Friday, May 26, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation- May 26

Facing corporal punishment for gay sex Facing corporal punishment for gay sex

Report US refuses visas for Gay Chechens fleeing violence

Moscow, Russia - The US State Department has refused to issue visas to Gay Chechens fleeing persecution in their country, according to Russian LGBT activists. The Russian-based organization LGBT Network says about 40 Chechens have escaped the wave of kidnapping, tortures, and murders that swept up more than 100 of their Gay countrymen and are now in hiding in other parts of Russia. They are unable to get the visas that would allow them to leave the country, LGBT Network spokesperson Svetlana Zakharova told BuzzFeed News.

In fact, just two Chechens have managed to secure visas and travel to safe countries since the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta first reported the campaign against Gay Chechens in April. According to Novaya Gazeta, at least 100 Gay men are being held in special concentration camps where they are subject to torture. At least three have died - one under torture, and two killed by their relatives. A “handful” has escaped Russia without visas, Zakharova said.

Both the US and the European Union (EU) have expressed diplomatic concern over the anti-Gay persecutions and called for the Russian government to investigate, but they have not offered assistance to Chechen refugees. A US State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that he could not comment on the visa denials, because “visa records are confidential under US law...” The current ruler of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is regarded as a Putin puppet, and like Putin he is known to pursue critics inside and outside of Russia with the intention of killing them.

Meanwhile three French LGBT groups have filed a complaint against Chechnya with the International Criminal Court (ICC). Stop Homophobia, Mousse, and Comité IDAHO France accuse Chechnya of carrying out “a policy of genocide” against Gay people. They blame Kadyrov and other Chechen officials for a “wave of persecution.” Spokesperson Etienne Deshoulières called Kadyrov “the organizer of torture camps with a desire to exterminate homosexuals.” Kadyrov has promised to rid Chechnya of Gay people by the beginning of Ramadan on May 27.

The French groups are urging the court to investigate Chechnya. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org)


Two gay men sentenced to public caning in Indonesia

Banda Aceg, Indonesia — The Associated Press reports that an Islamic Shariah court in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province has sentenced two gay men to public caning for the first time, further undermining the country’s moderate image after a top Christian politician was imprisoned for blasphemy. The court, whose sentencing May 17 coincided with International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, said the men, aged 20 and 23, would each be subjected to 85 lashes for having sexual relations. One of the men wept as his sentence was read out and pleaded for leniency. The chief prosecutor, Gulmaini, who goes by one name, said they will be caned next week, before the holy Muslim month of Ramadan starts about May 25.

The couple was arrested in late March after neighborhood vigilantes in the provincial capital Banda Aceh suspected them of being gay and broke into their rented room to catch them having sex. Mobile phone footage that circulated online and formed part of the evidence shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.

Caning is also a punishment in Aceh for gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers. More than 300 people were caned for such offences last year. Indonesia’s reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam has been battered in the past year. Earlier this month, the outgoing Jakarta governor, a minority Christian, was sentenced to two years in prison for campaign comments deemed as blaspheming the Qur’an. (The Montreal Gazette & the Associated Press – Stephen Wright and Niniek Karmni at http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/world/indonesia+sentences+public+caning+first+time+with+each+receiving/13376482/story.html)


Muslim group says same-sex marriage not barred by Islam

Berlin, Germany - A German-based group of liberal Muslims says there is 'no reason' to ban same-sex marriage. In a statement released May 16, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, the Liberal Islamic Association said that other Muslims have it wrong when it comes to marriage. “If you argue spirit and purpose of marriage is offspring, then marriage has to be banned for, for example, retired people or infertile heterosexual couples, too,” the group said. “If you argue children need to grow up with both genders as parents, then single parenthood would need to be banned. Even today children are raised by homosexual couples. No study proves this endangers children. Children, mainly, need love, emotional security, and care - all of this can be provided (or rather, is already being provided) by homosexual parents.” The Quran supports their views, they claim, citing several verses. The group says this proves that the basis for marriage in Islam is love, with both partners being seen as on the same level and aware of their responsibilities to each other, but not specifically limited by gender. Therefore, the group says, Islamic marriages should not be defined by the partners' gender, as long as at least one of the spouses is a Muslim and they meet the requirements of love and equality.

