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  1. Mitsuru
    Hey, everyone. Thought I'd provide our fellow group-goers with some news. I don't know how often I will be able to update this, but I'll try to whenever I come across something pertinent. Feel free to join in, though.

    3 Russians Injured in Attack on Moscow Gay Club

    MOSCOW October 12, 2012 (AP)
    Masked men stormed a gay club, injuring three people in what independent monitors say was the seventh violent attack against gays reported this year.

    Police said they were scanning security camera footage of the Thursday night attack to identify the attackers, whose faces could be seen briefly before donning their masks and hoods.

    A young woman was hospitalized with broken glass in her eye, Moscow police said.

    The attackers wearing medical masks and hoods broke in the 7 Freedays club late Thursday during a "Coming Out" party, the club's art director Viktoriya Soto said Friday. The attack appeared to have been well-organized and that the attackers were "especially aggressive" toward women, she said.

    Russia's leading gay rights campaigner expressed skepticism about the officials' resolve to combat hate crimes against gays and lesbians. Russia has no legislation specifically defining hate crimes against any group, and three cities, including St. Petersburg, have recently passed laws laws imposing fines of up to $150,000 for providing minors with information on homosexuality, which the laws term "homosexual propaganda."

    "Those who stand behind it have apparently tried to find an excuse for a ban on gay propaganda" in Moscow, Nikolai Alexeyev said.

    Alexeyev pointed out that the attacks follow calls by Russia's dominant Orthodox Church to ban gay clubs and make the anti-gay laws federal.

    Although homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993, discrimination against gays remains strong in Russia. Attempts to hold gay pride events have provoked violence by police and militant Orthodox activists.

    Russian hate crimes monitor Sova reported six attacks on gays this year, but said the real number is much higher since many attacks are unreported due to the stigma.

    I'll post a positive story soon (within a few days).
  2. Dashie
    Oh wow.. that's awful.
  3. Mitsuru
    Orlando Cruz becomes first openly gay man in boxing

    • Cruz: 'I have always been and always will be a proud gay man'

    • Featherweight boxer says he wants to be true to himself

    Orlando Cruz from San Juan, Puerto Rico and ranked the No4 featherweight by the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) has openly admitted his is "a proud, gay man".

    He added: "I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career I want to be true to myself. I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud, gay man."

    Cruz began boxing at the age of seven and posted an amateur career record of 178-11. He won seven Puerto Rico titles and spent four years in the national team, winning seven gold medals, one silver and two bronze in international tournaments. His amateur career culminated as a representative of the 2000 Olympic Team in Sydney where his team-mates included the former world champions Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon.

    Cruz made his professional debut on 15 December 2000 and won his first world title on 22 March 2008 (the IBA featherweight title) and a regional title on 14 October 2011 (the WBO Latino featherweight title).

    His next fight is scheduled for 19 October at Kissimmee in Florida, where he will defend the WBO NABO title against Jorge Pazos and when a win would put him in a position for a world-title shot.
  4. Mitsuru
    Cruz's next fight is supposed to be today, for anyone interested.

    Will Young is not alone. Inflicted shame still damages many gay people
    With gay marriage opponents on the march, Young's comments highlight how lives can be blighted by negative attitudes

    Will Young has said in a recent interview that he struggled with the shame of being gay to the point where it negatively affected his relationships and led him, for a time, to become addicted to porn.

    It might seem anachronistic that Young, who has gone some way to helping some people feel better about themselves, should feel such powerful shame about his sexuality. After all, he's grown up in more tolerant times. Everything should be hunky dory, right?

    Wrong. At the same time as opponents of equal marriage set out their stall at Conservative party conference, Young has touched upon something that is incredibly common among LGBT people – internalised shame.

    Shame inflicted on gay people, especially when growing up, can lead to all sorts of compulsive behaviour. These are problems that are by no means exclusive to gay people, but for which the process of growing up gay provides fertile ground.

    Imagine if a straight man or woman grew up hearing from everyone around them that sex and relationships were wrong, dirty and sinful. Imagine that religious leaders, politicians and their parents told them that the relationships were of no value; that some people hated them so much they might attack you on the street for it. Imagine if even as an adult most of the relationships they saw came in the shape of porn and that porn was the one channel for feeling good about themselves and their sexuality.

    Many gay people will dismiss the idea of shame that lingers into adulthood, but the negative messages are so pervasive, we aren't even aware they are embedded in us. Even the simple act of saying goodbye to a loved one at a bus stop can trigger low-level shame – do we kiss goodbye with a peck on the cheek? Is it safe, is the other person OK with it?

    As with the consumption of alcohol and drugs, processes such as watching porn, masturbation and sex can become addictive. Essentially they work in the same way: something major in your life makes you feel shame, so you turn to drink, masturbation, sex, whatever, to make yourself feel better. It works for a short time but then you get a hangover of guilt on top of the nasty feelings you were trying to get away from in the first place. That's how the cycle is perpetuated.

