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Top 10 local news stories of 2020

COVID cancels Pride, devastates local businesses



(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Of course, COVID-19 looms large across this year’s annual Year in Review issue. From the shocking death toll, to the devastating impact on local businesses, to the cancellation of Pride, coronavirus upended all of our lives. Here are the Blade’s staff picks for the top 10 local news stories of 2020.

#10: Va. passes major LGBTQ rights legislation

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam attends an Equality Virginia event on Feb. 4 in Richmond celebrating the impending passage of the Virginia Values Act in the Virginia General Assembly.

The Virginia General Assembly, which convened in January 2020 with a Democratic Party majority for the first time in more than two decades, passed several major pro-LGBTQ measures, including an LGBTQ nondiscrimination bill that had been blocked for years under the former Republican controlled legislature.

The Virginia Values Act, which calls for adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s existing civil rights law, was a top legislative priority among LGBTQ advocacy groups. Both houses of the General Assembly passed the measure with bipartisan support.

The General Assembly passed a separate bill banning so-called conversion therapy for minors, making Virginia the first southern state to prohibit the widely discredited practice that seeks to change people’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. All the nation’s professional mental health associations, including the American Psychiatric Association, have said conversion therapy is ineffective and harmful to the mental health of those who undergo the therapy.

Among the other LGBTQ supportive bills the General Assembly approved in 2020 was a measure that repealed Virginia’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage. Although a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the country made the statute unenforceable, LGBTQ activists said it should nevertheless be removed from the state’s legal code.

#9: Life and death of Alice Carter

Alice Carter, gay news, Washington Blade
Alice Carter died in 2019. The city released a case study in August 2020 that took an unprecedented, in-depth look at the transgender woman’s struggle with drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness.

A case study commissioned by the Office of the D.C. Auditor released in August 2020 takes what observers considered an unprecedented in-depth look at a transgender woman’s struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, and homelessness and the valiant but unsuccessful attempt by dozens of social services experts from city agencies and community groups to help her over a period of at least a dozen years.

The study, “Lessons From The Life and Death of Alice Carter,” was prepared by the D.C.-based nonprofit group Street Sense Media at the request of D.C. Auditor Kathleen Patterson. Street Sense Media was among several groups, including the LGBTQ organizations Whitman-Walker Health and Casa Ruby, that provided assistance to Carter.

People who knew Carter, who was 35 at the time of her death, said she became a beloved figure among residents and visitors of the 17th Street business strip where she hung out and often slept on the street.

Patterson said she decided to commission the case study of Carter’s life to determine what, if anything different, the city government could do to help people like Carter survive with substance use disorder and mental health issues.

#8: Most gay candidates lose bids for Council, school board

GLAA ratings, Randy Downs, gay news, Washington Blade
Randy Downs

Gay education advocate Allister Chang won his race for a seat on the D.C. State Board of Education in the city’s Nov. 3 general election, becoming the only one of six openly gay candidates to emerge as a winner for seats on the nonpartisan school board and the D.C. Council.

In the race for the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat, incumbent Council member Brooke Pinto (D) defeated gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Randy Downs by a margin of 68.3 percent to 20.6 percent in a four-candidate race. Downs ran as an independent.

Gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Alexander Padro and gay Libertarian Party activist Joe Bishop-Henchman were among 23 candidates competing for two at-large D.C. Council seats, one of which was held by incumbent Council member Robert White (D-At-Large). White finished in first place with 25.9 percent of the vote. Bishop-Henchman finished in 15th place with 0.96 percent of the vote. Padro came in 18th place with 0.7 percent of the vote.

The other two unsuccessful gay candidates ran for an at-large seat on the State Board of Education in a six-candidate race. Gay former teacher and education advocate Mysiki Valentine finished in third place with 19.4 percent of the vote. Gay Howard University Political Science Department Chairman Ravi K. Perry finished in fifth place with 11.3 percent of the vote.

#7: D.C.’s pro-LGBTQ Archbishop promoted to Cardinal

Wilton D. Gregory, gay news, Washington Blade
Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory

Pope Francis announced in October that he had promoted Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who has expressed support for LGBTQ Catholics, to the rank of cardinal, making him the first black cardinal in the United States.

