Politics and Society: February 2017

February 1, 2017 in General

London: Thousands of gay and bisexual men found guilty of decades-old sexual offences in England and Wales have been posthumously pardoned.
The enactment by the government of the so-called Alan Turing law means about 49,000 men will be cleared of crimes of which they would be innocent today.
Wartime code-breaker Mr Turing was pardoned in 2013 for gross indecency. Statutory pardons will also be granted to people still living who apply to have their convictions removed. The pardons were first announced last year and have now been officially rubber-stamped after the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent. The men were found guilty of committing now-abolished offences while in consensual relationships.

Justice minister Sam Gyimah said it was a “truly momentous day”.
He said: “We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs.”
Mathematician Mr Turing was given a royal pardon in 2013, nearly 60 years after his suicide in 1954.
The pardon addressed his 1952 conviction for gross indecency, after which he was chemically castrated.
This followed an official apology by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 for how Mr Turing had been treated.
His relatives later mounted a high-profile campaign to secure pardons for other men similarly convicted under historical indecency laws.
Gay rights charity Stonewall said: “Another important milestone of equality has been secured in law.
“The more equality is enshrined into our law books, the stronger our equality becomes, and the stronger we as a community become.”

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news

London: Public Health England has identified an increase of Hepatitis A cases across England.

The increase has been noticed mostly among gay and bisexual men, some of which are associated with travel to Spain. While the numbers are small, Public Health England say it’s unusual to see so many linked cases.

Dr Michael Edelstein, Consultant Epidemiologist in the Hepatitis and Blood Safety Department, said: “Public Health England is aware of an increase in hepatitis A cases, where we believe the infection has been spread through sex, most cases occurring in gay and bisexual men. Hepatitis A can be prevented by practising good personal hygiene, so we recommend gay and bisexual men wash their hands after sex and change condoms between any kind of sex to reduce their risk of getting hepatitis A. Those who are concerned can seek advice from sexual health services about whether they would benefit from hepatitis A vaccination.”

According to Public Health England, symptoms of Hepatitis A can include nausea and vomiting; diarrhoea; loss of appetite; weight loss; jaundice; itchy skin; and a short, mild, flu-like illness. Some people may have no symptoms at all, but can still pass on the virus to others. While the disease is mainly spread through contaminated food or from person to person through inadequate hand-washing, it can also be spread through sex, including both oral and anal sex.

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Washington DC: A boy who threatened to sue the New Jersey Boy Scouts after the group kicked him out for being trans has had a win, with the organisation announcing it will now allow trans children who identify as male to enrol in boys only programs.

Eight-year-old Joe Maldonado was accepted into the Scouts last year but was later asked to leave the organisation following complaints from parents regarding his trans status. Joe’s mother Kristie claims she was asked to prove Joe was a boy and received a phone call saying only boys whose gender identity reflected their biological sex could be admitted to the organisation.

Joe’s mother Kristie said she was in shock at the decision. “The kids didn’t have a problem. He was having fun,” she said.

A spokesperson for Boy Scouts of America, said Joe was evicted from the Scouts as he did not meet eligibility requirements. At the time the BSA’s stance was that youth membership to Cub Scouts was only eligible to boys.

“If needed we defer to the information provided for an individual’s birth certificate and their biological sex,” said the spokesperson.

However following backlash from the decision to throw Joe out, the Scouts has had an about-face with the organisation announcing today it will now base enrolment in boys-only programs on the gender a child or parent lists on their application form.

The organisation said the move would bring it more into line with how gender is defined across the US.

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

Brisbane: New cases of HIV have dropped dramatically in Brisbane, one of only a few cities in the world to record a significant reduction, alongside San Francisco. State government data shows just 94 new cases in Brisbane last year, the lowest rate since 2008 and a reduction of over a third in two years. Dr Darren Russell, chair of the HIV Foundation Queensland, said HIV notification rates have dropped even amid increasing cases of other STIs such as chlamydia and syphilis. The news comes as the state government announced this week that the HIV Foundation Queensland will not be funded after June 30.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Ottawa: In Canada there were an estimated 16,020 people living with HIV who were undiagnosed in 2014, as well as about 2,570 new infections. That’s slightly down from the estimated 2,800 new infections in 2011, but still a cause for concern. But now there may be some signs of hope from across the pond.

Four sexual health clinics in London, UK, recently saw a significant decrease in new HIV infections among gay men, and some believe that it was due to people buying PrEP online.

This success has been largely attributed to some DIY activists in the UK and websites like PrEPster and I Want PrEP Now. They offer comprehensive information on how to buy and use generic versions of PrEP, as well as things to do before and after you start taking it.

Some Canadians have already been importing generics. So can we expect similar results here?

One site, Davie Buyers Club is doing great work by providing information on how Canadians can access generics, though he focuses on the Vancouver area. It offers an in-depth step-by-step tutorial on how to get PrEP for about $75 Canadian per month.

However, the difference between the UK and Canada is that you can’t actually have them shipped to your home since PrEP generics have not been approved by Health Canada. While Health Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency will allow you to import three months worth of PrEP, you have to carry it across the border yourself it with a copy of your prescription. So how does one get access?

According to Davie Buyers Club how it works is that you first need to get a prescription from your primary care provider so that you can order them online and import them back to Canada. You next need to get a mailbox in the United States so that you have an address to ship them to. They’re legal there because they’re FDA-approved. Davie Buyers Club provides a list of other parcel receiving services in the US depending on where you are in Canada. You then order, wait, and pick them up when they arrive.

I spoke to “Davie,” the creator of the site, who is a front line health care worker in the capacity of a doctor, nurse or a nurse practitioner (to protect his identity, he cannot specify).

Davie admits that this method benefits those who have some risk with moderate to high means, since you need a car, a passport and no prior criminal record to get PrEP this way. Those who are high risk with low means may not find this approach accessible, especially if you don’t live near a border.

“Having to go to another country to receive your medications is a significant barrier,” he says.

possible interruptions in access due to issues with shipping or at customs, which can happen when ordering online. A recent cohort study in northern California showed a rise in STI rates amongst PrEP users, though the STIs are a cause for concern, what actually got my attention was that two people in the study contracted HIV during periods when their insurance lapsed, interrupting their access. Although their interruption was due to issues with insurance and not ordering online,what this tells me is that even if access changes, risky behaviour may not.

“There is always — hopefully a very small — but some level of uncertainty and I feel like it’s my job to describe the process as best and as clearly as possible, to make people follow the process to make it go as smoothly as possible,” Davie says. “I start my webpage with a disclaimer that there is an element of risk to this.”

Many may feel that ordering generic drugs online is questionable because the drugs may contain the wrong ingredients, they may be counterfeits or have toxic additives, or they may be past their expiration date. Obviously, finding a reliable source is essential.

I Want My PrEP Now only lists PrEP suppliers with first-hand accounts from people they know who claim that the sales process was straightforward and reliable. The drugs have also been tested by customers.

In 2014, Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that Davie’s website recommends, announced that it received tentative approval for its generic version of Truvada by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an antiretroviral. Apparently it meets all safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality standards for marketing.

Last year, one sexual health clinic in central London tested drug levels of users who purchased their PrEP online from various sources; there were no counterfeits found, a promising result.

Whether to begin generics is ultimately a decision that one must make, either with the help of a primary care provider, or on their own. Though it may seem radical or even dangerous to some, the apparent success in London was because gay men defied medical advice and ordered generics anyway.

So will Canada also see a decrease in HIV transmission cases thanks to buying PrEP online?

“I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” Davie says.

Perhaps the only hope for PrEP to make an impact is to have it publically funded nationwide. Currently in Canada, only Quebec residents, people with private drug coverage that covers PrEP, students, and people who are enrolled in the First Nations and Inuit Health Care plan can access PrEP. The Canadian Drug Expert Committee recommended that Truvada be reimbursed, but one of the conditions is that Truvada’s manufacturer, Gilead, provides the drug at a reduced price. Whether Gilead will do so remains to be seen.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: The White House has made an exception to a campaign promise amid mounting pressure from LGBT activists.

In a statement issued to The New York Times, a spokesman said President Trump has decided not to unilaterally undo all of President Obama’s executive orders — a promise he made repeatedly on the campaign trail. If he had kept that pledge, it would have required Trump rescind an Obama executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people in hiring or firing. Based on public statements from the White House during the first 10 days of the administration, the decision to keep the Obama order in place was made only recently. The Times reports that Trump himself made the decision.

The White House press secretary was asked during his very first daily briefing last week by the Washington Blade whether President Trump planned to repeal LGBT protections. “I don’t know,” said Sean Spicer at the time.

Today he was again asked about repealing the order and refused to give an answer. Earlier in the day, the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement claiming an anti-LGBT executive order had been drafted within the White House and could be issued as soon as this week. Many assumed the new executive order might be a repeal of the inclusive antidiscrimination rule.

“I’m not getting ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue,” Spicer said earlier today. “There’s a lot of executive orders, a lot of things the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now.”

Hours later, as outrage spread that Trump could start rolling back LGBT rights, the White House reversed course. It issued a statement to a newspaper that Trump regularly derides on Twitter, The New York Times, and reporter Jeremy W. Peters.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election,” it read, according to the Times. “The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”

This is a case of Trump once again patting himself on the back for that speech, in which he publicly opposed the murder of LGBT people. Opposing mass murder was a low bar for LGBT allyship. And Chad Griffin, president of HRC, headed to Twitter to label this latest announcement as yet another example of defining downward what it means to support LGBT people.Griffin went on to note that the White House still hasn’t denied HRC’s claim that Trump plans to sign an executive order supporting so-called religious freedom protections. “License to discriminate” laws have created intense debate around the country, and Trump promised during the campaign to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, which is essentially a federal version. It’s still possible the Trump administration could add an exemption to the existing Obama order for those with “sincerely held religious beliefs,” in the same way other religious freedom laws operate.

Religious groups such as Catholic Charities have opted against serving as a foster or adoption agency, for example, wherever they are required by state governments to treat same-sex couples equally to straight couples. They could seek exemptions as a federal contractor that would enable them to hire or fire LGBT people by citing religion.

Trump has at times tried to appear welcoming of LGBT people, though not always smoothly. He talked often about the Pulse shooting but skipped opportunities to visit the memorial, even opening a campaign office across the street. Trump smiled on the campaign trail while holding a rainbow flag — albeit upside down and with “LGBTs for Trump” written on it in black marker. His supporters point to a 17-year-old interview with The Advocate in which Trump reiterates his opposition to same-sex marriage but says he’d support revising the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protection for gays and lesbians — an idea actually proposed in Congress but that isn’t now supported by Trump.

He alarmed LGBT voters by picking Mike Pence, the Indiana governor, as vice president despite his lengthy anti-LGBT record. Trump’s Cabinet nominees are also alarming, with his secretary of Defense on record as opposing gays and lesbians serving openly in the military even long after the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed. His pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, twice voted against the hate-crimes laws he’d now be expected to enforce, if confirmed.

One nominee has quietly tried to claim credit as an LGBT ally. Peters of The New York Times also wrote a story this weekend in which past colleagues of Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos claimed that she’d been an overlooked LGBT ally, despite having never publicly stated support. “Betsy DeVos, a Friend of L.G.B.T. Rights? Past Colleagues Say Yes,” it read. Even that story, though, came with a disclaimer: “Ms. DeVos declined to comment for this article.”

During her confirmation hearing at the Capitol, DeVos was given several chances to voice support for LGBT people when asked about her extended family’s donations to anti-LGBT groups. DeVos said “I fully embrace equality” while still never using the words “gay, bisexual, lesbian, or transgender,” or even the acronym “LGBT.” She also claimed her name had been incorrectly added to official documents for a family group that made anti-LGBT donations.

Trump has often cited LGBT people explicitly when making the case for his Muslim ban. After the Pulse nightclub shooting in which 49 people were murdered, Trump held a news conference and claimed he was a bigger LGBT supporter than Hillary Clinton because he wanted to bar Muslims from entering the United States, arguing that Muslims want to harm LGBT people. His administration made a similar statement on Friday when Trump signed an executive order codifying that Muslim ban. It effectively stops Muslims from seven countries from entering the United States, though Christians from those same countries could still be allowed entry.

Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven was among those on Monday calling for Trump to retain the Obama order, especially since he so frequently cited support for LGBT people to justify his Muslim ban.

“LGBT people refuse to be pawns in Mr. Trump’s dangerous and inhumane game,” said Tiven in a statement after the ban was announced. “We utterly reject his discrimination against Muslims in the guise of concern trolling for LGBT rights. If he really wants to help LGBT people, he can pledge to retain the Executive Orders that help protect us and to nominate a Supreme Court justice who supports equal treatment of all regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to pick Supreme Court nominees who would overturn the marriage equality ruling — though he said in the interview with 60 Minutes immediately after winning the election that he was “fine” with the marriage ruling but still planned to pick justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Trump is set to name his Supreme Court nominee soon.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Guernsey: A gay man in Guernsey is refusing to pay Parish Rates, which contribute to the upkeep of churches, because the church is “homophobic”.
Leo Thomas has said he finds the rates, which are paid by everyone in Guernsey, are “extremely questionable”.
He has refused to pay the Parish Rates because of the church’s “homophobic stance on gay marriage”, and because it “openly discriminates against the gay community”.
The Dean of Guernsey from the Anglican Church has said he would respond to Thomas directly and privately.
But Thomas, who is openly gay, wrote an open letter asking if he could be removed from his duty to pay the Rates “due to the Church of England’s institutional homophobic stance on gay marriage”.
He wrote: “As a person classed as a sinner and not worthy to get married in a church why should I be obliged and forced to pay a penny towards the costs of said church?
“If the Church of England was a private company, I probably would have a strong case of discrimination in court.”
Instead of paying it to the rates, he said he would donate the £7.94 to a local charity instead.
Douzaine’s manage each parish in Guernsey, as well as the central government.
Each douzaine breaks down Parish Rates by owner and refuge rates, and cover the cost of local services provided.
They cover rubbish and recycling, licensing, boat moorings, highways, planning permission and the upkeep of parish churches.
Deputy Peter Ferbrache said he opposes discrimination and is sympathetic to Thomas, but that he disagrees with not paying the Rates.
“I regard the church buildings as an important part of our heritage. They should be preserved. “
Same-sex marriage was approved in Guernsey last September by a vote of 33-5.
The Balliwicks of Jersey and Guernsey (the Channel Islands) – which have a population of just 165,000 – are crown dependencies, and retain autonomy from the United Kingdom. Both Guernsey and Jersey continue to ban same-sex weddings.
Last year, the Jersey States overwhelmingly accepted proposals that begin to bring Jersey into line with England, Wales and Scotland, by permitting same-sex couples to wed.
The Guernsey States also voted to introduce same-sex marriage by 33 to 5, in the culmination of a years-long process.
Once approved by the Privy Council, it is expected that the first same-sex marriages in Guernsey will be able to take place from mid-2017.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: A magistrate has been told to quit after refusing to hear the case of two same-sex parents.
She said that she wouldn’t hear the case regarding gay parents because of her own views on same-sex issues.
Susan Preston, who sits in magistrates courts in south Derbyshire, is now facing investigation by judicial watchdog for her refusal.
Mrs Preston has already been issued with a warning by judicial bosses for her refusal.
A spokesman said the warning had been issued by Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Liz Truss and Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas.
The details of the case emerged from the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO), which oversees investigations into complaints about judges.
“Mrs Susan Preston JP, a magistrate assigned to the South Derbyshire Bench, has been issued with a formal warning following an investigation into her conduct,” said the JCIO spokesperson in a statement.
“Mrs Preston had declined to adjudicate on a case in the Family Court because of her personal views about same sex couple parenting.
“The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice considered that this amounted to misconduct and have issued Mrs Preston with a formal warning.”
He added: “Mrs Preston has also been asked to stand down from the family panel with immediate effect.”
She has also been asked to step down from her place on a panel featuring magistrates assigned to oversee family court cases.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

South Dakota: An anti-LGBT ‘bathroom bill’ has been withdrawn in the US state of South Dakota at its first stage of the legislative process. Legislators in the state had been considering the bill, which was introduced last week. It would mean public school students would have to use locker, shower rooms and changing facilities corresponding to the sex assigned at birth.
A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Dennis Daugaard last year.
But the bill was withdrawn at committee stage, Senate Education Committee Chairman Jim Bolin said today.
Sponsor Senator Lance Russell did not comment on his reasons for withdrawing the bill.
Governor Daugaard had already said that he would veto the bill, similar to last year’s, if it reached his desk.
He expressed concerns over North Carolina’s bathroom bill HB2, which has been condemned around the world, and which has left the state with a number of issues including loss of business, sporting events and high profile music concerts.
His office previously said any bill which is “substantially the same” as last year’s will also be vetoed by the Governor.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Russell, has described locker rooms and changing facilities as “the most sensitive places in the school.”
The measure has already been criticised by the ACLU of South Dakota, the policy director of which Libby Skarin told the AP that it “attempts to codify discrimination.’
“I am simply interested in protecting all of the students and giving reasonable accommodation to everyone involved,” said Russell in the face of criticism.
Last year, In a letter to the Speaker of the State’s lower chamber, Governor Daugaard said: “I respectfully return to you House Bill 1008, with my veto.
“This bill seeks to impose statewide standards on ‘every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school.’
“It removed the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate.
“If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them.”
His veto came just hours before the deadline that would have seen the bill automatically take effect.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Taipei: Same-sex marriage could soon become a reality in Taiwan, as a legislator who introduced a bill to legalise it says she is cautiously optimistic that it could pass.
The Committee in Taiwan’s Legislature passed an amendment to include same-sex marriage in the Civil Code of the country on 26 December.
The passage of the amendment was the first step in legalising same-sex marriage.
Article 972 will add the paragraph stating “an agreement to marry between people of the same-sex shall be made by two parties involved”.
This is in addition to “an agreement to marry shall be made by the made and the female parties themselves.”
Other amendments include the rights and duties which will be applied to same-sex couples who marry, also passed.

The legislator who introduced the bill, Yu Mei-nu, says that she is fairly confident that the bill could pass, despite the country being divided on the issue.
Opposition ha grown, with religious groups demonstrating and encouraging people to oppose it.
Yu said: “We’re almost close to passing it”.
She estimates that 54 of 113 legislators are in favour of marriage equality, despite saying “some of them are under pressure so they might flake”.
She hopes to pass the measure before 2018, when an election could “make every issue politicised”.
The country’s parliament will debate the amendments in what activist hope will mean Taiwan will be the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage.
Despite some opposition from Christian groups, supporters hope that if legalised in Taiwan, other Asian countries will follow.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Caucus Whip earlier in December said that the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Taiwan “will be passed” in 2017.
The country is one of the most progressive in Asia on LGBT rights, providing some LGBT rights protections and allowing some limited recognition of same-sex relationships.
Ker Chien-ming said that he holds no “loathing for homosexuality”, and that the bill will be passed after a legislative committee on 26 December, and in the next legislative session.
He said the bill would go for a third reading in the general committee after the December hearing.
HIs own party’s legislator Yu Mei-nu has taken a leading role in pushing for equality in the country.
President Tsai Ing-wen said following protests in favour of the bill: “Let’s not treat the people around us as enemies,”
Lawmakers in the country are hoping to push further on equality issues – with politicians from the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last month filing a bill that would legalise same-sex weddings.
The bill would change the definition of marriage to specify it is between two people, rather than between a “man and woman”.
As the legislation heads towards Parliament, hopes are high that it could pass – making Taiwan the first country in Asia to permit same-sex couples to marry. The country’s President, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, previously expressed support for equal marriage.
There is some opposition to the legislation, however, primarily from Western-inspired fundamentalist church groups, who have some influence in the region.
The anti-LGBT Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan has vowed to protest the change.
The group’s head Chang Shou-yi fumed: “What gay activists want is for their lifestyle to be affirmed by society, but why do they need to change the traditional institution of marriage, which goes back thousands of years?”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Vienna: Marriage equality in Austria will not be possible until at least 2018.
In the middle of January, Austria’s most powerful politician made LGBTI equality a part of his re-election program.
But now it is becoming clear same-sex marriage is definitely not an option for nearly two years.
Late on Monday (30 January), chancelor Christian Kern and his vice chancelor Reinhold Mitterlehner announced they had decided on a new coalition program.
Kern represents the Social Democratic Party of Austria; he is the first chancelor to have taken part in Vienna Pride.
His VC, Mitterlehner, represents the Christian democratic and conservative Austrian People’s Party.
Their new program is based on Kern’s so-called ‘Plan A’, his re-election program which should ‘reform’ Austria.
In Kern’s original plan, he said he wanted to establish same-sex marriage.
The chancellor also said to protect LGBTI Austrians in all aspects of life.
But in the new program, which is very close to Kern’s Plan A proposal, something crucial is missing: Kern’s stance on LGBTI people.
There is not a single mention of sexual minorities, any combination of LGBTI or synonymous acronyms or marriage equality – neither under same-sex marriage or the often used ‘homo marriage’.
The ÖVP’s negotiators said they had come up with a document ‘clearly carrying the ÖVP’s handwriting’.
The ÖVP has long objected to granting same-sex couples marriage equality.
Any bill opening marriage to same-sex couples is now unlikely to be debated before the next election.
Marriage is one of the few areas where same-sex couples still face discrimination in Austria.
Since 2010, they can enter registered partnership.
In 2016, following a 2015 ruling by the Constitutional Court, gay couples also have full joint adoption rights.
In terms of protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Kern’s original Plan A would have brought much-needed updates.
Currently, there are workplace protections, but in private discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is not prohibited.
Landlords, for example, could refuse a gay couple rental contracts.f successful, Gorsuch’s nomination will restore the 5-4 conservative majority on the nine-seat court, sparking fears among LGBT+ groups about the potential effect on future “religious freedom” cases which have often enshrined anti-discrimination rights.

Lambda Legal, an American legal organisation which promotes the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/Aids has come out in opposition of a Supreme Court nominee for the first time, signing a joint statement of opposition with GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Lambda’s chief executive, Rachel B Tiven, said in a statement: “We absolutely must not confirm a Supreme Court nominee who has ruled that the religious beliefs of employers can trump the law. It is a short hop from birth control restrictions to restrictions on the intimate relationships and healthcare needs of LGBT people.

“Through his decisions, Judge Gorsuch has promoted a vision of a society where some religions prevail over others, and are invited to flout the law.

“Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record is hostile toward LGBT people and his nomination to the US Supreme Court is unacceptable — we oppose.”

Gorsuch’s nomination must be approved in the US Senate, where the issue looks set to cause a showdown between Democrats and Republicans.

After Senate Republicans refused to consider Barack Obama’s choice for the seat, Merrick Garland, last year, arguing the nomination came too close to an election, it appears the Democrats may go out of their way to vote down or filibuster President Trump’s nomination in retaliation.

Source: http://www.gaysternews.com

Washington DC: LGBT groups have voiced their concern at US President Donald Trump’s nominee for the US Supreme Court. Trump today (February 1) announced conservative federal appeals court judge Neil M. Gorsuch as his nominee to fill the seat left by the the late Justice Atonin Scalia, who died just under a year ago. While heavy.com reports that Gorsuch has not ruled in any cases directly addressing LGBT+ rights, the 49-year-old is a conservative figure who has called the right-wing and anti-LGBT Justice Scalia “a lion of the law.” f successful, Gorsuch’s nomination will restore the 5-4 conservative majority on the nine-seat court, sparking fears among LGBT+ groups about the potential effect on future “religious freedom” cases which have often enshrined anti-discrimination rights.

Lambda Legal, an American legal organisation which promotes the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/Aids has come out in opposition of a Supreme Court nominee for the first time, signing a joint statement of opposition with GLBTQ Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Lambda’s chief executive, Rachel B Tiven, said in a statement: “We absolutely must not confirm a Supreme Court nominee who has ruled that the religious beliefs of employers can trump the law. It is a short hop from birth control restrictions to restrictions on the intimate relationships and healthcare needs of LGBT people.

“Through his decisions, Judge Gorsuch has promoted a vision of a society where some religions prevail over others, and are invited to flout the law.

“Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record is hostile toward LGBT people and his nomination to the US Supreme Court is unacceptable — we oppose.”

Gorsuch’s nomination must be approved in the US Senate, where the issue looks set to cause a showdown between Democrats and Republicans.

After Senate Republicans refused to consider Barack Obama’s choice for the seat, Merrick Garland, last year, arguing the nomination came too close to an election, it appears the Democrats may go out of their way to vote down or filibuster President Trump’s nominee.

Source: http//www.attitudes.co.uk

Ottawa: A recent human rights settlement involving the merits of using sex and gender markers on identification documents is being described as a landmark case that has prompted a federal government review.

Toronto trans activist Christin Milloy filed the case with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in January 2012, after making a number of unsuccessful attempts to update the gender information on her social insurance record through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

“Their practice was to record a gender designation by copying the sex designation from a birth certificate, and that created problems for me because my gender identity did not match my sex designation,” Milloy explains. She says the ESDC wanted her to produce an updated birth certificate, which she did not have, that reflected the gender marker she uses.

The settlement, reached earlier this month, means that ESDC’s procedure will be updated to make providing sex and gender information optional. Those who decide to disclose their gender will have at least three options to choose from — male, female, and a third alternative — when answering a sex or gender question. ESDC will also be included in an imminent government-wide initiative to review the collection of sex and gender data.

“What we got is exactly what we sought,” Milloy says. For her, that means an acknowledgement that it is “inappropriate to collect and store a sex designation, and it is inappropriate to use a gender designation for identification purposes.”

She recognizes, however, that the ESDC may require anonymous demographic data, including sex and gender data, for planning and evaluation.

Milloy’s lawyer barbara findlay (who does not capitalize her name) says the case’s outcome signals the first time a government has recognized that collecting gender marker information can be discriminatory, unless it’s proven to be necessary.

“That’s a huge thing because it’s a recognition that gender should be treated like race, or sexual orientation, or any of those other personal things,” she says. “Certainly it’s important to collect information about the demographics of a situation or the country, the workplace, the province, the city, whatever, but it’s equally important to not make people out themselves in order to collect that information.”

Findlay says it is especially important not to have gender designations on any document that an individual has to carry and produce.

She is also representing a group of eight complainants who are pushing BC’s Vital Statistics Agency to allow for gender-free birth certificates. The complainants, including the Trans Alliance Society of BC, filed the first complaint with the province’s human rights tribunal in November 2013. A hearing is set to take place in the coming months.

The case, and the use of gender markers overall, is not without debate within BC’s trans community. Those in favour of the removal of gender markers argue that mandatory inclusion of gender on primary documents doesn’t serve any useful purpose and could cause harm by forcing people who are non-binary or gender variant to have gender markers that do not match their identity. Others in the trans community feel such markers are a validation of the battles they fought to gain recognition of their gender identity.

Natalie Babin-Dufresne, the director of communications for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, says the outcome of Milloy’s case was informed by the principle that all levels of government remove gender markers on documents wherever possible.

Babin-Dufresne stresses that this was a settlement, not a decision, so it cannot officially set precedent, but it should influence similar cases.

“What it will do is inform or encourage the federal government and other government departments, provincially perhaps as well, to maybe change how they approach gathering data,” Babin-Dufresne says. “It might also open up avenues in terms of providing a third option, in addition to male and female.”

Findlay agrees that the settlement does not set official precedent, but says it should provide influence. “It certainly is persuasive.”

In Saskatchewan, a complaint has been filed challenging the collection of gender data on all government documents. Another federal complaint has also been filed with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to remove gender markers from Canadian passports.

Babin-Dufresne says the commission will be monitoring the government-wide review.

“What’s important to take away from this, is that this is a step in the direction of trying to allow people to choose, that they don’t have to choose between a service and providing personal information,” she says. “It’s allowing people to have more control over something that’s very personal.”

In Milloy’s opinion, the settlement should have an immediate effect on all similar cases.

“I’m extremely hopeful that this will set a precedent for them, where the government is going to cooperate with the notion that in the 21st century we don’t need gender as an identifier,” she says. “We certainly should not be considering the physiological sex of an infant; that shouldn’t follow someone around for the rest of their life on a card that they have to carry and show.”

She says she’ll work with other activists to watch the federal review very closely.

“It really is the next frontier of queer rights, in my opinion.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: Religious conservatives in America have expressed their unease after President Trump promised to protect rights for LGBT workers.
The Republican previously sparked fears he would row back on a executive order by President Obama protecting their rights, however, a statement from the White House later confirmed he would uphold the bill.
While the statement was greeted with relief from the LGBT community, it has sparked anger from religious groups, who label it as ‘absurd’.
Mat Staver, chairman of Christian legal group Liberty Council, said the Obama order “imposes the LGBTQ agenda” on the country.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, he added: “President Trump should not continue to impose Obama’s bad executive order that goes far beyond federal law.
“The fluid and subjective term ‘gender identity’ does not prevent discrimination into the workplace but rather injects in the workplace an agenda that is harmful to businesses and to other employees.”
Mr Staver also claimed the protections “open women’s restrooms to men”.
Obama’s 2014 order banned LGBT workplace discrimination by federal contractors and the federal government.
The bill applied to roughly 24,000 companies and 28 million employees – a fifth of America’s overall workforce.
However, religious groups claim it created ‘protected classes’ on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – even though these are not mentioned in the Civil Rights Act 1964.
One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises had been to add a religious exemption to the bill – but later pledged to be “respectful and supportive” of LGBT rights, “pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression”.
Ryan Anderson, a policy researcher for the Conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, also branded the pledge “a mistake”.
“Many organisations, including faith based groups, have beliefs about human embodiment that people are male and female – and that females and males are made for each other,” he added.
“The federal government shouldn’t penalise those groups when they operate according to their convictions.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Indiana: Indiana is to appeal a ruling from 2016 which led to same-sex parents being listed on the birth certificates of their children.
A federal judge last year ruled that the US state of Indiana must list the names of both mothers on the birth certificates of their children.US District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued the judgement in favour of eight lesbian couples, saying it was intended to end the “discriminatory” practice of previously only naming the birth mother on the certificates.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill did not agree with the ruling, however; saying the state would appeal.
Pratt’s judgement from last year read: “There is no conceivable important governmental interest that would justify the different treatment of female spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers from the male spouses of artificially-inseminated birth mothers.”
The couples had argued in their legal action that they were forced to undergo lengthy and costly adoption processes in order to be recognised as the legal parent of their own child.
The state’s attorneys in April had defended the law as it stood, that couples had to go through adoption processes or be in a biological relationship.
A spokesperson for the Indiana State Department of Health at the time said the department “abides by the law and will continue to do so.”
The decision to appeal was criticised by Freedom Indiana.
Campaign manager Chris Paulsen said: “By putting the interest of children first, Judge Pratt’s ruling helps to ensure that all loving and capable parents are to be treated equally under the law, including same-sex couples. Sadly, Attorney General Hill’s decision puts politics ahead of LGBT families, and it further damages the state’s reputation as an open and welcoming place for all.”
The couples celebrated the ruling, and an attorney for them said the ruling “obviously buttresses our contention that this shouldn’t have been something that was litigated in the first place.”
“These families are now put on the same level as opposite-sex couples,” she said.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Taipei: As same-sex marriage looks set to become a reality in Taiwan, the former Vice President has been criticised for telling the government to halt plans.
The Committee in Taiwan’s Legislature passed an amendment to include same-sex marriage in the Civil Code of the country on 26 December.
The passage of the amendment was the first step in legalising same-sex marriage.
The former Vice President Wu Den-yih said when stopped by a reporter that the government should stop the plans executed only for “an extremely small minority with a different sexual orientation”.
The candidate for the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) chairperson election was criticised by Chen Fang-ming, a professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature.
Chen wrote on Facebook saying the former VP showed he had litte understanding of democracy.
“He is basically still living in the martial law era. The core concepts of democracy and human rights are equality and justice, not separating people,” he said.
“The nation has had three changes in government, but the KMT does not seem to have changed its ideas about politics and still thinks that government is meant to serve those with vested interests,” Chen added.
“Wu wants to halt the proposed legislation on same-sex marriages; what he does not know is that people have already stopped believing in the KMT. Should the party continue to promote its own vested interests, it would never become the ruling party again,” he continued.
Article 972 will add the paragraph stating “an agreement to marry between people of the same-sex shall be made by two parties involved”.
This is in addition to “an agreement to marry shall be made by the made and the female parties themselves.”
Other amendments include the rights and duties which will be applied to same-sex couples who marry, also passed.
The legislator who introduced the bill, Yu Mei-nu, says that she is fairly confident that the bill could pass, despite the country being divided on the issue.
Opposition ha grown, with religious groups demonstrating and encouraging people to oppose it.
Yu said: “We’re almost close to passing it”.
She estimates that 54 of 113 legislators are in favour of marriage equality, despite saying “some of them are under pressure so they might flake”.
She hopes to pass the measure before 2018, when an election could “make every issue politicised”.
The country’s parliament will debate the amendments in what activist hope will mean Taiwan will be the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage.
Despite some opposition from Christian groups, supporters hope that if legalised in Taiwan, other Asian countries will follow.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Caucus Whip earlier in December said that the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Taiwan “will be passed” in 2017.
The country is one of the most progressive in Asia on LGBT rights, providing some LGBT rights protections and allowing some limited recognition of same-sex relationships.
Ker Chien-ming said that he holds no “loathing for homosexuality”, and that the bill will be passed after a legislative committee on 26 December, and in the next legislative session.
He said the bill would go for a third reading in the general committee after the December hearing.
HIs own party’s legislator Yu Mei-nu has taken a leading role in pushing for equality in the country.
President Tsai Ing-wen said following protests in favour of the bill: “Let’s not treat the people around us as enemies,”
Lawmakers in the country are hoping to push further on equality issues – with politicians from the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last month filing a bill that would legalise same-sex weddings.
The bill would change the definition of marriage to specify it is between two people, rather than between a “man and woman”.
As the legislation heads towards Parliament, hopes are high that it could pass – making Taiwan the first country in Asia to permit same-sex couples to marry. The country’s President, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, previously expressed support for equal marriage.
There is some opposition to the legislation, however, primarily from Western-inspired fundamentalist church groups, who have some influence in the region.
The anti-LGBT Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan has vowed to protest the change.
The group’s head Chang Shou-yi fumed: “What gay activists want is for their lifestyle to be affirmed by society, but why do they need to change the traditional institution of marriage, which goes back thousands of years?”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Oslo: Norway’s first gay wedding in a church has taken place, just seconds after the change in the rules came in to force.
Kjell Frølich Benjaminsen and Erik Skjelnæs tied the knot in the Eidskog Church in the South of the country just after midnight, making them the first same sex couple to have a marriage ceremony in a church.
Paster Bettina Eckbo, who led the service, said it was “great fun and really cosy to be part of”.
“They already represent the values that marriage is about,” she told news agency NTB. “Faithfulness and supporting one another on good days and bad.”
The pair have lived together for 36 years – longer than their pastor has even been alive.Picture: Jensons/Wikimedia
Same sex marriage was passed into Norweigan law in 2008, but couples were previously unable to get married in a church.
In January the Church of Norway approved a liturgy, or service, which included same-sex couples, which the changes coming into force in February.
Eighty nine members of the general synod at the Evangelical-Lutheran church approved the vote, with delegate saying it was “the day when a prayer and a dream have been fulfilled”.
“No couple should be met with a cold shoulder,” added Gard Sandaker-Nilsen, who registered his own civil partnership in 2008.
The newly weds had previous said after waiting so long to get married, they didn’t have another second to spare.
Pastor Eckbo added: “In many ways, these two men have lived through a lot of the recent history of homosexuals. When they got together in 1981, it must have seemed very unreal for them to think that they would one day get married in the church.”
The country is well know for it’s positive attitude to the LGBT community and was recently named the best place in Europe for LGBT workers.
It was also the second in Europe to provide free HIV-preventing PrEP drugs through it’s National Health Service in 2016 and trans people in the country can legally change their gender by signing just one form, in a scheme which is also open to children with the consent of their parents.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: There is much to celebrate about how far the UK has progressed on LGBT issues. One area, however, where there is still a massive amount of work to do is LGBT asylum. The Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group and Stonewall have published a joint report, entitled No Safe Refuge: Experiences of LGBT Asylum Seekers in Detention. LGBT refugees are experiencing horrific abuse, which many people in the LGBT community are unaware of. We must do more to defend the rights of LGBT refugees in the UK.

Holding refugees in detention centres is inappropriate, especially for LGBT people. There are nine detention centres in the UK. We are the only country in Europe to hold asylum claimants indefinitely in detention centres. Many LGBT refugees leave detention centres traumatised. LGBT refugees are particularly vulnerable to intimidation and bullying. They are often alienated from their fellow asylum claimants by their LGBT identities. LGBT people are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. The inappropriate nature of the detention system has now been recognised for trans refugees, who are designated as a group who are particularly vulnerable in detention. This means trans people have to be assessed before they can be held in a detention centre. If the immigration considerations outweigh the risk factors, they will be detained. This is a recent development and has yet to be put into practice.

It does not necessarily mean that they cannot be held in detention centres. Pregnant women, victims of torture and those with mental health conditions also fall into this category. At the moment lesbian, gay and bisexual people do not. I believe we should move to community based alternatives for all asylum claimants, but certainly for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. The No Safe Refuge report suggests a maximum 28-day detention limit for all asylum claimants.

LGBT asylum claimants have particularly complex cases, which detention hinders. It is important that asylum claimants have the opportunity to prove their refugee status. We must be fair in this assessment. It is very hard for LGBT people to proceed with their asylum claims in detention. There are many barriers.

Asylum claimants must meet a burden of proof in terms of their sexual orientation. We are asking them to prove their LGBT status, whilst holding them in environments which are hostile to LGBT people. Many may feel they have to hide their LGBT status in the detention camps from fellow asylum claimants, because of intimidation and bullying. This duality, where claimants have to assert their LGBT identities to those assessing their asylum claims, whilst concealing it from their fellow asylum claimants, does not give them a fair chance to prove that their asylum claim is genuine.

Holding LGBT claimants outside of detention centres gives them a better opportunity to gather evidence as to their sexual identities. For example, they can access support services and the internet. It remains illegal to be gay in 77 countries, although those countries may be safe for non-LGBT asylum claimants to return to. Many countries have stable governments, but discriminate against LGBT people.

Also, when assessing whether an LGBT asylum claimant is genuine, claimants may not have the vocabulary skills, or use expressions which we would expect, to discuss their sexuality. They may not conform to expectations about how an LGBT person would behave or dress.There needs to be better training for the people working in detention centres, as well as for the staff assessing LGBT claims. Lines of accountability need to be clearer. Many of the people who work in detention centres are provided by contractors. Some have worked within the prison service. Many have no training on LGBT issues, which needs to be made compulsory for all people working in detention centres.

In terms of the civil servants assessing the asylum claims, a number of barriers have been encountered around LGBT claims. The high burden of proof and the hurdles LGBT people must overcome, has seen confused decision making. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that an LGBT person could not be sent back to their country of origin if this meant that they would have to conceal their LGBT identities.

Caseworkers also need to be better trained on LGBT issues and on decision making around LGBT claims. We need high quality and sensitive decision making.

We should not be holding LGBT asylum claimants in detention. Their claims are too complex and cannot be processed fairly in this way.

For further information, check out the No Safe Refuge report and the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and Stonewall’s websites. This LGBT History Month, as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the decriminalisation of gay and bisexual men, spare a thought for LGBT refugees and the hardship they face. We must have equality for ALL people!

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Washington DC: Despite initial fears that the US president would repeal Obama’s 2014 executive order banning workplace discrimination, the White House has issued a statement confirming that he will uphold protections for LGBT+ people.

They said: “President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.

“The executive order signed in 2014 […] will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”

While activists breathed a momentary sigh of relief at the announcement, it seems some conservative religious groups weren’t too happy with the president’s decision to allow LGBT+ people to have the same protections as everyone else.

Liberty Counsel, who represented infamous county clerk Kim Davis after she denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples, have claimed that Trump’s decision to uphold Obama’s executive order “imposes the LGBTQ agenda”.

Mat Staver, chairman of the Christian legal group, said in a statement: “President Trump should not continue to impose Obama’s bad executive order that goes far beyond federal law.

“The fluid and subjective term ‘gender identity’ does not prevent discrimination in the workplace but rather injects in the workplace an agenda that is harmful to businesses and to other employees.

“Such a policy opens women’s restrooms to men. To force business to be at the mercy of a person’s subjective and changing thoughts or be forced to allow those with ill intent to cause harm is absurd.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Anderson, a policy researcher at conservative Christian ‘think tank’ the Heritage Foundation, has called Trump’s decision to keep Obama’s executive order “a mistake”.

He said: “Many organisations, including faith-based groups, have beliefs about human embodiment that people are male and female – and that females and males are made for each other.

“The federal government shouldn’t penalise those groups when they operate according to their convictions.”

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Brisbane: The Australian federal government will cut funding to the Queensland AIDS Council’s (QuAC) 2 Spirits program – a sexual health initiative which has been running in Queensland for 21 years and was responsible for the ground-breaking Condoman campaign.

The program has been earmarked to lose its funding from June 30 with QuAC having been given twelve months notice of the plan to cut its budget.With sexually transmitted infections rates already at 20 times higher than that of the non-indigenous community, QuAC is concerned with the outcome the loss of funding for the service will have, particularly on those people living with HIV and those on PrEP, as the 2 Spirits program assisted in the distribution of HIV meds.

QuAC director Michael Scott told Nine News the LGBTI community would be particularly hard hit by the loss, as indigenous LGBTI people did not seek medical attention with indigenous medical services due to fears of stigma.

HIV infections are not the only concern, indigenous Australians also have significantly higher rates of infection of other sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea (which peaks at 18 times higher than that of non indigenous Australians).

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

Brisbane: He’s already shown he’s no friend to single mothers with comments labeling them as “too lazy to attract and hold a man”, and now One Nation candidate David Archibald has proved he doesn’t think much of the LGBTI community either.

An editorial piece the Pilbara candidate wrote in 2015 has resurfaced in which Archibald, described homosexuality as an “acceptable loss, on evolutionary terms”.

Archibald suggests in the piece that homosexual marriage would lead to a “bitter harvest of broken marriages and abandoned children” and suggested the purpose of marriage was procreation and any move to change this would weaken society.

“It is not about a pair of homosexuals being able to look gooey-eyed at each other, it is about undermining civilisation and making our culture more like African-American culture with its 70 per cent illegitimacy rate,” wrote Archibald.

He said the cultures that reinforced marriage for procreation thrived whilst those that did not fell by the wayside.

“It is possible that the incidence of homosexuality is an acceptable loss, in evolutionary terms, so that the rest of the males can be more male-like.

“Viewed in that way, homosexuality is part of the human condition. But so is marriage – it is more than just a social construct. A successful culture wouldn’t mix the two. A degenerate culture might.”

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

Melbourne: A conservative grouping of the Liberal Party, Nationals and crossbenchers have joined together to block legislation for self-determined sex marker on birth certificates, changes to discriminatory exemptions within the equal opportunity act and to oppose safe schools.

The Labor party joined with this grouping to vote down the Greens Equality for Students Bill which would have outlawed discrimination against LGBTI students at faith-based schools.
This conservative grouping now threatens any further progress on LGBTI law reform, climate action and environment protection.

At the start of this parliament, with a change of government and a record number of Greens MP’s, I had held hope for even further equality reform than what the government was proposing.

However due the tight numbers in the Upper House, where 22 votes are needed to pass legislation, the prospect of any further reform is increasingly unlikely.

The debate on the Births Death and Marriages Bill that would have allowed transgender people to change the sex marker on their birth certificate without the need for surgery was particularly repugnant, degenerating into hate speech by Liberal MP’s and conservative crossbenchers.

The crossbenchers in the conservative block are made up of the Shooters & Fishers Party, Democratic Labor Party (DLP) and the little known independent from Western Victoria, James Purcell.

Purcell was elected with just 1.28% of the primary vote on a vague ‘vote 1 local jobs’ platform thanks to a very favourable preferences flow, including crucial preferences from the Sex Party who gave their preferences to Purcell over the Greens.

To everyone’s surprise Purcell has been one of the most socially conservative MP’s, voting against same-sex adoption and refusing to meet with LGBTI advocates, even those within his own region of Western Victoria.

If the Sex Party’s 10,934 votes had flowed to the Greens instead or Purcell, Greens candidate Lloyd Davies would have been elected. This would have provided enough votes in the Legislative Council to pass critical LGBTI legislation in this term, potentially changing the course of history for equality in this state.

Whilst it might be easy to put off any further attempts at reform for this term of parliament until after the next election, electoral volatility and group voting tickets means we simply can’t predict the makeup of the next Victorian Parliament. This could very well be the best chance we get at achieving reform for a long time.

A change in government to the Liberals would mean an end to the Safe Schools programs and potential rolling back of LGBTI, environmental and social reforms.

There is so much still to achieve including progressing marriage equality, strengthening protections in the Equal Opportunity Act, increasing rights and recognition for transgender & intersex communities, improving access to PrEP, protecting safe schools and increased funding for LGBTI community groups. We must continue the fight for equality despite the legislative road block in the Victorian Parliament.

To do this, firstly we must reach out to multicultural and faith communities to ensure their voices are heard in the equality debate. Too often we hear from rent-a-quote organisations such as the ACL opposing equality, when many faith based voices in support of equality are ignored. Multicultural and faith based voices are often portrayed as opposed to LGBTI law reform such as marriage equality when this simply isn’t the case.

Secondly, we must create a platform for cross party collaboration. The federal LGBTI friendship group has been an important forum for cross party coloration, education and coalition building for equality law reform at the national level. However, the Victorian group has been moribund for the past two years at a crucial time when a number of important reforms have been put before parliament. The Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTI Victorians needs to be re-invigorated with regular meetings and input from LGBTI advocates as well as all sides of politics.

Thirdly we mustn’t lose hope. While 2016 was a tough year on many fronts, we must also celebrate the wins we had as we look towards a fresh start to 2017. I’m particularly proud to have successfully amended the Relationship Act 2016 to allow for ceremonies to be conducted in conjunction with the registration of same-sex relationships in Victoria. This was a modest step in lieu of achieving marriage equality, but it was a step forward nevertheless.

It was also a tremendous relief to see such a strong community campaign stare down the plebiscite nationally, something that would have been not only unnecessary but also costly and damaging to the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and their families.

