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State Dept. defends ban on Pride flags at U.S. embassies

Spokesperson insists Pompeo ‘respects the dignity of every individual’

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The State Department is defending its approach to LGBT rights despite the ban on Pride flags at U.S. embassies.

The State Department on Monday defended the Trump administration’s approach to LGBT rights and Pride Month, despite a new policy barring U.S. embassies from flying Pride flags at U.S. embassies.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, a former Fox News contributor on national security issues, insisted during a news conference when asked about the flag policy the Trump administration is observing Pride Month.

“Pride Month that we’re in right now is celebrated around the world by many State Department employees, by many embassies,” Ortagus said.

Last week, the State Department hosted an event to celebrate coordinated with GLIFAA, the affinity group for its LGBT employees and foreign service officers. On travel with President Trump in Europe, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn’t attend. The Pride celebration was also closed to the public and the press.

Ortagus insisted Pompeo, who’s responsible for the anti-Pride flag policy, still “respects the dignity of every individual.”

“The secretary has the position that as it relates to the flagpole that only the American flag should be flown there, but, of course, as he said in his congressional testimony respects the dignity of every individual and I think all of you can do a simple, easy Google or Twitter search and see the pictures of members, embassies and members, ambassadors, people of the foreign service celebrating Pride throughout the world,” Ortagus said.

As first reported by Josh Lederman at NBC News, U.S. embassies at the beginning of Pride month were denied permission to display the Pride flag on their official flag poles.

Previously, the flying of Pride flags at U.S. embassies has become common as a sign of U.S. solidarity with the LGBT community overseas. Embassies had been free to display the Pride flag on their official flagpoles during the Obama administration and the first two years of the Trump administration.

The new anti-Pride flag policy stands in contrast to President Trump recognizing Pride Month in a tweet, making him the first Republican U.S. president to acknowledge June as Pride Month, as well as a global initiative he recognized to decriminalize homosexuality. U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest-ranking openly gay person in the Trump administration, is spearheading the initiative.

In addition to refusing to allow U.S. embassies to display the Pride flag on their official flagpoles, Pompeo neglected to issue statements this year, unlike in 2018 recognizing Pride Month or the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia.

Asked about the absence of these statements, Ortagus deflected and again referred to Pompeo’s general belief in the dignity of individuals.

“As I said, the secretary said in his testimony, he respects the dignity of every individual and of every human life. He remains committed to this effort around the world,” Ortagus said.

Ortagus alluded to the Treasury Department sanctioning a Chechen group and five individuals, including at least three Russians, for alleged extrajudicial killings and torture of LGBT individuals, although she couldn’t immediately remember when the sanctions were instituted, on whom and for exact purpose.

“I think it was just a couple weeks ago (I’d have to look at the specific date) we had Magnitsky sanctions (I’ll have to get a specific name for you) on an individual who, of course, was persecuting people of the LGBTQ community,” Ortagus said.

In a bizarre pivot, Ortagus then touted Pompeo’s commitment to religious freedom, which is often code among social conservatives to mean anti-LGBT discrimination.

Ortagus said Pompeo will host an upcoming summit on international religious freedom. Last year, Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT group designated a hate group by the Southern Policy Law Center, was a featured participant at the event.

“The secretary will, of course, next month, host the religious freedom forum that he also had last year, and he works around the world in these meetings to talk about religious freedom, religious liberty, and that’s something that I know is very dear to him,” Ortagus said.

Despite State Department policy, many U.S. embassies, including those in South Korea, China and Nepal, are reportedly still displaying the Pride flag in places other than the official flag pole.

Asked whether the Pride flags seen in places other than the flagpole are in violation of Pompeo’s edict, Ortagus said, “No.”

Ortagus denied U.S. embassies are defying the policy, asserting, “There’s no violation.”

Asked to clarify whether it’s OK for U.S. embassies to fly the Pride flag as long as it’s not on a flagpole, Ortagus replied, “That’s correct.”

Watch a video of Ortagus defending the Pride flag policy here:


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McAuliffe participates in Virginia Pride roundtable

Gubernatorial candidate highlighted plans to keep Va. ‘open and welcoming’

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Terry McAuliffe, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Terry McAuliffe on Monday met with Virginia Pride in Richmond to discuss his plans to keep the state “open and welcoming” for the LGBTQ community.

