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03-28-2007, 11:41 AM
International Day Against Homophobia: What it means for Latvia
May 17 2006 is the second annual International Day Against Homophobia. This day has been endorsed by the European Parliament, in its landmark resolution condemning homophobia, passed January 18, 2006, and is observed through various activities in over 50 countries worldwide. In the last year in Latvia, homophobia has emerged as a very frequent topic of discussion, in society, in the press as well as in the Saeima. On this day, when people all over the world are standing up to condemn this form of discrimination, it is fitting that we should review how homophobia manifests itself and affects the lives of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in Latvia.
Homophobia is widespread in Latvia , far more widespread than most heterosexuals realize, and it is far more subtle, too. The discrimination it inspires touches the lives of many people, not just gay, lesbians and bisexuals, but also all of their family and friends, who love and support them.
It is easy to recognize homophobia in the strident statements which have surfaced in Latvia in the last year, coming from the Church, from the Saeima or from radical organizations. However, the unobtrusive way homophobia manifests itself in the everyday life of gays, lesbians and bisexuals can be even more hurtful and damaging. Homophobia is often considered an acceptable prejudice in Latvia 's society. A large number of people still use denigrating and offensive words when talking about homosexuals and distasteful jokes about being gay are still regular elements of conversation. In an era when making a racial slur and ethnic bigotry are seriously frowned upon, anti-gay comments and stereotypes in Latvia are still thriving. Even in the recent court case against parliamentary deputy Leopolds Ozolins, the court decided that the insensitive, crude and offensive statements he made against homosexuals were allowable.
On this International Day Against Homophobia, we would like to invite everybody to look beyond the fear and the stereotypes, and get to know gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people for who they really are; humans with the same rights as everybody else. We invite you to not only look at the differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals, but rather to look at all that unites us. Hate is not a value that we should encourage; division and bigotry only serve to hamper our paths to a more prosperous and stable life; fear is not a productive emotion.
We invite everybody to get to know gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people, talk to them, get acquainted, and judge them on their own personal merit, not uniquely on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Gaston Lacombe, Chairman, LGBT and their Friends Alliance "Mozaika"
(posted by Ernest Ivanovs)
03-28-2007, 11:45 AM
I'm friends with Gaston and his boyfriend, Lars, from back in Lars' NYC days. I haven't seen them in years but try to keep in touch, usually when Gay Latvia is in the news.
We should get those boys on this website....
03-29-2007, 09:04 AM
Anti-Gay Preacher Claims to Represent the White House
Posted by: "Lawrence A. Reh" firstname.lastname@example.org ahhallam
Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:36 am (PST)
Except for a single sentence at the very end of an extended Dan Froomkin column in the Washington Post online (all the rest of which analyzes the alleged political firing of U.S. Justice Department attorneys), I have been unable to find any indication that mainstream media have taken any notice at all of a blatant power grab by anti-gay preacher Ken Hutcherson of Seattle, who has been telling homophobic Eastern European leaders that he has the blessing of the White House in helping them combat homosexuality in their countries. The story has been exposed only by gay bloggers, and picked up by alternative community media.
News outlets in Seattle have noted Hutcherson's involvement with a Latvian preacher who visited the U.S. last month and was a featured guest at Hutcherson's metro Seattle church, but they have not reported on his subsequent travels to Europe representing himself as a special White House envoy.
Froomkin says, in his experience, when White House officials issue denials (as they have regarding Hutcherson's connection with the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives), the more arcane and vague the official denial, the more likely it is to be a smokescreen, and likely to be exposed as false -- the denial, that is. Hutcherson's extravagant claims, detailed below, seem to me like they could have a kernel of truth which he has exaggerated into an 'official' commissioning to give himself increased credibility, power and status. Hutcherson already has the reputation of playing fast and loose with the truth, but this appears to be an unprecedented escalation of the deceit.
Clipping: The Stranger (Seattle, WA), March 19, 2007
["Slog" is The Stranger's internet blog]
WHITE HOUSE CONTRADICTS HUTCHERSON
ON CLAIM THAT HE IS A U.S. 'SPECIAL ENVOY'
Hutcherson, in Response, Says He Will Provide Video Proof
Posted by Eli Sanders
Ken Hutcherson, the famously anti-gay pastor at Antioch Bible Church, just outside of Seattle, has recently been claiming that he is a newly-minted White House "Special Envoy." Hutcherson's supposed full title, which he claimed was bestowed upon him by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, is Special Envoy for Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief.
