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IOC president meets with Russian LGBT athletes, activist

Concerns over Russia’s gay rights record discussed

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Athlete Ally, All Out, IOC, International Olympic Committee, Russia, Sochi, gay news, Washington Blade

Athlete Ally, All Out, IOC, International Olympic Committee, Russia, Sochi, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of All Out and Athlete Ally on August 7 presented a petition with more than 300,000 signatures to the International Olympic Committee that urges it to pressure Russia to end its gay crackdown. (Photo courtesy of All Out)

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Nov. 30 met Russian LGBT athletes and advocates amid continued criticism over the Kremlin’s gay rights record ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Elvina Yuvakaeva and Konstantin Yablotskiy of the Russian LGBT Sports Federation and Anastasia Smirnova of the Russian LGBT Network met with Bach in Paris where he was attending the 100th anniversary of the International Fencing Federation. Emy Ritt and Marc Naimark of the Federation of Gay Games; IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams and Bach’s incoming chief-of-staff, Jochen Faerber, also attended the meeting that lasted more than an hour.

Yuvakaeva, Yablotskiy and Smirnova discussed their desire to have a so-called Pride House for LGBT athletes and their supporters during the games that are scheduled to begin in Sochi, Russia, on Feb. 7. They also raised concerns over the implementation of a vaguely worded law that bans gay propaganda to minors during the Olympics.

The IOC flew the three to Paris for the meeting.

“We expressed our desire for a safe space for LGBT people at the Sochi Games,” Yablotskiy said in a press release the Federation of Gay Games sent to the Washington Blade after the meeting. “At the Vancouver and London Olympics, Pride Houses were organized by the LGBT sports community, but in Sochi, our government has banned such initiatives. We still hope that the IOC will be able to intervene to demonstrate its commitment to sport for all and to the values of the Olympic Charter.”

Smirnova specifically criticized Russia’s gay propaganda law in a letter written on behalf of Russian LGBT rights activists that she gave to Bach.

“We believe that this legislation and the environment infringe and debase the Olympic values,” she wrote. “The IOC is in the unique position of both power and responsibility to ensure that the Winter Olympics 2014 do not embrace discrimination and violence against LGBT persons.”

The letter called upon the IOC to “publicly express support for those in the Olympic movement who speak up for basic human rights of LGBT persons.” It also urged the Olympic body to not only condemn Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, but to create a Pride House in Sochi.

“We are aware of and are gravely concerned with the fact that the IOC does not acknowledge the urgency and necessity of this action, reiterating and endorsing vague assurances by the Russian government of non-discrimination at the Sochi games,” the letter reads. “While we appreciate your assurance that the IOC is committed to non-discrimination, we believe that everyone in the Olympic Movement should have a clear and well-informed understanding of the legal implications that exist in Russia in relation to the basic rights of LGBT individuals.”

Bach in September stressed before the lighting of the Olympic flame in Greece that Olympic values include “respect without any form of discrimination.”

He took part in an Oct. 28 press conference in Sochi during which Russian President Vladimir Putin said gays and lesbians will not suffer discrimination during the games. Other Kremlin officials had previously said authorities plan to enforce the propaganda law during the Olympics.

Smirnova said Bach declined to meet with Russian LGBT rights advocates while in Sochi.

“It’s good to hear that equality advocates are continuing the fight for non-discrimination at the Olympics,” U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told the Blade after Bach met with Yuvakaeva, Yablotskiy and Smirnova. “I hope that, by this continuing and relentless lobbying efforts by so many, the [IOC] will realize that this issue cannot and will not be swept under the rug. We can all continue to do more to alert officials that the concerns of the LGBT community must be addressed.”

Naimark told the Blade on Monday during an interview from Paris that the IOC has not responded to a campaign the Federation of Gay Games launched in 2010 in support of amending the Olympic charter to ban anti-gay discrimination.

“To go from that to a face-to-face meeting with the president of the IOC is a huge step,” said Naimark as he discussed the Nov. 30 meeting. “Thomas Bach is to be praised.”

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Cuba Ministry of Public Health displays Pride flag in support of LGBTQ community

Family code bill will be introduced in July

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(Photo by María Lucía Expósito)

 

Tremenda Nota is the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba. A Spanish version of this article can be found here. 

HAVANA — The Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) hung a Pride flag on the outside of its headquarters in support of the LGBTI+ community; whose rights to legalize marriages, access artificial insemination and full recognition of gender identity are currently being debated in Cuba.

Tremenda Nota was able to confirm the University of the Arts’ Faculty of the Arts of Audiovisual Media (FAMCA), in addition to MINSAP, also celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia by placing an LGBTI+ flag on its headquarters.

