Uganda: President Yoweri Museveni signs anti-gay bill that toughens strict legislation against homosexuals – 240214 1325z

A Kenyan gay man wears a mask to preserve his anonymity as he protests against anti-gay moves in Uganda outside the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya on 10 February The new law makes it a crime not to report gay people and bans the promotion of homosexuality

“Uganda’s president has signed into law a bill toughening penalties for gay people and criminalising those who do not report them.

A government spokesman said President Yoweri Museveni wanted to assert Uganda’s “independence in the face of Western pressure”.

US President Barack Obama has cautioned the bill would be a backward step.

Mr Museveni had previously agreed to put the bill on hold pending US scientific advice.

Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda.

In December a gay rights campaigner spoke of her fears about the legislation

The new law punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail, and allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality”.

Homosexuality is just bad behaviour, that should not be allowed in our society – MP David Bahati

It also makes it a crime not to report gay people – in effect making it impossible to live as openly gay.

It criminalises the “promotion” and even the mere “recognition” of homosexual relations “through or with the support of any government entity in Uganda or any other non-governmental organisation inside or outside the country”.

Lesbians are covered by the bill for the first time.

Gay activists say they will challenge the new laws in court.

The bill originally proposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts, but that was later removed amid international criticism.

‘Very scared’

According to the Associated Press news agency, government officials clapped after Mr Museveni signed the bill at a press conference at State House.

Yoweri Musveni - 30 January 2014 President Museveni had been apprehensive about signing the bill, but he could not convince his party otherwise

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in Uganda says it is rare for the president to assent to bills so publicly.

But the anti-gay bill has become so controversial that the media were invited to witness its signing, she says.

I didn’t even go to work today [Monday]. I’m locked up in the house

Ugandan gay rights activist

Earlier government spokesman spokesman Ofwono Opondo told Reuters news agency Mr Museveni wanted “to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation”.

The sponsor of the bill, MP David Bahati, insisted homosexuality was a “behaviour that can be learned and can be unlearned”.

“Homosexuality is just bad behaviour, that should not be allowed in our society,” he told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

But a gay rights activist in Uganda told the programme that he was “very scared” about the new bill.

“I didn’t even go to work today [Monday]. I’m locked up in the house.

“And I don’t know what’s going to happen now. I’m talking to all my activists on the phone. And it’s the same, they are all locked up in their houses. They can’t move out. They are watching their back to see what happens.”

Our correspondent says although Mr Museveni had been apprehensive about signing the bill, he could not convince his party, religious groups and many of his citizens that it was not needed.

The signing of the bill is an apparent U-turn from a recent pledge to hold off, pending advice from the US.

In a statement, Mr Museveni had said: “I… encourage the US government to help us by working with our scientists to study whether, indeed, there are people who are born homosexual.

“When that is proved, we can review this legislation.”

President Obama described it as “more than an affront, and a danger to, Uganda’s gay community. It will be a step backwards for all Ugandans.”

He warned it could “complicate” Washington’s relations with Uganda, which receives a reported $400m (Ł240m) in annual aid from the US.

In South Africa, former archbishop Desmond Tutu said he was disheartened by President Museveni’s apparent change of stance.” – BBC News

Credit all images: BBC News

Map showing gay rights in Africa

 

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Japan: Snow storm deaths rise to 19 with more than 1,600 injured. Perhaps more snow midweek – 170214 1640z

Hundreds of passengers rested on benches and floors under blankets at Haneda airport as public transport services were suspended. Japans road, rail and air travel services faced further disruptions on Saturday, reports and officials said, after a fresh snowstorm killed three people and injured 850 others following last weeks deadly blizzard.

Snow began falling on Friday morning in the capital Tokyo and piled up to 26cm by early Saturday, a week after the heaviest snowfall in decades left at least 15 people dead and more than 1,200 injured across the nation.

A driver was killed on Friday in a crash involving his car and a truck on an icy road in Shiga, central Japan, while a farmer died after a tractor overturned on a snow-covered road in southwestern Oita, local media said.

In a separate snow-related accident, a driver was killed and three others injured on an expressway in central Shizuoka, the news reports said. Public broadcaster NHK said some 850 people, including one in a coma, have been injured in snow-related accidents across the nation since snow hit western Japan late on Thursday.