Hutcherson apparently used this title during his recent travels to Latvia, where he complained to the U.S. Embassy there about its alleged monetary support for gay rights groups, and where he also reportedly appeared with Scott Lively, an American who claims gays were responsible for (and not victims of) the Holocaust.
This morning I called the White House to confirm Hutcherson's title. I just received an email from White House Spokeswoman Alyssa J. McLenning, who tells me that Hutcherson was never given any such title. McLenning writes: "The White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives did not give Hutcherson the title, 'Special Envoy for Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief.'"
I'm still waiting to hear back on whether the White House gave Hutcherson any other titles, and whether it provided any material support for his trip to Latvia. I'm also putting a call in to Hutcherson to see if he can explain why he's been claiming a title the White House says he doesn't have.
UPDATE: I've heard back again from McLenning, and she tells me that the White House did not give Hutcherson any other titles and did not coordinate with Hutcherson on his recent trip to Latvia.
FURTHER UPDATE: I just spoke to Pastor Ken Hutcherson. He tells me that White House spokeswoman Alyssa J. McLenning is wrong, that he does have the title he claimed, and that it comes from a "partnership" he has established with Jay Hein, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. "You need to talk to Jay Hein," Hutcherson told me. "He's the one that I've been talking to and the one that we are partnered with."
Hutcherson claims to have met with Hein at least twice in person about this partnership, once a few months ago in Seattle, and once last month at the White House. I asked Hutcherson what the title and the partnership mean in terms of his work in Latvia. He replied: "In my meetings, I can represent as being with them [the White House] and having the power I need to get things done."
MORE: Postman digs up an account of Hutcherson speaking to Latvia's New Generation Church: "I came to you representing the White House," continued Hutcherson. And a Slog reader emails me to suggest the following: If Hutch did engage in an "official capacity" in Latvia claiming he was some sort of "special envoy" without approval from the White House (and likely the State Department as well- they get VERY touchy about stuff like that) it could well be a federal crime. I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know if it could be a crime or not, but I'm looking into this question.
MORE FROM HUTCHERSON: Hutcherson just called me again. He sounded quite perturbed that he is being cast as, in his words, "a liar," and he told me he is rushing to get his hands on video of an interview with Latvian television that he said will prove his claims. The video, said Hutcherson, was shot after a Feb. 8 meeting at the White House between himself; Jay Hein, the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives; and Pastor Alexei Ladyaev of Latvia's New Generation Church.
Hutcherson said this White House meeting was the second of two meetings he had with Hein about his plans in Latvia. The first meeting, according to Hutcherson, took place in Seattle on January 18 during a conference on faith-based initiatives attended by Hein. "That was when he made his first commitment to me and said it was a done deal," Hutcherson told me. I asked Hutcherson what, exactly, was a "done deal" after his Seattle meeting with Hein.
"Our partnership," Hutcherson told me. He said he requested the first meeting with Hein because, in his words, "I just wanted Faith-Based to give me the power to do what I needed to do." And the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives did, according to Hutcherson.
Hutcherson said that in the video from the second meeting (the one held on Feb. 8 in D.C.) the three men -- Hutcherson, Hein, and Ladyaev -- are standing on the White House lawn answering questions from a Latvian television reporter. Hutcherson said the video will show that Hein met with him, knew of his new title, and approved of his mission to Latvia. As Hutcherson put it to me: "I'm gonna prove I had those meetings, I'm gonna prove that I got that title behind me, and I'm gonna show you the video that says I was coming to Latvia and the purpose why."
03-29-2007, 09:06 AM
Clipping: Towleroad Blog, May 20, 2007
("A blog with homosexual tendencies")
ANTI-GAY PASTOR CLAIMS WHITE HOUSE APPOINTED HIM 'SPECIAL ENVOY'
You may remember religious-right homophobe Ken Hutcherson from an incident in 2005 where Microsoft secretly withdrew its support from a pending gay rights bill in Washington state because of alleged pressure from Hutcherson, who threatened a religious-right boycott of the company should they have thrown their support behind it. Microsoft ended up cutting ties with the extremist.
