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HRC protests against Trump, Putin before Finland summit

Presidents urged to condemn anti-gay Chechnya crackdown

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The Human Rights Campaign on July 15, 2018, projected an image onto the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, that urges U.S. President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to publicly denounce the crackdown against gay men in Chechnya. The two men met in the Finnish capital on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Ty Cobb/Human Rights Campaign)

The Human Rights Campaign on Sunday urged President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to publicly condemn the ongoing anti-gay crackdown in Chechnya during their summit in Finland.

The organization specifically projected onto the side of the Presidential Palace in the Finnish capital of Helsinki where the meeting took place on Monday slogans that read, among other things, “Trump and Putin: Stop the crimes against humanity in Chechnya” and “The whole world is watching.” The projections also urged Putin to “investigate LGBTQ persecution” in Chechnya and to “bring the perpetrators to justice.”

HRC Global Director Ty Cobb on Sunday also spoke during a protest against Trump and Putin that took place in Helsinki.

“Trump has unconscionably turned a blind eye to some of the worst anti-LGBTQ attrocities in a generation, including monstrous attacks on gay and bisexual men in Chechnya,” said Cobb in a statement that HRC released after the protest. “HRC is here in Helsinki to demand Donald Trump end his deafening silence, publicly condemn these Chechen crimes against humanity, and call on Putin to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The press release also included statements from Russian LGBT Network Chair Igor Kochetkov and Viima Lampinen, chair of Seta, a Finnish LGBTI advocacy group.
 
“Finland is known as a global leader in LGBTI rights, and the Trump and Putin administrations should learn from that example,” said Lampinen in the HRC press release. “LGBT Chechens are being deprived of their voice, their freedom and even their lives by state-sanctioned oppression and violence. Those of us who have a voice, particularly national governments that claim to support and defend human rights, have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, in April 2017 broke the story of the crackdown in Chechnya, which is a semi-autonomous Russian republic that is located in the North Caucusus.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert are among those in the Trump administration who have publicly condemned the crackdown. Putin and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a close Kremlin ally, have either downplayed or dismissed the reports.

Trump’s meeting with Putin took place three days after 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted on charges related to Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election. Media reports indicate upwards of 250,000 people took part in an anti-Trump protest in London on July 13, which coincided with his visit to the U.K. that included meetings with Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

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Canada

Eight jailed across Canada in anti-LGBTQ rallies against sex ed

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemns bigotry as counterprotests outnumber anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrators in most cities

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Protests sparked across Canada over gender policies in schools Wednesday, September 20, 2023. (Screenshot/YouTube CBC)

By Rob Salerno | OTTAWA, Canada -A highly coordinated series of anti-LGBT protests rocked more than 80 cities across Canada Wednesday, in a significant escalation of tactics by Canada’s anti-LGBTQ extremists.

The coordinated protests dubbed “1 Million March 4 Children” are demanding an end to discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in Canadian classrooms. They come as several Canadian provinces have enacted policies that require students to have parental permission to change their preferred name or pronoun used in schools, and shortly after the federal Conservative Party adopted a series of anti-trans policies at its national convention.

According to its website, 1 Million March 4 Children is calling for “the elimination of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) curriculum, pronouns, gender ideology and mixed bathrooms in schools.” The website also lists among its supporters numerous groups that were opposed to masking policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-vaccine groups, groups that promote conspiracy theories, and groups that support the truck convoys that laid siege to Ottawa and several US border crossings last year.

Protests happened from coast to coast, in big cities, suburbs, and small towns, but in most cases, they were met with coordinated counter-protests in support of LGBT rights who greatly outnumbered the protesters. 

CBC reported that counter-protesters numbered roughly double the anti-LGBT protesters in St. John’s, Newfoundland.  

Inclusive sex education has long been part of school curriculums in most provinces in Canada and has generally enjoyed support from all major political parties.

While the protests where mostly peaceful, at least four anti-LGBT protesters were arrested after getting into altercations with counter-protestors in British Columbia, and police advised that the protest in front of the provincial legislature had become “unsafe.”

Police in Nanaimo, BC tackled and arrested one man who attempted to flee after allegedly getting into a physical altercation at City Hall. Two protestors were also arrested in Victoria, BC as they demonstrated in front of the provincial legislature, and another protester was arrested in Vancouver, BC. Police in both cities did not provide additional information.

Ottawa police also arrested two protesters for allegedly inciting hatred and another for causing a disturbance in at the protest in front of Parliament.

And Toronto police arrested 47-year-old protester Julia Stevenson for allegedly bringing a weapon to the demonstration outside the provincial legislature. Police did not give further details about what kind of weapon she is alleged to have been carrying.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was at the UN General Assembly in New York, condemned the anti-LGBT protests in a tweet on X, formerly Twitter.

“Let me make one thing very clear: Transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia have no place in this country. We strongly condemn this hate and its manifestations, and we stand united in support of 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians across the country – you are valid and you are valued,” he wrote.

Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre did not put out any statement on the protests, nor did deputy leader Melissa Lantsman, who is openly lesbian and has previously spoken out on LGBT issues on behalf of the party. 

The leader of the left-leaning New Democratic Party Jagmeet Singh joined the counter-protestors who demonstrated in Ottawa and marched toward Parliament Hill.

“We know that there’s a lot of folks that don’t feel safe because of the rise in hate and division that’s targeting vulnerable people,” Singh told CTV. “But then you see a lot of people coming together, and it shows the strength of solidarity, of us supporting each other, of having each other’s back.”

Alberta Teachers’ Association President Jason Schilling says the protesters are part of a North America-wide movement fomenting hatred against queer people using misinformation and lies.

“Using ‘parental consent’ as camouflage, this rally was part of a coordinated strike across North America to promote misinformation, intolerance and hate toward the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as well as toward teachers who work to protect the safety and well-being of all students,” Schilling said in a statement.

In many cities, the anti-LGBT protests were officially condemned by mayors and school boards.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, who has publicly supported LGBT rights since the 1980s, issued a strong statement condemning the protests

“We stand against all forms of discrimination, hatred and bigotry, and for the safety and well-being of all young people. Some wish to target our schools and libraries to spread hate. We know these must be spaces that welcome everyone, especially students,” Chow wrote.

The city of Whitehorse, Yukon issued a statement condemning bigotry in advance of the protests.

“While the City supports people’s right to organize and protest, we stand by our 2SLGBTQIA+ community members and their right to live their true selves safely and free of harassment and hate. The promotion of anti-2SLGBTQIA+ ideas has no place in our community and messages that target fellow community members will not be tolerated,” the statement says.

However, the Premier of New Brunswick Blaine Higgs, who was the first to introduce a “parental consent” policy for trans students, joined the protesters in front of the provincial legislature in Fredericton. 

“I think our parents should become knowledgeable about what their kids are being taught and what is important for them to learn in schools and what’s important for parents to make decisions on with kids that are under 16 years old,” Higgs told reporters.

BC Conservative Party leader went further in a statement on the protests. While he says he doesn’t “officially” support the protests, if his party wins next year’s election, he promised to cancel the province’s sex ed curriculum and implied he would ban trans girls from sports.

Protests sparked across Canada over gender policies in schools:

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Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

In this first episode of the County’s new show “One on One,” we delve deeper into the issue of homelessness and talk with Cheri Todoroff, director of the Homeless Initiative. From encampment resolutions to new housing, she breaks down what’s driving the crisis and what County leaders are doing to address it.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Register to Vote

Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder reminds you to register to vote by visiting LAVOTE.GOV

Be sure to re-register if you change your name, address, or political preference. Check your voter registration online at LAVOTE.GOV/VRSTATUS

For additional information:

Voter registration for people experiencing homelessness

Voters with a criminal history

Pre-registration for voters under 18

At Your Service

Hiring Fair for Youth!

