FRENCH GAY ACTIVISTS CALL OFF HUNGER STRIKE
Mon, 16 July 2012Three gay activists, who were protesting the failure of France to fulfil a promise on LGBT rights, on Saturday called off their 20 day hunger strike after one man was rushed to hospital.
The three hunger-strikers were Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO); Alexandre Marcel, vice-president of IDAHO-France; and Usaam Mukwaya, a gay Ugandan refugee who had been arrested and tortured in his home country because of his sexuality.
On Friday, Tin was rushed to hospital after he briefly lost consciousness and found that he could no longer walk.
The men had been refusing food since 25 June, to draw attention to the criminalisation of homosexuality in more than 70 countries and to pressure the French government to honour its pledge to bring a resolution for the universal decriminalisation of same-sex behaviour to the United Nations General Assembly.
“The worst was not the feeling of being starving, tired or in pain; it was the total indifference of the French government,” said Tin.
“When I was taken to hospital, doctors warned that there was a serious risk to my health, especially to my kidneys. All three of us were in danger, so we decided it was best to stop.
“Unfortunately, we did not persuade the French government. This is a defeat for all the people imprisoned for homosexuality and who are expected to wait (for decriminalisation), in countries like Cameroon, Uganda, Senegal and Iran," said Tin.
He explained that he had been personally told by French president Francois Hollande on 10 May that the country would bring a resolution on the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to the UN General Assembly before the November presidential elections in the US.
“Unfortunately, the French minister of foreign affairs is not respecting the pledge of the president. There is no action. The issue is drifting. The foreign minister says no, it is too early, too difficult, we'll see later, we have so many priorities,” said Tin, adding “What a shame. Life and liberty are not a priority for the government of France.”
The hunger-strikers were praised by British LGBT human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
“It takes great strength and courage to refuse food for 20 days. This was an iconic protest to draw attention to the criminalisation of millions of LGBT people worldwide. Although these three brave activists did not succeed in pressuring the French government to act, they have helped raised awareness of the global persecution of LGBT people," said Tatchell.