1805 posts categorized "News"

April 16, 2015

Not a hoax: Jim Graham will promote male strip club

Former D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham is now promoting a gay night at a strip club on Georgia Avenue. Someone was just asking me the other day what he was up to. Now we know. One odd detail:

In a takeoff on his well-known use of bowties as a fashion statement during his years as a Council member, Graham said all of the nude male dancers will be wearing one of the hundreds of bowties he has in his wardrobe.

“They are going to put them on and at some point they will dispose of the bow ties in the audience,” said Graham. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

I look forward to hearing reports of the erotic frisson experienced by customers at the use of Jim's bowties by his dancers. (I'm kidding.) I confess I initially thought the entire story was a hoax.

Gay police unit may be barred from most LGBT events

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(Photo of Lt. Cheryl Crawley courtesy of MPD)

Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports:

Officers assigned to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit may no longer be allowed to attend “fundraising or alcohol served events” held by LGBT community organizations, according to an April 3 email memo issued by the unit’s commander.

The email issued by Lt. Cheryl Crawley, commander of the MPD’s Special Liaison Division, which oversees the GLLU, also was sent to several LGBT organizations through a police list serv.

At least two activists who saw the email have raised questions about why GLLU officers should suddenly be barred from attending community events that they have routinely attended in the past.

As Earl Fowlkes of the Center for Black Equity says, this makes no sense.

In my April 11 email to Chief Lanier about this, I raised the following questions regarding Lt. Crawley's directive:

  1. What does “support” mean in the context of, say, GLAA’s annual awards reception, which scheduled for 6:30 pm at Policy Restaurant and Lounge at 14th and T NW on Thursday, April 23? I was about to send a note to you and GLLU folk inviting you to join us as our guests when Lou Chibbaro shared Lt. Crawley’s message. Community outreach does not signify “support” to me.
  2. What conflict of interest would occur from GLLU officials, or you yourself, attending our reception, which is a fundraiser for our nonpartisan advocacy and at which there is bar service?
  3. What precipitated this?
  4. What is the problem for which this prohibition is the solution? Is the sobriety of your officers so fragile as to be endangered by a friendly visit to a political reception?
  5. Is there a concern that our awards reception, which traditionally features leading LGBT advocates mingling with top District officials and celebrating the non-controversial cause of equality, would become a drunken orgy? I recall something like that happening at the Hyatt Regency some years ago during Police Week, with naked officers sliding down handrails, but that was not an LGBT event, I was not present, and as you might suggest, those may have been officers from other jurisdictions.
  6. Is this rule MPD-wide?
  7. Will you please rescind it, or clarify it to allow MPD officers to attend in their outreach capacity as they have done previously over the years?

I noted that Lanier's predecessor, now Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, attended our 2007 reception where he received our Distinguished Service Award from Frank Kameny. What is the problem now that was not a problem then? Chief Lanier has informed me that her chief counsel is looking into the matter and expects a ruling on Friday.

Clinton urges SCOTUS to rule for marriage equality

This represents a shift for Hillary, who previously said that marriage should be left to the states.

Note to Log Cabin: this means she has moved in the right direction, unlike Mitt Romney, whom you endorsed in 2012.

St. Louis archbishop didn't know sex with children was a crime

NBC News reports on Archbishop Robert Carlson:

The St. Louis archbishop embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal testified last month that he didn’t know in the 1980s whether it was illegal for priests to have sex with children, according to a court deposition released Monday.

Archbishop Robert Carlson, who was chancellor of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul at the time, was deposed as part of a lawsuit against the Twin Cities archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota.

April 15, 2015

Norton criticizes Reps. Black and Hartzler for violating local control principles

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Norton Wonders Why Representatives Black and Hartlzer Would Introduce Disapproval Resolutions Permitting Discrimination Against Women and LGBT Students in Violation of Their Own Local Control Principles

Apr 15, 2015 - Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Not long after a disapproval resolution was introduced on Monday that would license discrimination against District of Columbia women in the workplace, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) pledged to fight yet another disapproval resolution introduced yesterday that would permit discrimination against LGBT students by their own universities. She said she plans to mount a vigorous defense of home rule and workplace equality at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s (OGR) markup of the workplace discrimination bill scheduled for Tuesday, April 21. In total this week, Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) have introduced anti-local-control resolutions to block two D.C.-passed anti-discrimination bills, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA), from taking effect, though only Black’s RHNDA disapproval resolution is scheduled to be marked up by OGR on Tuesday. RHNDA would prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee, spouse or dependent based on personal reproductive health decisions. Under RHNDA, a woman could not be fired for having an abortion after being raped, a man for using condoms, or parents for buying birth control for their daughters. HRAA would repeal a congressionally imposed rider that permits schools in D.C. to deny LGBT students equal access to school facilities and services.

