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NBC Will Wait To Address Russian LGBT Human Rights Violations Until 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

This afternoon, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus told attendeeds at the TCA Summer TV Press Tour that the network will take a wait and see approach to the anti-gay laws and social injustices taking place in Russia.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

LazarusRussia's draconian anti-gay laws are stirring up controversy for NBC Sports as the division prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus would not directly address the issue at the division's Saturday afternoon Television Critics Association press tour session. But he promised that if the controversy was still front and center come Feb. 6, when the company's 18 days of coverage begins, it would not be swept under the rug.

"We'll address it at the time because it's still unfolding," said Lazarus, adding that the IOC has taken up the issue with the Russian government.  "The IOC has addressed it with the Russian government and has assured athletes, fans and media that there won't be any issues," he added. "Governments across the world have different laws. I don't know now it's going to [affect] us. If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games we will make sure we are acknowledging it and recognizing it."

More from the LA Times:

NBC's veteran sportscaster Al Michaels said, "there will always be controversy surrounding [the Olympics]. It all seems to work out."

According to Lazarus, the International Olympic Committee has said that gay athletes will be welcome in Russia and encouraged to compete. "Obviously, as a company, we are for equality and opportunity for all," Lazarus said. "We don't believe in the spirit of the law they have passed, and we are hopeful the Olympic spirit will win out."

Posted Jul. 27,2013 at 7:50 PM EST by in NBC, News, Olympics, Russia, Sports, Television | Permalink | Comments (51)

Gay Bars Across Globe Dump Russian Vodka


Prompted by Dan Savage's recent op-ed urging people to boycott Russian vodka, gay bars in the United States and elsewhere around the world have started banning Stolichnaya and other Russian vodkas. The goal of the boycott is to bring attention to the recent LGBT human rights violations in that country.

So far, bars in NYC, LA, Miami, Vancouver, Toronto, London, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego and Sydney have all participated in the ban. In the photo above, the manager of The Fountainhead Pub in Vancouver dumps out a bottle of Russian vodka.

An article in today's LA Times reports on the growing campaign:

West Hollywood bars join a growing number of U.S. gay bars boycotting Stoli. Numerous Chicago bars have boycotted the vodka and other Russian products, according to the Windy City Times, a Chicago newspaper that focuses on the gay and lesbian community.

“Consumer action, for a long time, has been a part of any activism,” Art Johnston, the co-owner of the gay bar Sidetrack Chicago, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Sidetrack--in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood, an LGBT hub–stopped selling Stoli earlier this week, Johnston said. The spaces on the bar where Stoli vodka bottles would sit remain empty so people will ask what used to be there, he said.

“I’m hopeful people will talk about this,” Johnston said. “Either the lives of gay and lesbian people in Russia mean something, or they don’t. Clearly, to us, they mean something.”

In case you missed it yesterday, the parent company of Stolichnaya, the SPI Group, responded to the ban via an open letter.

Sidetrack was one of the first gay bars to ban the sale of Russian vodka. They stopped selling it this past Wednesday. Watch a WGN-TV news segment about that bar and the boycott, AFTER THE JUMP.

Has your local gay bar stopped selling Russian vodka?


Posted Jul. 27,2013 at 7:27 PM EST by in Dan Savage, News, Russia | Permalink | Comments (43)

News: Madonna, John Barrowman, Hillary Clinton, Rutgers, NASA

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Waco's Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee vote to add LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance.

Madonna6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Madonna's very first album turns 30 years old.

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Aaron Paul isn't afraid to get up close and personal with his fans.

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Barney Frank is now officially part of the Twitterverse.

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi One-time world champion boxer Emile Griffith, who ESPN says "described himself at various times as straight, gay and bisexual," has died.

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi John Barrowman on the vicious hostility he experienced after the announcement of his wedding: "I don't get it. Some of the comments were outrageously vile. Quoting lines from the Bible. I won't tolerate it. People like that are banned on my Twitter account. I tell them to f**k off...People have a right to their beliefs but it doesn't mean they have to be nasty and deny other people their human rights. The world is not going to change and fall apart because a gay couple got married."

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Naked Juices can no longer claim they are natural.

