Saturday, January 27, 2007

Colombia: If at first you don't succeed...

While the Colombian legislature got closer than ever to recognizing certain rights for same-sex couples last year, gay rights advocates were not sitting idly nor placing all their eggs on the legislative basket.

In June, working with experts from the Andes University law school and the Public Interest Law Clinic, gay rights organization Colombia Diversa filed three suits before the Supreme Court challenging parts of the constitution that regulate benefits granted to unmarried opposite-sex couples who are in a permanent partnership for not recognizing the same rights for same-sex partners.

On December 6th, by a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court dismissed one of the suits on a technicality. The suit argued that Law 100, passed in 1993, discriminated against same-sex couples by not allowing them to have access to their partner's pension benefits, should one of them die, as is the case with opposite-sex permanent partners.

But today, thanks to a second of the constitutional challenges, the leading story of the El Espectador newsweekly reads "Gays on the brink of getting patrimony rights."

In this case the claimants argue that articles 1 and 2 of Law 54, passed in 1993, which allow opposite-sex couples to have joint control over their patrimony through permanent partnerships, discriminate against same-sex couples seeking to protect their mutual belongings.

What has stunned observers, according to the paper, is that the Justice that is introducing the topic for a vote is Rodrigo Escobar Gil, known for his conservative rulings when it comes to gay rights, in a sign that he will side with the claimants and vote in favor of granting the right to patrimony to same-sex couples. They make note that the decision will not touch on other divisive issues such as marriage or adoption rights but El Espectador says that it would be the first time that the Colombian Supreme Court would recognize same-sex partners as family

Leaders of Colombia Diversa, including President Marcela Sanchez (pictured above and also one of the people named in the suit), told the newspaper that it would be wrong to assume how the court will vote (they need 5 of 9 Justices to side with them). After all, it's not the first time that a leading newspaper has wrongly forecast a gay rights victory (most recently El Tiempo which said on December 2nd that the House of Representatives would grant certain rights to same-sex partners in the last days of the 2006 legislative session before the bill was allowed to die due to filibuster tactics and lack of quorum when it came for an actual vote).

The court's ruling will be known before February 13.

Previously we have also featured Colombia Diversa board member Virgilio Barco Isakson.

Friday, January 26, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: A national Latino LGBT human rights organization is born

It has been more than three years since the only national Latino LGBT organization, LLEGO, suddenly closed its doors.

Faced with a vacuum in leadership and concerned that our national voice as LGBT Latino leaders would be silenced, I quickly reached out to those people I knew who were working on Latino LGBT issues throughout the United States and asked them to join a dialogue on what LLEGO's shut down meant for the community and where to go from there.

At the time, LLEGO had been planning one of its bi-annual national conferences and had selected Seattle, Washington as the host city. Through the leadership of many and the collaboration of Entre Hermanos - a local Latino LGBT organization - we managed to draw a diverse number of people for a historic meeting that took place in September of 2004.

Though many of the leading activists were not able to make it to Seattle, I'd say that in such a short time we managed to get a pretty impressive group of people, including some who might not have been plugged into the national structure beforehand. There was also a palpable sense that there was a common interest in creating a new national entity - although it was still not clear whether it would take the shape of a national network or an actual organization. Additional conversations were had with participants of that year's Creating Change conference
in St. Louis, Missouri to include the voices of additional ctivists who might not have heard about or been able to participate in the Seattle meeting.

Miami's Unity Coalition spearheaded and hosted a third meeting in the spring of 2005 during which an ad-hoc steering committee hammered out the nuts and bolts of what a new Latino LGBT organization would look like and do (details will emerge later through official communication from the organization). In Miami, we also selected the name UNID@S: The National Latino LGBT Human Rights Organization.

Up until then, we were working at an almost feverish pace. After Miami, the pace slowed down a bit. Over the years several people have stepped up to the plate to push the project forward and so it was that things picked up steam again last year and in November a call for candidates for the Board of Directors was sent out.

Elections just took place and today the elected officials were finally announced! Without further ado, the newly elected and founding Board of Directors of UNID@S: The National Latino LGBT Human Rights Organization is as follows:
  • Yoseñio Lewis, West Region
  • Gael Gundin Guevara, New York City
  • Ada Conde Vidal, Puerto Rico
  • Cristina Martínez, Texas
  • Ruby Jade Corado, Washington, D.C.
  • Sandra Telep, South East Region
  • Pedro Julio Serrano, North East Region
  • Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, South Central Region
  • Jorge Alexandro Cestou, Mid West Region
  • Wilfred Labiosa, Massachusetts
  • Gabriel González, North Central Region
It is the end of a process and the beginning of a new one and I for one am tremendously moved that we have reached this point.

