April 30, 2016

LA Judge Slams Gay Sex Stings by Police in Long Bch.

A Los Angeles County judge on Friday strongly criticized the Long Beach Police Department's practice of conducting sting operations against gay men cruising for companionship, saying the policy was "indicative of animus toward homosexuals."

In a closely watched case, Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina made the remarks in Long Beach while invalidating the arrest of Rory Moroney for lewd conduct and indecent exposure.

Moroney was arrested in a bathroom at Recreation Park in October 2014 after allegedly exposing himself to an undercover Long Beach police detective, said Bruce Nickerson, the man's attorney.

See the most-read stories this hour >>
Moroney began sobbing as soon as the judge finished reading his decision.

"It was really hard to ... come out and be the voice, but I had to do it because I believe that Long Beach is discriminating against gay men," he said outside of court.

A Long Beach police detective seated in the courtroom simply shook his head.

A city prosecutor and the detective declined to comment after the hearing. It was unclear if there would be an appeal.

Moroney, 50, of Long Beach, would have been required to register as a sex offender if convicted.

Dhanidina said a review of evidence showed that Long Beach's vice unit engaged in discriminatory practices because the squad uses only male officers as undercover decoys in lewd conduct stings. Several officers who testified at an evidentiary hearing earlier this month all said they had a arrested only male suspects for lewd conduct in their time working as vice officers, according to the judge.

Dhanidina rejected prosecutors' arguments that Long Beach based its policing tactics on citizen complaints about lewd conduct, saying that the agency provided little to no evidence of citizen complaints about such conduct at men's public restrooms where the bulk of the stings took place.

The department "intentionally targeted men who engaged in homosexual sex," the judge said.

Moroney was arrested in a restroom known to be a hot spot for "gay cruising," Nickerson said. Nickerson argued, and the judge agreed, that Long Beach's vice officers routinely send flirtatious signals to suspects and induced the crimes for which they later arrested men like Moroney.

"It appears that the presence and tactics of the decoy officers actually caused the crimes to occur," Dhanidina said.

Long Beach police said they would comment on the ruling later in about 24 hrs.

Shocking Report on Ugandan Treatment of LGBT

                                                                          \A Ugandan woman holds a placard as she takes part in an anti-gay demonstration in Jinja, Kampala.                                                                          

 The ground-breaking report: And That’s How I Survived Being Killed, reveals the violence, humiliation and wide range of human rights abuses LGBT Ugandan’s have to endure.

Sexual Minorities Uganda have released a shocking report detailing beatings, forced anal examination and persecution experienced by the LGBT community in the country.

In addition to 264 verified cases of human rights abuses against sexual and gender minorities in Uganda, the report also features testimony from LGBT citizens who have experienced first hand the violence and persecution behind the statistics.
Asiimwe, 26, who lives in the central Ugandan town of Bukomansimbi, told researchers that he made a date with another man after meeting online.

“It all started by someone sending me a friend request on Facebook who later called me out for a date and to sleep over,” Asiimwe explained.

“On my arrival at the guy’s place I found a bottle of wine on the table. But when I was drinking other two guys entered the house and sat down and then my date called me in the bedroom and started asking me where I learnt to become gay. And then I just kept quiet.”

What happened next put Asiimwe’s life in serious danger: “The guy changed attitude and started shouting calling his friends in the bedroom to see how a gay man looks like,” he reccalled.

“They came and started beating me up telling me to give them money so that they let me free but I didn’t have money on me, they continued to beat me up seriously and then threatened to burn me. I shouted for help but no one was coming and it was 1:00 am.

“Fortunately the last in the neighborhood heard and she came into the house and asked them why are they were beating me up. They responded that I am a homosexual. Then she told them to let me go then she held my hand and took me out gave me first aid and called a boda guy to take me home and that’s how I survived being killed.”

Asiimwe isn’t the only one who has had to endure extreme violence because of his sexuality, In January, 2015 Daniel [not his real name], was arrested for “engaging in crimes against the order of nature.” He was tied up with rope, beaten, and forced to walk through town along with his friends Ssali and Emmanuel.

He told researchers: “While in prison we were denied visitors because we are a “sodomy case.” I was beaten by fellow citizens. Ssali and myself suffered a lot. When they were beating us they said, “a sensible man how can you sleep with a fellow man?” And when in hospital we were forced to take HIV tests and anal tests.”

