Friday, July 21, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation-July 21

Report that Chechnya executed 27 including Gay men

Grozny, Chechnya - The Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta has reported that Chechen security forces executed 27 people on the night of January 26. Radio Free Europe (RFE) published an English-language summary of the story on July 9. While RFE did not explicitly identify the executed individuals as Gay, it linked the killings to the ongoing pogrom against Gay men in the Caucasian republic, which is part of the Russian Federation and is ruled by an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian LGBT Network corroborated the reports, noting that some of the names published by Novaya Gazeta were known to be members of the LGBT community.

Novaya Gazeta broke the story of the anti-Gay campaign in Chechnya in April, and their reporting was confirmed by the international watchdog group Human Rights Watch in May. In April, Novaya Gazeta reported that dozens of Gay Chechen men had been arrested, imprisoned in special detention camps, and tortured. This is the first report of deliberate executions of Gay people carried out by Chechen government forces. At least three deaths had been reported previously, but all were said to have occurred as a result of beatings in detention camps where Gay men were being held.

According to Novaya Gazeta, the 27 detainees were never formally arrested and no paperwork was filled out on them before they were summarily executed. A source within the Russian Interior Ministry, which has jurisdiction over police forces, reportedly provided the newspaper with the names of the victims but Novaya Gazeta reporters were unable to locate any of them. 'All attempts to learn anything about these people were met with incredible fear from everyone we questioned,' the newspaper wrote. Security forces controlled by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov have been accused of gross human rights violations for many years, including abductions, torture, and killings. Kadyrov was installed as President of Chechnya in 2011, after Putin crushed the Chechen independence movement. Kadyrov promised in a June statement that he would clear Chechnya of Gays by the end of Ramadan 2017, which ironically occurred on Pride Day, June 25. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org)


Untreatable gonorrhea may be spreading worldwide

London, EnglandReuters reports that at least three people worldwide (one each in Japan, France and Spain) are infected with totally untreatable "superbug" strains of gonorrhea which they are likely to be spreading to others through sex, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on July 7. Giving details of studies showing a "very serious situation" with regard to highly drug-resistant forms of the sexually-transmitted disease (STD), WHO experts said it was "only a matter of time" before last-resort gonorrhea antibiotics would be of no use.

"Gonorrhea is a very smart bug," said Teodora Wi, a human reproduction specialist at the Geneva-based U.N. health agency. "Every time you introduce a new type of antibiotic to treat it, this bug develops resistance to it." The WHO estimates 78 million people a year get gonorrhea, an STD that can infect the genitals, rectum and throat. The infection, which in many cases has no symptoms on its own, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, as well as increasing the risk of getting HIV. The said there is widespread resistance to the first-line medicine ciprofloxacin, increasing resistance to another antibiotic drugs called azithromycin, and the emergence of resistance to last-resort treatments known as extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs).

Wi, who gave details in a telephone briefing of two studies on gonorrhea published in the journal PLOS Medicine, said one had documented three specific cases - one each in Japan, France and Spain - of patients with strains of gonorrhea against which no known antibiotic is effective. "These are cases that can infect others. It can be transmitted," she told reporters. "And these cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhea is actually more common." (Reuters - by Kate Kelland, edited by Gareth Jones at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-colombia-dairy-idUSKBN19Z23O)


Gender pay gap at White House triples under Trump

Washington, D.C. - The gender pay gap for White House staffers is three times larger under the Trump administration than it was during President Obama's last year in office, according to the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI). According to AEI's report, published on July 3 in the Washington Post, women White House staffers are making a median of $72,650 while male staffers earn a median of $115,000.

“The typical female staffer in Trump's White House earns 63.2 cents per $1 earned by a typical male staffer,” AEI scholar Mark Perry wrote - a difference of nearly 37%. The pay gap stood at about 11% during President Obama's last year in office, and the national average stands at about 17%, the report said. According to CNN, the gender pay gap for White House staffers is due in part to the fact that not as many women work in the highest-ranking - and best paid - White House jobs under Trump.