Well, Hutcherson is back in the news. This time, according to the Seattle paper The Stranger, he's claiming that the director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Jay Hein appointed him a "Special Envoy" and that a recent trip to Latvia, where he appeared with Scott Lively, an anti-gay religious right 'Holocaust revisionist' who claims that homosexuals were the cause of the Holocaust, was sanctioned by the White House.
Lively is co-author of "The Pink Swastika - Homosexuality in the Nazi Party," a book which claims that "homosexuality is primarily a predatory addiction striving to take the weak and unsuspecting down with it," according to uk.gay.com.
They report on the Lively-Hutcherson trip, which apparently was the centerpiece of a 4-day anti-gay crisis conference there. Said Lively: "I have studied homosexual movements now for 17 years, and with all responsibility state that currently Latvia a zone of intense confrontation between Christians and homosexuals. This nation will be our main battlefield against this counter-Christian culture. God gave Ken Hutcherson and me to see that Alexei [Ladyaev, pastor of Latvia's New Generation Church] is the very man God placed to direct this battle, and the church should support him in all respects. We are going to help you consistently and effectively to fight those who violate Christ's rights and target his ministers for their insults."
The Stranger reports that Hutcherson was also there to complain to the U.S. Embassy "about its alleged monetary support for gay rights groups."
After calls to the White House by The Stranger, a spokeswoman denied any connection with Hutcherson. However, Hutcherson claims the White House is lying and tells the paper to find Hein, who met with him at the White House and in Seattle. Hutcherson claims there is a video of Hein, Hutcherson, and Ladyaev on the White House lawn talking to a Latvian news reporter.
Said Hutcherson: "I'm gonna prove that I had those meetings, I'm gonna prove that I got that title behind me, and I'm gonna show you the video that says I was coming to Latvia and the purpose why."
What does this all mean? If Hutcherson is lying it could possibly be a federal crime, and if the White House gave its seal of approval to an anti-gay homophobe to travel the world with a Holocaust revisionist -- well, we'll see.
Last year, in July, violence broke out in the notoriously homophobic nation after a gay pride parade was banned by the government. A gay rights rally did take place and participants were pelted with eggs, excrement, and rotten fruit by Christian fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, and ultra-nationalists as they entered and exited the meeting at the Reval hotel.
In 2005, a participant in the pride parade, which was banned by the government but allowed to proceed by a court at the last minute, told of a similar scene: "There were so many attacks, people were throwing eggs, people were using gaz [sic], they were trying to block the march. It was extremely, extremely homophobic. I don't think anybody in Europe saw anything like that."
Latvia has been a hotbed of anti-gay extremism, although just recently the new mayor of Riga Janis Birks called for tolerance and said he'll back a gay rights march later this year.
UPDATE: White House Contradicts Local Pastor Ken Hutcherson on His Claim that He Is a U.S. "Special Envoy"; Hutcherson, in Response, Says He Will Provide Video Proof [the stranger via americablog]
Clipping: Gay.com UK, March 28, 2007
ANTI-GAY PREACHER'S WHITE HOUSE FLAP
Last week, ex-NFL player and anti-gay preacher Ken Hutcherson flew to Latvia to give advice on fighting LGBT rights and falsely claiming to be a White House envoy. The White House has denied any connections with Hutcherson, who runs a church in Redmond, Wash., with a Seattle lawyer now asking the FBI to investigate whether the claim to official backing broke federal law.
Hutcherson was accompanied by Scott Lively, co-author of "The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party." The scary pair were flown over by the New Generation Church for an anti-gay conference and were welcomed at the U.S. embassy in Latvia. They met with the Ministry of Domestic Affairs, the parliament and the Ministry of Social Integration.
The fact that Hutcherson had the ears of Jan Smits, leader of the Latvian Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, was particularly galling for Mozaika, Latvia's LGBT rights group. Despite invitations, Smits failed to attend any of the events organized by Mozaika the week before.
