Hungarian Jews, Roma, LGBTQ against bigotry


This video says about itself:

10 December 2015

Holocaust survivor Eva Bock describes antisemitism in Győr, Hungary during the early 1940s.

By Cnaan Liphshiz for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 27, 2017:

Roma Join Jews To Turn Budapest Club Into Anti-Government Hub

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Although she lives in the undisputed nightlife capital of Central Europe, Andi Angelip knows of only a handful of bars here where she is truly comfortable bringing a date.

Angelip, a 19-year-old student and activist for lesbian and gay rights, said she avoids “rainbow” establishments that cater only to homosexuals. Yet in a country where violent far-right activists regularly intimidate gays and lesbians, she also avoids romantic situations in mainstream clubs.

“It’s not so comfortable to be a minority in a country whose politicians preach for discrimination on a daily basis,” she told JTA last month.

Two years ago, Angelip found at least one place where she does feel comfortable: an avant-garde Jewish community center called Aurora. Since its reopening in 2014 in a poor neighborhood of Budapest, it has become one of the city’s hippest coffee bars – and a major hub for social and opposition activists fighting the policies of Hungary’s right-wing government.

“I come here because it’s just a cool place, but also because I feel safe and comfortable here, like I belong,” said Angelip, who is not a part of Hungary’s Jewish population of approximately 100,000.

She is not the only minority rights activist who regards Aurora, a 6,500-square-foot center located in a small building in the crime-stricken 8th District, as a sanctuary from reality in Hungary. Critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government here say it is mainstreaming hate crime and Holocaust revisionism, as well as promoting censorship of the press.

Marom, the Jewish association that runs and owns Aurora as part of its outreach mission to young unaffiliated Hungarian Jews, provides office space and facilities to about a dozen non-Jewish activist groups committed to fighting these perceived trends. They include the Roma Press CenterBudapest Pride, the Migszol refugee advocacy group and the Zold Pok agency for social activism.

While Angelip and a female friend chatted over beer on a recent Monday in the Aurora bar – a cozy space with 1970s décor and music by the French protest singer Manu Chao — Marom’s staff of about 12 met in their upstairs office to review last year’s activities, including the group’s weekly Shabbat services in their small egalitarian synagogue and celebrations of Jewish holidays.

In addition to religious services, Marom also organizes educational activities in schools about the Holocaust, programs for street children, and cultural events like film screenings and experimental music concerts. It also hosts political discussions, such as a sold-out Jan. 30 debate on populism featuring László Majtényi, an outspoken critic of Orban.

“We work with non-affiliated Jews who would never go to a synagogue or even the Balint Center,” said Adam Schoenberger, the president of Marom, referring to the Jewish community center in central Budapest funded by the Joint Distribution Committee. “So we try to sneak Judaism into our programming, just to give them a taste and whet their appetite: a klezmer concert here, a Hanukkah candle lighting there.”

As Schoenberger talks to a visitor, in an adjacent room three activists from the Roma Press Center hammer out a strategy for covering the landmark trial at the European Court of Human Rights on the role of Hungarian police in allowing hundreds of rioters in 2012 to attack the home of a Roma family in the village of Devecser.

The court’s Feb. 8 ruling against the police  – one of hundreds of hate crimes against Roma, or gypsies, recorded annually in Hungary – was hailed by Amnesty International as a “drop of hope in a sea of fear.”

“Not only is the far right party, Jobbik, the third largest in parliament, but the ruling Fidesz party has drifter further and further in its negative attitudes towards Roma,” the group said.

Against this backdrop, and amid a government-led crackdown on independent media, the Roma Press Center is “the only outlet that will bring the news about assaults in the countryside to the few news portals that are still not muzzled by the government,” Schoenberger said. “We find it very important that they be a part of Aurora.”

The press center, a nongovernment organization with a shoestring budget, receives a significant discount on rent from Marom.

The cooperation with Marom revolutionized the work of the Roma center, which was founded in 1995, according to the organization’s president, Szilvia Suri.

“We were renting office space in the center before we came here,” she said. “It was more expensive but more crucially, we were isolated there, whereas at Aurora we are better connected not only to the other organizations working here, but to the many Roma people who live in the 8th District.”

The Jewish-Roma partnership at Aurora is unusual in a country where the two minorities rarely act in unison, according to Eszter Hajdu, a Hungarian filmmaker who has studied that relationship.