With strong support in the Victorian community for further LGBTI law reform, now more than ever we must continue work together to overcome the legislative road block in Victoria’s parliament.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Washington DC: A draft of an anti-LGBT “religious freedom” executive order is circulating among federal government agencies, as rumors swirl that Donald Trump may unveil it at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday.

The president Monday backed off on reversing President Obama’s executive order barring companies with federal government contracts from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But the draft order, obtained by The Nation and the Investigative Fund, would provide corporations and nonprofits a broad license to use religious dogma as a justification for discrimination, much like the First Amendment Defense Act now pending in Congress, which Trump has said he would sign if it passed.

“The four-page draft order, a copy of which is currently circulating among federal staff and advocacy organizations, construes religious organizations so broadly that it covers ‘any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations,’ and protects ‘religious freedom” in every walk of life: ‘when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments,’” The Nation reports.

“The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act,” the magazine continues.

The order would, for instance, allow adoption or foster-care agencies that receive federal funds to discriminate against LGBT parents or children, without repercussions, Jenny Pizer, senior counsel and law and policy director for Lambda Legal, told The Nation. Or federal employees, such those who work for the Social Security Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs, could conceivably “refuse on religious grounds to process applications or respond to questions from those whose benefits depend on same-sex marriages,” Ira Lupu, a professor emeritus at the George Washington University Law School, told the publication.

Such an order would likely run afoul of the U.S. Constitution, according to Lupu and others, in privileging one set of religious beliefs over others. It may violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from establishing a religion, Lupu said. Tiven said it reminds her of the Mississippi “license to discriminate” law that was struck down by a federal court last year because it violated the Establishment Clause as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing all Americans equal protection of the laws. That decision is currently on appeal.

Even before the draft order circulated, there were rumors that Trump would use the prayer breakfast to announce some sort of “license to discriminate” order. The annual event will be held Thursday morning at the Washington Hilton, and 3,000 people from more than 130 countries — and a diverse selection of faiths — are expected to attend.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: While US LGBT, reproductive rights, and civil liberties groups are denouncing Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, the far right is over the moon about the choice.

“I’m very pleased,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins told Fox News host Lou Dobbs Tuesday night. “I think the president has done exactly what he said he was going to do on the campaign trail. … He said he was going to pick pro-life judges that were strict constructionists, and that’s what we appear to have in Judge Gorsuch.”

Perkins, who was in the White House’s East Room with Trump when he made the announcement, predicted Gorsuch would “read the letters on the page and not try to find things within the shadows of the Constitution.” Dobbs, for his part, said Gorsuch is an “absolutely ideal candidate, but you and I both know that the left will try to smear him.”

“The left and the Dems in this country … have turned to subversion, for crying out loud, and obstructionism as much as opposition,” Dobbs continued. Perkins responded that Democrats will have a hard time opposing Gorsuch.

Todd Starnes, a contributor to Fox News and other conservative outlets, characterized Gorsuch’s opponents even more colorfully in a column published on Townhall, calling them a “liberal hate mob” that will descend on the nominee “like a pack of rabid jackals.” He further wrote, “Liberals are genuinely repulsed by any judicial appointee who values life and liberty.”

Several other far-right activists and commentators lauded Gorsuch, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit who has, among other things, denounced the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for employer-provided health insurance plans to cover contraceptives with no cost-sharing by employees. The right-wingers usually didn’t mention specific issues like the contraceptive mandate, abortion rights, or marriage equality, instead using code words such as “judicial activism” or “social engineering.”

“It’s time to return this country back to the rule of law where judges interpret the original meaning of the Constitution and the laws before them,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, in a press release. “Judicial activism is destroying the judiciary and will ultimately weaken the role of the judicial in the eyes of the people. The only power that courts have is the trust of the people that judges will act fairly and put aside personal bias. From the Supreme Court to the state courts, the role of judges is to judge fairly. If they want to be legislators, then let them run for office. Judicial activism has no place on the bench.” Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit legal group, has represented numerous anti-LGBT clients, including Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis and Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

From Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, which opposes abortion rights and contraception, came this statement: “We are excited about the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. We firmly believe that he will be a fitting person to fill the seat formerly occupied by Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Gorsuch shares the same values and commitment to life as American Life League and its supporters. We look forward to doing everything we can to see that this exemplary man is confirmed by the Senate and takes his seat as soon as possible.”

The American Family Association, which is virulently anti-LGBT, “applauds President Trump’s choice of Judge Gorsuch and urges you to thank him,” the group’s president, Tim Wildmon, said in a press release. He called Gorsuch “a believer in a broad definition of religious freedom” and applauded him for supporting “Christian employers and religious organizations in the cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Little Sisters of the Poor,” the challenges to the ACA mandate. Roman Catholics oppose all methods of contraception, and some other religious conservatives consider common contraceptives such as the pill and intra-uterine devices to be abortion-inducing agents.

American Values president and onetime presidential aspirant Gary Bauer called Gorsuch “a distinguished jurist who will protect the law and the United States for years to come,” adding in his press release, “For too long, activist judges have shredded the U.S. Constitution, making us all vulnerable to political whims and social engineering. As a result, the political left has imposed its agenda on the public without respect for the will of the voters, common sense or the law itself.”

FreedomWorks, which advocates for conservative economic policies, sent out an email calling on supporters to urge their senators to confirm Gorsuch. FreedomWorks president and CEO Adam Brandon noted that Gorsuch has criticized a 1984 Supreme Court decision that “requires federal courts to defer to regulatory agencies’ interpretations of ‘silent or ambiguous’ statutes.” This “has allowed federal bureaucrats to enact law without judicial review,” Brandon wrote.

Gorsuch does not have an extensive paper trail on LGBT issues, but in a 2005 National Review article, he wrote, “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.” Also, he joined two unpublished opinions that opposed transgender rights.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Perth: A pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial is slated to commence in Western Australia during the latter half of this year, allowing 2,000 people to access the HIV prevention pill.

The trial will be a partnership between the Health Department, the Kirby Institute, and the WA AIDS Council who will lead the project.

State Minister for Health John Day signed off on the trial, which will receive $1.3 million in funding to run over two years.
In a report by OUT in Perth, Chief Executive of the WA AIDS Council Andrew Burry said getting the trial approved had been a long time in the making.

“It’s become a cliché, but PrEP really is a game changer and this trial will allow us to get as many people as possible on to PrEP as quickly as possible,” he said.

“PrEP allows us to make a genuine difference in trying to end HIV and to stop any new infections.”
PrEP is taken in the form of Truvada, an antiretroviral drug used by HIV-negative people as part of HIV preventative medical treatment.

Evidence has shown that when taken consistently it is 96 to 98 per cent effective in preventing HIV infection.

Last year HIV advocates and health organisations were outraged when the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) rejected submissions to subsidise PrEP under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Trials are already underway in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, allowing thousands of participants to access the ‘game-changing’ pill.

The Western Australian trial will focus on men who have sex with men, but won’t be limited to that group. The WA AIDS Council has said details on how people can register will be announced in due course.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

New York: 55-year-old New Yorker Sara Kelly Keenan has this week become the first person in New York state, and perhaps the whole of the United States, to receive an intersex birth certificate.

Born with male, genes, female genitalia and mixed reproductive organs, Keenan, who learnt that her request had been approved early in December, was overwhelmed when the amended certificate finally arrived.

Speaking with Mic, Keenan called the certificate “shocking and empowering”.

“It felt incredibly wonderful to see that word plastered there as truth and reality, as nothing to be ashamed of. Just truth.”

“I always knew I was something other than what the boys were and something other than what the girls were but I didn’t know what that was,” she said. “And I thought I was alone in the world with whatever it was.”

“New York has opened the door and I don’t think they’ll be able to shut it again,” she said.

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

Ottawa: Canada’s acceptance of LGBT asylum seekers has climbed after a controversial 2012 clamp-down on claimants from so-called “safe countries,” according to data obtained by Xtra.

Documents released through the Access to Information Act reveal that Canada approved 69 percent of asylum claims classified as “sexual orientation and gender minorities” in 2015, compared with an average of 61 percent in the preceding four years.

Meanwhile, the number of people making SOGI claims has only slightly risen, with 1,286 claims decided in 2015 compared with an average of 1,132 in the preceding four years.

The documents cover asylum claims classified as SOGI and processed between 2011 and 2015. The data only includes Immigration and Refugee Board decisions on inland claims; it doesn’t include Canada’s intake of sponsored and non-sponsored refugees who arrive through the United Nations Refugee Agency.

The Immigration and Refugee Board stresses these are rough numbers because some refugee claims involve more than one category, and some refugees are granted asylum for a reason other than the main category under which they had filed a claim.

“Claim-type categories are generic and are the ‘best fit’ for each case given the available categories,” the tribunal said in its data release. The data sorts claims by the year they were adjudicated, though many claims have taken years to be decided, while some are appealed.

Sean Rehaag, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School has researched refugee claims for years. He says the success rate of SOGI claims dwarfs other categories like political refugees or persecuted religious minorities.

“That suggests that there’s widespread persecution against LGBT claimants and that the Immigration and Refugee Board is recognizing that,” he says. “Frankly, it reflects the reality of rampant homophobia in many countries around the world.”

Rehaag notes SOGI claims are “notoriously difficult to adjudicate” because claimants often spend their lives hiding any proof of their sexuality before being asked to prove it to a stranger.

“It’s an incredibly fraught and difficult process,” he says. “And the fact there are hundreds of people who are going through this process every year is really an indicator that we need to make sure that those processes are fair, and that the processes are not relying on stereotypes about sexual minorities.”

Data from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada on accepted and rejected SOGI asylum inland claims between 2011 and 2015.

‘Safe’ countries

Even as the rate of approved asylum requests jumped from 38 to 59 percent since 2011, the number of people arriving in Canada to claim asylum has dropped by a quarter (from 12,905 claims in 2011 to just 9,537 in 2015).

The drop coincides with the former Conservative government’s 2012 decision to maintain a list of Designated Countries of Origin (DCO), which curtailed the appeal rights for refugee claimants from countries deemed to have a functioning justice system and human rights. There are currently 42 countries on the list, which the governing Liberals plan to alter.

While the previous government said the list cracked down on “bogus” refugees who had their claims thrown out, advocates and researchers say it instead imposed difficult timelines on vulnerable claimants.

Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, says SOGI claimants have been particularly affected by the DCO list.

“Generally, they’re going to be from countries where there is a democratic government in place, where there isn’t an outright conflict happening,” Dench says. “Even though there may be generally peaceful situation and rule of law, that may not extend to people who are sexual minorities or people facing gender persecution.”

While the data shows fewer claims and higher success rates among the claims made, Rehaag pushes back against the idea that the new system has weeded out false claimants, because the SOGI success rate remains high.

“During the same period when our former government was talking about abuse of the refugee-determination system, there were large groups of refugee claimants, including LGBT refugee claimants, who were succeeding at a very high rate,” Rehaag says. “I think there’s a lesson there about being careful of applying stereotypes about claimants.”

In his November 2015 ministerial mandate letter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tasked then-Immigration Minister John McCallum with establishing “an expert human rights panel to help you determine designated countries of origin.” Just four months later, the Federal Court restored DCO claimants’ right to an appeal.

But it’s unclear whether the government will change the list, which was last updated in October 2014 under the previous government. Trudeau’s mandate letter to new Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, posted Feb 1, 2017, contains no mention of the DCO list.

Dench notes that the DCO system isn’t improving time frames, according to both a March 2016 IRB evaluation and an April 2016 immigration department report.

“Rather than improving the DCO list, it should be simply eradicated,” Dench says. “It’s not working; it’s not serving the purposes that were intended.”

Differences for bisexuals and trans people

The data shows huge fluctuations in success rates for the four SOGI categories: bisexual, gay, lesbian and “Varied/Other.” That last category jumps from 50 to 79 percent success, and includes trans people and other identities like genderqueer, intersex and South Asia’s Hijra and Kothi minorities.

In each year, lesbians have a higher success rate than gay men by two to nine more percentage points, though they account for one-third as many claims as gay men.

Rehaag notes that in all five years, bisexual claimants had a lower success rate than gays or lesbians.

“Why is it that bisexuals are being disbelieved at a higher rate than other types of sexual-minority claimants?” Rehaag wonders. “That tracks onto other social phenomenon, where bisexuality is a sexual orientation or identity that is treated with a rate of skepticism more broadly than others.”

Variations by country

The data reveal trends for countries with crackdowns on queer people, though not always as expected.

Russia, which banned “homosexual propaganda” in 2013 and saw a rise in LGBT hate crimes, had a steady climb in SOGI claimants from 34 in 2011 to 53 in 2014, but just 19 claims in 2015.

The numbers shift even more dramatically for Uganda, where lawmakers passed a 2014 law to execute gay people (the bill was watered down to life in prison, and remains suspended under a constitutional court challenge).

The number of SOGI claimants from Uganda jumped from 17 in 2013 — with just a 59 percent success rate — to 45 claims in 2015, with 76 percent success. In 2011, 30 of the 35 asylum claims from Uganda were approved.

Many countries also show a large year-by-year fluctuation, both in terms of SOGI asylum claims made and approved. . For example, Albania, Venezuela and Zimbabwe each had the highest success rate in one of the five years, holding a 100 percent success rate with more than a dozen claimants — but all three of these countries also showed a success rate of two-thirds or less in other years, according to the data.

The data also includes rare cases of LGBT refugees from countries with codified protections of LGBT people. Israel, whose government promotes itself as a bastion of queer rights in a hostile region, saw two successful gay male asylum seekers in 2011 (Palestine is listed as a separate region, and had one successful claim in 2014). France also saw one successful gay male claim in 2012. But Dench says not to read too much into small numbers.

“Sometime issues of nationality are kind of obscured because of family members with different nationalities,” Dench says, citing the example of people whose children have US citizenship though the parents were born in another country. “There are a lot of things that could be going on in a particular case.”

Per capita, the countries that send the most LGBT refugees to Canada are Caribbean islands such as Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia and Jamaica, as well as Namibia and Albania, which consistently produce SOGI refugees every year.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Lynchburg: Donald Trump has chosen the anti-LGBT fundamentalist Jerry Falwell Jr. to head a federal task force on Department of Education policy.

Falwell, the president of Liberty University, sees his appointment “as a response to what he called ‘overreaching regulation’ and micromanagement by the department,” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. In his Tuesday interview with the Chronicle, Falwell specifically mentioned policies on accreditation and student loan repayment, but it would not be surprising if he saw policies banning discrimination against LGBT students as “overreaching regulation.”

The code of conduct at Liberty University, founded by Falwell’s notoriously homophobic father, states that “sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural born woman are not permissible.” The university has hosted several anti-LGBT events, including some that endorse so-called conversion therapy. Among its other far-right positions, the school supports creationism and climate change denial.

Falwell has also made Islamophobic statements. After the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., in December 2015, he said, “I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits [for guns], then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed.” He later said “those Muslims” was a reference to only the San Bernardino attackers, not Muslims generally. He supports concealed carry of firearms on college campuses, and Liberty allows students to have guns in residence halls.

He was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign, at a time when some other leaders of the Christian right did not fully trust Trump to embrace their crusades against LGBT rights and abortion. He told the Chronicle that Trump offered him the position with the task force in November, after he turned down an offer to be secretary of Education because it would take him away from the university, and he was given permission this week to discuss the matter publicly.

LGBT activists were quick to denounce Falwell’s appointment. “Jerry Falwell Jr. checks all the boxes for an education post in the Trump administration: He is bigoted, unqualified, and reliably opposed to protecting students from predatory companies,” said a statement issued by Congressman Mark Takano of California. “As a gay man, I am enraged that his anti-LGBT rhetoric is being rewarded with a leadership post. As a former teacher, I am deeply concerned for students who will inevitably be exploited by unregulated for-profit education companies. And as an American, I continue to be appalled by President Trump’s pattern of selecting unqualified ideologues to guide national education policy.”

Added Equality Federation spokesman Mark Daniel Snyder: “Jerry Falwell Jr. espouses an extreme anti-LGBTQ and anti-science worldview. He poses a real threat to our community, especially young people who should have a fair opportunity to learn free from discrimination and prejudices. It is deeply troubling that Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with the ‘who’s who’ of homophobic, racist, and xenophobic leaders. We will resist any attempt to poison our educational system with anti-LGBTQ and anti-science extremism.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Hereford, UK: A trans teen is to sue his former school after it refused to let him wear a boy’s uniform, claiming it was ‘just a phase’.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named, attended Hereford Cathedral School where it’s alleged he was told he “would grow out of it” when he asked to be addressed as a boy and wear boy’s clothes.He said that he was effectively excluded from the school after it claimed he was “attention seeking” and would not move on its position.
The teen’s mother has said that the school’s treatment is appalling.
“They made my child out to be a freak and someone who would contaminate other students,” she said.
She has now removed her son and believes the school don’t the ability to support his needs.
The school have rebuked the claims saying the boy was removed from the school before a meeting over his needs could take place.
“The continued happiness, wellbeing and safety of our pupils is the top priority,” it said in a statement.
“The family’s grievances against the school are the subject of current legal proceedings.
“For that reason, the school is unable to discuss any details relating to this matter at the present time, other than to state that it will defend its position in the proceedings.”
The Equality Act 2010 classifies gender identity as a protected characteristic and requires organisations to treat trans people fairly.
It gives legal grounds for recourse, with only a few exceptions

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: There has been a sharp rise in the number of young people calling Childline about LGBT issues.
7,729 counselling sessions about gender and sexuality were carried out by the charity between 2015 and 2016, the most recent year figures are available for.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), who run the children’s helpline, say it marks a 47% increase from the previous year’s figures – now the highest ever reported.
More than a quarter of callers had never confided in someone about their LGBT issues prior to calling the service.
Dame Esther Rantzen, President of Childline said: “I have met young people who were desperately unhappy because they couldn’t talk to anyone about issues regarding their sexuality and I am so pleased that they do feel able to talk to Childline and reveal their feelings without being judged or stigmatised.
“It is not helpful that children use the term ‘gay’ as a common term of playground abuse.
“Furthermore, for years the adult world has created a taboo around these issues which effectively imprisoned young people and in some cases has even led to depression and suicide.
“Childline is calling upon the adult world to listen sensitively and support young people and protect them from this profound unhappiness and loneliness.”
The most common age to call with LGBT issues was 12-15 years old.
Meanwhile some 450 of the calls the charity received were related to bullying in school.
Childline previously reported a record number of calls on trans issues in the same period.
CEO of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, said: “Talking about sexuality and gender identity can be daunting for anyone, but especially for children and young people who are still trying to find their place in the world.
“Fear of being stigmatized or subjected to bullying can force many to bottle up their thoughts and feelings which can leave them feeling isolated, and can trigger serious mental health issues.
“It is vital children and young people feel confident and supported to speak openly about sexuality or gender identity without fear of negative reactions and abuse.
“Adults, be it a parent, relation, teacher or friend, have a key part to play by helping them navigate these difficult and confusing issues, encouraging them to speak out, if not to them, then to peers or Childline.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: Partnered gay men earn less than their straight counterparts while lesbians earn more, a new study has revealed.
Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) have tested how sexual orientation and relationship status affects differences in earnings and employment status between heterosexual and homosexual people. The report stated that the difference in earnings between partnered lesbians and partnered straight women was around 5.5 percent and regarded as “statistically significant”.
However, when only single women were compared earning differentials were practically non-existent.
The opposite was true for partnered gay men, who were found to be penalised for being in a relationship.
Single gay men and straight men had “near zero” difference between their earnings.
In regards to employment status, the study found that gay men were 4.5 percent less likely to be working full-time than their straight counterparts.
When this is isolated to just a comparison of those in a relationship, the figures rises to 6.1 percent.
Bisexual men are twice as likely than gay men not to be working full-time with almost 12 percent (11.9) not working full-time when compared to heterosexual men.
For women, however, the reverse is true.
Lesbians were 8.2 percent more likely to be working full-time than straight women, though bisexual women were 5.4 percent less likely.
Again, when only the partnered sample is considered, lesbians in a relationship are 15.4 percent more likely to work full-time.
Authors of the study stated that their results were consistent with previous studies.
“Traditional heterosexual partnerships typically involve gendered specialisation, with the man more engaged in market activities than the woman, particularly given the prevalence of children among heterosexual couples,” they said.
“Even if the degree of household specialisation were the same in heterosexual and gay male households, gendered heterosexual specialisation means that the average partnered heterosexual man will be more focused upon market activities than the average partnered gay man.”
In a study last year, it was found that bisexual men earn a third less than gay colleagues.
Bisexual people were also found to be more likely to live in poverty or have poor health.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Washington DC: US President Donald Trump has no plans ‘at this time’ to sign a sweeping religious freedom Executive Order to make it legal to discriminate against LGBTI people and others.
‘We do not have plans to sign anything at this time but will let you know when we have any updates,’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokesperson, tells ABC News.
A draft of the order was leaked to The Investigative Fund and The Nation and quickly denounced by LGBTI organizations.
The four-page draft is titled titled ‘Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.’
It calls for religious freedom ‘when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.’
The draft creates exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage and trans identity as well as premarital sex and abortion.
ABC News was told by White House officials that the draft appears to be among the hundreds of possible Executive Orders that are circulating.
These orders have been drafted by the Trump transition team, the White House policy team or by outside groups.
The administration claims that not all the orders reflect administration thinking or likely policy.
But LGBTI organizations are ready for battle.
‘The reported Executive Order is a direct attack on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, everyone living with HIV, women, and all Americans who love liberty,’ Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven said in a statement today.
‘The immediate public outcry in response to the leaked order confirmed what we already know: people overwhelmingly reject discrimination against LGBT people and don’t want taxpayer money to fund hatred. Bigotry—whether against LGBT people, women, Muslim immigrants or refugees—has no place in our country.
‘The Administration needs to stand down.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: The rate of gay men being diagnosed with HIV has dropped by nearly a third in England since 2015.

One explanation for the sharp drop is that people have been taking PrEP.

The new results have been reported by New Scientist and comes from preliminary figures from all sexual health clinics across England for 2016.

It proves that the downwards trend of new infections is happening across the country.

“Provisional data suggests that HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in England has fallen, although it is not possible to confirm this at a national level until all data for 2016 have been received,” Valerie Delpech of Public Health England told New Scientist.It is thought that the sharp drop is down to gay men taking pre-exposure prophylaxis medication, which they have imported from abroad.

The drugs aren’t currently available on the NHS and cost around £400 a month.

However, the NHS has warned that importing PrEP medication from abroad could be dangerous.

“Medicines purchased in this way could have the wrong active ingredient, no active ingredient, or an incorrect dosage,” a spokesperson for the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said.

“Prescription medicines are “prescription only” for good reason.”

That being said, reacting to the new figures, Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “After years of high rates of HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men, it is really exciting to see these indications of such a sharp drop in England.It is early days but this points towards what can be achieved when we utilise all the weapons in our arsenal against HIV transmission. This includes access to condoms, testing, PrEP and, crucially, diagnosing and treating people as early as possible so they can become uninfectious.

“This is extremely positive news for gay and bisexual men, who continue to be one of the groups most affected by HIV. However, it is no time for complacency and we must redouble our efforts to prevent HIV among other at-risk groups as well.

“If we can build on this remarkable progress with continued investment in HIV testing and prevention, including a long-term NHS funded PrEP programme for all those who are at risk, a world without HIV transmission could be within our grasp.”

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Canberra: A new report into LGBTI homelessness in Australia has revealed that gay men and lesbians are three times more likely to be homeless than straight people.

The LGBTI Housing & Homelessness Project was undertaken in Victoria by the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia as a means to highlight the underrepresented issue of homelessness within the LGBTI community.

In the report homelessness was not only defined as sleeping rough, but also as other kinds of insecure housing such as couch surfing.
It found that LGBTI people were at higher risk of homelessness than people who were cisgender and heterosexual. In particular, gay men and lesbians were almost three times more likely to be homeless than straight people.

Associate Professor Ruth McNair from The University of Melbourne, who led the study, says despite the size of the problem there has been little funding for research into homelessness as an LGBTI issue.

She says the knowledge from this research will help develop services to better serve LGBTI people.

“It’s starting to tell us a lot more in-depth information about what’s happening to people,” McNair said.

“We want to know the most effective ways to help people when they’re in the midst of homelessness, or to prevent it in the first place.”

Family rejection is identified as a major cause of homelessness in young LGBTI people, often leading to homelessness at a younger age and having to rely on friends rather than family.

“The next step is asking what makes them feel unsafe at home, what stops them from coming back,” said McNair.

The report also discussed mental health risk factors that could be higher for LGBTI people including trauma, discrimination, and higher rates of anxiety and substance use.

Differences in relation to orientation and gender were also detailed in the report. Bisexual people are more likely to have experienced family abuse, disability, and substance abuse. Lesbians were most likely to have encountered barriers in accessing welfare service.

The report mentions that finding accurate numbers for LGBTI people who have experienced homelessness is difficult. This is partly due to homeless services not always collecting information on whether LGBTI people are accessing them.

Some LGBTI people may also avoid accessing homeless services for fear of homophobic or transphobic discrimination.

The authors note that little research data exists specifically on homelessness for intersex people, although one recent survey indicated 6% are homeless.

“We’re specifically trying to find people with intersex variations to interview about homelessness,” said McNair.

The report recommends LGBTI-inclusive practice guidelines for the housing and homelessness sectors, and mandatory LGBTI training for people working in these areas. It also calls for development of an LGBTI safe housing network.

“The services know it’s a problem but don’t know how to help. They need to understand sexuality and gender more broadly,” said McNair.

The research was funded by the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation, Assia Altman Fund of the Australian Communities Foundation, Launch Housing, and the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia.

The next steps in the project will be interviewing LGBTI people who have experienced homelessness, and piloting a model for trans-inclusive care at one urban homelessness service.

“This report is by no means the finish,” said McNair. “It’s just the start.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Melbourne: VICTORIA has a new complaints watchdog that will be able to investigate and ban anyone trying to practice ‘gay conversion therapy’ in the state.

Lawyer Karen Cusack has been announced as the state’s first Health Complaints Commissioner, a role that will see her launch investigations and ban unregistered practitioners from treating patients if her office believes it poses a danger to the public.

Dodgy health providers will now be named, shamed, and banned across the state with Cusack’s bolstered powers, replacing the previous Health Services Commissioner.
While the two largest ministries that practiced ‘gay conversion therapy’ in Australia have shut down in recent years, it continues to be practiced in more subtle and informal ways.

In a report on Triple J, Nathan Despott, who runs a support and advocacy group for LGBTI people of faith, said ex-gay ideas continue to be promoted around the country.

“What the ex-gay movement really looks like is small church groups and pastoral care in church offices after hours,” he said.

“It looks like sermons from the pulpit over many years about why same-sex attraction is a form of brokenness or illness.

“This is something insidious, it happens in a discreet and secret way, and therefore needs investigation to understand the extent.”

As part of her new position Cusack will be able to issue temporary or permanent bans on unethical health providers who aren’t registered under law such as those providing ‘gay conversion therapy’.

Last year Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said the state government had zero tolerance for those trying to ‘convert’ LGBTI community members.

“The government is committed to combating discrimination and homophobia wherever it exists, and I find any discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender abhorrent,” she said.

“We have zero tolerance for any person purporting to be able to ‘convert’ gay people through medical or therapeutic means.

“Any attempts to make people feel uncomfortable with their own sexuality is completely unacceptable.”

In the Triple J report, researcher at La Trobe University Dr Timothy Jones, who has been undertaking the first academic study of conversion therapy in Australia, said he’d been surprised by the number of people in registered mental health practices spreading ex-gay ideas.

“A few people have been subjected to electroshock therapy, hypnosis, and threats of more violent activity from family,” he said.

“Some people tried it for twenty years, until they realised the people who were mentoring them were still struggling with same-sex desire.

“All the people we interviewed found it didn’t work.”

New Commissioner Cusack will work closely with AHPRA and the new hospital safety watchdog Safer Care Victoria.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Ottawa: Canada’s federal government is facing calls to take in more LGBT refugees, amid the so-called “Muslim ban” south of the border.

At an emergency debate in the House of Commons, NDP member of Parliament Randall Garrison asked the government on Jan 31, 2017, whether it would “take specific actions to facilitate asylum for LGBT citizens of the seven countries” that were banned from entering the United States.

On Jan 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that bans citizens of seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the US, regardless of whether they hold a visa. It also includes restrictions on refugees.

That means Canada should take in more at-risk people, Garrison said during a debate that lasted more than five hours.

“Perhaps the most at risk are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens of the seven countries banned. In all seven, homosexuality is illegal,” he said. “While only three explicitly have the death penalty, in all seven, death sentences are carried out by militias under Sharia law, and sometimes also by families as so-called honour killings.”

Garrison noted that immigration officials deemed “members of the LGBTI community” one of four priority groups in the Canadian government’s ongoing airlift of 39,000 Syrian refugees. But it’s never been clear how many LGBT people arrived, or whether they had adequate support.

Newly-appointed immigration minister Ahmed Hussen did not say whether his government would boost its intake of LGBT refugees in light of US policy, despite Garrison asking him twice in Parliament.

“We’re engaged with our American counterparts to make sure that the implications of the executive order are closely monitored,” Hussen said during question period on Feb 1. “We’ll continue to be a country that opens its hearts and its doors to those fleeing war and persecution.”

According to data obtained from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), LGBT people seeking asylum from the seven countries named in Trump’s executive order have a high acceptance rate in Canada — though few make claims.

Here are the numbers of inland asylum claims filed with the IRB from 2010 to 2015 as “sexual orientation and gender identity.” The data excludes resettled refugees who arrive through UN or private sponsorship.

Data obtained by Xtra shows that people seeking asylum from the seven countries in Trump’s executive order have a high acceptance rate in Canada, though few make claims.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Vancouver: Vancouver’s second murder of 2017 is raising alarm bells for some in the city’s LGBT community, given the attack’s location near the trails in Stanley Park, a long-time cruising area for gay men.

On Feb 1, police were called to the Stanley Park seawall between Second and Third Beach where a member of the public found a man suffering from apparent stab wounds. Paramedics arrived and pronounced the 61-year-old man dead on the scene.

A person-of-interest was located nearby and taken into custody for questioning, but police have not yet released any additional information about that individual or a possible motive for the stabbing.

Jamie Lee Hamilton, a member of the Vancouver Police Department’s LGBT liaison committee, says a killing so close to a popular gay cruising area understandably causes concern in the community. “People are very worried,” she says.

But police say the gay community is not in any specific danger in light of last night’s murder.

“We don’t have any information that would support that,” says VPD media relations officer Jason Doucette. “If we come across any information that would lead us to believe that any community is at risk, we would certainly reach out and we would make a warning.”

Members of the gay community may already be on edge after another violent incident in the park nearly three months ago that left an 82-year-old man severely injured in a parking lot near the Brockton Oval.

The man was found in his car, badly beaten, around 2am on Nov 16, 2016.

Police appealed to the public for assistance in that case just a day before the latest incident, asking for help identifying a man who was in the area at the time of the November attack.

Police released video of a man wearing a light-coloured sports coat, dark pants and white shoes, walking with a limp from the totem poles to the seawall.

Doucette says there’s no evidence in the November assault case indicating it was a gaybashing.

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“As it stands right now these are two separate incidents and we have no reason to link them,” he says.

According to the VPD’s neighbourhood crime statistics for 2016, there were 13 assaults in Stanley Park last year.

“Violent attacks can occur anywhere,” Doucette says. “I don’t think they’re on the rise.”

Doucette says Stanley Park is safe, and he’s reticent to give out safety tips because that might characterize it as a dangerous place. He says the VPD is not telling people they should avoid going to the park.

“If that information changes, we will address [it] when it comes up. And if there’s a reason to put out a safety warning, we will, but at this point we don’t want to create fear in anybody,” he says.

Hamilton says traditional cruising places like Stanley Park remain important, even in an age of online dating sites and hookup apps.

“A lot of people, older people too, still feel shame around their orientation or their gender expression,” she notes. “Often they seek out places where they can socialize, I guess, anonymously.”

She too encourages people not to panic, and not to stop going to the trails.

“If Stanley Park is your favourite spot, don’t be fearful of going because the police have to provide for everyone’s protection,” she says. “But just be aware of people around you.”

Doucette encourages anyone with information about the two incidents to call the police. “We ask that that [members of the public] come forward with any small piece of information. Because that could be the game-changer for us.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: The National Organization for Marriage has started a petition to urge Donald Trump to sign the anti-LGBT “religious freedom” executive order that was leaked to the media this week.

“President Trump has been considering an Executive Order to protect religious liberty, but someone intentionally leaked it to the gay media in an attempt to derail it, allowing LGBT activists to orchestrate a false campaign claiming that protecting religious liberty is discrimination against gays and lesbians,” NOM president Bryan Brown wrote in introducing the petition. “The LGBT extremists are orchestrating a fearmongering campaign, getting their allies to contact the White House to oppose the prospective order.” NOM urges its supporters to contact the White House in addition to signing the petition.

The draft of the order was actually first published by The Nation, which advocates for progressive causes but is not part of the “gay media.” And as for the “false campaign,” well, the draft states that the government shall take no punitive action against organizations, businesses, and even public employees acting “in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”

So, for instance, social service agencies could refuse to place foster children or adoptees with same-sex couples, or deny services to LGBT young people, without losing federal funds or contracts. Employees of federal agencies could refuse to serve LGBT people, without repercussions. Single parents could suffer discrimination as well, and women could see obstacles to obtaining contraceptives and abortions. But to NOM, that’s not discrimination.

After the order was leaked, LGBT and civil liberties groups quickly denounced it, and legal scholars said it would likely violate the U.S. Constitution. Some activists predicted that Trump would announce the order when appearing at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday, but he did not, instead backing other means of giving churches a greater voice in politics. White House press secretary Sean Spicer, when asked about the order, said there are no plans for any further orders “right now,” but “there are a lot of ideas that are being floated out.”

Spicer also said Trump is constantly asking for input and ideas, and Brown may not be the only member of the religious right seeking to influence him. The “anti-LGBTQ extremists who have the president’s ear,” according to a Human Rights Campaign blog post, likely include Michele Bachmann, the former Minnesota congresswoman and onetime presidential candidate; James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council; Ralph Reed, who led the Christian Coalition in the 1990s and now heads up the Faith and Freedom Coalition; and Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University. All were members of Trump’s evangelical advisory council during his presidential campaign, and Trump has chosen Falwell to head a task force on education.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Alabama: The state of Alabama has been ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for losing a court case over same-sex marriage.
US district judge Callie Granade has ordered the Yellowhammer State to pay $315,000 in fees to lawyers who fought to ensure marriage equality comes to the state.Most counties in the state now issue marriage licences to same-sex couples, but only after the US Supreme Court legalised equal marriage in 2015.
Prior to that, Alabama was one of the states to have a state constitutional amendment that banned equal marriage.
The Attorney General for the state has refused to comment on the case.
The money is to be split between groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center, which was one of the leading campaigners for equal marriage nationwide.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Donald Trump may be about to step back LGBT equality progress with an executive order that ‘protects’ religious freedom.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Dublin: The Republic of Ireland could soon pardon men convicted of historic gay sex offences from before the decriminalisaion of homosexuality in 1993.
A day after thousands of men in England and Wales were posthumously pardoned after an amendment to a Bill enabled the move, a bill was introduced in the Irish Seanad.
It is estimated that some 2,000 men could have been convicted under the now defunct law.
The bill was introduced by the Labour Party which said the convictions of gay and bisexual men before 1993 were “discriminatory, contrary to dignity and in breach of personal privacy and autonomy”.
The party’s equality spokesman Senator Ged Nash, who is leading on the move, said the bill would represent “an important landmark in our society”.
Continuing, he said: “Where the Labour Party sees injustice, whether it’s at home or abroad, we always fight it.
“This week, the Labour Party Senate Group is introducing a Bill which essentially is an apology to and exoneration of those who were found guilty of certain sexual offences pre the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1993.
“We believe this particular apology and exoneration is an important step forward – it’s an important reckoning with our past.”
The Senator said the bill would not only do right past injustices against men who have sex with men, but was an important step away from “draconian laws”.
The Irish Mirror reports that he said: “What it won’t do is undo the cruelty that was visited upon large cohorts of our society since the foundation of the State, as a result of very draconian laws the State enforced, that we inherited from Britain.
“We think this is an important step in terms of reckoning with our past and moving on.
“It won’t undo that damage but I think it’s a very important step the Labour Party will make on behalf of the State. We’re hope the Government will accept this legislation when it’s debated in the Seanad.”
The move came after thousands of men convicted of historic gay sex offences were pardoned under Turing’s Law, as promised by the UK Government.
The Policing and Crime Bill was earlier this week given Royal Assent, meaning amendments pardoning those convicted of being in consensual same-sex relationships.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Cambridge: A leading Church of England theological college has apologised for hosting a service that marked the start of LGBT history month.
The college, which trains priests for the C of E, held the service which was advertised as a “Polari evening prayer in anticipation of LGBT+ history month”.The event, which took place at Westcott House in Cambridge on Tuesday, was described as “an attempt at queering the liturgy of evening prayer, locating the queer within the compass of faith, and recovering for the Christian tradition a sense of its own intrinsically subversive jouisance,” according to a printed explanation.
Prayer’s said at the event referred to God as “the Duchess”, with one particular prayer referring to the “Fantabulosa fairy” and ended “Praise ye the Duchess. The Duchess’s name be praised.”
The organisers reportedly said that just as Jesus welcomed the outcast, “today we might follow in the footsteps of his daring, boldly and outrageously welcoming the Queer (both human and divine) in a way never before attempted”.
Psalm 19 was also reworded to refer to “O Duchess, my butchness”.
Rev Canon Chris Chivers, the principal at the college, called the service “hugely regrettable”.
“I fully recognise that the contents of the service are at variance with the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England and that is hugely regrettable,” Chivers said. It used “a form of liturgy which was not an authorised act of worship in line with the college’s procedures.”
The service allegedly caused some members to be “considerably upset and disquiet”, and the college have promised to ensure that organisers would be “tightening the internal mechanisms of the house to ensure this never happens again”.
The college hoped “to make a creative contribution to setting a different tone for the debate on human sexuality in the church. But this was not it,” Chivers explained.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Sapporo: Sapporo is set to become the first city in Japan to recognize same-sex legal partnerships.
While law still defines marriage as between a man and a woman in Japan, progress is slowly being made to give gay couples some legal protections to their relationship.
In 2015, Tokyo’s Shibuya district announced it would allow same-sex couples to have a ‘proof of partnership certificate. This would give protections as far as housing, hospital visitations and other situations.
Setagaya ward in Tokyo, as well as municipalities like Iga, Takarazuka, and Naha have followed suit.
Sapporo would be Japan’s first city to allow give gay couples some legal rights, as well as recognize relationships of non-binary people. It is the fourth largest in the country, is the largest on the northern island, and is well known for hosting the first ever Asian Winter Olympics in 1972. An estimated 2 million people live there.
In order to obtain a partnership certificate, applicants need to be residents of Sapporo and over the age of 20.
Either or both partners must also say they are ‘sexual minorities who recognize each other as a life partner and promise to cooperate with each other economically, physically and mentally in their daily life.’
Akitsugu Kuwaki, a 39-year-old bar owner, was a driving force behind the petition and was an organizing member of Rainbow March Sapporo. The Pride march began in 1996.
‘If I am ever hospitalized unconscious and in need of emergency surgery, I want my boyfriend to be the one to decide whether I should have such an operation, and to see me in the bed. But, in this society, such rights may not be recognized,’ Kuwaki told Asahi.
‘I believe (recognition of the legislation for same-sex partnerships) will provide broader choices in the lives of sexual minorities…
‘We must not just stay in the closet and blame society for a lack of understanding of LGBT issues. We ourselves need to reach out and ask for it.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: Liberal Party MPs who support same-sex marriage will push to abandon the government’s plebiscite policy over the next fortnight in favour of a free vote on the floor of Parliament, in a move that could divide the Coalition and create a fresh political headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Fairfax Media understands Liberal MPs including Dean Smith, Warren Entsch, Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans and Melissa Price are among those leading discussions on how to advance the issue.The push to allow a free vote is being driven by the backbench, though some cabinet ministers are aware the discussions are underway.

The majority of the Turnbull cabinet, including Mr Turnbull, personally support same-sex marriage, but the issue has been dormant since late last year.The argument in favour of a free vote is that Liberal MPs have historically had a conscience vote on such issues and that the position adopted under Tony Abbott, which bound MPs to support a plebiscite, was an aberration.

In November last year, Mr Wilson said in a speech that he had “discharged” his responsibility to vote for the proposed February 11 plebiscite – a vote that was defeated – and that he believed a vote could be held before the next election. Supporters believe Mr Wilson’s argument is correct and they are now entitled to a free vote.They argue that once the plebiscite date passes, and a Senate inquiry into the bill proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis is handed down in mid-February, the Liberal party room should debate the issue in the second week of the new parliamentary year, commencing February 13.

Significantly, they hope to bring the issue to a vote this year – possibly as soon as the end of March – to deal with the issue and get it off the political agenda ahead of the next election.”No one wants this issue to go in into the May budget session, so lets deal with this quickly and relatively painlessly,” one supporter of the move said.

“This could be world’s biggest pain between now and the next poll.”As the backbench group agitates for change, same-sex marriage campaigners Australians for Equality will on Sunday launch a new advertising campaign across TV, newspapers and on billboards in strategic locations such as Canberra Airport, to greet MPs when they arrive on Monday for the resumption of Parliament.

Australians for Equality director Tiernan Brady said the campaign would be the biggest, most expensive one of its kind launched in Australia and focus on “changing the law to reflect Australian values”.

Mr Brady said the push to legalise same-sex marriage would not go away and the ad campaign would focus on the idea that “politicians should do their jobs” and vote on the issue.

“Australians are for marriage equality,” he said. “They are not unsure, they are not a little in favour, it’s 65 per cent-plus in favour. Australia is in the top 10 countries in the world in favour of marriage equality.”

Some Liberal Party MPs Fairfax Media has spoken to who oppose legalising same-sex marriage believe the law change is inevitable and that it may be time for the change to happen via a free vote given the issue sucks up oxygen and distracts from the Coalition’s core agenda.

If a free vote was allowed for Liberal Party MPs, it is likely the laws would be passed with the support of Labor, the Greens and crossbench MPs. It would see Australia join other anglophone countries including the United States, Britain, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland in allowing the unions.

But other more conservative MPs would fight tooth and nail to stop any fresh push and warned a civil war could erupt if Mr Turnbull did not stop the push.

Another complication is the Coalition agreement between the Liberal Party and Nationals specifies that a plebiscite be held, suggesting any attempt to engineer a free vote could set off a brawl between the two governing parties.

As recently as December, Mr Turnbull said the plebiscite remained Coalition policy and insisted it was the mechanism by which same-sex marriage could become reality.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

Vancouver: Posters recently taped to poles in Vancouver’s LGBTI Davie Village have raised concern for some observers who say they’re advertising a campaign that’s anti-trans.

The posters, which appeared on Davie Street in January 2017, state:The posters direct readers to visit the group’s online campaign opposing Bill C-16, which seeks to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

“It’s very alarming. But also it’s expected,” says Morgane Oger, chair of the Trans Alliance Society and the BC NDP candidate for Vancouver-False Creek, who first encountered the posters while she was canvassing in nearby Yaletown.

“Even though the posters are not inherently hateful they do raise concerns,” she says. “Basically what they show is an insensitivity and a bigotry, right? Because the bigotry that they show is [trans people] don’t exist and we’re not telling the truth.”

The “Woman Means Something” campaign was founded by Paul Dirks, lead pastor at the New West Community Church in New Westminster. Dirks declined Daily Xtra’s request for a phone interview but confirmed his campaign paid for a city-wide poster distribution. He says no specific neighbourhood or community was targeted.

The campaign’s website describes Bill C-16 as “a Bill that completely undermines and destroys women’s rights, freedoms, protections, and identity under the law” and says “any legislation that pits gender vs sex, or defines ‘woman’ such that it is meaningless, will result in tremendous harm to women, girls, and their rights.”

The campaign purports to have a range of supporters including radical feminists, gays and lesbians, though its membership size is unclear. On his Twitter account, Dirks describes himself as a social conservative who is “fighting the mainstream media trans-narrative for the sake of women who will bear the terrible consequences.”

Oger says the campaign’s central argument — that the definition of woman needs to be protected — is a “laughable fallacy.”

“These people don’t even understand what the law is, and they don’t understand this has nothing to do with protecting or not protecting what a woman is or what a woman isn’t,” she says.

Bill C-16 simply aims to provide trans people with the same protections afforded to others on the basis of race or religion, she explains.

Oger says Dirks’ campaign is out of step with the majority of Canadians.

Last September, a survey from the Angus Reid Institute found that 84 percent of Canadians support expanding non-discrimination laws to include gender identity and 58 percent say transgender people should use the washrooms they feel most comfortable using, rather than having that choice determined by laws or policies.

While popular opinion and, increasingly, provincial legislation in Canada may be shifting to support trans people, Oger says campaigns like “Woman Means Something” can still cause concern.

“Ultimately, populist xenophobic zeal can be drummed up and fired up just like what’s been done in the US in the Trump election, and therefore it’s always a risk that extremist social conservative outliers get a voice,” she says.

Sometimes “terrible messages get traction,” she warns, adding that she hopes this campaign does not gain any traction by misleading Canadians.

Bill C-16 is currently in its second reading in the Canadian Senate.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Virginia: The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will hear oral arguments on March 28 in a potentially landmark trans rights case involving a teenager.

G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board will decide whether trans students will be able to use restrooms and facilities that comport with their gender identity. The case is brought by Gavin Grimm, a Virginia high school student who has been relegated to using single-stall restrooms because the school board refused to allow him to use boys’ facilities. Grimm sued the school board, but a U.S. District Court dismissed his case. A three-member appeals court panel for the Fourth Circuit disagreed with that ruling and reversed the decision. The school board tried to get the full appeals court to take the case, but they declined. That’s when the Gloucester County School Board appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case but Grimm’s victory on hold.

With the passing of anti-LGBT justice Antonin Scalia last year, the Supreme Court currently consists of eight members. Should the court deadlock on Grimm’s case, the appeals decision will stand and that ruling could have positive ramifications for trans students around the nation.

