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Gay man burned in Kenya refugee camp dies

Chriton passed away nearly a month after attack

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An attack at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya on March 15, 2021, left two gay refugees with second-degree burns. One of these men has died. (Photo courtesy of Gilbert Kagarura)

NAIROBI, Kenya — One of the gay men who suffered burns during an attack at a Kenya refugee camp last month has died.

Reuters reported the man passed away at a hospital in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Monday. The Refugee Coalition of East Africa, which includes Kenya-based groups that advocate on behalf of LGBTQ refugees, identified the man as Chriton, who was also known as Trinidad.

“It is with deep sadness and anger that we have had to say goodbye to our fellow queer refugee, Chriton, aka Trinidad,” said the Refugee Coalition of East Africa in a press release.

Chriton was one of two gay men who suffered second-degree burns during the March 15 attack at the Kakuma refugee camp.

The Minnesota-based Black Immigrant Collective noted “petrol bombs were thrown into a group of LGBTQ+ refugees, allies and their children who live in” the camp’s Block 13. The U.N. Refugee Agency on Monday in a press release noted Chriton “was receiving treatment” at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital.

“After his admission, it was established that he was suffering from previous health issues for which he was also receiving treatment,” said UNHCR. “Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated and, despite the medical team’s best efforts, he passed away this morning.”

“We are deeply shocked by this tragic loss and wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victim,” said Fathiaa Abdalla, who is UNHCR’s representative in Kenya.

The UNHCR press release notes the other man who was burned during the attack “is recovering and is expected to be discharged soon.”

UNHCR to increase security for camp’s LGBTQ residents

The attack drew renewed attention to the plight of the LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers who live in Kakuma.

The Black Immigrant Collective and other advocacy groups have said UNHCR has not done enough to protect LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers who live in the camp. A U.N. official on Tuesday told Reuters that UNHCR will increase security for them.

UNHCR in a statement after the attack noted Kenya “remains the only country in the region to provide asylum to those fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression,” even though consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. Abdalla on Monday said UNHCR urges Kenyan authorities “to accelerate their investigation into the alleged attack and hold those responsible to account.”

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Los Angeles

LAPD marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women

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Photo Credit: City of Los Angeles/LAPD Twitter

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Department unveiled a new duty-uniform optional shoulder patch and a special events LAPD patrol vehicle to mark October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In a tweet the LAPD wrote: “October is #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth, a time we raise awareness of this complex disease and fund research into its causes, treatment, & cure. We offer our support for the many people affected by breast cancer. #LAPD

Emada Tingirides, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, is depicted with an LAPD Lieutenant in the LAWPOA @LAWPOA_LAPD Twitter post holding up the commemorative optional duty uniform patch that honors the efforts to combat the deadly disease by raising public awareness. Each year in the United States, about 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women.

For more information go to: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/

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U.S. Federal Courts

U.S. Federal Judge tosses Florida “Don’t Say Gay” lawsuit

The judge also ruled the law should not be used to treat LGBTQ students differently or to fail to step in when they face bullying

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Zander Moricz (R) a plaintiff in the lawsuit over 'Don't Say Gay' law, at Sarasota Pride 2022 (Photo Credit: Zander Moricz)

GAINESVILLE, Fl. – U.S. District Court Judge Allen Cothrel Winsor dismissed a lawsuit Monday against Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay law,” on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to challenge the law. 

Winsor, a judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida nominated by former President Donald Trump,  issued a 25-page order dismissing the case brought by students, families, educators, Family Equality, and Equality Florida, against the “Parental Rights in Education” bill passed in March of this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The lawsuit alleged, in part, that the law violated First Amendment and due-process rights. It reads, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

In his ruling, Winsor left open the question on the constitutionality instead focusing on whether the plaintiffs showed they had standing to pursue the case — and concluded that they had not met that requirement.

“The principal problem is that most of plaintiffs’ alleged harm is not plausibly tied to the law’s enforcement so much as the law’s very existence,” Winsor wrote. “Plaintiffs contend the law’s passage, the sentiment behind it, the legislators’ motivation, and the message the law conveys all cause them harm. But no injunction can unwind any of that.”

The judge also pointed out that violations of the law would be enforced against school districts, not individual teachers.

“With or without the law, school districts direct teachers as to what they may and may not teach,” he noted. “Plaintiffs do not allege otherwise; they do not assert, for example, that Florida’s public-school teachers may teach whatever lessons they wish. So to the extent plaintiffs allege that some teachers or others wish to provide ‘classroom instruction . . . on sexual orientation or gender identity’ to students ‘in kindergarten through grade 3,’ they would have to show (at a minimum) that without the law their individual school district would allow it. Yet plaintiffs offer no specific allegation that any teacher would be providing such classroom instruction absent HB 1577.”