“While both groups encounter some xenophobia, the Roma are far more vulnerable,” Hajdu said. And while Jewish groups at times participate in educational and charitable activities to assist Roma, “I can’t say the Jewish community is the first one to offer help” to the other minority, she added. She also said that part of the problem are negative biases each group holds of the other in Hungary.

The discounts that Marom offered its partner groups last year on using Aurora facilities and utilities amounted to $25,000 — a substantial sum in a country where the average monthly salary is about half that of the United States. Marom generates 90 percent of its annual budget and receives the rest from donations by JDC, the UJA-Federation of New York, Masorti Olami and others.

Building an alliance of liberal groups would be unremarkable for a Jewish organization in most other Western countries. But in Hungary, it places Aurora squarely at the center of opposition to a government-led campaign to root out foreign-funded grassroots organizations that do not conform to the party line, and to significantly limit the work of nongovernmental groups to local funding only.

Officials from Orban’s Fidesz party have already vowed to root out the network of NGOs that receive funding from the liberal Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish, and have limited the work of other groups with funding from Norway. Now, most other local groups with a progressive agenda are bracing for intervention by the government.

Marom has experience with such intervention.

In 2014, Budapest officials kicked the group out of its former site in the city center on a building safety pretext. The eviction notice came two days after opposition activists used the space to plan an anti-government sit-in.

It was one of several opposition activities hosted by Marom in recent years, including in the 2013 student protests. Marom’s previous site was also the birthplace that year of the LMP Green party.

Mazsihisz, the umbrella group of Hungarian Jewish communities, has objected in recent years to perceived attempts by the government to whitewash Hungarian authorities’ complicity in the Holocaust, including by celebrating known anti-Semites. But Mazsihisz has remained nonpartisan.

And with good reason, according to Slomó Köves, a Chabad rabbi and leader of the local EMIH Jewish group, which is not part of Mazsihisz.

The government funds Jewish community life with hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, supports Israel in international forums and protects religious freedoms, Koves said. And while “it can be argued that it needs to be firmer on anti-Semitism, progress is being made there, too.” Ultimately, he argued, Hungarian Jews are safer and more secure about their future than their brethren in France.

But for Marom, which began in 1998 as an apolitical group, the penchant for opposition activism is inescapable, according to Schoenberger.

This is partly because “most unaffiliated Jews in Hungary seem to be liberal,” he said. But ultimately, “our opposition activism owes to the government’s war on core Jewish values of tikkun olam,” a Jewish concept of “repairing the world” and helping the needy, Schoenberger said.

“We did not choose to become political,” he added. “But when the government is targeting the poor, the different, the foreign – then we have no choice.”

REVEALED: Top Trump aide Gorka worked with anti-Semitic and racist groups in Hungary: here.

British government deports gay Afghan refugees to their deaths


This October 2016 video is called Desperate journeys: Afghan asylum seekers in EU could face deportation.

From ANI news agency in India:

Gay Afghans can be deported to their country, only if they pretend to be straight

26th February 2017 04:19 PM

LONDON: Under new British Government guidelines for handling asylum applications, gay Afghans can be deported to their country, but they will have to pretend that they are straight, as homosexuality is illegal in Afghanistan.

The Home Office’s own Afghanistan unit, however, has criticised the guidance, whereas human rights groups have denounced the same, considering it as a violation of international law, as stated in the Guardian.

The document, dated last month, clearly mentions the number of risks the LGBT Afghans face from their families, Afghan laws, and from Taliban insurgents, as homosexuality is considered a taboo in the country.

In the Guardian, from a reaction to the new send-them-back policy:

“We are deeply concerned at the suggestion that the prevalence, especially in the Pashtun community, of the practice of bacha bazi [pederasty] implies an acceptance of certain homosexual conduct,” warns the document, signed by the head of the unit.

“Its occurrence reflects Afghanistan’s inability to deal with child sexual abuse and paedophilia. It should not be associated with consensual homosexuality and attitudes towards this.”

Trump declares war on transgender people


This video about the USA says about itself:

22 February 2017

Donald Trump is to scrap landmark guidelines telling schools to let transgender students use toilets matching their gender identity rather than their gender at birth.

The move reverses guidance introduced by the Obama administration and stands to inflame passions in the latest conflict between believers in traditional values and the socially progressive.

Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) said the Obama guidelines had saved lives.

Read more here.