“Representatives Black and Hartzler both assure their constituents in Tennessee and Missouri of their adherence to limited government on their websites,” Norton said. “Yet, in violation of their professed principles, they have introduced bills that would misuse the power of the federal government to block the local laws of a local jurisdiction from taking effect. I suspect the constituents of Representative Black in Tennessee and Representative Hartzler in Missouri would be surprised to learn that their Members, have taken time away from the vital issues of their own districts and national matters to focus time and energy on entirely local D.C. matters. Mind you, neither Representative Black nor Representative Hartzler represents the American citizens residing the nation’s capital, and my constituents cannot respond to their action. OGR will markup RHNDA, a local matter on which members have almost no background, without so much as a hearing on the bill, where D.C. officials would have had the opportunity to explain the importance of RHNDA to women and workplace equality.”

Congress passed the Home Rule Act in 1973 to give D.C. authority over its local laws, but all D.C. bills must be transmitted to Congress for a review period before they can take effect. Members almost always respect the D.C. Home Rule Act. RHNDA and HRAA were transmitted for a 30-legislative-day review period on March 6, 2015. A bill takes effect at the expiration of the review period unless a resolution of disapproval is enacted into law during that period. Norton has prevented a disapproval resolution from being enacted into law since 1991.

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RSC calls on Congress to block D.C. anti-discrimination bills

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(Rep. Diane Black. Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) has introduced a disapproval resolution (H.J. Res. 44) in the House to block D.C.'s Human Rights Amendment Act, which among other things repeals the anti-gay, congressionally imposed Armstrong Amendment that dates from the late 1980s. This is on the heels of Monday's introduction by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) of a disapproval resolution (H.J. Res. 43) against D.C.'s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act.

The House Oversight and Government Reform will hold a markup this Thursday, April 16, at 11:30 am. In the event Hartzler's resolution is moved at the markup, it would be subject to a point of order for violating the three-day rule for markups; such a point of order could only be waved through unanimous consent.

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton yesterday denounced the first disapproval resolution (on reproductive health) in no uncertain terms:

If Congress wants to try and strike down our local law, the very least the District of Columbia is entitled to is an open hearing. Instead, with little notice and no hearing, the disapproval resolution seeks not only to undermine the democratic will of D.C. voters, but also the constitutional rights of men and women to privacy concerning their most personal matters. An individual's decisions concerning reproductive choices are personal health care decisions, and are perhaps the most private of decisions protected by the Constitution. Personal reproductive matters certainly are not work related, and are no business of an employer.

The largest House Caucus, the Republican Study Committee, has called on Congress to pass the disapproval resolutions or attach riders to the D.C. Appropriations Bill to block implementation of the D.C. anti-discrimination bills. GLAA is working with a wide array of local and national allies to defend both bills.

Roll Call reports.

(Hat tip: Bradley Truding)

Update: The OGR markup has been rescheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

April 14, 2015

Cultural competency bill for healthcare providers introduced in D.C. Council

Thanks to Councilmembers Grosso and Alexander for introducing the bill we and our allies have been working on to establish LGBT cultural competency requirements for District-licensed healthcare providers. And thanks to their colleagues for unanimously co-sponsoring. CM Alexander chairs the Health committee, so we were pleased to help get her on board as co-introducer.

D.C. Council rejects Corizon contract on 6-5 vote

Thanks to Councilmembers Charles Allen, Mary Cheh, David Grosso, Phil Mendelson, Brianne Nadeau, and Elissa Silverman for voting today to disapprove the Corizon contract for inmate healthcare. Thanks also to our many allies who opposed the contract, including Deb Golden at the D.C. Prisoners Project, Samantha Davis at So Others Might Eat, and Shannon Minter at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Here is a sample of GLAA's letter to CMs urging rejection of the contract.

A number of people hired by Corizon wore t-shirts saying "Jobs Not Jail," which is agreeable enough but not the issue under discussion, which was Corizon's terrible record in providing correctional healthcare services. Some of the same folks were picketing in front of the Wilson Building when I arrived for the legislative meeting, and their picket signs were incoherent. I asked one of the Corizon picketers whether he was for Corizon or against it, and he could not answer me. I guess the instructions were, "Wear this shirt and carry this sign."

