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Mexico border city provides assistance to LGBTI migrants

Nogales mayor: Trump wall demands as political ‘tactic’

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Jesús Antonio Pujol Irastorza is the mayor of Nogales, Mexico, which borders the U.S. His administration has provided assistance to LGBTI migrants who have passed through his city en route to the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Enrique Morales)

NOGALES, Mexico — The mayor of a Mexican border city that has provided assistance to LGBTI migrants says President Trump’s continued demands for a border wall is a political “tactic.”

Jesús Antonio Pujol Irastorza told the Washington Blade on Jan. 23 during an interview at his office — less than a mile south of the Nogales port of entry — that his administration is “prepared for issues of violence,” referring to one of Trump’s justifications for a border wall.

“It is a tactic to go to certain people who want to build this wall…to say, look Congress, look Senate, we need to build this wall because groups of 5,000, 10,000 people who want to stay in the country are coming,” added Pujol.

Official statistics indicate 233,000 people live in Nogales, which is in Mexico’s Sonora state. The city borders Nogales, Ariz.

Daniel Hernández, one of four openly gay members of the Arizona Legislature, represents Nogales, Ariz., in the Arizona House of Representatives. The two cities are collectively known as Ambos Nogales or Both Nogales.

“It is practically one city divided by the border,” said Pujol. “Many have relatives, friends who live there, and many people live there and then come to work here.”

Pujol, who is a member of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, was elected on July 1, 2018.

A group of roughly 45 LGBTI migrants from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico arrived in Nogales last November from Tijuana. Pujol’s administration provided them with food, clothing, blankets and rooms in two hotels near the border and access to one of the four migrant shelters in the city.

“We received them like any other migrant, like any other person who comes, seeks help,” Pujol told the Blade. “We received them, we took care of them.”

Pujol said many of the migrants with whom he spoke said they had relatives or friends in the U.S. He told the Blade some of them said they had suffered racism and other discrimination in their home countries or states, but he added most of them migrated because of a lack of economic opportunities.

“They are looking for better opportunity,” said Pujol. “[It is] practically the same reason for any migrant who wants to go to the U.S.”

A group of 16 transgender and gay migrants from Central America asked for asylum in the U.S. at the Nogales port of entry in August 2017. LGBTI Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans were among the thousands of migrants who arrived in Tijuana last November with hopes of seeking asylum in the U.S.

U.S. Army troops who were deployed around Nogales installed concertina wire with razors on top of the border fence in anticipation of the migrants’ arrival. Shipping containers temporarily blocked two of the six vehicle lanes on the U.S. side of the Nogales port of entry.

Pujol spoke with the Blade two days before the Trump administration announced it will begin its controversial pilot “remain in Mexico” program that will force some migrants who ask for asylum at the San Ysidro port of entry south of San Diego to remain in Mexico as they await the outcome of their cases.

The first asylum seeker who was sent back to Mexico under the program arrived in Tijuana on Tuesday. The partial federal government shutdown over Trump’s demands for border wall funding ended on Jan. 25.

The Mexico-U.S. border from Nogales, Mexico, on Jan. 23, 2019 (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Pujol acknowledged some Nogales residents have criticized “the president of the United States for his comments that he makes” against migrants and Mexicans. Pujol also told the Blade the Trump administration’s decision to deploy troops and install razor wire along the border fence is “a tactic of intimidation.”

“We here on the border are already used to Border Patrol, to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on the border,” he said, noting Mexicans who want to enter the U.S. sometimes have to wait hours at the Nogales port of entry.

Pujol told the Blade his city is also “used to receiving” migrants, but not in the large numbers that have arrived in Tijuana over the last year. Pujol added Trump’s policies have not deterred them from traveling to the border.

“They are not afraid of what has been happening with the wall, with the new barbed wire,” said Pujol.

Nogales, Mexico, Mayor Jesús Antonio Pujol Irastorza stands near the Mexico-U.S. border. His city last November provided assistance to a group of LGBTI migrants who arrived in his city. (Photo courtesy of Enrique Morales)
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United Kingdom

Bank of England and British Intelligence Pride Month tributes to Alan Turing

“Though we should never forget the tragedy of his life being cut short, we should always endeavour to learn from his legacy.”