Mexico: English language media picks up on a few LGBT stories

Here are links to two recent English-language newspaper articles on issues that we have recently covered:
...and a link to a story we have yet to cover:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

ITN: SF death, black-face performer out in Los Angeles

Death in San Francisco: Martha Arredondo from Santa Cruz, California, says that she has hired a private investigator to look into the death of her daughter Daxi (pictured right). Daxi's body was found in a seedy San Francisco motel room back in November of 2006 but police are still determining whether her death was a homicide. Her mother says that she decided to hire an investigator after she was called to identify her daughter's body and saw signs of violence. The investigator, she says, has already found out that Daxi was seen walking into the hotel with a man who later was seen leaving alone. Daxi, who was 35, was a transgender woman.

Black-face performer kicked out of Los Angeles: Back in 2004, some of us protested an appearance by gay "comedy" performer Charles Knipp at a Chelsea gay bar and his demeaning characterization of black women and black culture. Local protests go back to 2002. But it's 2007 and Jasmyne Cannick has achieved what we were not able to do: To get Knipp's show cancelled.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Musica: House music all spring long

It has been building for a while but it seems to have happened. Good ol' funky heavenly melodic soulful disco music is back in a big way and a few new key releases are eading the way.

4hero: The best might come first! "Play with the Changes" is out next week in the UK. From the couple of songs I've heard, it is yet another stunner. Some will be disappointed that their old drum'n'bass roots have mostly gone by the wayside but the new album, their first in six years, seems to deepen their ongoing exploration of the golden age of 70's soul. For the record, I still can't listen to their remake of Minnie Riperton's "Les Fleur" without getting goosebumps! Let's hope they tour the United States down the line. Past hightlights: "Escape That," "Loveless," "Star Chasers"

Tracey Thorn: While Ben Watt has struck gold with his Buzzin' Fly imprint and on the DJ circuit, his Everything But the Girl partner-in-crime Tracey Thorn resurfaces with her first solo album ever (titled "Out in the Woods" and out in March on Astralwerks in the US) after mostly gracing other bands' singles with her magnificent voice. First single "It's All True" looks back at the mid-80's NY house sound (with an amazing Martin Buttrich mix making the rounds). There is also a song about gay kids getting bullied in school called "A to Z" and a remake of the Pet Shop Boys "King's Cross" which should keep the gay press happy. Past highlights: Massive Attack's "Protection," "Five Fanthoms," "Before Today (Live)," "Walking Wounded," Deep Dish's "Future of the Future," "Rollercoaster," "Driving"

Quentin Harris: Bringing the Detroit sound into the 21st century, out DJ/producer/remixer of the moment Quentin Harris (pictured above) has already released his "No Politics" CD in Japan (not sure if and when it will be released states side). "Who?" you say? Well, he's remixed Mariah and Beyonice already, among others, and has a banging new mix/unmixed compilation of some of his productions inaugurating a new NRK records series called "Coast2Coast." He also has a bonafide classic or two under his belt ("Let's Be Young" among them) but the future seems wide open. For one thing he's got the amazing (and out) Joi Cardwell singing again on "What It Feels Like." He also has an equally legendary Byron Stingily on "Hate Won't Change Me." Quentin, who has made a living in NYC as of late, is also known for his involvement in local HIV prevention initiatives among gay men of color.

Karizma: Back in September we were lucky to catch Karizma out at Prospect Park when he performed at Li'l Ray's Clubhouse Jamboree (check him drop the Johnny Dangerous mix of Jazmina's "Let the Rain Come Down" with her vocals gliding over Frankie Knuckle's all-time classic "Tears"). If Quentin Harris brings Detroit back, Karizma is all about the Baltimore house sound. You might have heard "4 the Love" before, now he's releasing a full album, "A Mind of Its Own" on r2 Records.

Peven Everett: Detroit, Baltimore, can Chicago be next? You already know how I feel about Peven Everett but, as we told you, following the success of "Stuck," Peven is set to release what will probably be his most successful production thanks to the push that Defected's Soul Heaven imprint will probably give his new full-length: "Power Soul" will be out in the UK next week as well (snippets of all songs available at that link). Can't wait for it!

Mr. V: Last but not least, wussup New York! So aparently Mr. V (representing Loisaida, as we Naw Yorkers call Manhattan's Lower East Side) has already released his "Welcome Home" album. Hm, so how come I can't find a CD copy anywhere in this city? Sounds like one big great party going by its first single "Da Bump" (produced by Alix Alvarez and featuring the groovilicious Ms. Patty) and a live performance of "Put Your Drink Down."