As well as detailing arrests, expulsions and beatings, the report also catalogues and highlights four main areas of human rights violations. These include 132 reported cases of physical threats and violence between May 2014 and December 2015, 103 evictions, exclusions and loss of property and 24 cases of termination of employment in the same time period. When the healthcare human rights violations are included, this produces a total of 264 reported cases against the LGBT community in 18 months. That’s an average of 14 violations a day.

Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda [SMUG] said: “This report demonstrates the vast array of human rights abuses which stem from Uganda’s state-sanctioned homophobia and transphobia.

“The Ugandan state deems LGBT people as less than human, and as a result that is how we are treated; by the landlords, by employers, by healthcare professionals, even by our families. These testimonies make it abundantly clear that the situation for LGBT people in Uganda has not improved, despite the Anti-Homosexuality Act being struck down.

“As long as Uganda continues to have laws that make LGBT Ugandans criminals, we will continue to be victims of these abuses.”

As well as calling on the Ugandan government to do more to protect its LGBT citizens the organisation also calls on the UK’s Forign and Commonwealth office to review the report and act on it.

Jonathan Cooper, Chief Executive of Human Dignity Trust, also commented on the report, saying: “Criminalisation means the full force of the state is levied against LGBT people. The law sets norms, it determines attitudes.

“These laws are therefore principally to blame for the myriad of atrocious human rights abuses SMUG evidence in this important document. This multi-faceted persecution arises from homophobic and transphobic attitudes, which are permitted, and often encouraged, by politicians, state officials, and, of course, the law.”

You can read the full report, And That’s How I Survived Being Killed, at sexualminoritiesuganda.com

LGBT Community Braces to Fight Religious Anti Gay Legislation

Freshman Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki )
The country’s largest LGBT rights group on Thursday went to battle against a religious-based amendment tacked onto the annual defense policy bill that advocates say would strip away gay rights in federal contracting.
The Human Rights Campaign called it the first legislation to pass a congressional committee that would roll back expanded rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at the federal level since the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry.
“We see this as social conservatives in the House trying to push what they view as a religious liberty exemption and use it as a sword rather than a shield,” David Stacy, the HRC’s director of government affairs, said in an interview.
The measure, introduced by freshman Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) at 12:30 a.m. as the House Armed Services Committee prepared to pass the defense bill, would require the government to give religious organizations it signs contracts with exemptions in federal civil rights law and the Americans Disabilities Act.
Those laws do not ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. So the legislation would effectively override the executive order President Obama issued in 2014 prohibiting federal contractors from such discrimination.
The amendment provides an exemption for “any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution or religious society” contracting with the government. It quickly prompted heated exchanges between Russell and committee Democrats, who said it was purposefully unclear. 
The measure, approved 33-29 on a mostly party-line vote at 2 a.m., could signal that the backlash in numerous states against LGBT anti-discrimination laws is now moving to Congress.
Stacy said that defeating the amendment on the House floor and in the Senate is now one of Human Rights Campaign’s top priorities. By late Thursday, a coalition of 42 civil rights groups called the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination had sent the committee a letter opposing the amendment.
It “would authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination in each and every federal contract and grant,” the letter said of the measure. “The government should never fund discrimination and no taxpayer should be disqualified from a job under a federal contract or grant because he or she is the ‘wrong’ religion.”
Stacy said the language in the amendment also would apply to organizations that receive federal grants. “If the government says, we’re going to fund a homeless shelter, they can refuse to hire an LGBT person to staff it even if 40 percent of the people they’re serving are LGBT,” he said.
Russell said his aim was simply to clarify “ambiguous language” concerning the rights of religious groups that already exists in federal law.
“Unfortunately, guidance from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, however well-intended, has caused confusion on the president’s executive order regarding religious contractors within the scope of their protections under law,” Russell told his colleagues. He said he wants to ensure that faith-based organizations — about 2,000 receive federal contracts every year — are on equal footing with secular ones.
But Democrats accused Russell of trying to mask what his amendment would really do: Allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees.
“The way this amendment is written, it doesn’t matter if you are a religious organization,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking member.
“You can basically be a private contractor and this just gives you the right to discriminate if you decide you just don’t want to do business with gay people or with anybody else for that matter on a discriminatory basis within a protected class.”
The sweeping defense authorization bill is likely to go to the House floor in the next few weeks. The Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to mark up its version.