Drivers were struggling to move their cars in the capitals residential district of Setagaya, while snow started melting and flooding some roads in downtown Tokyo. Television footage showed hundreds of passengers resting on benches and floors under blankets at Haneda airport in Tokyo as public transport services were suspended due to heavy show.

At least 628 flights, mostly on domestic routes, were cancelled on Saturday at Haneda and other airports in eastern Japan, NHK said, a day after more than 260 flights were grounded due to heavy snow.

Two commuter trains collided at Motosumiyoshi station in Tokyo early on Saturday leaving 19 passengers injured, officials said. The accident occurred as train services were disrupted due to the storm but it was not immediately clear if the collision was directly related to the bad weather. Transport authorities are investigating the case. The storm also caused delays and suspensions on the shinkansen bullet train services and the closure of a number of highways across the country.

Some 187,000 households lost power mainly in eastern Japan due to snow and strong winds, NHK said.

The meteorological agency continued warning of heavy snow in eastern Japan as well as strong winds and high waves along coastal areas, which may cause snow-slides.

Last week, as much as 27cm of snow was recorded in Tokyo, the capitals worst snowfall for 45 years. While much of that snow had melted, the remains of larger piles as well as some slightly diminished snowmen were still in evidence across the city.

Sunday, 16 February, 2014 at 16:36 (04:36 PM) UTC RSOE

Update

The death toll from a severe snowstorm that has swept across Japan has reached 19, with parts of the country being almost at a standstill.

Media and officials said Monday that the extreme weather, which sparked widespread transport chaos in central, eastern and north eastern parts of the country, left more than 1,600 injured.

Officials added that hundreds of cars are stuck on some mountain roads and rescuers are delivering emergency aid to them. The snowfall has also caused major disruptions to air traffic and widespread power outages have been reported in several cities.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to send a government team to help the struggling area. “We will do everything we can to protect the lives and possessions of people in cooperation with local governments and relevant ministries,” he told the parliament on Monday. The recent heavy snowfall first began in Japan on January 8.

It was the heaviest snowfall in the Asian country decades, which left 11 people dead and more than 1200 injured. Snow began falling again on Friday morning. The snowfall also caused major disruptions to air and ground traffic. Japan’s largest domestic airline network All Nippon Airways (ANA) said the snow grounded around 350 domestic and international flights

Japan Meteorological agency

(Image: JMA) Current warnings (Click image for source)

Other Reports

WestPacWxWest Pacific Weather (WestPacWx)

Deadly Valentines Day Storm in Japan Recap

Recapping Fridays Storm plus a look at possibly another snow event by mid-week in Tokyo.

Published on Feb 15, 2014

Heavy snowfall has blanketed wide swaths of the pacific coastline of Japan Friday and Saturday causing 2 deaths and over 1,200 injuries across the country. 137 homes reported damage due to roof collapse or trees falling on them after the heavy we snow piled up on Friday.

According to JMA more than one meter of snow accumulated west of Tokyo in Kofu City in Yamanashi Prefecture, as of 6 AM on Saturday. Thats the heaviest snowfall the city has seen since record-keeping began 120 years ago.

Central Tokyo had 27 centimeters of snow, exactly the same as one week ago and the heaviest in 45 years. Yokohama beat that out with 29CM of snowfall accumalated over night Friday in to Saturday.

South Africa: 11 illegal miners rescued from abandoned gold mine shaft in Benoni nr Johannesburg, unknown number refuse to come up fearing arrest – 160214 1725z

Latest: About 10 miners have been rescued alive, more are coming up rapidly

(1554z – Alex Crawford Sky News)
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(Crane being moved into position to remove a large boulder)

Emergency and rescue services have been busy for over six hours trying to free trapped illegal miners outside Benoni CBD on Johannesburgs East Rand.

It is understood they were trapped since early yesterday.

Since early this morning paramedics and rescuers joined forces to set up a plan on how to free them. Numerous heavy duty rescue vehicles and equipment was brought to the old mine shaft to stabilise the ground.

