United Kingdom To LGBT Asylum Seekers: ‘Prove You’re Gay’

BordThose seeking asylum in the United Kingdom because they risk persecution elsewhere based on their sexual orientation have faced a high burden of proof, often times grappling with “extraordinary obstacles,” according to the BBC: “In extreme cases claimants had handed over photographic and video
evidence of ‘highly personal sexual activity’ in an effort to persuade
officials.”

The government’s Home Affairs Committee was none too pleased about the UK Border Agency’s failing to “treat asylum seekers with dignity and, simultaneously, failing to deal effectively and fairly with their claims”:

“We were concerned to hear that the decision
making process for LGBTI applicants relies so heavily on anecdotal
evidence and ‘proving that they are gay’.”

[The Committee] added that “it is not appropriate to force people to prove
their sexuality if there is a perception that they are gay. The
assessment of credibility is an area of weakness within the British
asylum system.

“Furthermore, the fact that credibility issues
disproportionately affect the most vulnerable applicants – victims of
domestic and sexual violence, victims of torture and persecution because
of their sexuality – makes improvement all the more necessary.”

Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who is the chairman of the Home Affairs
Committee, spoke out against the indignities suffered by LGBT asylum
seekers:

“It is
absurd for a judge or a caseworker to have to ask an individual to prove
that they are lesbian or gay, to ask them what kind of films they
watch, what kind of material they read.

“People should accept the statement of sexuality by those who
seek asylum. This practice is regrettable and ought to be stopped
immediately.”

Previously, identifying as LGBT was not enough to even request asylum as the UK Border Agency had a policy that put faith in “‘voluntary discretion’ – which had meant it should be seen an option for
claimants to conceal their sexuality in order to avoid abuse.” That has changed since a 2010 court ruling that invoked, “the ‘underlying rationale’ of the United Nations Refugee Convention…that people should be able to ‘live freely and openly’ in their own
country without fear of persecution” to make the case that LGBT persons from countries that have anti-gay laws on the books should be granted asylum.

via Towleroad News #gay http://www.towleroad.com/2013/10/united-kingdom-to-lgbt-asylum-seekers-prove-youre-gay.html

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Ted Cruz Heckled At FRC Hate Summit

The National Journal reports:

Ted Cruz was interrupted by hecklers at least half-a-dozen times during his Values Voter Summit speech. But if that was intended to get the Texas firebrand down, it surely did not succeed. “I’m actually glad the president’s whole political staff is here instead of doing mischief in the country,” he said a couple outbursts in. “How scared is the president?, Cruz asked after another protester was removed from the audience. “What a statement of fear, what a statement of fear. Oh, they don’t want the truth to be heard. They definitely don’t want the truth to be heard.” It’s, of course, highly unlikely that any of the protesters at the Values Voter Summit were Obama plants. But the concept, whether intended as a joke from Cruz or not, really set off the Values Voter crowd. Inevitably, that included chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! “You know, the nice thing is,” Cruz said, “the left will always, always, always tell you who they fear. And they fear you. They fear the American people.”

Cruz later joked that he might “disappear” after visiting the White House later today.

via Joe. My. God. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/10/ted-cruz-heckled-at-frc-hate-summit.html

Quote Of The Day – Joe The Plumber

“Wanting a white Republican president doesn’t make you racist, it just makes you American. In the pre-black president era, criticizing the president was simply the American thing to do. An exercise of one’s First Amendment right. Criticism had nothing to do with color, because there had never been a black president, or at least one whom people recognized as black. So to criticize the president meant that you didn’t like his policies. The election of a recognized black president was not supposed to change anything. In fact, it was supposed to (1) ease any perceived racial tensions, and (2) allow the government to focus on legislating without race. So America would be more free than ever to discuss the issues. Not the case. And that is why having a white Republican president is best for the country.” – Joe The Plumber, writing on his website. (Tipped by JMG reader Doug)

via Joe. My. God. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/10/quote-of-day-joe-plumber.html

New Jersey Judge Denies Stay Of Gay Marriage Ruling, Governor Christie Files ‘Emergency’ Appeal

6a00d8341c730253ef019affb62dfe970d-250wiEarlier this week, New Jersey Governor Christie filed a request for a stay of Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision, handed down last month that ruled gay marriage must be made legal in the Garden State, especially in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s gutting of Section 3 of DOMA. In her decision Jacobson stated, “The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently
harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts.” In his request of a stay, Christie’s filing essentially argued that “allowing gay couples to marry starting in two weeks would make it
difficult for the state’s top court to reverse course should it agree
with the Christie administration’s anti-gay marriage stand.” However, as Lambda Legal announced, the request for the stay was denied:

In today’s decision, the Court wrote:
“In making this argument, however, the State ignores the largely
abstract nature of the harm it alleges, which pales in comparison to the
concrete harm caused to Plaintiffs by their current ineligibility for
many federal marital benefits, and the significant litigation burden
they would have to shoulder to challenge federal denial of marital
benefits to civil union couples.”

