LGBT activist Alain Dang dies at 37.
Six hints that an ENDA executive order might be coming.
Russian novelist says her book is being investigated as 'gay propaganda': "The Family in Our Country and Others, by Vera Timenchik, "caused a stormy reception", she said. 'There is a small section that says in some places in the world … there are also homosexual families.' She said Timenchik had been called for questioning by authorities and had told her that investigators wanted to speak to her too."
Attempted hijacking of plane to Sochi foiled as plane lands safely in Istanbul: "The passenger, identified as a male Ukrainian national, claimed to be armed with a bomb, the Turkish television stations NTV and CNNTurk quoted a Transport Ministry undersecretary, Habib Soluk, as saying."
Justin Bieber, criminal.
Nick Wechsler gets shirtless for Da Man.
Jodie Foster back behind the camera for Orange is the New Black: "The cast and crew of "Orange" were spotted on location in Riverhead, New York last week filming a period piece scene with Foster at the helm. The scene, reportedly set in 1992, takes place in front of the Suffolk Theater and seems to be a flashback for one of the characters."
Socarides: Advertisers' gay rights choices.
CNN cancels AC360 Later, a panel show hosted by Anderson Cooper: "CNN launched the program, which aired at 10 p.m., in September. The network has grappled with what to air during that particular timeslot. CNN experimented with a panel format early last year before 'AC 360 Later' eventually debuted, and also tested out the short-lived '(Get To) The Point.'"
A "fappy" Channing Tatum dances with Ellen.
Report: Philip Seymour Hoffman to be digitally recreated for remaining Hunger Games Mockingjay scene: "The studio will use CGI technology to edit the film rather than rewriting the script, or hiring a new actor to take Hoffman's place, Page Six reported Thursday, Feb. 6. The beloved actor was set to reprise his role as Heavensbee in Parts 1 and 2 of Mockingjay. While Hoffman had already completed most of his scenes for Part 1, he still had seven days left to shoot on Part 2."
Oprah to make Broadway debut? "The media mogul is in talks to star opposite Tony-winner Audra McDonald in a revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play 'night, Mother, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. The role would be her first in a Broadway production."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sees no "movement" to pass marriage equality: "I haven’t heard a significant movement across the state to make an alteration on that one way or the other."
Jimmy Kimmel proves once again that the best way to read trolling on Twitter is to have those targeted read the tweets themselves.
Featuring George Clooney, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Garner, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Sarah Silverman, Tom Hanks, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rob Lowe, Cate Blanchett, Tim Robbins, Bill Murray, and Matt Damon.
Enjoy, AFTER THE JUMP...
Crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has asked the city manager to take down a Gay Pride flag that was raised at City Hall in solidarity with LGBT athletes at the Sochi Olympics, BlogTO and the AP report:
"This is about the Olympics, this is about being patriotic to your country," Ford said. "This is not about sexual preference." The mayor says he wants it replaced with a Canadian flag.
The rainbow flag was installed on the courtesy flagpole outside City Hall with the help of Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. The pole is reserved for flags that promote "activities such as fund-raising drives, multi-cultural events and national or independence days," according to the city website.
Kelly called the Pride flag "a statement that we're not afraid to stand up for the rights and privileges that are being abused in other parts of the world."
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he does not support having the rainbow flag flying at city hall during the Sochi Games, and initially ordered to have it taken down. But after meetings with other councillors, Ford has reportedly agreed to let the flag fly.
During the Sochi Winter Games opening ceremonies, there was a malfunction with one of the rings. Oops.
Watch (while it lasts), AFTER THE JUMP...
Earlier today we reported on the arrest of four LGBT activists protesting Sochi in St. Petersburg. Among them was Anastasia Smirnova, coordingator of a coalition of six Russian LGBT advocacy organizations.
Now, Russian media reports that 10 more LGBT activists have been arrested in Moscow: Elena Kostyuchenko, Anna Annenkov, Lynn Reid, Knicks Nemeni, Olga Mazurova, Gleb Warrior, Tarja Polyakova, Daria Starshinina and two Swedish nationals.
Watch video of the arrests, AFTER THE JUMP...
At least 23 people have been detained in Moscow, according to reports.
BY ANGUS WEST / GlobalPost
With limited options for legal dissent, activists hoping to make a statement about issues including the “gay propaganda” ban and environmental concerns at the Sochi Games are finding it difficult to do so. But some are saying they shouldn’t be discouraged because Russia must allow room for activist participation in the scene.
“[Protesters] will have an opportunity to do something, otherwise Russian powers will be blamed of not being democratic,” Alexey Malashenko, co-chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Religion, Society and Security Program, said.
Earlier this week, however, Amnesty International labeled environmental activist Yevgeny Vitishko the first “prisoner of conscience” of the Winter Olympics — a person persecuted for political beliefs and civil activism.
Vitishko, of Ecological Watch for the North Caucuses, an environmental group working in Sochi, was sentenced to 15 days in jail for his role in protesting against alleged illegal deforestation and construction on the protected land on which the region’s governor has a private “dacha,” or Russian vacation home. The punishment hinders Vitishko’s ability to participate in protests during the Olympics.
Vitishko said he attempted to alert local authorities about his plans to travel in Sochi by going to a local penitentiary department, but he was seized while exiting the building and detained, initially on claims that he was being checked for association with a theft near his home. He was later accused of using profanity in public at a bus stop after being handed over to the local police.
