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Migrant caravans spark concern among El Salvador LGBTI groups

Trans advocacy organization issued advisory last month



LGBTI groups in El Salvador have urged members of the LGBTI community not to join migrant caravans that hope to reach the U.S. (Washington Blade photos by Michael K. Lavers)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — A group of men, women and children with their backpacks and other things they needed for a long trip left Plaza del Divino Salvador del Mundo in the Salvadoran capital at around 8 a.m. on Oct. 28.

They were part of a caravan that formed with the ultimate goal of reaching the U.S. The Salvadoran government has asked people not to risk their lives on such a trip, but more than 300 people decided to ignore this plea and replicate the caravan of Hondurans that left the city of San Pedro Sula on Oct. 13.

“Stand with the people who will participate in this caravan. Let people know where you are so others know,” reads a message that was published on a Facebook page on Oct. 24. “It is easier for everyone to arrive in groups.”

“There are people from across the country,” it says. “El Salvador emigrates for a better future.”

This page was created on Oct. 16, and it is administered by a person who has not identified themselves. The page encourages people who want to leave the country to create and join groups on social media to find out about groups in their areas that would travel with the caravan.

This situation has sparked concern among different activists and civil society groups, including LGBTI organizations that are part of the LGBTI Salvadoran Federation. COMCAVIS Trans, a transgender advocacy group, published an advisory that warns members of the LGBTI community not to migrate.

“TO MIGRATE is a RIGHT, but doing it in an illegal way carries high risks, especially for LGBTI people,” says the COMCAVIS Trans advisory that it posted to its Facebook page.

“Some LGBTI people migrate to improve their economic conditions, since in El Salvador many LGBTI people, especially transgender women, face clear discrimination in employment,” COMCAVIS Trans Executive Director Bianca Rodríguez told the Washington Blade. “There is a lot of concern over their personal safety, gangs who target them, cruel treatment and abuse of power on the part of police officers and soldiers.”

The advisory, among other things, mentions an LGBTI person should not expect to receive refuge in the U.S. because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It also emphasizes the U.S. government has said anyone who enters the country illegally will be detained and be processed for deportation.

Liduvina Magarin, vice minister of El Salvador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared the government would provide “escorts” to the group of Salvadoran migrants with the sole purpose of keeping families informed so they make responsible decisions and not put the lives of children at risk on the migratory route.

But another group of people gathered at Plaza del Divino Salvador del Mundo on Oct. 31 to form a second caravan with the same goal of seeking a better future for their families.

“If it is normally dangerous for us in our daily lives, this risk triples in the caravans,” Aldo Peña of Hombres Trans HT, an advocacy group for trans men, told the Blade. “Not only are they violated or will be violated at the borders by the authorities or become victims of crimes, but they will also be victimized by those who are part of the caravans.

“I would not go to possibly die on the road,” added Peña. “They (migrants) must remember that their families will continue to experience the injustices of this country if they leave.”

A Salvadoran trans advocacy group has issued this advisory that urges LGBTI Salvadorans not to join migrant caravans to the U.S.

Camila Portillo, a trans activist, for her part told the Blade that “we must not stop the dream of emigrating for a better future, if, for example, the government and the country does not guarantee socio-economic development for the LGBTI community.”

“In practice, it is not carried out in the correct way, although there are people in power who tend to support LGBTI people,” she said.

“Here there is a lot of forced internal displacement because of the issue of violence, so I don’t think it’s a trend,” Portillo added. “It’s mostly a structural issue that the government does not guarantee safety not only the LGBTI community, but the population in general, but it is an at-risk population that is more vulnerable and the government therefore must guarantee the welfare of the people.”

Portillo remains hopeful the migrants will have the help they need and be able to fulfill their objectives without many obstacles in the countries through which the caravans pass. She also urged the Salvadoran government to begin to tackle corruption within its institutions, to enforce decrees and different guidelines that have been created in support of the LGBTI community and to make sure it implements them as opposed to simply have them in writing.

“Given the high rates of violence in El Salvador, many of the people who make up that caravan will have their own reasons for migrating,” said Rodríguez. “But the Salvadoran government in this situation should at least coordinate with national institutions, international associations and bodies to provide some protection (to them) along the route and urge countries through which they travel to reach the U.S. (Guatemala, Mexico) protect their human rights.”

Articles 13 and 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says people have the right to move freely, including seeking refuge and asylum in extreme cases where their life is in danger.

People with the first caravan had reached Mexican territory as of deadline and families provided them shelter in which they were allowed to remain together. They also received medical assistance, food and access to baths and showers.

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NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

NBC Universal announced the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes awards ceremony



Screenshot NBC coverage of the Golden Globes from previous years on YouTube

BURBANK – In the wake of an in-depth investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization responsible for the Golden Globes by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed a lack of racial diversity among its voting members and various other ethical concerns, NBC Universal announced Monday the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.

This past February ahead of the HFPA’s 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, HFPA board chair Meher Tatna told Variety magazine that the organization that the organization of international journalists which covers the film, television, and entertainment industry has not had any Black members in at least 20 years.

