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Transgender Honduran activist: Migrants ‘not afraid’ of Trump policies

Kendra Stefani Jordany lives in San Pedro Sula

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Kendra Stefani Jordany is a transgender woman from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, who ran for the Central American Parliament in 2017. She has sharply criticized Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández for not doing enough to tackle rampant discrimination and violence that has prompted thousands of Hondurans to migrate from the country. (Photo courtesy of Kendra Jordany)

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — A transgender activist in Honduras says President Trump’s immigration policy has done little to deter migrants from her country who want to travel to the U.S.

“They are not afraid of the policy the president of the United States wants to put in place,” Kendra Stefani Jordany told the Washington Blade on March 11 during an interview at a hotel in the city of San Pedro Sula, specifically referring to the wall that Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border. “They are going to come how they come.”

San Pedro Sula, which is located in Honduras’ Cortés department, is the country’s second largest city. San Pedro Sula is also known as one of world’s most violent cities because of violence associated with gangs and drug traffickers.

Statistics indicate San Pedro Sula’s murder rate has dropped in recent years, but violence remains commonplace. Poverty and a lack of economic opportunities have also prompted thousands of Hondurans to join migrant caravans that often leave from San Pedro Sula’s main bus station.

The main bus station in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 12, 2019. Many of the migrant caravans that have brought migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border have left from this terminal. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Roxsana Hernández, a trans Honduran woman with HIV who died in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in New Mexico in May 2018, was in San Pedro Sula before she traveled north with a migrant caravan. A gay Honduran man who is seeking asylum in Mexico told the Blade last summer during an interview in Mexico City that he fled San Pedro Sula after gang members in February 2018 raped and murdered a female friend in front of him.

“People are going to leave because they are dying of hunger,” Jordany told the Blade. “There are no employment opportunities here.”

Jordany also criticized Honduras’ public health care system.

“I have heard testimony from women who left the country because their children were killed,” she added. “They are afraid to live.”

https://youtu.be/a_WA4zmORsQ

Jordany in 2017 ran for the Central American Parliament as a member of the Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party.

She is the first openly trans person to ever win a primary election in Honduras. LIBRE ultimately did not add her name to its list of Central American Parliament candidates who were on the ballot in the general election.

Honduras’ Supreme Electoral Tribunal declared President Juan Orlando Hernández the winner of the presidential election, despite widespread irregularities and criticism that his decision to run for a second term violated the country’s constitution. The disputed election results sparked widespread protests in San Pedro Sula and in other cities across the country that left dozens of people dead.

Jordany described Hernández’s government to the Blade as “illegal” and a “dictatorship.”

“It is obvious,” said Jordany.

Jordany noted federal authorities last November arrested Hernández’s brother, former Honduran Congressman Juan Antonio Hernández, in Miami on charges that he was trafficking drugs into the U.S. for more than a decade. Jordany also told the Blade the only way Honduras can begin to address the poverty, violence and lack of economic opportunities that prompt migrants to leave the country is if Juan Orlando Hernández leaves office.

“It has to do with a change of government,” said Jordany. “But (it has to be one) that places an importance on the people and not just its own interests.”

Graffiti on the wall of a building in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, describes Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández as a “murderer.” Hernández’s contested 2017 re-election sparked protests that left dozens of people dead across the country. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The U.S. Agency for International Development notes Honduras in 2017 received nearly $181 million in aid from the U.S. Nearly $82 million of this figure was earmarked for “government and civil society” while slightly more than $5.8 million went to “conflict, peace and security.”

Trump has threatened to cut aid to Honduras and to Guatemala and El Salvador if their governments don’t do more to stop migrants from leaving their countries.

Juan Orlando Hernández’s government has created a series of television ads that urge Hondurans not to migrate to the U.S.

Honduran first lady Ana García last June visited a detention center in Texas amid widespread outrage over the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents. García in a series of tweets and other public statements has urged Hondurans to remain in the country and promised them her husband’s government will “look for solutions to support you.”

The Honduran government has opened shelters in San Pedro Sula and in other cities across the country that are designed to provide assistance to migrants who have been deported.

Jordany told the Blade many of the Honduran migrants who have been deported are unable to speak fluent Spanish and don’t have family ties to the country. She said many of them “quickly leave” Honduras.

A street market in downtown San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 11, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Taxi drivers and other San Pedro Sula residents with whom the Blade spoke between March 10-12 said their city is safer than it was even two years ago.

Officers with Honduras’ Military and National Police — which LGBTI activists and others have accused of carrying out human rights abuses — were visible throughout San Pedro Sula when the Blade was in the city.

Jordany criticized the police for preventing hundreds of people who were traveling with a migrant caravan from crossing the Honduras-Guatemala border last October. She also said the Honduran government needs to divert some of the money it earmarks for security initiatives to fund health and education programs.

“The security tax is more,” said Jordany.

