The Russian LGBT Network Says Its Beginning Evacuation Efforts For Chechen Victims

As earlier reported, it appears that that Chechnya is ramping back up the intensity of its gay purge. A recent report found that 40 LGBTQ people have been detained in the Russian territory and two are reported as dead.

But thankfully, the Russian LGBT Network is already working to help those in need.

The Russian LGBT Network is an LGBTQ rights organization that helped several Chechen people escape from persecution and genocide since the purge was first reported.

Now, the organization says that it’s working to rescue the reported victims from December.

Igor Kochetkov, the executive director of the Russian LGBT Network, says that "the information sources reported that the new wave of detentions started in the end of December 2018. Now we know that they started to detain already in the beginning of the month. Moreover, now we know that there are a few places where people suspected of being homosexual are detained. One of them is the police office of Zavodskoy district of Grozny. Once again, it proves that all the detentions, tortures and murders are committed by the law enforcement officers.”

The Russian LGBT Network also confirmed reports of increased violence and torture for LGBTQ citizens in the country. This includes the extension of persecution to women and not just men. The prisoners are then bullied with acts like being forced to crossdress while officers call them names and being sodomized by an electric shock stick.

“They did not feed us. Sometimes they gave us some water, dirty water that was left after mopping. They gave us clean water only for prayer,” – one of the survivors says.

Now that the Russian LGBT Network has a better idea of where victims are being held, they have a better chance of rescuing them. (Though, perhaps announcing rescue efforts will make their plans backfire).

No matter what, we’ll keep you updated on the situation in Chechnya.

TV Host Sentenced To One Year Hard Labor For Interviewing Gay Man

A television host in Egypt has been fined $167 and sentenced to a year of hard labor for the crime of interviewing a gay man.

According to the BBC, Mohamed al-Ghiety interviewed a gay man in 2018 about his life as a sex worker. In the interview, the man (who was not identified) says he has regrets about being gay and working as a prostitute.

A lawyer, Samir Sabry, sued the TV host for appearing to promote possible monetary gains from “practicing” homosexuality. Sabry has a history of targeting celebrities via lawsuits says the BBC.

Ghiety, who ironically has a history of homophobic comments, will also be under police surveillance for a year after his prison sentence.

Homosexuality is not specifically illegal in Egypt, but police often arrest folks suspected of being LGBTQ by using a 1961 law banning prostitution which criminalizes ‘habitual debauchery.’

At the time of the interview, the top governing organization for media - the Supreme Council for Media Regulation - banned the channel from airing for two weeks due to ‘professional violations.’

The media council has prohibited LGBTQs from being shown on television in the conservative country since an incident at a Cairo rock concert in 2017, where a rainbow Pride flag was waved in a rare exhibition of gay pride.

At the time, the BBC wrote, “The raising of rainbow flags at the concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila - whose lead singer is openly gay - on 22 September was a rare public show of support for the LGBT community in the conservative Muslim country.”

As a result of the images going viral, 32 men and a woman were detained by authorities. The BBC reported that five of those men had anal examination carried out on them.

For a bail bond of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($58US), Ghiety could appeal his verdict and remain free while he awaits the outcome of the appeal.

(h/t BBC - screen capture via YouTube; rainbow flag photo via Facebook/Rainbow Egypt)

Pastor Forced to Resign After Backlash Over Homophobic Sign

I've recently written about how a bigoted sign sparked protests outside of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in California. Because the backlash for the sign was so severe, Justin Hoke, the creator of the sign and pastor at the church, was forced to resign, according to The LA Times.

Hoke said in a Facebook post that he " was informed that essentially all but one couple in membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor of TBPC.” Another member of the church agreed to take over pastoral responsibilities. 

The sign created a lot of grief for the church, to which Hoke responded with he put the sign up too late because "a conservative mountain farming community is no longer a safe place to call sin, sin" and that he feels that there is no safe place for "real" Christians in the United States.

Despite Christians being probably one of the most protected classes in this country. 

Amelia Mallory, a resident of Lake Shastina where the church is located, said that she was shocked by the sign and said that Hoke was not open to the idea of removing the sign. She also said, “Even acknowledging that we live in a more rural, and generally a more conservative area — the fact that somebody thought that that would be accepted by our community was definitely surprising.” She also organized the Shastina Love Rally mentioned in my previous post. 

