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07/21/2013

First Tourists Arrested Under Russian's Anti-Gay Law; Russian Bishop Claims Same-Sex Marriage Is 'Sign Of The Apocalypse'

Several pieces of disconcerting news out of Russia today. Officials in that country have arrested three Dutch tourists today under its new anti-gay "propaganda" ban.

6a00d8341c730253ef01901de626d6970b-200wiGayNZ reports:

The Dutch trio are the first tourists to be told they have 'violated the rules of stay'. They were arrested in Murmansk, and Gay Star News says unconfirmed reports suggest they were helping gay activists in the city protest Russia’s position on human rights. They have been told they have broken the law of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ propaganda among children, which was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin last month.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday morning Russian time (late this afternoon in New Zealand). The Russian LGBT Network is providing legal assistance.

That wasn't the only bit of anti-gay news out of Russia today. Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a strong supporter of the "propaganda" bill, told parishioners this morning that same-sex marriage is leading to the end of the world.

KirillAccording to News.com.au, he said: "'This is a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse ... It means people are choosing a path of self-destruction,' Patriarch Kirill told churchgoers at Kazan Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square on Sunday."

Finally, in a just published NYT op-ed, Harvey Fierstein took on Vladimir Putin and his hateful policies, writing that the Russian president "has declared war on homosexuals. So far, the world has mostly been silent."

He concludes:

Mr. Putin’s campaign against lesbian, gay and bisexual people is one of distraction, a strategy of demonizing a minority for political gain taken straight from the Nazi playbook. Can we allow this war against human rights to go unanswered? Although Mr. Putin may think he can control his creation, history proves he cannot: his condemnations are permission to commit violence against gays and lesbians. Last week a young gay man was murdered in the city of Volgograd. He was beaten, his body violated with beer bottles, his clothing set on fire, his head crushed with a rock. This is most likely just the beginning.

Nevertheless, the rest of the world remains almost completely ignorant of Mr. Putin’s agenda. His adoption restrictions have received some attention, but it has been largely limited to people involved in international adoptions.

This must change. With Russia about to hold the Winter Games in Sochi, the country is open to pressure. American and world leaders must speak out against Mr. Putin’s attacks and the violence they foster. The Olympic Committee must demand the retraction of these laws under threat of boycott.

Very well put.

Read Fierstein's full op-ed here.

Posted Jul. 21,2013 at 11:31 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, Russia, Vladimir Putin | Permalink | Comments (43)


True Blood: The Rest Of Season 6 Trailer: Video

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Yesterday, HBO premiered a new trailer at Comic-Con for the remainder of True Blood's current season. Check out what's in store for the show over the next four weeks, AFTER THE JUMP. Attention: potential spoilers!

Posted Jul. 21,2013 at 7:13 PM EST by in Television, True Blood | Permalink | Comments (10)


News: Outfest, James Duke Mason, Nate Silver, GaymerX, Space

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi This year's big winners at Outfest include Bridegroom, Reaching for the Moon, and Test. See full list here.

James Duke Mason6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi James Duke Mason no longer a part of the development of the film Disappear Here: "The owners of the screenplay, they have decided to go ahead with the project without my involvement."

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi Geraldo Rivera posted an almost nude photo of himself on Twitter.

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi Nate Silver ditches the New York Times for ESPN.

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi GaymerX debuts next month in San Francisco: "GaymerX represents the commonplace social segregation of LGBTs in the world and in gaming. But it's a necessary development. It's taken thirty-odd years for video games to seriously face issues about homophobia in online communities, and the lack of gay characters in games. But they are now being addressed at GaymerX."

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi Helen Mirren would totally be okay with her hypothetical daughter dropping f-bombs.

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi The Conjuring comes manages to scare up a big win at the box office this weekend.

Apollo6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi Marking this weekend's 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Wired gives you the best space images ever taken by Apollo astronauts.

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi GLSEN study shows that LGBT youth are harassed online more often than their straight peers: "A national survey of 5,680 students in grades 6-12, indicates LGBT teens were three times more likely to be cyberbullied (42% vs. 15%) and more than a quarter (27%) generally felt unsafe online."

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi Apple has apparently purchased HopStop.com.

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi Watch HBO's In Memoriam video which honors all of the characters who have died during the first three seasons Game of Thrones.

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac18ea06970d-800wi Ian McKellen flirts with Michael Fassbender at Comc-Con: "I just want to say it's great to be back in California. I feel safe here now that you've gotten rid of Proposition 8. I'm looking for a husband."

Posted Jul. 21,2013 at 6:59 PM EST by in Apple, Game of Thrones, Gay Youth, Geraldo Rivera, Ian McKellen, James Duke Mason, Michael Fassbender, Nate Silver, News, Outfest, Video Games | Permalink | Comments (6)


Canadian Coffee Shop Chain Apologizes For Blocking Gay Newspaper Site Over WiFi

The Canada-based Tim Hortons coffee shop chain is apologizing to the publisher of a Canadian free weekly gay newspaper for blocking access to the paper's website on its restaurants' WiFi, UPI reports:

Tim HortonsBrandon Matheson, publisher of Xtra, a gay free newspaper that circulates in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, said he began getting tweets from readers who said they could not access the newspaper's website, DailyXtra.com, while connected to the Tim Hortons WiFi, the Toronto Star said Friday.

