March 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
So I have been thinking that I want to trim down the areas I cover on LGBT rights news. I’m not running a magazine, and I just want to focus in on something a bit more limited. For years, I have been fascinated by Russia and the present countries of the former Soviet Bloc, and have decided that LGBT rights developments in Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation. In keeping with that tem, here is my first story following these parameters, and even better this story involves a bit of karma, my favorite….because I’m vengeful. :)
If you haven’t been following the news about what is happening with Russia and Ukraine, let me fill you in a bit. Basically Russia has annexed a portion of Ukraine, called Crimea. The Crimean Peninsula was a multi-ethnic region of Ukraine. Most of the peninsula is inhabited by ethnically Russian individuals, and a minority of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.
In February of this year a revolution occurred in Ukraine that ousted, the now former, President Viktor Yanukovich after he fled the country’s capital. An interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, has been appointed to serve in Yunakovich’s place. Russia claims that Yanukovich was illegally impeached and continues to recognize him as the president of Ukraine. While Germany and the United States recognize Turchynov, the new president, as Ukraine’s current leader. Beginning in the end of February 2014, the Russian Federation began sending troupes in to take control of the Crimean Peninsula, and by the end of March the region was declared part of Russia and the Ukrainian military has left the territory. As Russians came in they told Ukrainian soldiers that they had the option to stay and become members of the Russian military, if not they were to exit the peninsula.
In response to the annexation, President Obama issued an executive order authorizing U.S. officials to freeze the American assets of Yelena Mizulina, a state Duma deputy, and six other Russian officials. Mizulina was the official who first introduced the gay propaganda ban bill to the government of Russia. “We have fashioned these sanctions to impose costs on named individuals who wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine,” said the White House in a statement. Gay rights activists had previously encouraged the government of the United States to freeze the assets of Mizulina when she had passed the ban on LGBT propaganda through the Duma and right onto Putin’s desk where it was later signed into law in June 2013.
Russia’s ban on LGBT propaganda makes it a crime to even mention being gay in front of minors. The ban was actually an amendment to the law “On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development”. I am glad to see that Mizulina will say goodbye to some of her wealth, at least for the time being. Sadly, the government should not just be enforcing rights when it comes to borders, but more fundamental rights like who individuals have the right to consensually love.
March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
Some good news and common sense has come from Illinois Human Services Committee today, as delegates passed a bill that would create a ban on the use of “gay conversion” therapies throughout the state. The bill will now advance to the legislature, where we hope it will be eventually made into law.
The committee passed the ban under a 9-6 vote in the bill’s favor. A key reason cited by proponents of the bill were the number of studies out there demonstrating how harmful these methods of “gay reparative” can be to those undergoing the treatment. Both medical and mental health professional groups have found “gay conversion” therapies to be detrimental to the mental health of LGBT individuals. It is amazing to me that there are still “therapists”, and I use the term loosely, out there claiming that these therapies work. Even more amazing are the people who have claimed it works, you can’t tell me that they do not still have same-sex attractions. Homosexual feels are not pathological, and should not be treated like alcoholism or drug addiction or some other ailment that proves dangerous to your health.
Anyway, as Illinois got a clue, Michigan lost it and has suspended last Friday’s ruling that declared Michigan’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. The U.S. 6th Circuit of Appeals suspended the decision to knock down the ban, holding that the Supreme Court has already decided the issue in the Utah case by putting gay marriage on hold. The Supreme Court already gave each state the right to legalize or ban same-sex marriages within its jurisdiction. And the court won’t give up that right so quickly.
Sadly over 300 couples were married on Saturday, after the court initially found the ban on same-sex marriage impermissible. The reversal of the court’s decision not only invalidates those 300 marriages, but it will also preclude those couples from collecting Federal marriage-based benefits, that Michigan’s straight married couples enjoy, unless those same-sex couples have another marriage ceremony out of state.
Oh, the shade of it all!
March 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
So recently I took up studying the Russian language again. I thought it may be useful if the Russian economy improves, and also as the crackdown on gay rights in the nation increases and asylum seekers enter the U.S.. Although the Sochi Olympics brought a temporary and regionally limited relaxation of the ban on LGBT demonstrations, violence and discrimination has continued against individuals outside of the Olympic area.
