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Peru ‘is not Uganda’ on LGBT rights

South American country lacks discrimination law; civil unions bill stalled



Giovanny Romero Infante, Lima Homosexual Movement, gay news, Washington Blade
Peru, gay news, Washington Blade

Peruvian LGBT rights advocates at a meeting of LGBT activists from Latin America and the Caribbean in Lima, Peru, on Sept. 5, 2014. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

LIMA, Peru — Anita Araujo Rodríguez of the Civil Union Now Collective, a group that supports a bill that would allow same-sex couples in Peru to enter into a civil union, was among those who sought to march to the Peruvian Congress on June 6 to urge lawmakers in the conservative South American country to vote on the measure.

Araujo and other protesters were near Lima’s Plaza San Martín as they were marching towards the Peruvian Congress when police officers lobbed tear gas canisters at them. She was subsequently treated at the hospital for injuries she suffered during the clashes.

“Peru now finds itself in a very difficult situation,” Araujo told the Washington Blade during a Sept. 6 interview at a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean LGBT rights advocates that took place at Cayetano Heredia University in Lima’s Miraflores neighborhood. “We are in a fight against conservatism, against stereotypes, against manifestations.”

Araujo and other Peruvian LGBT rights advocates with whom the Blade spoke during the two-day meeting the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute co-organized lamented the fact LGBT rights in their country lag far behind those found in neighboring Brazil and other Latin American nations.

‘No means of protection’ for LGBT Peruvians

Congressman Carlos Bruce, who came out as gay in May, last year introduced a civil unions bill amid criticism from Lima Archbishop Juan Luís Cipriani and other leading Peruvian religious figures and politicians. Congresswoman Martha Chávez, a supporter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori who came to power in 1990, and Congressman Julio Rosas, who is a pastor from the city of Huánuco, proposed their own measures as a way to block any potential vote on the out legislator’s measure.

Public Defender Eduardo Vega Luna and Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010, are among those who have backed Bruce’s proposal. In spite of this support, a poll last year found 65 percent of Peruvians oppose any efforts to allow same-sex couples to enter into a civil union.

President Ollanta Humana during his 2011 election campaign promised Cipriani on Peruvian television that he would not approve abortion and what Giovanny Romero Infante, executive director of the Homosexual Movement of Lima, described to the Blade as “any type of right for homosexual couples.”

Bruce and others conceded the civil unions bill is unlikely to pass in the Peruvian Congress.

“It is very worrying that members of Congress that have spoken to us feel the need to present a level of discourse that leaves much to be desired,” Gabriela Zavaleta Vera of the Civil Union Now Collective told the Blade during the Lima meeting. “There have been many homophobic statements, many statements that denote a lot of discrimination and these are based on ignorance. This does not reflect how much we want to move forward as a society.”

Antonio Capurro, Peru, LGBT rights, gay news, Washington Blade

Peruvian LGBT rights activist Antonio Capurro holds a sign that reads “And where are our rights? We are also citizens.” (Photo courtesy of Antonio Capurro)

Other advocates with whom the Blade spoke in Lima stressed anti-LGBT discrimination and violence remain serious problems throughout the country.

Peruvian law does not ban anti-LGBT discrimination. Lawmakers last year voted overwhelmingly to remove sexual orientation and gender identity and expression from a proposed hate crimes law.

Marxy Condori Marín, a lesbian activist from the city of Arequipa, told the Blade she would not come out at work because her boss would fire her because of her sexual orientation.

“There are not any means of protection for our community,” she said.

The issue is even more acute for trans Peruvians.

Luisa Revilla, a trans advocate from the city of Trujillo, told the Blade many trans people work in hair salons or become prostitutes because they do not have access to any other employment opportunities. Miluska Luzquiños, another trans advocate from the city of Lambayeque, added those who are kicked out of their homes as teenagers because of their gender identity and expression see prostitution as “the only option” available to them.

“Unfortunately trans girls and trans women don’t have the opportunity to be other things,” said Revilla.