April 29, 2016

GOP Sub Committee Votes to Gut Obama’s LGBT’s Exec Orders

Breaking Late last night, story might change, This report comes from  
Image result for breaking news


The Republican-majority House Armed Services Committee on Thursday voted to gut President Barack Obama's executive orders that ban discrimination against LGBT people by all federal contractors. The Russell Amendment, sponsored by Oklahoma anti-gay Republican Steve Russell (photo), passed 33-29.

The Human Rights Campaign says "the amendment would dismantle President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity, under the guise of religious liberty."

HRC adds that the amendment, which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, "would allow sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination in an attempt to promote anti-LGBT religious-based discrimination in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. With far-reaching intended and unintended consequences, the vague amendment could even undermine existing nondiscrimination provisions that protect workers, and perhaps even beneficiaries, against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more."

The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination, a coalition including 42 secular and religious organizations, sent a letter to the Committee to oppose the Russell Amendment, warning it "would authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination in each and every federal contract and grant. The government should never fund discrimination and no taxpayer should be disqualified from a job under a federal contract or grant because he or she is the 'wrong' religion."

Letters of Support for Convicted Pedophile xRep Dennis Hastert

Second to there Presidency

Image result for hastert


Among those writing letters of support was former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who called Hastert   good man that loves the Lord" and said "he doesn't deserve what he is going through." 

Former CIA director Porter Goss also wrote a letter attesting to Hastert's character and leadership, and said many in the House saw him as "Mr. Main Street, America." 
Forty-one letters were made public in all. They include letters from Hastert's wife and two sons, and Hastert's brother. 
"Please, as you determine my father's sentence, keep in mind the fact that he spent 35 years of his life serving the public good," Hastert's son Joshua said in a letter filed with the court. 
"He now has myriad medical issues and he should be with his family and not in the medical division of a correctional institution," the letter reads. 
Former U.S. representative Thomas Ewing said in his letter that Hastert has already suffered. 
"I can think of nothing more devastating to my friend than the current cause of action before your court," Ewing wrote. “He cherished his reputation and legacy but even more he mourns the suffering and trauma it has caused his wife Jean, and their two sons, Joshua and Ethan.”[nbc]
To Read all or any one letter click below:

No Gay Marriage in China but Acceptance Grows

Sun Wenlin, center left, and his partner Hu Mingliang, center right, speak to journalists after a judge ruled against them in China's first gay marriage case in Changsha in central China's Hunan province. (AP Photo/Gerry Shih)
Sun Wenlin, center left, and his partner Hu Mingliang, center right, speak to journalists after a judge ruled against them in China’s first gay marriage case in Changsha in central China's Hunan province. (AP Photo/Gerry Shih)

AT THE end of March a website run by the Communist Youth League published news of a remarkable development in China’s staid, heavily censored film industry. A preview had been released online of what is being described as mainland China’s first film focusing on a gay romance, “Looking for Rohmer”. (On television, there have been documentaries about gay relationships before, as well as dramas hinting at them.) The new film, to be shown “soon”, describes the relationship of two young men, one Chinese, one French, as they travel across Tibet.

The two are not shown holding hands, let alone doing anything more intimate. But China’s cultural commissars, rarely open-minded at the best of times, have been in an unusually censorious mood since 2014, when President Xi Jinping stressed that art must “serve socialism”. 

Cheng Qingsong, a film critic, says the makers of “Looking for Rohmer” worried that the censors might change their minds after they approved the film for release last year. The trailer’s appearance, and the Youth League’s interest in it, suggests all is well. More broadly, it shows that, despite a political chill, conservative attitudes to same-sex relationships are changing. In the past, homosexuals were sometimes jailed for “hooliganism”. In 1997 the removal of that ill-defined crime from the statute books lifted what was, in effect, a ban on homosexual activity. In 2001 the health ministry struck homosexuality off its list of mental diseases. But public tolerance remains low. Clinics still offer “cures” for gay people, involving electric shocks or nausea-inducing drugs. No well-known public figure in mainland China has come out. 

