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EXCLUSIVE: Campaign seeks to honor Rustin with postage stamp

Bayard Rustin, gay news, Washington Blade

Bayard Rustin was the architect of the 1963 March on Washington.

The same advocates who worked for years to convince the United States Postal Service to issue its first Harvey Milk postage stamp have launched an all-out effort to win approval for a new stamp honoring Bayard Rustin, the openly gay organizer of the iconic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The official launch of the Bayard Rustin USA/National Stamp Campaign will be announced at the 2014 Creating Change Conference (Jan. 29-Feb. 2 in Houston) by none other than Rustin’s longtime partner, Walter Naegle, who recently also accepted the Medal of Freedom from President Obama on behalf of Rustin, who died in 1987.

The idea for a campaign to win approval for a stamp honoring Rustin as an openly gay, African-American civil rights icon has been talked about for years. But the movement finally gained real traction in San Diego with the help of City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, who will serve as the campaign’s executive director.  The International Imperial Court System and its Imperial Court Council, along with the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force are the guiding forces behind the campaign.

National co-sponsors of the campaign include the National Black Justice Coalition, the National LGBT Museum and the GLBT Historic Task Force.

Anyone wishing to jump in early on the letter-writing campaign to make the Rustin stamp a reality can write to Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee c/o Stamp Development, United States Postal Service, 475 L’Enfant Plaza S.W., Room 3300, Washington, D.C.  20260-3501.

“This stamp would further remind Americans that by honoring Bayard Rustin, you honor a true American hero and champion of civil rights for all people,” said Ramirez.

The Blade will have full coverage of this story as it unfolds.

13
Jan
2014

Ban Ki-moon highlights LGBT rights during Sochi speech

Athlete Ally, All Out, IOC, International Olympic Committee, Russia, Sochi, gay news, Washington Blade

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday noted Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter “enshrines” the International Olympic Committee’s “opposition to any form of discrimination.” (Photo courtesy of All Out)

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for an end to anti-LGBT discrimination and violence during a speech in Sochi, Russia, that coincided the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“We must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people,” said Ban during remarks he gave during an International Olympic Committee meeting. “We must oppose the arrests, imprisonments and discriminatory restrictions they face.”

Ban did not specifically reference Russia’s controversial law banning gay propaganda to minors during his speech. He noted “many professional athletes, gay and straight, are speaking out against prejudice.”

“I know that Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter enshrines the IOC’s opposition to any form of discrimination,” said Ban.

Ban’s comments come nearly two months after the U.N. used the 65th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to highlight efforts to combat homophobia and transphobia in sports.

Gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts moderated a Dec. 10 panel at the U.N. on which retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova, former Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, South African activist Thandeka “Tumi” Mkhuma, intersex advocate Huda Viloria, Anastasia Smirnova of the Russian LGBT Network and U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic sat. Singer Melissa Etheridge is among those who also attended the event.

The U.N. last July announced its “Free and Equal” campaign designed to increase support for LGBT rights around the world. Singers Ricky Martin and Daniela Mercury and Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly are among those who back the effort.

“The United Nations stands strongly behind our own ‘Free and Equal’ campaign,” said Ban in Sochi. “I look forward to working with the IOC, Governments and other partners around the world to build societies of equality and tolerance.”

06
Feb
2014

Ugandan president signs draconian anti-gay bill

Uganda, gay news, Washington Blade

LGBT advocates hung this poster outside the Ugandan embassy in Northwest D.C. on Feb. 24 in response to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill the country’s president signed into law earlier in the day. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Sturtz)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Feb. 24 signed a bill into law that imposes a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts.

“I have failed to understand that you can fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man,” Museveni told reporters as he signed the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill at his official residence in Entebbe, according to Agence France-Presse. “That is a really serious matter. There is something really wrong with you.”

Museveni described gays and lesbians as “mercenaries” who are actually “heterosexual people but because of money they say they are homosexuals.” The Ugandan president also said oral sex can cause worms, Hepatitis B and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“The mouth is for picking food, not for sex,” said Museveni, according to Agence France-Presse. “We know the address for sex. That address (the mouth) is not for sex. The mouth is for eating not for sex. The mouth is engineered for kissing.”

Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill sparked widespread outrage among LGBT rights advocates and Western governments.

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a Ugandan LGBT advocacy group, scoffed at Museveni’s previous claims that he sought “scientific opinions” on whether people were “born homosexual.” The activist is among the list of “200 top” gays whose names a Ugandan tabloid published on Tuesday.

Museveni in a Feb. 18 statement that rebuked President Obama’s criticisms over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill specifically cited the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights President Kerry Kennedy – with whom he met last month – for sending him information from U.S. scientists who said “there could be some indications that heterosexuality could be congenital.” Museveni said scientists from the Ugandan Ministry of Health and two other agencies came to a “unanimous conclusion” that “homosexuality, contrary to my earlier thinking, was behavioral and not genetic.”

“President Museveni’s scientific inquiry is a smokescreen for what is truly going on: political homophobia at its worst,” Mugisha told the Washington Blade on Feb. 24. “Last month the president said he would not sign this fascist bill. But now, it seems he has sold us out for the votes of his party. It is politics – plain and simple – all at the expense of LGBTI Ugandans.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the law “violates a host of fundamental human rights” that Uganda’s constitution guarantees. Kennedy added Ugandan lawmakers and Museveni have decided to “criminalize an already vulnerable population rather than safeguarding equality in the country.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who met with Museveni last month during a trip to Uganda with four other American lawmakers, also urged the Ugandan president not to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law.

“I certainly disagree with the controversial legislation that Uganda may enact in the coming days,” the Oklahoma Republican told the Blade last week after Museveni announced his plans to sign the controversial measure. “As I’ve said before, it is my hope that the country will abandon this unjust and harsh legislation.”

White House to ‘review’ relationship with Uganda

The Obama administration has begun “a review” of its relationship with Uganda in response to Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told the Blade on Feb. 24 the review “means a range of things.”

She did not specifically say whether it would include cutting any of the more than $485 million in aid the U.S. provided to Uganda last year for global health, military, poverty reduction and other programs. Psaki also did not tell the Blade whether this review would include recalling U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Scott DeLisi to Washington for consultations or sanctions.

“We’re looking at a range of options,” she told the Blade.

The Center for Constitutional Rights in March 2012 filed a federal lawsuit against Scott Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda that accuses the evangelical Christian of exploiting homophobic attitudes in the East African country and encouraging lawmakers to approve the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Judge Michael A. Posner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts last August ruled the lawsuit can proceed.

A document the anti-gay Coalition for Advancement of Moral Values (CAMOVA) sent to Ugandan parliamentarians last year that the Blade exclusively obtained lists “oral anal sex” as among the “horrors of homosexuality.” Lively is among the three prominent American evangelicals who attended a 2009 summit that CAMOVA organized titled “Exposing the Homosexuals’ Agenda” – Parliamentarian David Bahati several months later introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that at the time contained a death penalty provision for anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual relations.

Lively described the Center for Constitutional Rights as a “Marxist law firm from New York City” during a Feb. 21 press conference at the National Press Club in downtown Washington where he and other anti-gay advocates announced the creation of a new organization designed to combat the global LGBT rights movement. The American evangelical who is running to succeed outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick categorized the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to the Blade on Feb. 24 as “overly harsh on its face,” but “typical of African criminal law across the country.”

“Poor countries with limited criminal justice systems tend to rely on the harshness of the letter of the law to be a deterrent to criminals,” said Lively. “In practice, the sentencing is usually pretty lenient. Kenya, for example, has the death penalty for burglary, but burglars are definitely not being executed there.”

Mugisha and other LGBT rights advocates are expected to petition Uganda’s Constitutional Court to overturn the law.

26
Feb
2014

Jerry Springer to stop using ‘tranny’

Jerry Springer, gay news, Washington Blade

Jerry Springer (Photo by Justin Hoch; courtesy Creative Commons)

STAMFORD, Conn. – Talk show host Jerry Springer on March 24 said he will no longer use a term on his program that many transgender advocates find offensive.

Springer told “TMZ Live” that LGBT advocacy groups criticized him over a recent show that was titled “Trannies Twerk It Out.” The talk show host told the website he did not know “tranny” is considered offensive.

“I’ve just been educated,” said Springer. “I won’t use that term. I honestly had no idea that you’re not supposed to use that term, so now we’ll find another term to use.”

