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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lakers to work with GLAAD on fighting gay slurs

Lakers Kings Basketball
Los Angles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

LOS ANGELES The Los Angeles Lakers will work with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation on ways to keep anti-gay slurs out of basketball.
The Lakers and GLAAD announced a partnership Friday, three days after Kobe Bryant was spotted on a national television broadcast yelling a common homophobic slur in frustration over a referee's call. Bryant was fined $100,000 by the league, and the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history issued multiple apologies.
"We want to reaffirm our commitment to all our fans and our appreciation for the support we receive from all segments of society," Lakers spokesman John Black said. "We also understand the importance of positive messages in helping us convey this. We appreciate the input we've received from GLAAD the past two days, and will look forward to working with them on ways to help educate ourselves and our fans, and to help keep language like this out of our game."
GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said his organization will advocate zero-tolerance policies for anti-gay slurs at sports events, similar to a policy adopted by the New York Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium.
"In light of this slur, there is a real opportunity to build support for our community and educate fans of Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the NBA about the use of such words," Barrios said. "The Los Angeles Lakers have taken a positive step, and we look forward to working with them to create messages from players and coaches that combat bullying."
GLAAD said NBA executives also have agreed to meet with the organization to discuss educational tactics for the NBA's young fans.
Bryant cursed and used the homophobic slur when referee Bennie Adams called a technical foul on him during the third quarter of a victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night in Los Angeles' regular-season home finale.
Bryant apologized personally to Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, who had issued a statement condemning Bryant's words.
The 32-year-old Bryant is a former league MVP, a 13-time All-Star, the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history and is sixth on the NBA's career scoring list after passing Moses Malone last month. He was the MVP of the last two NBA finals while leading the Lakers to back-to-back titles.
The 16-time NBA champion Lakers open the playoffs Sunday against New Orleans.


Kylie Minogue Gay Icon

The following cut came from an interview with Kylie Minogue in London at the end of July 2000. The question was 'How did you become such a major icon in the gay community?'


Maggie Goes to Washington

Michael Dixon, from GetEQUAL DC, confronts Maggie Gallagher, founder and board chair of the National Organization for Marriage, before a Congressional hearing on "Defending Marriage." Note at about 1:15 that Maggie acknowledges that marriage equality reduces teen suicide rates.


Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton advocates marriage equality for same-sex couples

By Andy Birkey -

“I stand with you,” was the message Gov. Mark Dayton had for LGBT advocates on Thursday afternoon at OutFront Minnesota’s LGBT Lobby Day at the Minnesota Capitol. Dayton was the first sitting governor to address the annual rally, which has been held for more than a decade. Dayton said he will block any efforts to curtail LGBT equality.
On same-sex marriage, Dayton said, “I believe that day will come.”
Though the governor will not be able to block a planned constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, he said that people should be free to marry the man or woman they love.
On school bullying, Dayton said, “I will resist as best I conceivably can to any attempt to take away rights and protections” for LGBT youth.


The Bullying Advocates: Report Exposes the Religious Right's Effort to Stop Anti-Bullying Programs in Schools

As states and school districts work to stem a tide of anti-gay bullying in American schools, a powerful group is out to stop them. The Religious Right has been leading a concerted effort to stop programs that seek to protect LGBT youth from bullying and to deny that the problem of anti-gay bullying exists. Today, People For the American Way released a report exposing the Religious Right's pro-bullying efforts and the myths it is using to promote them.
The report, Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids, can be found below the fold.
"The anti-anti-bullying movement sounds like a joke, but it's frighteningly real. The Religious Right is desperately trying to protect bullies and further marginalize gay and gay-perceived kids by stopping efforts to make schools safe for every child," said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. The Right's anti-anti-bullying effort relies on four central strategies, according to the report:
  1. The Indoctrination Myth: Religious Right activists claim that anti-bullying policies will result in "homosexual indoctrination" in schools.
  2. The "Special Rights" Smear: Opponents claim that recognizing and confronting the problem of anti-gay bullying amounts to granting "special rights" to LGBT kids.
  3. Playing the Victim: The Religious Right has tried to turn the realities of school bullying on their head, claiming that anti-gay bullies are the real victims, and gay rights groups the real bullies.
  4. Blaming the Victim: In the crudest part of the anti-anti-bullying effort, Religious Right activists are trying to blame the gay rights movement and gay kids themselves for anti-gay bullying.
"The pro-bullying movement shows just how far the Religious Right is willing to go to stop the recognition and acceptance of gay people at every level of society, and to paint themselves as the victims of the gay rights movement,” said Keegan. "The real bullies are the adults who are willing to hurt kids in order to push a political agenda of intolerance and exclusion."

