When Seif Bedour, 21, returned to Egypt this year to visit his family after years studying abroad, he did not expect to end up behind bars. His “crime”? “Suspicion” about his sexual orientation.
Bedour was looking forward to his graduation. Now, he looks forward to seeing his family only when prison authorities allow.
Police arrested Bedour in late August, when he accompanied a friend who had been arrested by the police as part of their investigation into a party in 2014 at Cairo’s Fairmont Hotel. A woman at that party recently reported she was drugged and raped by several men in a hotel room on the same night.
Bedour, who was only 14 and not present when the Fairmont incident took place, had voluntarily accompanied a witness, a woman friend, to the police station after police arrested her from her home at dawn. “He didn’t want her to be alone in a difficult situation,” according to his family.
Also at the police station was Ahmed al-Ganzoury, 40, who was initially summoned by police because he was an organizer of the Fairmont party.
At the station, police unlawfully searched Bedour’s and al-Ganzoury’s phones and, based on private photos they found, detained them for allegedly engaging in same-sex conduct.
They remain in jail more than two months later, after judges renewed their pretrial detention three times in hearings they were not allowed to attend.
Authorities kept them for several weeks in a police station in east Cairo, permitting only one family visit. On October 14, they were transferred to al-Nahda prison, where they are currently detained in the same cell as the suspected Fairmont rapists.
According to the men’s families, prison guards forcibly shaved their heads, and prosecutors ordered them to undergo drug testing and forced anal exams, a form of torture and sexual assault under international human rights law, which Egyptian authorities routinely carry out to seek “proof” of same-sex conduct.
Government-affiliated media appear to have reframed the alleged gang rape as a “group sex party” and claimed that security forces had broken up “the biggest homosexual network.”
Egyptian authorities are sending a disturbing message that persons who voluntarily go to a police station to assist others may be arrested for their alleged sexual orientation. Prosecutors should immediately drop all charges and investigations concerning the sexual orientation and private life of Bedour and al-Ganzoury and release them.
A judge in a Nigerian court on Tuesday threw out a case against 47 men charged with public displays of affection with members of same sex, ending what had widely been seen as a test of the country’s laws banning same-sex relationships.
The Nigerian law banning gay marriage, punishable by up to 14 years in prison, and same-sex “amorous relationships,” prompted an international outcry when it came into force under former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014.
The men were arrested in a police raid on a Lagos hotel in the city’s Egbeda district in 2018. Police said the men were being initiated into a gay club, but the defendants said they were attending a birthday party.
Prosecution and defense lawyers in the case had told Reuters nobody had yet been convicted under the law, which led to the case of the men being widely seen as a test case that could help to establish the burden of proof.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa struck out the case and said he had done so due to the “lack of diligent prosecution”.
The specific charge the men faced, relating to public displays of affection, carries a 10-year prison sentence.
Outside the court, many of the men smiled and cheered, including dancer James Brown who, smiling, said: “I am free. It means a lot of good things.”
Under Nigerian law, defendants in a case that is struck out can be re-arrested and arraigned again on the same charge, whereas that is not possible in cases that have been dismissed.
Taxi driver Onyeka Oguaghamba, a father-of-four who said he merely drove people to the party, said he was happy the case had been struck out but disappointed that it was not dismissed entirely.
“I am not happy, because I’m looking for the matter to end in a way that people will see me and believe what I have been saying from the beginning,” he said, adding that the decision meant he could be charged again.
Oguaghamba and others previously told Reuters they had been stigmatized as a result of the raid and a televised news conference held by police in which they were identified the day after their arrest.
Chris Agiriga, another of the men, said the striking out of the case would not help him to be reconciled with his family who had rejected him over the matter.
“Since the past two years, this has caused a lot of damage in my life,” he said.
Emmanuel Sadi, a program officer with rights group the Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS), said the outcome of the case raised questions about the law used to charge the men.
“You can’t even build a case around it,” he said. “I hope they (the government) realize how redundant it is as a law, and they are open to removing or repealing it,” he said.
Homosexuality is outlawed in many socially conservative African societies where some religious groups brand it a corrupting Western import. Gay sex is a crime in countries across the continent, with punishments ranging from imprisonment to death.
When Pricila, a 32-year-old trans woman, fled El Salvador in February 2019, she had good reason to fear for her life. Police had beaten and sexually assaulted her, telling her they would make her a man. Gang members attempted to forcibly recruit her. They extorted her, burned her, beat her, abducted her gay friend, and threatened that she would be next.
Pricila fled to safety in the United States, where her asylum case is underway. But if the Trump administration has its way, people like Pricila, who asked us to use her first name only, may no longer be eligible for asylum in the United States.
A regulation proposed by the Justice and Homeland Security Departments in June would, as the organization Immigration Equality put it, “essentially eliminate asylum protection altogether” for people seeking asylum on grounds of persecution related to their gender identity or sexual orientation. And now, in what has to be categorized as the regulatory equivalent of beating a dead horse, the Justice Department on September 23 proposed yet another regulation to limit asylum seekers’ ability to provide evidence in support of their claims.
