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Obama bars U.S. entry for violators of LGBT human rights abroad

Order could apply to supporters of Uganda ‘Kill the Gays’ bill

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Barack Obama (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

President Obama issued a proclamation on Thursday that could prohibit those engaging in LGBT persecution overseas from entering the United States.

The proclamation bars entry of immigrant and non-immigrant aliens who organize or participate in war crimes or serious violations of human rights — which could include those seeking to pass legislation in Uganda that would institute the death penalty for homosexual acts.

“The United States’ enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law requires that its Government be able to ensure that the United States does not become a safe haven for serious violators of human rights and humanitarian law and those who engage in other related abuses,” Obama states.

Specific language in the proclamation explicitly states that those who persecute people based on their “sexual orientation and gender identity” are among the categories of those who won’t be able to enter the United States.

Additionally, the proclamation prevents not only those who perpetuated human rights abuses overseas from entering the United States, but also those who have “attempted or conspired to do so.”

“The proclamation also bans admission to the United States for those who are complicit in organizing these abuses — not just those who carry them out,” a White House fact sheet states. “As such, it allows the United States to act before planned abuses and atrocities metastasize into actual ones.”

The proclamation gives the secretary of state, or the secretary’s designee, the authority to identify people who won’t be able to enter the United States based on this new guidance.

However, other language in the proclamation states that such an individual could enter the country if the secretary of state determines that the “entry of such person would be in the interests of the United States.”

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said the order gives the Obama administration “an important tool to use in dissuading extremist actions that are prejudicial to basic human rights, and in encouraging the development of inclusive laws and societies.”

“The Council praises this move, which could in principle be used to justify the exclusion of hate-promoting politicians like Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati, who introduced a ‘kill the gays bill’ in a previous legislative session in Uganda and may do so again,” Bromley said. “That bill, of course, would have carried dire consequences for LGBT individuals in Uganda.”

Bahati was previously invited to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2010, but was later disinvited by organizers and didn’t make an appearance after he introduced his draconian anti-gay bill.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. DF

    August 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Nicely done.. but what about people who are already here who have said that homosexuals deserve to die?

    • Derek Williams

      August 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      Too late I guess, but you have to start somewhere, and at least this is a beginning.

    • Bailey

      August 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      My first thought precisely. A number of people involved with the Ugandan bills, for example, are Americans. Will this law effect them, or do they get a pass because they were already here?

    • Jay SB

      August 12, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Yeah, like Muslims, whose religion demands death for us, as well as those who leave it and for women rape victims, among others. Is this admin. going to stop their talks (with Ms. Clinton) with the OIC (the world Islamic nations group) about finding ways to censor criticism of Islam in the West?

      Is he going to stop Muslims from immigrating into the US (here’s what an imam tells them about taking the oath of citizenship: http://www.islam.tc/cgi-bin/askimam/ask.pl?q=8471&act=view and you’ll get an idea why the Muslim US soldiers are a Trojan Horse – Islam/sharia will always come first)?

      Is he going to stop the Muslim diplomats from Islamic countries that kill gays or imprison us (which is every Islamic nation) from entering, like the Saudis, Pakistanis and so many more?

      The Saudi tentacles now reach too deep inside every Western nation in their drive to force us all to live under Islamic law (sharia) as their founder and deity command them to do. And every time you buy a gallon of gas, you’re helping them to buy that power.

      Islam is our greatest enemy in the world. Pat Robertson is our friend, in comparison. At least he doesn’t call for our deaths.

  2. thomas fisher

    August 5, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    way togo OBAMA but I’m affraid all the good you’ve done will be for naught if miss bachman gets to the white house she plans to abolishe laws such as this one and the mathew shepard law passed buy you.sure hope you are reelected.

    • Dunewalker

      August 6, 2011 at 7:28 am

      Don’t just hope. WORK!

