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U.S. Christian groups spent $280m fighting LGBT+ rights, abortion overseas

Right-wing U.S. groups have put more than $280 million into campaigns against LGBT+ rights and abortion worldwide since 2007, almost $90 million of which focused on Europe.

 

By Rachel Savage

 

Thomson Reuters Foundation (27.10.2020) – https://bit.ly/326bgSf – Right-wing U.S. groups have put more than $280 million into campaigns against LGBT+ rights and abortion worldwide since 2007, almost $90 million of which focused on Europe, according to a report on Tuesday.

 

Many of the 28 groups – most of which are Christian – have close links with U.S. President Donald Trump, who is campaigning for re-election on Nov. 3, investigative website openDemocracy found, amid the rising popularity of the far-right in Europe.

 

“These findings show how Trump-linked groups have built a frightening global empire,” Mary Fitzgerald, openDemocracy’s editor-in-chief, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in emailed comments.

 

One of the main groups is the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), whose chief counsel Jay Sekulow is Trump’s personal lawyer. It supported a ruling in Poland last week banning abortion in cases of foetal defects, the report said.

 

The ACLJ – shown through its financial records to have spent $18 million globally since 2007, 80% of it in Europe – did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Another major player is the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), whose international arm filed legal briefs against same-sex marriage in Italy and backed a Northern Irish bakery that refused to make a cake with “Support Gay Marriage” on it.

 

It also opposed same-sex adoption in Austria and trans women in France seeking to legally change their gender by submitting arguments in cases at the European Court of Human Rights.

 

“ADF International is a global human rights organisation that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people,” a spokeswoman for ADF International said in emailed comments.

 

“Rather than engaging with our arguments, OpenDemocracy seeks to shut down debate by launching what is nothing more than a smear campaign.”

 

The openDemocracy investigation highlighted a lack of transparency among U.S. church organisations, which do not have to pay taxes, reveal their funders or how they spend their money overseas.

 

The biggest spender was the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which poured $96 million into influencing foreign laws and citizens, although its spending is unknown since 2015 when it was reclassified as a church association.

 

Its president Franklin Graham – the son of the U.S. evangelical preacher – has praised the LGBT+ rights record of Russia, where homophobic violence has risen since the adoption in 2013 of a ban on “gay propaganda” towards minors.

 

The association did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Africa was the second most popular destination for anti-LGBT+ efforts. Several of the groups supported the death penalty for gay sex in Uganda, known as the “Kill The Gays” bill, which was overturned by the country’s constitutional court in 2014.

 

“Trump-linked U.S. evangelicals, funded by secret donors, are exporting homophobia around the world,” British LGBT+ activist Peter Tatchell said in emailed comments.

 





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THE NETHERLANDS: Firework bombings targeted Amsterdam home flying an LGBT flag

By Janene Pieters

 

NL Times (14.09.2020) – https://bit.ly/32BfrXb – A home in Amsterdam Oost twice had fireworks bombs explode in front of it over the weekend. Resident Jesper Raaijman believes that his home is being targeted because of the rainbow flag hanging from his balcony, he said to Het Parool.

 

“I was sitting on my couch with my curtains open a little when I heard something fall on my balcony and someone running away,” the 35-year-old man said to the newspaper. “I went to see what was going on, and then saw a red flash. I realized I had to get away because the glass may shatter. That didn’t happen, but my flower box was blown up.”

 

That was around 8:45 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday at 8:15 p.m., another fireworks bomb exploded in front of Raaijman’s home, then on the ground floor.

 

Raaijman is shaken. “I just hope it stays at that,” he said to the newspaper. He is also worried about the children who play in the area. They could get hurt if there are more attacks.

 

He, with the rest of the Oostpoort neighborhood, hung rainbow flags to show solidarity with a gay couple in the area, whose rainbow flag was pelted with eggs in two incidents at the end of July. On August 19th, Raaijman’s home was also targeted. A friend looking after his house opened the balcony doors and had rotten eggs thrown at her.

 

“More attention needs to be paid to this. I think that this must not be possible for Amsterdam standards, that this happens that apparently you cannot have a rainbow flag hanging on your balcony,” he said to the newspaper.

