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Anti-gay bill passes in Russian parliament

Measure would ban “promotion of homosexuality” to minors

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Russia, Moscow, Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, gay news, Washington Blade

Russian parliament members on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban so-called gay propaganda to minors. (Photo by Dmitry Azovtsev via Wikimedia Commons)

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors.

The Russian LGBT Network said on its Facebook page the measure passed in the Duma by a 436-0 vote margin with one abstention. Individuals would face fines of between 4,000 and 5,000 rubles ($124-$155,) and government officials would face fines of between 40,000 and 50,000 rubles ($1,241-$1,551.)

Organizations would face a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) or suspension of their activities for up to 90 days. Foreigners could also face up to 15 days in jail and deportation.

“This is a very sad day for the Russian LGBTI community and for Russian democracy,” Martin K. I. Christensen, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said.

Lawmakers passed the bill amid growing concerns over anti-LGBT violence and discrimination in the country.

Two men allegedly sodomized Vladislav Tornovoi with empty beer bottles and set his body on fire near Volgograd on May 10 after he reportedly came out to them. Reuters on June 3 reported authorities on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East said three men stabbed and trampled a gay man to death late last month before they set his car on fire with his body inside.

Authorities on May 24 arrested Nikolai Alekseev, co-founder of Moscow Pride, and 29 other gay activists who tried to stage a Pride celebration outside Moscow City Hall. The Russian LGBT Network said police detained advocates who kissed outside the Duma before today’s vote.

The State Department in January criticized the passage of the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors bill. The United Nations and Amnesty International have also spoken out against the measure.

“Russia is trying very hard to make discrimination look respectable by calling it ‘tradition,’ but whatever term is used in the bill, it remains discrimination and a violation of the basic human rights of LGBT people,” Graeme Reid, LGBT rights program director at Human Rights Watch, said. “To try to exclude LGBT people as ‘non-traditional’ is to try and make them less than human. It is cynical, and it is dangerous.”

The Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, still needs to approve the bill, but observers expect it will easily pass in the chamber.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign it into law.

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1 Comment

  1. Jim Billingsley

    June 11, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Screw the Russians (literally ofcourse), the Chic-fil-a I’m sure is on the way. I was planning a trip as tourist with a friend but I’ve decided that my disposable income is better spent in a more acceptable country. After all, I wasn’t trying to buy a russian bride! I think the Chic-fil-a franchise might have to convert to Catholicism to get there but we’ll see. Hehe. Hey Russia, What are you afraid of?!? On a serious note, you can pass laws and suppress parts of your population like russia has for the last 96 years but I guess that lesson has been lost. This time around can the russian government please explain the legal penalties and ramifications for being gay in your country and post it over the internet so not only your citizens, but also your visitors have a clear representation of how to act and not to break the laws?

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¿Cómo debe quedar redactado el Código de las Familias de Cuba?

Activistas presentan sugerencias para que la nueva ley sea más inclusiva

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Activistas LGBTQ en La Habana (Foto de María Lucía Expósito)

Tremenda Nota es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Cuba. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 18 de octubre.

LA HABANA — Varios grupos LGBTIQ+ presentaron propuestas sobre el anteproyecto de Código de las Familias, con el propósito de que sean valoradas por la comisión redactora y sirvan para mejorar la futura ley que debe reconocer el matrimonio igualitario, además de otros derechos.

“Quienes firmamos este documento somos proyectos, iniciativas y activistas de la comunidad LGBTIQ+ cubana. A través del mismo deseamos hacerles llegar nuestras consideraciones sobre el anteproyecto de Código de las Familias, el cual se encuentra actualmente en un proceso de consultas especializadas”, escribieron en la presentación del documento, que está firmado por la Plataforma 11M, el Proyecto AfroAtenAs, la campaña Ahora Sí, la Alianza Afro-Cubana, el grupo Dame la Mano, el Centro Social y Biblioteca Libertaria Abra, y la revista Tremenda Nota.

Los activistas consideraron que el anteproyecto de ley “es un documento avanzado y progresista, no solo con respecto a su antecesor, sino incluso comparado con las legislaciones en otros países del mundo”.

A pesar de eso, opinaron que “faltan algunas cuestiones importantes en este documento para que sea un Código verdaderamente revolucionario y atemperado a la sociedad cubana actual y futura”.

