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Plans to segregate LGBT convicts in Turkey

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Turkey’s plan to construct a prison exclusively for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) convicts, doesn’t come as much of a surprise to Hakan, a 30-year-old gay man in the capital, Ankara.

“They
ban Twitter, then YouTube, now this…the government wants to ban the LGBT community, too.”

Over the weekend, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced that plans were underway to construct separate prisons for openly gay inmates in a bid to “protect convicts” with different sexual orientations.

Currently, most prisoners who announce their sexuality are essentially segregated from heterosexual inmates in shared social spaces. The new prisons would separate them completely.

The country also recently introduced regulations around setting up so-called “pink wards,” who would guard transgendered individuals in particular.

These measures, say the AKP, are to ensure the safety of LGBT people behind bars.

Avoiding ‘honor killings’

While homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since the 19th century, it is not covered by any civil rights laws, nor is there any legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Additionally, religious and social conservatism influence large segments of Turkish society, resulting in discrimination against many non-traditional ways of life or practices.


In July 2012 Rosin Cicek was killed by his father and two uncles because of his sexual orientation in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

Four years earlier 26-year-old Ahmet Y?ld?z was killed, allegedly by his father, in what some called an “honor killing” after he admitted he was gay.

Discrimination at the national level


A discriminatory policy still pervades the Turkish armed forces on issues of sexuality

The Turkish military requires all homosexuals seeking exemption from conscription to submit what many call humiliating “proof” of their sexual identity, such as explicit photographs, personality tests and questionnaires about their sexual preferences.

And Turkey’s Culture Ministry restricted the viewing of the Oscar-winning gay romance “Brokeback Mountain,” saying the movie violated public morals.

The latest available numbers from the Ministry of Justice show that, as of April 2013, there were 81 convicts who openly declared their sexual preference to prison authorities. However, the actual number of LGBT prisoners is likely higher as most convicts fear revealing their sexual identity due to the risk of abuse.

Winning votes


Erdogan’s AKP party found success in local elections on May 30

Political scientist Sait Yilmaz says the project is more in line with political agendas then helping the LGBT community.


“The project stems from the pressure of a conservative society who are the main supporters of the AKP. So the AKP’s stance on that issue seems to satisfy his supporters rather than gays.”

Hakan agrees.

“The government is not interested in our rights, they just want to win more voters.”

The ruling party may be feeling confident after claiming a
fourth victory in local elections on March 31st, but Yilmaz points out there are many people unhappy with the government’s latest plan.

“Many organizations in Turkey criticized that project due to the intentions to isolate these people.”


In the past, members of LISTAG, a Turkish LBGT group, have taken to Istanbul streets for improved rights

Gay life becoming visible

Murat Koylu is a spokesman for the Ankara-based gay rights group Kaos GL. He says such prisons will only lead to the profiling of gay inmates and create further problems.

“Instead of creating public areas where people from all sexual orientations can live together, the government has once again chosen to ostracize homosexuals…. How will the government be able to protect those prisoners who are not openly gay?”

Hakan, who wears his hair long to one side and paints his finger nails, says he’s felt ostracized by society, but also says things are getting better.

“I was beaten up really bad in university, but now people seem to just be more used to it. There are even gay clubs in Ankara and Istanbul.”

Gay life is becoming more visible in Turkey’s big cities. Cafes and clubs with an openly gay clientele are becoming more accepted, and the country’s annual gay pride parade more popular.

Yet many will still argue that progress on LGBT acceptance is slow and that a division in the prison system will only foster more discrimination in a country where LGBT rights are not legally protected.

Article source: http://www.dw.de/plans-to-segregate-lgbt-convicts-in-turkey/a-17572964?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

Plans to segregate LGBT convicts in Turkey

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Turkey’s plan to construct a prison exclusively for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) convicts, doesn’t come as much of a surprise to Hakan, a 30-year-old gay man in the capital, Ankara.

“They
ban Twitter, then YouTube, now this…the government wants to ban the LGBT community, too.”

Over the weekend, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced that plans were underway to construct separate prisons for openly gay inmates in a bid to “protect convicts” with different sexual orientations.

Currently, most prisoners who announce their sexuality are essentially segregated from heterosexual inmates in shared social spaces. The new prisons would separate them completely.

The country also recently introduced regulations around setting up so-called “pink wards,” who would guard transgendered individuals in particular.

These measures, say the AKP, are to ensure the safety of LGBT people behind bars.

Avoiding ‘honor killings’

While homosexuality has been legal in Turkey since the 19th century, it is not covered by any civil rights laws, nor is there any legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Additionally, religious and social conservatism influence large segments of Turkish society, resulting in discrimination against many non-traditional ways of life or practices.


In July 2012 Rosin Cicek was killed by his father and two uncles because of his sexual orientation in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

Four years earlier 26-year-old Ahmet Y?ld?z was killed, allegedly by his father, in what some called an “honor killing” after he admitted he was gay.

Discrimination at the national level


A discriminatory policy still pervades the Turkish armed forces on issues of sexuality

The Turkish military requires all homosexuals seeking exemption from conscription to submit what many call humiliating “proof” of their sexual identity, such as explicit photographs, personality tests and questionnaires about their sexual preferences.

And Turkey’s Culture Ministry restricted the viewing of the Oscar-winning gay romance “Brokeback Mountain,” saying the movie violated public morals.

The latest available numbers from the Ministry of Justice show that, as of April 2013, there were 81 convicts who openly declared their sexual preference to prison authorities. However, the actual number of LGBT prisoners is likely higher as most convicts fear revealing their sexual identity due to the risk of abuse.

Winning votes


Erdogan’s AKP party found success in local elections on May 30

Political scientist Sait Yilmaz says the project is more in line with political agendas then helping the LGBT community.


“The project stems from the pressure of a conservative society who are the main supporters of the AKP. So the AKP’s stance on that issue seems to satisfy his supporters rather than gays.”

Hakan agrees.

“The government is not interested in our rights, they just want to win more voters.”

The ruling party may be feeling confident after claiming a
fourth victory in local elections on March 31st, but Yilmaz points out there are many people unhappy with the government’s latest plan.

“Many organizations in Turkey criticized that project due to the intentions to isolate these people.”


In the past, members of LISTAG, a Turkish LBGT group, have taken to Istanbul streets for improved rights

Gay life becoming visible

Murat Koylu is a spokesman for the Ankara-based gay rights group Kaos GL. He says such prisons will only lead to the profiling of gay inmates and create further problems.

“Instead of creating public areas where people from all sexual orientations can live together, the government has once again chosen to ostracize homosexuals…. How will the government be able to protect those prisoners who are not openly gay?”

Hakan, who wears his hair long to one side and paints his finger nails, says he’s felt ostracized by society, but also says things are getting better.

“I was beaten up really bad in university, but now people seem to just be more used to it. There are even gay clubs in Ankara and Istanbul.”

Gay life is becoming more visible in Turkey’s big cities. Cafes and clubs with an openly gay clientele are becoming more accepted, and the country’s annual gay pride parade more popular.

Yet many will still argue that progress on LGBT acceptance is slow and that a division in the prison system will only foster more discrimination in a country where LGBT rights are not legally protected.

Article source: http://www.dw.de/plans-to-segregate-lgbt-convicts-in-turkey/a-17572964?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

LGBT Video Game Convention GaymerX To Hold Final Conference in July

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Despite a successful launch in 2013, leaders of the LGBT-specific gaming conference GaymerX have decided that the 2014 convention will be the last.

In a statement on their website, organizers cited a lack of long-term sponsorship as the primary reason to end the conference: “The decision was not made lightly, but one that was made after spending much time looking over numbers, and realizing that trying to create a mega-event of this size, and trying to grow it at the pace that we were trying to keep was becoming unsustainable.”

The GaymerX convention opened in San Francisco last year as a way to unite and organize LGBT geeks passionate about video games, affectionately referred to as “gaymers.” With backing from a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $91,000, the two-day event attracted well over 2,000 attendees — twice the amount anticipated — and garnered national headlines.

Although 2014 will see the final GaymerX conference, organizers are certain their mission will continue into the future: “We hope that we could help spark debate in the mainstream gaming world on issues like gender and sexual diversity in games, and that the fight for creating a better world for queer geeks will live on until there is true equality.”

GaymerX will take place at the InterContinental in San Francisco from July 11 through July 13. For tickets and more information, visit GaymerX.com.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/geek/2014/04/16/lgbt-video-game-convention-gaymerx-hold-final-conference-july

TODD STARNES Mich. utility drops 'Dynasty' contest over LGBT worries

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
  • Phil Robertson in AE’s “Duck Dynasty.”AE

  • This 2012 photo released by AE shows, from left, Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson, Si Robertson and Willie Robertson from the AE series, “Duck Dynasty,” airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST. (AP Photo/AE, Zach Dilgard)AP2012

Tolerance and diversity does not include men who wear camouflage or beards, according to Michigan’s largest municipally-owned utility.

The Lansing Board of Water Light has decided to cancel an upcoming “Duck Dynasty” look-alike contest off because the contest might offend people, a spokesman for the utility told me.

“The decision was made in light of controversial remarks by a Duck Dynasty cast member against the LGBT community,” the public utility said in a statement. “The BWL is committed to diversity and respect community differences, and we regret if the contest offended anyone.”

You would think that BWL had been overwhelmed with a deluge of customers furious about the “Duck Dynasty” contest – but that’s not the case at all. In fact – only one complaint was lodged. A little overreaction perhaps?

I figured there had to be more to the story so I called Steve Serkaian. He earns his paycheck as the official spokesman of the BWL – and was kind enough to give me the back story.

For nearly 20 years, the public utility has been hosting a chili cook-off. The proceeds are donated to charity. 

One of the most popular events is the rubber duck race. For all you folks living in New York City’s Upper East Side – here’s how it works: You buy a duck and then dump it into the Grand River. They typically have about 500 ducks – and the first one to float across the finish line wins a big prize.

There’s just one tiny problem – it normally takes about a half hour for the rubber ducks to float down the river. That’s a lot of time to twiddle your thumbs. But this year – the folks at the BWL decided to fill the void with a Duck Dynasty look-alike contest.

On Monday, the BWL announced the competition. Later that afternoon, they received an email from a local citizen complaining about it.

The Lansing State Journal identified the aggrieved citizen as Danielle Casavant. She told the newspaper that the contest “showed poor judgment on their part.”

“The City of Lansing has come out very publicly promoting equality,” she told the newspaper. “It seemed hypocritical to do something that glamorizes and promotes the show in any way.”

Serkaian told me there were concerns about “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality. 

Last December, Robertson created a stir when he told GQ magazine that he believed homosexuality is a sin. He also quoted a Bible verse to defend his personally-held opinion. (God forbid anybody have one of those in this post-tolerant world.)

I wrote about the intolerance of Robertson’s critics in my upcoming book, “God Less America:Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.”

“It took about a minute to make the decision to drop the contest,” Serkaian told me.”We did not want anything to detract from this longstanding family-friendly festival.”

He said the look-alike contest had been in the planning stages before the December controversy and were not aware about what Robertson had said until Monday.

“This company has a commitment to inclusiveness and diversity,” Serkaian said. “We have our own diversity department. We take quite seriously our commitment to that.”

Something tells me they probably sell kale chips and wheatgrass in the office vending machines.

You would think that BWL had been overwhelmed with a deluge of customers furious about the “Duck Dynasty” contest – but that’s not the case at all. In fact – only one complaint was lodged. A little overreaction perhaps?

“No,” Serkaian told me. “She was not wrong. Her comment was right. We have a very active and strong LGBT community in Lansing.”

I’m sure they do. And I’m also sure they have a very active and strong Duck Dynasty community in Lansing. Why can’t the public utility tolerate and respect them?

Serkaian made sure that he hammered home the idea that the chili cook-off is a “family-friendly” event. I wasn’t quite sure how to take that comment. Was he suggesting that “Duck Dynasty” is not family friendly because of their religious beliefs?

At the end of the day, it was all about the public utility’s public image.

“We did not want to take the risk of this blowing up into a controversy that would detract from this longstanding family-friendly festival,” he said. (See my point about “family-friendly”?)

It’s really unfortunate that the folks in Lansing are served by a public utility that believes the only way to achieve tolerance is through intolerance. In my book, that duck just won’t float.

To quote the great Louisiana philosopher Uncle Si, “That’s a fact, Jack.”

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is “God Less America”.

Article source: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/04/16/city-utility-drops-duck-dynasty-contest-over-lgbt-fears/

LGBT film fest roots for landmark ruling on transgender rights

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Home News maharashtra-news


Mumbai, Apr 16 : India’s leading LGBT film festival Kashish will celebrate with its screenings the Supreme Court recognition of eunuchs and Transgenders by creating a ‘third gender’ status, deeming them a socially and economically backward category.

The ruling granted the transgenders a special provisions for admission to educational institutions and employment opportunities. The SC also added that if a person surgically changes his/her sex, then he or she is entitled to her changed sex and can not be discriminated.

This latest development on human rights is a hugely welcomed decision and gay activist, filmmaker and festival director of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival Sridhar Rangayan said, “This is indeed a landmark judgment that will have a far reaching effect on rights and welfare for transgender community in India. It will provide them right to education, health, employment and several other welfare schemes. It will make the community come out of the shadows and be part of the social mainstream”.

He also said that this year’s theme for KASHISH 2014: ‘Dare To Dream’ aptly reflects this emerging change. “Every year we program a large number of films on transgender issues from across the world and they have been greatly appreciated. This year too there is a spotlight on transgender films as well as a panel discussion planned to discuss the current scenario,” said Rangayan.

Highlighting the key transgender films, director of programming Saagar Gupta said, “Films on Transgender issues to watch out for at KASHISH 2014 are ‘Will This Change’ from Bangladesh, ‘My Mother’ from UK, ‘Sexicas’ from Spain, as well as ‘Rainbows Are Real’, ‘I’dentity’ from India, among several others. ‘Can You See The Real Me’ about the life and work of celebrity transgender hairstylist Slyvie is sure to touch many hearts and offer hope.”

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival 2014 – the fifth edition returns to win hearts and create ripples with a bold theme ‘DARE TO DREAM’ starting from 21st May – 25th May 2014.

–IBNS (Posted on 16-04-2014)

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GaymerX president on LGBT convention closing: 'We're still here'

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014


LGBT-focused gaming convention GaymerX will be no more after this year’s GaymerX2, being held July 11-13 at the InterContinental San Francisco hotel. But Toni Rocca, president of GaymerX and organizer of the con, isn’t sad.

Rocca told Joystiq she and the GaymerX organization did something new, something no one was doing two years ago, when the con was first announced. She’s proud of what the GaymerX convention accomplished, and what’s more, GaymerX as an organization will continue forward.

This isn’t the end of GaymerX, but a new beginning.

First Steps and Kickstarter

“It was really shocking to us that there was no gay video game convention,” Rocca told Joystiq, recounting the event’s creation. “It just seemed ridiculous.” While Rocca noted that LGBT-themed events existed for various other entertainment media, including film and comic books, video games lacked a centralized event dedicated to the LGBT community. And if no such event existed, Rocca and GaymerX founder Matt Conn would create one. They would call it “GaymerCon.”

GaymerCon went live on crowdfunding site Kickstarter on August 1, 2012. It was advertised as an event where “all gamers and queer geeks can come together in a welcoming and safe space.” It would feature special guests such as Ellen McLain, the voice of GlaDOS and Zach Weinersmith, creator of the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic. Electronic Arts, BioWare and Riot Games would also attend.

In less than a week, the campaign hit its $25,000 goal. By the end of the Kickstarter, the event had raised more than $90,000. Other than GaymerCon being renamed to GaymerX to avoid a trademark issue, the creation of the convention and its inauguration went smoothly. Unfortunately, this had the unintended side effect of making a second convention more difficult.


Gay Passe

Rocca announced that GaymerX2 would be the final GaymerX convention on April 13, via the organization’s Twitter account. Responses were swift and sorrowful; Rocca said she received many messages of consolation and sympathy, of friends and supporters asking if she was okay. Looking back now, Rocca told Joystiq she could have been clearer with the message.

“I realized the day after [tweeting the news] that a lot of people think we ran out of money just now,” Rocca said. “I’ve been trying to let people know that’s not it.” Instead, Rocca pointed out the difficulty of creating relationships with sponsors and getting attention from press as some of the biggest hurdles GaymerX failed to overcome.

“Nothing bad happened at our con, people enjoyed it, and we got a lot of really good, positive feedback.” Unfortunately, Rocca said, a gaming convention going as planned doesn’t make for a particularly engaging story for press to pick up and share.

Rocca also noted that video game culture has seen a shift toward LGBT-friendly attitudes and inclusiveness, making the industry a different place now than it was even two years ago, when GaymerCon made its debut on Kickstarter. Rocca herself had just returned from attending the second annual Different Games conference, where students, developers and industry professionals seek new ways to implement themes of diversity and inclusivity. Games like Gone Home earned critical praise and sell a quarter of a million copies. PAX East had a Diversity Lounge.

“By this point, GaymerX is almost passe,” Rocca said.


Segregation

If GaymerX is “passe” in its second year, it begs the question: Was it necessary in the first place? After all, why do we even need a gay-themed con? Can’t we just focus on the games? Isn’t creating a gay-themed convention just segregating an already alienated group?

