Zambian President Edgar Lungu wants the US to recall its ambassador to Lusaka for criticising the southern African nation over a 15-year jail term slapped on two gay men for consensual sex.
Daniel Foote came under fire in Zambia after he expressed horror over the high court ruling late last month and urged Lusaka to review laws that discriminate against minority groups.
“You need to know that we have complained officially to the American government and we are waiting for their response because we don’t want such people in our midst,” Lungu said in comments on state-owned radio.
His press aide Isaac Chipampe late on Sunday said the protest letter Lungu was referring was the same one issued by Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji.
“The government is still waiting for a response from the United States government concerning the complaint,” said Chipampe.
Foote had told a news conference that Zambia, which relies on overseas aid, wanted diplomats “with open pocketbooks and closed mouths.”
Homosexuality is outlawed in the southern African country which also faces a high HIV burden.
Over the last 15 years, the US has provided more than $4 billion (3.6 billion euros) to fight HIV/AIDS in Zambia.
A confessed murderer linked to a months-long killing spree in 1994 that targeted older gay men was executed Thursday in the US state of Florida.
Gary Ray Bowles, who was 57, was executed by lethal injection at 10:58 pm (0258 GMT).
In a final written statement, Bowles apologised for the “pain and suffering” he had caused, stating “I never wanted this to be my life. You don’t wake up one day and decide to become a serial killer.”
Bowles was dubbed the “I-95 killer” after being linked to a half-dozen homicides along the interstate highway of that name, a major artery along the East Coast.
Late Thursday the US Supreme Court rejected defense motions calling for a stay of execution.
According to court records, Bowles had a disturbing and chaotic childhood. His father died before he was born, and his mother remarried several times, twice to men who abused Bowles.
He took to drugs and drinking by age 11, and at 13 he nearly killed his second stepfather by smashing a rock into his head, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
A Washington Post profile, written in 1994 while police were desperately searching for the suspected serial killer, described Bowles as a “rugged, handsome and charming” young man who had left home as a teenager and turned to prostitution to survive.
He had a long arrest record, including for robbery, and spent a few years in prison in the 1980s after beating and raping a girlfriend — so viciously that one detective was quoted as saying, “I’ve seen better looking bodies in an autopsy.”
In 1994, after the months-long manhunt had spurred public fears up and down the I-95 corridor, Bowles was captured in the northern Florida city of Jacksonville and charged with the murder of Walter Jamelle Hinton.
Bowles subsequently confessed to the other murders – crimes that had been linked in part by the killer’s habit of stuffing rags or other objects down his victims’ throats.
He received a death sentence in 1999.
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed the execution order earlier this summer.
Florida is one of 29 US states that still practice capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which advocates against the death penalty.
Inmates in that state are allowed to choose death by injection or by electrocution. A private citizen is paid $150 to serve as executioner, according to the state’s website.
In a historic first, a gay African American woman was elected mayor of America’s third largest city Tuesday, as Chicago voters entrusted a political novice with tackling difficult problems of economic inequality and gun violence.
Lori Lightfoot, a 56-year-old former federal prosecutor and practicing lawyer who has never before held elected office, was elected the midwestern city’s mayor in a lopsided victory.
She beat out Toni Preckwinkle, who is also an African American woman, by a wide margin of 74 to 26 percent in early voting results with most ballots counted.
Lightfoot will become Chicago’s first openly gay mayor and the first African American woman to hold the post. Since 1837, Chicago voters have elected only one black mayor and one female mayor.
Preckwinkle is the chief executive of Cook County where Chicago is based, which analysts said worked against her during a change election as voters sought to shake up city hall.
“People (are) hoping for something different to come along. To be the vessel for that is overwhelming,” Lightfoot told reporters earlier after the polls opened.
Voters had left little doubt they want the next mayor to tackle major issues vexing the city of 2.7 million people — especially economic disparities and gun violence that claims more lives than in other major American cities.
More than 550 people were killed in Chicago last year due to gang violence often fueled by the drug trade — most in economically-struggling and majority African American neighborhoods.
A nine-year-old boy in Denver, Colorado, has committed suicide on the first week of school after being bullied by classmates for coming out as gay, his mother says.
Leia Pierce told local media that her son, Jamel Myles, killed himself at their home last Thursday after enduring several days of homophobic bullying.
“Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” Pierce told KDVR. “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself. I’m just sad he didn’t come to me.”
Pierce said her son, who was enrolled at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School, told her he was gay over the summer and that he wanted to come out as such to his classmates when he started school.
“He went to school and said he was gonna tell people he’s gay because he’s proud of himself,” she said.
The school said grief counselors had been made available to students and staff and a letter was sent to families about the tragedy and help available.
Pierce said she hopes her son’s death will raise awareness about the devastating effects of bullying
“We should have accountability for bullying,” she said. “I think the child should, because the child knows it’s wrong. The child wouldn’t want someone to do it to them. I think the parent should be held (accountable) because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they’re treating them like that.”
A South African Pentecostal pastor was handed a 30-day suspended jail term on Friday for repeatedly making homophobic comments, including a suggestion that gays be locked in cages like animals.