Looking for a job? Interested in exploring career options? Come to the first-ever Youth Expo for youth and learn about different careers and job opportunities that are available. Companies will be on-site to offer resources, discuss job opportunities, and provide feedback and valuable information on how to get hired! Don’t forget to bring several copies of your resume and right to work documents.

Date: Friday, September 29, 2023

Time: 10 am – 2 pm

Location: East San Gabriel Valley AJCC at Hacienda La Puente Adult School, 14101 E. Nelson Ave. La Puente, CA 91746

Out and About

Beach Clean Up

In celebration of Coastal Cleanup Day, LA County Beaches and Harbors is partnering with Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell and Heal the Bay to host a Beach Cleanup event at Dockweiler Beach. Our goal is to inspire and educate a new generation on how to create a more sustainable future!

Coastal Cleanup Day will also feature the following activities:

  • Can the Trash! booth
  • Traveling tidepool
  • Arts & crafts station with reDiscover Center featuring crafts made with recycled materials

EVENT DETAILS:

  • Date: Saturday, September 23, 2023
  • Time: 9 AM – 12 PM
  • Location: Dockweiler Youth Center, 12505 Vista del Mar, Playa del Rey, CA 90293
  • Parking: Free during event hours
  • RSVP: Click here to register

SAFETY: Be safe! Be sure to bring a hat, sunscreen, water, & refillable water bottle.

Beach Cleanup Rules/Guidelines:

  • All cleanup volunteers must print, complete, and submit a signed beach cleanup waiver form in order to join the cleanup.
  • Volunteers under 18 years old must have a waiver signed by parent or guardian.
  • Volunteers ages 12 & younger must be accompanied by an adult.

Gloves, buckets and trash pickers will be provided (while supplies last), but we encourage you to bring your own reusable cleanup supplies so we can reduce our environmental footprint.

Photo Finish

Photo: Los Angeles County / Mayra Beltran Vasquez

Library Fest at the Rowland Heights Library. There’s so much more to do at Library Fest! Check out all our events, locations, and info on this page.


Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood in brief- City government in action this week

Moving Image Media Art Program, One Institute’s Circa: LGBTQ+ Histories Festival, AIDS Walk Los Angeles, and more

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West Hollywood City Hall (Photo credit: City of West Hollywood/Jon Viscott)

Meet City’s New Community Development Director, Nick Maricich, & Executive Team

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood will host three in-person community meetings for residents and businesses to meet the City’s new Community Development Director, Nick Maricich, and the City’s Executive Team. Community Meetings are free to attend and open to the public; no advance RSVP is required. Meetings will provide an opportunity for community members to share ideas and provide feedback about all City departments and services, especially the Community Development Department. Meetings will take place, as follows:

  • On Tuesday, September 26, 2023 at 6 p.m. a Business-Focused Community Meeting will take place at West Hollywood City Hall in the Community Meeting Room, located at 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard.
  • On Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 1 p.m. a General Community Meeting will take place at the West Hollywood Aquatic & Recreation Center in the La Cienega Room, located at 8750 El Tovar Place.
  • On Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 6 p.m., a Resident-Focused Community Meeting will take place at West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard.

The City of West Hollywood’s new Community Development Director Nick Maricich has a successful history of furthering successful urban planning in the Los Angeles region. In his most recent role, Maricich served as Principal City Planner overseeing functions of the Citywide Policy Planning Division for the City of Los Angeles. He also served for five years as the Director of Planning Policy and Development for former City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He brings a wealth of experience in working with diverse Los Angeles neighborhoods in the areas of community planning and historic preservation. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Geography with a minor in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The City of West Hollywood’s Community Development Department is responsible for managing the City’s urban environment and creating a livable community that balances the needs of residents, businesses, property owners and visitors. There are three divisions within the City’s Community Development Department that assist in creating and implementing the community’s vision: Current and Historic Preservation Planning; Long Range Planning; and Building and Safety. For additional information about the City’s Community Development Department, please visit www.weho.org/city-government/city-departments/community-development-department

For more information about the meeting, please contact Christine Safriet, Assistant to the City Manager, at (323) 848-6467 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

Neighborhood Conversations in September to Discuss Laurel House & Park Renovation

The City of West Hollywood invites community members to attend the fourth and fifth Neighborhood Conversations about the renovation of Laurel House and Park. The Neighborhood Conversations will be led by the architecture consultant team from Page & Turnbull in partnership with consultants Kimberli Meyer and Sara Daleiden who are guiding the development of the Artist Residency Program for the cultural resource.  The meetings will offer an opportunity to preview initial designs and provide feedback on the architectural plan development for Laurel House and Park Artist Residency Program.

On Tuesday, September 26, 2023 there will be an in-person Neighborhood Conversation from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Plummer Park Community Center, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard in Rooms 5 and 6. Drop-in; no RSVP is necessary. On Wednesday, September 27, 2023 there will be a virtual Neighborhood Conversation session from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. via Zoom. Register in advance for this virtual meeting using the Zoom platform.

The City-owned real property at 1343 N. Laurel Avenue, known as Laurel House and Park, consists of a 30,000-square-foot lot, a 7,177-square-foot former single-family dwelling, and an unattached accessory structure that is approximately 2,379 square feet and consists of a chauffer’s cottage and garages. The original portions of the structures were built in 1917. The conversion of the original single-family residence into four apartment units and the southerly four-car garage addition were completed in 1941. The property was designated as a Local Cultural Resource by the City of West Hollywood in 1994.

In 2010, the West Hollywood City Council directed staff to develop a plan to open the grounds at 1343 N. Laurel Avenue as open space on a temporary/interim basis for public use. From 2013-2014, the City conducted an extensive community visioning process for the Laurel property. The community expressed support for several potential uses during the visioning process and prioritized several factors, including: access to more community gathering spaces; activation as an Arts and Cultural Center; maintenance and/or enhancements of the property’s use for peacefulness and beauty; preservation of the house and gardens, but activation through new features and programming; and, continued use for dog walking.

In 2018, the West Hollywood City Council received a report forwarded by the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission focusing on Artist-in-Residence programs, including consideration of the use of 1343 N. Laurel Avenue as a potential Artist-in-Residence site. This recommendation was forwarded to the Council Subcommittee for further review and consideration. In October 2022, in a feasibility study update, the City Council confirmed that the site should be used for arts and culture programs and it directed staff to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a qualified architectural design firm to continue the programming and design process. Page & Turnbull was awarded the architectural contract to begin schematic design development for the Laurel House and Park.

For additional information, please contact Alicen Bartle, City of West Hollywood Project Development Administrator, at (323) 848-6323 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood Presents Artists and Icons Featuring Tim Sullivan

The City of West Hollywood’s Artists and Icons series will host a film screening of the short documentary, Relighting Candles: The Tim Sullivan Story, followed by a conversation and Q&A with advocate, activist, and candlemaker Tim Sullivan moderated by director, producer, choreographer, and author Adam Shankman.

The event will take place on Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at 7 p.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. The event is free, but seating is limited. RSVP is requested via Eventbrite. Parking validation for the adjacent five-story West Hollywood Park structure will be available at the event (parking is limited to availability).

Tim Sullivan is a true West Hollywood hero. Ever since opening his candle shop in West Hollywood 25 years ago, Tim has employed people experiencing homelessness as well as newly sober people each December holiday season to help pour the thousands of candles ordered each year. Tim has been sober since 1981 and has never lost the spark to serve his community.

Relighting Candles: The Tim Sullivan Story is a short documentary by Zeberiah Newman and Michiel Thomas and executive-produced by Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy that chronicles the 82-year-old Sullivan’s inspiring journey from alcoholism to sobriety to employing unhoused and newly sober members of his community at Timothy Jay Candles.

The West Hollywood Artists & Icons series is a periodic event organized by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division that celebrates the lives and work of West Hollywood residents and artists who present their work in the City, and who have made significant contributions to local, national, or global culture. The series has previously focused on many local artists and icons including Lou Adler, Barbara Bain, Bette Davis & Mae West, Frances Taylor Davis, Dan Guerrero, and Michael McMillen.