Después de mencionar varios “aspectos positivos”, que los activistas asumen como “innegociables” hicieron minuciosas recomendaciones a los redactores del texto legal, “en ejercicio de nuestro derecho ciudadano a participar en la revisión del Código de Familias”.

Estas observaciones tienen el objetivo de que el proyecto de ley “sea lo más abarcador y flexible posible, de modo que refleje el espíritu y letra de la Constitución de Cuba aprobada en 2019 y refrende los tratados internacionales de protección de la infancia, la mujer y la familia de los que Cuba es signataria”.

Sobre el pasaje relativo a “Derechos de la infancia y la adolescencia en el ámbito familiar”, los activistas recomendaron incluir “la libertad del menor a la libre identidad de género y orientación sexual”.

Para el artículo 61, que define el matrimonio como “la unión voluntariamente concertada de dos personas”, recomendaron “que se tomen en cuenta las relaciones de más de dos personas”.

El anteproyecto plantea la posibilidad de una “autorización judicial excepcional” para que personas menores de 18 años puedan casarse. Los activistas, en cambio, sugieren eliminar esa opción, ateniéndose a normas internacionales.

Una de las novedades del nuevo Código de las Familias es la “gestación solidaria”, que la ley autorizará a personas “unidas por vínculos familiares”. Los grupos LGBTIQ+ piensan que la opción debe existir también para personas “afectivamente cercanas”.

También recomendaron que se añada una definición de “gestación solidaria” y se incluyan principios que protejan a las gestantes de cualquier presión o violencia.

“La gestante contará con un asesor legal independiente al de las personas comitentes”, proponen añadir al texto.

Sobre la “responsabilidad parental”, el concepto que sustituye a la “patria potestad” tradicional, los activistas señalaron que los padres deben “proteger” la “libre determinación” de la “identidad de género y orientación sexual”.

En este punto, también recomendaron garantizar “los conocimientos y garantías materiales para el libre ejercicio de su sexualidad sin discriminaciones”.

También propusieron que “los derechos y responsabilidades parentales para con la/el menor no se vean afectados cuando alguno de los padres o las madres lleve a cabo un proceso de transición de género”.

Por último, sugirieron que “en cuanto a los menores bajo la tutela del Estado se les respete y proteja su libre determinación en cuanto a la identidad de género y orientación sexual velando siempre por el interés superior del menor”.

“Esperamos que estas consideraciones y sugerencias sean tomadas en cuenta para la redacción final del anteproyecto que será presentado próximamente a la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular”, concluyeron.

Activistas se reúnen con la Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas en Santa Clara

La publicación Entre Diversidades informó que el pasado 12 de octubre un grupo de activistas LGBTIQ+ se reunió en Santa Clara, al centro de Cuba, con funcionarios de la Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas en esa ciudad.

En el intercambio participó el promotor cultural Ramón Silverio, el fundador del centro El Mejunje, considerado un lugar icónico para la comunidad LGBTIQ+ en Cuba.

Estos activistas también hicieron recomendaciones sobre el futuro Código de las Familias y el programa de educación sexual establecido por el Ministerio de Educación, que fue postergado en septiembre, probablemente tras la presión de grupos fundamentalistas cristianos.

Los activistas reclamaron “una educación (escolar y comunitaria) que realmente contemple la diversidad en todo su espectro” y en ese sentido se declararon inconformes con el aplazamiento del programa de educación sexual.

También pidieron espacio en los medios de comunicación para visibilizar a la comunidad LGBTIQ+.

Celebraron la adopción del matrimonio igualitario en el anteproyecto de Código de las Familias, pero solicitaron “que se garanticen los derechos de la comunidad trans en toda su pluralidad”.

Según los activistas, el Estado debe garantizar a las personas trans “cambio de identidad en el carnet, tratamiento hormonal y apoyo en la reasignación de sexo”.

“Además se hace necesaria una estrategia respecto al uso de baños públicos para esta comunidad”, añadieron.

Lo mismo que las organizaciones independientes, señalaron que se garanticen derechos a las “infancias trans”.

Aprovecharon para denunciar la violencia policial contra personas LGBTIQ+.

“Se debe garantizar la protección por parte de los agentes de seguridad ante cualquier acto de discriminación y odio. Se debe abarcar desde un comentario homofóbico hasta la violencia física contra cualquier miembro de la comunidad. Por esta razón, son necesarias leyes que juzguen justamente a quienes nos agraden”, dice la nota de Entre Diversidades.

