Monday, August 5, 2013

Russia: Homophobic Lawmaker Vitaly Milonov Targets Pro-Gay Artists With Visa Investigation 

Toweroad reports:

Anti-gay lawmaker Vitaly Milonov appears to be sending a message to performing artists coming to Russia: speak out in favor of gay rights and be investigated. Milonov appears to have triggered an investigation into visits to the country by Lady Gaga and Madonna, both of whom made spectacles of Russia’s anti-gay laws during their performances.

The Guardian reports:
The office of Russia’s prosecutor general has issued a statement confirming that neither singer obtained an appropriate visa prior to performing there last year. Madonna, who played in August 2012, and Gaga, who appeared in December, travelled under cultural-exchange visas. These documents “do not grant their bearers the right to engage in any commercial activity,” authorities said. According to the Russian legal information agency, prosecutors are now considering asking Russia’s foreign ministry or federal migration service to press charges.
As any foreigner who has visited Moscow will know, Russian immigration can be extremely complicated. But Gaga and Madonna’s mistakes weren’t just discovered by accident: prosecutors launched their investigation only after being contacted by one of the singers’ most outspoken enemies.The man in question was Vitaly Milonov, who serves in St Petersburg’s municipal legislature and authored St Petersburg’s law banning gay “propaganda” – a model for recent legislation passed by the Duma.

Barney Frank Comes Out… As Atheist

This happened last friday on Real Time with Bill Maher. Hemant Mehta writes at Friendly Atheist

"It’s one of those things you wish he could’ve said more openly during the 32 years he sat in Congress. Somehow, it was okay to be a gay liberal, but saying he was an atheist would’ve been taking things too far. In any case, former Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) still remains the only openly atheist member of Congress in our history."
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Russia: LGBT Activist Nikolai Alexeyev Says Vodka Boycott Won’t Influence Politics
Queerty reports:


Prominent Russian LGBT activist Nikolai [Alexeyev] has long been the poster child for battling homophobic legislation in Russia. For years, he has personally spearheaded efforts to bring an official LGBT Pride festival to the streets of Moscow, taken his battle to the courts, and has been beaten, bruised, and thrown in jail because of it.
This week, he’s responding to calls for a boycott of Russian vodka, insisting there’s “no point” in boycotting beverages, calling it a “symbolic gesture doomed to failure,” according to Gay Star News.
“To be honest, I don’t see the point in boycotting the Russian vodka,” he said. “It will impact anyone except the companies involved a little bit. The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever…The producers, even if they become bankrupt because of the boycott (which is unlikely) will not be able to influence Russian politics and President Putin as well as the decisions of the State Duma.”
In place of a boycott, Alekseev said “targeting homophobic lawmakers” is the best course of action. The smartest way to do this, in his opinion, is to pressure other governments to add the authors of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law to visa ban lists, which would effectively lock them inside the country.
“Pressure your governments to put the authors of those laws on the black lists for the entrance visas,” Alekseev added. ”They will suffer and others will think twice. Nothing else will work!”
Yesterday, Stoli CEO Val Mendeleev issued a letter stating the company “has always been, and continues to be, a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community.” Last night, Stoli’s Facebook page got a super-gay makeover with the revival of their #StoliPride campaign. Currently, company officials are responding to many disgruntled patrons in an open forum in the #StoliPride post’s comments section.

The boycott might not work out as well as we think, but it sure is making a lot of noise. Both things should proceed: the ban of visas and the vodka boycott. Why has to be one or the other?

Russia: LGBT Activist Nikolai Alexeyev Says Vodka Boycott Won’t Influence Politics

Queerty reports:

Prominent Russian LGBT activist Nikolai [Alexeyev] has long been the poster child for battling homophobic legislation in Russia. For years, he has personally spearheaded efforts to bring an official LGBT Pride festival to the streets of Moscow, taken his battle to the courts, and has been beatenbruised, and thrown in jail because of it.

This week, he’s responding to calls for a boycott of Russian vodka, insisting there’s “no point” in boycotting beverages, calling it a “symbolic gesture doomed to failure,” according to Gay Star News.

“To be honest, I don’t see the point in boycotting the Russian vodka,” he said. “It will impact anyone except the companies involved a little bit. The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever…The producers, even if they become bankrupt because of the boycott (which is unlikely) will not be able to influence Russian politics and President Putin as well as the decisions of the State Duma.”

In place of a boycott, Alekseev said “targeting homophobic lawmakers” is the best course of action. The smartest way to do this, in his opinion, is to pressure other governments to add the authors of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law to visa ban lists, which would effectively lock them inside the country.

