Connect with us

News

LGBT sports groups oppose Olympics boycott

Organizations urge U.S., media to highlight Russia’s gay rights record

Published

on

Russia, anti-gay, gay news, Washington Blade

Russia, anti-gay, gay news, Washington Blade

Protesters gathered outside of the Russian embassy in Northwest D.C. on July 31. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

A coalition of LGBT sports groups on Thursday announced their opposition to a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the country’s gay rights record.

The LGBT Sports Coalition – which includes the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Athlete Ally, Outsports.com, the Federation of Gay Games and former George Washington University basketball player Kye Allums – said in a statement they “stand united against the new onslaught of anti-gay laws adopted by Russia” that include a statute that bans so-called gay propaganda to minors. The group also urged the International Olympic Committee, the Russian government and officials of countries that will send athletes to Sochi to “guarantee the safety of every Olympic attendee before, during and long after” the games.

The LGBT Sports Coalition called upon the Obama administration and particularly Secretary of State John Kerry to “create a plan with other LGBT-friendly nations” to ensure Russia and the more than 70 other countries with anti-gay laws that include the criminalization of homosexuality to repeal them. It urged corporations that do business in Russia to pressure President Vladimir Putin to repeal the statutes.

The LGBT Sports Coalition also said NBC and other media outlets have an obligation to discuss Russia’s anti-gay laws during their coverage of the Sochi games.

The group further recommends that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Rosemary DiCarlo should petition the United Nations to consider sanctions against Russia and other country that criminalize homosexuality.

“Inviting participation is the spirit of the Olympic games,” the LGBT Sports Coalition said. “It is incumbent upon all of these people to ensure that all LGBT Olympians are able to compete openly, proudly and without any negative repercussion.”

The LGBT Sports Coalition released its statement less than a day after Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the Russian sports website R-Support that athletes and others who travel to Sochi will be subject to the country’s anti-gay propaganda law. His comments come in spite of the International Olympic Committee’s assurances it said it received from “the highest level” of the Russian government that authorities would exempt foreigners from the statute while in the country for the games.

Those charged under the anti-gay propaganda law that Putin signed in late June will face a fine of between 4,000 and 5,000 rubles ($124-$155.) Government officials would face a fine of between 40,000 and 50,000 rubles ($1,241-$1,551.)

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

Putin last month signed a second law that bans foreign same-sex couples and those from countries that allow gays and lesbians to marry from adopting Russian children.

LGBT rights groups are among those that face fines under a 2012 law that requires non-governmental organizations that receive funding from outside Russia to register as a “foreign agent.”

LGBT activists remain divided over boycott calls

Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein, author Dan Savage and activist Cleve Jones are among the growing number of LGBT rights advocates who have called for a boycott of the Sochi games and Russian vodka.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on July 26 said the U.S. opposes any effort to boycott the Olympics.

Gay Olympic diver Greg Louganis, who was unable to compete in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow because then-President Jimmy Carter boycotted them over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan the year before, told Frank Bruni of the New York Times on July 28 that athletes should have the opportunity to compete in the Sochi games. Retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova; Russian LGBT rights advocate Nikolai Alekseev and gay New Zealand speed skater Blake Skejellerup, who plans to wear a rainbow pin during the Olympics, are among those who also oppose a boycott.

“It’s more effective to get in people’s faces and prove them wrong rather than run away,” Navratilova told the Washington Blade during an interview in June after the Russian lawmakers approved the gay propaganda ban in a unanimous vote. “To me a boycott kind of runs away from the problem.”

Cyd Zeigler, Jr., co-founder of Outsports.com, referred to Louganis’ inability to compete in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow as he discussed his opposition to a boycott of the Sochi games with the Blade earlier this summer.

“The Olympics are supposed to be apolitical,” he said. “To start playing politics by removing an opportunity for these athletes to participate — something they’ve been working for all their lives would be a disgrace.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

National

Florida House committee passes “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Equality Florida quickly condemned the measure

Published

on

The Florida State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

The Republican majority Florida House Education and Employment Committee on Thursday passed House Bill 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill advancing the measure to the full House.

HB 1557 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 1834, would ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, erasing LGBTQ identity, history, and culture — as well as LGBTQ students themselves.

The bill also has provisions that appear to undermine LGBTQ support in schools and include vague parental notification requirements which could effectively “out” LGBTQ-identifying students to their parents without their consent.

“The Trevor Project’s research has found that LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in classes at school had 23 percent lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”

In an email to the Los Angeles Blade, Brandon J. Wolf, the press secretary for Equality Florida noted; “Governor DeSantis’ march toward his own personal surveillance state continues. Today, the Don’t Say Gay bill, a piece of legislation to erase discussion of LGBTQ people from schools in Florida, passed its first committee and became another component of an agenda designed to police us in our classrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces. Make no mistake — LGBTQ people are your neighbors, family members, and friends. We are a normal, healthy part of society and we will not be erased.”

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than 42 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth.

