May 31, 2017

Hollywood Gets F- on Gay Programing



 






The business is there but more importantly for them, there is the homophobia.

When it comes to LGBTQ representation on the big screen, Hollywood gets a failing grade — quite literally. A recent report from GLAAD shows that major film studios fall way short of reflecting all moviegoers. While there's clearly a lot of work to be done on the filmmaking side of things, Billy Eichner points out that audiences have to play an integral part, too.
Eichner — who stars on Billy on the StreetDifficult People, and the upcoming season of American Horror Story — notes that things have "drastically changed" in the TV landscape, but that even as major of a win as Moonlight taking home the Oscar for Best Picture is, calling it "a step in the right direction," there's still "a lot of work to do" in the world of film.
The 38-year-old's argument is film studios need to put LGBTQ people in big-budget flicks, not just on the indie scene. He said there's a responsibility on their part to make these films at a high quality, and to feature fully realized and dynamic characters, but that in the end, the audience needs to show up.
Eichner has a point here, as GLAAD's analysis showed that only 23 of the 125 films they counted featured an LGBTQ character in 2016 — accounting for not even 20 percent of films produced by the big seven companies examined. No major film studio has ever gotten an "excellent" rating from the advocacy organization in the five years since it's been doing this report.
"It's not enough for Hollywood to make a bunch of gay movies. That's obviously a big part of the equation, but then gay people have to show up for those movies," he told Variety. "When something good does happen — when a Moonlight comes along — we have to go and see it. We have to spend our money on it because, ultimately, it's a numbers game."


Eichner drives home that point by using what Tyler Perry has done for Black representation in film as a perfect example. Those movies might not be acclaimed by critics, but the fans always show up and make sure they do well at the box office. That, Eichner explains, means they'll keep making those until the audience stops supporting them.
"We have to show up for each other," Eichner adds. "I'm not sure we are just yet."
Cover image via @billyeichner / Instagram and @moonlightmov / Instagram
The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.

New Birth Cl. Regulations Will Badly Affect The Health of LGBT


Birth control pills – Photo: ParentingPatch, via Wikimedia.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly
A leaked draft of a new birth control regulation could have far-reaching implications for the LGBTQ community.

Under the Affordable Care Act, only churches, religious organizations, and their auxiliaries are exempt from having to cover procedures or medications, such as contraception, to which those churches religiously object.
But the new proposed regulation would expand that exemption to any employer — including a for-profit companies, colleges and universities — who has a personal moral or religious objection to subsidizing such procedures or medications through the insurance coverage they provide to their employees.
“It’s just a very very, very broad exception for everybody,” Tim Jost, a health law professor at Washington and Lee University, told Vox, which posted a copy of the leaked regulation on its website. “If you don’t want to provide it, you don’t have to provide it.”
The Trump administration attempts to justify the proposal by painting the regulations under the Affordable Care Act as costing taxpayers’ money.
“Despite multiple rounds of rulemaking, however, that accommodation process has not satisfied the religious objections of numerous organizations with sincere religious objections to contraceptive coverage or resolved the pending litigation,” the draft proposal reads. “To the contrary, the Departments have been litigating [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] challenges to the Mandate and related regulations for more than five years, and dozens of those challenges remain pending today.
“That litigation, and the related modifications to the accommodation, have consumed substantial governmental resources while also creating uncertainty for objecting organizations, issuers, third party administrators, and employees and beneficiaries.”
The administration then argues that broader exemptions are necessary to serve the interest of those people and organizations with sincerely held religious or moral beliefs opposing contraception or other medical treatment.
But it’s that broad nature of the exemption that has LGBTQ advocates sounding the alarm. Many fear that the exemption will essentially allow employers to justify any denial of insurance coverage, for any reason.
For instance, an employer could refuse to provide coverage for certain types of medications for gay men, whether it’s pre-exposure prophylaxis, or life-saving HIV medications. As with women whose employers refuse to provide contraceptive coverage, those men would then be forced to pay thousands or even millions out of pocket just to obtain the drugs needed to live.
“This rule would not only deny hundreds of thousands of women access to birth control, but lays the groundwork for a sweeping license to discriminate against women, LGBT people, religious minorities, and deny health care when people need it most,” Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement. “The logic behind this proposal would turn our civil rights laws into civil rights suggestions.”










Is Trump Dangerous to the LGBT Community?






French President Emmanuel Macron is the latest world leader to urge Russia to take action on reported state violence against LGBTQ people in Chechnya. 
The newly elected Macron met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in France on Monday, where he pressed for action on allegations that men perceived to be gay or bisexual are being detained, tortured and killed in the Russian-controlled nation of Chechnya.

"I emphasized to President Putin ... how important it is for France to respect all people, all minorities," Macron told reporters during a news conference with Putin on Monday, CNN reported. "We spoke about the cases of LGBT people in Chechnya. ... I told President Putin what France is expecting regarding this issue, and we agreed to regularly check on this subject."

Reported violence against LGBTQ people in Chechnya

Recent reports out of Chechnya indicate that the Chechen government is engaged in a brutal and violent crackdown on LGBTQ people in the region. Local activists have said that gay men are "disappearing," CNN reported in April.