 

A spokesperson for the Amsterdam police confirmed the two fireworks bomb incidents to Het Parool, and that Raaijman pressed charges. The police’s team focused on anti-LGBTQ incidents is investigating.





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The number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups grew 43% in 2019 – White House says that’s a “far-left smear”

The White House said that it’s “disgusting” to call them out for associating with and promoting anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

 

By Alex Bollinger

 

LGBTQ Nation (02.04.2020) – https://bit.ly/2xXKY8v – Anti-LGBTQ hate groups are on the rise in the U.S., according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), but the Trump administration is calling it a “far-left smear.”

 

The SPLC released its 2019 “Year in Hate and Extremism” report, which says that the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups rose by 43% since 2018. It is now following 70 anti-LGBTQ hate groups in the U.S.

 

“The Trump administration has demonstrated a clear willingness to embrace their leaders and their policy agenda,” the SPLC report states, referring to how Trump administration officials have filed legal briefs on behalf of hate groups, spoken at events organized by hate groups, nominated judges connected to hate groups, and even hiring former hate group employees to work in key civil rights positions.

 

“According to a report by Lambda Legal, a third of the more than 50 U.S. circuit court judges nominated by Trump have a ‘demonstrated history of anti-LGBTQ bias,’” the SPLC report says. “Lambda argues that the justice system is ‘now indisputably in a state of crisis.’”

 

The report says that much of the growth in anti-LGBTQ hate groups has taken place “at the grassroots level” and cites Steven Anderson and his Faithful Word Baptist Church as an example. Anderson has been banned from 33 countries due to his hate speech – which includes calling the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting “disgusting homosexuals… worthy of death” – and his organization was just added to the SPLC’s list of hate groups.

 

Out White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere – who is on-board when it comes to Trump’s anti-LGBTQ equality agenda – called the report “disgusting.”

 

“While the radical left has pushed false accusations that LGBTQ Americans are threatened, the president has hired and promoted LGBTQ Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies, and ambassadorships,” Deere told NBC News.

 

Deere also cites Trump’s “global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality” – an initiative that the White House announced but took few discernible steps to advance and that has had no successes – and his “bold declaration” to end HIV transmissions in the next 10 years, a promise experts are skeptical Trump’s policies will achieve.

 

One anti-LGBTQ hate group tracked by the SPLC, the Alliance Defending Freedom, said that it was “appalling” to release the report during the coronavirus pandemic and said that the SPLC should “retract the report.”

 

“Stop sowing division and join the rest of America against our common foe: COVID-19,” said a spokesperson for ADF, a group that is currently fighting a legal battle to ban transgender girls from competing in school sports.

 

A group that merely opposes LGBTQ legislation will not appear on the SPLC’s list of hate groups. It has to “attack or malign” LGBTQ people in its actions or official communications, often by associating homosexuality with pedophilia, calling for death to LGBTQ people, and saying that LGBTQ people are a threat to children. Hate speech, the SPLC argues, is often a precursor to violence.

 

“We are not against Christian groups,” said the SPLC’s Lecia Brooks. “For us, it’s more about the way they go out of their way to demonize LGBTQ folks.”

 

“Sadly, there is not enough public outcry against anti-LGBTQ groups because we have just let it go saying, ‘That’s just their religion.’”





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Uganda charges 20 LGBT+ people with risking spread of coronavirus

By Alice McCool

 

Thomson Reuters Foundation (31.03.2020) – https://reut.rs/2wmouOi – Ugandan police charged 20 LGBT+ people with disobeying rules on social distancing and risking the spread of coronavirus on Tuesday, drawing criticism from campaigners who said they were using the restrictions to target sexual minorities.

 

Gay sex carries a possible life sentence in Uganda, one of the most difficult countries in Africa to be a sexual minority.

 

The 14 gay men, two bisexual men and four transgender women were taken into custody on Sunday when police raided a shelter on the outskirts of the capital Kampala.

