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, Â the Centers for Disease Control reports Â epidemic sexual and intimate partner violence toward Â American women and LGBT aging focus of the Obama Administration Â Â
UN Reports 76 Countries Outlaw LGBT Identity, Violence PervasiveÂ
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.Â In issuing the report, Pillay called on UN member statesÂ to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prosecute all serious violations, repeal discriminatory laws, and end legal discrimination for all LGBT persons. Â 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 â€œhigh degree of cruelty,â€Â including forcible rape of lesbians, aÂ notorious activity by anti-â€‹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 markÂ International Human Rights DayÂ in Geneva with Judy Shephard in attendance, the mother of Matthew Shephard who was murdered Â in 1998. Â 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.
â€œIn many countries, discrimination towards gay and lesbian people is hardwired into the law,â€ said Ivan Å imonoviÄ‡, theÂ UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. â€œWe 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.â€
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 Â 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. Â 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 whatâ€™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 â€“ 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, itâ€™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 â€“ 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 womenâ€™s participation in making and keeping peace in a speech on Monday at Georgetown University.
Last U.S. Troops Leave Iraq Â 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. Â 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 AmericaÂ
The Centers for Disease Control announced this week findingsÂ 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 “. Â 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 wasÂ identified as missing prostitute Shannon Gilbert. Â All have beenÂ alleged to have been killed by a serial murderer, yet to be arrested. Â 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 accelerantÂ and tossed a molotov cocktail into the elevator, burning her alive, trapped as the doors closed.
HUD Â 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-â€‹ever national summit for LGBT elders last Wednesday at HUDâ€™s headquarters in Washington, DC.
Demographic shifts across the country have highlighted issues and challenges for older Americans, especially true forÂ aging LGBT Americansâ€‰â€“â€‰aÂ 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-â€‹termÂ care.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ federal policy directorÂ Maya Rupert, issued a statement about the conference:
â€œThis 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.â€
The day-â€‹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-â€‹term care for LGBT elders.Â Speakers included Assistant Secretaries Raphael Bostic of HUDâ€™s Policy and Research Development, and John TrasviÃ±a of HUDâ€™s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, as well as aÂ host of other leaders in the LGBT community. Â See the event website for more information.
Celebrated writer, author and pundit Christopher Hitchens died Friday morning after a long fight with esophageal cancer. Â 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. Â 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 Â 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,” ,Â 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: Â Â “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), … Americaâ€™s gay manhood is still sucking away as if for oxygen itself….â€. Â Enough said. Â Take a long rest Hitch.
H/T toÂ Michael BedwellÂ for Hitchens’ “As American As Apple Pie” homophobic characterizations. Â 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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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Christian Nationalist Group Working to Get Its ‘Biblical Worldview Spread Across the Nation’
Last week, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation prohibiting transgender people from using public school facilities that match their gender identity. That legislation was crafted by the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, a right-wing organization that seeks to elect “godly leaders in our nation at every level” and then use them to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundation of our nation.”
Following the signing of this legislation into law, Jason Rapert, a longtime religious-right activist and ardent Christian nationalist who founded the NACL, took a victory lap, crediting his organization for the law and celebrating its success in pushing back “against the things of the devil in our country.”
As Rapert reported, this legislation had first been proposed by Arkansas school board member David Naylor during an annual NACL meeting and then brought to the Arkansas state legislature by state Rep. Mary Bentley, who serves on the board of the NACL.
On Friday, Rapert interviewed Bentley on his “Save The Nation” program, where she celebrated the NACL’s efforts “to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
“Thank goodness we’ve got some common sense left here in Arkansas,” Bentley said. “[It was because of the NACL] that we were able to get that passed as model policy and bring it forth. I just love seeing grassroots come together and school board members coming to the capitol and going to the governor’s desk and just seeing it all work and flow just exactly how we want to. So, for the folks that are supporting NACL and what we’re doing, this is what we want to do across the country.”
“This is an example of the power of the NACL’s ability with model legislation,” Rapert replied. “This was brought by one of our members, and this policy actually could be immediately adopted by school boards in every school district across this country. If the school board wanted to adopt it, this is the model that they can utilize. And in addition to that, just like you did, go and pass it for the state so that this is going to apply to all the school boards in your state.”
Rapert and Bentley agreed that Arkansas has now blazed the trail on this issue, thereby making it easier for legislatures in other states to enact the same law.
“That’s what happens when you can be a leader,” Bentley asserted. “Once you make a trail, it’s a lot easier for people to follow once you get that trail made.”
“Thank you again for being a part of the NACL,” Bentley declared. “It’s just what we need in this nation right now to have it moving forward, to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
Pence Ordered to Comply With Subpoena, Testify Before Special Counsel’s Grand Jury
Mike Pence, the ex-vice president, must testify before Dept. of Justice special counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection, a federal judge has ruled, rejecting his claims of executive privilege.
The judge is requiring Pence to answer questions about his conversations with Donald Trump leading up to the insurrection, and to answer any questions related to any possible illegal acts Donald Trump may have committed, according to ABC News’ senior investigative reporter Katherine Faulders and CNN’s Abby Phillip.
Judge James Boasberg, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, “outright rejected Trump’s executive privilege challenge, but ruled more narrowly on Pence speech and debate challenge,” Faulders adds.
The judge, apparently citing Pence’s “speech and debate clause” claim, said “that Pence can still decline to answer questions related to his actions on January 6 itself, when he was serving as president of the Senate for the certification of the 2020 presidential election,” CNN reports.
READ MORE: ‘We’re Not Gonna Fix It’: TN Republican Says Congress Can Do Nothing to Stop Gun Violence – Calls for Christian ‘Revival’
NBC News reports Judge Boasberg “did, however, grant Pence a partial victory as to his argument that he was shielded from having to testify about Jan. 6 because of his constitutional role as part of the legislative branch.”
In what some legal experts dismissed as a faulty argument, “Pence’s legal team had argued that the Constitution’s ‘speech and debate’ clause should prevent special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors from eliciting any testimony about communications or activity related to Pence’s role as president of the Senate in presiding over the certification of the election results.”
Overall CNN calls it “another win for special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the Trump-aligned effort to subvert the 2020 election. Smith subpoenaed Pence for testimony and documents earlier this year.”
Pence can still appeal.
Watch MSNBC’s report below or at this link.
BREAKING: Former VP Pence has been ordered to testify in the special counsel’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. https://t.co/EuAAgB8ILO pic.twitter.com/wrYoKJcL0g
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 28, 2023
This is a breaking news and developing story.
This article has been updated to add video.
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Taking Guns Away Is Not the Answer’: Scalise Encourages Prayer After Nashville School Mass Shooting
The official line from House Republicans on Monday’s mass shooting at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville is to encourage prayer and making schools “safer,” but “taking guns away is not the answer.”
GOP Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-most powerful Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, on Tuesday encouraged prayer, waiting for more facts, and looking into mental health option, despite his record of voting against them. Six people, including three nine-year olds and three adults, were shot to death after a shooter shot through the doors of Covenant Presbyterian Elementary School.
“The first thing in any kind of tragedy I do is I pray,” Scalise told a reporter Tuesday when asked if there’s anything Congress can do to reduce gun violence and deaths. “I pray for the victims. I pray for their families.”
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) also encouraged prayer over action. “We’re not gonna fix it,” he declared point-blank, while calling for a Christian “revival.”
READ MORE: Tennessee Governor Slammed After ‘Praying’ for Nashville School Community Without Mentioning Mass Shooting
Scalise was shot in 2017 in a rare act of left-wing gun violence by a man angry at then-President Donald Trump. He and House Republicans have repeatedly used that attack to target Democrats and their policies.
“I really get angry when I see people trying to politicize it for their own personal agenda,” Scalise continued, referring to shootings, “especially when we don’t even know the facts. There are facts coming out.”
“It looks like the shooter originally went to another school that had real stronger, much stronger security and ultimately went to this school,” Scalise said, which is false. According to a CNN report, the shooter had previously “scouted” a second location but had a detailed plan and maps of The Covenant School.
“Let’s get the facts,” Scalise insisted, suggesting no action should be taken before any investigations into this shooting are complete.
The Washington Post in a continually-updated report notes, “There were more school shootings in 2022 — 46 — than in any year since at least 1999.”
It adds, “There have been 376 school shootings” since Columbine, in 1999, and, “More than 348,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.”
But Scalise urged Americans to “work to see if there’s something that we can do to help secure schools.”
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And he insisted reducing the number of guns in America, currently believed to be over 400 million – more than the total population of the country – is “not the answer.”
“We’ve talked about things that we can do, and it just seems like on the other side, all they want to do is take guns away from law abiding citizens, before they even know the facts. The first thing they talk about is taking guns away from law abiding citizens. And that’s not the answer, by the way. So why don’t we number one, keep those families in our prayers and see if there were things that were missed. Along the way, we’ve talked about the need to improve mental health in this country, and that’s been a driver of a lot of these shootings as well.”
But just last September, Scalise, along with all but one House Republican, voted against a bill that would “increase access to mental and behavioral health care.”
He also skipped a vote one week earlier on the Mental Health Justice Act of 2022.
Watch Scalise’s remarks in this clip, below or at this link.
Question: There was another terrible school shooting yesterday.. Is there anything Congress should be doing?
Scalise: First thing I do in any kind of tragedy is I pray.. pic.twitter.com/PW1r7qh2yQ
— Acyn (@Acyn) March 28, 2023
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