Rocca doesn’t think so, but understands where people’s confusion can come from.

“The easiest analogy that one could use is that it’s like a gay bar,” she said. “There’s bars, and then there’s gay bars. A gay bar is a place where gay people can meet one another, they can have fun, they can dance together, they can drink together, and they can do so in a place where they know that they’re not going to be harassed by somebody else.”

“This is about LGBT issues in gaming, and also celebrating the culture of LGBT intersecting with gaming as an art form. It’s like having an LGBT film festival or things like that: It allows people from this culture to express themselves and see people like them expressing themselves, and see people like themselves creating things.”

Rocca said those who called the event “segregation” had “stretched the meaning of the word.”

“A very important key factor that people miss is that GaymerX is not not for straight people, it’s just not specifically made for them.” In fact, despite the LGBT focus, Rocca said she estimated roughly 20 percent of the total audience to be straight, and 30 percent of the audience to be female. The only complaint Rocca could recall from heterosexual attendees was that they wanted more talks about a straight person’s responsibilities and appropriate behaviors when interacting with LGBT people in gaming. In light of such demands from straight attendees, it’s hard to consider GaymerX a segregating event.

On the flip side of the coin, there are those who feel that GaymerX was pushing an agenda, trying to enforce a quota of gay characters in games or gay developers working in development studios. Rocca said that the event was never intended to put LGBT issues in front of a mainstream, mostly-heterosexual audience. “A gay bar isn’t a place for gay people to meet straight guys,” she said, laughing. “That wasn’t the point of GaymerX.”


A Le-Gay-Cy

Despite the GaymerX convention closing its doors, GaymerX as a company will continue forward. Rocca said the group is considering smaller events, but also has its hand in bringing other projects to light. The same minds behind the creation of GaymerX are now developing Read-Only Memories, a cyberpunk adventure game. Gaming In Color, a documentary film about the LGBT gaming community, was handed off to GaymerX, who will finalize and publish the film.

Rocca said the GaymerX convention has already helped show major companies the audience it stands to gain or lose, and has given LGBT individuals an opportunity to network with those companies and share their thoughts; thoughts Rocca believes will be invaluable as games move forward. “People are getting bored with the homogeny of games. I hear people, even outside the queer games scene or the indie games scene, I hear AAA folks who are groaning when they get another quicktime event or things of the sort. A lot of them want something different,” Rocca said, pointing out that LGBT perspectives could be that something. “LGBT people that want to make games, their games have a really good chance of being different and interesting in really special ways because of who they are.”

Instead of seeing the GaymerX convention shutdown as a defeat, as the ending of possibilities, Rocca sees all that her company has accomplished and all the ways in which the gaming culture is changing, and she feels optimistic. “This news coming out just makes me excited,” Rocca said, her voice bright and enthusiastic.”I’m looking forward to the other events, because our audience is dying for another event. Someone’s gonna wind up making it, and I don’t think it’s going to be just one event, I think we’re going to see more.”

“We’re still here,” she said.

Article source: http://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/16/gaymerx-president-on-lgbt-convention-closing-were-still-here/?ncid=rss_truncated

South Asian LGBT group links ‘third gender’ ruling to 377 issue

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Following the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday to create a ‘third gender’ for transgendered individuals rather than forcing them to write ‘male’ or ‘female’ in official papers, the South Asian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community here has called upon the Court to reconsider its December 11 2013 ruling on Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex.

In a statement Khush DC, a South Asian LGBT social, support, and political group said, “We hope that the Court will use precisely the reasoning it endorsed today to reverse its recent ruling and finally strike down the Indian Penal Code’s Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex and has been used to persecute transgender Indians and other sexual minorities for over a century.”

In an email to The Hindu Khush DC President Sapna Pandya emphasised that it was impossible to empower and protect transgender Indians while declaring the sexuality of so many of them to be criminal.

The LGBT community here also cautioned that while the latest Supreme Court ruling was “critical and just”, much work remained including, firstly, for jurisprudential experts to derive a precise understanding of the ruling and its impact on both gender and sexual minorities in India, so that activists could advocate for the strongest and clearest protections possible for transgender Indians.

Secondly, they hoped that the Indian government would make it a priority to enact accessible laws that will actually empower and protect India’s transgender communities “not just on paper, but in all spheres of life.”

In recent months the South Asian LGBT community here has expressed deep concern for the welfare of their counterparts in India, owing to the Section 377 ruling, a colonial-era law that has been described as “draconian”.

In a series of candlelight rallies here to symbolically suggest that it “demonstrates the degree to which India is still in the dark,” including at least one rally outside the Indian embassy in December, Khush DC and other community networks groups protested the use of Section 377 to “harass, silence, and imprison the LGBTQ community in the country”.

Article source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asian-lgbt-group-links-third-gender-ruling-to-377-issue/article5916857.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

South Asian LGBT group links ‘third gender’ ruling to 377 issue

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Following the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday to create a ‘third gender’ for transgendered individuals rather than forcing them to write ‘male’ or ‘female’ in official papers, the South Asian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community here has called upon the Court to reconsider its December 11 2013 ruling on Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex.

In a statement Khush DC, a South Asian LGBT social, support, and political group said, “We hope that the Court will use precisely the reasoning it endorsed today to reverse its recent ruling and finally strike down the Indian Penal Code’s Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex and has been used to persecute transgender Indians and other sexual minorities for over a century.”

In an email to The Hindu Khush DC President Sapna Pandya emphasised that it was impossible to empower and protect transgender Indians while declaring the sexuality of so many of them to be criminal.

The LGBT community here also cautioned that while the latest Supreme Court ruling was “critical and just”, much work remained including, firstly, for jurisprudential experts to derive a precise understanding of the ruling and its impact on both gender and sexual minorities in India, so that activists could advocate for the strongest and clearest protections possible for transgender Indians.

Secondly, they hoped that the Indian government would make it a priority to enact accessible laws that will actually empower and protect India’s transgender communities “not just on paper, but in all spheres of life.”

In recent months the South Asian LGBT community here has expressed deep concern for the welfare of their counterparts in India, owing to the Section 377 ruling, a colonial-era law that has been described as “draconian”.

In a series of candlelight rallies here to symbolically suggest that it “demonstrates the degree to which India is still in the dark,” including at least one rally outside the Indian embassy in December, Khush DC and other community networks groups protested the use of Section 377 to “harass, silence, and imprison the LGBTQ community in the country”.

Article source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asian-lgbt-group-links-third-gender-ruling-to-377-issue/article5916857.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

South Asian LGBT group links ‘third gender’ ruling to 377 issue

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Following the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday to create a ‘third gender’ for transgendered individuals rather than forcing them to write ‘male’ or ‘female’ in official papers, the South Asian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community here has called upon the Court to reconsider its December 11 2013 ruling on Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex.

In a statement Khush DC, a South Asian LGBT social, support, and political group said, “We hope that the Court will use precisely the reasoning it endorsed today to reverse its recent ruling and finally strike down the Indian Penal Code’s Section 377, which criminalises homosexual sex and has been used to persecute transgender Indians and other sexual minorities for over a century.”

In an email to The Hindu Khush DC President Sapna Pandya emphasised that it was impossible to empower and protect transgender Indians while declaring the sexuality of so many of them to be criminal.

The LGBT community here also cautioned that while the latest Supreme Court ruling was “critical and just”, much work remained including, firstly, for jurisprudential experts to derive a precise understanding of the ruling and its impact on both gender and sexual minorities in India, so that activists could advocate for the strongest and clearest protections possible for transgender Indians.

Secondly, they hoped that the Indian government would make it a priority to enact accessible laws that will actually empower and protect India’s transgender communities “not just on paper, but in all spheres of life.”

In recent months the South Asian LGBT community here has expressed deep concern for the welfare of their counterparts in India, owing to the Section 377 ruling, a colonial-era law that has been described as “draconian”.

In a series of candlelight rallies here to symbolically suggest that it “demonstrates the degree to which India is still in the dark,” including at least one rally outside the Indian embassy in December, Khush DC and other community networks groups protested the use of Section 377 to “harass, silence, and imprison the LGBTQ community in the country”.

Article source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asian-lgbt-group-links-third-gender-ruling-to-377-issue/article5916857.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

S.C. Pols Continue Critique of College Over LGBT 'Recruitment'

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Officials at the University of South Carolina Upstate are still defending the school against criticism from politicians who object to LGBT-themed programs, but other politicos have joined the homophobic chorus.

Last week the Spartanburg-based school canceled a performance of How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less, a play that was to have been presented as part of Bodies of Knowledge, a two-day symposium on LGBT issues.

Republican state senator Mike Fair had reacted to the tongue-in-cheek title by decrying the show as a “recruitment” tool, and he said in a TV interview that offering students such material was like exposing them to “skinheads and radical Islam.” Another critic was state senator Lee Bright, who is challenging Lindsey Graham in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, billing himself as more conservative than Graham. “Folks in Spartanburg aren’t looking for that kind of bent at their local college,” he told Columbia’s The State last week in an interview about the play and conference. The two voted against reappointment of USC trustees because of gay-themed performances and “left-leaning” assigned reading materials, The State notes.

Now “jumping on the irony-proof bandwagon,” reports the Charleston City Paper, is Gary Burgess, one of 13 candidates for state superintendent of education. He issued a press release Monday saying “all of America should be outraged” at the college for scheduling the play.

“Sexual orientation, and teaching children about sexual orientation, is exclusively the purview of the home and Houses of Faith,” Burgess continued. “A seminar teaching young adults how to be heterosexual or homosexual is completely off limits to schools, colleges, and universities. How much training does it take to have human beings, sexual creatures, participate in sex? This is ludicrous. This is dangerous. This is destructive. … These programs, which try to indoctrinate our children, must be completely defunded, and those who use tax dollars in such a way should be fired.”

The South Carolina legislature is already trying to defund LGBT content in higher education. The House of Representatives in March voted to cut $52,000 in funding from USC Upstate and the College of Charleston for assigning LGBT-themed books as required reading; the Senate is considering the budget now.

Politicians who see inclusion of LGBT topics in schools as a recruitment tool are much misinformed and have “a narrow view of the role of higher education,” USC Upstate chancellor Tom Moore told The State.

“LGBTQ issues are part of any campus life,” he said. “As a public university, it’s our charge to equip and empower students to live engaged, authentic lives and be responsible citizens. Each student has to define each of those things for him or herself. We can’t do that if we exclude some part of the population. We must be a safe place for those who come to us.” Moore also noted that USC Upstate has student groups representing a variety of viewpoints, including Republican and Democratic clubs, an anti-abortion group, and 14 religious organizations.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/2014/04/15/sc-pols-continue-critique-college-over-lgbt-recruitment

S.C. Pols Continue Critique of College Over LGBT 'Recruitment'

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Officials at the University of South Carolina Upstate are still defending the school against criticism from politicians who object to LGBT-themed programs, but other politicos have joined the homophobic chorus.

Last week the Spartanburg-based school canceled a performance of How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less, a play that was to have been presented as part of Bodies of Knowledge, a two-day symposium on LGBT issues.

Republican state senator Mike Fair had reacted to the tongue-in-cheek title by decrying the show as a “recruitment” tool, and he said in a TV interview that offering students such material was like exposing them to “skinheads and radical Islam.” Another critic was state senator Lee Bright, who is challenging Lindsey Graham in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, billing himself as more conservative than Graham. “Folks in Spartanburg aren’t looking for that kind of bent at their local college,” he told Columbia’s The State last week in an interview about the play and conference. The two voted against reappointment of USC trustees because of gay-themed performances and “left-leaning” assigned reading materials, The State notes.

Now “jumping on the irony-proof bandwagon,” reports the Charleston City Paper, is Gary Burgess, one of 13 candidates for state superintendent of education. He issued a press release Monday saying “all of America should be outraged” at the college for scheduling the play.

“Sexual orientation, and teaching children about sexual orientation, is exclusively the purview of the home and Houses of Faith,” Burgess continued. “A seminar teaching young adults how to be heterosexual or homosexual is completely off limits to schools, colleges, and universities. How much training does it take to have human beings, sexual creatures, participate in sex? This is ludicrous. This is dangerous. This is destructive. … These programs, which try to indoctrinate our children, must be completely defunded, and those who use tax dollars in such a way should be fired.”

The South Carolina legislature is already trying to defund LGBT content in higher education. The House of Representatives in March voted to cut $52,000 in funding from USC Upstate and the College of Charleston for assigning LGBT-themed books as required reading; the Senate is considering the budget now.

Politicians who see inclusion of LGBT topics in schools as a recruitment tool are much misinformed and have “a narrow view of the role of higher education,” USC Upstate chancellor Tom Moore told The State.

“LGBTQ issues are part of any campus life,” he said. “As a public university, it’s our charge to equip and empower students to live engaged, authentic lives and be responsible citizens. Each student has to define each of those things for him or herself. We can’t do that if we exclude some part of the population. We must be a safe place for those who come to us.” Moore also noted that USC Upstate has student groups representing a variety of viewpoints, including Republican and Democratic clubs, an anti-abortion group, and 14 religious organizations.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/2014/04/15/sc-pols-continue-critique-college-over-lgbt-recruitment

S.C. Pols Continue Critique of College Over LGBT 'Recruitment'

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Officials at the University of South Carolina Upstate are still defending the school against criticism from politicians who object to LGBT-themed programs, but other politicos have joined the homophobic chorus.

Last week the Spartanburg-based school canceled a performance of How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less, a play that was to have been presented as part of Bodies of Knowledge, a two-day symposium on LGBT issues.

Republican state senator Mike Fair had reacted to the tongue-in-cheek title by decrying the show as a “recruitment” tool, and he said in a TV interview that offering students such material was like exposing them to “skinheads and radical Islam.” Another critic was state senator Lee Bright, who is challenging Lindsey Graham in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, billing himself as more conservative than Graham. “Folks in Spartanburg aren’t looking for that kind of bent at their local college,” he told Columbia’s The State last week in an interview about the play and conference. The two voted against reappointment of USC trustees because of gay-themed performances and “left-leaning” assigned reading materials, The State notes.

Now “jumping on the irony-proof bandwagon,” reports the Charleston City Paper, is Gary Burgess, one of 13 candidates for state superintendent of education. He issued a press release Monday saying “all of America should be outraged” at the college for scheduling the play.

“Sexual orientation, and teaching children about sexual orientation, is exclusively the purview of the home and Houses of Faith,” Burgess continued. “A seminar teaching young adults how to be heterosexual or homosexual is completely off limits to schools, colleges, and universities. How much training does it take to have human beings, sexual creatures, participate in sex? This is ludicrous. This is dangerous. This is destructive. … These programs, which try to indoctrinate our children, must be completely defunded, and those who use tax dollars in such a way should be fired.”

The South Carolina legislature is already trying to defund LGBT content in higher education. The House of Representatives in March voted to cut $52,000 in funding from USC Upstate and the College of Charleston for assigning LGBT-themed books as required reading; the Senate is considering the budget now.

Politicians who see inclusion of LGBT topics in schools as a recruitment tool are much misinformed and have “a narrow view of the role of higher education,” USC Upstate chancellor Tom Moore told The State.

“LGBTQ issues are part of any campus life,” he said. “As a public university, it’s our charge to equip and empower students to live engaged, authentic lives and be responsible citizens. Each student has to define each of those things for him or herself. We can’t do that if we exclude some part of the population. We must be a safe place for those who come to us.” Moore also noted that USC Upstate has student groups representing a variety of viewpoints, including Republican and Democratic clubs, an anti-abortion group, and 14 religious organizations.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/2014/04/15/sc-pols-continue-critique-college-over-lgbt-recruitment

Batts says 'culture change' needed to improve interactions with LGBT community

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Monica Yorkman has been harassed by police more times than she can count, she says — and it’s always been about her identity.

As a black transgender woman, cops in Baltimore constantly and unfairly peg her as a prostitute, she said.

“There’s a lot of mistrust between police and transgender women,” the 60-year-old activist said Monday to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, during a police forum held specifically for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Isn’t there?” Batts responded.

Although complaints of police misconduct are down, the way some officers speak to LGBT residents remains “horrendous,” Batts said — which is why he has ramped up police academy trainings to educate new officers on LGBT issues.

Older, established officers will also get training, he said, as part of a department-wide “cultural shift” that focuses on the “three Cs,” he said: crime, community and credibility.

“We’re going to build a Constitutional police department that cares about all parts of our community,” Batts told Yorkman — a founding member of the organization Sisters of the T — and the two dozen other community activists, gay residents and LGBT leaders who gathered at the evening event at the Northwest District Community Action Center.

“You have somebody who stands in front of you ready to work,” Batts said, before calling himself a “reformer” who will “call balls and strikes” when assessing his department’s performance.

The event was the second LGBT forum Batts has held since taking over the department in 2012, following another in Mount Vernon in October. After the beating last year of an East Baltimore gay man in an attack that some believed was a hate crime, Batts promised to improve his department’s relationship with the LGBT community.

“I realized we may have an organization that doesn’t have the sensitivity to the LGBT community that it should,” Batts said.

The department put new effort into recruiting LGBT officers, started developing new trainings and formed a LGBT advisory council, whose members were in attendance Monday night.

Still, some at the forum said tensions have remained, and that the attention Batts has paid to building a positive relationship with the community hasn’t translated into on-the-ground improvements with beat cops and other officers who respond to incidents involving LGBT residents.

