News Briefs: Stockholm's Pride Parade Inspires Game Mod, Gender Documentary & More!

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Politics – Former White House Staffer becomes First Transgender Woman to Address the DNC

(CNN) Sarah McBride spoke out against discrimination against LGBT Americans Thursday as she became the first transgender person to speak at a major party convention.

McBride, 25, was the first openly transgender White House staffer when she interned in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.

"I have seen that change is possible. I witnessed history interning in the White House and helping my home state of Delaware pass protections for transgender people," she said on the final night of the Democratic National Convention.

"But despite our progress, so much work remains. Will we be a nation where there's only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live? Or, will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally; a nation that's stronger together? That is the question in this election," McBride added.

She spoke on the importance of passing the Equality Act, a bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex in housing, employment, public accommodations and other issues.

It is currently legal to discriminate against LGBT people in hiring and other issues in 30 states, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"Today in America, LGBTQ people are still targeted by hate that lives in both laws and in hearts. Many still struggle just to get by. But I believe that tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow, we can be respected and protected -- especially if Hillary Clinton is our president," McBride said.

 

Related: Transgender DNC Delegates Hold First-Ever Caucus Meeting

 

International – Thousands attend Stockholm’s Gay Pride Parade, Inspires Pride Expansion in Popular Video Game

Stockholm’s annual gay pride parade, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, is considered the largest pride event in the Nordic region, according to EDGE.

This year’s event saw tens of thousands of people participating, including Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, who said Saturday’s 4.3-kilometer route was “two hours of happiness and love,” in reference to the duration of the parade.

Some 45,000 participants danced to loud techno and pop music throughout the parade according to organizers. As the first day of the event came to a close, rain poured down over the rally.

Several lawmakers, including opposition leader Anna Kinberg Batra of the Moderate Party, also participated.

In a collaboration between Stockholm Pride, Swedish advertising agency Garbergs, and Rockstar Games’ successful video game Grand Theft Auto 5 enthusiasts, an unofficial pride modification has been released for the game, according to International Business Times.

Named “Los Santos Pride” after the fictitious in-game city, the mod features crowds of people with signs that read “love comes in all colors,” “Orlando,” and other pride messages. A blimp on be seen overhead that reads “Love is in the air.”

“For us, Los Santos Pride is about love and equality,” interactive art director William Lothman told IBTimes UK. “That’s the essence of the project and that’s just a non-debatable fact.”

The trailer for the Stockholm Pride collaboration, “Los Santos Pride,” can be found on YouTube.

“The message of love and equality is always needed, whether it be a mod for GTA V or anything else,” Lothman said. “If you could tell it in a new interesting way it’s always good.”

 

Science – Katie Couric and National Geographic Team Up On Gender Documentary

(Edge) Katie Couric and National Geographic Channel are teaming up on a documentary about the science and culture behind gender.

Couric is the executive producer and host of the two-hour film, described as an in-depth look at factors involved in gender fluidity, including genetics, brain chemistry and modern culture.

The film, with the working title "Gender Revolution," will premiere globally on National Geographic Channel in January 2017. It will be timed to the release of a gender-themed issue of National Geographic magazine, the channel said Saturday.

"It seems that every day, there's a new story and a new vocabulary around gender that's challenging our long-held attitudes and preconceptions about what makes us who we are," Couric said. The documentary will go "beyond the headlines to examine the why, the how and what it all means, with intimate stories of the people who are at forefront of this new frontier."

Earlier this year, Couric ran into controversy with another documentary she was involved in, "Under the Gun." She took responsibility for a director's edit that misrepresented the response of gun rights activists to a question she posed.

Couric had initially supported the director's decision to add a pause before the activists answered, which was revealed after audio of the Q&A leaked.

 

Related: Doc 'Suited' Shows Trans/genderqueer Dressing For Success

 

Legal – California Bill Would Prevent LGBT Discrimination at Religious Schools

A bill moving through the Legislature would remove the longstanding exemption from anti-discrimination laws held by religious institutions, opening California’s religious colleges and universities to civil rights lawsuits from students and employees, according to LGBTQ Nation.

Religious institutions can currently assign housing based on sex instead of gender identity, and can implement disciplinary measures to students who violate moral codes of conduct, which can include anti-transgender or strict sexual provisions.

The measure, SB11446 is considered by many schools as an attack on their free exercise of religion, as the exemption allows them to craft campus policies in line with their faith.

“It’s no longer ‘live and let live,’” Derry Connolly, president of John Paul the Great Catholic University in Escondido, said. “It’s ‘If you don’t toe in line with us, we’ll take you to court big time.’”

Connolly said the bill tries to force schools to “change 2,000-year-old teachings to be in line with LGBT ideology.”

Bill author Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, argues that students attending religious schools should hold the same rights and protections as their peers who attend non-religious colleges and universities.