    These issues have remained hidden among gay people for years. The gay scene, like the rest of society, can barely comprehend that you can have too much sex, but self-help groups such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous have disproportionately high numbers of gay people as members. These men and women are not trying to stop themselves from being homosexual, but trying, like everyone else who uses them, to get a handle on the type of sex they are having.

    In the week Ann Widdecombe and her hardhearted friends – including the former archbishop of Canterbury – have come out in force with such zeal to demand that couples in love should not be able to get married, it is an overwhelmingly positive thing that people like Young acknowledge the damage they and their type have done and continue to do to us. It's only once we have this discussion that we can begin the process of healing.
  5. Mitsuru
    Napolitano's same-sex couples directive: a milestone in immigration justice
    Until now, even legally married gay couples were discriminated against in immigration cases. Meaningful reform begins at last

    Things seemed grim, last fall, for John Brandoli, a US citizen in Massachusetts, and his Trinidadian husband, Michael. Though their marriage was recognized by the state, it did not come with the benefit they most urgently needed. Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), John could not sponsor Michael for a green card.

    As a result, Michael was facing deportation to Trinidad, one of the most dangerous places in the hemisphere for gay people. Michael's American husband and mother-in-law were very anxious when they called my organization, Immigration Equality, for help. Our team – which talks to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants every day – mounted a media and advocacy campaign to stop Michael's deportation. Thanks to his determined family, and the support of Senator John Kerry, he won.

    In August 2011, the Obama administration had announced that couples like Michael and John shouldn't have to pull out all the stops to stay together. The administration pledged to review pending deportation cases and grant "prosecutorial discretion" to those who had committed no crime and could show equities like ties to an American family. When the administration described the plan on phone calls with press, advocacy groups, and congressional staffers, they stated clearly: "We consider LGBT families to be families in this context."
    This was a watershed. The American immigration system had never considered LGBT families like John and Michael to be families in any context. Until 1990, LGBT foreigners could be barred from entering the US entirely. America's immigration system is based on family unification, but gay families don't count.

    Bitterly, many gay immigrants feared even revealing their relationship with a US citizen. If they did, it could be used against them by immigration officials as evidence they planned to overstay a visa. (Ironically, a genuine commitment is precisely what a straight couple needs to show to be granted a green card based on their relationship.) If an LGBT immigrant does overstay, they fall into a netherworld in which getting a paycheck or opening a bank account becomes impossible. An undocumented person is at risk of being arrested, even if her only crime is staying with the person she loves.

    After years of hiding, how would someone who qualified for prosecutorial discretion know they should tell the government about their family? How would they prove their relationship if living in one of the 44 US states that forbids gay couples to marry, or one of the 31 that doesn't even offer domestic partnership?

    Immigration Equality's lawyers heard these questions from all over the country. We heard from couples whose lawyers didn't know to say they were gay. We heard from others who asked for discretion, only to be told by officials that no gay-inclusive policy existed. John and Michael's initial request for discretion was denied, even though Michael met all the criteria.

    So, we pressed the administration to put its promise in writing.

    A month after the initial announcement, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York, and 67 other members of Congress wrote to department of homeland security (DHS) secretary Janet Napolitano to ask for written guidelines, on the grounds that:

    "Without specific guidance, it is unlikely that [those] making decisions about individual cases will be aware that LGBT family ties are a factor for consideration."

    When DHS issued written guidance, it did not mention LGBT families, and Napolitano's written response to the members' letter was vague. This summer an even larger group of lawmakers wrote to Napolitano again, saying:

    "It would be beyond senseless to see LGBT persons with family ties here in the United States deported simply because the affected persons, their attorneys, and/or ICE officials were unaware of DHS's verbal policy."

    On Thursday, Napolitano replied:

    "I have directed ICE to disseminate written guidance to the field that … 'family relationships' includes long-term, same-sex partners."

    Her move is an immediate help to LGBT people who are undocumented. It is the first time the immigration system will categorically recognize an American citizen's relationship with an immigrant as a positive factor in an immigration case.

    However, we are still a long way from equal access to green cards and other immigration benefits. There are several solutions to this problem, including repeal of Doma and passage of pending legislation that would equalize US immigration law.

    In the meanwhile, the administration could stop denying green card applications from married gay and lesbian couples, and instead, just put them on hold until the pending lawsuits that challenge Doma are decided by the US supreme court, likely by June. Until then, LGBT couples now have some protection because of Napolitano's directive. It's an important first step.
  6. Mitsuru
    Our duty to tell the truth about being gay in Uganda
    As the state demonises people for their sexuality, writers and artists must help to counter the hatred

    "We have more urgent problems than gays." "I don't care whether there are gays or not, whether they are killed or they live. I am not gay, why should it bother me?" "I am OK with gays as long as they stay gay from afar." "I don't want them killed, but I'm not going to get killed for gays either." Attitudes like these are commonly heard among my Ugandan compatriots. Two years ago my own attitude would not have been that different. I was among a section of Ugandan society that strongly believed the country had more pressing problems to address than the struggles of sexual minorities. Part of the reason for this is that I come from the Acholi ethnic group, which has endured a quarter of a century of war, and many of whom still live in fear of the rebel warlord Joseph Kony. We had our own tragedy: the fight for equality, dignity and restorative justice for the people of northern Uganda.