LGBT asylum seekers — including those, like Pricila, from Central America’s Northern Triangle — often have strong asylum claims, as documented in a new report by Human Rights Watch. Although the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have passed some laws and policies to protect people from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBT people can tell you a yawning gap exists between what is on paper and the abusive reality they face.
In another 70 countries around the world, LGBT people can be imprisoned based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Data spanning 2007 through 2017 shows that asylum seekers with persecution claims based on gender identity or sexual orientation overwhelmingly passed initial U.S. screenings regarding their fear of returning to their home countries.
The international refugee system exists to provide protection to people like Pricila, who are persecuted because of their identity or beliefs. But the U.S. administration seems bent on shutting them out. Homeland Security has compelled asylum seekers arriving at the southern border to wait for months in Mexico before they undergo a “credible fear” interview, the first step in the asylum process. Some are forced to remain in Mexico for many more months while U.S. courts adjudicate their claims. Northern Mexico, where several trans women have reported receiving death threats, is particularly inhospitable for them. Pricila was gang raped in Mexico.
Refugees International and Human Rights Watch have exposed how Guatemala’s asylum system is unprepared to handle an influx of asylum seekers. Not one of the 939 asylum seekers transferred to Guatemala between November 2019 and March 2020, when transfers were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been granted asylum.
Since March, U.S. authorities have used the pretext of Covid-19 to close off land borders to asylum seekers altogether, and the Border Patrol has summarily expelled nearly 150,000 people. No one knows how many were fleeing persecution based on gender identity or sexual orientation because they were never given the chance to ask for protection.
The Homeland Security and Justice regulation proposed in June bars all gender-related asylum claims. It does not define gender, but in addition to dismissing claims from abused women and girls, immigration judges could misconstrue it to bar all gender identity asylum claims.
The rule requires claimants to identify themselves as victims of persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity the first time they come before an immigration judge — or waive their right to do so. Persecution for most forms of political activism — including LGBT activism in countries where it is outlawed — would be insufficient to constitute “persecution on account of political opinion,” because the rule narrows “political opinion” cases to people seeking “regime change.”
The regulation would exclude evidence to support an asylum claim if the adjudicator thought it promoted a “cultural stereotype.” A judge could dismiss evidence of Pricila’s abuse by Salvadoran police if she thought it promoted a machismo stereotype. The Trump administration seems more concerned not to offend homophobes and misogynists than to protect their victims.
This week’s newest proposed rule digs the hole even deeper, setting a 15-day time limit on filing an asylum application and preferencing U.S. government human rights reports over those of reputable nongovernmental organizations. It would even allow immigration judges to introduce evidence on their own, fundamentally distorting the role of a U.S. immigration judge and opening the door to the introduction of evidence that might reflect judges’ own biases, such as anti-LGBT prejudice.
The recent and proposed asylum policies and regulations that shut out people fleeing persecution should be scrapped. LGBT asylum seekers, like Pricila, have compelling reasons for fleeing their home countries. The United States should provide them a fair asylum process.
An Algerian court on September 3, 2020 sentenced 2 men to prison terms and 42 others to suspended terms after mass arrests at what the police alleged was a “gay wedding,” Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should void the charges and release them immediately.
On July 24, 2020, police raided a private residence and arrested the 44 – 9 women and 35 men, most of them university students – in el-Kharoub, a district in Constantine Province, northeastern Algeria, after neighbors complained. An Algerian lawyer involved in the case told Human Rights Watch that the court used police reports describing the decorations, flowers, and sweets indicative of a wedding celebration, and the men’s supposedly gay appearance, as evidence of guilt.
“Algerian authorities’ attack on personal freedoms is nothing new, but arresting dozens of students based on their perceived sexual orientation is a flagrant infringement on their basic rights,” said Rasha Younes, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “They should immediately release from prison the two men who would be free today were it not for Algeria’s regressive anti-homosexuality laws.”
The court convicted the 44 of “same-sex relations,” “public indecency,” and “subjecting others to harm by breaking Covid-19-related quarantine measures.” Two men were sentenced to three years in prison and a fine, and the others to a one-year suspended sentence.
These convictions contradict the right to privacy under international human rights law. This right is also reflected in Algeria’s constitution, which provides for the protection of a person’s “honor” and private life, including the privacy of their home, communication, and correspondence. The convictions of the 44 for “same-sex relations” indicate that Algerian authorities are discriminating against them based on their perceived sexual orientation and gender expression, Human Rights Watch said. The appeal of their convictions has not yet been scheduled.
In Algeria, same-sex relations are punishable under article 338 of the penal code by up to two years in prison. Additionally, article 333 increases the penalty for public indecency to six months to three years in prison and a fine if it involves “acts against nature with a member of the same sex,” whether between men or women.