RuPaul is among the other celebrities and personalities who have come under fire in recent weeks for using words that LGBT rights advocates consider transphobic.

26
Mar
2014

Murder of cross-dresser in Belize sparks outrage

Belize, gay news, Washington Blade

Belize (Photo by Greg Westfall via Wikimedia Commons)

The murder of a cross-dresser in Belize has sparked outrage among LGBT rights advocates in the Central American country.

The Reporter, a Belizean newspaper, reported two men fatally stabbed Joseph Sanchez, 18, in the chest early on Jan. 12 while walking on a street in Belize City, the country’s largest city.

The publication said authorities found Sanchez wearing a blouse, a short skirt and women’s underwear.

Channel 5 Belize reported police have concluded Sanchez was the victim of what the television station described as “an armed robbery turned violent.”

Sanchez’s brother, Abner Sanchez, told the Reporter he feels the two men deliberately targeted Sanchez — reports have emerged that Sanchez had previously received death threats from a man with whom the 18-year-old had been previously involved.

“It was a setup because they called him out of his bed,” Abner Sanchez told the Reporter. “He doesn’t normally walk those hours. He was always picked up.”

Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, condemned Sanchez’s murder in a Jan. 16 statement.

“We send our condolences to Joseph’s friends and family and the entire LGBT community in Belize,” she said.

Psaki added the State Department is “encouraged by the Belizean authorities’ swift investigation into the killing.” She said the agency echoes “the government’s commitment to ensure that all citizens, without exception, enjoy the full protection of the law.”

Caleb Orozco, co-founder of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), an HIV/AIDS advocacy group, expressed concern over the Belizean government’s response to Sanchez’s murder.

“It is my hope they don’t contaminate evidence in this case,” Orozco told the Washington Blade last week, citing a 2009 murder in which a court released the suspected perpetrator after alleging authorities forced him to confess to killing his partner. “Right now because there is not a definition of hate crime, the police is not legally obliged to say it was nothing other than a robbery gone wrong.”

Anti-LGBT violence and discrimination remain a serious problem in Belize in spite of the government’s recent efforts to combat it.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow last May defended his government’s revised gender equality policy that specifically includes sexual orientation. Belizean First Lady Kim Simplis-Barrow the same month spoke out against anti-gay discrimination and violence in a video that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

“The Abominable Crime,” a film that documents anti-LGBT violence in Jamaica, last July won Best Feature Length Documentary at the 8th Belize International Film Festival in Belize City.

UNIBAM in 2010 filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the Judicature of Belize that challenges the country’s colonial-era anti-sodomy law.

Orozco said he has received hate mail and even death threats because of his advocacy. He told reporters during a Southern Poverty Law Center conference call last summer that two masked men broke into his yard and vandalized his car last May as court’s chief justice heard UNIBAM’s lawsuit against the sodomy law.

A participant of a demonstration against efforts to repeal the statute last July carried a hanging effigy with UNIBAM written onto it. Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development Minister Lisel Alamilla described it as “extremely concerning and even frightening” in a post to her Facebook page a few days later.

A Southern Poverty Law Center report highlights U.S. religious groups that have backed Belize Action, a group that opposes efforts to overturn the Central American country’s anti-sodomy law. The organization said these efforts have inflamed existing homophobic attitudes in Belize.

20
Jan
2014

SPECIAL REPORT: Poverty in the LGBT community

Kadeem Swenson, poverty, LGBT, gay news, Washington Blade

Kadeem Swenson told the Blade in 2010 that his parents kicked him out of the house for being gay. He spent a year living in abandoned buildings in D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s note: This week, the Blade kicks off a special yearlong focus on poverty in the LGBT community. The occasional series will examine the problem with special reports from D.C. and around the country. To share your ideas or personal story, visit us on Facebook or email knaff@washblade.com.

 

As the 50th anniversary of the U.S. war on poverty launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 is commemorated this year, LGBT advocates are pointing to little noticed studies showing that the rate of poverty in the LGBT community is higher than that of the general population.

In a 2013 report analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other data measuring poverty in the United States, the Williams Institute, a research arm at the University of California Law School in Los Angeles that specializes in LGBT issues, concludes that rates of poverty are higher than the general population among gay men and lesbians between the ages of 18-44 and gay men and lesbians living alone.

