keep the name but rejected the suitor’s proposal.

10 years ago: I was in my last year of high school, full of possibilities and already getting used to rebelling with (self)righteous causes….I was excited to go to the next level, pursue freedom where I thought I was surely bound to get it, in uni.

9 years ago: I was in my first year of university @ the United States International University – Africa,

I had fantasised about this land of (queer) dates, milk en honey/when I got out of ‘here’, dreamed of growing up and getting a loft of my own, like the one that Alex had in Flashdance, where I would grow passion fruit in the backyard and be surrounded by big city scapes; I (en)visioned driving a car like the one that Vanessa Williams drove in Dance with Me, but all that dramatically changed when I finally realised one of my big dreams.

8 years ago: I landed in Tdot –  Canada.

Bio/facts: Timelines that point not only to geographic locations, but also vastly different worlds betwixt en between ideologies, traditions and wealth

7 years ago: I was in my ‘first’ year of university at University of Toronto – Mississauga

Fiction/myths: lie in the names we’ve chosen, and (un)mask(ing)s discarded en nurtured in our quest to wholeness.

Facts: The village is necessary in re/locating our afrikan stories, the baba en mama of this biomyth-drama inspired and trans/formed by bredrin en dadas channelling the truth of their own stories in the practice of arts for revolushunary change en healing.

Bio/drama: My name/s have been rebellions, running to visions of betta lives. I first experimented with sounding alternate realities with word! when I was about 10 years old, from Henrialovna en Henrievna to Nyakale

4 years ago: the seeds of the Q/t werd were planted at the Inside Out festival with hadithi yetu!, and in Vancouver with 31 stories

2 years ago: the Q/t werd travelled to great rivers and re/discovered their source

Over a year ago: the Q/t was reborn in the Ngong Forest Sanctuary.

This year: we launched Nekkyd & The Q/t werd in ‘foreign’ lands, aka. these spaces that are our homes (for) now, documenting our individual and collective quests to continue fulfilling our destinies with bredrin en dadas in solidarity & colour spill productions…..

Hadithi no.3 is for cee as the crux, in swagger; en cea walker in “i”

These are (some of) the legends of the q/t werd…..

coming soon to a theatre in our hood

a is for mama afrika

b is for black august…

en Q/T is for our (vision) quest

[blogger’s notes:  this post is NOT an official peace theatre release. just another sista outsider view on what’s going on in her hood, like with…..]

The Space Between –  the final frontier

60 children and youth and 12 of Toronto’s finest artists were on a mission to explore faith and reason, to seek out truth and understanding

To boldly go where no Theatre has gone before

Director: Liz Pounsett

Music Director: Brownman

Visual Arts Director: Jerry Silverberg

Artistic Director: Karen Emerson

This year, the 10th annual peace camp gala performance & peace is possible summer workshops were supported by a (core) collective of womben + one man, from karen emerson, susan ryan, liz pounsett, jessica salloum, angela chau, vivian sofia mora, sharon vanderveen, merril matthews to Abdul & Alixa @ the (place formerly known as the childrens) peace theatre

[blogger’s notes: disclaimer – the term collective is used strategically/loosely en creatively, the people didn’t come together specifically to work as a collective, didn’t necessarily even work as a collective, there were ofcourse boys & men involved in the work, and depending on where you look at it from, the folks mentioned are just a fraction of ‘the core’]

there was an honorary granma en granpa during the camp, the space was even visited by a few healers during rehearsals, en blessed with a joyous graduation in a celebration of the talents of many children, youth en the rest of us who worked together, and individually for (more than) 3 weeks on the production of the space between: the final frontier & the (ultimately postponed) peace is possible parade.

We will share our stories all through (the sacred moon of Black) August, in a photo & video diary of the spiral journey of n0t only the peace theatre, from 2009 to 2010, but more significantly for this place here, the re-birth of the q/t werd

http://fourwomen.wordpress.com/

But before that, I’ll tell you (part of) the story of how the (children’s) peace theatre was born, where its come from, and where this place is going….. as an institutional body, a (vision of a ) collective, and in our individual, unique journeys that intersect/ed in the heart of what we’ve dubbed as the peace forest, betwixt en between, crescent town, good wood and park vista, close to scarborough village, ideologically not that different from regent park, intrinsically connected to jane & finch, and originally from afrika.

Hadithi? Hadithi? Hadithi njoo!

Uongo njoo! Utamu kolea!