Arrests for “moral” offenses that involve consensual adult activities in private settings violate international human rights law, including the right to privacy, nondiscrimination, and bodily autonomy protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Algeria is a state party. Algeria has ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), which affirms the rights to nondiscrimination, and has joined the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. However, Algerian law does not extend antidiscrimination protections to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the risk of outbreaks in detention sites, Human Rights Watch recommended that governments refrain from custodial arrests for minor offenses that do not involve the infliction or threat of infliction of serious bodily injury or sexual assault or a known likelihood of physical harm. Officials should also release anyone held pretrial, unless they pose a specific and known risk of harm to others that cannot be managed through measures other than detention.
Since March, Algerian authorities have imposed a ban on all social gatherings to slow the spread of Covid-19. Breaking quarantine and social distancing measures to attend a social gathering does not justify arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention, Human Rights Watch said.
“While people in Algeria continue to demand their basic rights to protest, the authorities are dedicating their time and resources to crack down on students and stockpile discriminatory charges against them,” Younes said. “Instead of policing its citizens’ private lives, the Algerian government should carry out reforms, including decriminalizing same-sex conduct.”
The Trump administration’s efforts to erase LGBT+ issues from its annual assessments on global human rights have been laid bare in a damning new report.
The shocking research by the Asylum Research Centre (ARC) identifies multiple, serious omissions of human rights issues — including torture, reproductive rights and homophobic persecution — in the US state department’s country reports.00:00/08:04×
These annual reports have been compiled by the US since 1976 and had long been viewed as a “gold standard” of objective information about the state of human rights around the world. In the UK they are used by the Home Officeto inform decisions about whether asylum seekers should be forcibly returned to their home countries.
Comparing reports from the last year of the Obama administration to the first three years of the Trump administration, the ARC found that references to anti-LGBT+ persecution had been virtually scrubbed from the record, along with multiple references to women’s healthcare and other civil and political rights.
Violence and discrimination against LGBT+ people, organisations and activists was omitted altogether from reports on Iraq, despite well-documented examples of homophobic violence in the country.
The latest Iran report scrapped all references to societal discrimination and abuse affecting LGBT+ people, and the earlier judgement that conversion therapy “may constitute torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international law” was no longer included.
Similar attempts to obscure and de-emphasise LGBT+ rights abuses were seen on reports of Eritrea, Pakistan and Sudan. Claims of improvements in these regions were also “inadequately substantiated”, the ARC said.
Chillingly, all of the Trump reports removed the “Reproductive Rights” section and replaced it with “Coercion in Population Control”, omitting information related to accessing reproductive rights, contraception and pre- and post-natal healthcare.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert claimed the administration was not “downgrading coverage of LGBT or women’s issues” — but the ARC research cites a 2018 Oxfam report which proved that reporting on LGBT+ issues abroad is down 21 percent under Trump, and reporting on women’s rights is down 32 percent.
The ARC’s findings were welcomed by the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, “given the importance of the US Department of State reports in deciding asylum claims in a number of countries including the UK”.
Executive director Leila Zadeh warned: “Omitting this information could result in LGBTQI+ people being returned to danger.
“Decision-makers should consider country background evidence with a more critical eye, as lack of reporting on the risks LGBTQI+ people face in their countries of origin doesn’t automatically mean such risks don’t exist.”
Advocates this week said the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies have not stopped LGBTQ people in Central America’s Northern Triangle from traveling to the U.S. to seek asylum.
“It’s not a deterrent in the sense of ‘Oh, I’m not going to do this right now. I’ll go next year,’” said Emem Maurus, an attorney with the Transgender Law Center who is based in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, on Wednesday during a virtual press conference that Human Rights Watch organized.
“It is certainly having a practical impact, I do want to say that,” added Maurus. “These policies are causing people to be hurt, they are causing people to die, truly. They are causing a lot of harm and in that sense, they are practically impeding asylum, but I don’t know that it’s causing people to be like, ‘Oh, I’ll wait until next spring’ necessarily.”
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador comprise the Northern Triangle. Human Rights Watch on Wednesday released a report that highlights persecution in the region based on sexual orientation and gender identity and Trump administration policies that have put LGBTQ asylum seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador at even more risk.
The report notes the U.S. in March “entirely closed its southern border to asylum seekers, leaving them to suffer persecution in their home countries or in Mexico.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic served as the pretext for the closure, but for years, the Trump administration had adopted increasingly severe measures aimed at preventing asylum seekers from ever reaching the United States and expelling them quickly if they did cross the border,” reads the report.
Estuardo Cifuentes, a gay man from Guatemala, is among those who the U.S. has forced to await the outcome of their asylum cases in Mexico under the “return to Mexico” policy. Cifuentes, who asked for asylum in the U.S. at the end of July 2019, runs a project in the Mexican border city of Matamoros that helps LGBTQ asylum seekers as he awaits the final outcome of his case.
“I went back to Matamoros without knowing anything, without knowing anything about the process,” Cifuentes told the Washington Blade during a recent Zoom interview.