According to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85 percent of transgender and non-binary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66 percent) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 56 percent of transgender and non-binary youth said it made them feel angry, 47 percent felt nervous and/or scared, 45 percent felt stressed, and more than 1 in 3 felt sad.

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/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

Continue Reading

World

Lesbian couple murdered, dismembered in Mexico border city

Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez killed in Ciudad Juárez

Published

on

From left: Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez. (Photo via Facebook)

Authorities in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez on Sunday found the dismembered bodies of a lesbian couple along a local highway.

The dismembered body parts of Julissa Ramírez and Nohemí Medina Martínez were found in plastic bags that had been placed along the Juárez-El Porvenir Highway.

El Diario, a Mexican newspaper, reported the married women lived in El Paso, Texas, which is across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez. Authorities said relatives last spoke with Ramírez and Medina on Saturday afternoon.

A source in Ciudad Juárez with whom the Washington Blade spoke on Thursday confirmed Ramírez and Medina “were lesbian women” and their murder was “very violent.”

Members of Comité de la Diversidad Sexual de Chihuahua, an LGBTQ rights group in the state of Chihuahua in which Ciudad Juárez is located, and Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos Galván are among those who have expressed outrage over the women’s murders. Comité de la Diversidad Sexual de Chihuahua on Wednesday also urged local and state authorities to investigate whether the murder was a hate crime.

“People of sexual diversity are questioned, including their existence through heteronormative discourse,” said the group in a statement. “They have the right to a life free of violence in which they exercise all their rights, in addition to living without fear or fear of rejection and aggressions that can unfortunately escalate to hate crimes.”

El Diario reported Ramírez and Medina are two of the nine women who have been reported killed in Ciudad Juárez since the beginning of the year.

Personas de las Diversidades Afectivo Sexuales, an LGBTQ rights group in Ciudad Juárez, and feminist organizations on Thursday organized a protest during which participants demanded local, state and federal authorities do more to end to violence against women in the city. The press release that announced the demonstration specifically cited Ramírez and Medina.

“We seek justice and clarification in the murder of Nohemí and Yulissa, a lesbian couple who was found in Juárez-Porvenir Highway,” it reads.

LGBTQ activists and feminist groups participate in a protest against femicides in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on Jan. 20, 2022. (Courtesy photo)
Continue Reading

National

NCAA adopts new policy amid fervor over transgender athletes

Sport-by-sport approach requires certain levels of testosterone

Published

on

NCAA, gay news, Washington Blade
The NCAA has adopted new policy amid a fervor over transgender athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced it has adopted new procedures on competition of transgender athletes, creating a “sport-by-sport” approach that also requires documentation of testosterone levels across the board amid a fervor of recently transitioned swimmers breaking records in women’s athletics.

The NCAA said in a statement its board of governors voted on Wednesday in support of the “sport-by-sport” approach, which the organization says “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”

Although the policy defers to the national governing bodies for individual sports, it also requires transgender athletes to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. The new policy, which consistent with rules for the U.S. Olympics, is effective 2022, although implementation is set to begin with the 2023-24 academic year, the organization says.

John DeGioia, chair of the NCAA board and Georgetown president, said in a statement the organization is “steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports.”

“It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy,” DeGioia said.

More specifically, starting with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender athletes will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections, the organizational. These athletes, according to the NCAA, are also required to document testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections.

In terms of jurisdiction, the national governing bodies for individual sports are charged determines policies, which would be under ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA, the organizational says. If there is no policy for a sport, that sport’s international federation policy or previously established International Olympics Committee policy criteria would be followed.

The NCAA adopts the policy amid controversy over University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smashing records in women’s swimming. Thomas, which once competed as a man, smashed two national records and in the 1,650-yard freestyle placed 38 seconds ahead of closest competition. The new NCAA policy appears effectively to sideline Thomas, who has recently transitioned and unable to show consistent levels of testosterone.

Prior to the NCAA announcement, a coalition of 16 LGBTQ groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally, this week sent to a letter to the collegiate organization, urging the organizations strengthen non-discrimination protections as opposed to weakening them. The new policy, however, appears to head in other direction, which the LGBTQ groups rejected in the letter.

“While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the enforcement of non-discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than a comprehensive policy that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play,” the letter says. “This would be similar to the patchwork of non-discrimination policies in states, where marginalized groups in some states or cities are protected while others are left behind by localities that opt not to enact inclusive policies.”

JoDee Winterhof, vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement after the NCAA announcement the new policy was effectively passing the buck.

“If the NCAA is committed to ensuring an environment of competition that is safe, healthy, and free from discrimination, they cannot dodge the question of how to ensure transgender athletes can participate safely,” Winterhof said. “That is precisely why we and a number of organizations across a wide spectrum of advocates are urging them to readopt and strengthen non-discrimination language in their constitution to ensure the Association is committed to enforcing the level playing field and inclusive policies they say their values require. Any policy language is only as effective as it is enforceable, and with states passing anti-transgender sports bans, any inclusive policy is under immediate threat. We are still reviewing the NCAA’s new policy on transgender inclusion and how it will impact each and every transgender athlete.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular