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Lesbian elected to Colombian Congress

Angélica Lozano will be first out member of national legislature

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Bogotá, Angélica Lozano, Colombia, Washington Blade, gay news

Bogotá, Angélica Lozano, Colombia, Washington Blade, gay news

Former Bogotá City Councilwoman Angélica Lozano (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A lesbian former councilwoman in the Colombian capital on Sunday became the first out person elected to the South American country’s Congress.

Angélica Lozano received more than 30,000 votes as a candidate for the Green Alliance Party to represent Bogotá in the Colombian House of Representatives in legislative elections.

“It is very important that our fight in the name of equality and respect, justice and the recognition of our rights has been achieved,” Lozano told the Washington Blade on Monday. “For the LGBT community this means that we are completely out of the closet, that we have a voice from our own community in the Congress, that we are going to have an openly lesbian congresswoman in an institution that has been historically misogynistic and homophobic.”

Lozano, a lawyer who is the former mayor of Bogotá’s Chapinero district that has a large gay population, has advised Colombian lawmakers Antonio Navarro Wolff and Íngrid Betancourt Pulecio, whom members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) kidnapped in 2002 while she was campaigning for president. Lozano also took part in a USAID-backed training in May that nearly three dozen Colombian LGBT rights advocates attended in Bogotá.

The country’s Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled same-sex couples could legally register their relationships in two years if Colombian lawmakers did not pass a bill that would extend to them the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage.

The Colombian Senate last April overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have allowed gays and lesbians to tie the knot. A handful of same-sex couples have exchanged vows in the country since the Constitutional Court’s deadline passed last June, but Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado has spearheaded efforts to challenge them.

Lozano told the Blade during an interview in her Bogotá office last May that LGBT Colombians continue to face social inequalities in spite of efforts to extend more legal rights to them. She said on Monday she and Colombian LGBT rights advocates continue to fight to secure recognition of gay and lesbian families and other measures to “guarantee our dignified life” and ensure “we will be on the right side of history.”

“Today Bogotanos have endorsed this mandate,” Lozano told the Blade.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Paola Fajardo

    March 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Paola!!! No se si seguiste las elecciones en Colombia, Angelica Lozano fue elegida para la camara de Representantes:)

  2. Dennis Velco

    March 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks for this article and your reporting. What you do is appreciated. 
     
    I posted it to the largest LGBT Group on LinkedIn with over 25,000+ global members to spur members to read your article and to make comment. I also scooped it at Scoop.It on my LGBT Times news mashup. 
     
    Link to group >> http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=63687
     
    All LGBT+ and community allies…. please come join me and 25,000+ of your soon to be great connections on LinkedIn. The member base represents 80% of the world’s countries.  
     
    It’s core value is – Visibility can lead to awareness which can lead to equality. Come stand with us and increase our visibility on the globe’s largest professional networking site. Be a professional who just happens to be LGBT – or a welcomed community ally.  

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Federal Government

Veterans can now identify as transgender, nonbinary on their VA medical records

About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity

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Graphic via U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Wednesday that his department added the options of transgender male, transgender female, nonbinary and other, when veterans select their gender, in medical records and healthcare documentation.

“All veterans, all people, have a basic right to be identified as they define themselves,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “This is essential for their general well-being and overall health. Knowing the gender identity of transgender and gender-diverse veterans helps us better serve them.”

The statement also noted that the change allows health-care providers to better understand and meet the medical needs of their patients. The information also could help providers identify any stigma or discrimination that a veteran has faced that might be affecting their health.

McDonough speaking at a Pride Month event last June at the Orlando VA Healthcare System, emphasized his support for Trans and LGBQ+ vets.

McDonough said that he pledged to overcome a “dark history” of discrimination and take steps to expand access to care for transgender veterans.

With this commitment McDonough said he seeks to allow “transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side,” McDonough said. “We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do, but because they can save lives,” he added.

In a survey of transgender veterans and transgender active-duty service members, transgender veterans reported several mental health diagnoses, including depression (65%), anxiety (41%), PTSD (31%), and substance abuse (16%).  In a study examining VHA patient records from 2000 to 2011 (before the 2011 VHA directive), the rate of suicide-related events among veterans with a gender identity disorder (GID) diagnoses was found to be 20 times higher than that of the general VHA patient population.