According to the Human Rights Watch, Chechen authorities returned some of the gay men to their families and encouraged their families to carry out "honor killings." Several gay men reportedly died in custody, according to the HRW.

The president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has been described as "Putin's closest ally." 
Alvi Karimov, a spokesperson for the Chechen government, not only denied accusations of a violent campaign against gay men — he denied that there were even gay people in Chechnya. 
"You can't detain and harass someone who doesn't exist in the republic," he told a Russian news agency, CNN reported in April.

According to Macron, Putin said during their meeting on Monday that the Russian government has begun "initiatives" responding to the reports out of Chechnya.

Will Donald Trump speak out?

Macron isn't the first world leader to urge Putin to take action on the dangerous situation in Chechnya. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that during her recent meeting with the Russian president, she "asked Mr. Putin to use his influence to ensure the rights of such minorities," according to CNN.

President Donald Trump, who has claimed to have wide support among LGBTQ communities, has yet to join the world leaders calling on Putin to address the reports of violence against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.

Aside from an April comment by United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, the Trump administration has remained largely silent on the allegations of human rights abuses in Chechnya, despite pleas for action from lawmakers, celebrities and activists alike.
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May 30, 2017

Trump Staff Omits Husband of Gay Head of State-Luxembourg





The White House omitted to mention the husband of Luxembourg’s Prime Minister in an official portrait’s caption.
Nato leaders’ partners posed together on Thursday to celebrate the group’s meeting.

Gauthier Destenay stood behind Melania Trump and Turkey’s autocratic leader’s wife, Emine Erdogan.
But when the White House shared the picture the caption ignored Mr Destenay’s existance.
Yet to add insult to injury the caption made two mentions of Mrs Trump.
https://youtu.be/sDTQfdCiNDg

The tiny European nation saw their Prime Minister marry after Luxembourg legalised same-sex marriage.
Xavier Bettel, 44, has run the French-speaking nation since 2013.

Has Donald Trump been buying followers on Twitter?
Initially the White House caption read: ‘First Lady Melania Trump poses with Belgium’s Queen Mathilde, center, and other spouses of Nato leaders: First Lady Emine Erdoğan of Turkey; Iceland’s Thora Margret Baldvinsdottir; the First Lady of France Brigitte Trogneux; First Lady Melania Trump; Slovenia’s Mojca Stropnik; Bulgaria’s Desislava Radeva; Belgium’s Amélie Derbaudrenghien, and Norway’s Ingrid Schulerud, during their visit Thursday 25 May 2917 [sic], at the Royal Palace in Brussels.



METRO

Adamfoxie will be Back at Full Strengh



The month of March was very trying for this blog. Some equipment was damaged while maintenance was being done to make it keep up like it has for the best part of eight years. This blog does not opearate on getting regular funds. Our mission is been to bring a particular set of current news stories we feel everyone should know. We don't post what everyone knows unless we can add to the conversation with a smart point of view.

We have ordered new equipment to replaced the damaged computer which will allow us again to to post fresh stories and have fun doing it. It's been no fun driving a car missing a wheel. We should be back to normal by Thursday June 1st. Let's start June with a new commitment to do the best we can do. Going thru this past month missing equipment and having to spend funds we don't readily have is the perfect message to call it a day and stop. As we look at the visitors still coming to our site mainly from the U.S. but also very strongly from 4 other nations and regular visits by 6 more nations told us we have to continue. Our promised is been throughout the years to continue as long as we have a healthy audience that listens to us and the news we highlight.

😊 Thank you!!!! For your support
adamfoxie.blogspot.com



We do take donations for the new equipment if you can afford it. If not we understand.

May 28, 2017

All The Evidence is in of Chechnya Gay Labor Camps and Persecution, Names too



Over a month after initial reports about concentration camp-like conditions in Chechnya, a new report from Human Rights Watch released on Friday indicates that top Chechen government officials have had a hand in the mass anti-LGBTQ purge that has reportedly seen hundreds of gay and bisexual men detained, tortured, and even killed.
The report, based on interviews with dozens of torture victims, journalists, and activists, implicates Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for the "unprecedented" crackdown, and claims that the purge began as early as February. According to HRW, the purge follows Kadyrov's playbook for dealing with "undesirable" groups, such as drunk drivers, drug users, and political dissidents.
The Chechen law enforcement and security officials allegedly began rounding up gay and bisexual men or even those thought to be gay in February, starting with a man who police picked up for being "under the influence of a euphoria-inducing controlled substance." After going through his phone, police determined he was gay, and identified other gay men based on what they found as well as information that the man gave while under torture.
This information then reportedly traveled up to Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, widely considered Kadyrov's second-in-command.
"Most of the former detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported hearing the police who held and abused them refer to Daudov and to orders he allegedly issued about violence against gay men," the report says. Three of the interviewees also said they saw Daudov at detention sites, watching as police carried out beatings.
While homophobia has run rampant in Chechnya for years, HRW said in the report, it cannot explain the government's involvement in the anti-LGBTQ purge.
"People still carry out, or threaten to carry out, 'honor killings' to 'cleanse' perceived stains to their family’s honor, including against young women suspected of promiscuity and family members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender," the report says. "However, longstanding societal homophobia does not explain the 2017 anti-gay purge. Rather it was ordered and conducted by officials in Chechnya."
According to The Guardian, Russian officials are now actively investigating the claims of a purge, after several denials from the Chechen government that the crackdown is taking place. In April, Kadyrov denied the reports, claiming that there were "no gay men in Chechnya."
Meanwhile, the Russian LGBT Network has been advocating for an end to the camps, and earlier this month helped to evacuate 40 men from Chechnya. According to a report from BuzzFeed, at least nine men who escaped detainment have managed to obtain visas and find new homes, though the situation remains dire for those who are still in the country.
You can read the full report here.
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Trump The Gay Community's Big Bad Bro