For additional information about the Artists & Icons Series, please visit www.weho.org/community/arts-and-culture/about/west-hollywood-artists-icons.

For more information, please contact Joy Tribble, the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Specialist, at (323) 848-6360 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City Presents How To Hack Birth Control Screening and Q&A

The City of West Hollywood and its Women’s Advisory Board will present a free community screening of the award-winning digital series How to Hack Birth Control followed by a Q&A with the director and cast members and moderated by the City’s Mayor Pro Tempore John M. Erickson. The event will also include a reception, giveaways, and health information.

The event will take place on Saturday, September 23, 2023, at 4 p.m. at the City of West Hollywood’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. The event is free, but seating is limited. RSVP is requested via Eventbrite. Parking validation for the adjacent five-story West Hollywood Park structure will be available at the event (parking is limited to availability, alternative transportation is encouraged).

Directed and written by Sassy Mohen, How to Hack Birth Control is a digital comedy series about navigating and taking charge in today’s contraception universe, starring Garrison Oliver Gross, Lauren Elizabeth Harris, Aisha Renee Holden, Jackie R. Jacobson, Brooke Ashley Rose Johnson, Micaela Martinez, Xanthe Paige, Spring Inés Peña, Cynthia San Luis, and Dash Kennedy Williams. 

Told through the sharp wit and perky charm of the narrator Ruth, How to Hack Birth Control takes a run at a hit list of ‘not supposed to talk about,’ scenarios. How do you get the morning after pill quickly and for free? Where can you hide your birth control? How do you get your doctor to listen to you? All of the things women want to know but are taught to be too afraid to ask.  How to Hack Birth Control has been an official selection at more than 60 film festivals, including the Nashville Film Festival, the Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film FestivalNewFilmmakers LA, and Harlem International Film Festival, and has won 21 awards. 

For more information, please contact Larissa Fooks, the City of West Hollywood’s Community Programs Coordinator, at (323) 848-6413 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City of West Hollywood Recognizes September as National Recovery Month and Invites Community to the Van Ness Recovery House Carnival Celebration

The City of West Hollywood recognizes September as National Recovery Month, which started in 1989 and is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life. Recovery month aims to increase public awareness surrounding mental health and addiction recovery and celebrate the gains made by those in recovery. Recovery Month has adopted the theme of Every Person. Every Family. Every Community. as its permanent tagline. 

The observance of National Recovery Month reinforces the City of West Hollywood’s commitment to providing social services, health education, and information to community members in-need and to improve quality of life. The City contracts with several agencies to provide substance abuse, recovery, and health and mental health services. In addition to the City’s work with contracted agencies, the City works to educate and raise awareness about the dangers of substance use. 

On August 31, 2023, the City joined the recovery community in recognizing Overdose Awareness Day, a global event held annually to remember and memorialize the lives lost to drug overdoses and to promote awareness about the importance of overdose prevention. West Hollywood City Hall was lit in purple, the color of recognition for Overdose Awareness Day, and also participated by sharing #OverdoseAwarenessDay messaging in @wehocity social media.

The City of West Hollywood invites the community to attend the Van Ness Recovery House Carnival Celebration on Saturday, September 30, 2023, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Plummer Park’s Fiesta Hall and Great Lawn, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. In celebration of the Van Ness Recovery House’s 50th Anniversary, the ‘Carnival’ is being brought to the community to highlight the organization’s 50 years of work and service, and to recognize September as National Recovery Month. The Carnival is free and open to the community and will include food, games, and entertainment.  

The Van Ness Recovery House is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to meet the critical and expanding needs of the LGBTQ+ community through whole person care and integrated services that target drug and alcohol addiction, mental health concerns, and sexual health in a socially supportive environment. The 20-bed residential treatment facility opened in 1973 and was one of the first facilities to welcome people with HIV and AIDS into residential addiction recovery treatment.

Since its inception, the Recovery House has served thousands of individuals struggling with substance related disorders. The City contracted with the Van Ness Recover House beginning in 1992 and has referred thousands of community members and residents to the agency to receive services.

“The City of West Hollywood has made it an ongoing priority to address recovery services by providing funding for programming at a variety of agencies and by educating the public about substance use,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore John M. Erickson. “Congratulations to the Van Ness Recovery House for 50 years of amazing work and service to the community.”  

As part of its commitment to recovery services, the City of West Hollywood is working on next steps in the renovation of the historic Log Cabin building, which houses the West Hollywood Recovery Center (WHRC) on N. Robertson Boulevard. In late June 2023, the California State Legislature approved AB 102 Budget Act of 2023, which contains $1.15 million in appropriated funding to support the Log Cabin renovation project. On Monday, July 10, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 102 into law.

More information about the Log Cabin is posted here: www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/10917/23

The City of West Hollywood’s Human Services Division publishes a Substance Abuse Services Guide featuring information about addiction and recovery resources: www.weho.org/services/human-services/substance-abuse-addiction-recovery.

For more information about the City’s addiction and recovery resources, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Human Services Division at (323) 848-6510. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

For additional information about the Van Ness Recovery House’s Carnival Celebration, please contact Jasmine Duckworth, City of West Hollywood Community Programs Coordinator, at (323) 848-6559 or at [email protected]

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

AIDS Walk Los Angeles to Take Place in City of West Hollywood on Sunday, October 15

The 38th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles returns to West Hollywood Park, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard, on Sunday, October 15, 2023 beginning at 10 a.m.

Due to the AIDS Walk, there will be limited street and lane closures in West Hollywood. Drivers should expect delays and plan accordingly.

Street closures will occur as follows on Sunday, October 15, 2023:

  • N. San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Santa Monica Boulevard between N. Doheny Drive and N. La Cienega Boulevard: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Lane closures will occur as follows on Sunday, October 15, 2023:

  • Southbound lane at the intersection of N. La Cienega Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Both southbound lanes at the intersection of N. Doheny Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Both northbound lanes at the intersection of N. Doheny Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Westbound lane on Melrose Avenue between N. Robertson Boulevard and N. Doheny Drive will be limited to local access. (Vehicles will not be allowed to enter the intersection at N. Doheny Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard.)
  • N. Doheny Drive from Rangely Avenue to Melrose Avenue – (North side traffic will be diverted east on Melrose Avenue): 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • N. Doheny Drive from Carmelita Avenue to Santa Monica Boulevard – (South side traffic will be diverted West on Sunset Boulevard): 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

West Hollywood Park impacts will occur as follows on Saturday, October 14, 2023 and Sunday, October 15, 2023:

  • Basketball courts will be closed on Saturday, October 14 and Sunday October 15.
  • Dog parks will remain open on Saturday, October 14 with access via alternate gates.
  • Dog parks will be closed on Sunday, October 15 between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Dog park gates will reopen on Sunday, October 15 at 2 p.m. with access via alternate gates.

To avoid traffic and parking delays, event participants are encouraged to use alternative modes of transportation such as ride sharing services or Metro. Some public parking structures/lots will offer a limited amount of parking at the following locations for a fee on Sunday, as follows (please note that some locations are not immediately adjacent to West Hollywood Park):

  • Kings Road Parking Structure, 8383 Santa Monica Boulevard
  • La Jolla/Havenhurst Lot, 1043 La Jolla Avenue (metered)
  • Orange Grove Lot, 1114 N. Orange Grove Avenue
  • Spaulding Lot, 7718 Santa Monica Boulevard
  • Queens Lot, 8459 Sunset Boulevard
  • Sunset Lot, 8775 Sunset Boulevard
  • West Hollywood Park Five-Story Structure, 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard, enter from N. Robertson Boulevard/El Tovar Place (due to the N. San Vicente Boulevard closure).

AIDS Walk Los Angeles participants can hop on one of several Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) bus lines that connect to the City of West Hollywood, including: 4, 10, 30/330, 105, 212/312, 217, and 218. More information regarding lines is available at www.metro.net and Metro will post service advisories at www.metro.net/service/advisories.

