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Trade Boycotts Force Ugandan President to Reconsider Anti-Gay Laws

President Yoweri Museveni

There's a special place in hell for Anita Bryant for helping to popularize the myth that the gays are after the world's children to recruit them to the cause, like some fabulously well-dressed militant regime. This fueled one of the cries - and lies - spread 'round the world that people and governments are anti-gay because they just want to protect the children. We've seen it in Russia, the U.S., and of course Uganda.

The "protecting the children" rational is a lie through and through, of course, and Uganda at least is proving it to be as such. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claimed that he signed on to his country's viciously anti-gay laws to ostensibly protect children and prevent them from being "recruited" into the deviant homosexual lifestyle, but either he never really believed that or the "recruitment of children" isn't that big of a deal as Museveni is now backtracking on those laws.

Though the author of the anti-gay laws said that any international backlash would be "worth it", President Museveni is singing a different tune, saying that his country could endure aid cuts, but that trade boycotts would be devastating:

It is about us deciding what is best for our country in the realm of foreign trade, which is such an important stimulus for growth and transformation that it has no equal.

He still takes a chance to make a nasty stab at homosexuals and still blame them for his country's troubles, however:

It is now an issue of a snake in a clay cooking pot. We want to kill the snake, but we do not want to break the pot. We want to protect our children from homosexuality, but we do not want to kill our trade opportunities. That now forces us to disassemble this whole issue.

How about just leaving the snake alone, knowing that it always was and always will be a snake, and letting everyone live in peace?


Minimalist Social Network 'Ello' Grows As Drag Queens Rally Against Facebook: VIDEO

Ello

Ello, a social network created by a group by a collective of artists and programmers, is positioning itself as the lightweight, minimalist alternative to Facebook that has no interest in selling you ads. The site, which is currently in beta and invite-only, isn’t exactly new to the scene. Ello first launched in March of last year, months before revelations about the NSA’s extensive collection of American telecom information. Ello introduced itself with a sign-up list and a straightforward manifesto that explained its creators’ vision:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Like many other fledgling social networks positioning themselves opposite of giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, Ello’s initial growth was slow, steady, and fueled almost entirely by word of mouth. In the past week, however, Ello has seen exponential growth in its userbase for a number of easily identifiable reasons.

Ello began sending out invitations to its waiting list in earlier this July a month after Facebook was revealed to have been subtly manipulating its users for research purposes. Twitter, faced similar backlash following reports of its plans to begin algorithmically modifying users’ timelines to create a more tailored experience. Most recently Facebook drew the ire of many members of the LGBT community for its decision to enforce a “real name” policy forbidding users from creating profiles with non-legal names. A number of prominent drag performers, many of whom ran Facebook pages under their drag names, expressed their concern with the policy.

Sister roma“I use this site to keep up with friends and simply don't want employers or crazy stalker people to log on and search me.” Sister Roma [pictured right] of the San Francisco chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence explained to SFist. “I want my friends to find me...I detest the idea of having a fan page. I'm not fucking Britney Spears. I have friends, not fans.”

Google Plus backpedaled on a similar policy earlier this year after a number of its users reported being outed to their social circles against their will. Unlike Google Plus, for whom its naming policy was the latest in a long line of social media gaffes, Ello’s creators have made it clear that users are free to inhabit the platform however they like.

“Artists, bloggers, people who are concerned about privacy, people who have had problems with stalkers, celebrities, and members of the LGBTQ community sometimes choose not to use their real names — out of personal preference, or to protect themselves,” Paul Budnitz, one of Ello’s creators, told BetaBeat.  “There is no reason for us to require people to use real names.“Ello doesn’t mine or sell data or have ads, so we invite people to be who they want to be.”

Ello’s sudden spike in popularity has drawn the public’s attention much in the same way that Diaspora, a crowdfunded social networking project, did in 2012. Like Ello, Diaspora marketed itself as an independent platform that empowered users to take control of their data without administrative oversight. Diaspora recently found itself back in the media spot after members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) began using the platform specifically because their activities could not be tracked or stopped by Diaspora’s moderation team.

Whether Ello manages to maintain its status as an exclusive, free-for-some outlet for digital art and expression remains to be seen, but demand for invitation codes remains high.

And if you missed Brigitte Bidet's catchy smackdown of Facebook's anti-drag queen policy "WTF, Zuck?" you can check it out AFTER THE JUMP...