With President Trump’s nomination of conservative Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s spot, Grimm’s chances appear more murky. It’s not clear if Gorsuch will be confirmed by March 28 and be allowed to rule on the case; it can take anywhere from three weeks to three months to confirm a justice. It’s not clear if Democrats will dig in their heels on Gorsuch. Many Democrats are still seething that GOP senators blocked President Obama’s choice for Scalia’s replacement, centrist Merrick Garland.

While Gorsuch is known as pro-business and supportive of so-called religious freedom, his rulings on LGBT rights are scant. He lent his opinions to two trans cases. In 2015′s Druley v. Patton, Gorsuch “joined an unpublished opinion ruling against a transgender inmate’s constitutional claims seeking hormone treatment and re-assignment from an all-male facility,” according to the Williams Institute. In 2009′s Kastl v. Maricopa County Community College District, Gorsuch, “sitting by designation on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, joined an unpublished opinion that, while recognizing that a transgender person can state a claim for sex discrimination under Title VII based on a theory of gender stereotyping, ultimately ruled against the plaintiff. The employer had barred the plaintiff from using the female restroom until completing gender-confirmation surgery. The court held that ‘restroom safety’ was a non-discriminatory reason for the employer’s decision.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Royal Vauxhall Tavern, an iconic LGBT venue in London is being sold to a new owner amid a battle to make the building a community owned venue.
Campaigners found out about news that the venue was in “advanced” stages of selling after they has secured special protections for the venue from Lambeth Council. Campaign group RVT Future have been fighting to protect the 1860’s landmark after recent uncertainty about it’s future amid talks of new owners.
The bar became a Grade II listed building last year in recognition of its LGBT history, meaning that redevelopment of the bar is almost impossible.
However, campaigners fear that developers could transform the bar into a “straight” destination, or turn the upper floors into offices and accommodation.
RVT Future were applying for the sui generis classification on the property which would have stipulated that the building must be preserved as an LGBT performance space.
This allegedly pushed owners Immovate to put the bar back on the market for an estimated £4.1 million. However, RVT claim that Immovate side stepped allowing a community bid for the property despite securing an Asset of Community Value status.
It is believed that Immovate are selling their shares in the property, rather than the property, meaning that the ACV status does not have to be upheld.
Co-chair of the campaign group Rob Holley told GSN: “Obviously we’re thrilled that Lambeth Council have officially designated the Royal Vauxhall Tavern an equal mix of pub, nightclub and cabaret, plus protected ancillary use of the accommodation.
“This means the Tavern’s use must be balanced between these activities, and a new buyer couldn’t parachute in a chain franchise or convert the top floors into private residential.”
Holley stressed that Immovate’s move was legal, but frustratingly sneaky.
“We (RVT Future) are now ready to launch a community bid. The community group, made up of Tavern performers, promoters and punters, are ready to kick off the biggest community buy-out in Britain,” he said. “We want to bring The Royal Vauxhall Tavern into community ownership to safeguard its future for its hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.”
James Lindsay, who sold the bar to Immovate but still runs it on a day-to-day basis, said the new owners are willing to operate the bar as a LGBT venue.
“The potential new owner has indicated that they will continue to operate it as an LGBT venue, which is great news, and they will continue to invest in it. From where I’m sitting, that’s a good place to be in,” he said.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Canberra: Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has delivered a blunt warning to his successor Malcolm Turnbull. Abbott warned Turnbull, the current PM, that he should not go back on his promise of a free vote on same-sex marriage in parliament.
Abbott issued the warning after it was revealed that pressure was being put on the government to drop the national plebiscite before a vote being held in parliament.
A number of MP’s lashed out at Turnbull and said that allowing a vote in parliament and dropping the plebiscite was a “betrayal” of commitments made during the election.
A plebiscite means $7.5 million dollars would be given to anti-gay marriage campaigners, and many LGBT activists are against the plebiscite because of the emotional trauma it could cause to people who identify within the LGBT realm. It is believed that if Turnbull dropped the plebiscite and went through with a parliamentary vote, then marriage equality would most likely become legal.
However, Abbott who is notoriously anti-gay marriage, has since pushed Turnbull to stick to the plebiscite policy.

“Malcolm Turnbull made a clear election commitment that the marriage law would only change by way of people’s plebiscite, not free vote of the parliament. I’m sure he’ll honour that commitment. This isn’t about same-sex marriage, it’s about keeping faith with the people.”
Australians have urged the government to scrap the costly, redundant public vote plan on equal marriage and spend the money on free chicken nuggets.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Toronto: “I used to wish I had cancer because when you have cancer all the family rallies around you. But when you’re trans, you don’t have family, they kick you out,” says Janice Towndrow, a Christian transgender woman living in Toronto.

“It is very difficult,” she says, even “comparable to biblical times,” when lepers were shunned by the community. “You’re distanced; you’re pulled from your family; you’re cast out of the community. So you don’t see your children anymore. If you had a job, you probably don’t have it anymore.”

Ms. Towndrow’s experience as a transgender person is not uncommon. Data from independent research groups, like Trans PULSE, consistently show transgender persons in Canada are significantly more likely to be fired from jobs or assaulted. They are at a higher risk for suicide. In Toronto and other cities around the world the 18th annual Trans Day of Remembrance was held on Nov. 20, commemorating the 295 lives lost globally because of transphobia in 2016.

Ms. Towndrow says she is not an activist, but she is acquainted with the realities reflected in the data. “When I transitioned, which was a three-year process for me, the one thing that kind of kept me going was the fact that once a week I met with other people who had the same problems as I did,” she says. “I really thought I was the only person on earth who was dealing with this.Currently Canada has no law protecting transgender people from discrimination resulting from their gender identities. That could change with the passage of the recently proposed Bill C-16, which would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to make it illegal to discriminate against people based on their gender identities or expressions.

The bill would also amend Canada’s Criminal Code to include gender identity and expression among classes of people protected against hate crimes. The proposed bill would create some legal space for a marginalized community in Canada, but it has also generated some public controversy. Most Canadians support C-16. The transgender community and those who support them have become visible, too. Among them is All Inclusive Ministries, a Catholic community based out of Our Lady of Lourdes, a Jesuit church near Toronto’s gay village. Included in its programs is a monthly Saturday Mass that invites L.G.B.T. persons and their families and friends to worship in an affirming environment.

Gilles Mongeau, S.J., associate professor of systematic theology at Regis College, has worked with All Inclusive Ministries. In an emailed response, he offers his own advice about the use of pronouns. “The question of pronouns cannot be separated from the real lives of people,” he says. “Asking these questions in the abstract is part of the problem we are facing because it makes it possible to evoke the image or idea that trans people somehow serve an agenda of attacking the moral fiber of society or serve an anti-Christian agenda. Trans people, in my experience, are trying to live healthy, productive and (sometimes) spiritually fruitful lives.”

Advice like that can be hard for some to hear, especially since people with transgender identities are only recently becoming more publicly visible. Biological sex and gender may be more complicated than is generally believed, and Father Mongeau says, “We must begin from the fact that the church, at this time, has no official teaching about gender identity or trans persons.”

He underlines the need to, as Pope Francis suggests, accompany real people in real situations. For his part, though the Holy Father has been critical of “gender theory,” he has been sensitive to preferred pronouns in the context of real encounter. That is reflected in his comments about a letter he received from a transgender man: “He who was a she, but is a he,” the pope said.

Bill C-16 aims to create a more just society for the transgender community. “To the extent that it seeks to protect the quest of trans people to be themselves in a safe environment, Bill C-16 is something to be applauded by Christians,” says Father Mongeau.

That effort could not come too soon, Ms. Towndrow suggests: “I see so many of the people that I know who have fallen by the wayside. They’ve either become so poor that they’ve gone into prostitution, and of course been in so much pain that they’ve gone into drugs.” There are a lot of casualties “along the way,” They’re having a terrible time living in the gender that they’re in, but they’re scared to go outside being themselves, worried about being beat up or whatever,” she says.

Liberal Christian support for Bill C-16 would make a huge difference for transgender people looking to lead healthy spiritual lives, who are often alienated by communities of faith. As Ms. Towndrow explains, “I think somewhere along the line, everyone [in the transgender community] turns their back on the church because the church has turned its back on them.”
C-16 passed through Canada’s House of Commons on Dec. 1 by a vote of 248 to 40 and now awaits a hearing in the Senate. Though Ms. Towndrow welcomes the legislative effort, she thinks it will take more than amending the law to create an inclusive society for transgender people. “There will be lots of loopholes because our voice is so weak compared to larger groups. It’s kind of like getting tossed a bone once in awhile.”

She advocates better education about transgender identity and hopes to see more transgender people represented in popular media. Until then, she will continue to work with Toronto’s vulnerable communities at Sanctuary Ministries of Toronto, where she serves on the board of directors.

Source: http://www.americamagazine.org

Canberra: Conservative MPs are scrambling to prevent a push by Liberal MPs to allow a free vote on same-sex marriage, warning “this is not a fight we should be having now”. The chances of the issue being debated in the partyroom meeting scheduled for this week receded on Monday, swamped by the revelation that South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi planned to resign as soon as Tuesday and set up a new party. Fairfax Media revealed on Saturday that Liberal MPs who support the law change had planned to raise the issue in the second week of Parliament, after a Senate inquiry report was handed down and after the proposed date for the same-sex marriage plebiscite, February 11, has passed.

Liberal leader of the House Christopher Pyne, who supports same-sex marriage, ducked questions on Monday on whether debate about a free vote for Liberal MPs – who, combined with Labor and the Greens would deliver the numbers to change the law – should be revisited.”Labor defeated the plebiscite bill for marriage equality last year in a very “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face” move, and we could have had marriage equality probably after this Saturday,” he told ABC radio.

“There’s no Coalition bill before the house at the moment to deal with marriage equality, and until and if there is, then it’s a moot point.”Treasurer Scott Morrison, an opponent of same-sex marriage, said he would “leave the fake news to others. This is not an issue that is focusing the government’s attention”.

Mr Turnbull said on Sunday the issue could be debated again in the partyroom but “the government’s position is that which we took to the election”.

Supporters of a free vote in the Liberal Party were tight-lipped about their plans on Monday, but Coalition MPs George Christensen and Eric Abetz – who both oppose the change – both pushed back against the prospect of a move by Liberal Party moderates for the government to hold a free vote on same-sex marriage without a national plebiscite.Mr Christensen said the government needed to stick with the policy it took to the election.

“If this government goes down the road of breaking its agreement with the people that we made that we were going to do to a plebiscite, then, you know, the show’s over,” he said.

Another political opponent of the law change, who asked not be named, said the net effect of the debate over the weekend – which prompted former prime minister Tony Abbott to speak out on the issue and warn Mr Turnbull not to change policy – was that a law change was less likely.

“There will be no change on the plebiscite, no one wants this debate. All the people pushing for it are in safe seats, or inner-city electorates, or both.”

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

Washington DC: Donald Trump’s second in command says his administration are focussing on creating “a safer America.”

When Vice President Mike Pence was asked if he could rule out a ‘religious freedom’ executive order, he refused to do so in a new interview with ABC’s This Week. A draft of the leaked four-page document titled Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom appeared online last week, but The White House quickly stated that Donald Trump has “no plans” to sign it at this time. If Trump were to sign it, it would immediately allow widespread exemptions for businesses and individuals to discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, reproductive choices, housing, goods and services, and government contract. What’s more, it would also allow adoption agencies to refuse children to gay parents, transgender teachers could be fired, and gay couples could be refused rooms at hotels if it’s against the owner’s beliefs.

But asked directly if he could now rule out “a new executive order on religious liberty,” Mike Pence would not answer the question.

“I think that’ll be the purview of the president to determine whether any of that’s necessary, but I will tell you for our part, the focus of this administration will continue to be to have a safer America, to have a more prosperous America, and to continue to advance the president’s agenda, both on Capitol Hill and through executive action and carry that message all across the country,” he said.

However, Mike Pence did say that he supports Donald Trump’s decision to not roll back Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order which protects LGBT+ rights.

“I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration,” he said.

“I mean, he was the very first Republican nominee to mention the LGBTQ community at our Republican National Convention and was applauded for it. And I was there applauding with him.

“I think the generosity of his spirit, recognising that in the patriot’s heart, there’s no room for prejudice is part of who this president is.”

Meanwhile, it’s been reported that it was Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner who convinced him not to sign the leaked ‘religious freedom’ executive order last week.

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

London: Patrick Cash – author of several works dealing with gay men and chemsex talks to GT about his ongoing fascination with writing about the chemsex scene, and how one of his plays will shortly be making its way to Australia.

Your work often touches upon the topic of chemsex. What is it that keeps you returning to this theme?
I’m interested in what makes people take drugs. As a teenager I discovered Bristol’s polymorphous drugs culture in raves and clubs, and loved it. I couldn’t understand why pills that made you so empathic and happy were illegal. Yet as I grew older and discovered more about my sexuality and identity, I wonder: did I take to that drugs culture so readily because of an inherent unhappiness with my sober world? I had deep feelings of depression at the time.

I came to the London gay scene with an open mind. But even in my early twenties I began to question: why is every gay man in this Vauxhall club off his face on drugs? I left London to live abroad from 24 to 26, and when I came back, mephedrone had exploded. I was working for a nightlife magazine so I saw it firsthand alongside chemsex, G and the chillouts. Some of it was great fun, but some of it was causing people harm: losing jobs, STIs, non-consensual sex.

And from talking with various people, including chemsex expert David Stuart, it became clear that this ‘trend’ might be connected to something far deeper. If so many gay men want to escape sobriety together, then perhaps it’s tied into growing up gay in heteronormative culture: outsiders. I’m not so much interested in chemsex itself, as in how gay men’s drug-using behaviour is a reflection of an unequal society.

The Chemsex Monologues has already been a great success in London. How do you think it will translate for an Australian audience?
I believe the core issues described above can especially translate in Australia with the recent battle for same-sex marriage. The play is a whirlwind of the London gay scene from Soho to Vauxhall to chillouts in Stockwell. But I wanted to show the vulnerability and lovability of these human people beneath the hysterical ‘chemsex’ banner and if I’ve caught that emotional truth then the play should be able to translate to all areas of the world. Fingers crossed!

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Canberra: A ReachTEL poll conducted across seven Liberal and National party seats has shown overwhelming support for a conscience vote on the issue of marriage equality.

It’s good news for advocates but bad news for the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who this morning suggested the Coalition would maintain its election position of taking the issue to the Australian people with a public vote.

The poll, commissioned by Australians for Equality found close to 62 per cent of those polled wanted Coalition MPs to have a conscience vote on the issue of same sex marriage this year.

The poll surveyed 4742 people – in Chisholm, Corangamite, La Trobe and Murray in Victoria, Gilmore and Page in NSW, and Durack in Western Australia. The poll also discovered 41 percent of respondents were less likely to vote for the coalition should they block members from a free vote.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned the PM of deviating from a plebiscite suggesting it would break the trust of the Australian people.

“Malcolm Turnbull made a clear election commitment that the marriage law would only change by way of people’s plebiscite, not free vote of the parliament,” he told Fairfax media.

“I’m sure he’ll honour that commitment. This isn’t about same-sex marriage, it’s about keeping faith with the people.”

But the poll seems to suggest otherwise.

Co-chair of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich believes the poll shows it’s time to push for the reform.

“This is a straightforward reform about fairness, and people across the country want it resolved through a parliamentary vote this year,” he said.

The poll results come on the heels of a fresh new campaign for marriage equality which focuses on our nation’s everyday heroes – doctors, firefighters, soldiers, nurses and lifesavers – asking why they cannot marry the person they love in the country they serve. Following reports that a number of Liberal backbenchers will push for the party to abandon its position on a plebiscite on marriage equality, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has suggested he will maintain the election promise that every Australian should have a vote on the issue.

The PM suggested partyroom discussion of the issue is likely when parliament resumes today but confirmed the government would retain its position of advocating for a plebiscite on the issue.

Turnbull also suggested Australia would have had marriage equality within weeks, if the Labor party had not blocked a plebiscite and moved forward with the planned public vote which was scheduled to take place next weekend.

“The only reason gay couples will not be able to get married in the next few weeks is because of Bill Shorten’s totally political ¬approach; he in the past has -advocated a plebiscite,” the PM told the Nine Network.

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May has welcomed the passage of a law that will posthumously pardon men with historical gay sex convictions.
The change was made last week as the Policing and Crime Act was given Royal Assent – after the government accepted a Lib Dem-led amendment to issue posthumous pardons to men convicted under the UK’s historical anti-gay laws.
Computing hero Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency under anti-gay laws in 1952, was granted a one-off posthumous royal pardon in 2013 – a privilege that the new Act extends to thousands of men.
Anyone living with historical gay sex convictions could already apply through the Home Office to have their criminal records expunged under a process introduced by the Coalition government’s 2012 Protections of Freedoms Act. The Policing and Crime Act also extends this, enabling living men to apply for a pardon.
Speaking in Parliament last week, Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the change, following a question from MP Stuart Andrew.
She said: “I am very happy to join [Mr Andrew] in welcoming an extremely important change in the law.
“We committed to it in our manifesto and have now delivered on it. Passing Turing’s law has been a long-standing commitment for the Government.
“It is momentous and takes action to right the wrongs of the past. Like my hon. Friend, I certainly encourage those still alive to apply to the Home Office to have their offences disregarded.”
Mrs May was angrily challenged by the SNP’s John Nicolson, who had fielded his own rival backbench legislation on the issue and refused to withdraw it to back the cross-party plan.
Mr Nicolson’s bill would have extended automatic pardons to the living, but the government favoured an application system – citing some surviving men who have indicated they do not want to pursue the issue.
The SNP politician said: “A few moments ago, the Prime Minister tried to claim credit for passing Stonewall’s Turing Bill. She did not; the Turing Bill pardons all gay men found guilty of crimes no longer on the statute book. When will the Prime Minister follow the Scottish Government and automatically pardon the living as well as the dead?”
The PM hit back: “It was during my time as Home Secretary that the [original] legislation was introduced that gives those who are alive the opportunity to apply to the Home Office to have those offences that are no longer on the statute book expunged from their record.”
When Mr Nicolson contended that “they are not [applying]”, the PM said: “The hon. Gentleman says that they are not doing it.
“In this Chamber today my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey [Stuart Andrew] and I have both encouraged people to come forward and make that application, and that is a message that we should all put out.”
The government also issued a public apology for the laws.
The move fulfils the Conservative Party’s 2015 manifesto commitment to to extend the posthumous pardons.
Though pardons have been issued, more than a billion people around the world are still living under anti-gay laws that were made in Britain.
Many Commonwealth countries continue to enforce penal codes that were first introduced under the British Empire, and never repealed.
In total 40 out of the 53 Commonwealth member states still criminalise homosexuality – from Barbados to Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka to Tonga.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland. recently said the Commonwealth needs to build a consensus on the issue.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Brussels: The European Parliament has adopted a report backing EU-wide recognition of adoptions regardless of the parents’ sexual orientation.
The report, which was adopted last week by a vote of 533-41, paves the way for future EU legislation to permit “automatic cross-border recognition of domestic adoption orders” throughout the EU.
It notes that while “opinions still differ in the Member States as regards the principles that should govern the adoption process”, the current system can cause “significant problems for European families who move to another Member State after adopting a child, as the adoption may not be recognised, meaning that the parents may have trouble legally exercising their parental authority.”
The report also affirms that the principle of non-discrimination should be affirmed within adoption law, protecting the rights of same-sex parents under provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Malin Bjork MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, said: “Today the European Parliament made clear that a family does not cease to be a family, simply by crossing a border.
“The broad support that this report received has given the Commission a clear mandate to ensure full freedom of movement, including for LGBTI families!”
Daniele Viotti MEP, Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, continued: “Too many rainbow families have been held back, due to heteronormative interpretations of ‘family’.
“Countries should cease to use ‘public order’ arguments to discriminate against same-sex families. It is time for legislation to be updated to reflect 21st century standards.”
The greatest opposition came from MEPs from France’s far-right Front National, which remains opposed to same-sex parenting. FN leader Marine Le Pen is expected to win the first round of France’s Presidential election in April.
MEPs from the UK’s Conservative Party and UK Independence Party largely abstained.
UKIP’s leader Paul Nuttall and former leader Nigel Farage were both absent for the vote.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Belfast: An MP has insisted that school teachers receive an “opt-out” from teaching that there is nothing wrong about homosexuality during sex ed lessons.
Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon made the comments in a Commons debate on calls for inclusive sex and relationship education last week.
Labour’s Diana Johnson had argued that “age-appropriate sex and relationship education [is] a vital tool in the fight to address unacceptable attitudes to women, combat child abuse and tackle homophobia”.
Mr Shannoninsisted that it is unfair on Christian teachers to expect them to “promote the latest Government definition of morality”, citing the case of a Christian bakery that refused to make a ‘gay’ cake.
He said: “We must also allow teachers who are uncomfortable discussing and promoting British moral values that might undermine their own dearly held personal faith to withdraw from teaching those values, with no penalty and no fear of losing their job. We have many examples of that.
“There is the example of Ashers in Northern Ireland. We have the case of the bed and breakfast owners and that of the Christian registrar. It is not enough for our Prime Minister to talk about freedom to live one’s faith; we must now have the support of the law to do that. Any legislation must protect the right of teachers to withdraw from promoting values that undermine their faith.”
He continued: “I understand that we cannot press our faith on others, but by the same token we should not be expected to directly oppose the teachings of our faith on the say-so of others.
“Teachers do not want their teaching to promote the latest Government definition of morality; they want it to help a child to have a fully rounded life and to make a difference. Allow them to do that in an appropriate way and legislate to protect them with any proposed changes.
“I have learned a lot from the Ashers [gay cake] case about the need for protection, and I hope that the Government, and particularly the Minister, can take that on board.
“To me, this is essential for any family: the right to teach their child the morality and the standards they hope their child will stick to, and the right to withdraw their child from a lesson that they feel will not complement how they teach their child. Again, that is an absolute must for me and the people I represent.”
Government minister Caroline Dinenage said it was “fundamentally important that we get it right… taking all views into consideration”
She said: “We are actively considering calls to update the guidance on SRE [and are] fully committed to improving the quality and accessibility of SRE and PSHE.
“Our intention is to follow a responsible and dynamic approach that engages a wide range of views, including those of parents, teachers and young people.
“We know that SRE is a developing and vital area of education and we need to do all that we can to ensure that our guidance is fit for purpose and can equip our children with the skills they need to be safe in modern British society.”
One of Mr Shannon’s DUP colleagues recently claimed that the government spends too much money fighting HIV, insisting AIDS is the result of “lifestyle choices”.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: Over a third of LGBT people living in the London are suffering from mental health issues, a rate 15% higher than the general population.
The report put together by the London Assemble Health Committee found that 40% of LGBT people in the capital have experienced a form of mental health issue.
It also found that one in six LGBT people have experienced a homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime at some point in their life.
The committee called upon specialist support to be provided to LGBT people.
“Without specialist support, LGBTI people will continue to experience mental health inequality, stigma and discrimination,” the report stated. “LGBTI people need to be more directly involved in shaping services that meet their needs.”
Both “generalist” and “mainstream” services need to be reformed so as health providers are better equipped to meet the needs of LGBT people.
The report called for special training to begin with GP’s, it stressed that this is the first port of call for LGBT people and they may feel uncomfortable disclosing their sexual orientation.
Authors of the study have urged the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to do more for LGBT mental health as he is in “unique” place to provide change.
“The Mayor is well placed to push for more joined-up action at a panLondon level,” the report stated. “It is important that action for better mental health is delivered, not just considered.”
Chairman of the committee, Dr Onkar Sahota, said: “At the start of LGBT History Month we want this call heard loud and clear by the mayor. Action is needed now to tackle the urgent mental health needs of LGBTI people.
“Time has run out for some and the mayor needs to take firm and decisive action on his mental health promises to LGBTI Londoners,” he added.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Paris: A French MP has claimed that the favourite to become France’s next President is a secret puppet of the “rich gay lobby”.
Nicolas Dhuicq, a outspoken member of the National Assembly for the right-wing Republicans, made the claim about centre-ground candidate Emmanuel Macron, who has taken a surprise lead in the Presidential race.
Macron is the new favourite to face far-right leader Marine Le Pen in May’s run-off election, following a scandal that that savaged the campaign of Republicans right-winger Francois Fillon.
Speaking to Russian government-controlled news agency Sputnik, Dhuicq sought to play up fears that Macron is a puppet of the “gay lobby”.
He said: “Concerning his private life, it is becoming public as we speak… Macron is a guy who is called a chouchou, or a darling, of the French media, which is owned by only a few people, as we all know.
“Besides, one of the guys who backs him is famous businessman Pierre Berge, a business partner and long-time lover of Yves Saint Laurent, who is openly homosexual and advocates gay marriage. There is very wealthy gay lobby behind him. This says it all.”
The Russian-controlled outlet then attempts a smear, claiming: “In November 2016, Macron publicly denied a persistent rumour that he’s secretly gay and living a ‘double life’.”
Speaking previously Mr Macron, a supporter for LGBT rights, rubbished smears about his sexuality, adding: “I care more than anything about my family life and my marriage.”
Mr Macron married his wife Brigitte Trogneux in 2007.
The centrist candidate is the strongest supporter of LGBT rights among the top candidates.
Mr Fillon, who strongly opposed the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013, has shrugged off calls to directly repeal same-sex unions if elected President – instead planning to pare back the rights of gay couples to adopt.
The candidate, who voted against an equal age of consent in 1982, says he wants to change the law to ensure “a child is always the fruit of a father and mother.”
Under Mr Fillon’s proposals, same-sex couples would be banned from fully adopting a child, under a new requirement that children must have both male and female parents.
Ms Le Pen’s party has previously maintained strong ties to the anti-LGBT lobby, and though she insists she has made “reforms”, many of her party’s most senior figures have expressed homophobic views.
A Russian bank with strong ties to the Kremlin made a controversial loan to Le Pen’s Front National in 2014, leading to accusations of government interference.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Delhi: Hundreds of transgender people in India are missing out on the election process because they do not have sufficient ID.
A set of figures released by the Election Commission of India has shown that just 4% of the trans community are enrolled in voter lists.Only 1,654 people are on the lists of Maharashtra, a fraction of the 41,000 trans people that have been identified by the 2011 census.
“This is abysmally low considering the fact that a dozen hijras roam around Mumbai and Thane,” an election official told DNA India.
Activists have taken aim at the Election Commission for a lack of effort to promote the electoral role to the trans community.
“The poll body must involve the transgender community in the enrolment process. Since most hijras don’t have a proper home and many of them lack Aadhaar and other ID cards, they would remain out of the EC’s campaign,” said campaigner Harish Iyer.
“Since the right wing government has not been supportive of this community, government agencies are unlikely to go the extra mile to cover the third gender,” Iyer added.
Other activists are blaming poor relations between the government and trans people for the low turn out.
“Most of us think our fate is not going to be changed even if we vote. That is why we are so reluctant,” said Suhana, a 40-year-old hijra who has never voted in Indian elections.
Some fear that the actual figures from the census are skewed and the actual population of the trans community could be much larger. This is because the “third gender” status was only created in 2014, and prior to that trans people were forced to write the gender assigned at birth

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Rome: Italian fascists have held a funeral procession to protest a gay couple entering a civil partnership.
On Sunday (5 February), 15 members of the right-wing, neo-fascist Forza Nuova marched in Cesena, a small town near Rimini in north Italy.
They carried a coffin, draped in the Italian flag and some of the marchers had dressed as priests, while others wore mourning clothes.Marchers also carried posters acusing the couple, Matteo and Marco, of wanting ‘the end of Italian civilization’.
The demo arrived outside the City Hall just as the grooms and their families arrived.
The demonstration was ended by police, according to Italian media; on their Facebook page, Forza Nova dispute this.
Mirco Ottaviani, coordinator of Forza Nuova’s regional group, in a press release said marriage equality was part of an international drive to make straight marriage the number one enemy.
‘There is no question that, in the last fourty years, an international movement whose purpose it is to eliminate the wedding, the basis of the family, has grown tremendously,’ he said.
‘It’s an alliance that brought together the supporters of the sexual revolution, easy birth control, and divorce.’
He also claims the ‘family crisis’ had a negative effect on every member of society and would leave people vulnerable and alone.Forza Nova reportedly announced the demonstration days in advance, with posters doubling as funeral invites plastered over the city.
‘Mattheo and Marco, together with their parents and other relatives, announce the end of civilization, of our tradition of the natural family,’ they read.
‘One cornerstone of our society and God is that children grow up with a mother and a father.’
The posters also mentioned time and date of the couple’s wedding.
Matteo and Marco were only the second couple in Cesena to enter a civil partnership.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Ottawa: Terrorist attacks in Canada are rare. The worst of recent times came from an unexpected quarter. On January 29th Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old student, allegedly burst into the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City and killed six Muslims at prayer. The victims included a university lecturer, a pharmacist and a halal butcher. More than a dozen other worshippers were wounded.

The attack came amid the hue and cry provoked by Donald Trump’s order to ban citizens of some Muslim countries from the United States. Some people, both there and in Canada, thought that the perpetrator was a Muslim of some sort. In fact, according to his acquaintances, Mr Bissonnette is an anti-immigration “white supremacist” who supports Mr Trump. Appearing in court the day after the attack, he was charged with six counts of murder and five of attempted murder. He has not so far been charged with terrorism. Although hate crimes fell overall from 2012 to 2014, those against Muslims more than doubled.

Extreme right-wing views seem to be especially common in Quebec, Canada’s French-speaking province. Radio poubelle (“rubbish-bin radio”), as Quebeckers call shock radio, spreads the notion that the province is overrun with Muslims (they account for 3% of the population). In 2007 the small town of Hérouxville (Muslim population zero) enacted an absurd and provocative “code of conduct” that explicitly prohibited burning women alive or beating them to death, as if that were something Muslims in Canada commonly do. In 2013 the provincial government, led by the separatist Parti Québécois, advocated a charter of values that would have, among other things, forbidden public servants from wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols such as hijabs. The measure died when an election was called. After the Quebec City attack, the host of a show on FM93, a conservative Quebec radio station, reported, without confirmation, that an attacker had shouted “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great!”)

The current Liberal premier, Philippe Couillard, has striven to contain what he calls “the devils in our society”. But even he has had to bow to pressure to curb religious dress. He has presented a new bill to the provincial legislature that would ban anyone wearing a face veil from giving or receiving a public service.

Some Canadians suggest that the anti-Islamic feeling whipped up by Mr Trump inspired Mr Bissonnette. “I don’t feel the new president in the States is helping any,” said a woman at the vigil in Quebec City to mourn the victims. But the potential for such an attack was there before he took office. A paper by Richard Parent, a criminologist, and James Ellis, a scholar of terrorism, warned last year that Canada was ignoring “the domestic threat from lone-wolf right-wing terrorists”.

The atrocity has led to soul-searching, even by people who helped stir animus against Muslims. The FM93 host admitted that he had focused too obsessively on the threat from radical Islam. Canada, perhaps, has learnt a lesson.

Source: http://www.economist.com

Ottawa: Trans women incarcerated in Canada’s federal prisons have been housed with some of the most violent criminals, raped in male prison wards and called “it” by officials, according to an official human-rights investigation.

In January 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered jails to end a decades-long policy of sorting trans people based on their genitalia, days after the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) decided to start counting time in prison towards the “12 continuous months in an identity-congruent gender role” required for gender-confirmation surgery.

The move came amid an investigation by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, after the West Coast Prison Justice Society launched a December 2015 complaint.

Xtra has obtained the commission’s investigation documents, which details three female trans inmates’ struggles in the system, alongside responses from CSC. Xtra unsuccessfully tried reaching the inmates, and is not using two of their names.

In previous reporting, Nastasia Laura Bilyk claimed she was raped twice by male prisoners in 2009 in a minimum-security prison in British Columbia. At times, Bilyk has opted for segregation for her safety. But during a three-week stretch in isolation, Bilyk only showered twice, because she felt unsafe being naked and surrounded by men. At times, she was double-bunked with male offenders.

According to investigators, prison officials often rank trans women higher on the institutional adjustment scale, alongside violent offenders and people with debilitating mental-health issues, “resulting in a higher level of security classification, which translates into a greater deprivation of liberty.”

Trans women also face peculiar techniques in the routine pat-downs and strip-searches for concealed objects. One complainant reports that “a female officer searches her top half and a male office searches her bottom half. This is not what she would prefer. She would rather have a female officer conduct the entire search.” Another female trans inmate reported an identical complaint.

One of the three inmates “reports that she is called ‘it’ regularly by both respondent staff and prisoners.” One medical document uses her deadname (her male name used prior to her transition) and includes this line: “The patient preferred us to call him as a female, but anatomically and legally this patient is declared as a male, so I will use the patient as a male in this report.”

Responding to the commission, CSC “acknowledges that there currently is no requirement that transgender inmates be referred by their preferred names and gender pronouns.” But the agency said staff have accommodated other trans prisoners’ requests, on their own accord.

Similarly, trans women are at the mercy of their case workers for help in performing their gender role in male prisons. In the document, CSC “acknowledges that feminine hygiene items and makeup are not generally available through the canteen of federal male institutions.”

The commission has found grounds for an inquiry by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, similar to a court proceeding that can order fines and compel federal institutions to change their practices.

The commission notes a 2016 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture that found, “failure to address the human rights situation and needs of a transgender prisoner may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under international law.” It also takes note of Bill C-16, which will encode gender identity and expression into Canada’s human-rights law if passed by the Senate.

But the case will first head to mediation, and with CSC’s January 2017 policy changes, the case will likely reach a settlement.

Now that CSC is sorting inmates “on a case-by-case basis” instead of by genitalia, it seems current inmates might be able to apply for a transfer into prisons for their self-identified gender.

“CSC continues to assess — on a case-by-case basis — individual inmate’s placement and accommodation requests as they arise to ensure the most appropriate measures are taken to respect the dignity, rights and security of all inmates under our custody,” CSC spokeswoman Véronique Rioux told Xtra in a Feb 2 email.

“We are undertaking stakeholder consultation, including with inmates and with the LGBTQ2 advocates, to identify possible changes to the policy.”

CSC houses all adult Canadians serving sentences of two years or more, representing about 40 percent of the almost 40,000 adult prisoners in Canada. The rest are in provincial and territorial jails, including people awaiting a trial or serving community sentences. Ontario and British Columbia jails have sorted inmates based on their self-identified gender since 2015.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Sydney: With Cory Bernardi’s defection from the Liberal Party looming, right-wing Murdoch journalists Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt were live on radio tearing each other apart.It was gripping, if excruciating, radio; those who loathe their views found it hilarious. But this was no mere radio tiff: here was the ultimate symbol of the state of right wing politics today.Everywhere you look on the conservative side of politics, fellow travellers are feuding and old alliances are crumbling.

Just look at Bernardi and Tony Abbott, who also agree on pretty much everything. The former friends have spectacularly fallen out, with Bernardi accusing Abbott of leaking against him to the media. the crux of their dispute is Turnbull’s leadership. Bolt thinks the PM is a “busted flush” guaranteed to lose the next election; Devine thinks removing another leader would be electoral suicide.

Inside the Coalition party room itself, it’s easy to place most MPs in the “moderate” or “conservative” camps. But those labels disguise deep divisions within the two wings – especially among the conservatives.

Take Abbott, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews. Prominent conservative figures from the Howard era, they are known internally as the “old guard” or “Dad’s Army”. Permanently exiled to the backbench by Malcolm Turnbull, all three are happy to make life difficult for the PM.

As news of Bernardi’s departure broke, Abetz went on Sky News and said it showed the government needed to embrace conservativism. Yet Turnbull has already given ground to conservatives on same-sex marriage, superannuation, climate policy and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The point wasn’t to get a policy win; it was to make life tricky for Turnbull.

It’s a different story with younger conservatives such as Peter Dutton, Michael Sukkar and Zed Seselja. Unlike the old guard, they believe their best days are ahead of them. They’re jockeying for their own advancement, not lobbying for a return to Abbott. It’s in their interests, at least for now, to make the Turnbull government work.

Then there are the policy divisions – such as same-sex marriage. Abetz, Andrews and Abbott are opposed to change and will do whatever it takes to delay it happening. Other supporters of traditional marriage – including cabinet ministers – have come to accept change as inevitable and think it should be dealt with soon.

As for economics, Bernardi is a classic small government economic rationalist. Many speculated Nationals MP George Christensen may join him in his new party, but this was never going to happen. Christensen is a populist who wants a return to tarrifs and industry subsidies. His economic views are more in line with those of Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson.

Bernadi left the government because he’s sick of the compromises required by major party politics. He’s got this in common with voters, who are increasingly willing to shop around for a candidate who truly represents their values.

This is seen in the re-emergence of One Nation, currently polling around 8 per cent of the national vote and far higher in Queensland. This is mostly at the expense of the Coalition, whose primary vote has sunk below Labor’s.

The Coalition can never out-do Hanson on an issue like Muslim immigration because it needs to win voters in the centre to form government. Meanwhile Nick Xenophon can pick off voters in South Australia with a popular protectionist platform.

Coalition MPs have long delighted in watching Labor fighting with the Greens for votes in the inner cities. Now it’s them seeping votes to minor parties on the right.

The foundations of the Liberal Party’s broad church – big enough until now to house both liberals and conservatives – are being given an almighty shake.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

London: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has come out in favour of civil partnerships being opened up to straight couples.

Civil partnerships were brought in back in 2004 under Tony Blair’s New Labour government to allow legally-binding gay unions ‘separate’ from marriage.

When same-sex marriage was introduced in England and Wales in 2014, and the government decided to keep existing civil partnership legislation in place, but it was not extended to include mixed-sex couples – something which is currently being challenged in the courts system.

According to PinkNews, Sadiq Khan expressed his support for the campaign to allow heterosexual couples to enter civil partnerships after the issue was debated in the London Assembly.

The Labour politician said in a statement: “I have written to [civil partnerships campaigner] Charles Keidan expressing my support of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign. I am passionate about achieving equality for everyone and this means giving mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership.

“I recognise that there are many reasons why some people may not want to enter into a traditional marriage, and agree that everyone should have the right to express their relationship in a loving union that works for them.

“I will express my support for the introduction of Equal Civil Partnerships to the government, should the Court of Appeal reject this couple’s application to form a civil partnership.

He added: “All couples, regardless of sex or sexual orientation, should be equal before the law.”

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Canberra: Australia’s peak HIV body is calling for the approval of self-testing devices to help find earlier diagnoses of the virus. The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has urged the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to fast-track the national approval of the devices, in light of the TGA’s plan to implement a new pathway for approval early next year.

Although the government lifted the ban on HIV self-testing devices over two years ago, suppliers still need TGA approval to sell them in the country.
In a report by ABC News, national president of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Bridget Haire said the technology would be able to transform people’s understanding of the virus in Australia.

“We have this opportunity to dramatically change the HIV epidemic. We may be able to end new HIV infections in Australia – but that’s a matter not just of treatment and prevention, it’s also that we need to currently find out who has HIV in order to be able to end the epidemic. Testing is an absolutely critical part of that.”

Haire added that while the self-testing devices could help to find earlier diagnoses of HIV, they aren’t 100 per cent accurate.

“The tests are very accurate if they’re used the right way. So with a self-test, there’s a window period of about three months. That means the test you do today doesn’t tell you the HIV result for the risk behaviour you had yesterday or last week.” The TGA is currently conducting consultation into the accelerated assessment of medical devices, and is considering submissions as part of the consultation process.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Santiago: Chile has taken the first steps to introducing equal marriage.
President Bachelet announced on Tuesday that a public discussion on same-sex marriage would take place.he said the aim of the consultation was to produce a “satisfactory bill on marriage equality, recognising the same rights for everyone.”
Ms Bachelet added that it was “not only a demand of the international justice system but a legitimate demand of Chilean society.”
In September last year, the President promised she would introduce a same-sex marriage bill in the first half of 2017.
She made the announcement at a UN event organised by LGBT-friendly countries.
Recently, Chile has taken steps to become more LGBT-inclusive.
Following the murder of Daniel Zamudio, a man who was beaten and carved with swastikas, the country introduced hate-crime laws based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
It also supported the creation of a UN expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, something a number of countries tried to block.
Chile would join Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Uruguay and parts of Mexico as the sixth Latin American country to legalise equal marriage.
There are currently 21 countries and territories with same-sex marriage including around 1 billion people.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Tanzania: Tanzania has ordered men accused of being gay to report to police.
Deputy health minister Hamis Kingwangala has ordered three men accused of ‘spreading homosexual activity’ through social media to be questioned by the authorities.
Gay sex is illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Kingwangala has warned that if the men do not report to the police as ordered, they risk arrest, reported the BBC.
The country, neighboring Uganda, has seen a crackdown of the LGBTI community.
In November last year, the health ministry suspended HIV and AIDS prevention programs for gay men. It also threatened to ban groups and charities that ‘promote’ the rights of gay, bi and trans people.
And early in 2016, the Tanzanian government also banned the import and sale of lube as part of its LGBTI crackdown.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: Australian support for marriage equality is growing as a new polls show support for the issue in small and medium businesses is at 63%.
The numbers increased from 55% last year which shows every business wants their employees to have the same opportunities as the rest of their team.
That is according to Australian Marriage Equality (AME) co-chair, Janine Middleton.
‘Marriage equality is about our friends, family members, team mates and the people we work along aside every day,’ she said.
‘Supporters across the nation want to ensure that the people in their day to day lives have the same opportunities in life to reach their full potential.
‘Employees know that having a diverse workforce brings a lot of different skills and experience to the table, but the most important thing is a happy and workplace where everyone is treated fairly.’
The poll comes days after AME launched a new campaign which tries to convince the newly resumed parliament to allow a free vote on the issue.
Marriage equality is back on the national agenda after a failed attempt to decide the issue with a national public vote.
On Saturday it was revealed a group of pro-marriage equality government MPs were working together to convince their party to allow a free vote on the issue.
It was seen as a massive step forward because until now the seven MPs had towed the party line in favour of a plebiscite.
‘Marriage equality is a straightforward change that the government can deliver. It takes from no one but allows every hard working Australian the same opportunities,’ Middleton said.
‘Our campaign across the nation will continue to show how marriage equality is simply based on our shared Australian values of a fair go and respect for all.
‘The campaign will show the strength and diversity of support for marriage equality. At equalitycampaign.org.au supporters will find the tools to lobby their MPs, hold local events, and share with their communities the many reasons why marriage equality matters.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Washington DC: A new poll has shown a surprising proportion of religious Americans support the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
The poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), shows that a majority of people from many denominations support same-sex marriage, compared with those opposed.The PPRI survey published in recent days found that Jewish people in America supported same-sex marriage by 73 to 21 percent.
White mainline Protestants and white Catholics approved of same-sex marriage by 63 to 28 percent.
And among Muslims, 44 percent said they supported the right of same-sex couples to marry, compared to 41 percent opposed.
One group that was evenly split was black Protestants, of which 45 to 45 percent supported or opposed same-sex marriage.
Mormons, Hispanic Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and evangelical Protestants were the only groups to oppose same-sex marriage on the whole.
46 percent of Hispanic Protestants opposed same-sex marriage compared to 41 percent who supported it.
More than half of Mormons, 55 percent, opposed same-sex marital unions compared to 37 percent who supported them.
61 percent of evangelical Protestants opposed the right of same-sex couples to marry compared to 31 percent in favour, and 53 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses opposed, compared to 25 percent in favour.
Overall, and leading up to the Supreme Court ruling which legalised same-sex marriage in all 50 states, many polls showed that a majority of Americans on the whole supported the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: The new memorial would pay tribute to the men, women and children who have died from HIV and AIDS in the UK and across the world.

A campaign seeking funding for the memorial from the government now has the backing from the London Assembly, who will now call on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to support it.

“London was at the heart of this country’s AIDS epidemic which affected so many people, their loved ones and their friends,” said Assembly Member Sian Berry.

“It’s also where some of the most pioneering treatment and prevention methods are being carried out today.A dedicated memorial would pay tribute to the people we lost, as well as recognising those living with HIV now.”

Sian added: “It is wonderful that early detection and pioneering treatment allows people in the UK newly diagnosed with HIV to presume a normal life expectancy.

“However, London is a global city, and Londoners have many family and friends around the world living with HIV and AIDS who face stigma and don’t have access to medication.

“By showing support for a national AIDS memorial here, the Assembly recognises London’s links to all the communities affected, past and present, at home and across the globe.”

The motion was agreed by 17 votes for, none against.

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Canberra: A Sikh community leader has told the Australian parliament that putting through a bill in support of same-sex marriage would “destroy the whole human race”.

Bawa Singh Jagdev, who is the current Secretary of the National Sikh Council of Australia, also suggested that same-sex couples should instead call their relationships “homo unions”. The comments came in a public submission to the current Senate inquiry into the government’s draft marriage equality bill.

He said in the submission: “What the proponents of the bill are proposing and supporting is against the law of nature. God created humans on this planet to propagate the human race and not to destroy it. This bill will destroy the whole human race.”

Jagdev was previously given an Order of Australia award in 2012. Despite his questionable comments, Jagdev explained that he’s actually in support of LGBT+ people getting recognition for their relationships, but with a different title than marriage.

He wrote: “Give it a different name, such as HOMO UNION and recognise the relationship.”

South Australia previously passed a bill which will offer protection to same-sex couples. A same-sex marriage plebiscite bill, presented by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government, had previously been defeated at a second reading — 33 votes against to 29 in support.

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Geelong: After what has been a confusing week of he-said-she-said in regards to the LNP’s outlook on marriage equality, advocates are increasing the pressure for a free vote in key Liberal seats.

With rumours of a new Liberal backbencher push for equality being squashed by Tim Wilson, those on the forefront of the equality campaign are moving to take advantage of groundswell on the issue.

In the Victorian electorate of Corangamite, held by Liberal marriage equality supporter Sarah Henderson, advocates are mounting a strong grassroots campaign encouraging Henderson to take action to achieve marriage equality before it becomes another election issue.

Geelong for Marriage Equality spokesperson, Sharyn Faulkner, said the group has worked with the Make It Law campaign to establish a webform and will have a presence at one of Geelong’s biggest events, Pakofest, on February 25th.