“Opponents of LGBT equality have been using the pretext of exercise of religion to justify discrimination,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of the advocacy group Equality California.

Anthony Villarreal was allegedly dismissed from the university in 2013 after the school learned that he lived with his boyfriend. Although it is too late for him to benefit from the legislation, he supports the bill’s passing.

“It isn’t out to attack Christian universities or wipe them off the face of the planet,” he said. “They shouldn’t have the legal right or entitlement to discriminate against anyone.”

 

Medical – FDA Opens Door to Ending Gay Blood Donation Ban

(TGV) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration signaled Tuesday that it is reevaluating its policy on blood donations by gay and bisexual men, less than a year after changing its former policy and less than two months since the Orlando shooting brought renewed scrutiny about the issue. The current policy prohibits donations from any men who have had sex with another man in the previous year.

The news came in the form of a notice posted to the Federal Register, which is basically a clearinghouse for the daily goings-on of the U.S. federal government. The notice said that the FDA is establishing a public docket for comment about its current blood donation policy.

“Interested persons are invited to submit comments, supported by scientific evidence such as data from research, regarding potential blood donor deferral policy options to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, including the feasibility of moving from the existing time-based deferrals related to risk behaviors to alternate deferral options, such as the use of individual risk assessments,” the notice reads. “Additionally, comments are invited regarding the design of potential studies to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of such alternative deferral options. FDA will take the comments received into account as it continues to reevaluate and update blood donor deferral policies as new scientific information becomes available.”

Activists have long pushed for a change to a policy based on individual risk factors such as intravenous drug use or unprotected sex instead of singling out gay and bisexual men. Last December, the FDA changed the policy from one that essentially was a lifetime blood donation ban for gay and bisexual men to the current one-year deferral policy.

Rules for submitting public comments on the policy can be found here.

 

Related: Congressman Introduces Bill for Increased Flexibility on Gay Blood Donations

 

Crime – Alleged Grindr Killer Charged with Eight More Attacks

(OFO) Stephen Port, the man charged for the alleged murders of four gay men in London last year, is now facing eight more charges of rape and poisoning after more victims stepped forward and reported attacks.

Last year, Port was arrested after being accused of using Grindr to murder four men with lethal doses of GBH.

The bodies of all four victims, Anthony Patrick Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, were found in the St Margaret’s Church courtyard in east London between June 2014 and September 2015.

Port was arrested in October after he was linked to the crimes, and currently awaits trial on four counts of murder and four counts of administering a poison with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm. The police then asked the public to reach out if they have any information about Port.

When he appeared in court Monday, Port was faced with several new charges from eight survivors of alleged attacks that took place between 2011 and 2015.

In addition to the original manslaughter, murder and poisoning charges, the alleged serial killer will now face seven counts of rape, four of sexual assault and six extra counts of poisoning, bringing the total number of charges to 29.

He denied all the charges during his pre-trial hearing on Monday and the trial is now set to begin on October 4.

 

Politics – Trump Thanks Republicans for Not Booing Mention of LGBTQ People

(OC) Although his party’s platform writers refused to do so, Donald Trump acknowledged tonight that the man who killed 49 and wounded 53 inside Orlando’s Pulse nightclub was targeting LGBTQ people.

He promised to protect LGBTQ people from terrorism. And then he thanked Republican delegates for not booing the idea.

The remark was a reminder of a Republican presidential debate in 2011 when the audience booed Columbus resident Steven Snyder-Hill, then serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq and asking a question via YouTube. Snyder-Hill identified himself as gay and asked the candidates whether their position on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. No candidate on the stage at the time (Trump was not a candidate in that election) took notice of people booing a member of the military.

During Trump’s acceptance speech tonight in Cleveland, delegates cheered every criticism of Hillary Clinton, every denunciation of President Obama and every promise to stop terrorism. So it’s not clear they were cheering his promise to keep LGBTQ Americans safe.

They’ve certainly not shown much love for us so far at the Republican National Convention, which ends tonight.

The Republican platform, written by a group of party activists that includes the head of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council and a man who once said that God won’t let scientists find a cure for AIDS, was stripped of any empathetic mention of LGBT Americans. Its members rejected efforts to describe LGBT people as targets of ISIS and as victims in Orlando. It maintains the party’s opposition to marriage equality, promises to rescind Obama’s directive that transgender children be allowed to use school restrooms that match their gender identity, and asserts parents’ rights to subject their children to the discredited and dangerous practice of conversion therapy.

Trump didn’t have to worry about anti-LGBT Republicans booing anything else he said in his first speech as the GOP’s presidential candidate.

He later thanked the evangelical and religious community for their support and said they should be allowed to speak their minds. He promised to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices like the late Antonin Scalia, who opposed marriage equality.


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