AIDS Walk Los Angeles is the world’s first walk to fight HIV and AIDS and benefits APLA Health, which provides world-class LGBTQ+ empowering healthcare, HIV specialty care, food, housing, and other essential support services. 38 years ago, a group of fed-up activists, patients, advocates, and friends put their soles on the line to shake the government into action during the AIDS crisis.

Since that first Walk in 1985, hundreds of thousands of walkers and their supporters have raised more than $94 million to combat HIV and AIDS. These funds are a vital lifeline that sustains APLA Health’s programs and services benefiting more than 18,000 individuals living in Los Angeles County, which continues to have the second largest number of people living with HIV in the country.To register for AIDS Walk Los Angeles and for more information, please visit www.aidswalkla.org.

For more information, contact APLA Health by email at [email protected] or by phone/text at (213) 201-9255.

City of West Hollywood will Co-Sponsor the One Institute’s Circa: LGBTQ+ Histories Festival

The City of West Hollywood is a proud co-sponsor of the One Institute’s Circa: LGBTQ+ Histories Festival. The month-long festival will feature 70 programs throughout October beginning on Sunday, October 1, 2023 and ending on Tuesday, October 31, 2023. As part of the festival, 12 programs will be located in West Hollywood. Visit www.circafestival.org to view the schedule of events and to purchase tickets.

Circa’s unprecedented lineup honors LGBTQ+ History Month through thought-provoking exhibitions, readings, performances, panel conversations, and more, showcasing the trailblazing history and cultural contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. Festival programs spotlight the bold artistic talent of more than 200 community presenters representing every part of Los Angeles’ thriving arts and cultural landscape, from leading actors, writers, thinkers, filmmakers, and cultural organizations. 

Circa 2023 will open on Sunday, October 1, 2023 with the ONE Magazine at Seventy exhibition. This will highlight the story of triumph and courage surrounding ONE Magazine, the first nationally distributed LGBTQ+ magazine in the United States. Organized by One Institute, curated by One Archives at the USC Libraries, and co-presented with the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the event will start at 3 p.m. at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza, located at 1125 N. McCadden Place in Los Angeles.

Events in West Hollywood will begin on Wednesday, October 4, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. with Stories of Sex Work at The Mic at Micky’s, located at 8857 Santa Monica Boulevard. Other events in West Hollywood will include panel discussions, pop-up exhibits, lectures, and various workshops occurring throughout the month. More information and tickets for all events happening in West Hollywood can be found at West Hollywood – Circa (circafestival.org)

Participating organizations include the ACLU of Southern California, Celebration Theatre, Gender Justice LA, the Getty Research Institute, the Goethe-Institute, Lambda Literary, Museum of Neon Art, William Grant Still Arts Center, Williams Institute, and more. Program participants include groundbreaking actor Michael Kearns, Making Gay History podcaster and author Eric Marcus, Lambda Literary Awards winner Abdi Nazemian, pioneering cleric and activist Reverend Troy Perry, trailblazing photographer body artist Sheree Rose, cultural anthropologist Dr. Gayle Rubin, TransLatin@ Coalition founder Bamby Salcedo, founder of the Black AIDS Institute Phill Wilson, artist Dorian Wood, young artist and activist Mars Wright criminal defense attorney and civil rights activist Mia Yamamoto, and many more. 

Founded in 1952, One Institute is the oldest active LGBTQ+ organization in the country, dedicated to telling LGBTQ+ history and stories through education, arts, and social justice programs. One Institute serves as the independent community partner that supports ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California (USC) Libraries, the largest repository of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) materials in the world. One Institute’s mission is to elevate queer and trans histories and embrace emerging stories through collaborative education, arts, and cultural programs. Moreover, ONE Institute envisions a world motivated by social movements of the past to take action toward queer and trans liberation.

In addition to the festival, an exhibition in celebration of One Magazine’s 70th Anniversary will debut on Sunday, October 1, 2023 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Advocate & Gochis Galleries and Courtyard. Exhibition materials will highlight iconic artifacts from ONE Magazine’s history such as the October 1954 issue that became the focal point of the landmark Supreme Court case ONE, Inc. v. Olesen, which was the first in U.S. history to rule in favor of LGBTQ+ freedom of speech and expression. 

The curatorial and educational choices made by One Institute are guided by a commitment to social equity and justice. One Institute engages with the complexity of LGBTQ+ history and representation through highlighting the intersectional narratives of Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), women, gender-nonconforming and transgender people, people of various abilities, youth, and elders across all socio-economic classes.

To learn more about the One Institute, please visit www.oneinstitute.org.

West Hollywood Presents Go Tell It on the Mountain (Adapted 2023) by Artist Ray Anthony Barrett and Silent Homeless Lamp (2023) by Artist Iván Navarro

The City of West Hollywood proudly presents the next exhibitions in the Moving Image Media Art (MIMA) program. Go Tell It on the Mountain (Adapted 2023), a short film from artist Ray Anthony Barrett, will make its worldwide debut on the Streamlined Arbor billboard located at 9157 Sunset Boulevard, and will air at the top of every hour for 10½ minutes. Silent Homeless Lamp (2023), a short film from artist Iván Navarro, will make its debut at the Invisible Frame billboard located at 8743 Sunset Boulevard, and will air at the top of every hour, and 30-minutes past every hour for approximately five minutes. Both works will be on exhibition from Sunday, October 1, 2023, through Wednesday, January 31, 2024. 

MIMA is an ongoing exhibition series of moving image media artworks on multiple digital billboards at various locations along Sunset Boulevard. The goals of the MIMA program are to foster cultural equity, expand accessibility, inspire communication, and enhance the human experience of the Sunset Strip. 

Go Tell It on the Mountain (Adapted 2023) is Artist Ray Anthony Barrett’s months-long expedition across the majestic vistas of the western United States. An artist, writer, photographer, and chef, Barrett’s Homeric odyssey coalesced as his restaurant was scheduled to open the day California went into the COVID-19 lockdown. Go Tell It on the Mountain (Adapted 2023) is a Black man’s existential journey to erase the erasure of Colonialism, to reclaim agency around food security, and to reconcile his complex relationship with the land to which his history and existence are so inextricably linked.

Ray Anthony Barrett is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice encompasses filmmaking, photography, sculpture, and writing. He has presented his soul food popup Cinqué in collaboration with The Underground Museum, approaching the culinary project as an artistic undertaking. Barrett exhibited at the 2010 Dakar Biennial and has been profiled in the Los Angeles Times. He earned a BA from the University of Missouri in 2003 and an MFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2011. Barrett lives and works in Los Angeles. 

Iván Navarro uses the quotidian of the things we take for granted to illustrate how difficult it is to address a problem to which we are so willfully blind. As Navarro searches for an outlet, his fluorescent-bulb shopping cart (an ode to Dan Flavin on wheels) strolling through an affluent neighborhood, doesn’t receive a single glance. With Silent Homeless Lamp (2023), Navarro uses what has become the universal symbol of transience – a shopping cart – to allegorize our collective complicity and the draining of resources that it requires to address something that, if seen, could have been prevented. Navarro’s cart persists, lit with a blinding white glow. A beacon of hope, a lamp, to light the way for all.

Iván Navarro graduated with a BFA from PUC University of Chile, Santiago, in 1995 and has been living and working in New York since 1997. In 2021, Navarro held his retrospective exhibition PLANETARIUM in Paris, a collaboration between Centre Quartre and Gallerie Templon. Navarro’s solo exhibitions have been on view worldwide, including Brussels, New York, Paris, Santiago, and Seoul. Navarro’s group exhibitions have also been held around the world, including in New York, New Zealand, San Francisco, and Santiago. 

