Daniel Farke (left) left Dortmund for Norwich in 2017, Jan Siewert (centre) has just joined Huddersfield from Dortmund and David Wagner (right) made the same move in 2015 Jan Siewert’s arrival as the new Huddersfield manager has continued a trend.
The three most recent coaches of Borussia Dortmund’s second team have now left the German club to manage in England – Daniel Farke to Norwich and David Wagner at Huddersfield.
It is rare for English clubs to appoint managers straight from junior ranks.
Darren Moore made it at West Brom. But Moore had the added benefits of both being a club legend and being already at the Hawthorns as a youth coach.
Warren Joyce left his job as Manchester United’s under-23 manager to become Wigan boss in November 2016. He was sacked less than four months later, having won just six of his 24 games in charge.
Huddersfield have opted for a new boss who has no top-level managerial experience and, as German football expert Raphael Honigstein points out: "Siewert didn’t have a Wikipedia page until yesterday."
So, what is so appealing about these young, Dortmund-produced coaches? The Klopp and Wagner effect
To find the origins of Siewert’s appointment, it is necessary to go back to November 2015.
After the failed appointments of Paul Grayson, Mark Robins and Chris Powell, whose tenures were all less than 18 months, Terriers owner Dean Hoyle felt it was time for a change.
Impressed at the impact Jurgen Klopp had made in a single month at Liverpool and gushing about the tactics Klopp had employed to bring back-to-back German titles to Borussia Dortmund and a place in the 2013 Champions League final, Hoyle went to Dortmund himself.
He couldn’t afford their first-team coach – Thomas Tuchel, who is now at Paris St-Germain – so he went for the next best thing.
Knowing the German trait of maintaining a style of play throughout the entire club, Hoyle brought in Dortmund’s reserve team boss. David Wagner.
Within 18 months, Wagner had taken Huddersfield from the brink of relegation to League One into the Premier League for the first time. Even more startlingly, he kept them there.
By this time, Norwich had followed Huddersfield’s lead and appointed Farke – Wagner’s successor at Dortmund.
As with Wagner, Farke took a bit of time to get his ideas across.
Wagner won 10 (31.25%) of his first 32 games in charge. Farke won 18 (32.72%) of his first 57.
But once his players absorbed their respective managers’ tactical demands, the results began to come. Wagner turned Huddersfield into a top-flight club for the first time since 1972.
Farke has Norwich second in the Championship following a run of one defeat in 16 league games.
So, when Wagner went to Hoyle last week and told him he wanted to quit with Huddersfield bottom of the table, the club knew exactly where they wanted to go. Coaching players, not buying them
Huddersfield have taken 11 points from their opening 23 Premier League games this season, have only won twice and are 10 points from safety.
Hoyle says Huddersfield are "not giving up" and "will fight as hard as possible to retain their top-flight status".
But, speaking on BBC Radio 5 live on Monday, German football expert Honigstein said while he didn’t think Siewert’s appointment was "the most innovative or ingenious" choice, there could be a major reason for it.
"What German coaches on the whole bring is two things that are very appealing to Huddersfield and other English clubs," he said.
"They are very used to working in a structure where they are not going to come in and say ‘I need six or seven players, I need three transfer windows to make this my team’.
"They are used to coaching, they want to have an input when it comes to the squad but their main job is getting the most out of the players that they have.
"If you own a club like Huddersfield that doesn’t have the deepest pockets, that is much more attractive than a guy who is going to say to you ‘here is my list, please buy them in the next couple of years’." Who is Jan Siewert?
Wagner and Farke have brought their own skill sets to England – but what can we expect from Siewert?
The 36-year-old had a less than impressive playing career in the German lower leagues.
He embarked on coaching by working with German national youth teams before joining fourth-tier Rot-Weiss Essen in 2015.
From there he went to Bochum, where he was put in charge of the under-19s and, according to Hoyle, first came to Huddersfield’s attention.
"We spoke to him two years ago," said Hoyle.
In May 2017, when Farke joined Norwich, Siewert replaced him at Dortmund.
