News Round-Up: March 25, 2021

Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers
Joe Jonas (image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

Socialite Life: Joe Jonas (above), of the Jonas Brothers, has NOT been a gym slug during the pandemic. All props to him and his many abs on display in this selfie from Instagram.

Edge Media: Police officers in the virulently anti-LGBTQ country of Chechnya arrested 20 relatives of two gay brothers who had fled persecution in the Russian province.

Laughing Squid: The Melodica Bros created this truly beguiling and compelling cover version of the traditionally upbeat anthem “Y.M.C.A” by the Village People. This version features a change from major to minor, a slower tempo, and a quiet performance that included an acoustic guitar and a double bass. I love reinvention when well-done.

The Advocate: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law today that will bar transgender student athletes from competing under their gender identity. In a statement, Hutchinson said that female athletes “should not have to compete in a sport against a student of the male sex when the sport is designed for women’s competition.”

CNN: The Republican-controlled Georgia legislature quickly passed a sweeping elections law that substantially reduces voter access. The Georgia bill would limit drop boxes, make giving food or drinks to a voter a crime, & grant state officials broad rights, including the ability to replace local election officials.

Variety: Late-night host and comedian Jay Leno has issued an apology for decades of jokes told over his career targeting Asian communities.

Men Who Escaped Deadly Gay Purge Arrested & Returned To Chechnya

Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya, denies reports of the deadly gay purge in his country
Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic in ‘Welcome To Chechnya’

Two gay men who escaped from the deadly gay purge in Chechnya in April 2020 were discovered in Russia, detained by Russian police and are being returned to their country.

From Pink News:

Salek Magamadov and Ismail Isayev escaped homophobic Chechnya, the site of deadly so-called gay purges, in June 2020. The Russian LGBT Network helped them relocate to Nizhny Novogorod, a city around 400 kilometres east of Moscow.

According to their lawyer Alexander Nemov, Magamadov and Novogorod had been arrested in April 2020 and tortured by the Chechen special police for running an opposition Telegram channel.

On Thursday (4 February), the Russian LGBT Network reported that the pair had gone missing.

The network’s assistance coordinator had received a call from one of the men that day around 3pm and heard screaming in the background. Nemov arrived at their apartment 30 minutes later and described seeing evidence of a scuffle.

Upon submitting a missing persons report, the lawyer found out that the two men had been handed over to the Chechen police. They are now being forcefully returned to their hometown, Gudermes.

Sadly, Novogorod and Magamadov were found to be missing on the same day that President Biden called for LGBTQ rights to be promoted and respected around the world.

Since 2017, there have been hundreds of reports of the deadly gay purge in Chechnya consisting of abductions, detentions, and torture (sometimes resulting in death) perpetrated against those in the LGBTQ community..

Ramzan Kadryov, the leader of Chechnya, has casually denied such reports while denying the very existence of any LGBTQ people in his country.

In 2017, the United States placed sanctions against Kadyrov due to the hideous atrocities.

Chechen President Banned From U.S. Over Reports Of LGBTQ Torture

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (screen capture via HBO Sports)

I expect the Trump administration will tout this as part of its “great record” on LGBTQ issues, but in the end, I’m not sure it actually DOES anything of consequence.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that Ramzan Kadyrov, president of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, has been banned from entering the U.S. under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020.

Section 7031(c) “requires the Secretary of State to bar from U.S. entry” foreign officials about whom the Secretary has credible information indicating that they have been involved, directly or indirectly, in “gross violation of human rights.”

You’ll note the statute says “requires” so let’s not give Pompeo too much credit here.

Today’s announcement also affects Kadyrov’s immediate family members. That said, it’s not clear Kadyrov or his family had any plans to visit the U.S. any time soon.

Plus, Section 7031(c) will expire on September 30, 2020, unless Congress extends it by a continuing resolution or restated in a new law.

A statement issued by the State Department says this action is being taken “due to Kadyrov’s involvement in gross violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic.”

The Department says it has received extensive credible information that Kadyrov is responsible for numerous human rights violations including torture and extrajudicial killings.

