Tag Archive: LGBT


Russian “Gay Propaganda” Law under Fire (Again) after a Newspaper Editor Fined

A Russian court fined Alexander Suturin, a news editor for the Molodoi Dalnevostochnik, a weekly-published newspaper in Khabarovsk, Russia, 50,000 rubles (1421.70 USD) for violating a Russian law which bans “gay propaganda” among minors. The court found Suturin guilty because he published a story about a Russian teacher, Alexander Yermoshkin, who claimed he was fired from his teaching position at Khabarovsk’s School Number 32 because of his sexual orientation. Suturin said he would appeal the ruling.

Russia’s new prohibition against “gay propaganda” that could be accessible to minors took effect last summer. Russian President Vladimir Putin assured the public that the new “gay propaganda” law would not affect the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community’s job prospects, saying “the rights of people with nontraditional orientation are infringed upon neither in terms of profession nor salary level.” Putin said that the law is about protecting children, not banning homosexuality. The “gay propaganda” law applies to individuals as well as the media; if anyone, protestor or editor, disseminates information which Russian authorities consider to be “pro-gay propaganda,” they’ll be submit to the fine. Russia’s highest court held that the “gay propaganda” law is constitutional because it applies equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals, stating that the state had an interest in protecting motherhood, childhood, and family. This content-based restriction on speech would likely be unconstitutional in the United States under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Russia’s “gay propaganda” law has drawn criticism from the international community, fueling the proponents calling for a boycott of the winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia, due to start on Friday, February 7, 2014.

The European Union’s Fight for LGBT Rights in Partner Countries

On October 2, 2013, Nick Westcott, the European Union’s most senior official in charge with relations in Africa, proclaimed the European Union should stop lecturing Africa about gay rights.  Westcott believes the European Union needs to be understanding of Africa’s cultural differences.  When asked to elaborate on cultural issues at a debate in Brussels about European Union foreign policy, Westcott stated “We can lecture about lesbian, gays and bisexuals until the cows come home. And it will have a wholly counterproductive effect on our usefulness in Africa. We need to focus on fundamental values.”

Protecting the rights of the LGBT community is a fundamental value of the European Union.  Westcott’s stance on how to handle gay rights in Africa is contrary to the European Union’s overall foreign policy on the rights of gays and lesbians in partner countries.  Article 21 of the the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.The principle of equal treatment is a fundamental value for the European Union, which is going to great lengths to combat homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In July 2012, the European Parliament released a resolution to help combat violence against lesbian women and the rights of the LGBT community in Africa.  In July 2013, the European Parliament submitted another resolution condemning a law passed by Nigeria that criminalizes not only same-sex marriage, but those who fail to denounce them. Even more than that, the law made it illegal to show a public display of affection to someone of the same sex.

The European Union’s fight for LGBT rights also extends to other parts of the world.  The European Union recently condemned Serbia’s ban  of a gay pride parade for the third consecutive year.  They have also condemned the Ukraine for its new laws banning propaganda of homosexuality, and threatened the Ukraine’s ties to the European Union because of it.  It appears Westcott’s opinion on how to handle LGBT rights in Africa is not the majority view of the European Union.

Equality House: Westboro Baptist and Its New Neighbor

Based in Topeka, Kansas, Westboro Baptist Church has recently been brought back into the public spotlight for something other than protesting deceased military personnel funerals.  A non-profit supporting gay rights, Planting Peace, purchased a home across the street from the often-hated church and painted it rainbow colors which serves as a symbol for the support of gay rights protected by the First Amendment as freedom of expression. The house purchased across the street from Westboro is named the “Equality House.”

Westboro Baptist Church has been in the practice of gathering for anti-gay protests at the funerals of American military heroes since 1991. In 2011, the Supreme Court was faced with the question of whether or not the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protected the church in their protests. The Court in a 8-1 holding, determined that the First Amendment did protect the church and stated, “Freedom of speech is so central to the nation that it protects cruel and unpopular protests – even, in this case, at the moment of a family’s most profound grief.”

Although Westboro’s protests are protected by the First Amendment, many including Planting Peace, want to combat these messages of hate projected by members of Westboro Baptist with their own form of expression secured by the First Amendment. Aaron Jackson and his non-profit are attempting to spread the message of equality and compassion with a goal of “promoting equality.”

Members of Westboro have responded to the Equality House with statements such as, “We thank God for the sodomite rainbow house…It is right across the street from the only church that loves people enough to tell them the Bible truth about the filthy, soul-damning, Nation destroying sin of sodomy.” Jackson believes that the energy being put into Westboro’s beliefs and the attention they receive will be used and turned into something positive for the through the Equality House for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.




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