Ahead of Olympics, Russia's mixed message on gays
27 November 2013
By LAURA MILLS
In this Wednesday, May 1, 2013, file photo, gay rights activists carry rainbow flags as they march during a May Day rally in St. Petersburg, Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)
MOSCOW (AP) -- Anyone who switched on Russian TV recently might have been forgiven for thinking the Kremlin was relaxing its hard line on gays: Images of rainbow flags and a happy same-sex couple looking adoringly at their child flashed across the screen.
But the show, with its horror film music and juddering camera work, was another swipe at the gay community - not a gust of tolerance. The force behind it is one of Russia's top propagandists, whose programs have helped to bring criminal charges against others on President Vladimir Putin's unofficial black list. The primetime broadcast on state television points to the double-game the Kremlin is playing on gay rights.
To the West, Russia has sought to extend reassurances as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics that a law passed this summer banning homosexual "propaganda" does not discriminate against gays. To its domestic audience, the government has ramped up the anti-gay rhetoric, unifying its fraying electoral base with a popular refrain of traditional values.
The TV show by Arkady Mamontov - who made his name by taking a hatchet to punk rock group Pussy Riot and other opposition activists - is the latest example of Russia's unwillingness to back down from its legislative crackdown on gays. Champions of the law melted away when Western outrage reached a peak over the summer - but they are now back in force on national airwaves. Mamontov told a live studio audience that the scenes he filmed should be a warning "that we have to save the family, traditions, traditional love, or otherwise we'll be hit by something bigger than the Chelyabinsk meteorite" that fell on Russia in February.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists filmed for the show were carefully edited to make them seem alternately corrupt, subversive, demonic or laughably inept. One shot created an awkward juxtaposition of a gay activist with a poster of Che Guevara, a none-too-subtle attempt to portray the activist as a trouble-maker. Mamontov uses their stories to drive home a sinister message: Gay organizations, funded almost exclusively by money from abroad, are Trojan horses that will give the West control over Russia from within.
Toronto strips mayor Rob Ford of powers after oral sex TV rant
by Tomas Jivanda
Friday, 15 November 2013
Toronto’s City Council has voted overwhelmingly to strip its controversial mayor, Robert Ford, of some of his powers as they try to force a resignation.
Mr Ford has continued to assert that he will not step down, despite strong pressure from local politicians following an endless stream of revelations about his drug and drink habits, including an admission that he has smoked crack cocaine.
The vote follows a series of gaffes on Thursday that left the city shocked. The day started with Mr Ford responding to allegations that he pressured a female employee for oral sex by stating on live TV that he did not want to “eat her p***y”, adding: “I’m happily married, I’ve got more than enough of that to eat at home”. Following the incident he later apologised for “his graphic remarks” during a press conference and admitted that he had drank alcohol in excess in the past, but said he was getting professional help and would not resign.
The motion, approved in a 39-3 vote, suspends Mr Ford's authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee, which runs the budget process. In a separate vote, the council voted to give the deputy mayor authority to handle any civic emergency. The vast majority of city councilors are frustrated by the mayor’s refusal to step aside, but they lack the authority to force him out of office unless he is convicted of a crime.
13 November 2013
By Andrew Potts
A Syrian rebel sniper Photo by Patrick Wells
Islamist elements in the Syrian Uprising are targeting homosexuals in the country, according to a special report in Vice magazine, with foreign Jihadis often blamed by the refugees who spoke to the magazine.
Vice’s Hannah Lucinda Smith spoke to seven Syrian gay men who have fled the country and they told stories of torture, blackmail and of death threats and having gay friends disappear. The refugees say that once militants find a homosexual they will then torture them to reveal all their gay friends and then round them up too.
‘Ram’ told Vice how he had been lured into a trap by militants. ‘I got a phone call from my friend,’ Ram said, ‘He asked me to come over to his house because he'd lost all his money and he needed my help. When I entered the house, a big guy was waiting—he had a beard and was holding a cattle prod. He told me to enter, and I was afraid that he would hit me with it, so I did as he told me. That house used to be a place of joy and happiness, but when I entered, it smelt of blood.’
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