Maurus on Wednesday noted Guatemala in 2019 signed a “safe third country”agreement with the Trump administration that requires migrants who pass through Guatemala on their way to the U.S. to first ask for asylum in the country. TransLatin@ Coalition Executive Director Bamby Salcedo during the press conference also highlighted the inadequate health care and other mistreatment that LGBTQ asylum seekers face while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
Roxsana Hernández, a transgender woman from Honduras with HIV, died in ICE custody in New Mexico on May 25, 2018. Johana “Joa” Medina Leon, a trans woman from El Salvador with HIV, died on June 1, 2019, at a Texas hospital three days after ICE released her from their custody.
Bianka Rodríguez, executive director of COMCAVIS Trans, a trans Salvadoran advocacy group, also participated in Wednesday’s Human Rights Watch press conference.
“As long as this kind of violence and discrimination do persist, LGBT people from the Northern Triangle will continue to travel north to the United States to attempt to seek asylum and what the Trump administration has done in the last two years—which is to make asylum so restrictive that there’s barely an asylum system left to speak of—is unconscionable and it puts LGBT people at great harm,” said Human Rights Watch Senior LGBT Rights Researcher Neela Ghoshal. “These policies should be reversed.”
Maurus during the press conference acknowledged “it was not people’s first choice to leave.”
“They had discrimination and abuse throughout much of their live and their first choice is not to leave their home, their family, their community, their friends. It is something happens that truly forces them—I leave or I will die,” they said. “It’s a last choice and it’s the only choice and to that extent it isn’t a choice. I do think people are concerned … about detention, who are concerned about what’s going to happen in Mexico.”
“People know, it doesn’t come as a surprise, that right now the policies are awful, but I think for many they need to leave,” added Maurus.
Ghoshal also specifically criticized the Trump administration’s rhetoric around the migrant caravans that in recent years have traveled from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We were disturbed to hear President Trump use very dehumanizing language to describe the people who were in these caravans, in particular dismissing them all as criminals and of course, we know that for many of the members of the caravans—including LGBT people within them—they were survivors of crimes and they were people who were trying to escape lifetimes of marginalization and dehumanization and they needed the opportunity to arrive at the U.S. border, seek asylum and be heard and protected,” said Ghoshal.
A lawmaker in Belgium last week became Europe’s highest-ranking transgender politician.
The Brussels Times reported Prime Minister Alexander De Croo named Petra De Sutter as one of his government’s seven deputy prime ministers. The newspaper said De Croo also appointed De Sutter, a member of Groen, the Flemish Green Party, as his civil service minister.
King Philippe on Thursday swore in De Croo’s new government.
De Croo and De Sutter are both from Belgium’s Dutch-speaking region. De Sutter is also a former member of the European Parliament.
“I am proud that in Belgium and in most of Europe your gender identity does not define you as a person and is a non-issue,” tweeted De Sutter on Sunday. “I hope that my appointment as minister and deputy prime minister can trigger the debate in countries where this is not yet the case.”
De Sutter ended her tweet with the hashtag “fight transphobia.”
Freelance journalist Alan has been subjected to a sinister and coordinated campaign of sexual assault and threats on his life for years, perpetrated by an underground chemsex ‘mafia’.
Based between France and Northern Ireland, Alan’s life slipped into mayhem and the macabre when a hook-up that turned into assault dragged him a years-long “vendetta” that has placed his own life, as well as the lives of his children, on the line.×
Members of a “Satanic” chemsex sexual assault ring, who frequently use the “social networking website” NastyKinkPigs, first conspired to deliberately infect Alan with HIV – or “poz him up” – back in 2011, he alleges.
Several years later, one of these same men rammed a knife inside of him. After both incidents were reported to the police, Alan sent out an alert to Grindr users in the Crumlin area to warn of these sexual predators.
Days later, he was informed he had been singled out to become the subject of a vendetta, simply because he had warned others, which would start two years down the line so he would not be able to link who was behind it.
An onslaught of perforation attempts, sexual assaults and even robberies tallying at least 21 in total has unfolded in the years since the vendetta began against the now 52-year-old.
In the last two years especially, members have dialled-up their apparent deluge of attacks: inserting drugs without his consent anally, live-streaming sessions without his consent and injuring him with various household tools, nail files, lemonade bottles pushed into his colon, toothbrushes, sharpened dowelling rods, often disguised as innocuous objects, such as pencils or mountaineering equipment.
“It’s a national scandal that the queer community lives in fear of sex predators and feel they cannot speak up,” Alan told PinkNews.
“It’s been difficult to live through, but I’ve had to see these injustices as tasks to report on. I’ve had to speak out to make this useful for everyone else.
“I’ve avoided injury by refusing drugs and sometimes due to the receipt of insider information from other members of NKP,” he said, adding that he would alert PinkNews of any further incidents.
