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DTLA Proud Gala raises prospects for a DTLA Community Center

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Last night, the LGBT community of DTLA gathered under one roof at the Otium venue for the 2nd Annual DTLA PROUD Gala to eat, drink, and be merry.

The black tie event highlighted the growing visibility of a LGBT inclusive DTLA, and acknowledged the people who contributed to it.

DTLA PROUD is an non-profit organization geared towards volunteering, hosting events, and promoting diversity within the LGBT community in Downtown Los Angeles, in particular this weekend’s DTLA PROUD Festival, which will be held at Pershing Square Park.

https://www.facebook.com/OtiumLA/posts/2123618671249604:0

The event served as a thank you to event’s LGBTQ friendly vendors and volunteersand helped raise money for a prospective DTLA PROUD Community Center that was announced at the event. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the evening will go towards its opening.

Several noted politicians were on hand, including City of Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and City Controller Ron Galperin. Leo Daube, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s LGBT liaison was in attendance.

https://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesBlade/posts/1136623203155575:0

Los Angeles Blade publisher Troy Masters and Hany Haddad, the newspaper’s 2018 Visibility Award honoree were seen chatting. There were a host of other community notables present.

“We’re young, and it’s good for younger people like us to see this and the elders of the LGBT community pave the way; it’s inspiring.” said Francisco Gardea, 23 an attendee of the event. “We don’t have our rights because they were given to us, we fought for it.”

Pinche Queen, the performer and hostess of the evening originally came to California from Arizona by herself as a teenager, performed a lip synced song dedicated to the other “gay lonelies” who made Los Angeles their home too.

“I’m blessed to be a part of a big community, it’s an honor to be here. It’s not just dressing up in drag to go to the club, the community lifted me up to honor me. A year ago I never thought I would be doing this at all”.

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A PROUD award was presented on stage to DTLA Director Joella Hopkins as a former publisher LGBTwed; a luxury LGBT wedding magazine.

“I’m excited to be honored by an amazing group, because at the core of it, it’s all about loving each other for our differences that make us so special.

As the night ended the party stayed alive and shifted towards the next venue, Precinct.

A moment of silence was observed for the late Thor Stephens; co owner of Los Angeles gay bar Precinct who died earlier this year. Community members honored him for his willingness to step in and give opportunities to the LGBT community.

“For anyone who met him, they would know why community was a big thing,” said Brian McIntire the husband of Stephens and co-owner of Precinct . “He definitely empowered what the community meant and his spirit lives on.”

The DTLA PROUD Festival will be held from August 24-26 and tickets can be purchased at http://dtlaproud.org/tickets

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Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Chasten Buttigieg hits the campaign trail for Biden

Trump ‘is the biggest threat standing between our community and full equality’

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Chasten Buttigieg spoke with the Washington Blade by phone on June 18 for an exclusive interview at the tail end of his trip to Michigan and Wisconsin with the Biden-Harris campaign’s “Out for Biden” national organizing effort targeting LGBTQ voters.

The teacher, author, LGBTQ activist, and husband to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg relayed some of the conversations he has had with constituents and communities about issues important to them and the reasons why they are rallying around the president and vice president’s reelection bid.

“I like to get out of Washington, and I like to get on the ground and meet voters where they’re at and hear them out and talk about why I’m supporting the president,” he said. “And to me, that is just the realness of politics.”

Buttigieg said spending time with the local volunteers and organizers was a reminder of the many “good people that make up this country and all of the people who are fighting day in and day out to make these things happen,” usually without much fanfare.

He said he feels especially at home doing this work in the Midwest. In 2022, a year after they adopted twins, the Buttigiegs moved to Traverse City, Mich., where the family is now close to Chasten’s parents. “It’s obviously easier to hop across the lake and come over to Wisconsin, where I spent a lot of years in college and post college, so this is home,” he told the Blade.

“In a way, these feel like my neighbors. And to me, the best political work that I can be doing is talking with my neighbors and talking with folks that I care about and communities that I care about.”

LGBTQ people have multiple identities

“There are a lot of people on the ground here who, of course, support the president because he is the only person on the ballot who is a pro-LGBTQ and equality president, but also there are many other issues that affect our community, many people on the ground here working to make those things happen,” Buttigieg said.

Additionally, “supporting queer Americans isn’t just defending our right to exist or our right to marry,” he said, “but many of these other issues that the president and the vice president support are queer issues” too, including reproductive freedom and access to in-vitro fertilization.

“LGBTQ Americans have families,” Buttigieg said. “We’re LGBTQ, but also we’re business owners, we’re farmers, we’re teachers, we’re parents. These are all uniquely queer issues as well.”