Opinion: The Day of Silence is worth it, even at MIT

Stop pretending it doesn’t matter, and start showing LGBT respect
Today you may see a few students in Lobby 7 and in your classes with duct tape inscribed with the phrase “No H8” over their mouths in support of an event called the Day of Silence. I suspect their numbers will be few in light of the fact that MIT’s atmosphere of masochistic pursuit of work leaves little drive for campus activism, but I digress. The Day of Silence is a country-wide effort to spread awareness of the bullying and name-calling of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth as well as the effects of the casual use and tacit acceptance of using phrases like, “That’s so gay.”
Perhaps you think such an event pointless; perhaps you are unaware of any name-calling on campus. However, I assure you that the collective speech of MIT students is enough to bring the average queer to the brink of self-hatred. Although hate speech is most pronounced in the lexicon of the male athlete and the frat brother and the dude-gamer, it can show up just about anywhere.
Take, for example, my dormitory: Senior House. It is rightfully considered by many to be a bastion of openness and acceptance. However, this past February, an incident involving some fairly brutal verbal harassment — including the use of two of the more revolting slurs, “faggot” and “dyke” — of two friends of mine warranted a PSA by our Housemaster regarding the necessity of condemning bigotry in all its forms.
And while it’s true that the explicit taunting of a particular LGBT or perceived-LGBT student by a hostile person or group is more or less a rarity, it certainly doesn’t imply that our problems are nearly solved. Indeed, as I’m sure many a male MIT athlete can attest to, the word “gay” is one of the most frequently used words in the locker room. As you might imagine, its use is virtually never in a neutral (“Ellen DeGeneres is so gay”) or positive sense. Rather, in one of the most stunning displays of semantic versatility, “gay” will take on meanings as varied as stupid, unfair, feminine, lame, weak, strange, camp, or homosexual, among others. In fact, it is often used as an all-encompassing word implying just about anything negative.
Many people still wonder what the big deal is. For one, when people use this and other words they don’t mean “homosexual,” they mean “stupid,” “unfair,” etc., and, as such, we LGBT-folk should understand their words don’t apply to them; the word “gay” has simply acquired a new definition. But such arguments can be dismissed as disingenuous out of hand. The source of the negative connotations of “gay” is the link to homosexuality. Your use of the word does not exist in a vacuum, but is influenced by the subtle (and not-so-subtle) tectonics of culture. It is simply impossible to stake a claim to intellectual honesty and simultaneously argue that “Don’t be gay” has no connection with “Don’t be homosexual.”
Others will maintain that free speech dictates that you can say what you like. That is all well and good, but your words have consequences. I’m certainly not going to suggest that any one particular use of the word “gay” in the pejorative has led to a teenager’s suicide, but in the aggregate, the off-handed equation of a person’s identity with a slew of negative characteristics constitutes an assault on their self-worth. Indeed, what often causes the greatest hurt is less the blatant homophobes and transphobes — the Fred Phelpses and Pat Robertsons and Maggie Gallaghers who constantly rail against the Evil Pink Menace — than the people who are supposed to be on our side but fail to respect us. We expect right-wing demagogues to spew ridiculous, hateful garbage, and as such we build up a resistance and a sense of humor in response. But when it’s the President of the United States, a man who was supposed to bring a modicum of progressivism to the White House, consistently refusing to show definitive support for gay marriage, it sends a message to all of us; that is, that we aren’t worth the trouble. When our parents, who are supposed to love us unconditionally, casually express disgust at two gays showing affection, it warns us that we are revolting and that we had better not turn out to be one of them. And when it’s our friends, whom we should be able to trust, remarking “That’s gay” after a bad call during a ball game, we are jolted from our happy ignorance and reminded that we are degenerate.
The Day of Silence is all about bringing attention to the million little ways that we unwittingly contribute to a culture that devalues and even demonizes a group of people starting from their most vulnerable age and continuing through adulthood. For this reason, I think it has an important place in the march toward acceptance.


‘Defending Marriage’ Congressional Hearing – A Romper Room for the Right Wing – Videos

By Karen Ocamnb -

National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher (Photo screencapture)
Bless Zack Ford over at the ThinkProgress Wonkroom for putting together a compilation of clips (inside) from Friday morning’s absurd “defending marriage” hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution. Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) and subcommittee Chair Trent Franks (R-AZ) created a lovely romper room for National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher and Edward Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center to play dodge ball with Democratic members of the subcommittee who alternately seemed angry or flummoxed by the old antigay rhetoric.
Ironically, Gallagher kept noting that she was under oath and then would utter statements that, as Zack points out, are incorrect:
“Gallagher repeatedly stated that children do better with a mother and a father, despite ample evidence that children of same-sex parents fair just as well, if not better:
GALLAGHER: If, in fact, marriage, as a public and legal institution…is oriented towards protecting children by increasing the likelihood they have a mother and father, then same-sex couples do not fit, and conversely, if same-sex couples fit the definition of marriage, then marriage really is no longer about responsible procreation in the sense.”
Oh, what mincemeat American Foundation for Equal Rights Perry v. Brown attorney David Boies would have made of her, though Congressmembers Nadler (D-NY), Conyers (D-MI), Scott (D-VA), and Quigley (D-IL) sure gave it a shot.
Complete video of the hearing is available on the Judiciary Committee’s website.

Here’s Rep. Jerry Nadler’s opening statement. Nadler has introduced the “Respect for Marriage Act,” a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.


Friday, April 15, 2011

In The Life - Injustice at Every Turn

Every day, transgender and gender non-conforming people are marginalized because of their gender identity and expression. The struggle for fairness has too often been held up by the lack of hard data on the discrimination they face. In The Life Media takes a look at the recent report on transgender and gender non-conforming discrimination, "Injustice at Every Turn" by highlighting some of the real stories behind the important data. The report, produced by The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is the first comprehensive national transgender discrimination study to date.


