September 30, 2013

Alexei Davydov 36 LGTB Leader in Russia Dies Believed From Severe Beating

Alexei Davydov / Facebook
Alexei Davydov, 36, died on Friday morning. He was one of the few activists devoted to the fight for LGBT rights in Russia.

A severe police beating that hospitalized a prominent Russian LGBT activist for a month may have contributed to his death Friday, a fellow human rights campaigner says.
Alexei Davydov died in Moscow Friday morning after slipping into a coma, according to several fellow Russian activists. Davydov, 36, was a leading Russian LGBT activist and widely viewed as a controlling influence on the movement’s most prominent and mercurial figure Nikolai Alexeyev. He was also active in the anti-Putin opposition group Solidarity.
Though the cause of Davydov’s death is as yet unclear, Davydov’s health worsened considerably after police broke his arm while violently dispersing a protest in 2011, Pavel Chikov, head of legal aid NGO Agora, which represented him, told BuzzFeed.
During the month he spent in the hospital with multiple fractures, Davydov — who was also diabetic — learned that he had acute kidney failure and subsequently spent large amounts of time undergoing dialysis. Police, however, claimed that they did not break Davydov’s arm; neither they nor the Investigative Committee, Russia’s equivalent of the FBI, began proceedings to look into the beating.
Friends simply said Davydov died after a long illness. He left no relatives, Chikov said, making it difficult for his friends and supporters to gain access to his medical documents and explore their legal options over his death. Activists have opened a Facebook group to raise funds for his funeral.
Davydov “made an enormous contribution to the Russian LGBT movement since 2006,” Alexeyev wrote on Facebook. “He never cared about arrests and attacks. He just pursued our mutual goal! He has no relatives. He dedicated all his life to activism. He was always next to me in the worst times, including the day my flat was raided by police and prosecution just a month ago,” he added.
Despite his worsening health, Davydov remained committed to the fight for LGBT rights in Russia to the end. In July, he was among a group of activists who unfurled a rainbow banner on Red Square that read “Homophobia is the religion of goons!” Just last week, he picketed outside Russia’s parliament, demanding that anti-gay lawmakers be forced to undergo psychiatric treatment. He intended to participate in a protest outside the Sochi 2014 Olympics headquarters in Moscow Wednesday, but was hospitalized that morning.

BuzzFeed Staff

Amid Putin's Crackdown, Sochi Gay Scene Thrives Strong

SOCHI, Russia -- A man named Ravil catapults onto the dance floor and starts stomping out the lezginka, the arrogant rooster strut of the Chechen national dance.
Ravil's spontaneous performance is made even more unusual by the fact he's in one of the two gay clubs in Sochi, the southern Russian town that will host the Winter Olympics amid Vladimir Putin's harsh crackdown on gays. The morality campaign — centered on a law banning homosexual "propaganda" — has threatened to overshadow the games as it provokes an international outcry.
Paradoxically, Sochi is a far cry from the conservative lifestyle that the president is trying to promote.
At club Mayak, for example, the dancers are as diverse as the city itself: a Muslim who is a former market butcher, an Armenian who owns a strip club in a nearby town, a Ukrainian who loves to sing like Whitney Houston and dress like Adele.
And the men behind Mayak are hopeful that Sochi can remain the exception to the rule as its entrepreneurial, anything-goes crowd prepares to welcome the world. "This is a resort town," says Andrei Tenichev, the owner. "We have a saying: Money doesn't smell of anything.”

Read more here:

Commentator Fired by NBC Affiliate for Agreeing With Gay Marriage Out side the Air

   Should This TV Commenter Have Been Fired For an Off-the-Air Comment?  
Sports commentator Ralph Gurdy was recently fired from an NBC affiliate for saying — not on the air, but during a public function unrelated to his TV work — that gay people are born that way and that there’s nothing wrong with same-sex marriage.
That’s pretty weird and outrageous, isn’t it?
It didn’t actually happen (I made it up as a thought experiment; there is no Ralph Gurdy who’s a talking head for NBC), but this did: Sports commentator Craig James (pictured below) was fired from a regional Fox outfit because he was “not a good fit” and a “polarizing figure in the college sports community.” Fox also said that James, who had just one on-air performance before he was kicked out, had not been “properly vetted.”
So far, so uninteresting, but the problem lies in a further statement made to the Dallas Morning News by an unidentified Fox spokesperson who referred to James’sunsuccessful Senate run, during which the candidate said that being gay is a choice and that gay people will have to answer to God.