“For me, as a parent and as a teacher, some of these things like expanding the Child Tax Credit, making sure that every family has access to quality, affordable early childhood education and public education, and making sure that every family has access to paid leave — to me, that should not be political,” Buttigieg said.

“Unfortunately, it is in this environment. But those are pro-family policies. I think they’re pro- American policies. And that’s why I am proud to support the president and the vice president.”

The Out for Biden team is engaging with parents who are raising LGBTQ children. Buttigieg said he was “talking to a parent of a young trans kid who’s worried about not only access to health care here in the state of Wisconsin,” but also the rhetoric from leaders on the right like the presumptive GOP nominee, former President Donald Trump, who are “attacking their child simply for being who they are.”

Buttigieg said they also visited a small business owned by a queer woman in Milwaukee and learned about how the business expanded during COVID and why they’re supporting the president because of his work protecting queer Americans, small businesses, and reproductive rights.

Conversations drive voting behavior

“Oftentimes, the only reason a person is going to go into that ballot box and pull the lever in our direction is because someone they love or trust asked them to and explained what was on the line for them,” Buttigieg said.

These conversations “helped them understand how politics is deeply personal for them, and how the choices that are made in those big, white buildings in Washington trickle down to our mailboxes, our dining room tables, our doctors’ offices, and our classrooms,” he said.

“Politics is deeply personal, and we shouldn’t be afraid to show a little vulnerability and tell our neighbors and the people that we love what we stand to gain, what we stand to lose,” Buttigieg added.

He explained some of the ways he has approached these discussions, drawing from his own lived experiences.

“I often talk about my experience in the classroom, not only as a as an openly gay teacher, but as the teacher who was running lockdown drills,” Buttigieg said. “I never, ever wanted to traumatize my students with lockdown drills, talking about a gunman coming into the school, recognizing that gun violence is the number one cause of death among young people in this country — I would have rather been spending my time teaching instead of frightening my students.”

Growing up, Buttigieg said his parents were small business owners who “didn’t have a ton of money” and often were “making sacrifices to support their three kids rather than affording mom’s medicine.”

“That’s deeply personal stuff,” he said. This election will be won because Democrats are willing to go out there and tell those deeply personal stories, and move their neighbors and move their friends and families off the couch into the streets and hopefully to the ballot box to pull that lever in the direction that I believe will make our country safer and better because we reelected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

Making the case for Biden — and the case against Trump

Noting that the president and vice president have repeatedly called for Congress to enshrine federal LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections by passing the Equality Act, Buttigieg added that, “It’s not just policy, it’s the words that come out of their mouths, and it’s the actions.”

“I often hear the quip, ‘vote for the person you trust to leave your kids with,'” Buttigieg said. “Joe Biden has been an incredibly supportive president. When our kid was fighting for his life on a ventilator at two months old, the president was eager to pull Pete aside and remind him that the entire administration had our family’s back and was there for us.”

“That’s the kind of leader I want for this country, someone who cares about families,” he said. “Not just families like mine, but all families. That’s really important to me.”

“And on the other side, you have someone like Donald Trump, who, of course, is not going to acknowledge the reason that we have Pride, the reason for the march, the reason for resistance, the reason for action, but is actively surrounding himself with people who are propping up Project 2025,” Buttigieg said.

The 881-page governing blueprint for a second Trump term “threatens many of these hard-fought protections for the LGBTQ community,” he said.

Another consideration is “that the next president of the United States might appoint two more Supreme Court justices to join a bench [that] was already flirting with overturning Obergefell,” Buttigieg said, referring to the precedent that made same-sex marriage the law of the land, and noting that the court “already upheld their promise to overturn a woman’s right to choose.”

Buttigieg said, “I think it’s actually really embarrassing” for the anti-LGBTQ right “that the majority of Americans support LGBTQ equality,” meaning “they’re not only against the majority of the public opinion, but they’re also against people in their own party who are so exhausted by the divisive rhetoric, and yet here they are doubling down on their hatred for queer people.”

With respect to Trump himself, he said “if he wanted to get with the times, and if he wanted to maybe potentially save a little face with his party and push them in another direction and say, ‘hey, actually, I think we should step back, I think we should leave queer people alone, especially young, vulnerable trans Americans alone,’ he would.”

“But he won’t, and he hasn’t, because that’s who he is,” Buttigieg said. “If Donald Trump wanted you to believe that he didn’t really care one way or the other about the existence of LGBTQ Americans and their protections, he would let you know. The words and the actions that come from your campaign inform the country of what your values are, and if Donald Trump truly cared, then he would let us know.