This could come up again if allies of Mayor Bowser win the special elections for D.C. Council seats in Wards 4 and 8. So stay tuned.

April 13, 2015

GLAA urges D.C. Council to reject #Corizon contract for inmate healthcare

Deb Golden of the D.C. Prisoners Project tweets GLAA's letter to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson urging rejection of the Corizon contract. Here is a copy of our letter to Ward 1 CM Brianne Nadeau. We have also signed on to a joint letter.

April 12, 2015

Hillary enters presidential race

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday launched her 2016 presidential race with this video.

April 09, 2015

President Obama opposes youth 'conversion' therapies

Thank you, Mr. President.

April 08, 2015

Taking the Ball from the GOP

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(Washington Blade editorial cartoon by Ranslem)

My latest Blade column takes a look at how the GOP's overreach has exposed its weak game. Here is an excerpt:

Republicans had a bad week last week. When not failing in their effort to sabotage nuclear nonproliferation negotiations, they were denouncing the Indiana and Arkansas legislatures for undermining their so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts by adding clarifying language. Retail giant Walmart was instrumental in pressuring Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to demand a fix to that state's RFRA.

The only homophobes who had a good week were the owners of Memories Pizza, who received over $800,000 in donations in a right-wing media scam that hailed them as Christian martyrs for refusing to fill the previously unknown demand for pizza at gay weddings.

Read the whole thing here.

Springfield voters repeal LGBT rights protections

Tell me again why my rights should be subject to my neighbors' veto? The U.S. Constitution guarantees a republican form of government. It says nothing about plebiscites.

April 07, 2015

SC cop faces murder charge after shooting man in back

Without this video, the officer would likely have gotten away with it.

April 04, 2015

The #Indiana Memories Pizza fundraiser is a conservative media scam

Forward Progressives reports on "another publicity stunt designed to gin up the conservative base."

CO: shop not wrong for refusing anti-gay cake

In the minds of some on the right, a shop that discriminates out of bias against a gay customer is the same as one that refuses to participate in an expression of anti-gay bias. This Colorado ruling shows otherwise.

What the Indiana fix does and doesn't do

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The Human Rights Campaign reports:

Facing tremendous economic damage and mounting public pressure from fair-minded Americans and business leaders, today Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed legislation limiting the damage of the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) but falling far short of providing a full solution. The measure fails to explicitly ensure that the RFRA won’t be used to undermine the full scope of Indiana existing non-discrimination laws, and does not add LGBT non-discrimination protections to the state’s civil rights laws.

In response, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, released a graphic explaining the new law and the risks for LGBT Hoosiers that remain.

April 03, 2015

Sarah Brady dies at 73

One evening thirty years ago, as I approached La Fonda Restaurant at 17th and R Streets NW (which has been gone for twenty years now), a friend and I saw White House press secretary Jim Brady being helped down the few steps into the restaurant and back into his wheelchair by his wife Sarah and a friend. Mrs. Brady urged us to go ahead of them. We said we were in no hurry, and to take their time. I remember the exact day in 1981 when Jim was gravely injured by a bullet from John Hinckley meant for President Reagan, because it was my 25th birthday. The Bradys received bipartisan respect from the people of Washington. No public servant should have to face gunfire. And the Bradys were nice people.

The 1993 Brady Act required background checks on firearm purchasers. In later years, politics shifted to the point where even background checks were blocked. America's Wild West infatuation with guns has only gotten worse. It is a sad thing to contemplate as we mark Sara Brady's passing. Her husband died eight months ago. May they both rest in peace.

IndyStar editorial: A historic step forward for Indiana

For the first time, [Indiana] elected leaders have inserted the phrases "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" into a state law that protects against discrimination. And there are promises — credible promises — to go farther in the future.

A note of caution:

Obama: framework would cut off every path Iran has to develop nuclear weapons

To those who say there's not a dime's worth of difference between the Democrats and Republicans regarding the Middle East because both support Israel and both use American military, look at this: a Democratic president using multilateral diplomacy while Republicans, aggressively and willfully ignorant of recent history, clamor for another preemptive war. This negotiation is not finished, but congrats and thanks to the president and Secretary of State Kerry for their persistence.

Phase 1 reopens

Suspect arrested in Hotel Donovan murder

NY Boy Scouts affiliate defies ban on hiring adult gays

An admirable development in New York.

Somali Militants Kill 147 at Kenyan University

NYTreports on a horrific attack in eastern Kenya.

April 02, 2015

Final Four coaches issue joint statement against Indiana law

What a remarkable outpouring we have seen of LGBT-affirming statements in response to Gov. Pence's signing of an anti-gay law disguised as a defense of religious freedom.