“This is wonderful news!” said
Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director of Lambda Legal. “The court’s
decision once again confirms that the hardships of not being able to
marry are real and immediate. Every day does count. Allowing same-sex
couples to marry helps many New Jersey families and hurts no one else.”

“Momentum
is with us,” said Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Garden State
Equality. “All couples in New Jersey need the dignity of marriage, and
they need it now. We look forward to seeing many of them, who have been
denied that dignity for too long, marry in the coming weeks.”

The stay being denied, gay marriage is set to begin, per Judge Jacobson’s ruling, on October 21. However, Christie, who recently reiterated his insistence that gay marriage should be put on the ballot in 2014 and not be decided by the courts, has now, according to the AP, asked “an appeals court judge to consider
an emergency challenge to that order. Christie wants same-sex marriages
put on hold at least until all appeals can be resolved.”

via Towleroad News #gay http://www.towleroad.com/2013/10/new-jersey-judge-denies-stay-of-gay-marriage-ruling-governor-christie-files-emergency-appeal.html

Queer Nation Disrupts Carnegie Hall Performance In Protest Against Anti-Gay Russia


Pro

As planned, activists from Queer Nation NY protested a performance at Carnegie Hall Thursday night led by Russian conductor, Valery Gergiev, who The New York Times calls, “one of Russia’s most important cultural exports these days.” The furor was over Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay law that makes it a crime to disseminate propaganda promoting “non-traditional” sexual orientations. Gergiev has been a vocal supporter of President Vladimir Putin, a key proponent of the of anti-gay measures in Russia, even receiving the recently resurrected Soviet-era honor “Hero of Labor” from Putin. Last month also saw Queer Nation NY show up to protest Gergiev and Russia’s anti-gay policies at the opening night of New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

From Queer Nation, via press release:

“Valery Gergiev should not be able to perform without being called out for his vocal support of Russia’s anti-gay president,” said John Weir, one of the protesters. “Gergiev’s silence about Putin’s anti-gay laws is killing lesbian and gay Russians. We’re here to break that silence.”

Earlier in the evening, Queer Nation protested in front of Carnegie Hall. Demonstrators, including several Russian gay men and women, carried a 60-foot rainbow flag that read “Support Russian Gays” and held placards. Protestors also handed out informational flyers to arriving audience members and passersby.

On October 4, Queer Nation wrote to Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, asking that Carnegie Hall condemn the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians. He declined, adding that “musical events are not the appropriate setting for political statements.”

The NYT reports:

Gergiev, your silence is killing Russian gays!” several protesters
shouted, as Mr. Gergiev, in tails, kept his back to the audience. Some
members of the audience booed the protesters; others applauded. One
woman yelled, “This is an artistic event!”

The protesters were removed from the auditorium, and the concert proceeded.

[…]

Both of the Gergiev performances delayed by protests had an added
resonance for gay rights supporters. The Met opened its season with
“Eugene Onegin” by Tchaikovsky, whom Peter Gelb, the Met’s general
manager, described as
“Russia’s great gay composer.” And the Carnegie Hall concert featured
three Stravinsky ballets — “The Firebird,” “Pétrouchka,” and “The Rite
of Spring” — that were commissioned by the great impresario Sergei
Diaghilev, who was also gay, for his storied dance troupe, the Ballets
Russes

(Photo via Queer Nation NY tumblr)

via Towleroad News #gay http://www.towleroad.com/2013/10/queer-nation-disrupts-carnegie-hall-performance-in-protest-against-anti-gay-russia.html

WASHINGTON: Trucker “Patriots” Stage Rolling Slowdown On DC Beltway

Earlier this week some news outlets called the plan a hoax, but it appears that the so-called Ride For The Constitution is underway this morning on the DC beltway.

The Truckers Ride for the Constitution planned to start at 9 a.m. Friday, with truckers driving the 64-mile Capital beltway in eight hour shifts until Sunday afternoon. By about 8:45 a.m., Virginia State Police officials said that about 30 tractor trailers left a stop in Dumfries at about 7:30 with plans to head toward Washington. Meanwhile, in Dumfries, 15 more were spotted bearing the official Twitter hashtag of the ride – #T2SDA. The protest has attracted truckers from as far away as the West Coast and has more than 140,000 supporters on Facebook. “Anybody at all is talking about the truckers coming to shutdown D.C.,” says organizer Ernest Lee. “We’ve got to stand together. We’ve got to be united. Guys, we’ve got to keep it peaceful here. Got to keep it clean.

The group’s Facebook page is here.

via Joe. My. God. http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/10/washington-trucker-patriots-stage.html