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LGBTQI News Roundup – 9th December 2022

Colorado suspect charged with 305 counts over deadly gay club shooting

The suspect accused of entering a Colorado gay nightclub clad in body armor and opening fire with an AR-15-style rifle, killing five people and wounding 17 others, was charged by prosecutors on Tuesday with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder.

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, sat upright in a chair during the hearing and appeared alert. In an earlier court appearance just a few days after the shooting, the defendant’s head and face were covered with bruises and Aldrich was slumped over and had to be prompted by attorneys to respond to questions from a judge.  

Investigators said Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in the mostly conservative city of Colorado Springs, just before midnight on 19 November and began shooting during a drag queen’s birthday celebration. The killing stopped after patrons wrestled the suspect to the ground, beating Aldrich into submission, they said. Aldrich had been held on hate crime charges but prosecutors had said previously they were not sure if those counts would stick because they needed to assess if there was adequate evidence to show it was a bias-motivated crime.

District attorney Michael Allen had noted that murder charges would carry the harshest penalty – probably life in prison – but also said it was important to show the community that bias-motivated crimes are not tolerated if there was evidence to support the charge.


Putin signs law expanding Russia’s rules against ‘LGBT propaganda’

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law expanding Russia’s restrictions on the promotion of what it calls “LGBT propaganda”, effectively outlawing any public expression of LGBT behaviour or lifestyle in Russia. Under the new law, which widens Russia’s interpretation of what qualifies as “LGBT propaganda”, any action or the spreading of any information that is considered an attempt to promote homosexuality in public, online, or in films, books or advertising, could incur a heavy fine. The law expands Russia’s previous law against LGBT propaganda that had banned the “demonstration” of LGBT behaviour to children.  

It comes as the Kremlin exerts increased pressure on minority groups and opponents of Putin at home, quashing independent media groups and further stifling free speech as Moscow ramps up a decade-long campaign to promote what it says are “traditional” values. Authorities have already used the existing law to stop gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists.


U.S. Supreme Court leans toward web designer with anti-gay marriage stance


The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Monday appeared ready to rule that a Christian web designer has a right to refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages in a case the liberal justices said could empower certain businesses to discriminate based on constitutional free speech protections.

The justices heard feisty arguments in Denver-area business owner Lorie Smith’s (pictured), appeal seeking an exemption from a Colorado law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation and other factors. Lower courts ruled in Colorado’s favour.  The conservative justices indicated support for Smith’s view that businesses offering creative services like web design are protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee against government abridgment of free speech from being forced to express messages through their work that they oppose. The court has a 6-3 conservative majority.  

Smith, an evangelical Christian whose web design business is called 303 Creative, has said she believes marriage should be limited to opposite-sex couples. She preemptively sued Colorado’s civil rights commission and other state officials in 2016 because she feared she would be punished for refusing to serve gay weddings under Colorado’s public accommodations law.  Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act bars businesses open to the public from denying goods or services to people because of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and certain other characteristics.

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