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Week in Review: UN Issues Historic Report on LGBT Rights, CDC Reports Epidemic of Violence Against American Women



The United Nations takes historical steps in support of LGBT human rights,  the Centers for Disease Control reports  epidemic sexual and intimate partner violence toward  American women and LGBT aging focus of the Obama Administration   


UN Reports 76 Countries Outlaw LGBT Identity, Violence Pervasive 

The first formal United Nations report on the state of LGBT human rights was presented to the UN General Assembly on Thursday by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human rights, who has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT human rights. In issuing the report, Pillay called on UN member states to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prosecute all serious violations, repeal discriminatory laws, and end legal discrimination for all LGBT persons.  The report is historical, marking the first formal report issued in UN history and establishes the applicable international law that supports the universal human rights treaties and instruments that apply to LGBT persons.

The findings of the report indicate that LGBT people face widespread discrimination everywhere in the world and are subjected to extreme violence, including rape, beatings and torture, evidenced by confirmed reports of mutilation and castration that were characterized by a “high degree of cruelty,” including forcible rape of lesbians, a notorious activity by anti-​gay men in South Africa.

LGBT persons also face criminal punishment in 76 countries and risk capital punishment in five countries, including Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. The report lays out the evidence of widespread discrimination and arbitrary arrests and criminal punishment based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.

UN Hosts Homophobic Anti-Bullying Forum

The UN broke new ground by hosting an inaugural forum on homophobic bullying to mark International Human Rights Day in Geneva with Judy Shephard in attendance, the mother of Matthew Shephard who was murdered  in 1998.  The forum called on State members to adopt anti-discrimination measures and engage in public education to discourage bullying based upon perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

“In many countries, discrimination towards gay and lesbian people is hardwired into the law,” said Ivan Šimonović, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. “We know from experience that discriminatory laws reinforce and lend legitimacy to discriminatory attitudes at a popular level. If the State treats some people as second class, or second-rate, or, worse, criminals, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it invites members of the public to do the same. The result is an alarming and deeply entrenched pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people who are or are perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

Clinton Breaks New Ground on Women, Peace and Security

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed a star-studded crowd at the International Crisis Group’s annual awards dinner in New York City on Friday evening, that included former President Bill Clinton, Queen Noor, the widow of Jordan’s King Hussein, Kati Marton, a journalist and author and the widow of the late Richard Holbrooke, a celebrated U.S. envoy and diplomat, U.S. Army Gen. (ret.) Wesley Clark, among many others, on  why it is vital to U.S. interests, as well as the world, to include women leaders when ending conflict and seeking to make peace in its many forms in conflicts that dominate much of Africa, including the emerging democracies in the Middle East and North Africa.  Clinton made her case by not only appealing with a moral argument to include representatives of more than half of humanity, but because emerging social science data indicates that to sustain peace, women must be included in securing agreements:

We can start by asking what’s missing from most peace talks and the agreements they produce. One answer to that question is women. In the past 20 years, hundreds of peace treaties have been signed. But a sampling of those treaties shows that less than 8 percent of negotiators were women.

Now, there is a clear moral argument – after all, women do represent half of humanity and they have, we have, a fundamental right to participate in the decisions that shape our lives. But the moral argument has so far failed to change behavior on the front lines, where it matters most.

So we need to move the discussion off the margins and into the center of the global debate, and we frankly have to appeal to the self-interest of all people, men as well as women. Because including more women in peacemaking is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do. This is about our own national security and the security of people everywhere.

Tonight I want briefly to examine the growing body of evidence that shows how women contribute to making and keeping peace – and that those contributions lead to better outcomes for entire societies.

Clinton ended her speech by announcing news that she would be announcing the Obama Administration’s new comprehensive policy that will be accelerating and institutionalizing efforts in support of UN Security Council Resolution 1325,relating to women, peace and security, across the U.S. Government to advance women’s participation in making and keeping peace in a speech on Monday at Georgetown University.

Last U.S. Troops Leave Iraq  Ending War After Nine Long Years

President Barack Obama fulfilled a 2008 campaign promise today as the last convoy of American troops left Iraq and crossed into Kuwait territory, ending a 9-year war that cost more than 4,500 American lives and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilian lives, amidst political uncertainty, with calls for a no-confidence vote against Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, and security sources and lawmakers said an arrest warrant had been issued for Tareq al-Hashemi, one of Iraq’s two vice presidents.  Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government still struggles with a delicate power-sharing arrangement between Shi’ite, Kurdish and Sunni parties, leaving Iraq vulnerable to meddling by Sunni Arab nations and Shi’ite Iran.