Some of the UK’s top police inspectors and probation officers told PinkNewsthat the criminal underbody of chemsex is vast. A drive for “power” emboldens those with sinister intentions to manipulate those they deem “vulnerable” by “weaponising” drugs and dating websites.
Chemsex consumes the lives of many, police said, and victims are left “traumatised, their lives changed forever” by not only sexual violence but also “robbery, theft, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm”.
These attacks are rarely carried out in isolation and single offences often impact as many as 70 people at once.
A chemsex ‘mafia’ has targeted Alan – injuring him, stalking him, threatening his family – for years.
Throughout the alleged attacks, which have occurred in both Northern Ireland and England, where he lived from December 2018 to April 2019, Alan described uncovering a dense web of assaulters all connected to one another and whose members litter the UK.
attacks as they are live-streamed – while scores of users on kink websites wait to watch the impending violence.
Comparing the ring to a “mafia”, Alan described how he experienced a torrent of targeted plots of sexual abuse – many of which occurred while he was incapacitated on drugs he had not consented to during chemsex sessions – which have, on several occasions, curdled into plots to rip his insides or murder him, as well as threats against his family if he were to ever speak out.
Alan showed PinkNews dozens of chat logs with various online members allegedly involved in the ring, as well as tip-offs, hundreds of texts and WhatsApp threads, video footage of him being drugged during sessions, photographs of the tools allegedly used to injure him as well as email reports filed with law enforcement over several years.
All forming a patchwork of a depraved network that wields the at-times crooked playbook of chemsex – typically male sex parties fuelled and facilitated by a cocktail of drugs – as a smokescreen of sorts for malicious people to stream the now vulnerable without their consent.
Viewers, he said, cheer the perpetrators on, jockeying with one another for their twisted way to harm the victim to be carried out.
In speaking out, Alan hopes to expose the fault lines of a certain criminalised subsection of chemsex in making their playbook public and encourage more victims of chemsex-related violence to speak out. “Queer men up and down the county are living under intimidation and I’ve uncovered the network.”
He has been told by members he was targeted, in part, for raising awareness of a sex predator as well as a drug dealer being raided, and because he has high-functioning autism, “and those with a disability are seen as easier prey,” he said.
To transmit HIV to someone is to ‘score a win’ in the ring, victim says.
“I had been married for more than 20 years,” he said, “and after my marriage ended, I thought I would explore [my sexuality]. I was never a regular drug user, but was supplied at these venues purely to incapacitate me”
In his explorations, he soon had his first encounter with the group – a man in Crumlin, a small town in Northern Ireland, he said, who was a member of NastyKinkPigs.
The sounds of nearby rivers babbling while joggers ran down the spindly trails that lace around the leafy town, Alan travelled to meet him in a red-brick apartment complex.
The man, alongside a friend, drugged and pinned Alan down. “He removed his protection that I had insisted on and ejaculated inside me,” Alan said, “and his friend, use a needle to abrade my insides in order to potentially infect me with HIV.”
Months later, Alan met Steve (not his real name), from a nearby village, who asked to be his boyfriend. While in a “drugged stupor”, Steve revealed he knew of the assault – the two men were his friends who “knew exactly what they were doing”.
He admitted that to intentionally transmit HIV to someone – a criminal offence in the UK – is to “score a win” in the group. “These men keep a logbook of the number of people they transmit HIV, hepatitis C and syphilis,” Steve told Alan, “he told me they were part of a web-based community hosted on NastyKinkPigs where the spreading of diseases is considered, by some, to be a kink.”
Following another attack by the man based in Crumlin several years later, in which he rammed a knife inside him causing him to be hospitalised, Alan, in consultation with the police after filing a report, took to Grindr to warn locals of the assailant’s actions. The message was vetted by police in Antrim, Northern Ireland, he said. Alan says reporting the attack would lead to two drug dealers in Glengormley to be raided by authorities.
A few days later, Steve would go on to tell him that he had been “singled out for what he called an ‘NKP vendetta’.”
One of the ringleaders of the attacks, Alan alleged, is someone whom he met around this time, Eric (not his real name).
“The greatest rush he gets is from tearing someone’s insides,” Alan explained of Eric, a healthcare worker who “loves to see the dark red blood gush”.
Eric met with Alan while he was on a business trip to Belfast. He tried to inject Alan with “legal highs” and then said he had eviscerated five men during sessions in London, his “kink”, he said.
After another man entered the room during the session. Alan managed to escape but Eric stole from him in the process. After two attempts to get his possessions back, Alan informed Eric’s employer of his actions.
Since then, Alan says, these men appeared to have launched a vicious volley of violence against him, ranging from allegedly planting drugs in his vehicle to inserting “plastic bricks” into his colon to cause torsion and necrosis.
While he himself did not carry out the attacks directly, Eric has been connected in various ways to many of them, often with the assailants informing Alan of this, or his name appearing as a viewer during streams, or messaging the alleged assailants to thank them for their work.