Sahani? ya mchele! Giza? Ya…….

Once upon a time, there was a turtle on whose back the world turned, underneath that turtle, was another turtle, and underneath that turtle another turtle, or so one version of a creation story goes, the bigger point is, we were born of the great goddess, came from mama afrika, and a decade ago to be exact, the children’s peace theatre was founded by Robert Morgan, en a growing in/visible collective of youth, supporters, and our communities at large…

The first peace camp was “ At The Crossroads”….the gaps and (mis)steps in our journey are the spaces between mo’ people (not) knowing about us, and mo’ folks working ‘with the group in educating in the practice of freedom, using the arts for social change, and rebuilding heathy, sustainable communities

As Robert (one of the founders of this place formerly known as the children’s peace theatre) has said:

“We place children and youth centre stage, not because they are cute or candid, but because they display humanity’s capacity to evolve, even in the harsh conditions of the current times. Young people are demonstrating an instinctive desire to move away from the dominant culture of self-interestedness and aggression, and are moving instead towards building relationships and community due to an innate desire to seek stability, safety, and peace. It is also evident that young people have the imagination and the energy that will be necessary to establish a new culture of peace. Watching young people from very different backgrounds cross paths, encounter conflict, and find creative ways of making the conflict evolve in positive directions, gives me the audacity to believe that peace is possible.”

coming soon…the space between (us and mama afrika), in the (evolushun of the) Q/T werd

July 7, 2010

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS & PRESS STATEMENT – IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Beheaded Ugandan NOT an LGBT Activist


This statement is in reference to the disturbing news reports that the Ugandan man who was found beheaded identified as Pasikali Kashusbe was a gay-rights activist working as a volunteer with Integrity Uganda.

SMUG nullifies these reports and we are not aware of any LGBTI activist who has been beheaded. However, details of the mutilated body are yet to be revealed by the Ugandan Police.

Speaking to the Chair of Integrity Uganda, Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, “I have never worked with anyone who goes by the name Pasikali in my organization. I also did not make any comments as quoted in earlier statements made by Rev. Erich Kasirye, Rev. Erich Kasirye no longer has any legitimate connection to Integrity Uganda and the e-mail address integrityuganda@yahoo.com is no longer available as a link to the leadership of Integrity Uganda”.

SMUG stands in solidarity with Bishop Ssenyonjo, who has worked and supported SMUG and the entire Ugandan LGBTI community for a long period of time.

Integrity Uganda which is a member organization of Sexual Minorities Uganda is a faith-based LGBT organization which gives counseling and guidance to LGBT people.

SMUG disassociates the Ugandan LGBT community from these reports, until we have substantial information.

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/category/international

http://www.back2stonewall.com/2010/07/shocking-news-uganda-gay-activist.html

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/candacechellew-hodge/2930/hoax_underscores_urgency_for_lgbt_people_in_uganda/

Press contacts:

  1. Frank Mugisha Executive Director – Sexual Minorities Uganda – SMUG
    Telephone: +256 312 294 859

Mobile: +256 772 616 062

Email:fmugisha@sexualminoritiesuganda.org
Alter:frankmugisha@gmail.com

Website: www.sexualminoritiesuganda.org

P.O. Box 70208, Clock Tower
Kampala, Uganda. EA 

2.         Bishop Ssenyoonjo

Chairperson – Integrity Uganda

Tel: +256 772 448 958

[elsewhere on turtle island, jus’ last moon, another notice went out…..]

On June 7, 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined President Obama in declaring June 2010 LGBT Pride Month.  To celebrate LGBT Pride Month at the State Department, Secretary Clinton, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and PRM Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz were invited by Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA) and the Office of Civil Rights to give remarks on LGBT Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy.

The following is a link to the event http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/06/143517.htm, and Assistant Secretary Schwartz’s remarks are below.

Protecting LGBT Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Assistant Secretary of State Eric P. Schwartz

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

As Prepared Remarks

LGBT Pride Month Celebration with

Secretary Clinton

Loy Auditorium, U.S. Department of State

Thank you Bob, for that kind introduction.  It is an honor to be here today with all of you to celebrate LGBT Pride Month, and to reflect on the challenges and opportunities ahead.  I’d like to thank Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) and the Office of Civil Rights for organizing this important event, and for inviting me to participate.

I know you all join me in recognizing Secretary Clinton for her inspiring words, and for her unparalleled leadership and principled advocacy on behalf of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender) individuals throughout the world, starting here at the Department of State.   And we could not have a better ally at USAID than Administrator Raj Shah.