Instead, “he surrounds himself with known bigots, white supremacists” and “with people who are touting Project 2025” who “are rallying against the existence of Pride and LGBTQ Americans and those hard fought protections that Democrats are winning and enacting around this country.”

“Maya Angelou said, ‘when people show you who they are, believe it the first time,'” Buttigieg said. “Donald Trump does not support our community. I think Donald Trump would be the most disastrous president for our community. And he is the biggest threat standing between our community and full equality.”

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Los Angeles County

HONOR PAC launches petition to oust NALEO’s new president over Pride flag vote

Downey City Councilmember Claudia Frometa has faced scathing criticism

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In a bold move, HONOR PAC, the leading LGBTQ Latino political action committee, has launched a high-profile petition campaign calling for the removal of Claudia Frometa as the newly elected board president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.

The petition, which is spreading rapidly under the hashtags #removeClaudiaFrometa and #PrideFlagSavesLives, comes in response to Frometa’s controversial vote to ban the flying of the Pride flag in Downey. HONOR PAC is rallying NALEO supporters, members, sponsors, and allied organizations to sign on, arguing that Frometa’s actions are incompatible with NALEO’s mission of inclusive representation.

HONOR PAC President Mario Ceballos stated, “We are asking all justice-minded individuals and organizations to stand up in support of LGBTQ+ visibility, pride, safety, and hope. NALEO should be a leader in advancing dignity and civic engagement for all in the United States — not in silencing or making anyone invisible.”

The petition emphasizes the disconnect between NALEO’s recent conference, which highlighted the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the election of Frometa, who voted against flying the Pride flag in her city. HONOR PAC argues that this decision goes beyond a simple policy change, viewing it as an attempt to erase LGBTQ presence in the community.

Eddie Martinez, gay news, Washington Blade
Huntington Park Councilmember Eddie Martinez

Support for the petition is growing among LGBTQ Latino elected officials.

Huntington Park Councilmember Eddie Martinez, who is the executive director of the Latino Equality Alliance, expressed his disappointment and called for NALEO to address the issue with its LGBTQ membership.

“As a gay man who is also an elected official, I am keenly aware of the importance leadership makes in lifting community and family acceptance of LGBTQ members in the jurisdictions we serve,” he explained. “It is the type of visible and cultural support that can make a difference for the long-term health and mental health of the LGBTQ community and our families.”

“At a time when young Latinos are shown to be disproportionately affected with HIV due to cultural barriers to LGBTQ acceptance, it is critically important our national Latino leaders do all we can to stop homophobia instead of perpetuating it,” he added.

El Monte Councilmember Martin Herrera went further, describing the “neutral flag policy” as “dog whistle politics of anti-LGBTQ hate.”

HONOR PAC is leveraging social media to amplify its message, encouraging supporters to share personal stories about the importance of LGBTQ visibility in Latino communities. The organization is also coordinating with other LGBTQ groups to broaden the campaign’s reach.

As part of their strategy, HONOR PAC is offering resources for supporters to contact NALEO directly, providing template letters and talking points. They’re also planning virtual town halls to discuss the impact of Frometa’s election on LGBTQ Latino representation in politics.

The petition campaign has sparked a broader conversation about the intersection of Latino and LGBTQ identities in American politics. HONOR PAC maintains that NALEO’s choice of leadership sends a powerful message about whose voices are valued within the Latino political community.

“I am surprised to learn that NALEO chose a president who has a track record of opposing the LGBTQ+ community. NALEO has been a proven partner and ally in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt in assuming they were unaware of her anti-LGBTQ+ actions when they elected her. I urge my friends at NALEO to revisit this decision., said Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang, who is president of Los Angeles County LGBTQ+ Elected Officials.

Critics of the petition argue that Frometa’s vote was about government neutrality rather than anti-LGBTQ sentiment. However, HONOR PAC contends that such “neutral” policies often serve to marginalize already vulnerable communities.

As the petition gains momentum, all eyes are on NALEO to see how the organization will respond. The controversy highlights the ongoing challenges of balancing diverse perspectives within identity-based political organizations.

The Los Angeles Blade, which previously broke news of her appointment as president of NALEO’s board, has reached out several times for comment.

Those interested in signing the petition or learning more about the campaign can contact HONOR PAC at [email protected]. The organization is urging supporters to act quickly, emphasizing the critical nature of this moment for LGBTQ Latino representation in national politics.

Readers can view and sign the petition here.

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European Union

Gay US ambassador to Hungary marches in Budapest Pride parade

David Pressman has criticized government’s anti-LGBTQ crackdown

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U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman marches in the Budapest Pride parade on June 22, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Pressman's X account)

U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman on Saturday marched in the annual Budapest Pride parade.

