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Texas Set to Pass Transgender Bathroom Law for Schools

(AP) A transgender "bathroom bill" reminiscent of one in North Carolina that caused a national uproar now appears to be on a fast-track to becoming law in Texas, though it may only apply to public schools.

A broader proposal mandating that virtually all transgender people in the country's second-largest state use public restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificates sailed through the Texas Senate months ago. A similar measure had stalled in the House, but supporters late Sunday night used an amendment to tack the bathroom restrictions onto a separate and otherwise unrelated bill covering school emergency operation plans for situations such as natural disasters.

Republican Rep. Chris Paddie authored the hotly debated language, saying it had "absolutely no intent" to discriminate. Under it, transgender students at public and charter schools would not be permitted to use the bathroom of their choice, but could be directed to separate, single-occupancy restrooms.

"It's absolutely about child safety," said Paddie, from the East Texas town of Marshall. "This is about accommodating all kids."

His change passed 91-50. Final House approval should come Monday, sending the modified bill to the Senate, which should easily support it. Texas' legislative session ends May 29, but that's plenty of time - even if the bathroom bill is scaled-back enough to only affect the state's roughly 5.3 million public school students, and not the general public.

"This amendment is the bathroom bill and the bathroom bill is an attack on transgender people," said Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat. "Some people don't want to admit that because they are ashamed, and this is shameful."


Indonesia Police Arrest Dozens in Raid on Jakarta Gay Sauna

(AP) Indonesian police detained dozens of men including several foreigners in a weekend raid on a gay sauna in the capital, another sign of growing hostility to homosexuality in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said 141 men were detained for questioning in the raid Sunday evening on the gym and sauna in north Jakarta. Police say the sauna was the venue for a sex party promoted as "The Wild One."

Homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but police said the country's pornography laws had been violated. Ten people will be charged, police said, including the sauna's owner, several staff including strippers, a gym trainer, receptionist and security guard, and two visitors to the club who allegedly performed oral sex. If found guilty, they face penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines.

As media waited for a police news conference on Monday afternoon, some of the arrested men were put on display, their faces covered by black ski masks. Last month, police in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, arrested 14 men at what they alleged was a sex party and forced them to have HIV tests.

A coalition of legal aid and criminal justice reform groups condemned the raid and "arbitrary" arrests. It said police further violated the rights of those arrested by photographing them naked and facilitating the spread of those images on social media.

The group, which is providing legal representation, said in a statement that some of the men were brought to a police station in north Jakarta naked, and that others were stripped at the station.


Lithuania Accepting Gay Refugees from Chechnya as US Closes Door

(EDGE) As gay men seeking to escape kidnapping and torture in Chechnya are reportedly being denied visas from the State Department of the United States as well as many European Union countries, Lithuania has announced that it will open its doors to refugees.

According to The Spokesman-Review, two Chechens were granted visas from Lithuania this week. 

The announcement from Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius that "Two natives of Chechnya who suffered persecution because of their sexual orientation" would be granted visas, came on Wednesday on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. He called on other European Union countries to accept gay Chechen refugees as well.

News that Lithuania is opening its doors broke the same day that BuzzFeed published a report that the United States was denying visas to gay men looking to flee violence or death in the republic. 

Russian LGBT Network spokesperson Svetlana Zakharova told Buzzfeed that "negotiations have been difficult" with countries that could take refugees. In an email, she said that her organization was informed that "the US is not going to issue visas for people from Chechnya."

Meanwhile, the situation for gay men in Chechnya is becoming increasingly dire. In late April, Pink News reported that Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly said he intends to eliminate all gay men in the mostly Muslim republic by Ramadan, which begins May 26.