Central PA's LGBT News Source
Castro's daughter marches on capital
Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro recently led a march through the Cuban capital that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. More than 2,000 people marched from the Havana’s oceanfront to the Habana Libre hotel in the Vedado neighborhood.
She directs Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education that is known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX.
A delegation of American LGBTQ advocates, organized by Cuban-American civil-rights attorney Tico Almeida, included Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute think tank at UCLA Law School; trans activist Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland; and Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.
Reverse Course on Cuba?
Andrea Mitchell of NBC News has reported that President Trump may reverse warmer relations with Cuba. A move to previous policies could once again limit travel to the Communist island and tighten trade regulations, although it not expected that Trump would cut diplomatic ties with Cuba or close the U.S. Embassy in Havana that reopened in August 2015.
Trump opponent then endorser U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Havana and left Cuba with her family after Fidel Castro came to power in the 1959 Cuban revolution, are critics of the normalization of relations.
Malaysia Gay 'prevention' Competition Seeks Videos
A competition launched on the Malaysian health ministry's website offers up to $1,000 for the best videos tackling "gender confusion" and help with "preventing" homosexuality.
Responding to an outcry from LGBT activists, the health ministry said that its aim was to promote creativity, not to discriminate. The contest is for 13- to 24-year-olds. Their entries should explore prevention and control; issues and consequences; and how to get help, said the ministry's website.
In a statement, Deputy Director-General of Health Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said: "This creative video competition is purely to tap knowledge and creativity of adolescents on sexual and reproductive health related matters and does not intend to create discrimination to any particular group."
The guidelines cited gay and lesbian people, transgender people and tomboys as examples of people who suffered from "gender confusion". Homosexual activity is illegal in Malaysia under both secular and religious laws. It is punishable by a prison sentence or corporal punishment.
Warsaw: Thousands March
Warsaw residents marched in support of gay rights June 4. Out of 49 European countries, Poland is 37th on a scale of support for LGBT rights. "Homophobia causes heart illness," one banner read. The 17th annual 'Equality Parade' took place as Poland's conservative government continues to oppose civil unions for same-sex couples. Organizers put the number at 50,000, while the police said 13,000 attended the parade, with 40 foreign embassies, including those of France and the US, expressing their support.
The parade was intended to "draw attention to the rights of LGBT people, fight discrimination and promote acceptance of same-sex unions," with people also marching in support of people with disabilities, religious minorities other marginalized groups, the organizers said. Poland's constitution is one of seven in the EU to ban gay marriage and the country is one of six in the 28-member bloc not to allow same-sex civil unions.
China Forces Close of Conference, Organizers Detained
Speak Out 2017, an LGBT conference, was cancelled after Chinese authorities told organizers that LGBT events were not welcome in the city, said organizers. Xi’an Police detained the event organizers for eight hours on June 4, according to the event web site.
“In those eight hours, we were completely cut off from the world – we were clearly told, ‘LGBT events can never be held in Xi’an,’ ‘Xi’an does not welcome LGBT events,’ and other such warnings,” the 2017 Xi’an conference’s curator wrote.
Organizers were forced to turn over their mobile phones, administrator access to their systems, passwords, and a list of speakers to authorities, according to the web site. They were not permitted to contact anyone.
Grindr Now Chinese Owned
A little-known Chinese tech company, game developer Beijing Kunlun Tech, has agreed to pay $240 million for the popular gay/bi hook-up web site Grindr. so that it can become fully involved in the daily operations of the world’s largest gay social media app, as it expands and builds a loyal user base beyond China.
The takeover comes at a time when China, the world’s most populous nation but lagging the West in achieving equal legal status for its homosexual citizens, is cultivating a lucrative industry catering to the social needs of the gay community. Grindr, founded in 2009 in the United States, is the world’s largest LGBT social-network application, counting over 27 million registered users across 196 countries and territories across the world.
Five activists detained
Five activists were arrested in Moscow recently while attempting to deliver a petition demanding Russian authorities investigate the kidnapping and torture of gay men in Chechnya.
Several dozen men have been detained and tortured by authorities in Chechnya in the past few months, according to reports by the Russian independent news outlet Novaya Gazeta. Chechnya is a semi-autonomous region inside Russia, and its leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, responded to the reports by saying "we have never had gay men" in the republic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he'd order federal authorities to assist in an investigation after being pressed on the issue by German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month, but there is concern whether this investigation will be allowed to do its work.
ICE Transfers Transgender Detainees to New Mexico
Joey Peters reports that a group of transgender women detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were recently transferred to New Mexico from a detention center in California.
In a detention center in Milan, the women are housed in a pod together. ICE transferred the dozen or so women in early May to Cibola County Detention Center in Milan from a similar facility in Santa Ana, California, where ICE made its first dedicated transgender module. Since then, advocacy organizations for immigrants and transgender rights in New Mexico have taken notice.