CDC Reports Epidemic of Violence Against Women in America 

The Centers for Disease Control announced this week findings from a ground breaking study that indicates domestic and sexual violence against American women at epidemic rates that affects “on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner “.  The CDC data also estimates 1 million women are raped annually and more than 6 million women are stalked annually in the United States.

“The health problems caused by violence remind us of the importance of prevention”, said Howard Spivak, MD, Director of CDC’s Injury Center Division of Violence Prevention. “In addition to intervening and providing services, prevention efforts need to start earlier in life, with the ultimate goal of preventing all of these types of violence before they start.”

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) is the first study by the CDC’s newest public health surveillance systems and is designed to monitor the magnitude of sexual violence, stalking and intimate partner violence victimization in the United States and breaks down the study by states, which contains much more detailed and explanatory data.

In the same week the CDC study was released, the 10th body of a group of murdered prostitutes, that included one transvestite, was recovered in Oak Beach, New York, a veritable burial ground who was identified as missing prostitute Shannon Gilbert.  All have been alleged to have been killed by a serial murderer, yet to be arrested.  And an unrelated horrific crime took place in Brooklyn, New York City on Saturday–a woman was burned alive in a Brooklyn elevator, apparently by a man dressed as an exterminator, who sprayed her with an accelerant and tossed a molotov cocktail into the elevator, burning her alive, trapped as the doors closed.

HUD  Hosts First Summit on LGBT Aging and Housing Needs

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights convened the first-​ever national summit for LGBT elders last Wednesday at HUD’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

Demographic shifts across the country have highlighted issues and challenges for older Americans, especially true for aging LGBT Americans – a population that has been historically ignored by the federal government and is more likely to age without the benefits of family support, face discrimination in housing and health care, and rely on assisted living and long-​term care.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ federal policy director Maya Rupert, issued a statement about the conference:

“This event was historic, and we are incredibly grateful to the Obama administration for understanding that housing for LGBT elders deserves to be a federal issue. Older LGBT people are in a particularly vulnerable position as they come to rely on long-term care and assisted living facilities because of widespread discrimination they and their families face in many of these facilities. We have a responsibility to ensure that as members of our community age, they are afforded dignity and respect wherever they live. We are thrilled to have been a part of making this event happen, and we look forward to continue working with HUD, HHS, and the rest of the Obama administration to ensure protection and high quality care for all elders and their families.”

The day-​long conference brought together advocates and practitioners from across the country to highlight existing barriers for LGBT elders, as well as explore future possibilities for building upon current efforts to support housing and long-​term care for LGBT elders. Speakers included Assistant Secretaries Raphael Bostic of HUD’s Policy and Research Development, and John Trasviña of HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, as well as a host of other leaders in the LGBT community.  See the event website for more information.

In Memoriam

Celebrated writer, author and pundit Christopher Hitchens died Friday morning after a long fight with esophageal cancer.  A proclaimed atheist and a polemical figure, with a massive appetite for cigarettes and scotch, Hitchens eviscerated his targets of opportunity over the years with a fine edged razor, drawing blood at whim and continued to write apparently until his final days, according to friends.  Hitchens did not convert to any sort of religion in his last moments, much to the chagrin of a number of his critics, including evangelical leader Rick Warren, who attempted to  profess that Hitchens had finally met the “truth” in his after life.

While many have offered soaring tributes to Hitchen’s prolific writing through the duration of his career, some of his critics have been particularly harsh with his right-wing tilt and embrace of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld invasion of Iraq and upon reflective review of his ‘ode to fellatio’ Vanity Fair 2006 essay “As American As Apple Pie,” , Hitchens appears to have harbored not only misogyny, which is rather par for the course among straight men, but reserves of deep homophobia with lines like these:   “The queer monopoly on blowjobs was the result of male anatomy, obviously, and also of the wish of many gays to have sex with heterosexual men. … This was therefore an inducement the gay man could offer to the straight, who could in turn accept it without feeling that he had done anything too faggotty … The illusion of the tonsilized clitoris will probably never die (and gay men like to keep their tonsils for a reason that I would not dream of mentioning), … America’s gay manhood is still sucking away as if for oxygen itself….”.  Enough said.  Take a long rest Hitch.