“It’s great that Sarah supports marriage equality and in the past has indicated that she would support a free vote but it’s time to turn words into action.”

“With the defeat of the plebiscite last year the only way forward is a free vote in parliament and we want Sarah to step up to the plate and become an advocate for a free vote in the Liberal Party.”

“Our message is that she was elected to represent her voters, the overwhelming majority of whom want marriage equality resolved asap, and to leave the issue unresolved will definitely make it an issue at the next election.”

The Make It Law Campaign, which is sponsored by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in partnership with just.equal, will be rolling out webforms targetting Liberal MPs who support marriage equality, as well as Labor senators who are yet to support it.

Spokesperson for just.equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, said the campaign is designed to send the message that everyday Australians want Liberals who support the reform to do more.

“Liberals who support marriage equality hold the key to resolving the current impasse. We are now targeting their seats and mobilising ordinary voters to send a clear message: get on with it!”

“Many Liberal MPs, especially those in marginal seats, don’t want a failure to achieve marriage equality to be a millstone around their necks come the election.”

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

Ottawa: Canadian scientists will soon start research aimed at assuring the federal government that it’s safe for sexually active gay and bisexual men to donate blood.

But the Liberals are facing increasing criticism after pledging to end these restrictions entirely.

MP Randy Boissonnault, the Liberal’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, appeared at the House of Commons health committee on Feb 2, 2017, for its ongoing investigation into the federal policy that bars men from donating blood if they’ve had sex with another man in the past 12 months.

In June 2016, Canada dropped its deferral period for men who have sex with men from five years to one, making it among the last western countries to do so.

Boissonnault told the committee that the deferral policy was “based on the best science that was available at the time” but nevertheless discriminates against gay and bisexual men, especially monogamous ones.

Canadian government pledges $3 million for research

The government pledged $3 million in June 2016 to research whether Canada should reduce or entirely drop its restrictions on gay men donating blood.

Some of that funding (CBS said it couldn’t calculate an estimate) went to a two-day Toronto conference on Jan 24 called “Next steps for the MSM donor policy.” Roughly 50 researchers from Canada and abroad attended the conference, alongside patient advocates and LGBT representatives.

Boissonnault said the conference “literally set the scientific agenda moving forward for the research that has yet to be conducted.” It focused on the lack of Canadian data for low-risk gay men, and the two-month period it takes for most pathogens to appear in blood samples.

“We are moving as fast — and as well as we can as a government. We cannot tell [Canadian Blood Services] and Héma-Québec to reduce this to zero. That’s not how this works,” Boissonnault told the committee. (Canadian Blood Services facilitates all blood donations outside Quebec, where Héma-Québec plays a similar role; both follow almost-matching protocols.)

But NDP MP Don Davies challenged Boissonnault’s suggestion that the government can’t tell the blood service agencies what to do. “There is no doubt that this decision . . . can absolutely be overwritten by the minister,” he told the committee.

According to Canada’s blood regulations, the federal health minister may “remove a term or condition from an authorization if she or he determines that the term or condition is no longer necessary to prevent a compromise to human safety or the safety of blood.”

Boissonnault disagreed.

He also said the policy discriminates against monogamous gay men, when even a straight college student with multiple partners can donate. “Show me the science that shows that that makes sense.”

Yet that was exactly Davies’ point.

“You seem to be suggesting that data needs to be shown to prove that it’s okay to have this blood, when I would say the opposite. If we’re going to adopt a discriminatory practice . . . it’s incumbent upon those who assert that, to supply data to show why that’s necessary.”

At the committee, Davies read from the Liberal party’s platform pledge to “bring an end to the discriminatory ban” that “ignores scientific evidence.”

Conservative MP Len Webber asked if the government plans to break that promise. “When do you see this happening? This is a decision that you will have to make as a government. Is this something that you are now backing off on?”

Boissonnault responded that the January conference was the first step. Webber, who had the health committee investigate the policy, added it was “insulting” the government didn’t invite Conservative MPs.

Conference researchers focused on science, evidence-based approach

Though the conference was closed the public and media, Xtra obtained the agenda and spoke with two attendees.

Michael Bach, founder of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, says the conference was extremely science-focused, with lots of research terminology.

“We were all there under the understanding that we want to see the deferral changed,” Bach says. “Everyone was in the right frame of mind.”

He says the Liberals had “exactly the right approach” because data to justify lowering the deferral would prevent future governments from increasing it.

Dr Terry Trussler, a director at Vancouver’s Community-Based Research Centre, also says the researchers focused on what evidence would be needed to change the policy “without jeopardizing the system.”

He says there were interesting exchanges with scientists from several countries including Italy and Portugal.

Trussler says his group intends to submit research proposals under the fund. CBS estimates that 400 rejected MSM donors became eligible in June 2016 when the deferral period dropped from five years to one year. Trussler said they might evaluate whether those people attempted to donate blood, and what their experience was like.

CBS is taking proposals for $2.75 million of the $3 million research fund until April, exploring questions like how to identify “a low-risk population of MSM eligible to donate,” the risks of bringing in more donors and “the feasibility of a gender-blind deferral policy.” It’s unclear how long these research projects will run, but the agency notes that research heads will have to submit progress reports every six months.

Trans people still face restrictions on blood donation

At the committee, Boissonnault slammed CBS for “onerous” restrictions it put on trans people in an Aug 2016 policy to screen donors according to their genitalia when determining whether they count as MSM. Héma-Québec sorts trans people on a case-by-case basis.

“We are actually forcing people to go back to their birth gender to be determined if they can give blood or not,” he said, noting he’d met a Vancouver trans activist who can now give blood 14 months after her surgery, despite not being able to prior.

“We’ve got ourselves in this kind of perverse way of defining populations and subpopulations,” Boissonnault said. “I want a safe blood supply, but I also want an inclusive blood supply.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

London: In the 1950s, hereditary peer and the founder of the National Motor Museum Lord Montagu was notoriously convicted and later imprisoned for “consensual homosexual offences” along with two others – journalist Peter Wildeblood and Michael Pitt-Rivers.
The case sparked the movement that a decade later finally succeeded in decriminalising homosexuality for consenting adults in England and Wales, in 1967.
The scandal and subsequent gay rights battles led by Wildeblood will be the centre of a new BBC Two drama, Against The Law.
Line of Duty star Daniel Mays will portray Wildeblood, while Mark Edel-Hunt will play Lord Montagu – with out Sherlock star Mark Gatiss also appearing as a prison psychiatrist.
Daniel Mays says: “I’m incredibly proud to be part of a drama that tells such an important real-life story. Peter Wildeblood is a fascinating, complex, yet flawed character from a time when being a gay man in Britain was incredibly difficult – I can’t wait to bring his tale to life for the BBC Two audience.”
Patrick Holland, Channel Editor, BBC Two, said: “50 years ago, it was a crime to be a gay man in the UK. Against The Law is a stunning piece that melds drama and documentary testimony to tell the story of one man, and his wider generation, as they struggled to make society accept their sexuality as non-criminal.
“It is brilliant to have a film that brings the authorship of Brian Fillis, the vision of director Fergus O’Brien, and the outstanding talent of Daniel Mays and cast to this important subject”.
Written by Brian Fillis, Against the Law is directed by Fergus O’Brien, produced by Scott James Bassett and executive produced by Aysha Rafaele, Creative Director of The Documentary Unit, BBC Studios.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Arkansas: The University of Arkansas will scrap healthcare for gender transitions, after providing just three months of cover.
The southern American university had brought the cover for transgender staff in from January, after President Obama made anti-discrimination changes to federal healthcare law.
However, after a Texas judge blocked the order, the university will now be suspending access to treatment from March.
In an email to staff Richard Ray, benefits director at the university, said the move was due to the “frequent changes and uncertainty of the regulations.”
“In compliance with the Affordable Care Act regulations which were issued mid year in 2016, the University’s health plan scheduled Gender Dysphoria coverage for implementation on January 1, 2017,” he added.
“On December 31 the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction. More specifically the injunction prohibits health and human services from enforcing regulations addressing gender identity.”
District Judge Reed O’Connor, who blocked order, said it defied existing laws by defining sex bias as including “discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy.”
He also said it violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs rule-making.
Cover will now be suspended until the final legal outcome of the injunction, with effect from March 6. In a statement to Arkansas Online, the university said they were unsure how many people would be affected.

Carla Combs, a member of the Tennessee Equality Project board, said she was “aggravated, irritated, agitated, and enraged” by the decision.
“Some of the subscribers are transgender and were counting on these new 2017 benefits,” she added.
“They are CHOOSING to do this. This rogue judge in Texas is not forcing them to remove health care benefits from transgender subscribers, they’re simply using it as an opportunity to discriminate.”
While the new rule was not set up specifically to protect transgender people, it aimed to beat discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
Religious groups had been angered by the changes, saying it could force hospitals and doctors to give treatments which were against their faith.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Oslo: The Norwegian Labour Party has proposed that it could introduce a third gender option on passports.
The party proposed that the third option, ‘hen’ could be introduced for those who do not identify as male or female.
The AP wrote in its draft policies for 2017-2021, that it would consider introducing the third gender option.
According to the leader of the youth branch of the party, Mani Hussaini: ” Those people who neither define themselves as male or female will now have a legal opportunity to get a third gender.”
He went on to say that those who do not identify with the gender binary should have the option to live openly.
A previous proposal by the Liberal Party of Norway was only supported by the Green Party and the Socialist Left.
‘Hen’ is used in Sweden when the gender of a person is not known.
The word was first used in 1966 and eventually became known as a gender-neutral pronoun.
Canada last year joined the ranks of a handful of countries which allow foreign visitors to identify themselves as gender-neutral.
Others including New Zealand, Nepal and a few other countries allow third options.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Canberra: Following eight years of research, a major new study has claimed that sexuality has no impact on the state of a person’s mental health.

The Australian National University found that people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual were not at an increased risk of suffering with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.

However, they do concede that poor mental health and higher suicide rates of LGBT+ people could be down to the stigma they face after coming out.

“Childhood sexual trauma, risky health behaviours, smoking, a lack of positive support and negative social interactions pose more of a risk for people’s mental health than their sexual orientation,” Dr Richard Burns, ANU lead researcher, told The Guardian.

“Initially, we found there was a long-term risk for depression and anxiety among individuals with a bisexual orientation, and there was long-term risk for anxiety amongst homosexual individuals,” he added.

“But when we adjusted for these other mental health risk factors, we found no major risk associated with sexual orientation itself.“We concluded that all things being equal that there is no particular mental health risk for people with a homosexual or bisexual orientation.”

It comes at a time when campaigners for same-sex marriage in Australia are hoping for a plebiscite on the issue.

They have argued that gay and bisexual people’s risk of poor mental health and suicide could stem from them not having equal rights.

“The study really reinforces what we’ve been saying for a long time now: members of the LGBTQI people experience discrimination and abuse that’s really unique from what we see in other demographics,” Micah Scott, chief executive officer of the Minus 18 organisation for same-sex-attracted and gender-diverse young people, said.

Micah added that someone who has been discriminated for their race could often seek support from family members, whereas a teen whose close ones don’t understand their sexuality would be more unwilling to do so.

“A young gay man who’s being bullied at school may not have a supportive family to go home to, and rarely one that’s shared that experience,” Micah said.

“The experience of growing up and coming out is really unique to this generation of LGBTI people.”

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Washington DC: Notoriously anti-gay politician Jeff Sessions has been confirmed as US attorney general.

Despite activists and groups such as the Human Rights Campaign lambasting him for his record on equal rights, the Alabama senator has officially been elected to the prestigious position with a vote of 52 in favour to 47 against.

Sessions’ record on LGBT+ rights is abysmal – he voted against marriage equality, is in favour of allowing discrimination in the name of religion, and called discriminatory measure Don’t Ask Don’t Tell “pretty effective”.

Back in 1986 he was rejected from a position of Federal district judge in Alabama after being accused of making “a number of racially insensitive statements”, according to the New York Times.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “It is deeply disturbing that Jeff Sessions, who has such clear animus against so many Americans – including the LGBTQ community, women, and people of colour – could be charged with running the very system of justice designed to protect them.

“The man now in charge of enforcing hate crimes protections doesn’t even think they should exist – or that LGBTQ people need them. The man now in charge of enforcing civil rights laws is a man who has a history of undermining the rights of African-American voters.

“Our message to Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions is this: we’re going to fight any attempt to roll back our rights with every resource that we have. We will not give one inch.”

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union – a nonprofit legal and advocacy organisation – took to Twitter to state that they will “sue” Sessions if he violates the Constitution.

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Berlin: A gay refugee was initially refused asylum in Germany, after allegedly being assaulted by police and told he only had himself to blame.
The unnamed 28 year old told officials in Europe he was a “partially out” gay man in his home country of Tunisia, and that it was important for him “to represent the queer community on the street”.
He told an asylum hearing he was arrested for his sexuality, and once in police custody physically and sexually assaulted.
However, after fleeing North Africa officials in Germany told him he should have done more to report the abuse.
“Possible lapses of individual police officers cannot be transferred to the entirety of the Tunisian state’s security forces,” the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) said in their decision.
“The applicant has to attribute his behaviour to himself.”

Drawing attention to his case, the Queer Refugees Network Leipzig slammed the decision as “inhumane”.
Following wider media attention BAMF decided to revisit the case, granting asylum this week.
The network also supported the case of a second Tunisian refugee, who similarly had his request refused, despite citing repeated abuse from family members and strangers.
At the time German officials said he did not qualify for asylum as “he could continue to live in Tunisia without fearing persecution”.
His case also been overturned.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Johannesburg: A student has been kicked out of his class for being gay.
The 20-year-old says he’d suffered months of bullying in the class, with the teacher regularly making fun of him.
Bheka Khanyile says the teacher would ask if he has a penis or a vagina during the taunts, mocking him for wearing make-up.
Khanyile said: “When she told me I should leave her class, I went straight home”.
The student studies office administration at a school in Durban, South Africa.
He said: “I have been patient with the abuse, but I just couldn’t cope.
“When she told me I should leave her class, I went straight home,” said Khanyile.
“He said the teacher had taunted him in front of other students, asking if he had a vagina or a penis.
“It has reached a point where I’ve had it.
“I have been patient with the name calling and the insults.
“This time it broke me down. I’ve been made a joke because of my sexuality.
“I have heard cleaners at the college laughing at me because I’m gay”.
The college has now been forced to investigate the teacher, after complaints were made
South Africa is considered one of the most progressive places in the world for LGBT laws, however social attitudes frequently lag behind.
A ‘death to gays’ preacher was recently allowed to preach in the country.
Equal Education deputy secretary Ntuthuzo Ndzomo said the college must account for the teacher’s behaviour, which was contrary to the Constitution.
“No school in South Africa is allowed to discriminate against a student because of sexuality.
“The student has a right to take the matter as far as the Human Rights Commission.
“Every student has a right to education regardless of sexuality.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Washington DC: A group of radical feminists are working alongside ultra-conservative Christians who preach that women must obey their husbands – in order to attack transgender rights protections.
The unlikely move comes from activists from the so-called Women’s Liberation Front, who describe themselves as “radical feminists dedicated to the total liberation of women”.
The group, comprised of feminists who do not believe transgender women should be able to access female-only spaces, has got into bed with ultra-conservatives from the Family Policy Alliance and Focus on the Family, in order to challenge legal anti-discrimination protections for trans people.
Activists from WoLF have filed a challenge to policies enacted under the Obama administration that extend existing anti-sexism laws to safeguard trans kids in schools from discrimination – and they seem only too happy to join up with their usual enemies to get it done.
Others in the feminist movement have questioned the group’s willingness to get into bed with their biggest opponents, working alongside activists who want to outlaw abortion, and believe a woman must be obedient to her husband.
On their website, Focus on the Family preach a literalist Biblical order that husbands are heads of the household, and that “submitting to her husband is a quality worth cultivating” in a wife.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: A former barrister has been accused of telling a teenage boy to self harm in order to rid himself of “sinful” homosexual feelings.
John Smyth, a former QC, allegedly forced then schoolboy ‘David’, who didn’t give his name in a report with the Guardian to protect his anonymity, to “do anything to give myself pain.”
He said he was driven to a “dark place” by frightening “frightening and blunt” warnings about homosexuality.
The man, now in his 50s, says he came into contact with Smyth when he was a pupil at Winchester College.
The accusations come as Andrew Watson, the bishop of Guilford, said he had been beaten by Smyth.
The former QC has been accused of violent beatings by several men who met him in their teenage years, and an investigation has been opened by Hampshire police.
Allegations were also made, according to the Guardian, back in 1982, and that they were not informed by the police despite being investigated by the Twerne Trust and Winchester College.
The latest to come forward, David, says he was part of the college’s Christian Forum, and had been a “regular visitor to [Smyth’s] house, where he offered me ‘spiritual guidance’.”
The man says the former barrister expected the boys to tell them “everything”, and that he had come out to the former QC as gay.
He says Smyth told him that “Jesus would give me the power to resist” his homosexual urges.
“Smyth responded to my anxieties with graphic descriptions of the joys of heterosexual sex and a stark warning that homosexuals could neither enter heaven nor live among the righteous on earth. It was a frightening and blunt message,” David tells the Guardian.
“Smyth instructed me to pinch, squeeze or do anything to give myself pain when sinful thoughts arrived. He taught me to harm myself and his demonstrations left me bruised.
“Emotionally, I was in a dark place. I frequently spent a good portion of my ‘spiritual counselling’ sessions with Smyth in tears yet there was no let-up from Smyth. I felt isolated, unable to speak to anyone else. I became depressed and my work suffered.”
After the encounters, David says he “hit rock bottom”, and that his housemaster knew he was down, but that he did not “admit the real cause of my anxiety”.
He also accused the Church of England of still continuing the practice of “literalistic interpretations of scripture”.
“Smyth’s actions may have been at the more extreme end of the scale, but the narrowness and lack of compassion remains common in mainstream Christian fundamentalism, especially in its approach to homosexuality,” says David.
The school has responded to the accusations saying it did the best it could “in accordance with the standards of the time”.
It added: “That John Smyth went on to abuse further, reveals the inadequacy of those standards.”
David has since reported his accusations to the police.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Kiev: An LGBT rights activist and another person are feared missing in the separatist-controlled Dontesk region in eastern Ukraine, say human rights groups.
The people, Grey Violet and Victoria Miroshnichenko, were last seen on 31 January.
The pair had been planning to stage a performance in Donetsk in favour of the LGBT community and to film the demonstration.
“It is distressing that no one has been able to find out where Grey Violet and Miroshnichenko are since they arrived in the DNR 10 days ago,” said Tanya Cooper, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“Their sudden disappearance requires prompt and effective investigation.”
According to a friend of one of the activists who spoke to HRW, Grey Violet was last in contact at around 11am on 31 January.
Others also said she had last contacted them on 31 Jan.
Some said they had received information that the pair had been detained after arriving in the region.
According to HRW it is feared that DNR security officials may have detained the pair.
Russian media also reported that the DNR people’s council chairman said neither the DNR or the police were holding the pair.
“The longer Grey Violet and Miroshnichenko are held without revealing their whereabouts, the more they are vulnerable to abuse,” Cooper adds.
“The de facto DNR authorities should immediately find out where they are and ensure their safety. If there are lawful grounds for holding them, guarantee their due process rights, including unimpeded access to legal counsel of their choice.”
The HRW urges the DNR authorities to reveal where the pair are, should they be in custody.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Suva: Two men in Fiji who were the victims of a homophobic assault are too scared to report the incident to police.
The alleged attack happened on Sunday at 1am in the town of Valelevu near the country’s capital Suva.
The men did not report the crime to police and did not want to be identified because they feared reprisals from their attackers.
‘While we were walking towards the road, two teenage boys approached us, smiling and made some sexually subjec­tive comments towards us,’ one of the men told The Fiji Sun.
‘We ignored them and continued to flag down a cab and all of a sudden one of them punched my friend.
‘They punched my friend really hard and when I was trying to save my friend, the same boy pushed me. I took a tumble and fell. My lips were cut and bleeding.’
LGBTI advocate and director Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj said ‘silence will mean fear and discrimination can flourish’.
‘We must not only condemn but we must actively act to stand up to these acts of discrimination and violence,’ he said.
‘This would mean that not only the Po­lice, not just the law enforcers, but society needs to be educated about these things.’
Even though Fiji’s Constitution protects people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, gay people still face a lot of stigma.
‘Fiji does not need that rubbish’
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama last year famously said all LGBTI people should go live in Iceland if they want marriage equality.
‘Fiji does not need that rubbish,’ he said at the time.
Raj argued because the Fiji Consti­tution has based strong provisions on sexual orientation and gender as a means the country must ensure so­ciety is free from discrimination.
‘These communities can live with­out fear, without reprisal and re­crimination because they express a sexual value that is not shared by others,’ he said.
‘So we as a society must strongly condemn these acts of violence because violence begets violence. And we must extend the same kind of human dignity to them that oth­ers enjoy and they have the same constitutional rights as everybody else.
‘And that everywhere that people see, witness these acts of violence or where they see that instances that their sense of dignity has been diminished, we must stand up and report these matters to the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, report these matters to the Police.’
But opinion about whether the men should have reported the crime is divided.
One man on Facebook said he was friends with men and a fear of retaliation from their attackers was very real.
‘There are racial nuances to this case that aggravates their situation,’ he said.
‘Whilst I would personally report to police not everyone has the same context to make a choice. We should not judge or shame another person’s choice.’
Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said it could not do much if people did not report the matter.
‘We would encourage them to come for­ward and report because that is the best way they could address the issue,’ she said

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Moscow: The European Court of Human Rights has fined Russia for blocking a Pride march in St Petersburg.
LGBTI activists Yuri Gavrikov, Alexander Sheremetyev, Dmitry Milkov, and Maria Yefremenkova were awarded €27,500 damages in total over authorities’ repeated refusal to allow them to hold St Petersburg Pride.
They wanted to hold the march, which they said would be attended by 500 to 600 people, in Central St Petersburg.
The city’s Security Department refused to allow the initial marching route, because it would’ve caused too much obstruction.
Two applications for alternative routes and venues were also refused by the department, who deemed them ‘unsuitable’.
Family march allowed
But on the proposed Pride date, 26 June 2010, United Russia’s Young Guard was allowed to use one of the proposed venues. Their event supporting ‘family and traditional family values’.
‘After 7 years we have reached this important milestone for Pride in St.Petersburg, confirming us that authorities violate our right of assembly,’ Gavrikov told Gay Star News.
‘But the situation in Russia is much more restricted in terms of freedoms. Marches and meetings are mostly banned by City Hall every year for many groups of people, not only for LGBT.
‘The only allowed events are for supporters of the United Russia party on Putin’s course.’
He said he intends to contribute the money towards Pride.
A symbolic sign for the LGBTI community
Gavrikov and Sheremetyev also applied for a 2011 Pride which was struck down in a similar fashion.
When they held the Pride anyways, in the center of St Petersburg, they were arrested and charged with administrative offences.
Gavrikov and was also awarded €7,500 in legal costs, plus any taxes he may be charged.
He told GSN he doesn’t expect the ruling to make big changes to Russia’s issues with freedom of expression, especially since it’s the build-up to next year’s presidential elections.
‘But for LGBT activist the the recent decision of ECHR is symbolic sign for the better future,’ he said.
‘It gets some optimism like a ray of sun in the dark cloudy day. We will continue our struggle.’
And the Pride movement would go on, Gavrikov said, adding that he already knew of initiatives starting in other cities.
Win for Moscow LGBTI activist
The fifth activist to win a case was Kirill Nepomnyashchiy who had applied to the court over a 2009 incident in Moscow.
Nepomnyashchiy and a number of other activists had notified the Prefect of the Northern Administrative District of Moscow of a picket they intended to held.
It was supposed to call for the Prefect’s resignation over ‘his efforts to incite hatred and enmity towards various social groups, and his failure to comply with electoral laws’.
Their application was struck down; a second application received no answer, forcing the activists to cancel the event.
A second picket, to be held in the city’s Novopushkinskiy Park was also refused, despite the activists finding an alternative venue.
The court ordered Russia to pay Nepomnyashchiy €7,500 in damages.
The ECHR ordered Russia to pay the money within three months after the ruling becomes final.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Ottawa: A parliamentary committee could soon probe why Canada suddenly started turning away LGBT Iranians seeking asylum, Xtra has learned. The move comes as members of Parliament express confusion over why a famed program that brought hundreds of refugees to safety has ground to a halt.

According to a Feb 3, 2017, Xtra investigation, Canada started turning away LGBT Iranians in Turkey seeking third-country resettlement, shortly after the Liberal government’s airlift of Syrians got underway in November 2015.

Since 2010, Canada has resettled hundreds of Iranians from Turkey fleeing persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Most were resettled through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), after the former Conservative government asked the agency to refer such cases to Canada, often with the help of Toronto-based activists.

But almost weekly arrivals gradually slowed, and by 2016 the UNHCR started referring these Iranians to the United States, which has now barred Iranians from entry following Trump’s executive order on several predominantly Muslim countries. Meanwhile, Canadian officials said they had too many Syrian cases to process and suggested activists privately sponsor these refugees, a costly process that takes much longer.

That’s left many LGBT Iranians stranded in Turkey amid an uptick in LGBT hate crimes and violence in the country. On Feb 8, UNHCR spokeswoman Selin Unal told Xtra that the agency has registered “over 1,900 LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees” in Turkey, and the “majority of these people are from Iran.”

Now, members of Parliament are starting to raise questions.

Liberal MP Hedy Fry says she cherishes a plaque in her office that activists gave her for helping dozens of resettlement cases. But she noticed a drop in applications over the past year.

“I used to get a lot of them,” she told Xtra, visibly alarmed. “I haven’t heard from anybody at all, and yet I was in the loop with that group. I don’t know what’s happening.”

Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi says both Arsham Parsi, founder of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees and Saghi Ghahraman, co-founder of the Iranian Queer Organization, approached him in spring 2016 about a slowdown in applications. When Ehsassi told the immigration ministry, officials simply replied that they’d look into it.

“I have never heard anything about the system collapsing, from a government official. I have heard expressions of concern, that it has slowed down. But I truly do not know whether that is the case or not.”

In an interview with Xtra, Ehsassi notes his government has opened more spots for privately sponsoring refugees.

“At no point as a government did we say, ‘we’re only taking in Syrian refugees,’” he says. “We’ve always been welcoming to refugees around the world; that is supposed to be ongoing. But as you know, last year we did set aside a certain number for refugees from Syria as well.”

Ehsassi points out that the House immigration committee recently decided to examine a separate pilot project where the federal government covers costs for chapters of the Rainbow Refugee Committee to privately sponsor refugees. He’s asked the committee to welcome both Parsi and Ghahraman to speak about the UN resettlement issue.

Ehsassi also notes that “any assertion that we are receiving any specific numbers can’t be accurate” because Canada doesn’t receive case information from the UNHCR identifying people as gender or sexual minorities.

But that’s the problem, according to Conservative immigration critic MP Michelle Rempel.

“This isn’t about discrimination. This is about saying there are actually people who face more discrimination because of their religion or their sexual orientation, or their gender identity,” Rempel says.

“It’s not improper for us to ask questions about that, right? Or to demand that there’s a prioritization.”

Rempel notes that while Canada listed “members of the LGBTI community” among four priority groups in its Syrian resettlement, it’s never said how many came, or how they’d be accommodated.

She sees a parallel in the confusion of LGBT Iranians.

“LGBT people in Iran are some of the most persecuted people in the world,” Rempel says. “But to just ignore this, and sort of give it lip service, it just does a disservice to our overall refugee policy.”

In July 2016, the House immigration committee spent 14 hours looking at whether Canada adequately protects vulnerable immigrants and refugees. LGBT groups testified that refugees fleeing persecution often feel unsafe in cramped camps with people from their home country, and face inappropriate questioning from UN and Canadian officials.

“Canada should be very seriously reconsidering its process for selecting and prioritizing LGBT people to come to Canada,” Rempel says.

She also framed the US restrictions on refugees as an opportunity for Canada to take in the most vulnerable. “It’s something I think Canada could be a world leader on.”

As for LGBT Iranians in Turkey, the UNHCR says “there is not a specific protocol” for keeping queer refugees safe, but that local LGBT groups are helping while the UN approaches other countries for resettlement.

“We have submitted LGBT cases to various countries,” Unal writes. “UNHCR hopes that the US will continue its strong leadership role and long history of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution. Resettlement is one of the key tools to ensure the protection of vulnerable refugees, of whom LGBTI are prioritised.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Sydney: Former Liberal MP Ross Cameron has resisted making an apology for derogatory remarks about gay people he made at a conservative fundraiser, as colleagues and the NSW Liberal Party distance themselves from him.The Liberal Party member and Sky News presenter told the Sydney gathering the NSW division of the Liberal Party was “basically a gay club” and labelled Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald “The Sydney Morning Homosexual”.

He appeared at the Q Society fundraiser on Thursday night alongside cartoonist Larry Pickering, who told the crowd: “I can’t stand Muslims [but] they are not all bad, they do chuck pillow-biters off buildings.”The comments, exclusively reported by Fairfax Media on Friday, sparked outrage on social media and the broader commentariat, with calls for Cameron to be fired from Sky News and suspended from the Liberal Party.

Appearing on his own network on Friday, Cameron distanced himself from Pickering but defended his own remarks, saying he had no problem with gay people as long as they built infrastructure.In a speech peppered with references to homosexuality, Cameron spoke of the young Roman emperor Hadrian and his young male lover whom he said was probably “snorting coke” at the time of his death.

“I said I love the fact that Hadrian built the roads, that he built the wall, that he was an infrastructure guy,” Cameron later explained on Sky News. “I said I don’t mind if our modern leaders are gay, I just wish that they would build the infrastructure.”

Sky News refused to comment on the conduct of its employee, instead referring the Herald to his appearance on the network. But Cameron’s colleagues did not hold back, with Sky News political editor David Speers calling the Q Society event “appalling” and commentator Peter van Onselen saying he was “scared where this kind of hate is going”.

In a statement, the NSW Liberal Party said it had no knowledge of the event or Cameron’s appearance, and that he did not speak on behalf of the Liberal Party. But it is expected Cameron will be suspended from the party over a different matter, when the Liberal Party state council meets later this month.

The Q Society, an anti-Islam organisation that opposes Halal certification, was scheduled to hold another fundraiser in Melbourne on Friday night to be attended by outspoken Nationals MP George Christensen and Liberal party defector Cory Bernardi.

Fairfax Media has contacted Mr Christensen, National party leader Barnaby Joyce and the office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for comment.

The venue of the Sydney event, the North Ryde RSL, released a statement distancing itself from the Q Society and the remarks of Pickering, Cameron and others.

“North Ryde RSL was unaware of the nature of a recent private function that was held at our establishment,” the RSL said on Facebook. “We would like it to be known that we are completely non-political and do not support this organisation in any way.”

After initially defending his remarks, Cameron later told Sky News he would apologise to any gay people who were hurt by the reporting of his remarks at the dinner. But he again took aim at the Herald, which he accused of running a politically correct campaign against free speech.

“I don’t regard [the remarks] as anti-gay, I regard it as anti-Sydney Morning Herald,” he said. “I accept it was a gag. What I object to is the Sydney Morning Herald taking the view that vast sweep of Australians are homophobic racists, are rednecks.

“I’m totally liberal in relation to people’s sexual orientation and preferences.

“A person’s sexual preference is obviously a deeply intimate, important, personal question. I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to add one ounce of discomfort to any human for their sexual preferences.

“If the reporting of these comments has caused someone to feel a greater sense of isolation over their attraction then I very sincerely apologise.”

Sky News host Janine Perrett replied: “That was the worst apology I have ever heard”.

Cameron then conceded he had “quite possibly” made an error and offered an “absolutely sincere” apology to anyone offended.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

London: Church teachings on same-sex relationships are fuelling a negativity that undermines the mental health of LGBT people, according to a new study.

The new report ‘In the Name of Love: The Church, exclusion and LGB mental health issues’ by Christian charity the Oasis Foundation reveals that homosexual and bisexual people are up to 12 times more likely to experience mental health difficulties caused by societal discrimination.

Oasis says the study shows “beyond reasonable doubt” that church-goers and Christian leaders are responsible for fuelling negative messages about same-sex relationships in society, the media and political debate.Although there have been research into the damage received to LGB people who are churchgoers, the study is the first to show the negative and sometimes life-threatening consequences of religious-based homophobia can have outside of the Church.

With the exception of the United Reformed Church, researchers claim all the UK-based Christian church groups practise discrimination of LGB people in some form, making churches some of the biggest instiutional discriminators.

In a statement, Rev Steve Chalke, the founder of Oasis said: “It is no secret that the negative stance taken by the Church, and so many individual local churches, has a hugely distressing impact on large numbers of LGB people and leaves countless numbers of them living lives of forced secrecy and dishonesty.

“Tragically, it is also common knowledge that the resultant anguish and distress often leads to spiritual, mental and physical harm, and in the worst of cases to people making the desperate decision to take their own life.

“Too often however, these powerful testimonies are dismissed by those that don’t want to hear them – those who are not yet ready to face up to the scale of the damage that we collectively have unintentionally caused. My hope is that this report is the beginning of a sea change to this approach.”

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Sydney: TEACHERS in NSW public schools have been banned from educating their students about gender theory after an independent review of the state’s sex education resources.

According to a report in The Australian, teachers will now no longer be encouraged to ‘de-gender’ their language and will no longer be able to teach students that gender is a ‘social construct’.

The review was initiated in September last year in light of concerns around the Education Department’s ‘Teacher Toolbox’ resource, which appeared to be repackaged material from the Safe Schools program.
It was also undertaken to highlight the gender and queer theory embedded in the state’s compulsory sex education program for years 11 and 12.

An update on the review has now been provided to teachers, banning them from using a number of resources including the ‘Teacher Toolbox’ resource and three of the sexual and gender diverse-related activities in the sex education program.

It is not yet clear whether the ban stems from the review’s recommendations or is in place until the department’s responds to the review.

Those that were vocally against the Safe Schools program have spoken out in favour of the ban, including the Australian Christian Lobby’s NSW director Mark Makowiecki.

“The ACL and many parents and teachers are grateful for this decision,” he said.

“It is necessary, however, to make the final report public because scrutiny is warranted.”

Despite the few vocal opponents against Safe Schools and teaching students about gender and sexual diversity, advocates for Australia’s LGBTI community have spoken out against the ban.

Author of The Gender Fairy and mother of a trans child Jo Hirst said she’s not familiar with the state’s sex education program, but hopes non-binary students will still be respected in the classroom.

“If the report is true then they are not respecting the gender identity of non-binary people, so how are they going to support them,” she said.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t use binary language but you have to be respectful of non-binary students as well.

“If they’re taking some of the current resources away perhaps they’re redesigning something within the education department.”

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Darwin/Brisbane: The Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council (NTAHC) and the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) have launched a joint campaign to reverse federal funding cuts to their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexual health programs.

The government has announced it will stop funding from June 30 to both QuAC 2 Spirits and the NTAHC Aboriginal Sexual Health program.

Each program represents a longstanding effort to address the disproportionate STI rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland and the NT. The impending cuts are set to draw the programs to an indefinite close.

Funding has been used by NTAHC employee teams based in Darwin and Alice Springs, and QuAC employees from Brisbane and Cairns. All have been working in regional and remote areas to assist groups that often have difficulty accessing mainstream health services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have STI rates up to 20 times higher than others, and make up 60 per cent of people living with chronic hepatitis B in the NT.

“Without the 2 Spirits program, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay men and sistergirls will have nowhere to go,” said Michael Scott, executive director of QuAC.

“The risks to their mental and sexual health are significant and the outcome will be devastating.”

Executive director of NTAHC Kim Gates said, “The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ communities have unique healthcare needs that relate to addressing their sexuality and gender identity concerns, and they face significant levels of stigma, discrimination and social exclusion.

“The impact these funding cuts will potentially have on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ community members, particularly sistergirls and brotherboys, has not been considered.”

QuAC and NTAHC have started a petition to reverse the cuts so that that the 2 Spirits and Aboriginal Sexual Health programs can continue after June 30.

They are also running a social media campaign using #LGBTIBlackLivesMatter.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Canberra: Valentine’s Day is coming up fast, but did you know 14 February is also National Condom Day?

National Condom Day started in the late eighties to promote condom use and remind people about the importance of safe sex, at the height of the HIV epidemic.

Today, over 27,000 people in Australia are living with HIV. Other STIs such as gonorrhoea and syphilis are on the rise.

“National Condom Day is celebrated each year to remind us that one of the easiest ways to look after your health, and the health of your sexual partners, is to use a cheap, readily available form of contraception that also protects against STIs,” said Tim Bavinton, executive director of Sexual Health & Family Planning ACT.

“At a time when there is continuing concern about the rates of STIs and unplanned pregnancy in Australia, it is concerning that many sexually active people still do not use condoms with casual partners.”

Victorian AIDS Council CEO Simon Ruth agrees about the importance of condoms.

“Even with new and highly effective HIV prevention methods like PrEP and undetectable viral load changing the way we think about ‘safe sex’, condoms are still the most convenient way to prevent HIV,” he said.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Tennessee: Bills that would ban same-sex marriage and restrict transgender public school students’ access to restrooms have once again been introduced in the Tennessee legislature.

The marriage bill, titled the Natural Marriage Defense Act, would define marriage in the state as an exclusively male-female union, regardless of what any court decides, therefore saying the state would ignore the 2015 Supreme Court marriage equality ruling — a move that would undoubtedly be found unconstitutional. The restroom bill, which doesn’t appear to have a formal title, would require students to use restrooms and locker rooms designated for the gender on their birth certificate.Similar bills have failed in the past, but that’s not stopping far-right legislators from trying again. Both were introduced by Mark Pody in the Tennessee House of Representatives and Mae Beavers in the state Senate, the Nashville Scene reports. Both sponsored the similar marriage bill last year; Pody once said God had called him to stop same-sex marriages. The legislation was killed by a House subcommittee. Rep. Susan Lynn introduced the restroom bill last year, but eventually withdrew it, amid much public outcry against it.

Beavers and Pody are also sponsoring a “personhood” bill, which would entitle a fertilized egg to “all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood,” therefore outlawing abortion and some forms of contraception that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.

“The good news is the marriage bill and personhood bills are almost certain to die in committee,” the Scene reports. “The bathroom bill is less certain to die, but businesses — and their lobbyists — will most certainly sway some legislators who might be personally terrified by a trans threat but even more terrified by a future lack of PAC donations.” The paper, an alternative weekly, used the term “trans threat” satirically.

Last year executives of 60 companies with operations in Tennessee sent state leaders a letter opposing the restroom bill, and the state’s attorney general warned that it could result in Tennessee losing federal funding. And the backlash against a similar law in North Carolina was not lost on lawmakers either.

Regarding the new bill, “Obviously the personal impact on trans students is devastating,” Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, told The Tennessean, a Nashville daily. “What it will result in is them going to the wrong restroom or going to a special restroom that will out them as trans and stigmatize them or put a target on them for bullying.”

“When transgender students go to the bathroom they do what everybody else does,” he added. “They go to the bathroom. They’re not trying to spy on somebody.”

Opponents of both bills hoped to discuss them at a town hall meeting Pody and Beavers held Thursday night in Mount Juliet, a community in their district, but the lawmakers said they would deal only with the state gas tax in the session and would hold a press conference on the other legislation next week. Daryn Jackson, who attended the town hall with her girlfriend, expressed frustration.

“We have taken time out of our evenings and away from our families to come here,” she said, according to Knoxville TV station WATE. “To voice some very real concerns we have about our families.” Although the marriage issue has been settled nationally, she said, “I have friends that are rightfully concerned for their marriages.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Dallas: A Republican bill has been filed in Texas would protect religious doctors who refuse to treat gay people.
The bill, submitted by Texas legislators Charles Perry, Bryan Hughes and Brian Birdwell, prevents authorities that issue occupational licenses across a range of professions from taking action based on people’s “religious objections”.
It states that authorities “may not adopt any rule, regulation, or policy or impose a penalty that limits an applicant’s ability to obtain a license
based on a sincerely held religious belief of the applicant.”
The law would also protect people who not to comply with professional standards due to religious objections, which would potentially include medical professionals who refuse to treat homosexuals, or practitioners of ‘gay cure’ therapy who violate standards for psychotherapists.
ACLU counsel Eunice Hyon Min told the Texas Observer that the extreme broad wording of the bill could lead “to doctors with religious objections refusing to perform medical procedures, teachers not reporting child abuse if they support corporal punishment, or a fundamentalist Mormon police officer declining to arrest a polygamist for taking underage brides”.
The rights chief warned: “This is incredibly broadly written… it’s just really alarming. There are no limitations to this bill.”
“I think because some of the bills are receiving more attention than others, it’s a way for them to sneak some stuff through with a little bit less fanfare,” Rho said. “This is a tactic we’ve seen in countless states.”
Democratic lawmaker Celia Israel has vowed to oppose the law.
She said: “We stand ready to defend against all of them as they work their way over to the Texas House.
“My colleagues are all saying this is likely to be the most divisive session they have ever experienced.”
The Republicans last year adopted a new national party platform, containing some of the worst anti-LGBT measures seen in decades.
The platform rejects attempts to ban ‘gay cure’ therapy for minors, claiming “parents should be free to make medical decisions about their children without interference”.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Ottawa: The Trudeau government is under increasing pressure to explain why it started turning away LGBT Iranian refugees during the Syrian airlift, ending a program that resettled hundreds of persecuted Iranians through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Why has the government ended the practice of prioritizing persecuted Iranian LGBT [people] as refugees to Canada?” asked Conservative MP Michelle Rempel during question period on Feb 10, 2017.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen touted his government’s intake of Syrian refugees and stressed its commitment to queer and trans refugees.

“We take seriously our refugee commitment to make sure that it is compassionate and focused on the most vulnerable people,” Hussen said. “We work very closely with the UN’s refugee agency and private sponsors to continue to identify the most vulnerable; and that obviously includes members of the LGBTQ2 community.”

Rempel, who is the Conservative Party’s immigration critic, pushed back, noting that queer Iranians are tortured and executed under the country’s laws.

“The minister did not answer the question,” Rempel said. “The minister used the talking point of 25,000 Syrian refugees. I’m talking about the practice of allowing and prioritizing Iranian LGBT refugees coming to Canada. Why are the Liberals turning their back on the most vulnerable? No talking points, please.”

Hussen shot back: “We will take no lessons from the previous government, when it comes to identifying and welcoming and being compassionate to those most vulnerable, as well as refugees in need of resettlement.”

The exchange comes as MPs express confusion after an Xtra investigation revealed that the federal government had effectively ended a 2010 program in which Canada resettled hundreds of Iranians from Turkey fleeing persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Weekly arrivals gradually slowed in late 2015, and by 2016 the UNHCR started referring these Iranians to the United States, which has now barred Iranians from entry following President Donald Trump’s executive order on several predominantly Muslim countries.

Though a US federal court has temporarily suspended the ban, it’s unclear whether the US government has resumed processing new or incomplete refugee claims.

Meanwhile, Canadian officials said they had too many Syrian cases to process and suggested activists privately sponsor these refugees, a costly process that takes much longer. That’s led Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi to ask that longtime Toronto activists explain the problem to Parliament.

“They can come here and shed light on this, and if need be make additions,” Ehsassi told Xtra on Feb 9. “For refugees in Turkey, it’s horrid; it’s terrible.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Toronto: The Toronto police will not march in the 2016 Toronto Pride parade, says police chief Mark Saunders.

“We understand the LGBTQ communities are divided. To enable those differences to be addressed, I have decided the Toronto Police Service will not participate, this year, in the Pride Parade,” Saunders said in a written statement.

“I want to make it very clear that this will have no impact on our ongoing outreach to LGBTQ communities. We will continue to develop respectful relationships and build new ones, focusing on those who feel marginalized, with the trans and racialized communities. I will sit down with any group who feels marginalized, who comes to the table with ideas on how to make things better.”

His statement comes after more than seven months of contentious debate over the police’s relationship with the LGBT community. Alexandria Williams, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto says that Saunders’ words don’t mean much, particularly his offer to sit down with marginalized groups.

“Communities have been putting forward these conversations to have and, time and time again, Mark has not followed through on his commitment to sit down and talk,” Williams tells Xtra, noting that Saunders has refused to meet with BLMTO despite multiple attempts on their part.

“It can’t be this back and forth of hollow statements and empty promises,” Williams says. “Not when our communities are still being brutalized and attacked by the police.”

Williams says the police decision is also late, coming nearly a month after members of Pride Toronto already voted to kick police floats out of the parade. “The reality is that community spoke up,” she says, “and we need to start having further conversations on what is happening in our communities, and the distrust that we have toward the Toronto Police Service.”

During last year’s Pride parade, BLMTO staged a 30-minute sit-in and asked Pride Toronto to sign a list of nine demands, one of which asked for the removal of police from the parade.

Removal of police from floats and booths was heatedly discussed at Pride Toronto’s first town hall on Aug 30, 2016, when they announced that instead of removing police from Pride, they would leave the decision to a dispute resolution process. In September, Pride released a lengthy statement apologizing for wrongdoings, a history of anti-black racism and a lack of accessibility at the parade. At their January 2017 annual general meeting, Pride Toronto’s members voted overwhelmingly in favour of BLMTO’s requests.

Saunders says the police will continue to hold its annual Pride reception. At last year’s reception at police headquarters, he officially apologized for the Toronto Police Service’s role in the infamous 1981 bathhouse raids, 35 years after the mass arrests that targeted the gay community. At the time some Toronto activists criticized the apology as too little, too late.

Earlier this week, the Halifax Regional Police announced in a press release that it would not march in that city’s 2017 parade “after ongoing discussions with Halifax Pride about HRP’s involvement in the festival in consideration of a national debate about police participation in pride parades.”

