Gay musician Corporate Christ has released a documentary he made about his life growing up, struggling with depression and Schizophrenia. From being bullied as a teenager to developing a bowel disease that nearly killed him, Corporate Christ explains how he took strength by the experiences he went through.
During the last two weeks of September, Azerbaijani police launched a violent campaign of “arresting and torturing men presumed to be gay or bisexual, as well as transgender women,” according to Human Rights Watch and local advocacy organizations. On Oct. 2, by all accounts, police released all the detainees, officially acknowledging that 83 had been detained. Local advocacy organizations claim that beatings, electroshock, coercion, blackmail and other abuses were carried out based entirely on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Azerbaijan is “the worst place to be gay in Europe,” the 2015 and 2016 Rainbow Europe reports by ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) concluded. The LGBT community in Azerbaijan has no legal protection. But for the most part, the state leaves the community alone – except when police extort money from individuals, often sex workers. The state can ignore the community because families routinely and effectively stigmatize, discourage and punish deviations from societal rules. So when the state does intervene, as it did in September, there’s usually a motive.
Why the September crackdown?
Early in September, an investigative journalism coalition called the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) released a report on something called the Azerbaijani Laundromat, apparently a slush fund that for two years laundered $2.9 billion in cash that helped Azerbaijani elites and officials buy luxury goods and that paid European lobbyists and politicians to support Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan reacted to the report by attacking the OCCRP, linking it to American Hungarian financier George Soros. European politicians called for investigations.
Separately, on September 12, more than 20 international human rights organizations sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling for sanctions against the Baku chief of police for abusing political prisoners. The head of the Council of Europe called for legal action against Azerbaijan over its refusal to release one such prisoner, despite being ordered to do so by the European Court of Human Rights. On Sept.ember26, two U.S. congressmen introduced legislation charging Azerbaijan with human rights abuses and calling on the U.S. government to respond.
In response, Azerbaijan renewed its anti-Western campaign.
Why target the LGBT community?
Historically, Azerbaijan’s anti-Western campaigns targeted civil society and pro-democracy groups. This time, the regime targeted the LGBT community, more vulnerable in the Trump era. The LGBT community is also widely disliked in Azerbaijan; it’s a group no one is willing to defend.
Survey research in Azerbaijan is challenging because citizens self-censor and the government interferes. Nonetheless, when asked, Azerbaijanis express very negative attitudes toward LGBT people. In a 2012 nationally representative survey, 63 percent of adult Azerbaijanis said they would not like to have neighbors of a different sexual orientation, and 72 percent said they would not like to have neighbors who have AIDS. The World Values Survey, collected in Azerbaijan in 2011-2012, reports that 93 percent of Azerbaijani adults believe that homosexuality is “never justifiable,” with a mean of 1.19 on a scale of 1 to 10. Similarly, a 2011 Pew study finds, that, when asked, 92 percent of self-identifying Azerbaijani Muslims say that homosexual behavior is morally wrong.
That’s how the Azerbaijani government is portraying the recent attacks on gay people and trans women. Pro-government media explicitly describe the raids as measures to “prevent acts contrary to national and spiritual values,” associating these individuals with sex work. In an interview with Eurasianet, a Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesman said:
“The main reason for such raids was the numerous appeals from the residents of the capital. People complain that such people walk around us, walk in our streets, and sit in our cafés. ‘These are people who do not fit our nation, our state, our mentality, please take action against them.'”
Gay men and trans women are framed as a health risk. Edenborg explains that LGBT people are characterized as not only a moral threat, but also a health risk. In Azerbaijan, much of the early official response claimed that nearly all detained have several sexually transmitted infections, although the most recent statement said that fewer than 40 percent had at least one. The Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesman said, “This once again proves that both our citizens’ concerns and the actions we take about it are justified. It is important for the health of our people. Those who have diseases are being isolated from society.”
Attacking LGBT people may shore up the government’s relationship with the Muslim majority. Further, although Azerbaijan is an officially secular country, religiosity is growing – which the government considers one of the strongest threats to the regime. The LGBT raids let the regime display a commitment to protecting spiritual values and nod toward the country’s Islamic religious groups, a faction with whom it has had a challenging relationship.
This is a particularly sensitive time for that relationship. Political commentator and religious history scholar Altay Goyushov notes that the LGBT raids come during Muharram, one of the holiest times in the Islamic calendar, which may be an effort to appease religious groups.
Finally, the LGBT raids are a boon to the government in that they further marginalize and divide the opposition. No one, not even human rights and pro-democracy groups, can afford to defend the LGBT community, according to Azerbaijani LGBT advocates, and the raids prompted heated social media debates between LGBT advocates and opposition figures. Creating drama within the opposition is a favorite authoritarian tool for social control, particularly in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan, ironically, brands itself “the land of tolerance,” notoriously sponsoring op-eds making the same claim. By finding a hated and indefensible target, the regime wins. The domestic benefits of these raids profoundly outweigh any international costs.
Pearce is an assistant professor in the department of communication at the University of Washington. She studies technology and inequality in the South Caucasus. For other commentary from The Monkey Cage, an independent blog anchored by a group of political scientists from universities around the country, see www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage
Taken From HoustonChronicle.Com
Their talks put them in a bubble. During those moments, war and bloodshed did not exist.