Pressman, who is gay, posted to his X account pictures of him holding an American flag while standing behind a banner that read “United States embassy.” Pressman on Sunday spoke at Budapest Pride’s Family Pride Event that took place at his official residence.

“We’ve gathered for a celebration of families, of freedom, and of love — all things that are increasingly under attack for LGBT people in Hungary,” he said.

Pressman in his speech referenced a joint statement from 35 countries that expressed “serious concern about the targeting of LGBTQI+ people in Hungary, and called for the government to eliminate its discriminatory laws, policies, and practices.”

The U.S., Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Ukraine signed the statement alongside the U.S. and the General Delegation of Flanders, the Austrian Cultural Forum Budapest, the British Council, the Czech Centre, FinnAgora, Institut Français, Goethe-Institut, Instituto Camões and Instituto Cervantes.

“On the occasion of the 29th Budapest Pride Festival, we the undersigned embassies and cultural institutes express our full support for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community in Hungary and their rights to equality and nondiscrimination, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and freedom from violence, among others,” reads the statement. “Respect for the rule of law and universal human rights are the foundations upon which democratic states are build. International human rights law is grounded on the broad premise that all individuals have the same rights and freedoms without discrimination.”

Pressman in his speech said the Family Pride Event took place “at a time when democracy itself — in this country and around the world — is confronting unprecedented and serious threats.”   

“I’d like to talk with you this afternoon about freedom and democracy; and about those who instrumentalize love to undermine both,” said Pressman.  

“The fact that LGBT people and democracy are both under increasing attack is no coincidence,” he added. “Those who seek to undermine democracy, traffic in fear; and, tragically, few currencies of fear continue to hold more value than the love in this community.”  

Pressman further noted “posters all over Budapest during this political season fixated on you,” referring to LGBTQ Hungarians.  

“It’s why your parliament adopted laws aimed at you, and your government is now implementing those laws to target you,” he said. 

(Video courtesy of the u.s. embassy in hungary’s youtube page)
The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, on April 4, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Pressman has been a vocal critic of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and of his government’s crackdown against LGBTQ rights that has grown worse over the last decade.

The U.S. ambassador in 2023 reiterated these criticisms during a Budapest Pride reception.

Budapest Pride spokesperson Johanna Majercsik earlier this month told the Washington Blade that Pride “is a particularly important event in Hungary.” (The Blade in April traveled to Budapest, and interviewed Majercsik and other Hungarian activists.)

“Despite being a full member of the European Union since 2004, the Hungarian government has systematically reduced the rights of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Majercsik. “The government apparently doesn’t want to stop there, inciting people against our community, and making references about passing new anti-LGBTQ laws in the future (calling them child protection laws).”   

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National

Supreme Court to consider challenge to Tenn. law challenging gender-affirming case for minors

Volunteer State lawmakers approved ban in 2023

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U.S. Supreme Court (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider a challenge to a Tennessee law that bans health care providers from offering gender-affirming care to transgender minors.

Tennessee lawmakers approved the law in 2023.

A federal judge in Nashville issued a temporary injunction against portions of the statute before it was to have taken effect on July 1, 2023. The 6th U.S. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last September rejected a request to block the law the Justice Department has also challenged.

“The future of countless transgender youth in this and future generations rests on this court adhering to the facts, the Constitution, and its own modern precedent,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice at the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ and HIV Project, on Monday in a press release. “These bans represent a dangerous and discriminatory affront to the well-being of transgender youth across the country and their constitutional right to equal protection under the law. They are the result of an openly political effort to wage war on a marginalized group and our most fundamental freedoms.” 

“We want transgender people and their families across the country to know we will spare nothing in our defense of you, your loved ones, and your right to decide whether to get this medical care,” added Strangio.

The Associated Press reported Tennessee is among the more than two dozen states that have enacted laws that either restrict or ban gender-affirming care for trans minors.

The ACLU notes the Supreme Court “is not expected to hear arguments” in the case until the fall.

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India

Transgender Indian parliamentary candidate vows to continue fight for equality

Rajan Singh, 26, is from New Delhi

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Rajan Singh ran for India's parliament (Photo courtesy of Rajan Singh)

The storm that was India’s general elections has finally settled, leaving behind a landscape transformed by democratic choice. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, clinched a decisive victory with a majority in parliament with 293 seats. The daily hum of life is returning to normal as the country resumes its rhythm amid the sweltering heat of summer.

