Politics and Society: March 2017

March 1, 2017 in General

Delhi: India’s first royal prince to come out publicly as gay has has called on the country’s government to scrap laws criminalising homosexuality.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, whose decision to come out publicly in 2006 made headlines around the world, made the comments at a Pride march in the city of Nagpur earlier this month, where he was serving as a key guest of honour.

Gohil, who is the heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in the north-western province of Gujarat, said that India needed to abolish colonial anti-gay laws if they want to be taken seriously on the global stage. If India wants to be respected across the world, it can’t ignore the basic rights of the LGBT people,” he said.

The 51-year-old, who divorced his wife in 1992 after less than a year of marriage and has consistently used his platform to campaign for LGBT issues since coming out, continued: “As the largest democracy, it is high time that India scrapped the outdated laws imposed by the colonial government and gives equal rights to the LGBT people.”

Homosexuality was first criminalised in India in 1860, shortly after official British rule began. In 2009, a Delhi High Court ruling overturned the law, before it was controversially reinstated in 2013 following a Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court has so far refused to re-examine the issue, while a bill to decriminalise homosexuality was comprehensively rejected by the Indian parliament in December 2016.

Despite the setbacks, calls for gay rights continue to grow in a country characterised by huge disparities in wealth, religion and culture.

Last month, a Pride parade took place in India’s largest city of Mumbai for a 10th consecutive year, attracting thousands of LGBT people and allies calling for the repeal of anti-gay laws.

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

Canberra: Longtime opponent to marriage equality, former minister Eric Abetz, has come out against rainbow flags being hung in government buildings.

After reportedly seeing a Pride flag hanging in the foyer of the finance department, Abetz told department officials and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann that the flag was political and could be a cause of upset for some staff members.

“To cut to the chase, there was the rainbow flag on display in the lobby which, believe it or not, some people see as an activist flag for a particular cause in relation to an issue of whether or not we should change the legislation on marriage and some people of course support that cause, others don’t,” he said.

“If that is allowed, then one imagines that the Marriage Alliance banner should be flown equally.”

“If you allow one side of the debate, then you need to allow the other side and that is why I sought to determine upfront who is responsible for making these determinations.”

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

Brisbane: Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick has announced a $5.7 million injection of extra sexual health funding for Queensland.

Dick said that $1.5 million will go towards statewide programs for sexual health education, and an additional $3.7 million will be split across a number of regions and services to add much-needed skills and resources.

Looking to regional Queensland, Townsville, Wide Bay, and the Gold Coast will each receive $481,000 extra funding over the next four years for their sexual health services.
Dick said the funding will improve the regional health services’ capacity to provide support, testing, and treatment for STIs, HIV and viral hepatitis.

“Good sexual health is an important facet of the overall health and wellbeing of Queenslanders,” Dick said.

“There are challenges in this area of health, including rising rates of some STIs, issues relating to reproductive health, increasing numbers of people living with HIV, and the discrimination and stigmatisation that is often associated with sexual health related matters.”

The funding comes as part of the Queensland Sexual Health Strategy, which is underpinned by a $62 million suite of actions targeting sexually transmissible infections, HIV, and viral hepatitis.

The funding announcement follows news earlier this month of federal funding cuts to Indigenous sexual health in Queensland.

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

Ottawa: Amirhossein Zolghadri made his way to Turkey, a country that wouldn’t imprison or execute him because of his sexual orientation. For so many LGBT Iranian refugees, Turkey is a waypoint, a necessary pitstop. But it’s a dangerous one. Zolghadri has been harassed in public. He’s been subjected to abuse. Raped.

But he stayed in Turkey, because Canada made a promise to him. The Canadian government assured him that it would fairly assess whether he was entitled to resettlement in Canada. Canada broke that promise. After a year of processing his application, Canada suddenly told him he’s not welcome. He’s not Syrian. He should apply to the United States instead. And then, President Donald Trump signed his infamous executive order suspending refugee resettlement and banning anyone from seven Muslim-majority countries. Though the fate of that order is uncertain, what is clear is that the American president will do everything in his power to keep people like Zolghadri out of the country. So now Zolghadri sits in his borrowed apartment in a mid-sized Turkish city, painting and thinking. He thinks back with regret to the human smuggler he turned down. And he watches Canadian politicians debate his fate.

