'Prejudice is prejudice': Joe Biden blasts homophobia based on 'cultural' differences.

Russia, the plans to build a wall, Russia, North Korea, travel bans, Russia ... there's a lot happening around the world right now.

Amid the chaos, Joe Biden doesn't want us to forget about protecting and expanding LGBTQ rights — at home and overseas.

Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images.


In a powerful op-ed in The Washington Post published May 16, 2017, Biden pleads with Americans to stay informed on the perils faced by LGBTQ people abroad.

In the article, written in recognition of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, Biden notes the progress celebrated (and setbacks faced) by LGBTQ Americans. But the former vice president chose to focus the piece on the persecution of LGBTQ people in places like Syria, Uganda, and — most notably — Chechnya.

Biden wrote:

"In Syria and Iraq, LGBT individuals face terror and torture, often at the hands of the Islamic State. Countries such as Russia — where appalling reports recently surfaced that authorities in Chechnya were imprisoning and torturing individuals believed to be gay or bisexual — Uganda and Tanzania continue to be openly hostile to LGBT people, and their political leaders have used anti-American sentiment to fuel anti-LGBT hate. And in many parts of the world, the horrific assault of 'corrective rape' is used as an extreme form of conversion therapy to try to turn women straight."

Photo by Craig Ruttle/AP.

As Biden mentioned, more than a hundred Chechen men suspected of "nontraditional" sexual practices have quietly been arrested and held in what some reports describe as modern-day concentration camps.

Weeks have gone by since news of the atrocities began trickling out of Chechnya, a semi-independent state of Russia. Yet many world leaders, including President Donald Trump, have not publicly condemned the actions. On May 17, 2017, BuzzFeed News reported the U.S. is denying visas for Chechen men escaping persecution.

Biden went on to note cultural differences are never an excuse for human rights violations:

"Many times, this kind of discrimination, harassment and violence is justified in the name of 'culture.' This offensive argument ignores the fundamental truth that LGBT rights are human rights. Prejudice is prejudice; inhumanity is inhumanity. Using religion or culture to license discrimination and demonizing LGBT individuals to score political points are no more justifiable around the world than they are here at home."

Biden was a longtime proponent of LGBTQ rights as a senator and vice president. Now that he's out of office, he clearly doesn't want us becoming complacent.

Here's what you can you can do to keep progress pushing onward:

  1. If you're concerned about what's happening in Chechnya, check out the Russian LGBT Network — a Moscow-based group helping gay and bisexual men escape persecution.
  2. If you want to help LGBTQ refugees from countries like Syria and Iraq, the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration is a terrific group doing important work.
  3. And if you want to help push progress forward in the U.S., organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality — and many others — are doing just that.

"Together, we will work to defend and advance the human rights of all people, and we will not rest until equality, at home and around the world, is fully realized," Biden wrote.

"Until then, to all those suffering discrimination and violence simply because of who they are or whom they love, know this: The American people are on your side."

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

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With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

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Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.