The report shows that couples – both gay and straight – tend to have a lower rate of poverty than single people and the population as a whole. But it found that the poverty rate for lesbian couples is higher than that of gay male couples and opposite-sex couples and the poverty rate of same-sex African-American couples is higher than it is for opposite-sex African-American couples.

Among the report’s findings that surprised LGBT activists were data showing that bisexual men and women had poverty rates of 25.9 percent and 29.4 percent respectively – higher than gay men (20.5 percent) and lesbians (22.7 percent). The report says the same set of data show that heterosexual men had a poverty rate of 15.3 percent compared to a rate of 21.1 percent for heterosexual women.

“The LGB poverty data help to debunk the persistent stereotype of the affluent gay man or lesbian,” the Williams Institute report says.

“Instead, the poverty data are consistent with the view that LGB people continue to face economic challenges that affect their income and life chances, such as susceptibility to employment discrimination, higher rates of being uninsured, and a lack of access to various tax and other financial benefits via exclusion from the right to marry,” the report says.

The report uses the U.S. Census Bureau definition of poverty for 2012 in its analysis of LGBT poverty levels based on family income. That definition lists the “poverty line” for a single person household as an annual income of $11,815 or less. The poverty line for a two-person household was $15,079, and for a four-person household was $23,684 in 2012.

 

poverty, gay news, Washington Blade

Researchers with the Williams Institute say this graph summarizes their findings of higher poverty rates among samples of mostly LGB and some LGBT people in the U.S. The bar graph on the left represents data taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey (ACS). The chart in the center is taken from data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). The chart at right is from a 2012 phone survey conducted by the Gallup Poll organization. (Graph courtesy of the Williams Institute)

Trans poverty ‘extraordinarily high’

 

A separate study prepared jointly by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011, called “Injustice at Every Turn,” shows dramatically higher rates of poverty and homelessness among transgender Americans in each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Kylar Broadus, senior policy counsel and director of the Trans Civil Rights Project for The Task Force, called the poverty rate in the transgender community “extraordinarily high.” He said a key factor leading to economic hardship among transgender people is the persistent problem of employment discrimination.

“There’s double the national rate of unemployment,” he said in discussing the trans community of which he said he’s a member. “And once we’re employed 90 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment and discrimination on the job,” he noted in pointing to the NCTE-Task Force study.

“Forty-seven percent said they experienced adverse outcomes such as being fired, not hired or denied promotions because of being transgender or gender non-conforming,” Broadus said.

He said the respondents reported various forms of housing discrimination that are contributing factors to homelessness in the transgender community. According to the study, 19 percent of respondents reported having been refused a home or an apartment to rent and 11 percent reported being evicted because of their gender identity or expression.

“Nineteen percent experienced homelessness at some point in their lives because they were transgender or didn’t conform as well, and then 55 percent were denied access to shelters,” he said.

Another study released by the Williams Institute last week reports that 2.4 million LGBT adults, or 29 percent, “experienced a time in the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family.”

The study, written by Williams Institute demographer Gary Gates, found that LGBT people are more likely to rely on the federal food stamp program for assistance than their heterosexual counterparts.

“One in four bisexuals (25 percent) receive food stamps,” the report says, “34 percent of LGBT women were food insecure in the last year; and LGBT African Americans, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians experienced food insecurity in the last year at rates of 37 percent, 55 percent, and 78 percent respectively,” the report says.

 

LGBT homeless rate high in San Fran

 

Yet another report released last June found that 29 percent of the homeless population in San Francisco identified as LGBT. The report, which was part of the city’s biennial homeless count, included for the first time a count of the number of homeless people who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Brian Bassinger, director of the San Francisco-based AIDS Housing Alliance, which provides services to the HIV and LGBT communities, said although the finding to some degree reflects the high LGBT population in San Francisco, which is 15 percent, he believes LGBT people make up a sizable percent of the homeless population in other cities throughout the country.

Bassinger said he also believes the 29 percent figure for San Francisco is most likely an under count and that the actual number is higher.

“LGBT people in the shelter system here are regularly targeted for violence, harassment and hate crimes, which are very well documented,” he said.