Monday, January 22, 2007

Out of La Mega, Luis Jimenez throws a homophobic fit

[PLEASE NOTE: No anonymous comments will be allowed in reply to this post]

Long criticized for sponsoring homophobia during his stint as a radio shock-jock in NYC's La Mega radio station, Luis Jimenez always scoffed at the criticism saying that if they made fun of gays from time to time, well, they made fun of everybody else anyway so it should not be taken as an offense. He would also say that he personally had no animosity towards gays.

Jimenez, who recently left the radio station in an increasingly acrimonious split when he made a $5 million deal with Univision Radio, has seen his star rise despite (or should I say because) of the filth and raunch that characterized his run in the morning show "El Vacilon de la Mañana."

Question is, was Jimenez sincere when he said, for all intents and purposes, that he did not have a homophobic bone in his body?

Today, in his weekly El Diario La Prensa column, well-known political analyst Gerson Borrero reveals details of an alleged confrontation between Jimenez and Polito Vega on January 12th. Vega, who runs a salsa music show for La Mega and is allied with the radio station's owner, Raul Alarcon, is said to have forced other members of "El Vacilon" to sign contracts that prohibited them from following Jimenez to Univision radio.

Borrero writes that the two ran into each other at a parking garage in mid-Manhattan. Vega noticed Jimenez and said, in Spanish, "Hi Luis, how are you?"

"How do you think I am doing, old hypocrite! Faggot!" Jimenez is said to have shot back in anger, also in Spanish.

"You're the hypocrite, faggot!" replied Vega.

Jimenez then allegedly almost jumped out of his skin in anger and shouted "You are a back-stabber! Cock-sucker!" As Vega turned around and started to leave, Jimenez added "You have Raulito [Alarcon]'s fist up you ass, faggot."

Even Borrero makes note of the homophobic expressions used by both radio personalities though he says La Mega listeners might think they're more in line with language used in "El Vacilon."

If the description of the exchange is accurate, it shows that even when he thinks he is off the air, Jimenez deems it fit to call people a faggot [maricon], a cock-sucker [mama-bichos] or question their masculinity by alleging that he's got a fist up his ass.

The difference between the Grey's Anatomy fracas and Luis Jimenez is that while Isaiah Washington does not espouse what might be his homophobic views through his work in the top rated dramatic television show in the country, Jimenez usage of homophobic insults in private is pretty much what he did on air during his stint in the top rated Spanish language radio show in the nation.

But, because all this happens and is reported in Spanish-language media, while Washington might well lose his job over his comments, Jimenez will get $5 million to do more of the same, care of Univision radio.

UPDATE: Luis Jimenez is back in town (January 18, 2008)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Grey's Anatomy? Keep Isaiah

A few leaders in the African-American gay community are reacting to calls for the firing of Isaiah Washington from the popular television show "Grey's Anatomy" by supporting the actor and calling on the show's producers to keep him in the cast.

This follows a series of public missteps made by the actor in trying to clarify or outright deny having called another cast-member a "faggot" during an on-set dispute which has come to be fodder for the celebrity shows (and gained even wider notoriety than the series of rumored cast skirmishes that plagued "Desperate Housewives" in it's second season as reporters looked for dirt when that show became the top rated televisions how).

Having seen Washington deny he ever made the comment during the red carpet ceremony at the Golden Globes and then tell a reporter "I love gay, I wanted to be gay, please let me be gay," it still seems to me that he was trying to make light of the whole incident as a way to deflect media attention (though if that was his intention, he failed miserably at it). Then again others might be right in saying that it was his bigoted way of reacting to the constant questions about the reported incident months after cast and crew said it had been blown out of proportion and dealt with.

Everyone certainly seems to be drawing away what they want to believe from the whole incident. And there is enough to keep media entertained: Sexuality, homophobia, race, discord between cast members of the most popular drama on television, etc.

But take away the No. 1 rating, the paparazzi and the red carpet and does Washington truly owe the lesbian and gay community and apology?

Washington originally used the homophobic epithet during shooting the show and by all accounts the issue was resolved where it should have been: Between the cast members and producers. As much as has been made of his Golden Globe awards comments, this time around he didn't bring up the epithet as an insult to TR Knight or anyone else. Unfortunately, he used it to deny that he had ever directed it in Knight's way. Wrong you say? Yes! Insensitive? You bet!

But an attack on the lesbian and gay community? I'm not so sure.