Craig James (Bob Daemmrich – Texas Tribune)
“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department,” said a Fox spokesman. “He couldn’t say those things here.”
Again, James didn’t say “those things” on the air, during his commentator gig. Instead, he voiced his opinion many months earlier, as a political candidate. While I disagree passionately with his opposition to marriage equality, it should be noted that his views on homosexuality are firmly in the mainstream (if not the majority), and are actually part of the GOP platform. It seems bizarre that he’d get fired for voicing such a widespread opinion (especially by the same network that owns the arch-conservative, pro-GOP Fox News Channel that’s been known to engage full-throttle in exactly these kinds of culture-war skirmishes).
Fox reflexively defends Christians against this kind of thing, so it’s hard to know what to make of the Craig James case. Maybe the Dallas newspaper misunderstood the Fox spokesperson. On the other hand, maybe the spokesperson was uninformed and misspoke, erroneously suggesting that James’s exit was the result of his anti-gay stance during the political campaign.
And then there’s the unpleasant possibility that James was indeed fired for his opposition to marriage equality.
Whatever the case, he just decided to sue Fox, and he immediately went overboard in rather grotesque fashion, by alleging that “people of faith are banned from working at Fox Sports.” That’s clearly not true — but he does have a less hyperbolic point worth considering. Should he have been pinkslipped for his statement on gay people, if that’s indeed what happened?
If the firing of the fictional Ralph Gurdy (in the first paragraph) rubbed you the wrong way, how about the equivalent actual firing of Craig James? Once you take politics and your personal opinion on gay marriage out of it, is it fair that Fox kicked Craig James to the curb?

Cameron Has Regrets of Not Putting Gay Marriage both in England and Wales

 David Cameron 
  • David Cameron denies claims in a new book that he regretted his decision to put same-sex marriage into law in England and Wales.
  • The prime minister said Britain was a "fairer" country because of the new law but admitted he did not expect the "furore" it generated.
  • The Tory, Labour and Lib Dem leaderships all backed the new law.
  • But it caused tensions in the Tory ranks, with Mr Cameron accused of being out of touch with his grassroots.
  • According to extracts from Matthew d'Ancona's book. In It Together, published by the Daily Telegraph, Mr Cameron told an ally: "If I'd known what it was going to be like, I wouldn't have done it."
  • 'Passionate'
  • Mr Cameron denied this, telling BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "I don't regret it. Britain is a more equal and fairer country for having done it.
  • "It's certainly true to say that this is an important change. I don't think I expected quite the furore that there was.
  • "It's clearly been very difficult for some people to take on, and I completely understand and respect that.
  • Continue reading the main story
  • Start Quote
  • We need to do better as a Party at having a two -way conversation between the grassroots membership on the one hand and the leadership and professional management of the Party on the other”
  • David Davis
  • Conservative MP
  • "I'm not sure perhaps at the beginning we got across to people that this was about marriages that could take place in register offices, that this was not going to change what happened in church, mosques or synagogues."
  • He added: "I am passionate about marriage. I think it's a great institution, and I think it should be available to people who are gay as well as those of us who aren't.
  • The decision to push ahead with the legalisation of same sex marriage met furious opposition from religious groups and some of Mr Cameron's own MPs.
  • It is thought to have been one of the factors behind a mass defection of grassroots members to the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in some parts of the country.
  • A leading Conservative think tank has this week warned that the party is "dying" and facing "an existential crisis".
  • The Bow group, which bills itself as the Conservative Party's oldest think tank, says under David Cameron party membership has halved, with the average age being 68.
  • The group suggest that within five years UKIP will have more members than the Tories "at the current rate of attrition".
  • Decreasing membership
  • Ben Harris Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group ,said: "The nature of the modern Conservative Party Conference reflects its crisis in willing support.
  • "Conference is now populated by lobbyists, not members. It offers no freedom and no democratic rights to a membership who barely recognise or connect with what the Party has now become."
  • In the Bow group conference magazine, several leading members of the Conservative Party, such as former leadership contender David Davis and Sir Edward Leigh, a leading voice on the right, call for urgent action to reverse the decreasing membership.
  • David Davis writes: "We need to do better as a party at having a two-way conversation between the grassroots membership on the one hand and the leadership and professional management of the party on the other.
  • "The Party conference shows just how much this conversation has broken down. Members no longer have the opportunity to interact and make speeches in the main conference hall.
  • "Whereas conference used to be an exciting occasion that brought us together and reinforced that sense of the Conservative family, it is now a much more tame affair with few genuine opportunities for engagement beyond the fringe meetings."
  • Figures released by the Party earlier this month, following a campaign by the Conservative Home website, showed it now has 134,000 constituency members - down from the 253,600 who voted in the leadership election Mr Cameron won in 2005.
  • BBC
  • In 2012 Labour had 187,537 members, while the Lib Dems had 42,501.
  • There has been a general decline in party memberships over recent decades, although UKIP has bucked the trend by doubling since 2010 to 30,780 members.     

