Washington Blade: Iran a ‘paradox’ for LGBTs

Michael K. Laversv | Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees | June June 20, 2014

Arsham Parsi had just been accepted into an Iranian university to study to become a veterinarian when three of his friends who were either gay or transgender committed suicide.

He had previously worked with a doctor in his hometown of Shiraz in southern Iran who had been conducting research for a study on rates of HIV among gay and bisexual men, but he “decided to do something” after his friends took their own lives.

Parsi launched an online support group in 2001 that later became known as the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization. He formed another website for LGBT Iranians two years later, posting information under two pseudonyms.

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San Francisco’s Youth and LGBTQ Homeless Left with No Answer

David Krause | Truthout | June 21, 2014

When Hillary Smith was 15 years old, her parents died. For the next eight years, she lived in Golden Gate Park, sleeping each night with many other homeless youths, all with different struggles that resulted in homelessness.

“I became homeless,” Hilary said during a hearing at City Hall on youth and LGBTQ homelessness, “at the age of 15, when my parents died. I pretty much got abandoned and thrown into the muck of things, I guess you could call it. People ignored me when I was homeless. Asking for help wasn’t just something I could go do. Asking like, ‘What time is it?’ almost always ended up in me getting completely ignored. Mostly, when I asked people what time it was, they’d say, ‘No thank you.’ ”

Hillary’s story is all too familiar in San Francisco, a city that prides itself on being a sanctuary to those in need. According to one homeless count, 1,902 youth – a count that includes “transitional youth,” those under 24 – are currently homeless, and, astonishingly, over 50 percent of these youth have been homeless for more than a year. Forty percent of these youth are LBGTQ, and the majority said their homelessness was due to job loss.

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FISA court grants extension of license for bulk collection of U.S. phone records

Dan Roberts | The Guardian | Raw Story | June 21, 2014

US intelligence agencies have made a fifth attempt to extend their bulk collection of American telephone records – more than a year after the controversial practice was first revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Despite repeated calls from Congress and President Obama for the mass gathering of private US phone records to be banned, a court has approved the request in secret, allowing the NSA to continue collecting metadata until 12 September 2014.

In a joint statement released late on Friday afternoon, the justice department and director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said it was necessary to continue seeking such legal extensions because the Congressional reform process supported by Obama was not yet complete.

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Religious right looks beyond gay marriage to next battles: ‘We are in a war’

Agence France-Presse | Raw Story | June 21, 2014

Hundreds of conservative Republicans who gathered for the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference this week in Washington see a conflict raging across the United States pitting their faith and family values against liberal encroachment fueled by President Barack Obama.

Marriage sanctity has been a pillar of that platform, but five months before mid-term elections and 18 months before the 2016 presidential campaign, many Christian conservatives are looking beyond gay marriage to the next battlefronts in a sociopolitical struggle they hope to win at the ballot box.

The far-right movement, whose torch is carried in Congress by the likes of Senator Ted Cruz and on America’s backroads by 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum, has failed to stem the tide of same-sex marriage rights that has now reached 19 of the 50 US states.

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