Beneath the surface of political triumph and routine, however, there lies an overlooked narrative: The story of the transgender community. In the vibrant tapestry of this election, trans people remained a subtle but significant thread. A few trans people for the first time boldly stepped into the political arena, running for office and asserting their right to representation.

Rajan Singh, 26, was the youngest trans candidate.

She hails from New Delhi, the bustling heart of the nation. Singh secured 300 votes and lost the election, but as the first and youngest independent candidate to run in the recent general elections, her story is one of ambition and audacity. In a political landscape dominated by well-established parties and seasoned politicians, Singh’s decision to enter the fray as an independent was both bold and inspiring.

With her soft and humble voice, Singh told the Washington Blade that even after 75 years of independence, India still lacks even 75 public restrooms dedicated to the trans community. She highlighted a stark reality: There is no platform available for trans people who want to raise their voice on important issues.

Singh expressed her frustration and disappointment, pointing out the irony in India’s highly regarded constitution. 

“Our constitution begins with ‘We, the people of India,'” she said, “Yet in these 75 years, that ‘we’ has never truly included us.” Her words shed light on the ongoing struggle for recognition and equality faced by the trans community in a country that prides itself on its democratic values and inclusive ethos.

“That was the main reason I decided to fight in the 2024 general election,” said Singh. “I am the first, youngest candidate from India’s capital, New Delhi. When I was born in 1997, my identity was male. In 2022, the government certificate indicated I was transgender, and in 2024, the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued a certificate stating me as third gender. When I apply for a government job, I become ‘others.’ so one person has four identities. Most strikingly all these identities are not mine. I identify as a trans woman and no one recognizes my feelings and identity.”

Singh told the Blade that when she filed her nomination for the election, her primary goal was to bring the real identity of the trans community to the center stage of the country. She explained her candidacy was a means to breathe life into the identity of her community, asserting that if people had acknowledged the trans community’s presence over the past 75 years, they would have been granted the same rights as other citizens.

With a voice tinged with pain, Singh told the Blade that if the trans community had been truly recognized as alive, there would have been moments when people saw the community speaking out. 

“There would have been a time when we had a leader to represent us, a chief minister, and even a prime minister,” she said. “But there is no one for the transgender community.”

During her interview with the Blade, Singh shared a slogan she coined for her election campaign: “Sauchalay se Sansad Tak” or “From the toilet to parliament.” This slogan encapsulated her mission to elevate the trans community from the margins of society to the heart of the nation’s decision-making process.

Singh told the Blade only a few trans people voted in the last election. However, this time, however, 228 trans individuals cast their votes in Delhi, a significant increase fueled by the community’s belief that someone was finally standing up for them.

“I was manhandled and threatened on the streets just for announcing my candidacy in the 2024 General Elections,” said Singh. “I was told ‘Chakka’ (a slang word for trans people), I was told how could we fight in election. When I went to the cops to file a First Information Report, they did not file my report. On April 29, Delhi High Court provided me heavy police protection and with that I went to file my nomination for election. If High Court would not have given me the police protection, I would not have been able to file my nomination.”

She told the Blade that society has been conditioned to view the trans community as only beggars and prostitutes, a misconception that is far from the truth. Singh emphasized these stereotypes have long overshadowed the diverse and significant contributions of trans people. Her campaign sought to challenge these harmful narratives and showcase the true potential and worth of the trans community. 

While talking to the Blade, Singh said India’s trans community has not seen much progress in the last 75 years. She acknowledged Modi has taken some steps for the community, notably with the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2019, which has increased awareness among ordinary citizens.

Singh, however, emphasized these efforts are not enough and much more work needs to be done. With great hope and determination, she called on the prime minister to establish a National Transgender Commission. This, she argued, would provide the necessary platform and resources to address the ongoing challenges faced by the trans community, ensuring their rights and dignity are fully protected and promoted.

“The world has seen for the first time in the last 75 years, that during the prime minister’s swearing-in ceremony this year three transgender people were invited,” said Rajan. “I was one of them.”

With immense pride and positivity, Singh stated this is not a loss for her or the community. She views it as a significant victory. For the first time, the trans community voted for one of their own. It marked the historic moment when a trans individual’s name appeared on the Electronic Voting Machine, an integral part of India’s voting system. This election symbolized a newfound self-respect and empowerment, as members of the trans community proudly pressed the button on the EVM, voting for representation and a brighter future.

“We will prepare and fight for the establishment of National Transgender Commission in the country,” said Singh. “We will pressure those political parties who will support the creation of the National Transgender Commission and basic services for the community, we will support them. I will again fight the election.”