“We feel that stepping away temporarily from the parade will best support the LGBT2Q+ community by helping to allow for meaningful discussion of this divisive issue,” said Halifax Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

North Carolina: Legislators in North Carolina have introduced bills in the House and Senate in the state to repeal the widely condemned HB2 and replace it with LGBT+ protections.
The bills, introduced by Representatives Pricey Harrison, Deb Butler, Kelly Alexander, Susan Fisher and Senators Terry Van Duyn, Mike Woodard, and Jay Chaudhuri, were praised by Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign.“My hometown of Greensboro has suffered enormously from economic losses because of HB2, and the potential economic harm from the NCAA pull-out for the next 6 years is even greater.” says Representative Harrison.
“The bill introduced today is a clean repeal of HB2 and provides enhanced statewide non-discrimination protections. This bill reflects North Carolina values, unlike HB2. It is long overdue and we will work our hardest to enact this legislation.”
The bills come after the NCAA said it would pull over a hundred sporting events from the state over a period of six years.
Officials from the NCAA already warned that the state could lose its opportunity to host championship games over HB2, which targets trans people.
Just 12 out of 50 state senators and 40 of 118 current House members, mainly democrats, last month they would support abolishing the law which forces people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth.
13 representatives and six senators previously said they firmly want the law to remain.
The results were compiled by the Associated Press and eight newspapers in the state after an effort to repeal the bill fell through in December.
Governor Roy Cooper, who replaced Pat McCrory – the governor that enforced the bill, stood by his statement that there were enough votes to push the repeal.
“If there ever was a need for bipartisanship, it’s now. We came too close in December for Sen. Berger to give up. Too many jobs, too much investment, too much of North Carolina’s reputation are at stake,” Cooper said.
It is believed that the results of the survey still fail to give a clear vision about the likelihood of repealing the law because a number of people declined to participate in the survey.
Some were still undecided about their decision, while others refused to comment to avoid “public squabbling” according to Republican Mike Hager who formerly served as House Majority Leader.
Hager explained that some legislators agree with the “privacy” and “religious” aspects that drive the law, but are worried about the economic impact.
“People have deep-seated feelings about family norms,” Hager said. “You’ve got to have someone brave enough and offer a compromise, because that is what it’s going to take.”
A special session was held in an attempt to repeal the law but failed because it included a moratorium which would have included a six-month-or-longer period during which local ordinances could not be passed around employment practices, public accommodations or bathroom access.
The bill is believed to have lost the state $600 million because of musician boycotts, companies pulling business out of the state, sporting events moving elsewhere, cancelled conventions and the legal costs of creating and defending the anti-LGBT bill.
Governor Cooper failed attempt to repeal the law in another special session, costing a further $42,000.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

North Dakota: The North Dakota House rejected a bill that would protect LGBTI from discrimination.
House Bill 1386 hoped to add legal protections for LGBTI people against workplace and housing discrimination.
The bill was introduced into the House for the fourth time since 2009, but was defeated yet again.
Rep. Robin Weisz said: ‘Many of us received emails stating that if we don’t do this we’re sending a signal that community isn’t welcome here,’ reports WDAZ.
‘That it’s open season for employers or housing to discriminate.
‘I’m here to tell you that in those two years none of that has happened,’ Weisz said.
Currently, the law protects against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and physical or mental disability.
But the bill introduced by North Dakota activist group Dakota OutRight aimed to add ‘sexual orientation’ to the list.
Republican Thomas Beadle argued for equal treatment for all North Dakotans.
‘If we truly want to make our society equal and provide the same opportunities for employment and career growth for everyone, either add the last core group under that umbrella of discrimination protection, or we need to take the umbrella away altogether,’ says Beadle.
A statement from Planned Parenthood expressed disbelief that this law had not been introduced yet.
It read: ‘It is an outrage that LGBTQ people can be discriminated against in the workplace, at businesses, and by landlords and healthcare providers.’
The Bill was defeated with 22 in favor and 69 against.
LGBTI activist groups vow to continue fighting until the Bill becomes law.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Washington DC: The US Department of Justice has rolled back support for the transgender community as it filed a series of briefing which undermine protections.
A day after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as the attorney general, the DOJ filed a request to halt the order from under the Obama administration that protected transgender students.The order supported trans rights, especially the notion of being able to use bathrooms and changing rooms that correspond with their gender identity.
The order came about after Judge Reed O’Connor blocked trans-affirming education guidelines from being implemented.
However, in response to this ruling the DOJ submitted a request that the halt in the implementation of the guidance would only apply in the states led by Texas that sought the injunction, rather than nationwide.
Now, Trump’s admission has undone the agreement by announcing that the department would withdraw this request, thus jeopardising trans students across America.
President of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, condemned the move as “heartbreaking”.
“After being on the job for less than 48 hours, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signalled his intent to undermine the equal dignity of transgender students,” Griffin said.
“Transgender students are entitled to the full protection of the United States Constitution and our federal nondiscrimination laws.
“It is heartbreaking and wrong that the agency tasked with enforcing civil rights laws would instead work to subvert them for political interests.
“President Trump must immediately reverse course and direct the DOJ to uphold guidance protecting transgender students,” he added.
Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, called Jeff Session’s confirmation “a travesty.”
“The chief lawyer of the United States is now someone who has devoted his whole life to obstructing civil rights,” she said. “I have personally seen him be rude and dismissive toward LGBT families.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Berlin: German drag queen Olivia Jones played an important role in choosing Germany’s new president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was elected today.
The 47-year old was one of 1,260 voting delegates of the Green Party who choose Joachim Gauck’s new successor.Jones, real name Oliver Knobel, arrived to the ceremony in a wheelchair after receiving a leg shortening operation to reduce her height by 6cm, down from 2.07 metres (6ft7).
The drag queen joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other high-profile German’s at the event.
Jones signified earlier this month that one day she aspires to be president herself.
“The role would suit me wonderfully,” she said adding that her time in office “would not be boring”.
“I am a very political person. This is where I get to speak with the right people. This is where my message needs to get to. My presence and appearance alone set an example,” she said.
Coined Germanys answer to RuPaul Jones has always been politically motivated and previously pressed charges against the right wing party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) after they compared gay people to paedophiles.
The presidential role in Germany is largely for ceremonial purposes, but is respected international as it is seen as a moral position.
Steinmeier, who was formerly the foreign minister, was popular for the position.
The Social Democrat has described Donald Trump as a “hate preacher” and criticised those who “make politics with fear”.
He won with 931 out of 1,260 votes and will be appointed on March the 19th.
Many hope his election will signify a boost for his party, the Social Democrats, who hope to unseat Angela Merkel in the upcoming September elections.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Lima: Hundreds of LGBT people have flocked to the capital of Peru to stage a mass “kissathon”.
LGBT couples from across the country reportedly staged the peaceful protest as a protest to demand equal rights for same-sex couples in the country.People staged the act after a call to action was put out across social media networks.
Couples that attended the protest engaged in a prolonged period of kissing, that is deemed “inappropriate” by a majority of the staunch catholic and conservative groups in the country.
“The streets of Peru are for all, regardless of sexual orientation. Therefore kisses, whether homosexual or heterosexual, should be seen as a normal behavior and not as inappropriate,” a group who helped organise the protest said.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Peru, however a recent court case meant a step was taken towards it being recognised.
Oscar Ugarteche married his partner in Mexico and sued in Peru, his home country, and the court ruled in favour.
Crimes which are motivated by homophobia are not punished in the country because the criminal code does not recognised prejudice towards the LGBT community.
It is estimated that nine LGBT people were killed in the country last year because of sexuality or gender discrimination.
The anti-LGBT lawyer who represented Kim Davis previously shared a photo of an alleged ‘Kim Davis solidarity’ rally in Peru.
Mat Staver claimed 100,000 people turned up for the solidarity prayer in the country.
However, it later emerged that the picture was fake and portrayed a prayer meeting from the year prior.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Zagreb: Two people have been injured in an attack on an LGBT club in Croatia.
A still unidentified attack released tear gas into the nightclub located in the Trnje neighbourhood of the country’s capital, Zagreb.
Two people suffered minor injuries in the attack, and several others were injured as people panicked to get out of the venue.
The Zagreb Pride association has called the crime a direct hate attack on the LGBT community. The group have called for authorities to condemn the attack and to catch the perpetrators quickly.
The substance was released into the club at 3.30am, and police have confirmed that they are treating the incident as a criminal investigation.
The Zagreb Pride organisation have strongly condemned the attack
The group stressed the importance for a “prompt” investigation to bring justice for “this physical assault on citizens and take all appropriate measures in order to ensure peace, security and human rights for LGBT people in Zagreb and Croatia.”
A statement said: “Over the past few months, we have been faced with the escalation of hatred in public, spurred by increasingly aggressive and louder discourse of the radical clerical rightwing circles, which is contrary to the constitutional values of Croatia, but which has been met with the tacit approval of the Croatian Government.”
The group went on to say the attack “clearly and unequivocally demonstrated how thin the line is between hatred and violence” and warned about the governments “unresponsiveness”.
The decision to stand strong in light of the attack was reaffirmed, and the group concluded the statement by pleading government officials to prove that “hatred and violence” are not Croatian values.
“We will persist in the fight for human rights and will not be silenced by tear gas.
“We urge Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, interior Minister Vlaho Orepić and the government to resolutely, loudly and clearly condemn this act of violence and hate crime directed against human rights of LGBT persons, citizens of the Republic of Croatia, and thereby show that hatred and violence are not the values of our society.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Washington DC: A new report highlights the ‘greatest increase in a single year’ for transgender-inclusive initiatives across businesses.
The Human Rights Campaign released their Corporate Equality Index highlighting how far businesses have come with transgender equality.
73% of CEI businesses offer transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage, from 511 last year to 647 this year.
This is in contrast to transgender equality scoring zero across the board just 15 years ago.
The report also finds nearly four-hundred businesses have adopted gender transition guidelines to establish best practices in transgender inclusion.
The reports states: ‘[T]his represents the greatest increase in a single year of employers offering transgender-inclusive health care benefits.’HRC Foundation President Chad Griffin said: ‘These businesses know that LGBTQ equality isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes them stronger in our global economy.
‘Ensuring fairness in the workplace is a value and increasingly a policy norm.
‘This past year, as an unprecedented wave of anti-LGBTQ bills spread across the country, corporate champions state to state – from South Dakota and Mississippi, and North Carolina and Georgia — made their voices heard and stood firmly on the side of fairness and equality,’ Griffin said.
The report also indicates a jump in the amount of businesses scoring 100% in the index.
A total of 517 businesses scored top marks by ensuring they met the standards set by the Human Rights Campaign.
These standards include sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination protections in company guidelines.
It also requires that non-religious businesses ‘have a written policy of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Wellington: Labour has promised to fund a medication that can reduce users’ risk of contracting HIV by more than 90 percent.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, more commonly known as PrEP, was cleared by Medsafe for New Zealand use last month.

It’s designed to be taken daily by people who are HIV-negative.

“Studies have shown that if it is taken every day as prescribed, it reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 92 percent,” the New Zealand AIDS Foundation says.

Labour also plans to fund access for early treatment for those diagnosed with HIV, leader Andrew Little told Newshub, as part of a commitment to the NZ AIDS Foundation’s goal of eliminating new HIV infections by 2025.

“The number of positions of dedicated health professionals dealing with sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV, has been cut quite significantly at a time when the number of cases of HIV diagnoses is increasing,” Mr Little says.

“Spending this money now is actually saving us further down the track. That’s why we do it.”

Mr Little says funding PrEP is about creating an environment where people can get the help and treatment they need.

“So that for the benefit of the whole community, we can reduce the number of HIV cases and in the end, end HIV.”

NZ AIDS Foundation executive director Jason Myers told Newshub there are plenty of tools available to end HIV transmission by 2025 – they just need to be made available.

“PrEP is one of these tools and funding PrEP access for those at highest risk of HIV should be a priority for whoever is in Government,” he says.
It’s the first pledge from a major party to fund the drug.

Source: http://www.newshub.co.nz

Beirut: Handcuffed for three days in a van by the Syrian regime, Rania kept reminding herself that she was born this way. The van was transferring her to al-Thawra in Syria in November 2010. She was being deported from Lebanon after spending more than 50 days in two prisons because she had made the physical shift to being a transgender woman, a punishable crime under Lebanon’s vague penal code.When the Syrian uprising erupted in 2011, Rania again escaped across the border to Lebanon. But in August 2015 the make-up artist was stopped on her way to a friend’s house in Beirut, harassed and shoved into a police van, again, along with six transgender women and a man after neighbours complained about their physical appearance. She was one of two Syrian transgender women arrested.

“I wish I would have hopped on a boat on the [Mediterranean] sea when the war started in Syria and I would have died or gone on to a better life,” she told Fairfax Media on the phone from Beirut. “It’s better than living here and dying a million deaths daily.”Rania, 33, who provided her first name only for fear of repercussions for her family in Syria, was part of a landmark case in January in which a Lebanese judge ruled that homosexuality was not a crime but rather a personal choice.

The case brought forward by Helem, a leading group advocating for the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities in Lebanon, on behalf of the transgender women and men, disputed the legality of their arrest in Dora, a north-eastern suburb of Beirut, by the Internal Security Forces.

In his judgment, District Court Judge Rabih Maalouf provided a distinct interpretation of Article 534 of the country’s penal code which “prohibits sexual intercourse against nature” by invoking Article 183, which enshrines personal freedoms as a right: It’s the fourth ruling of its kind in recent years but it is extraordinary because it adopted a solid legal approach for future cases,” said Helem director Genwa Samhat.

Samar Habib, an Australian academic based in the US who has written extensively about LGBT rights in the Arab world, sees Maalouf’s January 26 ruling as “critical to the ongoing agitations of activists in Lebanon to decriminalise homosexuality. The contest, however, is going to be over the legislative system’s willingness to enshrine anti-discrimination laws explicitly. There is tremendous resistance against this, it is seen as a threat,” she told Fairfax Media.

The verdict has caused uproar in Lebanon since its announcement but has gained support from popular culture icons with massive followings in the Arab world, such as singer Carole Samaha. While homosexuality is punishable by death in Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in Lebanon it is not explicitly outlawed. However it is still considered a criminal act.

The ambiguous wording of the penal code has been used to prosecute those suspected of homosexuality, such as Rania, leaving interpretation of the law to individual judges. Even though transgender women do not identify as homosexual, the code has ensnared members of the transgender community, as well as gay people.

However in 2009, Judge Mounir Soliman of the Batroun Court ruled that consensual relations between members of the same sex were not unnatural. In 2014, Judge Naji El Dahdah of Jdeideh Court dismissed a case against a transgender woman for having relations with a man.

Last year, Human Rights Watch documented how one Syrian refugee was tortured at the hands of the Lebanese security apparatus through forced anal examinations.

Such cases – and the impunity of state officers involved in them – are symptomatic of a wider violent crackdown in the Arab world towards LGBT individuals in recent years.

Egyptian authorities arrested 26 men in a bath-house on charges of debauchery in 2014 after police received a tip they were holding gay orgies. They were later released.

The following year, Morocco arrested two gay men and sentenced them to four months in jail for standing too close to one another when posing for a photograph.

Tunisia, which has fared the best of all the Arab Spring countries in its democratic transition, prosecuted seven men last year for “sodomy”, a crime according to its penal code.

Islamic State (IS) has also killed at least 36 men by shoving them off buildings for homosexuality in Iraq and Syria.

For Rania, societal resistance to her is a daily reality she faces in relatively tolerant parts of Beirut. She recounted to Fairfax Media several incidents where she was sexually harassed, raped and fondled because of her appearance.

“Every step I take is filled with fear,” she added.

She recounted how her father had tied her upside down to a tree when they lived in Aleppo, but her brother gave her cigarettes so she would develop a deeper voice.

Solitary confinement for 45 days in a Damascus prison in November 2010 was most traumatic of all: “It was an unbelievable psychic siege for me, like Guantanamo, as if I was a criminal.”

Even as a refugee registered with the UN, Rania has lived a precarious existence in Lebanon since April 2011, when she escaped Syria after the uprising turned bloody.

“Our lives are more endangered than other citizens’ because of how we look and because we are refugees. Most people just don’t understand us.”

According to a global study by the Pew Research Centre, more than 80 per cent of Lebanese view homosexuality unfavourably, hardened attitudes that can be attributed to conservative religious institutions, Christian and Muslim alike.

January’s verdict has been condemned by various religious bodies, such as the Association of Muslim Scholars of Lebanon, describing it as “a shock to Lebanese society”.

“In the Arab world, even when the law is secular, it is still a reflection of the collective religious beliefs and values of a people. For this reason, I do genuinely believe that to engage the religious establishment in all the countries of the Arab world is crucial for affecting lasting and sustainable social change,” Habib said.

Youmna Makhlouf, a lawyer with rights organisation Legal Agenda who represented two of the accused defendants in the January case, maintains that the public debate is a positive for raising awareness about LGBT rights.

“I think it will change attitudes in Lebanese society as it has become more open. You don’t have the right to criminalise anymore because that argument is now invalid legally, scientifically and societally,” she said.

“You can hear it everywhere you go” Samhat said. “There is now a space to argue about sexual rights, whether it is confused or anti (gay rights) or pro, but at least now there’s a space to express these opinions.”

She affirmed that her organisation would continue lobbying for the abolition of Article 534 so that all sexual minorities are protected legally.

Makhlouf commended the judge for his respect of the defendants’ rights and not delving into intimate details that were recorded in their case files. She said they should not have been arrested in the first place.

“We see this in a lot of cases where people are prosecuted without any evidence and sometimes forced to give statements under duress or talk without a lawyer present. Those who are transgender are expressly targeted.”

But even as activists cautiously celebrate the ruling, Rania is wary of the practices of stopping and frisking ingrained in Lebanese security institutions.

“It is ink on paper at this point. No one is enforcing the laws on the books,” she said.

Rania is adamant that she must seek asylum outside Lebanon as the situation in Syria deteriorates and daily harassment in Lebanon continues unabated.

“We escaped war, death and terrorism but maybe we should have stayed, because no one accepts us, with a million curses daily. We are treated worse than animals. Where should we live? In the desert or thrown in the middle of the sea?”

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

Sacramento: A bill was introduced to the California state legislature by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and assembly members Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco) aiming to modernize laws that criminalize and stigmatize people living with HIV. (Read the bill HERE)

Co-sponsored by Equality California, the ACLU of California, APLA Health, Black AIDS Institute, Lamba Legal, and Positive Women’s Network, what the bill would do is repeal all HIV specific laws that criminalize otherwise legal behavior, turning misdemeanors into felonies that put innocent people like Michael Johnson in prison simply because they’re HIV-positive.

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Currently, California has four criminalization laws that turn HIV-positive people into felons: Solicitation if the person tested positive for HIV in a prior solicitation or other sex offense that resulted in mandatory HIV testing; Donating blood, tissue, semen or breast milk after becoming aware that one is HIV-positive; Anal or vaginal sex without a condom in which an HIV-positive person does not disclose their status and has a specific intent to transmit the disease to they sex partner; and having knowledge that one is HIV-positive while engaging in a nonconsensual sex crime.

According to the Williams Institute, 800 people have been victims of HIV criminalization laws from 1988 to 2014. Of that number, 98 percent did not require proof of intent and 93 percent didn’t require proof of conduct. None of them required — that’s right, zero — required actual transmission of HIV as a reason to charge them.

What does this all mean?

It means an HIV-positive person can be convicted of a felony, even if they’re on treatment and/or use a condom, simply because they’re HIV-positive. In fact, laws don’t require you to have any form of sexual activity. Someone can be charged for simply engaging in a conversation or exchanging money. But if this bill turns into law, that will change.

“[The bill] has been a priority of ours for a couple years,” Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, says to Plus. “We realized we need to educate both the public and members of the legislature about why this is so important. Luckily, Senator Weiner and Senator Gloria were both elected and decided to pick it up this year.”

The bill itself is comprehensive because it effects a number of provisions to existing laws, which were passed in the late 1980s based on fear and a lack of understanding about HIV — a reflection of how it was perceived at the time. Supporters of the laws said they were for public health reasons, but Zbur says that was never the case.

“There was a misunderstanding that these laws somehow protect public health, and what we know is they do just the opposite,” Zbur explains. “The thing we needed to do to make people understand was that those laws impede public health objectives. What we’re proposing now is to treat HIV like every other communicable disease, which generally have misdemeanor penalties for certain activities. Modifying and updating these laws has been a national priority for HIV communities across the country.”

Equality California and other co-sponsors have been trying to educate legislators about this bill for years. After working on a model bill, they were able to hand it off to Weiner and Gloria, who now have the job of pushing it through the legislature.

“Luckily, in California we have a progressive legislature and a governor who’s really been at the forefront of advancing both LGBT civil rights, social justice, and protecting people living HIV” Zbur says. “We’re very hopeful that this bill will proceed in a way so that it becomes a model for the rest of the country.”

Next month, the California legislative LGBT caucus will host a legislative hearing where panelists ranging from doctors, health professionals, and pollsters will be given opportunities for public comment, as well as to educate members about the danger of HIV criminalization laws. But as Zbur says, the public also has a personal responsibility.

“What we all need to do is educate the public about the disease and what these draconian penalties do,” he urges. “We’ve heard cases of people who are in a relationship and the relationship goes bad, someone who’s abused in a partnered relationship will then use these laws as a way to coerce their partners into doing, or not doing, things… When you’re on treatment and undetectable, it’s virtually impossible to transmit the virus and I think most people don’t know that yet,” Zbur adds, “hence the fear around anything with HIV. I think when people understand that, they will view these laws in a very different way.”

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Brisbane: Another Western Australian One Nation candidate has come under the spotlight after her extraordinary claims the gay community uses Nazi-style mind control to get people to support same sex marriage. Michelle Myers has been nominated for the newly-created seat of Bateman and will take on former Transport Minister Dean Nalder. According to Perth’s only gay and lesbian newspaper Out in Perth, Ms Meyers took to Facebook last year to claim Christians were being swayed to accept the push for gay marriage through mind control employed by the LGBTI community that was previously used by the Soviets then the Nazis.

“Are you wondering why even some Christians are being swayed by the gender industry’s pitch and push 4 same sex ‘marriage’ and acceptance of fake families?”, the One Nation candidate asked.

It’s not by accident; it’s by a carefully contrived but disingenuous mind control program, melded together by two Norwegian homosexuals who graduated from Harvard – one of whom has since prematurely passed away.

“It’s by a design convert to the general public but fully practised and promoted by the LGBTIQQMA/P community.Utilising many of the strategies developed by the Soviets and then the Nazis, they have gone on to apply and perfect theses principles so as to make them universal in their application – but with devastating results considering the counter productive nature of such “unions”.”

Ms Myers then goes on to say Christians needed to stand up and stop being duped by “those whose interests are self-serving but unnatural, unproductive and unhealthy”.

Greens spokesperson for sexuality and gender identity Lynn MacLaren was stunned by the One Nation candidates comments.

“There is a very real danger despite their obvious extremism that One Nation will win seats in the Upper House. That is why having Greens in the Upper House is more important than ever. The Greens are not doing any deals with One Nation – in fact we are putting One Nation last and recommending that our voters put One Nation last. The Greens always have and always will stand in solidarity with the LGBTIQA+ community.”

Only this week, the Liberals announced it would preference One Nation above the Nationals in the upper house country regions in exchange for the far-right party’s support in all lower house seats at the upcoming March 11 state election.

Premier Colin Barnett has justified the deal with One Nation as “sensible and pragmatic” but that comment might come back to haunt him with another PHON candidate bound to court controversy over her comments.

Since One Nation launched its push into WA politics last month, a number of candidates have come under fire despite party leader and founder Pauline Hanson saying she was personally involved in vetting the candidates. Two week ago, Cameron Bartkowski who is running for One Nation in the Upper House in the South West region, was found to be fond of a number of sexually explicit pages and lewd groups on Facebook.

Radio 6PR uncovered some of his Facebook likes which show pages such as ‘hot booty ebony’, ‘world class babes’, ‘hot girls worldwide’, ‘I cuckhold all my boyfriends and ‘f**k my ex’. He has liked dozens of bawdy and lewd Facebook pages.

Just two days before Mr Bartkowski’s fondness for flirty Facebook pages, One Nation said it was standing by its candidate for the seat of Pilbara, David Archibald, despite his offensive and bizarre comments towards single women labelling them too “lazy to attract and hold a mate”.

Writing an article for the prestigious literary online magazine Quadrant in 2015, Mr Archibald claimed there were a number of welfare programs that should be slashed because they support “lifestyle choices that could be defunded”.

“The first that springs to mind is single motherhood,” he writes.

“These are women too lazy to attract and hold a mate, undoing the work of possibly three million years of evolutionary pressure. This will result in a rapid rise in the portion of the population that is lazy and ugly. We know what causes pregnancy these days, so everyone who gets pregnant outside of marriage is a volunteer.”

One Nation candidate for the seat of Dawesville, Lawrence Shave, had plans to open a “bikini baristas” drive-through coffee shop, where staff donned only scantily-clad swim wear.

And party leader Pauline Hanson dumped Brian Brighton, who nominated for the seat of Joondalup because of his past criminal conviction. Brighton was fined $5000 back in 1993 for stealing departure tax stamps and selling them for $1000 while working as a customs officer. He later told WAtoday he was planning to run as an independent in the March election and wanted wants all drug addicts to be dumped on an island to fend for themselves. Despite the controversial candidates One Nation is expected to be the wild card in the upcoming WA election with political pundits expecting the party to poll as high as 11 per cent But One Nation isn’t the only party whose candidates have got themselves in hot water in the past week – highlighting questionable practices in the vetting process for candidates.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

London: The British Museum will host two free events this year to mark 50 years since homosexuality was partially decriminalised in England and Wales.

David Hockney: Fourteens Poems from C P Cavafy will run from March until May, and will include a series of etchings by the British artist inspired by the work of the Greek poet. Same-sex love is a major theme in Cavafy’s work, and so Hockney also drew upon his own experiences as a gay artist to add to it in his etchings.

Desire Love Identity: exploring LGBTQ histories will then run from 11 May until 15 October. The display provides glimpses into LGBT+ experience through the ages and across the world, pulling together a range of objects from the British Museum’s collection.

The oldest object dates back to 9000BC, while more recent selections include LGBT+ campaign badges from the 1970s.

What’s more, The British Museum also has a new LGBT-themed trail that goes through the permanent galleries, highlighting relevant paintings and artefacts.

It includes 10-15 key objects, allowing the LGBT+ aspects of these artefacts to be explored in their particular historical and cultural context.

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

London: Jeremy Corbyn woke up this morning to a Valentine’s Card with a rainbow heart and a personalised message… but not from who you’d expect.

Over 400 cards were sent to MPs in a bid to change the law on sex and relationships education (SRE), which would see young people receive religiously diverse and LGBT+ inclusive lessons.

Current government guidelines were updated in 2000 and only require state schools to provide their students with SRE – leaving those in private education ignorant to the realities of sex, relationships, and gender in the 21st Century.

Tory MPs recently blocked the request; however, Parliament are due to vote to amend the Children and Social Work bill later this month.

This move was a joint effort in a partnership between the Terrence Higgins Trust, National Student Pride and NUS LGBT+.

Research by the Terrence Higgins Trust found that 95% of students were not taught about LGBT+ relationships and that 75% were not taught about sexual consent – resulting in 99% of young people backing the campaign to make SRE compulsory.Charlie Mathers, 20, student at Westminster University, said: “My SRE was the stereotypical split up of boys and girls, where we all watched the same video of how babies were made. There was also an awkward picture book. That was it.”

He added: “I think that fear comes from not understanding, so inclusive sex and relationships education could help with prevent things like homophobia. My life would have been better with more SRE.”

Campaigns officer at the Terrence Higgins Trust, Alex Phillips, highlighted the fact that the lack of SRE causes health risks in young people.

She said: “By excluding them, they may turn off and not think condoms are relevant for them and then not have great sexual health,” and added “from an emotional point of view, it can be very detrimental to their mental health if they are sitting in a classroom and the focus is on heteronormative relationships.”

With the decreasing popularity of Valentine’s Day cards, Phillips suggests that these cards “actually mean something.”

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Sydney: A new HIV prevention campaign is seeking to redefine ‘safe sex’ by raising awareness about new approaches to HIV prevention that don’t always involve condoms.

Launched by ACON, the How Do You Do It campaign aims to educate same-sex attracted men about new options such as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and UVL (undetectable viral load).

Chief Executive of ACON Nicolas Parkhill said the campaign reflects the latest developments in the science of HIV prevention.
“Condoms have been and remain a very effective, accessible, and cheap barrier to HIV transmission and still have a vital role to play in terms of HIV and STI prevention. However, if a person is HIV negative, they can now take PrEP, an antiretroviral drug that prevents HIV negative people from becoming infected. And if a person is HIV positive it’s now proven beyond doubt that HIV treatments can help reduce that person’s viral load to an undetectable level, making it almost impossible to transmit the virus.”

The cheeky campaign promotes three different safe sex options by asking the question: how do you do it? For people that use condoms the answer could be ‘I do it all the time’ while for people who choose to take PrEP daily the answer might be ‘I do it every day’. The campaign was launched to coincide with the start of this year’s Mardi Gras festival, and will promoted across NSW via outdoor advertising, and through a range of social media channels.

A group of Uber driver-partners in Sydney have also volunteered to get their private vehicles wrapped with the campaign artwork for the next three weeks as well to raise community awareness.

More information on the How Do You Do It campaign can be found at: www.endinghiv.org.au/youchooose

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Vancouver: Halifax and Toronto police may have stepped out of their cities’ Pride parades, but the Vancouver police will still march this year, albeit with a diminished presence.

The Vancouver Pride Society’s (VPS) community consultations conducted online and in-person revealed, among other things, sentiments that police presence in the Pride parade is threatening to the most marginalized members of the LGBT community, Xtra has previously reported. VPS has met with police to work with them on reducing police presence at Pride, which could include reducing the number of uniformed officers carrying weapons.

Staff Sergeant Randy Fincham, media spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) replied to Xtra’s request for an interview following the Halifax and Toronto police announcements with this email message:

“The VPD is looking forward to working with our community partners with Black Lives Matter and the Vancouver Pride Society, and have our volunteers and civilian and sworn staff walk with pride for our 21st year in the 2017 Vancouver Pride Parade.”

Black Lives Matter Vancouver co-founder Daniella Barreto says the tendency to dismiss issues of racism and marginalization in favour of marching in the Pride parade shows the VPD lacks commitment to the LGBT community’s safety.

“I think that we have explained this issue over and over again and for the VPD not to change anything given how other police departments have chosen to react, I think that BLM would have even more of a reason to keep talking about this and keep bringing these issues of racism up in Vancouver,” Barretto says.

“It seems so often that people don’t like to acknowledge it and pretend it doesn’t exist. I think the VPD could really show a commitment by changing their approach.”

Barretto says the VPD and RCMP should issue a statement outlining their support for the queer community, acknowledging that systemic racism does exist in Canada and start a conversation about what inclusion and oppression mean for different groups.

BLM Vancouver has also launched a petition to ask the VPD to stay out of the parade.

Fostering conversation is what motivated the Halifax Regional Police (HRP) to step away from the local parade on Feb 6, says diversity equity officer Amit Parasram.

“I think it was a respectful response to a larger conversation we were having with members of the LGBT community around what are the concerns regarding the police and why it’s become an issue with some of the communities and why might we not want police to be involved in the parade,” Parasram says.

“Given the fact there were concerns in the community about issues that happened elsewhere, when you look at the Stonewall riots, the [1981] baths raids in Toronto and other places, those are internalized as a police issue, so regardless of what uniform you wear, police are police everywhere,” he adds.

Parasram says his department wants to engage with the community without the pressure of being viewed as “pinkwashing,” or exploiting the parade to benefit from good optics. The HRP wants instead to host a community barbecue this year, where officers and the public can more freely interact as much or as little as they wish.

“It’s not the police’s festival or parade, we have a role to play in it and our job is to be as respectful as we can and not overstep our role, where our needs are superseding the community needs,” he says. “We hope to act as allies in the community so they don’t have to have the police force being a factor that contributes to divisiveness and so we can deliver better community relations as a result.”

Co-chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project Áine Morse says the HRP are moving in the right direction.

“I think it’s a really important starting point in beginning to think about what really goes into police having successful and welcoming relationships with different communities,” Morse says.

However, Morse emphasized the need for consistency in this approach with regard to racism and the treatment of marginalized individuals.

“I think it’s important to identify that these other problems still exist, not much has been done about them and that’s an issue for trans and people of colour and two-spirited people locally.”

Four days after the HRP announced their withdrawal, the Toronto police followed suit.

“We understand the LGBTQ communities are divided. To enable those differences to be addressed, I have decided the Toronto Police Service will not participate, this year, in the Pride Parade,” said police chief Mark Saunders in a written statement.

Black Lives Matter Toronto was skeptical.

“Communities have been putting forward these conversations to have and, time and time again, Mark has not followed through on his commitment to sit down and talk,” BLMTO co-founder Alexandria Williams told Xtra on Feb 10, noting multiple attempts to meet with Saunders have been refused.

Williams called the decision more “hollow statements and empty promises.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: Injection drug use has been increasing tremendously over the last few years in America, and with it, a sharp increase of new HIV and hepatitis C diagnoses. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six percent of the 40,000 newly diagnosed cases of HIV in 2015 were attributed to IDU.

Yet, despite evidence that needle exchange programs reduce the risk of transmitting these diseases, several at risk counties across the nation have yet to approve them. One of the biggest excuses government workers have for not implementing needle exchange programs is a theory that they condone drug use by not allowing users an opportunity to escape the habit. But as a recent CDC Vital Signs report shows, that’s completely false.

Syringe services programs, in fact, reduce risk by providing free sterile needles/syringes, referrals to mental health services and substance abuse treatment, safe disposal for used needles/syringes, and overdose treatment and education.

Madison County, located in east central Kentucky, has the highest rates of hepatitis C in America. And despite that 26 counties in the state (including Clark, Owsley, and Fayette) approved exchange programs, government workers in Madison still remain on the fence.

Overall, the state of Kentucky saw a 240 percent increase in acute hepatitis C between 2009 and 2013 — in comparison to the rest of America, which increased by only 22 percent.

After the outbreak in Austin County, India, where nearly 200 people contracted HIV because of injection drug use in just a few weeks, under the leadership of governor Mike Pence, it’s likely that other states will experience similar outbreaks if needle exchange programs aren’t implemented (click HERE to see if your state is at risk).

Unfortunately, in order for needle exchange services to be set up in counties like Madison, the local board of health and other governing bodies must approve it. Thankfully, board members are speaking out in favor.

Madison County Health Department Director Nancy Crewe said at a recent forum that needle exchange programs would implement a one-for-one exchange with dirty equipment exchanged for sterile needles and syringes, reports Richmond Register. Madison’s local exchange programs would also provide referrals for drug treatment and HIV/hepatitis testing, education, counseling, assistance in insurance enrollment, and as a result, Health Department Public Information Officer Jim Thacker points out, will see a reduction in the risk of HIV and hep C overall.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Paris: Far-right French Presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen has quietly pledged to close off same-sex marriage.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen is currently leading in first-round polls ahead of France’s Presidential election.
Le Pen’s party previously maintained strong ties to the anti-LGBT lobby, though it has recently made inroads with conservative gay voters, purporting to have “reformed”.
However, Le Pen has now quietly confirmed plans to end same-sex marriage in the country, burying the policy announcement in a list of 144 pledges released last week.
Buried midway through the lengthy document at number 87, Le Pen promises to create an “improved” form of civil unions in the country to “replace” the equal marriage law passed under the current Socialist government in 2013. The policy plan specifies that the changes would “not be retroactive”, sparing Le Pen the legal headache of trying to unpick or downgrade thousands of existing same-sex marriages, but the replacement plan would close same-sex marriage to new couples – meaning gays would once again only be able to enter civil partnerships.
It would be a return to the former status quo for France, which only permitted same-sex couples to enter a contractual form of civil union (PACS) from 1999 until 2013.
Le Pen’s policy document does not specify exactly what “improvements” would be made to the PACS system.
As well as plans to tamper with equality laws, Le Pen also outlines plans to restrict fertility services, ending assistance for gay couples wanting to have children.
Ironically, the plans were snuck out under a sub-heading claiming FN would “allow everyone to find their place” in French society.
The policy shift is surprising given the FN’s recently attempts to court gay voters, playing down reports of homophobia and taking advantage of fears over homophobic Islamic extremists.
Though she leads in the first-round poll, Le Pen is not expected to succeed in May’s run-off election, where she will likely face either centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron or Republicans right-winger Francois Fillon.
Macron, the only supporter of LGBT rights among the top candidates, has faced ‘gay’ smears in recent weeks from Russian state media outlets.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Belfast: Sinn Fein has reiterated its pledge to campaign for same-sex marriage in Norther Ireland.
Members Gerry Kelly, Caral Ni Chuilin and Megan Fearon said there was an increasing demand for marriage equality.The members signed a pledge to legislate to pass same-sex marriage, as well as actively campaign to have it legalised.
The party has in the past attempted to legislate for equal marriage on several occasions in the Stormont assembly.
But the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has continually blocked attempts to bring equality under the law.
Fearon, an Assembly candidate for Newry and Armagh said she has friends in the Republic of Ireland who can “marry the person they love”, but over the border in Northern Ireland they cannot.
“We are publishing our pledge to actively work to legislate marriage equality. We believe there’s a growing demand for marriage equality.
“We made history in 2015 when the south [of Ireland] legislated for marriage equality. I live right on the border. A few miles over it I have friends in Dundalk who can marry the person they love but not in Newry, likewise in London, but not in Belfast,” said Fearon.
She continued: “So we are pledging to actively work for equality as we have always done and we want to see all parties sign up to this pledge and all parties who say they are progressive to state clearly what they will do for the LGBT community.”
Northern Ireland is the last remaining place in the UK where same-sex marriage continues to be blocked, as the governing Democratic Unionist Party employs Petitions of Concern – a power designed to ensure cross-community power sharing – to veto marriage bills despite a Parliamentary majority in favour.
The DUP ran on a platform of ‘defending marriage’ in Assembly elections earlier in 2016, and First Minister Arlene Foster recently reaffirmed plans to continue employing powers to block any future marriage legislation, continuing a stalemate on the issue.
Foster recently defended her actions by insisting gay people don’t really want to get married anyway.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: A new survey has found that one in four gay men have contracted an STI while in a relationship.
Gay men’s mag FS quizzed more than 1,000 guys for the survey.
It found that 23% had contracted an STI while dating a guy, the most common being chlamydia, in 38% of cases, and gonorrhea, 36% of the time.
14% said they contracted HIV while in a relationship, with 44% of those saying they got it from their partner.
Almost half of guys surveyed (41%) said they didn’t use a condom with their partner.
Overall, stats have revealed a sharp decline in new HIV infections in the latest figures.The survey also found that poor communication was the main reason for gay men’s relationships breaking up.
Ian Howley, CEO of gay men’s health charity GMFA, said: “It’s very clear from this survey that gay men are not getting basic sex and relationship education that many heterosexual people receive.
“We grow up in a heterosexual world where same sex relationships are not an everyday sight.
“Building a relationship with someone of the same sex will have different life changing experiences than a couple of the opposite sex.
“However, we get no training as young gay men in how to form stable, healthy relationships with someone of the same sex.
“Many of us go into relationships blindsided, unable to deal with the hard times some relationships might bring. Our inability to communicate transforms into frustration, which may lead to a break up.”

Source: htttp//www.pinknews.co.uk

North Carolina: Four athletes have urged their home state of North Carolina to repeal the discriminatory anti-LGBT HB2.
The athletes, from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), wrote a letter to legislators in the state urging them to repeal the law which has drawn much criticism. Ezra Baeli-Wang, a fencer, Chris Taylor of Duke football, Gabi McDermott, a state diver and Tanner Owen, a golfer, all signed the letter.
They are all part of the ACC’s student-athlete advisory committee.
The letter noted that the state has already lost dozens of athletic events in the past year, and that the NCAA has warned that it could lose hundreds more.
Legislators in North Carolina last week introduced bills in the House and Senate in the state to repeal the widely condemned HB2 and replace it with LGBT+ protections.
The bills, introduced by Representatives Pricey Harrison, Deb Butler, Kelly Alexander, Susan Fisher and Senators Terry Van Duyn, Mike Woodard, and Jay Chaudhuri, were praised by Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign.
“My hometown of Greensboro has suffered enormously from economic losses because of HB2, and the potential economic harm from the NCAA pull-out for the next 6 years is even greater.” says Representative Harrison.
“The bill introduced today is a clean repeal of HB2 and provides enhanced statewide non-discrimination protections. This bill reflects North Carolina values, unlike HB2. It is long overdue and we will work our hardest to enact this legislation.”
The bills come after the NCAA said it would pull over a hundred sporting events from the state over a period of six years.
Officials from the NCAA already warned that the state could lose its opportunity to host championship games over HB2, which targets trans people.
Just 12 out of 50 state senators and 40 of 118 current House members, mainly democrats, last month they would support abolishing the law which forces people to use the bathroom of the gender they were assigned at birth.
13 representatives and six senators previously said they firmly want the law to remain.
The results were compiled by the Associated Press and eight newspapers in the state after an effort to repeal the bill fell through in December.
Governor Roy Cooper, who replaced Pat McCrory – the governor that enforced the bill, stood by his statement that there were enough votes to push the repeal.
“If there ever was a need for bipartisanship, it’s now. We came too close in December for Sen. Berger to give up. Too many jobs, too much investment, too much of North Carolina’s reputation are at stake,” Cooper said.
It is believed that the results of the survey still fail to give a clear vision about the likelihood of repealing the law because a number of people declined to participate in the survey.
Some were still undecided about their decision, while others refused to comment to avoid “public squabbling” according to Republican Mike Hager who formerly served as House Majority Leader.
Hager explained that some legislators agree with the “privacy” and “religious” aspects that drive the law, but are worried about the economic impact.
“People have deep-seated feelings about family norms,” Hager said. “You’ve got to have someone brave enough and offer a compromise, because that is what it’s going to take.”
A special session was held in an attempt to repeal the law but failed because it included a moratorium which would have included a six-month-or-longer period during which local ordinances could not be passed around employment practices, public accommodations or bathroom access.
The bill is believed to have lost the state $600 million because of musician boycotts, companies pulling business out of the state, sporting events moving elsewhere, cancelled conventions and the legal costs of creating and defending the anti-LGBT bill.
Governor Cooper failed attempt to repeal the law in another special session, costing a further $42,000.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Washington DC: A new study has reaffirmed there are striking positive benefits to allowing transgender children to live as their preferred gender.
Critics of transgender children have recently been given a large profile in the media, with the BBC facing a wave of complaints over a documentary featuring a disgraced former doctor who had attempted to ‘cure’ trans kids.
However, this month a major study has reaffirmed the positive case for allowing transgender kids to live in their preferred gender.
The study, based on the data from the TransYouth Project, was published in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry by researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle.
It found that while children prevented from socially transitioning have high rates of depression and other mental health issues, children who were allowed to transition showed marked improvements, with levels of self-worth that “did not differ from their matched-control or sibling peers”.
Researcher Lily Durwood told Medscape: “We found remarkably good mental health outcomes in socially transitioned transgender children in the present study.
“Previous standards of care for gender nonconforming children was to wait until puberty to socially transition, but these findings show normal mental health in younger children, indicating that early social transitions can be associated with good mental health.”
The researchers were also able to address concerns that parents could have systematically under-reported mental health problems in their transgender kids.
The report noted: “Previous research has shown that parents of socially transitioned transgender children reported normative levels of depression and slightly elevated anxiety.”
“We wanted to see if parents were under-reporting mental health problems in their socially transitioned children. We also wanted to study self-worth, which has not been studied in this population.
“We found good self-reported mental health outcomes in the transgender youth we studied, which dovetailed with parental reports.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Seoul: LGBTI groups in South Korea are calling on the government to have LGBTI content added to sex education in schools.
The Department of Education currently has a sex education policy which preventions any mention of sexual minorities.
LGBTI advocates have labelled the policy as discriminatory.
Korea’s education ministry announced it would exclude LGBTI issues in sex education blaming anti-LGBTI sentiment in the country.
‘The education ministry should discard the sex education guidelines which only promote discrimination and prejudice against sexual minorities and should opt to give LGBT-inclusive education,’ a group of LGBTI advocates said in a press conference.
‘The education ministry’s sex education guidelines are a regression excluding sexual minorities and solidifying gender roles,’ said Park Hyun-yi, an activist at Seoul Youth Sex Culture Center.
‘The guidelines that do not even mention ‘masturbation’ or ‘sexual minority’ are stifling sex education.’
In the face of the backlash, the Education Ministry said that guidelines are only to help teachers with giving their students sex education and that teachers can educate their students about homosexuality at their own discretion.
Last year Korea’s education ministry released a 40-page guideline for schools which drew criticism for reinforcing gender roles and promoting abstinence from sex.
One of the guidelines which caused a lot of controversy recommend girls should not be alone with their boyfriends in order to avoid sexual violence.
Things are rough for Korean LGBTI youth
Same-sex activity is illegal in Korea and LGBTI people face many legal discriminations.
A 2015 survey revealed one in five LGBT youth between the ages of 13 to 18 had attempted suicide.
The survey also showed seven out of 11 LGBT youth quit school because of discrimination, isolation and fear.
Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said conditions for LGBTI people in his home country were an ‘outrage’.
‘Even in societies where homosexuality or atypical gender identity are not criminalized, they often remain sensitive issues, in particular in relation to young people and education,’ he said.
‘This is the case in my home country of the Republic of Korea, where homosexuality is largely taboo.
‘In the Republic of Korea and around the world, let us make schools safer for all young people, including the LGBT members of our human family.
‘The abuses and indignity suffered by members of the LGBT community are an outrage – an affront to the values of the United Nations and to the very idea of universal human rights.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s official Islamic authority has openly endorsed ‘gay cure’ therapy.
The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) released a video last week explaining how non-LGBTI people could change their sexuality if they wanted to.
In the three minute video, Jakim said sexuality was like learning to ride a horse and if a LGBTI person wanted to become heterosexual they should receive training and guidance.
Some methods suggested for people to try to change their sexuality were to marry the opposite gender or to subdue sexual desires by refusing to eat.
Jakim said a person should want to be ‘cured’ from homosexuality for ‘God’s sake’. The video also urged people to be patient with their LGBTI friends and to help them onto the path of heterosexuality.
Formed in 1968 under a different name, Jakim’s objective is ‘to ensure that the development plans for the ummah and the development of Islam in the country is implemented in an integrated manner based on effective plans and coordination‘.
Jakim’s family, social and community department assistant senior director, Dr Mohd Izwan Yusof, confirmed the department created the video.
Pray the gay away?
Social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi published the video saying ‘there are those among Muslims that has non-heterosexual orientation but remains steadfast on the path of Islam’.
‘For them, this is a test of Allah, and they choose to face the test appropriate with what Islam demands,’ he said.
Social media was divided about the message of the video with some people praising Jakim for its ‘soft-lined’ approach to the issue.
‘Color me surprised with rainbow colors,’ said Luq Harith.
‘Jakim actually came out with a video that is non-hateful of the LGBTI community.
‘While the idea of one person can change their orientation is debatable (I know some of you will say they won’t change but there are legit stories of people going straight out of their own will), the video’s soft approach on advising, respect for privacy and emphasis on free will is definitely commendable.
‘This is far better than saying they’re sinners, they’re going to Hell, bla bla bla (sic).’
Other people said the video would promote false ideas about conversion therapies.
‘This video is going to make people believe that there is a way to ‘change’ homosexuals into heterosexuals. No way you can do that,’ Sheelabanu Sri Jaya.
‘Not impressed with the content but kudos to Jakim for focusing on not being hateful or violent towards LGBTI people,’ Huda Mutalib said.
No gays on TV in Malaysia
Sodomy and oral sex are banned in Malaysia and a man found of “gross indecency with another male person” could face jail time or corporal punishment.
In 2010 the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia said it would only allow depictions of homosexuals onscreen if they repent or die.
‘Gay cure’ therapy is considered incredibly harmful to a person’s mental and physical health. It has been condemned by every mainstream health organization in the world as dangerous and a con as it does not work.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: A fresh parliamentary push on same-sex marriage has become more likely after a cross-party Senate committee reached a broad consensus on refining the government’s same-sex marriage legislation.