In 2018, the United States joined fifteen other nations in creating a fact-finding mission into “horrific reports of abuses against LGBTI persons” and others who were targeted by Kadyrov. The subsequent report found that “harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions” had taken place.

The State Department says it is now concerned Kadyrov may be “using the excuse of the coronavirus pandemic to inflict further human rights abuses on the people of the Chechen Republic.”

Kadyrov, who was appointed president of Chechnya in 2007 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has repeatedly denied not only the allegations of torture and murder but that gay people even exist in his country.

Human rights activists have been sounding the alarm for years that Kadyrov had launched a series of state-sponsored anti-gay purges across the highly conservative, traditional Muslim country.

In May 2017, the Human Rights Watch shared one detainee’s description of the horrific treatment he’d been subjected to in an unofficial prison: “They electrocuted us, beat us with pipes, kicked us, and punched us, they made other inmates beat us, they called us names, spat in our faces.”

The U.S. announced sanctions against Kadyrov in December 2017, including visa bans and asset freezes, under the 2012 Magnitsky Act.

The BBC reported at the time that Kadyrov responded by “mocking the US move in an Instagram post in which he said ‘a sleepless night is waiting for me.'”

He added he was “proud” to be “out of favor with the special services of the USA.”

The new film Welcome to Chechnya, which debuted on HBO June 30, documents the horrific persecution of LGBTQ people in Chechnya.

News Round-Up: May 20, 2020

Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic in HBO’s ‘Welcome To Chechnya’

Some news items you might have missed:

Oregon Live: A gay man recently became angry with his mother when she didn’t know how to respond when he introduced his new boyfriend who is HIV-positive. She fears if they stay together and have children the new boo might infect the future/possible kids. She wrote to the popular column ‘Ask Amy’ for advice.

CBS Detroit: A Wisconsin woman who has taken hydroxychloroquine for 19 years to treat lupus has tested positive for COVID-19. The woman, a self-described Trump supporter, says she only left her home to go the grocery store. She told CBS News she thought she would be safe because of what Donald Trump has said about the drug.

HBO: From Academy Award-nominated director David France comes Welcome to Chechnya, a powerful and eye-opening documentary about a group of activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya.

Politico: More than 40,000 National Guard members currently helping states during the coronavirus health threat will face a “hard stop” on their deployments on June 24 — just one day shy of many members becoming eligible for key federal benefits like education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill and/or early retirement.

Bloomberg News: Researchers are finding evidence that patients who test positive for the coronavirus after recovering aren’t capable of transmitting the infection, and could have the antibodies that prevent them from falling sick again.

AZ Central: Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) dropped four percentage points in a month trailing Democrat Mark Kelly by 13 points, according to the latest tracking poll by OH Predictive Insights. The same poll in April favored Kelly 51% to McSally’s 42%, and now in May, it’s 51%-38%. The poll shows independents breaking more than 2-1 for Kelly.

TikTok: Since the fan on my two-year-old laptop sometimes goes into high gear for no apparent reason, I clicked on this. I had no idea computers could get so filthy inside.

News Round-Up: October 24, 2019

The men of Chippendales rock Belgium

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: The Chippendales stopped in Belgium for a one-night-only performance, and the place sold out completely. Keep up with the men of Chippendales on their Instagram here.

Advocate: A gay reporter for ABC News traveled to Chechnya to document the horrific treatment of LGBTQ people in the Russian republic. Along the way, he became part of the story.

Washington Blade: Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), the only out bisexual in the U.S. House, is in the middle of an increasingly growing scandal in which she has now admitted she had an “inappropriate” relationship with her campaign staffer before she took office.

Playbill: Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie is now hosting her own weekly podcast, The Ladies Who Lunch. Each episode, McKechnie will gather with friends at Sardi’s to discuss their showbiz pasts and more. For her first episode, McKechnie (who originated the role of Cassie) welcomes her A Chorus Line castmates: original Morales Priscilla Lopez, original Connie Baayork Lee, and original Sheila Kelly Bishop.