“Pressure your governments to put the authors of those laws on the black lists for the entrance visas,” Alekseev added. ”They will suffer and others will think twice. Nothing else will work!”

Yesterday, Stoli CEO Val Mendeleev issued a letter stating the company “has always been, and continues to be, a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community.” Last night, Stoli’s Facebook page got a super-gay makeover with the revival of their #StoliPride campaign. Currently, company officials are responding to many disgruntled patrons in an open forum in the #StoliPride post’s comments section.



The boycott might not work out as well as we think, but it sure is making a lot of 
noise. Both things should proceed: the ban of visas and the vodka boycott. Why has to be one or the other?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Russia’s Homophobia, Boycott Of Vodka, Stoli’s CEO Reacts

If you haven’t been paying attention to this whole thing, this is what you need to know: Russia’s adopting and enforcing homophobic laws that has outraged the international community. Many Russian nationals have been arrested and prosecuted under this “anti-gay propaganda law” that President Vladimir Putin is championing across the country. And foreigners have been already been victims of this. Some people even have propose to boycott the Winter Olympics, which will be held on Sochi, Russia next year. This, however, has not taken off with many cause of the nature of the event and what it means to athletes, who could actually voice their opinions in favour of our community in a global platform. The Olympic Committee has voiced its opinion on this, calling for reason and the protection of Human Rights, and has declared that it got the assurance from the Russian Government that athletes and fans who attend to Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics will not be subjected to such law (we’ll see).

Queer Nation and many other activists, including Dan Savage, have been calling for a boycott on Russian products, specially vodka. Stoli is one of the most commercial and popular Russian products, and it has been the target of many boycotts by some of the biggest and most popular gay clubs and bars in the US, Canada, the UK and Mexico (and still counting). However, there’s been a bit of a controversy surrounding Stoli, given that it has been featured in many endorsements for gay news outlets and event organisers, including Queerty. And Stoli has sent out statements declaring that they 1) are not Russian owned, 2) they do not share the Russian Government’s views on LGBT issues. But Dan Savage is not swallowing: Stoli IS Russian, and owned by one of the most richest men in Russia. And most importantly, they have not yet voiced their opinion directly to Putin and the Kremlin, and until that, in the eyes of us all, no matter how many queer events they sponsor in America and Europe, they’re guilty by omission for the suffering and stigmatisation that LGBT Russians are going through. They owe it to their fellow countrymen. 

Dan Savage reports:

The CEO of Stolichnaya Vodka released an open letter to the gay community today—so they’re paying attention, which is good, and they’re scared, which is even better.


For the record: Regardless of where SPI Group’s corporate offices are located, the company is owned by Yuri Scheffler, one of the 100 richest men in Russia. SPI is a Russian corporation, Stoli is a Russian vodka. And while it’s nice that SPI is willing to market to homos who are lucky enough to live in Austria, the US, and South Africa, what has SPI done in Russia? The group has sponsored gay pride events in Vienna and Miami. That’s nice. But have they sponsored gay pride events in Moscow or St. Petersburg? Val says that Stoli is upset and angry. That’s nice. So has Stoli said anything to the Russian authorities? Has Yuri Scheffler expressed his anger in an open letter to Vladimir Putin? Did the SPI Group speak the fuck up before the Russian government passed a law that made it a crime to be openly gay and a crime to publicly support someone who is openly gay? Frankly I’m not interested in Stoli’s marketing efforts in the West. I’m interested in what this Russian-owned company is doing in Russia. And from this letter it’s clear they’ve done and they only plan on doing squat.

Two commenters at JMG cut to the heart of the matter:

I guess the paragraph about how Stoli is going work toward demanding that the Russian Government end discrimination went missing.

Dear Russian Oligarch: You and your friends control your nation via your fortune and connections. Fix this or GTFO.

But this comment at JMG wins the thread:

So is the CEO of Stoli now subject to arrest and incarceration in Russia for writing this pro-gay letter?

And of course, Queer Nation has responded already by saying “Marketing is NOT enough”:

A Statement From Queer Nation; Marketing Is Not Enough

Val Mendeleev, the chief executive officer of SPI Group, the owner of the Stolichnaya brand, confirmed in an open letter on July 25 that SPI produces this vodka in Russia and that SPI has offices and operations in Russia. Stolichnaya is a Russian vodka that is owned by a company that was founded in Russia in 1991. 

On the same day that SPI released its open letter to the Advocate, we learned that Russian thugs, emboldened by Russia’s anti-gay law, have taken to gay web sites to lure gay people to supposed encounters where they are viciously beaten. This is just the latest in a series of violent attacks against LGBT Russians and foreign LGBT nationals in Russia. 