Hundreds protest outside John Snow pub that kicked out gay couple for kissing

By James Park -

A large protest of hundreds of people gathered outside the John Snow pub in Soho, central London earlier this evening in reaction to a gay couple being ejecting from the venue for kissing.
The protest-come-party, originally planned as a ‘gay kiss-in’ from within the venue, was re-located to outside the pub after the establishment’s management decided to close it for the day at 3pm.
One protester pinned a rainbow flag to the door frame of the pub, while others posted flyers of men in varying states of undress to the windows. Another man held a placard saying “I want to blow you all” in large letters with “(a small kiss)” written much smaller below.
Couples kissed, while others simply enjoyed the opportunity to party in the pleasant spring weather.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell said :”Although much of London is gay-friendly, the apparent discrimination against Jonathan and James shows that pockets of prejudice remain, even in gay Soho.”
More than 800 people pledged to attend the demonstration in support of the gay couple, who were kicked out on Wednesday evening.
Jonathan Williams, 26, and Jamie Bull, 23, were on a first date in the pub when a woman claiming to be the landlady allegedly ordered them to leave.
The couple say they were kicked out for quietly kissing in a corner and a witness backed up their claims. Jamie Morton said the kissing was “innocent”.
Mr Williams continued: “When we were kissing – not in any confrontational way, but simply on the mouth – a uniformed member of staff approached us. She said she was the publican, but refused to give us her name, or give her name to the people sitting next to us when they asked. She told us we had to leave, to which we replied that we had no intention to. At that point the man who’d first approached us moved the table so he could get to me and grabbed me by the collar of my suit jacket. ”
But the drinker who first complained about the couple claimed they were “over the top”.
Gary from Richmond, who did not give his surname, told BBC 5 Live: “I have gay friends and lesbian friends. They were asked by the barman to moderate their behaviour, which they didn’t do. It was more than a short kiss. It was a full on snog.”
Westminster Council record the managers of the John Snow to be Carla Cookson and Graham Jackson. The licencee is listed as Thomas and the landlord to be Thomas Jeffrey Paget.


MSNBC - California Could Become First State To Teach Gay History

Bill requiring gay history lessons passes California senate. Tamron Hall talks with state senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

Great news! Yesterday, with support from thousands of you, the California Senate passed the FAIR Education Act (SB 48, authored by Sen. Mark Leno), 23-14!
Your letters, emails and phone calls helped your senators understand how critical it is that all students are given the opportunity to learn about the contributions of LGBT people in school. They know that when young people learn about the diverse contributions of many different groups, incidents of harassment and bullying drop -- and schools become safer for all students.
We are thankful for Senator Leno’s leadership, the work of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and your support, but this fight isn’t over yet. We need your support today to build support for this bill in the California Assembly and protect the rights of LGBT youth.
Yesterday’s vote has the most radical opponents of LGBT equality re-invigorated and working hard to sway legislators from supporting this bill. Their attacks are not surprising, but we have to respond as a community. Our legislators care about what their constituents want and say. We cannot let our voices be drowned out by their hatred.
Here’s what our legislators are hearing from the other side:
  • A local church in Napa County is claiming that SB 48 “intends to play with the minds of all California's students; even as young as Kindergarten! …You are turning teachers into state-sanctioned propagandists by forcing them to teach our youth about sexual lifestyles that parents do not want taught.”
  • Randy Thomason and claim that the goal of the FAIR Education Act is “sexual brainwashing, behind the backs of parents, teaching boys and girls to admire those who engage in homosexual, bisexual, or transsexual behavior.”
  • Ron Prentice and the California Family Council are claiming that “Senator Leno's intention with SB 48 is to increase every public school student's exposure to the homosexual lifestyle, while disallowing any accurate but potentially unfavorable content to be included in the related curriculum.”
  • Even national organizations are joining the attack. WorldNetDaily calls the bill a “lesbians-as-role-models plan.”
We have to counter them. Make a contribution today to help us protect LGBT youth. We're getting expert witnesses such as school board members, teachers, students and school psychologists to Sacramento to defend against the bizarre claims of the radical right, who will be out in full force every time this bill is heard.
Passing SB 48 will be difficult, but thanks to your advocacy, the bill has made it this far. We can’t stop now. Give today to help us fend off their attacks and ensure that every kid in California can feel safe and respected at our schools.
Thanks for all you do for equality,

Jim Carroll
Interim Executive Director
Equality California


VA Attorney General Cuccinelli: Adoption regulations backed by gay rights groups should be nixed

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has weighed in against proposed rules that would require private and faith-based groups, such as Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Services, to allow gay parents to adopt children.
Cuccinelli’s office said in a memo dated Tuesday that the proposal to be considered by the State Board of Social Services as early as next week “does not comport with applicable state law and public policy.”
“Therefore the State Board lacks the authority to adopt this proposed language,’’ wrote Allen Wilson, senior assistant attorney general to the Virginia Department of Social Services.
In December 2009, the attorney general’s office, then headed by Bill Mims, a former Republican legislator and now a Supreme Court justice, advised that the state board had the authority to repeal the existing regulation and put into place the new one. Cuccinelli’s office is now revising and amending that advice.
Currently, only married couples and single men and women — regardless of sexual orientation — can adopt in Virginia.
The proposal would mandate that gay singles and unmarried couples be able to access faith-based groups to adopt children.
Former Democratic governor Tim Kaine, who is running for U.S. Senate in 2012, proposed the change to the regulations in November 2009, less than two months before he left the office to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will make a recommendation on the rules to the State Board of Social Services, a nine-member panel. All but four members are holdovers from Kaine’s administration.
McDonnell has repeatedly said that he opposes the regulations because faith-based organizations should be able to make their own policies.
“I know I had said during the campaign that I would essentially keep our adoption laws -- which I think are good -- the way they are now,’’ McDonnell said. “I think the current regulations that are in place seem to be working well.”


Job Requirement: Have you always had a penis?

--by Robyn

El'Jai Devoureau was hired for a part time job by Urban Treatment Associates in Camden, New Jersey. The treatment referred to in their name is substance abuse and addiction treatment. El'Jai's job was to observe clients as they created their samples. That's right, his job was to watch men pee in a cup.

Sometime between the day of his training and the next day, someone outed him to his supervisor as having been born female. Now, El'Jai began hormone treatment suitable for transitioning to a male in 2005 and had sex reassignment surgery in 2009, but that, apparently, was beside the point.

His supervisor asked him if he was a man. When he said he was, the supervisor asked him if he had ever had any surgeries. El'Jai responded that it was none of her business…and was promptly fired. El'Jai wasn't, in her mind, man enough for the job.