H/T to Michael Bedwell for Hitchens’ “As American As Apple Pie” homophobic characterizations.  Christopher Hitchens photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, LGBT human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.


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Trump An ‘Enemy of the Constitution’ Declares Nicolle Wallace, Blasting Call to ‘Terminate’ Nation’s Founding Document



MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace slammed Donald Trump as an “enemy of the Constitution” on Monday after the ex-president, over the weekend, called for the U.S. Constitution to be terminated.

Trump demanded “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” in light of his most recent – and false – claim the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

That was Saturday, on his Truth Social account.

On Monday, Trump denied having ever said it, despite the post still being up.

Wallace characterized Trump’s call to terminate the Constitution “an extraordinary statement even by the standards of a failed wannabe autocrat who plotted a coup against his own government and recently dined with white supremacists.”

READ MORE: ‘Venom’: Experts Shocked as Gorsuch Angrily Accuses Colorado of Forcing Anti-LGBTQ Baker Into ‘Re-Education Program’

“The disgraced ex-president made his contempt for our democracy as clear as ever, when he called for the United States Constitution to be ‘terminated.'”

Quoting The Washington Post, Wallace said: “Trump’s message on his Truth Social platform reiterated the baseless claims he has made since 2020, that the election was stolen, but he went further by suggesting that the country abandon one of its founding documents.”

She also played a clip of Republican Congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio from Sunday’s ABC News.

Rep. Joyce in the clip twists and turns but ultimately admits that if Trump is the GOP nominee for president in 2024 he will vote for him.

READ MORE: Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

“Well, again, it’s early I think there’s gonna be a lot of people in the primary I think at the end of the day, you will have — wherever the Republicans tend to pick up I will fall in behind because that’s –”

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos interjected, asking,”Even if it’s Donald Trump, as he’s called for suspending the Constitution?”

“Again, I think it’s gonna be a big field. I don’t think Donald Trump’s gonna clear out the field like he did in 2016.”

“I will support whoever the Republican nominee is,” Joyce added.

“And I don’t don’t think that at this point he will be able to get there because I think there’s a lot of other good quality candidates out there.”

“He says a lot of things,” Joyce continued, refusing to denounce Trump.

“Let’s not speed past that moment,” Wallace urged. “This is exactly how Trump happened. All the Republicans in Washington and around the country said, [Trump] ‘says all sorts of stupid you know what. Dorsn’t mean he’s going to do it.'”

“He did all of it, all of it. And then some,” she chastised.

Watch below or at this link.

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‘Venom’: Experts Shocked as Gorsuch Angrily Accuses Colorado of Forcing Anti-LGBTQ Baker Into ‘Re-Education Program’



U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch appeared angry and even hostile at several points throughout Monday’s oral arguments in a case brought by a Colorado right-wing evangelical Christian website designer who is suing the state because she wants to be able to discriminate against same-sex couples who are getting married.

The case, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, promises to be one of the most important of the term, and arguments extended more than two hours.

During one of the more heated moments, conservative Justice Gorsuch attacked Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson, claiming the state forced an infamous anti-LGBTQ baker who also went before the Supreme Court, winning his 2018 case in a very narrow ruling, into a “re-education program.”

RELATED: ‘What the Hell, Sam’: Justice Alito Slammed for Making ‘Joke’ About Black Children in KKK Costumes

Jack Phillips, a business owner who refused to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, citing his religious beliefs, was required to attend a class so he could become familiar with Colorado anti-discrimination law.

The Supreme Court’s ruling at the time called it, “additional remedial measures, including ‘comprehensive staff training on the Public Accommodations section'” of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

Justice Gorsuch instead called it a “re-education program,” and slammed the state’s Solicitor General, Eric Olson, with it on Monday.

“Mr. Phillips did go through a re-education training program, pursuant to Colorado law, did he not, Mr. Olson?” Gorsuch asked the solicitor general.

“He went through a process that ensured he was familiar –” Olson responded, before Gorsuch cut him off.

“It was a re-education program, right?” the justice blared.

“It was not a ‘re-education program,'” Olson replied, holding his ground.

“What do you call it?” Gorsuch, dissatisfied, pressed.

“It was a process to make sure he was familiar with Colorado law,” Olson explained.

“Some might be excused for calling that a ‘re-education program,’” Gorsuch snapped.

“I strongly disagree, Justice Gorsuch,” Olson said, defending the law.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who provided the clip above, warns: “It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes ‘reeducation training’ on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules.”