  3. Mark Hand

    August 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Mr President, Why do you and other politicians find it so easy to condemn, and persecute those overseas, but you let the STATES persecute the LGBT community by passing anti-gay laws, and you won’t fix the very UNEQUAL rights of the LGBT community. Look in your own backyard ! Jail the politicians, AND deny all federal funding to STATES that don’t invoke equal rights now. And reform IMMIGRATION so that same-sex couples can immigrate now ! SHAME ON YOU for not taking care of AMERICA first.

  4. Tony

    August 6, 2011 at 1:43 am

    @Mark People like you are the ones ruining this debate. Are you actually saying that killing someone for being gay is on the same level as not letting a gay couple marry? That’s totally delusional. Please stop the with the dramatic rhetoric. It makes you look like a loon.

    • Rafo

      August 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

      There are different types of death. Not letting someone marry is a kind of social and financial death. It is abuse and only those who suffer it know how it is like.

  5. Teresa

    August 6, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Too bad he couldn’t do something about the human rights abusers in the United States.

  6. Jamesrfitz

    August 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Our President does not rule by fiat. We are a nation of laws and those laws are made by Congress. The President cannot force Congress to do his will. No president ever has been able to do that. The President can suggest, he can direct Federal Agencies to implement certain policies, etc. But he cannot grant rights to the LBGT community. Congress must do this. So please get your civics lessons learned before trying to hold one person accountable for anything that happens in the United States of America. We are a Democracy with many voices being heard and supposedly working together for our common good. If you don’t like the way the social conservatives are preventing reasonable laws being passed and implemented, then work to defeat them at the next election and vote for those who uphold ALL human rights. Spend a dollar and support an organization like the HRC or Southern Poverty Law Center or a candidate who is running on a platform of gender equality and stop expecting a President to be able to work magic. Now, that being said, Obama needs to get moving on this issue and start putting pressure on Congress to act in the interest of ALL Americans, not just the straight ones.

    • Daniel

      August 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm

      He is well within his rights to issue an Executive Order like this – as EVERY President has!

  7. Marie Garish

    August 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Does the proclamation also pertain to the idiot president of Iran from entering the U.S. to spew his venom at the United Nations?

  8. Jen

    August 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Obama IS looking out for the LGBT community in the U.S. by making sure we don’t have additional venom-filled individuals over here to attack us. We have enough to deal with – why let more violators of LGBT human rights into the States?

  9. Kit9

    August 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    What about the Fundamentalist hate organizations in this country that FUND the Ugandan bill?

    • tonyp3101

      August 8, 2011 at 10:20 am

      Exactly, Kit9.

  10. Val Kalende

    August 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Mr. President, as a Ugandan lesbian woman who has witnessed how much US Christian fundamentalist groups are negatively impacting on the lives of LGBT, sexual and reproductive rights, and the rights of women, i appreciate your decision. However, i request that your administration puts in place strict measures that will protect marginalized groups in Africa from alliances between Christian fundamentalists in the US and Africa. America has to get better before its overseas partners can.

  11. kamal

    August 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    How come Canada & Mexico can pass laws which gives same sex couples rights as others but a country which proclaims to be a world leader in human rights lags way way behind.

  12. was ist joomla

    August 8, 2011 at 2:34 am

    @Teresa that’s right

  13. BJ Lincoln

    August 8, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Why is our government still supporting Hate Groups like NOM and AFA as well as child sex abuse rings like the Catholic church with tax exemptions? I am tired of my tax money going to support my enemies. How about when a hatemonger leaves the country, they are not allowed back in!

  14. Andy Thayer

    August 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Obama bars violators of human rights from entering the U.S.?! Ha ha ha ha ha. So during next year’s G8 / NATO summit in Chicago, will he bar representatives from Russia and China? Oh — and will he bar himself for his treatment of Bradley Manning, et al? This is a sick joke, and anyone who believes Obama will bar violators of human rights from entering the country is a fool. We’ve got several bridges in Chicago we can sell them.