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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World

Out in the World: LGBTQ+ news from Europe & Asia

LGBTQ+ news stories from around the globe including Thailand, France, United Kingdom, Philipines & Namibia

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THAILAND
Thailand Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Becomes 39th Country to Do So

The Thai senate approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and adoption Tuesday, making Thailand the 39th country worldwide and the first in Southeast Asia to do so.

The vote passed 130-4 with 18 abstentions. The bill now awaits royal assent from King Maha Vajiralongkorn and will take effect 120 days after publication.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin celebrated on social media, changing his profile picture to include a rainbow background. He wrote, “We celebrate another significant milestone in our Equal Marriage Bill journey. We’re proud to be a Pride Friendly Destination and look forward to hosting World Pride in 2030.”

The new law grants same-sex couples equal rights to heterosexual married couples. The government plans to amend other laws to be gender-neutral and expand surrogacy and IVF access for same-sex couples, though only for Thai nationals.

Thailand is the third Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage after Taiwan and Nepal, and the largest country to do so since Germany in 2017.

FRANCE

Macron’s Anti-Trans Comments Spark Controversy Ahead of French Elections

French President Emmanuel Macron faced backlash after describing pro-trans policies proposed by his political rivals as “ludicrous” during a World War II commemoration on June 18.

Macron criticized the left-wing New Popular Front’s proposal to simplify legal gender changes, saying, “There are completely ludicrous things, like going to change sex in town hall.”

Opposition leaders quickly condemned Macron’s remarks. Jean-Luc Melenchon, a left-wing party leader, called the comments “outrageous” on social media.

The controversy comes as France prepares for national elections on June 30, with Macron’s Renaissance party facing pressure from both far-right and left-wing coalitions.

UNITED KINGDOM

UK Labour Party’s LGBTQ+ Manifesto Disappoints Trans Advocates

The UK Labour Party, favored to win the July 4 election, released a manifesto with limited LGBTQ+ commitments, disappointing trans rights advocates.

Labour pledges to strengthen hate crime laws and ban conversion therapy, including for trans individuals. However, the party will maintain requirements for medical diagnosis in legal gender changes and support single-sex spaces that may exclude trans people.

The manifesto reflects ongoing debates in British politics over trans rights, fueled by activist groups and high-profile figures like author J.K. Rowling.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s attempts to balance competing views have drawn criticism from both trans rights supporters and opponents.

PHILIPINES

Filipino Student Challenges Pope on LGBTQ+ Language

During a virtual synod, Jack Lorenz Acebedo Rivera, a Filipino student, urged Pope Francis to stop using offensive language against the LGBTQ+ community.

The request came after Pope Francis reportedly used a derogatory Italian term translated as “faggotry” in closed-door meetings, criticizing its prevalence in Catholic institutions.

The Pope’s reported language sparked protests, including at Rome’s Pride March on June 16. The Vatican issued an apology for the first instance but hasn’t addressed subsequent reports.

NAMIBIA

(Bigstock photo)

Namibia Decriminalizes Homosexuality in Landmark Ruling

Namibia’s High Court struck down laws criminalizing homosexuality on June 21, reducing the number of countries with such laws to 64.

The ruling declared the common-law crimes of “sodomy” and “unnatural sexual offences” unconstitutional, continuing a trend of decriminalization in sub-Saharan Africa.

Gay activist Friedel Dausab, who filed the case, testified about the laws’ personal and professional impact. The court also affirmed that the constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The government hasn’t responded to the ruling. A bill banning same-sex marriage and LGBT rights advocacy, passed last year, awaits the president’s decision.

Global LGBTQ+ news gathering & reporting by Rob Salerno 

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Los Angeles County

Downey official who banned Pride flag elected to lead influential national Latino political group

Claudia Frometa elected president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials

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Defiantly raising the Rainbow Flag in Downey after Council Votes 3-2 to Ban It On City Property

Claudia Frometa, a Downey city councilmember who ardently defended her vote to end the city’s policy of flying the rainbow flag during Pride Month, was elected president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials during the group’s national conference on June 21.

NALEO, which represents more than 6,800 Latino elected and appointed officials, is an influential political group that was previously led by gay California State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who was president of the group in 2020.

Frometa’s election has raised concerns among LGBTQ Latino politicians, including Downey’s gay mayor, Mario Trujillo, who opposed the flag ban.

HONOR PAC, the prominent LGBTQ group that supports Latino candidates, expressed “deep disappointment” in the election of Frometa and posted a statement to Instagram:

“The 2024 NALEO Conference concluded with a clarion call about the importance and power of diversity, equity and inclusion. Ironically, it also just elected @claudiafrometafordowney,
who recently voted to never again allow the city of Downey, (Calif.) to fly the Pride flag, as its newest president,” the statement Mario Ceballos, President of HONORPAC wrote.