One last night
Living in the shadows
“I was shaking so hard,” Allami says. “I asked the embassy person to repeat again just to be sure.”
A new chapter
Taken from Edition.CNN.Com
Conservative campaigners in the country are gearing up for a referendum that could put the country on a collision course with Brussels.
BUCHAREST — Romania is gearing up to hold a referendum to amend the constitution to prohibit gay marriage, a move that civil rights groups warn could put the country on an “illiberal” path alongside the likes of Hungary and Poland.
Romania’s civil code forbids same-sex marriage, and civil partnerships — whether between heterosexual or gay partners — are not legal. But the constitution’s gender-neutral formulation on marriage, which defines it as a union “between spouses,” has left the legislative door open to legalizing gay marriage.
“This is an issue of immense depth,” Liviu Dragnea, leader of the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the most powerful politician in Romania, told reporters last month, pledging to quickly amend the constitution. “Even if some of my colleagues in Brussels are unhappy with what is happening in Romania, we will make it happen.”
The planned vote — which could be held as early as November — is the result of a campaign by “Coalition for Family,” which brings together more than 40 groups, many of them religious or describing themselves as “pro-life.” With the backing of the influential Orthodox Church, the organization collected 3 million signatures (Romania’s population is 20 million) in just a few months in 2015, enough to take the initiative to parliament.
“We have the constitutional right and moral obligation to defend the family from those tendencies of modern society which diminish its importance and accelerate its degradation,” says the Coalition for Family’s website.
All major political parties in Romania have expressed support for the constitutional change, with the exception of newcomer Union to Save Romania(USR), and the initiative is expected to be approved in parliament. The government has said it wants to call a popular referendum as soon as November, but the Constitutional Court’s announcement this week that it would analyze the law’s compatibility with the rest of constitution may push back the date of the vote.
As long as participation exceeds 30 percent of the electorate, a vote in favor will give the green light to constitutional change, undoing decades of campaigning by LGBTQ groups in Romania and possibly putting the country on a collision course with Brussels.
“This referendum is evidence of Romania’s moving in an illiberal direction,” said Vlad Viski, the president of MozaiQ, one of Romania’s largest LGBTQ rights groups.
Romania’s referendum against marriage equality is not the first of its kind in the region.
In Croatia, a group called “In the Name of the Family” collected 750,000 signaturesin 2013 to launch a referendum that successfully amended the country’s constitution to stipulate that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman.
In 2015, the “Alliance for Family” mobilized Slovakians to trigger a referendum to restrict the family rights of gay people, but the vote eventually failed because of low turnout. That same year, Slovenia’s “Children are at Stake” group used a referendum to block the government’s plan to legalize gay marriage. (The country passed the legislation this year.)
Efforts to prohibit gay marriage also tend to go hand-in-hand with campaigns to remove sexual education classes and restrict abortion rights.
Similar efforts to mobilize citizens to restrict gay rights have taken place in Georgia, Bulgaria, France and elsewhere across Europe. In many cases, U.S. religious groups have played an active role in their campaigns.
Romania’s Coalition received legal assistance from the international chapters of several U.S.-based conservative Christian groups, including the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Liberty Counsel. In the U.S., both have been designated as anti-LGBTQ hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The international chapters of both organizations submitted pro-referendum legal opinions to Romania’s Constitutional Court while the body assessed whether the civic initiative could be considered by parliament.
In response to repeated requests for comment for this article, the Coalition responded with three internet links — one to an article about alleged attacks on pro-lifers, another to a video of a kink festival, and another to an article about propaganda. It gave no further information.
Liberty Counsel’s vice president of legal affairs, Horatio Mihet, said his organization “provided legal support and shared lessons we have learned while advocating for natural marriage in the United States and elsewhere.” Andreas Thonhauser, a spokesman for ADF International, said that the group also gave legal expertise to other countries in the region that requested help.
Local churches — be it the Orthodox Church in Romania or the Catholic Church in Slovakia or Croatia — were also involved in recent anti-LGBTQ rights campaigns.
Efforts to prohibit gay marriage also tend to go hand-in-hand with campaigns to remove sexual education classes from school curricula and restrict abortion rights.
Academics from Central and Eastern Europe, including feminist historian Andrea Peto from the Central European University in Budapest, have argued that this type of initiative constitutes an “anti-gender movement” that targets not only LGBTQ people but also takes aim at women and people who don’t fit into their conception of a “natural, traditional” family pattern.
“They do politics, they are lobbyists,” Peto said of the movement’s campaigners across the region. “They rely on transnational know-how, borrow talking points and transfer symbols, concepts and ideas.”
“The American groups have been promoting these themes for a long time, also outside of Europe, but in the last five years or so they became very active in Eastern Europe where they seem to have found fertile ground,” said Viski, of MozaiQ.
Despite Eastern European countries’ accession to the EU, most are still plagued with social inequality and have not attained the prosperity they expected as European citizens. The resulting frustration has made them a fertile breeding ground for conservative social and political movements.
Self-styled illiberal regimes such as Viktor Orbán’s in Hungary and Jarosław Kaczyński’s in Poland have honed a political formula that strategically builds support among lower-income classes with targeted economic measures and pushes a socially conservative agenda rooted in a nationalist narrative of defending the nation from outside threats: refugees, gay people, feminists.