From Reuters news agency:

Thu Feb 23, 2017 | 4:01am EST

Trump revokes Obama guidelines on transgender bathrooms

By Daniel Trotta

President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday revoked landmark guidance to public schools letting transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice, reversing a signature initiative of former Democratic President Barack Obama.

Reversing the Obama guidelines stands to inflame passions in the latest conflict in America between believers in traditional values and social progressives, and is likely to prompt more of the street protests that followed Trump’s Nov. 8 election.

Obama had instructed public schools last May to let transgender students use the bathrooms matching their chosen gender identity, threatening to withhold funding for schools that did not comply. Transgender people hailed the step as victory for their civil rights.

Trump, a Republican who took office last month, rescinded those guidelines, even though they had been put on hold by a federal judge, arguing that states and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without federal interference.

The Justice and Education departments will continue to study the legal issues involved, according to the new, superseding guidance that will be sent to public schools.

About 200 people gathered in front of the White House to protest against Trump’s action, waving rainbow flags and chanting: “No hate, no fear, trans students are welcome here.”

The rainbow flag is the symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, people.

“We all know that Donald Trump is a bully, but his attack on transgender children today is a new low,” said Rachel Tiven, chief executive of Lambda Legal, which advocates for LGBT people.

Transgender legal advocates have criticized the “states’ rights” argument, saying federal law and civil rights are matters for the federal government to enforce, not the states.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the administration was pressed to act now because of the pending U.S. Supreme Court case, G.G. versus Gloucester County School Board.

That case pits a Virginia transgender boy, Gavin Grimm, against officials who want to deny him use of the boys’ room at his high school.

Although the Justice Department is not a party in the case, it typically would want to make its views heard. The Trump administration action on Wednesday also withdrew an Education Department letter in support of Grimm’s case.

“I’ve faced my share of adversaries in rural Virginia. I never imagined that my government would be one of them. We will not be beaten down by this administration,” Grimm, 17, told the protest outside the White House.

COURTS MAY HAVE FINAL SAY

The federal law in question, known as Title IX, bans sex discrimination in education. But it remains unsettled whether Title IX protections extend to a person’s gender identity.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the Obama guidelines “did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman vowed to ensure Title IX and his state’s civil rights protections are enforced.

“President Trump’s decision to rescind anti-discrimination protections for transgender students is yet another cruel move by an administration committed to divisive policies that roll back the clock on civil rights,” he said in a statement.

The courts are likely to have the final say over whether Title IX covers transgender students. The Supreme Court could pass on that question in the Virginia case and allow lower courts to weigh in, or go ahead and decide what the law means.

Obama’s Education Department issued the guidance in response to queries from school districts across the country about how to accommodate transgender students in gender-segregated bathrooms.

It also covered a host of other issues, such as the importance of addressing transgender students by their preferred names and pronouns and schools’ responsibility to prevent harassment and bullying of transgender children.

Thirteen states led by Texas sued to stop the Obama guidelines, and a U.S. district judge in Texas temporarily halted their full implementation.

The White House previously boasted of Trump’s support for LGBT rights, noting in a Jan. 31 statement that he was the first Republican presidential nominee to mention the community in his nomination acceptance speech.

“Revoking the guidance shows that the president’s promise to protect LGBT rights was just empty rhetoric,” James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union‘s LGBT project, said in a statement.

(Reporting and writing by Daniel Trotta in New York; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley, Jeff Mason, Julia Edwards Ainsley, Mana Rabiee and Emily Stephenson in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney)

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ROLLS BACK PROTECTIONS FOR TRANSGENDER STUDENTS “President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Wednesday that it will no longer bar schools from discriminating against transgender students, rescinding a policy put in place by the previous administration.” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was reportedly against rescinding the order and initially resisted signing off on it. Inauguration singer Jackie Evancho, whose sister Juliet is a transgender teenager, said she wanted to meet with the president about the need for transgender equality, and other celebrities spoke out against the change. [HuffPost]

In May 2016 President Barack Obama instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom they felt most comfortable using; schools refusing to comply with the instructions risked losing federal funding. The guidelines also included instructions for teachers to use students’ preferred names and pronouns in class. On Wednesday, February 22, President Trump rescinded the instructions, arguing that states and public schools have a right to discriminate against transgender students without interference from the federal government: here.