Kurt Ragin, 25, a member of the University of Maryland’s Star Track program, which offers care for HIV-positive and at-risk youth in Baltimore, said LGBT youth in Baltimore are often made to feel “a lot smaller than your average Baltimore City citizen” by police.

The effect, Ragin said, is LGBT youth, often vulnerable to attack, feel unprotected and turn to defending themselves any way they can — even if that means shoving a few “bricks in a sock.”

The Rev. Meredith Moise, 40, asked where the department was in multiple murder investigations in which transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals were killed, including Kelly Young and Desean Bowman. (They’re unsolved.)

“It’s dangerous out there, particularly for transgender folks and folks who are gender variant,” Moise said after the meeting. “We want more information so people can be aware and protect themselves.”

Saida Agostini, 32, of Free State Legal, which provides legal advice to low-income LGBT residents, said police sometimes lack an understanding of basic concepts, like the fact that it is not always the partner with “the more masculine gender presentation” who is the aggressor in domestic violence.

Jacqueline Robarge, of Power Inside, a social justice organization that combats gender-based violence, said she has witnessed a Baltimore police officer tell a man trying to report domestic violence that he should “man up.”

Robarge and others said police respond to routine ambulance calls for mentally ill patients, and are generally gruff and insensitive. When they report these officers, they get “dismissive” internal affairs officers who are not helpful, either, they said.

Repeatedly, Batts skirted around specific questions, returning to his well-oiled talking points of shifting the department’s culture, providing officers with more “tools” and making progress. He also repeatedly told members in the audience affiliated with specific groups that he’d like them to meet directly with his staff, which he said would be more helpful than him trying to “field these fast balls coming in at my head.”

On some of the questions, Batts was backed up by other members of the force, including Sgt. Sarah Avery, a lesbian who leads the department’s LGBT trainings, and Lt. Eric Kowalczyk, a department spokesman who is gay.

At one point, Kowalczyk spoke compellingly, and to an eventual round of applause from the crowd, of seeing progress after coming up in the department as an openly gay man and being told by other officers that none of them wanted to work with the “little faggot,” and that he shouldn’t be in police work because it is for “real men.”

Today, things are vastly different, the department is openly recruiting LGBT officers, and Batts has made it clear that discrimination won’t be tolerated, he said.

“We are building progress slowly,” Kowalczyk said.

After the meeting, several attendees said they’d like to see that translated onto the streets.

“There is a lot of police harrassment,” Yorkman said. “It just seems like they have it out for us.”

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Batts says 'culture change' needed to improve interactions with LGBT community

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Monica Yorkman has been harassed by police more times than she can count, she says — and it’s always been about her identity.

As a black transgender woman, cops in Baltimore constantly and unfairly peg her as a prostitute, she said.

“There’s a lot of mistrust between police and transgender women,” the 60-year-old activist said Monday to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, during a police forum held specifically for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Isn’t there?” Batts responded.

Although complaints of police misconduct are down, the way some officers speak to LGBT residents remains “horrendous,” Batts said — which is why he has ramped up police academy trainings to educate new officers on LGBT issues.

Older, established officers will also get training, he said, as part of a department-wide “cultural shift” that focuses on the “three Cs,” he said: crime, community and credibility.

“We’re going to build a Constitutional police department that cares about all parts of our community,” Batts told Yorkman — a founding member of the organization Sisters of the T — and the two dozen other community activists, gay residents and LGBT leaders who gathered at the evening event at the Northwest District Community Action Center.

“You have somebody who stands in front of you ready to work,” Batts said, before calling himself a “reformer” who will “call balls and strikes” when assessing his department’s performance.

The event was the second LGBT forum Batts has held since taking over the department in 2012, following another in Mount Vernon in October. After the beating last year of an East Baltimore gay man in an attack that some believed was a hate crime, Batts promised to improve his department’s relationship with the LGBT community.

“I realized we may have an organization that doesn’t have the sensitivity to the LGBT community that it should,” Batts said.

The department put new effort into recruiting LGBT officers, started developing new trainings and formed a LGBT advisory council, whose members were in attendance Monday night.

Still, some at the forum said tensions have remained, and that the attention Batts has paid to building a positive relationship with the community hasn’t translated into on-the-ground improvements with beat cops and other officers who respond to incidents involving LGBT residents.

Kurt Ragin, 25, a member of the University of Maryland’s Star Track program, which offers care for HIV-positive and at-risk youth in Baltimore, said LGBT youth in Baltimore are often made to feel “a lot smaller than your average Baltimore City citizen” by police.

The effect, Ragin said, is LGBT youth, often vulnerable to attack, feel unprotected and turn to defending themselves any way they can — even if that means shoving a few “bricks in a sock.”

The Rev. Meredith Moise, 40, asked where the department was in multiple murder investigations in which transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals were killed, including Kelly Young and Desean Bowman. (They’re unsolved.)

“It’s dangerous out there, particularly for transgender folks and folks who are gender variant,” Moise said after the meeting. “We want more information so people can be aware and protect themselves.”

Saida Agostini, 32, of Free State Legal, which provides legal advice to low-income LGBT residents, said police sometimes lack an understanding of basic concepts, like the fact that it is not always the partner with “the more masculine gender presentation” who is the aggressor in domestic violence.

Jacqueline Robarge, of Power Inside, a social justice organization that combats gender-based violence, said she has witnessed a Baltimore police officer tell a man trying to report domestic violence that he should “man up.”

Robarge and others said police respond to routine ambulance calls for mentally ill patients, and are generally gruff and insensitive. When they report these officers, they get “dismissive” internal affairs officers who are not helpful, either, they said.

Repeatedly, Batts skirted around specific questions, returning to his well-oiled talking points of shifting the department’s culture, providing officers with more “tools” and making progress. He also repeatedly told members in the audience affiliated with specific groups that he’d like them to meet directly with his staff, which he said would be more helpful than him trying to “field these fast balls coming in at my head.”

On some of the questions, Batts was backed up by other members of the force, including Sgt. Sarah Avery, a lesbian who leads the department’s LGBT trainings, and Lt. Eric Kowalczyk, a department spokesman who is gay.

At one point, Kowalczyk spoke compellingly, and to an eventual round of applause from the crowd, of seeing progress after coming up in the department as an openly gay man and being told by other officers that none of them wanted to work with the “little faggot,” and that he shouldn’t be in police work because it is for “real men.”

Today, things are vastly different, the department is openly recruiting LGBT officers, and Batts has made it clear that discrimination won’t be tolerated, he said.

“We are building progress slowly,” Kowalczyk said.

After the meeting, several attendees said they’d like to see that translated onto the streets.

“There is a lot of police harrassment,” Yorkman said. “It just seems like they have it out for us.”

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Article source: http://baltimore.feedsportal.com/c/34255/f/623016/s/396401d3/sc/7/l/0L0Sbaltimoresun0N0Cnews0Cmaryland0Cbs0Egm0Ebatts0Esays0Eculture0Echange0Eneeded0Ein0Epolice0Edepartment0Eto0Eimprove0Elgbt0Erelations0E20A140A4150H0A0H470A0A7140Bstory0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Batts says 'culture change' needed to improve interactions with LGBT community

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Monica Yorkman has been harassed by police more times than she can count, she says — and it’s always been about her identity.

As a black transgender woman, cops in Baltimore constantly and unfairly peg her as a prostitute, she said.

“There’s a lot of mistrust between police and transgender women,” the 60-year-old activist said Monday to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, during a police forum held specifically for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Isn’t there?” Batts responded.

Although complaints of police misconduct are down, the way some officers speak to LGBT residents remains “horrendous,” Batts said — which is why he has ramped up police academy trainings to educate new officers on LGBT issues.

Older, established officers will also get training, he said, as part of a department-wide “cultural shift” that focuses on the “three Cs,” he said: crime, community and credibility.

“We’re going to build a Constitutional police department that cares about all parts of our community,” Batts told Yorkman — a founding member of the organization Sisters of the T — and the two dozen other community activists, gay residents and LGBT leaders who gathered at the evening event at the Northwest District Community Action Center.

“You have somebody who stands in front of you ready to work,” Batts said, before calling himself a “reformer” who will “call balls and strikes” when assessing his department’s performance.

The event was the second LGBT forum Batts has held since taking over the department in 2012, following another in Mount Vernon in October. After the beating last year of an East Baltimore gay man in an attack that some believed was a hate crime, Batts promised to improve his department’s relationship with the LGBT community.

“I realized we may have an organization that doesn’t have the sensitivity to the LGBT community that it should,” Batts said.

The department put new effort into recruiting LGBT officers, started developing new trainings and formed a LGBT advisory council, whose members were in attendance Monday night.

Still, some at the forum said tensions have remained, and that the attention Batts has paid to building a positive relationship with the community hasn’t translated into on-the-ground improvements with beat cops and other officers who respond to incidents involving LGBT residents.

Kurt Ragin, 25, a member of the University of Maryland’s Star Track program, which offers care for HIV-positive and at-risk youth in Baltimore, said LGBT youth in Baltimore are often made to feel “a lot smaller than your average Baltimore City citizen” by police.

The effect, Ragin said, is LGBT youth, often vulnerable to attack, feel unprotected and turn to defending themselves any way they can — even if that means shoving a few “bricks in a sock.”

The Rev. Meredith Moise, 40, asked where the department was in multiple murder investigations in which transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals were killed, including Kelly Young and Desean Bowman. (They’re unsolved.)

“It’s dangerous out there, particularly for transgender folks and folks who are gender variant,” Moise said after the meeting. “We want more information so people can be aware and protect themselves.”

Saida Agostini, 32, of Free State Legal, which provides legal advice to low-income LGBT residents, said police sometimes lack an understanding of basic concepts, like the fact that it is not always the partner with “the more masculine gender presentation” who is the aggressor in domestic violence.

Jacqueline Robarge, of Power Inside, a social justice organization that combats gender-based violence, said she has witnessed a Baltimore police officer tell a man trying to report domestic violence that he should “man up.”

Robarge and others said police respond to routine ambulance calls for mentally ill patients, and are generally gruff and insensitive. When they report these officers, they get “dismissive” internal affairs officers who are not helpful, either, they said.

Repeatedly, Batts skirted around specific questions, returning to his well-oiled talking points of shifting the department’s culture, providing officers with more “tools” and making progress. He also repeatedly told members in the audience affiliated with specific groups that he’d like them to meet directly with his staff, which he said would be more helpful than him trying to “field these fast balls coming in at my head.”

On some of the questions, Batts was backed up by other members of the force, including Sgt. Sarah Avery, a lesbian who leads the department’s LGBT trainings, and Lt. Eric Kowalczyk, a department spokesman who is gay.

At one point, Kowalczyk spoke compellingly, and to an eventual round of applause from the crowd, of seeing progress after coming up in the department as an openly gay man and being told by other officers that none of them wanted to work with the “little faggot,” and that he shouldn’t be in police work because it is for “real men.”

Today, things are vastly different, the department is openly recruiting LGBT officers, and Batts has made it clear that discrimination won’t be tolerated, he said.

“We are building progress slowly,” Kowalczyk said.

After the meeting, several attendees said they’d like to see that translated onto the streets.

“There is a lot of police harrassment,” Yorkman said. “It just seems like they have it out for us.”

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Article source: http://baltimore.feedsportal.com/c/34255/f/623016/s/396401d3/sc/7/l/0L0Sbaltimoresun0N0Cnews0Cmaryland0Cbs0Egm0Ebatts0Esays0Eculture0Echange0Eneeded0Ein0Epolice0Edepartment0Eto0Eimprove0Elgbt0Erelations0E20A140A4150H0A0H470A0A7140Bstory0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Grateful to SC for giving us our due: LGBT activist Lakshmi

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

LGBT activist and petitioner, Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi on Tuesday expressed her gratefulness to the Supreme Court’s decision to bestow the third gender tag on the transgender community.

Smiling before a packed media, Lakshmi who is a petitioner herself said: “April 15 has always been auspicious for the country, and when I entered the courtroom, I had the same feeling which touched me. The judgement given by Justice Radhakrishnan and Justice Sikri has given us a human right that a nation development index can be determined based on how it stands on its human rights. I am grateful to the apex court and to the two justices who have given this landmark judgement in our favour which will give us the right to education, employment and encompassing every aspect of life. Today, I feel that we have finally got our much needed right.”
he Supreme Court on Tuesday in a landmark judgement recognised the transgenders as third gender in this country. This decision of the apex court makes India to become the first country to give transgenders the third category of sex. (ANI)

Article source: http://www.sify.com/news/grateful-to-sc-for-giving-us-our-due-lgbt-activist-lakshmi-news-national-oepoJodhbfh.html

Grateful to SC for giving us our due: LGBT activist Lakshmi

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

LGBT activist and petitioner, Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi on Tuesday expressed her gratefulness to the Supreme Court’s decision to bestow the third gender tag on the transgender community.

Smiling before a packed media, Lakshmi who is a petitioner herself said: “April 15 has always been auspicious for the country, and when I entered the courtroom, I had the same feeling which touched me. The judgement given by Justice Radhakrishnan and Justice Sikri has given us a human right that a nation development index can be determined based on how it stands on its human rights. I am grateful to the apex court and to the two justices who have given this landmark judgement in our favour which will give us the right to education, employment and encompassing every aspect of life. Today, I feel that we have finally got our much needed right.”
he Supreme Court on Tuesday in a landmark judgement recognised the transgenders as third gender in this country. This decision of the apex court makes India to become the first country to give transgenders the third category of sex. (ANI)

Article source: http://www.sify.com/news/grateful-to-sc-for-giving-us-our-due-lgbt-activist-lakshmi-news-national-oepoJodhbfh.html

NC LGBT group to hold rally over tax filing policy

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s largest LGBT advocacy group is holding a rally to protest a new state tax policy regarding same-sex couples.

Equality NC has scheduled a rally for Tuesday afternoon at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh to protest the policy from the state Department of Revenue. The policy says same-sex spouse couples cannot file income tax returns as “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.”

That’s despite a ruling by the Internal Revenue Service directing that such filing be allowed.

The rally will include speeches by tax experts and LGBT families, as well as other married couples who support their cause.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source: http://www.foxcarolina.com/story/25247692/nc-lgbt-group-to-hold-rally-over-tax-filing-policy

Day of silence encourages understanding

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

U students combatted LGBT oppression on Friday with the silent treatment.

The event, a part of the U’s celebration of Ally Week, is a local recognition of the National Day of Silence. The day began as a student-led event at the University of Virginia in 1996 to foster a safe environment for learning, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, according their website. It is a day of solidarity across the nation where students pledge silence to bring attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT issues.

And the silence was shattered at 1 p.m. on the Union lawn.

Poets, speakers and activists shared their experiences to roughly 50 listeners. The topics included bullying, proper use of pronouns and revisions to the U’s fight song “Utah Man.”

ASUU president Sam Ortiz spoke about the backlash he has felt since the proposal of changing the song from “Utah man” to “Utah fan.”

“If we can’t have a civil discussion over a word, what can we talk about?” said Ortiz.

Ortiz said the event was about marginalized voices consistently being silenced and changing traditions that are hurtful to people.

Kari Lindsey, a senior in English, said students should ask each other what pronouns they are comfortable with before using them.

“Categorizing people is one of the most harmful things you can do to them,” Lindsey said.

She also said if you make a mistake, you should forgive yourself and move on.

Lindsey, along with guests from poetry slam teams across the state, helped keep the event moving with emotional accounts about what it is to be a member of the LGBT community.

Hannah Irene, a junior at Westminster College in public heath, presented a poem at the event.

“Don’t stop speaking or writing and if you see any oppression — intervene,” Irene said.

DeAnn Emett, president of the spoken word poetry non-profit the Wasatch Wordsmiths, read a poem detailing the harassment and anguish personally experienced in school.

“We have a platform so we try to have our listeners hear important things,” Emett said. “It’s more important to get things out there than it is to be afraid.”

In order to gain a proper understanding of LGBT issues, the poets at the U’s National Day of Silence event said it is important to study every letter in the acronym.

k.mcdonald@chronicle.utah.edu 

@KeithLMcDonald

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Article source: http://www.dailyutahchronicle.com/index.php/day-of-silence-encourages-understanding/

GLCCB organizing 'Orioles Outings' for LGBT baseball fans this summer

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore is organizing to bring LGBT baseball fans together at Oriole Park at Camden Yards this summer.

“Baltimore is a town that really comes together in the name of its sports teams. Whether you identify within the LGBT spectrum or not, we can all agree that when it comes down to it, we’re all rooting for the same team,” said Kelly Neel, the GLCCB’s deputy executive director, in a statement. “This summer we are hoping to expand on that sense of unity by bringing LGBT Oriole’s Outings to Camden Yards. We encourage everyone to come out to the games and mingle with one another as we bask in the glory of baseball season!”

The first “LGBT Oriole’s Outing” will be on April 27, when the Baltimore Orioles play the Kansas City Royals. Organizers are hoping to host such events on a monthly basis this season, and that strong ticket sales will lead to an official “Night Out” event for gay sports fans at the ball park.

Such nights have become popular in other cities, including in Washington, where the Nationals have held an annual “Night Out” event with partner Team D.C. since 2003. Team D.C. has expanded the event to other sports as well.