Miami Beach Pride Latin Stage to Showcase Latin LGBT Stars

Palace and Ivan Cano are putting the spotlight
on the ethnic diversity of the South Florida
community, as well as the growing Hispanic
demographic in the U.S. and the plethora of
visitors from South and Central America.

MIAMI BEACH, FL - On Saturday, April 16, Grammy and Latin Grammy Award winner Elvis Crespo will perform songs from his latest release "Indestructible," along with other classic hits on the Miami Beach Gay Pride Latin Stage presented by Palace and Ivan Cano. 
The Latin Stage will feature performances from 1 to 7 pm and is one of several event highlights taking place at Palace over the Pride weekend.  The Stage will be set up across from Palace, on Ocean Drive at 12th Street.
Crespo shot to the top of the Billboard charts with his feverish and horn-fueled mix of nonstop merengue, as best exemplified by the anthem "Suavemente," which topped the charts on Billboard’s National Hot Latin Top 40 and resulted in multiple hits, including Suavemente, "Tu Sonrisa" and "Pintame."
Since then, he has released multiple chart-topping albums and has received numerous accolades and awards.  His unique style transcends genre, ethnicity, ideology and language, and is synonymous with rhythm, movement and a presence defined by his versatility. 
Crespo will ride on the Palace float in the Pride parade - beginning at noon from 5th to 14th Street on Ocean Drive - and will greet his fans at Palace, 1200 Ocean Drive, from 4:30 ’til 5:30 pm prior to his performance on the Latin Stage.
Joining Elvis Crespo on the Latin Stage is Dominican singer/songwriter Sohanny, the gorgeous Latin sensation who sparked a major buzz with her new smash single "No Es Normal," a true club anthem.  Granda Entertainment secured Sohanny to perform at the Pride Festival as well.
Actor Wilson Cruz will grace the Latin Stage as MC, lending his humorous wit throughout the day.  Cruz, who began acting at age 7, has appeared in numerous films and television series.  His role on the TV series "My So-Called Life" mirrored his own experience as a teen who was kicked out of his house when he told his family that he was gay.
Spinning hot tunes on the Latin Stage is DJ Maximus 3000, who returns to Miami Beach Gay Pride after his wildly successful appearance on the main stage Pride in 2010.
All of the Latin Stage performances will be streamed live online at
In presenting the Latin Stage, Palace and Ivan Cano are putting the spotlight on the ethnic diversity of the South Florida community, as well as the growing Hispanic demographic in the U.S. and the plethora of visitors from South and Central America.  "It was time to add a decidedly Latin flavor to Pride this year," says Palace GM Ivan Cano, who spearheaded the concept.  Cano also is a member of the City of Miami Beach GLBT Business Enhancement Committee,
Palace’s Pride weekend roster of events kicks off with a special Parade-Viewing Brunch on Saturday, April 16, where one can sit back, enjoy a fabulous brunch, a bottle of champagne and prime viewing of the parade as it goes by. Seating begin at 10:30 am, priced at $60 and $85 (+tax/tip).  Reservations - strongly recommended - by calling 305.531.7234.
During the parade, volunteers from Safe Schools South Florida will carry the 80-foot/50-pound Rainbow Pride Flag that was commissioned by Palace and Ivan Cano, and was donated to the City of Miami Beach for use in citywide events.  At the conclusion of the parade, in a dramatic display of Pride, the flag will drape the Palace on the south side of the building at 1200 Ocean Drive.
Beginning at 7 pm, following the end of Pride events, the fun continues at the Palace Superhero Block Party, with DJ DeMarko from New York City spinning till 11 pm.  The party takes place adjacent to the Palace, on 12th Street between Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue,
On Sunday, April 17 at 4 pm, Pride continues at the Palace with Pride Nation, featuring DJ Charlie Rojas, who has appeared at events including Ascension Pool Party on Fire Island, Winter Party on Miami Beach and Independence in Mexico City.
As the first and only gay restaurant/bar on Ocean Drive, Palace has entertained countless men and women for decades, and their legacy of infamous weekend drag shows, luscious libations and mouth-watering burgers prevails today.  Whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or straight, it is the place to be on South Beach.

1200 Ocean Drive ▪ Miami Beach, FL 33139   305.531.7234

10:30 am         Parade-Viewing Brunch @ Palace - 1200 Ocean Drive
Noon               Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade - 5th - 14th Street on Ocean Drive
                        (Elvis Crespo will be on the Palace float)
1 - 7 pm          Latin Stage - Ocean Drive @ 12th Street
                        Elvis Crespo, Sohanny, DJ Maximus 3000, Drag Performers and more!
                        Wilson Cruz as MC
4:30                 Meet & Greet with Elvis Crespo - Palace, 1200 Ocean Drive
7 pm                Superhero Block Party - 12th Street, adjacent to Palace
4 pm                Pride Nation with DJ Charlie Rojas  - Palace, 1200 Ocean Drive


Montenegro Poised for First Pride Parade

Zdravko Cimbaljevic
Zdravko Cimbaljevic
By Kilian Melloy -

The country of Montenegro will host its first Pride parade on May 31--and the nation’s government says it is completely on board with the event.

The Southeastern European nation, situated in the Balkans, still suffers from "institutionalized homophobia," and organizer Zdravko Cimbaljevic says that he’s gotten death threats. But the Montenegran government said in a statement that its support for the event is a clear indication that the country is moving toward greater inclusiveness and acceptance, reported the AssociatedPress on an Apr. 14 article.

That may be motivated in some part by Montenegro aiming eventually to join the European Union.