Hoyle admits Siewert has "many similarities" to Wagner, while adding such obvious comparisons "do him a disservice".
"He is his own man," said Hoyle.
A source who has worked closely with Siewert told BBC Sport not to expect "another Jurgen Klopp".
By this they mean he will not be leaping around on the touchline. Like Wagner, his emotions will be kept in check.
As for the tactics. "In the beginning he was quite like Klopp," said the source. "His teams did the same high pressing, searching for mistakes in the opposition.
"Last season they played more with the ball. Jan is very good at working with young players and he likes attacking play."
The major difference Siewert will experience in Huddersfield compared to Dortmund is that his side will not dominate possession and territory, as they did in Germany. There will be no mass defence to try and break down.
"His players are really proud of him," said someone who knows Siewert well. "It is disappointing because he has done such a good job with them and they enjoyed working with him. But deep down they are very happy."
An enduring conspiracy theory that the Nazi war criminal, Rudolf Hess, had been replaced by a double in jail has finally been put to rest.
A DNA test carried out by Austrian scientists has shown that the man imprisoned in Berlin’s Spandau Prison had indeed been Hitler’s deputy.
Hess was captured after flying to Scotland in 1941 and sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg trials.
He was found hanged in the Berlin jail in 1987 at the age of 93. Hess was Spandau Prison’s last inmate Researchers at the University of Salzburg in Austria tracked down a distant male relative of Hess’s and obtained a DNA sample , the FSI Genetics journal says.
That was compared with tests of a blood sample taken from the man known as Spandau prisoner No 7, the prison’s last inmate, in 1982.
The results showed a match of almost 100%.
One of the main proponents of the impostor theory was Hess’s prison doctor, W Hugh Thomas.
His theory was based, among other elements, on the fact that the man in Spandau bore physical differences with Hess and that he had refused to see his family for many years – not helped by the fact that he also seemed to suffer from apparent amnesia. Former governor of Spandau prison, Tony Le Tissier, says Nazi Rudolf Hess deserved to die in prison Hess was one of Hitler’s closest aides. But in 1941 he made a solo flight to Scotland, where his plane crash-landed, in an apparently unauthorised peace mission which was denounced by the Führer.
He was imprisoned by the British for the duration of the war.
At the Nuremberg trials in 1946, Hess was cleared of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but convicted of crimes against peace and jailed for life.
He spent the next 40 years in Spandau Prison in Berlin, before being found hanged in an apparent suicide. Rudolf Hess: Inside the mind of Hitler’s deputy
The enduring myth of Rudolf Hess
Top Nazi Rudolf Hess exhumed from ‘pilgrimage’ grave
Hess landing in Scotland recalled
1894: Born in Alexandria, Egypt
1914-18: Serves during WWI, ending war as lieutenant
1920: Joins Hitler’s fledgling Nazi Party
1923: Imprisoned with Hitler and becomes his secretary
1933: Becomes deputy of the Nazi Party after Hitler’s rise to power
1941: Seeks peace with Britain by flying solo to Scotland; detained in Britain
1946: Convicted of crimes against peace at Nuremberg trials and given life sentence
1947: Transferred to Spandau Prison in Berlin
1987: Found hanged
The mother of James Bulger has said she is “angry and upset” that ‘Detainment’, the short film about her son’s murder, has been nominated for an Oscar .
‘Detainment’, one of the five shortlisted in the Best Live Action Short category, is based on the real transcripts of interviews with James’ killers, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables.
Written and directed by Vincent Lambe, it dramatises those interviews with actors playing James and the boys who abducted and murdered him in the early 1990s. Denise Fergus The short film was praised by critics last year but Denise has vocally disapproved of it, and following its recognition at the Oscars, she’s reiterated her statement that it was made without the approval of her family.
“I cannot express how disgusted and upset I am at this so called film that has been made and now nominated for an Oscar,” she tweeted.
“It’s one thing making a film like this without contacting or getting permission from James family but another to have a child re-enact the final hours of James’s life before he was brutally murdered and making myself and my family have to relive this all over again!