Orioles fans in Baltimore have made similar efforts to organize gay nights at Camden Yards in the past, too.

The GLCCB is selling tickets now for the April 27 game, for Section 388, rows 13 and 14. Tickets can be purchased here, and proceeds will benefit the GLCCB.

Tickets are limited and must be picked up at the GLCCB, on the third floor of the Waxter Center at 1000 Cathedral St.

The tickets are $10 and the Sunday game is at 1:35 p.m. The GLCCB is planning additional nights for May through September and will post information on its website.

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Article source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/bs-gm-glccb-organizing-orioles-outings-for-lgbt-baseball-fans-this-summer-20140414,0,2778646.story?track=rss

Letter written to pope on behalf of LGBT homeless youth

Monday, April 14th, 2014

On Palm Sunday, Carl Siciliano, a Catholic advocate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) homeless youths, made an impassioned plea to Pope Francis on their behalf.

To ensure his request did not go unnoticed, Siciliano chose a very public forum to print his written letter to the pope: a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times. The ad was paid for by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home Furnishings. Gold is the author of Youth in Crisis: What Everyone Should Know About Growing Up Gay and a fervent advocate for at-risk young people.

“I hope that you will open your heart to the suffering of youths,” Siciliano wrote. “As LGBT youths are finding the courage to speak the truths of their hearts at younger ages, epidemic numbers are being rejected by their families, and driven to homelessness.”

Siciliano, a former Benedictine monk and current executive director of the Ali Forney Center, a New York homeless shelter for LGBT youths, cited unsettling statistics to show how and why these young people are disproportionately affected by homelessness.  “LGBT youths make up 40 percent of the homeless youth population in this country, despite comprising only about five percent of the overall youth population,” Siciliano wrote.

Parental rejection based on religion, Siciliano continued, often drives these kids to the streets.   

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“A recent study of family rejection found that parents with high religious involvement were significantly less accepting of their LGBT children,” he wrote.

But for Siciliano, these homeless young people are more than just a statistic. Referring to kids he’s met at the shelter, Siciliano put a human face on the suffering of those rejected by religious parents.

“I think of Justin, whose mother summoned her priest who held him to the ground and tried to drive the devil out of the 16 year old boy,” Siciliano wrote.

He continued: “Or Terry, who was sent to a Catholic religion class where the instructor set him aside as someone “possessed by demons.” I think of the boy whose name I never learned whose father was so disgusted by homosexuality that he threw his son out of his home and said he would kill him and bury him in the backyard if he tried to return.”

The Catholic church, Siciliano argued, could have a transforming effect on the relationship between religious persons and the LGBT community. But this would have to begin with an understanding of homosexuality as something other than a sin.

“By teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that the homosexual orientation is disordered, it influences countless parents and families … to reject their children,” he wrote. “In the name of these children, and in light of the love and compassion at the heart of the message of Jesus, I ask that you end this teaching.”

Siciliano further questioned the church’s view of homosexuality as a sin, writing: “The teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin has a poisonous outcome, bearing fruit in many Christian parents who abandon their LGBT children to homelessness and destitution. How could a good seed yield such a bitter harvest?”

The letter comes at a pertinent time with Catholics around the globe celebrating Holy Week this week, marking the end of Lent and the celebration of Easter. Furthermore, the pope will hold a global meeting of bishops on “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization,” in October. 

[Ben Feuerherd is a freelance writer in New York.]

Article source: http://ncronline.org/news/people/letter-written-pope-behalf-lgbt-homeless-youth

Letter to Pope: Protect LGBT Youth

Monday, April 14th, 2014

The head of a homeless shelter for LGBT youth published an open letter to Pope Francis in The New York Times today, asking the leader of the Catholic Church to change its teaching on homosexuality.

Noting that religious parents tend to reject their LGBT children at higher rates than their secular or less religious counterparts, Carl Siciliano, executive director of New York’s Ali Forney Center, wrote, “Jesus Christ is never recorded as having said a word in judgment or condemnation of homosexuality or of LGBT people. He spoke of a loving, compassionate God, and commanded his followers to act with love and compassion. Jesus spoke of God as a loving parent who would never abandon his children.”

In an interview with The Advocate, Siciliano said that he is ““less interested in words than actions, and the church’s hostilities against gay people haven’t stopped at all,” citing the rash of firings of gay people in Catholic institutions and the Catholic bishops continued public opposition to marriage equality efforts.

Still, he said, he admires the pope’s focus on economic justice, and said he approached the issue of homeless LGBT youth from that angle.

When families reject their LGBT kids for religious reasons, the consequences include “economic destitution,” he said.

Siciliano, a Catholic and former Benedictine monk, noted in the letter that, last year, over 200,000 LGBT youths experienced homelessness, and that LGBT youth make up 40 percent of the homeless youth population, despite being only about 5 percent of the overall youth cohort.

“The teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin has a poisonous outcome, bearing fruit in many Christian parents who abandon their LGBT children to homelessness and destitution. How could a good seed yield such a bitter harvest?” Siciliano wrote.

Siciliano wrote that he has “great respect” for Pope Francis, and invited him to visit the Ali Forney Center, “to meet our abandoned youths and see for yourself how their lives have been devastated and made destitute by religious rejection. I believe that there is no more compelling witness to the harmfulness of the condemnation of homosexuality than the consequent suffering plainly visible in the eyes of our homeless LGBT youths.”

In 2012, Siciliano invited New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan to visit the Ali Forney Center. Dolan declined.

In the letter, Siciliano said he wants the church to change its teachings on homosexuality, and for Pope Francis to “prevent your bishops from fighting against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of society.”

Overall, Siciliano said he is seeking a culture change. He said that the LGBT movement has made progress in overturning antigay laws, but that the lives of LGBT youth are more affected by the culture in homes and schools, both of which can be influenced by religion.

“If we don’t address this, if we don’t take this on, we won’t be protecting our kids,” he said.

“I want to see Catholics, and Southern Baptists, and Methodists and Presbyterians say, ‘we’re not gonna let our kids be hurt anymore,’” he said. “If the message is loud enough and clear enough” the animosity LGBT youth experience will begin to wane.

He said that there are glimmers of hope in the religious sphere, pointing to the work of individual Episcopalians, Catholics, and others of faith who volunteer at the Ali Forney Center.

“I don’t read the gospels and see antigay hatred,” he said.

While Catholics in the U.S. support LGBT people at higher rates than other Christian groups, Siciliano said the percentage of Catholics who don’t means there are millions of people hostile to LGBT people. In New York City, where he works, a global, diverse population means many of the youths he serves come from families with more narrow views.

Faith In America, which co-sponsored the ad, launched a Change.org petition where supporters can also send a message to Pope Francis.

“Pope Francis has the opportunity to lead faith communities around the world in gifting parents of LGBT youth with an unconditional spiritual embrace, a gift which most surely will bring peace to these lives and these families,” Brent Childers, executive director of Faith in America, said in a statement.

According to the Associated Press, about 4,000 homeless youth live in New York City each night, and nearly a quarter are LGBT. Government and private funds cover only 350 beds.

Opened in 2002, the Ali Forney Center is named after a homeless transgender youth turned counselor who was disowned by his family at the age of 13 and later found shot in 2002 at age 22.

Follow Michael O’Loughlin on Twitter at @mikeoloughlin.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/04/13/letter-pope-protect-lgbt-youth

The archbishop of Westminster and LGBT Catholics | @guardianletters

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Your report that Archbishop Vincent Nichols is soon to become a cardinal gave the impression that his support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholics came to an end with the last of the Soho Masses a year ago (Archbishop of Westminster named in pope’s first batch of new cardinals, 13 January). This is not the case. The LGBT Catholic community meets twice monthly, less than a mile from Soho in the Jesuit Church in Farm Street, Mayfair. We are integrating successfully into parish life there. As a sign of his support for our mission of providing pastoral care, the archbishop attended our council meeting before Christmas. By doing so, he follows his predecessors, Cardinal Basil Hume and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, leaders whose approach to the place of the LGBT community in the life of the church was consistently more nuanced and conciliatory than the often fierce language of “disorder” that emanated from Rome.
Mark Dowd
Chair, LGBT Catholics Westminster

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663879/s/35db3f89/sc/11/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cworld0C20A140Cjan0C130Carchbishop0Ewestminster0Elgbt0Ecatholics/story01.htm

Activists rejoice as AAP's Mumbai manifesto includes LGBT reforms

Sunday, April 13th, 2014
  • LGBT-rights

Earlier last week, AAP party released its national manifesto setting off a controversy over the non inclusion of LGBT reforms that were promised earlier.

The document released ahead of the Lok sabha elections of 2014 was received with mixed expressions of disappointment by LGBT rights activists who were looking towards the new party with hopes of championing their cause.

However, in a quick attempt to save the situation Mumbai manifesto was released by AAP today and included the much discussed LGBT reforms and a call to repeal the Section 377 that criminalises consensual sexual relations among homoosexuals.

AAP Maharashtra state secretarty Preeti Sharma Menon, explained, “LGBT reforms were always meant to be part of the city manifesto and not the national document.”

“The draft for the Mumbai manifesto, in fact, was released as far back as a month and a half ago. And we confirmed the same with activists in the meeting conducted last week,” she elaborates.

The news was received with much jubilation by LGBT activists who were pinning their hopes on the party to do the right thing. Celebrated equal rights activist Harrish Iyer, who recently quit his job to join the party said, “It is a welcome move by AAP to include LGBT rights in their Mumbai manifesto. Not many political parties will engage with the LGBT community and then address the issue in earnest.”

“Not only is AAP proactive in listening to the LGBT community, people like Preeti go to the police station and fight cases on behalf of LGBT people. AAP has shown through their actions that they really believe in equal rights,” he added.

He also tweeted the part of manifesto that includes the LGBT rights:

 

But why a city-centric manifestos?
“Let’s not look at these documents as manifestos,” says Menon. “They are essentially the stance of AAP leaders towards issues that plague this city the most. Being a new party we felt the need for the candidates to express their beliefs and ideas on key issues of a city such as Mumbai.”

She further reiterated, “AAP believes that a national manifesto is not adequate to address important local concerns. The party hopes to establish Swaraj—de-centralisation of power—in the city of Mumbai.”

Article source: http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-activists-rejoice-as-aap-s-mumbai-manifesto-includes-lgbt-reforms-1977152

Sochi's secret: intolerance was in the air

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Prior to the Winter Olympics, the conventional wisdom was that President Vladimir Putin would be on his best behavior in Sochi. He was too politically savvy, the theory went, to continue his crackdown on LGBT rights before the eyes of the world.

But a not-to-funny thing happened on my way to the Games, which have been anything but conventional, if you look hard enough. En route to Sochi, I stopped by the office of the LGBT Network in St. Petersburg to meet with the activist Anastasia Smirnova and her colleagues. They were expecting Russia’s repression of the LGBT community – whether in private or out in the open – to continue and perhaps increase. Sure enough, the following day, as I awaited the opening ceremonies, I learned that Anastasia and four other activists had been arrested. Their crime? Posting a sign that called for the Games – and their host country – to uphold their own charter.

DISCRIMINATION IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE OLYMPIC MOVEMENT, the banner read. So, too, reads Principle No 6 of the official rules of the Olympics. And so it begins, I thought.

I had come to Sochi as part of an American delegation on behalf of Human Rights First, which included the former US Olympic diver David Pichler. We were there to shine a light on the increasing Russian assault upon the human rights of LGBT people, to support activists, athletes and anyone else who chose to take a stand for equality during the Olympics. And, yes, that assault is still increasing, no matter what you’ve seen on TV. And, no, those taking a stand aren’t afraid to step out of the shadows.

But just as soon as I’d arrived, an activist was already behind bars. Anastasia has emerged as a leader in the fight against Russia’s newly enacted and extremely vague “propaganda” laws, as well as a link between activists in the west and east. In December, she’d spoken at a briefing on Capitol Hill that I organized to press the US government to prioritize LGBT rights in its diplomacy with Russia. Embracing their role on the frontlines, Anastasia and her colleagues are determined. Their resolve is palpable. They see civil disobedience as integral to the effort, and they don’t fear arrest – even when they’re getting arrested for “participation in an illegal public assembly”. For holding up a sign.

In and around Sochi’s Olympic Village, of course, there were few public indications of any such danger. Everything in the gleaming pop-up city was calm and organized. The authorities were helpful, the checkpoints efficient. The trains literally ran on time and, better yet, you could ride them for free. Government officials, savvy enough to silence, had denied visitor passes to many human rights activists and allowed political protests in a single allocated space more than a half-hour’s train ride from the center of the action.

Crackdown? What crackdown?

Make no mistake: all across Sochi, there was intolerance in the air. But repression perpetuates itself like a rumor, so your senses must be extra fine-tuned. These are things an American in Sochi gets used to, especially when you have a husband, like mine, who is a native Belarusian fluent in Russian and can help you translate the hate.

Under the invisible camera, my husband and I were forced to think twice before showing affection. Would a squeeze of his arm – combined with my hat that read HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST SOCHI EQUALITY – be interpreted as propaganda? Oh, and in Russia, asking for a single bed in a hotel is most definitely a thing. Did that clerk just raise his eyebrows? Maybe he set off an alarm that rings in the Kremlin!

Still, as Americans in Sochi, we were well aware that we were all basically safe. From inside my bubble, as skiers skied and skaters skated, I thought often of LGBT Russians who face persistent – and likely worsening – violence. Overlooked in too much of the coverage leading up to the Games (and essentially ignored during them) is the very worst thing about the propaganda law: it ratifies the hate that leads to hate crimes. To be sure, Russia’s anti-gay law kills.

During five days in Sochi, safe but able to feel repression’s prickly edges, I gained newfound admiration for LGBT Russians who refuse to cower. We met with Andrei Ozerny and his boyfriend. Last month, after Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhomov had claimed no gay people lived there, Andrei wrote a letter to him, introducing himself. The letter made news, and the news led to harassment, but Andrei remains undaunted.

Andrei is an accidental activist – repression compels people of courage to rise to the fore – and the unjaded optimism of this 24-year-old was infectious. We went with him to Mayak, a gay bar, where journalists outnumbered the patrons, who were understandably annoyed by the attention. But I considered what life would be like for them – and for all LGBT Russians – once the journalists had gone home. During the Olympics, the government arrested dozens of activists, including two of Russia’s most famous ones, former Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.

If President Putin enables this kind of intolerance when the world is watching, what might he do after everyone turns away?

The key is to not turn away. The defense of LGBT rights in Russia can be led only by Russians, but they need support from activists, citizens and public officials in other countries. On the eve of the Olympics, a 14-year-old girl in Bryansk was disciplined for “promoting nontraditional sexual relations”, but a few days later, due in part to international criticism, the Commission for the Affairs of Minors overturned the decision.

Anastasia and her fellow activists on the ground urged us to keep amplifying their voices and telling their stories, which reveal not just injustice and persecution but also dignity and courage. We should keep watching, they said, and urge our government to do the same.

That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I invite you to join me.

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663870/s/375e53b0/sc/38/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Ccommentisfree0C20A140Cfeb0C210Csochi0Egay0Erights0Econfessions/story01.htm

LGBT Students, Teachers Embrace Day of Silence

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

A search for those honoring the #DayOfSilence on Twitter today drew plenty of reasons to feel good about the current state of schools support for the LGBT students inside them.

Founded in 1996, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network’s Day of Silence is designed to draw attention to the chilling effect anti-LGBT bullying has on campuses nationwide. Thanks to social media, advocates young and old keeping silent today can find thousands of others doing the same at the click of a mouse.

We’ve collected a sampling of supportive selfies and messages from Twitter below — share yours with the hashtag #DayOfSilence.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/youth/2014/04/11/lgbt-students-teachers-embrace-day-silence

18 Things to Listen to on the LGBT Day of Silence

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Day Of Silence

Today is the 19th annual Day of Silence, a movement organized by the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network where youths take a vow of silence “to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.” 

GLSEN explains: 

The Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT.

In that silence, listen: To any of these videos, only a small selection of queer-centric music, speeches and other videos on the Internet. There’s a bit of everything here: Coming-out stories, stories of acceptance, gender identity, gay rights, and above all, love. For the LGBT kids, to know you’re not alone, and for the bullies, to learn.

WATCH: Honey Maid turns anti-gay hate into love in beautiful new video

1. Jacob Rudolph Comes Out While Accepting an Award for Class Actor:

“Sure, I’ve been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly I’ve been acting every single day of my life. You see, I’ve been acting as someone I’m not…You see me acting the part of straight Jacob, when I am in fact an LGBT teen.” — Jacob

2. LZ Granderson’s “The Myth of the Gay Agenda” TED Talk:

3. Ellen Page Comes Out at the HRC’s Time to Thrive Conference:

“This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.” — Ellen

4. Kids React to Gay Marriage:

5. Zach Wahls Speaks Before the Iowa House of Representatives:

A song showing the love he has for his two moms.

6. Sally Field Receives HRC’s Ally for Equality Award:

And a mom showing the love she has for her gay son.

PHOTOS: Check out which celebrities have come out as gay!