Oscar Bougardt was found guilty by a Cape Town court of making statements that discriminate and incite hatred against homosexuals.
He was also ruled in breach of an earlier court order that barred him in 2014 from verbally attacking homosexuals.
Judge Lee Bozalek sentenced Bougardt to a 30-day jail term, suspended for five years provided he makes no further anti-gay comments.
Bougardt is a pastor at Calvary H.O.P.E Ministries in Cape Town.
In 2016 he described homosexuals as “criminal” and said, “99 percent of paedophiles have (a) homosexual background”.
In 2015, he said, “To hell with homosexuals, …their lifestyle is an abomination to God, but Christians in South Africa are too scared to speak out against (it)”.
“If I was the president of my country I would lock them in cages where they belong. They don’t even deserve a prison cell,” according to a transcript of his remarks, read out in court.
The judge said the pastor’s statement “advocates the criminalisation of gay sex, including by implication punishment by death through stoning”.
“Not only do such statements dehumanise gays and lesbian people, they advocate hatred towards them,” Bozalek said.
South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa that recognises gay rights and the only one that allows same-sex marriages.
In September 2016, South Africa banned an anti-gay American pastor Steven Anderson from entering the country, after an outcry from rights groups over his characterisation of gays as “sodomites” and “paedophiles”.
A man making homophobic statements violently assaulted the fiance of Denmark’s justice minister on Thursday, Copenhagen police said.
Josue Medina Vazquez, who became engaged to minister Soren Pape Poulsen last year, was punched in the face at a bar in the Danish capital at around 3.30 am (0130 GMT) on Thursday, local media reported.
The attacker said “I do not like homosexuals” before hitting Vazquez, according to reports.
Police said a 34-year-old man of Slovenian nationality had been arrested on charges of “hate crime and violence”.
“We will now try to process this incident as well as possible,” Poulsen, of the conservative People’s Party, said on his Facebook page.
Production of award-winning “House of Cards” sixth season has been suspended indefinitely in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against its star Kevin Spacey, Netflix announced Tuesday.
The suspension was “until further notice, to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew,” said producer Media Rights Capital and the streaming giant in a joint statement.
Season six, which Netflix had already confirmed on Monday would be the final edition of its flagship production, had been scheduled to air in 2018. It is not yet known whether this will change.
The move came two days after actor Anthony Rapp alleged double Oscar winner Spacey made a “sexual advance” when he was a 14-year-old boy more than 30 years ago, speaking out in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
Spacey, 58, came under a torrent of criticism over the claims and for appearing to deflect the story by finally confirming that he is gay — an open secret in Hollywood for years.
On Monday, Netflix and MRC said they were “deeply troubled” by the allegations against Spacey, who was not currently scheduled to be on set.
“In response to last night’s revelations, executives from both of our companies arrived in Baltimore this afternoon to meet with our cast and crew to ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported,” the statement said.
In London, The Old Vic theatre — where Spacey was artistic director from 2004-2015 — said Tuesday it was “deeply dismayed” by the allegations levied against Spacey and called on anyone connected to the institution who may have a complaint to get in touch.
“Inappropriate behaviour by anyone working at The Old Vic is completely unacceptable,” it said. “We aim to foster a safe and supportive environment without prejudice, harassment or bullying of any sort, at any level.”
– Spacey apology –
Rapp, 46, told Buzzfeed that in 1986, while both he and Spacey were performing on Broadway, Spacey invited the then 14-year-old to a party at his New York home. Spacey would have been 26 at the time.
Rapp said he was in Spacey’s bedroom watching TV when Spacey, apparently drunk, came in after all the other guests had left, and lay on top of him.
“He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp told Buzzfeed. “I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”
Rapp said he squirmed free after a brief period of time and went into the bathroom, before leaving Spacey’s apartment and going home.
Spacey posted on his Twitter account that he was “beyond horrified” by Rapp’s revelation, which he claimed not to remember before apologising.
“I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behaviour,” Spacey wrote.
He went on to say that Rapp’s accusation “encouraged me to address other things about my life,” and that “I know that there are stories out there about me.”
“I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behaviour,” Spacey wrote.
Some reports have suggested that Spacey may face other accusers.
Rapp said he felt compelled to speak out after the recent accusations against disgraced Hollywood mogul Weinstein sparked an examination of abuses committed by powerful men in the entertainment industry.
The UN human rights office on Tuesday (June 14) urged the leadership in the United States of America to live up to its obligations to protect its citizens from the “horrifyingly commonplace but preventable violent attacks that are the direct result of insufficient gun control.”
This is in the aftermath of the mass killing of 49 people by a gunman in a gay nightclub in Florida.
The Quoting the High Commissioner (HC), Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Rupert Colville, said in a press conference, “It is hard to find a rational justification that explains the ease with which people can buy firearms, including assault rifles, in spite of prior criminal backgrounds, drug use, histories of domestic violence and mental illness, or direct contact with extremists – both domestic and foreign.”
