U.S. conservatives praise Russia’s anti-gay laws


Anti-gay activist Scott Lively

Two longtime opponents of the U.S. gay-rights movement on Friday announced formation of a coalition that will seek to persuade more countries around the world to follow Russia’s example in passing laws that restrict gay rights, the Associated Press reported.

The activists, Massachusetts-based evangelical lawyer Scott Lively and Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, praised two recently enacted Russian laws that have been assailed by gay-rights supporters worldwide. The protests have intensified amid Russia’s hosting of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

One law seeks to prevent gays and lesbians from adopting children, while the other — a ban on so-called gay “propaganda” accessible by minors — is seen as a deterrent to public expressions of gay-rights sentiment.

“By taking these steps in the face of intense criticism and hostility … the Russians have demonstrated the high value that they place on their children and the natural family model of society,” the newly formed Coalition for Family Values said. “We believe that God will bless the Russian people for their faith and courage.”

Lively and LaBarbera said the new coalition will encourage allies abroad to lobby their own governments to follow Russia’s example.

“While the LGBT agenda has seemed like an unstoppable political juggernaut in North America and Europe, the vast majority of the people of the world do not accept the notion that sexual deviance should be normalized,” their statement said.

The formation of the coalition was assailed by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

“Americans aren’t buying the hate these anti-LGBT extremists are selling, so they’ve been forced to take their take their dangerous rhetoric abroad,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “These radicals are now traveling from country to country advocating for the persecution of LGBT people under the guise that they’re saving children.”

Among the groups joining the coalition were Lively’s Defend the Family International, the American Family Association of Pennsylvania and Mission:America.

Lively conducted a 50-city speaking tour of Russia in 2007, and says the gay propaganda bill — enacted last year — reflects policies that he advocated at the time.

Lively is being sued in U.S. federal court by a Uganda-based gay-rights group, accusing him of persecuting gays in that East African country.

The suit contends that he was a key figure in consultations in Uganda that produced tough anti-gay legislation in 2009. A version of that bill is expected to be signed soon by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

—  Steve Ramos

Obama names gay delegates to official Olympic delegation


Billie Jean King

President Barack Obama named the U.S. delegation to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and included gays and lesbians in his selection.

One of the five members of the opening ceremony delegation is lesbian, and one of the five closing ceremony delegation members is lesbian. Then there is an ambiguously gay duo.

For the opening ceremony, tennis champ Billie Jean King will be among the official delegation. King has won 39 grand slam titles during her career and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“I am equally proud to stand with the members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be competing in Sochi, and I hope these Olympic Games will indeed be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people,”the lesbian tennis star said.

Among the five opening ceremony delegates is Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano. He has denied he is gay and has refused to talk to the gay press over the years. When asked why most people assume figure skaters are gay, he answered, “Sequins and glitter.”

The opening ceremony takes place on Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia.

Among the five official delegates to the closing ceremony is Caitlin Cahow who is an Olympic silver medalist and bronze medalist in women’s ice hockey. Cahow is lesbian.

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is another of the five closing ceremony delegates. While lesbian rumors have swirled around her for years, Napolitano has said she’s not gay, just a single workaholic.

The closing ceremony will be held Feb. 23.

Russia enacted an anti-gay law this year that makes any demonstration of being gay illegal. Gays and lesbians could be imprisoned for any public indication of their sexual orientation. Having delegates many assume are gay should be an equally effective protest against the Russian anti-gay law as having openly gay delegates. Bigots won’t know who they’re actually supposed to discriminate against.

—  David Taffet

John Boehner criticized for giving space to anti-gay group


House Speaker John Boehner

Gay-rights groups challenged House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, after he secured meeting space in the U.S. Capitol to a group that strongly supports Russia’s laws against “homosexual propoganda.”

The Huffington Post reported Friday Boehner granted meeting space for the World Congress of Families after Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., canceled the group’s reserved space in a Senate office building because of its anti-gay views.