Happy bithday little bro🤡



The Orwellian nightmare that is the Trump administration just tapped a new recruit. John M. Gore will lead the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Justice, as the legal blog Above the Law reported late last week. Gore is a litigator at Jones Day, a Washington-based firm that has been aiding the 45th president’s transition effort. Gore is the second attorney from the firm to make the move to the DOJ. He follows Noel Francisco, an appellate litigator at Jones Day, who will serve as the department’s principal deputy solicitor general.
Putting Gore, who has little experience in defending individuals’ rights in a position where he will be expected to do just that, isn’t just rank cronyism, the kind Trump promised to fight if elected president. It is also a significant affront to the LGBT community.
Gore famously defended the University of North Carolina in a suit brought by the federal government over enforcement of House Bill 2, the state’s controversial anti-LGBT law. The college took a different approach than former governor Pat McCrory, who continued to defend the bathroom bill in the face of widespread criticism, including from the state’s attorney general. UNC claimed that it was not actually following the law, which mandates that trans people in schools and government buildings use restrooms that correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth not their gender identity.
This is despite the school’s initial claims it would follow the law, which UNC’s president, Margaret Spellings, later backed off from.
In a statement issued following Gore’s appointment to the DOJ, Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, noted the “disturbing” subtext of the choice. “At the core of the Justice Department’s mission is defending our civil rights,” Keisling said. “Mr. Gore’s only civil rights experience is in defending violations of civil rights.”
Comparing the situation to the novel “1984,” Jon Davidson of the Human Rights Campaign argued that there’s a twisted irony to Gore’s nomination. The litigator is one of many Trump appointees whose backgrounds appear totally at odds with their post (like tapping a charter school advocate to run the U.S. public education system). Davidson, who currently serves as the organization’s legal director, added that putting Gore in the DOJ goes even further.
“We’re going to have a Department of Justice that will not be doing justice,” Davidson said.
For those unfamiliar with the Office of Civil Rights, the department is tasked with upholding the nation’s civil rights laws, which include everything from the Fair Housing Act to federal nondiscrimination laws. Although allegations of identity-based discrimination are generally handed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, such a matter would fall into the DOJ’s hands if the government was the party responsible. Davidson said that during the Reagan and Bush administrations, these types of claims were seldom investigated.
“We’ve been here before,” Davidson said. “Under those presidencies, the Civil Rights division was not much of a force for suing for equal rights for Americans. Instead it put its energies elsewhere, including trying to defend the so-called rights of people to discriminate.”
Given Trump’s support of the First Amendment Defense Act, it’s likely that the DOJ will retreat to its discriminatory past. The bill, which is extremely similar to a law passed by Vice President Mike Pence in 2015 when he was the governor of Indiana, would allow business owners to deny services to LGBT customers based on their belief that marriage is solely between one man and one woman. That legislation, which will be debated in Congress this year, is co-sponsored by former Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, who may soon serve as Gore’s boss in the DOJ. Trump tapped Sessions as his pick for attorney general, although he has yet to be confirmed.
Because Gore worked on the HB2 case in private practice, the district DOJ guidelines on conflicts of interest would likely preclude his further involvement in the debate over trans bathroom rights in North Carolina. Carcaño v. McCrory, the lawsuit against UNC filed by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Joaquin Carcaño, is currently pending trial in federal court.
What Gore could do, however, is file in a number of pending cases amicus briefs that are also known as a “friend of the court” brief, when a firm or individual offers its legal guidance on a case to which it is not a party.
Later this year the Supreme Court will hear G.G. v. Gloucester, a case in which a trans student in Virginia, Gavin Grimm, sued his local school district for access to the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity. Although the Obama administration announced last year that it would be extending its interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to include protections for transgender youth in schools, Pence has already promised to roll that back. It’s unlikely that under a Trump administration and a DOJ run by Sessions, Gore’s legal opinion on trans rights will be cause for celebration.
In addition to the Grimm case, the DOJ will also oversee two other important cases affecting the LGBT community. One is over the federal government’s definition of Title IX; the other is part of the national battle over Obamacare. A Texas judge ordered a preliminary injunction last month halting adoption of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, a provision that would prohibit any “health program or activity any part of which received funding from HHS” from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
There’s a crucial distinction, though, between these cases and the upcoming Gavin Grimm trial: The DOJ is actually named as a party in these suits, and that’s not a good thing. Gore’s boss voted against the ACA in 2010.
Gore could do further damage to federal legislation in his new role, as Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, explained. “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Violence Against Women Act both provide explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said. Both of these laws could be in jeopardy if the new head of civil rights elects not to enforce them.
We know where Sessions, who has a long track record of fighting equal rights, stands on these laws. He has voted against reauthorizing Violence Against Women Act and against recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity in national hate crime legislation, believing that cases of anti-LGBT bias attacks were already being handled appropriately.
With Gore, his stance something of an open question. What we do know, however, is that he has spent his entire career attacking the rights of marginalized communities. The litigator has repeatedly defended states accused of discriminatory redistricting designed to pack voters of color into districts where their numeric power can be neutralized — as has been the case in Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia.  The Intercept reported in two of those states that Gore “also intervened on behalf of Republicans to defend new voter ID laws, rules civil rights group have assailed for reducing participation rates among African-Americans.
Following the removal of all references to LGBT people from the White House’s website, gay advocates believe that Gore’s appointment — which does not require confirmation by  Congress — is another sign that the Trump presidency will devastating for queer people. The POTUS most recently signed an executive order instituting a hiring freeze on all federal jobs outside of national security, which will impact the restaffing of departments like the Office of National AIDS Policy. There’s been little good news for LGBT individuals in the past week.
“This certainly signals to the LGBT community that the incoming administration does not take the community’s needs seriously,” Warbelow said, “and may not intend to be a government for all Americans.”

