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Posts for July, 2014

Six AIDS Researchers, Advocates Confirmed Dead on MH17

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2014

An earlier report from The Australian placed that toll at 108, but this morning Malaysian Airlines released its official manifest which confirms that six AIDS researchers and advocates were on board MH17 on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine:

Malaysian Airlines has confirmed six HIV/AIDS researchers and advocates were among those who were on an airliner that pro-Russian separatists apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

Joep Lange, a prominent Dutch HIV researcher who is a former president of the International AIDS Society, which organizes the biennial International AIDS Conference, and his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, were among the 283 passengers and 15 crew members who were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

A passenger list that Malaysian Airlines released on Saturday also confirms Pim de Kuijer, another Dutch national who worked for Stop AIDS Now, and Glenn Thomas, a former BBC journalist who was a press officer for the World Health Organization, were also on Flight 17.

The airlines has also confirmed Lucie van Mens, another Dutch HIV/AIDS researcher, and Martine de Schutter, a program manager for Bridging the Gaps, were on the flight.

Report: More Than 100 AIDS Activists Were On Board Aircraft Shot Down Over Ukraine

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2014

The Australian is reporting that among the passengers of Malaysian Flight 17 that was shot down over Eastern Ukraine were as many as 108 AIDS activists who were flying to Melbourne in Australia to attend the 20th International AIDS conference. That conference is set to begin on Sunday.

Among those thought to have been killed was prominent Dutch researcher Joep Lange, a former president of the International Aids Society. Glenn Thomas, a World Health Organisation media relations coordinator, also died in the crash, according to Dr Haileyesus Getahun, coordinator of the WHO’s Global TB program. Delegates Lucie van Mens, Martine de Schutter, Pim de Kuijer and Jacqueline van Tongeren were also reportedly on the flight. Dr Van Mens, director of program development and support at the Female Health Company, has been involved in public health, focusing on prevention of STIs and HIV/AIDS, since 1995.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation tweeted that MH17 was due to change its flight number after landing in Kuala Lumpur to MH129 before proceeding to Melbourne.

Malaysian flight in Ukraine included many AIDS researchers/activists

Timothy Kincaid

July 17th, 2014

Buzzfeed is reporting that the Malaysian flight which may have been shot down by Russian forces in Ukraine included a number of prominent AIDS researchers and activists traveling to the AIDS 2014 Conference in Australia. Confirmed so far include Joep Lange, prominent HIV researcher from Netherlands and Glenn Raymond Thomas, a Geneva-based spokesman for World Health Organization.

Crisis Notwithstanding, World Congress of Families Presses Ahead in Kiev, Moscow

Jim Burroway

March 13th, 2014

The crisis in Crimea will naturally continue to consume the world’s attention. Forgotten, of course, is last month’s report of proposals before Ukraine’s Parliament to institute a Russian-style anti-gay “propaganda” law. With the new Ukraine government still trying to find its footing and expending every energy on the ongoing crisis, this legislative effort appears to have fallen off everyone’s radar. Well, almost everyone. Here’s an email from the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families that landed in my inbox this morning.

Larry Jacobs, speaking at a Watchmen On the Walls conference in Latvia, 2007.

World Congress of Families managing director Larry Jacobs today called on the international pro-life and pro-family network to pray for peace in Ukraine. “We are concerned about the crisis in Ukraine and pray for world leaders to come together to promote peace and resolve the conflict,” Jacobs said. “We echo Pope Francis’s prayer, ‘that all parts of the country work to overcome misunderstandings and to build together the future of the nation.’ “We have many Christian friends and pro-family leaders of all faiths in all regions of Ukraine. We pray for their safety and their important work to promote authentic human rights, encourage the natural family, and protect human life from conception to natural death.

Jacobs announced that planning for a special World Congress of Families event in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev would continue. “After speaking with our friends and supporters in Ukraine, we are pleased to announce that they are continuing their efforts to organize a World Congress of Families regional meeting in Kiev this summer in collaboration with WCF leaders from Eastern Europe and Russia to promote the natural family as the fundamental unit of a free and stable society that transcends all political differences and the interests of nations and armies,” he said.

In 2007, Jacobs was a key speaker at a Watchmen On the Walls conference in Riga, Latvia, which also featured  American anti-gay extremists including Don Federer and Scott Lively.