The “unprecedented show of collaboration” paves the way for a marriage equality bill as soon as next month, to be co-sponsored by Labor, the Greens, gay Liberal senator Dean Smith, the NXT and possibly Derryn Hinch.In the report published Wednesday, senators took aim at aspects of the Marriage Act changes proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis ahead of the failed same-sex marriage plebiscite.

The exposure draft – the first time an Australian government had outlined its vision for marriage equality – proposed sweeping exemptions to discrimination law for ministers of religion, civil celebrants and religious businesses who did not want to participate in same-sex unions.But the committee expressed concern the government’s draft bill “would explicitly discriminate against same-sex couples” for no good reason, because the Marriage Act already “provides the broadest and strongest protection of religious freedom for ministers of religion”.

With regard to civil celebrants, the committee proposed to establish a new subdivision of marriage celebrant titled Religious Marriage Celebrants, to capture civil celebrants of a religious inclination, who would be given the same protections afforded to ministers of religion.And the committee was against extending protections to celebrants who did not want to officiate gay unions on the basis of “conscientious belief”, declaring there was no need to “disturb decades of anti-discrimination law and practice in Australia”.

While the report outlined many complex legal areas requiring further clarification, Fairfax Media understands senators from across the political spectrum went to extra lengths to ensure the committee reached consensus on the major points.

Marriage equality advocates welcomed the multi-partisan effort as a watershed moment in the path to legalising same-sex marriage.

“This is a really significant step forward,” said Tiernan Brady, director of Australians 4 Equality. “The Senate committee has risen above party politics. They have shown that political parties can work together to deliver the will of the Australian people.”

Greens senator Janet Rice described it as an “unprecedented show of collaboration, negotiation and consensus [that] has given us a way forward to achieve marriage equality in this Parliament”.

Committee chairman David Fawcett noted a plebiscite remained the government’s position. However, moderate Liberal MPs who have been agitating for the Coalition to abandon its plebiscite policy have pointed to the report as a key marker in their case for a free vote.

Fairfax Media understands the report will inform a cross-party Senate bill to be co-sponsored by Labor, the Greens, gay Liberal senator Dean Smith (who abstained on the plebiscite vote), the NXT and possibly Senator Hinch.

The numbers in such a Senate vote remain tight, particularly if it takes place after replacements for Bob Day and Rodney Culleton are found, which is likely. It would require conservative Labor senators to abstain and Senator Smith, at the very least, to cross the floor.

If successful, Liberals supportive of same-sex marriage would pressure the party for a free vote in the House of Representatives. Those understood to be pushing for a free vote include Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Trevor Evans and Warren Entsch. They were believed to be carefully considering the Senate report on Wednesday afternoon.

But conservatives in the Coalition have returned fire, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce ordering MPs to stop discussing the “Oxford Street” issue. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also reiterated the party’s position remains the plebiscite.

Even if the subject were debated in the Liberal partyroom, MPs would risk war with the Nationals, whose coalition agreement with the Liberals stipulates that a plebiscite be held.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

Canterbury: Leading bishops have apologised to members of the Church of England who may be alienated by a report on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
The report by the House of Bishops, which the General Synod is debating, calls for a “fresh tone”.
But it maintains that marriage in church should only be between a man and a woman, and services should not be held to bless same-sex relationships.
The Bishop of Norwich said the Church “owes much” to gay members and clergy.
‘Difficult’ report
Graham James, of the diocese of Norwich, said: “Like others which have gone before it, [the report] has not received a rapturous reception in all quarters, and I regret any pain or anger it may have caused.”
In a speech to the Church’s national assembly, the Bishop of Willesden, the Right Reverend Pete Broadbent, said he did not want to “attempt an exercise in self-justification”.
He told members: “I don’t want to make excuses for the House of Bishops’ document.
“I do want to apologise to those members of Synod who found our report difficult, who didn’t recognise themselves in it, who had expected more from us than we actually delivered, for the tone of the report.
“On behalf of the House, and without being trite or trivial, I’m sorry.”
Protesters outside Church HouseImage copyrightREUTERS
Before the debate, protesters gathered outside the Church of England headquarters and champions of LGBT rights sang hymns.
The group, organised by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude now known collectively as One Body One Faith, with the support of Out and Proud African LGBTI and rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, called for the rejection of the bishops’ report.
Mr Tatchell said the report proposed a “massive scale of church-sanctioned discrimination”.
He added: “It denies the right of same-sex couples to be blessed in church, even though it will bless cats and dogs, and it gives a very clear message that clergy who are in same-sex marriages which are lawful will be denied promotion.”
Members of the Synod are holding a “take note” debate of the report on Wednesday evening, but the proposals will not be formally rejected or approved.
sign reading What would Jesus doImage copyrightAFP
The Reverend Bertrand Olivier, who’s gay, told the BBC the Church needed to reflect modern society.
He said: “The proposals on the table are indeed gong to take us back 20 years. I’ve been a priest in the Church of England for 21 years.
“I was ordained as an openly gay candidate then and it’s been going backwards ever since at the same time as the nation has moved on and we now have legal same-sex marriage.”
But the Right Reverend Pete Broadbent said campaigners may be asking too much.
He said: “Our role is to hold the Church together and say we can only go as far as the whole church can agree. Campaigners are actually wanting us to go further, more hurriedly, than we necessarily can.
“We need to do more work on what we can agree around and not just say because we’ve had the shared conversations, we can give campaigners exactly what they want.”

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news

Kiev: When Ukraine made its debut as Eurovision hosts in 2005, it was forced to revise its competing song entry. The original rendition of Razom Nas Bahato, performed by rap band Greenjolly, carried an overtly political message: as well as drawing heavily from a traditional revolutionary anthem, then-President Viktor Yushchenko was mentioned by name. This was interpreted by some as propaganda, a clear breach of contest rules. Substantial revisions were made and eventually the now-sanitised and inoffensive hip-hop track was cleared for performance in the final. Ukraine finished 20th.

It’s fitting then that Kiev’s second stint as host city arrives off the back of Jamala’s 1944, a haunting anthem about the Soviet Union’s historical deportation of Crimean Tartars. The decision to allow such politicised lyrics — They kill you all… where is your heart… you take away peace — to stand undiluted was as surprising (and controversial) as her victory. Swiping the crown from under the noses of the Russian favourites no doubt made it sweeter.

When the contest does arrive in the Ukrainian capital, it will play out against a backdrop of Russia’s military intervention in the east, in a country infamous for its endemic intolerance towards LGBT+ people (a fact not lost on many queer Eurovision loyalists). Far-right populism is sweeping the continent unabated and the very notion of a unified, peaceful Europe is under threat.

The last time a significant group of LGBT+ people had gathered in Kiev, the event was marred by violence — albeit a continent away. It was 12 June 2016. A few hours prior to their assembly in Kiev, Omar Mateen had stalked a queer Latino event at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people. By the time more than 1,500 queer activists were ready for their annual March for Equality, the scale of the massacre was apparent. Their assembly — already a fiercely political act in an intolerant nation — grew in poignancy.

Love had to win, and it did: after six years and five attempts, LGBT+ activists in Ukraine finally held a Pride event remembered for its peaceful celebration of queer expression, not for the violent opposition. That’s not to say there wasn’t resistance. A 14,000-signature petition was delivered to the Kiev city hall website, demanding a ban on such overt homosexual propaganda, and just weeks before there were threats of a bloodbath from a neo-Nazi paramilitary faction calling themselves Right Sector.

Despite the city council’s reluctance to authorise the parade, Kiev’s fifth Pride week and third march for equality went ahead. Activists were flanked by secure fencing, 1,200 members of the national guard and more than 5,500 police, clad in riot helmets and flak jackets. Although they were segregated from a cohort of religious fundamentalists and far-right nationalists — 57 of whom were detained and later released — the threats of violence never materialised beyond vocal disapproval, placards and projectiles.

Compared with previous years, the fact it took place at all is a sign of progress. Since its 2012 origins, the early years of Kiev Pride have faced opposition from every aspect of Ukrainian society. They’ve seen last-minute cancellations from the council and abandonment by the police. They’ve been shunted to the city’s industrial outskirts by the courts and overwhelmingly derided by the press. They’ve been consistently attacked by fascist paramilitary groups and subjected to violence.

After a turbulent six-year history, the relatively peaceful Kiev Pride of 2016 proved a welcome milestone. The lack of violence was deemed such a success that when Ukraine won last year’s Eurovision, the city council flaunted the accomplishment, in their case for hosting the competition. It worked, and this May the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest will make its way to Ukraine for the second time.

LGBT+ tourists can be forgiven for feeling apprehensive about travelling to Ukraine. Given the ongoing conflict with Russia over its annexation of Crimea, not to mention the region’s well-publicised anti-LGBT+ attitudes, the destination has the distinct air of instability.

But while pro-Russian separatists have dragged eastern cities such as Donetsk and Luhansk into conflict, Kiev has remained “generally calm,” according to the Foreign Office. Although public displays of affection may be met with hostility, local LGBT+ activists are adamant Kiev is safe for queer tourists.

The city’s brooding Stalinist high-rises and ornate Orthodox cathedrals don’t discriminate; monuments to the country’s discordant history are open to all. Under the watchful gaze of Europe, authorities are likely to take extra precautions to ensure the competition passes without incident.

It will probably be one of the few times the local LGBT+ community can come out in force and express themselves freely.

Ruslana Panukhnyk moved to Kiev more than a decade ago when she started university. She joined the 100 or so activists who made up the first Pride march, and now heads up the organising committee as Pride’s executive director. Growing up in Ternopil, a city in the west of Ukraine, she was exposed to the hostility towards LGBT+ people, borne out of the Orthodox Church’s influence and a general kinship towards traditional values. As trust in politicians has decreased, opportunities to co-opt public opinion have grown; the Church is not the only faction to have noticed.

“The main factors against LGBT+ issues are the aggressive nationalistic organisations,” says Panukhnyk. “They had this resistance movement in the Soviet Union which they are trying to replicate now, linking ‘heroisation’ with the Maidan revolution, where they were very visible. They have all the ownership in the eyes of the general public. That’s where they get their support.”

Ukraine’s far right was the subject of international disdain in March 2016 when 200 nationalist activists launched an attack on a venue hosting an LGBT+ festival in Lviv, Western Ukraine’s largest city. Wearing balaclavas, they surrounded the hotel, hurled projectiles, and chanted: “kill, kill, kill.”

LGBT+ activists were evacuated by bus, with just one police car turning up to protect them. They’d only attended the festival for film screenings and literary discussions. For the local LGBT+ community, Ukraine’s capital is slightly more accepting compared with the rest of the country, but Kiev is by no means an oasis of equality.

“I guess that the whole of Ukraine is different to Kiev,” says Panukhnyk. “[Attacks] are not common, except when the annual Pride approaches. They try to find [people] to beat up, especially after a successful march. They want to show their aggression. We are trying to inform people not to go out after the march because it’s not safe.”

In both Kiev and rural Ukraine, the LGBT+ community remains quite closeted. Safe spaces — where members of the queer community can meet — are at a premium, while Kiev has only two gay night clubs, LIFT and Pomada (which translates as Lipstick). There’s little respite to be found on dating apps and websites, with numerous cases of infiltration by the far right.

“There are cases where far-right radicals meet with guys and beat them up just for fun,” says Yuri Yoursky, the programme director at Gay Alliance Ukraine (GAU), one of the country’s largest LGBT+ advocacy organisations. “Last year we also saw attacks on community LGBT+ centres.”Yoursky grew up in Zaporizhia, a south-eastern city with a strong industrial tradition. He describes it as innately homophobic, a product of its low levels of higher education and a post-Soviet hangover. It’s representative of most Ukrainian cities. As part of his work at GAU, Yoursky has set up regional LGBT+ centres in these hostile areas, supporting their rental costs and the grassroots initiatives of activists. They’ve successfully started eight across Ukraine, a task completed without government funding. For many it’s the only space where they can express themselves fully, without repercussions.

“If you’re fitting into that typical definition of a cis-man or cis-woman and working with all gender stereotypes then you won’t have any difficulties,” says Yoursky, reflecting on life for LGBT+ people in the capital. “The people who have a queer gender expression may face abuse and it can happen on the streets or at work. People believe that homosexuality is something that is not natural, that it’s something that can be adopted. Propaganda tells people it can be adopted.”

In a conservative society with nationalistic leanings, non-conformity comes at huge personal risk. It’s a notion that Fritz von Klein, a prominent trans activist, knows all too well. His androgynous gothic presentation and unruly blue dreadlocks hardly lend themselves to the masculine ideals of a post-Soviet nation. Even in Kiev it’s deemed too much.

“Kiev is less transphobic and homophobic but I was attacked because of the colour of my hair,” says Von Klein, who grew up in Donetsk and moved to Kiev three years ago to join other trans activists. “For people, it is a marker of my sexuality — which it is not, of course. If you were straight but you have coloured hair or you painted your nails, you’re a faggot; in this country, you’re a faggot. It’s a fear of the stereotypes. People on the streets who don’t know that I’m trans, they like to guess whether I am a girl or a boy, and they are always laughing or making fun of me. I am afraid of physical violence. I am really afraid because I have had a lot of verbal violence from people who appear to be Nazis.”

Life doesn’t get any easier off the streets for Ukraine’s trans community. Doctors who understand the trans experience are few and far between. Most were trained in Soviet Ukraine and still treat trans people as if they are mentally ill.

Even the more progressive among them implore those transitioning to conform to binary notions of masculinity and femininity. Legal recognition is even more difficult to obtain because changing the gender marker on a passport requires sterilisation.

“It’s very dangerous for me to go to Donetsk because of my documents; it could cost me my life,” says Von Klein. The conflict in Donetsk has shown little signs of ending and as the situation deteriorated, his mother and grandparents were forced to move in with him in Kiev.

When he first began transitioning none of them supported him but his mother has since joined TERGO, a group for the parents of LGBT+ children.

It’s rare and a welcome instance of progress among a generation that internalised decades of institutional homophobia and transphobia under Soviet rule. It’s a potent influence even Kiev’s gay community hasn’t managed to escape.

“In my country, I’m not so popular with my appearance because I’m more goth,” says Von Klein. “In our society the word ‘queer’ is an offensive term. It’s as if you let down the whole LGBT+ community if you say that you are queer or if you are non-binary. “They like gays who look straight, more masculine. Of course, the younger generation…they are often queer, they fight against the stereotypes.”

For LGBT+ activists, the opportunity to demand equality came with the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014, Euromaidan, when protestors took to the streets across the country to demand closer ties to Europe. It resulted in the removal of President Yanukovych. Although the nationalists alongside whom they demonstrated prohibited any rainbow flags or pro-LGBT+ messages (they did not want to alienate the rest of the country), there was at least the prospect of closer integration with Europe. The promise of a new Ukraine, one free from Russian influence and a champion of LGBT+ equality, was worth the compromise.

But progress has been slow and many LGBT+ activists feel betrayed by the revolution they supported. Despite this, there have been a few minor steps forward: the police force is undergoing reforms which include tolerance training, while support from the media for LGBT+ rights, particularly with regards to Kiev Pride, has shifted from explicit opposition to neutrality.“Many people in Ukraine try to oppose Russian influence because they hate Putin,” says Olena Shevchenko, a board member at ILGA-Europe and chairwoman of advocacy organisation LGBT+ NGO Insight. “They resist him and are trying to go towards Euro integration. But when it comes to LGBT+ issues, it’s a different reaction. They think we need to protect traditional values and morality.”

And there are almost no allies in the parliament. “We still don’t have any open politicians who say they are part of the LGBT+ community and we still have a lack of speeches from our politicians which are at least respectful towards LGBT+ communities,” continues Shevchenko. But it’s better than it was a few years ago. Visibility has been raised and many people at least know what it means to be LGBT+.

“After the Maidan revolution, we have more people who are socially and politically active and are trying to bring about change.”

Ukraine’s younger generation may be more tolerant, accepting even, but coming out is still a tough ask for the country’s youth. Mark Radionov, a 22-year-old artist, grew up in Kherson, a small southern city with an estimated population of 329,000.

Without the internet, information was hard to come by and he struggled to come to terms with his sexuality. Eventually the pressure of hiding his identity started to have an impact on his physical health.

“There was no talking about gays,” he says. “Growing up I had no internet, no computer; I’m from a poor family. I’ve never heard good things around me [about being gay], so I tried to like girls, but in vain. I was very nervous and two years ago that had an effect on my heart.”

While fake social media profiles are used by the far right to entrap unsuspecting gay men, they’re also the first line of defence for those coming out. For many it is the only way to chat with other people in the community.The first interaction Radionov had with any gay people was conducted through the social media site VK, a Facebook-esque platform popular in Russian-speaking countries. “The first thing was hard for me,” Mark recalls. “I just came to VK and made a fake profile. I’ve never participated in gay life; in Kherson I didn’t even find anyone that was talking about it. On Grindr, I was the only person in the whole of Kerson. The nearest other one was 60km away.”

Radionov moved to Kiev in May 2016 and though there’s been a slight improvement in his life, the city has fallen some way short of the liberal, tolerant place he hoped to find. Although his parents are cool with his sexuality, (“they know despite not asking questions,”) and while he is now happier, reconciling himself with his sexuality has done little to end the animosity he feels towards his country.

“I don’t like Ukraine” he says. “It’s not even a question; I will move somewhere. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, or where. But I will move.” Before he leaves, Radionov plans to attend Kiev Pride next year. Having seen the recent successful march, which he avoided out of apprehension about protestors, he’s confident about joining his peers this year.

Activists hope 2017’s march will take place through the city centre, rather than the outskirts. Plans are already underway to convince the city council to agree to the route, a fight they’ve lost regularly. But this time they have a secret weapon: Eurovision.

“Every year the argument starts that they don’t have the capacity to have Pride, so cancel it. Or move it to the outskirts so nobody will see,” says Ruslana Panukhnyk. “But they used us an argument, saying they have the capacity [to host Eurovision]. They said that they managed to have a safe Pride so are ready to deal with a lot of LGBT+ people in Ukraine. Next year there are no excuses for them.”

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Canterbury: The Church of England’s crucial vote on gay marriage has been thrown into doubt after the Bishop of Coventry admitted he accidentally voted against the report and several others may have made the same mistake.

The Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth apologised for the mistake last night, which he said was because of “a moment of distraction and some confusion over the voting process”.

The bishop insisted that he did in fact support the report written by his colleagues and was “embarrassed” to have accidentally rejected it.

It has since emerged that some members have suggested that clergy had made the same mistake.

Rev Peter Ould, of Canterbury, said he had heard from other synod members who had also voted “no” incorrectly.He added: “I’ve spoken to two members of the house of laity who were confused, one of whom was very clear that he voted the wrong way. It would need four members of the house of clergy to say that they made a mistake for the result to change.

“They voted the wrong way because they weren’t sure of what they voted on. One I spoke to thought they were still voting on procedure aspects rather than the actual substantive motion.”

Other members said that they had voted the wrong way because they thought they were voting on a point of procedure, and not the actual debate.

Prominent Anglican blogger Archbishop Cranmer tweeted: “If a bishop can do it, so can four members of clergy. How precarious is digital democracy.”One lay synod member, who accidentally voted against the report but did not want to be named, told magazine Christian Today about the chaos in the chamber, saying a lot of people were unsure what they were voting for.

“Other people around me were talking about their own misunderstandings,” he said.

“The voting wasn’t clear. I have concerns, someone got shouted over, it was very confusing.”

He added: “It was more of a colluding with people rather than an orderly debate.”

In response to the confusion the Church of England reminded members to be more careful with their voting machines.

A spokesman said: “We are aware that the Bishop of Coventry and a member of the House of Laity have reported pressing the wrong button in the vote following the take note debate on the House of Bishops’ Report on marriage and Same-Sex Relationships

“As the results in both the House of Bishops and House of Laity were strongly in favour of the report there is no material difference to the outcome of the vote.

“It is the responsibility of Synod members to follow debates and the business of Synod carefully and to cast their votes accordingly.”

The technical problems raise questions about whether the vote, which was only lost by seven votes in the house of clergy, can stand.

The report, which was rejected last night after the House of Clergy voted against it by 100 votes to 93, said that the Church should preserve current teaching on gay marriage, which says that marriage is between one man and one woman and gay couples cannot marry in church.

Members of the general synod, which is the Church of England’s general assembly, take votes using a hand-held device which has three buttons – one which means approval, one which means rejection and a third which means abstention.

The other two houses of the Synod, bishops and laity, both voted to “take note” of the report. But there was surprise when it was revealed that one bishop had voted against it.

Sources said they believed the rejection came from the more liberal members of the clergy who thought the Church should ultimately drop its opposition to gay marriage.

Members said it was “grudging and condescending”, “divorced from reality” and made the Church look “unkind” and homophobic.

In a statement, Bishop Christopher admitted to being the dissenter and said: “Much to my embarrassment, I have managed to give the impression that there was not complete agreement in the House of Bishops that the Report provided us with the best way forward.

“Due to a moment of distraction and some confusion over the voting process, I pressed the wrong button on my handset, thus registering a vote against taking note rather than a vote for taking note of the Report!

“I have apologised to my colleagues in the House of Bishops and to the Archbishops for my mistake.”

Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz

Adelaide: SOUTH Australia has passed a motion supporting marriage equality, after a conscience vote moved by the Greens was held in the legislative council.

The vote was also supported by Labor, Liberal, and Independent MLCs, with 11 members voting to support marriage equality and 6 voting against the motion.

Co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Right Lobby, Chris Pycroft, said he was pleased to see the motion pass with an overwhelming majority of ‘yes’ votes.
“As a South Australian, it was pleasing to see the passing of a motion supporting marriage equality,” he said.

“It not only sent the message to LGBTI South Australians that they are accepted and welcomed, but it also sent a message to federal parliament – now is the time to act, to work together, and to treat LGBTI people around the country as equal before the law.

“The passing of the marriage equality motion has come on the back of a raft of reforms for LGBTI South Australians including adoption, relationship recognition, and birth certificate reform.”

Pycroft added that the vote helped to send a powerful message to the country’s federal government.

“It has sent a solid message that discrimination should not be accepted, and that all people are equal, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said.

The Senate recently released a consensus report on the government’s draft marriage equality bill, deciding not to endorse targeted discrimination against same-sex couples in wedding services.

Advocates welcomed the multi-party consensus report, saying it provides a pathway for marriage equality in this term of parliament.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Sydney: A new report aims to increase awareness around the sexual health barriers faced by gay Asian men in NSW, particularly those that have recently migrated to Australia.

The discussion paper was created by ACON and outlines the impact of HIV on gay men from Asian cultural backgrounds.

It highlights the importance of ongoing discussion around sexual health and relationships, and calls for new strategies for effective HIV prevention and education.

The research shows that sexual practices among gay Asian men in Sydney have changed over recent years. Rates of condomless intercourse with casual partners have increased to 37 per cent from 14 per cent in 2002, now on par with the general gay community.
Gay Asian men have also caught up to the general gay population in terms of HIV testing, with 90 per cent reporting having ever tested and over 80 per cent having tested in the last year.

Chief Executive of ACON Nicolas Parkhill said the paper underscores the importance of current data and informed discussion towards a contemporary, community-led and culturally relevant HIV response for gay Asian men.

“Asian gay men are a dynamic and changing population with diverse health needs who comprise a growing proportion of NSW’s gay community,” Parkhill said.

“Sexual practices, sexual identities and attitudes towards HIV among Asian gay men are rapidly changing, both for men living in Australia and in Asian countries, with implications for HIV prevention, treatment and care.

“However, while Asian gay men are more engaged with issues related to their sexual health, there are still a range of barriers preventing many from accessing appropriate care and support in relation to HIV.

“Previous experiences of criminalisation, fear of disclosure, visa precariousness, Medicare ineligibility, experiences of racism and isolation, and of course language barriers all affect their ability to negotiate safe sex and access testing and treatment options.”

The paper calls for strategies to enhance effective HIV prevention and education, including LGBTI inclusivity and diversity training for service providers, culturally relevant sexual health education, and expansion of community-based testing and prevention programs.

It also recommends changes to the legal environment regarding HIV disclosure, testing and migration policies for people with HIV.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Miami: Even though a wave of “thoughts and prayers” surrounded LGBT people in Florida last year, the Sunshine State remains one of the most populous in the nation where discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity remains legal. But that could change this year, as a bill has been introduced in the state legislature that would prohibit such discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“To me, this is as important as any piece of legislation I will file this year,” says state Rep. Rene Plasencia, a Titusville Republican. He believes the chances of getting the bill passed and put in front of Gov. Rick Scott are as strong as ever.Last year, similar legislation for the first time got a vote in the Florida legislature, though only in the House, where it died on a tie vote in committee. The state Senate never took up a bill in 2016. LGBT activists in Florida, though, seem optimistic about the legislation winning support this year. “Momentum continues to grow,” says Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. “We’ve seen the business community start to consolidate behind the measure, not only because it’s the right thing to do but because of bottom-line competitiveness.”

Plasencia sponsored the legislation along with state Rep. Ben Diamond, a Democrat from St. Petersburg. Since being filed, the bill has drawn 12 other lawmakers as cosponsors, including three Republicans; Republicans control the Florida House 79-41 and the Senate 25-15. Plasencia says the real trick, though, will be making sure chairmen are willing to take up the legislation once it gets assigned to committees.

Similar legislation has been filed in the Florida Senate by state Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, but that legislation has not picked up any cosponsors. Clemens has also sponsored a bill that would outlaw conversion therapy.

Of note, all three state lawmakers driving the legislation represent parts of the Interstate 4 corridor, a famously moderate part of Florida. Plasencia lives in Orlando, the community devastated last year by the attack at Pulse, a gay nightclub, where 49 people were killed in addition to the shooter. But the lawmaker says he will not exploit the Pulse tragedy to get this legislation passed.

Supporters have no doubt such legislation will eventually win support in the legislature, whether it’s this year or in future sessions. As far back as 2013, the University of Florida’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service surveyed voters in Florida and found support for a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. “Oftentimes, people are shocked to find these protections are not already on the books,” Smith says.

She also notes that city and county governments throughout the state have passed local ordinances that block the same discrimination Diamond and Plasencia’s bill seeks to stop. “Many of these legislators already live in places where these protections exist, and often have for a decade or more.”

Hannah Willard, public policy director for Equality Florida, says 56 percent of Floridians already live somewhere that a local discrimination ban is in place. That’s more local antidiscrimination ordinances than any other state, and every ordinance covers LGBT individuals.

In fact, Jacksonville City Council members just Tuesday passed an ordinance that prohibits businesses in that city from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In Jacksonville, the state’s largest city, similar legislation had failed in 2012 and 2016.

And while pro-business lawmakers and Chamber of Commerce groups previously have bought into arguments that antidiscrimination regulations could potentially hurt businesses or discourage companies from locating in Florida, the outcry last year over North Carolina’s notorious House Bill 2 may indicate the tide has turned. The North Carolina legislation, barring cities from enacting or enforcing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, in addition to restricting transgender people’s access to public restrooms, resulted in boycotts and loss of business, and ultimately led to the ouster of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who had signed the bill into law after it was passed in a special session of the legislature. “Everyone was paying attention to what happened in North Carolina and learning some lessons,” Smith says.

Still, Florida lawmakers in recent sessions have also considered anti-LGBT legislation, including so-called religious freedom bills and trans bathroom restrictions. Even though such legislation has not made it to the governor’s desk as it did in states like North Carolina and Indiana, social conservatives plan to call for more bills of the sort this year, regardless of business concerns.

Additionally, the move comes as reports persist about a draft executive order, providing a nationwide license for anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom,” that could be signed by President Trump. Plasencia isn’t worried about that because he believes such an order violates the First Amendment rights of Floridians and would be stopped by the courts.

Even if an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination bill passes both houses of the Florida legislature, it would also need the support of Republican Gov. Scott, who resisted calls last year, after the Pulse massacre, to issue an executive order protecting state employees and government contractors from discrimination.

Scott has often dodged questions about LGBT issues in the past. He took no position on a so-called bathroom bill considered by lawmakers in 2015, for example, but did criticize President Obama’s guidelines that called on schools to let transgender students use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

Scott’s office did not return calls from The Advocate on the antidiscrimination legislation filed this session.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Atlanta: A new study suggests that regular sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings, in combination with PrEP use, reduces the transmission of both HIV and other STIs among gay and bisexual men. The study found that, even with significant reductions in condom use, if gay and bisexual men using pre-exposure prophylaxis (commonly referred to as PrEP) get screened for STIs every six months, there would be a dramatic decrease in the transmission of STIs like Chlamydia and gonorrhea over the next decade. The study also found that increasing screenings to four times a year would not dramatically affect the prevention of STIs and that every six months was sufficient.

The findings were just released from a new study presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. A joint effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, the study suggests that there is a significant reduction in the transmission of not only HIV, but other STIs for those who are using PrEP and receiving regular STI screenings and treatment.This flies in the face of prevailing public opinion and some studies that has pointed to increases in STI transmission rates in men using PrEP and reduction in condom use.

Although the CDC currently recommends that PrEP users be screened semi-annually for STIs, Dr. Samuel Jenness, who headed the study at Emory University, says making sure providers are aware of these guidelines is key. “Right now, there’s a tremendous amount of [diversity] in terms of how the STI testing is being performed by these clinicians” says Jenness. “As PrEP has been implemented in smaller practice groups or by individual clinicians outside of large metropolitan areas, we have some suggestions that the guidelines aren’t being adhered to with respect to STI testing as much.”

To help bridge this gap, the CDC has been leading efforts to educate healthcare providers on the recommended guidelines and the importance of providing PrEP users with regular STI testing, including a support hotline to answer providers’ questions about PrEP (1-855-HIV-PREP). Jenness says that more research needs to be done regarding these smaller practices and providers to determine whether or not they are adhering to the current STI screening recommendations, and at what rates. The bottom line: If you are a gay or bisexual man using PrEP, get screened for STIs every six months to keep yourself on a healthy track and optimize the effectiveness of the treatment.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Belfast: The Democratic Unionist Party has dismissed a petition urging it to stop using peace process powers to block equal marriage in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is the last remaining place in the UK where same-sex marriage continues to be blocked, as the governing Democratic Unionist Party employs Petitions of Concern – a power designed to ensure cross-community power sharing – to veto marriage bills despite a Parliamentary majority in favour.
The DUP standson a platform of ‘defending marriage’ last year, and ahead of fresh Assembly elections set for next month, leader Arlene Foster reaffirmed plans to continue blocking any future marriage legislation.
The Love Equality NI group handed over a petition to the DUP this week, urging them to listen to their voters who broadly support equal marriage.
However, the DUP insisted it would not change its tune.
A spokesperson said: “The DUP receive many petitions and correspondence from a range of different groups, charities and organisations.
“The organisation Love Equality arranged to hand their petition to the main parties, which was received by Gavin Robinson MP on behalf of the DUP. Our position on this issue remains the same and is well known.”
The Love Equality campaign said: “We are still fighting for the rights of same-sex couples in Northern Ireland who wish to dedicate their lives to each other in the form of marriage.
“That right is currently denied to them yet their counterparts in England, Scotland, Wales, the Republic of Ireland and places as far away as New Zealand and South Africa enjoy those freedoms.
“We believe that opening up marriage to same-sex couples is a good thing, and with public support overwhelmingly in favour of changing the law to reflect that we are confident that we are on the right side of history.
“It is disappointing that same-sex couples in Northern Ireland are still being denied that fundamental freedom and many have indeed taken to crossing the border into the Republic of Ireland to marry.
“This inconsistency in law must be changed before long to ensure that the dignity and affirmation afforded to same-sex couples in the rest of the United Kingdom is extended to those living in Northern Ireland.”
Ms Foster recently reaffirmed plans to continue employing powers to block any future marriage legislation. She recently defended her actions by insisting gay people don’t really want to get married anyway.
She said: “This suggestion that every single person who’s a homosexual wants to change the definition of marriage is actually wrong.
“I know plenty of people in that community who don’t want to see marriage redefined and are quite content to live in partnership… it’s all become a bit of a storm in a teacup.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Brussels: The European Parliament has in a key vote on equality in mental health called for more action to protect trans and intersex people.
The Parliament attacked that transgender people are still considered mentally ill, and highlights that this diagnoses “is a source of significant distress for transgender persons”.
It adds that “every child should be able to safely explore their gender identity and expression”, without being subjected to harmful diagnostic practices.
Transgender people are still required to undergo sterilisation to have their gender recognised in 13 EU Member States, a practice the parliament condemns in this report.
The Parliament recognises that the medicalisation and pathologisation, combined with prejudice, stigmatisation and discrimination, may result in specific mental health challenges for trans and intersex people.
Accordingly, the Parliament calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure that their mental health strategies address the “challenges . . . faced by LGBTI people” and take this into account when developing health policies, programmes and protocols, and to allocate sufficient resources to ensure access to mental health services.
Beatriz Becerra MEP, author of the report and Member of the LGBTI Intergroup, said: “One of the greatest myths surrounding mental health of trans and intersex people, is that they are ‘ill’. In this report the parliament takes a clear position, arguing that the way society deals with trans and intersex people is the problem, rather than a person’s variant sex characteristics or gender identity.”
“This is why we are calling on Member States to stop the forced sterilisation and medicalisation of trans and intersex persons.”
Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup Sirpa Pietikainen MEP, added: “At the same time, we recognise that the medicalisation, pathologisation and discrimination trans and intersex people face, do have significant emotional and psychological effects.”
“We call on Member States and the Commission to ensure that the particular mental health challenges faced by lesbian, bisexual, trans- and intersex persons face are given due consideration in the development of comprehensive mental health strategies.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Little Rock: Despite the state Governor warning that such a measure is not necessary, legislators in Arkansas are working on an anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’.
A one-sentence bill was filed by two Senators in the state on Tuesday.It reads: “The purpose of this act concerns gender identity and bathroom privileges.”
It doesn’t go into specifics of its enforcement but it does target trans people, dealing with gender identity and issues of bathroom access.
Republican Senator Gary Stubblefield said the bill would require people to use bathrooms in public which correspond to the sex stated on their birth certificate.
North Carolina already has a bill signed into law in 2016, HB2, which had the same effect and more.
Having drawn widespread criticism, the law is facing further attempts to be repealed.
Texas is also considering its own version of the bathroom bill, despite warnings that it could cost the state tens of millions of dollars.
The state of Texas has been warned by the NFL that it could lose future opportunities to host Super Bowls, if it passes its own bathroom bill.
The Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has said he doesn’t believe there is a need for such a bill.
The State of Arkansas also this week wanted to use Valentine’s Day to get a constitutional amendment to overturn marriage equality.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Atlanta: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chose Valentine’s Day to announce an 18% fall in the incidence of HIV infection in the US between 2008 and 2014 – from an estimated 45,700 to 37,600 per year.
The data was presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.
It says the fall is largely down to HIV positive people being on medication and becoming undetectable, and a rise in HIV positive high-risk groups taking PrEP medication to prevent acquiring the virus (which was approved for use in 2012).
It said there had been a drop in injecting drug users contracting the virus, and a 36% drop in heterosexual people becoming infected.
However, although the overall infection rate has come down, gay and bisexual men remain the most at risk group. They accounted for 67% of new infections in 2014. Certain groups within this community remain at particular risk.
Annual infections between gay men aged 25-34 increased by 35% from 7,200 to 9,700.
Infections between Latino gay and bisexual males increased by 20% (from 6,100 to 7,300)
Infection rates among black gay and bisexual men remained stable at around 10,100 per year.
On the other hand, infection rates between gay and bi men aged 35-44 dropped by 25% and by 18% for men under 24.
Southern states bear the greatest burden of HIV, accounting for 50% of new infections in 2014.
‘Disparities among men who have sex with men [MSM] need to be addressed’
The results were presented by CDC’s Sonia Singh.
‘Disparities among MSM need to be addressed to reduce incidence,’ she said. ‘Black MSM continue to have the highest incidence and incidence is increasing among Hispanic and Latinos as well as 25 to 34 year olds.
‘Tailoring testing, prevention and treatment to these risk groups is needed to reduce HIV transmission.’
Health advocates have welcomed the fall in infection but agree that progress must be accelerated.
Writing for Huffington Post, Profession David Holtgrave of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, ‘The health disparities, especially for gay and bisexual men of color and gay and bisexual men in young adulthood, are clearly unacceptable and must be addressed with culturally relevant, evidence-based, comprehensive wellness services that address HIV and health in a holistic manner.
‘The same is true for the disparities seen in the Southern U.S.; this unequal geographic impact of the epidemic, which is mirrored by the burden of other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, has been known for far too long for such disparities to continue to exist.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Taipei: Marriage equality advocates in Taiwan are hopeful a decision to hold a constitutional review on same-sex marriage will be a positive step forward.
The Council of Grand Justices form the Judicial Yuan (Constitutional Court) which is one of the five branches of government in Taiwan.
On Friday it applied for a constitutional interpretation of the marriage law by Taipei City’s Bureau of Civil Affairs.
The council also approved a live broadcast of the debate of marriage equality advocate Chi Chia-wei’s case.
Chi filed a suit 18 months ago to overturn the restrictions on marriage equality in Taiwan. But it has taken the council’s justices a long time to agree to review the issue.
‘We believe that the justice’s willingness to review this issue is a step forward, because they could have chosen to keep shelving the case and ignoring it,’ said Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights secretary-general Chien Chih-chieh.
Marriage equality gains momentum
Taiwan may become the first Asian country to approve same-sex marriage after a legislative committee approved a preliminary amendment to the Civil Code.
‘The Legislative Yuan announced in December last year that a review of same-sex marriage legislation would start again in April, so the Judicial Yuan’s choice to hold hearings in March is extremely interesting and we trust that it is not a coincidence.’
Despite the fact the council might not rule in favour of marriage equality, Chien was confident it will become a reality at some point.
‘Depending on the social atmosphere, either legislative or judicial legalization is possible at this point, and greater visibility and discussion will make it more likely that one route or the other will succeed,’ she said.
‘It is not impossible that the court will rule to uphold the constitutionality of the existing laws, but we feel the probability of such a ruling is not great.’
A poll released in December revealed 37.8% of Taiwanese people supported same-sex marriage with 13.6% strongly in favor. 56% were opposed with 34.8% strongly against same-sex marriage.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Beijing: LGBTI couples across Beijing staged the cutest protest on Valentine’s Day calling for marriage equality in China.
The Beijing LGBT Centre came up with the idea for couples to dress in wedding attire and pose at some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics Bird’s Nest stadium.
Many of the couples held placards with slogans saying ‘let us taste the bitterness of marriage’.
China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997 but LGBT issues are still taboo.
Some passersby praised the posing couples shouting out their support for the cause, while many stared on in confusion.So many civil rights are tied to marriage,’ volunteer Meng Meng told TimeOut Beijing.
‘Because of current legal restrictions, being unable to marry means that many of the property rights of sexual minorities are not protected.’The movement towards marriage equality is growing in Asia with Chinese neighbour Taiwan on the verge of making same-sex marriage legal.
‘It’s really difficult for a trans person who has not fully surgically transitioned to change their legal identity, and impossible for them to marry. This has a huge impact on our lives,’ said transgender campaigner Ka Ka.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Washington DC: A US law firm that battles to keep anti-gay sodomy laws has been officially designated as a hate group.
The anti-LGBT group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has close ties to senior Republicans, has been at the frontier of the evangelical fight against gay sex.
The notorious Christian group has opposed same-sex weddings, gay adoptions, civil unions, and even the repeal of Sodomy laws – strongly opposing the 2003 Supreme Court decision to strike down state laws banning gay sex.
Though other US-based groups have moved away from the overt ‘anti-Sodomy’ agenda, ADF continues to peddle its wares overseas, and was caught waging a campaign to keep gay sex illegal in Belize.
The ADF was this week designated as a anti-LGBT hate group by civil rights and extremism watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center.
As part of its annual report on extremism, SPLC released an in-depth profile on the ADF, categorising it as an anti-LGBT hate group.
Their report notes the ADF have “regularly demonized LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia, calling them ‘evil’ and a threat to children and society, and blaming them for the ‘persecution of devout Christians’. The group also has supported the criminalization of homosexuality in several countries.”
The SPLC notes that the ADF has openly praised the criminalisation of homosexuality in several countries, egging on activists in India in 2013 who convinced a court to reinstate an archaic sodomy law.
ADF reps praised India at the time for “choosing to protect society at large rather than give in to a vocal minority of homosexual advocates”.
It also points to a string of homophobic statements from the ADF, with officials claiming gay people “desensitize and corrupt young minds… for recruitment” because they cannot have chidren, also claiming homosexual behaviour is “intrinsically linked” to paedophilia.
Despite their extreme views the ADF has close ties to the evangelical wing of the Republican Party, with the Governor of Mississippi confirming they helped write most of the state’s anti-LGBT law.
The group has also filed spurious lawsuits in a number of states aiming to weaken LGBT anti-discrimination protections.
A case was filed by the ADF in Colorado, on behalf of a Christian “graphic designer” who wanted the right to discriminate against gay clients.
Lorie Smith, a self-identified “graphic designer”, filed a lawsuit in a bid to demolish LGBT rights protections in Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, claiming she creates custom wedding websites.
Although the lawsuit claimed that Ms Smith specialises in ‘custom wedding websites’, her public design portfolio does not contain a simple example of such a work.
However, her portfolio did include a number of works created for the Colorado Republicans and other strong political opponents of anti-discrimination laws.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Seattle: The florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding is to take her case to the US Supreme Court.
Baronnelle Stutzman lost her case in Washington State’s Supreme Court this week when it found she had discriminated against a gay couple for refusing to provide flowers.On Friday, the 72-year-old announced she would appeal the case to the highest court in the country.
Supported by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a spokesman for the group said: “Barronelle’s story demonstrates a troubling trend – governmental agencies and officials that have grown increasingly hostile to religious freedom, particularly the freedom of people who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
“These widespread efforts to suppress freedom are rooted in a disdain for this particular religious belief – a belief that, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, is ‘decent and honorable’ and held ‘in good faith by reasonable and sincere people’.”
The florist consistently said she was exercising her First Amendment right when she refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding back in 2013.
She had previously served the couple but said when it came to their wedding that it would have gone against her beliefs as a Christian.
Ms Strutzman was sued by the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, as well as the couple.
The Washington Supreme Court ruled that Ms Stutzman had clearly broken the state’s anti-discrimination laws and that her Constitutional rights were not infringed by the 2015 ruling.
Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud in the 59-page ruling said the lower court was right to fine Ms Stutzman because she discriminated based on sexual orientation.
Thursday’s ruling was praised by Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
“By ruling that intolerance based on sexual orientation is unlawful, the court affirmed that Washington state will remain a place where no one can be discriminated against because of who they love,” Inslee said.
“I am proud that our state was one of the first to vote to recognise same-sex marriage and that we continue to uphold the rights of all our residents.”
Supporters of Ms Stutzman raised over $100,000 in 2015 to pay her legal fees.
A ruling was made by Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C Ekstrom in February 2015, who said the florist, Arlene’s Flowers, violated consumer protections in saying she would not sell flowers to the longtime customer for their wedding due to her religious beliefs.
Ms Stutzman was later offered a deal where she would be fined $1,000, and $1 for court costs, but rejected it. The couple had also been seeking fees and damages.
“The 70-year-old grandmother may lose her business, her home, and her savings – because she stood for her faith, she could lose everything she owns,” the florist’s site previously.
Judge Ekstrom said the couple were protected by the state of Washington’s Law Against Discrimination.
The law bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Robert Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed married in 2013 but had been customers at the florist for almost ten years.
Ms Stutzman told them she wouldn’t provide wedding flowers because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Donations to support a homophobic pizzeria the owners of which said they’d refuse to serve a gay wedding recently reached almost a million dollars.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Harare: Anti-gay Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe could ‘run as a corpse’ in the next election.
His wife made the comments at a campaign rally today.
Grace Mugabe told the crowds that if her husband should die before their next set of ‘elections’, then supporters should write his name in.
The First Lady said: “If God decides to take him, then we would rather field him as a corpse.”
Mugabe is now 93-years-old, and has said he wishes to live to 100 and never stop ruling Zimbabwe.
His wife also criticised others in the ZANU-PF party who she said were plotting to take over from her husband.
She said: “Anyone who was with Mugabe in 1980 has no right to tell him he is old. If you want Mugabe to go, then you leave together. You also have to leave.”
The leader, who has been President of Zimbabwe since 1987, is a notorious opponent of LGBT rights – recently giving a bizarre speech to the United Nations in which he ranted about gay rights before shouting “we are not gays!”
Homosexuality is not against the law in the country, but LGBT people often face harsh government clampdowns – with Mugabe claiming homosexuality is a filthy disease, and claiming Zimbabwe would “never, never, never” support homosexuality.
Mugabe previously won a Chinese ‘peace’ Prize, but promptly turned it down.
The leader was surprisingly announced as the winner of the China-backed Confucius Peace Prize, which was set up as an alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize but is not officially associated with the Chinese government.
According to the group that runs the awards, the leader was honoured for “working tirelessly to build the political and economic stability of his country, bringing peace to the people of Zimbabwe, strongly supporting pan-Africanism and African independence, and making unparalleled contributions for the renaissance of African civilisation”.
His poor human rights record, poor record on tackling corruption and overtly anti-LGBT stances were not referenced.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Tanzania: Tanzania has stopped up to 40 privately run clinics from providing HIV-related services because they “cater to homosexuals”.
Homosexual activity is illegal in the country and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.The latest move taken by the Government was in reaction to a belief that non-governmental centres were using HIV treatment as a cover to promote gay sex, said Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu.
Mr Mwalimu added the Government would expand HIV services in clinics it controlled.
A third of gay men in the country already live with HIV, according to official statistics.
The move is the latest in a series by the country to restrict the rights of LGBT people.
Six months ago, the Government threatened to ban civic groups that were pro-LGBT and deemed harmful to the “culture of Tanzanians”.
This threat followed a similar one made in 2016.
Last year, it also suspended its Government HIV outreach programme because “homosexuality was illegal”.