  15. Mykelb

    August 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Too little too late. He should have stopped his friend Mr. Rick Warren and his comrades from leaving the country and stirring up anti-gay hate overseas.

  16. Bob Schwartz

    August 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Obama posing as a defender of human rights? Give me a break. Isn’t this the same guy who prevented war criminal George Bush from being put in the dock? Maybe he wants the same protection from his own successor.

  17. John Bijarney

    August 12, 2011 at 7:13 am

    What about Catholic Church officials/members who are flying back and forth from the Vatican? The church is one of the main violators of LGBT rughts throughout the world.

  18. Gerald

    August 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you Mr. President for supporting LGBT people especially standing against the draconian law in Uganda.

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National

Alarming numbers of Texas Trans kids in crisis over litany of anti-Trans bills

“Under the guise of protecting children- Texas legislators are directly harming thousands of transgender & nonbinary youth”

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LGBTQ youth protest anti-Trans bills at the Texas Capitol building (Photo Credit: Equality Texas)

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project received nearly 4,000 crisis contacts from transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas in 2021, with many directly stating that they are feeling stressed and considering suicide due to anti-trans laws being debated in their state.

This new data comes during a year when Texas lawmakers have proposed nearly 70 anti-LGBTQ bills, including more than 40 bills that specifically target transgender and nonbinary youth — far more than any other state.

The Texas State Senate passed its anti-trans sports ban SB3 this week, and the companion bill HB10 is now moving forward in the Texas House. 

Republican Texas Governor Abbott has prioritized SB 3 and called for a third consecutive special session of the legislature to consider this bill, which would ban transgender student-athletes from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

“The Trevor Project’s crisis counselors have been hearing from transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas who are scared and worried about anti-trans laws being debated in their state — and some have even expressed suicidal thoughts. This is a crisis. We urge Texas lawmakers to consider the weight of their words and actions — and to reject HB10/SB3,” said Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

  • Between January 1 and August 30, 2021, The Trevor Project received more than 10,800 crisis contacts (calls, texts, and chats) from LGBTQ young people in Texas looking for support. More than 3,900 of those crisis contacts (36%) came from transgender or nonbinary youth.
  • Crisis contacts from LGBTQ young people in Texas seeking support have grown over 150% when compared to the same time period in 2020.
  • While this volume of crisis contacts can not be attributed to any one factor (or bill), a qualitative analysis of the crisis contacts found that:
  • Transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas have directly stated that they are feeling stressed, using self-harm, and considering suicide due to anti-LGBTQ laws being debated in their state.
  • Some transgender and nonbinary youth have expressed fear over losing access to sports that provide important acceptance in their lives.

“As a transgender young person in Texas, this new data from the Trevor Project is not surprising, but it’s nonetheless harrowing and alarming to see this representation of the detrimental impact Texas Lege is having on our community — especially our kids. Lawmakers and proponents of bills like SB3 and HB10 should be alarmed by these statistics, too,” Landon Richie a Trans youth activist and GenderCool Youth Leader from Houston told the Los Angeles Blade.

“Under the guise of protecting children and promoting fairness, Texas legislators are directly harming thousands of transgender and nonbinary youth, denying them the dignity, respect, and childhoods that they deserve. It’s never an exaggeration to say that the passage — and merely debate — of these bills will cost lives,”  Richie added.

National mental health organizations like The Trevor Project and state LGBTQ equality groups including Equality Texas and Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) are raising concerns about the impact of such legislation on the mental health and wellbeing of transgender and nonbinary youth.

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than half (52%) of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year and 1 in 5 attempted suicide. Further, Trevor released a new research brief earlier this month on LGBTQ youth participation in sports, which found that a majority of LGBTQ young people (nearly 66%) do not actively participate in sports — with many citing fear of bullying and discrimination as a key factor for not participating.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

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2nd largest school district in Utah bans Pride & BLM flags as ‘too political’

“We have to have a politically neutral classroom, and we’re going to educate the students in the best possible way that we can”

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Davis School District Offices in Farmington Utah (Photo Credit: Davis School District)

FARMINGTON, Ut. – Administrators this week in the Davis School District, which is Utah’s 2nd largest school district with 72,987 students, banned LGBTQ Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, saying they are ‘politically charged.’

