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UK election results pave way for Brexit, prompt activists concern

Concerns over loss of EU human rights protections mount

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Boris Johnson, gay news, Washington Blade
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo by Chatham House via Flickr)

The results of Thursday’s elections in the U.K. have all but assured the country will soon leave the European Union.

The BBC reported Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party now has 365 seats in Parliament, compared to the 203 seats that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has. Activists with whom the Los Angeles Blade spoke on Friday said Brexit could prove harmful to LGBTQ Brits because some of the European Union’s human rights standards will no longer apply to the country.

“Brexit will happen and LGBT+ people will lose the legal protection against discrimination that is enshrined in the E.U.’s Charter of Fundamental Rights,” said Peter Tatchell, a prominent British LGBTQ activist who is director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, in an email to the Blade.

Tatchell noted the U.K. will “still have the safeguards of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights” once the country leaves the European Union.

OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern in a statement to the Blade said the Conservative Party under former Prime Minister David Cameron supported marriage rights for same-sex couples. Stern also noted Johnson voted for civil partnerships and had openly gay advisors.

“One hopes this history means that the rights and recognition the LGBTQ community has enjoyed from the government of the U.K. in recent years will remain relatively unchanged,” Stern told the Blade.

“However, the election results bring destabilizing uncertainty,” she added, while noting the U.K’s 2010 Equality Act that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation is based on the European Union’s Equal Treatment Directive that was adopted in 2006.

“How nondiscrimination laws based on E.U. law will fare in the aftermath of Brexit is unknown,” said Stern.

Stern told the Blade there are also concerns “about the future of” efforts to update the country’s 2004 Gender Recognition Act — which allows trans Brits to legally change their gender with the approval of medical and legal professionals — “under a more conservative government in an era of global anti-trans rhetoric.” It remains unclear whether Johnson’s government would support activists’ efforts to allow trans people to legally change their gender in the U.K. without medical or legal intervention.

“There are also questions about this government’s commitment to foreign assistance, which has been a mainstay of support for the global LGBTIQ movement and developing countries around the world,” Stern told the Blade..

Tatchell agreed with Stern’s concerns over trans rights under Johnson’s government. Tatchell also told the Blade that “further advances seem doubtful” on other issues that include universal access to PrEP in the U.K. and compensation for men who were convicted under homophobic laws.

“The ire of Tories is more focused on immigrants, refugees and the E.U.,” he added.

State Department welcomes election results

The Brexit referendum narrowly passed in 2016, with the majority of voters in England and Wales supporting the “leave” campaign. The majority of voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland opposed Brexit.

British politics have remained deeply polarized over the issue. Johnson, along with President Trump, are among those who support Brexit.

“The United States and United Kingdom share a unique partnership and essential alliance, based on a strong foundation of shared values and democratic principles,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus on Friday in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our critical work together with Prime Minister Johnson and his government to further strengthen our enduring special relationship, address mutual challenges, and build on the progress and prosperity we have made on so many fronts.” 

“The United States is committed to the U.S.-U.K. shared global agenda, including expanding our robust economic relationship by reaching a comprehensive free trade agreement with the U.K. once it formally withdraws from the European Union,” she added.

Three advocacy groups in the U.K. — Stonewall U.K., the Equality Network in Scotland and the Rainbow Project in Northern Ireland — have yet to respond to the Blade’s request for comment on the election results.

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards vetoes trans youth sports bill

Discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) (Official state portrait)

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s Democratic John Bel Edwards announced Tuesday that he has vetoed a measure that would have barred trans girls and women from participating on athletic teams or in sporting events designated for girls or women at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools. 

The measure, Senate Bill 156 authored by Sen. Beth Mizell titled the ‘the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ in the Governor’s eyes, “was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” Edwards said in his veto statement;

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue. 

Further, it would make life more difficult for transgender children, who are some of the most vulnerable Louisianans when it comes to issues of mental health. We should be looking for more ways to unite rather than divide our citizens. And while there is no issue to be solved by this bill, it does present real problems in that it makes it more likely that NCAA and professional championships, like the 2022 Final Four, would not happen in our state. For these and for other reasons, I have vetoed the bill.”

The Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper’s State House reporter, Blake Paterson, noted that [the law] would have required athletic teams or sporting events for women at public institutions be composed only of “biological females,” or those who presumably were listed as female on their birth certificates.

The measure won Senate approval 29-6 and cleared the House 78-19. Those margins are wide enough to override a governor’s veto, though it’s unclear whether lawmakers will return to Baton Rouge to do so.


“Governor Edwards deserves enormous credit for urging Louisianans to reject the politics of division and to focus on what brings us together, including a shared concern for vulnerable children. As his veto message rightly notes, transgender youth already face huge challenges,” Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, (NCLR) told the Blade in an email. “Banning them from school sports would not make any child’s life better or safer, but it would bring discredit and economic hardship to the state, which likely would lose NCAA and professional championships. Governor Edward’s veto message is a model of clarity and compassion. We need more leaders with his courage.”

The ACLU reacted in a tweet saying:

 

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National

Anti-LGBTQ religious extremist celebrates death at Wilton Manors Pride

Mehta points out this type of rhetoric is quite likely to inspire violence against the LGBTQ community by one of Shelley’s followers

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Screenshot vis Twitter

HURST, Tx. – The pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist Church in this suburban Fort Worth, Texas city took to his pulpit to celebrate the death of an attendee at the Wilton Manors, Florida Pride parade this past weekend.

Pastor Jonathan Shelley, whose church is affiliated with infamous “death to gays” Pastor Steven Anderson in Phoenix, Arizona is quoted by Patheos writer and progressive blogger Hemant Mehta saying; […]”I hope they all die! I would love it if every fag would die right now.” […]

Mehta, who runs the heavily trafficked The Friendly Atheist, also noted that Shelley told his congregants; “And, you know, it’s great when trucks accidentally go through those, you know, parades. I think only one person died. So hopefully we can hope for more in the future.”

Mehta noted that the video of Shelley’s hate-filled remarks on this and other anti-LGBTQ vitriol is still accessible on Shelley’s YouTube Channel. He also points out this type of rhetoric is quite likely to inspire violence against the LGBTQ community by one of Shelley’s followers.

The Blade has reached out to YouTube Tuesday for comment but has yet to receive a response.

Editor’s note; The language used in the video in the embedded tweet below is uncensored hate speech:

In a related update from the Daily Beast, Fred Johnson Jr., who was named by Wilton Manors police as the driver of the vehicle that veered out of control killing one person and injuring two others at Saturday’s Stonewall Pride Parade has offered his “sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event.”

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California

California’s LGBTQ Pride week 2021, Capitol Lighting

The building will be illuminated for the week, marking just the second time in California’s history that Pride colors have donned the dome

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California Capitol Building illuminated for Pride 2021 (Photo by Nune Garipian 2021)

SACRAMENTO — The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and partner organizations held a press event and lighting ceremony, Monday, June 21, for the illumination of the California State Capitol Dome in rainbow colors to kick off a weeklong recognition of Pride Month.

The building will remain illuminated for the entire week, marking just the second time in California’s history that Pride colors have donned the dome. The first lighting occurred after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage equality.

The ceremony is part of a citywide initiative to put light installations at additional Sacramento landmarks, including City Hall, Sutter’s Fort, and the Museum of Science and Curiosity. The lighting initiative is the brainchild of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center and the first of its kind for the region.

Speakers and participants included Assemblymember Evan Low, Chair of the CA Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, Senator Scott Wiener, former Chair of the CA Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, Vice Chair of the CA Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, California’s Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Senator John Laird, Alexis Sanchez, Director of Advocacy for the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, Tony Hoang, Executive Director-designate for Equality California, Tami Martin, External Affairs Director for the Capitol LGBTQ Association and Legislative LGBTQ Caucus members and community stakeholders.

Editor’s note: The Los Angeles Blade thanks the efforts of the event’s photographer, Nune Garipian, who is responsible for covering the event on behalf of the Blade. All photographs are [Copyright Garipian 2021] and are used by permission.

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