World Congress of Families is pressing ahead with its main congress this year in Moscow, at the Kremlin with finding from Vladimir Putin allies and a joint session with the Russian Parliament. Planned participants in Moscow are said to include Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Benjamin Bull of Alliance Defending Freedom, Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

Ukraine Poised to Follow Russia’s Anti-Gay Example

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2014

There’s a larger debate right now taking place in Ukraine over the question of the country’s future direction: will they look to the West or Russia. That larger debate, of course, isn’t settled, as the country continues to be rocked by protests against the pro-Russian government. While that is going on, LGBT activists in Ukraine sound the warning that the nation’s Parliament will consider six draft laws regarding homosexuality, with many of those proposals sounding eerily similar to those already adopted in Russia:

In particular, the last phase of passing the Draft Law No.0945 (former 8711) entitled “On the Introduction of Changes to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine (regarding the protection of the right of children to a safe information environment)” will be soon held. It will include the presentation of profile Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information, headed by Mykola Tomenko, on withdrawal of this draft law from further consideration.

The Draft Law No.1155 entitled “On the Prohibition of Propaganda of Homosexuality Aimed at Children” of authorship by Vadym Kolesnichenko is also ready for discussion. This draft law could easily be adopted in the first reading. In any way this is exactly what was suggested for consideration of the Parliament within the draft resolution introduced by the profile Committee on Legislative Support of Law Enforcement, headed by Andriy Kozhemyakin.

It is also planned to conduct the last phase of passing the Draft Law No.2133 entitled “On amendments to some legislative acts (about non-admittance of adoption of Ukrainian citizens by individuals who are in same-sex marriages)”, introduced by MPs from Svoboda Party Igor Miroshnichenko and Alexander Mirny. Profile Committee on Family Affairs considers it necessary to undergo the draft law for follow-up revision

Gay-Alliance Ukraine says that additional legislation is being proposed to remove sexual orientation from the country’s anti-discrimination laws. Those laws had been passed by the previous government of ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. Another draft resolution would withdraw Ukraine from prior agreements with the European Union dealing with “implementing legalization of same-sex relationships,” despite the fact that the agreements currently do not address same-sex relationships.

Anti-Gay Messaging in Ukraine Fails, but Putin is all “Onward Christian Soldiers”

Randy Potts

December 10th, 2013

Ukrainians hack away at Kyiv’s last remaining statue of Lenin during pro-EU protests this weekend on the 22nd anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine holds the largest demonstration in its recorded history while, back in Moscow, Putin decides to restructure the Russian state press agency the very next day.  To head up the newly-reformed agency Putin chose Kiselyov, who famously said that the internal organs of homosexuals should not only be banned from consideration in organ transplants but should also be burned and buried separately from heterosexuals.

I’ve been arguing that while there’s no direct evidence Putin has spearheaded anti-gay legislation in Russia (it started as a grass roots movement in the provinces), he has been quick to capitalize on the legislation’s potential.  His popularity waning, Putin has sought to bolster his support by reaching out to the Russian Orthodox leadership, harassing immigrants (and sparking a recent anti-immigrant pogrom in a Moscow suburb), and signaling that the Kremlin will stand behind any and all movements seeking to discredit homosexuality.  Anti-gay attacks are on the increase across Russia with bomb threats at St. Petersburg’s recent LGBT film festival, teachers and journalists fired for being gay, vigilante groups baiting and  torturing gay men — all this while the state press turns a blind eye.

The protests in Ukraine have been an interesting test case on anti-gay sentiment in the slavic world.  Buzzfeed recently reported that pro-Russian groups in Ukraine as well as leaders in Moscow attempted to drum up Ukrainian anti-gay sentiment as a means to discredit the pro-EU movement in Kiev with advertisements, tweets, and articles telling Ukrainians that choosing EU membership would mean choosing gay marriage.  While EU membership does not require gay marriage rights, it is true that the EU demands a certain level of respect for LGBT people to which Eastern Europe is unaccustomed.  It has all been, seemingly, for naught — Ukrainians have ignored the anti-gay messaging and instead come out in force to protest President Yanukovych’s recent tilt away from EU and towards Russia, somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people showing up to show solidarity with the pro-EU movement on Sunday.

Provocateurs walked through the streets of Kiev in late November holding rainbow flags and pretending to be pro-EU demonstrators. The state of gaydar in Ukraine could use a little improvement …

 

What does all this mean for Sochi and the Winter Olympics?  Putin’s choice of Kiselyov is a clear indication that he’s not taking the failure to drum up anti-gay sentiment in Ukraine to heart; meanwhile, activists in the U.S. are planning to openly protest anti-gay Russian legislation at the Winter Olympics by encouraging Olympic athletes and spectators to wear “Principle 6” clothing, a reference to the non-discrimination section of the Olympic charter.   It’s hard to imagine that a protest that subtle will be understood by Russians watching the Olympics on state television, but if the goal is encouraging pro-gay solidarity in the West then it may well help.

Ukrainians, for their part, seem to have spoken — however unpopular gay people may be in Eastern Europe, Putin and his Customs Union is even less so.