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, Davis Schools spokesperson Chris Williams told the paper; “No flags fly in our schools except for the flag of the United States of America.” Williams later walked that statement back adding a clarification that some of the Districts schools have flags from sports team or international countries which are considered “unrelated to politics.”

“What we’re doing is we’re following state law,” said Williams. “State law says that we have to have a classroom that’s politically neutral.”

Amanda Darrow, Director of Youth, Family, and Education at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City, told multiple media outlets the school district is “politicizing the rainbow flag” which doesn’t belong on a political list.

“That flag for us is so much more,” said Darrow. “It is just telling us we’re included in the schools, we are being seen in the schools, and we belong in these schools.”

KUTV CBS2 News in Salt Lake City checked with the Utah State Board of Education. In an email, spokesman Mark Peterson said, “There is nothing in code that specifically defines a rainbow flag as a political statement so it would be up to district or charter school policies to make that determination.”

The local Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also weighed in saying in a statement;

Whether or not a school district has the legal ability to ban inclusive and supportive symbols from classrooms, it is bad policy for them to do so,” the advocacy organization said in a statement. “Utah schools have an obligation to ensure that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identify, feel welcome inside a classroom. We urge school administrators and teachers to adopt policies that make all students feel safe and included.”

Williams insisted the policy is not meant to exclude anyone and that all students are loved and welcomed – they just want to keep politics out of school he told the Tribune and KUTV.

“We have to have a politically neutral classroom, and we’re going to educate the students in the best possible way that we can,” said Williams.

A Utah based veteran freelance journalist, writer, editor, and food photographer weighed in on Twitter highlighting the negative impact of the Davis Schools decision on its LGBTQ youth.

Davis County School District bans LGTBQ and BLM flags as ‘too political’

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Non-binary person reports assault by Proud Boys near Portland

‘They nearly killed me’

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Juniper Simonis (Photo by Mariah Harris)

It was a typical day for Juniper Simonis. The freelance ecologist decided to break from work for lunch at about 3 p.m. to take their service dog, Wallace, to the local dog park and grab a bite to eat.  

But a planned peaceful afternoon quickly turned ugly. Simonis says they survived a gang assault of about 30 perpetrators in Gresham, Ore., a suburb outside of Portland. The Oregon resident encountered the group for only minutes but suffered a concussion, sprained jaw, extensive car damage and verbal assaults, they said. 

“They nearly killed me,” they said.

Simonis said they turned into a parking lot to pick up lunch in Gresham, Ore., and stumbled upon a rally that included several members of the Proud Boys — a far-right, ultra-nationalist organization known for its anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminism and neo-fascist ideologies. 

There was a “Flag Ride” right-wing rally in a parking lot earlier that day. Simonis was under the impression the event had ended after checking reports on Twitter. After pulling into the lot, originally to look for lunch options, Simonis saw a large gathering still in the lot. 

Simonis decided to take pictures of what was happening to post online to warn others and was intentional in keeping their distance, they said. As Simonis was preparing to leave the area, they yelled from inside the car, “Fuck you, fascists, go home.” 

“I did not expect this to escalate into violence,” they said. 

The attack itself only lasted about three minutes, Simonis said. Simonis was quickly surrounded by several people and physically blocked from leaving the lot. People stepped in front of the parking lot exit, then a car was moved to barricade Simonis. People began to shout homophobic slurs at Simonis, they said. 

“I’m in serious trouble now and I know it,” they said. 

Simonis was then punched while inside their vehicle and was briefly knocked out. They regained consciousness a few seconds later, and a cinder block was thrown at the car and shattered the back window of their car inches away from their service dog, Wallace. 