7. The GBF: What’s Wrong with the Commodification of Gay Men:

8. “She Keeps Me Warm,” by Mary Lambert

The song became famous as the chorus of Macklemore Ryan Lewis‘ “Same Love,” but it’s Mary’s version, that finds her falling in love with another girl, that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

9. How Watermelon Can Explain Gender Identity:

“You guys be like, ‘I don’t understand. If you love women so much, how come you don’t dress like one?’” — HARTBEAT

10. “It Could Happen to You,” the Viral Video That Became Bridegroom:

11. Sportscaster Takes on NFL Prospect Michael Sam’s Anti-Gay Haters:

12. “Forrest Gump,” by Frank Ocean:

“Forrest Gump, you run my mind, boy/Running on my mind boy, Forrest Gump.”

PHOTOS: Look back on big moments from the 2013 GLAAD Media Awards

13. Ash Beckham’s “Coming Out of the Closet” TED Talk:

“I’m gonna talk to you tonight about coming out of the closet. And not in the traditional sense, not just the gay closet. I think we all have closets…All a closet is, is a hard conversation.” — Ash

14. Jodie Foster Accepts the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes:

“Now, apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show. But I’m not Honey Boo Boo Child.” — Jodie

15. Duncan’s Bar Mitzvah Speech: A Call for Freedom to Marry:

16. Shane Koyczan’s “For the Bullied and Beautiful” TED Talk:

17. Senior Comes Out During High School’s Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly:

18. “***Flawless,” by Beyoncé

The song isn’t explicitly about the LGBT movement. It’s about feminism and standing up to misogyny, with a sample from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” (which you should also watch). 

But Bey explains:

“What I’m really referring to, and hoping for, is human rights and equality, not just that between a woman and a man…I’m very happy if my words can ever inspire or empower someone who considers themselves an oppressed minority .We are all the same and we all want the same things: the right to be happy, to be just who we want to be and to love who we want to love.” 

Plus, who doesn’t want to sing, “I woke up like this. I woke up like this. We flawless, tell ‘em.”

PHOTOS: Check out these celebs wearing their support for gay marriage!

RELATED VIDEOS:

Play Video - Julianne Moore Shows Love for Ellen Page

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Luxury LGBT Wine Group, Out In The Vineyard, Takes Gay Wine Lovers To Gay Owned Wineries In South Africa

Friday, April 11th, 2014
  • Email a friend

Enjoying a glass of wine Out In The Vineyard at LGBT owned Holden Manz Wine Estate in Franschhoek Valley

“We want to take our wine loving LGBT travelers some place unique, that appeals to the gay traveler,” says Mark Vogler, co founder Out In The Vineyard. “How much more unique can it be than drinking wine with gay winemakers in Franschhoek, South Africa?”

Sonoma, California (PRWEB) April 11, 2014

Out In The Vineyard, the only LGBT luxury wine travel and event company in the world, is leading an intimate, 14 day “South Africa Wine Safari” to LGBT owned wineries in Southern Africa, for a very exclusive and intimate wine, food and safari adventure October 13 – 26, 2014.

This is a once in a lifetime chance to indulge in an itinerary that took over two years to curate, offering very personal experiences and access to LGBT owned wineries and private estates previously unavailable or unknown to the LGBT community and the wine community.

“We want to take our wine loving LGBT travelers some place unique, that appeals to the gay traveler,” says Mark Vogler, Co-Founder, Out In The Vineyard. “Everyone organizes wine tours to Provence or Mendoza. How much more unique can it be than to drink wine with gay winemakers in Franschhoek, South Africa?”

In addition to gay owned wineries, Out In The Vineyard guests are hosted overnight at the 15,000 acre 1770’s Dutch Colonial Farmstead, Kersefontein, on the Western Cape and will enjoy a sumptuous, multi course, perfectly wine paired dinner in the restored 1770’s candle lit dining room – the exact same room that the original founding Vortrekkers of the Kersefontein family did 250 years ago – complete with giant lion and cape buffalo heads on the walls.

Guests have the option to spend the day relaxing in a private suite, reading on the lawn or jumping into the saddle of one of the ranch horses and joining LGBT owner, Julian Melck, as he drives his 653 head of sheep across the grasslands of his working ranch and ancestral home.

Throughout the wine safari the LGBT travelers will meet locals, whether at the number one restaurant in all of Africa, Le Quartier Francais, over a 5 course wine paired chef’s menu or discovering some of the best boutique wines on the continent in the lush vineyards of Franschhoek, Stellenbosh, Paarl and Wellington. The journey includes a private farm to table lunch with LGBT vintners on their ultra lux winery estate, nestled against the magnificent Jonkershoek mountains.

After 4 days of delectable culinary adventures and sumptuous wine tasting guests fly to a private, ultra luxurious safari camp on the banks of the Mabrak River, in the posh, private Sabi Sands Game Reserve. They will experience an intimate and personal safari experience like none other. Out In The Vineyard has bought out the indulgent Dulini boutique safari camp, providing the LGBT travelers and their companions complete privacy. Each couple will have exclusive access to one of only 6 exquisite cottages designed with the discerning traveler in mind.

Each day guests will have the ultimate, quintessential safari experience as they venture out for morning and afternoon game drives, for unforgettable encounters with Africa’s wildlife. They’ll take home with them incredible bush stories – like the feel of the blood curdling ROAR of a hungry lion or pushing through the bush and being suddenly surrounded by a herd of 100 elephants.

Guest may spend the heat of the day enjoying a dip in their private plunge pool or taking the adrenaline educing walking safari, where they’ll get out of the safety of the land rovers and put feet on the ground to hike through the South African grasslands, never knowing what lurks behind the next bush.

For the LGBT traveler, South Africa has the strongest constitutional protections for LGBT people in the world. In 1994 Nelson Mandel took office as the first black president of South Africa and drafted a new post apartheid constitution, which includes constitutional protections for LGBT people and outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender – including transgender. Same sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006.

Details of Out In The Vineyard’s South Africa LGBT Wine Safari is available at http://www.outinthevineyard.com/trips-and-itineraries/south-africa-wine-safari-2014/

About OUT IN THE VINEYARD

Out In The Vineyard is an experiential Wine Country Event and Travel company promoting positive LGBT lifestyles and offering exclusive, luxury itineraries and events in Wine Countries around the world for the discriminating gay traveler and their friends.

http://www.outinthevineyard.com or http://www.facebook.com/outinthevineyard

MEDIA CONTACT:

Mark Vogler

(707) 591-1800 – mark(at)outinthevineyard(dot)com

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Article source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11752086.htm

Op-ed: We Can All Use A History Lesson

Friday, April 11th, 2014

For centuries the conventional narrative of history has been redacted to remove most any reference that might suggest a figure was anything other than heterosexual. What’s worse, those whose non-hetero-normative sexuality/identity cannot be denied are generally eliminated altogether. As a result, our young people are forced to grow up without historically significant role models, enforcing the “otherness” with which they must contend.

The lack of LGBT contributions to shared human history in our classrooms leaves our children socially isolated, culturally marginalized, and vulnerable to self-esteem issues that flow from bullying. This same ignorance underpins every misery ever visited upon LGBT people. For it is not religion or politics that has been our true enemy – it is the lack of awareness of all the contributions that LGBT people have made to our society. And that has allowed irrational prejudices to masquerade as rational – even “moral” – thought.

To survive, LGBT people have had little choice but to conceal evidence of their own existence, which only reinforces the ignorance arrayed against them. When Chicago’s Legacy Walk museum streetscape was dedicated in October 2012, it was the realization of a 25-year-long dream to create an outdoor commemoration of LGBT contributions to world history and culture that would side-step our redaction from history. Two years into this unique venture, the Legacy Project Education Initiative (LPEI) has convinced us that today’s LGBTQ kids, in spite of the fact that they live in an ostensibly more accepting world, know little more than we did. This is because a lack of generational memory – stories passed from old to young to impart knowledge and sustain traditions – has kept us strangers to ourselves.

LPEI survey data reveals that LGBTQ teenagers hunger for information that will give them an historic context for their existence. High school field trips to view the Legacy Walk’s unique bronze memorials – combined with LPEI’s downloadable lesson plans, study guides, and multimedia – mean that age-appropriate, academically sound education materials are now available to inspire the next generation of our leaders through the challenges and triumphs of those who came before them. That college and university education departments have also begun to recognize this need by adding a visit to the Legacy Walk for pre-service teachers means a brighter future for all of us.

Our work with Illinois Safe Schools Alliance over the last two years has helped to expand LPEI’s outreach to our state’s Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, which used our education materials to prepare for today’s Day of Silence. The accomplishments of people like social justice pioneer Jane Addams, civil rights icon Bayard Rustin, British mathematician Alan Turing, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, U.S. poet Walt Whitman, transgender trailblazer Christine Jorgensen – and many others – can finally be viewed through the corrective lens of truth. Together, the 23 bronze biographical markers lining the half-mile Legacy Walk make the Legacy Project a gateway to an unexplored history most people did not know was missing.

As our court victories mount, as we win elections and survive ballot initiatives, as our acceptance in society slowly grows, what will be missing is a full appreciation of the many roles LGBT people have played in everyone’s history. If centuries-old ignorance about our contributions is the root cause of our social marginalization, education is truly the most powerful tool we have to begin undoing the damage that has been done. Considering that for most people their only knowledge of history is what they can recall from high school, we unfortunately have our work cut out for us.

The regressive forces that have ridden to power on our backs hold vast swatches of the general population hostage to an agenda that eschews fact-based education by treading in the same falsehoods and mythology that we have fought against for decades. Indeed, few people know more about the power of truth and lies than those who are LGBT – the evidence of which is all around us in the form of a crazy quilt of progressive states with LGBT-inclusive laws juxtaposed against poorly educated states where no anti-gay law is too bizarre to be embraced if religionists favor it and politicians can benefit.

So, in our understandable rush to celebrate the ever-growing tide of pro-LGBT sentiment washing over many areas, we must be careful not to forget that there are still vast regions of this country where the truth is in short supply. It is for this reason that Equality House, the rainbow-colored home across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., will officially open its doors April 12 to the Legacy Project’s first permanent satellite installation. Together we hope to shatter the conspiracy of silence about LGBT contributions by bringing 18 of our plaque mock-ups directly into America’s heartland along with digitally linked access to their education resources. Because, in the end, nothing is more important than making sure our young people, no matter where they live, know that LGBT people matter – and have always mattered – even if nobody has ever bothered to tell them.

VICTOR A. SALVO is a long-time activist from Chicago, IL. A former journalist, he brings a personal passion for LGBT history to his work as Executive Director of the Legacy Project and co-creator of “The Legacy Walk” outdoor LGBT historic museum walk – the only installation of its kind in the world.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/04/11/op-ed-we-can-all-use-history-lesson

India’s LGBT Community: Don’t Vote BJP

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Activists protest against Supreme Court’s judgment that upheld section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality
Raj k Raj—Hindustan Times/Getty Images

While the incumbent Congress Party, fledgling Aam Aadmi Party and even the Communist Party of India have all come out in favor of gay rights, the Bharatiya Janata Party has not made its position clear, enraging the LGBT community of the world’s largest democracy

Article source: http://time.com/59158/indias-lgbt-community-dont-vote-bjp/

New food festival to celebrate LGBT chefs

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Something new is coming to the parade of food festivals that has sprung up around the country — CookOUT/RockOUT, a food and music event celebrating LGBT chefs and other food luminaries.

“It’s a way to showcase, in a positive, fun light, diversity within the food world,” festival founder Bruce Seidel says of the event, which launches in Los Angeles in the fall. The goal is to show “people that, ‘Hey, gay people are everywhere and this is a way to celebrate that whether you’re gay or not.’”

Seidel is a former Food Network executive who developed hit shows including “Iron Chef America” and “Next Food Network Star.” These days he runs Hot Lemon Productions, a consulting and production company he created with a focus on food. CookOUT is one of several projects the company is working on.

He first thought of creating a television program built around mentoring people in the food profession who were struggling with coming out or other issues. But then he began thinking about creating something new on the food festival front and the two ideas jelled.

The festival won’t be as big as some, aiming for 400 to 500 people rather than thousands, and the plan is to hold it at an LA estate built by a silent film star in the 1920s. Music will range from rock to classical violin and the culinary events will emphasize food experiences as opposed to “you eat 300 things, but you have no idea what you’ve tasted in the end,” says Seidel.

The roster of performers and chefs still is being put together, but among those from the LGBT community who already have signed up for the event are Big Gay Ice Cream, the New York-based frozen treats shop which also has a branch in Los Angeles, and Art Smith, Oprah’s former personal chef. Straight chefs also will be in the lineup.

Smith is looking forward to an event celebrating “the vast diversity within the food world of openly gay chefs,” noting that “there are many who still cannot be openly gay in their chosen careers.”

___

Michelle Locke tweets at https://twitter.com/Vinecdote

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/food-festival-celebrate-lgbt-chefs-162808882.html

The GLCCB's 2014 LGBT Baltimore Visitors Guide is here

Friday, April 11th, 2014

For the third year in a row, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore has released a guide of the city for LGBT visitors.

The official 2014 LGBT Baltimore Visitors Guide magazine includes a calendar of events, write-ups on local neighborhoods, restaurants and businesses, a wedding guide, and interviews with local members of the LGBT and allied community.

In one such interview, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she’d recommend The Hippo for an LGBT-friendly and fun night out, and that she’ll be having her birthday party “again this year” at the Mount Vernon club.

“Note to bartender: please have my French Martini ready,” Rawlings-Blake jokes in the interview.

If you’re planning a visit to Baltimore, or are a local resident who wants to take a peek at how your neighborhood stacks up in the guide, there’s now a button on the GLCCB’s homepage that opens a digital version of the guide that’s easy to click through.

Is something missing? What’d they get right?

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Article source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/bs-gm-baltimore-lgbt-visitors-guide-2014-is-here-20140410,0,1685155.story?track=rss

LGBT victims of domestic abuse are rarely catered for – or acknowledged | Ally Fogg

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

No one who is familiar with the dynamics of intimate partner violence will have been surprised by a study published last week, showing pervasive broader health implications for those affected.

The study revealed that victims of abuse were significantly more likely to be ill or depressed, to abuse drugs or alcohol, or to be engaged in unsafe sexual practices. The only surprise may be that the victims in this paper were men who have sex with men.

The review and meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine did not separate cause and effect. We cannot be sure what proportion of the negative health-related findings are a consequence, an accompaniment, or a cause of the violence.

Domestic abuse commonly causes injuries and harm far beyond the physical, leaving victims traumatised, terrorised, and often racked with self-loathing and misplaced guilt. That can manifest itself in passive and active self-destructive behaviour. This study marks an important reminder to health professionals and agencies that relationship violence is a notable factor in public health.

Domestic violence should be treated as a warning sign of broader health and well-being issues in GBT men – and vice versa.

Ahead of last Saturday’s International Women’s Day, the charity Broken Rainbow repeated its regular plea to the media that the situations of lesbian, bisexual and trans women are not written out of the script when violence against women is discussed. Sadly it appears their cry went unheard. The big news story of the day was the roll-out of Clare’s law, described by almost all media outlets as a system to allow women to check whether new men in their lives have a history of violence and abuse. Virtually none of them mentioned that the same facility can be used by anyone, of any gender or sexuality.

Other coverage of IWD reflected on the newly published estimates of violence against women across the EU. Prominent international news coverage highlighted a range of issues, from country-to-country comparisons, to the effectiveness of policing and sanction. As far as I could tell, not a single journalist picked up on the detail that women who were in same-sex relationships reported higher rates of partner violence than others. The numbers were drawn from small sample sizes and must be treated with caution, but they are in keeping with a long history of research that has found levels and patterns of violence in LGBT relationships to be broadly comparable to those of heterosexual couples.

The public script of domestic violence is a fiercely contested battleground. Feminist campaigners have traditionally fought hard to ensure the issue remains framed as a matter of male violence against women. In recent years, advocates for male victims have strived to ensure some public awareness of female violence as a real and harmful phenomenon. Sadly the debate has often descended into a bitter, partisan, gendered squabble about whose team has it worse. Activists for men and women have dug their trenches and LGBT people have fallen through the cracks.

While the specialist gay and lesbian media and organisations such as Stonewall have occasionally addressed these issues to their own audiences, by and large representatives of the LGBT communities have been in no hurry to shout about the matter. While campaigning to be treated with equal rights, respect and dignity, it is probably not the best PR to be shouting “… and we beat our partners just as much as you do.” This is entirely understandable, but it has had unfortunate consequences for those in need.

Research into the experiences of victims of same-sex relationship violence reveals a grim litany of unacknowledged problems and unaddressed needs. Our culture has pushed the issue so far to the margins it is all but invisible, and consequently many victims fear they will not be believed or taken seriously if they report their abuse. Police, now trained and primed to look out for signs of domestic violence in heterosexual couples, may fail to recognise an abusive same-sex relationship before their eyes, and may not follow the correct procedures for, say, separating partners before interview.

Societal homophobia not only deters some victims from speaking out, speaking honestly or seeking help, it is also used by some abusers as a weapon of control and coercion. This will usually be missed by standard assessment tools.

LGBT men and women who do seek help often find that shelters, support groups and programmes for perpetrators are strictly heteronormative – attempting to squeeze everyone into the same uncomfortable box. A woman-only space does not necessarily provide protection to a lesbian victim. Trans people, meanwhile, are not only at uniquely high risk of abuse, they may also have specific support and care needs within a system that is rigidly delineated by gender.