“There is no door open, no hope,” he told my colleague Dylan Robertson over Skype. “The options to me right now are either suicide or a hunger strike.”

If you were him, would you see any other alternatives?

The Trudeau government has so far not addressed the fate of hundreds of LGBT Iranians like Zolghadri, despite being pushed to address the question in Parliament. Instead, Ahmed Hussen, the new immigration minister who was himself once a teenage refugee, petulantly objected that he wouldn’t take lessons on compassion from the Conservative Party. With the exception of CBC Radio, the story of hundreds of LGBT Iranians stranded in Turkey has been ignored by Canadian media outlets, though The Guardian and BuzzFeed have gone in-depth on the issue.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Indianapolis: New Indiana governor Eric Holcomb promised in his State of the State address to make it easier for counties to establish syringe exchange programs and a bill moving through the legislature would make that possible. But the programs still face significant opposition from officials, and funding the programs remains the largest barrier. Hepatitis C cases in Tippecanoe County increased about 30 percent each year for the past three years. Health officials have been working on a syringe exchange proposal for more than a year.

County Commissioners approved the plan last November, and the State Health Department approved the plan a month later. But the program won’t be ready to open for at least another few months.

“There’s a lot of different parts, and trying to make sure all those parts were met to have the state approval for the syringe exchange program was a daunting task,” says Tippecanoe County Public Health Nursing Supervisor Khala Hochstedler. “And some people were kind of scared of that process here.”

An unprecedented outbreak of HIV cases in Scott County two years ago marked a change in how state officials address the state’s drug epidemic. People were sharing dirty needles to shoot up powerful prescription painkillers.

Then-governor Mike Pence approved a bill that allowed counties to establish programs where intravenous drug users could turn in used needles for clean ones. But counties have to get state approval before they start an exchange.

Gov. Eric Holcomb wants to change that, and he included that goal as one of his top priorities in his first State of the State Address.

“We have heroes on the front lines saving lives every day. They include the public health nurses who run syringe exchange programs in 9 Indiana counties,” Holcomb said “And that’s why we will give county officials authority to establish syringe exchange programs to ensure that the people making the decisions are those closest to the problem.”

House Bill 1438, authored by Republican Cindy Kirchhofer, eliminates the step that requires state approval.

It has bipartisan support but does face significant opposition from new Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill, who testified against the bill at a House Committee hearing.

“The reality is that these exchange programs have actually morphed into a distribution program where the exchange is not necessary in order to get the needles,” Hill said. “What ends up happening is you get a net increase in the number of needles, and that net increase in the number of needles can provide a greater risk of exposure and expansion of the infectious diseases that we’re trying to prevent.”

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that’s not true. In fact, it encourages the expansion of the programs nationwide.

“It seemed like he was not really aware of the research and evidence that’s out there that that is not true,” says Dr. Carrie Lawrence, Director of Project Cultivate at the Rural Center for AIDS and STD prevention. “In fact, it reduces the harms associated with injection drug use.”

But Attorney General Hill isn’t alone in his concerns. Back in Tippecanoe County, Hochstedler says progress is slow because of local opposition. At the public hearing back in November, both the Lafayette Mayor and the Chief of Police spoke against the idea.

“A lot of people don’t understand exactly what a syringe exchange program is,” she says. “They just think it’s giving people needles and then you’re condoning drug use.”

But Hochstedler says the programs offer a lot more than that: overdose intervention drugs, health insurance help, referrals to addiction and mental health counselors, help with transportation, food, immunizations and vaccines. The program will offer STD testing and condoms. And all of that is free for participants.

The Greatest Barrier: Funding

Those costs add up quickly, and state law prohibits any state funding for the programs.