Activists said the embassies of the Netherlands and of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, in addition to these institutions, also raised the Pride flag this Monday.

La Marca, an Old Havana tattoo parlor, and AfroAtenAs and El Mejunje in Matanzas and Santa Clara respectively are among the independent community centers that showed solidarity with the LGBTI+ community by hanging LGBTI+ flags.

Some activists took to social media to thank MINSAP for its support and interpreted the gesture as a favorable sign in government policy, which must introduce the family code bill in Parliament in July. Others were critical and referred to the Cuban government’s history of homophobia.

Tremenda Nota photographer María Lucía Expósito was outside MINSAP and took the images that we shared.

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Biden: Growth of authoritarianism on global stage threatens LGBTQ rights

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President Joe Biden (POOL PHOTO courtesy of the United States Senate Press Photographers Gallery)

 

President Biden recognized on Monday the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia, decrying the rising trend of authoritarianism on the global stage for continuing to “widen economic, social and safety gaps for LGBTQI+ people,” according to an advance copy of his statement obtained by the Washington Blade.

Biden criticizes authoritarian governments, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, for endangering LGBTQ people in the IDAHOTB statement and specifically enumerates violence against transgender people internationally as an ongoing issue.

“Despite this progress, both COVID-19 and rising authoritarianism around the world continue to widen economic, social, and safety gaps for LGBTQI+ people — and an epidemic of violence still rages, with a particular impact on the transgender community, specifically transgender women and girls of color,” Biden said. “Around the world, some 70 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships.”

Biden makes the statement as Russia and China are challenging democratic systems across the world and seeking to undermine the United States as a global leader and advocate for free market systems.

Meanwhile, other countries, such as Turkey and Venezuela, have shifted toward authoritarianism. According to Freedom House, which scores countries on their commitment to democratic systems, countries with aggregate score declines have outnumbered those with gains every year for the past 15 years.

Biden also enumerates in his statement his commitment to LGBTQ people at home, recognizing they lack basic protections in 25 states and renewing his call for passage of the Equality Act.

“My administration will always stand with the LGBTQI+ community,” Biden said. “Already, we have rolled back discriminatory polices targeting LGBTQI+ Americans, and we have made historic appointments of LGBTQI+ individuals to the highest levels of our government. We continue to implement my executive orders to advance equality and equity. And I continue to urge Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would confirm critical civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for all Americans.”

Read Biden’s full statement below:

Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

May 17, 2021

Jill and I are proud to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — the anniversary of the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization took the long overdue step of declassifying ‘homosexuality’ as a mental disorder.

So much has changed for the LGBTQI+ community since that day — not only in our laws, but in the hearts and minds of the American people. Courageous activists in America and around the world have championed progress, and won. Here at home, marriage equality and greater protections against hate crimes are the law of the land. Overseas, foreign governments, civil societies, and international organizations like the United Nations finally recognize that LGBTQI+ people are deserving of the full measure of dignity and equality.

Despite this progress, both COVID-19 and rising authoritarianism around the world continue to widen economic, social, and safety gaps for LGBTQI+ people — and an epidemic of violence still rages, with a particular impact on the transgender community, specifically transgender women and girls of color. Around the world, some 70 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships. And here at home, LGBTQI+ Americans still lack basic protection in 25 states, and they continue to face discrimination in housing, education, and public services.

My Administration will always stand with the LGBTQI+ community. Already, we have rolled back discriminatory polices targeting LGBTQI+ Americans, and we have made historic appointments of LGBTQI+ individuals to the highest levels of our government. We continue to implement my executive orders to advance equality and equity. And I continue to urge Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would confirm critical civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for all Americans.

Everyone is entitled to dignity and equality, no matter who they are, whom they love, or how they identify — and we will continue to engage with allies and partners to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ people here at home and in all corners of the world.

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D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011

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shooting, DC Eagle, assault, hate crime, anti-gay attack, police discrimination, sex police, Sisson, gay news, Washington Blade

A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim’s apartment in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident.

D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki, who was 37 at the time of his 2020 arrest on a charge of bias-related attempts to do bodily harm against the gay man, was charged on May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house at 4412 Georgia Ave., N.W.

Court charging documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter. An arrest affidavit filed in court by D.C. police says Malki allegedly threatened to kill the man who owns the house shortly after the man arrived at the house while Malki was inside.

According to the affidavit, Malki walked up to the owner of the house while the owner was sitting in his car after having called police and told him, “If you come back here, I’m going to kill you.” While making that threat Malki displayed what appeared to be a gun in his waistband, but which was later found to be a toy gun, the affidavit says.