Let me just echo what you’ve already heard this morning: protecting the rights of LGBT persons around the world is a priority for the Obama administration.  We will continue to stand against persecution and other violations of human rights against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, anywhere in the world.

For the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), this means identifying and addressing protection challenges for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.  We know that in some countries, people are threatened, tortured and even killed for their sexual orientation or gender identity, or for not conforming to social and cultural norms about how men and women should behave, dress, or speak.  LGBT individuals who have fled their own countries may continue to face serious threats in countries of asylum, where they may be isolated and reluctant to seek help.

This is a problem that demands a response.  Our Bureau will continue to engage with both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organization partners to strengthen our collaboration on behalf of vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.

We have raised this issue with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at both senior and working levels and will continue to do so.  UNHCR’s 2008 Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is an important foundation for enhancing protection for those facing persecution or threats based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  UNHCR must ensure that the Guidance Note is thoroughly understood and implemented by UNHCR personnel worldwide.

This Administration has a strong interest in UNHCR leadership taking effective actions to improve protection for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.  And with our encouragement and support, UNHCR is planning a number of new internal initiatives linked to refugee status determination and resettlement procedures that will focus on identifying protection concerns related to sexual orientation or gender identity.  UNHCR will continue training of their staff on these issues, and work with NGOs to clarify the roles and responsibilities for everyone involved through all stages of a refugee situation.

UNHCR is also drafting a revised version of its resettlement handbook that will address these issues.  We will remain engaged with UNHCR on these and related efforts, including an upcoming UNHCR-hosted workshop on LGBT refugees.

We have also worked to improve the speed with which we process all  highly vulnerable refugee resettlement cases, and the Department will continue to coordinate with our U.S. government, international organization, and NGO partners to ensure these cases are processed as quickly as possible, and that vulnerable individuals, including LGBT persons, are afforded necessary protections.

Earlier this month, PRM hosted a meeting with NGO representatives to exchange information and ideas for enhancing protection for vulnerable LGBT refugees.  We will establish a working group to further develop recommendations from that meeting, including on issues related to expedited resettlement to the U.S. and protection challenges overseas.  The working group will include NGO representatives, PRM staff, and other U.S. government offices involved in refugee protection and assistance.  We look forward to continuing our positive collaboration with members of the NGO community, many of whom I see here today.

We will also continue our efforts to mainstream broader gender issues into our programming in humanitarian settings and in our institutional relationships with international organization and NGO partners.  This means assessing the impact of programs we fund on women and girls, and men and boys, and promoting inclusion.  It also means enhancing our work to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, including violence directed at individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This violence is often rooted in destructive notions of how men and women should behave and interact, and we cannot make progress towards achieving gender equality without addressing these fundamental problems.

As Secretary Clinton noted this morning, this is a battle not yet won, but one well worth fighting.  Today, we acknowledge those who risk their lives to speak out, and those who advocate tirelessly at home and abroad, for basic principles of equality, justice, and tolerance.

I look forward to working on these challenges with my colleagues in the Administration, and with many of you here, in the coming months.

And I hope that by next June, we have even more to celebrate.

Thank you.

[blogger’s note: on the q[/t] werd tip, we’d like to know, how much money can we then expect, given this increasing solidarity with LGBTTIQQ & allies, to also be allocated towards LGBTTIQQ folks who’re living in ‘southern’ and ‘third’ world countries?

we know many bredrin en sistren who’d rather stay home/where they live, but still need much help in combating homo/les/bi/transphobia in their communities, in the laws and statutes of neo-colonial governments, and ofcourse we know many who have not only left, like us (/people participating in & producing the first season of this film&video project – shot in tdot, ‘originally’ from afrika – travelling all over native lands….

the truth about hadithi is….our quest on the q[/t] werd….a long (en)/ epic story expected to run quite a few seasons into tdot’s ‘world pride’, if the fiya this time at pride was hawt like that, imagine 2 years from now, and 2 years from then, we’ll have been all over the continent, all through turtle islands, to the end of the earth, to the end of the wotas, and even then, when this ‘film&video’ series ends, we’ll still wanna know, where the (big healing, love en soulfood…where the) money at?

hadithi? hadithi? Nipe mji, nikupe salaam.

hapo zamani ya kale, kulikuwa na…..kesho,

lakini hayo ni ya kesho (kutwa)…]