In Tippecanoe County, health officials say securing funds from private donations and grants is the biggest reason they don’t already have a syringe exchange.

“It’s been almost all funding,” says Amanda Balser, Grant Financial Supervisor. “We already had our plan in place, we already knew what we wanted. The state approved our plan immediately, we never had to go back and forth on that, so everything has been funding.”

But state funding isn’t being addressed this legislative session.

Before the election, Holcomb expressed tentative support for funding syringe exchanges through the state. But he now defers to a new statewide position he created: the Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement Jim McClelland. McClelland fully supports the proposal to give county officials authority to establish a needle exchange, but has not announced his position on state funding.

Dr. Lawrence says she wants to see a lot more progress.

“I have a laundry list of kind of like, what I want this to look like,” she says. “But I feel like this bill initially has moved in the right direction and I think Gov. Holcomb was very brave in his willingness to even state this needs to be brought down to a local level.”

House Bill 1438 passed out of the House at the end of January and now moves on to the Senate for discussion.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

London: The May administration is set to bring forward plans for compulsory sex and relationship education this week.
At present, sex ed is only required in local authority-run schools, leaving academies, independents and faith schools free to ignore the subject or to teach a narrow version of SRE.
There have been multiple warnings that the system is leading to a lack of basic sex ed among young people, and the government has come under repeated pressure to act on the issue.
Multiple sources have confirmed that Education Secretary Justine Greening is preparing to bring forward legislation today to make SRE a statutory component of education in all schools.
It is also expected to update existing SRE guidance, last issued in 2000, to cover issues connected to the internet and modern relationships in 2017.
The details of the law are not yet clear, however – and any move to require relationships education to be LGBT-inclusive education is likely to be strongly opposed by religious groups.
Previous attempts to pass SRE have included loosely-worded opt-outs for faith groups, with a proposal from Tory MPs David Burrowes and Maria Miller including a clause to ensure kids are “protected from teaching and materials which are inappropriate having regard to the age and the religious background of the pupils concerned”.
A Downing Street source said: “The department will be saying more than this in due course. High quality relationship and sex education is an important part of preparing young people for adult life.
“The education secretary has been clear she is looking at options to make sure children have access to education in those subjects. Clearly, there is a threat online and that threat has grown and now is the right time to look at how we can ensure children can have the access they need to teaching about those subjects.”
Mrs Miller said in a statement to PinkNews previously: “Children are clear they want SRE to be compulsory and are calling for the Government to help make that happen.
“Cyberbullying, online abuse and sexual harassment in schools are all part of teenage life in Britain today. Children are asking Government to put compulsory SRE in place to help them cope better and to feel safer.
“Leading charities such as Barnardo’s, National Children’s Bureau, Plan International UK, Terrence Higgins Trust and The Children’s Society are all supporting this important call for action to make SRE compulsory for all school age children.”
Javed Khan of Barnardo’s said: “Barnardo’s has long campaigned for age appropriate compulsory sex and relationship education (SRE) for all children in England as we know this essential information will help protect them.
“In our poll of almost 1,000 11 to 15 year olds in England last week, the overwhelming majority told us they would be safer if they had SRE school lessons.
“All children are vulnerable to online grooming, and they have told us they want help to understand the digital dangers and risks around sharing images of themselves.
“We know parents want their children to have SRE lessons too. Last year 8 in 10 parents said SRE would help their child understand sexual behavior and keep them safer.
“Our specialist services sees firsthand the effects grooming and exploitation has on children. The government must give all children the knowledge to help protect them.”
Ian Green, exec of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Sex and Relationships Education is a safeguarding necessity, but our recent report showed that 1 in 7 young people missed out on SRE completely.
“Where it is happening, it’s only covering the biological basics and rarely covers vital issues such as consent, LGBT relationships and HIV. This can have devastating effects on young people’s sexual and mental health.
“We need to give all young people the tools to make informed decisions and to have healthy relationships, which they are ready for and want. This requires legislative change to make SRE compulsory in every school.”