First Gay Pride in Beirut




In Lebanon, the LGBT community has made important strides in recent years. A series of court rulings have poked holes in a law that essentially criminalizes homosexuality. This has encouraged activists to push for greater rights.
Lebanon is a relative safe haven in the region, with well-established gay bars and clubs tolerated by the authorities. A number of organizations advocate specifically for LGBT rights. Last week was the first-ever Beirut Pride celebration, and the first time activists raised the rainbow flag in honor of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, May 17.
But this is a region where gays have faced deadly persecution at the hands of extremist Islamist groups. Activists say they still have a long way to go to feel safe to be themselves, much less achieve equality under the law.
Joseph Aoun is one of the Lebanese activists pushing for change. He heads the community center of the LBGT advocacy group Helem, which, along with another group called Legal Agenda, provides legal services to those persecuted under existing laws. Helem also serves as a community center.
I meet Aoun at Madame Om, a bar in an old Beirut mansion overlooking the city port. A Warhol-esque painting of the bar's Egyptian diva namesake, Om Kalthoum, watches over as organizers prepared for the evening's Beirut Pride event about protecting oneself under the existing laws.
"People are sick of being treated like s***," Aoun says, sipping a gin and basil cocktail. He is annoyed that a separate LGBT event was canceled after an Islamist group protested and a hotel venue backed out. And he is even more exasperated that local media took the cancellation as a sign the gay community is facing setbacks.
A coalition of Muslim clergy has been "fighting Helem since 2005," he says. But Helem has persevered. "It's about having the guts to confront," Aoun says.
He believes the LGBT community should always have a Plan B and work around obstacles. "We can't frustrate the community," he says.
I first met Aoun years ago, when he ran Bardo, a gay-friendly bar and dance venue. As the manager, he had to remain on good terms with the authorities in order to keep the place running. Today, he seems liberated from that role and has thrown himself into his activism. He is in fighting mode and fiercely proud of Helem's 2017 campaign marking the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
The group's Arabic video campaign, with the slogan "Homophobia is Terrorism," aired on a major national TV network and garnered more than 120,000 views on Facebook. Men and women stare directly into the camera, as a narrator speaks: "I'm someone like you. I don't pose a threat to society. But this society allows the fact that I am beaten, humiliated, imprisoned, raped or even killed. Don't be part of it. Acceptance is what builds societies. Hate is what creates terrorism."
Aoun says the video campaign struck a chord and received far more positive feedback than negative. "We had a firm slogan: 'Homophobia is terrorism.' It's not a disease; it's not a phobia. It's a terrorism act — it's a hateful act."
He notes that while life can be hard for gays in Lebanon, the challenges are even greater for trans women, who can't blend into society as easily as gay men, or refugees from Syria and Iraq, who face added discrimination. At Helem's headquarters, there is a washing machine and a shower, to help give those on the fringes a measure of dignity.
The Lebanese law regarding homosexuality is a vague one, criminalizing "unnatural" sexual acts. In recent years, Lebanese judges have made increasingly progressive interpretations of the law. Aoun says his group's work with Legal Agenda helps ensure all those who face criminal charges over their sexuality are provided representation. Their goal is for the progressive interpretations of the law to continue.
Earlier this year, Justice Rabih Maalouf, in Lebanon's Metn district, ruled that intimate relations between homosexuals are a "natural right" and thus cannot be criminalized. Legal Agenda, whose lawyers provided the defense, says the judge stated that depriving homosexuals of those rights would amount to discrimination, and was therefore contrary to the law.
"He said the role of the judge is not to convict people based on the opinion of the majority," Aoun adds, but "to protect natural, basic rights of human beings."
Aoun smiles. "Cheers to that," he says.
The last afternoon sun streams through the arched windows of the Madame Om bar, now filled with attendees. The first speaker, Naji Raji, whose causes also include heritage preservation, rises to offer his experience as a member of the gay community.
He recounts a 2007 encounter with the police. A friend had been caught with gay-themed pornography on his laptop. He had brought up Raji's name during an interrogation, claiming he'd helped with the filming.
"My mom came to the [police] station and she was hysterical," Raji says. "They told her, 'Your son participated in a porn movie and he's a homosexual and he's in jail now and he's going to be imprisoned.' My mom was so hysterical, she fell to the floor."
Raji was charged under Lebanon's Article 534 against unnatural acts, which activists say can be punishable by a year-long jail sentence, or usually a fine. Because the police believed he participated in the making of the film, he was also charged with "promoting prostitution."
Raji's family was able to get him out of jail in a matter of days, which he says took the help of personal contacts intervening on his behalf, and a $2,000 bribe. Helem helped, too, appointing him a lawyer for the next three years of court hearings.
During a subsequent arrest, Raji was subjected to an invasive anal test, a practice that Human Rights Watch has condemned as torture and is illegal under United Nations conventions Lebanon has signed.
"Nowadays, things are a little bit different. There's social media and social pressure," Raji tells the crowd.
But he still advises those arrested under existing laws to deny all charges related to homosexuality.
"You shouldn't utter a word before hiring a lawyer. This is the most important thing ... because regardless of how strong you are as a person and how evolved society is nowadays, the pressure you experience there is unbelievable."
He takes a question from the audience: A man asks whether his arrests have made it more difficult for him to get official documents, like a passport.
Raji responds that while he could legally have the charges erased from his police record, at this point, he considers them a badge of honor.
"I want the hurdles. They're amusing," Raji says boldly.
The man commends him: "It's very good to be defiant."
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