Simonis got out of the car to assess the damage and make sure their service dog was safe. They quickly got back in their car and was able to leave the lot by maneuvering around the blocked exit, Simonis said. 

Wallace, Juniper Simonis’ service dog. (Photo by Mariah Harris)

Looking back at the photos and videos Simonis took before the assault, Simonis said they saw people looking into the camera and acknowledging them taking photos. 

“I honestly don’t know if I hadn’t said anything, that … things would have gone any different,” they said. 

Last year, Simonis was targeted and arrested by federal police in Portland during the tumultuous Black Lives Matter protests in the city. They were denied medical attention, misgendered, jumped and aggressively handcuffed while taken into custody. 

Simonis is still working through legal proceedings in a multi-plaintiff lawsuit. 

A witness to the event called the Gresham Police Department, which was only a few blocks away from the incident. But the call went to voicemail and the witness did not leave a message, Simonis said. 

Another witness called 911, Simonis said, which led to an officer calling Simonis about 45 minutes after the accident to take a report.   

In the police report obtained by the Blade, Simonis is consistently misgendered. Simonis’ sex is also listed as “unknown” in the report. The incident was labeled as vehicle vandalism. 

Simonis said the conversation with the officer was filled with victim-blaming and the officer wrote in the report that Simonis should avoid “approaching groups of this nature.”  

“At no point in this conversation does he treat me as an actual victim of a crime,” Simonis said.

The Gresham Police Department did not respond to a request for comment. 

Weeks after the assault, Simonis is struggling mentally and physically, they said. 

The concussion makes working on a computer virtually impossible because of light sensitivity and trouble focusing, Simonis said. The pain caused by the sprained jaw makes it difficult to focus, as well. 

Simonis is not able to begin physical therapy for their jaw until November because of long medical wait times, they said. The cost to repair the car damages will be about $8,000, as well, they said.  

The times where Simonis is able to focus are usually taken up by piecing together what happened that day, they said. 

“The part of my brain that I use for work has been hijacked functionally by the part of the brain that needed to know what happened to me,” they said. “There is such a painful need to understand what happened to me.”

Because of past traumatic events, like the experience of being in federal custody last year, Simonis said processing and living with the trauma is a bit easier to handle. But their ability to work will be forever changed yet again, they said. 

“I’m not able to work at the pace that I used to work at before I was assaulted by DHS. I’ll never be,” they said. “And this is just a further knockdown.” 

The trauma of the event has increased Simonis’ hyper-vigilance, as well. 

“Every time I hear a car go by, I’m double-checking,” they said. 

Even though Simonis has the tools to process and live with the immense trauma, they will never be the same person, they said. 

“They fucking changed my life forever. Point blank,” they said. “Not just mentally, but physically and physiologically. I can’t go back to where I was before. I’m lucky that I survived.”

Simonis has reported the attack to the FBI and is pursuing legal action with two specific goals in mind: to heal and to prevent similar crimes from happening.

“I am somebody who believes in abolishing the carceral system and the justice system as it exists and policing,” Simonis said. “But also a 37-year-old trans and disabled person who somehow managed to survive this long. And so naturally has become pragmatic about the world.”

Because of the reaction of the Gresham Police Department, Simonis did not want to work with local officers and instead went to the federal level. But because of the alleged assault by agents in Portland last year, this decision wasn’t easy for them.

Perpetrators in the assault threatened to call the police on Simonis,  even though Simonis did not commit a crime. Reporting the crime to the federal level is also a layer of protection, they said. 

“All of this is forcing my hand,” they said. There is no easy decision in the situation, they added. 

“We all know that crimes are underreported. We hear about it all the time,” they said. And there are reasons why people don’t report crimes and they’re totally understandable. A lot of victims are very concerned about what will happen if they break anonymity. In my situation, I’ve already broken anonymity.”

With recent arrests and crackdowns on the Proud Boys and other hate groups in the United States, Simonis is bracing for a long process. 

“This isn’t just going to go on a shelf,” they said. 

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