“Great opportunity to speak with @VA_Pride in Richmond this AM,” McAuliffe tweeted following the roundtable that took place at Diversity Richmond’s headquarters. “VA is the #1 state for business because we are open and welcoming — but that’s all at risk this November. Glenn Youngkin’s far-right social agenda would harm LGBTQ+ Virginians and send our economy into a ditch.”

McAuliffe and Youngkin are running a close race for the governorship, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Saturday that shows the former Virginia governor leading by a 50-47 percent margin among likely voters.

The Human Rights Campaign endorsed McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014-2018, for his record of supporting LGBTQ rights, including supporting marriage equality and signing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees as his first action in office. 

“LGBTQ leaders in Richmond had a great meeting with Gov. McAuliffe where he was able to lay out his agenda for building on the tremendous progress Virginia has made towards equality,” said Virginia Pride Program Director James Millner in an email to the Washington Blade. “The governor talked extensively about his record on LGBTQ issues and promised to work with us to ensure that every LGBTQ Virginian is able to live openly and authentically.”

McAuliffe’s legacy includes welcoming businesses turned off by North Carolina’s passage of its anti-transgender “bathroom bill.” 

When North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a law requiring students to use public restrooms and locker rooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificates, took effect in 2016, McAullife recruited CoStar, a real estate information company that operates databases for Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder.com and similar companies, to move its headquarters to Richmond. This recruitment brought 730 jobs to the state.

David Dorsch, a senior vice president at Cushman and Wakefield, which represented CoStar nationally, told the Charlotte Business Journal that CoStar’s primary reason for choosing “Richmond over Charlotte was HB 2.”

Youngkin is a former business executive who previously ran the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm named by the HRC in 2019 as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index. HRC, however, has called out Youngkin for “anti-LGBTQ and transphobic language” during his current campaign.

McAuliffe in April released an LGBTQ rights platform that includes a call to repeal the so-called “conscience clause,” which allows religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Governor Ralph Northam, who was McAuliffe’s former lieutenant governor and has signed historic LGBTQ-inclusive legislation during his time in office, also endorsed McAuliffe for governor.

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Biden recognizes 10th anniversary of end to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Pete Buttigieg, Gina Ortiz Jones named in White House statement

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President Biden recognized in a statement on Monday the tenth anniversary of the end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that once discharged service members from the military for being openly gay or bisexual.

“Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members,” Biden said. “The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all.”

Biden recognized high-profile openly gay appointees in his administrations who are also veterans, naming Air Force Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Biden also names Shawn Skelly, assistant secretary of defense for readiness, who would have been discharged from the military under President Trump’s transgender military ban.

“On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation,” Biden said. “We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.”

Technically speaking, the anniversary of Obama signing repeal legislation was in December. Today is the anniversary of defense officials certifying the military is ready, which put an end to the policy.

Read Biden’s full statement below:

Statement by President Joe Biden on the Tenth Anniversary of the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. It was the right thing to do. And, it showed once again that America is at its best when we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

Despite serving with extraordinary honor and courage throughout our history, more than 100,000 American service members have been discharged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity—including some 14,000 under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Many of these veterans received what are known as “other than honorable” discharges, excluding them and their families from the vitally important services and benefits they had sacrificed so much to earn.

As a U.S. Senator, I supported allowing service members to serve openly, and as Vice President, I was proud to champion the repeal of this policy and to stand beside President Obama as he signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act into law. As President, I am honored to be Commander-in-Chief of the strongest and most inclusive military in our nation’s history. Today, our military doesn’t just welcome LGBTQ+ service members—it is led at the highest levels by brave LGBTQ+ veterans, including Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I was gratified to appoint the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and Afghanistan veteran who joined the military under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. And during my first week in office, I proudly delivered on my pledge to repeal the discriminatory ban on open service by patriotic transgender service members.

On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation. We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.

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JOH llama ‘enemigos de la independencia’ a defensores de derechos de poblaciones LGBTQ, las mujeres y el territorio

Activistas criticaron al presidente de Honduras por su discurso

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(Gráfica por Reportar sin Miedo)

Reportar sin Miedo es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Honduras. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 15 de septiembre.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — La oposición desfila al mismo tiempo que los representantes del gobierno hondureño, los discursos oficiales retumban en los megáfonos al lado de los gritos de reclamo de los grupos de denuncia.