May 27, 2017

Gay Prime Minister of Ireland in the Works






Ireland appears set to elect its first openly gay prime minister (or Taoiseach) on June 2. Leo Varadkar has built a wide lead in the race to succeed Enda Kenny, who announced his departure after serving as the country's premier for more than six years.
Varadkar is currently the Minister for Social Protection and is the favorite to replace Kenny as both the Fine Gael party leader and the head of government. If elected, he would also become the country's first leader of Asian immigrant descent and, at 38, the youngest person to hold the office.
“Having a government minister who is openly gay was a welcome development, and it’s a really positive sign of how attitudes have changed that a gay man is now in the running for Taoiseach,” said Paula Fagan, national coordinator for Ireland’s LGBT Helpline, a group that provides support to the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
If elected, Varadkar would only be the fourth openly gay world leader in modern history. The others include Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, former Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and former Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurõardóttir.
A picture of political spouses taken earlier this week -- including Bettel’s partner, Gauthier Destenay, as the only male -- recently went viral.
Two years ago, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage when 62 percent of voters in a nationwide referendum cast their ballots in favor of defining marriage as a legal union between two people, regardless of gender. Ireland became the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
“During the referendum campaign, Minister Leo Varadkar gave a groundbreaking interview on national radio, in which he publicly came out as a gay man,” Fagan said. “As such, he is the first openly gay government minister in Ireland, and he has demonstrated courage in speaking publicly about his sexuality and about public attitudes to the LGBT community.”
In a speech to Parliament to convince undecided colleagues to vote "yes" in the 2015 referendum, Varadkar stressed, “This is not a bill about ‘gay marriage,’ it is about ‘equal marriage.’”
"Having an openly gay member of parliament reach the office of Taoiseach not only shows how far Ireland has come in such a short period of time on LGBT+ understanding and acceptance but also sends out an important message to young LGBT+ Irish people that your sexuality, gender or any aspect of your identity should not be a preventative factor in achieving your aspirations and dreams in life -- be that politics, business, the arts or any other aspect of Irish society,” Adam Shanley, director of Gay Switchboard Ireland, told NBC Out.
Follow NIreland appears set to elect its first openly gay prime minister (or Taoiseach) on June 2. Leo Varadkar has built a wide lead in the race to succeed Enda Kenny, who announced his departure after serving as the country's premier for more than six years.
Varadkar is currently the Minister for Social Protection and is the favorite to replace Kenny as both the Fine Gael party leader and the head of government. If elected, he would also become the country's first leader of Asian immigrant descent and, at 38, the youngest person to hold the office.
“Having a government minister who is openly gay was a welcome development, and it’s a really positive sign of how attitudes have changed that a gay man is now in the running for Taoiseach,” said Paula Fagan, national coordinator for Ireland’s LGBT Helpline, a group that provides support to the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
If elected, Varadkar would only be the fourth openly gay world leader in modern history. The others include Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, former Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and former Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurõardóttir.
A picture of political spouses taken earlier this week -- including Bettel’s partner, Gauthier Destenay, as the only male -- recently went viral.
Two years ago, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage when 62 percent of voters in a nationwide referendum cast their ballots in favor of defining marriage as a legal union between two people, regardless of gender. Ireland became the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.
“During the referendum campaign, Minister Leo Varadkar gave a groundbreaking interview on national radio, in which he publicly came out as a gay man,” Fagan said. “As such, he is the first openly gay government minister in Ireland, and he has demonstrated courage in speaking publicly about his sexuality and about public attitudes to the LGBT community.”
In a speech to Parliament to convince undecided colleagues to vote "yes" in the 2015 referendum, Varadkar stressed, “This is not a bill about ‘gay marriage,’ it is about ‘equal marriage.’”
"Having an openly gay member of parliament reach the office of Taoiseach not only shows how far Ireland has come in such a short period of time on LGBT+ understanding and acceptance but also sends out an important message to young LGBT+ Irish people that your sexuality, gender or any aspect of your identity should not be a preventative factor in achieving your aspirations and dreams in life -- be that politics, business, the arts or any other aspect of Irish society,” Adam Shanley, director of Gay Switchboard Ireland, told NBC Out.
Follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook and InstagramBC Out on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