Shortly before 15:00 rescue workers managed to lift the first large rock from the small opening and are hopeful that they will be able to reach some of the miners in die course.

According to local Ekhuruleni Metro Police they were patrolling the open veld for illegal dumping when they heard the cries for help. Upon further investigation they found the illegal miners trapped beneath several layers boulders. The officials then called for rescue services.

Rescue services have since tried to remove the boulders and managed to remove one large boulder. They have also tried to send bottles of water down to the trapped miners.

According to the miners, which can only be verbally communicated with, there are 30 of them trapped in the top section and another 200 odd in another section below them. However this is still difficult to confirm.

Disaster vehicles and law enforcement officials have staged on the scene awaiting the miners. They will be assessed and treated should they have any injuries. The police will also be involved.” – ER24 Emergency Services February 16, 2014 15:25 (SA Time)

Update 1557z:

“Emergency workers have succeeded to gain access to the illegal miners trapped underground in Benoni.

 

Several miners have been brought to surface. As they are being lifted out of the one squared meter hole they are escorted to the medical station where they are checked for any injuries. Once they are cleared they are taken into custody by the local police and EMPD.

 

It still remains unclear if there is any truth in what the miners have told rescuers that several others are trapped in a separate section of the mine. Once the first group have been brought to the surface, rescue workers will make their way down to inspect and search for other miners.

An eight hour joint affront between numerous services made it possible to rescue these miners” – ER24 Emergency Services February 16, 2014 17:53(SA Time)

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(Rescue teams setting up to start securing the site)

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(Heavily armed officers present at the illegal mine in Benoni. Rescue has begun. ER24 on scene and ready)

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(Aerial view of mine rescue in of illegal miners)

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(Crane being moved into position to remove a large boulder)

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(Aerial view of mine rescue)

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(First illegal miner just surfaced)

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(First two miners rescued so far. ER24 on scene ready to treat the injured)

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(Another miner rescued. ER24 assessing the miners before being handed over to SAP)

Other Reports

“Rescuers are communicating with a group of about 30 miners trapped by fallen boulders below the surface at the old mine site in Benoni.

Rescue services in South Africa are trying to reach more than 200 illegal miners reported trapped underground in an abandoned gold shaft in a suburb just east of Johannesburg, an emergency services spokesman said on Sunday.

Werner Vermaak of ER24 emergency services said rescuers were communicating with a group of about 30 miners trapped by fallen boulders below the surface at the old mine site in Benoni.

They told us there are about 200 others trapped further below, Vermaak said.

Its an abandoned mine shaft in the middle of the public veld (open fields) … it was not a blocked-off area, he added. No injuries or casualties had been reported so far, Vermaak said.

Heavy equipment had been brought in to try to remove the boulders obstructing the shaft.

Illegal mining of abandoned shafts is common in South Africa, where informal miners excavate mineral ore to be sold to buyers, often living underground in dangerous and precarious conditions. Fatal accidents are common, and underground battles between rival groups have also been reported.

The illegal diggers also sometimes invade active mines. At least 82 men – thought to have been illegal miners – died after an underground fire at a Harmony gold mine in South Africa in 2009.” – khaleejtimes.com/Reuters

Kyrgyzstan: Police abuse & torture gay & bisexual men says HRW – 020214 2243z

Kyrgyzstan: Police Abuse & Extortion of Gay Men
Threats, Detention, Beatings, Sexual Attacks
January 29, 2014

“(Bishkek) Police in Kyrgyzstan have extorted, threatened, arbitrarily detained, beaten, and sexually abused gay and bisexual men, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Although consensual sex between men was decriminalized in Kyrgyzstan in 1998, police target gay and bisexual men for violence and extortion, Human Rights Watch found.

 

The 65-page report, They Told Us We Deserved This: Police Violence against Gay and Bisexual Men in Kyrgyzstan, found that gay and bisexual men have been subjected to a range of abuses at the hands of police in Kyrgyzstan, including physical, sexual, and psychological violence; arbitrary detention; and extortion under the threat of violence or of exposing victims sexual orientation to friends and family. The report is based on detailed interviews with 40 gay and bisexual men in four regions of Kyrgyzstan. The government should condemn and thoroughly investigate reports of abuse and establish a confidential complaint mechanism for all cases of abuse by police officers.