“After everything I’ve said about this so called film and asking for it to be removed, it’s still been nominated for an Oscar even though over 90,000 people have signed a petition which has now been ignored just like my feelings by the Academy.
“I’m so angry and upset at this present time. I personally want to thank everyone that has signed the petition up to now and hopefully will carry on supporting me in this.
“I just hope the film doesn’t win its category in the Oscars.”
Filmmaker Vincent Lambe has previously said the production was careful to be sensitive and respectful of the Bulger family.
He said: “While the information in the film has been public knowledge for a very long time, there were a lot of details that we chose not to include.
“I thought about it a lot because it is such a sensitive story and wanted to ensure that it was respectful to the family of James Bulger and responsibly made without showing any graphic details.”
James’ killers were 10 years when they abducted the two-year-old from the Bootle Strand shopping centre before carrying out the murder which shocked the nation.
The two boys were jailed for life but released on licence with new identities in 2001.
Venables then had numerous other brushes with the law and last year, he was jailed again, after pleading guilty to having indecent images of children .
Sir Ivan Rogers speaking at University College London on Tuesday night Brexit has morphed into an “intense political crisis” with “denialism” from ultra Remainers and Leavers pushing the country toward economic peril, the UK’s former ambassador to the EU has said.
Sir Ivan Rogers warned extending Article 50 “isn’t a given and isn’t a UK decision”, and the risk of crashing the negotiations was “higher than either the markets or the commentariat believe”.
Pro-Brexit campaigners now pushing no-deal had a “can’t be arsed to think” approach, he said, and were guilty of “a gross dereliction of responsibility and a huge failure of leadership”.
Soft Brexit centrists and second referendum advocates believe their solutions “superior” while Theresa May miscalculated her deal would unite MPs against “the abyss”, he said. But no side fears the threat of no-deal and all have “dug in”, the ex-diplomat said.
Speaking in central London on Tuesday night, Rogers said “a political class determined not to look reality in the eye” needs to “wake up”.
“They will only further damage their reputation in the eyes of the public further if they fail to,” he said. “And we have little unity, rather less than we had 30 months ago, with growing risks to social and national cohesion coinciding with a growing risk that the UK in the next decade will break up.”
Rogers, who resigned as May entered Brexit negotiations, blaming “muddled thinking”, was speaking as MPs compete to wrest control of the process, with soft Brexit proponents, People’s Vote advocates and hardline leavers tabling amendments after the prime minister’s deal was crushed in parliament.
But Rogers said the “cold, hard reality” he had experienced was that Brussels viewed Brexit on “technocratic” terms and the UK “can’t have everything you want all of the time”.
Time, he believes, could also be running out as EU leaders see extending Article 50 as sanctioning more of “the same old self-absorbed British debate”.
He said: “We desperately need clear, honest thinking about our choices not just in the weeks and months ahead but in the years and decades ahead.”
Attempts to broker a “quick and dirty” trade deal before the next general election, due in 2022, could also be doomed, he said, because the EU would ruthlessly run down the clock – and the UK has not yet had “a grown up debate” about EU self-interest in the process.
“I’m able to throw a bucket of cold water on those who sleep on and on in the hope that finally they wake up and realise where they are and that the fire could consume them – but that’s all I can do,” he said.
He added: “No-one on the other side of the Channel is going to sign off now on what the UK urgently wants until they have banked all the things that the UK doesn’t want.
“I’m sorry if that sounds rough but others have political interests too and it is time we had a grown up debate about others having an interest in politics too.
“If we end up seeking, as we might, for political reasons, a quick and dirty trade deal, to be done at all costs before the next general election, unless that general election is in the next few weeks and we want to escape the vassaldom of transition, the EU will use the pressure of the ticking clock in the next phase just as effectively as they have in this phase to extract concessions.” He reserved his harshest criticism for hardline Brexiteers who refused to consider any option but no-deal, despite trumpeting the merits of a soft Brexit pre-referendum.
Dominic Cummings, the leader of Vote Leave, “studiously” avoided setting out a precise Brexit deal but his acolytes in Westminster were now guilty of failing to show leadership by not picking a direction beyond falling on to World Trade Organisation rules, he said.