The rally organizers praised the congregation for being “willing to stand on their convictions.” I also praise the congregation, as I am aware of how difficult it might be to deliberate defy someone whom they trust.

It is nice to know that a small conservative community supports LGBTQ people, or at least won't tolerate homophobic language within their town or anywhere. Perhaps the congregation threatening to leave the church unless the homophobic pastor leaves is a good sign that people are realizing that homosexuality harms no one and should not be met with such hate. 

h/t: The LA Times

Backpedaling Ensues After National Outrage Over Evangelical Position on LGBTQ Protections

I've recently written about Mat Staver and the Liberty Counsel wanting to get LGBT protections removed from the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act and how their wishes most likely will not be granted. Luckily, Mat Staver and the Evangelical crew have now backpedaled on their position following outrage, according to LGBTQ Nation

Staver was opposed to the anti-lynching bill because he felt that because it mentions protections for LGBT people, that the bill included special rights for LGBT people themselves. He also claimed that this is the first time a federal law mentioned sexuality and gender identity, which is not true. Staver and the Liberty Counsel spoke to lawmakers to persuade them to remove mention of sexuality and gender orientation from the bill, effectively removing all protections for LGBT people.

But Staver has claimed fake news on this and said that these accusations (read: factual statements) are false reporting. Staver even says that the Liberty Counsel opposes "lynching across the board for any person. Period!” and said that his real issue with the law is that it limits the application of the law. 

He said that "Lynching should be prohibited no matter the person’s reason for committing this violent crime.” By saying that, he is showing that he doesn't understand the purpose for the bill. Lynching is already illegal (since murder has been illegal for a significant period of time) but its illegal status didn't discourage governments from promoting it. Just look at the Jim Crow era, which, relatively speaking was, somewhat recent. Black Americans were frequently lynched during that time and the US government let it slide mostly. 

Back to the topic at hand - adding protective language to the bill, whether it be protective of someone's sexuality and/or gender identity, race, or, yes, religion, will give the government incentive to persecute racist and homophobic people on the basis of them being racist or homophobic instead of continuing to ignore the fact that hate crimes exist.

Mat Staver is now changing his story by saying that he opposes the lynching of all people to really just save face because knowing his homophobic history and the group that he founded, I doubt he would mind if fewer LGBTQ people existed.

h/t: LGBTQ Nation, Justice.gov

Oxford Students Want Professor Fired For Writing Homophobic Papers

Over 400 students at Oxford University signed a petition to get John Finnis removed from his position as a law professor due to “a long record of extremely discriminatory views against many groups of disadvantaged people," according to The Guardian. 

A collection of Finnis' essays was published in 2011 which included a claim from a paper written in 1994 that said that homosexuality “never a valid, humanly acceptable choice and form of life” and that it is “destructive of human character and relationships" because "it treats human sexual capacities in a way which is deeply hostile to the self-understanding of those members who are willing to commit themselves to real marriage.” 

The petition calls for Finnis' removal because they feel that because a university is an institution of learning, not a place to fight against or be taught by a person who promotes hate. Finnis does not see his writing as containing any homophobic language. Instead, he says that "the 1994 essay promotes a classical and strictly philosophical moral critique of all non-marital sex acts and has been republished many times.” 

Alex Benn, one of the authors of the petition, said that Finnis' arguments are incorrect and have been discredited and that he wants Oxford University to be firm in their dedication to providing a safe space for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. 

h/t: The Guardian

Homophobic Church Sign Prompts Protests

A homophobic sign that was erected on the lawn of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Lake Shastina, California, sparked a protest across street by people who won't accept homophobia, according to LGBTQ Nation.

The sign reads “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still a sin. The culture may change. The Bible does not.” This caused quite the disturbance to the people of Lake Shastina, who protested outside of the church before services started at the "Shastina Love Rally." The purpose of the rally is to show the people of Siskiyou county accepts people of all sexualities. 