Adrian Lawyer, co-director of the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, said his organization reached out to the detainees and recently toured the Cibola County facility. At press time, no one in the organization had talked to the women.
Hungary Welcomes US 'anti-LGBT hate group'
Hungary’s rightwing government has opened a potential new front in its war of words with Brussels by hosting a lavish international gathering for an American Christian organization that has been accused of being anti-LGBT hate group with links to the Kremlin. The 11th World Congress of Families (WCF) summit meeting kicked off in Budapest with a typically pugnacious speech by Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, who accused the European Union of being dominated by a “relativizing liberal ideology that’s an insult to families”.
The four-day pro-family extravaganza – which will be attended by 3,000 delegates and will include events at the national parliament and other venues of symbolic importance – is the latest episode in Orban’s quest to position himself as a self-styled defender of “European Christian values”, a role he has used to justify his Fidesz government’s draconian treatment of mainly Muslim refugees and migrants.
Equality Act Re-introduced
Sponsored by United States Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) and United States Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), the federal Equality Act bill seeks to explicitly ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBT) people in federal law. The legislation would also include protections against sex discrimination in laws regarding public accommodations and federal funding.
“Everyone, regardless of who they are or the person they love, deserves equal protection under the law. Despite the significant progress we’ve made toward equality in the last decade, the Trump Administration’s attacks on LGBT people shows just how swiftly many of these hard-fought changes can be rolled back. That is why we need strong federal non-discrimination legislation for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, publicly funded programs, access to credit, and jury service,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.
The NGBTQ Task Force convenes Creating Change annually. Central Voice was a Media sponsor this year when the event was held in Phila.
HRC Turns Down Bank of America Money
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT rights group has rejected $325,000 in Bank of America sponsorships to protest the role bank executives played in brokering a replacement for North Carolina’s anti-gay House Bill 2.
The Human Rights Campaign also slashed its Corporate Equality Index scores for the bank and for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, which also took part in the talks. The score measures corporate support for policies that affect LGBT employees.
Andrea Smith, the bank’s chief administrative officer, and Charles Bowman, the North Carolina market president, were part of a small group of business leaders who helped negotiate the bill that repealed HB2 – known as “the bathroom bill.” The new measure, HB 142, prevents local governments from enacting LGBT protections for four years.
Log Cabin Republicans Briefs Education Dept.
Transgender Log Cabin Republicans members and LCR President Gregory T. Angelo personally presented the United States Department of Education (DOE) with a white paper and briefed DOE officials on the importance of guaranteeing equal access for transgender pupils in public schools.
The white paper, Transgender Student Safety & Equality for All Students, was produced in conjunction with Liberty Education Forum, the non-partisan sister think tank of Log Cabin Republicans, and is available online at this link. It is the product of more than two months of work by Log Cabin Republicans Transgender Leadership Caucus members Jordan Evans, Regina W. Roberts, Jennifer C. Williams, and Susan Maddison to achieve consensus on meaningful replacement guidance on transgender public accommodation access in the wake of the Trump Administration’s February decision to rescind the onerous Obama-era policy on the matter.
Newseum Exhibit on Gay Rights Movement
In June 1969, New York police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the city’s Greenwich Village. The raid outraged the gay community, galvanizing them to action and launching what would become a long struggle for gay rights.
In March 2019, 50 years after the Stonewall Inn raid, the Newseum will open “Rise Up: Stonewall and the Gay Rights Movement,” an exhibit that explores the modern gay rights movement in the United States. “Rise Up” tells the story of what happened at the Stonewall Inn, unpacking the myths that still swirl around it, and how it gave rise to a 50-year fight for civil rights for LGBT Americans.
Through powerful artifacts, images and historic print publications, the exhibit will explore key moments of gay rights history, including the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk, one of the country’s first openly gay elected officials; the AIDS crisis; U.S. Rep. Barney Frank’s public coming out in 1987; the efforts for hate crime legislation; the implementation and later repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”; and the fight for marriage equality.
Defense Department Observes Pride
The Defense Department formally observed LGBT Pride to recognize DoD's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members and civilians. DoD Pride, an employee resource group, hosted its annual celebration June 12 at the Pentagon.
"The struggles, sacrifices and successes among the LGBT community continue to shape our history and remind us to uphold tolerance and justice for all," Anthony M. Kurta wrote in a memo announcing the observance today. Kurta is performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "Integrity and respect are fundamental qualities of our military and civilian culture," Kurta noted in the memo.
A State Department spokesperson also said embassies and consulates have received guidance that allows them to recognize Pride events. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also issued a statement that acknowledges Pride.
Fenway Health Appoints Dr. Jennifer Potter
Fenway Health appointed Dr. Jennifer Potter Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute. Since 1971, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues.
Dr. Potter has led numerous studies focusing on understanding health disparities and optimizing clinical care for lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. She is co-editor of two seminal textbooks on LGBT health, The Fenway Guide to LGBT Health, and Trauma, Resilience and Health Promotion in LGBT Patients: What Every Healthcare Provider Should Know, and frequently presents at national and international conferences focused on health and equity.