Domestic abuse is always an issue requiring sensitivity, nuance and care. A one-size-fits-all model has always left many victims unsupported and at risk. Designing systems that cater to the needs of some of the most vulnerable people at risk has to be the ultimate objective, but the first step is simply remembering that they exist.

• The Broken Rainbow helpline is on 0300 999 5428

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663879/s/382dfb85/sc/7/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Ccommentisfree0C20A140Cmar0C140Clgbt0Evictims0Edomestic0Eabuse/story01.htm

LGBT Latino Seniors Face Housing Crunch, Isolation in San Francisco

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

News Report,

Matthew S. Bajko,

Posted: Apr 10, 2014

 
Photo: Jorge Rodriguez served on San Francisco’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force. (Rick Gerharter/Bay Area Reporter)

Part 2

SAN FRANCISCO–Facing pronounced housing issues and isolation in San Francisco, the city’s population of Latino lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) seniors is in particular need of housing assistance and adult day programs, say policy experts on aging.

“Many people come here and become more isolated because they are living on their own,” said Jorge Rodriguez, 69, a gay man who served on the

Report Shows LGBT

Latino Elders Neglected

WASHINGTON D.C.–Latino elders who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) face additional challenges as they age, compounded by barriers rooted in their racial and ethnic identities, as well as LGBT stigma and discrimination, according to the first-ever national needs assessment of older LGBT Latinos.

In Their Own Words: A Needs Assessment of Hispanic LGBT Older Adults” incorporates an overview of research with in-depth interviews to experts and LGBT elders to examine the social, economic and political realities of a growing, though multiply marginalized, population. The report was produced by the National Hispanic Council on Aging, in conjunction with SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and the Diverse Elders Coalition.

The report notes that Social Security is particularly important for Hispanics because more than 40 percent of married Latino elders and over and more than 60 percent of those unmarried rely on the program for 90 percent or more of their income.

Older LGBT Latinos report encountering and fearing biased care providers, in both the aging-services network and long-term care, who also lack the skills or resources to support their unique needs.

The report calls for the field of aging to invest in more multilingual, LGBT-friendly outreach, training and services for LGBT Latino older people.

A major driver of inequities facing LGBT seniors is income insecurity rooted in lifetimes of discrimination in the workplace and in public benefit programs, such as Medicaid and Social Security. Other critical factors are lower educational status, housing instability and reduced savings associated with a higher concentration in low-wage jobs offering meager health insurance or none.

Some study participants spoke of discrimination within the LGBT community, as well as broad societal disregard of older people.

One participant described the overbearing power of religious leaders in destabilizing multicultural LGBT communities: “The ones who kick you out are those who run the church. But those who are rejected believe it’s God who is throwing them out.”

Another who was interviewed adeptly summarized the problem as “a lack of information and knowledge about where services are located. There is also a difficulty speaking about one’s own health, as well as a language barrier. This community is not used to speaking about its health, body or sexuality.”

Efforts by social and health services will become even more pressing in the ensuing decades, as people of color become the U.S. majority and as sexual and gender diversity becomes more salient in civic life.

–Robert Espinoza, SAGE Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications.

city’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force. “When you live on your own, especially if you come from another country, I think it is much harder.”

Rodriguez retired last year from the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, where he worked as a case manager for its HIV/AIDS Clinica Esperanza. He now volunteers at the AIDS Legal Referral Panel assisting immigrants seeking political asylum in the U.S.

“I am a lucky guy. I have my family and friends,” said Rodriguez, who is single. “I am retired and lucky to be living here at a time when everything is expensive.”

Few Own Homes

While homeownership is lacking in general among San Francisco’s LGBT seniors, Hispanic older LGBT adults are even less likely to own their own home in the city than their counterparts.

That was one of the findings included in “Addressing the Needs of LGBT Older Adults in San Francisco: Recommendations for the Future,” a report based on a survey conducted for the Task Force in 2013.

Of those who took part in the survey–616 LGBT city residents aged 60 to 92 years old–7 percent were Latino. Released last summer, the survey found that a majority (59 percent) of all respondents either lived in rental housing, nursing homes or for free with family or friends. The remaining 41 percent lived in homes they owned outright or were continuing to pay off their mortgages.

The survey did not break out the homeownership statistics by race. But the report did note that the 45 Hispanic respondents to the survey were “the most likely to cite rising crime rates as the reason they might have to move out of their current housing situation.”

The report, overseen by lead researcher Karen I. Fredriksen-Goldsen, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Washington and director of the Institute for Multigenerational Health, also concluded that the survey’s LGBT Hispanic participants were the “least likely to turn to a partner or spouse for social support” when confronted with abuse or discrimination.

LGBT Hispanics, along with African American seniors, are also less likely to be out of the closet than non-Hispanic white older adults, according to the study results.

Another survey finding is that the LGBT Hispanic respondents had the highest level of living with HIV or AIDS. They were also more likely to utilize community health centers than non-Hispanic whites.

Rodriguez, who oversaw the Task Force’s successful recruitment of LGBT Latinos to take the survey, said the main lesson he derives from the findings is that housing is the number one concern facing LGBT Latino older adults in San Francisco.

“I would say, and this will cover any aging group no matter gay or straight, it has to do with housing. Housing to me is the main subject here,” said Rodriguez, who served on the Task Force’s housing subcommittee.

A National Concern

Housing and social isolation is a nationwide concern when it comes to the country’s older LGBT Latino population. So found a report released in December, called “In Their Own Words: A Needs Assessment of Hispanic LGBT Older Adults,” by Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders, or SAGE for short, the National Hispanic Council on Aging and the Diverse Elders Coalition.

“The fact that many LGBT Hispanic older adults report both that they suffer from multiple layers of discrimination and that they cannot count on their communities and those who should be closest to them for support is particularly troubling and worthy of substantial attention,” wrote SAGE Executive Director Michael Adams in the foreword to the report.

One of the main findings in the assessment was that due to a “dearth of research about Hispanic LGBT older adults,” policymakers across the country do not adequately understand the needs of this population.

It is unclear exactly how many LGBT Latino seniors there are. Demographers estimate that the national LGBT senior population overall will number 3 million by 2050. In San Francisco, it is believed that upwards of 20,000 LGBT seniors are currently living in the city.

Were it not for his living in an affordable housing unit in a Duboce Triangle development, Rodriquez doubts he would still be a San Francisco resident.

“I lived in [San Francisco’s] Noe Valley and in Oakland prior to here. Without this program I could had not afford to live in San Francisco as a senior,” he said. “We need more housing like this one.”

Matthew S. Bajko wrote this ongoing series of articles for the Bay Area Reporter through the MetLife Foundation Journalists in Aging Fellowships, a program of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America.

Article source: http://newamericamedia.org/2014/04/lgbt-latino-seniors-face-housing-crunch-isolation-in-san-francisco.php

Pro-LGBT group criticized for ad at One Spark festival

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

An LGBT ally group will be allowed to continue with downtown Jacksonville’s One Spark festival after an organization disagreed with its message.

We Are Straight Allies, a campaign to rally straight and gay community members for LGBT-friendly (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) initiatives, was told Tuesday that it would have to remove a 9-foot window sign because “key stakeholders” in the building were unhappy with it, said Chevara Orrin, chief creative catalyst for We Are Straight Allies.

The sign shows a 7-year-old girl wearing a tutu and standing with her mom and dad. Large letters read “I’m coming out as a straight ally.”

Orrin said she was told an unnamed organization or individual was displeased with the pro-LGBT message. She said she was also asked whether musicians performing at the organization’s station at West Bay Street and North Laura Street could be “less flamboyant.”

We Are Straight Allies refused.

Orrin was notified Wednesday morning that the sign could stay on the Wells Fargo building and the organization could continue as planned. While it isn’t known which organization contested the image, Wells Fargo leadership called We Are Straight Allies to convey their support of their mission.

Orrin said her organization was shocked to hear about the complaint and said it hopes to communicate with the offended organization to offer diversity training.

“Here, at a festival that celebrates diversity, innovation and inclusion, this happened to us,” she said.

 

Meredith Rutland: (904) 359-4161

Article source: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2014-04-09/story/pro-lgbt-group-criticized-ad-one-spark-festival

Sports talk radio show on LGBT issues to debut

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The premiere of ”The Outfield” this weekend on satellite radio will open with a discussion of Derrick Gordon, the UMass guard who on Wednesday became the first openly gay Division I men’s basketball player.

Seemingly perfect timing for a sports talk show about LGBT issues to debut just four days after that news broke. But the philosophy behind the weekly program on SiriusXM is that such stories are common.

”Not a week goes by, not a month goes by without another headline about an athlete coming out,” said Dave Gorab, the company’s vice president for talk programming.

When Eddie Robinson, who has worked for the SiriusXM SportsZone channel, pitched the idea, Gorab said his immediate reaction was ”we have to do this.”

As host, Robinson envisions a mix of news analysis, features and listener call-ins. One of the guests for Sunday’s premiere is Sheryl Swoopes, the women’s basketball star who at one time was the most recognizable athlete to come out in a team sport. The college coach at Loyola of Chicago later became engaged to a man.

Robinson’s resume reads like someone preparing for this job – except the position never existed until he created it. A former high school football player, he has worked for CBS News, public radio and MTV. He was also an engineer and producer for New York sports talk radio station WFAN, remembering the discomfort of spending time in that testosterone-soaked environment when he was still in the closet.

But there’s much about the in-depth analysis and relaxed banter of sports talk radio that Robinson wants to emulate. And he suspects many in the LGBT community long for those kinds of conversations, too.

”Here is a platform that’s outside ‘Glee,’ outside ‘Queer Eye,’ outside RuPaul,” Robinson said.

Those traditional sports talk radio hosts often avoid topics such as homophobia, though. Robinson expects plenty of coverage involving high-profile players such as Gordon, Jason Collins and Michael Sam. But he also wants to tell the stories of gay athletes and allies at the amateur, recreational and high school level. He believes the anonymity of the call-in format will also allow listeners to share their struggles and offer advice to one another.

With 26 million subscribers, SiriusXM spans the entire country, able to reach a young gay athlete in a small town who otherwise wouldn’t hear of others with similar experiences.

The show will air on OutQ, SiriusXM’s channel for the LGBT community, not a sports station. That seemed like the best fit, Gorab said.

Robinson summed up the program’s balance of the fun of sports and the seriousness of societal issues this way: ”It’s about understanding what it means to be an athlete who just happens to be gay.”

Article source: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/sports-talk-radio-show-lgbt-221819705--spt.html

Beyonce Covers OUT Magazine, Talks LGBT Equality: 'We Are All The Same'

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Beyonce’s first cover story since the surprise release of her self-titled fifth studio album last December is in the new issue of OUT Magazine, in which the superstar opens up to the LGBT publication about becoming “the world’s most powerful brand,” as the May 2014 cover story puts it. In an email interview with OUT editor-in-chief Aaron Hicklin, Beyonce discusses the way in which the LGBT community has identified with the lyrics of “Beyonce.”

“While I am definitely conscious of all the different types of people who listen to my music, I really set out to make the most personal, honest, and best album I could make,” says Bey. “I needed to free myself from the pressures and expectations of what I thought I should say or be, and just speak from the heart. Being that I am a woman in a male-dominated society, the feminist mentality rang true to me and became a way to personalize that struggle… But what I’m really referring to, and hoping for, is human rights and equality, not just that between a woman and a man. So I’m very happy if my words can ever inspire or empower someone who considers themselves an oppressed minority… We are all the same and we all want the same things: the right to be happy, to be just who we want to be and to love who we want to love.”

Is the Beyonce Approach Working for Other ‘Surprise’ Albums?

The cover story also explores Beyonce’s entertainment brand, Parkwood Entertainment, and gives Beyonce the opportunity to comment on the unique release of “Beyonce,” a visual album that was quietly prepared last year while she was on her Mrs. Carter world tour.

“I was recording, shooting videos, and performing on the tour every night, all at the same time,” Beyonce says. “At some point I felt like, ‘What am I doing? Is this too ambitious?’ Even the day the record was to be released I was scared to death. But I also knew if I was that scared, something big was about to happen.”

The full OUT cover story is online here, along with two new remixes of “XO” and “Blow.” Along with her hubby Jay Z, Beyonce topped Billboard’s most recent Power 100 — click here to read about how the power couple climbed to the summit of our list.

Article source: http://www.billboard.com/node/6042190

CPCC opens discussions with LGBT groups

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Central Piedmont Community College announced Tuesday it is planning a series of community outreach meetings with LGBT organizations in response to complaints from a transgender student that campus security harassed her after leaving a women’s restroom.

The college also announced that it has scheduled training for its security staff as a result of the March 18 incident. The student involved, Andraya Williams, claimed she was detained, questioned and harassed by security staff after exiting the restroom. She filed a complaint with the school, seeking an apology and staff sensitivity training.

“Through this recent experience, the college has realized other institutions and communities across the country have been challenged by similar issues,” college spokesman Jeff Lowrance said in a statement.

“The college wants to hear from these (LGBT) organizations on how other institutions have achieved good relations, while being fair to everyone and abiding by state and federal law.”

College administrators from the student services and human resources departments are setting up meetings with CPCC’s student LGBT group and other LGBT groups in the community. The college also plans to talk with Equality NC, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.

On two occasions in April, CPCC will train security staff to ensure they are familiar with college philosophy, policies and procedures, school officials said. Such training will be made available to other CPCC employees as appropriate.

The college also will post the campus locations of all gender-neutral or family restrooms on the CPCC website. Many colleges around the country are now providing such information on their websites to assist students, employees and visitors.

After this first series of best practices discussions, CPCC will identify others in the community who will provide additional insight into LGBT issues to CPCC and other educational institutions that would like to learn.

“Community colleges in general and CPCC specifically have always had an open door, welcoming anyone who wanted an education or job training,” Lowrance said. “CPCC accepts students wherever they might be on the academic spectrum and helps them reach their goals. We want to be sure CPCC remains open, welcoming and fair to all within the college’s policies.”

Article source: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/04/08/4826784/cpcc-opens-discussions-with-lgbt.html

WATCH: LGBT Ugandans In Hiding, Suicidal Following 'Jail the Gays' Law

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Life for LGBT people in Uganda continues to deteriorate in the months since President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposes lifelong prison sentences on many LGBT people and lengthy jail times for any individual, media outlet, or organization supporting LGBT equality. 

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke with LGBT activist Pepe Julian Onziema, one of the few prominent out LGBT Ugandans fighting the draconian new law. Onziema is a plaintiff in the constitutional challenge filed last month aiming to stop the law’s enforcement. 

On the phone from the capital city of Kampala, Onziema told Amanpour in late February that LGBT Ugandans are afraid for their lives, and reported several instances of what he called “mob justice,” where groups of civilians attack people suspected of being LGBT. 

“People are afraid of losing their lives,” Onziema said. “Those who have felt that it is going to happen to them, in their neighborhoods, have left the country. They have fled to the nearest border where they feel much safer.”

Onziema, an out transgender man who is director of advocacy at Sexual Minorities Uganda, one of the few LGBT advocacy groups in the country, said many supporters had backed away from the activist group after the passage of the law, which allows for up to seven years in jail for anyone found to be “aiding or abetting homosexuality,” including providing support, housing, or employment to LGBT people or organizations.

“So people are really afraid about losing their lives, losing their families, those who are especially in the closet, people have lost jobs, and their livelihoods have basically changed,” continued Onziema. “And those are the same people who are committing suicide. People attempted suicide because they are like, ‘I’m not going to live to see this country kill me — so I would rather take my life.’”

Onziema acknowledged that he could “absolutely” be prosecuted for his advocacy work, but he remains resilient. “I am not afraid,” he told Amanpour. “Because I am not doing something wrong. Speaking out is my right that is granted in the Constitution, and this law is not going to take away the person that I am, and it’s not going to take away my voice, and even if I am arrested for being on call right now with you, I will serve. But my conscience will be very clear.”

Watch Amanpour’s February report below.

 

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/04/08/watch-lgbt-ugandans-hiding-suicidal-following-jail-gays-law

Local LGBT figures endorse Peters

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Skirmishing in the pitched battle for San Diego’s 52nd Congressional District seat held by Scott Peters intensified Tuesday with some leaders in the LGBT community endorsing the freshman Democrat.

Local LGBT leaders Todd Gloria, the San Diego City Council president, and former state Sen. Christine Kehoe — both Democrats — joined with the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign in backing Peters.

The Human Rights Campaign said Peters has been an outspoken advocate in Congress.

“As the nation moves rapidly to embrace full LGBT equality, Scott’s voice on Capitol Hill will echo those of his fair-minded constituents and Americans across the country,” Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz said.

Peters is facing a strong challenge from former San Diego City Councilman and 2012 mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, who is gay. He is running as a “new generation Republican” and also supports same-sex marriage. He was unavailable for comment.

But DeMaio’s camp dismissed the endorsement of Peters.

“This same group of partisan Democrat activists who supported Bob Filner in 2012 over Carl and it was expected that they would once again support a partisan politician like Scott Peters,” DeMaio spokesman Dave McCulloch said.

Peters called LGBT equality “the most important civil rights issue of our time.”