A Honduran National Police station in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 11, 2019. LGBTI and other human rights advocates have accused the country’s National and Military Police of carrying out human rights abuses. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
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Southern California

Triple A:  National gas prices drop below $4, SoCal prices still declining

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.38, which is 16 cents lower than last week

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Los Angeles Blade file screenshot/photo

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices continue to be down by 70 to 75 cents from a month ago in many areas, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.38, which is 16 cents lower than last week. The average national price is $3.99, the lowest level since March, which is 15 cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.41 per gallon, which is 17 cents lower than last week, 74 cents lower than last month, and $1.03 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.37, which is 14 cents lower than last week, 70 cents lower than last month, and $1.02 higher than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.57, which is 10 cents lower than last week, 54 cents lower than last month and $1.25 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.28, which is 17 cents lower than last week, 74 cents lower than last month and 98 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.55 average price is 20 cents lower than last Thursday, 65 cents lower than last month and $1.22 higher than a year ago today.

“We may see more relief at the pump as we move closer to the end of summer road trips, but a more significant decrease in demand for fuel will likely come after Labor Day weekend,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Some drivers have made changes to their daily habits, like carpooling, using public transit and shopping and dining out less, however, most people are still prioritizing their budgets to take family road trips. We encourage consumers to shop around for the cheapest gas using a tool like the free AAA Mobile app.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Aug. 11, averages are:

CA Gas Watch 8-11-22
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Asia

WorldPride 2025 in Taiwan cancelled

“Taiwan deeply regrets that InterPride, due to political considerations, has unilaterally rejected the mutually agreed upon consensus”

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Taipei Pride October, 2014 (Photo by Andy Lain 多元的台灣 2014彩虹大遊行)

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwanese organizers of the WorldPride 2025 Taiwan will not hold the event after InterPride, a global LGBTQ rights group, refused to let the Taiwanese organizers use the island nation’s name in the event title.

WorldPride Taiwan 2025 was initially slated to be hosted by the southern city of Kaohsiung after the Taiwan Preparation Committee, consisting of representatives from Kaohsiung Pride and Taiwan Pride, had their bid accepted by InterPride, a global LGBTQ rights group.

 A-Ku (阿古), co-chairman of the local WorldPride Taiwan 2025 organizing committee told media outlets that InterPride had recently “suddenly” asked them to change the name of the event to “Kaohsiung,” removing the word “Taiwan.”

“After careful evaluation, it is believed that if the event continues, it may harm the interests of Taiwan and the Taiwan gay community. Therefore, it is decided to terminate the project before signing the contract,” said the co-chair in a statement.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) helped organize a tripartite meeting with InterPride and Kaohsiung Pride on Nov. 16, 2021 during which the three parties agreed upon the name Taiwan, A-Ku told Focus Taiwan/CNA News English.

Despite this, InterPride subsequently announced in a letter dated July 26 that, based on a vote by the directors and supervisors, the event must be named either “WorldPride Kaohsiung” or “Kaohsiung WorldPride,” A-Ku said.

He also noted that InterPride’s assertion that it had suggested using the name “WorldPride Kaohsiung, Taiwan” was “completely inconsistent with the facts.”

A-Ku added that the name “WorldPride Taiwan 2025” had been used throughout the entire bidding process from the beginning of 2021, including on application forms, plans, and other relevant documents.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry released a statement noting that the event would have been the first WorldPride event to be held in East Asia.

“Taiwan deeply regrets that InterPride, due to political considerations, has unilaterally rejected the mutually agreed upon consensus and broken a relationship of cooperation and trust, leading to this outcome,” the statement said adding;

“Not only does the decision disrespect Taiwan’s rights and diligent efforts, it also harms Asia’s vast LGBTIQ+ community and runs counter to the progressive principles espoused by InterPride.”

Taiwan had legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, “On May 17th, 2019 in Taiwan, Love Won,” tweeted President Tsai Ing-wen at the time. “We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.”

The island nation’s recognition of same-sex marriage is a first for Asia, and Taiwan is proud of its reputation as a central bastion of LGBTQ rights and liberalism in Asia.

WorldPride 2025 Taiwan’s full statement:

Statement on Project Termination of Hosting WorldPride Taiwan 2025》

The WorldPride 2025 Taiwan Preparation Committee would like to express our sincere gratitude for all the generous support we have received since winning the bid to host WorldPride 2025 in Taiwan. After months of preparation and collaboration with various government departments and corporate enterprises, it is a great pity to announce that the project of WorldPride Taiwan 2025 has been terminated.

When discussing and negotiating the event contract’s terms and conditions, the WorldPride 2025 Taiwan Preparation Committee (consisting of Taiwan Pride and Kaohsiung Pride) was unable to reach a consensus with InterPride, the event licensor. There were major discrepancies between our stances on the event’s naming, understandings of Taiwan’s culture, and expectations of what a WorldPride event should look like.

In the back-and-forth discussions, InterPride repetitively raised their concerns and doubts about whether Taiwan has the capacity, economic and otherwise, to host an international event like WorldPride. This is despite our team consisting of highly competent Pride organizers who have successfully organized some of the largest Pride events in Asia. Although we have presented past data and relevant statistics to prove our track record, we were still unable to convince InterPride. However hard we have tried to cooperate, our efforts did not result in an equal and trusting working partnership with the event licensor.

