Activism Hub

Trial Begins for Egyptian Men Arrested in Gay Bathhouse Raid


The trial has begun for the men arrested in early December's Egyptian bathhouse raid, Buzzfeed reports.

This story is the latest in the ongoing crackdown on gays by the Egyptian government under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Activists suspect this is a response to criticism from the Muslim Brotherhood that "a non-Islamist government can’t be a conservative, moral authority in Egypt."

Egyptian activist May Wasan said of the raid: "It is a spectacle...“[the government] is trying to make a show and treat these men like they are not human.”

A lawyer for the defense, Tarek Awady, expressed a similar sentiment, saying:

This case was created by Egyptian authorities to get people talking...It was made to divert our attention to something else so that we don’t focus on the real problems in Egypt.”

The AP adds:

One lawyer representing 14 of the men, Islam Khalifa, told the court Sunday that the defendants suffered "psychological duress" from the publicized arrests, which defamed and endangered both them and their families in conservative Egypt. He said having the television crew there violated the men's right to privacy and Egypt's constitution.

Of the 26 men, 21 have undergone medical examinations to see if they had had anal sex. Three of men had trauma that required further examination, defense lawyer Tarek al-Awadi said.

While Egypt has no explicit laws against homosexuality, in cases like these the government targets gays citing "perversion" and "debauchery," which are illegal under Egyptian law.

Last week, a group of eight men arrested in Egypt for appearing in a "gay wedding" video back in September were sentenced to one year each in jail. 

Next Magazine Asks Whether #BlackLivesMatter to Gays


Last Saturday, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network organized a peaceful March and rally in Washington, D.C. in protestation of the recent high profile police killings of young black men and children. Thousands flooded into the District’s streets, forming a procession that flowed down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. Similar demonstrations including marches, “die-ins,” and occupations have sprung up across the country following a series of grand jury decisions not to indict various police officers involved in civilian killings.

Writing for Next Magazine, columnist Gabe Gonzalez wonders “Do Black Lives Matter to Gays?” A casual glance at the demographic makeup of protesters shows a mix of different races and genders organizing under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, but Gonzalez takes to task the seeming lack of support he sees within many gay social groups.

“After a Staten Island grand jury refused to indict Daniel Pantaleo on December 3 for the murder of Eric Garner, I logged on to Twitter hoping to see a queer community ready to organize and lend support on behalf of black lives,” he writes. “It was just two short months ago that we rallied together under the hashtag #MyNameIs, after all. Instead, I saw someone tweet about seeing Kinky Boots for the nth time, some sharing a drag queen’s new music video, and others sending out party invitations.”

The social mobilization around Facebook’s cracking down on drag performers’ use of their stage names was swift, though in reality it only affected a relatively small portion of Facebook’s total users. Gonzalez argues that regardless of the size of the community impacted, members of the LGBT community are remiss in their decisions to remain virtually silent in the public outcry.

Earlier this year the HRC and 16 other LGBT rights organizations penned an open letter expressing their solidarity with Michael Brown’s family. A number of NYC-based LGBT advocacy groups shared a similar letter after it was announced that Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold, would not be indicted. Though solidarity from organizations is a start, Gonzalez’s call to action is squarely aimed at individuals who seem to have extricated themselves from the conversation:

“When LGBT causes like #MyNameIs grab national headlines, we urge friends and allies of all backgrounds to join our voices in seeking justice. But now, when our black friends have spoken out; when the media has no choice but to repeat the names Michael, Trayvon, Eric, and Akai; when it matters most that we permanently etch these atrocities into our collective histories—we’re quiet. Those very same voices that flooded your feed with #MyNameIs or #LoveIsLove and never let you forget they were holding space for a cause until they saw a meaningful outcome can’t seem to find the 140 characters to articulate how or why #BlackLivesMatter.”

Freedom to Marry Campaign Director Says Organization Will Disband if Supreme Court Rules for Marriage

365ade297fb3ee2d6a_1hm6bxevnThe Washington Blade has a new interview out today with Marc Solomon — National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry (pictured).

Probably the highlight of the interview comes at the end, when Solomon talks about what happens if the Supreme Court rules for marriage nationwide. Solomon says this would mean the end of Freedom to Marry, because the organization's goal would be achieved:

We’ve always been set up as a campaign, and we are a campaign, and when we’ve won nationwide, we’re finished...I want to see some of the really good people stick around in LGBT stuff, or in other progressive causes, but Freedom to Marry’s done. That’s I think a great holding out is put yourself out of business.

Solomon is optimistic about such a ruling, deeming it "highly unlikely" that the court will rule against same-sex marriage. Further, with support climbing in the polls, he is "pretty confident" that voters are also more supportive of gay marriage. He suggests there will not be the same opposition to pro-gay marriage ballot marriages we saw in 2012.

Solomon also talks the long road it's been to this point, saying he must've seen "more than 10 field organizers" bit by dogs while going door-to-door. “Other people have been chased down the street by homophobes," he said. "We don’t send people door-to-door in Cambridge, or in Chelsea, or in parts of the Chicago that we’re doing well."

Check out the whole interview here.

Russian Gay Activists File Complaint With European Court of Human Rights Over Banned Rally

AlexeyevA group of Russian gay rights rights activists has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The group made an application in October 2013 to hold an equal marriage rally in central Moscow. The request to hold the rally was denied, with officials citing the country’s laws banning "gay propaganda."

The group has attempted to appeal the decision, but it was to no avail. Moscow’s Tverskoy District court upheld the ban of the rally.

The activists hope to have more luck with the ECHR, where they will be citing the ECHR charter's Article 11 (the right to freedom of assembly and association). They will also cite Articles 13 and 14, which ensure the right to an "effective remedy" and forbidding of discrimination, respectively.

Russian LGBT rights activist, lawyer and journalist Nikolai Alexeyev (pictured) is working with the activists. Via Pink News, Alexeyev says that in the last year, there have been 90 similar applications go through the same process.  In addition to the "gay propaganda" law, police have pulled one from the Serbian playbook, citing  a risk of violence to ban the events.

Hundreds of LGBT Protesters and Allies Flood UK Supermarket for Kiss-In Protest: VIDEO


Prompted by a security guard who told a lesbian couple to stop their "disgusting" kissing (on National Coming Out Day, no less), hundreds of protesters flooded a Sainsbury's supermarket in Brighton, UK on Wednesday for a "big consensual kiss-in" to protest the couple's ejection.

Sainsbury's has agreed to donate £100 but protesters say that's offensive given the supermarket's profits for the first three months of 2014 were £898 million.

Watch some heartwarming videos of the protest, AFTER THE JUMP...


Continue reading "Hundreds of LGBT Protesters and Allies Flood UK Supermarket for Kiss-In Protest: VIDEO" »

Director Matthew Warchus Breaks Down A Scene From 'Pride': VIDEO

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As a part of their "anatomy of a scene" series, The New York Times has posted a new video focusing on the film Pride. The scene includes commentary from director Matthew Warchus. He details some basic plot elements, and creative choices such as the disco soundtrack — in this scene, the crew (cheekily) selected Shirley & Co.'s "Shame Shame Shame".

In a week where "Skeleton Twins" has been so dominant, it's easy to overlook gay gem "Pride." The film is based on true events; it's the story of a Welsh miner town in financial trouble that embraces the help, and later the friendship, of a gay activist group. In the NYT video, watch as the women of the town are thrilled by an activist's campy dance, and the men are, well, somewhat more hesitant.

Intrigued? Check out Nathaniel Rogers review, and the video feature, embedded AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Director Matthew Warchus Breaks Down A Scene From 'Pride': VIDEO" »


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