Montenegro, located on the Adriatic Sea, is famed as a location for the James Bond movie Casino Royale. Tourism companies tout the country’s natural beauty and claim it as among the top 10 tourist destinations.

Though Montenegro decriminalized homosexuality in 1977, and the law of consent was equalized that same year--sex is legal for both gays and straights at age 14--homophobia remains part and parcel of society there. An Oct. 16, 2009, article at relates the story of two gay men who were discovered in a park by policemen, forced to strip naked, and then beaten up. A human rights activist named Aleksandar Sasa-Zekovic gathered evidence to take the police to court for the misdeed, but the two victims were too terrified at being outed to allow the case to go forward.

"Montenegro is well known for its traditional, patriarchal and tribal attitudes that determine people’s positions on numerous social issues and phenomena," said sociologist Srdjan Vukadinovic.

As used to be true in nations like India--where homosexuality was only recently decriminalized--gays are often the victims of blackmail. The law may not punish a gay person who has been outed, but society will.

"When you have a traditional mentality like that in Montenegro, being targeted as a homosexual is the least desirable thing," Zekovic said.

Montenegro is a tiny nation of about 600,000. Its constitution forbids marriage equality for gay and lesbian families, and no other legal acknowledgement is offered to same-sex couples, according to a Wikipedia article.

But in a sign that things may start to change from the top down, LGBT Forum Progress--the group behind the Pride Parade--met with Deputy Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, who offered reassurances that the government would not only allow the event, but also provide "full institutional support" in order to display "commitment to European values of tolerance, equality and social inclusion." The nation’s police chief also vowed to ensure that the Pride event would be safe.

Anti-gay fringe elements swore that they would attack the event.

Hooligans disrupted a Pride parade in Serbia last year, and the last Pride celebration in Belarus involve fleet-footed demonstrators unfurling rainbow banners and marching for only a few minutes before scattering as police arrived in vans.

But a Valentine’s Day demonstration in Belarus went peacefully last Feb. 14.

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Out in the Silence

Following the story of a small town confronting a firestorm of controversy ignited by a same sex wedding announcement in the local newspaper, this gripping documentary illustrates the challenges of being an outsider in a conservative rural community and the change that is possible when courageous people break the silence and search for common ground.


Hundreds to stage kiss-in at Soho pub

By Jessica Geen -

A drinker who complained about a gay couple kissing in a London pub claims they were “over the top”.
Gary from Richmond, who did not give his surname, called BBC 5 Live this morning to explain why he reported the couple to management at the John Snow.
He said: “I’m a 57-year-old man out with my wife. I thought they were over the top.
“I have gay friends and lesbian friends. They were asked by the barman to moderate their behaviour, which they didn’t do. It was more than a short kiss. It was a full on snog.”
Gary also accused the couple of “fondling each other” – something the couple strongly deny.
Jonathan Williams, 26, and Jamie Bull, 23, were on a first date in the pub on Wednesday night when a woman claiming to be the landlady allegedly ordered them to leave.
The couple say they were kicked out for quietly kissing in a corner and a witness backed up their claims.
A patron who was seated at the next table, Jamie Morton, told he too was asked to leave after questioning why the couple were being thrown out.
Mr Morton, who backed up Mr Williams’ version of events, said the couple’s kissing was “innocent, not raunchy”.
He said: “The woman was really aggressive, shouting at them. It’s outrageous, they weren’t doing anything wrong. I was shocked.”
The couple say they will attend tonight’s protest.
Yesterday, police confirmed they were investigating the incident.
Staff at the John Snow have refused to speak to journalists.
Hundreds of people are expected to join a ‘kiss-in’ protest at the pub tonight.
By 2pm, more than 600 people had pledged to join the demonstration.
Landlords have the right to eject anyone they wish. However, they must comply with equality legislation.
Leyla Razavi, a solicitor from discrimination lawyers Russell Jones & Walker said: “While landlords have a right to eject customers from their premises for certain kinds of behaviour, the Equality Act 2010 requires them to apply the same standards to straight and gay customers.
“The request to leave would be considered discriminatory if the landlord would not have asked a straight couple who were kissing like Jonathan and James to leave. “
Hundreds of people are expected to join a ‘kiss-in’ protest at a Soho pub tonight after a gay couple were thrown out for kissing.
Jonathan Williams, 26, and Jamie Bull, 23, were on a first date in the pub on Wednesday night when a woman claiming to be the landlady allegedly ordered them to leave.
The couple say they were kicked out for quietly kissing in a corner and witnesses backed up their claims.
Mr Williams vented his frustration on Twitter and supporters quickly began to organise a protest.
More than 400 people have pledged to join tonight’s demonstration, while 600 say they will attend a similar protest at the pub next Wednesday,
Attendees are being urged to order nothing more than tap water to prevent the bar making money.
The pub is in Soho, the heart of London’s gay scene.
The couple said the woman and a man who said he was the landlord called them “obscene” before forcibly removing them from the pub.
Mr Williams tweeted: “Seven years in London & I’ve never been made to feel bad for being gay.45 mins ago the John Snow pub, W1F had me removed for kissing a date.”
His date, James Bull, said the woman tried to claim that a straight couple would also be asked to leave for kissing.
He told “I haven’t heard of the pub having a no-kissing policy and I’ve never heard of any straight couple being thrown out for kissing.”
A patron who was seated at the next table, Jamie Morton, told he too was asked to leave after questioning why the couple were being thrown out.
Mr Morton, who backed up Mr Williams’ version of events, said the couple’s kissing was “innocent, not raunchy”.
He said: “The woman was really aggressive, shouting at them. It’s outrageous, they weren’t doing anything wrong. I was shocked.”
Staff at the John Snow have refused to speak to journalists.

