|For half and hour to an hour to they were
constantly bombarded with water from a hose-pipe, alternately
on the temple, the eyes, the mouth and the naked chest, sitting
with their feet and bottom permanently in a foot-wash-basin
filled with water.
describes a torture method used against homosexuals within a stones
throw of Berlin, Germany. Even if Europe is not yet torture-free,
those of us who live in western Europe can be happy that the text
above describes something that took place nearly 60 years ago. 
But torture is still practised in 132 countries around the world
in such various countries as Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, India,
and Turkey torture of arrested persons takes. And as we know from
the recent amnesty international urgent action for the transvestite
Vanessa Ladesma , 15 years after the end of the
Argentinean military dictatorship, torture is being still used there,
The prejudices against sexual minorities and especially the criminalisation
of homosexual relations strengthens its social stigmatisation and
makes the group susceptible to violent attacks and human rights
In a recent document amnesty writes:
|Violations [of human rights - CMS] based
on sexual orientation/identity have traditionally been neglected
and under-reported because of the taboo surrounding homosexuality
in many parts of the world and the risks facing those who speak
out. The marginalisation of the victims and the prejudices of
official and non-governmental institutions responsible for denouncing
and investigating abuses means that these violations are often
shrouded in silence. In some cases the authorities even seek
to justify them in the name of religion or morality. 
whether it be on grounds of gender, ethnic origin, belief or sexual
orientation etc lays the grounds for torture, and attacks the very
roots of human rights. Whether it be the Catholic Church led by
the Bishop of Rome or other fundamentalist bigots, religion has
historically played and still plays, a basic role in preparing the
ground for human rights violations. This applies especially to the
social atmosphere engendered by the ranting of some
priests and evangelist Christians.
The U.N. Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Mr. Abdelfattah
Amor, in a recent report drew attention to, "[a]n increase
in the number of policies and practices of intolerance and discrimination
against women as such, deriving from interpretations and traditions
attributed by men to religion. No religion or belief is safe from
this trend, which is apparent in various forms throughout the world."
He also stated that the Special Rapporteurs recommendations
included: Extremism, whether or not it has a genuinely religious
basis, is not limited to any one faith and must be given no quarter
Much of what the Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance writes
about women applies to homosexuals - especially in fundamentalist
countries but also where major religious groupings are fundamentalist-dominated.
Precisely because religion is male-dominated and old-fashioned ideas
of manhood abound, the social status of women in a given society,
illustrated by the so-called passive role in sex, has
a close relationship to the status of homosexuals and transexuals
etc. One needs only to think of southern Europe where the passive
partner is widely regarded with scorn. It is therefore not just
chance that the three main groups covered in amnestys new
anti-torture campagne are women, children and people with a different
sexual orienttion to the majority.
Romania's Orthodox Church condemns homosexuality as a sin, and
petitioned the parliament against moves to decriminalise gay sex.
"Our Church does not say a sexual minority should be sent to
jail," Archbishop Nifon "But we must speak out loudly
against sin." and then urges that the law which sends people
to prison on the basis of their sexual orientation should be retained.
"Everybody should know that homosexuality is a sin against
religious, and against family and social values, which are at the
core of our Church," - Archbishop Casian So much for Christian
An amnesty report dated 1995 states torture and ill treatment of
arrested persons is common in Romania. A Romanian lesbian who obtained
asylum in Germany in 1998 reported gross ill treatment while in prison,
and had to be treated in a centre for the victims of torture.
In October 2000 amnesty international launched a world-wide campaign
lasting fifteen months to attempt to make a dent in these widely
used inhuman practices of torture.
Through publicity education and special actions amnesty wants to
put pressure on governments to end torture with specially emphasis
on children, women, and members of the LGBT minorities, and seeks
to place the issue firmly on the human rights agenda.
The aims of the Anti-Torture Campaign include
(1) To prevent torture; to stop torture; to punish the torturers.
(2) To anchor defence against torture in international agreements
and national laws.
(3) Individual aims related to the country in which the
campaigning takes place. For instance: The Federal German Government
is being asked to ratify Art. 22 of the Anti-Torture Convention.
This would allow individuals to ask the UN for help. Although Article
22 is weaker than the existing European laws against torture, it
would be a signal to other countries outside Europe, and would not
replace the European laws.
To prevent torture
The training of the police and security forces all over the world
in human rights and methods of interrogation which are within the
law should be greatly extended. The importance of this aim is made
clear by the following text from a recent amnesty urgent action
on Saudia Arabia.
Torture and ill-treatment are on the daily agenda; executions and
whippings, as well as amputation are carried out in complete disregard
of the basic rules for a fair trial. ... Among the torture methods
used are, falaqa (blows to the soul of the feet), the
use of electric shocks, stubbing of cigarettes on the body, and
the tearing out of finger nails. In many cases people who are accused
of a crime experience torture from the moment of arrest .