The fight against “gender ideology” — or “sexo-Marxists,” as liberals defending gay rights in Romania have been labeled — fits into this narrative, with illiberal regimes claiming to be protectors of traditional family values.
Since Orbán became prime minister in 2010, Hungary has changed its basic law to protect a fetus’ life from conception and to restrict the definition of marriage to a union of a heterosexual couple.
Earlier this year, Orbán hosted the World Congress of Families, a U.S.-founded global coalition of religious groups that opposes gay rights, abortion and sex education. It was the first time a government hosted the annual congress, which has taken place since 1997 and is widely thought to be the influence behind stringent anti-gay laws in Russia.
In Poland, the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has declared war on what it calls “gender ideology” — which it portrays as an imposition from Brussels — and has introduced an education reform bill that would eliminate anti-discrimination education in schools and promote “education for family life.” The government has also cut support for female victims of domestic violence.
Last year, conservative legal group Ordo Iuris collected close to half-a-million signatures to further restrict Poland’s abortion legislation. The proposal was rejected in parliament after tens of thousands of women took to the streets in protest, but Poland still has some of the most restrictive abortion laws on the Continent.
Unlike in Poland and Hungary — where a push for “traditional family values” is part of the ruling parties’ conservative agenda — the Romanian group’s effort to block same-sex marriage is a novelty in the country.
Romania is, overwhelmingly, a conservative country. Until 2001, it was illegal in Romania for same-sex couples to hold hands or express any other sign of affection, which was considered indecent exposure in public. The law changed as part of Romania’s EU accession process.
The Coalition for Family describes itself as a “pro-family group,” saying its main objective is for Romania to have “as many families as possible, as long-lasting and numerous as possible, and to ensure to their members a proper economic, social, psycho-emotional environment … and to ensure the continuity and demographic, economic, social and cultural development of the nation.”
The group has proposed measures that would increase economic support for traditional families, including subsidized housing for young couples and early retirement for full-time mothers, and would cut state funds that go toward elective abortions.
No matter the result of the upcoming referendum on the definition of marriage, the Coalition for Family and its Christian conservative backers have already changed the terms of the debate by portraying it as a fight between those who defend “the natural family” and “the Brussels-supported, [George] Soros-financed” NGOs, said historian Dan Cirjan.
“In Poland and Hungary, the political space has been defined in a similar way,” Cirjan said. “As an opposition between the ugly forces of globalization and the white cavaliers of tradition and ‘Christian Europe.’”
An illiberal turn
In Romania, the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD), by far the most popular party, has been cutting its teeth on the illiberal formula. The party ramped up the nationalist rhetoric in the run-up to the 2016 general election and since coming to power, it has tried to bring the judiciary under its control in order to safeguard the interests of corrupt party members.
“There’s a high risk that Romania will go the way of Hungary,” political scientist Cristian Pirvulescu, the founder of Respect, a campaign opposing efforts to outlaw gay marriage, said in an interview published on Respect’s Facebook page.
“We cannot separate the referendum from the Romanian government’s judiciary reforms, which would transform judges into terrified agents of the state,” he said, noting Romania has also become susceptible to rhetoric demonizing philanthropist George Soros and has started looking at tightening control over NGOs, much like in Hungary.
“These are all attacks on the liberal philosophy of democratic states and they come together. What happened in Russia is being reproduced here, in Hungary, Poland and Romania,” he warned.
Some effects of the referendum campaign in Romania are already visible. LGBTQ rights group MozaiQ reported an increase in violent attacks against gay people since the referendum campaign started in 2015.
Still, the group’s leader struck a note of optimism.
“The LGBTQ community and its allies have been forced to mobilize more,” said Viski. “We’ve had more protest actions and bigger participation in Pride marches, and there is more support expressed for the legalization of civil partnership.”
“This has — paradoxically — opened up opportunities.”
Taken from Politico.Eu
Karsten P. empties a test tube filled with metal pieces into the palm of his hand. They’re the tiny screws and bolts that held his face together after he and his partner Sven were violently assaulted in a life-changing attack outside their local store.
Taken from Edition.CNN.com
Amid protests outside of Little Caesars Arena calling for his concerts to be cancelled, and accusations of campaign finance violations, Rock received some of his loudest cheers at the inaugural Little Caesars Arena concert on Sept. 12 when he gave fans a mock political speech.
Just one song into the show, Rock left the stage and returned to an introduction: “Ladies and Gentlemen. Will you please welcome, the next Senator of the great state of Michigan, Kid Rock.” Then, “Hail to the Chief” played. A graphic on the screen said “Kid Rock ’18 For U.S. Senate.”
Rock took the podium and delivered this more than four-minute intense speech:
“What’s going on in the world today? Seems the government wants to give everyone health insurance, but wants us all to pay. To be very frank, I really don’t have a problem with that since God has blessed me and made my pockets fat. But, if redistribution of wealth seems more like their plan, then I don’t believe you should save, sacrifice, do things by the book and then have to take care of some dead beat, milking the system, lazy ass @#$#$ man.”