Since much of the effort to count homeless people in the city takes place at shelters, large numbers of LGBT homeless people are not counted because they generally avoid the shelters out of fear of harassment and violence, Bassinger said.

He said his group also closely monitors a development in San Francisco threatening to push the city’s older LGBT population into poverty and which may be occurring in other cities – the enormous rise in the cost of housing due to gentrification and a booming real estate market. Those who for years have lived in popular gay neighborhoods as tenants are being displaced by the conversion of rental apartment buildings and houses into upscale condominiums, Bassinger said.

“Long-term San Franciscans who have spent decades building the system to deliver access to equal treatment under the law here in San Francisco are getting displaced by all of these people moving into our community,” he said.

And because they can no longer afford to live in San Francisco many are being forced to move to other parts of the state or other states that are less LGBT friendly and don’t have the support community they came to enjoy for so many years, according to Bassinger.

The Williams Institute’s 2013 report, meanwhile, analyzes data from four surveys of the U.S. population with a demographic breakdown that included mostly gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals as well as a smaller, combined “LGBT” sample.

The four surveys were conducted by these organizations or government agencies:

• The 2010 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau with a sample of more than 500,000 and which included data from same-sex couple households.

• The National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics from 2006-2010 included a sample of more than 19,000 people throughout the country, including people who identified as LGB, the Williams Institute study says.

• The California Health Interview Survey conducted by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research in collaboration with California Department of Public Health surveyed more than 50,000 Californians, including LGB adults from 2007 to 2009.

• A Gallup Daily Tracking Poll conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012 with a sample of more than 120,000 adults from 18 and older, included people who identified themselves as LGBT in all 50 states and D.C. The poll was conducted by phone.

The report includes these additional findings on the subject of poverty in the LGBT community:

• African-American same-sex couples have poverty rates more than twice the rate of different-sex married African Americans.

• One-third of lesbian couples and 20.1 percent of gay male couples who don’t have a high school diploma are in poverty, compared to 18.8 percent of heterosexual couples.

• Lesbian couples living in rural areas are more likely to be poor (14.1 percent) compared to 4.5 percent of lesbian couples in large cities; 10.2 percent of gay male couples who live in small metropolitan areas are poor compared with just 3.3 percent of gay male couples who live in large metropolitan areas.

• Nearly one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2 percent of children living with a female same-sex couple is in poverty. This compares with 12.1 percent of children living with married heterosexual couples who are in poverty.

• African-American children in gay male households have the highest poverty rate (52.3 percent) of any children in any household type.

• 14 percent of lesbian couples and 7.7 percent of gay male couples received food stamps, compared to 6.5 percent of straight married couples. In addition, 2.2 percent of same-sex female couples received government cash assistance compared to 0.8 percent of women in different-sex couples. And 1.2 percent of men in same-sex couples received cash assistance compared to 0.6 percent of men in different-sex couple relationships who received cash assistance.

The report’s co-author Lee Badgett, a Williams Institute senior fellow and professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said it’s difficult to draw a conclusion from the Williams Institute and other studies as to why there are higher poverty levels in the LGBT community.

“The people that I know who worked with LGBT people in poverty talk about the reasons being very complex,” she said.

“I suspect that there are lots of disadvantages that people face, whether it’s in the labor market or in schools and that maybe somehow they kind of come together, that they are sort of cumulative over time and make people more vulnerable to poverty. But I think we don’t really know exactly why that happens,” Badgett told the Blade.

In the Williams Institute report, she and co-authors Laura Durso and Alyssa Schneebaum call for further studies to explore the factors that contribute both to “poverty and economic resilience” within the LGBT community.

“Our analyses highlight different demographic subpopulations that may be particularly at-risk; however, we are unable to take a more fine-grained approach to identifying factors that contribute to poverty in these different communities,” the report says.

“Identifying the conditions under which individuals and families descend into and escape from poverty will aid service organizations and government agencies in designing interventions to address this significant social problem,” the report concludes.

Broadus of the Task Force said discrimination and bias make up at least some of the conditions that force LGBT people into poverty.

“We are less economically secure as a community due to suffering at the hands of discrimination in employment, marriage, insurance and less familial and societal support,” he said. “The LGBT community as a whole lives at the margins and some at the margins of the margins such as women, people of color and children. When some of our community is vulnerable we are all vulnerable.”