“He’s [an] extremely gentle and intelligent person and he actually mostly walks or drives rather than takes public transport, so the whole situation looks quite questionable,” Damelya Aitkhozhina, Russia researcher for Amnesty International, said during an interview in Sochi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin led a series of restrictive domestic laws in recent years — one of which is the ban on homosexual propaganda — bringing inter-national attention to Russia’s domestic policies and Putin’s control on the country.
“We generally consider [Vitishko’s arrest] part of the general trend of crackdowns on civil society in Russia, which has particularly increased and tightened ahead of the Olympics in this region, but generally it happened all over the country,” Aitkhozhina said.
Activists have viewed with particular concern what happened to Paul Lebedev, a resident of Voronzeh, Russia, 600 miles north of Sochi, who was detained by police last month after raising a rainbow flag at the torch’s procession.
In a report issued Tuesday, Human Rights Watch stated that physio-logical and physical abuse against members of the LGBT community in Russia peaked in 2013, and called for Russia to improve the situation in light of hosting the Winter Games.
The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Russian constitution, but Putin imposed new sanctions in 2012 for demonstrations. Although initially banned, sanctioned protests during the Olympics are now permitted in designated areas during the games, or “protest zones.” But demonstrators must first obtain approval from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), local authorities and the interior ministry.
Still, there are no signs of an official protest zone in Khosta, a quiet district between the Olympic Park and downtown Sochi.
Though the location of the zone — in a small park under a highway — seems to have been consciously chosen to keep approved protesters outside of the public eye.
On Tuesday, the only activists in the protest zone were two older Russian women attempting to convert passersby to Jehovah's Witnesses. While the protest zone may be virtually empty, there is some commotion, albeit less visible.
Some prominent advocates for human rights in Russia, including local lawyer Simeon Siminov, have been denied a “spectator’s pass,” which is required in order to be present in the Olympic venues for sporting events.
“[Siminov] bought a ticket to see a hockey game, but he was not allowed a spectator’s pass, without any explanations,” Amnesty International’s Damelya Aitkhozhina said.
According to Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, members of the group are getting out of Sochi before the games, for fear of further crackdowns. Some observers see rising activism but also growing suppression of dissent in Sochi, and Russia in general.
“You saw, just before the Games the amnesty laws that freed [punk protest band] Pussy Riot and [Russian oil tycoon Mikhail] Khodorkovsky. … On the one hand we’re very happy that they’re free now, but these kind of amnesty laws can’t be a substitute for … a democratic country abiding by human rights,” Emile Affolter said.
And it is sustained change and protection for Russia’s LGBT community that is the goal for many activist groups visiting Sochi.
“With these Olympics we are really concerned about the activists, what’s going to happen to them after the Olympics after Sochi is no longer in the limelight of the world and the cameras have been [shut] off,” said Lene Christensen, project manager of Amnesty International’s Sochi campaign. “We’re now [seeing] the detention and the imprisonment of Yevgeny Vitishko. ... that it’s already begun.”
Christensen’s concern was echoed by Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia press officer, Lydia Arroyo, who said that “whether [there] will be a backlash against those who speak out in the run-up to the games, or just continuation of the same tendency which we saw since Putin's inauguration — progressive clampdown on freedoms of expression, association and assembly — we are waiting to see what will happen after Sochi, and we are waiting with concern.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been largely supportive of Russia’s moves to accommodate protests at the games, with IOC President Thomas Bach, speaking at a conference in Sochi this week, warning that the Olympics are not “a stage for political dissent or for trying to score points in internal or external political contests.”
President Obama, electing not to attend the games himself, is sending a US delegation including prominent gay athletes such as Billie Jean-King (who has since dropped out). Other international leaders are doing the same. Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, cited Russia’s treatment of minorities under current legislation as her decision not to attend.
Activists should encourage their government leaders to speak directly to Putin about human rights laws in Russia, said Emile Affolter, press officer for Amnesty International in the Netherlands. In addition, she said, they should support measures such as promoting the work of NGOs and spreading awareness in the media.
Despite recent claims by the mayor of Sochi that he was not aware of any openly gay people in Sochi, media have shown something different — that Sochi actually does have a nascent LGBT community. But many locals in the resort town support Putin’s ban on “gay propaganda.”
Earlier this week at a local karaoke bar in the Adler district of Sochi, Alexander Muhachev, a 28-year-old from Perm, Russia, who is working in Sochi for the Olympics, said he supports the law.
“It is important to understand that the law does not prohibit such a relationship,” Muchachev said. “The law prohibits only propaganda.”
“[For] gays and lesbians [it is] really hard to find understanding with … heterosexual society, which is an absolute majority [in Russia],” Muchachev said. The mentality of society, he said, “can not be changed. Thus, the [government’s] implementing this law is a logical step.”
“I [also] think the government thinks about increasing the birth rate in the Russian society. The last century for Russia was very difficult period. If not for World War II and social Perestroika that we experienced after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we would now be twice as [populous], so now we must restore our nation. This is one of the priorities of our domestic policy.”
Olga Ferapontova, 27, who lives in Sochi and works at a bar-and-restaurant in Krasnaya Polyana, where the downhill Olympic events will be held, said she was surprised to read in the news about how open the LGBT community is in Europe.
“I don’t care about activists [at the Olympics], but I’m against nontraditional relationships, because it is bad for a child’s future.”
She said she has many friends in Sochi who are gay, “ but they hide their relationships.”
“[In the North Caucuses] their religion does not allow them to have this kind of relationship. And if you show that you are gay, they can hit you,” she said. “In Moscow it is okay. It is not possible to hide your relationship, that you are gay. It’s dangerous here,” she said.
When asked if it was possible to speak to any of her gay friends in Sochi, she explained that they were all very busy and unavailable to meet.