“This is the ‘I have no solutions and can’t be arsed to think’ option,” he said. “In all honesty, it is a gross dereliction of responsibility and a huge failure of leadership under cover of increasingly demagogic rhetoric about betrayal.”
And in an open attack on Boris Johnson, Rogers hit out at the former foreign secretary’s claim the UK would have “ample, balanced and pragmatic mini-deals” with EU countries “in a jiffy” once May’s deal was rejected.
“He knows full well it isn’t true, it is just a pale repetition of the same old, tired rhetorical tropes we heard from him in office in 2016, 2017 and 2018.”
He added: “No-deal really has become the latest canvass for Brexiteer dreams – none of this really has to be true, it just has to sound compelling and reassuring to people.
“The EU common position, which will be very easy to strike, post-collapse of the withdrawal agreement will not be them begging us for the immediate start of free trade agreement talks.”
But while much of his speech supported a middle ground compromise, Rogers was scathing about May’s decision not to seek a single market deal, when services make up around 80% of the UK economy.
He said politicians’ “dismal” debate focusing almost exclusively on the customs union was a dangerous path.
“In Westminster, we are deep in Alice In Wonderland […] where the bulk of our peculiarly antiquated debate about our trading future has focused on goods and tariffs,” he said.
He added: “It cannot be repeated enough […] because we are about to find out the hard way in trade negotiations, that leaving the single market makes trade, notably in services, in which we are world class, less free […] because we are closing off ways in which our world class firms can provide services seamlessly across borders.”
With the end of January 2019 fast approaching, and with it, Chinese New Year just around the corner, it’s time again to look back and remember personal achievements over the past 12 months as well as hopes and expectations for the year ahead. One association that has a lot to celebrate is the Beijing LGBT Center who marked their 10 year anniversary last Friday at the Embassy of Sweden.
It is without a doubt a huge landmark for the non-profit organization whose mere existence and tireless work with, and on behalf of, the LGBTQ+ community in China since 2008, has seen strides in a number of areas. Some of the group’s biggest accomplishments include the building of international “sister-friendly” relationships which have helped bring to light the LGBT situation in China, inroads into the fight for marriage equality between same-sex Chinese couples, the setting up of counseling services for those individuals most at risk, as well as a hotline for transgender people. Ying Xin, executive director of the LGBT Center, speaks at last Friday’s event At last week’s function, Ying Xin , the center’s executive director, told the Beijinger that “persistence, community, and research” were the key guiding factors for the center over the last ten years. She added that she is extremely proud of the research that the center has completed on LGBT related issues such as mental health as well as transgender support. Ying attributes the center’s longevity to the efforts of the community as well as those allies who have supported the center’s vision, namely to provide equal rights for all persons in China regardless of their gender and sexual orientation.
READ: LGBT Influence Grows in the Mainstream, Despite Heartbreaking Losses This Year
Looking toward the next ten years, Ying states that there will be an increased focus on how to develop and mobilize the community as well as finding other ways for the LGBT community to better access and utilize resources within China. Additionally, the center will continue their work in the area of marriage equality and their work for the transgender community. One specific aim is to build up a social support system for transgender persons in China that will span parents, doctors, psychologists, teachers, and other collaborators. One of the center’s biggest achievements this year was the founding of a hotline for China’s transgender community Having seen the strong attendance at last week’s event, one thing is clear: despite the many challenges that the LGBTQ+ community faces in China, the center represents a huge beacon of hope for awareness, support, and inclusivity. Ten years in, the center continues to grow and there’s no indication of it letting up anytime soon.
Follow the Beijing LGBT Center via Facebook here and call on 5903 3730 or 150 0114 5911. You can add the LGBT Center’s official WeChat account by searching 北京同志中心. Additionally, scan the QR code below to register for the center’s transgender services (Chinese only). Read all of the latest LGBT coverage in our ongoing China Gay力 series here.
Photos courtesy of the Beijing LGBT Center
The critical question of whether artists should be forced to create messages that conflict with their sincerely-held religious beliefs is being asked before the Arizona Supreme Court today.
Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski are Christians who own and operate Brush & Nib Studio in Phoenix, Arizona. They create a wide variety of custom artwork, including wedding invitations, vows, party announcements and birth announcements.
However, the City of Phoenix has a problematic law that essentially says, ‘If you do this for one, you do it for all,’ but in the pre-enforcement challenge to Phoenix City Code Section 18-4(B), the artists contend that Phoenix would force them to design and create custom artwork expressing messages that violate their core beliefs.
"Artists should be free to create art that is consistent with their beliefs – without fear of punishment by the government," Duka contends.
Because the two are being coerced to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, Koski announced that they are challenging this law – not just for them, but for all artists to be able to create freely.
"The government shouldn’t be telling artists what they can and cannot say," Koski argued.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing Duka and Koski in the case that is going before the Arizona Supreme Court, where Arizona state legislators, a publisher and a variety of religious groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of preserving artistic and religious freedom.
"In this situation, the City of Phoenix is ordering two artists to imagine from scratch, to hand-craft and then to convey messages that violate their core convictions," ADF attorney Jonathan Scruggs pointed out. "A government that can compel its citizens to say and do that can compel its citizens to say and do almost anything."
The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in Phoenix’s favor.
Judge Lawrence Winthrop, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, issued his pro-LGBT verdict.
“[The artists] cannot discriminate against potential patrons based on sexual orientation," Winthrop asserted in his ruling.
Just under 6 percent of California legislators are openly lesbian, gay or bisexual, a number that has grown over the past two-and-a-half decades. “You don’t get any respect unless you’re in the room where it happens,” said Sheila Kuehl of Santa Monica, who became California’s first openly gay or lesbian legislator in 1994.
A quarter-century after Kuehl’s election made history, the caucus numbers seven and has chalked up hard-fought legislative victories—and a to-do list for the future. All its members are Democrats; no openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans Republican has ever won a seat in the Legislature. (Castillo, 1/20)
In other news —
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lifelong struggle with dyslexia makes his proposal to screen little kids for developmental disorders a personal mission. California’s new governor wasn’t diagnosed with the reading disability until he was in the fifth grade. (Skelton, 1/21)
This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription .
Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in ‘The Favourite.’ (Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox) The 91st Academy Awards announced the nominees for its class of 2019 with “The Favourite” and “Roma” tying for the most recognition with 10 nominations each.
“The Favourite” earned nominations for its three lead actresses with Olivia Colman scoring a Best Actress nomination for portraying Queen Anne and Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz receiving Best Supporting Actress nominations.
“A Star is Born” came in an overall close second pulling in eight nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Original Song nominations for Lady Gaga and a Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Bradley Cooper.
Other LGBT-inclusive nominations include the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which became the highest grossing music biopic of all time upon its release last year. Rami Malek was also nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. “Green Book” also earned Viggo Mortensen a Best Actor nomination and Mahershala Ali a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal of musician Don Shirly.
Melissa McCarthy was nominated for her role as lesbian writer Lee Israel in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and Richard E. Grant received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for playing her gay friend Jack Hock.
LGBT nominees on the list were Jeff Whitty for co-writing “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman for their Netflix documentary “End Game,” Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for writing the original song “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” and Shaiman for Original Score for “Mary Poppins Returns.” The LGBT-inclusive film”Marguerite,” which tells the story of a nurse and an aging woman’s friendship, was also nominated for Live Action Short.
The Academy also finally gave some overdue credit to acting veterans Regina King and Sam Elliot with their first nominations. King was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Elliot received a nom for Best Supporting Actor for “A Star is Born.”
Notable snubs in this year’s Academy Awards crop were a Best Director nomination for Cooper for his directorial debut in “A Star is Born” and Timothée Chalamet for Best Supporting Actor in the drug addiction-fueled drama “Beautiful Boy.”
Two film nominations were also historical film moments. Netflix received its first Oscar nomination for “Roma” and “Black Panther,” which earned seven nominations, became the first Marvel film to be nominated for Best Picture.
The Academy Awards air on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Check out the complete list of nominees below.