May 26, 2017

LGBT,HIV+,Latins,Blacks Would Disproportionately Loose Health Insurance









The Fenway Institute: People With HIV, LGBTs, and Black and Latino People Would Disproportionately Lose Health Insurance Under Affordable Health Care Act



BOSTON, MA (PRWEB) May 26, 2017
On May 24, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the amended American Health Care Act (AHCA), which narrowly passed the U.S. House on May 4, would result in 23 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026 as compared with what would be expected under continued implementation of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
"It is clear from the CBO analysis that the amended Republican health care plan is no better than the original bill," said Sean Cahill, Director of Health Policy Research at The Fenway Institute. "Of the 23 million Americans projected to lose their health insurance under the GOP healthcare bill, children, older adults, and other vulnerable populations--including people living with HIV and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people--would be disproportionately affected."
The ACA greatly expanded access to health insurance by permitting states to cover more residents through Medicaid, an insurance program funded jointly by the federal government and states that covers low-income people and those in need, including children and people with disabilities. The ACA also allowed for immediate coverage of those living with HIV via Medicaid without first requiring a diagnosis of AIDS.
The Medicaid expansions that have taken place in 32 states and the District of Columbia under the ACA have been crucial for expanding access to health insurance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, people living with HIV (PLWH), and Black and Latino people. Between 2013 and 2015, the rate of uninsurance among lesbian, gay, and bisexual people decreased from 22% to 11%. Between 2012 and 2014, the rate of uninsurance among people living with HIV decreased from 22% to 15%. During the same time period, uninsurance among Blacks was nearly cut in half, from 19% to 11%, while among Latinos it fell from 30% to 21%.
The bill passed by House members on May 4 would also permit states to opt out of ACA provisions that mandate coverage for preexisting conditions and essential health benefits such as cancer screenings. The CBO analysis found that premiums in states opting out of the ACA regulations would be 10 to 30% less expensive than they are now because health insurance companies would not be compelled to insure people with preexisting conditions equally or to provide coverage for essential health benefits. The CBO warned, "People who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under the current law, if they could purchase it at all."
Additionally, the CBO estimates that premiums for older adults would skyrocket under the AHCA. A 64-year-old American with an annual income of $26,500 should expect to see their health insurance premiums rise from $1,700 a year under the ACA to between $13,600 and $16,100 a year under the AHCA.
"The American Health Care Act would make it much more difficult for people with pre-existing health conditions such as HIV, as well as older Americans, to obtain health insurance that is affordable," Cahill added. "The CBO score confirms our earlier analysis that the American Health Care Act will make it harder to obtain coverage for health care, not easier."
For more information, please see the following policy briefs:
Since 1971, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway's Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless; struggling with substance use; or living with HIV/AIDS. In 2013, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts joined the Fenway Health family, allowing both organizations to improve delivery of care and services across the state and beyond.

What To Do If You Re Being Bullied at Work Because of Who You Are



(Orinally published on VICE)