12
Feb
2014

Is Shepard Smith finally coming out?

Shepard Smith, Fox News, gay news, Washington Blade

Shepard Smith (Photo public domain)

Closeted Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is listed as a “special guest” scheduled to attend an annual fundraiser for the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association next week.

I outed Smith in 2005 after he hit on me in a New York piano bar. He has never publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation.

Smith’s attendance could be good news: Maybe he’s finally going to come out. Not sure why NLGJA would have him there if that weren’t the case. There are plenty of out journalists these days to celebrate that we don’t need closet cases as our “special guests.”

11
Mar
2014

Lily Tomlin marries longtime partner

Mark Twain Prize, gay news, Washington Blade, Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

LOS ANGELES – Comedian Lily Tomlin and her partner of 42 years, Jane Wagner, married on New Year’s Eve.

People reported the couple exchanged vows during a private ceremony in Los Angeles.

“They’re very happy,” Tomlin’s spokesperson Jennifer Allen told the magazine.

Celebrity columnist Liz Smith broke the news of Tomlin and Wagner’s nuptials in her Jan. 3 column that ran in the Chicago Tribune.

“My longtime friends, Lily Tomlin and her love, the writer Jane Wagner, got married on the eve of 2014,” wrote Smith. “My wish is that their happiness will be as great as their combined talents.”

08
Jan
2014

Schock and Sinema take a selfie

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Anti-gay Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) walks along looking at his phone just before the State of the Union Address as bisexual Rep. Kyrsten Sinema digs through her bag. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay
Schock spots Sinema and stops to say hello. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema and Schock engage someone else in conversation. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade

Schock looks up. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Shock sits on Sinema‘s lap. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema grabs her phone. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Schock takes Sinema‘s phone and holds it out as the two pose for a selfie. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema and Schock admire their photo together. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

 

29
Jan
2014

Kerry: U.S. ‘deeply troubled’ over Gambian president’s speech

Gay News, Washington Blade, John Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is “deeply troubled” by the anti-LGBT rhetoric that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh used in a Feb. 18 speech (photo public domain).

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said the U.S. is “deeply troubled” over the anti-LGBT rhetoric that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh used during a speech that commemorated the country’s independence from the U.K.

Jammeh described gay men as “vermin” in remarks he gave in Banjul, the West African country’s capital, on Feb. 18. The Gambian president also said during his speech the acronym LGBT “can only stand for leprosy, gonorrhea, bacteria and tuberculosis; all of which are detrimental to human existence.”

“All people are created equal and should be able to live free from discrimination, and that includes discrimination based on sexual identity and sexual orientation,” said Kerry. “We call on the government of the Gambia to protect the human rights of all Gambians, and we encourage the international community to send a clear signal that statements of this nature have no place in the public dialogue and are unacceptable.”

Jammeh’s comments come less than six months after he said during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly that homosexuality is among the three “biggest threats to human existence.”

Gambia, which is sandwiched between Senegal, is among the more than 70 countries in which consensual same-sex sexual acts remain criminalized.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Feb. 14 announced he will sign a controversial bill that would impose a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of same-sex sexual acts in his country. A draconian measure that bans same-sex marriages, gay “amorous relationships” and membership in an LGBT advocacy group in Nigeria became law last month.

The Human Rights Campaign on Wednesday urged Kerry to recall U.S. ambassadors to Uganda and Nigeria in response to the aforementioned issues.

“The Ugandan and Nigerian governments’ decisions to treat their LGBT citizens like criminals cannot be accepted as business as usual by the U.S. government,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We urge Secretary Kerry to recall both ambassadors for consultations in Washington to make clear the seriousness of the situation in both countries.”

LGBT people in Cameroon, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and other African countries also continue to face systematic violence widespread discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

“It is all our responsibility to end hate and to end violence,” said Thandeka “Tumi” Mkhuma, a lesbian South African activist who was raped in 2009, during a U.N. panel last December that commemorated the 65th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yahya Jammeh, Gambia, gay news, Washington Blade

President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia. (Photo courtesy IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin; courtesy Creative Commons)

20
Feb
2014