In a recent survey of 18,650 lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by WorkForLGBT, a China-based NGO, only 3% of the male respondents and 6% of the female ones described themselves as completely out. A third of the men (though only 9% of the women) said they were in the closet. Only 18% of the men said they had come out to their families, and nearly 80% were reluctant to do so because of family pressure. But half the men and three-quarters of the women had come out to friends, an indication that private tolerance is expanding.

The government itself is also becoming less hostile to gays. In 2013 censors permitted websites and newspapers to discuss LGBT issues. Li Yinhe, an academic and promoter of gay rights, says this was a turning point for homosexuals. Online dating services for gays have sprung up. One of the largest of them, Blued (run by a gay former policeman), was read by over 40% of those surveyed by WorkForLGBT.

A milestone was reached at the end of 2014 when a court in Beijing gave its verdict in a case lodged by a gay man against a clinic which had offered to change his sexuality. He accused it of false advertising and malpractice. The court fined the clinic and ruled that homosexuality was “not a mental disease” and did not require treatment. It was the first reported decision of its kind by a Chinese court.

Gay marriage is still not recognised, but public discussion of it is becoming more lively. Some gay people have held unofficial wedding ceremonies. In June, two internet entrepreneurs (pictured) organised one in a park in Beijing, after encountering great difficulty finding a venue willing to host the event. Chinese media gave the celebration much publicity.

Testing the law
In January a court in the southern city of Changsha agreed to hear a suit filed by Sun Wenlin, a 26-year-old man, against a government agency responsible for marriages. Mr Sun said the agency had illegally refused him permission to marry his male partner. On April 13th, with hundreds of gay-marriage supporters outside, the court ruled against him. That was expected. What was surprising was the court’s acceptance of the case, and the official media’s enthusiastic coverage. “It is we who will win in future,” said Mr Sun’s lawyer, as quoted in a Chinese newspaper.

But Hu Zhijun, the co-founder of a support network for lesbians and gays in China, thinks gay marriage will not become legal until there is clear public support, which is still a very distant prospect. “People don’t want those outside the family to know,” he says. “They still fear losing face.”

And although “Looking for Rohmer” has been approved for release, other works have not been so lucky. Early this year, a popular gay online series called “Addicted (Heroin)” was banned—apparently because of its gay content—after several episodes had been uploaded. In December two television-industry associations issued guidelines, recently leaked online, which said televised portrayals of homosexuality were taboo—as were those of extramarital affairs and sexual promiscuity.

Still, a decade ago censors had banned the showing in China of “Brokeback Mountain”, a Hollywood film about a gay romance between cowboys. It was thus, as one Chinese newspaper put it, “unexpected” when “Looking for Rohmer” gained the censors’ approval.

From the print edition: China

The Hacking To Death of Activists in a Secretive Community which Will Make it More Secret

Follow up on ISIS Hacks to Death Gay….

Xulhaz Mannan.jpg
Xulhaz Mannan
BornOctober 13, 1976
DiedApril 25, 2016 (aged 39)
Dhaka, Bangladesh wikipedia
“To run a magazine about LGBT issues, to campaign on these issues in Bangladesh, you have to be a very brave person, very bold,” says photographer Gazi Nafis Ahmed. “Xulhaz Mannan was the one who made Roopbaan magazine happen. He was a very special man.”
Speaking to the Guardian shortly after Xulhaz Mannan’s murder by Islamist extremists, Ahmed explained that it was the repression of the LGBT community in his home country of Bangladesh that had inspired his own work, a long-term photography project entitled Inner Face. 
“I studied photography in Denmark and saw there what sexual liberty was like in western countries. It was amazing.” After he finished his degree he began to photograph the LGBT community in Bangladesh. “There were an amazing amount of men who were brave enough and said to me that ‘we want to go for it, we want to get our voices out there’. In Bangladesh it is not easy for the LGBTQ community people to practice their freedom of expression as in many other countries. But I felt that, through my art, these human beings could have the choice to have their voices out there.”