“The issue of struggling single parents is an issue close to my heart. But, read my lips: We should not reward those who can’t even take care of themselves but keep having kid after @##% kid. Of course we should help them out. I don’t want to stand here and sound like a jerk. But let’s help them out with child care, job training and find them a @#$# place to work.”
“And you deadbeat dads who refuse to be a man. Who refuse to be there for your sons and raise them up to be good men. You no-good derelict sperm donor wannabees. I say lock all you a-holes up and throw away all the keys.”
“If you want to take a knee or sit during our Star Spangled Banner, call me a racist because I’m not PC and remind me that Black lives matter. Nazis, @@#% bigots and now the KKK. I say @#$# all you racists. Stay the hell away.”
“And why these days is everything so gay? Gay rights. Transgender this and that. I say let gay folks get married if they want and I’m not even close to a death trap. But things shouldn’t be this complicated. And, no, you don’t get to choose, because whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use.”
“It’s no secret we’re divided and we all should take some blame. We should be ashamed because we all seem scared to call him by his name. (Picture of Jesus appears) So, please almighty Jesus, if you’re looking down tonight, please guide us with your wisdom and give us the strength to fight. To fight the tyrant evils that lurk here and abroad and remind us all we are still just one nation under God.”
“I do believe it to be self-evident that we are all created equal. I said it once, I’ll scream it again. I love black people. And, I love white people. But, neither as much as I love red, white and blue. And, if Kid Rock for Senate has some people in disarray, wait until they hear Kid Rock for President of the U-S-A.”
“Wouldn’t it be a sight to see. President Kid Rock in Washington, D.C. Standing on the desk in the Oval Office like a G. Holding my @#$@ ready to address the whole country. I’d look them straight in the eyes. The eyes of the nation live on TV. And I simply turn. You’ve never met a @#$# quite like me.”
Rock says he is considering a run for U.S. Senate in Michigan. He even has Kid Rock for U.S. Senate shirts available for sale online and at his concerts. In a recent MLive interview, Ted Nugent says Rock has no plans to run for U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, the D.C. based organization Common Cause has accused Rock of violating finance rules. The complaint argues despite the Rock’s statements to the contrary, he should be considered an official candidate based on the merchandise sold and the continued existence of the Kid Rock for Senate website.
Taken from Mlive.com
A few days ago, I read an article in one of the more LGBT-focussed online publications about the Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter JWs) highlighting the fact that they’ve recently put together a selection of films. In amongst them is a film entitled “One Man, One Woman”, that I’d encourage you to watch – it’s currently listed proudly in the ‘Featured’ section of their very slick website. This video purports to be about gay parenting, but it’s really a direct challenge to the first encounter many children will have with gay people – namely classmates with gay parents.
For anyone who thinks they’ve never encountered the JWs before, you probably in fact have. You’re quite likely to have seen a pair of well-dressed inoffensive-looking middle-aged folk, Watchtower magazines in both hands (and on a magazine stand next to them), holding out both hands with a benign expression in an ostentatious gesture of assumed generous benevolence. In London they’re usually outside major train stations like Oxford Circus or Liverpool Street, but you will also find them in high streets around the country, and of course sometimes they’ll even come a-knocking. Most people dismiss them gently but firmly, although some are gentler than others.
I didn’t grow up a JW, but I was brought up by fundamentalist Christians. We had no television, went to church twice a week, and I spent a good portion of my earlier life almost entirely unaware of popular culture. An insular environment like this can have a profound effect on a child, and gives parents a great deal of control over what the child does, thinks, and is exposed to. For me growing up, my parents were my whole world – I hung on their every word, believed it passionately. I’m sure this is the same for many children, but I think for me it was a little more extreme.
Learning how my parents felt about homosexuality (they definitely weren’t on board with the whole thing whatsoever) took me to quite a dark place, especially for an 11-year-old. My parents were very fond of that catchall quotation from 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed”, taking it to mean that every word in the Bible was literally and directly from God. As they gently and kindly explained to me that how I was feeling could be changed, should be changed, and didn’t fit with what God wanted (going so far as in fact to say that it was the moral equivalent of bestiality), I believed every single word. They were quoting from the Bible, which came from God, and so clearly everything they were saying was indubitable, incontestable and I was just wrong somehow. Sounds pretty absolute, doesn’t it?
In this case it was clear to me that I had somehow been programmed wrong, or maybe I just didn’t understand myself properly – so for the next few years I meandered on in something of a grey, periodically suicidal daze.
“This is ridiculous, imagine believing something like this!” is the reaction from the intellectuals, the secularists, even some mainstream Christians, no doubt. The natural way so many people deal with these messages is with dismissal and ridicule. Articles on LGBT websites reporting on the videos take pretty sardonic stances – Pink News refers to a “Creepy Cartoon Mother” and comes to simple conclusion: “Solid parenting.” Sure, it’s good to laugh – but we’re missing something important here.
Taken From Independent.Co.Uk
Corporate Christ is a Musician and Author from Cardiff, UK.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Gays are a contagion, declares the banner in bold red and black lettering that hangs on the sidewalk of a bustling neighborhood in the Indonesian capital close to embassies, luxury hotels and the homes of some of the country’s leaders.
Erected by an ultra-conservative Islamic group, it’s the latest manifestation of a virulent campaign of denigration against gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities that has entered the mainstream and is testing Indonesia’s image for moderation.