Los activistas denunciaron “el papel que han jugado las instituciones estatales en la marginación de la comunidad LGBTIQ+”.

“Para demostrar una verdadera voluntad política de cambio, es necesario que estas instituciones apoyen el trabajo de los activistas, ya que estas son las que tienen los medios. También es necesario que de dichas instituciones salgan iniciativas inclusivas y que aporten a la creación de una Cuba verdaderamente diversa”, dijeron.

Por último, alertaron sobre “el ascenso de los fundamentalistas religiosos a puestos directivos y de poder, como universidades y hospitales”. Consideraron que “esto puede poner en peligro los derechos alcanzados hasta al momento y la concreción de las luchas futuras, como la aprobación del Código de las Familias”.

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Transgender activist fights for change in Pakistan

Jannat Ali attended 2018 HRC summit in D.C.

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Jannat Ali at WorldPride 2021 in Copenhagen, Denmark (Photo courtesy of Jannat Ali)

A pioneering transgender activist in Pakistan continues her fight for change in her country.

Jannat Ali—who describes herself as an “artivist”— is the executive director of Track T, a trans rights organization that is based in Lahore, the country’s second largest city that is the capital of Punjab province.

Track T in December 2018 organized Pakistan’s first-ever trans Pride march that drew nearly 500 people. A law that permits trans people to legally change the gender on their national ID cards and other official documents, allows them to vote and bans discrimination based on gender identity in employment, health care, education and on public transportation took effect earlier that year.

“That was an opportunity (for people) to celebrate their real true identities,” Ali told the Washington Blade on Aug. 19 during a telephone interview from Copenhagen, Denmark, where she was attending WorldPride 2021. “People were shaking hands because we did it so beautifully.”

Jannat Ali, left, with Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride at WorldPride 2021 in Copenhagen, Denmark (Photo courtesy of Jannat Ali)

Ali in March launched “Journey with Jannat”, an “inclusive infotainment show” with episodes on Instagram and YouTube. She is the first openly trans person to host her own program in Pakistan.

Ali in 2018 traveled to D.C. to participate in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Global Innovative Advocacy Summit. Track-T last year received a $5,000 HRC grant.

“They changed my life,” Ali told the Blade, referring to HRC. “They helped me to fulfill my dreams in my life and make me be able to share my work.”

Pakistan’s Supreme Court in 2009 ruled in favor of recognizing trans people as a third gender on identity cards. The Pakistani government in July opened the country’s first school for trans people.

Section 377 of Pakistan’s colonial-era penal code that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations remains in place. Ali told the Blade that implementation of the 2018 trans rights law— especially in the country’s tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan and in rural Pakistan — remains a problem.

“The government doesn’t (make it a) priority,” she said. “It’s a responsibility of other provinces to adopt or to amend it and present their bill in their own provinces.”

Ali said violence based on gender identity remains prevalent in these areas.

Alisha, a trans activist who worked with Trans Action in Peshawar, a city in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province that borders Afghanistan, died in 2016 after a man who reportedly raped her shot her several times.

Activists said staff at a local hospital delayed treatment because she was trans. The province’s then-governor ordered personnel to place Alisha in a private room, but she died a short time later.

“We are thankful to the governor,” a local activist told the Blade after Alisha’s death. “This was the first time that a government executive showed support.”

Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan ‘really sad’

Ali spoke with the Blade four days after the Taliban entered Kabul, the Afghan capital, and regained control of the country.

A Taliban judge in July said the group would once again execute gay men if it were to return to power in Afghanistan.

Some of the 50 Afghan human rights activists who Taylor Hirschberg, a researcher at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who is also a Hearst Foundation scholar, has been able to help leave the country are LGBTQ since. The Toronto-based Rainbow Railroad and Immigration Equality are among the other groups that have continued their efforts to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans since American troops completed their withdrawal from the country on Aug. 30.

“I was really worried,” Ali told the Blade when asked about the plight of LGBTQ Afghans in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country. “I was really sad.”

Ali this week said she is now “in touch” with LGBTQ Afghans who have fled to northern Pakistan.

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Gay man attacked, beaten by neighbors in Northeast D.C.