Gloria and Kehoe made their endorsement beneath the gay pride flag in Hillcrest. They noted that Peters supports marriage equality and is co-sponsor of several LGBT-backed bills, including repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

On another front, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Monday launched a five-day robo call effort that seeks to link likely voters to DeMaio’s campaign telephone number. Callers are urged to ask DeMaio to speak against the federal budget proposal from Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan. The effort part is part of the DCCC’s nationwide “Battleground: Middle Class” initiative which last week included web adds critical of DeMaio.

McCulloch said DeMaio believes the budget offered by Budget Committee Chairman Ryan on April 1 generally contains some good ideas but also has flaws.

“Carl DeMaio intends to introduce his own budget that balances without service cuts and work with all sides to get common-sense reforms implemented,” McCulloch said.

Meanwhile, Peters has angered some on the left for joining with 17 other Democratic House members voting for GOP-sponsored legislation last week define the work week as 40 and not 30 hours. The 30-hour work week is what Obamacare considers full-time employment mandating employers provide health care.

Peters said small business owners in San Diego have complained that the 30-hour week requirement is confusing and creates disincentives to hiring. Others say it pushes some employers to cut worker hours to 29 per week.

“While there is absolutely no chance that (the) bill will become law and provide the relief it promises, it was important for me to stand up for these entrepreneurs who’ve sacrificed in order to invest in their businesses and who together account for 99 percent of California’s employers and employ 52 percent of our workers,” Peters said.

Two other Republicans, Kirk Jorgensen and Fred Simon, are also running in the coastal 52nd District. The top two finishers in the June 3 primary move on to the November general election.

The race is expected to be one of the most competitive and expensive in California this year. Registered Republicans slightly outnumber registered Democrats and the district has a large bloc of non-affliated independent voters.

mark.walker@utsandiego.com

Article source: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2014/apr/08/lgbt-figures-endorse-peters/

National LGBT Bar Association, BNY Mellon and White & Case Announce New Resource to Help Same-Sex Couples Navigate …

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – The National LGBT Bar Association, BNY Mellon and White Case LLP, announced a first of its kind Online LGBT Tax Resource today, at LGBTBar.org/tax, to help same-sex couples and their tax advisors navigate state tax laws. The resource is a unique tool for both tax preparers and payers, providing a comprehensive, state-by-state list of reporting regulations for LGBT couples.

Tax law remains one of the most complex and nuanced issues impacting the LGBT community, especially in states where couples are not allowed to file married tax returns. Following the Supreme Court’s decision invalidating the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), couples are now eligible to file married federal returns. In 33 states, however, those same couples cannot file joint state returns. In response, the Online LGBT Tax Resource was developed to ensure families are equipped with the most up-to-date tax information for their home state.

“The end of the federal DOMA was a giant step forward for couples, but state laws continue to legally discriminate against many families,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of The LGBT Bar. “The Online LGBT Tax Resource unveiled today will ensure couples can maximize state tax laws, and the repeal of DOMA, as they navigate what is often a very confusing area for LGBT families. The Resource is designed to ensure they, and their tax preparers and attorneys, have reliable, trust-worthy information.”

Among the information provided at the site, are key areas such as:

  • A recap of states’ rules concerning same-sex marriage and the impact on state income tax in clear and concise language
  • Individual state guidance for married same-sex taxpayers
  • Information on litigation, and legislation, that could impact LGBT tax law; and
  • Up-to-date information from states’ departments of revenue, and state constitutions.

“In states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage, same-sex couples and their tax preparers are struggling to make sense of how to apply the federal tax guidelines based on the ruling last year that the DOMA was unconstitutional,” said John Lillis, a tax partner with White Case, who worked on the project pro bono. “This database is an important tool to help tax preparers and same-sex couples navigate the inconsistent rule that applies to state income tax laws.”

“Working collaboratively with the LGBT Bar Association, Pro Bono lawyers from BNY Mellon and White Case have created an online resource to help same-sex couples reduce the complexity of tax laws. BNY Mellon’s pro bono team reflects our uncompromising commitment to diversity and inclusion as a core business issue,” said Deborah Kaye, Managing Director and Senior Managing Counsel, BNY Mellon.

The Resource presents the many state-level regulations in easily understandable language. The site, which will be updated quarterly with any new developments impacting tax laws for LGBT couples, provides the only inclusive, accurate listing of filing regulations in all fifty states.

The National LGBT Bar Association is a national association of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals, law students, activists, and affiliated lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal organizations. The association promotes justice in and through the legal profession for the LGBT community in all its diversity.

BNY Mellon is a global investments company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle. Whether providing financial services for institutions, corporations or individual investors, BNY Mellon delivers informed investment management and investment services in 35 countries and more than 100 markets. As of December 31, 2013, BNY Mellon had $27.6 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $1.6 trillion in assets under management. BNY Mellon can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, hold, manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BK). Additional information is available on www.bnymellon.com, or follow us on Twitter @BNYMellon.

White Case LLP is a leading global law firm with lawyers in 39 offices across 26 countries. Among the first US-based law firms to establish a truly global presence, we provide counsel and representation in virtually every area of law that affects cross-border business. Our clients value both the breadth of our global network and the depth of our US, English and local law capabilities in each of our regions and rely on us for their complex cross-border transactions, as well as their representation in arbitration and litigation proceedings.

 

Contact:  Liz Youngblood
(202) 637-7661 / liz@lgbtbar.org

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/national-lgbt-bar-association-bny-204500449.html

LGBT Rights Groups Slam Reports Gay Teacher, Andrew Moffat, Was 'Forced To Resign' By Religious Parents

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

LGBT rights groups have revealed their concerns after reports emerged that a gay teacher was forced to resign after parents complained that they did not want their children to “learn that it’s OK to be gay”.

Andrew Moffat, a well-respected teacher and author of Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools, was apparently targeted by a group of mainly Muslim parents in the dispute at Chilwell Croft Academy, in Birmingham, The Sunday Times reported.

A leading LGBT activist told The Huffington Post UK that the alleged discrimination was “simply unacceptable” and “fuelling hatred.”

Shaun Dellenty, the openly gay Deputy Headteacher of Alfred Salter Primary School, said he was “very saddened” to hear of Mr Moffat’s resignation.

He said schools have a statutory duty to protect LGBT stakeholders, considering the Equality Act 2010 places sexual orientation alongside other legally protected characteristics such as gender, disability and faith.

In a statement, the school said: “A minority group of parents… objected to some of the resource books being used in literacy lessons with some of the oldest children in the school, which explored relationships with different families.

“The… objections were primarily voiced by those whose own religion took an opposing stance to homosexuality.”

But Mr Dellenty, who is the founder of ‘Inclusion For All’ – a small charitable organisation helping to effect organisational change in schools – argued that a school “that condones prejudice in this way is surely school that is fuelling hatred towards LGBT people and touting prejudice.”

He said the teacher’s dismissal sends a “potentially very damaging message to the children and staff in school who may be LGBT themselves or those who have LGBT friends and family.”

“If we act with shame towards LGBT people from the very start of the educative process then we are sowing the seeds of prejudice and too many young lives have been destroyed already.”

Stonewall, a lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity, told Huff Post that schools should instead aim to tackle homophobic bullying.

Luke Tryl, Stonewall Head of Education, said: “There are 19,000 children in Britain from same-sex parent families and they deserve to see their lives and families reflected in their learning.”

A dozen schools in Birmingham are under investigation by the Department for Education (DfE) over allegations of financial mismanagement and the introduction of Islamic practices.

Fellow tutors reportedly fear Mr Moffat could have been the victim of plot to replace non-Muslim teachers with more hardline educators.

Last month a document entitled Operation Trojan Horse was circulated. It was alleged to be a blueprint for Islamic hardliners on how to infiltrate schools in several cities.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/04/08/gay-teacher-andrew-moffat_n_5109952.html?utm_hp_ref=uk&ir=UK

TV ad to draw LGBT tourism to Las Vegas premieres

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Continuing in its pursuit to draw LGBT visitors, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority premiered on Monday its first national television ad campaign geared toward that community.

In the commercial titled The Check In, a man and woman prepare to check in at a hotel. The woman steps away for a moment leaving the man waiting for front desk assistance.

The man is joined by another man and the two are mistaken by an attendant as a couple.

“You gentlemen ready to check in,” the attendant asks in the commercial before the familiar “What Happens Here” slate concludes the ad.

The commercial is the latest advertisement tool to promote Las Vegas as a hotspot for LGBT tourists. According to the LVCVA, the tourism authority has been working for five years in promoting to the LGBT community, highlighted by its “Everyone’s Welcome, Even Straight People” print and digital campaign in 2012.

“The addition of an LGBT spot to the ‘What Happens Here’ campaign was a natural next step,” said Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing for the LVCVA. “Las Vegas’ campaigns are based on adult freedom and encouraging visitors to experience that freedom first hand.”

Citing statistics, LVCVA touted Las Vegas as the second most popular U.S. destination among gay men and third among lesbians.

The Check In commercial is expected to run through the rest of the year on national television networks.

Copyright 2014 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Article source: http://www.kptv.com/story/25184085/tv-ad-to-draw-lgbt-tourism-to-las-vegas-premieres

Iconic "What Happens Here, Stays Here" Campaign Launches First-Ever National LGBT Broadcast Initiative

Monday, April 7th, 2014

LAS VEGAS, April 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — For the first time ever, Las Vegas has created a new television commercial specifically geared towards the LGBT community. The television broadcast spot incorporates a fabulous new twist, and is part of the destination’s legendary “What Happens Here, Stays Here” campaign. The widely popular campaign has always celebrated adult freedom, and this new installment champions LGBT travelers and showcases Las Vegas as an unassuming destination. The imaginative commercial launched Monday, April 7 on various well-known national television networks, including Bravo TV, E! Entertainment Television and Logo TV.

“The addition of an LGBT spot to the ‘What Happens Here’ campaign was a natural next step,” said Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). “Las Vegas’ campaigns are based on adult freedom and encouraging visitors to experience that freedom first hand.”

Las Vegas has been marketing to the LGBT community for more than five years. The newest “What Happens Here, Stays Here” installment is a follow-up to the “Everyone’s welcome, even straight people” print and digital campaign, which debuted in 2012 and featured gay and lesbian scenarios.  However, this is the first time the destination has created a “What Happens Here, Stays Here” television commercial targeting the LGBT community. Furthermore, Las Vegas is the first destination in the U.S. to do a national mainstream media buy with Bravo TV and E! Entertainment Television to advertise to the LGBT community.

Las Vegas goes above and beyond to ensure LGBT travelers feel valued and have a memorable experience while in the destination. For example, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd., and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas all received perfect scores on the 2014 Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, and were voted Best Places to Work in 2014 for LGBT Equality. These four property groups represent nearly 30 properties in Las Vegas.

“The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has a long history of actively supporting equality through groundbreaking advertising and community initiatives,” said GLAAD president CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “In becoming the first-ever destination to show their support in a national mainstream broadcast campaign, they have once again raised the bar for the travel industry.”

According to the Community Marketing Insights (CMI) annual LGBT travel survey, Las Vegas remains a premier travel destination among LGBT travelers. Las Vegas ranked as the second most popular U.S. destination among gay men and third among lesbians.

The “What Happens Here, Stays Here” LGBT television commercial, “The Check In,” employs a playful approach to the welcoming ambiance found in Las Vegas and is scheduled to run through 2014.

For more information about the most fabulous destination in the world and how to book your next Vegas vacation, visit www.LasVegas.com/gaytravel.

Photos and video are available at http://www.multivu.com/players/English/63040-las-vegas-what-happens-here-stays-here/.   

ABOUT THE LVCVA
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is charged with marketing Southern Nevada as a tourism and convention destination worldwide, and also with operating the Las Vegas Convention Center and Cashman Center.  With more than 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas alone and 10.8 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide, the LVCVA’s mission centers on attracting ever increasing numbers of leisure and business visitors to the area.  For more information, go to www.lvcva.com or www.LasVegas.com.

PRESS CONTACTS
Lindsey Stull, RR Partners
T: 702.318.4335
Lindsey.Stull@rrpartners.com

Tom Dietz, RR Partners
T: 702.318.4344
Tom.Dietz@rrpartners.com

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/iconic-happens-stays-campaign-launches-122900699.html

20 Moments That Changed LGBT Comedy Forever

Monday, April 7th, 2014

We asked our readers, Twitter and Facebook followers, office mates, and anyone else with an opinion to name the most pivotal moments in LGBT comedy. For people who grew up in the decades before the millennium when LGBT culture wasn’t as visible, there are specific moments in popular culture that we all cherish because it made us feel hopeful that someday soon we would see our lives depicted onscreen. For me, that moment came in 1997 when Ellen DeGeneres accidentally came out to Laura Dern over the loud speaker of an airport. I breathed a sigh of relief that I couldn’t fully grasp at the time. (My second sigh of relief came when I watched Ellen have sex with Sharon Stone in If These Walls Could Talk 2 but that’s for another list.) This list is a culmination of those moments in comedy where the LGBT community finally felt in on the joke instead of the butt of one. 

Admittedly, we did omit most characters from this decade because there are now so many (and yet still not enough) LGBT characters celebrated in film and television, that we didn’t want to overshadow the moments that led us here. 

 

1. Ellen’s Coming Out Episode
This seems like a good place to start. On April 30th, 1997, Ellen DeGeneres’ character finally faces her feelings for pal Susan (Laura Dern) after a heart to heart with none other than Oprah Winfrey, who plays her therapist. Look for DeGeneres’ mother, who plays an aiport bystander as Ellen Morgan accidentally announces over a loudspeaker that she is gay.

 

2. The Golden Girls
There are actually two episodes of this series that put homosexuality front and center. In the 1988 episode, “Scared Straight,” Blanche’s brother Clayton comes to town for a visit. When Blanche tries to set him up on a date, he’s so afraid to admit his sexual orientation that he claims to have slept with Rose. Fast forward to the 1991 episode called “Sister of the Bride” in which Clayton is now out and planning a commitment ceremony with his partner, Doug. This episode is the better of the two because Sophia Petrillo has to drop some knowledge on Blanche’s bigotry.

Here’s Sophia dropping truth bombs on Blanche:

 

3. Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares
Paul Lynde was a genius. The stereotype of the witty, “shade throwing,” gay man is pretty common in pop culture now, but it originated with Paul Lynde. His snarky one liners were perfectly showcased for 15 years from the highly coveted center square in the game show, Hollywood Squares. Although Lynde wasn’t lauded by the gay community at the time because he never officially came out of the closet, he was known to all as an “open secret” in Hollywood and would do little to veil his sexuality on the show. Some of his most famous one liners are pretty overt. 

Question: “You’re the world’s most popular fruit. What are you?”

Lynde: “Humble.”

Watch the video above for an awesome compilation of some of Lynde’s famous one-liners.

 

4. The Ending of Some Like It Hot
The now famous “nobody’s perfect” line from Some Like It Hot would probably ruffle some feathers in the LGBT community now, but in 1959, this was pretty awesome because it managed to convey a message of open-mindedness over sexuality in an otherwise conservative time period. Its groundbreaking stance shocked the less open minded crowd of the late 1950s. According to one reviewer at the time, “Here is the prurience, the perversion, the sexual sickness that is obsessing the characters and plots of our films.” That quote alone should make you want to go back and watch this classic all over again.

 

5. All in the Family
In 1971, All in the Family was the first sitcom to feature an openly gay character on television, which seems fitting because the show was known for its frank portrayals of racism, classicism, and bigotry. The episode, titled “Judging Books By Covers,” aired in the show’s first season, which is also a testament to it’s bravery. The dialogue is harsh. Archie Bunker drops all kinds of F bombs (fag, flower, fruit, he’s really pretty creative) when referring to his son-in-law Michael’s effeminate friend, Roger. But things get really interesting when Bunker finds out that his ex-football star pal, Steve, turns out to also be gay.

 

 

6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
All in the Family gets credit for portraying the first openly gay character on television but The Mary Tyler Moore Show wins for being the first television show to actually using the term “gay” to refer to homosexuality (remember that Archie Bunker’s character uses a whole lot of slang but never once an acceptable term). Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman are brilliant in the 1973 episode, “My Brother’s Keeper.” In the episode, Phyllis (Leachman) wants to set up her brother Ben with Mary and is disappointed when he instead starts spending his time with Rhoda (Harper). In this clip, Rhoda has to break the news to Phyllis that her brother is gay and that they are just besties. For fun, you can watch the entire episode on Hulu here.

 

7. Billy Crystal as Jodie on Soap
This nighttime parody of melodramatic daytime soap operas was riddled with controversy during its run on ABC from 1977 to 1981 due to religious and LGBT organizations alike. Religious groups condemned the show for being too salacious and sexual for families who enjoyed the more wholesome ABC programs like Laverne and Shirley and Happy Days. LGBT groups initially protested because Billy Crystal’s gay character, Jodie, had a brief storyline in which he sought gender-reassigment surgery so that his feelings toward men would seem more “normal.” The writers of the show eventually dropped the storyline after consulting with the Gay Media Task Force and began to portray Jodie as a man comfortable with his sexuality and in a committed relationship. Despite the show’s obvious bumps in the road, it deserves a space on our list for being one of the first television shows to portray an openly gay main character. In the clip above, wach a hilarious scene where Jodie explains to the ditzy Jessica (Katherine Helmond) that gay people have been around since the beginning of time.

