Queer Notes, March-April 2014

April 2, 2014

by Dee Perkins

On Jan. 13 CeCe McDonald, 26, was released early from prison. In 2011, the African-American Transgender woman was arrested after using deadly force to protect herself when a group who hurled homophobic, transphobic and racist slurs accosted her and her friends while they walked down a Minneapolis street and hit them with a bar glass. Her face was cut, requiring 11 stitches. The swastika tattoo, three prior convictions for assault, and the meth, cocaine and alcohol levels of the man who attacked her were rejected as evidence. Of the 30 hate-murders of LGBT people that year, 12 were of Transgender women of color. Facing a possible 80-year prison sentence, she pled guilty to second-degree murder. Her conviction cannot be understood apart from the treatment of George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, who murdered unarmed Black youths Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.

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Arizona’s governor vetoed SB1062 on Feb. 26, the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act granting legal protection to businesses that refuse service to Gays and others on the grounds that serving them would violate the business owners’ religious beliefs. A proposal was made two days prior in Idaho to shield a variety of professionals from loss of their licenses for refusal of services or employment based on religious beliefs. Although anathema to American ideals, none of this contradicts the Affordable Care Act’s exemptions to religious-based organizations.

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The purpose of the March 7 Global Day of Action called by Solidarity Alliance in Nigeria is to stand with the country’s LGBT community. Since the January passage of the “Jail the Gays” law, attacks—which often take the form of humiliating, brutal physical assaults and sexual torture for public spectacle—have increased. Described as more complicated than Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” law, whose death penalty provision was removed in December after international outcry, Nigeria’s law has been met with demands for Western pressure. Those demands are decried as neo-colonial meddling. Neither camp has mentioned what is well documented: Africa’s antigay campaigns are, in no small part, made in the U.S.

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