According to a Pew Religious Landscape Study done in 2016, Muslims living in the US show a higher level of support for same-sex marriage than evangelical Christians do. Forty-two percent of American Muslims support marriage equality, the survey found, while 52% oppose it. For evangelicals, the numbers were only 28% in favor and 64% opposed. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org)


Federal judge in PA rules ADA protests Trans people

Allentown, PA - A federal judge in Allentown this week ruled that Transgender people diagnosed with gender dysphoria are protected from disability bias under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA protects disabled persons from discrimination in private employment, public accommodations and governmental services.

In a six-page ruling May 18, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Leeson Jr. said Kate Lynn Blatt's disability claim against Cabela's Retail Inc. can advance to the discovery phase. Blatt has gender dysphoria, and she's suing her former employer for more than $150,000, claiming disability discrimination and other wrongdoing. Cabela's sought to have Blatt's disability claim dismissed, arguing that gender dysphoria is excluded from coverage under the ADA. But Leeson ruled that while the ADA excludes gender-identity disorder from coverage, the act doesn't exclude gender dysphoria — a specific medical condition that Blatt reportedly suffers from. Gender dysphoria can "substantially" limit a person's major life activities, including socializing with others, reproducing and occupational functioning, Leeson noted. Blatt worked at Cabela's outlet in Hamburg as a seasonal stocker between September 2006 and March 2007. She contends Cabela's discriminated against her when denying her access to a female restroom and a female name tag.

Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), said, "[t]his decision is consistent with contemporary medical standards and a huge step forward for the transgender community. While not all transgender people experience clinically significant distress, the fact that many do should not be ignored. But civil-rights attorney Justin F. Robinette tempered his praise of the ruling. He said Trans people without gender dysphoria should also have ADA protections because they're Trans, or if they're perceived to be disabled. "While I agree that Judge Leeson's ruling is a step forward, I wish he had struck down the gender-identity disorder exclusion. That would have paved the way for more Trans folks to have protections under the ADA." (Philadelphia Gay News – Tim Cwiek at epgn.com)


Prince William given celebrity ally of Year award

London, England - The second-in-line to the British throne, Prince William, has been given the Celebrity Straight Ally of the Year at this year’s British LGBT Awards. The awards took place this evening at the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, London. Special guests included Caitlyn Jenner.

Prince William was unable to attend the event in person, but sent a video message for screening at the event. “I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the LGBT Awards for this incredible award. It’s a real honor to be recognized in this way,” he says. “In recent years I’ve become passionate about what we can do to protect people from bullying, particularly online. Through this work, I have encountered a number of tragic stories about LGBT young people who have sadly felt unable to cope with the abuse and discrimination they face in their lives. But this work has also led me to a number of inspiring people who are helping others to stand up to bullying, wherever it occurs. It is 2017 and no-one should be bullied for their sexuality, or any other reason. It’s so important to be proud of the person you are. I am very proud to receive this ally award. Thank you.”

In the summer of 2016, Prince William became the first member of the British Royal Family to grace the cover of gay magazine Attitude. As part of his involvement, he hosted a discussion at Kensington Palace to hear more about the experiences of LGBT bullying. In a statement, British LGBT Awards co-founder, Sarah Garrett MBE, said: “Prince William has used his position to promote diversity and speak out against homophobic bullying. He is a very deserving winner of the ally award and it is wonderful that he took time out of his schedule to make this short video.” Gay Star News is a media partner of the Natwest British LGBT Awards. (Gay Star News at gaystarnews.com)


Adopted gay man tells his story to encourage others

Dallas, TX - What is it that identifies you? For Alex Prins, it was not his career as a real estate agent, his home in Dallas or even being part of the LGBT community that defined the depth of who he was. At the prime age of 30, Alex was on a search for something more, something deeper — something even more personal.

In the late 1980s, Lois and Richard Prins ran a foster care facility out of their home in Chicago. They were intent on always instilling in the kids that lived with them, no matter how long or how short of a time they were there, the ideal of what a home was all about. The Prins adopted Alex, along with five others of their foster kids, raising them as their own and showing them the utmost love that was inside them. They also taught their children that they could be whoever they wanted to be, that nothing was impossible or too far out of reach. Alex says acceptance and support were — and are — the backbone of the Prins family. When he came out, after initially hiding his sexuality out of fear, Alex’s parents remained the same loving, accepting and understanding people they had always been. In fact his mother said that they were not even surprised, that they had always assumed.

