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Transgender Day of Remembrance observed on Capitol Hill

Congressional resolutions draw attention to record anti-trans violence

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From left, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) (Washington Blade file photos by Michael Key)

As the nation observes the deadliest recorded year ever for transgender people on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, members of Congress are lending their voices to raise attention to anti-trans violence.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), chair of the Congressional Transgender Task Force, introduced a resolution in the U.S. House on Monday to recognize violence against transgender people.

“Our nation has lost too many transgender Americans to targeted, bigoted violence in our communities,” Kennedy said. “With this resolution recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance, Congress can commit to confronting these tragedies and protecting all of our citizens.”

In addition to recognizing the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the resolution calls for enhanced federal data collection of anti-trans violence and encourages federal and state governments “to study, respond to, and prevent violence against transgender people.”

The original co-sponsors of the resolution are Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) as well as Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

At least 25 transgender people were killed throughout the United States in 2017, making it the deadliest in history for anti-trans violence since those numbers were recorded starting in 2013. According to a report for the Human Rights Campaign, 84 percent of the transgender people killed this year were people of color and 80 percent were women.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim in Congress, had already introduced a resolution in September against anti-trans violence, specifically noting violence against transgender women of color.

Ellison said in a statement Monday the Transgender Day of Remembrance “takes on even more significance” in 2017 as a result of the significant rate of violence against transgender people.

“We also recognize that the victims of this violence are almost all transgender women and transgender women of color,” Ellison said. “This is an important day, but we should not consider our jobs done because we’ve observed this one day. Instead, we must commit ourselves to the principle of liberty and justice for all and ensure everyone is safe to live and thrive in their community.”

Ellison’s resolution observes transgender women of color are more likely than white transgender women to face mistreatment by police, an assumption they’re sex workers and incarceration in prison.

Among other things, the resolution calls for ending racial profiling in law enforcement practices; ending the practice of placing transgender people in solitary confinement; and ending the practice of immigration detention for vulnerable populations, including transgender people.

Co-sponsors of that resolution are Grijalva, Kennedy as well as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.).

Ellison also produced a video recognizing the Transgender Day of Remembrance and the record amount of anti-trans violence in 2017, issuing the call that transgender protections rescinded under the Trump administration be restored.

Also on Monday, the LGBT Congressional Staff Association hosted in front of the U.S. Capitol an event recognizing the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Participants held a moment of silence and read the names of the transgender people killed this year.

Attendees included Bishop Allyson Abrams, founder and current pastor of Empowerment Liberation Cathedral, and Kory Masen of the National Transgender Center for Equality.

Todd Sloves, president of the LGBT Congressional Staff Association, said in a statement the organization is “proud to stand with the transgender community on and off Capitol Hill.”

“On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we want to demonstrate that there is strong support for the transgender community at the center of our nation’s capital, where the decisions that influence the direction of our nation are made,” Sloves said. “We can never forget that members of our community continue to be targeted for who they are. Today and every day we stand up to say they will not be forgotten and discriminatory and violent behavior against the most vulnerable within our community will not be accepted. We look forward to making this an annual tradition until there are no names to read.”

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Politics

White House sends Sean Patrick Maloney’s OECD nomination to the Senate

Former N.Y. congressman narrowly lost re-election in 2022

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Former U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The White House on Thursday officially announced the nomination of former Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York to serve as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s U.S. representative with the rank of ambassador.

Since February 2022, former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has represented the U.S. before the OECD, an intergovernmental body with 38 member countries founded to promote economic progress and stimulate world trade.

Along with Maloney’s nomination to replace him, Markell’s nomination last month to serve as ambassador to Italy is now pending before the Senate.

New York’s first openly gay member of Congress, Maloney finished his fifth term as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Party’s sixth highest-ranking position in the House, before narrowly losing his bid for reelection in 2022.

Maloney was credited with helping to secure the Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in the midterm elections but lost his own race by just 1,800 votes after New York’s 17th Congressional District was redrawn.