Police list incident as hate crime but courthouse ‘backlog’ could delay arrests

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Antonio Zephir was beaten by neighbors and fears for his life. (Photo courtesy of Zephir)

A woman, her daughter, and a man believed to be the daughter’s father repeatedly punched a gay man in the face while the mother called him a “Jewish faggot” and other anti-gay slurs during an Oct. 13 incident on the grounds of an apartment building where the victim and the two women live, according to the victim and a D.C. police incident report.

The victim, Antonio Zephir, 51, told the Washington Blade the incident began after the mother began shouting anti-gay slurs at him as he walked past her and his roommate outside the Northwood Gardens Apartments at 4870 Fort Totten Dr., N.E. at about 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13. 

Zephir identifies the mother as Aurlora Y. Ellis in court papers seeking a restraining order against her that he filed in D.C. Superior Court. He said she had acted in a hostile way toward him before the assault incident.

“For several months, every time Ms. Ellis sees me, she shouts homophobic slurs and I continued to ignore her,” Zephir told the Blade in an email.

He said that minutes before the Oct. 13 attack, Ellis yelled the words “Jewish faggot” when he walked past her as she was talking to his roommate, Steven Johnson. Zephir said it is well known among his neighbors at the apartment complex that he is of the Jewish faith.

“I responded with not-so-kind words. She ran towards me and assaulted me with hard punches toward my face,” Zephir wrote in his email to the Blade. 

“I punched back in an attempt to defend myself,” he wrote. “Mr. Johnson tried to break us up when her daughter Latera Cox and [Cox’s] father assaulted me,” according to Zephir’s account of the incident. “Ms. Ellis yelled, ‘Call the police, you bitch faggot. They’re not going to do anything. This isn’t over yet.”

At that point, Ellis, her daughter Latera Cox, and the man Zephir believes to be Cox’s father fled the scene, Zephir told the Blade.

The D.C. police incident report, which lists the assault as a suspected hate crime, says, “All three suspects then fled east bound” on the 4800 block of Fort Totten Dr., N.E.

Zephir said he immediately called police, who arrived on the scene and took a report on the incident. The report obtained by the Blade lists the incident as a simple assault, which is a misdemeanor under D.C. law.

But Zephir said a detective working on the case told him this week that police were looking into speeding up the process of obtaining warrants for the arrest of the three attackers based, in part, on the injuries Zephir suffered from the attack. He provided the Blade with a medical report issued by the Washington Hospital Center, where his roommate took him to the emergency room the day following the attack, in response to severe pain he was experiencing to his face and head.

The report from the hospital, which treated and released him on Oct. 14, says he was diagnosed as having a fractured nose; a fracture of the “interior orbital wall,” which is the bone surrounding one of his eyes; subconjunctival hemorrhage or bleeding of his left eye; and “laceration of oral cavity” which means an injury inside his mouth caused by trauma from the assault.

Zephir told the Blade that the same detective told him last week that due to a “backlog” in cases at the D.C. Superior Court, it could take between one and two months for police and prosecutors to obtain warrants for the arrests of the two women and the man who assaulted him.

A police spokesperson told the Blade the case remains under active investigation. A spokesperson for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which acts as the prosecutor for adult criminal cases in D.C., said he would look into whether the office could publicly comment on the status of efforts to obtain arrest warrants for the three attackers.

Zephir said rumors had surfaced prior to the assault incident that Ellis may have access to a gun. Based on what he feared was a threat by Ellis when she told him during the attack that “this isn’t over yet,” he said he persuaded his roommate to drive him to the courthouse on the same day as the attack to apply for a court restraining order to prevent Ellis from harming him again.

Court records show he also filed a civil complaint against Ellis, Ellis’s daughter, and Ellis’s roommate, Linda Miller, who Zephir says in the complaint acted as an “enabler” for Ellis’ hostility toward him.

The complaint, which is a civil lawsuit that Zephir wrote by hand and filed by himself without hiring a lawyer, calls for $18,000 in damages.  

“I have nightmares,” Zephir told the Blade. “I can’t believe it happened. I keep reliving the experience over and over and over in my head,” he said. “And I feel like I’m a prisoner in my own apartment. I don’t feel safe because I, honest to God, feel like she is going to bodily harm me and I might be, God forbid, murdered.”

Ellis, Cox, and Miller could not immediately be reached for comment.

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