McDonough acknowledged the VA research pointing out that in addition to psychological distress, trans veterans also may experience prejudice and stigma. About 80 percent of trans veterans have encountered a hurtful or rejecting experience in the military because of their gender identity.

“LGBTQ+ veterans experience mental illness and suicidal thoughts at far higher rates than those outside their community,” McDonough said. “But they are significantly less likely to seek routine care, largely because they fear discrimination.

“At VA, we’re doing everything in our power to show veterans of all sexual orientations and gender identities that they can talk openly, honestly and comfortably with their health care providers about any issues they may be experiencing,” he added.

All VA facilities have had a local LGBTQ Veteran Care Coordinator responsible for helping those veterans connect to available services since 2016.

“We’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do but because they can save lives,” McDonough said. He added that the VA would also change the name of the Veterans Health Administration’s LGBT health program to the LGBTQ+ Health Program to reflect greater inclusiveness.

Much of the push for better access to healthcare and for recognition of the trans community is a result of the polices of President Joe Biden, who reversed the ban on Trans military enacted under former President Trump, expanding protections for transgender students and revived anti-bias safeguards in health care for transgender Americans.

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Florida

Prominent LGBTQ+ activist found dead in Florida landfill

Diaz-Johnston was the brother of former Miami mayor and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz & he led the fight for marriage equality

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Photo courtesy of Don Diaz Johnston

Police in Florida’s capital city confirmed that the body of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, 54, who had been reported missing was found in a Jackson County landfill Saturday morning.

Diaz-Johnston was last seen alive Jan. 3 in Tallahassee, more than an hour from where his body was found, according to a missing person notice released by police. Detectives are investigating his death as a homicide, a police spokesperson said.

Diaz-Johnston, was the brother of former Miami mayor and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz. As an LGBTQ advocate he led the fight for marriage equality, he and his husband were plaintiffs in an historic 2014 lawsuit that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Miami-Dade County.

ABC News reported at the time that a South Florida circuit court judge sided with Diaz-Johnston and five couples suing the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Florida dropped its ban on same-sex marriage in 2015.

His husband wrote in a poignant Facebook post; “There are just no words for the loss of my beloved husband Jorge Isaias Diaz-Johnston. I can’t stop crying as I try and write this. But he meant so much to all of you as he did to me. So I am fighting through the tears to share with you our loss of him.”

“We are heartbroken to learn of the death of Jorge. He and his husband Don were two of the brave plaintiffs who took on Florida’s anti-gay marriage ban and helped win marriage equality for all Floridians,” Equality Florida said adding, “Our deepest condolences to Don and Jorge’s extended family.”

Detectives urge anyone who may have information to call 850-891-4200, or make an anonymous tip to Big Bend Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

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National

Bill prohibiting ‘gay panic defense’ clears New Hampshire House

New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of ‘gay panic’ as a defense

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New Hampshire State House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Legislation prohibiting defendants accused of manslaughter from using the victim’s gender, gender identity or sexual orientation as a defense, which had died in committee during the 2021 regular session of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, was reintroduced this session and passed with a 223-118 vote last week.

House Bill 238, stirred up controversary from opponents who claimed that state statues already covered murder and manslaughter. During a Criminal Justice committee hearing last Spring, Rep. Dick Marston, a Manchester Republican, voiced opposition, saying that the laws already cover murder and manslaughter and that “there’s no way in heck that you’re going to be able to say ‘Well because he or she was some deviant sexuality that I’m not–‘”

Marston was cut off by committee chairman Daryl Abbas, a Salem Republican, who gaveled him down and rebuked him for the derogatory language the Concord-Monitor reported

Later, the committee Republicans blocked an effort to move the bill out of committee alleging it needed more work and was not necessary because a jury could already strike down a similar attempted defense. The bill was then stalled in the committee, effectively killing it from being pushed further in last year’s session.

As the measure now heads to the state Senate, New Hampshire could soon join over a dozen other states which ban the use of the ‘gay panic’ as a defense.

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