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U.S. opposes boycott of Sochi Olympics

Growing number of activists have urged athletes to skip games

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Red Square, Russia, Moscow, Kremlin, gay news, Washington Blade

New laws prohibiting the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ have been enacted in Russia. (Photo by YAB994 via Wikimedia Commons)

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on Friday said the U.S. does not support a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the country’s LGBT rights record.

“That’s certainly not what we’re calling for,” she told reporters during her daily press briefing.

Psaki’s comments come a day after reports emerged of Russian ultra-nationalists torturing gay teenagers whom they met through fake accounts they set up on a social media network.

A growing number of American LGBT rights advocates have urged the U.S. to boycott the Sochi games in response to laws banning so-called gay propaganda and same-sex couples from adopting Russian children that Vladimir Putin recently signed. Several gay bars in Seattle, Chicago, London and other cities have also stopped serving Russian vodka in response to growing anti-LGBT discrimination and violence in the country.

The State Department has repeatedly spoken out against LGBT-specific human rights abuses in Russia, but Psaki told the Washington Blade she didn’t have “any conversations to read out or predict” that may take place between Secretary of State John Kerry and Putin and his Russian colleagues.

“The U.S. of course places great importance on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people–including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Psaki said in response to the Blade’s question on the issue. “Human rights in general is certainly an issue that comes up regularly and is a priority for the U.S. and our relationship with Russia and many other countries. He does bring up the issues broadly and I’m sure will moving forward.”

Psaki’s comments also come less than a week after authorities in the Russian city of Murmansk arrested four Dutch LGBT rights advocates under the country’s anti-gay propaganda law.

“We’d certainly call on Russia to uphold its international commitments regarding freedom of assembly and association and freedom of expression now and in the future,” Psaki said. “That’s a message I’m certain we will continue to convey.”

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District of Columbia

Pannell resigns in protest from Ward 8 Council member’s LGBT Commission

Says Trayon White has no out member of his staff

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Phil Pannell resigned as a member of the Ward 8 LGBT Commission created by D.C. Council member Trayon White. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Longtime D.C. LGBTQ rights activist Phil Pannell announced on May 6 that he has resigned as a member of the Ward 8 LGBT Commission created by D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) on grounds that White does not have an LGBTQ person on his Council staff.

White’s office has said the Council member created the commission to “focus on the specific needs of this community” in his role as a supporter of LGBTQ equality.

“For me, this is a major issue of inclusion, affirmative action and diversity,” Pannell said in an email message announcing his resignation. “I as a Black Gay man cannot in good conscience continue to be a member of my Councilmember’s LGBT Commission when he has no one from my community on his staff,” Pannell’s announcement message continues.

“This is hypocritical at best and structurally homophobic at worst,” he said. “I deeply resent and refuse to be used as anyone’s homosexual prop for any purposes. Therefore, I resign from the commission effective immediately.”

In response to a request by the Washington Blade for comment on Pannell’s resignation, Julia Jessie, White’s director of communications, said White’s Council office “follows all legal HR procedures and hires based on experience and skillset.” Jessie added, “As an employer, we do not discriminate or consider a person’s race, color, religion, or sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity, when making decisions about employment qualifications.”

According to Jessie, “We do, however, harvest a safe and inclusionary work environment where employees who wish to voluntarily disclose their sexual orientation of gender identity feel comfortable doing so.”

White’s office released a statement from the Ward 8 LGBT Commission’s chair, Marvin ‘Rahim’ Briggs, saying the commission “regretfully accepts” Pannell’s resignation.

“The Commission will continue to focus on and address issues affecting Ward 8 LGBTQ,” Briggs says in the statement. “We’ll continue to organize to promote acceptance of LGBTQ community diversity and to foster respect and appreciation for each member of the community residing in Ward 8.”

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District of Columbia

Two gay candidates disqualified from D.C. primary ballot

Republican, Libertarian activists withdraw from races

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(Blade archive photo by Aram Vartian)

A member of the Capital Stonewall Democrats, D.C.’s largest LGBTQ local political group, mounted a successful challenge before the D.C. Board of Elections earlier this month that resulted in a gay Republican and a gay Libertarian Party activist withdrawing as candidates for public office in the city’s June 21 primary.

