Saturday, July 22, 2006
JERUSALEM POLICE DENY MARCH PERMIT TO WORLDPRIDE
ALL OTHER PRIDE EVENTS TO PROCEED AS PLANNED
From HAGAI EL-AD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF JERUSALEM OPEN HOUSE, WORLDPRIDE ORGANIZER
"The Jerusalem police 24 hours ago informed us that they are unable to provide a safe environment for the march in light of the current hostilities in the region and the excessive stress this puts on their staff. Therefore, we feel it would be neither responsible nor appropriate to hold the march until such time that circumstances allow for a safe and peaceful gathering for all. This is not the time for celebrations, and the march, which would requires extensive security, will not take place due to the situation. The parade will be held with the improvement of the security situation in the country. All other WorldPride events will take place as scheduled in a format that is sensitive to the situation and as part of the continued democratic struggle for a free Jerusalem.
We continue to hear from attendees from around the world informing us that they will indeed be coming to Jerusalem. Their participation inspires us to work toward a successful and safe WorldPride gathering in the spirit of the principles we have always promoted: peace, tolerance and respect for diversity in all its forms.
We are committed to marching in Jerusalem as we have done successfully annually since 2002. A new date for this year's Pride March in Jerusalem will be announced as soon as a cease fire is achieved in the region. We hope and pray together with our colleagues and supporters around the world for an end to hostilities and suffering in the region."
The Jerusalem Open House (JOH) is a grassroots, activist organization of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people, and allies. Since 1997, we have worked to make our city a place where all people are free to seek self-fulfillment. Our greatest challenge is a tradition of conformist heterosexism that continues to be enforced by almost all social institutions in Israel, including the family, the school, the state, and the religious establishment. This challenge is especially formidable in Jerusalem, a city of traditional values and deeply rooted religious commitments. Visit JOH online by clicking here.
From RABBI SHARON KLEINBAUM, NORTH AMERICAN CO-CHAIR OF WORLDPRIDE AND HEAD RABBI OF CONGREGATION BETH SIMCHAT TORAH
"I am fully committed to attending all WorldPride programs and events, traveling with dozens of my congregation members to Jerusalem with pride and anticipation next week. Now, more than ever, it is important that we demonstrate the values of WorldPride in Jerusalem a city like no other, a distinctive global symbol. Sadly, that symbol has been hijacked to propagate fundamentalism, segregation, and conflict. WorldPride will be held in Jerusalem to reclaim the symbol that Jerusalem is, for what it was originally all about: tolerance, openness, and respect for all human beings regardless of sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, or nationality."
WorldPride is a unique international opportunity to make a global statement, building upon decades of Pride events and the struggle of millions of individuals across the globe for self-fulfillment, for the possibility to be who they are and to follow their heart and their identity. It is through WorldPride that InterPride most effectively expresses the combined energy of its member organizations, responsible for Pride celebrations around the world that attract a combined attendance of between 15 and 20 million, from San Francisco to Montreal to Sydney to Berlin. Click here to visit WorldPride online.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Transgenders Claim FEMA Sex Change Scandal Was Fabricated, Fraudulent
Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before a House Homeland Security subcommittee to spotlight $1.4 billion fraudulent waste of Emergency Assistance Funds (EAF) to Hurricane Katrina victims. The unprecedented level of Federal Emergency Management Agency fraud was blared over television newscasts and emblazoned on newspaper headlines: "FEMA funds paid for a sex change."
However, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) is now publicly calling the media and authorities on this claim, demanding proof that this occurred and calling the press on this claim "fabricated" and "fraudulent." In reviewing both House subcommittee testimony and the GAO report (www.gao.gov/new.items/d06844t.pdf) that uncovered the fraud there was no reference of a sex change, nor any surgery of any type being paid for by FEMA funds.
"It appears [the sex change] story was prime red meat for conservatives looking to turn attention away from the President, and onto Katrina victims and FEMA," said NTAC President Vanessa Edwards Foster. "It also appears there's no veracity to the story that EAF funds were used for gender reassignment surgery. These press claims are what's fraudulent."
House Homeland Security Investigations subcommittee chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) called the discovered waste "criminal" but never mentioned anything about sex changes. However Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) did note the sex change claim shortly after the House testimony, commenting, "I don't understand how this could happen."
How the sex change allegation originated remains unclear. The June 14, 2006 story by Larry Margasak of the Associated Press noted a sex change in a laundry list of items scammed from FEMA. While outlets as diverse as Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, ABC News, MSNBC, Bloomberg Report carried the story, the more conservative news outlets such as Wall Street Journal or Fox News made no mention of the sex change accusation.
When questioned about the story, the GAO's Office of Public Affairs stated "there was no reference to that allegation … because we cannot confirm it."
"The press reported on fabricated claims of sex changes paid with FEMA funds, but no media ever mentioned $2,000 paid to a Christian Broadcast Network from EAF payments," Foster of NTAC commented. The GAO report listed $2,000 paid to Colorado-based LeSEA Broadcasting Network.