The Moving Image Media Art Program (MIMA) is a City of West Hollywood exhibition series administered by the City’s Arts Division as part of its Art on the Outside Program and is presented with the City’s Sunset Arts and Advertising Program. MIMA offers artists the opportunity, and the funding, to create immediate, and ambitious works of art that engage with the unique visual landscape of the Sunset Strip. 

MIMA enables artists to occupy, contest, and play with the definition and uses of public space and manifest moments of connection and spectacle. Artists exhibited in the program are selected from the MIMA Prequalified List, a rolling, open-call for moving image media artists, curators, and non-profit arts organizations, with applications reviewed bi-annually by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, in May and November. The MIMA Prequalified List includes a diverse list of artists of all career levels; from emerging to internationally recognized. https://go.weho.org/mima

The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division delivers a broad array of arts programs including Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Arts Grants, City Poet Laureate, Drag Laureate, Free Theatre in the Parks, Human Rights Speaker Series, Library Exhibits, WeHo Pride Arts Festival, Summer Sounds + Winter Sounds, Urban Art (permanent public art), and WeHo Reads. For more information about City of West Hollywood arts programming, please visit www.weho.org/arts.  

For more information about MIMA contact Rebecca Ehemann, City of West Hollywood Arts Manager at [email protected] or at (323) 848-6846. 

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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For up-to-date information about City of West Hollywood news and events, follow @wehocity on social media, sign-up for news updates at www.weho.org/email, and visit the City’s calendar of meetings and events at www.weho.org/calendar.

West Hollywood City Hall is open for walk-in services at public counters or by appointment by visiting www.weho.org/appointments. City Hall services are accessible by phone at (323) 848-6400 and via website at www.weho.org.

Receive text updates by texting “WeHo” to (323) 848-5000.

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Federal Government

Census Bureau asks to test questions on LGBTQ+ issues

Census Bureau plans to test questions on sexual orientation and gender identity for respondents aged 15 and older

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U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters – Suitland, Maryland (Photo Credit: GSA)

SUITLAND, Md. – The U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday asked the Biden administration to sign off on plans to test questions on sexual orientation and gender identity for respondents aged 15 and older on the agency’s annual American Community Survey.

Data on these metrics will help inform civil rights and equal employment enforcement, the Census Bureau said in a notice published on the Federal Register.

Testing will help the agency determine wording, response categories and placement of the questions on the survey — its most comprehensive, covering 3.5 million households each year.

A key unknown will be how answers will be provided by proxies such as parents, spouses or others in a household who isn’t the person about whom the question is asked.

“Younger LGBT people might not yet be out to their parents or others who are answering these questions as a proxy reporter, so the quality of the data might not be as good for younger people,” M. V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told PBS News.

Currently, the Census Bureau and its annual American Community Survey only ask questions about same-sex couples who are married or cohabitating.

“We anticipate having much more info about the LGBT people than is currently available — including about the demographic and socioeconomic status of LGBT people who aren’t in same-sex couple households, including occupational status, industry and wages, and about LGBT people who were born outside the U.S. and LGBT people with disabilities, and their families,” Kerith Conron, research director of the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, told the Associated Press.

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National

LeVar Burton will lead this year’s Banned Books Week

Burton is the first actor to serve as honorary chair of Banned Books Week which takes place October 1–7, 2023

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and reading advocate, actor, writer LeVar Burton on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. (Photo Credit: LeVar Burton/Facebook)

NEW YORK – Beloved reading advocate, writer, and television and film star LeVar Burton will lead this year’s Banned Books Week, which takes place October 1–7, 2023. Burton is the first actor to serve as honorary chair of Banned Books Week, an annual weeklong event that highlights the value of free and open access to information and brings together the entire book community in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas.

Recognizable for his groundbreaking roles in the landmark television series Roots and the Star Trek franchise, Burton’s work as a literacy advocate has inspired generations. Many in the book community can trace their love of reading and advocacy for the right to read to Burton’s treasured PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow. Burton has continued to inspire readers with the enormously popular LeVar Burton Reads podcast. A long-time champion for reading and access to books, Burton executive produced The Right to Read, an award-winning 2023 documentary film that positions the literacy crisis in America as a civil rights issue. 

“Books bring us together. They teach us about the world and each other. The ability to read and access books is a fundamental right, and a necessity for life-long success,” says Burton. “But books are under attack. They’re being removed from libraries and schools. Shelves have been emptied because of a small number of people and their misguided efforts toward censorship. Public advocacy campaigns like Banned Books Week are essential to helping people understand the scope of book censorship and what they can do to fight it. I’m honored to lead Banned Books Week 2023.”

GLAAD is a Banned Books Week Coalition contributor. The majority of recent book bans and challenges have targeted books by and about LGBTQ people, and all people of color. This morning the American Library Association reported a 20% increase in attempts to censor library materials from the previous year, with nearly 700 challenges in the first eight months of 2023.

“LeVar Burton’s longstanding commitment to literacy and to elevating all readers make him a fantastic choice to lead Banned Books Week,” says GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis. “As LGBTQ books and people come under unprecedented attack, who better than the host of the beloved Reading Rainbow to remind us how books strengthen us, connect us, and make the world a more expansive and beautiful place. We need every voice to speak up for all parents, youth and families and the fundamental freedom to read and belong.”

Burton will headline a live virtual conversation with Banned Books Week Youth Honorary Chair Da’Taeveyon Daniels about censorship and advocacy at 8:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 4. The event will stream live on Instagram (@banned_books_week).

Visit BannedBooksWeek.org for more details.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom documented an unparalleled increase in attempts to remove books and other materials from libraries and schools in 2022: 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling censorship data more than 20 years ago. These demands targeted 2,571 unique titles, a 38% increase over the previous year.

Since it was founded in 1982, Banned Books Week has drawn attention to the attempts to remove books and other materials from libraries, schools, and bookstores. The 2023 Banned Books Week theme “Let Freedom Read” is a call to action about the urgent need to defend the right to read and to support the community of readers, library staff, educators, authors, publishers, and booksellers. 

Saturday, October 7, will mark Let Freedom Read Day, a day of action against censorship. From calling decision-makers to checking out or buying banned books, to writing letters and more, everyone is encouraged to do at least one thing to defend the right to read and to speak on behalf of those who ensure access to information.

For information about ways to participate and resources, visit bannedbooksweek.org/let-freedom-read-day/.

Visit BannedBooksWeek.org for information about Burton’s event and other programs, ways to participate, and promotional materials. Follow Banned Books Week on social media (@BannedBooksWeek on X and Facebook, @banned_books_week on Instagram) for the latest updates.

About LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton is an actor, director, producer, and podcaster whose decades-long work includes RootsStar Trek: The Next Generation, and Reading Rainbow. He is the honored recipient of seven NAACP Awards, a Peabody, a Grammy, and 15 Emmys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Inaugural Children’s & Family Emmys. 

As a lifelong literacy advocate, Burton has dedicated decades to encouraging children to read. In 2023, Burton premiered his first documentary, The Right to Read, a film that positions the literacy crisis in America as a civil rights issue. The Right to Read was officially selected at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and SXSW Edu. 

Burton continues to exercise his passion for storytelling as the award-winning author of AftermathThe Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, and A Kids Book About Imagination. He launched his first book club with Fable, a digital book club community, and partnered with Masterclass to share the power of storytelling. 

His production company, LeVar Burton Entertainment (LBE), develops projects in the film, television, podcasting, and publishing space  to share stories that foster empathy, champion diversity, and build community. 

Now in its 12th season, the enormously popular LeVar Burton Reads podcast has over 175 episodes in its catalog, boasting 25 million downloads.  LBE’s first Kids & Family podcast, Sound Detectives, will debut on Stitcher in November 2023. 

As a pop culture icon, Burton has the unique ability to reach all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups, communicating to a large fan base that is highly engaged and motivated to embrace his message. 

About the Banned Books Week Coalition

The Banned Books Week Coalition is an international alliance of diverse organizations joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The Coalition seeks to engage various communities and inspire participation in Banned Books Week through education, advocacy, and the creation of programming about the problem of book censorship. 