A Secret Bangladesh a secret LGBT try to shine some light for others in the shadows
Ahmed began his project, photographing the members of the underground LGBT community, and, where possible, recording their stories, back in 2008. He approached the Bandhu Social Welfare Society which address concerns of human rights abuse and denial of sexual health rights, and provide a rights-based approach to health and social services for the most stigmatized and vulnerable populations in Bangladesh. “They helped me to make connections and get in touch with people and, over the years that followed,my network expanded.
“The LGBT scene in Bangladesh is very, very underground. There are essentially two different social groups. The upper/middle classes. They refer to themselves as gay, they have access to the internet, they’re part of the global network of gay communities and have friends all over the world.” This group set up an online Yahoo peer-networking group the Boys of Bangladesh (BOB) a few years ago, and help and support each other. 
“And then there is the different social class who don’t refer to themselves as LGBT but as MSM. This is a public health designation which stands for Men Who Have Sex With Men. They are low income – cooks, dancers, rickshaw pullers – and there is huge stigma towards them. My work was with both groups.” 
  As he began to exhibit his photographs both in Bangladesh and overseas, the reactions varied. Some were supportive, others angry, but it was the reaction of the mother of one of his subjects which remained with him: “She spoke at one of the exhibitions, saying that her son was the way he was, and that ‘I accept him, and I would like to see other parents accept their children who identify as LGBT in this way’. It was a very important message, I think.”

From US Embassy to USAid
 At a 2008 exhibition of his work, he met Mannan, who was working at the US embassy at that time and would shortly move on to work at USAid. “He reached out to me, thanked me for working on this project and offered to put me in touch with more people. He was a protocol officer of the US embassy, and then went on to USAID. He also founded and edited Roopbaan.” 
Alam and Kabir grew up in the same village and fell in love; at the time of this photo they had been together for 11 years. “We will go on to prove that two men can spend their lives together in complete happiness.” Photograph: Gazi Nafis Ahmed
Mannan “was very kind hearted, always supportive. If I ever asked him he was always ready to support my work. He always had a smile on his face, always a yes for any favor.” Over the years that followed, Mannan and Ahmed were regularly in touch. “He was a very brave person, out as gay to his friends, his close circle, and at his work. In Bangladesh that is absolutely unusual, especially in upper-class circles. But Mannan wanted to start a discourse around LGBT issues, a subject that is so opposed and so stigmatised in Bangladesh.
 “Bangladesh has a patriarchal, conservative society so that makes it difficult, even the mindset of people makes it more difficult. Having a magazine like Roopbaan and talking about these issues is really brave and bold. And it was Xulhaz who made it happen.”

The Rally
 A couple of weeks ago, Mannan invited all his friends to join him on Roopbaan’s annual Rainbow Rally, timed for April 14 to coincide with the Bangladesh new year. The colorful rally, with the participants dressed different colors of rainbow, aims to celebrate diversity and friendship and ensure the participation of people with different sexual orientations, including hijras, in Pohela Boishakh festivities and promote tolerance among all sexes.
 The plans were laid as usual, but the participants were anxious. Over the last couple of years Bangladesh has seen a growing number of homicidal attacks on liberal bloggers and academics; on April 7 Nazimuddin Samad, a law student who criticised Islamism on his Facebook page, was murdered. By the morning of the Rainbow Rally there had been more and more threats aimed not just at the gay marchers but at the traditional Bengali celebrations which feature garlands of flowers and colourful animal masks. The organisers decided to cancel the event. Police then arrested four of the LGBT activists.

Fatal Mistake? But it was time to come up more to the light 
In the next few days, Ahmed says, Mannan moved the Roopbaan Facebook group from ‘closed’ to ‘secret’. And then, two days ago, a group of six men managed to gain access to his apartment and hacked Mannan and the friend with him to death.
 “It was a terrible shock, for everyone,” says Ahmed. Some observers are not optimistic about the future, fearing, like Ibtisam Ahmed in the Conversation this week, that the government’s cowed reaction to the Islamist campaign of terror over the past couple of years means Bangladesh is “on a precipice … the adversaries of moderation, freedom and rationalism are getting bolder”. 
“Whether you support LGBT rights or not, there can never be any justification for murder,” says Ahmed. “But with so many gruesome assassinations of free minds and intellectuals in the country, it seems like anyone can be a target. No one feels safe, that is the truth.”
 But he has also heard that the next publication of Roopbaan may be delayed but will not stop. “That should be the spirit. People should come forward, together, and ask for action against this.”