Peter Bryan Torres worked happily at a prominent New York City museum for ten years – one that you and your family have probably visited. But that all changed after a new boss came into the picture and found out Torres was HIV positive after an incident forced him to miss work and become hospitalized.
From then on, he says, it was slamming doors, banging cabinets, and dramatically inching up against the wall when Torres walked past to indicate that he was someone “at risk for infection.” All of this, in addition to making discriminatory comments. When Human Resources allegedly failed to look into and address the matter, he decided to take legal action. His lawyers at The Harman Firm LLP say that Torres’s lawsuit is, unfortunately, just one of many workplace discrimination cases they’re handling this year. One of the firm’s lawyers, Edgar Rivera, says that while our awareness of discrimination is, in general, much higher today than it was a few years ago, and young people especially are tuned in to pick up on unequal treatment.
The changing nature of the workplace and the continued struggle for people to hold onto the human and civil rights they’ve gained in recent years leads us to believe that we need more information on how to best navigate and protect our rights in the workplace, and how we can take action to address any sort of harassment or mistreatment on the premise of one’s sexual orientation or identity. There is no law prohibiting a person from having racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted opinions, and no law exists that requires an employee to believe that all people are equal or deserve equal rights, or to punish people for having prejudiced or backwards beliefs about racial minorities, women, people with disabilities, gay people, transgender people, or any other group that anti-discrimination statutes protect. “The law only prohibits an employer acting on those biases, whether in making employment decisions, for example, the decision to fire or demote an employee, or in their treatment of employees,” Rivera said. “In other words, as far as employment discrimination laws are concerned, people are legally free to be as racist, sexist, or homophobic as they want to be in their homes or elsewhere: they just can’t bring it into the office.” Jerame Davis, Executive Director of Pride at Work in Washington, DC. says that lawmakers often claim LGBTQ harassment and discrimination do not exist, because “so few people who are subject to these things end up speaking out.” In 1999, Davis says, he and two other men were fired for being gay, and happened to live in one of only four cities in Indiana at the time that had protections against LGBTQ discrimination. Due to state law, however, compliance was voluntary. There is no law prohibiting a person from having racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted opinions, and no law exists that requires an employee to believe that all people are equal or deserve equal rights.
“When the company refused to acknowledge our complaint, rather than walk away, we fought back. We waged one of the first online campaigns for social justice, which we won, becoming the first, and possibly still the only, LGBTQ discrimination case settled for a monetary award in the state of Indiana,” Davis said. However, the agreement they signed included what Davis calls a gag order that prevented them from discussing the case for years—ultimately, until the company went out of business. “The other thing that happens is that so many people just don’t want to talk about their experience. It’s usually embarrassing to folks to admit they were discriminated against or harassed. Not only do you have to come out as LGBTQ in a public fashion, but you may also have to admit you were fired from your job. That’s a tough hurdle for many people,” Davis said. For reasons like this one, Rivera advises that if you experience discrimination in the workplace, you bring it to your employer’s attention and take care of yourself by seeking professional help to treat mental and emotional wellness. “Just like after a car accident, the best advice is to seek treatment immediately. Experiencing discrimination and harassment is incredibly difficult; it can be extremely stressful, emotionally exhausting, and even traumatic,” he says, “You just don’t know how you may be affected until much later, and you can prevent a lot of harm by catching things early.” Even before that,though, he cautions people to read over their contracts carefully.
“People are always excited to start new jobs and often ignore the mountain of documents received during onboarding. They shouldn’t. These documents often include essential information about how to deal with discrimination and harassment.” Even in unionized workplaces with strong nondiscrimination and anti-harassment protections, LGBTQ discrimination still happens frequently; recently, the most pervasive issue his organization has been seeing is contention over bathroom access for those who are gender non-conforming. In fact, Davis says, only 19 states, the District of Columbia, and a number of cities and counties have put up protections for LGBTQ working people in place.
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“For some reason, there are a lot of people who are totally onboard with nondiscrimination in housing, employment, and even public accommodations, like being served at restaurants and retail stores, but when the question of bathroom access is brought up, they are adamantly opposed to protecting a person’s right to use the bathroom that best fits their gender identity,” Davis said.
The other issue that is unfortunately prevalent, he says, is harassment in the form of anti-LGBTQ comments or “jokes” at the expense of queer folks, and inappropriate questions. “In many cases, even with employers who offer appropriate protections, managers will neglect to intervene when an LGBTQ employee is being harassed or bullied,” he said. “I would be wary working for any company in 2017 that doesn’t explicitly list sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.”
If you’re already actively working in a specific position, he says, be sure to document anything that doesn’t feel right, and do it in writing, with as much detail as you can – including with whom you’ve spoke, what the content and context of the conversation was, how you feel you were mistreated, the names of any witnesses, and, of course, time and date. “If an employee doesn’t complain about discrimination, then, as far as the employer is concerned, it isn’t happening. It’s amazing what people will conveniently manage to ‘forget’ about witnessing after a lawsuit is filed,” he said. “And while an employee might think that his or her coworkers will stand up and testify about discriminatory conduct, the fact is that many employees aren’t willing to risk their jobs by doing so and will simply say whatever their employer tells them to.” Despite how far we may have come, it seems that the times are indeed lending themselves to a backwards crawl into ignorance and intolerance, even in the most liberal of cities. Then, you must decide if and when the time is right to take action: next steps will depend greatly on state and local law, company policy, and any existing contract language. “If the situation progresses and management refuses to address the situation, you have very limited options going forward,” Davis says. “Once you speak up about a situation, you should be prepared to leave your position, either voluntarily or involuntarily. In cases of harassment, for example, it’s often the case that one party or the other separates from the employer. It’s not always the victim who gets to stay. However, sometimes, the situation you’re up against is affecting others in the workplace similarly.” Despite how far we may have come, it seems that the times are indeed lending themselves to a backwards crawl into ignorance and intolerance, even in the most liberal of cities.
Barbara Belmont , a volunteer at the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals in New York City, says that despite working in a state where it is illegal to discriminate against
people for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, she has recently witnessed displays of hate. And even though harassment and bullying in the workplace is less common these days, she says many young people are still afraid to be “out” at work. “Well-intended people in positions of power have warned them to ‘be careful.’ I say, bring your whole true self to the table,” Belmont said. “Let your coming out happen organically or make an announcement, or find a way to come out in your job interview to test the water. If you don’t get hired because you are LGBTQ, did you really want to work there anyway?” Her best suggestion for protection is to use the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index to discover which of the larger companies have the best ratings, seek employment with companies with inclusive Equal Employment Opportunity policies, Employee Resource Groups for LGBTQ people, trans-inclusive insurance benefits, and a corporate culture committed to diversity and inclusion. Ultimately, Rivera says, if your employer doesn’t adequately address a complaint about discrimination, speak to a lawyer who specializes in plaintiff’s-side employment law; every case is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution: you have to obtain specific and personalized advice. “When someone is sick, they know that they should go to a doctor and that searching Google or WebMD isn’t going to accurately diagnose the problem. People should view getting legal advice in much the same way,” he said. “It’s not enough to talk to your aunt the divorce lawyer. Go speak to a lawyer who specializes in this work, the sooner the better. It’s amazing the amount of comfort you’ll get from a 30-minute consultation with a professional who is experienced in employment discrimination law.”