Women comprise 47% of the workforce in the White House, but do not have top positions. The highest salary at the White House is $179,000 and there is only one woman making that out of the 22 people who draw in that amount. AEI found that nearly 74% of the top 23 Trump staffers are male, compared to 52% - near parity - under Obama. Male employees at the White House earn $104,000 on average compared to $83,000 that average women employees earn. When median salaries are compared instead of average salaries, the gender pay gap becomes even wider. Averages can be skewed by outlier salaries that can drive the figure up or down, meaning one highly-paid female staffer can give the impression that all other women in the White House are paid more than they actually are. Trump has said that he supports equal pay for women and that helping working women was a priority of his administration. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org)


Ban on conversion therapy advances in Allentown, PA

Allentown, PA - The Allentown City Council’s Committee of the Whole unanimously approved legislation to ban conversion therapy for minors this week. The bill passed out of committee July 12 and is slated for final adoption at council’s July 19 meeting.

“Conversion therapy is a harmful, unscientific practice promoted only by those who seek to do harm to LGBT people,” Adrian Shanker, executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, said in a statement after the committee vote. “LGBT youth deserve high-quality health care, not junk science. I'm proud of City Council for moving this critical ordinance forward."

The center worked with National Center for Lesbian Rights and Jerner & Palmer, P.C. on crafting the legislation. “Protecting our LGBTQ youth is not a partisan issue,” said NCLR Youth Policy Counsel and Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator Carolyn Reyes in a statement. “All of our youth are born perfect and deserve to be protected from the harmful, discredited practice of conversion therapy.” Philadelphia last month adopted similar legislation, which is awaiting signature by Mayor Jim Kenney. Pittsburgh became the first city in the state to ban conversion therapy last year. (Philadelphia Gay News - Jen Colletta at epgn.com)


US House narrowly rejects ban on Trans medical care

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives voted down an amendment that would have taken away medically necessary health care for transgender service members and military dependents. Proposed by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, the amendment would have barred access to transition-related health care — including critically important care such as hormone therapy — for service members and military family members. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 214 to 209.

Reaction from organizations supporting military families was swift. “Congresswoman Hartzler’s attempt to strip healthcare from service members and their families in a time of war was unpatriotic, unconstitutional, and just plain vile, we are pleased to see that the House of Representatives voted down this amendment” said OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Matt Thorn.

“This was a horrifying, vicious attack on service members and military family members, and our families were beside themselves in fear,” said American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “It would have been beyond unconscionable to rip away the critically important health care of transgender military family members and service members — care that their doctors believe is medically necessary — and would have severely harmed thousands of military families and undermine military readiness. We are incredibly grateful to the members of Congress who stood up and stopped this assault on our military families.” (Dallas Voice - David Taffet at dallasvoice.com)


Philly’s new rainbow flag adds black and brown stipes

Philadelphia, PA - Amber Hikes, the city's director of LGBT Affairs, said she teared up the first time she saw the new rainbow flag, which was presented at City Hall last month. The new flag will expand on creator Gilbert Baker’s original design by including black and brown stripes to symbolize the LGBT community’s racial diversity. “Seeing an image like this flag instills so much pride in me as a queer black woman,” Hikes said. “When I see the flag, I feel like I see myself.”

Tierney, a Philadelphia-based advertising agency, approached Hikes and the Office of LGBT Affairs with the new design. Hikes said the extra stripes are “simple, but remarkable.” “The new design is a symbolic representation of Philadelphia’s commitment to centering the experiences, contributions, activism and dedication of black and brown members of our community,” Hikes said. “To me, this flag says: ‘We see you. We honor you. We celebrate you. You’re not just a part of us. You are us.’” For the flag-raising ceremony, Hikes said the office chose people of color as presenters and performers. “I feel that when we celebrate Pride Month and the LGBT community at large, we focus heavily on the same voices, identities and experiences,” Hikes said. “This year, I want to celebrate people who are too often left out of our narratives.