Bidet

Continue reading "Minimalist Social Network 'Ello' Grows As Drag Queens Rally Against Facebook: VIDEO" »


National Organization For Marriage Launches Hopeless, Pathetic Boycott Of JP Morgan Chase Bank

Chase_nom

The anti-gay and anti-transgender group the National Organization for Marriage has started a boycott of JP Morgan Chase bank for surveying their employees about their support with the LGBT community.

B_brownNOM blog says:

“Chase has repeatedly insisted that the survey was "voluntary and anonymous." But NOM has released a screen shot provided by a Chase employee establishing that employees had to "log in" to the Chase computer system using their unique employee ID number in order to complete the survey, allowing the megabank to learn which employees are loyal to the LGBT community… no, [the survey] was not voluntary or anonymous…

Brown said the Chase survey potentially subjects those employees who do not answer in the "politically approved way" to discrimination and sanctions: "As one employee put it, this could be a way to create a ‘fire these people first' list."

It's clear that Chase has lied to its employees and customers about the survey and its attempt to push the LGBT agenda. This is a major violation of trust, the central value in any banking relationship," [NOM President Brian] Brown said. "We are launching an international boycott and petition drive at www.VoidChase.com to give consumers a way to object to the bank's offensive actions, demanding that they issue an apology and pledge never again to engage in this conduct…

To kick off the boycott, Brown said that he would be moving his own home mortgage, presently held with Chase, to another company.”

In a Media Matters article entitled “No, JPMorgan Chase Doesn't Have An ‘LGBT Loyalty Test’ For Employees,” Luke Brinker said:

“[The] ‘loyalty test’ story is a complete fabrication. Neither [anti-LGBT extremist Austin] Ruse nor [NOM co-founder Robert] George (alarmists who spread stories about Chase’s survey) has actually produced a copy of the survey they're reporting on. More importantly, there isn't a shred of evidence that Chase is using the internal survey for anything other than basic data collection. Ruse can't point to any examples of anti-LGBT Chase employees being punished, targeted, or even acknowledged in any way. It'd be equally as absurd for Ruse to assert that the survey was being used to punish employees "with children with disabilities." It's an entirely made-up horror story meant to promote the tired narrative that the LGBT movement seeks to persecute anti-LGBT conservatives.”

Furthering the argument, Jeremy Hooper mentions that JP Chase Morgan itself has said, "[The survey] allows employees to provide feedback on a broad range of issues, and managers use the results of this survey, in combination with other feedback, to continually improve the workplace and employee experience," and points out that NOM has no basis for their claim that the final survey results are not, in fact, kept anonymous. 

NOM’s boycott is a largely symbolic press stunt as it likely will not affect the bank which has 5,100 branches in 85 countries and over $2.515 trillion in holdings.

In 2012, NOM launched a boycott of Starbucks coffee after the company voiced support for a Washington state pro-marriage equality ballot measure. Their effort failed to gain much online support or to inflict significant damage to Starbuck’s stock price.


George Takei Promotes Hobby Lobby Boycott Over SCOTUS Ruling

Takei

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling allowing companies like Hobby Lobby not to cover contraception compelled openly gay actor George Takei to support a boycott against it and other companies that choose “to impose [their] religious beliefs on... employees.”

In part, Takei’s blog post reads:

… As Justice Ginsberg’s stinging dissent pointed out, companies run by Scientologists could refuse to cover antidepressants, and those run by Jews or Hindus could refuse to cover medications derived from pigs (such as many anesthetics, intravenous fluids, or medications coated in gelatin)… one wonders whether the case would have come out differently if a Muslim-run chain business attempted to impose Sharia law on its employees.

As many have pointed out, Hobby Lobby is the same company that invests in Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals, makers of abortion inducing-drugs and the morning after pill. It also buys most of its inventory from China, where forced abortions are common. The hypocrisy is galling.  

… Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue. Indeed, this is the same logic that certain restaurants and hotels have been trying to deploy to allow proprietors to refuse service to gay couples.

We are a nation that respects religious beliefs, but also the right not to have those beliefs imposed upon you by others…

While we work to overturn this decision by legislation, people of good conscious should BOYCOTT any for-profit business, including Hobby Lobby, which chooses to impose its religious beliefs on its employees.

The only way such companies ever learn to treat people with decency and tolerance is to hit them where it counts–in their pocketbooks. I won’t be shopping there, and women everywhere should exercise their right of protest and refuse to shop there as well.