CBS News: After Donald Trump trolled rock icon Bruce Springsteen from the campaign stump, the rocker responded: “The stewardship of the nation has been thrown away to somebody who doesn’t have a clue as to what that means. And unfortunately, we have somebody who I feel doesn’t have a grasp of the deep meaning of what it means to be an American.” #BOOM

OUT: Facebook and Instagram have issued new guidelines about sexual expression on the social media platforms. Users will no longer be able to add eggplant or peach emojis to messages that have a sexual nature anymore. Plus, no more using emojis to cover nude body parts. AND – no more linking to sites with sexual content. So, no more promoting OnlyFans or JustForMyFans pages from Facebook or Instagram.

Twitter: At a rally last night, Donald Trump told the crowd his administration is “building a beautiful wall” in Colorado. I keep wondering if anyone told him it’s New Mexico, not Mexico, that borders Colorado…? #4thGradeGeography

New Wave Of Detainment & Torture For LGBTs In Chechnya

A year and a half after over 100 gay men were detained and tortured, some killed, by a secret police force in Chechnya, a new wave of detainments has occurred reports the Russian LGBT Network.

A year and a half after over 100 gay men were detained and tortured, some killed, by a secret police force in Chechnya, a new wave of detainments has occurred reports the Russian LGBT Network.

Igor Kochetkov, program director for Russian LGBT Network, said in a statement “that it is impossible to name the precise number of victims.”

“However, we know that around 40 people were detained, both men and women,” said Kochetkov. “At least two people died as a result of tortures. We also know that the detentions are conducted by the law enforcement officers, and the victims are detained in Argun.”

“Persecution of men and women suspected of being gay never stopped,” added the LGBT activist. “It’s only that its scale has been changing.”

According to a social media post on January 10th, activists are urging LGBTQ Chechens to flee immediately. “We ask anyone still free to take this message seriously and leave the republic as soon as is possible,” the statement read.

Since 2017 Russian LGBT Network has helped to evacuate approximately 150 gay men out of Chechnya.

Reports of the anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya first came in December 2016.

Chechen authorities, most of whom are former military members who serve as Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s secret police force, reportedly detain suspected gay men under the pretense of drug charges.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

Once detained, police search the men’s phones contacts for other suspects, using torture to get as much info as possible.

In the past, Kadyrov has vowed to kill all gay men.

Russian LGBT Network has reported that the torturers use “electrocution, beatings, starvation, dehydration, isolation, forced nudity, homophobic insults and misgendering” to punish detainees, confiscating their personal belongings and only allowing them to sleep three hours a day on cold concrete floors. The men are not allowed to bathe or use toilets and they receive no medical care.

The victims have no where to turn as filing a complaint could make them a target for future harassment and violence.

Women have been caught in the crackdown too, though they’re often left to their families be abused, imprisoned or killed.

The Russia LGBT Network has helped approximately 119 gay and bi men escape the purge and flee to Moscow, Canada Lithuania, France and Germany.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports least 27 people are believed to have died in the crackdown.

And as with the first reports of the gay purge, Chechen officials deny any and all allegations.

Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global, released the following statement regarding the resurgence in detainments:

“Nearly two years after reports first surfaced of anti-LGBTQ violence and killings in Chechnya, we are once again hearing disturbing accounts of state-sanctioned detentions and abuse.

“We have repeatedly called on the Trump-Pence White House to speak out and help bring an end to this persecution, but instead the White House has largely ignored the actions of the Russian-backed regime in Chechnya.

“Human rights violators in Chechnya must be held accountable and be brought to justice. Lives are hanging in the balance.”