Yesterday, in Irtutsk, a group of Russians, who apparently hate gays, attacked a group of students from the local Easy Language School who they believed to be gay demonstrators. Just as an FYI, Irtutsk is one of the largest cities in Siberia, with over 500,000 residents.
So why did these angry individuals think the students were LGBT sympathizers? Well, the students were putting on a St. Patrick’s Day-themed flashmob and dressed in traditional Celtic garb, including kilts. I am guessing these attackers are not intellectually curious enough to have come across kilts before and to be able to distinguish between kilts and skirts.
Multiple students and teachers received injuries, including one teacher involved in the incident received a concussion.
I firmly believe, that like any economically suffering and oppressed populace, the Russian people are looking for a scapegoat and someone to take out their frustrations upon. The real problem is the very small elite, wealthy class living in luxury while a majority of citizens live in poverty. Instead of rebelling against a very powerful class, gays are tortured instead and abandoned by their own government. Sadly, attackers aren’t even getting their facts straight before they go in for the “kill”.
Hopefully, we won’t be seeing this idiocy in Crimea as it has joined the Russian Federation.
March 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
Good news has come for Michigan, as a federal judge Bernard Friedman decided, Friday, that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. Now Michigan must recognize same-sex marriages
Same-sex couples in Michigan will, hopefully, soon be eligible for marriage licenses. Unfortunately, delays have already been instituted as Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, announced on Friday evening that he’s filed an emergency request for Friedman’s order to be stayed and appealed. You would think the man could find something more important to focus on, like Michigan’s struggling economy…
Other news came for the LGBT communities as Fred Phelps, founder of he Westboro Baptist Church, passed away. Phelps and his congregation spent their spare time traveling around the United States to protest the funerals of fallen soldiers, claiming that god had caused these soldiers to die because the United States was defending gay rights and god felt the need to punish those who would harbor homosexuals. I am not going to say much more about the man or the church, I don’t think he is worth my words. Rachel Madow covered the issue and his death well:
March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
Needless to say, after reading my title it should be obvious that Jamaica’s lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual youth are suffering. Jamaica is vehemently and openly anti-gay in its popular culture and politics, but a little bit of Christian “light” is being shined on homeless youth who are living in Kingston’s sewer system after being kicked out of their family homes for not being heterosexual.
Reverend Margaret Fowler, a minister of the United Church and also a director of Dwayne’s House(an organization seeking homes for homeless LGBT youth), took individuals who had come to Kingston for a regional conference on human trafficking to the sewers to visit the homeless youth.
Initially, reading the article, it was good to see that people who claimed to be very Christian, were not so judgmental about homosexual activity. Sadly, after reading the entire piece, the author mentions that the female visitors promised to protect the male visitors from the gay youth. The men were actually afraid of being violated by kids.
Also, the leader of the group told everyone that if they were left behind that they would have to claim their earnings from sex work the next morning. Oh haha, that is so funny. These kids have to sell their bodies to eat. I hope the “Christians” don’t charge too little and end up hurting the sewer sex economy. I especially find this trafficking.
Apparently, one member also gave encouragement to the youth, quoted the bible, and proclaimed their support of the freedom to choose your sexuality. Well, thanks… because those kids must have willfully chose to be gay and live in a sewer rather than stay at home and be straight and make their lives easy. Wouldn’t you choose a sewer? I know I would…I’ll be moving there next week. Tell LOGOTV where to find me.
Also, many of the members were amazed at how well-behaved the youth were. I wouldn’t be so amazed, these children weren’t thrown out for bad behavior, they were tossed away by their families for being gay. Starved for attention and love, they welcomed you, ignorant morons, into their “home”.
I am trying to look at the bright side, that someone is taking time out to help these children who have been forgotten by their families, but I can’t help but recognize how ignorant these “saviors” still are. They sounded more like they had visited a colony of monkeys who have recently taken up cannibalism (“Oh how charming! That monkey has another monkey in its mouth!”) than having been visitors to a group of children forced to live in the sewers. Next they will be installing a glass bubble so they can watch what the kids are doing like at the zoo. “Ooh! Look, that one just gave a handy!”
