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23-Year Old Beheaded In Anti-Gay Hate Crime Murder In South Africa

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A 23-year old transgender and gay man was beheaded in his home town of Kuruman, South Africa Friday, in an anti-gay hate crime. Thapelo Makutle, who was crowned Miss Gay Kuruman, was murdered by two men who remain at large. Reports state that police, for reasons of language and training, are not classifying the murder as a hate crime, and do not understand the significance of the attack. On report states the police reject that Makutle was beheaded, but acknowledge his throat was slashed.

Mamba Online reports:

According to the group Legbo Northern Cape, Thapelo Makutle was attacked at his place of work in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district on Friday. The organisation said that there was an argument related to “his sexuality and homosexuality”.

His two attackers are believed to have followed him to the room where he lived and on Saturday cut his throat, decapitating him.

They left his body under a blanket as though he were sleeping.

Makutle, who identified as both gay and transgender, was a volunteer for Legbo Northern Cape. He recently participated in the Kimberley Out In Africa Gay and Lesbian Festival, was known as a beauty queen named Queen Bling and was recently crowned Miss Gay Kuruman.

“It’s so sad. I can’t describe the pain that we are feeling right now,” Shaine Griqua, director of Legbo Northern Cape, told Mambaonline. “We have lost a young, talented, gay man who was open about who he was. The last few days have been like a dark cloud.”

He said that no arrests have yet been made in connection with the murder. He expressed his frustration with the lack of support for LGBT people in the Northern Cape and noted that hate crimes are on the rise in the province.

“We recently had a lesbian stabbed three times in a bar because they said that she should be a woman and not a man. She chose not to press charges because she didn’t want her family involved,” Griqua said.

“The government is not interested in this problem,” he added.

A later report form Mamba Online states:

According to the Mothibistad police, Thapelo Makutle’s body was found lying on the floor of his rented room. It is alleged that the victim has been out with his friends that night. He left unannounced and his friends assumed that he had gone home to sleep.

Shaine Griqua, Director of Legbo Northern Cape, who first reported the attack, said that confusion around the state of the body likely stems from miscommunication due to most people in the area not speaking English as a first language.

Griqua believes that the attack was a hate crime and said that he has information that Makutle was killed as a result of an argument about his sexuality and gender appearance, but police have yet to confirm this, saying that the motive is as yet unknown.

He told Mambaonline that the police in the area are ill-equipped to deal appropriately with a hate crime.

“These people [the police] are not reliable. They don’t even know what a hate crime is. If you ask them if it was related to his sexuality they will say ‘no’ because they don’t understand the context,” Griqua insisted.

Global Post adds:

In a statement, Cosatu’s Northern Cape secretary Anele Gxoyiya condemned “this brutal attack on a young, brilliant and educated soul whose head was chopped off in a hate crime.”

While South Africa is one of the few countries in the world to extend equal rights to homosexuals, and the only nation in Africa to allow same-sex marriage, the reality of life in townships and rural areas for gays and lesbians has been one of often brutal violence.

In a high-profile incident last year, Noxolo Nogwaza, a lesbian activist based in KwaThema township near Johannesburg, was gang-raped and then stabbed and stoned to death, in what the New York-based group Human Rights Watch described as part of an “epidemic” of hate crimes against gays and lesbians in South Africa.

Politics Web published a statement in response to the murder, by Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, Democratic Alliance Parliamentary Leader:

This violent and gruesome assault is yet another reminder that many of our country’s people are still denied the basic rights and freedoms which our Constitution enshrines.

There is a spate of homophobic hate crimes which have recently taken place across our country, including the repugnant and unconscionable crime of so-called “corrective rape” committed against lesbian South African women.

At this time, South Africa needs strong leadership from President Jacob Zuma, and an indication of his commitment to ensuring that all South Africans are able to live their lives free from fear of discrimination or violence.

Unfortunately, the silence from the Presidency has been deafening. This silence is made worse by the fact that President Zuma has in the past shown himself to be prejudiced towards homosexuals.