Gregory, 73, became Washington’s archbishop in May 2019 after having served as the archbishop of Atlanta for 14 years and where he spoke out on several occasions in support of the LGBTQ community.

Gregory drew attention in D.C. in August 2019 when he told a transgender man during a gathering of young Catholics that the man was welcome in the Catholic Church. His comment came in response to a question by the trans man, who asked Gregory, “What place do I have as a confirmed transgender Catholic and what place do my queer friends have here in this archdiocese?”

“You belong to the heart of this church,” Gregory replied. “There is nothing that you may do, may say, that will ever rip you from the heart of this church.”

#6: Three long-time gay clubs close

Members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington perform at the Brother, Help Thyself Foundation Grant Awards ceremony in the now-shuttered DC Eagle.

The DC Eagle and Ziegfeld’s-Secrets, two of D.C.’s longest operating gay bars, and the Crew Club, the D.C. gym, sauna and bathhouse for gay men that operated near Logan Circle for more than 25 years, closed in 2020 with prospects for their possible reopening uncertain.

Sources familiar with the DC Eagle and Ziegfeld’s-Secrets say their closing does not appear to be related to the COVID pandemic. The Eagle’s majority co-owner filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy following financial difficulties that began long before COVID. Gay businessman Mark Hunker has purchased the legal rights to the Eagle’s name and trademark and has hinted he may consider reopening it.

Ziegfeld’s-Secrets, which featured popular drag shows and nude male dancers, was forced to close when the owner of the building it rented terminated its lease to make way for a real estate development project. The club reportedly is looking for another location but it is uncertain when or if a suitable new space can be found.

Crew Club co-owner DC Allen said he and co-owner Ken Flick, his husband, retired earlier this year. The two entered a business arrangement just prior to COVID with others who were going to operate the club with Allen and Flick remaining as partners. But when COVID restrictions resulted in the forced closing of gyms and other similar establishments, the group that planned to operate the club withdrew. Allen and Flick have since placed the Crew Club building, which they own, up for sale and do not plan to reopen the club.

#5: LGBTQ activists respond to calls to defund D.C. police

Protesters direct anger over racism against Trump in White House protests. (Blade photo via Michael Key)

LGBTQ activists in D.C. expressed strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement’s calls for reform in the nation’s police departments on racial justice issues, but most local activists said they do not support calls by some for fully defunding the D.C. police department.

Some local activists pointed out that LGBTQ people, especially transgender women of color, have been subjected to anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and other violent crime to a greater degree than other population groups. They said fully defunding the police could place LGBTQ people in danger.

Rehana Mohammed, chair of the DC LGBTQ Center’s board of directors, told a D.C. Council hearing in June that the Center opposed a proposal by the mayor to increase the D.C. police budget by $18.5 million in 2021.

“We recommend instead investing those funds in community safety, social services, violence interruption programs, and community support programs,” Mohammed said. “The current strategies of creating reforms and increasing funding are simply not working,” she said.

#4: D.C. Council passes, mayor signs two LGBTQ bills

The year 2020 saw the D.C. Council pass and Mayor Muriel Bowser sign two bills considered a top priority by LGBTQ activists.

The Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act of 2020, which the Council passed in October, provides nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ seniors who reside in long-term care facilities in the District.

The Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, approved by the Council in December, bans the use of the so-called gay and transgender panic defense in criminal trials. The legislation also strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law.

LGBTQ advocates say a ban on the panic defense is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder. Defense 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 violent way as a form of self-defense.

#3: D.C. Council member Jack Evans resigns

Jack Evans, gay news, Washington Blade
Jack Evans

D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), one of the Council’s strongest supporters of the LGBTQ community during his 29 years in office, lost his attempt to win back his seat in the city’s June 2 Democratic primary after he resigned from the seat in January.

Evans’ resignation came after all 12 of his Council colleagues made it clear they would vote to expel him from office in response to a Council investigation that found he violated multiple ethics rules when he allegedly used his office to assist companies that paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees.