When Alex made his very first sale in real estate, he handed the keys over to the first-time homeowner, who responded, “Wow, I have a home now.” Those words sparked a light in Alex: He wanted to find a way to find true homes for children in the foster care system. He realized that his happiness and his success all started when he found his home with the Prins. He made a Mother’s Day video to thank her titled Make A Heart A Home. Now he wants this documentary-style short-film to become a full-length film telling his story. And he hopes that story leads to one day opening a nonprofit dedicated to helping connect Dallas children with loving homes like the one with which he was blessed. (Dallas Voice - C.J. Hardee at dallasvoice.com)


Drag Queen Story Hour a big hit with children

New York, NY - Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

Created by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions in San Francisco, DQSH now happens regularly in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, and events are popping up in other cities across the US, Canada, and the UK! The organization urges people to plan Drag Queen Story Hours in other cities. The group can be reached at  https://www.dragqueenstoryhour.org/.

In The New York Times, Una LaMarche described the children’s reaction to at the Hudson Park branch of the New York Public Library in Greenwich Village. She stood well over six feet tall, her height aided by six-inch heels on purple patent leather boots. As she entered, the adults clapped politely, but the preschool- and kindergarten-age children huddled on a rug went wild. With the elation typically reserved for a "Frozen" character, one toddler screamed "Yay!" and clapped furiously, squirming in his mother's lap. “My name is Harmonica Sunbeam”, she began before reading a book about a boy who wore his favorite dress to school each day. At one point friends told him he couldn’t play on their imaginary spaceship because astronauts can’t wear dresses. This sparked a debate among the children on whether that was true. (The New York Times – Una LaMarche at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/style/drag-queen-story-hour-puts-the-rainbow-in-reading.html)


Two N. Carolina teen arrested for Grinder prank on teacher

Swansboro, NC - Two 16-year-old Swansboro High School students, Brian Joshua Anderson and Brittney Renee Luckenbaugh, were arrested by Onslow County sheriffs when it was discovered that they had tricked a gay teacher, David Laughinghouse, 51, into sending the teens a nude photo of himself on Grindr, Gay Star News reported. The teens posed as a 35-year-old man and engaged in catfishing the teacher.

Laughinghouse was initially suspended with pay, but returned to work after the incident. However, he is relegated to a remote location to handle his duties.

A Change.org petition is in circulation asking that the teacher not be isolated and be allowed to return to campus. Laughinghouse, who is grateful for the support being shown to him, has chronicled his experience on Facebook, but is not allowed to discuss anything related to the incident. (Q Notes Online and Gay Star News at goqnotes.com & gaystarnews.com)


Philly to host Chamber of Commerce 2018 conference

Philadelphia, PA - As the Independence Business Alliance celebrated 10 years as the region’s LGBT chamber of commerce last week, it also looked to the future with the announcement of a major event. During its anniversary gala last week, IBA invited National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce co-founder and president Justin Nelson to the podium to announce that Philadelphia will host the organization’s 2018 conference. The August 7-10, 2018 event is expected to have an economic impact of more than $2.1 million, bringing in more than 1,000 visitors.

NGLCC is the latest in a growing list of national LGBT organizations that has chosen Philadelphia as the host for conferences; National LGBTQ Task Force held its Creating Change here in January, while the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and Out & Equal are all staging events in Philadelphia later this year. “This says that Philadelphia is a welcoming place,” IBA executive director Zach Wilcha said about the city’s growing record as an LGBT-conference host. “This is where the gay civil-rights movement began so it’s fitting people are coming here to focus on LGBT issues. And it says a lot about the city government and the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, which, under [president and CEO] Julie Coker Graham, is prioritizing bringing minority conferences and meetings, including in the LGBT community, to town.” IBA worked with PHLCVB and Visit Philadelphia to put together the bid to host the 2018 conference at the beginning of this year.

“We are elated to bring the 2018 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference to Philadelphia, and to partner with the Independence Business Alliance and our presenting sponsors to continue expanding the reach and impact of the largest LGBT business event on the planet,” Nelson of NGLCC said. “Solidarity and success in our community has never been more vital than it is now, and so it’s fitting that we bring the entire NGLCC family to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection in 2018 to create unprecedented opportunities for LGBT-owned businesses to thrive.” (Philadelphia Gay News – Jen Colletta at epgn.com)

Beyond the Beltway

Beyond the Beltway

Compiled by Jim Becker

These news notes have been compiled, with permission, from the online version of various newspapers and other websites. We thank these publications for allowing us to bring you their news stories. Usually the reports have been significantly edited and you can read the full story by going to the website mentioned following the item. Comments are strictly the opinions of Jim Becker and not of Baltimore Outloud or Pride Media.

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