Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Indonesian policeman is fired for being gay. Clooney says Indonesia and Malaysia could go the way of Brunei in regards to LGBT rights

Indonesian police officers
He had loyally served in the police force for 10 years but was dishonorably discharged last December, not for accepting bribes or disobeying his superiors but because of his sexual orientation.

The 29-year-old brigadier, identified as TT, is a homosexual, which he had kept a secret for years until he was ambushed by fellow officers while on a date with his partner on Valentine's Day.

TT, an officer at the Semarang Police in Central Java, said that he was nothing but a victim of discriminatory policy and vowed to fight for his rights with the help of local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy groups.

“Serving people and the community as a police officer for the last 10 years is my pride. I have given my best and have not made any mistakes during my service all these years. And they fired me like this, for something private that doesn’t harm others. I’m very disappointed,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Wednesday.

Dishonorably discharged

TT’s case is in many ways unique. While anti-LGBT sentiment has intensified for years in Indonesia, activists say he might be the first police officer to be fired for being gay. Moreover, he is the first to challenge the “unfair” decision without having to deny his sexual identity.

His story began in December last year when he was informed by his friends who attended a ceremony to which he was not invited that he had been dismissed. It was not until February that he received an official letter of termination.

The letter, which was acquired by the Post, said TT was “dishonorably discharged” from his police unit because he had violated a National Police chief regulation on the profession’s code of ethics.

Sr. Comr. Agoes Soejadi Soepraptono, the head of the human resources department at the Central Java Police, signed the letter on Dec. 27.

According to the letter, TT violated articles 7 and 11 of the regulation. The two articles state that police officers must protect “the image and reputation of the police and also obey the values of morality, religion, law, politeness and local wisdoms.”

TT told the Post he was disappointed that his private life was the reason for his dismissal from the police.

“This is me. And I understand that for some people they see it [being gay] as a flaw. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable around me that is why I’ve kept everything private for years. No one knows about it, not even my family […]”

They said I’ve tarnished the police’s reputation but the police are the ones who spread the news to everyone. Now everyone knows, my colleagues and family all know about it now,” he said.

‘Treated like a criminal’

His sexual identity was revealed on Feb. 14, 2017 when TT celebrated Valentine’s Day at a restaurant in Kudus, Central Java with his partner. After they finished their meal, TT headed to his car to go home. He was shocked when nine armed police officers suddenly approached him.

“I was treated like a criminal. They told me I was involved in blackmail, but I denied it because I hadn’t done anything wrong and they didn’t have an arrest warrant. But they still forced me to go to the Kudus Police station. They also made my partner to go with me. In those 12 hours of questioning, I later found out that they wanted to ask about my sexual orientation. So, I told them the truth,” TT said.

Central Java Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Agus Triatmaja confirmed that TT had been dismissed after an internal investigation and hearings.  

“We have rejected his request to appeal,” Agus told the Post.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo justified the Central Java Police’s decision, saying: “Homosexuality is still taboo [in our society]. A police officer must not have any divergent sexual orientation.”

'A violation of the principle of non-discrimination'

Accompanied by the Legal Aid Institute for Society (LBHM), TT filed a lawsuit against the Central Java Police with the Semarang State Administrative Court (PTUN Semarang) on March 26.

Ma’ruf Bajammal, a lawyer with the LBHM who accompanied TT, said they had also filed a report on alleged human rights violations in TT’s case with the National Human Rights Commission on April 10, hoping that the commission would also actively monitor this case.

“We believe he is not a deviant and from a human rights perspective, his termination, which was simply based on his sexual orientation, is a violation of the principle of non-discrimination, as guaranteed by the 1945 Constitution, The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Law and a National Police chief regulation,” Ma’ruf said. 

Sociologist and gay rights activist Dede Oetomo said what the police did to TT was disappointing and would naturally spark fear in the LGBT community, especially those who served in the armed forces.

However, he added that TT’s effort to stand up for his rights would bring positivity to his community. “As far as I know, this is the first time a victim of sexual orientation discrimination has fought back in Indonesia. This is very brave of him and it will have a role in changing society. LGBT people, the community and activists will be inspired to trust the legal process and see that there’s an opportunity to fight back.”

TT said he still wanted to be a police officer. He said: “It’s my passion. If they give me permission to serve, I will continue this path. […] Whatever the court’s decision may be, I want people to see the injustice that I [and the LGBT community] have experienced. We have the same right to love and to live. We do not do harm to anyone. […] Police are supposed to bring justice and protect people. But how can they do that when they wrong one of their own?”

Source: Jakarta Post, Gemma Holliani Cahya and Suherdjoko, May 16, 2019

George Clooney says Indonesia and Malaysia could go the way of Brunei in regards to LGBT rights

 Gather round, citizens. Global superstar George Clooney, ’90s heart-throb, 2000s serious movie star, and 2010s husband of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, has done that thing that we seriously love – he’s gone and mentioned Indonesia and Malaysia on one of his celebrity talk show interviews.

George ClooneyNot just any talk show, mind you, but Ellen, the globally broadcast phenomenon slash midday mana when you’re sat at home on a Tuesday trying to sweat out your flu/hangover.

Only, he’s not telling TV’s most generous host about the great time he had in Langkawi, or about an orangutan conservation he just built. Nope – he singled out both Malaysia and Indonesia for our similarities to neighboring Brunei, which recently introduced harsh punishments as part of their Sharia law roll-out before backtracking on them.

OK, recap: A couple of months ago when Sharia punishments came into effect in the Sultanate of Brunei, many members of the international community were alarmed to hear that, among the punishments that would now be meted out, was the stoning to death of homosexuals.

For the record, being a homosexual in Indonesia is not illegal except in Aceh — the only province given special autonomy to enact sharia-based laws — although that might have been where Brunei got their ideas from.

Many Hollywood elites were appalled to find out that the owner of beloved haunts that include the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, and the Dorchester in London was none other than the man behind the stoning laws himself, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. They called for a boycotting of his hotels and businesses.

“The way you make it difficult is by boycotting his hotels. That doesn’t matter so much to a rich guy, you can’t shame the ‘bad guys,’ but you can shame the people who do business with them,” Clooney said on the show.

“And when the banks and financial institutions started saying ‘well, we are out of the Brunei business’, then he backed off, and changed and said ‘put a moratorium’ on it,” the actor told fellow boycotter Ellen (and, in effect – hundreds of millions of viewers across the world).

The Sultan of BruneiThings took a turn for the interesting when Clooney claimed that, while shaming was ineffective in passive-aggressively making countries change their policies, Hollywood-powered boycotts did work and showed their celebrity embargo mattered.

He went on:

“… it sends a warning shot over to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia who also are considering these laws, that the business people, the big banks, those guys are going to say ‘don’t even get into that business,’ so that’s the reason you do it.”

Right. George. Jorge. Sit down. Can we talk?

While Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation, actually implementing the death penalty for being homosexual has never seriously been considered by the government.

We are certainly guilty of failing our LGBTQ+ community, and this is something that this publication talks about at least once a month, usually appalled, and always disappointed. However, we’re a long way from stoning anyone to death. Geez.

Source: coconuts.co, Staff, May 14, 2017

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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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