Echoing venomous headlines in conservative newspapers, government officials and leaders in areas from psychiatry to religion also have heaped condemnation on homosexuality. The defense minister even said gays and lesbians were a more serious threat to national security than nuclear war.
The fevered atmosphere began emerging in late 2015 when top academics attacked gay support groups at universities. By February it had become an onslaught. Pressure from Islamic hardliners forced the closure of an Islamic boarding school for transgender students in Yogyakarta last month.
“Everyone in society is reading the propaganda of hate,” said Augustine, a veteran lesbian activist who goes by one name. “They forget LGBT are human.”
She said that for several weeks, she has received phone calls late at night or before dawn from men who threaten to kill her if she does not close the advocacy organization she works for.
Augustine said she has not felt so abused over her sexual orientation since she fled her own father’s anti-gay violence in the late 1990s.
Indonesia’s human rights commission has deplored the outpouring of hatred, but President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been silent. He was elected on a platform that included human rights and respect for diversity as a top priority.
Kyle Knight, a researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said it feels like the cause of equality has been set back by a generation. Bigoted officials “actually do ruin people’s lives,” he said.
Among the startling announcements from officials, the minister for technology, research and higher education said LGBT people should not be welcome on university campuses. Harking back to medical theories discredited decades ago, the head of the psychiatry association called homosexuality a mental condition that could be treated, earning a rebuke from professional associations abroad.
Smartphone messaging app Line pulled stickers showing same-sex couples from its Indonesian emoji store in a response to a quixotic order from officials to stop the spread of gay and transgender imagery.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, which is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and embraces both democracy and moderate Islam. Some of the archipelago’s ethnic groups have centuries-old traditions of same-sex love. Transgender women, known as waria, are familiar to many people and extended tolerance by the majority. Some of the stickers abruptly censored by Line were created with the help of waria, whose slang has been widely adopted in popular culture.
But daily life is lived under an uneasy status quo that tolerates LGBT people as long as they are not too visible. Activism has largely focused on areas such as preventing the spread of HIV and reducing social isolation rather than pushing for specific rights such as anti-discrimination measures. Violence has forced some gay people to flee Aceh, a Sumatran province that practices a form of Shariah law and canes people for behavior such as adultery, gambling and drinking alcohol.
Many activists believe conservatives in Indonesia’s ruling circles are unnerved by incremental liberalization in neighboring Southeast Asian countries and the advance of gay rights in Western nations, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last year in favor of same-sex marriage.
Some misunderstand homosexuality as being a disease or cultural trend and fear the idea of an Indonesian gay movement, said Dede Oetomo, who founded Indonesia’s first gay-rights groups in the early 1980s.
A U.N. report in 2014 on the status of gay rights in Asia that estimated Indonesia has more than 100 LGBT groups was probably also unsettling to some a country where ignorance about sexuality is widespread, he said.
“They are afraid LGBT will recruit their children,” said Oetomo.
Some government ministers have grudgingly spoken out against the anti-gay onslaught, saying LBGT Indonesians have the same rights as anyone else.
“We have to treat them as citizens of Indonesia,” said Luhut Pandjaitan, coordinating minister of legal, political and security affairs. “This is something naturally happening. I don’t think we can stop this one. But to contain, we can do it to some extent.”
He said he prays daily that none of his grandchildren are gay because “nobody wants to be like that.”
Groups that represent foreign businesses in Indonesia hope the current controversy will blow over, like previous episodes of social panic about alcohol and prostitution.
Despite being one of biggest economies in the developing world, Indonesia lags behind neighbors such as Singapore and Thailand in attracting foreign investment. If the anti-gay hysteria mounts or produces legal measures at the national level, it could add to perceptions of the country as unpredictable and deter some foreign executives from working in the country.
Oetomo said there are signs the level of hysteria is abating. Republika, a hardline newspaper, has toned down its attacks after activists met with its editors.
Though activists say the onslaught was frightening and wiped away years of progress, in the longer run it may galvanize more activism and be a catalyst for overcoming social isolation.
“LGBT has become a household word,” Oetomo said. “It’s going to be long haul, but in an ironic way, we could thank the bigots.”
Taken from Salon.Com
Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert were sleeping in Gooden’s apartment on February 12 when Martin Blackwell, the boyfriend of Gooden’s mother, walked in. According to Tolbert, Blackwell poured boiling water on the men, causing severe burns that required surgery to treat. Blackwell, who didn’t live in the apartment, told Tolbert, “Get out of my house with all that gay shit.”
“The pain doesn’t let you sleep. It’s just, like, it’s excruciating, 24 hours a day, and it doesn’t go anywhere,” Tolbert told Atlanta’s WSB-TV. “It doesn’t dial down, anything. It’s just there.”
Blackwell said the men were having sex when he poured hot water on them, Sarah Kaplanreported for the Washington Post. But Vickie Gray, a friend of Tolbert’s, said they were sleeping, although the attack wouldn’t be justified if the men were having sex.
Blackwell is currently in jail, charged with two counts of aggravated battery.
Georgia doesn’t have a hate crime law
One charge Blackwell won’t face from Georgia: a hate crime charge.