Hutcherson claimed he visited Latvia with the knowledge and support of Jay Hein, director of the White House's Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. "Jay says we have a partnership and we are going to work together again ... I told him, 'There are things I want to do in Latvia, but I can do them a lot faster with your backing,'" Hutcherson told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
"He said he was a representative of the office. The ministry of integration should be open to all, so I generally trust people and don't ask them if they have their credentials," added Integration Minister Oskars Kastens. Hutcherson was carrying a file bearing the U.S. coat of arms, he said. White House officials contacted by Deutsche Presse-Agentur denied that Hutcherson had any link with the office. Hutcherson "was not appointed 'special envoy' by OFBCI," said White House spokeswoman Alyssa McClenning. He has no official status or links with the body which would legitimately allow him to claim to represent the White House on a foreign visit, she added.
Hutcherson is no stranger to controversy and has no fear of picking fights with adversaries bigger than himself. In 2005, he took on Microsoft, demanding the software maker withdraw its support for a bill making it illegal to fire employees due to sexual orientation.
Clipping: UK Gay News, March 26, 2007
[Photo at this link]
THIS IS WAR, ANTI-GAY AMERICAN PREACHER TELLS EUROPE
LONDON -- As news emerged that a new "anti-gay" group had been registered in Latvia, the plot thickened as to the involvement of an American preacher with religious groups in the country who told an American newspaper: "this is a war," referring to his anti-gay campaign in Europe.
Ken Hutcherson, a former NFL linebacker and now the founder and senior pastor of the Antioch Bible Church near Seattle, claimed to have been a special envoy of the White House when he visited Riga earlier this month. "I come to you representing the White House." Hutcherson told the Riga conference, organised by the New Generation Church. "In my country, people will know how Latvia responded to anti-Christian statements. We need to stand for righteousness not only morally, but also physically and financially. It's a great battle for righteousness and no one can stop it. I promise to stand with you."
And in an audio clip acquired by The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper, he says: "We are here to make sure the United States is not being used to push gay rights. That's the view of the right. And I have the power and the commission to ask these questions."
The new anti-gay group in Latvia, Other Europe, which registered with Latvian authorities March 19, also quoted the Seattle pro footballer-preacher. "Kenneth Hutcherson is the representative of the American human rights organization Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. [This is actually an agency that operates directly under the Bush White House; it is NOT a "human rights organization" but a strategy of questionable constitutional legality aimed at funneling federal tax funds to "religious" groups. --Lawrence]
"The organisation was founded on January 29, 2001, by US President George Bush" [Other Europe said] "and its main goal is to protect human and values in the society. [It] Reports directly to the President of the United States." [Translation from Russian]
The FBCI is headed by Jay Hein and both telephone and email inquiries to his office concerning Dr. Hutcherson's claim that he was a "White House envoy" during his visit to Riga earlier this month have not been answered. Also, Dr. Hutcherson was in a meeting every time UK Gay News telephoned. A response by email is promised, and will be added here when received.
However, The Stranger [the Seattle news medium, above] reported last week that a White House spokesperson had denied that Hutcherson had been appointed a 'Special Envoy for Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief.' Hutcherson claims that he was given the appointment by Hein during a visit to the White House on February 7 for a reception with Pastor Alexei Ledyaev, a priest from Kazakhstan who now heads the New Generation Church in Riga.
The Seattle preacher -- known for outspoken views against homosexuality -- has close ties with the religious communities of Eastern Europe. According to Janet I. Tu, a staff reporter for the Seattle Times, he entertained Pastor Andrej Shapovalov, an Eastern European now living in America, at the Antioch Bible Church. Pastor Shapovalov was reported in the January 27, 2007, Seattle Times as telling the congregation at the Antioch Bible Church: "We are on the same page" as Hutcherson.
Earlier, the Latvian-born pastor had invited the children in the congregation to come forward, saying: "Bless them. Pray that none of them become homosexuals or lesbians or have abortions or live a life of crime." Hutcherson has subsequently held further meetings with Pastor Shapovalov. "We better wake up. This is a war," the Seattle Times quotes him as saying.
On its website, Other Europe describes itself as "a new organisation officially registered on 19 March 2007 in Latvia." The organisation's charter provides that the main aim of this organisation is facilitating social initiatives and supporting groups that defend traditional values in Latvia and in Europe. The founders of the organisation explain that such values include family and traditional religious values, and also cultural specifics of the European civilization, the website continues (in Russian -- translation by ILGA-Europe).