“Speaker Boehner’s embrace of these ambassadors of hate is shameful and despicable. These individuals have supported the subhuman treatment of LGBT people around the world, and now they want to do the same here,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin  in a statement. “The fact that the Speaker would welcome a panelist who praised Uganda’s proposal to sentence gay people to death should shock the conscience of all Americans.”

The Illinois-based WCF supported laws in Russia and Ukraine that ban the “promotion of homosexuality” — essentially a gag rule on any LGBT rights advocacy. WCF President Brian Brown testified before a committee of Russia’s parliament in support of a law banning gay couples and single people in countries that allow marriage equality to adopt Russian orphans.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement that providing space for the WCF event did not suggest the speaker is necessarily in support of their views.

—  Steve Ramos

Creep of the Week: Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

Want to be horrified? Do a Google image search for “anti-gay attacks in Russia.” Scroll through the photos of gays, lesbians and pro-LGBT rights protesters being arrested, harassed and beaten. Let’s just say that Russia makes places in the United States like Alabama and Virginia and Michigan seem like an LGBT paradise.

While Russia has never been known as a progressive place, life for LGBT people has become considerably more dangerous after the passage of a strict law banning “gay propaganda.” The law was intended to keep impressionable children from hearing that homosexuality is anything but evil. Not surprisingly, the law is very broad and basically makes it illegal to be openly gay in Russia. Rainbow flags are, literally, a crime now.

Needless to say, gays and lesbians who are either planning to attend or compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia are a little worried. A lot worried, actually, that they will be fined, put in jail or, say, kidnapped and tortured by anti-gay thugs. Because that’s a legitimate hobby in Russia now.

“The latest laws against so-called gay propaganda … have essentially legalized violence against LGBT people, because these groups of hooligans justify their actions with these laws,” Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network, told The Guardian earlier this month. “With this legislation, the government said that, yes, gays and lesbians are not valued as a social group.”

—  D’Anne Witkowski

Councilman: Dallas should engage with Russian sister city over anti-gay law


A gay teen, kneeling center, was covered in paint and tortured by a group of neo-Nazis in Russia and has reportedly died from his injuries.

Sochi2014While a boycott of Russian vodka has increased awareness of the rising intolerance in Russia, some U.S. cities are reconsidering their Russian sister city programs and LGBT groups are weighing options regarding the upcoming Winter Olympics.

All Out, a group coordinating some of the response to the new Russian anti-gay law, held a conference call with the gay press and representatives from other LGBT groups this morning to discuss options available.

A boycott of Russian products including Stoli vodka is mostly effective in spreading word about the situation in Russia. However, despite the growing number of businesses not buying Russian goods, the boycott is expected to have limited economic impact.

Cities are re-evaluating their sister cities programs. Officials in Lansing, Mich., want to engage with their sister city, St. Petersburg, but Los Angeles is considering dropping or suspending its sister city affiliation with the city.

—  David Taffet

Gay bars dump Russian Vodka across U.S., Canada — but not yet in Dallas

dumprussianvodkalogoLGBT advocates are calling for a boycott of Russian goods in light of the recent anti-gay laws the country’s leadership has championed.

Recent violence highlighted by BuzzFeed and the arrests under the gay propaganda ban have also spurred activists to push for a boycott of the Winter Games scheduled to take place in Russia in 2014.

But instead of boycotting the games, others called for a boycott on products, mainly Stolichnaya Vodka.

Dan Savage wrote an article urging gay bars to stop serving the alcohol. Several Chicago gay bars have already said they won’t serve it anymore, along with bars in San Francisco, Vancouver and Toronto.

Howard Okon, owner of The Brick and Joes’s, said he’s heard about the boycott but isn’t ready to make a decision about the bar carrying it.

“We will be looking into it today and remove it if that’s what people are doing across the nation,” he said.

—  Dallasvoice

What’s Brewing: HRC endorses Obama in 2012; Lady Gaga leaves out LGBTs on GMA

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Eighteen months before the 2012 vote, the Human Rights Campaign on Thursday endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election, citing his accomplishments for the LGBT community during his first 2 ½ years in office, the Washington Blade reports. Critics say the endorsement is premature because HRC should be pushing Obama to do more and because it sends the wrong message to potential GOP candidates who may want to reach out to the LGBT community.