Muslims Students Riot Over The Overthrow of President Mursi

At least 29 people were wounded in fighting between groups for and against the ousted Islamist leader at at least three campuses, according to reports. 

Reuters, Cairo

Rival groups of students, some armed with guns and Molotov cocktails, clashed across Egypt on Sunday, state media and security sources said, as violence triggered by the overthrow of President Mohammad Mursi spread to universities.

At least 29 people were wounded in fighting between groups for and against the ousted Islamist leader at at least three campuses, said the reports.

Egypt has been gripped by turmoil since the army ousted Mursi on July 3 after mass protests against his rule, prompting his Muslim Brotherhood to take to the streets.

A security crackdown has severely restricted the group’s activities and pro-Mursi students have started rallying on campuses, traditional hotbeds of Islamist and political activity.

They met their first significant opposition on Sunday when groups supporting and opposing Mursi clashed at Cairo’s Ain Shams University, leaving at least 12 wounded, security sources said.

Fifteen people were wounded when rival students at Zagazig University, some armed with guns and Molotov cocktails, fought, the state news agency said.

State-owned newspaper Al-Ahram said unidentified gunmen shot at students marching and shouting anti-army slogans in the city northeast of Cairo where Mursi taught engineering. It did not say whether anyone was hit.

Two people were wounded in clashes at a university in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, sources said.

The Brotherhood is facing one of the toughest crackdowns in its 85-year history.

Many of its top leaders were arrested and hundreds of members were killed when security forces crushed protest sit-in camps in Cairo in August.

The latest blow to the Middle East’s oldest Islamist movement came last week, when a court banned the Brotherhood and ordered its funds seized.

The army has promised that a political roadmap will lead to elections in the Arab world’s most populous country.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said at the United Nations on Saturday the transitional phase of government in Egypt should end “by next spring,” when leaders appointed after the army ousted Mursi would be replaced. 

Why is This Kid Gay??

GOP Gov.Christie Appeals Gay Marriage Order in New Jersey

A state judge ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry in New Jersey, a decision that reverberated across the state and sets up a final battle between gay rights advocates and Gov. Chris Christie at the state Supreme Court.

Saying same-sex couples are being denied equal rights "every day," Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ordered the state to begin allowing same-sex marriages Oct. 21. Christie, however, vowed to appeal the ruling and could ask that the date be delayed while the court proceedings continue.
Jacobson’s decision marks the first time a New Jersey judge has said gay couples have the right to marry.