Like 19 other states in the US, Georgia doesn’t include sexual orientation in its hate crime laws, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
In fact, Georgia has no hate crime law at all. According to the Anti-Defamation League, it joins just four other states that don’t: Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
Still, federal officials are considering hate crime charges, according to WSB-TV. Federal hate crime laws include sexual orientation and gender identity following the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009.
Americans supported the addition: A 2009 Gallup survey found 67 percent of Americans supported including gay and lesbian people in federal hate crime laws.
The FBI reported more than 1,000 incidents of hate crimes in 2014 against someone based on sexual orientation, but the data is likely incomplete for all LGBTQ people. Still, the reported count averages to nearly three incidents of hate crimes based on sexual orientation each day in the US.
Taken from Vox.Com
Kelvin Williams, founder oftelecom company 373Kheadquartered in Georgia, tells Business Insider that he’s already in the process of moving his company to Delaware.
He vowed to move in late February, when Bill 757, dubbed the “First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), initially passed the Georgia Senate. On Wednesday night, the bill was amended and passed by the House and the Senate, and is now headed to Governor Deal, who is being urged by Salesforce and others to veto it.
But Williams, who is gay, isn’t waiting to find out what the governor will do.
“When they passed FADA the first time, we decided to move at that point. Everyone thought it was a threat, but no. We were dead serious,” he said.
His decision to move earned him national attention and he heard from economic development officials all over the country inviting him to move his business to their states.
But Delaware did one better: Governor Jack Markell called Williams. “He extended a personal welcome to Delaware.”
On Thursday, 373K officially “became a Delaware corporation” and in the next couple of days, it will dissolve its Georgia corporate status. It will fully relocate to Delaware within couple of months, he said.
373K is a telecom provider with about 20 employees, and is hiring. Williams says his staff voted on the decision to relocate. Employees won’t be required to move if they want to stay in Georgia. 373K has many remote workers, he says.
And he’s not leaving the state just because he feels personally unwelcome but because he’s concerned for his employees, too, he says.
“One reason we decided to leave is because our employees are from around the world. You name it, we’ve got it here. What I tell people is that, under this law, if it is to become a law, I only have two employees that would be acceptable in the state of Georgia, only two heterosexuals that have only been married once,” he says.
His team includes people of multiple faiths (Muslim, Buddhists, atheists), single divorced parents, and members of the LGBT community, all of whom he fears could be targets of discrimination, or worse, in Georgia’s current political climate.
“The support versus the hate mail, it’s like 99% to 1%. But the hate mail we have gotten reaffirms our decision to leave,” he says.
Taken from UK.BusinessInsider.Com
State will debate legislation this month that would ban the counseling on minors, a practice psychologists say can lead to depression and suicide
The day before Brad Allen planned to kill himself, he had an epiphany. It was September 2012, and the then 31-year-old Colorado pastor had spent years learning from his therapist and church leaders that his same-sex desires were a disease that could be cured.
“I was disordered and embodied toxicity to other people … I had a suicide plan, and I was ready to go through with it,” the Denver man recalled. “But I felt this thought: ‘You are not toxic.’ And that resonated deeper than what I had learned in therapy.”
Allen, now an openly gay worker at a not-for-profit organization, is sharing his story in the hopes that it will inspire state lawmakers to pass legislation this month banning therapists from using “gay conversion therapy” on minors.
But Colorado Republicans and conservative religious groups have mobilized against the proposed ban, even though the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation has been widely discredited as harmful and dangerous, and are expected to defeat it.
Repeating homophobic and scientifically disproven claims about sexual orientation, Republican legislators and backers of “reparative therapy” have argued that this kind of counseling can be effective at enabling LGBT people to live heterosexual lives. And if their efforts to defeat the bill are successful, the state’s licensed professionals will continue to expose queer youth to a methodology that advocates and psychologists say can lead to depression and suicide.
The legislative battle could have national implications as other states explore similar efforts. Some supporters of the ban who have experienced conversion therapy will testify that their parents sent them from across the country to Colorado for the controversial services, which can have long-term negative impacts on mental health.
Colorado Springs, which has a high concentration of evangelical Christian groups, is also the headquarters of Focus on the Family, a Christian conservative organization that does national advocacy work and is a major defender of therapists’ rights to promote what the group calls “sexual orientation change efforts”.
“There are therapists and mental health professionals licensed by the state of Colorado who are harming children,” said Paul Rosenthal, a Democratic state representative who sponsored the bill, which passed a legislative committee this week and is awaiting a vote on the House floor.
“They are still trying to convert people to be a person they are not,” said Rosenthal, who is gay. “Why should we condemn an individual to a lifetime of guilt and shame?”
A handful of states, including California and New Jersey, already ban conversion therapy for minors.
Colorado’s Republican-controlled senate is expected to block the bill from reaching the governor, and Republicans at a recent committee hearing interrogated experts in psychology and LGBT people with a line of questioning that advocates deemed insensitive and offensive.
Representative Kathleen Conti, a Republican, compared being gay to alcoholism, asking psychologists who testified against reparative therapy whether they would help a minor who came to them wanting to overcome the addiction.
Conti further expressed concerns that the bill would prevent professionals from helping LGBT minors who want to “compartmentalize” and suppress same-sex desires, who may say to a therapist: “I feel like I have these homosexual desires, but … I know innately I want to have my own biological children.”