Geithner pledges to work against LGBT abuses overseas

By Chris Johnson -

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has pledged to voice opposition to LGBT human rights violations overseas through U.S. participation in multilateral development institutions — such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — and to work to restrict funds from these banks to foreign governments that allow such abuses.
In a letter dated April 8, Geithner writes to gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) that officials in the Treasury Department have been working against LGBT human rights violations as well as abuses against religious minorities. The secretary says he shares the lawmaker’s concern “about the incidents of human rights abuses, including persecutions based on religion and sexual orientation.”
“I want to assure you that we will continue to use our voice and influence in the MDBs, as well as engage with our colleagues at the State Department and other agencies, to seek improvements in the human rights situation in these countries,” Geithner continues. “The Treasury Department will continue to instruct the U.S. Executive Directors at each of the MDBs to seek to channel MDB resources away from those countries whose governments engage in a pattern of gross violations of human rights, and, more generally, to continue to advocate for upholding hunan rights in all countries in which the MDBs operate.”
Geithner adds that the Obama administration has “very consequential funding requests” before Congress for multilateral development institutions and that the level of U.S. funding for these banks “will directly determine our ability to maintain a strong and influential voice in all of these institutions in the years ahead.”
Multilateral development institutions, such as the World Bank, are charged with providing loans to developing countries to reduce poverty by facilitating capital programs. The Treasury Department doesn’t have the authority to mandate policy at these banks, but the United States has an influential role because the institutions rely in part on funds authorized by Congress.
The Geithner letter is in response to an earlier letter that Frank and House Financial Services Committee Chair Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) sent to the secretary on March 30 urging him to work against abuses toward LGBT people and religious minorities in foreign countries through U.S. involvement in multilateral development institutions. Geithner’s letter back to Frank, ranking Democrat on the committee, indicates that an identical letter was sent to Bachus.
The lawmaker’s letted drew attention to an amendment that the House Financial Services Committee approved on March 15 as part of “Views and Estimates on the Administration’s FY2012 Budget,” which outlines fiscal year 2012 priorities for issues under the panel’s jurisdiction, including recommended funds for the Treasury Department and the World Bank. The amendment urges the Treasury Department to advocate that foreign governments receiving assistance from the multilateral development banks don’t engage in gross violations of human rights, such as the denial of freedom of religion and physical persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The passage of the amendment and the exchange between the lawmakers and Geithner takes place as LGBT human rights overseas continued to receive international attention, particularly in Uganda, where legislation that would institute the death penalty for homosexual acts had been pending before parliament. Additionally, David Kato, an activist who was working against the pending measure, was brutally murdered after a publication in the country identified him as gay.
In response to Geithner’s letter, Frank said he appreciates Geithner has made “a special point” of recognizing the importance of the issues raised by the amendment that was adopted by the House Financial Services Committee.
“This clearly has application to Uganda because of the severe attacks on LGBT people there that the government continues to condone and encourage,” Frank said. “I am pleased that America will now be engaged in trying to do what we can to block such practices wherever they occur.”
Harry Gural, a Frank spokesperson, said Uganda has received more than $2 billion debt relief from the World Bank and the IMF. Support for the country, Gural said, includes 23 active World Bank projects and 3 proposed projects.
Bachus’ office didn’t respond on short notice to the Washington Blade’s request to comment on the Geithner letter.


Complaint alleges abuse of LGBT detainees in ICE lockups

A complaint filed yesterday by the National Immigrant Justice Center with the Department of Homeland Security alleges serious rights violations of LGBT immigrants being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention. The complaints span several facilities, including private prisons and local jails that contract to hold those being considered for deportation. The complaints span from verbal abuse, to excessive force, to sexual assault by fellow detainees and prison officers. Some examples:

  • Steve, an undocumented immigrant housed in a Corrections Corporation of America facility in Texas while he appeals a denial of asylum, says that once he revealed he was gay, CCA officers tormented him regularly. He says officers refused to unshackle him during a blood test, resulting in doctors having to painfully extract blood from his hand. He also says officers routinely denied him access to HIV medication and put him in administrative segregation for no articulated reason.
  • Alexis, housed in two different Orange County jails that contract with ICE, says LGBT inmates are placed on 22-hour lockdown “for their own protection” and have been denied things like toilet paper and undergarments. Alexis, a transgender women, also says jail staff regularly strip-search inmates after visits with their lawyers and deny transgender detainees access to hormone therapy on which their bodies have become dependent.
According to the complaint, these and other examples of abuse are not isolated incidents, but systemic mistreatment of LGBT detainees–who’ve been incarcerated either because they’re in the country illegally or have committed a deportable crime.
ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice told the Orange County Register that the agency is taking the complaints seriously:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes any allegations of mistreatment or abuse very seriously,” Kice said in a written statement. “ICE remains firmly committed to ensuring the health and welfare of all those in our custody and to providing the highest quality medical and mental healthcare available.”
Assistant Sheriff Mike James said in a written statement that he received a copy of the complaints Wednesday night but had not received any other complaints about the issue.
“We will be doing a complete and thorough investigation of the allegations in the complaints to determine if there is any validity to them. If we determine there is, we will take swift and immediate action,” he stated. “We will do this investigation in conjunction with ICE.”
The Register also reports that while ICE has said they plan on moving away from using local jails for immigration detainees–which have come under criticism for mistreatment of detainees–they recently contracted for 800 beds in Orange County facilities.