2. Activists are moving forward with a peaceful demonstration that’s unlikely to be peaceful to mark Moscow Pride on Saturday after being denied a permit for the celebration by city officials, who cited a risk of public disorder. Similar “illegal” demonstrations to mark Moscow Pride have turned bloody in the past. Anti-gay groups reportedly have vowed to attack activists again this year, and police say they’ll break up the demonstration. Dozens of activists from the U.S. and Europe, including Lt. Dan Choi, have traveled to Moscow for the event to show their solidarity with the Russian LGBT community.

3. Lady Gaga performed on Good Morning America this morning, but according to multiple sources on Twitter, she left out the LGBT reference in “Born This Way.” The LGBT verse of the song also was cut from a version performed by the top 13 the other night on American Idol. What’s up with that? Anyhow, below is video of Gaga riding a zipline in to this morning’s GMA performance.

—  John Wright

LGBT Rights Demonstrations in Russia and Poland

Queer.de in Germany has video footage of gay rights demonstrations that took place in Russia and Poland over the weekend. You can view the footage at their site. Queer.de is a German-language site, so I will loosely summarize what they are reporting:

Russia saw its first ever legally-sanctioned gay rights demonstration on Saturday in St. Petersburg. About twenty people took part. The recently imprisoned and freed Nikolai Alekseev was among them. Approximately thirty counter-protesters hurled eggs and insults at the demonstrators before the police restrained them. The counter-protesters consisted mainly of right-wing extremists and Orthodox Christians.

In Poland, demonstrations took place in Warsaw and Posen. In Warsaw, the protest was directed toward securing relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Dozens took part. In Posen, 50-100 people joined what was called “The March for Equal Rights.” Counter-protesters appeared at the Posen march, and mostly consisted of nationalists and soccer hooligans.


—  admin

First State-Approved Gay March Held In Russia Ends With Violence

Russia Radio Free Europe reports: "Local reports say Orthodox Christians and other radicals attempted to forcibly break up Russia's first state-approved gay rights march in St. Petersburg. The report said police arrested at least 10 people and that the march was broken off after 40 minutes due to violence."

Hateful protesters, which reportedly included "old ladies and skinheads," shouted and threw eggs at the gay rights advocates and also, after grabbing the rainbow flag out of the hands of the marchers, proceeded to tear it up.

According to the AFP news agency, despite the violence, participants are looking at the positive side of this: "'the fact that this demonstration was authorised is a step forward for us and for all of democratic Russia,' said Maria Efremenkova, one of the organisers. The group was outnumbered by counter-protesters and were guarded by police."

Earlier this year, gay rights organizers held two successful 10-minute "flash" pride parades in Russia, the first time in years that one such march did not end in violence.

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Joel Burns is YouTube Gold

Joel Burns

Joel Burns hit the top of the YouTube charts with his anti-bullying video and it’s having an impact, as we wrote in this week’s Dallas Voice.

On Thursday, the two-week-old “It Gets Better” video hit 2 million views. It continues to receive more than 2,000 views per hour.

For the month it is the most discussed video in News & Politics and received the most votes as favorite video this month as well.

And the video is popular around the world.

It’s the No.1 1 News & Politics video this month in Sweden.

In News & Politics, it’s No. 2 in Canada and the United Kingdom, and in Australia and Ireland, it’s No. 3.

It’s in the top 10 in India, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa and France. Although not as popular in Russia, it’s still ranks No. 105 there and it hasn’t been translated into Russian, as far as I know.

In all, the video gets 46 YouTube honors.

According to the YouTube map, it’s been seen in every country in the world except a couple in central Africa.

Through yesterday, the daily number of viewers has continued to steadily grow. The YouTube page has gotten more than 27,000 comments. Of the 2 million views, only 525 clicked dislike before leaving the page.

—  David Taffet