An apology came late last week but it might have been a little too late. It didn't help that the statement seemed to reflect the generic mea culpa's of a well-oiled public relations firm trying to save an actor's career. Washington has since fired his PR firm.

And yet, personally I feel that it remains an issue of how the actor fits within the cast and how the other cast members - including TR Knight - feel in working with Washington. Last week on Ellen, in a moving interview, Theodore Raymond "McYummy" Knight did express surprise that Washington would deny using the word during the Golden Globes. Still, after all the bru-ha-ha, he also seemed willing to move on.

In the meantime, there have been a few prominent black gay leaders, including producer Paris Barclay, that have called for Washington's firing. In the blog-o-sphere it has been a different story, particularly over at Jasmyne Cannick's site (she has also launched a "Keep Isaiah Washington on Grey's Anatomy" petition campaign here).

For other commentary I also suggest that you check these out as well:
PS! - That cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in last Thursday's episode? By Norway's Suzanne & the Magical Orchestra if you were wondering. Available in the free CD that comes with this month's MOJO magazine.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

ITN: Mario Acosta-Velez, Spain's weddings, Chicago shootings, La Mega

All these stories have run recently on English language media so... no need to translate them (Yay!)

Cover Man: DC's Metro Weekly profiles Latino gay activist Mario Acosta-Velez, President of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, member of DC's Human Rights Commission, Executive Director of the Latino Civil Rights Center and Board Member of Gente Latina de Ambiente (GELAAM). A few months ago Metro Weekly also featured a cover story on DC Latina transgender activist Ruby Corado, so kudos to Metro Weekly for featuring some of our own.

Why not U.S.?: The Advocate takes a look at why a mostly Catholic country such as
Spain was able to allow same-sex couples to marry throughout the nation even as the United States continues struggling with the issue.

No arrests: The Windy City Times takes a look at a Martin Luther King Day march and press conference held in Chicago's South Side in light of the New Year's Eve shooting that left six gay men with bullet wounds (all six survived but authorities have yet to arrest anyone).

Mega shocker: Finally, the Spanish-language radio station airwaves in New York are in an upheaval after the recent departure of popular morning shock-jock Luis Jimenez from the top rated "El Vacilon de la Mañana" on La Mega (97.9FM) with his partner, Moonshadow, indicating that he might follow. For more than ten years we have criticized the incredibly homophobic content on which the show traded but the criticism mostly fell on deaf ears and was dismissed by the radio station in consideration of just how big a cash-cow it had become for them.

Unfortunately, Jimenez' departure is not a sign that Spanish language radio is waking up to their responsibility to avoid extremely obscene material in the mornings. I guess it's no big surprise that money was the key reason for the Mega-break up: He will now get an annual salary of $5 million dollars for Univision radio.

Puerto Rico's El Vocero says that a local radio personality, Frankie Jay, has signed up to replace Jimenez. Puerto Rico Para Tod@s' Pedro Julio Serrano tells us that the new DJ stayed away from homophobic fare while building a radio following in the island, which means that "El Vacilon" might just change a bit. We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mexico: Gay rights leader murdered

Mexico's En Linea Directa reports that, on Monday, 42 year-old José Ernesto Leal Rodriguez was found stabbed to death in his apartment (WARNING: Link contains very graphic photos).

The gay rights leader, who lived in Texas-bordering city of Matamoros, had recently held a press conference calling for the state of Tamaulipas to adopt similar same-sex partnership measures as those recently adopted by Mexico City last year.

La Jornada says that Leal Rodriguez was seen as the spokesperson of the city's lesbian and gay community and received a Gay Medal in 2006 for being one of the first persons to openly demand equal rights in the region. They also mention that just six weeks ago he handed a statement in the name of more than 300 gays and lesbians in Matamoros to the city's mayor demanding that the city's authorities stop arresting and detaining people based on their sexual orientation and charging them 920 pesos in exchange for their liberty.

Investigators found a kitchen knife in the apartment which they believe was used in the stabbing and say they have collected finger-prints left in the refrigerator. They tell La Jornada that the violent nature of the crime and the fact that there were no signs of forced entry into the apartment leads them to believe that the murder was a crime of passion.

UPDATE: Hoy Tamaulipas, in its January 18, 2007 edition, reports that a federal deputy from an office that oversees crimes against vulnerable communities was sent to Matamoros to investigate the murder and to challenge police activities endorsed by the local government allowing for the detention of gays since April of 2006.

"Enough with wanting to resolve the crime by saying that it was a crime of passion and sweeping it under a rug when we could have a hate crime before us since it is a crime [commited] against a homosexual; this is to say that we have come all the way to Tamaulipas to see the reality that people like us are living in this border town," said Deputy David Sanchez Camacho, who happens to be gay.

