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Friday, December 08, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation-December 8

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s sorry Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s sorry

Canadian PM apologizes to LGBT community for wrongs

Ottawa, Canada - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to his country's LGBT community in an emotional speech to parliament on November 28. “Today, we offer a long overdue apology to all those whom we, the Government of Canada, wronged,” the prime minister said. “We are sorry. We hope by acknowledging our failings we can make the crucial progress LGBTQ2 people in Canada deserve. We will continue to support each other in our fight for equality because we know that Canada gets stronger every single day that we choose to embrace diversity.”

Trudeau's official apology included “state-sponsored, systemic oppression and rejection” of LGBT Canadians, as well as the suppression of “two-spirit Indigenous values and beliefs” and “abusing the power of the law, and making criminals of citizens.” Trudeau's government also introduced legislation to expunge the criminal records of Canadians previously convicted of having consensual same-sex activity. Canada decriminalized homosexuality in 1969, but records of prior convictions still remain on the books. Trudeau also announced that an agreement had been reached in a class-action lawsuit for $110 million Canadian ($85.80 million US) to be paid out to former civil servants and members of the military who lost their jobs because of their sexual orientation. A ban on Lesbian and Gay military service persisted until 1992.

Egale Canada Human Rights Trust Executive Director Helen Kennedy said the apology has “been a long time coming.” Kennedy said the apology was an important “acknowledgement of LGBTQ2 identities and LGBTQ2 lives,” but, she added, “there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of the systemic changes. . . We have huge amounts of work still do here in Canada. We have very high rates of LGBTQ2 youth homelessness, housing is a big issue, unemployment, access to health care and we have a blood ban in effect for men who have sex with men,” she explained. Leaders of Canada's main opposition parties echoed Trudeau's sentiments. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org) https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2017/11/20/morrissey-defends-kevin-spacey-harvey-weinstein/23282958/


British singer Morrissey skeptical of sex assault claims

Berlin, Germany - As reported by AOL, Morrissey, the British singer and former The Smiths frontman, has become as well-known for his public outbursts and politically incorrect musings as for the languid melodies and acerbic lyrics that made him a pop music icon. So it was only a matter of time before Morrissey stepped into the #MeToo debate to give his take on the harassment scandals, and outraged backlash against it, that have been thrashing through Hollywood since the first allegations of abuse emerged against disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein just over a month ago.

In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, published last month, Morrissey appeared to defend Weinstein and others, including Kevin Spacey, who have been accused of abuse, including sexual assault. “I hate rape, I hate assault, I hate people being forced into a sexual situation,” the magazine quoted Morrissey as saying. “But in quite a few cases, you look at the situation and think that the people being described as victims are simply disappointed. In the whole history of Rock 'n' Roll there've been musicians who've slept with groupies. If you go through the history, almost everyone is guilty of sleeping with minors. Why don't we throw everyone in jail?”

Morrissey said it was “laughable” that Ridley Scott, in response to multiple allegations of abuse against Spacey, cut the actor out of his upcoming feature All The Money in the World, reshooting Spacey's scenes with Christopher Plummer. Speaking directly to the allegations, made by Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp that Spacey tried to seduce him, when Spacey was 26 and Rapp was 14, Morrissey came close to blaming the victim. “You have to ask, where were the boy's parents. You ask yourself, if the boy didn't know what could happen. I don't know what it was like for him but in my youth I was never in a situation like that. Never. It was always clear to me what could happen. If you're in someone's bedroom, you have to know where it could lead. That's why I don't find the whole thing very believable. It seems to me Spacey has been unnecessarily attacked.” Morrissey made a similar argument in regards to Weinstein and the now dozens of women who have come forward accusing the producer of abuse. For the record, Morrissey said he had “never, never, never” been in a similar situation, either as abuser or abused, in his life or career. (AOL.com at https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2017/11/20/morrissey-defends-kevin-spacey-harvey-weinstein/23282958/)


Chinese researchers trying to spray the gay away

Hangzhou, China – Zero Hedge reports that around mid-November, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a shocking report detailing China’s gay conversion problem. Powerful first-hand accounts expose how state-owned hospitals are using electric shock machines and medication to convert gays back to some form of 'normalcy'. The practice is an open secret in China, where a majority of gays are forced by their families into hospitals, because the culture labels it as a curable-disease. Even the World Psychiatric Association has come out denouncing the practice as “unethical, unscientific and harmful”.