Luisa Revilla, Miluska Luzquiños, Peru, gay news, Washington Blade

From left; Luisa Revilla and Miluska Luzquiños, two Peruvian transgender advocates, during a break at a meeting of LGBT activists from Latin America and the Caribbean in Lima, Peru, on Sept. 5, 2014. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Bruce acknowledged to the Blade during a Sept. 4 interview that insecurity and homophobia “exist throughout the country.” He also said police, prosecutors and other officials can do more to respond to anti-LGBT crimes.

“They do not pursue these crimes with the same energy they pursue crimes against heterosexual people,” said Bruce.

Romero noted anti-LGBT police violence remains commonplace throughout the country.

“There are daily situations of systematic violence on the part of the police,” he said.

Churches ‘ignore’ fact Peru is a secular country

Advocates point out the Roman Catholic Church’s close ties to the Peruvian government is one of the reasons LGBT rights have not advanced as far as in neighboring countries.

The Catholic Church receives an annual subsidy of nearly $700,000 from the Peruvian government under a 1980 agreement.

The Peruvian Ministry of Justice each month pays the salaries and pensions of Catholic priests. The country also supports clinics and other church-run groups and institutions.

“The state pays the salaries of the bishops and the cardinal,” Bruce told the Blade. “However Peru is a secular state with freedom of religion. Why do we not pay the salaries of evangelical pastors or Hare Krishna or other religions? Because we are a Catholic state.”

Evangelicals have grown more influential in Peruvian society and politics in recent years.

Romero pointed out to the Blade that 13 percent of Peruvians now identify themselves as evangelicals. This sector is also gaining traction in the country’s Congress.

“We have some declarations from members of Congress that are openly homophobic,” said Araujo. “What is worse is religious members of Congress that have moved a lot of money back so they can organize social mobilizations against (us) in a way that has completely divided the country.”

“Peru is a secular state, but the churches ignore this,” added Condori.

Rosas in March invited Michael Brown, an anti-gay minister from North Carolina, to speak to the Peruvian Congress. The same congressman last year honored Mathew Staver, chair of the Liberty Counsel, in Lima.

Romero told the Blade that anti-LGBT American evangelicals have announced an initiative to help bolster their Peruvian counterparts’ efforts.

“It’s terrible,” Romero told the Blade. “Peru is a center of operations for anti-rights sectors in the region and this program of capacitation that is going to happen throughout the region began in Peru.”

Romero also noted the lack of democratic institutions in Peru has also contributed to the lack of progress on LGBT-specific issues.

Fujimori took office in 1990 amid an ongoing conflict between the Peruvian government and the Shining Star and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement guerrilla groups.

Romero told the Blade these two organizations had a “social cleansing” policy that targeted gay men, drug addicts, prostitutes and other so-called undesirables.

He said Shining Star and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement carried out mass killings and threatened his organization during the 1990s. Romero further categorized Fujimori’s presidency that ended in 2000 as a “process of dictatorship.”

“It is not that Peru is a democratic space where there human rights and this is a problem for the gays,” he said. “The bigger problem that we confront is Peru is like the idea of the U.S. State Department, a weak democracy where there is no consciousness of rights.”

LGBT advocates divided by political affiliation

Founded in 1982, the Homosexual Movement of Lima is among the oldest LGBT advocacy organizations in Latin America.

The group, which allies itself with Peru’s political left, sought to “normalize” homosexuality. It also launched the country’s first campaigns to curb the AIDS epidemic through the distribution of condoms and other initiatives.

Romero told the Blade his group has backed efforts to promote democracy and the rights of women since its inception. He stressed the Homosexual Movement of Lima is also in “permanent solidarity with the indigenous communities” of Peru.

“MHOL (the Spanish acronym for the Homosexual Movement of Lima) has permanently been close to not only LGBT fights,” said Romero.

The country’s LGBT rights movement began to gain some traction after Fujimori left the country and went into exile in Japan in 2000, but challenges remain.