In related news, Twitter users have begun skewering Hobby Lobby’s win by using the #DrHobbyLobby hashtag to ask the company ironic questions about women’s health.

The feminist blog Jezebel also has a list of 82 other companies and organizations that oppose health care coverage for birth control.


Kim Kardashian: ‘Boycotting The Beverly Hills Hotel Won’t Affect the Sultan of Brunei'

Kardashian

Kim Kardashian took to her blog today to speak out on the boycott of The Beverly Hills Hotel aimed at its owner the Sultan of Brunei. The boycott began in the wake of the Sultan’s implementation of sharia law in the Southeast Asian nation late April. Under the law individuals can be stoned to death if proven to have committed homosexual acts. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Branson and Jay Leno have been vocal in their support of the boycott. And while Kim originally supported the boycott, pulling her bridal shower from the famed LA destination, she now believes that it is not the best way forward: 

For a sultan that has 20 billion dollars, this loss of business doesn’t even make a dent in his fortunes. But the hotel staff are being negatively affected every day with the boycott that has gone on for weeks now… We shouldn’t punish the amazing hard-working people who have been so good to us for years! …There must be other ways to express our views without punishing the workers, some who I know personally have families at home and depend on the city’s business and tips to survive…I support Rose McGowan and Russell Crowe’s takes on this matter. The unjust treatment and violation of rights of the LGBT community around the world is never justified and I will continue to proudly support the LGBT community in every way imaginable. I do believe though that instead of this boycott, there has to be another solution. I’m glad to hear that industry executives like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Casey Wasserman are reaching out to leaders of the hotel chain to discuss a way to potentially end the protest.

You can read Kim’s blog post in its entirety HERE

UPDATE: The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has pointed out that The Beverly Hills Hotel leadership promised to guarantee the jobs, incomes and gratuities of its employees following the uproar over the Sultan of Brunei's draconian laws. In an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter this month, HRC Vice President Jeff Krehely said the sultan was turning his employees into 'human shields':

Dorchester [Collection -- the hotel group that runs The Beverly Hills Hotel] has said that its employees are the “victims” of these [protests] and that only they would feel the financial impact of Americans taking business elsewhere. Now the company has begun to parade employees -- some of whom would be subjected to the laws in Brunei -- and their stories into the media and online.

The ploy comes despite assurances that the company has guaranteed the jobs, income, gratuities and benefits of all of its employees during the controversy. This stands in stark contrast to its claim that actions against the sultan’s hotels will result in a big income loss for its staff. Its leadership is talking out of both sides of their mouths. Given the guarantees, how will its staff actually be impacted?

We urge Hollywood to see past this smokescreen. With $20 billion in the bank, the sultan can afford to support his employees. But what his company cannot afford to do -- if it wishes to fix its badly damaged reputation -- is continue to shamefully use its employees in a deceptive effort to shield the sultan from criticism.


Russell Crowe Defends Support of Brunei-Owned Hotels Despite Growing Boycott

Crowe

Russell Crowe took to twitter last week to defend his continued support of Brunei-owned Dorchester Hotels, despite pressure from boycotters protesting brutal sharia laws recently passed in the Southeast Asian country.

The boycott is backed by big names like Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Branson (and all employees of Virgin), Stephen Fry, and Sharon Osbourne.

Crowe tweeted that his support for the hotels was not a show of support for sharia law, but rather for hotel's American employees, whom he likened to "collateral damage" in the protest. 

Crowe

Despite Crowe's tweets, the boycott continues to grow. The New York Times reports that companies participating in fashion shows in Milan and Paris, which would usually stay at Dorchester Hotels, are going elsewhere. 

“While I am sensitive to the potential impact that this issue may have on the wonderful staff at Le Meurice, I cannot in all good conscience stay there, nor can Vogue’s editors,” Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor and Condé Nast artistic director, said through a spokeswoman.

In Milan, the Principe di Savoia is the hotel of choice for large swathes of the fashion community, including representatives from Calvin Klein, Salvatore Ferragamo and a number of magazines. A Condé Nast spokeswoman said that lodging choices were “left up to the individual brands, all of which have decided not to stay at Dorchester properties for the upcoming shows,” as has Miguel Enamorado, the fashion director of Brant Publications’ Interview. (Representatives for Calvin Klein and Salvatore Ferragamo declined to comment.)

American politicians are also voicing their disgust, not by boycotting Dorchester hotels, but by calling for Brunei to be removed from Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks unless they "address these human rights violations."


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