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Is Egypt Surveilling Social Media To Hunt Down Gay People? - VIDEO

Egyptian surveillance

Concerns are mounting in Egypt that authorities will use new online monitoring software to hunt down LGBT people, reports Buzzfeed.

Earlier this month, Egyptian authorities arrested nine men for "debauchery" but later concluded that "the men tested negative for homosexuality."

Using U.S. technology, Egypt is now monitoring online communications, giving the government an unprecedented ability to comb through data from Skype, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp and Viber.

In recent weeks, Egypt’s LGBT community has issued warnings to avoid using Grindr after rumors spread that officials were using the app to arrest gay men.

Although Egyptian officials have said their monitoring of online activity will focus on preventing terrorist attacks, one Interior Ministry official said the current mandate was “much broader”:

“We are looking at any conversation, any interaction, we might find worrying or would want to keep a closer eye on. We are watching conversations between Islamists, or those who discuss Islamism. We are watching communities, which we consider at risk.”

EgyptThe official went on to say that those taking part in “debauchery” or “homosexual acts” would be watched “for the protection of Egypt.”

He added that although he wasn’t familiar with Grindr, there were “dozens of Facebook groups” used by the LGBT community that are being watched.

Gen. Hany Abd el Lateef, a spokesman for Egypt’s Interior Ministry, denied that the government plans to monitor citizens’ private lives.  

However, a copy of the tenders issued by the Interior Ministry which specifies the type of online communications it will be searching for suggests otherwise.  The list includes:

  • Blasphemy and skepticism in religions
  • Spreading of rumors and intentional twisting of facts
  • Sarcasm
  • Pornography, looseness, and lack of morality

Providing the service to the Egyptian government, See Egypt is the sister company of the U.S.-based Blue Coat.

Ali Miniesy, the CEO of See Egypt, said that the company had been contracted to provide Egypt’s State Security with the system, and to teach officials how to comb through data gathered from email accounts and social media sites.

He added that although the software can be used to penetrate social media and other software, it is a system similar to that used by most Western governments, including the United States.

According to Eva Blum-Dumontet, an advocacy officer with the U.K.-based NGO Privacy International:

“This new software makes it very easy to target anyone, en masse. The user simply says, ‘I want to look for atheists, or homosexuals,’ and the company gets all the data. It’s extremely easy.

"There is a difference between what you do on social media and what you do in the real world. The concern is that people who are not necessarily our protesting would suddenly be on the radar of the Egyptian authorities because they liked a status on Facebook or retweeted something.”

Egyptian Human Rights groups filed a lawsuit on June 17 alleging that the system used by Egypt “threatens private life and public freedom.”  However, the lawsuit could take years to work its way through the courts, and in the meantime the See Egypt technology will continue to be used.

Watch a report on this story, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Miami-Dade Moves Towards Adding Trans Protections To Non Discrimination Ordinance

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The Miami-Dade County Commission unanimously voted yesterday to further consider expanding discrimination protections to include transgender-identified people. The Commission’s preliminary amendment to Dade’s anti-discrimination ordinance adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” to its list of prohibited forms of discrimination. The expansion will provide transgender individuals equal access to governmental services as well as housing and employment opportunities.

The Commission attempted to pass a similar amendment last year, but found itself unable to find the necessary number of committee-level approval votes that would have brought the law to the floor for review. Proponents of the revision expressed their need to further educate the public of the law’s necessity before redoubling their efforts.

“It’s fairly apparent the education failed and the politics failed,” said Mara Kiesling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “They now know who they need to educate and who they need to advocate with.”

After being shut out of a vote last year, supporters of the expansion came to the Miami-Dade County Hall prepared to defend themselves against a vocal opposition. Instead, as SAVE field organizer Charo Valero discovered, most of the people in the County Hall were preoccupied with film industry tax rebates. SAVE, a Miami-based LGBT organization, has been pushing for broader protections for Miami's trans communities.

“This update that we’re working on would ensure very basic protections for a very vulnerable part of our community that many take for granted," Valero explained to the Miami Herald.

Watch an interview with SAVE field organizer Charo Valero, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Lambda Legal Asks Court for Swift Ruling to End Discriminatory Marriage Ban in Puerto Rico: READ

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Lambda Legal is officially seeking a summary judgment from the District Court of Puerto Rico that would effectively put an end to the district’s same sex marriage ban. In June, Lambda Legal joined Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, an LGBT non-profit organization, in supporting the Conde v. Rius Armendariz class action lawsuit

Following a ceremony performed in Massachusetts Ivonne Álvarez Velez and Ada Conde Vidal became Puerto Rico’s first married lesbian couple. Since 1999, a Puerto Rican amendment to the commonwealth’s civil code has made it so that Puerto Rico does not recognize same sex marriages--even those performed in other jurisdictions. Conde, a lawyer by training, filed the suit after realizing that she would be barred from making medical decisions on behalf of her ailing daughter.

“If she dies, I want my marriage legally recognized,” Conde explained to the Washington Blade this past March. “If I am not recognized, I will not have any rights to request her estate.”

Conde and her partner are joined by four other gay and lesbian couples, two of whom are looking to actually be married within Puerto Rico, while the others seek to have their pre-existing marriages recognized.

“All families deserve to have their love and commitment recognized in Puerto Rico,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan Lambda Legal’s staff attorney working with Puerto Rico Para Tod@s. “They need the protections only marriage can provide as soon as possible, without discrimination.”