“A Star Is Born”
Christian Bale – “Vice”
Bradley Cooper –”A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe – “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen – “Green Book”
Yalitza Aparicio – “Roma”
Glenn Close – “The Wife”
Olivia Colman – “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga – “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy – “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Spike Lee – “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski – “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos – “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón – “Roma”
Adam McKay – “Vice”
Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali – “Green Book”
Adam Driver – “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott – “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant – “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell – “Vice”
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams – “Vice”
Marina de Tavira – “Roma”
Regina King – “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone – “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz – “The Favourite”
Best Adapted Screenplay
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen – “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”
Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Spike Lee – “BlacKkKlansman”
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty – “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Barry Jenkins – “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper and Will Fetters – “A Star Is Born”
Best Original Screenplay
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara – “The Favourite”
Paul Schrader – “First Reformed”
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly – “Green Book”
Alfonso Cuarón – “Roma”
Adam McKay – “Vice”
Łukasz Żal – “Cold War”
Robbie Ryan – “The Favourite”
Caleb Deschanel – “Never Look Away”
Alfonso Cuarón – “Roma”
Matthew Libatique – “A Star Is Born”
Best Documentary Feature
“Hale County This Morning, This Evening” “Minding the Gap” “Of Fathers and Sons” “RBG” Best Animated Film “Incredibles 2” “Isle of Dogs” “Mirai” “Ralph Breaks the Internet” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” Best Foreign Language Film “Capernaum” (Lebanon) “Cold War” (Poland) “Never Look Away” (Germany) “Roma” (Mexico) “Shoplifters” (Japan) Best Documentary Short Subject ” Black Sheep” “End Game” “Lifeboat” “A Night at the Garden” “Period. End Of Sentence” Best Animated Short Film “Animal Behaviour” “Bao” “Late Afternoon” “One Small Step” “Weekends” Best Live Action Short Film “Detainment” “Fauve” “Marguerite” “Mother” “Skin” Best Original Song “All the Stars” from “Black Panther,” Kendrick Lamar, SZA “I’ll Fight” from “RBG,” Diane Warren “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born,” Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice “When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” David Rawlings and Gillian Welch Best Original Score Ludwig Goransson – “Black Panther” Terence Blanchard – “BlacKkKlansman” Nicholas Britell – “If Beale Street Could Talk” Alexandre Desplat – “Isle of Dogs” Marc Shaiman – “Mary Poppins Returns” Best Production Design “Black Panther” “The Favourite” “First Man” “Mary Poppins Returns” “Roma” Best Costume Design “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” “Black Panther” “The Favourite” “Mary Poppins Returns” “Mary Queen of Scots” Best Film Editing “BlacKkKlansman” “Bohemian Rhapsody” “The Favourite” “Green Book” “Vice” Best Visual Effects “Avengers: Infinity War” “Christopher Robin” “First Man” “Ready Player One” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Best Makeup and Hairstyling “Border” “Mary Queen of Scots” “Vice” Best Sound Editing “Black Panther” “Bohemian Rhapsody” “First Man” “A Quiet Place” “Roma” Best Sound Mixing “Black Panther” “Bohemian Rhapsody” “First Man” “Roma” “A Star Is Born”
The fight for LGBT rights in Uzbekistan is especially important now.
At the United Nations this past May, Uzbek Deputy Justice Minister Mahmud Istamov committed the authoritarian regime he serves to over 200 reforms proposed by the UN – except for one key provision that would have decriminalized homosexuality. As Istamov told reporters , “This is not on our agenda. We have not accepted this recommendation. This is not a topical subject for us.”
This opinion is a symptom of a broader disregard for LGBT rights. Uzbekistan’s notorious “Article 120” – the criminal ban on same-sex activity – has fueled government officials’ ridicule, extortion, and persecution of LGBT individuals for decades. In recent months, the international press has largely ignored this history, focusing instead on the government of Uzbekistan’s positive, yet often halting, progress on other reforms.