Last year, the DA welcomed the establishment of a government-led Joint Task Team on a “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Intervention Strategy”, established in September 2011, under the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Unfortunately, this task team has yet to make any report on its work.

Meanwhile, the spate of crimes continues.

President Zuma must speak out against this weekend’s horrific murder, and the many others like it, which are in danger of becoming all too commonplace in our country today.

I will today be calling for a debate in Parliament about the prevalence of these crimes in South Africa, and calling on MPs to discuss what can be done by the government to address this ongoing problem.

In addition, I will also be writing to the President to ask what immediate steps his government will be taking to address the violence and intimidation that homosexual South Africans must face on a daily basis.

Such crimes, and the President’s silence on them, cannot be allowed to continue.

Hat-tip: Towleroad

 

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IF IT LOOKS LIKE A DUCK AND WALKS LIKE A DUCK

‘Oh Come On’: Joe Manchin Insists His Opposition to First Woman of Color OMB Nominee ‘Is Not Personal’

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U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is responding to massive criticism of him over the past few days, culminating in allegations of sexism and racism, over his announcement he is opposed to President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget.

“Oh come on,” Manchin, who heads the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, told NBC News’ Garrett Haake when asked about his opposition to Neera Tanden, “it’s not personal at all. No, no.”

Manchin announced his opposition to Tanden on Friday, opening the door for three Republicans to almost immediately follow: Senators Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, and Rob Portman and subsequently declared their opposition.

Tanden is a woman of color. Born to Indian immigrants, she has been president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress for nearly a decade. She also served in both the Clinton and Obama White Houses and as an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Manchin and Republicans have been attacking her over her admittedly mean tweets, many of which she chose to delete in an apparent effort to show contrition. She’s also repeatedly apologized.

But Tanden isn’t the only woman Manchin opposes, nor the only woman of color.

Related: ‘Jim Crow Joe’ Manchin Accused of Working to ‘Derail’ Biden’s Agenda – Some Now Accuse Him of Racism and Misogyny

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) is President Biden’s pick to be Secretary of the Interior. She would be the first Native American to run the $20+ billon agency, and the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.

Manchin declared he was unsure of her nomination on Monday.

That would be two of President Biden’s picks Manchin seemingly opposes, both women of color, and neither of grounds they are not qualified.

Manchin late last month also reportedly “sniped” at Vice President Kamala Harris, after she visited West Virginia to drum up support for the administration’s coronavirus relief package.

Many say they are starting to see a pattern with Manchin, a Democrat so conservative there are three Republicans to the left of him. That pattern involves giving Republican presidents and male nominees, especially white male nominees, great deference, as his voting history proves.

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SERIOUSLY?

Top Texas Elected Official’s 2021 Priorities: Pandemic, Power Grid, and Star Spangled Banner Protection Act

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Tuesday unveiled his top 31 priorities for the 2021 legislative session, a mix of newly urgent issues after last week’s winter storm, familiar topics stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and a fresh injection of conservative red meat into a session that has been relatively bland so far.

Patrick said in a statement that he is “confident these priorities address issues that are critical to Texans at this time” and that some of them changed in recent days due to the storm, which left millions of Texans without power. After his top priority — the must-pass budget — Patrick listed his priorities as reforming the state’s electrical grid operator, as well as “power grid stability.”

Patrick’s specific plans for such items remain unclear, however. Almost all of his priority bills have not been filed yet, and the list he released refers to the issues in general terms.

Reference

View the full list of Dan Patrick’s priorities here.

(555.8 KB)

The priorities echo much of the agenda that Gov. Greg Abbott laid out in his State of the State speech earlier this month, including his emergency items like expanding broadband access and punishing local governments that “defund the police.” Fourth on the list is a cause that Patrick himself prioritized recently — a “Star Spangled Banner Protection Act” that would require the national anthem to be played at all events that get public funding.

However, besides the fresh focus on the electrical grid, perhaps the most notable takeaway from Patrick’s agenda is how far it goes in pushing several hot-button social conservative issues. Patrick’s eighth and ninth priorities have to do with abortion — a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as well as an “abortion ban trigger” that would automatically ban the practice if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Abbott said he wanted to further restrict abortion in his State of the State speech but did not mention those two proposals specifically.