Tanzania’s deputy health minister has threatened to publish a list of gay people who are allegedly selling sex online.
Hamisi Kigwangalla allegedly announced the plan as part of a government crack down on “the homosexuality syndicate”.
“I will publish a list of gay people selling their bodies online,” Kigwangalla wrote on Twitter. “Those who think this campaign is a joke are wrong. The government has long arms and it will arrest all those involved quietly.”
“Once arrested they will help us find other,” he insisted.
Homosexual activity is illegal in the country and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Kigwangalla’s threat is the latest move to restrict the rights of LGBT people in the country.
The plan comes after the country shut down nearly 40 privately run AIDS clinics because they were “promoting” homosexuality.
“We have suspended the provision of HIV and AIDS services at less than 40 drop-in centres for key populations operated by NGOs countrywide after ti was established that the centres were promoting homosexuality, which is against Tanzania’s laws,” health minister Ummy Mwalimu said.
Six months ago, the Government threatened to ban civic groups that were pro-LGBT and deemed harmful to the “culture of Tanzanians”. This threat followed a similar one made in 2016.
Last year in July, a commissioner for the city of Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, announced a local crackdown on LGBT people by threatening to arrest those who were openly gay on social media.
Following Makonda’s threat, dozens were detained and forced to have anal exams to confirm their sexuality.

As he’s prone to do, Hamisi Kigwangalla took to Twitter to post his latest threat. “I will publish a list of gay people selling their bodies online,” Kigwangalla wrote, according to a translation from the German publication Deutsche Welle. “Those who think this campaign is a joke, are wrong. The government has long arms and it will quietly arrest all those involved. Once arrested, they will help us find others.”

Come on! Empathy to Law breakers? Gimme a break! If someone kills your child, will you be empathic? https://t.co/ZXbWQve27E

— Dr. Kigwangalla, H. (@HKigwangalla) February 19, 2017
Previously known as relatively lenient when it came to LGBT issues, Tanzania has recently taken a far-right turn. To curb gay sex, which is punishable by decades in prison, the nation partially banned lubricants. Meanwhile, health minister Ummy Mwalimu made the situation even worse by blocking HIV services at dozens of health centers operated by charities or non-governmental organizations; it’s believed nearly a quarter of gay and bi Tanzanian men are HIV-positive. The nation’s justice minister announced last year that Tanzania would suspend any NGO that supports homosexuality.

“If there’s a homosexual who has a Facebook account, or with an Instagram account, all those who ‘follow’ him, it is very clear that they are just as guilty as the the homosexual,” he told a cheering crowd last year in the city of Dar es Salaam.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Alberquerque: The Senate in New Mexico voted yesterday to ban so-called conversion therapy for gay, bisexual and transgender people. The vote in favor of Senate Bill 121 (SB121) was a convincing 32-6.
The legislation will now be forwarded to the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Democrats (38 Democrats against 32 Republicans).
If passed, it will mean that any doctor, psychologist or other health professional who offers and conducts such an attempt at therapy can lose their license.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-Albuquerque), who is himself gay.
He said ahead of the vote, ‘When you’re a young Hispanic Catholic kid growing up in Albuquerque and folks use some horrible words to describe you, both to your face and behind your back … that hurts. That is abuse. And I hope we don’t adopt the assumption that the only form of abuse is physical abuse.’
He said conversion therapy must join other so-called medical treatments that the state has banned for being ‘ harmful or deemed to be not beneficial.’
‘Conversion therapy is abuse’
The vote was welcomed by LGBTI advocates.
Equality New Mexico Executive Director Amber Royster, said in a statement, ‘It’s a great day for LGBTQ New Mexicans, and especially LGBTQ young people.
‘Unequivocally, conversion therapy is abuse. When we reduce the harm and trauma experienced by young people, we create the opportunity for healthier and more resilient communities.’
Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director with HRC, said, ‘No child should ever be subjected to the incredibly dangerous practice of so-called conversion therapy.
‘This crucially important legislation will help protect LGBTQ youth in New Mexico from a pseudoscience denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association.
‘For the sake of some of the state’s most vulnerable youth, the New Mexico House of Representatives should quickly pass this legislation and help end this barbaric form of child abuse.’
Conversion therapy has already been banned in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, New York and Washington DC.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Apia: Samoa’s parliament has supported a change to the country’s constitution to reflect it as a Christian state.
Some politicians argued the change could help prevent external pressures to change Samoa’s laws around LGBTI issues.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi tabled the Constitution Amendment Bill in December saying Samoa was ‘misled’ for a number of years.
The South Pacific island’s population of 200,000 is 98% Christian with a small minority of Muslims and Bahá’í.
Currently the Constitution’s preamble refers to the country’s Christianity but PM Tuilaepa believes it must be changed.
The preamble says: ‘will enshrine Christianity from within the body of the Constitution which effectively provides a legal definition of the State’s religion’.
‘(It is) inadequate in terms of how Samoa as a Christian State is not included in the body of the Constitution. Instead it is in the cover and the preamble of the Constitution, not within the body of the Constitution,’ Tuilaepa said in parliament.
‘This means that we have been misled all these years. And every time we say that Samoa is founded on God because it is in within our Constitution, God must’ve had a good laugh and though that we have been fooling him.’
The Christian state and LGBTI people
MPs debated the issue in parliament with many agreeing to the change.
‘For instance if we make laws and bills, we need to make decisions that will reflect that we are a Christian country,’ said MP Lealilepule Rimoni Aiafi .
‘So if other countries push us to make laws such as to allow same sex marriage, then we have to say no because that will not show that we are a Christian country. That will never happen in Samoa.’
Homosexual sexual activities are outlawed in Samoa but employers cannot discriminate against people because of sexuality.
Samoa’s Fa’afafine – third gender – population are widely accept and play a critical role in the country’s traditional culture.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Delhi: Indian film censors have made dramatic cuts to the movie about a gay Miami drug dealer, Moonlight.
Moonlight is one of the favourite films to take out best film category at this year’s Oscar and arguably one of the greatest LGBTI films in recent memory.
But that has not stopped the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) from cutting out crucial parts of the film.
The film cut the moving beach scene between friends Chiron and Kevin, where the latter stimulates Chiron with his hand.
Also cut from the film was a brief sex scene between Kevin and a girl and expletives in the dialogue.
A unnamed source told India’s DNA news site the censors had cut vital parts of the film.
‘The censor board has ordered the entire hand-job to go. We only hear the protagonist say he is sorry for what happened. Indian audiences will not get what he’s feeling sorry for,’ they said.
‘The CBFC has done a sanskari (moralistic/traditional) job on the language of the American African community.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Vancouver: A public meeting with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to discuss safety concerns impacting the city’s LGBT community has been cancelled, with organizers blaming its cancellation on the debate over police participation in this year’s pride parade.

The two-hour event, originally scheduled for Feb 16, 2017, at Gordon Neighbourhood House, was organized by the VPD LGBTQ advisory committee and was going to address issues of community safety, specifically the suspicious death of Oliver Zamarripa last fall, assaults in Stanley Park, and the anti-trans posters that have appeared in the Davie Village. The meeting was also going to have a question period, during which community members could raise other safety issues important to them.

However, the event was cancelled just two days prior.

Jamie Lee Hamilton, one of the organizers and a member of the LGBTQ advisory committee, says there was an outcry over a new petition supporting VPD participation in the 2017 Vancouver Pride parade which prompted the meeting’s cancellation.

“It’s now stirred everyone up, and people are angry,” she says. “There were a lot of people who thought the VPD were behind it, but they weren’t. But there was talk that [Black Lives Matter supporters] were going to come and shut down the meeting, which is really unfortunate.”

This recent petition, which currently has more than 2,500 signatures, was created in response to Black Lives Matter Vancouver’s call for the Vancouver Pride Society to bar uniformed police officers from marching in future pride parades.

Xtra reached out to Black Lives Matter Vancouver for comment but did not receive a response by publication time.

Hamilton says she called Dale Quiring, VPD’s LGBTQ2 liaison officer, “and we talked about it and then his recommendation was to not move ahead at this time,” she says.

In an email to Xtra, VPD spokesperson Jason Doucette said he had “not yet been advised of the details of the meeting cancellation,” and that an interview with Quiring would not be possible.

Hamilton says that part of the reason this latest petition had potential implications for the community safety meeting is because one of the meeting’s co-hosts, Velvet Steele, is a signatory to the pro-VPD petition.

Steele acknowledges she signed the petition but says she is not one of its creators.

“I didn’t start it. The petition was already started when I was asked to come on board and talk about it, because I am in support of the VPD being in the parade,” Steele says. “I’m working with them and I’m trying to build bridges.”

Steele says she and fellow organizers were unsure if the controversy surrounding the petition might create a heated environment and it was “safety concerns” that led them to cancel the event. She says she did not read any online comments explicitly stating plans to hijack the event, but rather the organizers were responding to rumours, discussions and “a general feeling” that the meeting could get out of hand.

“We didn’t want people to have altercations or yelling matches. That wasn’t the intent of the whole thing,” Steele says. “It was just a precautionary measure.”

Both Steele and Hamilton say the community safety meeting will be rescheduled; however the details have yet to be determined.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Oslo: A gay asylum seeker is close to being deported to Uganda by Norway because the court does not believe his sexuality.
The 24-year-old was arrested in the Court of Appeal yesterday by plain clothed immigration service police.The asylum seeker was in court trying to prove his sexuality and secure his stay in Norway, but immigration authorities claim the applicant has been pretending to be gay since coming to the country in 2014.
The number of LGBT asylum seekers recently rocketed by 400%.
Immigration authorities intended to deport the man this Sunday, despite a final verdict not being heard for another 4 weeks.
The man’s lawyer, Mads Andenæs, feared that if his client was is deported before a final verdict is heard then he will be put in danger.
Andenæs said he was “surprised and upset” over the news that his client was arrested and led out of the court.
“We have had a long court proceeding on the case, the trial was ended ten minutes ago and the case is closed for judgement.
“Whichever formal grounds invoked for deportation, it would be inappropriate and contrary to the separation of powers in our state government.
“It is the Court of Appeal, which will no decide whether he is granted asylum or not,” the lawyer said.
Andenæs requested a temporary injunction to prevent his client from being deported before the court has come to a verdict.
The injunction was successful and for now the asylum seeker can remain in the country until a judgement is made.
The 24-year-old has been rejected asylum so far because courts have ruled that “it can not be assumed that he is actually gay”.
He has had to give evidence of his life as a gay man in Uganda and Norway, and fears that he may be killed if he is deported.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Washington DC: Trump’s administration is now in full swing and LGBT activists are gearing up for numerous tough battles ahead.
The Republican Platform passed earlier this year contained some of the most anti-LGBT provisions in decades, attacking same-sex adoption and parenting and opposing a ban on ‘gay cure’ therapy, while lawmakers have drawn up bills affirming ‘religious freedom’ exemptions from anti-discrimination laws. Trump has also affirmed his support for local state anti-transgender laws, though he has still not declared a national policy on the issue.
The transgender community is particularly fearful for the safety of their health care.
The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has made a half-hearted attempt to seemingly protect the Affordable Care Act.
However, Price’s previous remarks indicate that the 1.5 million trans people living in the US may loose Medicaid and the ACA – two key components to protecting transgender medical care.
The ACA helped broaden availability of health care for trans Americans by requiring equal access for trans and gender nonconforming individuals. This prevents discrimination on gender identity, something that was never part of a federal health care programme before.
The ACA’s Medicaid expansion also made healthcare more accessible to poorer Americans who are earning less than $17,000 a year by altering income eligibility.
The transgender community is particularly affected by unemployment with rates three times higher than the general population. Workplace discrimination is still legal in 30 states too, meaning that it can become even harder for trans folk to obtain work.
The necessities that ACA and Medicaid provide have helped to revolutionise health care for trans folk. Everything from therapy to gender reassignment surgery is now more accessible, but if the programmes are axed by Price the crucial services may be lost.
Experts warn that the demise of affordable health care could have a devastating impact on trans mental health, as more than half of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals have attempted suicide after being unable to access essential care.
Black transgender women also face uncertainty as an estimated six out of 10 black transgender women are HIV-positive.
Federal judges are already implementing laws which prevent anti-discrimination protections. Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas ordered a court to bar the protections, arguing that the regulation would “require them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions, regardless of their contrary religious beliefs or medical judgment.”
Universities are also beginning to drop healthcare cover for gender transitions. The University of Arkansas will scrap healthcare for gender transitions, after providing just three months of cover.
The director of policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality, Harper Jean Tobin said the future of ACA could be “devastating”.
“Trans people could see a real reversal in all the progress made over the past several years,” Tobin said.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Helsinki: Finland’s Parliament has voted down efforts to scupper plans for same-sex marriage to become legal just days before it is set to become law.
In November 2014, the Finnish Parliament passed a citizens’ initiative on gender-neutral marriage by a tight vote of 105-92, after a number of previous defeats.The country’s President Sauli Niinistö signed marriage legislation into law a few months later, paving the way for weddings to begin on March 1.
But the law, which came about as a result of a public Citizen’s Initiative petition signed by over 167,000 voters, was under threat from a rival initiative signed by opponents of same-sex marriage which passed the 50,000 signatures required for a parliamentary debate.
The country’s parliament voted down the petition on Friday with 120 votes to 48.
Advocates still expect that equal marriage will become law on 1 March.
The country’s Parliament last year heard the case for blocking marriage after the ‘Genuine Matrimony Association’ succeeded in filing an Initiative to keep marriage “between a man and woman”.
Members of the right-wing Finns Party rallied against the law, with MP Mika Niikko suggesting the debate over the issue of gender-neutral marriage has focused excessively on the rights of adults, not those of children.
According to YLE, “several MPs” have also come to believe the 2014 parliamentary decision was “a mistake”, in the face of prolonged opposition from some anti-LGBT groups.
However, many stood up for equality in the chamber.
Centre Party MP Mikko Karna has apologised for the fact that the issue went to a vote once again.
“I personally apologise to rainbow families who will have to listen to the matter being debated once more,” he said.
As a candidate in 2015, Centre Party prime minister Juha Sipilä had indicated their party would not seek to undo the measure.
Same-sex marriage is set to become law on Wednesday, March 1 2017.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Dallas: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has come out swinging against the National Football League.
The NFL said this week that Texas would put itself out of the running for future Super Bowls if it were to pass the anti-transgender Senate Bill 6.
This year’s game was played at at NRG Stadium in Houston.
‘For some low-level NFL adviser to come out and say that they are going to micromanage and try to dictate to the state of Texas what types of policies we’re going to pass in our state, that’s unacceptable,’ the Republican Abbott told conservative radio show host Glenn Beck.
‘We don’t care what the NFL thinks and certainly what their political policies are… they need to learn their place in the United States, which is to govern football, not politics.’
Like North Carolina’s hugely controversial HB2, the Texas bill seeks to ban transgender people from using the restroom that matches their gender identity.
‘We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard,’ NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement this week.
‘If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law there, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.’

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Dallas: A wrestling league in a Texas university has had a lawsuit launched against it because a transgender teen won the competition.
17-year-old Mack Beggs began his transition in 2015, but because of university rules he had to compete in the female championship.
The rules of the University Interscholastic League dictates that Beggs must compete as the gender listed on his birth certificate.
He won the competition in the 110-pound category, but a group of parents have banded together to launch a lawsuit against the league.
They claim that the league is putting girls at “imminent threat of bodily harm” by allowing the teen to stay in the same weight category.
The parents claim that he has an “unfair” advantage against the others competing, but the teens actually competing have said that they do not have a problem competing with Beggs.
Begg’s grandmother, Nancy, called the situation “hatred” and confirmed that the wrestlers were happy to go head-to-head prior to parents becoming involved.
“Today was about bias, hatred and ignorance. These kids have wrestled each other before, they know each other and they were not happy with this,” she said.
Mack wrote on Facebook that he was “disgusted” by the discrimination.
“The thing is, we want to wrestle each other. I feel so sick and disgusted by the discrimination not by the kids, the parents and coaches,” he wrote. “These kids don’t care who you put in front of them to wrestle. We just want to wrestle.
“They are taking that away from me and from the people I’m competing with,” he added.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Manchester: Manchester will become the first city in the UK to offer elderly care specifically for LGBTI people.
The project will provide high quality housing to more than 7,000 elderly LGBTI people living in the city.
Manchester City Cllr Bev Craig said: ‘Prejudice and discrimination can be a real problem facing older LGBT people.
‘People shouldn’t have to face the prospect as they get older of being surrounded by people who may not accept their sexuality or gender identity.
‘Older people should never feel isolated by who they are, or who they love,’ Craig said.
The city’s elderly LGBTI population will rapidly increase in the next 20 years.
Councillors are concerned huge numbers live in fear of discrimination in their current communities.
Half of LGBTI elderly people scared about coming out
In a report commissioned by the LGBT Foundation, over half of elderly LGBTI people felt isolated because of their sexuality.
Paul Martin, chief executive of LGBT Foundation, said: ‘Our research highlighted that over half of lesbian, gay and bisexual people over 55 felt that their sexual orientation would have a negative impact on getting older.
‘Manchester prides itself as an age-friendly city and we welcome the announcement of this scheme as a significant move towards improving the lives of older LGBT people.’
The elderly care scheme aims to make LGBTI people feel more comfortable about living authentically, free from judgment.
The affordable housing scheme will have trained staff and carers on hand to look after residents.
At least 51% of residents in the housing scheme will identify as LGBTI, with heterosexual elderly welcome too.
Pets will also be welcome.

Source: http://www.pinknews.com.uk

Washington DC: Leading up to World AIDS Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed its latest report on newly diagnosed HIV infections in the United States.

The latest data, as shown in the HIV Surveillance Report, shows new diagnoses have decreased through the Black, Latinx, and white communities, but have risen among young gay identified males ages 13 to 14 and among male youth in general aged 24-29. While HIV-positive live much longer, HIV prevalence has reached an all time high — over 950,000 people.

“Our nation’s HIV surveillance systems have advanced a long way since the early days of the epidemic, both in terms of how data is collected and how it is analyzed and reported,” Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said in a statement. “Today, most states report complete information on HIV cases to CDC – including the person’s age, race/ethnicity, risk factors and even their HIV viral load at the time they are diagnosed. Removing duplicate cases takes much less time than it used to, and new technology means we can process large quantities of data much more quickly.”

In 2015, men who have sex with men had the highest number of new diagnoses — 26,000 people in comparison to 3,000 people who acquired HIV through heterosexual sex. Additionally, the study found 1,400 new cases who acquired HIV through injected drug use.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Global: Research conducted by UNAIDS researcher and health economist Erik Lamontagne finds that homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia have a considerable toll on the world’s economy.

In order to calculate this, Lamontagne correlated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the level of discrimination towards LGBTQ+ people. He found that homophobia costs the world at least $100 billion per annum in loss to GDP.

“The cost of homophobia is higher in more homophobic settings; the more you try to control people’s sexual orientation, the higher the economic cost,” Lamontagne told Humanosphere.

Previous studies have focused on specific case studies; Wire reported that India lost up to 1.7% of its GDP due to homophobia.

Lamontagne’s research is the first to look at the cost of LGBTQ+ discrimination on a global scale.

He calls his methodology the Homophobic Climate Index, which takes into account a country’s legal policies towards homosexuality, “social homophobia,” and everyday derogatory comments.However, Lamontagne adds that this is still a conservative estimate. He suggested: “These figures are underestimating the real cost of sexual orientation-related stigma… [The] figures would be higher if we could account for LBTI and effeminate men.”

A lack of data on transgender populations also contributes to the conservative nature of this report; Lamontagne has vowed to include them in a new study when more figures become available.

Why does homophobia pose such a threat to the global economy? This is due to a number of factors: a lack of job opportunities; imprisonment; and shorter lifespans, due to mental health issues as a result of stigmas, which can lead to suicide attempts. All of these diminish contribution to a country’s GDP.

Lamontagne’s report provides yet another reason for politicians to make homosexuality legal and to reduce the amount of LGBTQ+ discrimination in their countries. If they are still opposed to homosexuality on moral or religious grounds, these convincing economic factors may persuade them to implement pro-LGBTQ+ policies.

Source: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk

Madrid: Spain’s top research institution has patented an HIV test that can detect the virus within a week of infection. A biosensor developed by scientists of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) detects the p24 antigen, a protein attached to the HIV virus, in human blood, the council said in a statement. The technology “detects the protein at concentrations 100,000 times lower than in current techniques”.

The test takes about five hours, so results can be obtained the same day. The outcome of tests with the sensor was published this week in the science journal, PLOS ONE. The sensor is a rice grain-sized chip combining micro-mechanical silicon structures and gold nanoparticles, both sensitised with p24-specific antibodies. The p24 antigen is caught between the gold nanoparticles and the micromechanical silicon structures, which detect it using optical and mechanical processes.

“The chip itself, the physical part, is identical for HIV tests and for cancer biomarker tests,” says CSIC researcher Javier Tamayo, who works at the Institute of Microelectronics in Madrid. What changes is the chemical component— the solution applied— so that it reacts to what we are looking for. That’s why our fundamental work is focused on developing applications for this new technology.”

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

Australia: Australia’s Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) have launched a brand new campaign targeting those Government members who already support marriage equality – and encouraging them to speak up and demand a free vote.

PFLAG spokesperson, Shelley Argent, who has already lead countless parents to Parliament House and gone into debt self-funding the fight for a free vote on marriage equality through the Make It Law campaign, said: “It’s not enough for Liberals and Nationals to support marriage equality when they can’t vote for it. They need to find their voice and speak out for a free vote on marriage equality. Our new campaign will encourage voters to email Liberals and Nationals who support marriage equality to demand a free vote so our sons and daughters can have the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage.”

Mrs Argent said the debate about a plebiscite is over and that it was now important to target MPs directly, with personalised ads set to address 25 Liberal and National MPs and senators. “The idea of a plebiscite was not supported by LGBTI community, the Australian public or the parliament so it’s time for the Government to opt for what should have been their policy all along, a free vote in Parliament,” Argent said.

“It’s time to end the procrastination and do what’s right, not easiest.”

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Brussels: While migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa make up most of the migrants in Europe living with HIV, a new study from Sweden discovered a spike in the number of HIV-positive people who’ve migrated to Europe from Central America, the Caribbean, and central/eastern Europe. Every year for the last decade, 38 percent of new HIV cases in Europe happened to people not born in the country they were diagnosed in. But lately, the proportion of these populations have shifted.

Over 250,000 people were newly diagnosed in Europe between 2004 and 2013, reports AIDS Map. Of that number, six percent were from Latin America and the Caribbean, while eight percent were from a European country other than the one they were diagnosed in.

As presented by Julia del Amor, from the National Center for Epidemiology in Spain, at the “HIV in Europe” meeting in Malta, even though sub-Saharan Africans still make up the majority, those numbers are declining, while Latin American and Caribbean numbers are increasing.

The proportion of migrants living with HIV in Europe reportedly vary from one percent in Romania to 75 percent in Sweden.

Diagnoses of sub-Saharan Africans living in the United Kingdom fell from 2250 in 2007 to 1600 in 2012, while diagnoses in people from Latin America and the Caribbean rose from 730 in 2007 to 1300 in 2010, then fell again to 900 in 2012. In central Europe, diagnoses rose from 300 in 2007 to 600 in 2012.

According to Amor, the proportion of late diagnoses among migrants from western Europe also fell, while the proportion among migrants from central and eastern Europe rose. A large reason for this might be a lack of treatment eligibility.

Treatment policy for immigrants living with HIV in Europe, particularly undocumented ones, has always been unbalanced. For example, while Sweden provides access to antiretroviral therapy to undocumented migrants, other countries do not; in Baltic countries: Lithuania and Estonia do, but Latvia does not; in central Europe: Hungary does, but others do not.

Because of Sweden’s HIV assistance, it became the first country in the world to reach UNAIDS 90-90-90 goal, with 71.9 percent of HIV-positive people reaching undetectable levels.

On the other hand, Sweden also has one of the highest proportions of late diagnoses — mainly because a high number of people diagnosed in Sweden are migrants.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Sussex: More than 10,000 people have backed a campaign to save a flagship HIV charity.
Funding cuts by central government mean the charity could be closed by June.
The Sussex Beacon, a leading HIV charity based in Brighton, say their service costs more than £2m a year to run.
They’re now calling on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to fill the gap, after government grants were cut for another year.
Charity bosses say the service “is facing the very real risk of closing its services which, if it happens, is likely to occur next June”.
More than 10,000 people have now signed a 38Degrees petition to stop the closure.
Simon Dowe, CEO of The Sussex Beacon, said: “Since we announced that these funding cuts are threatening our services, we’ve had an outpouring of support, which we’re incredibly grateful for.
“Service users, colleagues in the health and HIV sectors, MPs, local people and over 10,000 38 Degrees members have given us their backing as we try and find a way to keep our services open.”
The Sussex Beacon helps around 500 people, and provided more than 2,000 bed nights last year.
It was rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission in September.
HIV services were completely banned in Tanzania recently, as the government claimed they ‘cater to homosexuals’.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Washington DC: The results of a new study suggests that the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the US is linked to a 7 percent drop in suicide attempts by teenagers.
The study, from the JAMA paediatrics journal, looked at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between the years of 1999 and 2015.
It notes that there was a 7 percent drop in suicide attempts, around 134,000 fewer teenage suicides each year, from the population overall.But interestingly, the results suggest that among LGB teens, there was a 14 percent reduction.
The study covered 762,678 students, and was controlled for age, gender, ethnicity, state and year.
It does not shed light on whether it is the actual Supreme Court ruling in favour of same-sex marriage which could have led to the drop, or whether it is campaigns leading to the decision.
“These are high school students so they aren’t getting married any time soon, for the most part,” said study author Julia Raifman, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School.
“Still, permitting same-sex marriage reduces structural stigma associated with sexual orientation.”
She adds that the trend could go in the opposite direction, if laws protecting LGBT+ people are removed.
“We can all agree that reducing adolescent suicide attempts is a good thing, regardless of our political views,” she adds.
“Policymakers need to be aware that policies on sexual minority rights can have a real effect on the mental health of adolescents. The policies at the top can dictate in ways both positive and negative what happens further down.”
“It’s interesting times – we’ve got Donald Trump, who has been ambivalent and inconsistent with LGB issues at best, and explicitly discriminatory at worst,” she continues.
Legislators in a number of states have introduced anti-LGBT+ legislation, many which target the transgender community and trans people’s bathroom rights.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

United States: One more reason to despise far right misogynist toerag Milo Yiannoupolis- the brat has been dropped from the Republican CPAC conference after explosive tapes featured him allegedly defending men who have sex with underage boys.
Yiannopoulos has built a cult following as a Donald Trump supporter, and had been set to speak alongside senior Republicans at the upcoming CPAC conference – which will be attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Trump advisor Steve Bannon, White House chief Reince Priebus and Senator Ted Cruz, among others.
However, the outspoken journalist was today axed from the line-up – after clips surfaced in which he appeared to defend men who have sex with underage boys.
In one video, taken from an old livestream, Yiannopoulos attacks the age of consent as an “arbitrary one-size-fits-all policing of culture” [Rather than defending children from pedophile sexual predators- C]. CPAC organisers confirmed that he had been dropped in wake of the controversy.Elsewhere in the clip Yiannopoulos is heard bragging about his sexual activity under the age of consent, defending a priest who he had sex with.Despite branding the age of consent an “arbitrary one-size-fits-all policing of culture” in the interview, he pointed to separate comments in the same clip describing current laws as “about right”.
The far-right figure and internet troll is already deeply controversial, previously claiming he would ‘cure’ himself of being gay if he could, describing trans people as “mentally ill gay men dressing up for attention”, and using a university lecture to single out and bully a transgender student on-stage.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Salt Lake City: The Mormon Church has filed a brief with the US Supreme Court opposing protections for transgender kids – because it doesn’t want its discriminatory practices to be seen as discriminatory.
The Supreme Court is soon expected to begin hearing the case of Virginia transgender teen Gavin Grimm, whose school ordered him to use a toilet that correspond with his “biological gender”.
Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing that the policy infringed against the rights of trans people.
His case, which has now found its way before the US Supreme Court, is expected to set precedent on whether civil rights law Title IX, which outlaws discrimination in education based on sex, also covers gender identity.
The ruling could be far-reaching given the lack of federal anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people.
Ahead of the hearing, six faith groups including the anti-LGBT Mormon Church have filed a brief urging the court to rule against trans rights.
One section of the brief astoundingly argues that if LGBT people are protected from discrimination, religious groups who discriminate against LGBT people might be seen to be discriminating.
It contends: “Accepting the Department’s reading of Title IX would take a long step toward delegitimizing traditional religions.
“Making gender identity a protected class under Title IX implies that traditional attitudes toward gender identity are discriminatory.
“That implication, enshrined in federal civil rights law, would impose a stigma on religious people and institutions whose faith dictates that gender identity is determined by one’s birth sex.
“Religious denominations and their members could come under attack for selecting leaders who reflect their religious beliefs about gender. And religious Americans could find themselves increasingly marginalized for believing that gender is immutable and divinely ordained.”
It adds: “Religious beliefs and commitments held by… major faiths contradict the Department’s premise that gender identity is not determined by one’s birth sex. Denying the intrinsic connection between physiology and gender runs counter to the religious conviction that gender is God-given and immutable.
“Even if limited to Title IX, the Department’s interpretation would provoke serious religious conflicts. Schoolchildren would be taught that gender is not determined by one’s birth sex, contrary to their parents’ faith.“Religious colleges and universities would find it difficult to maintain sex-specific dormitories and other residences. The modesty and privacy of sex-specific facilities, such as showers and changing rooms, could be compromised.”
It says: “Gender as a divinely ordained characteristic is central to the doctrine and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Bible records that God created human beings in His image — ‘male and female created he them’.
“Latter-day Saints believe that birth as a male or female carries spiritual meaning. Men and women are not interchangeable. A person’s gender is to be embraced, along with the complementary but distinct paths that God ordains for men and women.
“While gender is an essential and eternal attribute of personal identity, the Church acknowledges the reality of gender dysphoria and related conditions.
“They impose heavy burdens, and those who bear them deserve compassion and respect. The Church welcomes efforts by responsible officials to seek mutually respectful solutions that reasonably accommodate transgender concerns while fully preserving religious liberty.”
The brief was signed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Christian Legal Society.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Ecuador: The trans community in Ecuador has been able to vote for the first time as their true gender.
In the socially conservative nation, men and women stand in separate queues to cast their ballots – something that has caused distress for many who were forced to queue based on their assigned gender. Last year, after lobbying by a number of LGBT activists, the country finally passed a law that allowed people to choose a gender on their identity cards.
“The rumours would start, and the looks,” said LGBT activist Mariasol Mite, who changed her sex from male to female.
“This year, everything was different.”
Diane Rodriguez, who was standing for the National Assembly, had campaigned for a change to the law.
She said: “This is very important because our rights are being recognised. It hasn’t been easy.”
Ms Rodriguez added that at least 200 people had changed their gender since the legislation came into force.
Hoping to become the country’s first trans politician, Ms Rodriguez said she would work on legislation to stop bullying against transgender students and eventually hopes to work on legalising same-sex marriage.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Tokyo: Japan’s largest housing website Suumo will soon provide services for LGBTI people looking to buy or rent property.
Suumo’s presence in Japan is massive and not only has a database of properties but provides support for home buyers with a number of physical service counters around the country.
Next month it will launch a search for LGBTI people across Japan and will include a register for landlords to register their acceptance of LGBTI tenants.
Japan’s LGBTI community often faces rejection and discrimination from landlords with many people keeping their sexuality or gender identity a secret.
Suumo’s parent company Recruit Sumai Company said the new service was created to help LGBTI people.
‘There are present conditions that LGBT people are struggling to find property, feeling restrictions on living together with their partner in rental houses, or refusal to allow them to move in at all. We would like to help them find friendly landlords and support their search for properties,’ the company said on its website.
Hard to buy or rent if you are LGBTI in Japan
While homosexuality is not illegal in Japan, there are no official laws protecting LGBTI people from discrimination when attempting to rent or buy property.
A number of Japanese wards recognise same-sex partnerships – including Tokyo’s popular Shibuya district – which are deemed to be equal to marriage.
The official partnership documents allow same-sex couples to prove their relationship and allows LGBTI people to rent property and hospital visitation rights.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: A British heterosexual couple have lost their Court of Appeal battle to enter a civil partnership. A couple from London, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, have been in a legal battle for three years to be granted a civil partnership as an alternative to marriage, which they believe has “sexist” and “patriarchal” connotations. The couple first applied for a civil partnership notice in 2014, before being rejected because unlike New Zealand’s Civil Union Act 2005, UK civil partnerships are restricted to lesbians and gay men alone. Civil partnerships were brought in back in 2004 under Tony Blair’s New Labour government, allowing legally binding gay unions ‘separate’ from marriage.

When same-sex marriage was introduced in England and Wales in 2014, the government decided to keep existing civil partnership legislation in place, but it was not extended to include mixed-sex couples.

In the Court of Appeal today (February 21), Steinfeld and Keidan lost their battle to have access to a civil partnership by a majority of two to one, in a ruling which has been welcomed by the government.

The three judges who heard the case said there was a potential breach of Steinfeld and Keidan’s human rights, but that the government should have more time to decide on the future of civil partnerships legislation in the UK.

The couple intend to take the case to the Supreme Court, saying there is still “everything to fight for”.

In July 2016, the Isle of Man became the first part of the British Isles to extend civil partnerships to straight couples. However, heterosexual civil partnerships carried out in the British Crown Dependency are not recognised elsewhere in the UK.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told Talk Radio‘s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “If we’re going to have civil partnerships, they should be available to everyone. It’s a fundamental principle that in a democratic society we should all be equal before the law.”

A straight couple have lost their battle for heterosexual civil partnerships.
Rebecca Steinfeld and partner Chris Keidan applied for a civil partnership in 2014 but were turned down, as they are only open to same-sex couples.
The Court of Appeal has now rejected their right to enter into a civil partnership on the grounds that they are only open to same-sex couples, a criteria this couple does not meet.
The judges voted by a narrow two to one to reject their appeal.
Although they ruled against the couple, all three judges, Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Briggs and Lord Justice Beatson, argued the discrimination against heterosexual couples should not last indefinitely.
They also all agreed that the ban constitutes a potential violation of the appellants’ human rights under article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken with article eight (right to respect for private and family life) of the European convention on human rights.
Louise Whitfield, from law firm Deighton Peirce Glynn who represented the couple, said: “This is very frustrating. It was such a narrow win for the government.
“They all agreed that the government was living on borrowed time and that there had been a potential violation of their rights.
“Lady Justice Arden said that the government had run out of time already. The other two judges, however, allowed the government a bit more time to consider the issue.”
A PinkNews Twitter poll has shown strong support for opening up civil partnerships to opposite sex couples, with over 60% in favour at the time of writing.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Darwin: A damning new report titled Voices from the Black Rainbow: The inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI, Sistergirls and Brotherboys in health, well-being and suicide prevention strategies has found that Indigenous and LGBQTI communities experience much higher rates of self harm and suicide – with Black Rainbow founder and Dr YunupinguHuman Rights Award recipient Dameyon Bonson saying that little research has been undertaken on these issues among Indigenous LGBQTI people.

“LGBQTI mental health and well-being reports to date have not included discussion or analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people,” Bonson tells SameSame.“The Indigenous Health sector is not immune from this exclusion,” he continues. “The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Health Plan and its Implementation Plan are not inclusive of our needs, or ways to respond to them.”

According to Bonson, the report only scratches the surface of the many issues being faced by the community – but it’s a start.

“I’m hopeful that the report and the money raised from it’s sale will help grow Black Rainbow into the social enterprise it pivoted toward earlier this year,” he says, pointing to the much-needed research into the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people.

Funds from a recent benefit in Sydney saw $5,000 raised by The House Of Mince for Black Rainbow, with funds going towards providing mobile phones and data credit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom are homeless.

Now, Black Rainbow are turning to crowdfunding to raise the money needed to employ grant writers moving forward – with the goal to apply for the funding required to undertake further research into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQI homelessness.

According to Bonson, his recent application to for funds from the National Suicide Prevention Leadership and Support Program was rejected – so he realises the need for stronger applications.

With his mother instilling in him the idea that “if you want something done you have to get off your arse and do it yourself”, Bonson says that Black Rainbow isn’t in a rush, and that his new report is just the beginning.

Source: http://www.samesame.com.au

Brussels: A senior European diplomat has directed that all European countries must move towards allowing same-sex unions.
The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, the Latvian-American Nils Muižnieks, outlined his view in a report today.
In it, he draws on existing international human rights protections to assert that the 47 member states of the Council of Europe must all provide protections same-sex couples.
He wrote: “The 20 member states of the Council of Europe that still do not provide any legal recognition to same-sex couples should enact legislation to create – at the very least – registered partnerships that ensure that privileges, obligations or benefits available to married or registered different-sex partners are equally available to same-sex partners.
“All states should ensure that legislation exists to provide registered same-sex couple with the same rights and benefits as married or registered different-sex couples, for example in the areas of social security, taxes, employment and pension benefits, freedom of movement, family reunification, parental rights and inheritance.”
The Council of Europe is distinct from the European Union and has a broader membership – including Ukraine, Russia and Turkey.
Mr Muižnieks stops short of calling for same-sex marriage to become a uniform standard, however, noting that “international human rights law currently does not create an obligation on states to allow same-sex couples to marry”.
The commissioner explains: “There are arguments in favour of providing access to civil marriage to same-sex couples. One is to ensure that the rights available to same-sex and to different-sex couples are truly equal.
“Indeed, more often than not, registered partnerships offer a pared-down selection of rights, leaving aside more controversial issues such as adoption of children or medically assisted procreation.
“My opinion is that genuine commitment to full equality would at least require states to seriously consider opening up civil marriage to same-sex couples.”
The report notes that 27 of the 47 member states currently offer some form of recognition for same-sex partnerships, 13 of which recognise same-sex marriage.
20 member states offer no recognition for same-sex couples.
The body has little power to enforce the recommendation, but oversees the European Court of Human Rights, which has ruled on same-sex unions previously.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Dallas: Homophobic pastor Franklin Graham has supported Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in condemning the NFL and NBA.
Both the National Football League and the National Basketball Association have said they will support transgender rights – in a wave of anti-LGBT legislation sweeping the nation.Both have threatened to withhold competitions – including the SuperBowl – from the state if SB6, an anti-LGBT bill, becomes law.
Similar to the one introduced in North Carolina, the bill would ban transgender people from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Mr Patrick hit back at both institutions claiming they had “lost their minds” if they were to boycott the state.
Now homophobic pastor Franklin Graham has weighed in.
Taking to Twitter to support the Lt Governor, Mr Graham said: “I agree with Texas Lt Gov @DanPatrick the NBA & the NFL have lost their minds, as well as their moral compass.
“LGBT activists think they’ve got this kind of blackmail down pat – but they may have a surprise with Texas.”
He then goes on to mentioned reports which claim ticket prices have dropped for the NBA All-Star Game after it was pulled from North Carolina.
“Serves (the NBA) right – should’ve stayed in NC!” he added.
“The liberal left and LGBT activists are trying to push this down America’s throat and I hope it backfires.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Rome: The head of Italy’s anti-discrimination office has resigned after being accused of funding gay sex clubs using money meant for diversity projects.
Francesco Spano quit hours after an investigative TV program showed his department had authorized funding of up to €55,000 ($58,000) for at least three clubs.
The Hyenas exposed three businesses that turned out to be brothels, with male prostitutes, as well as dark rooms.
Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni said this was proof the anti-discrimination office should be shut down ‘immediately’.
‘Not one more euro of tax payers’ money should be thrown away on paying their salaries,’ she wrote on her Facebook page.
The government said the anti-discrimination office will stay open.
Spano said he has ‘resigned’ for the work his office is carrying out.
Arcigay, the main LGBTI rights group in Italy, opposed the homophobia in parliament and in the media.
‘The step back of the director is necessary to restore the serenity of the office,’ Gabrielle Piazzoni, Arcigay national secretary said. ‘It is important to continue to the important work of the anti-discrimination office.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Nairobi: Ishmael Bahati is the legal and advocacy officer at Persons Marginalised and Aggrieved in Kenya (PEMA Kenya). He is an LGBT activist and psychological counsellor based in Mombasa, Kenya. In 2010, after a series of violent attacks on the LGBT community took place in the coastal region of Mtwapa, Bahati organised the first meeting with religious leaders whose anti-LGBT beliefs fuelled the attacks.

Among other activities, he now facilitates the training of religious leaders to address issues surrounding homosexuality in Islam in Kenya, as well as running a program for queer Muslims, to help them reconcile their faith and sexuality. This came after a three months training for Trainers which was organized by The Inner Circle, a Muslim Human Rights organization in Cape Town South Africa.What are the different challenges LGBT people in face Kenya?

The challenges LGBT face in Kenya are not uniform. They vary from one region to another. One problem faced in Nairobi might not viewed as a problem in Mombasa. However, the challenge that cuts across is that of the unfavourable laws against the LGBTI community. While it is not illegal to be gay, it is illegal to be found engaging in same-sex relations. And during campaign season, politicians use LGBTI issues to gain support from the larger community. They incite the lager community hence this is the season for likely attacks on the LGBTI persons.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your work?

The biggest challenge I face as an activist and a religious person is the hostility from my religion. I am viewed as a rebel and as a person who has deviated from Islam by teaching that it is ok to be Muslim and queer, and that one needs to reconcile their religious and sexual identity and no need to drop one for the sake of the other. I also personally find myself having to compromise between the two (my human rights defence and my religion).

How dangerous is it for you to conduct your work?

As a human rights defender, I do my work in radio talk shows with call-in interviews. I also conduct sensitivity training for the religious leaders, judiciary, health service providers, police and media. In addition, I also train queer Muslims on how to reconcile their spirituality and sexuality. This makes me very visible to the public. Some people who come to my training sessions may not like what I say and may hold it against me elsewhere. In most attacks, I remain vulnerable as a person viewed as who installs wrong morals in the society.

I have been evicted three times since people in the neighbourhood couldn’t stand staying with me in the estate. One day, after a local radio interview about a court ruling on the forced anal testing on two gays in the coastal region, I found threat notes in my compound which read “we cannot allow homosexuals to live in our village. We therefore give you a notice of five days to vacate this village, failure to which we will come for your head. You can take this lightly or serious but we mean every word.”

I went to report the matter both to the local administration and the near-by police station but not much help came forth. I was then advised by my friends that I need to vacate this place as soon as possible to avoid any risks that may come with ignoring the notice. Verbal attacks are the order of my day to day experience. I have never been physically assaulted, but there is more to attacks than just physical attacks. Once, my training was attacked by rowdy youths organised by the local administration and many of my participants were injured.Are you receiving much assistance from local corporations and government bodies or are they resistant to your work?

With the passing of time, things tend to change to the positive – though at a slow pace. Our current constitution is much better and the issues of human rights have been addressed. However, the implementation of the same seem to take long or not practiced. Yes, it is true that the ministry of health has gone steps ahead to recognise and include MSM in the national programming, but the stigma and discrimination is far from done away with. For us to hold any meeting, we have to survey and make sure that he venue is safe and away from possible attacks. Resistance to LGBT issues is so deeply rooted, that even in some human rights arenas LGBT rights are not considered as human rights.

Are there any cities in Kenya where there is a greater acceptance of LGBT people?

Every city in Kenya has their own level of hostility and acceptance. Nairobi being a cosmopolitan city, people seem to be too busy with their own lives, hence most people mind their own businesses to an extent. They are open minded or maybe they just don’t pay attention to LGBTI issues and people.

On the other hand, Mombasa is a conservative town and religion influences almost all laws and decisions here. How one dresses to who is your frequent visitor is a matter of concern to everyone. Gay issues are talked about in hashed tones and are very sensitive. The way one is treated when found or suspected to be gay is determined by what religion, family background and skin colour of origin. For example, during the Mtwapa attack and raids on gay men, the light-skinned (the Arab origin ethnic considered to be the ‘real’ owners and families of Mombasa) gay men were given fair treatment and were not even allowed to spend a night in the police cells. All in all, Mombasa stands out to be the most vulnerable and intolerant region in Kenya compared to others. Hence over 80% attacks reported in Kenya are from the coast region.

What’s your relationship with the police like?

As for now, the relationship is slowly improving due to sensitizations that we do at my organization and other Civil society organizations. But we are not yet there. There are still cases of police not following up with LGBTI related violation cases. Extortion by the police are still reported as well as arbitrary arrests.

o what extent are things improving in Kenya and how will you continue to fight for equality?