Evans acknowledged he made some mistakes but denied any wrongdoing and insisted he did not violate any laws. Ten days after his resignation he announced his candidacy for the seat he had just given up in the Ward 2 Democratic primary. But when the June 2 primary votes were counted Evans came in seventh place in an eight-candidate race with just 3.4 percent of the vote.

#2: DC Pride events cancelled

A Jeep in the Out Brigade passes by the United States Supreme Court.

Like other cities across the country, organizers of D.C.’s annual Capital Pride Parade and Festival, which are normally held in June and which draw over 200,000 participants, cancelled the events this year due to restrictions on public gatherings brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance board, said the organization would postpone some of its virtual events so that it could focus on its support for Black Lives Matter protests and advocacy work to fight police brutality and racism.

Capital Pride Alliance joined forces with the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community to hold an alternate Pride event on Oct. 10 called the Out Brigade. The event included a caravan of cars and other vehicles decorated with LGBTQ Pride related signs or ornaments that traveled across the city.

#1: D.C. hit hard by COVID

Several of the city’s LGBT bars and restaurants, including Annie’s, moved operations outdoors during the pandemic.

In addition to the staggering death toll of the coronavirus — more than 300,000 American lives lost as of mid-December — the disease wreaked havoc on small businesses in D.C. and across the country. More than a dozen bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the nation’s capital with a mostly LGBTQ clientele and at least seven nonprofit groups that provide services for D.C. area LGBTQ youth and adults say they were hit hard financially in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Activists have long considered gay bars to be important meeting places for LGBTQ people who often cannot be out or open at work or at home. The possibility of these clubs being forced out of business, just like dozens of other D.C. bars, restaurants and nightclubs facing financial hardship from the epidemic, could have a greater detrimental impact on LGBTQ people, activists said.

Meanwhile, local LGBTQ supportive nonprofit groups like Casa Ruby, Whitman-Walker Health, SMYAL, HIPS, Wanda Alston Foundation, Us Helping Us, and Food and Friends said the pandemic disrupted their fundraising efforts while increasing expenses, at least in part by prompting more people to come to them for help.

LGBTQ workers in the D.C. area hospitality industry were also hit hard by COVID related restrictions in 2020, especially those working for hotels and restaurants that were forced to close. LGBTQ people were among many hospitality industry workers furloughed or laid off from their jobs due to the COVID shutdowns and restrictions.

Honorable Mention: Blade, Tagg oppose ad tax

The Washington Blade and Tagg magazine, the local publication that covers issues of interest to lesbians of color, joined the Washington Informer, one of D.C.’s two African-American newspapers, in calling on the D.C. Council to drop a 3 percent sales tax on advertising that it approved in a preliminary vote on July 7.

In response to a groundswell of opposition to the proposed advertising sales tax from local media outlets and small businesses that rely on advertising in newspapers, the Council two weeks later voted 11 to 2 to remove the tax from the city’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget. A request to remove the tax came from Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), who had introduced and backed the proposal at the time of its preliminary approval.

Mendelson said he reversed his position after hearing the outcry from small publications, including the Blade, that such a tax would force some outlets to lay off more employees and would force other media outlets to close as they struggled to survive amid the COVID pandemic.

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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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Biden names civil rights veteran to U.S. Education Dept.

Catherine Lhamon’s portfolio will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct, racial discrimination



Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education Catherine Lhamon. (Photo public domain))

The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden has nominated Catherine Lhamon to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

Lhamon currently serves as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity at the White House, where she manages the President’s equity policy portfolio. She is a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) and served as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 2017 to 2021.

She has also served as Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Her portfolio at Education, where she previously served in the same position under former President Barack Obama, will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct and racial discrimination in the nation’s K-12 schools, universities and colleges. Lhamon was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, to which President Obama nominated her and the Senate confirmed her in 2013.

“I am thrilled that President Biden is nominating Catherine Lhamon to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Catherine has devoted her career to ensuring equity is at the core of all her work,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement released by his office Thursday.

“She has a strong record of fighting for communities of color and underserved communities, whether as the current Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, or as a civil rights educator at Georgetown University. We are thrilled to have Catherine serving as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and know she will continue to fight for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students.”

