Activism Hub




4-Year-Old Writes Australian PM Urging Him To 'Let Boys Marry Boys And Girls Marry Girls'

Letter

Same-sex marriage advocates get started at a young age in Australia, as evidenced by four-year-old Sabrina Franco's touching, sincere letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. In the letter, Sabrina asks that Abbott allow "boys to marry boys and girls to marry girls." The consequence should they be kept apart? "...they'll be sad forever." In addition, the young advocate asked that Abbott not cut funding to, and effectively shut down, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company).

Sabrina-FrancoThe Star Observer reports:

Sabrina penned the letter, complete on Disney princess paper  (pictured below), after learning about how her mother’s friends Lukas Picton and Greg Stone went to New York, USA, to get married because it wasn’t legal or recognised in Australia...

The letter reads:

“Dear Tony Abbott,

Don’t get rid of the ABC because we love it. And let boys marry boys and girls marry girls if they love each other or they’ll be sad forever.

Thank-you.

Sabrina.”

Picton, one of the two men who got married in New York, thought the letter was inspired.  

Not only does Sabrina have an excellent grasp of the English language for a four year-old, but she is also incredibly social aware,” he said.

“This letter really shows that prejudice and discrimination are engrained traits that we teach our children and that acceptance and understanding of equal love comes naturally to them.”

Prime Minister Abbott has yet to respond to Sabrina's letter. 


'Propaganda: A Festival Celebrating Russian Voices' Targets Anti-Gay Laws with Culture In NYC

Propaganda

Propaganda: A Festival Celebrating Russian Voices hopes to put pressure on that nation's anti-gay propaganda laws by hearing from leaders in various fields about the impact they have had. In particular, the festival's website notes that the series of staged readings and panel discussions, which will take place January 18th and 19th at Cooper Union in New York City, will focus on sports, performance, and Olympic and LGBT history in relation to the propaganda laws. With the 2014 Olympics in Sochi quickly approaching, these sorts of discussions are all the more important, particularly if the events of Propaganda can gain a large, engaged audience.

GessenThe festival has an intriguing and exciting line-up, detailed on its website:

On January 18th at 3pm in Cooper Union’s Rose Auditorium, Propaganda: A Festival Celebrating Russian Voices will feature the first ever presentation of Daria Wilke’s acclaimed 2013 LGBT Young Adult Novel The Jester’s Cap, in a new theatrical adaptation. On January 18th at 7pm, the first English translation of celebrated playwright Oleg Mikhailov’s drama Pelmeny, as well as a reading of Vladimir Nabakov’s seminal work on sport, Breitenstrater-Paolino, will be presentedBoth readings will be followed by panel discussions.

On January 19th at 5pm in Cooper Union’s Great HallTess Berry-Hart’s acclaimed docu-drama SOCHI 2014 will be presented for the first time in the US, and read simultaneously in cities around the globe. Following the reading, at 6:30pm, Masha Gessen (pictured), journalist and NY Times International Opinion contributor, will make her first public appearance since expatriating from Russia, speaking in a panel discussion (moderated by Towleroad's Ari Ezra Waldman). The online theater journal HowlRound will air a live stream of this panel on HowlRound TV, as well as publish a series of articles by and about Propaganda’s artists and participants in the week leading up to the festival.

All proceeds from Propaganda will benefit the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance. Spectrum is a leading international organization devoted to human rights advancement on behalf of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression in Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and former Soviet Union Countries.

Individual readings/panels have ticket prices of $20, an All-Access Pass can be purchased for $50, and varying levels of increased support/recognition are also available for higher prices.


Activists Disrupt 'Stoli Guy' Pageant in NYC in Protest Against Russian Vodka: VIDEO

Actup_stoli

ACT UP New York and Queer Nation activists disrupted another Stoli event last night protesting the promotion of Russian vodka. Stoli, which is produced by SPI group has denied that it is a Russian-owned company since it is based in Luxembourg and bottled in Latvia but has said that its ingredients and production are sourced in Russia.

Gay City News reports:

Five demonstrators affiliated with ACT UP New York and Queer Nation stormed the stage at Marquee New York in Chelsea at the start of the Most Original Stoli Guy national finale, which brought together the winners from competitions in 12 cities. Blowing horns and holding up signs with messages including “Dump Stoli,” the group –– Mark Milano, Brandon Cuicchi, Terry Roethlein, Piro Rexhepi, and Chris Kohler –– brought the show to a halt for about a minute, before they were dragged from the stage by the club’s bouncers.

As the men were hauled away, one of the evening’s hosts said, “We are very lucky to live in a country where we can speak freely.” The host added, “And one of the things we are celebrating tonight is the passion that is the Stoli brand, and that is passion.”

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

In July, another Stoli event at Splash bar was disrupted byt the same group of activists.