Since Shavkat Mirziyoyev took control of Uzbekistan after the death of long-time dictator Islam Karimov in December 2016, there was little expectation of significant social and political change. However, since taking office, Mirziyoyev has agreed to a litany of UNDP and USAID demands for an end to child labor in cotton fields, the release of political prisoners, and a better environment for NGOs.
But LGBT rights is an issue that, more than many others, illuminates the potential for democratic change. On the surface, the Mirziyoyev regime, like the Karimov regime before it, has little interest in decriminalization of same-sex relations. Yet at the same time, the Uzbek regime wants to be seen as less authoritarian in order to reduce the country’s economic isolation from the West. Uzbekistan’s urgent need to achieve this economic rapprochement, combined with a smart deployment of U.S. and European aid, could tip the scales toward liberalization.
The United States should hold a firm line on the decriminalization of same-sex relations as a precondition for aid and the reduction of sanctions. However, as the Trump administration continues to deprioritize LGBT rights, its European allies, such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands , could pave the way in Uzbekistan. The European Union requires candidates for EU accession to institute anti-discrimination legislation for LGBT people; why not require basic decriminalization to receive EU aid?
If we fail to hold this line, we could see stories that mirror the horrors two years ago in Chechnya and Azerbaijan , when police in both republics coordinated the arrest and torture of hundreds of LGBT people. This month, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov expanded his anti-gay purge with tacit approval from Moscow, rounding up more than 40 people and torturing two of them to death. As awareness of queer issues increases with the globalization of the internet, LGBT people become easy targets, often used as scapegoats to distract from government failures.
With a rise in awareness, violent attacks against LGBT people in Uzbekistan are increasing. One transgender woman, identified only as “K,” told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty she had been held, tortured , and raped by Uzbek police several times from 2014 to 2017 for refusing to out other LGBT people. Hate crimes against LGBT Uzbeks, such as the beating of a gay man in the Ferghana region in September 2017, are often recorded and posted online. The Mirziyoyev regime, instead of investigating or denouncing these attacks, discouraged posting videos online because of their negative impact on foreign tourism.
While social media platforms are often used to spread hate against LGBT people, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube also connect young people with role models for change. In Uzbekistan, the United States and its allies should provide funds to expand access to the internet and social media, especially for rural youth, helping to ameliorate the isolation LGBT Uzbeks face on a daily basis.
The fight for LGBT rights in Uzbekistan is especially important now because, in the past few years, countries throughout the former Soviet Union have considered implementing laws modeled on Russia’s 2014 “gay propaganda” bill, which banned the “promotion of non-traditional relationships” to minors. One of these copycat bills, which would go further and ban all information on same-sex relationships, is currently under consideration in Kyrgyzstan. Decriminalization in Uzbekistan would represent a step forward for the entire region and might restrict malign Russian influence on neighboring countries’ paths to social reform by providing a local alternative path.
Decriminalization could also provide the Mirziyoyev regime with socioeconomic benefits: laws such as Article 120 have a negative impact on tourism and foreign investment. Businesses are wary to invest if their LGBT employees are at risk. Criminalization of same-sex relations, alongside other bans on normal social behavior, also encourages corrupt officials to blackmail LGBT citizens. Uzbek activists report to Human Rights Watch that police use information obtained from torture to create a cycle of extortion against LGBT Uzbeks, threatening to imprison them if they refuse to pay large bribes.
Pressure on Mirziyoyev’s regime for decriminalization of homosexuality is a chance to make an impact not only for LGBT rights in Uzbekistan, but also on the entire reform process. The United States and its allies should promote LGBT rights reform alongside economic liberalization and the expansion of freedom of expression.
James Reston is a researcher based in Washington, DC, whose work focuses on internet freedom, corruption, human rights, and security.
A general view of the headquarters of Britain’s internal security service MI5 , in London Friday Nov. 10, 2006 That MI5 is ranked at all represents significant progress for the agency – for gay men and women were prohibited from working at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ until 1992.
British domestic spying agency MI5 has been named the UK’s fourth best LGBT employer in the UK by Stonewall, in the charity’s annual Workplace Equality Index.