    But then, while I was writing a play about the war in northern Uganda, the LGBT cause chose me. I had never heard of homosexuality as a sexual orientation until 2009, when Uganda introduced its anti-homosexuality bill amid massive international protests. Hearing about it in that context made it very easy for me to believe that most of the negative things being said about gay people were true, such as that they were "recruiting" young high school students into the "practice" using materialistic enticement.

    But at the Sundance Theatre Lab, I found myself working with a scriptwriting mentor who was gay, and also creative, intelligent and generous. This made me reassess my understanding of homosexuality. I realised that the value of a human being is not measured by his or her sexuality. It also made me realise that one day I could wake up to find someone I loved being put to the noose and wouldn't be able to do anything about it. And all because I, like so many Ugandans, was in denial that anyone I knew could be gay. I felt changed, and I knew I wanted to do something. So I decided to write a play.

    I spent the better half of 2010 carrying out research. Among other things, I wondered about whether the concept of homosexuality existed in African culture. I also wanted to investigate the structured recruitment of children by the LGBT community. As I always do, I first consulted my reliable team of Acholi elders. They told me that gay men and women have always existed among the Acholi society and are commonly referred to as "obedo dako dako" (gay) and "obedo lacoo lacoo" (lesbian). They also acknowledged that the communal nature of the Acholi society forced many gay and lesbian people to conform to what was considered "normal".

    I also learned that what the government characterises as "recruitment" can also be seen as mentorship and compassionate protection. When a girl or boy is struggling with what they have been told are "abnormal" sexual attractions, it is tradition for members of the LGBT community to take them in and help them understand who they are. Through this counsel, these young people come to understand that there is nothing wrong with them.

    Whatever they are going through is normal. They are not alone.

    Equally important to my education, I found that sexual abuse by LGBT individuals was no more frequent than by heterosexual adults who abuse children.

    After this preliminary research, I contacted the LGBT community in Uganda for interviews, and was put in touch with Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, founder of the LGBT rights organisation, Freedom and Roam Uganda. At first Kasha was wary: why did I want to write a play about them? I told her that I believed we Ugandans can sometimes over-react to hearsay, when we should do careful research and get concrete, balanced information. Soon after, Kasha organised the interviews that helped me develop my play. I hope that audiences will not only be moved by the story but inspired to help us bring the play and educational campaigns to Uganda and the other countries – 78 in total – where it remains a crime to be gay. In five of these nations, as will be the case if Uganda's anti-homosexuality legislation passes, death is the ultimate penalty.

    Will Uganda ever experience a moment of dramatic change or reverse on this issue? I don't know. Perhaps most people will never have the awakening that I did. So long as they don't, thousands of LGBT people will continue to live in fear of being themselves. But, we the writers and artists, no matter how late we join the battle, will be alongside them in their fight, if armed only with a pen.
  7. Bikini Miltank
    Bikini Miltank
    Unfortunately, efforts to further enshrine discrimination in Ugandan law are being aided and encouraged by the US religious right. See Scott Lively, a former bigwig of the AFA, who gives speeches in Uganda claiming that gay people were responsible for the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. These anti-gay laws also received tacit support in this year's Republican party platform, insofar as they opposed the current administration's policy of pressuring Uganda to change them.
  8. Jo The Marten
    Jo The Marten
    Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin becomes first openly gay U.S. senator

    Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay U.S. senator on Tuesday, defeating popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson after an expensive and contentious race.

    Baldwin will take over for Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl, who is retiring after four terms in office.

    She is also Wisconsin’s first woman senator.

    "Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin's first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member," Baldwin said during her victory speech. "But I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference."

    Baldwin said she would head to Washington prepared to fight for “Wisconsin’s middle class.”

    Baldwin, 50, is a political veteran. She spent seven terms in the House before launching her Senate bid. The race against Thompson had been close and costly. Between them, the two candidates raised some $65 million.

    Republicans had hoped to make gains in Wisconsin, a usually reliably Democratic state. A Thompson win would have given Republicans two Senate seats there for the first time since the 1950s.

    The state also re-elected President Barack Obama over a Republican ticket with native son Paul Ryan in the vice presidential slot.

    Baldwin defeated Thompson 51% to 46% with 78% reporting.

    Read more: Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin becomes first openly gay U.S. senator - NY Daily News
  9. Pokelova
    Later today will be the second reading of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill in New Zealand, which will legalise same-sex marriage (and also I think there's something about adoption too). The first reading was on 29 August 2012, and it passed 80/40. If it passes this second reading, it can have a third reading in May. If the third reading is successful, we may have marriage equality by September! So yeah, I'll be watching it live on Parliament TV, and I'll let you know the final result.
  10. Bittersweet
    That's awesome! GOOD LUCK, NZ! Also, holy shit you beat Australia? My home country needs to pick up its game if AMERICA beat them to legalising same-sex marriage in some areas...
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