Read Conde v. Rius Armendariz's full legal brief, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Human Rights Campaign Exposes Extreme Anti-Gay American Activists

Export of hate

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has released a new report that exposes some of the most vitriolic activists in the U.S. promoting anti-gay bigotry abroad.

These extremists claim that LGBT people are responsible for the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and the spread of HIV/AIDS; that LGBT people are luring away children; that acceptance of LGBT people will lead to the destruction of the family; and that the death penalty could be an appropriate punishment for simply being gay.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73e170bc2970d-800wiHRC points out that these anti-gay activists often secure audiences with heads of government and their spouses, testify before politicians, build relationships with community leaders and other prominent citizens, lobby United Nations delegates, get involved in the drafting of national constitutions, and intervene in international court cases that affect the lives and rights of LGBT people.

The report titled The Export of Hate, which focuses on dangerous homophobe Scott Lively and others, details their connections and associations, nations in which they are active publicly, available information about their resources and examples of their public bigotry and hatred of gay people.

Lively has been accused of crimes against humanity for inciting anti-gay hatred in Uganda and aiding in the passing of their "Kill the Gays" bill.

The report also exposes the "work" of Benjamin Bull, Jordan Sekulow, Peter La Barbera, Paul Cameron, Sharon Slater, Robert Oscar Lopez, Brian Brown, Larry Jacobs, Brian Camenker, Mat Staver, Michael Brown, Janice Shaw Crouse and Scott Stirm.

Ty Cobb, HRC Foundation’s director of Global Engagement, said:

“Hate is not an American value, and we must expose and fight these individuals and their extremist allies. This is a destructive group of activists spreading anti-LGBT rhetoric, promoting laws that criminalize LGBT people, and seeking to restrict their speech and those who support them.  Although their views may find little traction in the United States, public opinion in many other nations makes their words and global advocacy fundamentally dangerous.”

Read the full report here.


Kazakhstan Politician Claims Gays Can Be Identified By 'Colored Pants', Blood Tests For 'Degeneracy'

Dauren Babamuratov

A Kazakhstan politician has said that gay people can be easily identified by blood testing for “degeneracy,” reports Tengri News.

Dauren Babamuratov, leader of the Bolashak national movement, made the comments at a press conference calling for laws banning LGBT people from spreading “propaganda,” taking public office and serving in the military.

KazakhstanAccording to TengriNews, Babamuratov said:

"We have stooped so low that LGBTs no longer hide their orientation. One can see a lot of people in the city's malls and other public places - these are young people in colored pants. This means they no longer hide their orientation.

“I think it is very easy to identify a gay person by his or her DNA. A blood test can show the presence of degeneratism in a person. Unfortunately, suppressing activities of the LGBT community in Kazakhstan is extremely difficult, because there is no law in our country prohibiting this type of activity, that is, the promotion of homosexuality.”

At the same press conference, Sanzhar Bokayev, the Head of the Youth Policies Department in the country’s largest city Almaty, said that Kazakhstan's gay community was "supported and funded from abroad" and is now “a big problem that concerns our society,"

However, activist and journalist Zhanar Sekerbayeva said “there is no gay ‘propaganda’ in Kazakhstan, but there is homophobia. The question of gay marriage in Kazakhstan has never been on the agenda. There have been no public speeches or gay pride parades. There is only homophobia and discrimination of women.”

Viktoria Tyuleneva, the Director of Freedom House in Kazakhstan added that if new anti-gay laws are adopted, “Kazakhstan will face grievances at every international forum it attends, and this will draw a squall of criticism from all international organisations.”

Last weekend, Babamuratov took to Facebook to defend his views regarding gay "propaganda": 

The promotion of homosexuality can be defined as activities aimed at disseminating information, [creating positive images of] homosexuals and homosexual relations and stimulating interest in sexual intercourse with persons of thesame sex, which creates the illusion of normality of homosexual relationships..."

Dauren Babamuratov facebook


IDAHO: Lewiston City Councilors Speak Out on Why They Oppose LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance - VIDEO

Rj johnson Lewiston Idaho

City councilors in Lewiston, Idaho, have spoken out against a proposed non-discrimination ordinance that would make it illegal to discriminate in housing, employment and public accommodation based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, reports KLEWTV.

Lewiston City Council Mayor Pro Tem R.J. Johnson said that although all seven members of the council are against discrimination based on sexual orientation, ordinance 4614 would infringe “on our basic civil liberties."

According to Jesse Maldonado, the youngest person ever elected to the Lewiston City Council, it is currently “legal to discriminate in the workforce, hiring or firing, or refusing someone service or not giving someone housing if they are gay lesbian, or transgender and there's no ramifications for doing so. So basically what this ordinance would do would make it a misdemeanor to do that which could then be punishable by jail time or a fine."

However, councilor Clinton Daniels said that 4614 could lead to retailers being “put in jail for six months” with a fine of $1,000 for refusing to serve LGBT customers. In a statement, Daniels said:

"My strong belief in liberty compels me to oppose ordinances that do not respect private property, freedom of association, and voluntary contracts; even when the stated goal of such ordinances is something I support.

When you engage in commerce, whether it be for a personal sale or a commercial one, it is a form of a contract, and in a free society all contracts should be voluntary."

Maldonado has since asked supporters to attend the next of two further readings of the ordinance on September 22nd.

 

Watch a KLEW TV reports, AFTER THE JUMP...

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