Abortion is not the only politically contentious topic on Patrick’s list. As his 29th priority, Patrick put “Fair Sports for Women & Girls,” an apparent reference to proposals that would ban transgender girls and women who attend public schools from playing on single-sex sports teams designated for girls and women. He also included three items related to gun rights: “Protect Second Amendment Businesses,” “Stop Corporate Gun Boycotts,” and “Second Amendment Protections for Travelers.” It was not immediately clear what specifically those three bills would entail.

Coming in at 10th is another proposal that was left unmentioned in Abbott’s speech despite popularity with the GOP base: banning taxpayer-funded lobbying. That is considered one of the big pieces of leftover business for conservatives after the 2019 session.

While the new state House speaker, Dade Phelan, has been a proponent of outlawing taxpayer-funded lobbying, it remains to be seen how receptive the lower chamber will be to the rest of Patrick’s agenda. The House, especially under previous Speaker Joe Straus, has a history of slowing — or stopping — at least some of Patrick’s most controversial ideas. Phelan has not released a similar list of priorities.

To be sure, though, Patrick’s list covers all five emergency items that Abbott designated in his State of the State speech, when the governor vowed to use this session to aid Texas’ recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Patrick said in a statement that he backs Abbott’s priorities “as well as other legislation to make sure the Texas economy continues to come back stronger than ever following the pandemic.”

Patrick’s priorities drew the swiftest pushback from abortion rights advocates. Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said Patrick was elevating the wrong issues, especially after the winter storm.

“Just when we think state leaders can’t go any lower, Dan Patrick throws out this list—nothing more than a political stunt and a weak attempt to save face with his base, while Texans still need essential health care and critical community support,” Limon-Mercado said in a statement.

For Patrick, the priority list marks something of an end to a relatively quiet start to the session for the typically outspoken lieutenant governor. He has increased his public profile in recent days, including by announcing his plan for the national anthem legislation after a report that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided to stop playing the song during home games this season.

Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/23/dan-patrick-2021-priorities/.

 

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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LGBTQ RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS

Last Year Susan Collins Urged McConnell to Pass the LGBTQ Equality Act – Now She’s Refusing to Even Co-Sponsor It

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Is U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) playing politics with vital civil rights legislation?

Just eight months ago Senator Collins was the only Republican Senator to co-sponsor the LGBTQ Equality Act. She was also in a desperate re-election race.

On June 15 she tweeted her strong support for the bill:

The following day she signed onto a letter to then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, demanding he “immediately bring the bipartisan Equality Act (H.R. 5) to the Senate floor for a vote and fully enshrine in federal law explicit protections for LGBTQIA+ people against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The bill never came to the floor, and Collins got re-elected.

On Tuesday The Washington Blade reported Senator Collins was refusing to co-sponsor the Equality Act, a dramatic about face after being such a strong supporter last year.

Why?

“There were certain provisions of the Equality Act which needed revision,” Collins told the Blade’s Chris Johnson, not specifying what “revisions” were so desperately needed they were resulting in her refusing to sponsor the bill – and putting its passage in jeopardy.

“Throwing some veiled criticism at the Human Rights Campaign,” Johnson writes, “which declined to endorse her in 2020 as it had done in previous elections, Collins added, ‘Unfortunately the commitments that were made to me were not [given] last year.'”

The Equality Act will receive a vote on the House floor this week, reportedly Thursday or Friday. President Biden has said he wants to sign it into law in his first 100 days (although his staff has since suggested it may take longer.)

Like so many other critical pieces of legislation, the Equality Act  will need 60 votes to pass, unless Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) kills the filibuster, something many liberals are demanding he do.

Other GOP Senators are treating it like they used to treat tweets from Donald Trump.

“I don’t know what’s in it,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.

“I have not read the bill,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) also said.

Will Collins change her mind? Will she co-sponsor the Equality Act? Will she reveal what vital “revisions” she’s demanding be made before she does?

Senator Collins’ office did not immediately respond to a call from NCRM.

 

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