Mientras el oficialismo celebra lo que considera sus “logros”, la oposición se lamenta por 200 años de desigualdad, discriminación, pobreza, robo, hambre, saqueo, genocidio, corrupción, impunidad, machismo, LGBTI+ odio y expulsión forzada. 

En medio del ambiente de contrastes en que se conmemora hoy el bicentenario de independencia en Honduras, sobresale el discurso del presidente hondureño Juan Orlando Hernández, quien llamó “enemigos de la independencia” a los defensores de los derechos de las poblaciones LGBTIQ+, las mujeres y el territorio.

“Hoy salen con más fuerza otros enemigos de la independencia: el ataque a los principios cristianos, el ataque al concepto de la familia, los que promueven los matrimonios entre personas de diferente sexo y la preservación de la vida de los niños no nacidos”, dijo JOH en el estadio Nacional de Tegucigalpa durante los actos conmemorativos del bicentenario.

El mandatario hondureño cometió un grave error al decir “los matrimonios entre personas de diferente sexo”. Sus críticos opinan que JOH iba a decir “matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo”, pero en el último momento se echó para atrás y cambió la frase por alguna razón.

El gobernante se refirió con la frase “enemigos de la independencia” a las organizaciones que promueven el derecho a decidir sobre el cuerpo de las mujeres, así como los derechos de la diversidad sexual y lxs defensorxs de territorio que están exigiendo a diario que se deroguen las ZEDE.

Este es el primer pronunciamiento público de JOH tras que el 28 de junio de este año, la Corte IDH condenó a Honduras por el asesinato de la trans Vicky Hernández y otros en el marco del golpe de Estado liderado por Roberto Micheletti contra el expresidente Manuel Zelaya. 

En su sentencia, el órgano judicial pidió al Estado hondureño continuar las investigaciones del homicidio y llevar a cabo “un acto público de reconocimiento de responsabilidad internacional”.

También le solicitó crear la beca educativa “Vicky Hernández” para mujeres trans, capacitar a los cuerpos de seguridad y reconocer la identidad de género en los documentos de identidad y registros públicos.

Finalmente, la Corte IDH le exigió al gobierno instaurar protocolos para seguir e investigar casos de violencia contra personas LGBTI.

En el discurso que duró casi media hora, JOH pronunció en varias ocasiones las palabras “Dios” y “cristianismo”. Eso indica que su gobierno tiene una fuerte influencia de las Iglesias evangélicas y católica.

El discurso del mandatario contradice lo que dice la Constitución, la cual señala que el Estado hondureño es laico.

Piden derechos igualitarios 

“No hay independencia sin el derecho a decidir”, exclamaron las seguidoras del colectivo Somos Muchas en las calles de Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Choluteca y otros municipios. Somos Muchas exige que las mujeres hondureñas tengan acceso a un aborto seguro y gratuito por las tres causales: cuando el embarazo es consecuencia de una violación sexual, cuando la vida de la mujer está en riesgo y cuando el feto tiene complicaciones graves que le causarán la muerte al nacer.

La directora de Acción Joven, Jinna Rosales, manifestó que el discurso de Hernández es “terrible” y de “doble moral” porque se vive en un estado de narcodictadura, asesinatos, crímenes, etcétera.

“A Hernández se le olvidó la vida de las personas ya nacidas porque todos los días se reportan feminicidios, crímenes contra las niñas, niños, niñes y adolescentes. También miles huyen a diario de Honduras porque no tienen las condiciones básicas para sobrevivir”, argumentó Rosales. 

Desde ese punto de vista, los grupos conservadores hondureños rechazan el aborto, que consideran un atentado contra la vida. Sin embargo, no toman en cuenta los ataques contra mujeres, pues desde enero hasta el 31 de julio del 2021 se han registrado 174 feminicidios. Además, según las cifras oficiales se han cometido 3,496 homicidios en Honduras en el año 2020. Mientras tanto, la Secretaría de Salud reportó más de 12,000 egresos por aborto en 2019 y 9,749 en el 2020. 