This violence follows news reports of Russian police and prosecutors targeting LGBT people and groups in Russia for arrests and trials. At least two Russian LGBT groups have gone underground as a result.

In the open letter, Mr. Mendeleev cited a few LGBT events where SPI promoted its Stolichnaya brand as evidence of the company’s support for our community. Mr. Mendeleev, marketing will not save LGBT lives.

A single open letter that was discreetly placed with a single gay publication in the US will not help LGBT Russians nor will it have an impact on the Russian government’s anti-gay campaign. This and your refusal made in an earlier statement to confront the Russian government’s anti-gay bigotry make clear that you are not the fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community you claim to be. 

By its own admission, SPI Group operates in Russia and pays taxes to the Russian government. That money funds these continuing attacks on LGBT people and organizations in Russia. Queer Nation will continue its boycott of Stolichnaya and other Russian vodkas until this anti-gay law is repealed and the Russian government guarantees the safety of its LGBT citizens and foreign LGBT nationals in Russia. 

We will not help you fund the Russian war on LGBT people.

Queer Nation

Some, like Scott Shackford, do not agree with the boycott, at least, the one directed to Stoli:

"What’s sad about this effort is that if Russia succeeds in getting its hands back on Stoli, then a boycott actually makes sense. But the consequence will be that a powerful businessman who does support the gay community will lose his company. Boycotting Stoli now is a very bad idea. [Stoli owner Yuri] Scheffler is an ally who the gay and lesbian community needs to work with, not alienate. From a Western perspective it may be hard to realize that an incredibly rich person like Scheffler has the potential to be a victim of Russia’s authoritarian regime like its gay citizens or members of Pussy Riot, but it’s extremely important not to look at the nature of power and influence there the way we do here."

I must remind everybody that the boycott targets all Russian products, and because vodka is a primary export from Russia, it is the object of many. Stoli is specially targeted cause of its status in American and European market and because of its denial of being Russian owned (when actually it is). But the boycott is aimed at ALL Russian brands.

Let’s see where it leads. At least, as Dan says, they are listening. 

Monday, July 22, 2013
UK: Government To Grant Posthumous Pardon To Gay Codebreaker Alan Turing
Joe.My.God. reports:

Famed WWII codebreaker Alan Turing will be granted aposthumous pardon by the British government. Turing committed suicide after being convicted of gross indecency under Britain’s anti-homosexuality code. 
The government signalled on Friday that it is prepared to support a backbench bill that would pardon Turing, who died from cyanide poisoning at the age of 41 in 1954 after he was subjected to “chemical castration”. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a government whip, told peers that the government would table the third reading of the Alan Turing (statutory pardon) bill at the end of October if no amendments are made. “If nobody tables an amendment to this bill, its supporters can be assured that it will have speedy passage to the House of Commons,” Ahmad said. The announcement marks a change of heart by the government, which declined last year to grant pardons to the 49,000 gay men, now dead, who were convicted under the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act. They include Oscar Wilde.
Turing is considered by many to be the father of computer science.

UK: Government To Grant Posthumous Pardon To Gay Codebreaker Alan Turing

Joe.My.God. reports:

Famed WWII codebreaker Alan Turing will be granted aposthumous pardon by the British government. Turing committed suicide after being convicted of gross indecency under Britain’s anti-homosexuality code. 

The government signalled on Friday that it is prepared to support a backbench bill that would pardon Turing, who died from cyanide poisoning at the age of 41 in 1954 after he was subjected to “chemical castration”. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a government whip, told peers that the government would table the third reading of the Alan Turing (statutory pardon) bill at the end of October if no amendments are made. “If nobody tables an amendment to this bill, its supporters can be assured that it will have speedy passage to the House of Commons,” Ahmad said. The announcement marks a change of heart by the government, which declined last year to grant pardons to the 49,000 gay men, now dead, who were convicted under the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act. They include Oscar Wilde.

Turing is considered by many to be the father of computer science.

Bill Maher: New Rules 7/19/13

Friday, July 19, 2013

John Corvino: What’s Morally Wrong With Homosexuality?

A must watch.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

AFER’s Matt Baume: Marriage News Watch

Religion’s Gifts To The World

In just one month.