RELATED: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Ruling in the Gay Wedding Cake Case

“Astounding that Gorsuch, A Supreme Court Justice,” tweeted Adam Cohen of Attorneys for Good Government, “Refers to Colorado giving courses on following civil rights law, As ‘reeducation training.'”

“Like being taught not to discriminate against LGBTQ is the same as being sent to a gulag for protesting communism in the Soviet Union,” he added.

Professor Elizabeth Sepper of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law says, “Justice Gorsuch describes education about antidiscrimination law and compliance as a REEDUCATION PROGRAM. This is beyond offensive. It was a central and SOFT tool of many civil rights movements and was essential to targeting market discrimination.”

Columbia Law School’s Elizabeth Reiner Platt, the Director of The Law, Rights, and Religion Project responded, “OMG Gorsuch repeatedly insists that a training on civil rights law is a ‘reeducation program.’ Good grief.”

Attorney Andrew L. Seidel, Vice President of Strategic Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State tweeted, “WHOA. Gorsuch asks a very hostile question about sending the bakery to ‘a re-education program.’ He spits the phrase with venom and repeats it several times. He’s regurgitating right wing talking points.”

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‘What the Hell, Sam’: Justice Alito Slammed for Making ‘Joke’ About Black Children in KKK Costumes



The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in one of the most important cases of the term, a case that will determine if the nation’s highest court will or will not allow a person citing their personal religious beliefs to openly discriminate in the marketplace against same-sex couples.

In likely the most salient and important hypothetical example, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson described in great detail a photographer wanting to re-create scenes from 1940’s Christmases with Santa Clauses and children, in sepia tones, and making them historically accurate.

She asked the attorney representing the right-wing Christian website designer who does not want to have to provide her product to same-sex couples, if under her legal theory the hypothetical photographer would have to create photos of a white Santa with Black children.

Kristen Waggoner, the Alliance Defending Freedom‘s attorney arguing in favor of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, was forced to admit that the photographer would be able to say they would not take photos of Black children with a white Santa.

RELATED: Listen Live: SCOTUS Hears Christian Right Religion vs. LGBTQ Civil Rights Challenge

Later, Justice Samuel Alito, one of the Court’s most far-right jurists, decided to use Justice Jackson’s hypothetical analogy to make a point, and he did so by mockingly joking about Black children wearing KKK costumes.

“Justice Jackson’s example of that, the Santa in the mall who doesn’t want his picture taken with Black children,” Justice Alito began, getting the basics of the analogy incorrect.

“So if there’s a Black Santa at the other end of the mall, and he doesn’t want to have his picture taken with a child who is dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit, now does that Black Santa have to do that?”

Colorado Solicitor General Eric Olson replied, “No, because Klu Klux Klan outfits are not protected characteristics under public accommodation laws.”

READ MORE: ‘Anathema to the Soul of Our Nation’: Trump Pilloried for Demanding ‘Termination’ of the US Constitution

“And presumably,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor interjected, “that would be the same Ku Klux Klan outfit regardless whether if the child was Black or white or any other characteristic.”

That’s when Alito decided to make a “joke,” while thousands of Americans were listening to the Court’s live proceedings.

“You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits all the time,” he said, presumably sarcastically.

He then laughed, and some viewers in the gallery joined with him.

Many on social media were outraged and offended.

“He is so inappropriate today. And offensive,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). “The Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits? Not funny. Is this the highest Court of the most powerful country in the world? Good grief.”

Minutes later, NYU School of Law Professor of Law Melissa Murray weighed in, saying, “I’m going to need Justice Alito to stop joking about seeing ‘Black children in Ku Klux Klan costumes.'”

“Seriously, what am I listening to?” she asked, to which Ifill replied, “Just awful.”

“The joke about Black kids in KuKluxKlan outfits?” Ifill also lamented. “No Justice Alito, these ‘jokes’ are so inappropriate, no matter how many in the courtroom chuckle mindlessly.”

Columbia University Professor of Law Katherine Franke tweeted, “Justice Alito is resorting to KKK jokes. Ha ha ha. As if what’s at stake here is funny, and isn’t taking place in a context in which LGBTQ people feel like we have a target on our backs. And, ahem – Klan jokes aren’t funny under any context.”

The Rewire News Group tweeted, in all caps, “I knew Alito wouldn’t be able to resist bringing up the Ku Klux Klan,” and then: “What the hell, Sam.”

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