Tampoco el gobierno de JOH ha actuado con eficacia para reducir la inseguridad alimentaria, que se ha duplicado en Honduras. Los 1.8 millones de personas sin alimentos seguros antes de la pandemia han subido a 3.3 millones publica la ONU.

Por otro lado, en enero del 2021, el Congreso Nacional criminalizó el derecho a decidir de las mujeres y las uniones igualitarias. 

El activista LGBTIQ+ de Honduras, Osman Lara, expresó a Reportar sin Miedo que el mensaje de Hernández es un ataque directo al programa de gobierno que impulsa la candidata Xiomara Castro de Zelaya por el Partido Libre en las próximas elecciones a celebrarse el 28 de noviembre del 2021.

Hernández lo que está provocando es desinformación, según Lara. “Quiere confundir a la población, ya que las personas LGBTIQ+ no buscamos reconocimiento religioso, sino legal, que nos avale y garantice los derechos civiles, económicos, sociales y patrimoniales cuando te unes a otra persona de forma igualitaria”, agregó. “Su ataque es misógino, promueve el odio a las poblaciones de la diversidad sexual”.

En Honduras, desde el 2009 hasta el 2021 han sido asesinadas 389 personas LGBTIQ+, de las cuales en este año han sido asesinadas 10 gays, tres trans y tres lesbianas, según el monitoreo de muertes violentas que mantiene la Red Lésbica Cattrachas. 

JOH le teme al pensamiento distinto

“Nuestros pueblos deben avanzar aceleradamente a la integración económica porque unidos somos invencibles. Los pueblos centroamericanos deben de ser esa nación fuerte, próspera, visionaria por la que lucharon los padres de la independencia”, expresó el presidente Hernández en su discurso de bicentenario. 

Sobre las palabras del mandatario se pronunció el coordinador general de Arcah y defensor de territorio, Christopher Castillo. Para Castillo, el gobierno nacionalista ha abonado el camino para que la población rechace los avances progresistas. 

“Ahora están avalando el más grande proyecto colonialista como son las ZEDE”, dijo Castillo. “El Partido Nacional ha caído en popularidad y teme un despertar de las conciencias en temas torales que tratan de impedir que la sociedad avance”. 

El gobierno de JOH ha respondido a los críticos de las ZEDE asegurando en un comunicado que las ciudades modelos ofrecen “oportunidades de inversión, construcción y operación de empresas de servicios públicos”.

Las ZEDE tienen “un régimen fiscal especial, un régimen financiero independiente, están autorizadas a utilizar sus ingresos financieros exclusivamente para sus propios fines”, según fuentes gubernamentales.

Por medio de esta iniciativa, Juan Orlando Hernández asegura que va a atraer inversión extranjera supuestamente para lograr un crecimiento acelerado dando empleos masivos y mejorando la vida de la población.

Por otra parte, el defensor de territorio Christopher Castillo agregó que JOH busca, “por medio de su discurso, deslegitimar las propuestas progresistas de los partidos de la oposición que proponen nuevos modelos de familia y nuevas formas de coexistir entre los géneros. Necesitan legitimar la violencia para justificar el uso de más violencia”.

Castillo agregó que el discurso de Hernández reconoce que ha avanzado la construcción de un pensamiento distinto. 

“Eso les atemoriza porque pone en juego toda esa construcción derechista que han intentado imponer. Tratan de seguir legitimando las propuestas de las ZEDE como Próspera porque traen para ellos una cultura de éxito y de prosperidad del pensamiento capitalista y conservador”, dijo Castillo.

El discurso de JOH se da después de que el pasado martes 14 de septiembre unas 29 organizaciones hondureñas pidieron al Consejo Nacional Electoral que sancione las campañas con mensajes de desinformación y discriminación utilizadas por algunos partidos políticos.

“Exigimos al Ministerio Público actuar de oficio contra cualquier persona natural o jurídica, pública o privada que públicamente promueva, incite, difunda mensajes desde cualquier medio o canal de comunicación, a la discriminación, tal como se contempla en el código penal en su artículo 213”, señalan las 29 organizaciones en un comunicado.

La reacción de estos organismos se debe a los mensajes de grupos cristianos en las redes sociales contra el plan de gobierno de Libre que promueve el derecho a decidir y el matrimonio igualitario. 



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