The Banned Books Week Coalition includes American Booksellers for Free ExpressionAmerican Library AssociationAmnesty International USAAssociation of University PressesBanned Books Week Sweden (a collaboration between Sweden PEN and the Dawit Isaak Library), Children’s Book CouncilComic Book Legal Defense FundFoundation for Individual Rights and ExpressionFreedom to Read FoundationLittle Free LibraryNational Book FoundationNational Coalition Against CensorshipNational Council of Teachers of EnglishPEN AmericaPeople for the American Way Foundation, and PFLAG. Contributors include American Society of Journalists and AuthorsAuthors GuildIndex on CensorshipGLAAD, and Project Censored. Banned Books Week is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and receives generous support from HarperCollins and Penguin Random House.

GLAAD
For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.

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Congress

Senate confirms Rita Lin as Federal Judge for Northern California

She will be the first Chinese-American woman to serve. Lin previously fought for marriage equality as a lawyer in private practice

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Judge Rita Lin (Photo credit: University of California, San Francisco School of Law)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 52-45 to confirm Rita Lin’s nomination by President Joe Biden to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The first Chinese American woman to serve in the role, Lin previously fought for marriage equality as an attorney in private practice with the multinational firm Morrison and Foerster.

As co-counsel in a 2012 case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, she secured the first ruling striking down the law, which proscribed marriage as exclusively heterosexual unions, since President Obama announced his administration would no longer defend it.

The Senate’s vote to confirm Lin was supported by all present Democratic members and three Republicans: U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

Last year, during hearings for her nomination in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) objected to an article she wrote in 1998 while a junior at Harvard University calling members of the Christian Coalition “bigots.”

The Christian Coalition was founded by the late Christian media mogul Pat Robertson, who attracted controversy throughout his life and career for making sexist, homophobic and racist remarks.

Lin was appointed as a judge in the San Francisco Superior Court in 2018, and she currently presides over felony and misdemeanor criminal trials. She previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in San Francisco.

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U.S. Military/Pentagon

Pentagon to restore honor to vets kicked out over sexual orientation

This follows a lawsuit filed last month by LGBTQ veterans against the Pentagon for allegedly failing to remedy “ongoing discrimination”

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (Screen capture/YouTube/CNN)

ARLINGTON, Va. – The U.S. Department of Defense announced plans to restore honor to service members who were kicked out of the military over their sexual orientation, the agency announced on Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“Over the past decade, we’ve tried to make it easier for service members discharged based on their sexual orientation to obtain corrective relief,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement.

“While this process can be difficult to navigate, we are working to make it more accessible and efficient,” he said, adding, “in the coming weeks, we will be initiating new outreach campaigns to encourage all service members and veterans who believe they have suffered an error or injustice to seek correction to their military records.”

The move follows a class action lawsuit filed last month by LGBTQ veterans against the Pentagon for allegedly failing to remedy “ongoing discrimination,” including biased language in the discharge papers of LGBTQ veterans.

CBS News has investigated the Pentagon’s handling of service records of veterans who were kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation, revealing the broad scope of discrimination experienced by these LGBTQ veterans — finding, for instance, that more than 29,000 were denied honorable discharges.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), along with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) re-introduced a bill that would establish “a commission to investigate the historic and ongoing impacts of discriminatory military policies on LGBTQ service members and veterans.”

“This commission would study the impact of these bigoted rules” barring LGBTQ troops from serving “and forge a more welcoming future in the military and at the VA,” said Takano, who serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus.

“Our country has never made amends for official discriminatory policies like ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and the transgender military ban – and that failure still haunts today’s service members and veterans,” said Jacobs.

“That’s why I’m so proud to co-lead this bicameral legislation that will right these historic wrongs, investigate the past and present impact of anti-LGBTQ+ policies, and help us move forward to build and sustain a diverse, inclusive, strong, and welcoming military.”  

“This commission would be an important step to understand the full scope of the harms caused by policies like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and to ensure a more equitable future for all who serve our country in uniform,” Blumenthal said.

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India

India penal code reform bills do not include LGBTQ+, intersex rights

Supreme Court earlier this year heard marriage equality cases

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Indian flag (Photo by Rahul Sapra via Bigstock)

NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 said that all the laws implemented during British rule should be made in accordance with modern norms and with society’s interests in account after adequate discussion and consideration. The government this year introduced a bill that would amend India’s criminal laws, but the measure is not inclusive.

Home Minister Amit Shah on Aug. 11 introduced the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 and Bharatiya Sakhshya Bill 2023 in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament. The three bills would replace the Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Criminal Procedure Code of 1898 and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.

Shah said while introducing the bill that these three laws strengthened and protected British rule, and their purpose was to punish, not to give justice.

“The soul of three new laws will be to protect all the rights given to Indian citizens by the constitution, and their purpose will not be to punish but give justice,” said Shah. “These three laws made with Indian thought process will bring a huge change in our criminal justice system.”

Shah, while introducing the bill, also said that the government has taken a very principled decision to bring citizens to the center, instead of governance. These laws, however, still fail to be inclusive. 

Chapter Five of the proposed revision to the penal code, which deals with offenses against women and children, did not talk about people who do not fall under specified categories, leaving out LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

Section 63 of the code still defines rape as sexual assault by a man against a woman and continues to preserve gender stereotypes. The definition fails to recognize sexual assault by a man against another man or by a woman against another woman.

Another concerning section of the proposed criminal code, Section 38, would extend the right to private defense of the body to voluntarily causing the death of or any other harm to an assailant if an assault is with the intention of gratifying “unnatural lust.” The code does not define “unnatural lust” though it is very similar to now abolished Section 377 that criminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations.

The Supreme Court in 2018 decriminalized homosexuality in India, thus repealing Section 377. 

The British first introduced Section 377 and it was modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533. Thomas Macaulay in 1838 wrote the colonial-era law and it came into force in 1860. The Buggery Act defined buggery as an unnatural sexual activity against the will of God and man. 

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code defines unnatural offenses as whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Even though Section 377 has been repealed, the new criminal laws do not include the LGBTQ+ and intersex community under the same legal protection that is available to others. The new bill fails to mention LGBTQ+ and intersex people, leaving out any protection against violent crime. 

There are no official statistics available on crimes against LGBTQ+ and intersex people, including those based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in India.

“The language of the new laws has undergone substantial positive changes to further include the LGBTQ community. After the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019, the proposed new criminal laws also have gender-inclusive language,” said Krishna Deva Rao, vice chancellor of the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research in Telangana state. “For instance, the meaning of the term ‘gender’ has been expanded as section 2(9) of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (the law to replace the existing Indian Penal Code 1860) now defines ‘gender’ as the pronoun ‘he’ and its derivatives are used of any person, whether male, female or transgender. The penal law in Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita has also formally removed the controversial provision Section 377 from the IPC.”

Rao said that the government should have done a better job of further addressing the discriminatory treatment meted out to such marginalized communities. 

In an email to the Washington Blade, Rao said that despite the Supreme Court’s landmark NALSA verdict in 2014, the government has yet to provide horizontal reservations to the Transgender community.

“Despite the passage of the Transgender Persons Act 2019, the concerns of the community remain unredressed as the penalties provided therein are very low. Similarly, despite the 2014 Supreme Court verdict providing for self-determination of gender identity without having to undergo surgical intervention, the 2019 Act and related rules are interpreted in a way to mandate surgery,” said Rao. “Recently, in August 2023 Hyderabad police came under heavy scrutiny for cracking down on a begging racket. The police personnel discriminated against members of the Transgender community because they had not undergone surgery or had genitalia not corresponding to their identified gender.”

In a statement made about Chapter Five of the newly proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Act, Rao said that the law catered to address crimes against women and children. Rao added it should have been expanded to include the LGBTQ+ and intersex community as well.