Continue reading "Activists Disrupt 'Stoli Guy' Pageant in NYC in Protest Against Russian Vodka: VIDEO" »


'Pride House' Calls on UN to Denounce Russia's Anti-Gay Laws

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 4.32.59 PMAn international coalition of LGBT sports and human rights activists have demanded that the United Nations take action to support LGBT people before the Sochi Olympics in 2014. 

Pride House International is calling for the UN flag to not be flown at the games (as is the tradition), for the rainbow symbol to be protected (as well as all those who adopt the symbol), and for Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, to denounce Russia's crackdown on LGBT people during the "Solemn Appeal for an Olympic Truce". 

In a press release, members of Pride House "expressed their dismay at the failure of the United Nations to make a clear statement against Russian anti-gay laws in their draft resolution for an Olympic Truce."

The Olympic Truce, a call for peace and understanding during the Olympics, hearkens back to the custom of ekecheiria during the ancient Olympics. It is now the practice of the United Nations General Assembly to approve a resolution calling for an Olympic Truce prior to each edition of the Olympic Games. Despite efforts by many in the United Nations, the resolution proposed by the government of Russia fails to include specific language against LGBT discrimination, and of course does not denounce the current situation of homophobia that imperils the principle of sport for all and sport as a human right during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games."

In August Pride House, in conjunction with other LGBT organizations, launched a protest campaign called the "Same-sex Hand-Holding Initiative" which, simply, calls on everyone (athletes, coaches, spectators, staff, etc.) to hold hands with members of the same sex as often as possible in Russia during the Olympics. The protest is an effort to bypass the Internationl Olympic Committee-sanctioned ban on more overt displays of same-sex support like kissing or rainbow paraphernalia. 

Towleroad reported last month on the IOC's coming out against pro-gay advocacy at the Olympics:

According to the report [released by Gay Star News, the IOC plans equate any displays of LGBT rights advocacy or solidarity with a "demonstration of political, religious or racial propaganda", which is prohibited by Rule 50 if the organization's charter. Those found in violation of Rule 50 can be subject to "disqualification or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person concerned," without any sort of appeal. The IOC spokeswoman who spoke to Gay Star News did not specify if those found "in violation of Rule 50" would also be subject to any punitive action by Russian authorities. 

 


Russian Gay Rights Activist Feared Abducted Or Insane After Bizarre Facebook Posts

Nikolai-underarrest2
Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev is thought to have either been abducted or to have gone crazy after a series of troubling status updates appeared on his Facebook wall this past weekend. Though his Facebook profile has since been taken down, furthering the suspicion that it had been hacked, Queerty has screenshots of some of his more bizarre posts and include him accusing Russian gays seeking "fake asylum", accusing friends of being pedophiles, and hating the West for being on par with Putin. Even more disturbing, So So Gay reports that photos of Alekseev in his underwear in a bunker were posted to his account before it was taken down under the album title "Kidnapping" with a status update referencing a "porno contract."

Activist and blogger Melanie Nathan is highly skeptical of the situation, and in a lengthy post compares his prior behaviors with the present situation. In the past, she has seen Alekseev become "unhinged" when people disagreed with his definitions of asylum and oppression, and that he holds the stance that gays should not leave Russia to flee their persecution. More damning is that the last time he was allegedly "kidnapped" he was in fact on vacation with his wealthy Swiss boyfriend, and anecdotal encounters with him in the U.S. have established that "unhinged" is his default setting.

This is a developing story, but regardless of the outcome, this is a setback for gay rights activism in Russia.


5-Year-Old Girl Defies Westboro Baptist Church, Sells Pink Lemonade For Peace And Love

Pink-Lemonade-For-Peace

A five-year-old girl named Jayden Sink has set up a pink lemonade stand at Equality House, across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church, to promote love and peace and defy Westboro's message of hate. The people of Topeka, Kansas have come out to support her, according to the Huffington Post:

Jayden-Sink"Jayden, who is from Kansas City, decided to set up her stand at the Equality House after her parents explained to her the significance of its construct. After being told that the church across the street had a message of hate, she set a goal of raising money to go towards a message of love and peace. 

So she painted a banner for the event reading, 'Pink Lemonade for Peace: $1 Suggested Donation.' She put the stand in the grass and waited. But the waiting didn't take long. Supporters came in by the droves and $1 turned into hundreds of dollars.

During the day, Westboro sent representatives outside to try and find a way to stop the event. They apparently attempted to call the local police and stooped to yelling profanities when that didn't work, like calling a group of soldiers who rode out on their motorcycles to suport the event 'bastards.'"

As you may recall, Aaron Jackson of Planting Peace bought Equality House and painted it the colors of the pride flag in March. The Westboro Baptist Church has previously expressed their elation at having what they call the  '"Sodomite Rainbow House" across the street from their HQ. Most recently, Westboro has attributed the tragic spate of tornados in Oklahoma to support for out NBA player Jason Collins.

In her first day Jayden raised $400 at her lemonade stand. She has also raised $5,547 online via Crowd Rise. You can contribute to her campaign here.

(images megan rogers)


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