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NEWS: Gays Robbed at Gunpoint, LGBT Groups Condemn Police Shootings, LGBT Rights in Japan, Gays & Gun Issues, Gay Hutterite Comes Out

Gay Men Robbed At Gunpoint Outside Atlanta Bars
A trio of masked men pulled guns and robbed a group of gay men in a Midtown parking lot shared by three LGBT bars early Sunday [July 3, 2016], demanding their wallets and stealing the vehicle of one of the victims. The incident took place about 4:15 a.m. in the parking lot of Ansley Square Shopping Center, which is home to gay bars Burkhart's, Oscar's and Felix's. One of the victims said the robbery happened as he and three friends sat in the parking lot and talked after a night out at Burkhart's and Felix's. The violent incident lasted just a few minutes, according to Tripp Barrett, one of the four victims. "We were sitting on one of the flower boxes outside Burkhart's and that's where it all happened," Barrett said. "Everything was great. We were laughing and having a good time. We were all standing up and about to start walking to our cars and that's when they pulled up." A white Jeep stopped beside the group and three men – all wearing masks – quickly got out of the vehicle, pulled guns and demanded car keys, wallets and phones from the four men, Barrett said. READ MORE

LGBT Groups Condemn Latest Police Shootings of Black Men
Among those condemning the latest shooting of black men at the hands of police on Thursday were LGBT groups who say it was an example of violence against a minority group. The shooting of one of the victims, Alton Sterling, took place in Baton Rogue, La. The other victim, Philando Castile, was pulled over by police at a routine traffic stop on Wednesday. Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement his organization “horrified and profoundly saddened” by the deaths of Sterling and Castile.“In less than 48 hours, these two men became the latest victims of an epidemic of brutality that continues to plague our nation, joining a tragic list of 123 black men fatally shot by police officers in 2016 alone,” Griffin said. Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, condemned the shootings and called for accountability in a separate statement. “We are heartbroken and outraged that again – twice in two days – police have shot and killed black men,” Tiven said. Jerame Davis, executive director of the LGBT labor group Pride at Work, said in a statement “silence is no longer an option” in the aftermath of the shootings and called on Congress to take action. “Alton Sterling was a father,” Davis said. “Philando Castile was a union brother. Their lives mattered, but those lives were taken from them in the blink of an eye by the very people designated to protect and serve us all. The repeated and continuous violations of black bodies is appalling.” READ MORE

Japan To Define Workplace LGBT Discrimination As Sexual Harassment
The labor ministry has decided to name discrimination against sexual minorities as a form of harassment in guidelines for employers. A committee under the ministry’s Labor Policy Council agreed that the revision should be made to the guidelines, which are to be implemented in January. However, they don’t specify that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people be subject to protection against such sexual harassment. The revised guidelines will prohibit such harassment against LGBT people by clearly stating that the law applies to any victims “regardless of their sexual orientation and identity.” An advocacy group fighting discrimination against LGBT workers said Monday that even more will be needed to ensure that companies address the issue of workplace discrimination. READ MORE

Taking On Gun Issues Could Backfire for LGBT Groups
Do gay activists and organizations run the risk of fracturing equality efforts and the continuing support among constituents for their work by engaging on other political issues, especially when many potential topics enjoy much less than universal, or even broad, support? These fundamental and problematic observations arise from the political response gay rights groups have proffered in recent days on gun control. It may portend a definitive “fork in the road” for LGBT political leadership and, in particular, some gay activists who have been arguing for a political shift away from a solitary focus on gay equality to encompass other progressive political issues. Local and national gay rights groups should tread carefully on this. If they don’t, LGBT leaders and organizations may find fewer and fewer willing to support them. READ MORE

Gay Hutterite Shares Story of Coming Out and Fleeing Religious Colony in Rural Manitoba
Growing up he’d see the pictures in the paper. Drag queens, rainbow flags, and gay guys. While his peers scoffed about Winnipeg Pride being in the news, Garrett Wipf thought one day “I’ll be there.” Then last year he was. Wipf fled his rural Manitoba Hutterite colony for Winnipeg in 2014 at age 16, and came out earlier this year as gay. He remembers the day he left like it was yesterday. “March 23 10 o’clock in the morning I decided just to run away.” It was the first time Wipf ever left Homewood Colony on his own. The community is located about 45 minutes away from the City of Winnipeg. “I threw everything in garbage bags, ran to our Styrofoam factory [to meet] my friend and never looked back after that,” he says. Wipf says he had to leave because his mother confronted him about being gay. “It wasn’t very pleasant. She disowned me.” READ MORE

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