Justin Hoke, a pastor of the church and presumably the person responsible for the sign, said that he feels that the sign is necessary because it "rebukes sin." He also said that by displaying the sign, he is demonstrating a single truth: that God determines truth and culture does not. He feels as if the church has lost its "saltiness" and this sign will help it get it back. I can't see how a church being salty is really a good thing though...

It's nice to know that the majority of people (at least in Lake Shastina) won't stand for the homophobic and transphobic message that the sign so overtly displays. Maybe one day religious fanatics will realize that LGBTQ people aren't a threat to their religion.

h/t: LGBTQ Nation

Kevin Hart Gives An Apology That is Straight From the Hart About Past Homophobic Slurs

It’s been a long month for Comedian Kevin Hart. He has been under scrutiny after refusing to apologize after homophobic tweets resurfaced last month at the threshold of being offered to host the Oscars, but after push and pull in the media and several other comedians have come forward defending or opposing him, Hart has offered an apology.

Hart stepped down from hosting the event when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked him to publicly apologize if he wanted to continue hosting the awards show.



I know who I am & so do the people closest to me. #LiveLoveLaugh

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on

ABC News reports that during his latest SiriusXM show “Straight from the Hart” the comedian spoke about the past and how he has evolved and grown and arrived at a place where he can acknowledge his mistakes and move forward.

Hart spoke about the past homophobic slurs:

We thought it was okay to talk like that, because that’s how we talked to one another ... This is wrong now. Because now we’re in a space where I’m around people of the LGBTQ community, and I’m now aware of how these words make them feel, and why they say ‘That s--- hurt because of what I’ve been through.

He continued to share a HARTfelt commiseration:

The fight is the will and want for equality. I’m riding with you guys. I understand you. But in the fight for equality, that means that there has to be an acceptance for change. If you don’t want to accept people for their change, then where are you trying to get to the equal part? Where does the equality part come in? I don’t think it’s wrong for people to have their own personal beliefs. I think that in the times that we’re living in, we have to be understanding and accepting of people and change. Bottom line.

The show comes just days after Kevin Hart appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show where we learned that Ellen called the Academy to ask that they bring Hart back on as host after the fiasco. Ellen’s choice to support Hart perplexed the LGBTQ community. While the topic is sensitive to Ellen as a gay woman, she also believes that Hart has grown and can find value in the backlash that he has received.

The Academy has yet to find a replacement to host the 91st Annual Academy Awards on February 24th, but is it possible that Hart could be asked back?

h/t: ABC News


Anti-LGBTQ Pastor Leaves Position After Being Caught Sleeping With Prostitutes

Pastor Donnie Romero, a former pastor from Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas has removed himself from his position after it was discovered that he was soliciting prostitutes, using drugs, and gambling, according to Star-Telegram

Romero once called the victims of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre "scum of the Earth" in a sermon (I apologize, the video of the sermon has since been deleted, although it's best that you don't watch it). In the video, Romero referred to the victims as "sodomites," "pedophiles," and "perverts" and that he feels that the world is a better place now that they're dead and that when he heard that "several dozens of these queers" were in the ICU, he prayed to God that he would finish the job that Omar Mateen started.  After the sermon, a protest of about forty people gathered across the street and chanted "We are done with hate!"

Last week, he reached out the Stedfast and issued an apology and announced his resignation. In his apology, he admitted that he has been a terrible husband and father and has not been ruling his house well. He also said that he loves the Stedfast Baptist Church and his family, and his resignation is the best thing for his family and the church. His family will stay with the church. 

He also apologized to the people he has hurt with these actions and that he had wished that it did not get to such an extreme point. Steven Anderson, a pastor at Romero's former church in Phoenix said that Romero committed grievous sins, namely soliciting prostitutes. When Anderson found out about what Romero was doing, he reached out to Stedfast Baptist Church to help them get through this incident.

He said, "Churches frequently just cover things up... That is wrong. It’s sad how it makes Christianity look bad and Baptists look bad, but it’s not right to cover this up." While it is nice that he recognizes that this happens frequently, Pastor Anderson's sermons often contain hate speech. In one of his sermons, he suggested that people execute "the homos like God commands." He also had something similar to say about the victims of the Pulse Massacre, saying, “The good news is that at least 50 of these pedophiles are not going to be harming children anymore.” 

