TIME Ghana

How 2 Gay Men Live in a Country Where Homosexuality Is Illegal

Two young men bravely share their experience as homosexuals in Ghana

Some 37 African countries criminalize homosexual relationships, with penalties ranging from misdemeanors to death sentences, according to a Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Human Rights First report released Tuesday. The report, which analyzed LGBT rights in 54 African countries in total, paints a picture of a continent in crisis.

In Ghana, a country often regarded as among the most progressively democratic nations in Africa, homosexuality remains illegal, punishable by up to three years imprisonment. A recent Pew survey of various countries, not all African, reveals that 98 percent of Ghanaians feel that homosexuality is “morally unacceptable,” the highest percentage of any country surveyed.

“In Ghana, everybody is culturally and religiously blinded,” says Fred K., an openly gay man living in the Ghanaian capital of Accra who didn’t want to share his last name for fear of criminal and social repercussions. “They think that it’s demonic … so I just pray that a time comes that they decide to change and be like the Western countries.”

The HRC/HRF report is out just a week before U.S. President Barack Obama is slated to hold the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.. Advocates from the U.S. and Africa are jumping on that opportunity to bring the the continent’s controversial LGBT rights record to the world’s attention.

“My fellow gays don’t want anything to be legalized,” Nana Yaw, a human rights activist and openly gay man, says. “All they want is for their rights to be respected and protected.”

TIME Singapore

Singapore Provokes Outrage by Pulping Kids’ Books About Gay Families

Toddler plays with bubbles as participants wait to take part in the forming of a giant pink dot at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore
A toddler plays with bubbles during the Pink Dot parade at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 28, 2014. Edgar Su—Reuters

One of the books, the multi-award winning And Tango Makes Three, recounts the real life-inspired story of two male penguins raising a baby chick at New York's Central Park Zoo

The Singapore government has ordered the National Library Board (NLB) to remove from library shelves and destroy three children’s books that portray gay, lesbian or unconventional families.

The multi-award winning And Tango Makes Three recounts the real life-inspired story of two male penguins raising a baby chick at New York’s Central Park Zoo. The other two banned titles are The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, which features a lesbian couple, and Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families, which describes unconventional parental set-ups.

The move has resulted in a torrent of opposition in mainstream and social media, the latter largely via the #FreeMyLibrary hashtag. An open letter criticizing the ban has also received more than 4,000 signatures.

“This is a very unfortunate step backwards,” Kirpal Singh, associate professor of English Literature at Singapore Management University, tells TIME. “While we try to balance the conservatives and liberal minded, do we remove anything or everything that gives offense, especially if this offense is quite problematic, quite complex?”

Homosexuality is a sensitive subject in ostensibly modern Singapore. Gay sex remains illegal but is rarely prosecuted, and an estimated 26,000 revelers thronged this year’s annual Pink Dot gay rights rally — one of the largest public gatherings of any sort seen in recent years. Nevertheless, society remains conservative.

According to a NLB statement, “We take a cautious approach, particularly in books and materials for children. NLB’s understanding of family is consistent with that of the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education.”

The ban was reportedly spurred by a complaint from a single library user who is also a member of the Facebook group “We Are Against Pinkdot in Singapore.”

The NLB boasts a collection of more than five million books and audio-visual materials, and a spokesperson told Channel News Asia that it acts on less than a third of the 20 or so removal requests received each year. (James Patterson’s Kill Me If You Can, which depicts incest, was the subject of a complaint but remains on the shelves.)

Naturally, gay rights activists are outraged. “This unfortunate decision sends a message of rejection to many loving families that do not conform to the narrow father-mother-children definition of family that it has adopted,” said Pink Dot spokesperson Paerin Choa by email. “Pink Dot believes that Singapore can be an inclusive home for its people in all their diversity, and that constructive dialogue should be the way forward for a truly embracing society.”

For Singh, the furor may at least have the positive side effect of prompting debate. “This may contribute to a more vital discussion for Singapore in terms of where we are and where we are not when it comes to values, freedoms and an open state for discourse,” he says.

While praising the NLB as an institution, acclaimed Singaporean author Alvin Pang writes: “This is a serious impoverishment of what books are and what knowledge means, and it can only harm our intellectual development and broader social discourse.”

Justin Richardson, co-author of And Tango Makes Three, would no doubt agree. “We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families,” he told the New York Times in 2007. “It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.”

TIME society

In Germany, You Can No Longer Keep Nude Photos of Your Ex

When you split with your partner, you have the right to demand that all intimate images they have of you be deleted, a German court ruled this week. The court found that one person's right of privacy was more important than another person's ownership rights to intimate photos taken during the relationship

Ex-partners must delete all intimate or nude photos if one of the partners asks for it, a German court ruled Tuesday.

The case had been brought by a woman in central Germany who demanded that her partner, a photographer, delete all intimate photos of her after the couple split.

During the course of the relationship, the photographer had made several erotic videos and taken many naked pics of the woman with her consent.

A higher court in Koblenz decided that she had the right to demand the material be deleted, because her personal rights were more important than his ownership rights to the material, theLocal reported.

However, the court rejected the woman’s demand that her ex delete all photos taken of her, as it said that clothed pics had “little, if any capacity” to compromise her privacy.

[The Local]

TIME Rights

A Nevada Rancher Wants to Disarm Federal Agencies

Rancher Cliven Bundy gestures at his home in Bunkerville
Rancher Cliven Bundy gestures at his home in Bunkerville, Nevada April 12, 2014. He has called on sheriffs to join him in a quixotic crusade to disarm the Federal government © Jim Urquhart / Reuters—REUTERS

Rancher Cliven Bundy has called on sheriffs to “take away the guns from the United States bureaucrats” after hundreds of his armed supporters forced U.S. rangers to return 300 impounded cattle, a crusade that has the support of conservative politicians and gun-rights activists

A Nevada rancher has called on local sheriffs across the U.S. to join his crusade against government overreach after he successfully reclaimed seized cattle from federal land managers over the weekend.

Cliven Bundy’s livestock was rounded up near Bunkerville, some 74 miles northeast of Las Vegas, by the federal Bureau of Land Management earlier this month, reports Reuters. Officials were seeking to settle an apparent debt of more than $1 million in back fees and penalties for grazing herds on federally managed land.

Soon armed anti-government groups, conservative politicians, local militias and gun-rights activists became involved in an four-hour standoff that temporarily shut down Interstate 15. Federal rangers faced at least 1,000 of Bundy’s armed supporters and released 300 appropriated animals to avoid any escalation.

Emboldened by the support, Bundy, 76, has now called upon sheriffs to join his crusade. “Every sheriff across the United States of America, take away the guns from the United States bureaucrats,” he told followers on Monday at the entrance to his property.

He was joined by a Republican Nevada state Assemblywoman, Michele Fiore, who addressed the crowd, saying the reason the standoff did not escalate was because of “each and every one of our Americans watching us and protecting us with our firearms.”

Mark Potok, a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Bundy’s call was tantamount to insurrection.

“They are stirring a very volatile and dangerous pot,” he told Reuters. “It could goad more people to do the same kind of thing.”

[Reuters]

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