Matheson, a Timmy Ho's regular, said he tried himself and it came up blocked. 

He contacted a web administrator to inquire about the situation and was told his not-particularly racy website was not suitable for Tim Hortons patrons to access in their coffee shops.

"We have reviewed this site's content and have found that it is not appropriate for all ages viewing in a public environment,' read the unsigned email from the company Tim Hortons contracts as web administrator. 'We try to ensure that all our guests can enjoy a safe and pleasant experience when visiting us."

Xtra wrote a story about being blocked at Tim Hortons and readers launched a Twitter campaign to encourage gays and lesbians to boycott the chain.

"For a 'safe and pleasant experience,' I guess I won't be going to @TimHortons," tweeted David Demchuk after reading the story.

Others joined in and a Tim Hortons representative contacted Matheson shortly afterward to inform him the company had reviewed and reversed the web administrator's decision.

"Sometimes websites are blocked in error; dailyxtra.com never should have been blocked in the first place," Tim Hortons spokeswoman Michelle Robichaud said. "We apologize if anyone was offended by that error."    

Posted Jul. 21,2013 at 4:50 PM EST by in Canada, Censorship, News | Permalink | Comments (30)


Remembering Helen Thomas: A Gay White House Reporter's Reflections

Chris Johnson, the White House reporter for The Washington Blade, has published his reflections on working with Helen Thomas as a member of the White House Press Corps. Thomas, the first female journalist to cover the president, passed away Saturday at the age of 92.

Recalls Johnson: 

Helen ThomasI first saw Helen Thomas (pictured right with President Obama) in the White House briefing room when I started attending daily briefings at the start of the Obama administration, working the beat for federal LGBT politics. Blade reporters had been kicked out of the briefing room during George W. Bush's second term, so it was a new era and an exciting time.

I remember thinking Thomas could move around the press area deftly for a woman in her late 80s and could hold her own in conversations with other reporters. During a news conference with President Obama in the East Room, she had to have someone escort her by hand over the wires and between the chairs, but otherwise she seemed full of energy.

Bestowed with a front row seat in the briefing room by her colleagues, Thomas would pester then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs with questions that would probably veer a little too close toward editorializing than other reporters in the briefing room would be comfortable asking. 

...

But Thomas was holding the White House accountable long before the Obama administration. Getting her start in the Kennedy administration, Thomas broke up the boy's club that was the White House Press Corps and was the first female reporter to cover the president, rather than the first lady.

In 1962, she pressed Kennedy to skip the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Association unless it were open to women. After he said he wouldn't attend, the dinner for the first time admitted women.

One of my major regrets is that I never initiated a conversation with Thomas during the times I saw her in the White House briefing room or the press area. Our time that coincided covering the White House in 2009 was very short. Also, I was a little intimidated as I was still getting my bearings. Lesson to all: If you see someone you admire, take the opportunity to speak to them before it's too late.

You can check out the full article, HERE

Posted Jul. 21,2013 at 4:08 PM EST by in Barack Obama, Helen Thomas, News, Washington DC | Permalink | Comments (12)


Cameroon Government Blasts Journalists For Coverage Of Lembembe Murder; Activists Call for Proper Investigation

Government officials in Cameroon have issued a statement criticising journalists over their coverage of the murder and brutal torture of prominent gay rights activist Eric Ohena Lembembe last week.

6a00d8341c730253ef01901e4a106c970b-250wiThe AFP reports:

In the first official response to the killing of Eric Ohena Lembembe, government spokesman Issa Tchiroma said in a statement that journalists had engaged in "speculation and witch-hunting" in their coverage of the case, which has drawn expressions of concern from the U.S., France, Britain and the U.N.

"Backed by certain civil society activists and at times by some of our compatriots, the international media have launched attacks on our nation, dragging its image into the mud," Tchiroma said. He called for "a maximum of restraint" from civil society and the media while law enforcement authorities conduct an investigation.

"Any interference or untruthfulness of any nature and origin, notably in terms of information rendered public and propagated by the media, can be considered a violation of judicial secrecy or provocative commentary, which is against the law," he said.

Gay rights supporters in that country responded to the blasts:

"I don't trust the justice system, especially when the issue has to do with homosexuality," said Alice Nkom, one of the few lawyers in Cameroon willing to defend suspects charged under the country's anti-gay law. She said those who defend the rights of sexual minorities in Cameroon have long complained of threats and attacks with little response from the government. "It's a scandal for him to invite journalists and then to warn the civil society and foreign media to stop talking about it," she said.

Meanwhile, amid criticism of shoddy police work in the probe of the murder, activists in Cameroon are calling for the government to conduct a proper investigation.

A separate AFP article includes a statement by those activists:

"This crime occurs within a framework of homophobia marked by the silent complicity of authorities to incidents involving many individuals and organisations defending the rights of sexual minorities," 11 human rights groups said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department was quick to respond to Lembembe's murder urging "Cameroonian authorities to thoroughly and promptly investigate and prosecute those responsible for his death."

Posted Jul. 21,2013 at 3:59 PM EST by in Africa, Cameroon, Crime, Eric Ohena Lembembe | Permalink | Comments (5)



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