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Dr. Alan Turing 'Rainbow artwork' revealed on what would have been his 109th birthday Wednesday for Pride month. ( Courtesy of GCHQ)

LONDON – He was quirky, aloof and in the modern vernacular just a tad bit weird. A mathematical genius whose ground breaking work in the art of ‘the maths’ and what later became known as computer sciences led to the Allied Victory in Europe over Nazi Germany- and Dr. Alan Turing was gay.

It was his sexual orientation that led to his loss of his career and then upon conviction for breaking British laws against homosexual acts- “gross indecency” a criminal offence in the UK he was prosecuted for in 1952. He died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday after committing suicide.

In 2009 then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government and people for “the appalling way he was treated,” followed by Queen Elizabeth II granting him a posthumous pardon in 2013.

Turing was for decades one of the unsung heroes of Bletchley Park and the codebreakers who were able through the first systematic electronic method cracked Germany’s infamous Enigma machine’s encoded messages.

Some historians estimate that Bletchley Park’s massive codebreaking operation, especially the breaking of Kriegsmarine’s U-boat fleet’s Enigma codes, shortened the war in Europe by as many as two to four years. If U-boat Enigma had not been broken, and the war had continued for another two to three years, a further 14 to 21 million people might have been killed.

There are those who claim that he stands alongside British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, General of the Army and Allied Supreme Dwight David Eisenhower, and others of the wartime principals as a leading figure in the Allied victory over Hitler. There should be a statue of him in London among Britain’s other leading war heroes they say.

Instead of a statue though, on the 109th anniversary of his birth in London this past Wednesday June 23, the Bank of England’s newly-designed £50 note featuring the portrait of Turing entered circulation.

Courtesy of the Bank of England

But the likely the best tribute during this Pride Month 2021 however, came from the descendent of the wartime Government Code and Cypher School that Turing and the Bletchley Park codebreakers worked under, now known as the Government Communications Headquarters, commonly referred to as GCHQ.

Pink News UK reported;

The 10 by 10 metre rainbow artwork was created by artist Joe Hill in consultation with staff from GCHQ’s Pride network, and has been installed in the centre of the GCHQ hub in Benhall, Gloucestershire, which is known as the Doughnut.

The work features a portrait of Turing, surrounded by wheels from the British Bombe, the machine he designed to break the Enigma code at Bletchley Park. The artwork also includes 15 hidden codes.

The piece will not remain permanently at the intelligence agency, but will be donated to organisations chosen by GCHQ’s Pride Network.

“Alan Turing is a role model for many here at GCHQ and a global icon as an LGBTQ+ person in the field of science and technology,” GCHQ’s Pride Network said in a statement released Wednesday. “Though we should never forget the tragedy of his life being cut short, we should always endeavour to learn from his legacy and create a safer and better future for LGBTQ+ people.”

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World

Leaders of 17 EU countries urge bloc to fight anti-LGBTQ discrimination

Hungary lawmakers last week passed another homophobic, transphobic bill

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(Photo by Håkan Dahlström via Flickr)

BRUSSELS — The leaders of 17 European Union countries have signed a letter that urges the EU to fight anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

Politico reported Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, Luxembourgish Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven signed the letter ahead of an EU summit in Brussels. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is also a signatory.

The EU heads of state signed the letter a week after Hungarian lawmakers approved a bill that would ban the promotion of homosexuality and sex-reassignment surgery to anyone under 18.

The European Commission on Wednesday said it would seek to block the measure. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described it as a “shame.”

“This bill clearly discriminates against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and it goes against all the values, the fundamental values of the European Union and this is human dignity, it is equality and is human fundamental rights, so we will not compromise on these principles,” she said.

“I will use all the powers of the European Commission to ensure that the rights of all EU citizens are guaranteed, whoever you are and wherever you live,” added von der Leyen.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán rejected the criticisms.

“The recently adopted Hungarian bill protects the rights of children, guarantees the rights of parents and does not apply to the sexual orientation rights of those over 18 years of age, so it does not contain any discriminatory elements,” his government said in a statement, as France 24 reported.

Orbán and members of his ruling Fidesz party in recent years have moved to curtail LGBTQ rights in Hungary.

Hungarian lawmakers late last year approved bills that effectively banned same-sex couples from adopting children and defined marriage as between a man and a woman. A measure that bans transgender and intersex people from legally changing their gender passed in the Hungarian Parliament in April 2020.