The final straw that led the negotiation to a deadlock was the abrupt notice from InterPride, requiring the name of the event to change from “WorldPride Taiwan 2025” to “WorldPride Kaohsiung 2025”. This is despite the fact that the name “WorldPride Taiwan 2025” was used throughout the entire bidding process: From the bid application and the bid proposal evaluation to the voting process and the winner announcement back in 2021.

We had made it clear to InterPride that there are some significant reasons why we insist on using the name “WorldPride Taiwan 2025”. First, the name “Taiwan Pride” is of symbolic significance to the Taiwanese LGBTIQ+ community as it has been used for Taiwan’s first and still ongoing Pride parade since the first edition in 2003. It was not named after the city but the nation as a whole. Second, WorldPride Taiwan 2025 was planned to connect several Pride events and activities across Taiwan, with many cities, in addition to Kaohsiung, participating.

After the winner announcement, upon reading InterPride’s congratulatory letter which mistakenly named Taiwan as a region instead of a country, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) helped organize a tripartite meeting with InterPride and KH Pride on November 16 2021. In the meeting, the three parties (MOFA, InterPride, KH Pride) agreed on using “WorldPride Taiwan 2025” as the name for all the sequential events and activities. However, during the recent contract negotiation, InterPride suddenly made it a requirement that WorldPride 2025 can only be named after the host city rather than the country (“WorldPride Kaohsiung 2025” instead of “WorldPride Taiwan 2025”). This unexpected requirement essentially reneges on the previously made agreement.

In the face of many uncertainties such as InterPride’s inconsistent attitude toward the event naming and doubts about our team and the Taiwan market, we have to make the painful decision to terminate the project of hosting WorldPride 2025 in order to strive for the best interest of the LGBTIQ+ community in Taiwan. The WorldPride 2025 Preparation Committee will also resign to take responsibility for failing to host the event.

We would like to express our most profound appreciation to everyone who has supported us. We are especially grateful for the continuous assistance and resources provided by Taiwan’s Presidential Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We promise that the termination of hosting WorldPride Taiwan 2025 will not undermine our motivation to serve the LGBTIQ+ community. We will continue to promote Taiwan’s LGBTIQ+ culture worldwide.

The WorldPride 2025 Taiwan Preparation Committee

2022/08/12

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U.S. Federal Courts

Michigan AG Nessel joins coalition opposing Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law

“Non-inclusive educational environments have severe negative health impacts on LGBTQ+ students, resulting in increased mental health issues”

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaking at the Michigan capitol building for Pride June 26, 2022 Lansing, MI (Photo Credit: Office of the Michigan Attorney General)

By Jon King | LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a coalition of 16 attorneys general from across the country in filing an amicus brief opposing Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education Act,” otherwise known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Nessel, a Democrat who is Michigan’s first openly gay top statewide official, says that the law, which prevents classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity, poses a serious threat to LGBTQ+ students who she says are particularly vulnerable to discrimination.  

“This bill is an affront not just to educators, but also to LGBTQ+ students, especially those who may already be experiencing the stigmatizing effect of their identity at school,” Nessel said. “This bill is not motivated by the desire to limit inappropriate content in classrooms. It is meant to have a chilling effect on how educators do their jobs and may also violate the First Amendment rights of students and teachers alike. I gladly join my colleagues on this brief and hope it discourages other states, including Michigan, from considering similar legislation.” 

The law is being challenged in federal district court by a group of students, parents, teachers and organizations seeking to prevent its enforcement by alleging that it violates, among other things, the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment.  

The law entirely bans “classroom instruction” on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through Grade 3 while also requiring the state education agency write new classroom instructions for standards that must be followed by grades four through 12. 

Opponents say that because the law does not define many of its key terms, like “classroom instruction,” it is forcing Florida teachers to censor themselves out of fear of prosecution. That fear is further compounded by the fact that the law also allows a parent to bring a civil claim against a school district to enforce its prohibitions.  

There are two main points in the brief.

“Florida’s law is extreme,” it states. “Although Florida claims the Act is intended to protect children and preserve parental choice, the attorneys general have curricula in place that allow for age-appropriate discussion of LGBTQ+ issues while respecting parental views on the topic.”

“The law is causing significant harms to students, parents, teachers, and other states,” claims the brief. “Non-inclusive educational environments have severe negative health impacts on LGBTQ+ students, resulting in increased rates of mental health disorders and suicide attempts. These harms extend to youth not just in Florida, but throughout the country.”

Nessel is joining the amicus brief alongside Attorneys General from New Jersey, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York and Oregon.

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The preceding article was previously published by the Michigan Advance and is republished with permission.

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Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.

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The Michigan Advance is a hard-hitting, nonprofit news site covering politics and policy across the state. We feature in-depth stories, briefs and social media updates, as well as top-notch progressive commentary. The Advance is free of advertising and free to our readers. We wholeheartedly believe that journalists have the biggest impact by reporting close to home, explaining what’s happening in our state and communities — and why. Michigan has hundreds fewer reporters than just a couple decades ago. The result is too many stories falling through the cracks.

The Advance is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. The Advance retains editorial independence.

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