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Africa

African advocacy groups condemn Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act

South African organizations criticize government’s silence

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(Photo by NASA)

LGBTQ and intersex rights groups across Africa have condemned the signing of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that calls for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.”

Mpho Buntse, a spokesperson for Access Chapter 2, a South African LGBTQ and intersex advocacy organization, said it was very worrisome the South African government did not condemn the law, even though the country is the only one on the continent that fully upholds LGBTQ and intersex rights.

“It has really been apparent that South Africa would rather protect its diplomatic relations rather than impose on the sovereignty of a country like Uganda. However, we are not dealing with an issue of economic or financial diplomacy, but we are dealing with a human rights crisis. We are dealing with a situation where we could see potential violence being subjected to the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda, but not only to the LGBTQ+ community but the rest of the Ugandan population stands to be affected by this law because even if you don’t identify as LGBTQ+ you will be compelled to report to the state those that you know that identify as LGBTQ+,” said Buntse. “So we find it really problematic that we choose to be just spectators when we could or potentially have played an active role from the start of this.”

Buntse noted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act on Monday, was in South Africa in late February.

“We didn’t seize the opportunity to play an active role, so South Africa is always on a missed opportunity where we are now seeing a country to be a spectator instead of being an ally of the LGBTQ+ community,” added Buntse.

Bruce Walker of Pretoria Pride, another South African advocacy group, said he was not surprised by the government’s stance.

“They are showing their true colors,” said Walker. “The governing party is full of homophobes. It’s written in the constitution, the rights for the LGBTQI+ community, but they never support the LGBTQI+ community. They flatly ignore it. You either support and respect our constitution or not but as it stands they do not. They are far too scared to take a stand.” 

Gays And Lesbians of Zimbabwe also condemned the law, saying it violates human rights.

“This law blatantly violates the human rights of LGBTQ individuals in Uganda including the right to privacy, freedom from discrimination and the right to equal protection under the law We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ugandan LGBTQ community through this difficult time,” said GALZ in a statement. “We call on the Ugandan leadership to engage in constructive dialogue, and to work towards solutions that are inclusive and respectful to all individuals.”

Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana, like GALZ, also condemned the law and expressed solidarity with LGBTQ and intersex Ugandans.

“It’s a great disappointed to have the president assent the Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” said LEGABIBO. “To all LGBTIQ+ identifying persons in Uganda, we stand in solidarity with you.”

East Africa Trans Health and Advocacy Network also castigated the law. EATHAN, like LEGABIBO and GALZ, said it will continue to stand up for LGBTQ and intersex rights in Uganda.

“Sad day for LGBTIQ Ugandans. We stand with our trans, intersex and nonbinary Ugandans and the entire LGBTIQ community. We must keep fighting and have the law declared unconstitutional,” said EATHAN.

We Are All Ghana, a Ghanaian LGBTQ and intersex rights group, in its reaction said the community in Uganda and across Africa should not be silenced.

“As we stand in solidarity with the Ugandan queer community, let us remind ourselves as the Ghanaian LGBTQ+ community and Africans as a whole that we must not allow ourselves to be bullied into silence. our rights are as human as anyone else’s,” said We Are All Ghana.

Shemerirwe Agnes, executive director of Africa Queer Network, a Uganda-based advocacy group, said there was nothing anyone or any particular organization could have done to dissuade Museveni from signing the bill.

“We are being attacked and killed since that bill was passed because the society and the police thought that just because that bill was passed it was now law so one would think that just because it’s now law then it’s now going to be implemented,” said Agnes. “It was implemented even before it was signed into law there is nothing we can do now because President Museveni doesn’t listen to anyone.”

U.S. President Joe Biden is among those who have also condemned the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The White House has announced it will “evaluate” the law’s implications and how it may impact U.S. aid to Uganda. Advocacy groups, meanwhile, have challenged the Anti-Homosexuality Act in the Ugandan Constitutional Court.

Daniel Itai is the Washington Blade’s Africa Correspondent.

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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

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

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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