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Dutch LGBT rights group remains critical of IOC

COC Nederland to meet with Dutch Olympic officials

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Koen van Dijk, Philip Tijsma, COC Nederland, gay rights, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Holland, gay news, Washington Blade
Koen van Dijk, Philip Tijsma, COC Nederland, gay rights, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Holland, gay news, Washington Blade

COC Nederland Executive Director Koen van Dijk (right) and Philip Tijsma, the organization’s communications director, at their Amsterdam office on Sept. 4. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

AMSTERDAM—The executive director of the Dutch LGBT advocacy group COC Nederland said during an interview with the Washington Blade earlier this month the International Olympic Committee should take a stronger stand against Russia’s LGBT rights record ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“I don’t think they’ve done enough to uphold their own charters,” Koen van Dijk said during an interview at COC Nederland’s Amsterdam office on Sept. 4. “I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the IOC to be the watchdog of the human rights situation in Russia, but they did make a decision to plan this major event in a country where they knew the situation was bad, where they knew it was deteriorating.”

The IOC told the Blade last month the Olympics “should be open to all, free of discrimination” against athletes and others who attend them. It also said those who participate in the Sochi games could face disqualification or loss of their credentials if they publicly criticize Russia’s gay propaganda ban to minors that President Vladimir Putin signed into law in June.

Russian authorities have repeatedly said they will enforce the law during the Sochi games, in spite of repeated assurances the IOC said it has received from the Kremlin the statute would not impact athletes who plan to compete in the Olympics.

Figure skater Johnny Weir, whose husband is of Russian descent, told CBS News last month he is “not afraid of being arrested” while in Sochi. Gay New Zealand speed skater Blake Skjellerup said he plans to wear a rainbow pin during the Olympics if he qualifies to compete in them.

“[The IOC] started first by saying the Olympic games should not be used for political signals,” van Dijk noted. “After that they banned rainbow signals, which sort of implies that they think giving a voice to either your own sexual orientation or solidarity with other people is a political statement.”

Van Dijk spoke with the Blade two days before President Obama met with two Russian LGBT rights advocates and seven other human rights activists during the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg.

The ongoing outrage over Russia’s LGBT rights record coincides with the 400th anniversary of friendship between Russia and the Netherlands.

COC Nederland in April organized a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the meeting he had with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Amsterdam. A rainbow flag also flew at half-staff over Amsterdam City Hall and at other locations throughout the city while Putin visited.

More than 3,000 people last month protested Russia’s gay rights record during a Kremlin-sponsored concert in Amsterdam’s Museumplein that van Dijk said was designed to “acquaint the Dutch audience with the beauty and diversity of Russian culture.”

“We said well we understand the beauty and diversity of Russian culture and we fully agree,” van Dijk told the Blade. “But when the same government that is presenting us with this concert is fighting against diversity in their own country, we don’t want them to bring any propaganda here. So we decided to precede their concert with our own manifestation.”

Van Dijk noted Rutte has spoken out against the gay propaganda law and Russia’s LGBT rights record “very strongly.”

COC Nederland is scheduled to meet with the Dutch Olympic Committee on Wednesday to discuss the issue going into the Sochi games. Dutch Parliamentarians have also debated the possibility of boycotting the Olympics, but COC Nederland does not support such an action.

“The LGBT community in Russia is very vulnerable,” van Dijk said, noting public opinion in Russia is against gays and lesbians who remain susceptible to anti-LGBT violence. “Calling for a boycott would only give power to the anti-gay sentiments in Russia and make them more vulnerable because they would be the international conspirators that have spoiled the big Russian party of the winter games.”

Van Dijk stressed his organization feels “it’s better to keep communication lines open” with the Russians as opposed to boycotting the Sochi games. He also said he feels it is important for COC Nederland and other LGBT advocacy groups to take into account their Russian counterparts who do not support calls to boycott the Olympics.

“We always want to put the opinion of the people that we are working [with] there in front,” van Dijk said. “The Russian LGBT movement sent a very clear signal: Don’t boycott, but come over and show us your diversity. Make a statement during the games instead of leaving us alone and boycott.”

COC Nederland, the Netherlands, Holland, Russia, Vladimir Putin, anti-gay, gay news, Washington Blade

COC Nederland is among the Dutch groups that publicly opposed a law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed in June that bans gay propaganda to minors. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

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Va. bill would restrict transgender students access to school bathrooms

State Del. John Avioli (R-Stanton) introduced House Bill 1126

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The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict the ability of transgender students and school board employees to use bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

House Bill 1126, which state Del. John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced, would require “each school board to adopt policies to require each student and school board employee to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and other changing facilities in public school buildings that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; lodging accommodations during school-sponsored trips that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; and a single-user restroom, locker room, or other changing facility in a public school building, upon request, if the school can reasonably accommodate such a request.”