Transgender group furious at BBC for ‘offensive’ Russell Howard sketch

By Jessica Geen -

BBC Three comedy Russell Howard’s Good News is under fire from transgender campaigners who say a recent sketch ridicules a “vulnerable minority”.
Trans Media Watch said that the sketch, based on the story of a Thai airline hiring trans women, shows trans people as “objects of ridicule [and] physical disgust.”
The April 1st sketch shows two airline attendants in makeup and women’s clothes showing their male genitals to passengers. One passenger vomits at the sight.
Paris Lees, a spokeswoman for Trans Media Watch, said: “Content like this is the reason why I ditched my TV three years ago. Watching trans people being constantly ridiculed as objects of physical disgust for ‘comedy’ is a uniquely depressing experience. I genuinely fear what effect this can have on the very high proportion of trans people who consider – and in some cases commit – suicide.”
She added: “The BBC is now asking us to swallow the line that this segment was ‘not about’ trans people. As this is a sketch based upon real events and real trans people, Aunty clearly wishes to insult our intelligence too.”
In response to complaints, executive producer Sean Hancock wrote: “It is never our intention to cause offence, so of course it troubles me to hear of cases where we may have done so inadvertently.
“This sketch was not about transgender people per se, and while the BBC and the programme makers sincerely regret any offence we have caused to you, we would like to stress that the comments were not targeted at the transgender community.
“The sketch was about a fictional budget airline and the aim was to poke fun at the age old tradition of men dressing as women for laughs, very much in the vain of Les Dawson and Kenny Everett. We’re sorry if you felt this went too far but we have to credit the audience with the ability to discern that this is what we meant.”
But Ms Lees argued: “Characters presented by the likes of Kenny Everett and Les Dawson would never have been revealed to have male genitals. Furthermore, they were affectionate caricatures, not objects of ridicule or physical disgust.
“It is difficult to imagine the BBC justifying a similar comedy sketch whose subject was another minority group, such as Jewish people or black people.”
The BBC has had to defend itself against accusations of insensitivity and even homophobia in the last two years.
At Christmas, it sought the views of gay execution supporter Stephen Green for a news item about Elton John’s baby son. Last year, the corporation’s website asked whether gay people should “face execution”.


Cardinal asks Ricky Martin to stop pushing sodomy, sexual promiscuity on young people

By  Matthew Cullinan Hoffman -

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, April 13, 2011 ( - A Catholic cardinal archbishop is calling on Ricky Martin to stop promoting the homosexual lifestyle as the singer performs his “Music Soul Sex” (Musica Alma Sexo or “MAS”) tour in various cities in the USA and Latin America.
During an interview with the Spanish publication Primera Hora, Cardinal Luis Aponte Martinez, the Archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico, asked Martin to promote values that are shared by all, and noted that “fomenting homosexuality or sexual promiscuity among our young people is certainly immoral, regardless of where it comes from.”
Martin, who took on a homosexual identity recently after years of identifying as a heterosexual, has announced that his new musical tour will include “sex games,” which he said “is part of my new way of life.”
“I personally admire Ricky for the great artistic gifts which the Lord has given him, but I ask that, for the love of his children, for whom I imagine he wishes the best, to try to give an example to our young people of the great values that all share, apart from sex,” the prelate said, and also clarified that the Catholic Church “does not reject the homosexual but rather the actions and conduct that are against morality”.
The singer rejected the cardinal’s admonishments in a subsequent interview. “We’re going to do a show without fear.  Yes, we will pass through our sensual and sexual moment, but with class, because many people like to have a good time,” he told EFE.
“I’m not a gold coin that falls well on the whole world,” he said. “I am focused on love and also on the affection that I receive night after night in these shows.”


Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe calls Britain ‘gay filth’

By Jessica Geen -

Homophobic Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe called Britain’s tolerance of gay rights “unnatural” and “filth” at the funeral of his deputy intelligence chief today.
The African leader, speaking at the funeral of Menard Muzariri, hit out at continued European sanctions on his country.
Mr Muzariri died on Monday. His funeral was attended by thousands.
According to IOL News, Mr Mugabe told the crowds: “We don’t worry ourselves about the goings-on in Europe. About the unnatural things happening there, where they turn man-to-man and woman-to-woman. We say, well, it’s their country. If they want to call their country British Gaydom, it’s up to them. That’s not our culture. We condemn that filth.
“We get alarmed when these countries have the audacity to schedule us as an item to discuss in their parliament.”
The president has condemned gays and lesbians before, having described gay people as worse than “dogs and pigs”.
Zimbabwean gay and lesbian group GALZ said his statements were “nothing new” and highlighted the need for LGBT constitutional protection.
The group said: “It is time for the Zimbabwean government to reflect seriously on its thinking around human rights including those of its lesbian and gay citizens and government should be implementing measures which proactively encourage a culture of meaningful human rights protection in this country.”


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Delaware lawmakers approves civil unions bill

(CNN) -- Delaware lawmakers on Thursday approved a measure legalizing civil unions, sending the bill to the governor for his signature.
The 26-15 vote by the state House of Representatives was heralded by gay rights groups. The state Senate passed the bill last week on a 13-6 vote.
"Parties who enter into a lawful civil union in Delaware, or whose legal union is recognized as a civil union under Delaware law, will have all of the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities as married persons under Delaware law," the measure says.
"Today, we celebrate a victory for all Delaware families who will have the tools to protect themselves in good times and in bad," said Joe Solomonese, Human Rights Campaign president, in a statement.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has said he will sign the bill, according to the Delaware News Journal.
"The fact that the Delaware General Assembly passed civil union legislation on the first attempt is a great testament to how far public opinion has come on equality issues," said Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware.
The bill does not allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses, and religious institutions retain the right to refuse to solemnize such unions. After it is signed, the bill will take effect January 1.
The new law will make Delaware the eighth state to offer civil unions or comprehensive domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The others are California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. Couples in Illinois can begin applying for civil union licenses on June 1, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and Hawaii's law takes effect on January 1.


Day of Silence 04.15-11. What are you going to do to end the silence?