He will also ask for the local government to cunduct police trainings to make sure that local authorities know that being gay is not a crime and should not be grounds for discrimination or jail.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

ITN: Colombian TG woman murdered, Dallas Constable Dupree criticized, asylum in the news

Trans woman stoned to death in the rural plains of eastern Colombia: El Tiempo reports today that a popular personality from the rural town of Puerto Paz in the Venezuela-bordering great plains state of Meta, was stoned to death.

The body of 44 year-old Myreya Sanchez a/k/a Balalá (pictured above), whose birth name was Edgar Enrique Echeverry and was known to adopt the names of many television soap heroines throughout her life (including Laisa), was found on a field near a major interstate road on January 7th. Authorities say that they found the semi-nude body in a fetal position with wounds to her head indicating that she was hit with a large stone.

Myreya was well-known throughout the community since she usually was seen riding on her bike offering to wash dirty laundry, iron shirts or cook for others, which is how she made a living. She also was active political races and volunteered for several local candidates.

Her funeral on Monday drew a multitude or mourners as her body was carried from the town's church to the cemetery. Victor Bravo, a neighbor, asked authorities to do their best to solve the murder.

FOLLOW-UP! Dallas Constable Mike Dupree does some damage control after having his younger male ex-lover deported to Honduras: The Dallas Observer reports that openly gay Dallas Constable Mike Dupree (and his lawyer) met this week with a number of local leaders to defuse outrage from activists following the disclosure that he had one of his officers arrest an ex-lover at his home have him deported soon after their relationship soured.

On Wednesday, members of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, Gay LULAC, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Valiente and the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus held a meeting with Dupree at which he and his lawyer questioned the "accuracy" of the Dallas Observer article that exposed the deportation.

Dallas Observer reporter Matt Pulle stands by his original story and the Dallas Observer notes that neither Dupree nor his lawyer have called the paper to question any of the facts in the original article.

"That's just not something we do" says Human Rights Campaign on helping LGBT immigrants seek political asylum in the US: Doug Ireland has the cover story of this week's Gay City News and shines a light on the difficulties facing LGBT immigrants seeking asylum based on sexual orientation.

a worthy read.

In the article, Holland & Knight attorney Chris Nugent (an unsung hero to us) says that he is disappointed that there seems to be no institution in the United States that has mobilized on the issue. While that might be true on a national scale (the Human Rights Campaign comes out smelling the worst as quoted above), I'm not sure I am in agreement.

As a staff member of the Latino Commission on AIDS, I know for a fact that our agency has successfully mobilized over 200 political asylum applicants who have been granted asylum based on persecution due to sexual orientation over the last decade, and that local organizations such as the African Services Committee and GMHC have also been engaged in the issue.

Still, Nugent is right to criticize the fact that the two national gay rights organizations are unwilling to take a stand on the issue or devote any resources to helping out. We certainly did our work despite the few resources we had towards assisting immigrants in their asylum claims but, in some ways, it was the most important and rewarding work we have ever done.

Friday, January 12, 2007

ITN: Good news in Mexico, Puerto Rico civil code, Jamaican prison for TG youth

Coahuila says yes to same-sex partners: Yesterday, Coahuila became the second Mexican state to recognize the rights of same-sex partners following Mexico City, which approved a more limited bill back in November.

Mexican organizations react to anti-gay comments by new Health Minister: In the meantime news agency NotieSe reports today that some organizations reacted strongly to comments made by the new Health Minister José Ángel Córdova Villalobos in an interview published yesterday in Exelsior.

Representatives from Catholic Women for the Right to Choose, Group of Information on Elective Reproduction (GIRE), and Integral Health for Women (Sipam) reacted to Villalobo's comments regarding reproductive health while the National Counsel for the Prevention of HIV/AIDS (Conasida) and the National Front of People Affected by HIV/AIDS pointed out that HIV prevention should be based on science and not on "personal, moral or religious beliefs."

Homosexual Group, Action and Information (GHAI) called the declarations "surprising" and "irresponsible."

Friends Against AIDS questioned the Minister's comments that some radio spots "promoted homosexuality" and noted that sexual identity, whether gay or straight, cannot be "promoted" as there is no way to change a person's sexual orientation.

