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Dutch LGBT rights group remains critical of IOC

COC Nederland to meet with Dutch Olympic officials



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)



Mark Milley defends cancellation of drag show at Nevada Air Force base

Move followed pressure from anti-LGBTQ Rep. Gaetz



U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (Official photo via U.S. Department of Defense)

U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN’s Oren Liebermann during an interview Monday that last week’s cancellation of a drag show at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada was “the absolute right thing to do.”

The top U.S. military officer said the decision came from U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, but added that he agreed with the move.

A Pentagon source familiar with the matter told the Washington Blade on Thursday that Milley informed Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. that it is not Pentagon policy to fund drag shows on bases and the show needed to be canceled or moved off base. 

He echoed those comments during Monday’s interview, asserting that the performances “were never part of [Department of Defense] policy to begin with, and they’re certainly not funded by federal funds.”

“DoD resources should be used for mission-essential operations, not diverted toward initiatives that create cultural fissures within our service ranks,” anti-LGBTQ U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said in a May 23 letter to Milley and Austin.

“I find it completely unacceptable that DoD is using taxpayer dollars to fund DEI programs that are divisive in nature,” said Gaetz, referring to diversity, equity, and inclusion – programs typically administered by corporations that have increasingly become targets of conservative outrage.

Milley pushed back on accusations that the military had “gone woke” during the interview, which took place in Normandy, France, marking the 79th anniversary of the D-Day invasion into Nazi-occupied Europe on June 6, 1944.

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District of Columbia

Large crowds expected at Capital Pride parade, festival

Bowser says there are no credible threats to events



Mayor Muriel Bowser said last week at a press conference that there are no credible threats to D.C.’s Pride celebrations. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday.

The parade will follow a 1.5-mile route that will step off on 14th Street at T Street, N.W., and finish on P Street at 21st Street, N.W. A map of the expected parade route can be found on the Capital Pride website

The Capital Block Party will take place at the intersection of Q and 17th Streets, N.W., during the parade. The party will feature local vendors, food trucks and a 21+ beverage garden and it will also have a designated viewing area for families with children to watch the parade, along with other children’s activities. 

The fourth annual Pride on the Pier will take place at the Wharf during the parade. The event, hosted by the Washington Blade, LURe DC and the Wharf, will have a fireworks show, a DJ and more. 

The parade will be followed by the Capital Pride Festival on June 11. Taking place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., the festival will feature more than 300 booths with local vendors, businesses and organizations. From 12-8 p.m., the Capital Pride Concert will host acts such as Broadway actress Idina Menzel and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Monét X Change.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser last Thursday told the Washington Blade after she helped to raise the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building that there have been no credible threats to any upcoming Pride events in D.C. amid a rise in violence against the LGBTQ community. 

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” Bowser said. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a bomb threat made on Twitter for the annual District Pride concert scheduled for June 29 at the Lincoln Theatre.

Temperatures are forecast to reach the mid-80s on Saturday and the low-90s on Sunday. Precipitation chances on both days are low.

With recent air quality issues, Alert DC is advising those with respiratory issues to wear masks, avoid strenuous activities and reduce time spent outdoors.

Further details and a full calendar of events can be found on the Capital Pride website.

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Calif. school district meeting over LGBTQ studies turns violent

Police officers and protestors clashed outside Glendale Unified School Board meeting



(YouTube screenshot from KCAL)

Police officers and protestors clashed outside a meeting of the Glendale Unified School Board over LGBTQ studies and the GUSD polices on addressing LGBTQ related issues.

News footage from CBS Los Angeles KCAL showed approximately 50 Glendale police officers attempting to keep the two groups separated and then fists were thrown as both sides engaged in physical assaults. A Glendale police spokesperson confirmed that some arrests had been made but wouldn’t comment further.

Witnesses and news crews noted that many of those protesting against the LGBTQ community were from the same group that had protested at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood, angered over a Pride month assembly. Officers from the LAPD’s North Hollywood Community Station responded and there were physical assaults as well.

The situation in Glendale has become increasingly acrimonious. Last year during Pride month, a third grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Tammy Tiber, had enraged some parents after speaking to her students about LGBTQ topics on Zoom. The GUSD officials later transferred her because Tiber had told them she no longer felt safe.

A spokesperson for the district said that all materials are vetted by the GUSD, and are in full compliance with curriculum that deals with LGBTQ history, mandated under California’s FAIR Education Act, which was signed into law on July 14, 2011, and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

It amends the California Education Code to include the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful reference to contributions by people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community in history and social studies curriculum.

Last month on May 18, a man who is not the parent of a child in the district, accused GUSD school board vice president Jennifer Freemon of concealing consistent attempts to “indoctrinate” students on LGBTQ issues.

“They are saying boys can be girls and girls can be boys,” Henry said during the board meeting. “If you believe in that, that is your opinion, and if that is your official policy, Jennifer, that is indoctrination because it offends a lot of people’s actual doctrine.”

As an example of instructing students to “behave inappropriately,” Henry referenced an alleged recent incident involving a student with special needs. GUSD student Thelma Gonzalez, who spoke later in the meeting, was allegedly asked to provide the definition of “scissoring” during a health lesson, despite her mother requesting that she be excused.

“A violation of their doctrine, their Christian doctrine,” Henry said, referring to Gonzalez and her mother. “Regardless of what you think, what I think, what the community thinks about any faith, you violated that. And if you don’t condemn that today, Jennifer, you are a hypocrite and a liar.”

He then mounted an attack on district polices regarding its transgender students.

“If you think they value your children, you’re more than entitled to think that,” Henry said. “They will not lie to you about your child, they will lie to these parents. They will conceal that private information from parents. You have enshrined that into doctrine, into policy, which is a misinterpretation of the law.”

It is not immediately clear what policy Henry was referring to. However, GUSD’s anti-discrimination policy states the district will only disclose a student’s “transgender or gender-nonconforming status” with their consent. It also mandates that a district official may discuss with that same student “any need” to confide in their parents or guardians.

Inside the Tuesday GUSD board meeting, pro- and anti-LGBTQ protesters faced off over how schools teach gender and sexuality, attendees were suddenly told to shelter in place as the violence outside escalated. The interruption came after about an hour of public comments, most of them in defense of the LGBTQ community and the district’s handling of materials and policies.

Protesters fight outside Glendale school district meeting about LGBTQ studies:


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