The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, February 28

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Liberian House of Representatives To Consider Increased Criminal Penalties for Homosexuality: Monroeville, Liberia. On February 18, Liberia’s former first lady, Senator Jewel Taylor, submitted a bill which would make homosexuality a first degree felony bringing anywhere from ten years to life in prison, or a death sentence at the discretion of the judge. It would also criminalize same-sex marriage. (Warren Throckmorton has the text of the bill here.) It appears that bill is now in committee in the Senate, but AllAfrica.com reports that a similar bill will be considered today in Liberia’s House of Representatives Last week, the AP reported that Liberia’s president, Nobel Peace Prize Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she will not sign any such bill into law.

Protests Against Russian Anti-Gay Bill: Russian Embassies and Consulates Worldwide. Earlier this month, The St. Petersburg city legislature passed the second of three readings a bill which prohibits “public actions aimed at promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgender minors” and the “uncontrolled dissemination of public information” including “misconceptions about the social equivalence of traditional and nontraditional marriage.” Individuals convicted under the proposed law would be fined 5,000 rubles (US$167) and organizations would be fined 500,000 rubles (US$16,698), a figure which would effectively shut down St. Petersburg’s LGBT organizations which include a prestigious international film festival.

An online campaign against the bill will take to the streets today in protests and flash mobs at Russian embassies and consulates around the world, including Paris, Hamburg, Brussels, Milan, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and New York. The New York protest will take place at the Russian Mission to the UN on 136 East 67th St beginning at 12:30 EST. Organizers say the protests are a “last ditch effort” to stop the bill which is due for a final vote Wednesday.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
State Department Reported Firing 91 Homosexuals Over Previous Two Years: 1950. In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Deputy undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy said that the State Department had gotten rid of 202 employees over the past two years who were considered “poor security risks.” One person was fired and the rest were allowed to resign. According to Peurifoy, 91 of those let go were separated because they were suspected of being gay.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Karl-Maria Kertbeny: 1824. Born in Vienna, the family moved to Budapest when he was a child. When he was fourteen, a friend killed himself after being blackmailed by an extortionist for his homosexuality. Kertbeny, who had what he called “an instinctive drive to take issue with every injustice,” took up the cause of writing in support of “the rights of man,” against Prussian and German anti-sodomy laws. Kertbeny proposed what would be called “the medical model” of homosexuality: that it was inborn and not the result of mere wickedness. But to talk about homosexual people, he needed a new word: the very word “homosexual” hadn’t been coined yet. Instead, the words “sodomite” and “pederast” were more commonly used in the German speaking world. In a letter he wrote to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrich in 1868, Kertbeny used the word Homosexualität, which for the first time separated of the object of sexual or romantic desire from the gender role of the subject. This eventually allowed for the discussion of what we now know as butch gay men and lipstick lesbians because then, the idea that a gay man could be masculine was nearly impossible to imagine. The word later appeared in pamphlets and other writings, and made its English-language debut at around 1894 (see May 6), when Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Kertbeny insisted that he was not among the homosexuals he defended, but when he died in Budapest in 1882 at the age of 58, he was still unmarried.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

TN

February 28th, 2012

Jim, does your “Today in history” have a citation? I would actually be interested in reading that.

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