In the meantime an opinion columnist in the paper where the outrageous comments were published, Exelsior, also reacted angrily. Yuriria Sierra says:
...the state oversees the area of public health and that is your responsibility, Minister. To decide how each and every Mexican should express their sexuality is not under your perview. And society should not care whether you think that other people's love or pleasures are dangerous: What is dangerous is that the Ministry under your charge might not comply with what is truly your responsibility. We will take care of our beds: You should take care of our health.
Puerto Rico exclusive not so exclusive anymore: In the meantime, the exclusive we gave you on Wednesday (in collaboration with PRparaTODOS), is not so exclusive anymore as the major Puerto Rican papers revealed today what we already knew:

A draft of family regulations within a new Puerto Rican civil code not only would create civil union regulations in the Caribbean island but extend civil union rights to same-sex partners in a version that was shown to legislators this morning.

We have it on good authority that there will be surprises ahead that might increase the chances of the code being adopted by the legislature and that might benefit more than just same-sex couples.

Trans youth in Jamaican prison: Jamaican prison authorities say that they mistakenly placed a juvenile trans woman in a woman's prison after the arresting officer failed to realize that the person was transgender, according to the Jamaica Observer. Perhaps it might have been a safer choice for the teen, unfortunately she has been moved to "another correctional institution."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

ITN: Costa Rica blood bank challenge, domestic violence in Chile, Mexico turns right on gays

Costa Rican man claims the National Blood Bank discriminates against gay men: On January 9th, Teletica reported that Alberto Cabesas, through his lawyer Marco Castillo, is challenging the constitutionality of a law that bars gay men in Costa Rica from donating blood (the law currently bans donations from "homosexuals, bisexuals, promiscuous [people] and drug-addicts). Cabesas and Castillo argue that it is unconstitutional to base the ban on sexual orientation instead of personal behavior. Mr. Castillio, if you remember, also argued (unsuccessfully) in favor of same-sex marriage when the issue reached the country's highest court back in May of 2006.

Historic meeting between gay leaders and religious leaders in Chile: Also on January 9th, La Nacion reported that the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (MOVILH) brought together leaders of the Evangelical, Presbyterian, Christian, Pentecostal and Jewish religious movements for a closed-door meeting to dispel confusion regarding an anti-discrimination bill currently being discussed in the country's legislature. A press release posted on the organization's website says that Evangelical leaders expressed fears fears that they might be prosecuted under the new bill based on their beliefs but lawyers present were able to explain that it was one thing for a religious leader to express his belief that homosexuality is wrong, a right to freedom of speech that would still be protected, and quite another to incite violence against gays as members of the right-wing Crusade of Power Evangelical Movement did last year when they organized a protest and called for the kiling of gays. Jewish religious leaders, says the press release, have backed the measure for more than four years.

Chilean court upholds conviction against man accused of domestic violence against his male partner: Also in Chile, today's El Mostrador reports that a Court of Appeals in the city of La Serena has upheld the conviction of 23 year old Honorino Muñoz Tapia for the "ongoing abuse" of his male partner under the country's Inter-Family Violence laws. In doing so, the court accepted that a same-sex couple living together for an extended period of time should be recognized as a partnership and falls under the oversight of family laws. Mr. Tapia is to serve 41 days in prison and attend mental health and alcohol abuse counseling. He is also forbidden to get anywhere near the victims for a period of a year (he also was abusive towards his ex-partner's mentally disadvantaged son).

Comments by Mexico's new Health Minister augur anti-gay policies: A mere six weeks after conservative Felipe Calderon took possession of the Mexican presidency, his Health Minister is promising to end programs that he sees as promoting homosexuality and speaks of "more education and less condoms" when it comes to HIV prevention.

In an extensive interview posted today in Excelsior, José Córdova Villalobos (pictured above) says that he will prioritize youth pregnancy prevention campaigns that focus on parents as educators rather than other prevention methods including the promotion of anticontraceptives.

Villalobos also criticized the work his office under former president Vicente Fox:
Villalobos criticized campaigns by the Health Ministry in the past six years to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases since he considers that frequently their message instead of being preventive, promoted high risk behaviors.

In particular, he expressed his rejection of campaigns that sought to eradicate discrimination against those who hold homosexual practices, a group that has become the primary transmitter of HIV/AIDS.
Villalobos was referring to a series of controversial public service radio announcements that the Ministry sponsored in 2005.

The paper publishes a transcript of one of the spots translated here as follows:
Mother: So you look very much in love, son, how long has it been?
Juan: Five months, mom
Mother: And likes the idea of being invited to dinner with our family?
Juan: Loved it! Even prepared a dessert dish that you are going to love!
Mother: I hope he likes what I made. By the way, what did you say was the name?
Juan: Oscar, his name is Oscar
VOICE OVER: Even if you think it's strange, many people still think badly of a situation like this one. Homophobia is the intolerance against homosexuality. Equality begins when we accept that every one is different.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: PR to include same-sex civil unions in Family Code

EXCLUSIVE from PRparaTODOS and Blabbeando:

From Puerto Rico para Tod@s:

It’s a fact… language that codifies civil unions between same-sex partners will be included in the revision of the Puerto Rican Civil Code.