The list , topped by law firm Pinsent Masons, also features the British Army, Lloyds Bank, homeless charity St Mungo’s, Newcastle council and the Welsh government. Rankings are based on consideration of 10 areas of employment policy and practice, and staff at each organization also complete anonymous surveys on their experiences of diversity and inclusion in their workplaces.
READ MORE: MI5 Avoided Recruiting Black Spies in the 60s, Citing ‘Security Risk’ — Reports
The fourth-place ranking actually represents a fall for MI5, having topped the list in 2016 . Then, agency Director General Andrew Parker said diversity was "vital".
"Much of MI5’s work keeping the country safe goes on by necessity out of view. So I’m delighted we can be publicly recognised as such an inclusive and welcoming place to work. MI5’s success in protecting the country depends on our staff’s commitment to the mission and to our enduring values of teamwork, professionalism and innovation. People can only give the best they can give when they feel supported, valued, and treated with respect by their colleagues. This accolade is a great acknowledgement of continued progress we have made over recent years in ensuring we draw on the widest possible pool of talent in our vital work," he explained.
In response , Stonewall Chief Executive Ruth Hunt said the agency had made "fantastic strides in creating an inclusive workplace". March of Progress
The British security services’ long-running aversion to employing LGBT individuals partially stemmed from a widely-held belief they were susceptible to blackmail, and could easily be compromised by ‘honey trap’ operations. However, simple homophobia also played a significant part — Bletchley Park’s venerated codebreaker Alan Turing lost his security clearance simply for being convicted of ‘gross indecency’ (legal code for having a homosexual relationship) in 1952. He committed suicide two years later.
Moreover, concealed homosexuality was often used as leverage by UK intelligence services. For instance, Jeremy Wolfenden, Daily Telegraph correspondent in Moscow in the early 1960s, was the victim of a KGB honey trap — the Soviet Union’s spying appartus knew he was gay, and the Ministry of Foreign Trade’s barber was dispatched to seduce him, a hidden camera documenting the resultant tryst.
The KGB then threatened to pass on the photographs to Wolfenden’s employer if he did not spy on the Western community in Moscow — Wolfenden reported the incident to the British embassy, but rather than extracting him from the country, they suggested he become a double agent, leading the KGB along and continuing to report back to MI6.
The stress of his double-life drove Wolfenden to alcoholism, and he tried to end his career as an unwilling spy, marrying a British woman he met in Moscow and arranging a transfer from Moscow to the Daily Telegraph’s Washington bureau. However, the spy game is not easily left behind — after encountering his old MI6 handler at a British Embassy party in Washington in 1965, he was again compelled to carry out clandestine intelligence work.
His alcoholism progressively worsened, and he died aged-31 in December 1965 from a cerebral hemorrhage caused by a fall in his bathroom. Perversely, Wolfenden’s life as a spy produced little useful material for either side in the Cold War — his British colleagues gave him no worthwhile information as they’d been warned he was talking to the KGB, and the Soviets had foreseen the risk of him becoming a double agent and offered him nothing of value either.
Ironically, the Cold War amply demonstrated straight individuals were highly susceptible to honey traps. For instance, Markus Wolf — the long-time head of East German intelligence — crafted an extensive honey trap operation that helped insert his agents into the highest echelons of West German society.
In the early 1950s, Wolf recognized the number of eligible bachelors in Germany had been sharply reduced by World War II, meaning more and more German women were entering government, commerce, and industry. As many were single, Wolf began recruiting handsome, intelligent officers — "Romeo spies" — who were charged with seeking out powerful, unmarried women in Germany, and extracting their secrets.
The operation was so successful East German agents penetrated most levels of the West German government and industry, with spies inside NATO and the private office of West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
The scheme only unravelled when West German counterintelligence realized Stasi officers could be identified through their haircuts — practical "short back and sides" dos.
"They were sharp operators who realized that a lot can be done with sex. This is true in business and espionage because it opens up channels of communication more quickly than other approaches. As long as there is espionage, there will be Romeos seducing [targets]. I was running an intelligence service, not a lonely-hearts club," Wolf wrote in his autobiography .