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Fund established to help gay speed skater qualify for Olympics

Blake Skjellerup to wear Pride pin in Sochi

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Blake Skjellerup, speed skating, Olympics, Sochi 2013, gay news, Washington Blade
Blake Skjellerup, speed skating, Olympics, Sochi 2013, gay news, Washington Blade

Blake Skjellerup (Photo by Joni Anderson)

LGBT advocacy groups have backed a fund designed to help a gay speed skater from New Zealand raise money to help him qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Outsports.com, GLAAD, Athlete Ally and the Federation of Gay Games are among the organizations that support the effort to help Blake Skjellerup raise at least $15,000 he will use to help pay for his and his coaches’ travel expenses to compete in Olympic qualification events in China, South Korea, Italy and Russia in the coming months. The fund has raised $15,810 as of deadline since its launch on Monday.

“So far it’s going really, really well,” Skjellerup, 28, told the Washington Blade during an interview from Calgary, Alberta, on Monday where he continues to train. “I’m just excited and really… humbled and honored to see that so many people are willing to support me.”

FIND MORE OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE SPORTS ISSUE HERE.

Skjellerup, who competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, told the Blade he remains committed to taking part in the Sochi games in spite of mounting outrage over Russia’s LGBT rights record.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in June signed a broadly worded law that bans gay propaganda to minors.

The International Olympic Committee has repeatedly said it has received assurances from the Kremlin the law will not affect gay athletes and others who travel to Sochi, even though Russian officials have said they plan to enforce the statute during the games. Putin last week signed a decree that bans demonstrations and other public gatherings in Sochi between Jan. 7 and March 21.

Skjellerup last month announced he will wear a Pride pin during the games if he qualifies for the Olympics.

“It’s been a positive reaction so far,” he told the Blade. “Everybody is behind the idea and are excited to see that I am proud of who I am and that I’m going to show that in Sochi.”

Skjellerup applauded the way he feels the Canadian Olympic Committee has responded to what he described as the “atrocity that is going on in Russia at the moment” with regards to LGBT rights. He added he is not concerned about any potential repercussions he could face by wearing his Pride pin in Sochi.

“I’m wearing a pin as an Olympian,” Skjellerup told the Blade. “It’s an Olympic pin, so I don’t think there’s any, I guess, legal taking place as I am an Olympian competing in the Olympics.”

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Congress

Avoiding a shutdown looks likely as House clears bipartisan spending bill

45-day continuing resolution passed 335-91.

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U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) (Screen capture/PBS News)

The U.S. House on Saturday approved a 45-day continuing resolution that, should the Senate approve the stopgap measure, as expected, will avert a government shutdown.

In a stunning turn of events, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats backed the proposal, H.R. 5860 advanced by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), which was passed with a vote of 335-91.

Ninety Republicans and one Democrat voted against the continuing resolution which, in addition to funding U.S. government agencies through mid-November, will provide billions in disaster relief .

Screenshot/C-SPAN

Democrats agreed to the bill even though it did not contain U.S. aid to Ukraine. Still, the most conservative members of McCarthy’s caucus have warned they would replace their speaker if he cooperated with Democrats on a deal to avoid a shutdown.

In recent weeks, these members advanced far-right anti-LGBTQ amendments to spending packages that stood no chance of becoming law.

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Africa

Eswatini government refuses to allow LGBTQ rights group to legally register

Supreme Court previously ruled in favor of Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities

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Members of the Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities, an LGBTQ and intersex rights group, after the Eswatini Supreme Court on May 5, 2023, heard arguments in their case in support of legally registering in the country. (Photo courtesy of Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities)

The Eswatini Commerce, Industry and Trade Ministry this week said it will not allow an LGBTQ rights group to register.

The country’s Supreme Court in June ruled the government must allow Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities to register.

The Registrar of Companies in 2019 denied the group’s request. Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities the following year petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their case. The Supreme Court initially ruled against the group, but it appealed the decision.

“[The] Minister of Commerce and Trade refuses to register ESGM citing the ‘Roman Dutch Law,'” said Eswatini Sexual and Gender Minorities on Thursday in a tweet to its X account. “This was after the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the refusal to register ESGM by the registrar was unconstitutional.”

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Virginia

Virginia Beach high school students stage walkouts to support transgender rights

City’s school board approved policy to out trans students to parents

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Transgender flags (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.)

Students at five Virginia Beach high schools on Friday staged walkouts in support of transgender rights.

The walkout is in response to the Virginia Beach School Board approving policy 5-31, which the Pride Liberation Project says will require schools to out trans students to their parents.

Students have been organizing walkouts across the state since Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this year announced new guidelines for trans and nonbinary students.

“Students like me aren’t going to be able to talk to our teachers if we’re constantly worried about our school officials calling home to forcibly out us,” AJ, a trans Kellam High School Student, told the Pride Liberation Project.

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