We just received confirmation that regulations that codify civil unions between heterosexual couples and same-sex couples will be included in the new draft of the Puerto Rican Family Code, which will be unveiled this Friday, January 12th before the Puerto Rican Senate.

While Senator Jorge de Castro Font attempted to hijack democracy by alleging that new civil union code would not apply to same-sex couples, at Puerto Rico para Tod@s we remained firm in our position that - in a democracy - civil union rights should always be available to everyone.

In the meantime more than 30 Latino LGBT organizations throughout Latin America supported our efforts to have our partnership rights recognized by our legislature.

Tonight, with much pride in our unwavering stand for equality and justice, we can declare that we won the first battle.

Now, it is up to each and everyone of you to stand proud and, if possible, to be present on Friday, January 12th at 10am, to demand access to the rights that the rest of the population enjoys.

We still fight... because Puerto Rico must be for everyone!

[NOTE: Once the new draft of the Family Code is presented, it would still need to be submitted for public comment, approved by a joint commission in charge of overseeing the changes in Puerto Rico's Civil Code and then head to full votes in the House of Representatives and the Senate. So, while some legislative hurdles remain, the fact that the draft appears to be inclusive of same-sex couples is in itself a tremendous first step for a measure that many conserevative legislators in the island, and
Senator Jorge de Castro Font in particular, sought to derrail]

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Power couples

Two couples. In each case an older powerful white man partnered with a younger less-wealthy Latino gay man. Troubled relationships, court dates and, in both cases, a very messy, very public, very different resolution.

Steven Green vs. David Gonzalez: Today The New York Times reported on a landmark case in the New York courts in which a judge ruled that 41 year-old real estate developer Steven Green had to honor the terms of a signed separation agreement with 29 year-old lawyer David Gonzalez (and pay $780,000), even though the judge sided with Green in ruling that it could not grant a divorce (the couple married in Massachussetts in 2005) because same-sex marriages are not currently recognized by New York State.

The couple had lived together since 2001, when Gonzalez was a law school student, and eventually got married in MA on Valentine's Day of 2005. Upon dissolution of the relationship, Gonzalez filed for divorce (!) in Manhattan.

Not sure who zoomed who, Mr. Gonzalez, who was "showered with gifts" during the relationship including two new cars and his very own ski lodge; or Mr. Green who seemed to believe in gay marriage just a couple of years ago but promptly claimed their MA wedding was kinda fake once the relationship soured.

Art Loenard has more on the case here.

Dallas Constable Mike Dupree (pictured) vs. Angel Martinez: Last week the Dallas Observer reported that 50 year-old Dallas Constable* Mike Dupree had one of his officers arrest his undocumented 20 year-old Honduran ex-boyfriend Angel Martinez and "arranged to have his ex-lover deported."

Dupree told the Dallas Observer that he was just looking for Martinez' "interests and his safety and his well-being" but even those who worked under Dupree said that the arrest came after their relationship had "soured."

Dupree alleges that he was more of a father figure to Martinez than a lover ("That's what he called me. He called me Dad. He called me Papa") and that Martinez actually agreed with his tough-love tactic of having him deported to Honduras (he claims Martinez told him "No, Dad, I won't get mad"). He also told the Observer that Martinez had turned from a hard working church-going kid "who listened to Christian music" to a gun-stealing troubled kid who loved "hard rap" in mere months, which is why he felt it was better for Martinez to be taken back to Honduras.

Martinez was not available for comment but anonymous sources told the Observer that "Martinez was a good kid who angered Dupree by dating a stripper at the Chicas Bonitas nightclub on Harry Hines Boulevard."

Some are calling for an investigation into the proceedings but say that it would be difficult without having Martinez in the country.

Turns out though that it's not the first time Dupree has been in the news over troubles with a younger Latino partner. On May 24, 2002, Dupree was actually arrested after a Mexican man in his 20's who lived with him accused him of sexual assault (an accusation the Mexican man later withdrew claiming he'd made up the story after he had a fight with Dupree over a trip to Mexico).