James Harnett, 24, a member of the Ward 2 Democratic Committee and a member of the staff of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), filed challenges to the candidacy of gay Libertarian Party activist Bruce Majors, who was running unopposed in the June 21 primary for the office of both D.C. Delegate to the U.S. House and chair of the Libertarian Party of D.C.

The Board of Elections upheld Harnett’s challenge claiming that Majors failed to obtain a sufficient number of valid petition signatures needed to be placed on the ballot for both offices, according to elections board spokesperson Nicholas Jacobs. Majors withdrew his candidacy for both offices rather than contest the challenge.

The Board of Elections also upheld a challenge filed by Harnett against the candidacy of gay Republican and D.C. Log Cabin Republicans organization member Andrew Desser, who was running unopposed in the primary for the position of Ward 1 Chairperson of the D.C. Republican Committee.

Desser told the Blade he acknowledged that he fell short in obtaining the needed number of valid petition signatures and would not contest the challenge.

Harnett, who appeared to be acting on his own behalf and not representing the Capital Stonewall Democrats in his challenges to Majors and Desser before the election board, did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Board of Elections records showed that he also successfully challenged six other candidates seeking ballot placement in the June 21 primary, one of whom, Lori Furstenberg, was running for mayor as a Republican and another, Corren Brown, was running for mayor as a Statehood-Green Party member.

The others Harnett mounted a successful challenge against were GOP candidates running for the Ward 2, Ward 4, and Ward 7 GOP Chairperson positions; and Leniqua ‘Dominique’ Jenkins, a Democrat running for the at-large D.C. Council seat, who was the only Democrat challenged by Harnett.

Harnett, a former ANC commissioner in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, ran unsuccessfully in 2020 for the nonpartisan office of D.C. Board of Education for Ward 2. Among the candidates he ran against was gay education advocate Allister Chang, who won that race.

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En Espanol

La homosexualidad no es una enfermedad

Activistas en Honduras conmemoran el Día Internacional contra la Homofobia, la Transfobia y la Bifobia

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(Foto cortesía de Leonela Paz/Reportar sin Miedo)

Reportar sin Miedo es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Honduras. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 16 de mayo.

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — El comité LGBTIQ+ del Valle de Sula conmemora el trigésimo segundo aniversario de la eliminación de la homosexualidad como enfermedad mental en la Clasificación Internacional de Enfermedades (CIE) por parte de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS).

La OMS consideró que la homosexualidad debía de salir del apartado de enfermedades mentales, una lucha de años para las personas diversas. Una vergonzosa historia de patologización, institucionalización, “conversión” y esterilización finalmente se cerró.

Durante 22 años, este comité conformado por 13 organizaciones de sociedad civil ha promovido el reconocimiento y respeto de los derechos humanos de las personas de la diversidad sexual del Valle de Sula y Honduras.

Según el observatorio de la Red Lésbica Cattrachas, desde el 2009 hasta la fecha se contabilizan 410 muertes violentas de personas LGTBIQ+, con un índice de impunidad del 87 por ciento. Es por esta razón y teniendo en cuenta el marco del 17 de mayo, Día Internacional de la Lucha en contra de la Homolesbobitransfobia, que se llevarán a cabo algunas actividades en lugares estratégicos de la ciudad de San Pedro Sula para hacer visible esta causa.

“Esto nos ha asesinado”, dijo el presidente del comité LGTBIQ+, Osman Lara, haciendo referencia a todo el odio en contra de las personas de la diversidad sexual. 

Como principal actividad, izarán las banderas LGTBIQ+ y trans en la Plaza José Cecilio del Valle, localizada en la Ciudad de los Zorzales. Seguidamente, habrá una caminata por la primera calle de la capital industrial de Honduras, finalizando en el parque central, enfrente de la alcaldía sampedrana.

Las actividades contarán con la participación de líderes de la región, organizaciones defensoras de los derechos humanos, organismos internacionales, representantes de gobierno y corporación municipal. Todo esto con la finalidad de conseguir respuesta por todas las muertes violentas y para seguir luchando en contra de la homolesbobitransfobia en Honduras.

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