Peruvian advocacy groups tend to align themselves with a particular political ideology, and activists who join them share these beliefs.

“All the gays that are not on the left are unable to participate in MHOL,” Bruce told the Blade. “If you have a federation of LGBT organizations that includes everyone, they would be much more effective.”

The Homosexual Movement of Lima’s decision to initially oppose Bruce’s civil unions measure sparked criticism among some Peruvian advocates.

Verónica Ferrari, the former president of the Homosexual Movement of Lima, in April resigned.

“The movement is not 16 people that decide everything without being elected, without asking anyone’s permission, without any consultation,” she said in her resignation letter. “The movement is neither a director or a president, the movement is neither a bill nor a public policy that makes no movement. The movement is of everyone and each one of the LGTB people who want a better country.”

Other advocates — particularly those who are trans — have questioned whether the focus on Bruce’s civil unions bill has deflected attention away from other issues.

“We don’t identify with it,” Maricielo Peña, a trans advocate from Lima, told the Blade during the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute-sponsored meeting.

Romero appeared to acknowledge this argument, noting the majority of the 20 Peruvians he said die from AIDS each week are either gay or trans.

“And these trans people or gays, they are generally found living below the poverty line,” he said. “We clearly want marriage equality because people have the right to do what they want with their lives, but in the context of 20 deaths each weeks of trans and gay people from AIDS and that each week there is an anti-gay crime, there are pluralities.”

‘We are forced to fight for our community’s interests’

In spite of the challenges, Peruvian LGBT advocates continue to make progress.

More than 10,000 people in April marched through downtown Lima in support of Bruce’s civil unions bill.

Condori told the Blade that an Arequipa judge last month issued what she described as a “favorable” ruling in a case that involved a lesbian who had been raped to change her sexual orientation.

Both Luzquiños and Redilla are candidates in local and regional elections that will take place across Peru on Oct. 5. They are also among the nearly 300 people who attended the Lima meeting the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund co-organized as part of the LGBT Global Development Partnership the U.S. Agency for International Development launched last year to support advocacy efforts in developing countries.

“We are forced to fight for our community’s interests,” said Redilla. “We are human beings that have ideals. We are professionals, we are capable people and we have to change the image of the people.”

Peruvian LGBT advocates with whom the Blade spoke said they continue to watch efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the U.S. and other Latin American countries very closely.

“As a Peruvian, as a lesbian and as an activist, it makes me envious,” said Araujo. “Envious that they have had a privilege to have the opportunity to get married, to enjoy the same rights as any other person. We don’t have that here in Peru.”

Romero questioned those activists who feel efforts to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in Argentina and other Latin American countries will work in Peru. He said this assumption on the part of the organizers of the Lima meeting is among the reasons the Homosexual Movement of Lima did not take part in it.

“In the United States, the experiences of Northern states are not comparable to the Southern states,” said Romero. “We are closer to Central America where homosexuality was criminalized and where there are more experiences with civil wars in recent years.”

Romero nevertheless said the Peruvian LGBT rights movement is more advanced than those found in other countries.

“Clearly there are advances,” he said. “Peru is not Uganda, even though sometimes it appears to be.”

Giovanny Romero Infante, Lima Homosexual Movement, gay news, Washington Blade

Giovanny Romero Infante, executive director of the Homosexual Movement of Lima, at his organization’s headquarters in the Peruvian capital. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

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  1. Neon Genesis

    September 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    So where is Pope “who am I to judge” Francis in all of this and why doesn’t he speak out against the rapid homophobia in countries like Peru?

    • Larry Esser

      September 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      The way things are in Peru is what you get when you let religion get the upper hand as it clearly has there. That is why we still must fight hard here in the US to keep religion out of government, public schools, and public affairs.

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Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise



Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.

Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.

If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.

“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”

The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process.  We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”

A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.

Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.

The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.

“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”

“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”

But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.

No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.

“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”

Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.

Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.

To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.

