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D.C. competing against two cities to host Gay Games

A look at LGBT rights in two cities competing with Washington to host Gay Games

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The Gay Games attract thousands of athletes and spectators; D.C. faces competition from two cities in its bid to host the 2022 event. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Advocates in Hong Kong and Guadalajara, Mexico say LGBT rights and the quality of life for LGBT people have advanced significantly over the past decade in their respective cities as they compete against D.C. to host the 2022 Gay Games.

With the assistance of LGBT sports groups, both cities have submitted a bid to the Federation of Gay Games highlighting their city’s reputation for hosting large international events and its ability to accommodate tourists and visitors, especially LGBT visitors.

The FGG announced in February that Washington, D.C., Hong Kong and Guadalajara had been selected as the three finalists in the process of selecting the host city for the 2022 Gay Games. The FGG said it would select the winning city at its annual meeting in October following visits by its site selection committee to each of the three cities in June.

As many as 15,000 mostly LGBT athletes and as many as 10,000 spectators are expected to attend the Gay Games in 2018 in Paris, and it’s possible that a similar number could turn out for the 2022 Gay Games, observers have said.

Mayor Bowser and the City Council have expressed strong support for D.C.’s bid and the region’s existing sporting venues, infrastructure, and its long record of inclusive pro-LGBT laws make the city a strong contender for the Gay Games, observers have said.

A 300-plus page bid document submitted by Gay Games Hong Kong 2022 and an LGBT sports group called Out in Hong Kong says efforts to bring the Gay Games to Hong Kong have received “active support” from the Hong Kong government, the city’s Equal Opportunities Commission, the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, which oversees relations between Hong Kong and China.

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said the city government is working diligently to support the city’s bid for the 2022 Gay Games. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBT sports leaders in Guadalajara have joined with the Guadalajara Convention and Visitors Bureau to submit that city’s bid for the 2022 Gay Games, according to FGG official David Killian. Similar to Hong Kong, Guadalajara’s bid document says the city government and a large number of mainline sports organizations as well as LGBT sports groups in Guadalajara and other cities in Mexico, including Mexico City, have expressed strong support for holding the Gay Games in Guadalajara and have pledged to assist in hosting the Games.

Both Hong Kong and Guadalajara state in their bid documents that holding the Gay Games in their respective cities would mark the first time the Games have been held in either Asia or Latin America. The two documents also point out that while LGBT rights have advanced significantly in both cities discrimination and bias still exists and holding the Gay Games in their respective cities could play a role in strengthening support for LGBT equality.

Recent reports published by Out Right Action International, an LGBT advocacy organization that monitors LGBT-related developments in countries throughout the world, confirm that LGBT equality has advanced significantly in Hong Kong and Mexico. The reports also point out that similar to other countries, including the United States, LGBT people are not fully protected under the law in some areas and anti-LGBT bias and discrimination remain a problem.

Status of LGBT rights in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong (Photo by Diliff; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

As a British colony, Hong Kong had long criminalized homosexual acts under British law and did not repeal its anti-sodomy law until 1991, long after it had been repealed in Great Britain. However, under the decriminalization in Hong Kong the age of consent for gay men was set at 21 while it remained at age 16 for heterosexuals. The law was silent about lesbians. It was not until 2006 that a court ruled the higher age of consent for gay men violated Hong Kong’s Bill of Rights Ordinance, resulting in an age of consent at 16 for gays and straights.

In a separate court ruling in 2005 it was declared that the Bill of Rights Ordinance could be interpreted to cover sexual orientation in its non-discrimination protections. But the ordinance only applies to government agencies and not to private sector institutions.

Despite a growing LGBT rights movement with numerous LGBT advocacy groups and annual LGBT Pride celebrations, advocates have yet to persuade the Hong Kong government to legally ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the private sector. Hong Kong law also does not recognize same-sex relationships.

Although tolerance and acceptance of the LGBT community has grown significantly in Hong Kong since the 2000s, according to activists there, a setback surfaced in 2011 when Hong Kong’s Social Welfare Department retained a controversial psychiatrist to train social workers on how to use conversion therapy to change people from gay to straight.

Gay Games Hong Kong 2022 nevertheless says in its bid document that the fight for LGBT equality in Hong Kong has been gathering momentum in recent years, “fueled by renowned local figures proudly proclaiming their homosexuality and encouraged by progressive legislation in other countries.”

Meanwhile, the arrest this week by Hong Kong police of nine leaders of a 2014 pro-democracy campaign one day after a committee considered supportive of China chose Hong Kong’s next chief executive officer is not expected to adversely impact Hong Kong’s bid to host the 2022 Gay Games, according to activists familiar with Hong Kong politics.

Some observers said the arrests of the protest leaders immediately after the selection of a new Hong Kong government leader, Carrie Lam, who was favored by Beijing, is a sign that China’s influence over Hong Kong is on the rise and the longstanding tension between Hong Kong and China was expected to increase.

“Lam’s victory, despite her lack of representation and popular support, reflects the Chinese Communist Party’s complete control over Hong Kong’s electoral process and its serious intrusion of Hong Kong’s autonomy,” Joshua Wong, leader of a dissident political party in Hong Kong, told the New York Times.

With China’s policies on LGBT issues considered significantly less supportive than Hong Kong’s policies, some observers say it’s hard to predict where Hong Kong’s LGBT community will stand five years from now when the Gay Games would be held.

But in response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade, Gay Games Hong Kong 2022 officials Dennis Philipse and Benital Chick sent the Blade an email statement saying the association with China by Hong Kong’s newly selected government leader, Carrie Lam, could be a benefit to the LGBT community.