Munich’s Allianz Arena sought to illuminate the stadium in rainbow colors during a Euro 2020 match between Hungary and Germany as a way to protest the latest anti-LGBTQ bill to pass in the Hungarian Parliament. The Union of European Football Associations, which is European soccer’s governing body, rejected the request.

ILGA-Europe in a statement it sent to the Los Angeles Blade on Thursday notes both Hungary and Poland, another EU country in which lawmakers have sought to restrict LGBTQ rights in recent years.

“For quite some time now, we’ve been informing EU ministers about systematic breaches of EU law committed by Hungary and Poland, which impact on LGBTI rights and the lives of LGBTI people,” says ILGA-Europe. “This week’s developments seem to suggest that the European Commission and a number of member states finally heard that call. Time to keep up the action and follow through on its values and responsibilities as guardians of EU law, keeping the important commitments made this week.”

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San Francisco

The Memorial at Harvey Milk Plaza; preliminary design revealed

“The balance between Harvey’s history and the movement’s history feels correct- Harvey would have liked it”

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Harvey Milk in front of his 'Castro Camera' shop (Photo by Dan Nicoletta)

SAN FRANCISCO – The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza (FHMP) revealed a new vision for the Memorial at Harvey Milk Plaza Thursday, which is located at the iconic intersection of Castro and Market Streets  commemorating the visionary civil and human rights leader.

“The balance between Harvey’s history and the movement’s history feels correct to me. Harvey would have liked it,” shared photographer Dan Nicoletta, who was close friends with Harvey and worked at his Castro  Camera store on Castro Street.  

In alignment with San Francisco’s Pride Month celebrations, the design is being shared with the  public for feedback via two virtual town hall meetings on June 23 and 24 and via a broader continued online  engagement effort available here, [Link].

“We believe the redesign captures the public’s desire to better honor Harvey Milk and creates one of the United  States’ first ‘next generation’ memorials: one that will continue to represent the values of the local community  through growth and change. The Memorial at Harvey Milk Plaza will interweave the past and the present so that  it serves as a call to action for generations that follow,” explained FHMP Interim Executive Director Brian  Springfield. 

Included in the design are features dedicated to visibility and representation of the wide spectrum of people  encompassed by the LGBTQ+ community. Public art and interactive elements celebrate LGBTQ+ culture and  history while also promoting a call to action in support of social justice movements, making the Memorial at  Harvey Milk Plaza a place where hope and action live on forever.

The design is anticipated to be finalized this year, and the project’s initial phase of transit station improvements  is expected to break ground in 2022. Springfield emphasized that the new design being shared is still  preliminary, and that FHMP and SWA continue to seek input from the community – at the two upcoming design  presentations and through ongoing input gathered through an interactive online community engagement portal available.

Four core elements will characterize the renewed plaza: The Pedestal, the Beacon, the Grove, and the Gallery. More details about each design element, along with high resolution images, can be found here. 

Public feedback collected since 2017 has been incorporated into the new design, reflecting the community’s  desire for an unconventional and inclusive design process and assurance that Milk’s qualities and legacy remain  front-and-center. Discussions among FHMP, local landscape architecture firm SWA, local Castro-based  organizations, and the general public will continue as the designs are refined.

“Harvey Milk Plaza can be a space that both honors the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and lifts up the  voices and struggles of today’s queer community, all while functioning as an inviting gateway to the Castro and  Muni,” said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the Castro neighborhood and is currently  the Board of Supervisors’ sole LGBTQ+ member. “The concepts being shared today are an exciting step forward  in achieving that vision.”

Initial funding for the project has been provided through private and public sources, including a $1 million grant  from the State of California, earmarked specifically to “support construction of LGBTQ space in Harvey Milk  Plaza.”

The project team’s next steps include continued design refinements in response to ongoing community  input, coordination with various city agencies, and progress through the approvals process, with a goal of being  prepared to begin construction in Summer/Fall 2022.

The new design is inspired by Harvey’s words, intersectional activism, and community input, with a keen eye for current and future transit needs. California State Senator Scott Wiener said, “Harvey Milk Plaza is at the heart of the  Castro community — a place to gather, to go about our lives, and to remember Harvey’s many contributions.  Our community deserves a plaza worthy of Harvey’s memory — one that educates and allows us to organize and  enjoy our amazing neighborhood. The Harvey Milk Plaza redesign is a long overdue effort to make this great plaza all it can be.”

To see the new design and provide your input, please visit the website.

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