Well, I'm tired of writing about these horrible people because they don't deserve any attention. I can conclude, however, that I'm fairly certain that Romero only apologized and resigned because he was caught. I'm glad that he lost his job because his extreme homophobia shows that he should not be speaking to any groups of people, let alone an entire congregation. 

h/t: Star-Telegram, BBC

Japanese Lawmaker in Hot Water After Claiming LGBT People Would Cause Societal Collapse

A Japanese lawmaker is being criticized for saying that Japan would collapse if everyone suddenly became LGBT, according to Japan Times.

Katsuei Hirasawa, a member of Japan's Liberal Democratic party, made these remarks on Nippon News Network's national broadcast on Friday, and his comment quickly drew criticism from many people across social media networks. 

Hirasawa told people in the Yamanashi Prefecture that "criticizing LGBT would create problems, but if everyone became like them then a nation would collapse” and that he does not understand Tokyo's Shibuya Ward's move to recognize same-sex marriage, as at a national level, such marriages aren't legally recognized. 

His comment on societal collapse came because he and many other Japanese politicians are upset about Japan's low birth rate, and, presumably, Hirasawa believes that LGBT people do not produce a favorable outcome in terms of childbearing. Other politicians have felt the same way, such as Mio Sugita, another person belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party. She has said in the past that the Japanese government shouldn't be using the tax payer's money for LGBT rights because same-sex couples aren't productive. 

In this day and age and in a developed country such as Japan, LGBT people have many options in regard to having and raising children, so his comment about how if everyone became LGBT Japan would collapse is uninformed and misguided. Plus, it's not like The Gay can be transferred like a cold, so what he suggested is also ridiculous. It is a good sign, however, that some areas of Japan are recognizing same-sex marriages as valid unions because the sooner LGBT become accepted in society, the sooner comments like the ones Hirasawa and Sugita made will decrease. 


h/t: Japan Times

Two Hate Crimes Already Causing Attention in Chile at the Start of 2019

Movilh (Movement of Homosexual Integration and Liberation), Chile’s leading LGBTQ organization, has reported two horrific cases of homophobic attacks in the last week. In Spanish on their website, the organization shared the violent attacks which took place in the area of Porvenir de Magallanes and Laguna Verde de Valparaíso. The attacks have gotten the attention of local authorities and they are working to assist the victims.

One attack involved José David Muñoz Vargas (52), and one of his sex partners on January 1st. The incident was reported by his niece. The two were at the home of Muñoz Vargas and began being mocked and ridiculed for being gay by some guests in the home. A pot of hot water was thrown at them, but they escaped the attack. Muñoz Vargas was then locked in a bathroom and dunked in a tub with extremely hot water. He suffered bad burns on 22% of his body including his back, glutes, and one of his arms.

Rolando Jiménez, director of Movilh shared:

We are in contact with the relatives who tell us that this was a homophobic attack. We will continue to provide guidance and help in everything they wish in the face of this horrible and despicable fact. Here we must thoroughly investigate this abuse and apply the aggravation of the Zamudio Law against abusers

The Zamudio Law is a piece of legislation that was put in place to protect the LGBTQ community from violent crimes and discrimination. After the horrific murder of Daniel Zamudio in 2012, Chile saw a widespread outrage. Zamudio was attacked in a park in 2012 by four men who all received prison sentences. Zamudio was died after being hospitalized for 25 days according to Gay Star News.

On the same day as the Muñoz Vargas attack, in Valparaíso, a 24-year-old man was attacked in a suspected hate crime. The victim had been traveling in a car with his attackers when around 8pm they became violent and started insulting him for being gay. They drove the man to Laguna Verde where they began to beat and torture him reports Movilh.

Here they stomped on his genitals, burnt cigarettes on his hands, and hit him on the head with a rock. He blacked out soon after and woke up the next day disoriented and lost.

Diego Ríos, a representative for Movilh-Valparaíso expressed:

It is a sad situation that causes a lot of impotence. We call on local authorities to help victims of this type of abuse, to sensitize people about the LGBTI reality and to educate LGBTI youth about their rights and about the dangers they face, in order to prevent further abuses.

Both cases are still under investigation and Movilh is working to bring the attackers to justice.

h/t: Movilh, Gay Star News