“We know from our constant contact with those close to Ms. Lam that she appears to be supportive and we have no reason to believe otherwise,” the statement says. “Ms. Lam is both aligned with Beijing and strongly vested in maintaining Hong Kong as the open Western gateway to Asia as it has for hundreds of years,” the statement says.

“While tensions between China and Hong Kong exist on many levels in terms of economic and political issues, China has been tolerant toward apolitical gay issues as seen in the many gay events now held in China such as the Shanghai Pride and homosexual movies/TV series in China,” the two activists said in their statement.

“There have been LGBT+ sports leagues in China and gay issues have never been a source of tension between Hong Kong and China. As such, we don’t see any potential problems that will arise in holding the Gay Games,” the statement concludes.

Under an agreement with Great Britain in 1997, the British returned Hong Kong to China with the understanding that for the next 50 years Hong Kong would retain an autonomous system of government and its relationship with China would consist of “one country, two systems.”

Experts familiar with China note that since that time China has pushed hard to increase its influence over Hong Kong, leading to growing tension between Beijing and Hong Kong’s leaders and its diverse population. Observers say that so far China has not sought to curtail LGBT rights advances in Hong Kong.

According to Out Right Action International, since China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from its official list of mental disorders in 2001, the Chinese government “has remained largely silent on the issue of homosexuality.”

However, the policy of silence has left in place widespread discrimination against LGBT people throughout Chinese society that is not covered under China’s non-discrimination laws covering employment and other areas, Out Right Action says in a 2014 report on China. LGBT couples are not recognized as families under China’s laws, the report says.

As of early this week the Chinese Embassy in Washington didn’t respond to a question from the Washington Blade asking if China has a position on whether the Gay Games should be held in Hong Kong.

LGBT rights in Guadalajara

Guadalajara, Mexico. (Photo by Allenpivot; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Although LGBT rights in Mexico have advanced significantly in recent years, LGBT Mexicans can boast that same-sex sexual acts were decriminalized in Mexico 1871 – far ahead of the United States. The decriminalization came shortly after France’s brief occupation of Mexico ended and the Napoleonic Code was adopted, which, among other things, did not define consensual sodomy as a crime.

Activists familiar with Mexico note, however, that separate laws prohibiting “public immorality” or “indecency” have long been used to prosecute gays under certain circumstances.

LGBT organizations began to form in some regions of Mexico in the 1970s, with LGBT parades taking place in Mexico City since 1979 and in Guadalajara since the 1990s.

Out Right Action International reports that although Mexico’s constitution doesn’t specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a clause in the constitution banning discrimination based on “preferences of any kind” and for “any other reason which degrades human dignity” have been interpreted by some legal experts means LGBT people should be covered under the document.

In a separate development, Mexico’s national legislature in 2003 passed a law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in employment, but the law doesn’t cover gender identity or expression.

In 2015, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for states and regions to ban same-sex marriage. However, the ruling did not make the action immediately and fully binding on states, where, like in the U.S., marriage laws are written. Unless approved by newly adopted state laws, same-sex couples must file a legal petition and incur legal costs of $1,000 or more in order to obtain a marriage license.

In a separate ruling, the Mexican Supreme Court in January 2016 effectively legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Jalisco, which includes Guadalajara and the popular gay resort city of Puerto Vallarta.

Several other Mexican cities, meanwhile, including Mexico City, had legalized same-sex marriage, resulting in a patchwork of places where same-sex couples could marry in a way similar to heterosexual couples.

Last year, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto attempted to resolve that problem by introducing legislation to amend the constitution to fully legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country. The legislation died in committee last November following a groundswell of opposition from the Catholic Church and conservative factions in the country.

The vote to kill the legislation followed numerous protest rallies both for and against the measure, prompting LGBT people to become active in many parts of the country where LGBT activism had not been visible.

Guadalajara’s bid document for the 2022 Gay Games expresses optimism that the overall LGBT rights advances in Mexico will make Guadalajara an excellent setting for the Games.

“Since 1982, at the start of the Gay Games, the people of Mexico have pushed our legislative system into the modern era and there is no going back,” the document says. “With progress year by year, Mexico has seen at first hand change in its citizens and in its political system.”

The document praises President Pena Nieto for his support for LGBT equality and notes that, among other things, he has taken steps to make sure transgender people can enter Mexico to participate in or watch the Gay Games even if their passports or birth certificates don’t reflect the gender to which they currently present.

“It is our intension to increase the participation of members of the LGBT community in Latin America for the first time in the history of the Gay Games,” the bid document says.

The bid document notes that Guadalajara has hosted large international events, including the Pan American Games in 2011, and its infrastructure for hosting the Gay Games is already in place.

“As a community, not only Guadalajara but Mexico, we have moved forward with the inclusion and integration of the LGBT community,” the bid document says. “Growing year by year, Mexico is hungry and anxious for an opportunity to demonstrate our potential,” it says.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has said the city government and several of its key agencies are working diligently to support the city’s bid for the 2022 Gay Games.

Brent Minor, president of Team D.C., which is coordinating the city’s bid for the Games, said he prefers not to comment on whether political issues in Hong Kong might impact that city’s bid for the Games.

“I don’t know enough about the geopolitics of Hong Kong,” he said, adding that he hasn’t closely followed Hong Kong’s or Guadalajara’s bids for the Games.

“We are focused on the D.C. bid and we really want the Games to come here because we think we can offer a quality experience that’s accessible to a lot of people,” said Minor. “And so we’re very focused on that.”

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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

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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

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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

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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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