Other Europe was born on a basis of an informal "Movement for traditional values" which was created in Latvia in 2005 during the protests against first gay pride parade. Later on the initiative was joined by experts in political sciences, social and religious leaders from various countries. On March 8, 2007, there was a founding meeting when a decision to form Other Europe was made and activities throughout Latvian and EU began.
The group goes on to say that it intends to participate at what it calls "expert meetings" in the European Union and Russia. Members of Other Europe will also be taking part in international conferences as speakers at political seminars, carry out charity work to support the traditional family, organise volunteer programme to support orphans (project "Healing of Society"), and participate as "experts" at the European Organisations for Security and Cooperation.
One of the events cited in a list of planned activities for June 2, during the next Friendship Days/Riga Pride, is a debate on "Homosexuality: Choice or Inevitability." The group says that "representatives of sexual minorities organisations" will be invited to this event. Currently residents of Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Russia form the membership of Other Europe.
Posted: 26 March 2007 at 23:30 (UK time)
03-29-2007, 11:54 AM
Good grief those statements are insane! I'm unfamiliar with these blogs. How reliable is their information?
03-29-2007, 12:18 PM
From Church New Generation web site (http://newgeneration.lv/eng/news/?doc=2298) :
Called To Defend Righteousness
Sunday program for Scott Lively and Kenneth Hutcherson, Christian rights advocates from the US, started with attending morning service in New Generation Church. Pastor Alexei was excited to introduce the America guests to the people and made a special remark that those were not merely pastors and Christians but rather highly skilled professionals and experts in the area of defending human rights.
Several days ago, a large group of journalists from European media supporting sexual immoralities, visited Latvia, shared Pastor Alexei. They arrived to support local homosexuals in their ambition openly to demonstrate their sexual diversity to our society. The group enjoyed reception in embassies and state ministries. Friends of New Generation came in response to their visit and with a purpose to study the situation with believers’ rights in Latvia.
The congregation applauded as Scott Lively came up to the stage. Riga citizens are well familiar with his name. Dr. Lively numerously spoke at conferences in Riga and is known as a consistent opponent to homosexual expansion in the society. Scott Lively appreciated the warm welcome and informed that hence he is not only a lawyer but also a licensed minister as he defended his doctoral thesis in theology. ‘I have studied homosexual movement now for 17 years and with all responsibility state that currently Latvia a zone of intense confrontation between Christians and homosexuals,’ said Lively. ‘This nation will be our main battlefield against this counter Christian culture. God gave Kenneth Hutcherson and me to see that Alexei is the very man God placed to direct this battle, and church should support him in all respects. We are going to help you consistently and effectively to fight those who violate Christ’s rights and target his ministers for their insults’.
Then rose Kenneth Hutcherson but he was not able to speak for a while as the people welcomed him with heavy applauses. ‘I feel like I was born in Latvia’, he said. ‘My duty in this country is to defend righteousness! When I heard about the drawings in Diena newspaper and the publications insulting New Generation Church, I realized I must come to Latvia and engage myself in this battle for righteousness. Scott and I wrote letters to the leaders of your government, state ministers and statesmen. I can read you the response from Vaira Vike-Freiberga’. Kenneth Hutcherson literally communicated the Latvian President’s letter which summarized that constitution of a democratic state provides for the freedom of speech and allows Diena to express its opinions whether Christians like it or not. She pointed out that the conflict was initiated mostly by the New Generation Church itself which is intolerant toward sexual diversity. Commenting the letter, Hutcherson remarked that apparently the paper has no guts to insult Islam.
‘I came to you representing the White House’, continued Hutcherson. ‘In my country, people will know how Latvia responded to antichristian statements. We need to stand for righteousness not only morally, but also physically and financially. It’s a great battle for righteousness and no one can stop it. I promise to stand with you’.
After the US guests finished speaking, the congregation congratulated Alexei on his birthday.
The New Generation Church is an international apostolic movement affiliating over 200 churches in CIS, Europe, and the US. The mother church is located in Riga, Latvia. The leader of the denomination is Senior Pastor Alexei Ledyaev who is also a well known book author, musical composer and public figure.
The New Generation affiliates have common strategy and purpose of establishing God’s Kingdom in all areas of life, including mass media, culture, politics, education, business, etc. New Generation closely collaborates with other church leaders and politicians who realize the importance of the Great Commission.
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