UK: Queen Elizabeth II Gives Royal Assent To Gay Marriage Bill
LGBTQ Nation reports:

Britain on Wednesday legalized gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval, clearing the way for the first same-sex weddings next summer.
Lawmakers cheered as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said royal assent had been given – one day after the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales cleared Parliament.The law enables gay couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales, provided that the religious institution consents. The Church of England, the country’s official faith, is barred from performing such ceremonies.
The Queen’s approval was a formality and is the last step necessary for a bill to become law.It also will allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships – which were introduced in 2005 and carry similar rights and responsibilities to marriage – to convert their relationships to marriage.
The British government introduced the bill in January.Prime Minister David Cameron had backed it, but it divided his Conservative Party and touched off strident debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Numerous attempts to derail the legislation failed as it wound its way through Parliament, with traditionalists arguing it would undermine the sanctity of marriage.On Tuesday, Conservative lawmaker Gerald Howarth accused the government of having “bulldozed” the legislation through Parliament, “offending large swatches” of his party.But in the same debate, shadow women and equalities minister Yvette Cooper said it was the “time to celebrate and not discriminate.”

UK: Queen Elizabeth II Gives Royal Assent To Gay Marriage Bill

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Britain on Wednesday legalized gay marriage after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval, clearing the way for the first same-sex weddings next summer.

Lawmakers cheered as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said royal assent had been given – one day after the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in England and Wales cleared Parliament.The law enables gay couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies in England and Wales, provided that the religious institution consents. The Church of England, the country’s official faith, is barred from performing such ceremonies.

The Queen’s approval was a formality and is the last step necessary for a bill to become law.It also will allow couples who had previously entered into civil partnerships – which were introduced in 2005 and carry similar rights and responsibilities to marriage – to convert their relationships to marriage.

The British government introduced the bill in January.Prime Minister David Cameron had backed it, but it divided his Conservative Party and touched off strident debates in the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Numerous attempts to derail the legislation failed as it wound its way through Parliament, with traditionalists arguing it would undermine the sanctity of marriage.On Tuesday, Conservative lawmaker Gerald Howarth accused the government of having “bulldozed” the legislation through Parliament, “offending large swatches” of his party.But in the same debate, shadow women and equalities minister Yvette Cooper said it was the “time to celebrate and not discriminate.”

Friday, July 12, 2013

projectqueer:

BY ANDREW BELONSKY

Currently training for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, speed skating New Zealand native Blake Skjellerup took some time to chat with Vocativ about the new “"homosexual propaganda" laws in Russia. The laws, supported by President Vladimir Putin, are a “huge step backward” for the international LGBT movement, he says, and he plans on ignoring them through and through.

"I was in the closet for a long time and who I am now is who I really am and who I always will be and I’m not going to tone down or change who I am just because I go to a different country. If it gets in trouble, I guess so be it," he says in this must-see video, in which 28-year old Skjellerup also discusses how the pride events at Vancouver Olympics helped him come out.

projectqueer:

Today is the first-ever National Gay Blood Drive, an activist-created initiative to highlight the even in 2013, gay men are not allowed to donate blood. The discriminatory anti-gay practice has been on the books in various forms since 1977, and codified around the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1983. “Blood banks have been instructed to ask male donors if they have ever had sex with a man,” CNN reports:

If the potential donor responds “yes,” he is instantly removed from the donor pool for life. The policy started in the 1980s when people didn’t know how the deadly virus that causes AIDS spread.At the time, there wasn’t a good test to detect whether HIV was present in donated blood, and HIV was getting into the nation’s blood supply. Scientists also knew that a disproportionate number of gay men were affected by the virus.

Ryan James Yezak, lead organizer of the blood drive, is making a documentary about discrimination based on sexual orientation. He said he wants to convey on a national level how much blood the gay community could potentially contribute to the blood supply if given a chance to donate. “This ban is medically unwarranted, and this drive is the only way we can motion for change,” he said. “The gay community shouldn’t be written off as diseased.”

Blood donations were down by 10% across the country in June, according to the American Red Cross, which received about 50,000 fewer donations than expected.

Yezak produced this video that explains today’s action:

“A peaceful nation-wide demonstration in which otherwise eligible gay/bisexual male donors will show up to get tested at a specified donation center in their city and attempt to donate their blood,” the Gay Blood Drive website notes. ”As each donor is rejected, their test result will be collected, compiled, and delivered to the FDA – visually conveying to them on a national level how much blood the gay community could contribute to the blood supply should they lift their current policy.”

Ryan James Yezak came to national attention when he first released promo videos for “Second Class Citizen, including his heart-breaking video, “The Gay Rights Movement,” in January of last year, which he followed up with “What Homosexuality Is Not” a month later. Visit Gay Blood Drive to find a location in your town where you can participate. And bring a friend. Gay Blood Drive also has a Facebook event page, and you can visit Second Class Citizen on Facebook as well.

Image via Facebook

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Song Of The Day: All-American Boy - Steve Grand

You cab buy this beautiful track here. And yes, he’s smoking hot. Hot like this.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cher, Debora Cox & Whoopi Goldberg At NYC Pride Pier Dance

Via Boy Culture.