For now, it makes New Jersey the first state to legalize gay marriage after June’s landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey constitution," the judge wrote, and their right to marry "should not be delayed until some undeterminable future time."
In a sweeping opinion, Jacobson granted an emergency request by six gay couples and their children, saying the state’s system of civil unions for same-sex couples denies them more than 1,000 federal tax benefits and legal protections.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling granted a wave of federal benefits to gay couples — but only in the 13 states where they are allowed to marry at the time, not New Jersey or other states with civil union laws.
Christie, a Republican who opposes gay marriage, vowed to appeal the ruling Friday all the way to the state Supreme Court.
"Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day," said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak. "Since the Legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”

Although they were girding for an appeal by Christie, gay couples and their advocates took a moment to celebrate what they called a historic day that brings New Jersey in line with nearby states including Connecticut, Maryland and New York.

"We are on cloud nine," said Marsha Shapiro, one of the plaintiffs, as she and her partner of 21 years headed to a rally in Montclair. "We’re not really driving. We’re flying."
"It means so much to my clients and their couples and their children and their families throughout the state," said Hayley Gorenberg, an attorney for the six families and Lambda Legal. "They’ve fought long and hard to be able to protect the people they love most without discrimination.”

Lawrence Lustberg, another attorney for the families and the group Garden State Equality, said: "New Jersey has always been on the forefront of protecting constitutional rights.
gay-marriage-map-state-by-state.jpgView full size
"This decision keeps us in that tradition.”

The decision also rippled through the two big political campaigns this year for governor and U.S. Senate. Democratic Senate candidate Cory Booker praised the ruling, while Republican opponent Steve Lonegan hammered Jacobson for twisting the Constitution "like a piece of wax."
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, meanwhile, called the day’s events "a stark reminder that Governor Christie stands on the wrong side of history."
"At every turn, he has prevented our gay brothers and sisters from enjoying the same rights as other New Jerseyans," Buono said in a statement. "The courts have spoken and the people have spoken. It is time for Chris Christie to stop blocking equal rights for all New Jerseyans.”

But John Tomicki, president of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage, said the institution of marriage should be kept to "one man and one woman" and that the ruling puts "freedom of religion and freedom of conscience at great risk."
"If a member of a religious denomination says that within their faith beliefs, they do not support same-gender marriage, will it be an act of discrimination if they refuse to officiate at such marriage?" Tomicki said. "Those are cases that are going on now across the country."

Christie’s administration had argued that the matter was out of New Jersey’s hands since the only pressing questions were over federal, not state, benefits.
Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal countered that New Jersey was left behind with "second-class" civil unions despite a 2006 ruling by the state Supreme Court that granted gay couples all the rights and benefits as straight couples.

Jacobson agreed, noting, "Civil union partners who are federal employees living in New Jersey are ineligible for marital rights with regard to the federal pension system, all civil union partners who are employees working for businesses to which the Family and Medical Leave Act applies may not rely on its statutory protections for spouses, and civil union couples may not access the federal tax benefits that married couples enjoy.”

Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality, said he and other groups would also continue pushing to override Christie’s gay marriage veto in the Legislature. Lawmakers have until Jan. 14 to muster another dozen or so votes for an override. "We’ve been saying for months that through litigation or legislation, we will have marriage equality in the state of New Jersey by January of 2014, and we have no intention of stopping until we guarantee that victory," Stevenson said.
Jacobson was asked by six gay couples and their children to square the U.S. Supreme Court ruling with New Jersey’s own legal precedents.

In 2006, the state Supreme Court ruled that gay couples must receive all the rights and benefits that heterosexual couples got, although the justices left it to the state Legislature to decide whether to call it marriage or something else. Lawmakers set up civil unions.
Star-Ledger staff writer MaryAnn Spoto contributed to this report.

Guido Barilla Did Not Get The Memo from The Pope

  • I think most people gay or straight know why things are boiling for Barilla. It is still nice to see the reason written and straight to the point, in case there is another CEO with his head stuck up where the sun doesn’t shine not aware of the year on hand. 