He said “how many more mass killings of school-children, of co-workers, of African-American churchgoers — how many more individual shootings of talented musicians like Christina Grimmie, or politicians like Gabrielle Giffords, will it take before the United States adopts robust gun regulation? Why should any civilian anywhere be able to acquire an assault rifle or other high-powered weapons designed to kill lots of people?”
A new UN human rights report on the civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms highlights the “devastating impact” of gun violence on a host of human rights, including the rights to life, security, education, health, an adequate standard of living and participation in cultural life.
Colville said, “The protection of human rights must be central to the development of laws and regulations regarding the availability, transfer and use of firearms.
“UN and regional human rights experts have long recommended that firearm control measures must include adequate background check systems, the periodic review of licenses, clear gun removal policies when intervening in domestic violence cases, mandatory training, and the criminalization of illegal sale of firearms, among other measures.”
According to the High Commissioner, “Examples from many countries clearly show that a legal framework to control the acquisition and use of firearms has led to a dramatic reduction in violent crime.
“In the United States, however, there are hundreds of millions of guns in circulation, and every year thousands of people are killed or injured by them.”
He added that it was “particularly reprehensible – indeed dangerous – that this terrible event is already being utilized to promote homophobic and Islamophobic sentiments.
He urged everyone in the United States “to ensure that the human rights, and consequently the security, of all are strengthened in the aftermath of this horrendous incident.”
Police have confirmed that 50 people were killed and 53 others injured in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in the United States.
Reports suggested that the gunman called 911 before the shooting and claimed to have sworn his allegiance to the Islamic State.
However, Police authorities believed that the killings were most likely ideologically motivated.
In his reaction, President Barack Obama said Americans were bonded in grief, outrage and “resolve to defend our people”, after “an act of terror and an act of hate”.
The gunman, named by officials as Omar Mateen, of Afghan descent, was said to have come from the town of Port St. Lucie.
Police disclosed that he was not on a terrorism watch list, but was being investigated for an unrelated criminal act.
In the meantime, a state of emergency has been declared across the city of Orlando to allow law enforcement officials to focus on investigation of the incident termed ‘the worst mass shooting in US’ history.
Pope Francis has said gay people should not be relegated but integrated into society. Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.
He was responding to questions about whether there was a “gay lobby” in the Vatican.”If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?”. He also said he wanted a greater role for women in the Church, but insisted they could not be priests.
The Pope arrived back in Rome on Monday after a week-long tour of Brazil – his first trip abroad as pontiff – which climaxed with a huge gathering on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach for a world Catholic youth festival.
Festival organisers estimated it attracted more than three million people. Pope Francis, the first ever pontiff from Latin America, has struck an unusual new tone. Now he is back at his desk in his modest Vatican quarters, he has some important decisions to make about the future governance of his Church.
Normally the cardinals who run the Holy See are off on their long summer holidays at this time of year. But Pope Francis’ seasons are not the same as those of his predecessors. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the bulk of his international flock now lives, it is winter.
Pope Francis plans to spend the month of August preparing for some radical changes in the future governance of his worldwide Church. Be prepared for some big surprises. His remarks on gay people are being seen as much less judgemental than his predecessor’s position on the issue.
Pope Benedict XVI signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests.
But Pope Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well,” Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging 80-minute long interview with Vatican journalists.
“It says they should not be marginalised because of this but that they must be integrated into society.”
But he condemned what he described as lobbying by gay people.
“The problem is not having this orientation,” he said. “We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.”
On the role of women in the Church, he said: “We cannot limit the role of women in the Church to altar girls or the president of a charity, there must be more.
“But with regards to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and says no… That door is closed.”
The recent passage of the anti-gay bill by the national assembly is unnecessary as same sex marriage has already been declared illegal since 1949 when the marriage act was enacted in the country.
This is the view of a legal practitioner, Mr Chino Obiagwu who also serves as the National Coordinator of Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, a non-governmental organisation which champions human rights and the rule of law.
While answering questions from our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, Mr Obiagwu says that the bill is merely an attempt to respond to international pressure on right to sexual orientation.
The Imo State police command has nabbed a 28 year old Pastor of Jesus Army salvation ministries; Mr Chinonso Obiaku in Amalim Ngugo Ikeduru local government area of Imo State who was alleged to have been engaged in defiling and sexually harassing young boys against their wish.
While parading the suspect at the command headquarters in Owerri the Imo State capital, the Police Public Relations Officer Imo State; Joy Elemoko said the pastor who has also been identified as a quack patent medicine dealer was arrested when the command ambush squad got wind of the information that the suspect lured his victim a 17 year old boy to his shop where he indecently and sexually assaulted him.
However, preliminary investigations disclosed that the suspect Mr Chinonso Obiaku is a secondary school dropout and has no record of religious training to qualify him as a pastor.
During interrogation by journalists, the suspect denied all the allegations levelled against him.
In the same vein, the State Police Public Relations Officer also disclosed that the police command recovered a truck with registration number XQ 305 JJJ and weapons from some armed hoodlums who attacked a warehouse in Oguta Local government area of the state where they carted away 228 cartoons of assorted alcoholic drinks amidst intensive sporadic gun fire. However during the gun battle, the armed robbers were subdued and some of the escaped with bullet wounds.