Following on from our successful presence at the Birmingham Pride parade I joined the Amnesty contingent at the Pride London parade on Saturday. Well if you thought the Birmingham Pride was fantastic then this was something else altogether. The number of floats, groups, placards, banners and people taking part was amazing. The Amnesty presence in London wasn’t as creative as the local parade so no fabulous outfits. However, there was around 25-30 committed activists plus unconnected people who joined us, crowds asking for our stickers, placards waving, leaflets being handed out and the fantastic float. The float had a huge inflated rainbow in yellow, green and pink (see above), placards all over, flags on the rear and a stereo playing around ten songs with love in the title. The people taking part had great enthusiasm and energy. They came from London, Brighton and Bournmouth and no doubt elsewhere too.
One interesting difference to the Birmingham Pride event is that because it was an LGBT network organised group those taking part were mainly from the LGBT community but not exclusively. For me the low point was a dignified counter-demo organised by a group of Christians. They held placards suggesting the marchers were lets say misguided but the fact they are able to have their freedom of speech is to be applauded and they were outnumbered by the gay Christians in the parade. In some ways this all reinforced that human rights are for all of us whatever our religion or sexual orientation.
I would like to thank Kim Manning-Cooper and the activists from the LGBT Network who organised the Amnesty presence in the parade for their hard work planning what was a fantastic and enjoyable time at Pride London. To find out more about Amnesty International UK’s work on LGBT rights see www.amnesty.org.uk/lgbt
For the report on our presence at Birmingham Pride see the Central Birmingham AI blog at http://amnestybrum.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/proud-about-pride-2010/
A couple of photos from my trip to London to join the Amnesty contingent at Pride London. Report to follow.
We spent hours yesterday collecting letters from people at Birmingham Pride on the case the Malawian gay couple sentenced to 14 years hard labour in prison. It seems the Malawian authorities fearing the deluge of letters from Birmingham, UK changed their minds and have now pardoned them. In reality I think the visit of Ban Ki-Moon was the reason for the decision being made yesterday. However, external pressure played a role and our work as Amnesty activists has contributed to this (our work didn’t start yesterday). The BBC report can be seen at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/10190653.stm – I say in the spirit of Peter Bennenson who launched Amnesty 49 years ago on Friday lets raise a toast to freedom 🙂
Photo of Amnesty presence in Birmingham Pride Parade 2010.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour after being convicted of ‘gross indecency’ and ‘unnatural acts’. This sentence is an outrage. These men are prisoners of conscience and we will continue to campaign for them to be freed.
Take action now at http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=682
Last night I attended the Central Birmingham Amnesty International group meeting. The guest speaker at the meeting was Kim Manning-Cooper who is Amnesty International UK’s Campaign Manager for both LGBT Rights and the Death Penalty.
The three main countries that AIUK are taking action on currently are Lithuania, Malawi and Turkey. Kim explained why these three countries are important. Lithuania has been important because it has introduced section 28 style legislation relating to the promotion of homosexuality. It has also recently seen Baltic Pride which took place last weekend after overcoming a legal challenge to the march. Amnesty activists from around the world took part in order to show solidarity and a photo is shown above. Activists from the UK including Kim and AIUK Director, Kate Allen, took part.
Malawi is important because two men have been arrested for holding a traditional engagement ceremony. If convicted they face up to fourteen years imprisonment with hard labour. This made me realise how lucky we are to live in such a tolerant and open society in the UK. You can write a letter on this case at http://amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=682
Finally we had another piece of good news from Turkey where a judge had ruled that the LGBT organisation Black Pink Triange good stay open. The judge said it was because LGBT people also have the right of association so ruled against the application to close it.
For more information on Amnesty’s work on LGBT rights see www.amnesty.org.uk/lgbt
Central Birmingham Amnesty International are currently preparing to take part in Birmingham Pride Parade and collect letters for the Malawi case in the LGBT trust community tent on Saturday 29th May. To find out more contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their blog at www.amnestybrum.wordpress.com – everyone welcome.
This Thursday (13th May) will see Kim Manning-Cooper who is the AIUK Campaign Manager who looks after LGBT Rights campaigning visit the Central Birmingham AI group meeting to discuss LGBT Rights around the world and the Pride marches she has taken part in for Amnesty including the recent Baltic Pride. The meeting on Thursday takes place at 7.30pm at Wragge and Co on Colmore Row in the centre of Birmingham. All are welcome to attend. If you wish to take part in the parade with the group on Saturday 29th May that starts at 12 midday (all must assemble at 11am) or help out on the stall on the Sunday then contact email@example.com
The Central Birmingham Amnesty International group is coordinating Amnesty’s presence at Birmingham Pride. Birmingham Pride which takes place over the weekend of 28th-29th May will see us take part in the parade on the Saturday (11am for 12 noon start) and have a stall on the Sunday. The proposed theme from a recent planning meeting is prisoners with identification of countries that imprison people on the basis of their sexuality. All are welcome to take part in our presence at Birmingham Pride. The next planning meeting will be Thursday 6th May at 7.30pm at the Birmingham Midland Institute, Margaret Street. For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte from Central Birmingham AI is holding a Birmingham Pride Planning meeting this Wednesday the 21st, 7:30pm at the British Midlands Institute. This is a big old red brick building on Margaret St, which is between Wragge & Co and the library, map below.
Best to wait for everyone to assemble in the reception area as it’s harder to find your room than it is to find the actual building!
If you can’t make the meeting but still want to be involved let Charlotte know: email@example.com
Bring pen, paper and diaries.
On 26 December 2009, two Malawian men, Steven Monjeza (26) and Tiwonge Chimbalanga (20), were arrested allegedly for holding a traditional engagement ceremony (Chinkhoswe) in Blantyres township of Chirimba.
They have been charged with unnatural offences and indecent practices between males. If convicted, they face up to 14 years in prison with hard labour. The two men were beaten while in police custody.
Amnesty International considers both men prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for their perceived consensual same sex relationship, and has urged the Malawian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the two men.
To find out more see http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=682