Mainstream Human rights organization have done a lot in advocating for all-inclusive human rights thus, there is a lot of awareness on LGBT issues. Health service uptake by the LGBTI population has increased due to sensitivity training, training of the health service providers and the inclusion on MSM in the Ministry of health programming. Most organisations led by the LGBT people have started engaging various stakeholders, decision influencers and the public in LGBTI awareness forums. Meanwhile, media reporting is changing slowly to the positive in regards to LGBT issues.

My plan for the 2017 year is to engage as many stakeholders as possible in my sensitization programs, continue to help my fellow queer Muslims in reconciling their faith and sexuality. To train Trainers of trainers to help me in my advocacy work, to create more forums of direct engagement between the public and openly identifying LGBT persons to enhance coexistence, to advocate for safe space for the LGBTI, to empower the LGBTI on their rights and security through civic education and to engage my local Muslim community with the international progressive Muslims for a level of understanding.

The David Kato Vision and Voice Award is coordinated by the Kaleidoscope Trust, a London-based charity which partners with local LGBT rights organisations and activists in low and middle income countries to advocate the rights of individuals who suffer for their gender identity or sexual orientation. The Trust is a co-founder of The Commonwealth Equality Network, the first group to campaign for LGBT rights within the Commonwealth diplomatic community and institutions.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Canberra: ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr promised despite the Christian Right pressure group Australian Christian Lobby’s ‘conservative views’ the territory’s rainbow flags would definitely fly again during the city’s LGBTI festival later this year.

Brisbane: A Queensland state parliamentary committee has recommended Queensland MPs pass laws to scrap the ‘gay panic’ defence. The controversial defence allows people accused of murder to claim provocation by unwanted sexual advance. It is almost exclusively used in cases of men killing men.

In a report to parliament earlier this week, the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee recommended the bill to abolish the defence.
LGBTI Legal Service law reform director Thomas Clark praised the decision and said he hopes the bill can be passed quickly.

“We fully support the recommendation and call on the Queensland Parliament to pass the bill to ensure this discriminatory and prejudicial defence is never raised in Queensland again. It’s an overdue and welcome reform for the LGBTI community and sends a clear message of equality.”

The news comes after Father Paul Kelly, who has led the fight to abolish the law, slammed the Australian Christian Lobby’s opposition to the change. The gay panic defence has been abolished in New Zealand and throughout Australia, with the exceptions of Queensland and South Australia.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

London: A Tory MP has come out against LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education, saying that schools are not the place for LGBT issues.
Craig Mackinlay, the MP for South Thanet, made the comments after former equalities minister Maria Miller led calls for statutory sex and relationship education in all schools.
Mrs Miller, who was honoured with a PinkNews Award in 2015 has pressed Education Secretary Justine Greening to make good on her promise to pursue SRE reform, urging her to mandate age appropriate, LGBT-inclusive SRE in all schools.
However, Mr Mackinlay told his local newspaper that he would not be supporting proposals for LGBT-inclusive SRE.
Speaking to Kent on Sunday, the MP said: “I’m completely in favour of people’s relationship choices, and I think everyone should be who they want to be and be with whoever they want to be with, but I don’t think school is the time or place to educate young people about the LGBT community. I’m sure there would be opposition from faith schools and I’m sure a lot of people would be concerned if these changes are forced upon them.”
Mr Mackinlay became a Conservative MP in 2015 after defeating UKIP’s Nigel Farage in South Thanet – with senior Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Theresa May helping campaign for him in the close-run battle.

He added: “I think parents need to be consulted on this matter before it becomes a thing. If the public and parents are for it then, yes, let the changes happen, but if they’re opposed, I don’t think it should be forced.”
Last month advocates of LGBT-inclusive SRE were left disappointed when a Labour-led amendment to make the subject mandatory in schools was blocked by Tory MPs in a bill committee vote, before even reaching the floor of the Commons.
An all-female group of MPs led by Labour’s Stella Creasy tabled the amendment to make teaching on “sex and relationships education, same-sex relationships, sexual consent, sexual violence, and domestic violence” mandatory in all schools.
Their proposal would have required education watchdog Ofsted to evaluate school’s provisions on SRE as part of inspections, considering “whether the information provided to pupils is accurate and balanced, age-appropriate, inclusive, or religiously diverse”.
However, the amendment was shot down.
Tory MPs were accused of “filibustering” SRE again when they burned up hours set aside to debate a proposal tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: Almost a third of people in the UK believe homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, a new survey has revealed.

The YouGov study revealed that 31% of Brits think gay men and lesbians choose’ to be homosexual, while 49% of people believe gay people are born that way.

3% of respondents attributed being gay to the way people are raised by their parents, while 17% said they ‘did not know’.

The poll found that just 16% of Brits between the ages of 18-24 believe that being gay is a choice, compared with 40% for 50-64 year-olds and 34% those aged 65 and over.

People who voted for Labour or the Lib Dems in the 2015 general election were likely to say people are born gay (58% each), while UKIP voters were the most likely to think that being gay is a choice (41%).

The surprising number of people who still believe people choose their sexual orientation reflects a US study from 2014, in which 37% of those surveyed said they believed being LGB was a personal decision.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Washington DC: A little over a month into his presidency, Donald Trump has made his overt first attack on the rights of LGBT people.

The White House is set to revoke landmark guidelines introduced by President Obama advising public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.

Obama issued the instruction last May, threatening to withhold funding for schools that did not comply.

A Texas federal district court judge issued an injunction against the guidelines later that summer, but the Obama administration lodged an appeal against the decision.

However, on Friday, February 9, the US Department of Justice, now under Trump’s instruction, withdrew that appeal.

The move comes despite a statement from the White House in January attempting to reassure the LGBT+ community in the United States that their rights would be protected under a Trump presidency.

“President Donald J Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” the White House said at the time.

“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.”

Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Huffington Post that Trump’s removal of trans rights should galvanise the LGBT+ community.

“This is a mean-spirited attack on hundreds of thousands of students who simply want to be their true selves and be treated with dignity while attending school,” she said. “These young people already face huge hurdles in their pursuit of education and acceptance. The Trump administration effectively sanctions the bullying and ostracising of these children, putting their lives in danger.”

She added: “We saw this coming, and it’s not a surprise. But the Trump administration is a mess. They take on the people they perceive to be the weakest first. I don’t think they understand how strong we are.”

Following Trump’s ban on Syrian refugees and those from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, many say his refusal to back transgender rights should serve as another warning for marginalised communities.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Sydney: Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) has launched ‘Be-Longing for It’, an online resource encouraging gay, bisexual, and queer men to talk about taking care of themselves and each other when it comes to methamphetamine or ‘ice’ use, sex, and intimacy.

The resource is based on an exhibition that was held during the 2017 Midsumma Festival. VAC worked with community artists Sam Wallman, Michele Vescio, and Bailey Sharp to develop animated videos and audio stories, drawing on real stories of meth use within the community.

The resource is a response to the ongoing conversation about meth use in queer communities. Gay and bisexual people are almost three times more likely to have used meth recently than their straight counterparts.
“Gay, bisexual and queer men enjoy drugs at much higher rates than the general community, particularly methamphetamines,” said VAC CEO Simon Ruth.

“When drug use becomes problematic it can have a severe impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

“We consider peer stories to be a valuable tool in reducing the harms associated with methamphetamine use. They capture the complexities of meth use in our communities and make understanding them more accessible to everyone. This project will foster important conversations between our communities and alcohol and drug services.”

Jeremy Wiggins from VAC co-ordinated the project and interviewed the men involved about their meth use.

“I interviewed eight men about their experiences with methamphetamine use for ‘Be-Longing For It’. Some of the men felt their use was really destroying their lives, while others had developed tools and strategies to manage their use within particular personal boundaries,” said Wiggins.

“The stories are very individual, but a common link between them all was about a desire to belong and to feel connected.”

Russell* was one of the eight participants who shared their real-life stories of meth use for the project.

“For me it was a crucial opportunity to convey my own experience through a different medium to reach and impact a broader audience and engage people around complex issues,” he said.

“The raw and sometimes confronting material conveys powerful truths in an entirely accessible way, and leads to candid and unexpected insights and crucial conversations around reducing harm and addressing problematic use.”

The Be-Longing For It stories are available as part of VAC’s TouchBase, a national resource on alcohol and drugs for LGBTI communities. VAC also runs the Re-Wired counselling service for men who wish to learn skills and strategies to change their methamphetamine use.

If you’re seeking support and would like more information on crystal meth, visit The Institute of Many (TIM)’s online resource.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Washington DC: The Williams Institute has recently shone the light on LGBT prisoners rights issues in the United States. A new survery has helped shed light on the overincarceration of nonviolent offenders, and researchers have long known that low-income, black, and Latino people are disproportionately imprisoned. This study, released this month in the American Journal of Public Health, reveals a startling new fact: The incarceration rate of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people is three times greater than that of American adults generally.

It found that 1,882 per 100,000 lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are incarcerated, compared with 612 per 100,000 U.S. residents aged 18 and older. The nationwide incarceration rate of LGB people was previously unknown, and the large difference is striking.

Data came from the National Inmate Survey (2011-2012) conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in U.S. prisons and jails, as mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Our new analysis of this data showed that not only are sexual minority persons more likely to be held and to receive longer sentences, they are also more likely to experience harm while inside. Compared with straight inmates, sexual minority inmates are more likely to be sexual victimized behind bars. For example, gay and bisexual men in prison are more than six times as likely to be sexually assaulted by a staff member or inmate than straight men.

The over-incarceration phenomenon is particularly acute among women inmates. Thirty-three percent of women in prison and 26 percent of women in jail identify as lesbian or bisexual — yet only 3.4 percent of women in the general U.S. population are lesbian or bisexual. Gay and bisexual men made up 5.5 percent of men in prison and 3.3 percent of men in jail, compared to 3.6 percent of men who identify as gay or bisexual in the general population. (Our forthcoming research looks at incarcerated transgender persons.)

What’s causing the disproportionate incarceration? Other research shows that prejudice may be to blame. Growing up, sexual minorities are more likely to experience family rejection and community marginalization, which can create pathways to substance abuse, homelessness, and detention. Criminal justice profiling of sexual minorities as more likely to engage in sex work or to commit sex crimes can lead to overpolicing. For women, powerful gender stereotypes are likely at play. To the extent that sexual minority women defy norms and are labeled as aggressive or masculine, individuals or institutions may unfairly find them more deserving of punishment.

The biases continue behind bars. For instance, we found that sexual minority inmates are more likely to experience solitary confinement. While sometimes purportedly done for the inmate’s protection, the institutional segregation of inmates is also used as punishment. In either case, the deprivation is severe. Exclusion from programming, 23-hour lockdown, and a lack of family visits and other human contact harm the mental health of those who endure it. Compounding matters, sexual minority inmates are more likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse than straight inmates. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, our research also found greater psychological distress among LGB inmates.

In sum, higher rates of incarceration, longer sentences, widespread sexual victimization, disproportionate isolation, and poor mental health outcomes urgently require a rethinking of current health and criminal justice approaches to this population.

In this particular political moment, Americans need to find increased concern for the vulnerable among us. Race, class, and sexual orientation serve to privilege some and disadvantage others. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than when looking closely at who is serving time in US prisons and jails and how we treat marginalized individuals who are more likely to be there.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Brighton: Tens of thousands of people have called for an appearance by Germaine Greer on International Women’s Day in Brighton to be called off.
The feminist speaker is set to appear at the Dome in Brighton on 4 March.
Those calling for her appearance to be cancel recognise her contributions to the feminist movement, but say she shouldn’t speak because of her views on transgender people.A petition has gathered over 12,000 signatures.
It reads: “Brighton & Hove City Council has attached their name to Trans Pride, as a proud supporter of trans rights. It is hurtful that the City Council’s property The Brighton Dome would therefore support a woman that has such hateful views towards trans people that directly harm and stigmatise us further. “
The campaign to have Greer removed from the billing also notes the Dome, as well as Brighton and Hove City Council’s commitment to transgender rights.
In the past Greer has spoken out against “man’s delusion that he is female”, claiming trans women are “some kind of ghastly parody” that will never be women because they do not know what it’s like to have a “big, hairy, smelly vagina”.
The author has since caused more outrage, referring to Caitlyn Jenner as a “he/she” who “wanted the limelight that the female members of the family were enjoying”.
Speaking to the Victoria Derbyshire Show, a “pretty cross” Greer issued a sweary rant about trans people.
Greer’s statement, which Derbyshire bravely recounted to trans actress Rebecca Root, says: “Just because you lop off your d**k and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a f***ing woman.
Challenged on her views, she later said “I don’t believe them. Sorry, you can hold a knife to my throat. I don’t believe you.”
On another occasion, she also said she could “call herself a Cocker Spaniel” but wouldn’t be accepted as one.
She later claimed that it is “unfair” for trans women to be married to other women.
Greer’s comments are surprising given she supports equality for lesbians – insisting “the problem with gay marriage is not the gay bit but the marriage bit.” She has previously opposed male same-sex parenting on the grounds of “motherhood”.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: A convicted murderer who has been placed in indefinite isolation because she is transgender has told the High Court her human rights are being violated.
The 33-year-old vigilante paedophile hunter, formerly known as Christopher Hunnisett, was jailed for life in 2012 for murdering Peter Bick, who she falsely thought was a paedophile.
She this week accused prison staff at the all-male HMP Frankland in Durham of violating her human rights by holding her in isolation because she is transgender, according to Chronicle Live.
Hunnisett, who made a “hit list” of men she planned to kill in a bid to rid the world of paedophiles, bludgeoned Mr Bick with a hammer and strangled him with a shoelace after having sex with him at his home.
The High Court heard that in October 2015, Hunnisett told officers she was a woman.
She was subsequently placed in isolation for “her safety”.
However, Hunnisett was denied a transfer to a wing for vulnerable prisoners – over fears for the other occupants’ safety. Her past statements about paedophiles made officials wary, considering that many of the prisoners there have been convicted of sexual offences against children.
She told the court this means she cannot access the education, work, church and visiting opportunities other prisoners can.
“Being isolated for a year now is enough to drive any person crazy,” she told Mr Justice Langstaff.
She described the drastic actions she had taken to change her physical appearance, telling the court: “I have cut off my testicles and sliced the shaft of my penis in half.”
She told the court: “Prison staff continued to refer to me as ‘he’ or ‘him’, showing their contempt towards transgender prisoners.”
Hunnisett also said the prison had shown her a “lack of respect” by calling her actions a “self-harm surgery.”
Despite this, the judge denied her a judicial review.
“This court is not, as part of its duties, required to manage prisons,” Mr Justice Langstaff told Hunnisett, adding to the court: “It is a fact that she is transgender.
“It is a fact that, as a result of that, she may suffer a greater risk from other people than she otherwise would.”
However, he said it was “an obligation of the prison to protect so far as it can from such risks,” rather than that of his court.
The use of indefinite solitary confinement or isolation is considered torture under United Nations guidelines.
A string of transgender women have been found dead in all-male prisons in the past year.
The UK government had promised a review in 2015 of the way trans people in prisons are dealt with, after two female prisoners died within weeks of each other while being held in all-male facilities.
The review finished in November, with the Ministry of Justice introducing ‘safeguards’ to ensure that transgender people would not be put at risk, and would not routinely be held in prisons inconsistent with their gender.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Dallas: A judge in Texas is suing the Social Security Administration – because he refuses to watch a training video about LGBT issues.
Apparently the masculinity of Texas Judge Gary Suttles is so fragile that the special snowflake can’t even bear to watch a 17-minute training video as part of an LGBT awareness drive.
Not only did the judge refuse to watch the clip, but he’s now filed federal case against the government alleging that watching the clip would violate his “sincerely held religious beliefs”.
Suttles, an administrative law judge in the Houston District office of the SSA, was offered the opportunity to read a transcript of the video instead, but declined.
The training was part of a bid to boost workplace diversity in the government sector, but Suttles is apparently terrified that he might be sent to Hell if he so much as thinks about a gay person for a few minutes.
The judge penned a furious email to SSA officials in which he branded the video “government indoctrination training [which] does not comport with my religious views”.
He filed a lawsuit this week accusing the SSA of violating his First Amendment rights, alleging that “the agency has wholly failed to work in good faith to reasonably accommodate Judge Suttles’ sincerely held religious belief against watching”.
According to the Washington Post, he claims they created a “religiously hostile work environment” with the inclusion measure.
A separate low-ranking SSA administrator with one hell of a martyr complex previously threatened to sue the SSA for allegedly “discriminating” against him by asking him to undergo the same diversity training.
He said: “I’m not going to give up my faith or compromise my beliefs just to go along and get along. I don’t believe God wants me to do that.
“Unfortunately, I believe [LGBT people] are wrong. But neither of us should lose our jobs or livelihood for our beliefs.
“For me, I know I’m not a martyr or a bigot. I’m not asking for anyone’s approval or forgiveness; I’m simply trying to live out my life, my faith and be obedient to the will of God.”
There are no reports of anyone actually being fired for refusing to watch the video.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Dublin: An out MP who championed equal marriage is leading the contest to become Ireland’s next Prime Minister.
Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny is set to announce his departure this week after 15 years as leader of Fine Gael.
As he is expected to confirm his departure, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has emerged as a frontrunner to replace him.
Mr Varadkar, who came out as gay ahead of the country’s equal marriage referendum in 2015, is expected to launch a leadership bid to succeed Kenny – a significant stepping stone in the formerly ultra-conservative country.
The politician has kept his personal life private until now, but went public with his partner of 18 months yesterday, likely in anticipation of a bid.
The popular young minister, 38, is already seen in the frontrunner in the race.
If he is elected, Mr Varadkar would be only the fourth openly gay head of government in recent global history. There is currently only one other gay leader in office, Luxembourg’s PM Xavier Bettel.
Mr Varadkar had a key role as Ireland went to the polls to vote on same-sex marriage, delivering a stirring speech in favour of same-sex marriage credited with helping win over undecided colleagues.
He told Parliament in an emotional speech: “This is not a Bill about ‘gay marriage’, it is about ‘equal marriage’. It is not about weakening one of the strongest institutions in society, it is about strengthening it by making it inclusive and for everyone.
“It is about removing the sense of shame, isolation and humiliation from many who feel excluded. It lets them know that Ireland is a country which believes in equality before the law for all its citizens.
“This Bill allows allow gay men and women, for the first time, to be equal citizens in their own country.
“No exceptions; no caveats; no conditions; just equal. This is not an act of generosity to a minority, rather it is an act of leadership by the majority.”
While serving as health minister, last year Mr Varadkar finally relaxed the country’s ban on men who have sex with men donating blood.
He has also hit out at US Vice President Mike Pence’s anti-LGBT views, saying Ireland should “try to engage positively with the new administration but not to the extent that it compromises our values”.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Berlin: Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) want to make marriage equality a main point of their electoral campaign.
That’s according to the ZDF, one of Germany’s publicly funded broadcasters, who quote an unnamed spokesperson for the party.
The SPD also wants to establish full adoption rights for same-sex couples.
Martin Schulz, former president of the European Parliament and the Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) candidate for the position of chancellor, supports the party line.
It’s the first time Schulz took position on a social matter since his confirmation as candidate on 24 January.
According to the ZDF, Schulz wants to use it as a point of attack against Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – the SPD’ coalition partner.
He is also setting up to accuse Merkel’s party of holding back equality on the base of ideology, in the hope of gaining support from the German public.
The CDU already blocked the SPD’s demand for same-sex marriage during the coalition agreements following Germany’s last general election in 2013.
They currently still refuse marriage equality; Merkel herself has repeatedly said she is against same-sex couples getting married.
Two other parties today voiced their concern and criticism about the SPD’s statement.
The Green Party, a possible future coalition partner, said the SPD already promised ‘100% equality’ last time, but failed to deliver.
Speaking to the ZDF Ulle Schauws, spokesperson for the Greens, accused the current coalition government of blocking same-sex marriage for the past year.
‘We could’ve already established this law,’ she said.
The Left Party said there already was a red-red-green (SPD-Left-Greens) majority in the Bundestag, which would generate enough votes to establish the change.
The SPD is bound by a coalition contract, and their party line is usually to vote in accordance with the CDU.
According to Harald Petzold, their LGBTI spokesperson, the Left has hope of same-sex marriage being established before the next General Election, which is set for September 2017.
According to a recent state-funded survey, 83% of Germans support marriage equality, and 75% are in favor of full adoption rights for same-sex couples.
Currently, same-sex couples in Germany can enter civil partnerships, and adoption is limited to step-child adoption.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Hanoi: Vietnam’s capital Hanoi is about to host its first ever LGBTI Mardi Gras Festival.
Hosted by the Australian Embassy the idea of the festival is to bring the spirit of the world famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to Vietnam.
‘Promoting gender equality is a top priority for both the Vietnamese and Australian Governments and we are proud to support Vietnam’s efforts, including through our development cooperation program here,’ said HE Mr Craig Chittick, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam.
‘Through this event, we hope to bring the spirit of Sydney’s famous Mardi Gras to Vietnam, helping to raise awareness about the rights of LGBT people.
A number of events will run leading up to the main celebration on March 24 at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: A sexual health campaign for gay, bisexual, and queer trans men called GRUNT will be launched in Canberra tonight.

The AIDS Action Council, in partnership with PASH.tm and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), will host the event from 7.00pm at The Old Canberra Inn.
GRUNT is a sexual health campaign about hot, fun, and informed sex between trans guys and cis guys and provides accurate, inclusive, and sex-positive sexual health information.

It was formally launched last year and grew out of the need to produce accessible and targeted health promotion information for men who may not have the same level of sexual health knowledge and literacy as their cisgender male counterparts, but are engaging in similar kinds of sex.

Executive Director of the AIDS Action Council, Philippa Moss, said the council was excited to support the campaign and to celebrate its launch in Canberra.

“GRUNT is the first sexual health promotion campaign in Australia dedicated to the needs of trans men,” she said.

“Visual representation of trans men is critical in campaigns focusing on sexual health.”

The campaign includes a website, a booklet, a poster, and a post card series.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Canberra: Members of the Australian Defence Force’s LGBTI information service will march in this year’s Mardi Gras parade to celebrate queer inclusion in the Australian military.

The ban on gay and lesbian service in the Australian military was officially overturned in 1992, however a new research project has found that the history of LGBTI people enlisting and serving dates back to the Second World War and earlier.

Through the project researchers are investigating the experiences of the LGBTI men and women that served from 1945 to the present.
The research has been undertaken by Associate Professor Noah Riseman from the Australian Catholic University, Associate Professor Shirleene Robinson from Macquarie University, and Dr Graham Willett from the University of Melbourne.

All three researchers assert it is important that Australians remember the LGBTI men and women that bravely served their country before 1992, although many had to conceal their sexuality at a significant cost.

Some men and women were discharged as a result of their sexuality.

Robinson said as she speaks to more and more people, she’s struck by their bravery.

“We’re hearing stories from men and women who made lives for themselves in the military but also accounts of individuals who had an enormous amount to give the military but were discharged because of their sexuality or gender identity,” she said.

Riseman said there’s a long history of LGBTI people serving their country by joining the Australian Defence Force.

“Our project is revealing just how many of these individuals wanted to join up and serve, although doing so could mean they could be the victims of witch-hunts or official persecution because of their sexuality,” he said.

The research is still underway, and all three researchers are keen to speak with more men and women from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.

They’re also keen to hear from trans people, whose inclusion in the military has been particularly challenging, and also to make sure that intersex perspectives are included.

Interested participants can find out more about the project at: http://www.lgbtimilitaryhistory.com.au/

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

New Hampshire: “House Bill 478 is the bipartisan measure to update the state’s laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations to explicitly include the state’s transgender residents,” Owen Loftus, state communications director of Freedom for All Americans, says. “Three of the eight sponsors are Republican, including Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley. The measure passed its first hurdle on Wednesday, after a House committee voted to recommend the measure to the full House on a bipartisan 15-2 vote.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: Brian Brown, head of the National Organization for Marriage, has been sending out a slew of fundraising emails lately claiming that NOM is going to overturn marriage equality in this country. Wrong.NOM filed both of its 990 IRS tax returns late, late last year, and they showed that revenue is way down, to well under $4 million for the combined NOM and the NOM Education Fund. This is down 400 percent from just four years ago when NOM raised and spent over $16 million. Yikes!

And to make matters worse, NOM’s debt was up to $1.9 million and it owes over $650,000 to its vendors. NOM barely pulled in enough money last year to cover Brian Brown’s salary, rent, and whatever it was paying NOM’s political consultant, Frank Schubert. They appear to be the last two key employees. Brown’s salary in 2015 was listed as $165,000, but as recently as 2011 he was reported to be making $500,000 a year combined from both NOM and its education fund, and it’s doubtful that he’s taken a pay cut.

NOM has been considered the nation’s most virulently anti-LGBT organizationsince it was formed in 2007 by the Mormon and Catholic Churches. NOM served as the front group for both religions in order to qualify and pass California’s infamous Proposition 8. Prop. 8 narrowly passed in 2008 and ended gay marriage in the nation’s largest state.

Since its win over eight years ago, NOM has reversed course and lost most all of its battles along the way to eventually losing the war. On June 26, 2015, marriage equality was ruled constitutional by the United States Supreme Court and became the law of the land. Even President Donald Trump says that he is OK with that.

NOM is currently under investigations in Iowa, California, and Hawaii from our filings against it. The California Attorney General’s office has been looking into allegations against NOM, Brian Brown, and Frank Schubert for the past two years because NOM stopped reporting its campaign donors and expenditures on a ballot measure it attempted to qualify in California in 2013.

NOM’s pair of recently released IRS form 990 tax returns show NOM’s income has plummeted. All its expensive consultants are gone and so is its hefty staff. Current liabilities greatly exceed assets and it appears to have been comingling its charitable NOM Education Fund with their political operation — not allowed.

After the landmark Supreme Court marriage ruling 2 ½ years ago, Brown took his crusade against the LGBT community all over the world to Russia, France, and Mexico. Here at home, he’s been one of the lone wolves leading the fight against the transgender community. He now wears another hat, as head of the International Organization for the Family, which runs the annual antigay gathering known as the World Congress of Families.

It looks like the Mormon Church has fled from the troubled NOM. All of NOM’s Mormon board members are gone, including cofounder and current Utah Valley University President Matthew S. Holland (son of Mormon Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland), science fiction writer Orson Scott Card and two very wealthy Mormon real estate developers, Broc Hiatt and Craig Cardon from Mesa, Ariz. Hiatt and Cardon have the distinction of being the first major Mormon donors to the Yes on Prop 8, campaign. Their $60,000 in early campaign contributions was the first to tip me off that the Mormon Church was the major force behind the Prop. 8 campaign.

NOM’s number 1 donor, Sean Fieler, who has given NOM millions, appears to be off on to other issues. Several of its other big donors have left, like Amway president Doug DeVos, who had given $500,000 to NOM in 2009 and $250,000 in 2012. We have heard, but it’s not confirmed, that the DeVos family has since pledged not to give any more money to anti-LGBT organizations or campaigns after our successful Amway Boycott. Family member Betsy DeVos was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as secretary of Education.

San Diegan Doug Manchester, who gave NOM $125,000 to qualify and pass Prop. 8, promised not to give any more money to fight gay marriage after our successful boycott of his hotels. John Templeton Jr., a major NOM funder, passed away in 2015. We think that the Knights of Columbus, the political arm of the Catholic Church, and a couple other donors are all that’s left of NOM’s donors. In fact, just three contributors were responsible for about 40 percent of the money that NOM raised in 2015.

We have been working with some experts in tax-exempt law and forensic accounting to carefully analyze NOM’s latest two 990 federal tax returns and we will file a Form 13909 with the Internal Revenue Service to seek another investigation into NOM if it is warranted.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Slovenia: Same-sex marriage has become legal for the first time in Slovenia today.
Although the law will give couples largely the same rights as heterosexual ones, it still bans them from jointly adopting children.he law was passed around ten months ago, after a referendum rejected a draft that would have also granted adoption rights.
Ksenija Klampfer, who administers weddings in Maribor, said the first lesbian ceremony was set to take place on Saturday.
“We are very happy and proud that we will perform the first same-sex wedding,” she said.
“We believe that such marriages are an important step towards the formation of an inclusive society where people have equal rights.”
As yet, no weddings are scheduled to take place in the capital.
LGBT rights advocates have praised the introduction of marriage equality, but say more still has to be done.
“This is a big step forward,” said Lana Gobec, spokeswoman for the Legebitra LGBT rights campaigning group.
“But we will continue to strive for complete equality of heterosexual and same-sex couples.”
Same-sex couples have been able to register their relationships in the country since 2006 and can adopt children from a partner’s previous relationship but not unrelated children.
Two years ago, an MEP for the country said it was “shameful” that the country had stopped same-sex marriage through a referendum.
Equal marriage is currently legal in a number of European countries, including Britain, France and Spain.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Trinidad and Tobago: The gay sex ban in Trinidad and Tobago is facing a legal challenge.
Jason Jones, from Trinidad, is challenging Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act.
Under the T&T law, gay sex is punishable with up to 25 years in prison. Other sexual activity is punishable with up to five years in prison.
Both male and female homosexuality is illegal.
‘The very existence of these sections continuously and directly affects the claimant’s private life by forcing him to either respect the law and refrain from engaging – even in private with consenting male partners – in prohibited sexual acts to which he is disposed by reason of his homosexual orientation, or to commit the prohibited acts and thereby become liable to criminal prosecution,’ Jones says in his complaint form.
His lawyers means Jones is faced with public prejudice and ridicule as it labels LGBTI people as criminals.
‘He is accordingly the subject of extensive societal prejudice, persecution, marginalization, a lifelong entrenched stigma that he is an unapprehended criminal by virtue of being homosexual and he experiences the lifelong fear of being punished for expressing his sexuality through consensual conduct with another adult,’ the lawsuit adds.
Jones was disowned by his family after he came out as gay. He was forced to migrate to the UK.
‘I don’t wish to shove a gay agenda down you (the public) throat or attack your morals, religion or spirituality,’ Jones added.
‘I am doing this for the betterment of our nation, and for our feature generations.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: LGBTI Britons will have their rights guaranteed after Brexit, the UK government has revealed.
And in the next few weeks, Britain will unveil a new policy, promising better sex education for LGBTI students in schools.
The two key commitments came from UK Equalities Minister Caroline Dinenage.
She was speaking in an exclusive interview with Gay Star News to mark LGBT History Month.
Dinenage also told us:
She is open to giving more protection to LGBTI students in religious schools.
She supports unisex school uniforms to help trans children.
Trans children should be able to use bathrooms for the gender they identify as.
She is happy to consider national guidance to improve school bullying policies for LGBTIs.
Post Brexit, the UK should use its trading relationships to support international LGBTI rights.
Sex ed
Dinenage’s Department for Education is due to unveil the government’s new policy on sex and relationships education (SRE) in schools very soon. It will be the first time in over 15 years there’s been a major change to what our kids are taught in sex ed classes.
Students feel failed by school sex ed. Some have told GSN they searched YouTube for advice because their classes told them nothing about sex for LGBTIs. Many have had little or no relevant teaching. And meanwhile sex infections are rising among young people.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Facebook: US-based evangelical group, Anchored North, have been using Facebook to target LGBT people with online ads promoting gay ‘cures.’ According to Gay Star News, the group managed to use Facebook’s algorithm to reach LGBT adults who were interested in ‘Gay Pride’. The ad quickly amassed more than 200,000 views though it was eventually removed. The video stars Becket who identified as gay “early” and struggled through high school and college to accept his sexuality.

After graduating and moving to LA, Becket lived a “satisfying” and “fun” life while attending premieres and award shows such as the Grammys, Emmys and Oscars.However he soon felt “empty and dead inside,” until he met two missionaries in a coffee shop who invited him to church where the Holy Spirit “flooded” him.

Many of the comments under the video slammed it with one person writing, “This is the kind of content that literally kills people.” Another user wrote, “Wow, Facebook, f*ck you for suggesting a conversion therapy testimony on my news feed. F*g for LYFE!” Speaking to Gay Star News, a Facebook spokesperson said: “This ad violates our advertising policies, and has been removed.” Facebook’s advertising policies restrict against illegal content and must not contain discriminatory material based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

London: Three men have been arrested after two London gay clubs were raided by police.
The two venues, Lightbox and Fire in Vauxhall, were raided after police received a tip-off that drugs were being sold inside the premises.
Two men, one of which was a staff member at Lightbox, were arrested on suspicion of class A drugs.
A third man was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods.
The raids took place in the early hours of Friday morning on the 24th of February.
The Chief Inspector who carried out the operation vowed that raid was to protect people at the LGBT venues.
“This operation was based on intelligence that indicated harmful substances were being sold at these nightclubs,” said Chief Inspector Lance Lamnea, of Lambeth borough.
Lamnea went on to vow the police’s commitment so London night life, but insisted that anti-social behaviour must be cracked down on.
“We are committed to supporting a vibrant night time economy in the capital. But where we suspect offences are taking place we must take swift action to protect the public.
“In this case, anti-social behaviour has been having a detrimental effect on the lives of those living and working in the area,” he added.
The Inspector ensured that in the future, police will be working closely with the clubs and reviewing the impact that might be had on licensing.
He said: “We will be working closely with both the clubs’ management and our partners to ensure the continuing safety of the public.
“[We will] consider whether there will be any impact on licensing issues.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: Lance Corporal James Wharton has opened up about his battle with drugs for a new book.
Something for the Weekend: Life in the Chemsex Underworld is set to reveal reality of thousands of Londoners in the city’s gay underworld.
The Iraq veteran previously wrote of his experiences of being an out gay soldier in the British Army.
After returning from the Army, Wharton has revealed that his marriage broke down, leading him to live in a bedroom in north London and turn to drugs and sex for help.
The new book explores “how modern technology allows people to arrange, congregate, furnish themselves with ’chems’ and spend hours, sometimes days, behind closed curtains, with strangers and in states of heightened sexual desire”, a press release for the book says.
“Now is the right time for me, personally, to talk about my own struggles with drugs and chemsex,” Wharton told Attitude magazine.
“But beyond that, I believe we all, as an entire community, need to talk more openly about drug use, and understand what it is that drives people to chem sex.
“More than half of gay men have used drugs in our lifetimes, I think we need to stop and think about that for a second, and have an non-judgemental discussion about why that is.
“Chem sex is not a flash in the pan, it’s now embedded into the fabric of modern day gay culture.
“My book will look at it compassionately, and tell the stories – including my own – of people who have lived it.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: A neo-Nazi homophobe has been jailed on hate crime charges.
45-year-old Sean Creighton, of north London, was jailed after he admitted to spreading racist, Islamophobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic material on social media.
Creighton was jailed for five years for a number of offences including possession a terrorist ‘White Resistance’ bomb-making manual.
The guide details ways to make improvised weapons to commit atrocities and “challenge Jewish power and influence”.
He also posted messages praising Adolf Hitler and calling for people to murder Muslims, Kingston Crown Court heard.
Police had launched a probe after a photo in which Creighton appeared to be holding an assault rifle and standing in front of a Nazi flag.
Prosecutor Jonathan Sandiford told the court: “The defendant was a committed racist, a member of the National Front.
“He was enthralled by Nazism and Adolf Hitler whom he told police in his interviews was his God.”
He was convicted on a terror charge for collecting information which could be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism, six counts of publishing or distributing materials that were likely to stir up racial hatred, and a further count of possession of racially inflammatory materials.
Sue Hemming of the CPS said: “Sean Creighton’s crimes are indicative of a man who thought that his online anonymity meant that he could get away with stirring up hatred of all kinds.
“Tackling hate crime is a CPS priority and in 2015/16 we prosecuted more hate crimes than ever before.
“Those who seek to stir up hatred between communities, particularly where that hatred is combined with dangerous terrorist ideologies, should understand they will be prosecuted.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: Female bosses are more likely to hire LGBTI job seekers, than equally qualified heterosexual candidates.
While male bosses favor heterosexual job seekers, a new study finds.
Conducted by the University of Sussex, the study is the first of its kind to identify a positive bias towards LGBTI people in recruitment processes.
Lead author, Dr Ben Everly, believes the results are a warning for employers to set in place mixed recruitment panels.
Dr Everly said: ‘These results show that bias against gay men and lesbians is much more nuanced than previous work suggests.’
‘Hiring decisions made by teams of both men and women could lead to less biased decisions.’ he said.
Around 400 people were randomly shown one of four CVs: lesbian, gay male, straight female or straight male.
The study states: ‘The fictional job applicants were named either Greg Johnson (male) or Jennifer Lewis (female) and listed as belonging to either Los Angeles Gay Business Professionals (gay applicants) or Los Angeles Business Professionals (straight applicants).’
‘All other details, such as professional experience, were the same,’ the survey stated.
Candidates were then rated based on who the survey participants thought should be hired.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Oxford: A new vaccine designed to fight HIV has helped five people live free of the virus, without having to take daily drugs, New Scientist reports.

The vaccine, which was being developed by Tomas Hanke at the University of Oxford, began testing three years ago in Spain in a trial of 24 people. The participants were given two vaccines along with antiretroviral drugs (ART) before they were monitored to see whether the drugs induced a strong immune response.This year, 15 of the participants received a booster dose of the vaccines, three doses of romidepsin (a cancer drug which could “flush” out HIV) and another booster.

They then stopped taking ART. Normally, if the drug is stopped, the HIV virus quickly returns. For ten of the participants, the virus re-emerged and they began taking ART again. However, the five remaining participants had a strong enough immune system to suppress the virus without the need for other drugs. One person of the study has remained off ART for seven months now and scientists are beginning to investigate why only a third of people react to the vaccine.

Beatriz Mothe of the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain states there’s a long way to go, “but we’re on the right path.”

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

London: The UK Government has told gay Afghans seeking asylum in the UK to “pretend to be straight” if deported back home.

The message comes from new British guidelines for handling asylum applications in a new document released by the UK Home Office, The Guardian reports. The document states the Home Office believes it’s possible for gay Afghans to live safely in Kabul, despite homosexuality being illegal in the country.The UK Government has told gay Afghans seeking asylum in the UK to “pretend to be straight” if deported back home. It also highlights risks to LGBT Afghans from their own families to Afghan laws as well as Taliban insurgents.

It reads, “In the absence of other risk factors, it may be a safe and viable option for a gay man to relocate to Kabul.”

Senior researcher at the Human Rights Watch, Heather Barr, has slammed the guidelines, calling them “unfair.”

“The Home Office’s approach seems to be to tell asylum seekers, ‘Pretend you’re straight, move to Kabul and best of luck. Living a life where you are forced to lie everyday about a key part of your identity, and live in constant fear of being found out and harassed, prosecuted or attacked, is exactly the kind of persecution asylum laws are supposed to prevent.”

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

Washington DC: The Supreme Court has ruled that the anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel must refer to Gavin Grimm as a male.
Liberty Counsel, who previously represented Kim Davis, had been actively trying to change Grimm’s pronouns throughout the case so far.The ACLU, who are representing Grimm, posted a letter on twitter that was written to Mat Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel yesterday.
The letter, from the Supreme Court, instructs the Christian law firm to refer to Grimm as male.
“It has come to the attention of this office that the cover of your amicus brief in this case identifies the respondent as ‘G.G., by her Next Friend and Mother, Deirdre Grimm.’ In fact , the caption for the case in this Court, as in the lower courts, identifies the respondent as ‘G.G., by his Next Friend and Mother, Deirdre Grimm.
“Please ensure careful compliance with this requirement in this and other cases in the future,” the letter concludes.
Grimm sued the Gloucester County School Board with ACLU after the board enacted a police that ordered trans students to use the toilet that corresponded with their “biological gender”.
Grimm claimed this infringed on the rights of trans people and after a long court battle, it is not set to be heard by the Supreme Court.
The lawsuit has become high profile in America, with celebrities such a Laverne Cox calling for people to become educated on the case.
Trump’s administration has just revoked trans bathroom protections, bringing even more weight to the case.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Buenos Aires: A UN expert is set to assess discrimination against LGBT people in Argentina.
Vitit Muntarbhorn, the human rights expert who specialises in investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual and gender identity for the UN, will carry out the study which will see him visit the country.
Muntarbhorn has said that he will look in-depth into policies in the country that stand to provide protection for the LGBT community.
“I am particularly interested in legislative reforms and policies that have been implemented in Argentina to protect people targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to create an inclusive environment,” he said.
The ten-day long investigation will begin on the first of March.
Muntarbhorn will visit federal and local government offices, as well as LGBT organisations within Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Mendoza.
“The visit will allow me to identify not only good practices but also issues for which I will provide concrete recommendations to fight violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Muntarbhorn said.
The LGBT watchdog faced being pushed out last year after a group of African states proposed a vote to have the position removed.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Canberra: A new report from the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute says hepatitis C is set to be eliminated from Australia within the next ten years. The report says more people are being treated for the condition, and new treatment options are now subsidised, making them more affordable. Last year, 30,000 Australians were treated for hep C, up from just 3,000 the year prior.
Professor Dave Gore from the Kirby Institute said that through new treatment hep C would no longer be an issue.

“Australia has achieved one of the most rapid uptakes of treatment worldwide and has a unique opportunity to eliminate major infectious disease,” he said.

Joel from Melbourne lives with HIV and was diagnosed with hep C in 2010, when he was 26.

“I was in complete shock,” said Joel. “Living with HIV and a compromised immune system meant I was more susceptible to contracting the hepatitis C virus.”

Joel suffered side effects from the hep C treatment, and withdrew from both his professional and social life.

“The stigma of living with two diseases and the fear of rejection began to severely affect my mental and physical wellbeing,” he said.

Last year, Joel underwent treatment with a newer drug, and has been cured of hep C.

“While I will remain forever grateful for finishing treatment, I will not be completely satisfied until all Australians living with hepatitis C are able to clear the virus,” he said.

“It’s such an exciting time, but there’s still so much more to be done in order to achieve this goal.”

John Didlick of Hepatitis ACT said the elimination of hep C won’t be possible without changes.

“It is uplifting that people are speaking about hepatitis C in terms of elimination,” he said.

“However, elimination won’t be viable while we still have an over-reliance on specialists to provide the treatment, no regulated needle and syringe program in prisons, and large numbers of undiagnosed people.”

Around a quarter of a million Australians have chronic hep C, and about 15 per cent are undiagnosed.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

London: A Church of England bishop who has terminal cancer has urged his colleagues to move towards embracing equal marriage.
The Right Reverand John Wraw, Suffragan Bishop of Bradwell in Essex, revealed in a letter to his parishioners this month that after three years of battling multiple myeloma, his diagnosis is now considered terminal.
In the letter, the Bishop explains that he “does not intend to step down as Bishop of Bradwell in the immediate future” and will remain in the post as long as possible.
He also used the letter to rally for inclusivity in the church, calling on his colleagues to move towards a “full acceptance of same sex marriages” over time.
The Bishop wrote: “The changes to attitude over the last 50 years towards those who do not fall into traditional binary categories of heterosexual
relationships has only been for the good. “
Noting that a conservative report on LGBT issues was rejected at the Church’s General Synod, he added: “There are very differing views on this within the Church of England and across the Anglican Communion, but there is much more we hold in common.
“I have no desire to criticise my fellow Bishops (…) however, there is still a lack of pastoral understanding and care shown in public pronouncements [on] the nature of relationships and the place of marriage within that.
“More time does need to be given to a well-founded theology of relationship, friendship and marriage which I hope will lead in time to a full acceptance of same sex marriages in the Church of England.
“That will take time. However, that should not hold us back in the immediate from proper recognition through prayers, blessing, celebration and affirmation of all that is good and wholesome in a wide variety of relationships including stable, faithful, committed and God given same sex relationships.”
According to the BBC, he added that the Church had got the debate “wrong” on the issue.
He said: “Gender is a secondary issue… what is much more more important is the nature of the relationship we have with one another.
“What I want us to do is to affirm good relationship, depth of relationship, wherever and however it might arise.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: Parents of transgender children in the UK are reporting that the NHS is turning them away if they have sought out private doctors.
A number of people are reporting long waiting lists and delays in the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the gender service for under 18s.The waiting time is being put down to assessments which take up a large period of time, causing a backlog.
The trust said that the wellbeing of patients is their concern, but if hormone treatments are prescribed outside of the service then they cannot continue to provide ongoing supervision.
Referrals to the trust have reached a record high, with 1,500 cases being taken on in this financial year.
1,200 families are currently on the waiting list, and they face a six month wait before getting the first appointment.
Last year, an NHS trust terminated a Gender Identity Service contract.
The Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross announced it would terminate its contract just months after the UK’s health watchdog recommended an urgent expansion of the service, warning that patients were being let down by limited capacity.
The medical journal The Lancet recently deemed that globally the transgender community do not receive adequate healthcare.
Author of the study, Sam Winter, stressed the importance of improving trans peoples rights to healthcare.He said: “Many of the health challenges faced by transgender people are exacerbated by laws and policies that deny them gender recognition.”
“In no other community is the link between rights and health so clearly visible as in the transgender community.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Taipei: Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has denied changing her support of marriage equality after she told an activist they might not see marriage equality happen in their lifetime.
The activist, Vincent Huang, took to Facebook to accuse Tsai of backpedaling on her support of marriage equality.
Huang was at a discussion at the Presidential Office with groups on both sides of the marriage equality debate where he claimed Tsai made the anti-marriage equality comments.
He told the Tsai many gay and lesbian couples were worried their parents would not live to see their LGBTI children get married.
Huang claimed the president responded by saying ‘in this life, you may probably not live to see same-sex marriage’.
What Tsai really said
However the Presidential Office was quick to deny this what Tsai had said released some of the discussion transcript.
The president started saying event though LGBTI people have waited a long time for equality advocates should not risk efforts by trying to rush the issue.
‘The wait has already gone to this point, it should not be ruined at this last stage,’ she said.
‘If one has waited this long, but because there wasn’t patience at the last moment thus destroying all the efforts in the past, I know that this is the hardest point in time.’
At this point Huang interrupted her saying, ‘But our lives can’t be put on hold’.
I know, but even if you can’t put your lives on hold you need to consider the future of other people as well and think of them as well,’ Tsai responded.
Huang then said: ‘You support me and I’d be willing to take a bullet for you’.
‘That’s OK. But, actually when I was passing out red envelopes recently, young people told me: ‘I want to get married this year. As president, don’t you feel in your heart the need to fulfill that?’,’ she replied.
‘But really, this is not something that we can reach today in just one step. It’s a long road and it’s going to get harder and harder along the way.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews

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