Julie6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Newly hired Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann comes out as gay: "I'm really blessed to have a wonderful family, and we're excited to become part of the Rutgers community."

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Instant language translation on the go? "Google is working on prototype devices, which, hooked up to your phone, would enable you to receive real-time translations from a foreign language speaker."

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Jailbreak: 1,000 prisoners have escaped in Libya.

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi Diane Lane cast as the lead in NBC's just announced miniseries about Hillary Clinton: "(NBC President) Bob Greenblatt said, 'it’s going to be all of those things.' Clinton is 'not going to be involved at all' in the project and 'I don’t know if she’s aware of it,' he said." She is now.

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi More violence in Cairo around rioters supporting Mohammed Morsi.

6a00d8341c730253ef0191046aeec2970c-800wi NASA believes that the centaurs which orbit the sun might actually be comets.

Posted Jul. 27,2013 at 3:43 PM EST by in Barney Frank, Egypt, Hillary Clinton, John Barrowman, Madonna, News, Science, Sports | Permalink | Comments (12)

Towleroad Interview: Zdravko Cimbaljevic, Organizer Of The Very First Pride Parade In Montenegro

Earlier this week we reported on the very first Pride parade to take place in the small Balkans country of Montenegro. Unfortunately, the event was marred by 200 anti-gay protesters who shouted "kill the gays" and threw stones and other objects at the 40 Pride participants. The marchers shouted their own response to the protesters: "Kiss The Gays."

Zdravko Cimbaljević, the executive director of LGBT Forum Progress, was one of the organizers of Wednesday's parade. He is also the very first openly gay person in the history of Montenegro, having come out publicly in 2010. In an attempt to target and scare organizers of the parade, several of the country's newspapers published fake obituaries of Cimbaljević in the days leading up to the event which took place in the coastal town of Budva. Those phony notices were then seen posted all over Budva.

I spoke to Cimbaljević about the events surrounding this week's Pride parade, death threats and the overall progress of the LGBT community in Montenegro over the last few years. Read our interview with him, AFTER THE JUMP.

SP: Why did you choose the town of Budva as the location of the first pride parade in Montenegro?

ZC: Simply chosen because we wanted to decentralize the whole thing from (the capital) Podgorica. For us, in the LGBT Forum Progress, it is extremely important to work and act in every city in Montenegro. So far, everything related to LGBT issues happened mostly in Podgorica. Besides, the fact that is the summer season, everyone from the whole Montenegro is mostly in Budva, which is the touristic metropolis of Montenegro. In that way, we wanted to promote the idea of inclusive tourism, and the fact Montenegro is open to all people - regardless of their differences.

SP: How did you react to the fake death notices of you posted all over Budva?

ZC: Well, of course it is not a good feeling. The fact that someone put the effort in to make such a thing is terrifying. I woke up that morning, getting ready to continue with the organization of the pride parade, and I got a call from the Police informing me that the obituaries have been put all over Budva. At that moment, i realize it will not be easy, but seeing how the community was energetic and excited gave me strength to ignore it, to put all my thoughts into the organization of this historical event.

ZdravkoSP: Why did you decide to hold one Pride parade this week and another at the end of summer?

ZC: We realized that the majority of people in Montenegro do not have the basic knowledge about the LGBT population and sexual and gender diversity. On the other hand we knew that the LGBT community lives in fear of outing and is subjugated to violence and hatred on a daily basis. The official attitude of the organization, based on extensive research of the community, was that the majority of them do not want pride to happen. But then we realized, that the best way of the awaken the community, was to organize more Pride and visibility events, which do not necessary have to be walks. So we decided to put these events within the strategic plan of the organization since we realized that the community got the incentive and strong commitment to fight for our rights. We decided to visit all of the municipalities and to show that we are present everywhere and that we are not different or less important than all of the other citizens of Montenegro.

SP: What kind of communication about the parade did you had with government officials and police before the Pride parade?

ZC: We had extremely good cooperation with the police. They were very professional and did their job in spite of their potential personal opinions and beliefs. We were communicating with them on a daily basis, and sometimes even at night because we wanted to inform them of all the potential threats and organized attacks on the parade itself. In the end it is important that they showed the determination to protect us, and to provide us to have a peaceful gathering. Even now, after the gathering we still communicate with them because the organizers and the activists are still getting death threats. The government also provided their support and their representatives, ministers walked with us that day. Some of them even got mildly injured by the stones the protesters were throwing at us. It is important that they were there, because they could see and feel first hand, how does it feel to be marginalized, threatened, and hated for no reason.