April 01, 2015

Class act on the mound in Oakland

What a fine way of turning a negative into a positive.

Ark. Gov. Hutchinson will not sign 'religious freedom' bill without changes

Thanks to Hutchinson's son Seth, and to Walmart and other companies that weighed in with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Below, hundreds rally for changes to the Arkansas RFRA bill. Our voices, and the looming consequences for persisting in bigotry, are having an effect.

Bowser bans D.C. government travel to Indiana

Thanks to Mayor Bowser for this sensible action that makes it clear that Indiana’s extreme RFRA law cannot be squared with the District’s values. She has added our city’s voice to the growing chorus of condemnation around the country. This nationwide reaction is a welcome illustration of how times have changed.

March 31, 2015

The telltale bill signing photo

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Crooks and Liars reports on who was standing behind Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in the private bill signing ceremony for the so-called "religious freedom" bill.

March 26, 2015

Quick backlash to reckless Indiana 'religious freedom' law enactment

Advocate reports on the quick and harsh reactions to Indiana Governor Pence signing what is in fact a religious supremacy bill, not a religious freedom bill--unless you mean the freedom to discriminate and split apart our diverse society.

My God is not a bully. I will not worship a god who is a bully. I will not obey a bullying god. I will not attend a bullying church. I will not respect bullying clergy. I will not remain silent as religious bullies seek to impose their beliefs on others in the guise of "religious freedom" bills. I live in a religiously and culturally diverse society, where faith-based discrimination in the public square undermines the civic order and social cohesion. I will fight the bullies. I will demand that editors and reporters call religious supremacy what it is, and not let them swallow the right-wing spin about religious freedom. Please join me in this recognition and this fight to uphold secular American values.

Indiana governor signs religious supremacy bill

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Michael K. Lavers at the Blade reports:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill that critics contend would allow businesses to deny service to same-sex couples.

We have a lot of fighting ahead. It is not religious freedom our opponents want, but religious supremacy. And we've got to say so. We've got to challenge editors and headline writers to stop swallowing the right wing spin. I don't mean to pick on the Blade, where I am a columnist. Almost everyone is making this mistake. We have to stop parroting this false framing of the issue. The public desperately needs to be better educated on what is truly at stake.

Norman Scribner dies at 79

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WaPo reports:

Norman O. Scribner, founder and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, one of the region’s preeminent symphonic choirs, died March 22 at his home in the District. He was 79.

The cause was a heart attack, said a son, Matthew Scribner.

The late Washington Post music critic Paul Hume once called Mr. Scribner “one of Washington’s finest musicians and one of the most gifted choral conductors in the country.”

Rest in peace, Norman. I sang under him for a while in the 1980s, which enabled me to experience some great music and musicians from the stage. At one point we were doing a Russian piece, possibly Boris Godunov (Washington's symphonic choruses sang many Russian pieces during Mstislav Rostropovich's tenure at the National Symphony), and they had scores in Cyrillic for the purists, one of whom was a ferocious Zionist who told me that Democracy was inimical to Israel's interests. I haven't seen Binyamin since then (I'm kidding, Bibi Netanyahu as far as I know never sang with Choral Arts). Anyway, Norman was a big guy and could be intimidating, but was a pleasure to work with.

In 1986, when I was promoting the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's first concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (featuring guest soloist Maureen Forrester in the Brahms Alto Rhapsody), Norman graciously lent us the Choral Arts Society's mailing list. I remember him telling me that the flyer we mailed "struck all the grace notes."

Once in the 1990s, the Gay Men's Chorus sang Norman's setting of the "Ode to St. Cecilia," the patron saint of vocal music. Jim Holloway, GMCW's director at the time, was often a rehearsal accompanist for Norman, and they struck up a musical friendship. So after several weeks of rehearsing, Norman joined us at the dress rehearsal for a run-through. He was delightful as always. But I remember teasing him during a break by saying that a line from the text, which (regarding St. Cecilia) mentioned "her sacred organ's praise" (meaning she sang), came out "her sacred organ sprays" if we didn't enunciate clearly. He reacted with mock horror. Choristers find ways of amusing themselves during long rehearsals.

(Postscript: the ferocious Zionist I mentioned might have been from what was then called the Oratorio Society, which I also sang with in the 80s. It's hard to keep my symphonic choruses straight, especially since they joined forces for large works. The guy was bearded, and had the look of a deranged prophet. He was a good singer.)