 

 

8. Rocky Horror Picture Show
It’s impossible to talk about LGBT culture in the 1970s without mentioning this 1975 campy cult classic that still has audiences hurling toilet paper (“Great Scott!”) and confetti at movie screens. Although the movie has a somewhat “rocky” reputation for its use of the T-word and depiction of a hyper sexed “transsexual Transylvanian,” the musical was written by Richard O’Brien, who is trans.

 

9. Hairspray
Speaking of camp, it doesn’t get much better than this 1988 gem with Rickie Lake, Debbie Harry, and John Waters’ favorite vulgar muse, Divine. Sorry, Zac Efron and John Travolta. That remake was total crap.

 

10. Scott Thompson as Buddy Cole in Kids in the Hall
One of the most popular characters on the Canadian sketch show, Buddy Cole was known for his witty takedowns of fellow celebrities, especially the homophobic ones. In the ’80s, his humor was an important counterpoint to homophobic rants made by popular stand-up comedians at the time like Andrew Dice Clay and Eddie Murphy (half of Murphy’s material in his famous stand up special, Delirious, is about his hatred of gay men).  “Andrew Dice Clay is not the new Lenny Bruce. I am. He and Eddie Murphy are just pissed off because they give off such a faggy vibe. And the saddest thing of all is that I’d still have sex with both of them. Oh sure, I’d feel guilty but you know what? All I think it would take is about twenty bucks.”

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/comedy/2014/04/07/20-moments-changed-lgbt-comedy-forever

AAP skirts LGBT issues for ‘strategic’ reasons

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Days after the Aam Aadmi Party excluded the concerns of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community on gender and sexuality from its national manifesto, it has turned out that though an influential section of AAP wanted to incorporate the issues, the party, however, got last minute cold feet as it did not want to alienate the conservative votes in the country by its own admission.

According to LGBT members inside the party who were part of discussion with the LGBT community as well, the party decided to not mention the issues for “strategic perspective” to get the popular support and the numbers in Parliament.

The communication sent by a senior AAP leader said: “Arvind Kejriwal and all the top leaders have always said that personal liberty is of crucial importance to the vision of this party and we do not believe that State has any right to probe into private lives or sexual orientation of citizens if its consensual”.

“There is a larger strategic perspective with regard to the number here. We need numbers in the Parliament if we are to do some thing about it,” explained the mail.

Article source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/aap-skirts-lgbt-issues-for-strategic-reasons/article5880844.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

Here's why AAP didn't include promised LGBT reforms in its manifesto

Sunday, April 6th, 2014
  • LGBT-rightsManit Balmiki
    DNA

Until a few days ago, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) could have found a large support base within India’s LGBT community; what with their promise to champion the cause of gender justice and gay rights.

And with most major parties shirking to even clarify their stance over the recent Supreme Court judgement criminalising homosexuality, this endorsement could have been another thing setting them apart from the traditional political units. It must, however, be noted that the Communist Party of India-Marxist has already included the rights of sexual minorities in their manifesto.

But that’s not what happened, and it didn’t take very long for AAP to lose the trust of the marginalised community who were pinning their hopes on them. AAP launched their manifesto yesterday, but failed to include the promised LGBT reforms in the party’s election clarion call.

The inability to stand true to their words earned AAP the ire of the LGBT community and its supporters. Within hours of the manifesto release, social networking sites raged with criticism for the party from even those who had pledged their allegiance to the newly-formed party.

One such disappointed supporter is Harrish Iyer, well known LGBT personality and rights activist, who tweeted his shock and dejection:

“I wanted to be a part of the change, but then the manifesto changed,” he tweeted.

He was joined by renowned film maker Onir, who questioned the party leaders on the reason for having abandoned the community’s needs.

In an attempt to clarify their stance, the Maharashtra State Secretary of the AAP Preeti Sharma Menon told dna, “When the Supreme Court upheld Section 377, the Aam Aadmi Party were in the forefront in the fight against it. We were among the first political units to categorically, and in writing, condemn it as violation of human rights. We will continue our fight to against criminalisation of homosexuality.”

So then what held them from putting it into their manifesto?

Menon explains that there were other issues too that failed to find a place in the document, “We created over 20 policy groups over the last one year to determine the manifesto. And the final document contained the those urgent and key issues that we could deliver. But that in no way means that our commitment to the cause and its fight has lessened.”

Menon further elaborates, “For instance, water resource management is another important issue, especially in Maharashtra. One of our prominent candidates, Medha Patkar, has dedicated her life to working on it. Yet, it failed to find a place in the manifesto. But again, this does not suggest that we aren’t going to continue our work in that area.”

On being asked, how they plan to accommodate the needs for reforms among the sexual minorities, she says, “The manifesto, like the party, is an evolving and growing document, not set in stone. While, I can’t say if it will be edited at this point, I can assure you that we will continue to work on creating policy framework to deliver on human rights to the marginalised communities, including the LGBT community,” says Menon.

In the meanwhile, AAP also attempted to clarify the rising questions on a live Twitter QA session with AAP leader Atishi Marlena. People tweeted their concerns at Marlena with the hastag #AskAtishiAAP. On the issue of decriminalising Section 377, Marlena’s response was in line with Menon’s statement. She tweeted, “Manifesto need not include issues on which our stand is already known.”

There is also a meet between the party members and representatives of the LGBT groups scheduled for tomorrow, April 6, that might yield more answers and possible solutions:

Meera Sanyal’s team also reiterated her stand on gay rights:

 

Harrish Iyer responded in detail when contacted by dna:

“While I am very happy that they do discuss issues and are visibly supportive… the manifesto is a testimony of their commitment for which they are accountable for. 

“I feel that LGBT persons are treated like the quintessential ‘keep’ who is loved and lusted in private but given no commitment or legal status on paper. We may be a minority, but our numbers could be well more than some religious minorities in our country.

And to add to that, we are major influencers, who have been ostracised for so long, that we agitate quite vociferously. we are thus are a majority vocal voice on social media. If this is what is being done for numbers and appeasing anti-LGBT votes, then they are doing a big mistake. 

“The general audience is going to read what they don’t read in the manifesto… and are going to consider AAP to be an indecisive party that doesnt have the guts and gumption to stand up for they say they strongly believe in. Mere talking would not help. It’s time to bell the cat. Time to put it on paper. WE BELIEVE WHAT WE READ.” 

Harrish also added that it was not enough for AAP to express ‘disappointment’ on their website about the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377, as long as they didn’t put it on paper.

 

Article source: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-here-s-why-aap-didn-t-include-promised-lgbt-reforms-in-its-manifesto-1975472

Russian Province Declares Ban on LGBT Parades Illegal

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

A district court in the Western Russian region of Kostroma on Friday declared that two LGBT rallies can proceed as planned, overturning two decisions by lower courts that sided with local officials refusing to allow the demonstrators to protest.

Interfax news agency reports that the case was filed by prominent Russian LGBT activist Nikolay Alexeyev, who wanted to hold two rallies protesting the country’s nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda, which imposes fines and possible jail time on anyone speaking positively about “nontraditional sexual orientations” in areas visible to minors. City officials banned the requests in June of last year. 

Interfax reports that Kostroma officials had initially banned the events, “saying that their participants intended to promote homosexuality and the police cannot ensure their safety. The authorities also said that the city administration had received letters from city residents who said they did not want the events to take place.”

Although the decision will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, LGBT advocates hailed it as an incremental step toward pushing back against the onslaught of violence and discrimination directed at LGBT Russians since the “gay propaganda” ban took effect last summer. 

“This ruling is an important victory for Russian activists and members of the LGBT community who have faced increased persecution, harassment and arrests by authorities for organizing and participating in peaceful events and protests in recent months,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord in a statement Friday. “It is heartening to see Russian judges supporting important personal freedoms and demonstrating independence from the current anti-LGBT sentiment throughout Russia.”

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/04/05/russian-province-declares-ban-lgbt-parades-illegal

Megan Quinn: Faith, LGBT groups host conference

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

A conference this weekend invites residents to talk about the ways religion and LGBT issues intersect in churches, synagogues and other faith spaces.

The conference is meant to help people of faith better support the LGBT community while helping LGBT residents find a faith community where they can be accepted.

“We’re looking to create an environment where people of faith can be better allies,” said Eleanor Hubbard, a sociology instructor at the University of Colorado and membership chair of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Boulder County, known as PFLAG.

So far, workshop participants include pastors and spiritual leaders, members of regional PFLAG chapters and residents from around Boulder County. Residents can register for the conference on the day of the event, too.

“We want to make sure people of faith have the information they need” to reach out and be LGBT advocates and supporters, Hubbard said.

The conference, “Holding Back, Standing Together, Moving Forward,” is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Cairn Christian Church, 1700 Stonehenge Drive in Lafayette.

The conference is a partnership between Cairn Christian Church, the Open Door Fund of the Community Foundation and PFLAG Boulder County.

The conference also aims to discuss the ways LGBT and faith issues sometimes clash in modern society. Several workshops will talk about ways to calmly and respectfully discuss differences, while other workshops will explore the different ways people have interpreted LGBT issues using the scriptures.

Some Boulder County congregations have already publicly decided to include LGBT members, but want to do more to understand and respect their congregants, Hubbard said.

Other congregations want to take the first steps toward becoming publicly open to LGBT members or to address concerns or misunderstandings about the way LGBT people are treated.

Still other congregations are struggling with conflicting views about LGBT members and religious traditions.

Jean Hodges, PFLAG national vice president and a member of Boulder’s First United Methodist Church, said society continues to become more open to LGBT people, but there is much more to do to bridge gaps in understanding.

“Much as there has been progress in the drive for equality on many fronts for LGBT people, religion continues to be a stumbling block for many,” she stated in an email.

Hodges pointed to the recent debate over an Arizona bill that would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay and lesbian customers on the basis religious beliefs.

Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill in February.

“Religion continues to be the major line of defense for those who cannot accept social change that demands equality for all marginalized groups,” Hodges wrote.

Guest speakers at “Holding Back, Standing Together” will include regional PFLAG directors, Cairn Christian Church pastor Charisa Hunter-Crump and national speaker Robert Minor, a professor emeritus in religious studies at the University of Kansas.

Minor travels the country to speak about gender issues, relationships between gay and straight people and relationships between religious organizations and the LGBT community. He leads workshops on gender roles, homophobia and racism for universities, churches, businesses and other groups throughout the United States.

A related church service will be at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St. A PFLAG meeting with Minor will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Longmont, 350 11th Ave.

For more information about the conference, call Hubbard at 303-817-6536 or visit pflagboulder.org.

Megan Quinn writes a weekly faith column. Contact her at 303-410-2649 or quinnm@dailycamera.com

Article source: http://www.dailycamera.com/religion/ci_25499214/megan-quinn-faith-lgbt-groups-host-conference?source=rss

Is Jackson the State's Next LGBT Rights Frontier?

Friday, April 4th, 2014

photo

By Trip Burns

In reaction to the passage of SB 2681, also known as the “Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” LGBT advocates marched to the Capitol at noon Thursday.

photo

By Trip Burns

Speakers at the protest, many of them leaders of LGBT groups and several reverends, pleaded unsuccessfully with Gov. Phil Bryant to reject the bill due to its discriminatory nature.

With recent actions of Mississippi lawmakers and other statewide policymakers that could lead to wider discrimination against LGBT individuals, cities are leading the way for protection of LGBT rights.

Already, three of the state’s college towns passed resolutions affirming the rights of LGBT citizens.

Could Jackson—the state’s largest city and seat of government—be next?

The Jackson Free Press asked several of the candidates who are now seeking the mayor’s seat whether they would support a resolution in the mold of those passed in Starkville, Hattiesburg and Oxford—a timely question in the wake of SB 2681, the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon has made the strongest statements of any of the major candidates in the field, writing on her Facebook page Thursday after Gov. Phil Bryant signed SB2681 into law:

“It is a fundamental question not only of civil rights, but of basic human decency,” Barrett-Simon stated. “We are all equal members of this community, and every person—regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or background—deserves to be treated with the same measure of dignity and respect. Doing so, through official policy where necessary, will be an unyielding principle of my administration.”

Barrett-Simon said while the details would need to be worked out, she would be interested in the creation of an ordinance that would provide protection.

Ward 2 Councilman and City Council President Melvin Priester Jr. stopped short of endorsing a pro-LGBT city resolution or ordinance in his interview with the JFP, saying he is opposed to discrimination of any kind. He also said that he has been working to create a human-rights commission modeled after ones that have been created in other Mississippi cities that will help give protection to “a variety of people.”

“I am opposed to discrimination, whether it’s against black people, whether it’s against women, whether it’s against gay or lesbian or transgendered people,” Priester said.

Attorney Regina Quinn said in an interview with the JFP that an LGBT resolution for the City of Jackson would be “premature.”

“I don’t espouse with any organization before you see some evidence of discrimination. If there is discrimination, yes, we will weed that out first hand in seeing it, but it just seems that until you see that, it would be premature to do it,” she said. “Now, what happened in Arizona (its “religious freedom law”)—clearly objectionable, and it was just an absolute wrong thing to do. … Creating laws in anticipation of some violation, just me as a lawyer and the way I’ve handled things throughout my life, I would say that when we see that then yes, it may be time to do something at that point.”

Chokwe Antar Lumumba said that although he has not spoken with any organized groups of the LGBT community, he is a supporter of human rights for all people and would be interested in seeing a proposal for a solution.

“I’m for human rights for human beings. So anything that supports human rights—that’s what I’m in favor of. That’s actually a principle of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement … I have not (spoken with members of the LGBT community). I would have to see the proposal, but I would make the statement that no one is going to be discriminated against,” Lumumba said.

Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber said that although he would not look for ways to suppress anyone, he doesn’t believe an LGBT resolution is the answer to the problem. Although Yarber did not propose a clear alternative, he did he say, however, that he would ensure as mayor that the best people, no matter their sexual preference, were selected for jobs.

“As a pastor, I think the response that most people would respect is that I would say, ‘No, we’re not doing that,’” Yarber said. “As a pastor, quite frankly, my responsibility is to preach against sin and to absolutely denounce the degradation of human rights. There’s no way in the world I would look at a way to suppress anyone. Quite frankly, I think it’s sad that they would have to have a resolution to get recognized as a group of people in a democratic society. So, I think the resolution is ceremonial and it’s nice, but it ain’t the answer. The answer is, ‘What can I do as a mayor to be sure … if there’s a lesbian who can lead the public works department, then come on.’ Because we want the best and brightest people.”

Former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said that while he is not familiar with the specifics of the resolutions passed in other cities, he would be open to the possibility of any resolution that that aids in nondiscriminatory practices.

“I believe and support nondiscriminatory practices,” Johnson said, “and that includes the LGBT community.”

The JFP did not ask state Sen. John Horhn his position on LGBT ordinance during his endorsement interview, but a firestorm of controversy ignited when Horhn was the only member of the Jackson Senate delegation to vote for SB 2681, a controversial bill that civil-liberties experts fear is tantamount to legal discrimination.

Horhn said on his Facebook page that he was absent from the Senate chamber when SB 2681 was called for a vote.

“I was away from the Senate chamber during part of the debate on SB 2681, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Horhn wrote on Facebook. “Because there was no roll call vote on the issue, and I was out of the Chamber when the final vote was made, I am recorded as having voted in support of the bill. I am not in favor of SB 2681 because I believe it is bad for business in Mississippi and not needed. We already enjoy religious freedom in Mississippi; we just need to practice more reconciliation with one another. “

In the Senate, most votes are taken with use of the daily roll call. The chair asks if any senators want to vote no and the clerk records the rest of the senators as yes votes unless a voice vote is requested. There was no voice vote on SB 2681 nor did any senators request one. Horhn was the only member of the Jackson delegation voting in favor of the bill, which Gov. Phil Bryant signed Thursday. The other Jackson senators—Democratic Sens. Hill Frazier, Sollie Norwood and David Blount—voted against the bill.

In reaction to the passage of SB 2681, also known as the “Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” LGBT advocates marched to the Capitol at noon Thursday.

Speakers at the protest, many of them leaders of LGBT groups and several reverends, pleaded unsuccessfully with Gov. Phil Bryant to reject the bill due to its discriminatory nature. Many of the speakers from the LGBT community criticized the bill, saying that Christians have no need of any more protection from discrimination in Mississippi than they already have.

“Who is protecting us from the religious?” asked Constance Gordon, youth advocacy coordinator for ACLU of Mississippi. “Where is our protection? I can look around probably anywhere in Mississippi—turn 360 degrees—and see 360 churches. … If you can go on every corner and see a church, I don’t think that you (religious people) are being targeted.”

Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, has fought against the bill. “If you have never been discriminated against, you don’t know how that feels. If you have never been discriminated against, you don’t know how to feel discrimination. I urge you to vote against this bill because it legalizes discrimination,” he said on the Senate floor.

Although Simmons was unable to attend, many speakers agreed with him and accused the bill’s potential to encourage discrimination as a harkening back to Jim Crow legislation.

“SB 2681 is the living embodiment of everything the Old South represents,” said Brandiilyne Dear, president of The Dandelion Project.

The Rev. Todd Allen, present on behalf of the local PFLAG (Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter, said on the Capitol steps that that preachers who support SB 2681 are only setting the LGBT community back.

“This legislation is very sneaky attack to try to put us back into the closet,” Allen said.

R.L. Nave contributed to this story.

Article source: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2014/apr/04/jackson-states-next-lgbt-rights-frontier/

   
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