NBC News Brings Scott Lively to Mainstream America

Jim Burroway

September 18th, 2013

We’ve been following Scott Lively for six years now, through his activities in Novosibirsk, Riga, and Kampala. When Russia passed a so-called “anti-propaganda” law which effectively prohibits all advocacy and positive portrayals of gay people, Lively rushed to take credit for it. But with the exception for a brief period in 2009 after Uganda’s parliament proposed a law which would include the death penalty for gay people, Lively hasn’t made much of an impression in the mainstream media. Today, NBC News published a significant profile which gets the rest of America caught up to date with the impact that Lively has had around the world:

Lively has reason to be a bit cocky. America may have “fallen to the gays,” he says, but much of the world still fears them and Lively is working to keep it that way.

In Moldova in 2011, according to Human Rights Watch, he helped several cities declare themselves “gay-free zones” and organized an “emergency” campaign to block a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine and Belarus he met with politicians and pastors, fostering talk of new curbs on gay rights. Every place he goes, Lively says, his goal is to block the open expression of homosexuality, keep discrimination legal and make pro-gay advocacy a crime.

To whip up support for such policies, Lively simply shares his beliefs about gay people: They’re dangerous predators, even killers. And they caught this gay “disorder” through “an evil game of tag,” a chain of abuse in which gays recruit kids into sodomy just as they were once recruited. In this way homosexuality spreads like “a social cancer,” he claims, until nothing remains of the Christian world.

NBC has re-posed portions of video from Lively’s talks in Novosibirsk and Riga, videos which are no longer available at their original locations. Tony Dokoupil’s report provides more information about the extent of Lively’s 2007 tour, which turns out to be more extensive than I had originally thought. Dokoupil also draws a line from Lively’s virulent rhetoric to some of the violence which often follows:

In Oregon in 1992, a same-sex couple died when their house was firebombed during OCA’s campaign to declare homosexuality “abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse.” In Sacramento in 2007, a gay man was called a “faggot” and punched to death by a stranger in a park. In Uganda in 2011, the country’s first openly gay man had his skull caved in. And right now in Russia and in the former Soviet states, there’s been a surge in homophobic vigilantism, including a torrent of shaming videos, some depicting gay teens being tortured by skinheads. Lively has not been linked to any of these crimes but we asked: Couldn’t his talk of predatory gays, “good and evil,” and “war” have played a role?

“Wow, that’s a leap,” said Lively, who sees his work as advocacy in the public interest, no different from campaigning against drunk drivers.

Lively is probably best known within the gay community for his 2009 conference in Uganda. Lively would later brag that the conference was his “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda,” and he immodestly dubbed himself the father of the anti-homosexuality movement in Uganda. Ugandan activists are currently suing Lively in U.S. Federal District Court, alleging that Lively engaged in a conspiracy to deny the LGBT community of their rights and safety under International Law, and that conspiracy resulted in harm to the LGBT community. Lively is being sued under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”  Dokoupil adds this concerning the lawsuit:

Pamela Spees, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, the group pursuing Lively for alleged “crimes against humanity” in Uganda, said she is prepared to file a second lawsuit related to his work in Russia and the surrounding countries, assuming there’s evidence that Lively was “an architect of the persecutory program” there.

And that’s why the case against Lively is so important, gay-rights activists say. As the Olympics draw nearer and the boycotts and homophobic backlash continue, Putin will be the guy paraded down the world’s front pages and social media feeds. But Lively may be the secret agent to watch.

If he loses his lawsuit he could be prohibited from spreading his message abroad, a terrible precedent for other anti-gay crusaders. However if he wins, he emerges stronger than ever, the self-described “hero” of an expanding fight to restore “godliness to society,” as he puts it – or else “pull as many people as possible into the lifeboat before the ship goes down.”

We’ve been following Scott Lively for several years, ever since he first popped up on our radar in 2007 when he was in Riga, Latvia in a stop on a far-flung tour of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union sponsored by a new international anti-gay organization, Watchmen On the Walls. (That organization now appears to be inactive.) Soon, video appeared of a talk Lively gave earlier in March in Riga. I was then alerted to video of a talk that Lively gave in Novosibirsk in August, where he warned:

There is a war that is going on in the world. There is a war that is waging across the entire face of the globe. It’s been waging in the United States for decades, and it’s been waging in Europe for decades. It’s a war between Christians and homosexuals. …And this is the design of the Devil to destroy civilization, because civilization is based on the natural family.