Gay and bisexual men in Kyrgyzstan already live in fear due to widespread homophobic attitudes, and the police are making a nightmarish situation even worse, said Anna Kirey, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. Kyrgyzstan authorities at the very top levels need to call a halt to this police abuse and make sure that gay and bisexual men have the protection they need.

Violence, blackmail, and extortion by police, and a lack of accountability for these crimes are all too common in Kyrgyzstan. But those who belong to minority groups are particularly vulnerable. Gay and bisexual men are easy targets for abuse because of the populations deep social conservatism.

Kyrgyzstan police target gay and bisexual men in parks, gay clubs, hotel rooms, and on dating websites. Human Rights Watch documented cases of severe physical violence against gay and bisexual men including punching, kicking, and beating with gun butts, batons, empty beer bottles, or other objects. Several gay men also reported sexual violence by police officers including rape, group rape, and attempts to put a stick, a hammer, or an electric shock device in the persons anus, as well as gratuitous touching during a search, or being forced to undress in front of police.

Fathullo F. (not his real name), 32, told Human Rights Watch that in May 2012 he went to what he thought was a date with another man. When he arrived at the meeting place, police officers grabbed and handcuffed him. They took him to a police station, where they beat him to force him to write a confession and to give them contact information for his employer and his family. He said the officers threatened to initiate a criminal sodomy case against him unless he gave them money and contact information of other gay men, and that he suspected they wanted to target these other men for extortion.

The officers told me that people like me do not deserve to be on face of the earth, Fathullo told Human Rights Watch. I asked them to let me sit down because I was tired. They said that I didnt deserve to use their chair and spat on me. They said that I didnt deserve to live, and threatened to destroy me if I didnt give them 10,000 soms [US$214].

In another case, Demetra D., 32, from Bishkek told Human Rights Watch that in four separate incidents between 2004 and 2011, police officers took him into custody and raped him, attempted to rape him, or allowed other detainees to rape him.

Only two of the 40 men Human Rights Watch interviewed had filed complaints with the police. Neither case led to anyone being held accountable for the abuse. The others said they did not file complaints for fear of retaliation or of having information about their sexual orientation sent to their families or employers. Human Rights Watch has not been able to find a single case in which a police officer has been held accountable for the arbitrary detention, extortion, torture, or ill-treatment of a gay or bisexual man.

The government of Kyrgyzstan has taken a number of measures to stop torture and ill-treatment in detention facilities, but have no mechanism to file complaints about police abuse for people who are not incarcerated. The government should establish an independent mechanism to which any victim of police abuse, including gay and bisexual men, can turn without fear of their privacy being violated.

Police officers in Kyrgyzstan know that they can beat, rape, and otherwise torment gay men and extort money from them without suffering any consequences, Kirey said. Nobody should live in fear because of whom they love. Kyrgyzstans authorities need to put a stop to police abuse of gay men.

Selected testimonies

It was the worst thing for me when they threatened to tell my family. I have brothers who are very religious. One word and this would be death [for me]. I wrote what the police told me to write. I was scared that they would tell my family. I wrote my name and address. I didnt know what to do. They let me go after I said that I could give them 3,000 soms (US$60). They threatened me and then let me go [get the money]. I had to lie to my mom to get this money. I went back to the station and gave the money to the police. I asked for my statement, and they handed it to me and insisted I tear it up in their presence. Isroil I. (not his real name), a victim of police abuse and extortion

The police said, Are you a faggot? Why do you come here? Then they pointed a gun at me and showed their IDs. One of them hit me in the temple and I fell on their car. They threw me in the car and drove around for some time. They said they would drown me in a canal if I didnt give them US$600. In the car they hit me in the head with the handle of the gun. Then took me to the police station, kicked me some more, and said that they would call my mom and tell her about the kinds of clubs I visit. Maksim Bratukhin, head of the Bishkek-based LGBT rights group Pathfinder, who said that several police officers detained and beat him, and threatened him with death after he left a gay nightclub in Bishkek in April 2008.” – HRW