Winsor gave the plaintiffs 14 days to file a revised lawsuit but also took the state to task. He stated that “nothing in the law—much less in its conceivable enforcement—could ’empower’ other students to do anything they could not otherwise do with respect to treating LGBTQ students differently.”

The judge also spelled out that the law should not be used to silence students from talking about their LGBTQ parents, to silence LGBTQ teachers from acknowledging their partners, or to exclude LGBTQ parents from school events.  And that it should not be used to treat LGBTQ students differently, to fail to step in when they face bullying, or to remove signs of support like rainbow flags from classrooms. 

In a June motion to dismiss the case, the state’s lawyers argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing. But they also wrote that the plaintiffs “have not come close to showing that the Legislature acted out of animus against LGBTQ individuals.”

“The bill reflects no governmental preference about what students should learn about sexual orientation and gender identity,” the state’s lawyers wrote. “Those subjects must be taught appropriately and, for the youngest children, they may be taught by parents, not in public-school classroom settings. That is a legitimate (state) interest.”

In a statement released after the ruling from Winsor, Equality Florida wrote:

“Judge Winsor acknowledges what has been clear from the beginning: that in DeSantis’s Florida, the political climate is so toxic for LGBTQ people that school districts are actively abdicating their responsibilities, choosing instead to capitulate to extremists and the toxic anti-LGBTQ brew they have created rather than adhere to the letter of the law.

This fight is not done. We will continue to expose the harm that Florida’s Don’t Say LGBTQ law is inflicting on children and families.  A court decision doesn’t negate that harm. This ruling focuses on whether the parents, students or organization were the right plaintiffs to bring it forward. Equality Florida made a commitment to fight to ensure every student is protected and every family is respected, and that’s exactly what we intend to do through any means necessary.”

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs who are represented by Kaplan Hecker & Fink, LLP; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and Elizabeth F. Schwartz said in an emailed statement:

“While we are currently assessing our options, one thing we can promise for sure is that we will not give up this fight on behalf of all the Florida LGBTQ+ kids, parents, and teachers who this law literally seeks to erase from their schools and communities,” said Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan.

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Religious Extremism/Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Anti-Trans far-right pundit Matt Walsh says gender affirming is evil

Walsh, who has over a million Twitter followers which includes the anti-LGBTQ Libs of Tik-Tok, called gender-affirming surgery “mutilation”

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Screenshot/YouTube

NASHVILLE – Daily Wire host and far-right extremist anti-transgender activist Matt Walsh went on Twitter Monday attacking trans people writing: “I believe that gender ideology is one of the greatest evils in human history. There is nothing they can threaten that would make me back down from this fight. I’d rather be dead than surrender to this madness. It’s as simple as that for me.”

Walsh, who has over a million followers which includes the anti-LGBTQ activist account Libs of Tik-Tok, has called gender-affirming surgery human body mutilation, added in another tweet: “The medical establishment, Big Tech, and the federal government conspire to punish those of us who criticize the accepted narrative. This is full on tyranny, and it will of course be defended by every single leftist who spends every day whining about “fascism.”

Alejandra Caraballo, a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic and a former staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and a Staff Attorney at the LGBTQ Law Project at New York Legal Assistance Group, noted on Twitter that Walsh’s tweet could incite violence against Trans Americans.

“This is a direct threat and incitement of violence against trans people. When he says “gender ideology,” he really means trans people. Matt says he’s willing to die to fight it. Some of his followers may take him up on that and engage in real violence,” Caraballo wrote.

Most recently attacks on American hospitals providing trans healthcare, especially those with clinics treating trans youth have been targeted by anti-Trans extremists led by Walsh and Brooklyn, New York-based Chaya Raichik, a former real estate agent whose ‘Libs of Tik-Tok’ have spread misinformation and lies about gender-affirming surgery which has fostered attacks on those healthcare facilities by far-right extremist elements.

Alarmed at the increase of violence,  in a letter sent Monday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the American Medical Association joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Children’s Hospital Association asking the Department of Justice investigate [the] increasing “threats of violence against physicians, hospitals and families of children for providing and seeking evidence-based gender-affirming care.”

Referencing Walsh’s declaration and others who complain that their anti-trans view points are free speech and being censored, including the recent 7 day suspension of Raichik that expired Monday as well as the letter asking the U.S. Attorney General and the Justice Department to investigate , Caraballo noted:

“The instigators of the anti-LGBTQ moral panic are now pushing the narrative that they are going to be prosecuted by DOJ for their speech. They won’t be prosecuted. They haven’t violated the law. However, they need to fuel further outrage and feign persecution.”

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