A Gay Football Player Writes Essay For Out Sports






“A gay football player," writes Wyatt Pertuset in an essay on gay-football-player for Out Sports. "Even today it seems to be something very rare in the game.”

Pertuset is a wide receiver for the Capital University football team, and while homophobic incidents involving athletes are still far too common, Pertuset says his experience as an openly gay football player has been overwhelmingly positive.

Before coming to Capital, Pertuset was a star player at North Union High School in Richwood, a small community in northern Union County. He says he had no intention of coming out until after college.

“But my junior year (of high school), after the season had ended, I had told possibly the wrong person," Pertuset says. "The wrong person actually let it get to the wrong people. Rumors started to spread. The next day, I just came out and said, ‘You know what, there’s nothing I should be scared about. This is me.’”

All of his worrying, Pertuset says, was for naught. Classmates and teammates were supportive and encouraging. His senior year, he was voted a team captain, student body president, homecoming king and prom king.
As for his time on the Capital team?
“College has actually been 10 times better," Pertuset says.
Initially, Pertuset says he didn't want to make his sexuality a big deal in the locker room.
"Within two days, everyone knew and everyone was so accepting," Pertuset says. "I got so much good feedback from everyone on the team and the coaches and the friends I’d made at Capital already.”

Pertuset is listed on the Capital roster as a wide receiver, but he made an impact in his freshman year as a punter. The 19-year-old was called into duty after an injury to the starting punter, and did an admirable job in making 38 punts, including two over 50 yards.

Pertuset expects to be the starting punter in 2017 while also catching some passes at wide receiver.
Despite stories like Pertuset’s, openly gay college and professional football players are still pretty rare, though it’s become more common at smaller schools. By far the best-known example of a player coming out is Michael Sam, the former University of Missouri defensive end named 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

But even Sam waited until after college to come out.
“Even today, there’s still locker room talk about, ‘Oh, this is gross,’ or, ‘Oh, this is so wrong.’" Pertuset says. "You don’t ever hear about how uplifting the stories are that you see, like Michael Sam and Jason Collins.”

Jason Collins was a professional basketball player who in 2014 became the first openly gay player in any of the country’s four largest professional sports league.
When asked why he thinks many players are still scared to come out, Pertuset paused before answering.

“I think it’s a masculinity thing,” he says. “Like once you come out, it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s going to be easier to go against him. He’s just this fragile person. He’s just gay.’ So that just made me push harder to be a better football player just to show that an LGBT community member can show up and play the greatest they can.”

Trump in Europe Shows Zero Stamina, Falls Apart in Brussels


Click for video

(      The bull in the China shop              )





Losing, showing zero stamina and falling apart in the final days of his first “world-tour”, he has not quite started World War III, but is getting much closer.
Light assaults of other world leaders, first person to make Pope Francis show a ‘sad face’ so far, and other achievements of Boss Baby's first trip abroad as "the President"…
Emmanuel Macron may not be the largest fan of Donald Trump, and today he indicated it quite clearly. 

As the man approached the NATO leaders for their unveiling of the Article 5 and Berlin Wall memorials, Trump appears ready to shake hands or receive Emmanuel. Almost comically, Emmanuel pivots slightly, dodging Donald as he warmly greets Angela Merkel first. 
Donald Trump is “left hanging” with his hands open, body language suggests betrayal as he holds both hands outwards, empty, before remembering he is on camera, and the President of the United States.

Later that day, the two leaders had a ‘working lunch’, afterwards there was your usual photo-opportunity… Clearly, Emmanuel has been doing his homework, and was all prepared for Donald’s notorious grabby-hands… 
With a mischievous grin, Macron has ‘won’ this encounter. Donald Trump seems to wince in pain, and as soon as their handshake begins it is clear who is the stronger-man. Trump seems to be trying to escape the death-grip, but the French President is not letting go… He holds on for about 4-5 seconds too-long as Donald screams inside, before his sense of compassion lets the grumpy old man go. 
5 stars, will watch this on loop, and subscribe.
Later on, making an incredibly ignorant speech; one that Vladimir Putin must be very pleased with, decrying the “money that other countries owe” the United States in his errant understanding of the North Atlantic Treaty. 
“These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the Alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations, for 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense.
This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.  And many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years.  Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined.  If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of their GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense and for the financing of additional NATO reserves.” — Donald Trump


Not to finish on a sour note, Donald Trump shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro; Duško Marković aside as he spitefully forced his obese frame through the NATO leaders and heads-of-state… 

Duško was diplomatic about the incident, and pretended to not mind at all; stating that “it is natural” to reporters after the summit. He took the time to thank Trump for supporting the relatively small republics new membership into NATO…

I had predicted that his behaviour would slowly decline each day Donnie is away from his golden-toilet and favourite toilet-bed, and it has played out as expected… 
Highlights such as: Making the Pope sad, Melania’s hilarious hand-rejections, and “bullying” or egotistical actions were all quite predictable, yet still shameful for the leader of the United States to display. An incredibly stupid man, with far too much responsibility to handle… 

How much longer can the citizens of the free-world stand this circus act?
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By Stirling Campbell

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