The Chinese knew the rest of the world was going to figure out about the inhuman treatments to literally shock the gay out of you; and so, back in 2015, the Government approved a research team at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou to study the effects of spraying oxytocin up the noses of homosexual men to see how it affects their sexual orientation. Oxytocin has been best known for its roles in the female reproduction system. Recently, scientists have been investigating oxytocin’s role in various behaviors including, orgasm, social recognition, bonding, and maternal behaviors. The article says it’s also known as the ‘love hormone’ or the ‘cuddle hormone’ because levels of oxytocin are increased during hugs and orgasms.

The results should be out by the end of December. The study states the objective of the trial: “the feature of brain activity and social gender cognition in male homosexuals, and how oxytocin affects them.” Twenty volunteers were chosen at random. Among other things, the volunteers had to be right-handed, aged 18-40, and have “complete male homosexuality.” Researches then conducted a blind study with 20 test subjects who were divided into two groups. One group had oxytocin sprayed up their nose, while the others used a placebo saline solution. Subjects are being measured on the Kinsey Scale, the Klein scale, through gender cognitive tests and functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, and by testing their blood pressure. At the very least, it seems likely that one group of men had a much better time these last few years than the other group. A 2013 study found that taking oxytocin before lovemaking makes for a much more intense orgasm and feeling of satisfaction, particularly for men. (Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden at http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-01/chinese-researchers-experiment-anti-gay-spray)


Architect of Trump’s anti-LGBT initiatives made federal judge

Washington, DC - The United States Senate November 28 confirmed Gregory Katsas - the legal architect of many of Donald Trump's anti-LGBT efforts - to the powerful U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. In a press release, Lambda Legal strongly condemned the Senate GOP leadership and those Senators who confirmed Katsas for this lifetime position on the federal bench, and noted that this vote marks the beginning of a year-end surge by the GOP leadership and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to jam through a series of similarly dangerous nominees to other federal courts.

On November 29 the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the nominations of Stuart Kyle Duncan to the Fifth Circuit and Supreme Court “short-lister” David Ryan Stras to the Eighth Circuit. On November 30 the Committee held hearings on L. Steven Grasz for the Eighth Circuit - who was deemed unanimously “not qualified” by the nonpartisan American Bar Association - and Mark Norris for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Lambda Legal opposes all of these nominees, citing each individual's dangerous record and contempt for LGBT Americans.

Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal's Director of Strategy, issued the following statement: “Today's confirmation of the legal architect of much of this administration's anti-LGBT agenda to the powerful DC Circuit is a disgrace, and demonstrates that the Senate has become nothing more than a rubber stamp for Donald Trump, without regard for how anti-LGBT, anti-woman, anti-Muslim, or anti-immigrant the records of his judicial nominees. The courts play an essential part in protecting those most vulnerable in this country, and the damage being done to the judicial system by this administration cannot be overstated. Senators abdicate their constitutional duty when they simply roll over and allow Donald Trump to pack the courts with lifetime appointees who share Trump's distorted view of the Constitution.” (Seattle Gay News - Lambda Legal Press Release at sgn.org)


From boy band to HIV activist after being raped

Dallas, TX - Nico Decastro moved to the Philippines as a teen to pursue his dreams of being a singer. There, he joined a boy band, performing with the group until he was 21. But that’s when tragedy struck. “Something happened,” Decastro said, hesitating before adding, “I was raped.” After the attack, he moved back to the U.S. to be with his family and finish college. But he wasn’t feeling well and went to the doctor. As part of the medical exam, he was given an HIV test. And three days before Christmas, in 2011, Decastro learned he was HIV positive. It was unbelievable to him. “I never thought it could happen to a person like me,” he said, explaining that he came from a military background — his father served in the U.S. Navy — and a religious family.

His family, he said, was heartbroken, and he felt like he had let them down. When he told his mother, who is a breast cancer survivor, “she fell on the floor,” he said. “She grabbed my hand and said, ‘Everything’s going to be OK. I’m going to take care of you.’” Decastro said he wanted to give up then. He dropped out of nursing school and attempted suicide by overdosing. “I ended up waking up in the hospital with the police outside my door.” He was held in the psychiatric unit for observation for a couple of days. “Those two days were a wake-up call for me,” Decastro said. He realized how many people his life impacted and how much they cared about him. He decided it was time to turn his life around, so Decastro began working for the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team in Los Angeles, and he joined the L.A. Gay Men’s Chorus. “I was helping people by telling my story,” he said, both at work and as a featured performer with the chorus. “I found hope through them.” He’s also returned to singing and songwriting. His latest song, “Lost Soul,” is about how he hit rock bottom and attempted suicide, but then found hope and peace with his life.