“While Section 377 has been struck down from the IPC, as per the landmark Navtej Singh Johar decision by the Supreme Court of India in 2018 the provision was only partially read down to exclude consensual homosexual relationships. By removing the provision entirely, non-consensual or illegal acts of intercourse against men as well as Transgender community are left completely unaddressed by the new penal law,” said Rao. “The arrest and medical examination safeguards under the criminal procedure have been exclusively catered to the protection of women. For instance, women survivors of sexual abuse have to be medically examined in a prescribed way, women can’t be arrested after sunset and before sunrise, etc. Such procedures should also be extended to people from the LGBTQ community. Similarly, when Transgender persons have to be examined, they should be allowed to provide their written consent for the gender of the doctor.”

Two Supreme Court judges in their 2014 NALSA vs. Union of India ruling said that Trans people fall within the purview of the Indian constitution and thus are fully entitled to the rights guaranteed therein. 

“In a country which once considered us to be a ‘minuscule populace’, the LGBTQIA+ community has been overlooked as a demographic group to be considered during any revelations of the constitution,” said Ankana Dey of Sappho for Equality, an activist forum for lesbian, bisexual woman and Trans men. “In research in 2018, the LGBTQIA+ group was one of the 12 groups in India that was least represented in any research or legislative amendments. In context to the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita bill, it is no different for us. However, the LGBTQIA+ movement will continue to fight for its rights and representation in legal reforms. LGBTQIA+ activists and groups will continue to navigate the laws and policies in order to bring relief of some form to the community and will continue spreading that information with a bottoms-up approach.”  

In an email to the Blade, Dey said that every time Sappho for Equality’s team is in the field, they work along the lines of advocacy and try to strike a dialogue with the legal representatives of the state such as police, lawyers and paralegal workers.

“Through these dialogues, we understood that the laws which have been passed and have not been circulated enough within the networks of legal representatives. Most of the lawyers in our state are unaware of what constitutes the NALSA judgment, The Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Act and Bill, and even the Mental Healthcare Act. The State Legal Services Authority (SALSA) categorically mentions that any person from the LGBTQIA+ community who has faced violence and discrimination has the right to free legal services from the state,” said Dey. “Albeit most of the community persons are not aware of this service and even if they are, money extortion and intimidation are grave concerns that make these services severely inaccessible. Some of these dialogues have translated into heated conversations since most lawmakers do not enjoy being told that their knowledge lacks constructive information and their work generally surrounds misinformation, stigma, and stereotypes associated with us. Despite this, we are hellbent on continuing our fight to counter the legalities that affect us negatively. We are intently striving towards working with lawyers at a regional level and sensitizing them about queer-Trans* lives and liveabilities.”

Dey said that most of these bills that would specifically address Trans lives have not been implemented since the NALSA ruling in 2014. She said there is a severe lack of implementation of these laws at the grassroots level.

“We strongly believe that with the revised IPC that deals with offenses against women and children, there is an urgent need to expand the very definition of a ‘woman,’” said Dey.

While talking to the Blade, Harish Iyer, an equal rights activist, said he hopes that the actual draft will be more inclusive for all genders and sexualities.

“I think culture is not static, culture is evolutionary. Our laws also have evolved from time to time. We have made more progressive laws. With gender and sexuality, I would hope that the changes in laws would be more inclusive for all citizens of India,” said Iyer. “It is an Indian culture to accept different sexuality. British culture was Section 377 of IPC. If we are going to define the law that is not IPC, it becomes imperative for us to follow Indian culture. We have always accepted and respected LGBTQI+ people.”

Ankush Kumar is a reporter who has covered many stories for Washington and Los Angeles Blades from Iran, India and Singapore. He recently reported for the Daily Beast. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is on Twitter at @mohitkopinion. 

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United Nations

Global anti-LGBTQ+ rights backlash overshadows UN General Assembly

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act signed into law in May

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U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaks about LGBTQ+ and intersex rights in Africa during an event on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Sept. 18, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

NEW YORK — Government officials, politicians and activists who traveled to New York for the U.N. General Assembly expressed their growing concern over the global backlash against LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

“The emergence of this new wave of anti-LGBTQ+ laws first of all is scary, but secondly is deadly,” said U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Monday during an event the African Services Committee hosted in Manhattan. “We have to really understand what’s at stake with these laws.”

Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ+ and intersex rights abroad, and Dr. Rebecca Bunnell, acting principal deputy coordinator for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, are among those who also spoke at the event. Outright International Executive Director Maria Sjödin, Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell, activists from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana and journalist Anne-Christine d’Adesky also participated.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on May 29 signed his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.” Lawmakers in Kenya and Tanzania over the last year have proposed similar measures.

A bill that would criminalize LGBTQ+ and intersex identity and allyship in Ghana is currently before the country’s lawmakers. Police in Nigeria’s Delta state last month arrested more than 200 people at a same-sex wedding.

Lee noted African leaders who champion these bills and laws have alliances with U.S.-based groups that oppose LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

“Hate is everywhere and it’s really important that our government do a better job of tracking — of course U.S. persons and organizations and what their role has been advancing these laws,” said the California Democrat.

D’Adesky noted Congress has yet to reauthorize PEPFAR and there is “an enormous fight.”

“The anti-LGBTQ forces, which are the family values (supporters) in the GOP and the extreme right, have been using this issue of HIV funding and HIV programs as a kind of proxy … to go after democratic societies, not just here in the United States, but everywhere,” said D’Adesky. “It’s a very deliberate strategy to link the issue of LGBTQ rights and homosexuality with HIV service provision.”

President Joe Biden on Tuesday in his U.N. General Assembly speech noted PEPFAR has saved “more than 25 million lives” in more than 55 countries around the world.

President Joe Biden speaks at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2023. (Screen capture via Associated Press YouTube)

American officials earlier this year postponed a meeting on PEPFAR’s work in Uganda in order to assess the Anti-Homosexuality Act’s potential impact on it. 

UNAIDS in a report it released in July raised concerns over a spike in HIV among gay and transgender people in eastern and southern Africa due to anti-homosexuality laws. The U.N. body noted laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations remain a significant obstacle in preventing and treating HIV among LGBTQ+ and intersex people.

“We have been trying to find communities and groups that can ensure that everybody has access to life saving services for HIV testing, prevention, PrEP, treatment, etc.,” said Bunnell during the African Services Committee event.

Bunnell, who previously lived and worked in Uganda, described the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act as “horrific.” Bunnell nevertheless added the law has made LGBTQ+, intersex and HIV-specific issues more visible.

“At some level it’s really heartening to see that we are at least able to talk openly and have a conversation where we are now addressing issues that were completely hidden at that time,” she said. “We’re in a very challenging, but better place in that sense.”

Bunnell said she and her colleagues are in “active communication” with Stern and other Biden-Harris administration officials to see “what we can do, where could we restrict funding, where could we make statements, where can we protest against the absolutely horrific legislation in Uganda, where can we more proactively look at other countries that we’ve heard from today.”

The U.S. in June imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials. 

The World Bank Group on Aug. 8 announced the suspension of new loans to Uganda. The European Union last week said it would continue to provide funding to the country. 

Sjödin after the African Services Committee event noted to the Washington Blade that the World Bank has human rights safeguards in place. Sjödin stressed, however, the issue of cutting aid to countries with anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-intersex rights records is “extremely nuanced.”

“I don’t think that cutting aide is a general remedy for any of this,” said Sjödin. “I don’t think that in general you can say, oh stop all foreign aid to any country where discrimination occurs because as we know this is not isolated to a few countries in Africa. We do know that LGBTIQ people are actively persecuted in many more.”

Openly gay Irish prime minister speaks at UN LGBTQ+, intersex rights event

Biden in his General Assembly speech referenced violence and persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield during an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Monday described Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act as “horrific” and said the U.S. “is doing everything in our power to support the LGBTQ community in Uganda, to ensure their safety and to ensure they are not damaged by this law.”  