Avoli introduced HB 1126 on Jan. 12 on the same day the Virginia General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Jan. 15.

State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) last month introduced Senate Bill 20, which would eliminate the requirement that school districts must implement the Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in any state legislature in the U.S., told the Washington Blade last week that she expects SB 20 “would be dead on arrival” in committee.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, on its website notes HB 1126 is among the bills that it opposes.

Democrats still have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, and they have signaled they will oppose any effort to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia. Outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck last week said their organization “will work with the Senate’s pro-equality majority to act as a crucial back stop against harmful legislation and efforts to roll back our hard-earned wins passed during the last two years.”

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Una ‘besada’ inesperada en La Habana: El activismo LGBTQ independiente sale en defensa del Código de las Familias

Proyecto de ley debe garantizar igualdad matrimonial en Cuba

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Activistas LGBTIQ+ frente al Ministerio de Justicia (Foto de Nelson Álvarez Mairata)

Tremenda Nota es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Cuba. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 15 de enero.

LA HABANA — Activistas independientes de la comunidad LGBTIQ+ salieron a las calles del Vedado, en el centro moderno de La Habana, para realizar en una besada pública en respaldo al Código de las Familias, el proyecto de ley que debe legalizar las uniones entre personas del mismo sexo en Cuba, además de otros derechos.

El recorrido de los activistas comenzó en 23 y Malecón y tuvo escalas en el Hotel Nacional, el cine Yara y el Ministerio de Justicia.

La abogada Lidia Romero Moreno, el influencer Jancel Moreno y el pastor Adiel González Maimó estuvieron entre los participantes.

Romero Moreno, activista de la plataforma 11M, comentó a Tremenda Nota que se sumaba a la iniciativa porque “es una acción para comenzar a mover los activismos, y decir que estamos aquí y queremos todos los derechos para todas las personas”.

Por su parte, Adiel González Maimó explicó que “es importante todo lo que en materia de activismo se logre hacer con vistas al debate popular del Código de las Familias, para visibilizar las realidades y derechos de la comunidad LGBTIQ+”.

El proyecto de ley del Código de las Familias fue publicado en la Gaceta Oficial este 12 de enero y se someterá a consulta popular en el período comprendido entre el 1 de febrero y el 30 de abril del año 2022.

De ser aprobada finalmente en un referendo, la nueva ley resolverá muchas de las demandas de la sociedad civil cubana, entre ellas el matrimonio igualitario, la posibilidad de adopción sin que importe el género de los progenitores y la prohibición del matrimonio infantil.  

Las besadas públicas han sido una opción del activismo LGBTIQ+ para visibilizarse. Cuba no es la excepción.

En 2012 tuvo lugar la “Primera besada por la diversidad e igualdad” convocada por el Proyecto Arcoíris, una organización que se definía como “anticapitalista”, en un sitio cercano a la Plaza de la Revolución, en La Habana.

Dos años después, se repitió esta iniciativa en La Habana Vieja. Ambas ocurrieron el 28 de junio, Día del Orgullo LGBTIQ+ en recuerdo de los disturbios del bar Stonewall, en Nueva York, incidente que ha sido considerado un hito del activismo estadounidense y mundial.  

Otra besada LGBTIQ+ fue convocada el 29 de septiembre de 2015 por el Proyecto Arcoíris y la Red Observatorio Crítico.

En 2020, durante la epidemia de covid-19, el activismo realizó también un evento denominado #BesadaOnLineCuba2020 en la víspera el Día del Orgullo LGBTIQ+. La iniciativa abogaba por un Código de las Familias inclusivo y logró sumar colectivos y activistas de todo el país.

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Equality Virginia announces new executive director

Narissa Rahaman will succeed Vee Lamneck

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Narissa Rahaman (Photo courtesy of Equality Virginia)

Equality Virginia on Saturday announced Narissa Rahaman will be the organization’s new executive director.

Rahaman, who was previously the Human Rights Campaign’s Associate Regional Campaign Director, will succeed outgoing Executive Director Vee Lamneck on Feb. 2. Rahaman was born in Barbados and raised in Florida.

“Narissa also has 10+ years of experience in long-term strategic planning, multi-state organizing efforts, coalition management, and staff development, which make her an exceptional individual for the role of executive director,” said Equality Virginia in its announcement. “We are confident that under her leadership, the organization’s success and impact will continue to flourish as will our commitment to racial justice.”

Equality Virginia announced Rahaman will succeed Lamneck on the same day that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office amid concerns he will seek to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia.

Equality Virginia’s annual lobby day will take place virtually on Jan. 25. The organization’s annual Commonwealth Dinner is scheduled to take place in Richmond on March 26.

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