NUJ stands up for human rights in Oman
The union expresses solidarity with the LGBTQ community and calls for equality.
by Tim Dawson, NEC member
Gay people deserve equality before the law everywhere, the NUJ told IFJ’s Gender Council. Equality and dignity for all at the heart of the Gender Council’s working programme.
Speaking at the IFJ’s triennial congress in Oman, Séamus Dooley, assistant general secretary, noted the strong limitations on freedom of expression in Oman, including press freedom.
Expressing solidarity with the LGBTQ community in Oman he said:
“As a gay man and a campaigner for LGBT equality I have a responsibility to speak for those who cannot speak out.”
Homosexuality in the Sultanate of Oman is illegal according to clause 33 and 223 of the penal code and can be punished with a prison sentence up to three years. LGBT advocacy - campaigning, is a criminal act. In Oman, it is said that cases only get to court if "public scandal" is involved.
“It is not enough that these laws are not always implemented” said Dooley. “We stand not for secret tolerance but equality - turning the blind eye or a conspiracy of silence is no substitute for equality and can never be a substitute for equality in the law.”
He, and the rest of the NUJ delegation, wore LGBTQ advocacy rainbow-flag badges – an act that is technically a crime in Oman. Gender Council servicing officer Pamela Moriniere welcomed the intervention and assured the meeting that they would continue to work with international bodies on the issue.
NUJ delegates subsequently met with a representative of Oman’s Ministry of Information and expanded on their issues with the country’s penal code.
NUJ president Pierre Vicary is playing a key role in the Congress as a member of the presidium, which manages the business of the conference. Jim Boumelha, NUJ NEC member is standing for re-election as IFJ treasurer.
In his report to Congress Jeremy Dear, IFJ assistant general secretary, acknowledged the contribution of the NUJ to the IFJ’s work in Afghanistan and Ukraine and for the safety fund.