Malki then walked back inside the house minutes before police arrived and arrested him. Court records show that similar to the court proceedings following his 2020 arrest for threatening the gay man, a judge in the latest case ordered Malki released while awaiting trial. In both cases, the judge ordered him to stay away from the two men he allegedly threatened to kill.

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police in the 2020 case states that Malki allegedly made the threats inside an apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W. It says Malki was living in a nearby building but often visited the building where the victim lived.

“Victim 1 continued to state during an interview that it was not the first time that Defendant 1 had made threats to him, but this time Defendant 1 stated that if he caught him outside, he would ‘fucking kill him.’” the affidavit says. It quotes the victim as saying during this time Malki repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot.”

The affidavit, prepared by the arresting officers, says that after the officers arrested Malki and were leading him to a police transport vehicle to be booked for the arrest, he expressed an “excited utterance” that he was “in disbelief that officers sided with the ‘fucking faggot.’”

Court records show that Malki is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing for both the 2020 arrest and the arrest two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill the owner of the house in which police say he was illegally squatting.

Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people. Two of the cases appear to be LGBTQ related, but prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not list the cases as hate crimes.

In the first of the three cases, filed in July 2011, Malki allegedly shoved a man inside Dupont Circle and threatened to kill him after asking the man why he was wearing a purple shirt.

“Victim 1 believes the assault occurred because Suspect 1 believes Victim 1 is a homosexual,” the police arrest affidavit says.

Court records show prosecutors charged Malki with simple assault and threats to do bodily harm in the case. But the court records show that on Sept. 13, 2011, D.C. Superior Court Judge Stephen F. Eilperin found Malki not guilty on both charges following a non-jury trial.

The online court records do not state why the judge rendered a not guilty verdict. With the courthouse currently closed to the public and the press due to COVID-related restrictions, the Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain the records to determine the judge’s reason for the verdict.

In the second case, court records show Malki was arrested by D.C. police outside the Townhouse Tavern bar and restaurant at 1637 R St., N.W. on Nov. 7, 2012 for allegedly threatening one or more people with a knife after employees ordered Malki to leave the establishment for “disorderly behavior.”

At the time, the Townhouse Tavern was located next door to the gay nightclub Cobalt, which before going out of business two years ago, was located at the corner of 17th and R Streets, N.W.

The police arrest affidavit in the case says Malki allegedly pointed a knife in a threatening way at two of the tavern’s employees who blocked his path when he attempted to re-enter the tavern. The affidavit says he was initially charged by D.C. police with assault with a dangerous weapon – knife. Court records, however, show that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office lowered the charges to two counts of simple assault. The records show that on Jan. 15, 2013, Malki pleaded guilty to the two charges as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

The records show that Judge Marissa Demeo on that same day issued a sentence of 30 days for each of the two charges but suspended all 30 days for both counts. She then sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for both charges and ordered that he undergo alcohol and drug testing and undergo treatment if appropriate.

In the third case prior to the 2020 and 2021 cases, court records show Malki was arrested outside the Cobalt gay nightclub on March 14, 2015 on multiple counts of simple assault, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon – knife, possession of a prohibited weapon – knife, and unlawful entry.

The arrest affidavit says an altercation started on the sidewalk outside the bar when for unknown reasons, Malki grabbed a female customer who was outside smoking and attempted to pull her toward him. When her female friend came to her aid, Malki allegedly got “aggressive” by threatening the woman and “removed what appeared to be a knife from an unknown location” and pointed it at the woman’s friend in a threatening way, the affidavit says.

It says a Cobalt employee minutes later ordered Malki to leave the area and he appeared to do so. But others noticed that he walked toward another entrance door to Cobalt and attempted to enter the establishment knowing he had been ordered not to return because of previous problems with his behavior, the affidavit says. When he attempted to push away another employee to force his way into Cobalt, Malki fell to the ground during a scuffle and other employees held him on the ground while someone else called D.C. police.

Court records show that similar to all of Malki’s arrests, a judge released him while awaiting trial and ordered him to stay away from Cobalt and all of those he was charged with threatening and assaulting.

The records show that on Sept. 18, 2015, Malki agreed to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors in which all except two of the charges – attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and simple assault – were dropped. Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. on Oct. 2, 2015 sentenced Malki to 60 days of incarnation for each of the two charges but suspended all but five days, which he allowed Malki to serve on weekends, the court records show.

The judge ordered that the two five-day jail terms could be served concurrently, meaning just five days total would be served, according to court records. The records also show that Judge Irving sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for each of the two counts and ordered that he enter an alcohol treatment program and stay away from Cobalt.

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