Such as when Alan narrowly escaped a streamed maiming and murder attempt in Newry, a city in southeast Northern Ireland, in May 2020 – “Thanks for doing this to Alan,” Eric reportedly texted the attacker, which came alongside around 150 emails from viewers, including the man from Crumlin and one of the drug dealers raided in Glengormley, thanking him too.
In December 2018, Alan was contacted on NastyKinkPigs by David (not his real name), a dealer and key figure in Bedfordshire’s drug scene.
David has a “passion for tearing people’s insides”, Alan was informed, and would “rip open” men while hosting sessions. During an email discussion with a different NKP user seen by PinkNews, the user claimed David had done exactly that to “two of his friends”, leading to one being hospitalised.
Details of various sex predators were “shared to Met Police intelligence”, a Police Service of Northern Ireland staffer confirmed to Alan in an email.
The staffer stressed that the Metropolitan Police, a law enforcement agency in London, was “made aware” of Eric and others.
Ring member showed victim years-worth of personal data people had scraped together.
Moreover, an attack in Wisbech, a market town in Cambridgeshire, England, that same year left Alan hospitalised. It saw Chris (not his real name) “cut away a piece of my rectal lining with surgical scissors” while it was streamed to viewers as he was assaulted six times while he was incapacitated on a cocktail of drugs.
Alan was injected with ketamine, an anaesthetic, against his consent, and had a glass bottle inserted “deep inside” while being streamed to around eight viewers, he alleged.
In another attack, Paul (not his real name) in Sunbury, on the north bank of the River Thames, England, planned to disembowel Alan – he also placed plastic bricks inside his colon to cause torsion and necrosis in February 2019.
Several hours’ worth of the incident was streamed through concealed cameras placed on a bookshelf and various other places around the room, photographs showed.
Paul had a MacBook Pro delivered to the house stuffed with “blackmail albums” of Alan and four other targets. The laptop, Alan said, may act as a roving device for the ring.
His own album was crammed with swathes of personal information and even a photograph of a handwritten envelope addressed to his employer which allegedly contained explicit materials.
“He showed me my album and albums on others,” Alan described, “there was video footage of me on his living room floor and a spreadsheet of around fives years’ worth of my previous profiles that I had used on different social websites, such as Grindr, and the passwords to each.”
He added said that Paul “threatened” his children’s lives and told him never to say anything about violence perpetrated by the ring-members – he even mentioned he knew what had happened between Alan and Eric.
Photographs Alan later obtained show Paul shirtless with a perpetrator from another alleged incident who was there to learn how to push “a 12-inch dowelling rod through all the folds and curves of my colon”, he said.
Alan has been assaulted with screwdrivers, bottles dowelling rods and more.
The “vendetta”, Alan said, involves the collation of someone’s personal information, often stretched across years so that the victim never quite links the scattered attacks together. Photographs of the victim’s personal IT equipment may be taken, and their SIM card of the mobile phone replicated as well.
In “teaching” the target a lesson, the group aim to erode their links to their family, potentially having them jailed or maimed, and engulf them in financial and emotional hardship. “The victim’s suicide is the ‘big win’,” he said.
The flashpoint comes in an orchestrated wave of brutality in which the target, he said, is routinely assaulted, often sexually, by attackers who live-stream the attacks across various online channels, such as on Zoom or RingCentral. Some of these include comment sections where streamers have suggested ways to harm the victim.
One person, Alan claimed, suggested his intestines be “ripped”.
These recorded attacks, as well as accounts in the victim’s name made on snuff and deep web pornography websites, are used to hold the victim to ransom. These sequestered videos will be released all at the same time to cause “maximum distress” at a moment’s notice while the long-standing threat of sextortion and blackmail mutes the victim into silence, members of the ring have allegedly informed him.
After many of the fully-streamed ambushes, Alan said visits to his profile on the various websites – which he has continued to use to gather more information – rocket, often sparking splurges of users who demand to know his address and other personal details of his life.
Others give veiled, browbeating messages that warn he should stay “vigilant” or give him useful information and tip-offs. Some trade experiences of sexual assault with him. Users have even stalked him and tried to extract information from him.
Recently, Alan has been stalked and his house egged, and a man shouted through his window that he will be beaten up due to the raid on the Glengormley drug dealers, as the onslaught continues throughout 2020.
Chemsex criminals ‘weaponise’ drugs and dating websites to commit violence, says top police inspector.
Chemsex has surged in recent years, law enforcement, prosecutors and criminologists say, often played out by some users as a sort of balm for thegradual erosion of queer spaces and venues across the UK. A symptom of the deepening loss of such spaces that afford queer men a more collective kind of intimacy.
The debate over chemsex often runs in proxy to debates around the regulation of private lives, the use of illegal substances in sex, and other combustible issues, with the most common drugs used in sessions being crystal methamphetamine, GHB (Gamma hydroxybutyrate) and mephedrone, Metropolitan Police inspector Allen Davis told PinkNews.
GHB, in particular, is “how perpetrators use it to stupefy, overpower and even murder participants”.