Sponsored by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across the country take some form of a vow of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. Through their activities students can speak out against harassment and organize for change for their schools and communities.

The Day of Silence is a Tool for Change. Organizing a Day of Silence (DOS) activity or event can be a positive tool for change-both personally and community-wide. By taking a vow of silence, you're making a powerful statement about the important issue of anti-LGBT bullying. When you organize others to join you that message becomes louder and louder. You can use this attention as a building block in your plans for larger action. Find out more about the Day of Silence at the links below.

GLSEN is the nation's leading education organization working to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. GLSEN has been the official sponsor of the National Day of Silence since 2001. Learn more at .

Frequently Asked Questions
Have a question? Want to know more? Just check out answers to some common questions about the Day of Silence here.

Your Rights during the Day of Silence
While you DO have a right to participate in the Day of Silence between classes and before and after school, you may NOT have the right to stay silent during instructional time if a teacher requests for you to speak. According to Lambda Legal, "Under the Constitution, public schools must respect students' right to free speech. The right to speak includes the right not to speak, as well as the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause."

However, this right to free speech doesn't extend to classroom time. "If a teacher tells a student to answer a question during class, the student generally doesn't have a constitutional right to refuse to answer." We remind participants that students who talk with their teachers ahead of time are more likely to be able to remain silent during class.
Check out this document from Lambda Legal for legal questions about the Day of Silence. Lambda Legal also has an online help desk here for more information.

Legal Help: Report It!
If you think your rights are not being respected, or want to report your experience of resistant administration, go to GLSEN and Lambda Legal will review your situation.

Four Truths about the Day of Silence
As the Day of Silence continues to grow, some people have confused the mission and goals of the Action. Clear up any misinformation by reading The Truth about the Day of Silence.

Days of Action Endorsers
These organizations have officially endorsed GLSEN's Days of Action. To become a Days of Action Endorser, please download this letter. (PDF).

Other questions? Join the conversation:
Or email us at

It Gets Better: Apple Employees

Apple employees share a personal message for the It Gets Better Project.
If you are considering suicide or need help, call the Trevor Project now: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).


TWO Calls On Uganda To Investigate Anti-Gay Activist Martin Ssempa

Truth Wins Out logo
Thursday, April 14, 2011

Truth Wins Out Calls On Uganda To Investigate Anti-Gay Activist Martin Ssempa On Possible Charges of Extortion, Perjury, and Fraud

Gay Man Claims Ssempa Paid Him To Say He Was 'Ex-Gay'; Ssempa's 'Ex-Gay' Also Testified in Favor of Anti-Homosexuality Bill Under What Appears to be Coercion and Duress
BURLINGTON, Vt. - Truth Wins Out today called on Ugandan authorities to investigate anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa for potential extortion, perjury and fraud, following the New York Times' discovery that Ssempa may have paid and pressured a witness to give false testimony in favor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

In a last ditch effort to bring the "Kill the Gays" bill up for a vote, Ssempa brought so-called "ex-gay" activist George Oundo to a meeting with the speaker of Parliament, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi. In the meeting, Oundo said that he had gone from gay-to-straight and strongly urged the speaker to pass the notorious measure.

However, with Ssempa no longer present, Oundo reversed his testimony and told New York Times reporter Josh Kron that he was paid by Ssempa to say he had gone straight and actually opposed the anti-gay bill. Clearly, there appears to be coercion, if not extortion involved, given Oundo's quick repudiation of his testimony and his allegation that he was paid for delivering a bogus sexual conversion tale.

"Clearly, something stinks in Martin Ssempa's corrupt campaign to get a vote," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "Ugandan authorities should immediately launch an investigation of Ssempa to find out if he has engaged in coercion or illegal activity in pursuit of passing the Anti-Homosexuality bill."

The following is what was written in today's New York Times:

Mr. George Oundo, 26, a transgender person who used to go by the name Georgina, went next. (testifying to Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi)

"I used to call myself the Queen Mother and Lady of the City," Mr. Oundo said. "I was recruited into homosexuality many years back, when I was 12."

"When I joined Mr. Ssempa, I told him all my problems," he said. "I had to come out and join the struggle.

"Please help us; let the bill pass," he said.

But an hour later, in a quiet hotel, Mr. Oundo recanted much of what had been said at the meeting.

"David Kato was murdered; it was a plot," Mr. Oundo said. "I don't support the bill."

As for being a "former homosexual," that, too, was not true.

"I've always been gay," Mr. Oundo said, in a timid but growing voice. "I didn't choose it."

"David Kato was the first one who taught me to protect my human right," Mr. Oundo added.

Mr. Oundo said that his presence alongside Mr. Ssempa at Parliament had been to "protect" himself and that he had been contacted only that morning by Mr. Kagaba about the meeting and offered about $42 to attend. He said Mr. Ssempa had offered him about $2,000 in 2009 to repent and switch sides in the debate, but later reneged. Either way, Mr. Oundo became a poster-child for Mr. Ssempa's anti-homosexuality movement.

Mr. Ssempa declined to comment on the allegations.

Mr. Oundo admitted that he had picked up boyfriends at high schools and universities, what the antigay movement calls recruiting. But he said Uganda's gay population was full of "natural-borns," like himself.
"If I live or die, I am gay, and if I am buried, bury me gay," he said.

"It is clear that George Oundo came under an inordinate amount of pressure to lie about his sexual orientation and suppress his actual position on the this bill," said TWO's Besen. "Ugandan officials should question Ssempa to see if blackmail, extortion or fraud led to Oundo's false testimony. If it is determined that Ssempa lied or forced Oundo to lie at any time under oath, he should be charged with perjury. Martin Ssempa should not be above the law."

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.