“NALEO is an important national leader committed to creating visibility, protecting, and defending justice and equality for all.”

“Many of us at HONOR PAC are naturalized citizens because of NALEO. Our community is better because of NALEO: For these reasons, HONOR PAC is deeply disappointed with the appointment of @claudiafrometofordowney to this important national role.”

“The Pride flag,” the HONOR PAC statement reads, “is a symbol of pride, inclusion, safety, and hope. Ms. Frometa’s vote on a motion disguised as a ‘neutral flag’ policy was nothing more than an attempt to silence and ignore the voices and lives of all LGBTQ+ Downey residents and those who love them.”

HONOR PAC further declared, “Ms. Frometa’s vote on this motion a shameless and violent act against our LGBTQ+ brethren whether they are out of the closet or still struggling to come out of what many know to be a dark and lonely place.”

Downey in May voted in favor (a 3-2 vote) of restricting flag flying on city property to only U.S., California and prisoners-of-war flags. The decision reversed a 2021 policy that allowed the Pride flag to be displayed throughout June.

Trujillo maintains the vote was part of an organized political attack on the LGBTQ community, lobbied for by MassResistance, an anti-LGBTQ group classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

MassResistance has allegedly played a role in opposing and, in some cases reversing LGBTQ supportive programs policies in schools across the nation.

The vote shook the community and sparked a regional backlash, prompting Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn to organize an Pride flag raising ceremony outside the Los Angeles County Office of Education in Downey on June 3.

LA County Department of Education defiantly raises Pride in Downey. (Photo by Bryan Chan for the LA County Board of Supervisors)

Frometa denied anti-LGBTQ sentiment motivated her vote. 

At a June 11 council meeting, Frometa doubled down, “For any individual to say we are anti-LGBTQ community is incorrect,” citing continued funding for the city’s Pride festival.

Supporters of the new flag policy argued that restricting it to official state flags promotes neutrality.

Other Southern California areas have implemented similar flag restrictions, including Huntington Beach, Temecula, and Redlands.

The Los Angeles County LGBTQ+ Elected Officials Association at the time expressed disappointment, stating the Pride flag promotes inclusivity, especially for LGBTQ+ youth.

HONOR PAC’s statement denouncing Frometa’s elevation to the presidency of NALEO concluded with a forceful denouncement which it hopes resonates with the membership of NALEO: “Shame on you @claudiafrometafordowney for not upholding full and equal rights for all so each can pursue his/her/their happiness as our U.S,” the statement concludes.

NALEO plays a critical role in Latino participation in American politics. As its new president, Frometa will lead efforts in leadership development, policy research and advocacy for Latino issues.

Some LGBTQ advocates worry Frometa’s election could indicate gains by anti-LGBTQ groups within Latino political leadership.

“Attending my first NALE0 conference, it was disappointing to learn that the organization’s leadership selected an individual to lead the board after she publicly voted to ban a flag that symbolizes hope for our LGBTQ youth and families in a predominantly Latine/x community. NALEO needs to address this issue with its LGBTQ membership,” noted City of Huntington Park Councilmember Eddie Martinez.

“It is hurtful and disappointing that NALEO, an organization promoting Latino participation in the political process should elevate a member who has disenfranchised LGBTQ+ members of their community, many of whom are Latinx. 

“The “neutral flag policy” she helped to pass in her city is nothing more than the dog whistle politics of anti-LGBTQ hate. Such an act is inconsistent with NALEO’s values,” said Martin Herrera, Councilmember, City of El Monte & Secretary of the LA County Lgbtq+ Elected Officials (LACLEO)

“I’m disheartened to see NALEO elect a President that doesn’t stand with the LGBTQ+ community.  The actions of their new President do great harm to members of our community and NALEO should be a welcome and opening space for all and not just for some but the actions of their new leader make me doubt their commitment to inclusivity and equality for all,”  said West Hollywood Mayor John M Erickson, Ph.D. & LACLEO Boardmember

I am surprised to learn that NALEO chose a president who has a track record of opposing the LGBTQ+ community. NALEO has been a proven partner and ally in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt in assuming they were unaware of her anti-LGBTQ+ actions when they elected her. I urge my friends at NALEO to revisit this decision., said Jeff Prang, Assessor, Los Angeles County & President, LACLEO

An unnamed LGBTQ politician from Downey told the Los Angeles Blade, “I’m very concerned about the development with NALEO. It’s important that her gaslighting not be forgotten and that it ends. She rode tearing our flag down to national prominence, buoyed by our enemies, and she will continue to blame us for being upset about it. “

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Africa

Prominent South African activist elected to country’s parliament

Steve Letsike founded Access Chapter 2

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Steve Letsike (Photo courtesy of Steve Letsike)

A prominent South African LGBTQ activist has won a seat in the country’s parliament.