 

Police said they were disobeying coronavirus-related restrictions on social distancing by “congesting in a school-like-dormitory setting within a small house” despite a ban on gatherings of more than 10, which has now been reduced to five.

 

Deputy Police Spokesperson Patrick Onyango denied allegations made by LGBT+ campaigners that they were targeted because of their sexual orientation.

 

“We still have offences of unnatural sex in our law books,” Onyango told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We would charge them with that law, but we are charging them with those counts as you can see.”

 

Onyango said there were two charges against the group – disobedience of lawful order and committing neglectful acts likely to spread infection of disease. The charges carry a maximum of two and seven years imprisonment respectively.

 

Although 23 people were arrested initially, three people were released without charges on medical grounds. The group are now on remand and will appear in court on 29 April 29, he added.

 

LGBT+ campaigners in Uganda say members of the community risk physical attacks in their daily life and routinely encounter harassment, as well as facing prejudice over work, housing and health care.

 

“They are always using alternative charges to arrest people for unnatural offences so it (coronavirus) just worked perfectly for them,” said Patricia Kimera, a lawyer with Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, defending the group.

 

“But definitely the reason they have been arrested is their sexual orientation.”





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Torched effigy of gay couple causes outrage in Croatia

Politicians and human rights groups have jointly condemned the burning of an effigy of a same-sex couple and their child at a carnival on Sunday in the Dalmatian town of Imotski.

Photograph by Bosko Cosic

By Anja Vladisavljevic

 

Balkan Insight (24.01.2020) – https://bit.ly/2SWGIOL – The Croatian President, government ministers, LGBT rights groups and the Ombudsperson on Monday all condemned the burning of an effigy of a kissing same-sex couple and their child at a Dalmatian carnival, calling it a hateful act. The image was torched at Sunday’s traditional carnival in the small town of Imotski in the Dalmatian Hinterland.

 

President Zoran Milanovic condemned the act on Facebook as “inhumane and totally unacceptable”. Education Minister Blazenka Divjak and Economy Minister Darko Horvat also condemned it.

 

The Rainbow Family Association, which gathers LGBT couples and individuals who have or want to have children, on Monday said the action sent an appalling message to society and to children especially.

 

“The scary scenes from Imotski cannot be justified by carnival customs… What kind of message is being sent to our children, children who nowadays in Croatia grow up with lesbian mothers or gay fathers?” Daniel Martinovic the association’s coordinator, said.

 

“I find it incomprehensible, devastating and sad. It teaches children that it is okay to hate. That’s unacceptable,” Ombudsperson Lora Vidovic tweeted on Sunday.

 

A Social Democrat MP, Arsen Bauk, said that he would file charges against the organisers of the carnival.

 

Each year, carnivals across Dalmatia select new figures to feature as effigies, often selecting things or people that have made local inhabitants upset and angry.

 

Part of the effigy burned in Imotski clearly showed the face of Social Democratic Party MP Nenad Stazic, who has campaigned in parliament for same-sex couples to be allowed to foster children. His character had also a red star on his forehead, the symbol of former communist Yugoslavia.

 

When local media outlet Slobodna Dalmacija asked the carnival organisers why they had chosen a same-sex couple as an effigy to burn, one said: “We remain conservative, sticking to tradition. Give the baby to a mother, as the saying goes. We think that’s right.”

 

The torching comes after the Constitutional Court published a ruling at the end of January that obliges courts and relevant authorities to give all competent appliers to foster equal opportunities, including same-sex couples. The ruling was welcomed by human rights organisations but criticised in socially conservative circles.

 

It is not the first time that carnivals in Croatia have featured effigies targeting minority groups. In March last year, at the carnival in the coastal town of Kastel Sucurac, an effigy of the Croatian Serb leader and parliamentarian Milorad Pupovac was burned. Pupovac told BIRN that it was a nationalistic and chauvinistic act.

 

In February 2018, a replica of Croatia’s first picture book about same-sex families “My Rainbow Family” was ceremonially burned at the carnival in Kastela. LGBT rights groups filed a complaint against the carnival organisers, and the Science and Education Minister, Blazenka Divjak, condemned the book’s burning.


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