This account I just ripped apart was by Jamaican activist Yvonne McCalla-Sobers, who is chair of Dwayne’s House, the initiative seeking to provide a home for LGBT youths. You can read about her ignorance more here: http://ilga.org/ilga/en/article/oySwyj914D
March 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
The Obama Administration has taken another positive step in the equalization of rights for same-sex couples versus their heterosexual counterparts, by expanding health care coverage provided through the Affordable Care Act to cover same-sex partners. This rule will come into effect in 2015.
“There are exceptions:
—”Grandfathered” plans that were in existence when the health law passed four years ago and have changed very little since then do not have to offer coverage to same-sex spouses. Those plans, however, represent a dwindling share of the market.
—The new policy does not apply to Medicaid coverage for low-income people. The administration encourages states to offer Medicaid benefits to same-sex spouses, but state authorities have the final say.
Separately, HHS issued another one-month extension for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, known as PCIP. Patients in the temporary program will now have until April 30 to find a new policy. PCIP was created as a transitional program for people turned down for coverage because of health problems.”-ABC NEWS
The administration also closed a loophole that threatened to leave some HIV/AIDS patients without coverage, by prohibiting insurers from denying HIV/AIDS patients funded through the Ryan White Program.(Ryan White was an Indiana teenager who had hemophilia and AIDS, the program began the year he died and was named after him for advocacy of proper HIV/AIDS treatment.) The Ryan White Program provides HIV-related services to individuals with inadequate healthcare coverage. Federal policy had discouraged insurance payments for individuals by third parties, i.e. the Ryan White Program. The Affordable Healthcare Act requires insurers to take on individuals regardless of their previous medical history, and insurers must accept 3rd party payments from the Ryan White Program.
March 15, 2014 § 2 Comments
Uganda be kidding me! The Ugandan government is back to its old tricks, namely, discriminating against same-sex couples. Reports have been released that the initial round of arrests has begun under the anti-gay laws signed into effect on February 24th of this year.
A conviction of having had same-sex relations, just once, carries a 14- year prison term in Uganda under the new legislation. If you think that sentence is severe, you obviously haven’t read the law’s provision applicable to individuals who have been caught having sex with other members of their own sex multiple times. These “repeat offenders” can be sentenced for up to life in prison. Imagine spending the rest of your life in prison just because you got naked with another consenting adult.
So far, at least two men have been arrested. They were allegedly having sex in a Kampala hotel and were caught by staff who reported the men to police. The hotel staff’s evidence of the men’s sexual activity was a series of “moans” staff heard coming from the room.
Times are scary for homosexuals in Uganda, and I imagine for anyone who has an enemy with no moral limits. It doesn’t sound like it would be difficult for your neighbor or anyone else to accuse you of being gay just to get rid of you.
The only glimmer of hope in this nonsense is that the World Bank has postponed disbursement of a $90million loan to Uganda based on Uganda’s disregard for human rights. Meanwhile, Denmark and Norway have committed to the redirection of €6 million to private sector human rights and aid organizations rather than Uganda’s government where the funds are normally destined to end up. The Netherlands have also taken a stand, and withheld their €7 million subsidy previously extended to Uganda’s legal system.
My favorite reaction to the withholding of Western funds has come from Ofwono Opondo, a government spokesman, who said, “The West can keep their aid to Uganda over homos. We shall still develop without it.” We will keep our money, but Uganda probably won’t really develop very much.
Another juicy tidbit in the story, is Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, just happens to have a daughter who is apparently a lesbian. If the reports are true, what will the president do to his own daughter?
However, Ugandan authorities have defended the decision, saying President Museveni wanted to demonstrate Uganda’s independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation. Like most African countries, Uganda is a very conservative society, where many as majority of the population oppose homosexuality.
President Museveni himself has been under attack personally with his daughter Diana Kamuntu recently revealing in a recent radio interview that she is a lesbian. A young South African man has also claimed that he and President Museveni were gay lovers and the president showered him with gifts as a result.