“In 2013 the Dhaka Tribune wrote and editorial against section 377 of the criminal code stating their belief that while most people in Bangladesh were against homosexuality, they did not want to see people put in jail for it or for the government to waist resources treating it as a crime.Wikepedia

April 28, 2016

Anti Gay Mouther Mad His Gay Lawyer Dropped Him

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An outspoken opponent of gay rights says he’s being discriminated against by his own attorney.
Ken Adkins has been at the forefront of Jacksonville’s fight over whether to expand human rights ordinance protections to cover the LGBT community. He is against allowing those protections.
Adkins' attorney, Rick Block, recently sent the activist a letter saying that his beliefs mean that he can’t represent Adkins fairly in court.
In the letter, which Adkins shared with News4Jax, Block, who had been representing Adkins in a personal injury lawsuit, said that because of the way he raises his family, it wouldn't be fair if he represented Adkins in court.
Block, who has a gay son, said he’s been open about his belief that not expanding gay rights protections is hurting the city. Block said his son had trouble as a teen coping with his sexuality but now is flourishing, living in a gay community out west.
Adkins has recently been very vocal about his religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong.
Block responded with the letter to Adkins, which read, in part:
"The issue I have is that your public pronouncements and obviously firmly held personal and religious beliefs regarding homosexuality have offended me as my son’s father. In fact, they have offended me to the point that I simply cannot in good conscience represent you knowing your feelings about my son and his sexual orientation ..."
Adkins said he was surprised by the letter and decided to share it with the media. Block responded to that decision.
“I really didn't want to say anything. This is a private communication between my client and me, so I was kind of surprised when you showed up with the letter, which he has apparently shared with the media, which is his right to do,” Block said. “I support his right. … I support his right to express his beliefs. I may not agree with them -- that's what America is about, isn't it?”
Adkins said Block was aware of his work before taking him on as a client, but might not have known how vocal he has been against LGBT rights.
“I feel discriminated against. I feel my opinion does not matter,” Adkins said.
He said he would not hire Block as an attorney again now that he knows how Block feels.
“I asked him prior to this, 'Is this going to be a problem, because this is important to me?'” Adkins said.
Adkins said he has no plans to take his discrimination complaint to the Florida Bar, but he believes that there are some problems with how Block handled the situation.
News4Jax contacted the Florida Bar Association about the incident, and a spokeswoman said that Block followed proper procedure and didn't break any rules when he dropped Adkins as a client.
Copyright 2016 by WJXT News4Jax 

McCarthy Gay Purge of 1953, Justice Dept Sued

Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn during the Army-McCarthy hearings(Roy Cohn was a closeted gay fighting gays)

A gay rights group sued the Justice Department on Wednesday for failing to produce hundreds of pages of documents related to a 1953 order signed by President Dwight Eisenhower that empowered federal agencies to investigate and fire employees thought to be gay.

The suit in U.S. District Court accuses the government of conducting an inadequate search for the material and of groundlessly withholding some records on the basis of national security.

Executive Order 10450 allowed broad categories of federal workers, including those with criminal records, drug addiction and "sexual perversion," to be singled out for scrutiny and termination as threats to national security. Suspicions of homosexuality led to the firings of between 7,000 and 10,000 workers in the 1950s alone, according to a 2014 report from the Merit Systems Protections Board.

"We want to know, and history needs to know, how this thing was administered and how it was enforced, and what was the dynamic inside the Justice Department and the FBI driving" it, said Charles Francis, president of the Mattachine Society. The gay rights research and education organization has sought to obtain the records since 2013.

"This is an issue of public importance — how your government treats people who work for it, how your government has historically targeted people based on their LGBT status and destroyed their lives," said Paul Thompson, a partner at McDermott Will and Emery LLP, the law firm that filed the Freedom of Information Act suit. "People are paying attention to this right now."

The Justice Department had no immediate comment on the suit.

Eisenhower's order came at a time of widespread anti-gay discrimination authorized at the highest levels of government, including a 1950 Senate subcommittee report that concluded that gays were unsuitable as federal employees.

Under a "sex deviate program" put in place by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, agents were directed to "completely and fully" investigate anything about a prospective employee's sexual orientation developed during background checks. A May 1950 FBI bulletin to local police agencies told officers to make a notation on arrest fingerprint cards if anyone they arrested on suspicion of being a "sex deviate" worked for the federal government. The FBI collected those cards.