Lhamon has also litigated civil rights cases at National Center for Youth Law, Public Counsel Law Center, and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.  Lhamon taught federal civil rights appeals at Georgetown University Law Center in the Appellate Litigation Program and clerked for the Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Catherine Lhamon is the right choice to lead the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights at such a critical time for the country and the agency. There is much work to do in order to roll back the harmful policies and legacies of Betsy DeVos, from her attacks on transgender students to her unconscionable revocation of discriminatory discipline guidance and rewrite of Title IX rules,” Adele Kimmel, Director of the Students’ Civil Rights Project at Public Justice told the Blade in an email.

“During her previous tenure in the same job, Catherine embraced equality, enforced Title IX and ensured students had an ally inside the federal government. She will do so again, and the Senate should move to quickly confirm her so she can begin the work of restoring the Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights and dignity of students and implementing the Biden Administration’s pledge to undo the damage that DeVos has done,” Kimmel added.

Born in Virginia and raised in California, Lhamon graduated from Amherst College and Yale Law School. Lhamon and her husband and two daughters are transitioning between California and Maryland.

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IDAHOBiT events to promote intersectionality, resilience, allyship

HRC president to participate in virtual panel in Canada



(Photo courtesy of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia committee)


Intersectionality, resilience and allyship are among the themes that this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia events will highlight.

Dignity Network Canada and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention on May 17 will hold a virtual panel that will feature Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity Executive Director Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Kaleidoscope Trust Executive Director Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, COC Nederland Executive Director Marie Ricardo and Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. The British High Commission and the Dutch Embassy in Canada have co-sponsored the event.

“We hope that this will be a really interesting and important conversation on intersectionality and transnational solidarity — and what it means for these leaders and their organizations during these times,” reads a description of the event.

The U.N. LGBTI Core Group on May 17 will host a virtual IDAHOBiT event that will focus on ways to develop an “inclusive and diverse post-pandemic world.” The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American and Asian Development Banks host a similar IDAHOBiT commemoration.

“In order to heal from the economic, social, and public health dire impact the pandemic has had and still has, every plan of recovery must take into account a human-rights based, intersectional and gender responsive approach that addresses the specific needs of LGBTI persons in order not to leave them further behind,” reads a description of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group event.

Several Russian LGBTQ rights groups on May 17 will hold a “Vaccine for Acceptance” event that seeks to bolster allyship in the country.

Retired South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron on May 16 will moderate a virtual panel that will focus on religion and anti-LGBTQ violence.

Workplace Pride and the Dutch Embassy in Budapest on May 17 will host a symposium on LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces in Hungary. M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, on the same day will participate in a webinar the U.S. Embassy in Singapore is hosting with Oogachaga, a local LGBTQ advocacy group.

Haver Srbija, a Serbian NGO, on May 15-16 will hold Falafel, a film festival that seeks to build “bridges and promotes Israeli, Jewish and LGBTQI culture and communities” and highlight “various social issues in the context of the fight against prejudice, discrimination, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia and encourages the audience to develop critical thinking on the issue of these topics.” Proud Lebanon is slated to hold a series of six webinars between May 17-22 that will focus on feminism, LGBTQ rights and other topics.

The National Center for Sexual Education in Cuba will hold a series of virtual forums and other events through the month to commemorate IDAHOBiT.

CENESEX Director Mariela Castro, whose father is former Cuban President Raúl Castro, during a May 4 press conference in Havana said the IDAHOBiT events are part of the process of amending the country’s family code to make it more equitable for LGBTQ Cubans. Mariela Castro said a bill to amend it will be introduced in the Cuban Parliament in July.

“I was able to appreciate that the majority of the population … is in favor of recognizing the rights of LGBTI+ people and especially the rights in the family sphere that include the possibility, the option, of marriage,” said Mariela Castro during the press conference, according to Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba.

IDAHOBiT commemorates the World Health Organization’s 1990 decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

This year’s events will take place against the backdrop of a pandemic that continues to exacerbate existing inequalities for LGBTQ people and other vulnerable groups around the world.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in dozens of countries. Violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation remains rampant in the U.S. and throughout the world.

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