“We are looking at … how we can continue to provide the good support that PEPFAR provides directly to individuals, to help save their lives without putting that funding through the Ugandan government or through individuals in the Ugandan government who are responsible for implementing this law,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “It’s a huge dilemma, but we have to find a way to do that and we have to find a way to hold those accountable who are basically violating the human rights of the LGBTQ community in Uganda.”

Lee reiterated her criticisms of the Anti-Homosexuality Act when she spoke at an event at the U.N. on Monday that marked the U.N. LGBTI Core Group’s 15th anniversary.

“The United States is deeply troubled by Uganda’s passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act,” said Lee. “The legislation has already led to arrest, violence and evictions of LGBTQI+ Ugandans and undermine the safety of human rights defenders and healthcare providers serving this population.” 

“The United States and Uganda have enjoyed long standing cooperation that have benefited our bilateral relationship and made the region healthier, more prosperous and more secure,” she added. “However, our partnership and Uganda’s standing on the world stage is at risk due to the worsening trends of a closing political and civic space and increasing violations and abuses of human rights, the threat of privacy and the safety of everyone in Uganda, including through the enactment and enforcement of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. These actions ferment hate, support violence, and are no threat to the principle of human rights, development and good governance enshrined in the (Universal) Declaration (of Human Rights.)”

The U.S. is among the dozens of countries that are members of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group, a group of U.N. countries that have pledged to support LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

Lee noted Singapore, the Cook Islands, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis over the last year have decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations. The California Democrat also highlighted Switzerland and Slovenia in 2022 extended marriage rights to same-sex couples; while Iceland, Spain and Cyprus banned so-called conversion therapy.

The Icelandic Parliament in Reykjavik, Iceland. The country has banned so-called conversion therapy for minors. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Edgars Rinkēvičs in June became Latvia’s first openly gay president. Spanish lawmakers in February approved a landmark Transgender rights law that allows anyone who is over 16-years-old to legally change their gender without medical intervention.

“Despite these gains, LGBTQI+ persons worldwide continue to experience alarming levels of violence, discrimination and isolation,” said Lee. “We are seeing increasingly coordinated efforts to undermine progress on human rights of LGBTQI+ persons worldwide, while seemingly targeted at a small slice of the population.” 

Lee in her remarks specifically referenced the U.S. as one of the countries in which “we are seeing hateful shameful attacks on and against the LGBTQI+ persons, especially against LGBTQI children.” 

Openly gay Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Chilean Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren, Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Anniken Huitfeldt, Danish Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy Minister Dan Jørgensen, Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib, French Europe and Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna, Colombian Multilateral Affairs Vice Minister Elizabeth Taylor Jay, Brazilian Multilaterial Political Affairs Vice Minister Carlos Marcio Bicalho Cozendey and South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation Director General Zane Dangor are among those who also spoke at the event that Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the outgoing independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ+ and intersex issues, chaired.

Brazil’s Planalto (Presidential) Palace illuminated in rainbow colors in honor of Pride month. (Photo courtesy of Brazilian Congresswoman Erika Hilton/Twitter)

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Tirana Hassan and Chitsanupong Best Nithiwana, a transgender rights activist from Thailand, also participated. Openly gay Luxembourgish Prime Minister Xavier Bettel spoke virtually. 

“My country, Ireland, has come a long way in recent years, particularly when we think about its LGBTI+ inclusion,” said Varadkar.

Varadkar said he was in high school when Ireland decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in 1993.

Ireland in 2015 became the first country to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples through a popular vote. Ireland’s Gender Recognition Act took effect the same year. Varadkar noted his government is currently working to expunge convictions under the country’s sodomy law and plans to ban conversion therapy in the country. 

“These are major legislative changes, but I think the real effect runs much deeper,” he said. “Our culture and our society has changed and there’s a better understanding of family and inclusion. The Ireland of today is a more understanding or accepting more inclusive and more equal country than it was in the past and more willing to respect fluidity, diversity and personal freedom.”

Varadkar, like Lee and others who spoke at the LGBTI Core Group event, expressed concern “about the alarming pushback against LGBT rights in some parts of the world, particularly criminalization, and the rise of violence, hatred towards members of our community at home and abroad.”

“We see in some countries, the reintroduction of draconian laws, including threat of the death penalty, openness, discrimination, as an increasing backlash against very vulnerable transgender people, and heightened political polarization, including here in the U.N,” he said. “I deeply regret the escalating attempts made by some states to undermine existing international commitments and standards.”

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News Analysis

Conservatives find new LGBTQ+ outrage: Paw Patrol

It’s hard to keep track of everything conservative’s have cancelled for LGBTQ+ representation in recent months

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By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – Bud Light beer. Costa coffee. Target clothing. It’s hard to keep track of everything conservative’s have cancelled for LGBTQ+ representation in recent months. It seems even the mere mention of a transgender person is enough to get a company targeted these days, and a single rainbow flag could result in harassment and bomb threats.

Now, conservatives have turned their eyes to a new target to be outraged over: Paw Patrol.

Or, to be more accurate, their outrage has turned the Paw Patrol spinoff, Rubble & Crew, a construction-themed spinoff of the original animated series. In a viral video on twitter reaching over 2 million people, conservative influencer and former GOP primary candidate Robby Starbuck opened his video with the ominous statement, “They are coming for your children.” The outrageous content in question worthy of such a bold claim? A single nonbinary character wearing trans colored socks, who appears in only a single episode.

You can watch the video here:

Robby Starbuck video on Paw Patrol

The video quickly gained traction among prominent conservative influencers and elected officials. Libs of TikTok, notorious for fueling viral outrage and inciting violence against LGBTQ+ individuals and their supporters, circulated the video. They then falsely alleged that Paw Patrol was “embedding pornographic links on their candy wrappers,” a claim refuted by Twitter’s Community Notes feature. The Daily Caller, often criticized for transphobic content, also wrote an article on the matter. Prominent elected officials, like Tennessee House Majority Leader Representative William Lambeth, who penned the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth, also shared the video.

The video identifies queer author Lindz Amer as the creative mind behind the episode. Amer, a distinguished writer and recipient of the GLAAD Rising Stars Grant awarded for initiatives that “champion intersectional LGBTQ+ issues,” shared their excitement on Instagram: “I wanted to write a nonbinary character that was aspirational and incredibly cool, someone for the pups (and kids at home) to look up to. They found an awesome non-binary actor to voice River and I’m so so happy about how it turned out.”

Representation matters, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. As more individuals embrace their true identities and come out, families are increasingly inclusive of LGBTQ+ members. The Internet and Television Association has observed that over the past two decades, the shift towards greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals can be largely attributed to positive portrayals on TV. Speaking on the matter with the NCTA, GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis emphasized the significance of LGBTQ+ representation in children’s programming, noting, “By introducing this level of representation to children’s shows, we foster conversations about embracing differences, ensuring that children begin to cultivate a robust sense of self-worth from a young age.”

In recent months, though, conservatives have sought out to stamp out representation in all aspects of public life. Sixteen states have enacted restrictions on LGBTQ+ content in educational settings, under the guise of “Don’t Say Gay Or Trans” laws. In Florida, an educator was dismissed for as little as showing a Disney film featuring a gay character. GOP attorneys general have penned letters to Target, claiming the sale of LGBTQ+ themed apparel for young people violates obscenity laws. In Georgia, a predetermined mock trial saw a teacher fired for reading the Scholastic Kids book, “My Shadow Is Purple.” Virginia witnessed a lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, calling for the removal of LGBTQ+ books from their shelves. Ironically, the same conservatives who once lambasted the notion of “cancel culture” now seem to have fully embraced it.

For those who want to see the episode, it has just been released. The episode is titled, “The Crew Builds An Observatory,” where the characters join together to help River, the nonbinary character in question, catch a picture of a shooting star. You can watch it now on Nick Jr.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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