“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”

But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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D.C. bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense delayed by Capitol security

Delivery of bill to Congress was held up due to protocols related to Jan. 6 riots



New fencing around the Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented some D.C. bills from being delivered to the Hill for a required congressional review. (Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill approved unanimously last December by the D.C. Council to ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense has been delayed from taking effect as a city law because the fence installed around the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the law from being delivered to Congress.

According to Eric Salmi, communications director for D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who guided the bill through the Council’s legislative process, all bills approved by the Council and signed by the D.C. mayor must be hand-delivered to Congress for a required congressional review.

“What happened was when the Capitol fence went up after the January insurrection, it created an issue where we physically could not deliver laws to Congress per the congressional review period,” Salmi told the Washington Blade.

Among the bills that could not immediately be delivered to Congress was the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, which was approved by the Council on a second and final vote on Dec. 15.

Between the time the bill was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and published in the D.C. Register under procedural requirements for all bills, it was not ready to be transmitted to Congress until Feb. 16, the Council’s legislative record for the bill shows.

Salmi said the impasse in delivering the bill to Congress due to the security fence prevented the bill from reaching Congress on that date and prevented the mandatory 60-day congressional review period for this bill from beginning at that time. He noted that most bills require a 30 legislative day review by Congress.

But the Evangelista-Hunter bill, named after a transgender woman and a gay man who died in violent attacks by perpetrators who attempted to use the trans and gay panic defense, includes a law enforcement related provision that under the city’s Home Rule Charter passed by Congress in the early 1970s requires a 60-day congressional review.

“There is a chance it goes into effect any day now, just given the timeline is close to being up,” Salmi said on Tuesday. “I don’t know the exact date it was delivered, but I do know the countdown is on,” said Salmi, who added, “I would expect any day now it should go into effect and there’s nothing stopping it other than an insurrection in January.”

If the delivery to Congress had not been delayed, the D.C. Council’s legislative office estimated the congressional review would have been completed by May 12.

A congressional source who spoke on condition of being identified only as a senior Democratic aide, said the holdup of D.C. bills because of the Capitol fence has been corrected.

“The House found an immediate workaround, when this issue first arose after the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the aide said.

“This is yet another reason why D.C. Council bills should not be subject to a congressional review period and why we need to grant D.C. statehood,” the aide said.

The aide added that while no disapproval resolution had been introduced in Congress to overturn the D.C. Evangelista-Hunter bill, House Democrats would have defeated such a resolution.

“House Democrats support D.C. home rule, statehood, and LGBTQ rights,” said the aide.

LGBTQ rights advocates have argued that a ban on using a gay or transgender panic defense in criminal trials is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder.

Some attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way they believed to be a form of self-defense.

In addition to its provision banning the LGBTQ panic defense, the Evangelista-Hunter bill includes a separate provision that strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats to be prosecuted as a hate crime.

LGBTQ supportive prosecutors have said the clarification was needed because it is often difficult to prove to a jury that hatred is the only motive behind a violent crime. The prosecutors noted that juries have found defendants not guilty of committing a hate crime on grounds that they believed other motives were involved in a particular crime after defense lawyers argued that the law required “hate” to be the only motive in order to find someone guilty of a hate crime.

Salmi noted that while the hate crime clarification and panic defense prohibition provisions of the Evangelista-Hunter bill will become law as soon as the congressional review is completed, yet another provision in the bill will not become law after the congressional review because there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to cover the costs of implementing the provision.

The provision gives the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Office of the D.C. Attorney General authority to investigate hate related discrimination at places of public accommodation. Salmi said the provision expands protections against discrimination to include web-based retailers or online delivery services that are not physically located in D.C.

“That is subject to appropriations,” Salmi said. “And until it is funded in the upcoming budget it cannot be legally enforced.”

He said that at Council member Allen’s request, the Council added language to the bill that ensures that all other provisions of the legislation that do not require additional funding – including the ban on use of the LGBTQ panic defense and the provision clarifying that hatred doesn’t have to be the sole motive for a hate crime – will take effect as soon as the congressional approval process is completed.

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

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011



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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