HERE’S HOW MUCH IT COSTS TO PROTECT TRUMP TOWER IN NYC EACH DAY Where the first lady currently resides. [HuffPost]

Homophobic archbishop’s image removed in London


This 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

This first video in the series takes a look at the anti-gay and homophobic pastors and politicians who turn out to be actually gay themselves. These men are hypocrites who repeatedly discriminated against homosexuals and passed legislation to withhold the rights of gay people. The pastors and politicians mentioned in this video are as follows: Ted Haggard, George A. Rekers, Richard Curtis, Roy Ashburn, Albert Odulele, Mark Foley, Christopher Lee, Eddie Long, Jim West, Paul Babeu, Ken Mehlman, and Larry Craig.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Uni removes image of Carey over views on gay marriage

Thursday 22nd December 2016

KING’S College London (KCL) has removed an image of former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton following student concerns about his views on gay marriage.

The picture is one of a number to be taken out of a “wall of fame” at the university, which said that the display “did not capture the diversity of our university community.”

Speaking in 2012 during the debate on gay marriage, Lord Carey said that for “time immemorial” marriage had been between a man and a woman and gay relationships were not the same.

Same-sex relationships are not the same as heterosexual relationships and should not be put on the same level,” he said.

The removal of his image followed a review of KCL’s window display policy, conducted last year.

Lord Carey said he did not wish to comment. The uni has not commented on the student campaign.

George Leonard Carey, Baron Carey of Clifton was nominated as archbishop by fellow homophobe Margaret Thatcher. While he was archbishop, he also opposed LGBTQ people; and defended Chilean ex-dictator Pinochet.

Stop persecuting Moroccan girls for kissing each other


Moroccans demonstrate for LGBTQ rights, AFP photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Moroccans outraged about prosecution of kissing girls

Today, 14:56

In Morocco, a case of two teenage girls who are prosecuted because they have kissed each other has led to much outrage. The girls, 16 and 17 years old, are suspected of having had sex with someone of the same sex. For that they may get a prison sentence of up to three years.

The teens ended up in jail after the mother of them had gone to the police. The woman went to the police after she had seen on her daughter’s phone a picture of the girl kissing a girlfriend. The two were arrested immediately and are on trial today in Marrakech city for “deviant sexual behaviour”.

Human rights organizations say this is a shame and say that the authorities should drop the charges. “A Moroccan organization is campaigning for the girls,” says correspondent Sjoukje Rietbroek. “That says something, because that organisation does not often fight for the rights of LGBT people.”

Afraid

Human Rights Watch also finds it incomprehensible that the teenagers are prosecuted. “They may have to go to jail because they showed affection for each other,” says a spokesman. In the North African country more often men are prosecuted for homosexuality. It would be the first time that women appear in court in such a case.

The mother who indicated her daughter now says she regrets her action. “But she has figured that out a little too late,” said Rietbroek. “The case is now already in court.”

On December 9 there will be the verdict. “Because there is so much attention from home and abroad for the case it is likely things will end up well for the girls.”

Ugandan police stops Gay Pride march


Ugandan Gay Pride marchers in 2015, AFP photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Ugandan police stops Gay Pride

Today, 16:16

The Ugandan police has stopped a Gay Pride planned for today. According to a government spokesman, the Gay Pride is illegal.

At two places in Uganda celebrations were planned. A hundred gay, lesbian and transgender people came to a beach at Lake Victoria. They were all arrested, but were released later. According to a gay rights activist the arrests “traumatized” the people.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. In 2013, the Ugandan parliament passed a law which introduced life imprisonment for homosexuality. The Supreme Court declared the law null and void.

Lesbian United States soccer player’s solidarity with Colin Kaepernick


This video about the USA says about itself:

Gay Soccer Star Kneels in Solidarity With Kaepernick

7 September 2016

By kneeling during the U.S. national anthem, Megan Rapinoe stands up for justice and shows her solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

Colin Kaepernick’s jersey became the top-selling jersey on the National Football League’s official online store, after he protested racial injustice and police brutality in the U.S., but the San Francisco 49ers quarterback said Wednesday he was donating all the proceeds he receives from the jersey to communities affected by injustice and racism: here.

Update, 12 September 2016: here.

Solidarity Demonstrations Take Over NFL Opening Weekend. The movement has spread across the league following Colin Kaepernick’s lead: here.

Alabama Pastor Allen Joyner Says People Who Don’t Stand For The National Anthem Should Be Shot: here.