What Kyrgyzstan should do
Condemn violence and extortion by the police of gay and bisexual men.
Hold to account police officers engaged in such abuses.
Ensure that all victims have access to an independent and confidential complaints mechanism.
What others should do
Make LGBT rights issues an integral part of bilateral and multilateral dialogues with the Kyrgyz government. Support LGBT rights and torture prevention through relevant assistance programs, including police reform and training.” – HRW

Australia: Ex-Tropical Cyclone Edna 011200Z nr 20.9S 152.2E, moving W at 10 knots (TCWC Brisbane) No threat to QLD – 010214 1437z

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Edna

Australian Government - Bureau of Meteorology

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY
TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING CENTRE BRISBANE

TROPICALCYCLONEFORECASTTRACKMAP

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Edna

Issued at 11:01 pm EST Saturday 1 February 2014. No Tropical Cyclone Advice is current for this system.

 

Community Threat

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Current Cyclone Details

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Forecast Cyclone Details
(Up to 72 hours from time of issue)

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The forecast path shown above is the Bureau’s best estimate of the cyclone’s future movement and intensity. There is always some uncertainty associated with tropical cyclone forecasting and the grey zone indicates the range of likely tracks of the cyclone centre.

Due to the uncertainty in the future movement, the indicated winds will almost certainly extend to regions outside the rings on this map. The extent of the warning and watch zones reflects this.

This product is designed for land-based communities; mariners should read the coastal waters and high seas warnings.
Remarks:

Edna has weakened below tropical cyclone strength. The remnant tropical low will drift northwest tonight and then north on Sunday into the northern Coral Sea. Ex-tropical cyclone Edna will remain well off the coast and poses no threat to mainland Queensland.

Name:Ex-Tropical Cyclone Edna

Details:

Time (EST) Intensity Category Latitude
(decimal deg.)
Longitude
(decimal deg.)
Estimated Position
Accuracy (km)
0hr 10 pm February 1 tropical low 20.9S 152.2E 110
+6hr 4 am February 2 tropical low 20.4S 151.3E 135
+12hr 10 am February 2 tropical low 19.3S 150.9E 155
+18hr 4 pm February 2 tropical low 18.1S 151.2E 180
+24hr 10 pm February 2 tropical low 16.9S 151.5E 200
+36hr 10 am February 3 tropical low 15.2S 152.7E 240
+48hr 10 pm February 3 tropical low 14.1S 155.7E 275
+60hr 10 am February 4 tropical low 15.5S 158.8E 310
+72hr 10 pm February 4 tropical low 18.4S 162.4E 345

Tropical Cyclone information is also available in MetEye

There will be no further Forecast Track Maps issued for this system unless it reintensifies.

IDQ20065
Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
Queensland Region
Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre

TROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION BULLETIN
For 10:54 pm EST on Saturday 1 February 2014
At 10 pm EST Saturday, Ex-Tropical Cyclone Edna with central pressure 996 hPa
was located
over the central Coral Sea near latitude 20.9 south longitude 152.2 east, which
is about 310 km east of Mackay.

Edna has weakened below tropical cyclone strength. The remnant tropical low
will drift northwest tonight and then north on Sunday into the northern Coral
Sea. Ex-tropical cyclone Edna will remain well off the coast and poses no
threat to mainland Queensland.

No further Tropical Cyclone Information Bulletins will be issued unless the
system redevelops.

MARITIME

IDQ20008
SECURITE
CANCELLATION

HIGH SEAS WEATHER WARNING FOR METAREA 10 ISSUED BY THE
AUSTRALIAN BUREAU OF METEOROLOGY TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING CENTRE BRISBANE
AT 1309UTC 1 FEBRUARY 2014

CANCELLATION OF GALE WARNING FOR NORTH EASTERN AREA

SITUATION
At 1200 UTC Ex-Tropical Cyclone Edna was centred within 60 nautical miles of
latitude twenty decimal nine south (20.9S)
longitude one hundred and fifty two decimal two east (152.2E)
Recent movement : west at 10 knots
Maximum winds : 30 knots
Central pressure: 996 hPa

AREA AFFECTED
Nil.

FORECAST
Gales are no longer expected.

No further warnings will be issued for this system.

WEATHER BRISBANE