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NAACP denounces anti-gay persecution in Uganda

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Trans Africa Forum, the African-American group that led U.S. efforts to oppose South Africa’s apartheid government in the late 1970s, joined the NAACP Wednesday in calling on Congress to oppose legislation pending in Uganda that could result in the arrest and possible execution of gays.

In a news conference on Capitol Hill, officials with Trans Africa Forum, the NAACP, the National Black Justice Coalition and black church leaders said a growing number of mainline U.S. civil rights groups were beginning to speak out against anti-LGBT persecution in Uganda.

The civil rights group leaders and Frank Mugisha, an official with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), who also spoke at the news conference, said they were especially troubled that an atmosphere of hostility toward LGBT people in Uganda appears to have been “imported” by U.S. fundamentalist Christian organizations.

“Trans Africa is very concerned about the situation in Uganda and all over the continent of Africa, where we see homophobia on the rise,” said Nicole Lee, president of Trans Africa Forum. “And one of the ironic concerns, frankly, is that this homophobia is not home grown,” she said.

“We have found that this homophobia is imported from the United States and Europe. And we really want to make clear that black civil society organizations here in the United States will not stand for this.”

Lee and the other U.S. civil rights leaders participating in the news conference said they were prompted to take a more vocal stand on LGBT-related developments in Uganda following the Jan. 26 murder of Ugandan LGBT rights leader David Kato, who was found bludgeoned to death in his home near the capital city of Kampala.

Police investigating the case said the murder was part of a robbery and not related to Kato’s role as a gay activist. But LGBT activists in Uganda dispute that claim, saying they believe Kato was targeted because of his sexual orientation.

Mugisha said the murder came at a time when Uganda’s news media and government were waging an aggressive campaign to portray LGBT people as child molesters seeking to “recruit children into homosexuality.” He noted that one of the country’s newspapers published a photo of Kato and other “known homosexuals,” along with their home addresses, under a headline that said, “Hang them.”

“We know the religious right has been pitting blacks against gays,” said Pastor Joseph Tolton of the Global Justice Institute. “They are now exporting this and using Uganda as their laboratory.”

Jasper Hendricks, an official with the D.C.-based National Black Justice Coalition, said his group was working closely with other U.S. civil rights organizations to urge Congress and the U.S. State Department to put pressure on the Ugandan government to drop efforts to pass the pending anti-homosexuality legislation, which has become known in human rights group circles as the “kill the gays bill.”

Hilary Shelton, the NAACP’s executive vice president, said leaders of the veteran black civil rights group consider the anti-LGBT developments in Uganda to be comparable to the lynchings and “Jim Crow” policies of segregation and discrimination faced by blacks in the U.S. Rev. Graylin Hagler of D.C.’s Plymouth Congregational Church said that religious leaders in Uganda appear to be using various biblical passages to justify the anti-gay campaign there just as some Christian leaders and clergy used the Bible to justify slavery and segregation in the U.S.

A video of the news conference can be viewed through this link: http://vimeo.com/19761450

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Virginia

Va. Senate committee kills six anti-transgender bills

Democrats control chamber by 22-18 margin

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-transgender bills.

The committee rejected state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. All three measures would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia.

The committee also killed state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)’s Senate Bill 911, Reeves’ Senate Bill 1186 and Peake’s Senate Bill 962. The measures would have banned transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Equality Virginia in a tweet said committee members received more than 3,000 emails “in opposition” to the bills. The statewide advocacy group further noted 10 out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced during this year’s legislative session have been defeated.

“Thank you to everyone who has spoken up against these bills,” said Equality Virginia. “Virginia is remaining a better, more inclusive state because of your efforts.”

“The fight isn’t over,” added the advocacy group. “But we know Virginians will show up for trans youth, day after day.”

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Virginia

Va. Senate subcommittee essentially kills three anti-transgender bills

Measures would ban transition-related health care for minors

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Tuesday essentially killed three bills that would have banned transition-related health care for minors in the state.

Equality Virginia in a tweet noted the Senate Health Subcommittee “recommended killing” state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. 

“We expect these bills to be officially dead after the full committee meets on Thursday,” said Equality Virginia.

Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, and they have said they will block any anti-LGBTQ bill that reaches their chamber. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly transgender woman seated in a state legislature in the U.S., on Tuesday reiterated this point.

“With the defeat of these bills in the Senate, our (Virginia Senate Democrats) made it clear that *any* bills in the House targeting trans kids during the final week before crossover will not become law if they make it to the Senate,” she tweeted. “Let’s focus on feeding kids, not singling them out.”

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The White House

Doug Emhoff visits monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin

Second gentleman marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz

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The Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism in Berlin on July 23, 2022. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff visited the memorial on Jan. 31, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Tuesday visited a monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin.

A readout from Emhoff’s office notes he visited the Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under National Socialism with Philipp Braun of the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, a German LGBTQ and intersex rights group. Christopher Schreiber and Alexander Scheld of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Federation were also with Emhoff.

“The Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under Nazi Socialism is intended to honor the homosexual victims of National Socialism and at the same time ‘set a constant sign against intolerance, hostility and exclusion towards gays and lesbians,'” notes the readout.

Emhoff on Tuesday visited other memorials that honor the Sinti and Roma and people with disabilities who the Nazis killed. The second gentleman also visited Berlin’s Holocaust memorial before he met with five people who survived it.

The second gentleman earlier in the day participated in a roundtable with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and met with Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s New Synagogue. Emhoff on Monday participated in a meeting at the city’s Topography of Terror Museum that focused on antisemitism.

International Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1945, took place on Jan. 27. 

Emhoff, who is Jewish, traveled to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum and participated in ceremonies that commemorated the camp’s liberation. He later attended a Shabbat dinner with members of the Jewish community in Krakow, visited Oscar Schindler’s factory and met with Ukrainian refugees at a U.N. Refugee Agency community center before he traveled to Germany.

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