    About time they start reading their own reports of who buys their product and maybe invest a couple of hundred Liras in a seminar about extending the family business not extinguishing it.

    Actually if this man’s name was Florillo instead of Barilla I don’t think he would have said that  about the gay community for the simple reason of being the Chairman of the Company would have been something he earned not inherited because of the family name.

(Guido Barilla, the chairman of Barilla Pasta, told an Italian radio show Thursday that the world’s largest pasta producer will never feature gay couples in its advertisements. He later apologized)
Apparently, someone didn’t get the memo from Pope Francis that it’s time to be nice to the gays.
Guido Barilla, the chairman of Barilla Pasta, told an Italian radio show Thursday that the world’s largest pasta producer will never feature gay couples in its advertisements. Barilla Pasta didn’t respond to a request for comment from Speakeasy.
“I would never do [a commercial] with a homosexual couple, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them,” said Mr. Barilla, according to the Reuters translation. “Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role. … If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand.”
Here we go again.
Listen up, CEOs and other spokespersons for international corporations: It’s 2013. When you say something controversial to the media that might offend minorities, everyoutlet is going to run it. And that stuff is going to be passed around and devoured like free pizza on Facebook and Twitter, and people are going to get upset, and other people will come up with clever puns and even more cleverpictures, and next thing you know, #BoycottBarilla is a trending hashtag. And right after that come the actual calls for boycotts. That, eventually, will hurt your image and your sales.
Is this news to Guido? Why would he, as the head of a globally recognized brand, risk offending potential customers? Does bigotry burn so fiercely in his heart that he just had to share it with the rest of the world? Just this month, Pope Francis made news when he remarked that the church has become too focused on “small-minded rules” on controversial topics issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality.
Of course, Guido apologized—albeit sheepishly and unconvincingly. But in his insistence that he’s only seeking to “highlight the role of women” in the family (in a further clarification he made to his comments), he just adds salt to his wounds.
Mr. Barilla went further to let everyone know that while he “respects” gay marriage, he isn’t OK with gay adoption because, as a father of several children, he thinks it would be “complex” to raise children in a same-sex marriage. You see how nuanced he is on these issues? Here I thought he’s supposed to be selling pasta.
How do you say “clueless” in Italian?
In the grand scheme of things, does any of this amount to much more than a bowl of farfalle? Does the gay community really need the seal of approval from every company they may potentially buy products from? No. But here’s why it does matter: the LGBT community has become formidably savvy at responding vigorously to every homophobic comment made in the media universe. Gone are the days when comments like these go by without swift condemnation; overlooking them is in some way sanctioning them. Guido Barilla has every right to tell gays to eat another pasta.  And gays, and their allies, have every right to call him out on it, and take their pasta dollars elsewhere.

September 29, 2013

Upon Arriving Back Home From The UN Iranian President Had Shoe Thrown at Him

As Iranian President Hassan Rowhani returned home on Saturday following his trip to the United Nations last week, some 60 hardline Islamists greeted him with angry chants and a shoe was also hurled in his direction.

 An Agence France-Presse correspondent reported seeing the shoe being thrown in the directionof Rowhani’s car, as groups chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" as the president’s motorcade drew out of Tehran's Mehrabad Airport.
“The shoe missed the car and Rowhani stood up through the sunroof to acknowledge the crowds,” AFP reported.
The anger comes after it was announced that Rowhani had a 15-minute telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday, the first contact between leaders of the two countries in more than three decades.
After the phone conversation, President Obama said: “Just now, I spoke on the phone with President Rowhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program.”
Iran confirmed Rowhani had spoken to Obama by phone and said the two expressed their desire to resolve the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
“The two insisted on political will for quick resolution to the nuclear issue, as well as paving the ground for resolving other issues and cooperation in regional issues,” the Iranian presidency said on its website.
Meanwhile, at the airport on Saturday, the Islamists were reportedly outnumbered by Rowhani supporters.
Some 200 to 300 supporters of the president shouted "Thank you Rowhani," according to AFP.

A small police contingent separated the rival demonstrators.
Al Arabiya

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