The executive order went a step further by effectively approving of the investigation and firing of federal workers believed to be gay.

The government now makes it explicitly illegal to discriminate against federal employees on the basis of sexual orientation. President Barack Obama in 2014 signed an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against gay workers, though he lamented that being gay can still be a fireable offense "in too many states and too many workplaces."

While the government's position has changed dramatically since the 1950s, debate about the scope of LGBT rights persists in state legislatures and courthouses. Francis said the documents sought in the suit would help reveal early and overt anti-gay bias that lingers in some corners.

"The evidentiary history is critical to see the roots of the animus," he said.

Documents culled from the National Archives, libraries and other sources have shed light on the order, but Francis' group believes nearly 900 additional pages that have been withheld could help flesh out the portrait.

"We put the puzzle together but we're still missing an ocean of material," he said.

The organization requested documents in January 2013, including all correspondence involving Warren Burger, a senior Justice Department official tasked with helping enforce the order who later become chief justice of the Supreme Court. The suit says more than 800 documents have been turned over, but 891 have been withheld, including any records related to Burger.

The FBI has invoked exemptions to the public records law, including a provision that protects against the disclosure of classified information for national security reasons. Thompson said he found that assertion "particularly troubling" because national security was the rationale of the order in the first place.

"What the lawsuit is for us is the final step in us saying, 'No, we really are serious'," Thompson said. “We are serious, and we're not going to stop until we feel like we have exhausted all possible avenues to obtain these records."

How the Gay Culture has Shape the Modern World

Oscar Wilde. Photo via Wikimedia

Gregory Woods has been writing about gay and lesbian history since the 1980s. His new book, Homintern, studies a long-established conspiracy theory: that gay people are out to fuck up the natural order of things. The idea that, like those pesky communists and Jews, LGBT people have historically been creating underground networks and plotting across international borders—gearing up for some kind of pink revolution.

The idea is ridiculous, of course, but as a diligent historian, Woods outlines with detail how these fears have been harbored, from the Nazis in 1930s Berlin through to Christian evangelicals during the AIDS pandemic. He tells both sides of the story, too; looking not only at the persecution of gay people, but drawing on the lives and works of figures like Somerset Maugham, Oscar Wilde, Susan Sontag, and James Baldwin, in order to figure out why gay people traveled so much (it was usually to flee their oppressors) and why gay networks formed (mostly for sex and solidarity).

While the book sets out to mock the idea of a "gay mafia," it does—accidentally or otherwise—chart the huge influence gay sensibility has on Western culture. Susan Sontag once said that "homosexual aestheticism" was one of the "pioneering forces of modern sensibility." With Sontag's words in mind, I called up Gregory to ask him why underground gay culture is so fabulous that governments actually saw it as a threat.

VICE: What was your motivation for writing this book?
Gregory Woods: I think of it as a sequel to a history of gay male literature I wrote in the 1990s. I focused on the 20th century, because that was when most of the literature available was published, but I felt there was a lot more to be said about the influence of gay culture. There is a strong sense in gay media and in cultural criticism that our history is Anglophone—British or American. I wanted to go against that and emphasize the history of gay culture in Europe and beyond, and also widen out and look at networks of lesbian women too.

Where does the term "homintern" come from?
In the late 20s and early 30s, there was an organization called the "Comintern"—"Communist International"—that was set up by Lenin and was concerned with spreading communism internationally across borders. It was seen by powers in the west as a threat. It was in the news at the time, and a lot of gay men came up with the camp joke that there was also a homintern.

What they were implying in this pun was that homosexual people could achieve influence across the barriers that society normally worked with. This mythic organization the homintern could forge alliances across national boundaries or class boundaries, for example, and make a kind of alternative realm of existence for people who were forced to live their lives in very confined and secretive ways. It was a joke, but it was also a dream, a possibility, a way of meeting other people from other societies and resisting oppression.

Was the idea of the homintern quite dangerous in some people's minds?
Yes. The idea that homosexuals exist became more well known around the start of the 20th century—mostly from scientists and sexologists, who were labeling this identity. At the same time, scandals such as Oscar Wilde's trial or Radclyffe Hall's obscenity trial about her book The Well of Loneliness became prominent. This visibility panicked people—and created an idea of a mass of homosexual people hiding behind closed doors, or in the bushes. They thought of homosexuality as a threatening, subversive presence that could organize.