Does this sound as outrageous and offensive as it does to me? Dupree should be booted out. Now.
  • UPDATE: The Dallas Observer prints two letters to the editor in response to the article from Jesús Chaíres, former producer of Sin Fronteras radio and from Pete Webb, President of the Dallas Gay & Lesbian Alliance in their January 11th edition. You can read both here.
*Constable: According to the Observer "in Dallas County, constables fall somewhere between the police chief and the security officer patrolling an apartment complex. In Dallas, if you know the name of your local constable, it's probably because you know him. Or at least his cousin. In some elections for constable, no more than 10,000 people turn out to vote, and many of those no doubt came to cast ballots for candidates in higher offices."

[Thanks Seyd for the heads up!]

Monday, January 08, 2007

In the news: LGBT political asylum news, homophobic violence in Peru

Not sure if this will be a recurring feature here at Blabbeando but here's some news stories that caught my attention recently:

Deportation woes: Today, The Washington Post reports on immigrants in deportation proceedings who reach immigration court without access to legal representation which, some advocates claim, leads to hundreds of unfair deportations on an annual basis.

No political asylum for Jamaican lesbian: In this week's Gay City News, Arthur Leonard continues his exemplary ongoing look at LGBT asylum cases and discusses a decision by the federal appeals court in Philadelphia upholding a lower court's decision not to grant political asylum to a Jamaican lesbian woman. Mr. Leonard's blog can be found in my personal links column.

Transgender Mexican woman might get political asylum: In the meantime, on Thursday, Metropolitan News reported that the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Board of Immigration Appeals to reconsider an asylum claim filed by a Mexican-born transgender woman deeming that the Board of Immigration Appeals failed to take into consideration key testimony in their decision not to grant the woman asylum.

Police in Peru accused of systematic attacks on the LGBT community: Finally, the UK's Pink News picks up on an EFE newswire article on a report released by the Lima Homosexual Movement (MOHL) over the weekend in which the organization claims to have documented over 600 homophobic attacks throughout the South American nation during 2006 and in which they accuse police officers of "carrying out systematic attacks on gay people in the country."

More information on the report can be found in this Spanish-language article distributed by the Andina newswire.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

My New York: Summer is here!

Today in New York: 72 degrees and sunny! I demand a refund! Where's the damn snow!

New Year's Eve Violence in Chicago's "Gay House"

You might have heard about this in the news:

On New Year's Eve, two masked men walked into a party being held at a house in Chicago's mostly African-American South Side neighborhood and shot six people. All six were gay black men and the Chicago Sun Times initially reported that police were investigating whether the shootings were bias-related. Neighbors said that the house was known to many as "the gay house."

As Keith Boykin writes on his blog, if the shootings weren't disturbing enough, some neighbors interviewed for the local nightly news told reporters basically that the gay men didn't belong in the neighborhood anyway, implying that gays "need to go back to the suburbs" because the South Side of Chicago is "a regular, normal neighborhood for straight people."

Interestingly, Rod McCullum, who has been following developments on his blog Rod2.0 and is preparing a report for The Advocate Online, says that the incident might actually be a case of gay-on-gay violence: In an exclusive advance posted on his blog today, McCullum says that authorities now believe that the incident seems to be the result of a "feud or rivalry" between Chicago "ballroom houses."

None of the six men who were shot received life-threatening injuries.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gaydar: People en Español's 100 Most Influential Hispanics

OK! Let's start the year with fluff!

Picked up this month's People en Español yesterday, didn't get to it until today. Let's count the gays among their first ever "100 Most Influential Hispanics" using our ever faulty gaydar!

Gay #1: Page 61 and 62 - Cuban-American fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez? GAY!

Gay #2: Page 62 - Peruvian-born fashion photographer Mario Testino? GAY!

Gay #3: Page 71 - Argentinian dancer Julio Bocca? GAY! (or maybe BISEXUAL?)

Gay #4: Page 77 - Spaniard shoe designer Manolo Blahnik? GAY!

Gay #5: Page 91 - Boricua activist Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)? GAY! Even if he is still unable to name his partner by name.

Gay #6: Page 93 - Spaniard Pedro Almodovar? YES!

Gay #7: Page 93 - Cuban-born playwright Nilo Cruz? GAY!

Gay #8: Page 94 - Honduran/Cuban-American artist Andrés Serrano? GAY!

Gay #9: Page 109 - Venezuelan AIDS activist Jesus Agüais (pictured above in a 2004 photo by yours truly)? GAY!

Gay #10: Page 118 - Mexican diva Juan Gabriel? YES!

Gaydar alerts #11-14?
That's between 10% and 14% gay for our top 100 national Hispanic leaders(well, at least those deemed to be in the Top 100 by People magazine), if not more!