He said the force is “fully aware” of the effects of such drugs in a chemsex context, especially with GHB, and the ways in which long-term use has “significant impact on people’s mental health” and the “chaotic state it’s going to leave for long-term drug users”.
“So, if you are in the scene, be aware of the very significant risk,” Davis stressed.
Chemsex, in one way, provides something of an oasis to many lonely men who have sex with men, Richard Unwin, a sexual offence investigation-trained police officer, said. Such men engage in chemsex for a myriad of reasons, and said not all experiences of chemsex are the same.
“There are common factors [with chemsex],” he said, speaking of a set of recurrent drugs and geosocial applications or websites that are generally used in the scene, but chemsex is a complex and varied practice and culture.
“We see what [chemsex] has in common with a lot of generic crime in other groups of the population is the crime often has an element of risk-taking by its very nature. And for some people, it creates quite a lot of excitement and thrill,” he said, adding that this “stimulation” and sense of “power” are prominent motivators.
Chemsex engulfs people, Unwin said: “What we see in many of the men is that involvement in chemsex has become their life.
“But you see a whole process whereby ordinary function in wider things in life and other connections have, over time, just fallen away. So that it’s almost like they exist in a chemsex bubble.”
Victims of chemsex crimes do not ‘sit in isolation’. Neither do abusers, says probation officer.
Indeed, Unwin said certain forms of violence in chemsex contexts have been reported to the police, which offers blueprints for the authorities to deal with them.
Such violence can be “difficult and traumatic” for the victim, and not only includes sexual violence but “robbery, theft, actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm”, he said.
“If you try and simplify it, some perpetrators identify a section of society as vulnerable, for whatever reason, and may weaponise geosocial networking and the actual use of the drugs in order to commit an offence.”
Unwin explained that the authorities do not “judge” those who engage in chemsex, and urged: “The message we’re trying to give for anyone who wants to talk to us or disclose to us is that we are aware of what it is.
“Don’t think that should be a barrier to stop you disclosing information to the police.”
Stephen Morris, chemsex crime lead for the HM Prison and Probation Service, described how people involved in chemsex with more nefarious intents act as “predators” who use online sexual offences, and both the cache of the act as well as being able to “trade” illicit materials with other abusers, to “recruit” more people.
He stressed that those engaging in some websites to exercise caution. “You’re not going to notice someone that that may be gradually eroding your boundaries and drawing you into something that, really, you’ve no idea about,” he warned.
Many victims of such abuse “do not sit in isolation, and neither does the offender sit in isolation, that they are connected one way or another to many other lives, either personal family or professional.
“We will often work with a man who has committed an offence and look at the ripple effect of his offending,
“On average, we usually identify at least 70-odd other people that have been impacted, one way or another, by just a single offence. So when we’re talking about harm, it is much, much bigger than just the victim.
“And if you think that some people in this context will have many victims, and so the number of people have affected is immense, really, and some of those will be affected very seriously – people will be traumatised, their lives will be changed forever.”
A representative of the Metropolitan Police was unable to comment, and said they were aware of Alan’s allegations and that it is an “ongoing investigation”.
A gay man from Guatemala who has asked for asylum in the U.S. runs a project that helps LGBTQ asylum seekers in a Mexican border city.
Estuardo Cifuentes arrived in Matamoros, which is across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, at the end of July 2019 and asked for asylum in the U.S. based on the persecution he said he suffered in Guatemala because of his sexual orientation. Cifuentes on Sept. 24 during a Zoom interview told the Washington Blade he spent a few days in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody before he was sent back to Matamoros under the Trump administration’s “return to Mexico” (MPP) policy that forces asylum seekers to await the outcome of their cases in Mexico.
“I went back to Matamoros without knowing anything, without knowing anything about the process,” said Cifuentes.
Cifuentes told the Blade he met Gaby Zavala, founder of Resource Center Matamoros, a group that provides assistance to migrants who live in Matamoros soon after he returned to the Mexican border city.
Cifuentes said Resource Center Matamoros and other U.S.-based organizations helped him find housing and legal assistance for his asylum case. Cifuentes told the Blade that he, Zavala and others also began to discuss ways to help LGBTQ migrants who live in a sprawling migrant camp adjacent to the Gateway International Bridge over the Rio Grande that connects Matamoros with Brownsville.
Rainbow Bridge Asylum Seekers was born.
“We managed to coordinate it, we set goals and we ran with the project,” said Cifuentes.
Cifuentes said some of the 14 LGBTQ migrants with whom Rainbow Bridge works live in the Matamoros camp. He told the Blade that Resource Center Matamoros, among other things, provides the migrants with whom he works access to health care providers and lawyers who can help them translate their asylum forms into English.
“Rainbow Bridge is a bridge between other organizations,” he said.