Then in November, Lively was back in Riga for a multi-day Watchmen conference. On the first day, Lively complained that the United States was under the iron grip of the homosexual agenda, which he called the product of Satan, “the father of lies“:

You have to understand how this battle works. We follow the God of truth. The Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of Truth, lives inside of us. But our adversaries follow the father of lies. Scripture calls him the “father of lies.” They can’t tell the truth, and they won’t tell the truth because they don’t want people to listen to what we have to say. But we can’t say anything that would give them proof that what they teach is right… So we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. We won’t stop telling the truth, and they won’t stop telling the lies. But this is a war.

In a later talk at the same conference, Lively disclosed what he called secrets that “homosexuality community doesn’t want you to know”: that homosexuality is a disorder, that homosexuality is like an addiction but also that homosexuality is voluntary, that homosexuals really don’t want to be homosexual, and that the only reason we remain homosexual is because the leaders of the homosexual movement have made us afraid of Christians. He also read aloud an open letter to the Russian people, in which he advocated:

…[C]riminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality. My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don’t want it. However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage “gay pride” parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.

Russia has effectively done that, after President Vladimir Putin signed the so-called “anti-propaganda” into law last June.

Ukraine’s Parliament: “Don’t Say Gay”

Jim Burroway

October 2nd, 2012

Svyatoslav Sheremet, head of Gay Forum of Ukraine, was beaten after a scheduled gay-pride parade was cancelled in May, 2012. (Anatolii Stepanov, Reuters/Landov)

Ukraine’s parliament today approved a first reading of a bill which would impose prison sentences of up to five years for anyone who would dare to say anything good about gay people. The vote was 289 deputies voting for the bill, with nobody voting against and just one abstention. Another 60 deputies were absent during the vote.

The bill would prohibit “propaganda of homosexuality,” which it vaguely defines as positive public depiction of gay people. It is in many respects similar to legislation enacted in St. Petersburg, Russia and which may be considered by the Russia’s central government. 

In May, Kiev authorities cancelled a Pride march at the last minute. A Pride organizer was then savagely beaten when he tried to meet with reporters shortly after the cancellation. Reporters merely looked on and snapped photos. That kind of propaganda would be permissible under the proposed legislation.

A second and final vote in Ukraine’s Parliament is tentatively scheduled for October 16.

Kiev Pride Canceled, Two Beaten

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2012

From the Daily Beast:

Svyatoslav Sheremet, head of Gay Forum of Ukraine, is beaten as he met with members of the media to inform them that a scheduled gay-pride parade was cancelled. (Anatolii Stepanov, Reuters/Landov)

Amnesty International has the details:

Police advised pride organizers to abandon the march just 30 minutes before it was due to start. They claimed 500 ultra-right football hooligans were en route to the rally point with the intention of preventing the march from going ahead.

Two activists were beaten up and tear gassed by a dozen youths in central Kyiv after those already gathered for the march were evacuated with police escort.

Amnesty International also reports that Ukraine’s parliament is considering a bill similar to one passed recently in St. Petersburg, Russia, which would ban the publication, broadcast, or distribution of messages deemed to “promote homosexuality.”

Guess Who Else Isn’t On Board With the U.N. Resolution to Decriminalize Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

December 5th, 2008

Mark, at Slapped Upside the Head, has a good take on yesterday’s news that the Vatican is opposing a U.N. resolution calling on member states to rescind laws outlawing homosexuality — which in some countries includes the death penalty. We discussed the Vatican’s intrinsically disordered logic here. Mark has his own take here.

There are a lot of countries which have already signed on to the declaration, including: Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Those last three are rather surprising. Also surprising co-sponsors are three African countries: Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. That’s quite an impressive list.

So, who’s missing? Well, let’s see. Oh look: the United States and Australia.

Exodus In Ukraine

Jim Burroway

June 17th, 2008

Anti-gay activists are truly going global. Yesterday, we reported on Paul Cameron in Moscow. Today, it’s Exodus in Ukraine.

On June 5th and 6th, Don Schmierer conducted a seminar in Donetsk, Ukraine, on the campus of Donetsk Christian University. (Donetsk is a city of a little over a million people in eastern Ukraine.) It’s unclear whether the seminar was under the auspices of Exodus International or the Exodus Global Alliance, but the apparent title of the seminar, “Revolution,” echoes the theme of last years’ Exodus conference in Irvine, California.

Schmierer repeated the usual theories of what supposedly causes homosexuality, parent-blaming theories which come straight out of the Love Won Out playbook. You know, the distant-father, domineering mother, and general rejection themes which dominate the ex-gay mindset.

Schmierer is the author of several ex-gay books, including An Ounce of Prevention, What’s a Father To Do?, and Celebrating God’s Design — all of which have been translated into several languages, including Russian and Ukraine.

[Hat tip: Ruslan Porshnev of Anti-Dogma]