| Ghost Empire Films |


Ghost Empire is a film project series, funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, which explores the legacy of British colonialism on LGBTQI+ rights around the world. Currently half of the countries which criminalize homosexuality use British colonial laws or revised versions of these laws which means that British colonial laws are responsible for criminalizing LGBTQI+ people in 34 countries.


IV. Ghost Empire § Maurice-Chagos 


IN PRODUCTION

Ghost Empire § Maurice (2023) follows two constitutional challenges to the colonial era sodomy laws, as well as the case taken by Chagos Islanders to the International Court of Justice. This is a French/English/Creole film. Images of Ridwan Abdool Ah Seek, taking the case with Collectif Arc-en-Ciel, and Olivier Bancoult, who has taken the Chagos Islands case to the ICJ.



III. Ghost Empire § Belize
  

(2021, 108 minutes) / Funded by Arts Council of Ireland (Visual arts Project Award) 

Synopsis

Ghost Empire § Belize examines the decade-long constitutional challenge taken by Caleb Orozco against Section 53, a 19th century British colonial law which criminalizes acts “against the order of nature”. Opposition to the case by evangelical Christian groups, funded by the religious right in the U.S., has included symbolic hangings of an effigy of LGBTQ+ group UNIBAM, and Orozco has been subjected to numerous death threats and assaults. The case was ultimately successful for Orozco in 2016, followed by a partial appeal in 2018 with a positive verdict for Orozco at the end of 2019, and the film follows him from 2015 through to 2020. Referring to other legacies of colonialism, the film has a recurring sequence in sepia of the road which was formerly the colonial slave trade logging route for the export of mahogany and blue tinted sea imagery evoking colonial era ships and the early silent era of films and the colour tinting process. It  also features images of Independence day parades and examines the question of slavery reparations.


II. Ghost Empire § Cyprus 


(2014, HD DSLR, b&w / colour, 35 mins) / Funded by Arts Council of Ireland (Project Award) 

Synopsis

Ghost Empire § Cyprus looks at the numerous recent arrests of gay men in Northern Turkish occupied Cyprus, including even the former Finance Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, under a British colonial law dating from 1889. The film looks at the internationally unrecognized North of Cyprus, the last divided capital of Europe and also the last place in Europe to criminalize homosexuality. The film talks to lawyers involved in a case taken to the European Court of Human Rights, and the ultimate repeal of the law in January 2014. The film also charts the first Pride Parades in May 2014.

To watch the full movie of Ghost Empire § Cyprus (and listen to the Director's podcast at INIVA, London) please go to INIVA Ghost Empire


I. Ghost Empire § Singapore


 (2014, HD video b & w and colour, 59 minutes) / Country of production: Ireland, Funded Arts Council of Ireland 

Synopsis

Ghost Empire § Singapore looks at the anti-homosexuality law in Singapore, Section 377A, which criminalizes male homosexuality with up to two years prison sentence. A British colonial law, it is based on the Victorian era Labouchere amendment, the same law which criminalized Oscar Wilde in England a century ago. The film follows two constitutional challenges being taken by Tan Eng Hong and Gary Lim and Kenneth Chee between 2010 and 2014, one resulting from a conviction as the result of sex in a public toilet, the other brought by a couple who have been together 16 years. This is a film in the Ghost Empire series, which looks at the impact of British colonialism on LGBT rights around the world. Half of the countries which currently criminalize homosexuality use British colonial laws or revised versions of these laws. The film also explores state censorship and space, with footage from the Pink Dot, a quasi Pride, which takes place in Hong Lim Park, the only space in the whole of Singapore where it is possible to protest at all. Relating to theorists such as Chomsky and Foucault, the Pink Dot appears to act as a loophole, a safety net, propping up the system of control which is clearly delineated here but which exists in all governmental systems.

The film also explores Christianity and other colonial legacies including the death penalty.