“Since the onset of the refugee encampment in Matamoros, Tamaulipas (the Mexican state in which Matamoros is located), the need for safe spaces for asylum seekers living in the camp from the LGBTQ+ community became a top priority for Resource Center Matamoros,” Zavala told the Blade. “After several attempts to provide that space within the encampment, it became more obvious that creating a specific program whose only focus was the LGBTQ+ members was necessary, so I put the effort in obtaining significant funding to initiate a first-of-its-kind program in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, which is now known as Rainbow Bridge.”
Zavala said she found a “private donor” who provided financial support for the project.
“Once I achieved that, we selected an inspiring asylum seeker, also a member of the LGBTQ+ community with extensive experience in program development as an owner of his own ’empresa’ or business back in his country of Guatemala to direct the program,” she said.
Cifuentes, 32, and his partner of six years ran a digital marketing and advertising business in Guatemala City.
He said gang members extorted money from them. Cifuentes said they closed their business after the gang members attacked them.
Cifuentes said Guatemalan police officers attacked him in front of their home when he tried to kiss his partner. Cifuentes told the Blade the officers tried to kidnap him and one of them shot at him indirectly. He said the police placed him under surveillance under the incident and private cars drove past his home.
“This forced us to leave Guatemala,” said Cifuentes.
Cifuentes told the Blade he decided to ask for asylum in the U.S. because he has relatives in this country and “I can continue my life there.”
“That was the idea … I can go there with them,” he said. “I learned about the asylum process later.”
The State Department advises Americans not to travel to Tamaulipas state because of “crime and kidnapping.” The Mexico-U.S. land border remains closed to non-essential travel because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cifuentes’ next hearing in his asylum case is scheduled to take place on Oct. 30, but he said it “is dependent” upon coronavirus levels in Matamoros and if the immigration courts in Brownsville will be open. Cifuentes nevertheless said he will continue to help LGBTQ asylum seekers such as himself who remain in Mexico.
“I have the opportunity to understand, to know what it is like to be there, to understand what it is like to be a member of the community, to understand and know what it is like to be a migrant under MPP,” said Cifuentes. “There are many challenges and there are still more vulnerable people who have had less opportunities.”
“I have the opportunity to provide this help,” he added.
Alinson is one of the asylum seekers with whom Rainbow Bridge works.
He is a 41-year-old gay man of African descent from Colombia who has asked for asylum in the U.S. because members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia attacked him because of his sexual orientation and race. The U.S. sent Alinson back to Mexico under MPP in order to await the outcome of his case.
Alinson on Tuesday told the Blade during a telephone interview from Matamoros that Rainbow Bridge brought him to the hospital last week for a brain scan and an electrocardiogram after he suffered a brain hemorrage. Alinson said Rainbow Bridge has also provided him with food and housing outside of the camp.
“It is supporting me,” said Alinson, referring to Rainbow Bridge.
Cifuentes has created a PayPal account that accepts donations for Rainbow Bridge. The link is here.
Under the rule of Vladimir Putin, authorities have declared gay men in Russia who have had children by surrogacy will face arrest for “baby trafficking”.
According to The Independent, Russian state media reported that a source within the country’s Investigative Committee compared surrogacy to baby trafficking, and insisted that it was an offence for men with “non-traditional orientation” to use their sperm for IVF.
“We plan to arrest a number of suspects, single men, and Russian citizens, who have used surrogate mothers to give birth to children,” the source added, despite the fact that surrogacy is actually legal in Russia. This plan has not been confirmed by the government.
The baby was found in a flat in Moscow with three other children, all believed to have been conceived by surrogate, and two nannies.
The children were being cared for by nannies while their parents organised paperwork to take them back home. The baby was found to have died by natural causes.
But Russian authorities decided that the baby died “by negligence” and that the surrogacy arrangement constituted “baby trafficking”. Medical staff and lawyers involved in the surrogacy were arrested.
Lawyer Igor Trunov, who is representing the children’s parents, told The Independent: “Babies, unfortunately, do die… Whatever you do, you should not believe state investigators when they say they are acting out of interests of child welfare.
“They have chosen to send three eleven-month-old kids to a children’s psychiatric facility.”
The babies’ parents are suing the government in Russia for “abducting” their children, who are legally recognised as foreign citizens.
But government investigators are playing the blazing anti-LGBT+ sentiment in Russia, said Trunov, by linking baby trafficking to gay men.
He said: “They want to connect baby trafficking to the idea of sexual orientation, knowing how that resonates with the wider public. They understand no one is going to stand up for gays.”
Trunov added that he had no doubt a “political order” was driving the investigators’ sudden interest in gay men a surrogacy.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has consistently taken aim at the country’s LGBT+ community, stirring up hatred among his most loyal supporters, members of the Russian Orthodox Church, and leaving LGBT+ rights groups outside of Russia alarmed in the ways he is targeting queer people.
In 2013, Putin oversaw the introduction of the country’s infamous “gay propaganda” law, which bans so-called “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors.https://lockerdome.com/lad/13296932562903654?pubid=ld-5883-3439&pubo=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinknews.co.uk&rid=www.pinknews.co.uk&width=572