Hikes said she believes this flag is “historic on so many levels” and will expand beyond the city. “This is not going to just be in Philadelphia,” Hikes said. “This is going to take the nation by storm. I believe that very deeply. This is an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate not just Pride but also the community members whose voices and experiences that so often get overlooked. To me, this is a chance to stop saying ‘We’re inclusive’ and to actually begin showing it. (Philadelphia Gay News - Jeremy Rodriguez at epgn.com)


Human Rights Campaign announces major grassroots effort

Washington, D. C – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has announced what it calls “a bold, proactive grassroots expansion” with the launch of HRC Rising, a campaign to accelerate progress in states from coast-to-coast, resist the politics of hate, fight anti-LGBTQ legislation, and fuel pro-equality candidates and initiatives. In June, HRC partnered on dozens of nationwide marches—from the Los Angeles #ResistMarch to the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. and cities in between. HRC is harnessing that momentum to begin organizing for the 2018 elections earlier than ever before, with its biggest strategic investment in the organization’s 37-year history.

“It’s not enough to resist the hateful policies and attacks coming from the Trump-Pence regime—we’ve got to accelerate the pace of progress toward full equality and secure protections for LGBTQ people in states and communities across the country. That’s why we’re going on offense with the largest grassroots expansion in HRC’s 37-year history,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Our grassroots army of over 3 million has proven that, even in the face of unprecedented challenges, we can make incredible progress and defeat the hateful politicians who've been emboldened by Donald Trump when we organize and mobilize.”

HRC has a proven track record of organizing and mobilizing supporters to defeat anti-LGBTQ legislation and candidates, and to turn out on Election Day. HRC will now expand on these efforts and has begun recruiting at least 20 additional full-time staff, including dedicated political, field, grassroots organizing, volunteer engagement, communications, and digital staff, who will join more than two dozen existing staff working on the initiative. HRC is allocating $26 million to resource this nationwide grassroots push. The launch of HRC Rising comes after a year in which HRC significantly expanded its grassroots engagement and proved that the ten million LGBTQ voters in America—five percent of all voters—are one of the most important and effective voting blocs in the nation. The launch of HRC Rising represents the opening of another front in HRC’s fight against the Trump-Pence agenda. (The Human Rights Campaign Press Release at hrc.im/Rising)


Gay businessman announces run for governor of Texas

Dallas, TX - Dallas businessman Jeffery Payne on July 14, announced that he is running for governor of Texas, challenging Republican incumbent Greg Abbott, who he characterizes as a “disaster for Texans” and a governor who “offers nothing in the way of new ideas.” “Texas needs a governor who believes in real Texas values, like integrity, honesty, freedom and independence,” Payne said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “It’s time we stopped wasting our time and money on silly legislation and start investing our time finding ways to help Texans, their families and businesses prosper.”

Payne pointed to his history of success as a businessman — from his respected court reporting firm, to his real estate dealings and his thriving nightclub, The Dallas Eagle. The candidate said he makes no secret of his active involvement in the Dallas LGBT community or his history as a former International Mr. Leather, a title that gave him a platform to promote many charity events. He also said that his philanthropic work reflects his commitment to helping others not just in the LGBT community, but the greater Texas community, as well. He founded the Sharon St. Cyr Fund, an organization that assists people in obtaining hearing aids and provides grants for sign language interpreters at public events.

Payne, born in Maine, lost his mother when he was 3, and he spent much of his childhood in an orphanage before entering foster care at age 15. From that point on, he said, he was driven to succeed no matter what the circumstances. By age 23 he owned Payne’s Fine Jewelry, which marked the beginning of a series of successful ventures — ventures that were interrupted suddenly when Hurricane Katrina whipped out everything he had built up in New Orleans, where he lived. Undeterred, Payne relocated to Dallas and started over again. (Dallas Voice - Tammye Nash at dallasvoice.com)

Beyond the Beltway

Beyond the Beltway

Compiled by Jim Becker

These news notes have been compiled, with permission, from the online version of various newspapers and other websites. We thank these publications for allowing us to bring you their news stories. Usually the reports have been significantly edited and you can read the full story by going to the website mentioned following the item. Comments are strictly the opinions of Jim Becker and not of Baltimore Outloud or Pride Media.

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