Noting that because he was diagnosed soon after being infected, Decastro said that he was able to begin taking HIV medications early and his viral load quickly became undetectable. He hopes others will follow that lead. And this World AIDS Day, that’s the message he has to share: Get tested. It can save your life. (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com)


Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholds ouster of Lesbian judge

Harrisburg, PA - In a 5-1 decision issued Nov. 22, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling that permanently bars Dawn A. Segal from holding judicial office. Segal, an open lesbian, served as a municipal-court judge in Philadelphia for about six years until she was suspended without pay last year due to improper conversations with another judge. The majority opinion states that Segal's actions were "an affront to the administration of justice and diminish confidence in the judiciary at large." The sole dissenter recommended that the case be remanded to the Court of Judicial Discipline for further review to ensure consistent discipline for problematic judges.

In court papers, Segal acknowledged engaging in improper conversations with Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr. between 2011-12 but said none of the conversations influenced her judicial rulings. Last year, the Court of Judicial Discipline ordered Segal's permanent removal, after holding a sanctions hearing, during which Segal gave an impassioned plea for her return to the bench. In May, oral arguments were held in Harrisburg before the state Supreme Court. The arguments focused on whether the Court of Judicial Discipline was consistent in its approach to disciplining problematic judges.

Segal argued that many Pennsylvania judges engaged in more egregious behavior than hers yet only received reprimands or brief suspensions. However, the state Supreme Court ultimately rejected that argument, emphasizing the gravity of Segal's misconduct. The FBI wiretapped Segal's conversations with Waters as part of a larger investigation of judicial corruption in Philadelphia. Waters was convicted of fraud and spent almost two years in federal prison. He was released in November 2016, according to prison records. Segal isn't accused of any criminal wrongdoing. Neither side had a comment for this story. (Philadelphia Gay News - Tim Cwiek at epgn.com)


South Carolina high court says DV law covers LGBTQ couples

Columbia, SC - SC Equality Executive Director Jeff Ayers announced that the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of LGBTQ couples there, thus opening up protections for both LGBTQ and straight community members with regard to issues of domestic violence. “Now, victims of domestic violence, whether gay or straight, are protected under the state’s domestic violence law. It’s a victory for victims and it gives law enforcement and the courts clear guidance moving forward. [This is a] Huge victory for the LGBTQ community in South Carolina,” Ayers shared. The case, Jane Doe v. State, involved a Richland County woman who applied for a protective order under the state’s domestic violence law after she was hit and choked by a former female fiancée.

The ruling declared two sections of the state’s landmark domestic violence law that made gender references unconstitutional as applied. The “as applied” approach avoids a situation where the law itself would be unconstitutional, rendering it useless in its entirety. And the court agreed that there was “no reasonable basis … to support a definition that results in disparate treatment of same-sex couples,” thus extending protections to any unmarried couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“This moves South Carolina forward on this important issue by expanding protections under the law for victims of domestic violence no matter who you love,” said Nekki Shutt, one of the attorneys representing SC Equality. “I applaud the state Supreme Court’s ruling. The state’s criminal domestic violence law now includes everyone, gay or straight, which is what a good law is supposed to do.” (Q Notes Online - Lainey Millen at goqnotes.com)


Jason Collins, first out NBA player, works for diversity

Philadelphia, PA - Jason Collins came to Philadelphia spoke at William Way LGBT Community Center on Nov. 21. Lately, Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player, has been an ambassador for the basketball league, promoting the sport, inclusion and diversity. Collins has participated in a number of NBA diversity initiatives, but there are still many to join in. Philadelphia is one of them. “I’ve done events with New York teams and some on the West Coast,” he said. “And in Miami they had an Out and Proud Day that I was at. But as for the 76ers … Um, I haven’t been invited yet!”

Collins works with a number of youth groups and talks to coaches about sport-related mindsets that keep perpetuating. “Something that every male athlete has heard is, ‘Don’t throw like a girl,’” Collins said. “Just a comment like that that everyone has heard, you’re forcing a division between masculine and feminine. In junior sports, it’s the athletes that set the culture. So hopefully we can affect the coaches who can affect the players and we can change that culture.”

Collins came out in 2013 while still playing in the NBA — a gutsy move, but many describe his coming out as having looked easy. He didn’t think so at the time, but it was the way he, his teammates, family and the general public all handled it that made it seem so. While playing, Collins wore the number 98. If you had asked him why when he chose that number, he’d tell you it was because he fouled a lot and wanted to mess with the refs. (Basketball refs hold up fingers to represent the fouling player. Who knew?) But the truth of the matter was it was also the year Matthew Shepard was murdered; the number was a tribute to the gay college student. (Philadelphia Gay News – Scott A. Drake 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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