Pregnant Teen Barred from Christian School Graduation
A Boonsboro MD high school senior was recently barred from participating in her school’s graduation ceremony because she is pregnant.
Media outlets reported 18-year-old Maddi Runkles was barred from the June 2 ceremony at the Heritage Academy in Hagerstown because she violated the school’s code of conduct by having premarital sex. Runkles discovered she was pregnant in January.
After the pregnancy became known, officials at the small private Christian school suspended Runkles for two days and removed her from her student council position. Runkles’ father once sat on the Heritage board and recused himself from decisions involving his daughter. But he ultimately quit the board to protest how she was treated.
Texas House Passes “Bathroom Bill”
The Texas House has voted on a bill that will keep transgender public school children from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.
The measure, a Republican deal on the “bathroom bill,” passed the GOP-dominated chamber by a vote of 91-50. It needs one more vote to officially pass the House. If the Senate agrees to the measure, and Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t veto it, Texas will become the second state in the nation to pass such legislation.
Debate was emotional and divisive, with Democrats likening it to a Jim Crow-era attack on defenseless kids and Republicans insisting the measure did not single out or target anyone.
University Investigates Anti-gay Note
In a letter to Creighton students, faculty and staff, the university president said an investigation is underway into an anti-gay note reportedly found on a residence hall door. The note begins with an expletive and a gay slur, then says "kill yourself leave our school gays are not welcome in Nebraska or Creighton."
"The content of the note violates Creighton's policy on student, staff and faculty conduct and, more crucially, is not at all representative of the environment we desire as a University," wrote Creighton University President Rev. Daniel Hendrickson.
Hendrickson continued: "The incident is a breach of the Jesuit values we all share as the Creighton community, values which bind us all in the common mission of ensuring Creighton is a safe, respectful, inclusive place for learning..." The letter says Creighton's Office of Equity and Inclusion has been investigating the letter since a student reported it. The note has been circulating on social media for the past two days.
All New York City Schools to Get Single-Stall Bathrooms
Every New York City public school must install at least one single-stall restroom under a new policy announced by Chancellor Carmen Farina. Farina said the restrooms will be available in all city schools by January 2018. School officials say the single-stall bathrooms will support the privacy needs of transgender students and students with medical conditions and disabilities. Information on the bathroom initiative will be sent home to parents in students' backpacks.
Equality Florida Applauds Frank Artiles Resignation
Equality Florida applauds the resignation of Senator Frank Artiles following intense public pressure from advocacy organizations, elected leaders, and his constituents. Equality Florida’s Public Policy Director, Hannah Willard, provided the following statement: “Frank Artiles’s resignation after intense pressure from across the political spectrum sends an important message that we will not treat bigotry and hateful slurs as acceptable from our elected leaders. Equality Florida is proud to have stood in solidarity with the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, the NAACP, and the thousands of people who signed petitions calling for Artiles to resign or be removed.”
Artiles said, "It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry. I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness."
Secretary Nominee Mark Green
President Trump's nominee for Secretary of the Army, Mark Green, who has withdrawn from the nomination process, while in the running said during a radio interview last year, Green said he opposes transgender equality because he must "crush evil."
Green's remarks were uncovered by Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post, who reported Green "believes that part of his mission as a public official is to “crush evil” ― and that opposing transgender equality policies is key to that effort."
As a Tennessee lawmaker, Green has opposed LGBT equality by pushing legislation singling out LGBT people and their families for discrimination, encouraging the state of Tennessee to defy the Supreme Court.
Pittsburgh will move to 100% Clean Energy
Just hours after Donald Trump claimed to be represent the voters of Pittsburgh in his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, Mayor Bill Peduto announced his support for a goal of powering Pittsburgh entirely with clean and renewable energy by 2035.
Mayor Peduto joins a growing coalition of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy who have similarly announced support for a goal of powering their communities with 100 percent renewable energy such as wind and solar. More than 25 U.S. cities have now committed to transition entirely to clean and renewable energy.
PA Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), joined Peduto him in calling for Pennsylvania to remain under the pollution-cutting mandates. June 6, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined 19 attorneys general across the US in opposing the withdrawal.
Bradbury-Sullivan Center Applauds Stroudsburg Ordinance
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center applauds the borough of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, PA on passage of their non-discrimination ordinance last night. The ordinance passed with a bipartisan 4-3 vote. This represents the first LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in Monroe County.
Liz Bradbury, Director of The Training Institute at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, provided testimony at the council meeting.
"Far too many LGBT Pennsylvanians still fear discrimination because most Pennsylvanians live without laws to protect them from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Stroudsburg did the right thing by passing these important non-discrimination protections last night. LGBT people who live and work in Stroudsburg now know that discrimination is illegal in the borough. The state legislature should follow Stroudsburg's lead and fully protect the rights of LGBT Pennsylvanians."