Steve Letsike, a lesbian woman who founded Access Chapter 2, a South African advocacy group, is a member of the African National Congress. She is also part of the ANC’s National Executive Committee that determines the party’s direction.

Letsike won a seat in the South African National Assembly in national and provincial elections that took place on May 29.

The ANC lost its parliamentary majority that it had had since Nelson Mandela in 1994 won the South African presidency in the country’s first post-apartheid elections. MPs earlier this month re-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa after the ANC invited the Democratic Alliance and other parties to form a Government of National Unity.

Letsike in a statement to the Washington Blade described her election as “a milestone for the people of South Africa, and also affirmative of our party’s posture that is inclusive and intention to transformation agenda.”

“I am not in parliament for myself but the people that trusted the ANC to send individuals that will put people first,” said Letsike. “In that cohort that includes the LGBTI people like myself. Rooted in the teaching of a just society, that seeks equality and believes in the rule of law. That demand on developmental agenda from a queer lens and clear priorities of the people is important.” 

“I am delighted by this task, trust and hope for our people,” she added.

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The White House

Jill Biden to host White House Pride celebration

Event to take place on June 26

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First lady Jill Biden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

First lady Jill Biden will host the White House Pride Month celebration on June 26, according to a press release previewed by the Washington Blade.

The party on the South Lawn will also feature a performance by singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer Deborah Cox and musical selections by DJ Trifle.

This year’s event comes on Equality Day this year, which honors the anniversaries of three landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions that expanded rights and protections for LGBTQ Americans: Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down sodomy laws, United States v. Windsor (2013), which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which made marriage equality the law of the land.

The White House highlighted some of the “historic action” taken by President Joe Biden to “advance LGBTQ+ equality for the community,” including:

  • Signing into law the landmark Respect for Marriage Act which protects the rights of same-sex and interracial couples;
  • Appointing a historic number of LGBTQI+ and transgender appointees, including the first transgender American to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate;
  • Directing all federal agencies to strengthen civil rights protections on the basis of gender identity, resulting in agencies working to strengthen protections in housing, health care, education, employment, the criminal justice system, nutrition programs, and more;
  • Reversing the ban on open service by transgender members of the military;
  • Signing an executive order focused on LGBTQI+ children and families that directs agencies to address the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” and finalized rule-making that ends disparities that LGBTQI+ children and parents face in the child welfare and foster care system and protects against disparities in health care; and
  • President Biden continues to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act to enshrine civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ Americans in federal law.

Last year, the president and the first lady hosted the celebration, which was the largest Pride event ever held at the White House.

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Africa

Namibian High Court strikes down Apartheid-era sodomy laws

Gay activist challenged statutes in 2020

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(Bigstock photo)

The Namibian High Court on Friday ruled laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country are unconstitutional.

Friedel Dausab, a gay activist, in 2020 challenged the Apartheid-era statute.

The Washington Blade previously reported Dausab said the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, which listed “sodomy” as a Schedule 1 offense, and a second law that criminalized “unnatural” sexual acts, promote stigma and exclusion of LGBTQ Namibians. Equal Namibia, a Namibian LGBTQ advocacy group, on its X account praised the ruling.

“Welcome to a new Namibia. A born-free Namibia,” it said.

Dausab, who challenged the laws with the assistance of Human Dignity Trust, a British NGO, told Reuters he is “just happy.”

“It’s a great day for Namibia,” he said. “It won’t be a crime to love anymore.”

Namibia is the latest country in which consensual same-sex sexual relations have been decriminalized in recent years.

The Namibian Supreme Court in May 2023 ruled the country must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere. The landmark decision sparked criticism among leading politicians and religious officials.

Activists say their rhetoric has contributed to increased harassment of LGBTQ Namibians and hate speech against them.

Amnesty International in a press release notes MPs last June passed two bills that “seek to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminate against trans people and criminalize any support, celebration or promotion of same-sex unions with up to six years in jail and hefty fines.” Khanyo Farise, the group’s deputy regional director for East and Southern Africa, said the organization in recent weeks has “observed alarming rhetoric threatening LGBTI persons in Namibia.”

“Whatever the outcome of the High Court decision on June 21, violence and discrimination against LGBTI people has no place in Namibian society,” said Farise. “Authorities should take decisive action to prevent human rights violations against LGBTI persons and hold perpetrators accountable.”

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