Letters to the editor

  • Wednesday January 11, 2012
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Secure Communities works

Morgan Bassichis goes too far in describing Secure Communities as a "failed" program ["A victory for true safety in San Francisco," Guest Opinion, December 29]. The truth is that Secure Communities has been an unqualified success story of the Obama administration. Thanks to Secure Communities, significantly higher numbers of illegal aliens, including known gang members, have been detained and deported from the U.S. during the Obama administration than during the George W. Bush administration.

Secure Communities has made San Francisco and other American cities safer by removing violent gang members and habitual DUI offenders from the streets when those persons did not have legal authorization to be in the U.S. to begin with. The policy of fingerprinting and reporting illegal aliens to Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not in any way discriminate against gay, lesbian, and transgender detainees any more than the policy discriminates against any racial or ethnic minorities.

The entirely symbolic vote by the Board of Supervisors criticizing Secure Communities is not surprising, given that body's long-standing opposition to the enforcement of any U.S. immigration laws. It is disappointing to see the supervisors assign a higher priority to the rights of illegal aliens not to be fingerprinted and reported by the city to the ICE than to the safety of all San Franciscans, gay and straight. However, the elected officials in San Francisco who are actually responsible for public safety should ignore the supervisors, recognize that Secure Communities is here to stay, and not try to throw up any roadblocks in the way of an Obama administration program that has actually worked.

Colin V. Gallagher

San Francisco

Group's work is good, but...

Aguda is to be commended for the good work it is doing with LGBT people from various groups within Israel, and Anat Avissar deserves special recognition for the outreach work she does with Palestinians who are contacting Aguda ["Israeli bi activist visits San Francisco," Out in the World, December 22]. However, I take exception to suggestion that there is a "rainbow underground" operating in Israel that is providing a safe haven for large numbers of LGBT Palestinians who are seeking asylum. I think the reason there are no statistics available on this is because there actually have been no more than a few cases of Palestinians of any type ever being given asylum in Israel. This talk was sponsored by the Israeli consulate, which also sponsors the Frameline film festival, as part of a focused project to improve Israel's image in LGBT communities in the around U.S. and Europe. Without diminishing the good work Aguda is doing, I think this speaking tour is another example of "pink washing" to try and divert attention from Israel's violent occupation of the West Bank and siege of the Gaza Strip.

Jeff Pekrul

San Francisco

Protest included many issues

This January 5 article, "Protests break out in Hungary over new anti-LGBT constitution" [Out in the World], is very misleading. This protest was against a combination of actions taken by the ruling Fidesz party to change the constitution to, among other things: secure a parliamentary majority for themselves, consolidate of the power of the Central Bank, place restrictions on media and freedom of speech, implement certain religious laws, and yes, limit the rights and protections of certain minorities �" among them the LGBT population.

As a gay San Franciscan living in Budapest, I am disturbed by the irresponsible way this story has been reported. It is clearly unresearched, just blog-style, cut-and-paste journalism. I have had numerous friends contacting me to see if I'm okay.

While Budapest is not San Francisco, neither is it Uganda. Gays aren't being rounded up, bars are not being raided and I, personally, have heard of no gay bashing in the year-plus that I have lived here. Quite to the contrary, there is a small but active gay community and scene here, bar life is alive and well, and there is an equality march and associated events annually. Furthermore, Hungary is host to the Euro Games this year. Yes, there is a neo-Nazi, right wing extremist faction here (just as in America) from which the equality parade marchers were protected by the police �" but the police did protect us. And although the current conservative Hungarian government has taken steps to undermine LGBT rights (and those of other minorities) in Hungary, LGBT rights were not specifically the reason this protest took place. I would also like to point out that the anti-LGBT legislation that has been added to the Hungarian constitution is no different than the Defense of Marriage Act in the U.S.

This story was unnecessarily alarmist. Please research and report news accurately.

Richard Fisk

Budapest, Hungary

 [Heather Cassell responds: I did not copy and paste from other reports. I compared news reports that I received and researched from online news services.]