Podcast: Chechnya Purges Gays Again; Toxic Masculinity; Adam Lambert in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

In this week’s headlines:  • Chechnya is hunting down LGBTQ folks again  • The American Psychological Association confirms that toxic masculinity is a real thing and its rooted in homophobia  • Wedding fashion giant David’s Bridal features a same-sex couple in their new commercial  • Mutual of Omaha agrees to stop denying coverage to gay men who use PrEP  • Adam Lambert revealed he has a cameo in Bohemian Rhapsody

In this week’s podcast:

• Chechnya is hunting down LGBTQ folks again

• The American Psychological Association confirms that toxic masculinity is a real thing and its rooted in homophobia

• Wedding fashion giant David’s Bridal features a same-sex couple in their new commercial

• Mutual of Omaha agrees to stop denying coverage to gay men who use PrEP

• Adam Lambert revealed he has a cameo in Bohemian Rhapsody

• YouTuber Logan Paul confirms he’s an idiot

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Anti-LGBT Chechen President Freezing Assets, Banning US Entry

Ramzan Kadyrov

Virulently anti-gay Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has been banned from entering the United States and had financial assets frozen by the U.S. Treasury Department.

From Reuters:

The new sanctions blacklisted Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

U.S. authorities accused Kadyrov of overseeing “an administration involved in disappearances and extrajudicial killings.”

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed the sanctions, which freeze the banks accounts of those targeted, under a 2012 law known as the Magnitsky Act.

The Magnitsky Act imposed visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials linked to the death in prison of Sergei Magnitsky, a 37-year-old Russian auditor and whistleblower. The act also seeks to hold responsible those U.S. authorities allege orchestrated or benefited from the death of Magnitsky.

Kadyrov is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is also credited with overseeing what became known as the “gay purge,” the systematic rounding up and killing of dozens of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya this year.

Kadyrov has denied any LGBT people even live in Chechnya.

Also sanctioned today was Ayub Kataev, a prison warden and head of a branch of the Chechen internal affairs ministry, who denied reports of anti-gay killings.

GLAAD was, understandably, thrilled by the news issuing this statement:

GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today welcomed the inclusion of Ramzan Kadyrov to the list of suspected human rights abusers who have any assets held in U.S. banks frozen and are barred from entry into the United States under the Magnitsky Act.

Authorities in Chechnya have detained and attacked over 100 LGBTQ men because of their perceived sexual orientation and at least 27 men have reportedly been killed by Chechen government officials as of June 2017. Since then additional tragic stories of killings and disappearances of LGBTQ men and woman have been reported.

“Sanctioning those responsible for the horrendous anti-LGBTQ persecution in Chechnya, including Ramzan Kadyrov, is a step towards holding human rights abusers accountable for their atrocities and was a needed action to show that human rights must be prioritized above the personal politics of this administration,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. “We cannot stop here as we face a growing epidemic of anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination around the world that must be swiftly and fully addressed.”

News Round-Up: October 31, 2017

(via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• Steve Pena (above) plans to “walk like an Egyptian” this Halloween. I’d follow his Pharaoh…

• Both chambers of Congress have now unanimously condemned Chechnya for anti-LGBTQ violence as President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remain silent.

• In related news, Russia and Egypt are fighting to remove language in Principal 6 of the Olympic Charter which calls for banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both countries have been involved in anti-LGBTQ actions in past months.

• Marques Brownlee unboxes the new iPhone X – check out his thoughts below. Hubby Michael and I have both ordered the X as we haven’t upgraded our iPhones in years.

• While the majority of news outlets were covering yesterday’s indictments of three Trump campaign officials, several Fox News employees were embarrassed by their network’s obvious lack of coverage. At one point on Monday morning, Fox News was actually taking time to report on a hamburger emoji – “Look, the cheese is under the burger!!!”

• A new study indicates gay men (and straight women) are twice as likely to be attracted to guys with the same eye color as their father due to “sexual imprinting.” I do not fall into that category as my father had stunning ice blue eyes, but my hunky hubby Michael has beautiful brown eyes.

• No trick, total treat from 7-time Grammy Award winner Toni Braxton as she drops her new single, “Deadwood,” from her forthcoming album, Sex and Cigarettes, scheduled for a January release.

• One more Halloween post: “Super” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada arrived at work today dressed as “Clark Kent.” #WinnerWinnerWinner