Actor Sterling K. Brown,  a Golden Globe winner and two-time nominee, posted to Instagram; 

Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch this week that actor and superstar celebrity Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision, the Associated Press reported.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” a spokesperson for NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” the spokesperson added. “Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

NBC’s decision comes as Vogue reported that the backlash to the HFPA came swiftly and decisively. Some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Netflix, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, announced they were severing ties with the organization until efforts were made to increase diversity and stamp out corruption, while a group of more than 100 of the industry’s biggest PR firms released a statement in March in which they pledged to boycott the ceremony for the foreseeable future. 

The HFPA did not immediately respond to inquiries by media outlets requesting comment about NBC’s decision.

In February, the organization said it was “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV, and the artists inspiring and educating them.”

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” it said.

HFPA also announced a full timetable through this summer for implementing promised reform initiatives in response to NBC’s decision.

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority,” the HFPA board said in a statement. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”

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LA County expected to hit herd immunity by mid summer



Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County could reach COVID-19 herd immunity among adults and the older teenagers by mid- to late July, public health officials announced Monday. Over the weekend LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that appointments are no longer needed for Angelenos to get COVID-19 vaccinations at any site run by the city.

Garcetti’s move is intended to give people who don’t have the time or technological resources to navigate online booking platforms a chance to get the shot.

The percentage of the population the County needs to vaccinate to achieve community immunity is unknown, however Public Health officials estimate it’s probably around 80%. Currently, 400,000 shots each week are getting into the arms of L.A. County residents, and there are over 2 million more first doses to go before 80% of all L.A. County residents 16 and older have received at least one shot.

At this rate, Public Health expects the County will reach this level of community immunity in mid- to late July and that assumes the County continues to at least have 400,000 people vaccinated each week. That would include both first doses that people need as well as their second doses.

This news came as Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced that attendance numbers at all grade levels in the District have been considerably lower than expected as extensive safety measures have failed to lure back the vast majority of families in the final weeks of school.

Only 7% of high school students, about 30% of elementary school children and 12% of middle school students have returned to campuses.

As of May 7, more than 8,492,810 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 5,146,142 were first doses and 3,346,668 were second doses.

On Monday the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people 16 years old and older.

Pfizer’s testing in adolescents “met our rigorous standards,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a statement released Monday by the White House, President Joe Biden the FDA’s decision marked another important step in the nation’s march back to regular life.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” Biden said.

Los Angeles County will offer the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms the FDA recommendation, which can happen as early as Wednesday. All adolescents 12-17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: (English) and (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that unvaccinated people — including children — should continue taking precautions such as wearing masks indoors and keeping their distance from other unvaccinated people outside of their households.

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HHS takes steps to reverse Anti-LGBTQ+ healthcare policy

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule”



HHS the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (Photo: GSA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday morning that the Biden-Harris Administration will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in BAGLY v. HHS, Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule.”

The Trump-era policy undermines the ACA’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex — including pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping — as well as protections for patients with limited-English proficiency and those living with chronic illnesses, including HIV. Because the issues in BAGLY v. HHS are broader than what the Administration announced today, the Court scheduled a hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss for June 3rd at 2:30 PM EST.

In reaction to the HHS announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday:

“Today, the Biden Administration has taken essential and potentially life-saving action to affirm that all people in America have the right to quality, affordable health care – no matter who they are or whom they love.  During this time of pandemic and always, it is vital that the most vulnerable have access to care, including LGBTQ Americans, who have long suffered injustice and discrimination that has left them dangerously exposed to health risks.
“The Trump Administration’s decision to greenlight anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care in the middle of a pandemic was an act of senseless and staggering cruelty, made in blatant defiance of our values and a Supreme Court ruling made just a month prior.  
“Congressional Democrats together with the Biden Administration are proud to uphold the equal right of every American to access the care that they need to pursue a life of dignity and health.  We must now build on this progress and enact the House-passed Equality Act to fully ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in our nation.”

In addition to Equality California, co-plaintiffs in BAGLY v. HHS include Darren Lazor, The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality California, Fenway Health, and Transgender Emergency Fund.

Lazor is a transgender man near Cleveland, Ohio, who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017. He is a member of Equality California. Plaintiffs are represented by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School and law firm Hogan Lovells.

The lawsuit asserts that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Notably, it was published on June 19,  just days after the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that it is unlawful sex discrimination to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lawsuit also asserts that the new rule will embolden discrimination and harm LGBTQ+ patients and people seeking reproductive health care, further stigmatize abortion and other pregnancy-related care, harm patients with limited-English proficiency, especially immigrants, and harm people with chronic illnesses, including those living with HIV. The rule will also create confusion about the scope of protections against discrimination under federal law. 

Trans people, like plaintiff Darren Lazor, already face disproportionate discrimination in health care settings, including mistreatment by insurers and humiliation and harassment by doctors – problems that are exacerbated for trans people of color and trans people living in rural regions and the U.S. South. In seeking to deny trans people access to the healthcare they need, the Trump Administration had placed trans people, and especially Black trans women, in danger through deliberately harmful governmental action.

“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden-Harris Administration will take initial steps to reverse President Trump’s dangerous, discriminatory Rollback Rule, which undermined healthcare nondiscrimination protections critical to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans people in particular,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“As the world recovers from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that every American have access to quality, affordable healthcare without fear of harassment and discrimination. We remain hopeful that under Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Levine’s leadership, HHS will continue to take further steps to rescind the Trump-era regulation and address the harms that it has caused,” he added.

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