Sarah Musick, 33, said that after she came out, she and her parents in Virginia agreed that she should travel to Colorado Springs for conversion counseling through Focus on the Family – an experience that damaged her for many years. “I felt like I was just this broken, good-for-nothing human that didn’t deserve to be loved,” she said. “I spiraled into a long depression.”
Musick, who still lives in Colorado Springs and is married to a woman and has two children, said she was shocked by Conti’s comments that implied she and others were failures for not successfully completing conversion therapy. “It just triggered so much of the hurtfulness.”
In an interview, Conti defended her comments, saying she was not homophobic and that the bill’s backers are “heterophobic” for proposing a law that would specifically prevent gay youth who want to live heterosexual lives from getting help.
“I have many friends that are gay that I love unconditionally … but I feel there’s a sector of the population that may have these attractions and yet may not want to live that way and would like to follow a different path in their life,” she said. “They have a right, whether they’re a minor or an adult, to pursue their happiness.”
Jeff Johnston, an issues analyst with Focus on the Family, said his organization does not have licensed professionals who currently offer reparative therapy, but said it may refer people with “unwanted homosexuality” to professionals who offer these services.
Johnston dismissed the testimony from those who said the therapy made them suicidal. “Just because a counseling practice doesn’t work for one person doesn’t mean we should ban it for everybody,” he said.
Taken from TheGuardian.Com
Two parents were reported to police following the homophobic comments they made about the school on social media
Carrie Morrow, head of Sacred Heart RC Primary in Atherton, near Wigan, was shocked when a gay-friendly workshop aimed at teaching children about diversity was blasted by parents on Facebook.
The comments, posted by a “small minority”, came after a theatre company performed a fairytale where two princes fall in love.
Writing on Facebook, one dad said he was annoyed when his son came home “talking about gays, saying he had learned about gays.”
Two men were reported to the police by another Facebook user, and have since been spoken to by officers in the area, Manchester Evening News reports.
The head of Sacred Heart says she is proud to be one of the first schools in the area to publicly stand up to homophobia.
Ms Morrow, who has worked at the school for 13 years, said: “We are very proud of what we have done.
“I know for some schools it is not an easy aspect of the curriculum to teach, but our pupils handled it with maturity and sensitivity.
“We have been quite bold and it has not been without some negativity from the community.
“We are not intimidated as we know such homophobic attitudes are in the minority.”
As well as the play, children learned about when it was appropriate to use the word gay, and were asked to design a logo for Wigan’s first Pride festival in August.
Yet Mr Marsh accused the school of ‘social engineering” on Facebook.
In a public post, he wrote: “I think people who promote PC sex to kids below 11 border on paedophilia and are depraved.
“It has nothing to do with gay sex that upset us but the lack of parental consent, a bit like finding the school had decided it has the right to vaccinate your kids for you and did it without your consent because it knows best.”
A GMP spokesman said: “Shortly after 10:25pm on Sunday 28 February 2016, police were called to reports that a number of homophobic comments had been made on Facebook.
“This was investigated as a hate incident but it was determined that the comments did not amount to a criminal offence.
“Local resolution officers spoke to all parties involved and advised two men of their future conduct on social media.”
Taken from Mirror.co.uk
High school students, who sparked outrage after they started wearing anti-gay stickers on their identity badges, have been told to take the images off ‘for now’.
The symbols in question show a rainbow pattern crossed out with a red circle and a line.
They started popping up in the hallways three weeks ago, prompting concern by classmates and teachers.
Both anti-gay stickers and pro-gay rights symbols were allowed as a matter of free speech at Shadow Hills High School in Indio, California, according to The Desert Sun and FOX News.
But Superintendent Gary Rutherford said new information instigated an additional review he said on Monday but didn’t say what the new information was.
‘Recently some information has been brought forward that requires additional investigation and follow-up to determine a proper course of action.
‘Pending further investigation, we are going to ask students who are displaying the symbol showing a rainbow pattern with a circle and a line, at least for now, to remove symbols while at school,’ Rutherford wrote.
Faculty at Shadow Hills High School in Indio, California, had insisted they couldn’t force the teenagers to remove the labels because it would violate their right to freedom of speech.
However, federal courts allow some limits on student speech, allowing schools to prohibit items like banners and T-shirts that mentioned drug use.
People also slammed the labels as homophobic when images of them were uploaded to Facebook.
The school initially released a statement to the Desert Sun when the symbols started cropping up saying: ‘After consulting with district level personnel and our legal counsel, it was determined that these students do have the protected right to freedom of speech, just as students portraying rainbows in support of the LGBT would.
‘If at any point students are interrupting class time to express their beliefs, they are to be sent to the discipline office with a referral for disruption.
‘We all have a right to freedom of speech, but students also have a right to be educated without fear. This has always been our policy, and we will continue to enforce it.’
In response to the anti-gay stickers, students including eighth-grader Paige Labayog started coloring in rainbow smiley faces to wear on their ID badges.
Some teachers have also gone against their school district, insisting they aren’t happy with the decision.
Amy Oberman, an AP U.S. History teacher at Shadow Hills, told the newspaper: ‘Yes, there is freedom of speech established by Tinker, but at least in my view, it’s a hate crime because a group was targeted.