(Photo by Neshan Naltchayan/Courtesy of Choral Arts Society of Washington)

March 24, 2015

Ghosts in the Courtroom

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(Frank Kameny; Washington Blade archive photo by Doug Hinckle)

My column this week examines the Mattachine Society of Washington's amicus brief in the marriage cases before SCOTUS--featuring newly unearthed original documents that show decades of anti-gay animus in the federal government--animus dismissed in 2013 by Chief Justice Roberts in his dissent in Windsor as "snippets of legislative history."

Cropping up again and again is Frank Kameny, original MSW founder, whose fearlessness, brilliance, and doggedness was a continued thorn in the side of those persecuting us. Bravo to Charles Francis and Pate Felts for their sleuthing, and to McDermott Will & Emery as counsel of record.

Here is the lede:

The late gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny's exhortations ring in my ears as I anticipate arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license same-sex marriages.

Read the whole thing here.

Phase 1 reopening postponed

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Lou Chibbaro at the Blade reports:

The Capitol Hill lesbian bar Phase 1, which has been closed for renovation since early January was scheduled to reopen last Friday, March 20, according to an ad that the club placed in the Jan. 19 issue of Metro Weekly.

But customers attempting to go to Phase 1 on Friday night discovered that the door was locked and noticed through a window on the door that the bar was dark and empty, adding to the mystery surrounding its future.

Apparently, posting a note on the door was too much trouble for the owner.

March 23, 2015

Indiana House passes bill to grant faith-based exemption to laws

This new trend in statehouses is as radical as it is popular. It is not about religious freedom, but about religious supremacy. It is an assault on the secular sphere where citizens of many backgrounds and faiths encounter one another. Such laws would undermine any civil society in which everyone is not the same. What other reckless measures will the far right think up?

Puerto Rico drops defense of same-sex marriage ban

States propose wave of anti-LGBT bills

Many of us have been saying that increasingly, the fight for LGBT equality will be in the states. Well here it is.

Norton Gearing Up for Defense in the House of D.C.’s Anti-Bias Bills

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Contact: Benjamin Fritsch – o: 202-225-8050, c: 202-225-8143
March 23, 2015

Norton Gearing Up for Defense in the House of D.C.’s Anti-Bias Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Following what appear to be new threats against two anti-discrimination bills recently passed by the District of Columbia Council, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that she will oppose any effort to overturn the bills in the U.S. House of Representatives as strongly as she indicated last week she would oppose the disapproval resolutions introduced in the Senate. In an interview with Roll Call, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over D.C., said about the D.C. bills, “we want to take some action in the House too” and that “we’re still working on that.” The two bills are the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act, which prohibits employers in D.C. from discriminating against employees based on their personal reproductive health decisions, and the Human Rights Amendment Act, which protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from discrimination by educational institutions in the District.

“I still hope that Chairman Chaffetz will respect D.C. home rule as he said he would when he took the chairmanship of the Committee,” Norton said. “I was not surprised that Senator Ted Cruz would leap at the opportunity to introduce two disapproval resolutions last week, perhaps in anticipation of announcing his bid for presidency at Liberty University, where reproductive choice and sexual orientation are hot-button issues. I recognize that the District’s protection of employees who do not want to answer to their employers on their reproductive choices as well as its protection of LGBT students who are singled out for discrimination at their own universities may not be the policies of other jurisdictions. We who live in the nation’s capital are American citizens and demand the same respect that is given to citizens in other jurisdictions whose local governments pass similar legislation. I appreciate the more than 50 organizations that have stepped up to oppose these disapproval resolutions. The broad coalition fully recognizes that D.C. residents not only deserve their support, but also that attempts to curtail rights here can easily spread to other parts of the country.”

Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, all D.C. bills must be transmitted to Congress for a review period before they can take effect. The anti-discrimination bills were transmitted for a 30-legislative-day review period on March 6, 2015. A bill takes effect at the expiration of the review period unless a resolution of disapproval is enacted into law during that period. Norton has prevented a disapproval resolution from being enacted into law since 1991.

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March 19, 2015

CA: gay death penalty ballot measure will likely proceed to signature gathering stage

Because Jesus, or something.

Russian man jailed for torturing gay teens faces new charges

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Gay Star News reports:

A Russian man who was jailed after torturing gay teens and driving them to suicide is facing new charges.

Maxim Martsinkevich, the leader of the anti-LGBTI group Occupy Pedophilia, is being charged with robbery, hooliganism and causing property damage.

In addition the investigators have also charged the homophobic leader, also known as 'Machete', with 'inciting hatred'.