SP: What kind of potential anti-gay reactions did you prepare for?

CZ: We are prepared for any kind of reaction. Even the worst ones. A lot of people have been afraid, but in the end everyone decided that it was important that the Pride happens now. Without further delays.
SP: How do you feel the LGBT community in Montenegro has progressed since the cancellation of the planned pride parade in 2010 due to safety concerns.

CZ: It progressed in so many ways. It is now stronger, we have more allies, more programs, more services to offer to the LGBT community, and it is now more vibrant and willing to fight for their rights, than ever.

Top photo by Stevo Vasiljevic / Reuters

Posted Jul. 27,2013 at 2:32 PM EST by in Gay Pride, Interview, Montenegro, News | Permalink | Comments (7)

How Tim Hardaway Transformed Into An LGBT Advocate

Back in 2007, NBA point guard Tim Hardaway told a radio host that he hated gay people and even proudly declared himself "homophobic." Six years have since passed and in a newly published featured piece longtime sports columnist Monte Poole highlights how the now retired player has gone from homophobe to advocate for LGBT youth.

Hardaway claims he doesn't want recognition for his newfound work:

6a00d8341c730253ef0191041574f7970cHe regrets the words he uttered six years ago and has since taken action. He attended classes at Miami's YES Institute, which seeks to create a healthy sexual and gender environment for youth. He assists the fundraising efforts of several groups, including the Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth

And when Equal Marriage Florida in June launched a petition to amend the definition of marriage as described in the state constitution, Hardaway stepped forward as the first person to offer his signature. Hardaway, 46, said he wants nothing in return for his support. No political points. No publicity. No hugs or handshakes. He said he was comfortable discussing the issue because he has known me since 1989, when he was drafted by the Warriors. "I don't do this for publicity; I normally turn down interviews about this,'' he said. "But I know you. That's why I'm talking to you about it. I do this because I want to do it. I don't tell people that I'm going to talk to people about gay rights.

He talks about the guilt he faced after realizing how his anti-gay remarks affected the LGBT community:

"With what I said, people could think it's OK to throw rocks at them or bully them,'' Hardaway said. "I just wanted to make people understand that what I said wasn't cool. I wanted to make amends for it.' Whereas Hardaway's radio comments were the result of being, in a sense, back on the court, where he was utterly fearless and often led with considerable swagger and ego. He was being macho, responding as macho guys are "expected'' to respond. He now responds from an informed point of view.

"Once I started reading about what was happening with these people -- kids getting beat up, bullied and committing suicide -- I realized I made it OK for people to keep ridiculing them,'' he said. "And I felt bad about it.'' Hardaway's passion comes through the phone from Florida, his tone exuding the conviction of the truly enlightened believer. "I'm not a bully,'' he said. "I don't want anybody to hurt anybody. I don't want anybody to get hurt. I don't want anybody to kill themselves. Life is too precious. And I realize I had made it worse.''

Hardway's come a long way since he first made those anti-gay remarks six years ago. The full piece is well worth a read.

Posted Jul. 27,2013 at 1:14 PM EST by in Basketball, News, Tim Hardaway | Permalink | Comments (13)

Desmond Tutu: 'I Would Refuse To Go To A Homophobic Heaven'

Anglican Archbishop and social rights activist Desmond Tutu made the declaration during the launch of the global public education campaign called "Free & Equal," which we told you about yesterday.

The BBC reports on his stance on equality:

"I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place," Archbishop Tutu said at the launch of the Free and Equal campaign in Cape Town. "I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this."

Archbishop Tutu said the campaign against homophobia was similar to the campaign waged against racism in South Africa. "I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid. For me, it is at the same level," he added.

Watch a South African Broadcast News segment about Tutu's support of the "Free & Equal" objective, in which he adds that "we should become a society where people are free to be who God made them to be," AFTER THE JUMP.

Posted Jul. 27,2013 at 11:53 AM EST by in Desmond tutu, South Africa, United Nations | Permalink | Comments (24)


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