LGBTI activists urge Vatican to condemn homosexuality criminalization laws

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A group of more than 50 LGBTI rights advocates met April 5 with a high-ranking Vatican official and renewed their calls for the Catholic Church to condemn laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.

ILGA World in a press release said the activists met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, and presented him with “the preliminary findings of a research project” that focuses on the criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations in the Caribbean. National LGBT Bar Association Executive Director D’Arcy Kemnitz, ILGA World Co-Secretary General Luz Elena Aranda and IBM Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Tia Silas are among those who met with Parolin.

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US ‘deeply concerned’ over arrests of LGBTI people in Azerbaijan

By : Michael K. Lavers Of The Washington Blade, Courtesy Of The National LGBT Media Association
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A State Department spokesperson on April 4 said the U.S. is “deeply concerned” over reports that indicate more than a dozen LGBTI people in Azerbaijan have been arrested.

Reuters cited an Azeri LGBTI advocacy group that said police this week arrested four transgender sex workers. Freedom House in a press release said police in Baku, the country’s capital, on April 1 arrested “at least 14 LGBT+ people.”

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Bill to ensure US foreign policy promotes LGBTI rights reintroduced

By : Michael K. Lavers Of The Washington Blade, Courtesy Of The National LGBT Media Association
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Two lawmakers on April 1 reintroduced legislation that would ensure U.S. foreign policy promotes LGBTI rights.

The International Human Rights Defense Act — which U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) introduced in their respective chambers of Congress — would also codify into law the position of special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTI rights abroad. A Human Rights Campaign press release notes Markey and Lowenthal have previously introduced the measure.

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LGBTI migrants from Central America find refuge in DC

By : Michael K. Lavers Of The Washington Blade, Courtesy Of The National LGBT Media Association
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Dariana Méndez and her partner, Rony Alexander, were sitting next to each other on a large couch at Casa Ruby in Northwest D.C. shortly after 7 p.m. on March 26.

Méndez, a transgender woman from San Salvador, El Salvador, told the Washington Blade that she and Rony Alexander, a gay man from Honduras’ Lempira department, became a couple when they arrived in D.C. earlier this month. Méndez also talked about the discrimination and violence she said she suffered in El Salvador because of her gender identity.

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Mariela Castro’s group to honor Cleve Jones in Cuba

By : Michael K. Lavers Of The Washington Blade, Courtesy Of The National LGBT Media Association
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An organization the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro directs will honor LGBTI rights activist Cleve Jones in Havana in May.

The Rainbow World Fund, a San Francisco-based organization that describes itself as “the world’s first and only all-volunteer, LGBTQ-based humanitarian aid organization,” on March 26 said in a press release that Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education will honor Jones on May 10 during a gala at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater. The press release also notes Jones has been chosen as a grand marshal for a march that will take place in the Cuban capital the following day.

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LGBTI migrants struggle to survive along Guatemala-Mexico border

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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TECUN UMAN, Guatemala | Gaudy Coutiño Valladares works for the Guatemalan Red Cross in Tecún Umán, a small city in the country’s San Marcos department that is across the Suchiate River from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

The offices from which Coutiño and her colleagues work are behind a large metal gate on which posters that tell migrants the Guatemalan Red Cross will allow them to call their relatives and charge their phones for free have been placed. It also has a map of Central America that lists migrant shelters, railroads and highways on which migrants can travel to the U.S. border.

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Cubans overwhelmingly approve country’s new constitution

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Cuban voters on Feb. 24 overwhelmingly approved the draft of their country’s new constitution.

Maykel González Vivero, co-founder of Tremenda Nota, an independent online magazine that is the Washington Blade’s media partner on the Communist island, reported 86.85 percent of Cubans who participated in Sunday’s referendum voted for the new constitution. Official results indicate 9 percent of voters voted against it, but González reported this figure may be higher because of abstentions or ballots that were either left blank or thrown out.

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State Department ‘deeply disturbed’ by latest Chechnya anti-LGBTI crackdown

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The State Department on Jan. 17 said it is “deeply disturbed” by reports that indicate at least two people have been killed and upwards of 40 others have been detained in the latest anti-LGBTI crackdown in Chechnya.

“We are deeply disturbed by credible reports out of Chechnya about renewed attacks against individuals perceived to be members of the LGBTI community,” said Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino in a statement.

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Civil partnerships bill sparks debate in Thailand

By : Victor Maung OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Thailand could become the first country in Asia to endorse same-sex marriage after a bill that would allow same-sex unions was approved.

The country’s Cabinet approved the civil partnership bill on Dec. 25, which has sparked debate among members of the LGBTI community. The move is seen as a milestone in efforts to improve legal rights for the estimated 6 million LGBTI people — an estimated 8 percent of the country’s total population — who live in Thailand.

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Removal of marriage from new Cuba constitution divides LGBTI community

By : Laura Rodríguez Fuentes OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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SANTA CLARA, Cuba | The LGBTI+ community remains divided after the National Assembly modified the marriage amendment in the draft of the new constitution. Part of it defends the yes vote and supports the official campaign, while another group says it will vote against the constitution.

On Saturday, Dec. 22, the same day the Cuban Parliament in Havana ended sessions where changes to the draft Cuban constitution were approved, a group of young people discussed them in Vidal Park in Santa Clara, 300 kilometers from the Cuban capital.

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Intersex activists denounce infant surgeries

By : Grace Perry OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Sean Saifa Wall spent more than two decades in the wrong body until he decided to live the life he had always wanted to: that of a man. 

Wall, a nationally recognized black, intersex activist, was assigned female at birth because of his “abnormally” small phallus but had undescended testis. He was one of eight in his family born with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS): an intersex variation where an individual is born with XY chromosomes but is resistant to male hormones (androgens). Thus, these individuals have the genetic makeup of a male but some or all of the physical traits of a female. 



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Report documents anti-LGBTI extrajudicial killings in Chechnya

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Dec. 20 released a report that documents extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses against LGBTI people in Chechnya.

The report, which the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights wrote, notes the first anti-LGBTI crackdown in Chechnya, a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus, took place between December 2016-February 2017.

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