Flogging is used for alcohol offences, prostitution and suspicion
of "homosexual activity". Nine gay Saudi Arabian transvestites
in the western city of Qunfuda were jailed and due to be lashed
twice monthly for two years. Five of the men were sentenced to six
years in prison and 2,600 lashes at the rate of 52 lashes per session.
The police determined the men were dressing in women's clothing
and having sex together, a violation of Islamic law.
Punish the Torturers !
Those who torture others are generally quite normal people. The
commonly held idea that they are inhuman, perverse Sadists
is seldom the case. Although the chain of command frequently
extends up to governmental offices, the perpetrator is often from
the poorer classes, has been a victim of violence and humiliation,and
believes he is acting from higher motives and defending eternal
values such as nation people or religion.
Impunity of the torturers is one of the important causes
of torture and ill-treatment. writes the UN Special Rapporteur
on Torture. If torturers go unpunished, then the whole legal system
is brought into disrepute. This is one reason why it is so important
to find them, bring them in front of a court and pass a just judgement.
The arrest of General Pinochet in London is seen as an important
step forward and a clear warning to all potential torturers, that
they are nowhere safe, and it is hoped that it will be but the first
step towards bringing more torturers before a court.
"Electricity is one of the favourite methods of the torturer
in the last half of the 20th century," said the
director of amnesty international USA Dr. William F. Schulz in launching
the amnesty international report on the use of stun-belts within
the US system of Justice. amnesty demands the suspension of the
use of all electro-shock instruments until a thorough scientific
examination of their use has been carried out, since the use has
been linked to health dangers, and even suspected of causing deaths.
The German amnesty expert on weapons export, Matthias John writes:
Electro-shock weapons are increasingly used. They are euphemistically
called modern security technology, close-range
defence methods or non-deadly weapons. ...The
spread of technology which is used for torture and ill treatment
are especially assisted by trade shows for small arms and the security
Physical pain, psychological pressure, isolation and humiliation
in many forms are the means ... of breaking the victim and robbing
them of their identity. That of course applies not only to
sexual identity but includes it. Even in the last decade cases of
brainwashing were reported from USA, and electroshock
therapy used to attempt to change peoples sexual orientation.
The Sunday Morning Post (Hong Kong - 8. Jan 1995) reported, The
clients who attend the sessions on a voluntary basis
are asked to sit on a chair with positive and negative electrodes
attached to the back of each hand. Slides of sexually arousing
images beginning with pin-up pictures of muscular male models
are shown. The voluntary aspect has to be considered
against the stark social discrimination and pressure from families
in many countries.
One of the major problems in opposing and ending torture against the
three major categories amnesty has taken on in this campaign (women,
children, and LGBT people), is that they are often too socially weak
or insecure to oppose their torturers who may in addition not be state
employees. This is no excuse now, Under international
human rights law, states also have an obligation to act with due diligence
to prevent, investigate and punish abuses of human rights, including
acts by private individuals. 
Due diligence includes taking effective steps to prevent such acts
by privates individuals as well as state employees.
Torture has not only disastrous physical and psychological effects
on the victims themselves. The effects of torture affects all relatives
and friends, and can extend to the children of victims. They may
suffer almost the same experiences as their parents, depression,
lasting anxieties, attacks of almost uncontrollable aggression,
disruption of social contacts. The affects on a country and
its society as a whole are also not negligible. People who are broken
as a result of torture suffered, are a permanent warning, a living
monument, to what can happen to those who resist. a
This third amnesty anti-torture campaign needs and deserves support
because torture not only strikes at the roots of justice and tolerance,
but is an expression of the inability to cope with differences of
colour, beliefs, and sexual orientation etc.
C. de la Motte-Sherman
An amnesty publication to inform about the problem:
Take a step to Stamp out Torture : amnesty international
ISBN: 0 86210 292 8 . - AI Index 40/13/00
Chapters on: (1) Torture today.
fertile ground for torture
women, & sex identity)
(4) Fighting t. an
agenda for action
 From Homosexuelle Männer im KZ Sachsenhausen,
Müller & Sternweiler, Verlag rosa Winkel, Berlin
 according to an amnesty Urgent Action - AMR
 amnesty aims document
 Circulated from End-Violence Moderator at edc-cit.org,
on mailing list addressing violence based on religious extremism.
 amnesty international
 In Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar,
veröffentlicht von ai Ulm, Ensingerstr. 21, 89073 Ulm
 P 30, Take a step to Stamp out Torture:
a i publications, 2000, ISBN: 0 86210 292 8