‘I’m Jewish, and if that had been a little swastika on my window, what’s the difference?’
Michelle Bachman, a senior at Shadow Hills and vice president of the Gay Straight Alliance, said she feels the anti-gay symbols ‘rise to the level of bullying and intimidation.’
‘This group of students was publicly displaying an intolerance and hate for the LGBT community when a large portion of our students at SHHS are part of the community or close to people a part of it as well,” Bachman said on Twitter through a direct message conversation with The Desert Sun. “This is definitely hate speech, but legally, we can’t do anything until these students start to physically harass us, which I believe is an injustice.
Taken from DailyMail.Co.Uk
After the Kenya Film Classification Board banned a music video depicting same sex relationships by Kenyan band Art Attack, the band members have come out to defend themselves.
KFCB banned the video titled Same Love (Remix) because “it does not adhere to the morals of the country”.
In an email interview with Word Is, Art Attack said: “Obviously, someone alerted KFCB about the video. It’s that simple, really. Either that or they stalk me. And were among the first people to watch it after it dropped. Kidding, they must have heard it from the grapevine, really. And then sprung to action.”
What went through your head when they banned it? “Nothing. I expected a ban anyway. I was actually surprised it took that long — a week — for them to eventually ban it. So I wasn’t surprised. Bans happen all the time. These are the same guys who banned 50 Shades of Grey, right? And still allow us to watch Empire, Haves and Have Nots and other shows with a strong gay narrative? Hmmm. OK.”
The group of rappers under the Art Attack umbrella are not featured in the music video. It features known LGBT faces like Noti Flow, Joji Baro, Binyavanga Wainaina and the late South African music legend Brenda Fassie.
“I was inspired by Michael Jackson’s decision not to feature in music videos for his social conscience songs ‘Cry’ and ‘Heal the World’. I followed the same pattern. And stayed away from the video myself,” he said.
They added that KFCB has not seen the last of them, as they have ‘big plans’. “We can’t divulge what’s in store. Surely, you will have to wait and watch it happen. KFCB’s ban is not the end of the narrative. But the interesting start. We’re emboldened. And will be rolling out hotter stuff in no time.”
In conclusion, the group noted: “What adults do in the confines of their bedroom is their own business. Not anyone else’s. Not the government’s. Nor the public’s. And certainly not the business of Twitter users. Live and let live. As for the Bible-quoting bigots, start a church. We are not listening.”
By the time we went to press, the banned video had more than 110,000 views on YouTube.
Taken from The-Star.Co.Ke
Danny McLaughlan fired off an email to firms at Rainton Bridge Business Park with an image attached telling workers he found the bar of soap to be “inappropriate”.
The novelty £5 bar is available for sale in numerous gift retail outlets, including Amazon and eBay.
Mr McLaughlan’s email informed workers the offending soap had been removed – and told staff to contact him if they wanted it back.
He also called for a cull of other toilet products that had been left by staff members in Alexander House on the Houghton park, where the Echo is based.
But the call backfired because staff and gay rights campaigners found the email and stance “offensive”.
It is understand the soap had been given to a gay staff member at the park as a gift and they put it in the toilet for everyone to use.
One worker said: “How can this be inappropriate?””
“It’s just ridiculous. We found his email inappropriate and offensive.”
“Why is he offended by the word gay on a bar of soap?”
“The whole ‘soap police’ thing is just barmy anyway.”
“It’s jobsworth attitude and over-zealous.”
“Who has got time to worry about soap and deodorant left in a toilet?”
When contacted by the Echo, Mr McLaughlan declined to comment and asked us to contact his manager.
James Millson, associate director of CBRE Ltd, which manages the building, said: “The park manager’s email makes reference to a number of items, the bar of soap probably being the most easily identifiable.
“The point being made in the email is that the items being left in the common toilets, which are shared with other users of the building, are not in keeping with consistent and corporate image that we aim to provide across the estate.
“We would have been removing any items ‘bars of soap’ irrespective of the slogan, brand or design and the point being made here is that the ‘random products’ being dispersed around the common parts are not in keeping with the management strategy for the building.
“In short there is no discriminatory agenda here, only a desire to provide premises to our tenants that are clean, smart and in keeping with the expectations of our client, tenants and visitors.”
Mark Nichols, chairman of Northern Pride, said: “It’s a bit like anything when it’s taken out of context, it could be used perfectly well, but could be taken to be insulting. It’s like saying ‘I’m gay’ and then ‘You’re so gay.
“The LGBT community use the word gay, there’s nothing wrong with saying gay.
“Everybody uses it all the time, so there shouldn’t be a problem with it.
“If he had just said ‘Please don’t leave personal items’ then fine, it would have been a bit petty.
“He doesn’t say the word gay is offensive but the fact is he has singled it out, that one item.
“He could have sent a picture of the make up bag and said this shouldn’t be left in the bathroom.”
Alisdair Cameron, North East-based Pride in Mind, a mental health support group, said: “Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or any other sexuality or sexual identity is ordinary and a healthy part of life.
“Humour and self-mockery is also ordinary and again a healthy part of life.
“Somewhere down the line in this story, someone lost sight that both of these things are true, and that one does not negate the other.”
Taken from Sunderlandecho.com