The idea of gay people as one homogenous group seems ludicrous, but you do make a case for pockets of culture where gay people have, historically, been more likely to congregate: fashion, theater, and literary circles. Why do you think gay people have been more drawn to these fields?
It's hard. There can't be anything genetically making gay people more creative. And yet one looks around the world and sees this pattern.

I suppose one answer is to look at the idea of "feminine" men and "masculine" women. Individuals who don't fit standard gender roles are forced to reinvent themselves to pass as masculine men and feminine women. They have to reinvent the world around themselves in order to fit in with it. One way to do that is to construct your own aesthetic. Growing up not being able to take one’s gender role for granted and never question it forces one to think: How am I going to get away with this? 

Alice B. Tolkas and Gertrude Stein in their salon in Paris in 1922. Photo by Man Ray

You mention how many American writers like James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, and Allen Ginsberg were drawn to Paris in the early 20th century. Why was this?
It was partly a question of economy—European currencies were cheap against the dollar. It was what Stein called "a lost generation" of artists and writers who were swept up in the fashion of young people going to Europe, at least until the Wall Street Crash in 1929. I suppose there was a hangover from the naughty 1890s, of late 19th century aestheticism, that was still attractive to some Americans. With Paris, there was also the attraction of the Napoleonic Code—a more liberal legal system than there was in the US or Britain.

Even today, gays and lesbians in America today are more likely to have passports. If it's been drummed into you that you don't fit into the society that you grew up in, maybe you start looking elsewhere.

After writing the book, what is your conclusion? Did governments actually have anything to be worried about? Were gays really politically organizing?
The fear centered around the sense that gays were talking in secret—and not just about their sex lives, but we were organizing against nation states. So of course the occasional discovery of a homosexual spy would be taken as confirmation that this was what was happening. This suspicion was felt on both sides of the old Iron Curtain. But actually there doesn't seem to be any truth behind this; it's very hard to imagine gay people as a mass of subversives in the present day. Today, they're just as likely to be voting for the right as the left, wanting to protect their pockets and livelihoods just as everyone else does.

At the beginning of the book, I say that the homintern is the presence of homosexual men and women in modern society. Then I say there is no such thing as the homintern. I'm happy with this. There's no formally organized network of same-sex oriented people looking to work against the interests of the heterosexual majority. Then again, it's culturally interesting to look at groups forming and reforming, alliances across boundaries, flexible and formless masses of people exerting a cultural influence. Because it makes for something so creatively different.

Oscar Wilde. Photo via Wikimedia

So what impact has this "formless mass" of LGBT people helped shape modern Western culture?
It's not simply that gay people have been involved in the arts—straight people have a pretty good record of that, too—but that gay people did so from a fresh perspective, seeing things aslant from a position of difference. You only have to think of Oscar Wilde's paradoxes to see this process in action. They cast a fresh light on what had been thought of as fixed gender roles, subverting them by demonstrating, in the flesh, the possibility of living as a masculine woman or a feminine woman. This in turn generated a completely fresh aesthetic—in fashion, of course, but then also in dance and cinema and theater, and ultimately in popular culture. I also feel that many of these people were, in themselves, in the way they presented themselves in daily life, Wilde or Quentin Crisp, Radclyffe Hall and Gertrude Stein, all living embodiments of a queerness that more ordinary folk could marvel at and learn from, maybe even imitate.

Historically, gay people have found one another through necessity. How has the decriminalization of homosexuality and limited assimilation of LGBT people changed the need for those networks and connections?
It's similar to what we used to say in the gay liberation movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s—that we were working toward a society where there would be no need for a gay movement. Because ideally, we would live in a world where there would be no discrimination and no need to distinguish between homosexual and heterosexual. I don't for a moment believe the whole of humanity is heading in that direction, but if we were, I'd worry that with total assimilation of acceptance, there wouldn't be the impetus or energy for gay people to connect, or to make something out of an unfortunate situation, oppression, or difference. Where would the sparks of creativity come from?

By Amelia Abraham

Follow Amelia Abraham onTwitter.

Featured Posts

Staten Island and The US Looses One of Its Fighters to COVID-19 {Jim Smith}

                             Jim Smith helped organize Staten Island's first pride parade in 2005. He served as its...