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St. Petersburg Queerfest Hit With Additional Closures and Attacks from Anti-gay Activists & Police: VIDEO

Queerfest

As we reported earlier, the International Queer Culture Festival in St. Petersberg had a rough opening week - with a series of disruptions by numerous anti-gay activists - including lawmaker (and leading sponsor of Russia's anti-gay propaganda ban) Vitaly Milonov. Now, however, it has become clear that the roadblocks being placed on the festival are coming from more than just anti-gay activists, but from Russian police as well. 

In an updated post, GLAAD reports that QueerFest has faced additional venue closures and harassment - with police attempting on Wednesday to shut down a press conference ironically titled "Who is Shutting Down QueerFest?" Festival organizers have stopped openly publishing festival venues and have begun streaming events through an online video feed. 

Organizers have shared a video of the opening ceremony attack, which you can watch AFTER THE JUMP...

You can also head over to GLAAD to see the timeline of anti-gay incidents at Queerfest. 

Continue reading "St. Petersburg Queerfest Hit With Additional Closures and Attacks from Anti-gay Activists & Police: VIDEO" »


Grindr Warns Egyptian Users That Police May Be Using App For Entrapment - VIDEO

Grindr message

Grindr has sent a message to all Egyptian users this week warning that police officers may be “posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you,” reports Buzzfeed.

GrindrAccording to state-owned Egyptian news site Ahram Online, six men were sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison with labor for allegedly advertising their apartment on Facebook for men to have sex with each other for a fee of $200 per night.

The warning comes after Egyptian authorities arrested nine men for "debauchery" but later concluded that "the men tested negative for homosexuality."

It was also reported earlier this month that authorities in Egypt intend to use new online monitoring software See Egypt to hunt down LGBT people.

As Egypt has stepped up arrests of gay people - around 80 since October last year - human rights activists had speculated that authorities were targeting people through social media. Officials have already confirmed that Facebook groups for gay Egyptians are being closely monitored.

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

Watch a report on Egypt's online surveillance system, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Grindr Warns Egyptian Users That Police May Be Using App For Entrapment - VIDEO" »


Philippine Province Among First In Country To Ban LGBT Discrimination

Agusan del norteAgusan del Norte has become one of the few areas in the Philippines to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) that protects people irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, reports Outrage.

Provincial Ordinance No. 358-2014 also prohibits discrimination in the province on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, health status, physical appearance, political affiliation, religion, and social status.

The ordinance “recognizes as a policy...to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect of human rights to promote equality and to effectively eliminate all forms of discrimination that violate and offend the guarantee of equal protection of human rights.”

The ADO prohibits denial of services; refusing admission/dismissal from educational institutions; denial of access to use private and public establishments, facilities and utilities; employment rejection; publication and/or use of derogatory/humiliating images and/or statements against persons; and uploading/posting of images and/or videos online to debase and humiliate a person.

BacasmasYsang Semacio Bacasmas [pictured right], executive officer of LGBT rights group Ladlad Caraga Inc., said:

“I feel very happy and at least we now have this that can help our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA community. To our fellow LGBTs, hopefully we continue the fight for us to have a peaceful and good lives.”

According to HapiHumanist.org, Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch reported that a total of 103 killings from 1996 to 2011 in the Philippines have occurred on account of sexual orientation.


Rhode Island Firefighters Allege Rights Were Violated Following Order To Drive In Gay Pride Parade - VIDEO

Buddy_Cianci_4_July_2009_Bristol_RI

A lawyer for Providence, Rhode Island has argued that former city mayor Buddy Cianci did not violate the rights of firefighters ordered to drive a fire truck in a 2001 Gay Pride parade, reports StarTribune.

A lawyer for the two firefighters yesterday told the Rhode Island Supreme Court that her clients' constitutional religion and free speech rights were violated when they were ordered to take part in the parade.

Representing Cianci, Kevin McHugh, who said the case is “ridiculous,” argued that the city sent trucks to various parades as a matter of course and driving in the 2001 Gay Pride parade was part of the firefighters' regular duties.

Although the firefighters' lawyer argued that the act of participating in the parade suggested that they supported gay rights, justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg said they are “anonymous public servants” and compared Cianci’s order to being called to fight a fire in a temple or in a mosque.

Cianci, who was forced from office in 2002 following a conviction for corruption and is currently in the midst of a campaign to win back City Hall, said if elected he would likely make the same decision again.

Back in June, Brett Smiley, another candidate for the mayoral race in Providence, claimed in a campaign video that he proposed to his husband Jim DeRentis with a PowerPoint presentation.

Watch an NBC report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Texas Law Enforcement Groups File Brief With Fifth Circuit In Support of Marriage Equality

A group of Texas county sheriffs and law enforcement officers have filed a brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals this week in support of marriage equality, The Texas Tribune reports:

Texas“Gay and lesbian law enforcement officers and other first responders put on their uniforms, place themselves in harm’s way to protect and defend our communities, and swear to uphold our laws without prejudice or bias,” said the letter, filed by Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, more than 50 other Texans working in law enforcement and a coalition of city police departments from around the country.

The brief continues:

They serve our communities with equal distinction, skill, and bravery. But Texas denies these men and women the equal dignity and respect they deserve. Texas does not treat them equally in their day-to-day work, nor, tragically, even when they make the ultimate sacrifice.

Last week, lawyers representing same-sex couples int the case of De Leon v. Perry filed briefs asking the Fifth Circuit to uphold a federal judge's ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The court is expected to hear arguments in the case in the coming months.

Check out the law enforcement brief below:


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...

Continue reading "Is Egypt Surveilling Social Media To Hunt Down Gay People? - VIDEO" »


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