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

London: Changes to equality laws will be needed to bolster rights protections in the aftermath of Brexit, an influential Parliamentary committee has warned.
The Women and Equalities Committee released a report this week on ensuring strong equalities legislation after the EU exit.
The report comes after former Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan warned that leaving the EU may cause a ‘legal tangle’ for equality legislation.
She said: “I would think that LGBT rights are so mainstream and respected by the majority of people in this country that that wouldn’t happen.
“But one of the things that hasn’t really been explored is the legal tangle that will result if we were to leave the EU. Some of the anti-discrimination provisions that come from the EU, that we have adopted into UK law… what happens to those?”
The report warns that European institutions including the Court of Justice of the EU and Charter of Fundamental Rights have been fundamental in achieving strong equality protections in the UK, and that their protections are in danger of being undermined.
The committee, chaired by former Culture Secretary Maria Miller, notes: “Some high-profile UK equality law has started as a judgment made by the CJEU, including the concept of discrimination by association, the inclusion of transgender people within sex discrimination and the removal of the upper limit for compensation for tribunal cases based on discrimination grounds.”
The report adds: “Stakeholders have expressed concern that the removal of the EU legal underpinning, including the court system, will lead to a weakening of equality protection in the future unless its full effects are understood. It is therefore important for the Government, during the process of leaving the EU, to ensure that robust equality protection is embedded at each milestone.
“The Government should ensure that equality protections—including but not limited to workers’ rights—remain to the fore as negotiations begin and throughout the leaving process.
It adds: “The Government should give strong consideration to bringing forward an amendment to the Equality Act 2010 to mirror provisions in the Human Rights Act 1998.
“The Government should include a clause in the Great Repeal Bill that explicitly commits to maintaining the current levels of equalities protection when EU law is transposed into UK law. A number of different ways of drafting such a clause have been suggested to us, which we invite the Government to consider and comment on.”
“The status in the UK of future EU case law is currently unclear. While the Government has been clear that existing case law will be transposed through the Great Repeal Bill, it has not provided such clarity for future case law. We therefore recommend that the proposed status of future Court of Justice of the EU case law be clarified and legislated for in the Great Repeal Bill.”

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

Tanzania: Tanzania has backed down from its threat to publish a list of gay people who are allegedly selling sex online.
The deputy health minister of the African nation had made the threat last week.
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.”
However they have now backed down – saying they will “deal with this issue differently”.
“We cancelled the press conference. We are not going to announce the names of (LGBTs) who publicly market themselves for technical reasons,” Kigwangalla wrote on Twitter.
“For strategic reasons and to avoid destroying evidence we will deal with this issue differently and will keep you informed at every step.”
He also said that releasing the names would be akin to “freeing a devil in a bottle.”

The plan comes after the country shut down nearly 40 privately run AIDS clinics because they were “promoting” homosexuality.
Tanzania also previously took the unusual move to ban lube, which was considered an attack on gay men as it intended to prevent people from having anal sex.
Homosexual activity is punishable by up to 30 years in prison in the country.
Previous plans had included forcing those ‘convicted’ oh homosexuality to out friends in order to defend themselves against harsher sentencing.
“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.

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

Madrid: A bus with an advert attacking trans children is driving past schools in Madrid this week.
It was a direct reaction to a campaign from trans support Chrysallis group. The LGBTI support group launched an awareness campaign using the slogan ‘There are girls with penises and boys with vulvas’.
When Haste Oir (‘Make Yourself Heard’) failed to have the adverts pulled after a petition, the group responded with their own transphobic campaign.
Their bus reads: ‘Boys have penises, girls have vulvas. Don’t let them fool you. If you’re born a man, you’re a man. If you’re a woman, you will continue to be a woman.’
Haste Oir’s bus will circulate in the capital throughout the week, passing many schools, but will not make any ‘fixed stops’.
Actuall, Haste Oir’s media site, reported the bus will travel to other Spanish cities as ‘a counter campaign to respond to the message by the Chrysallis association’.
However, they say it is also to raise awareness of a pamphlet they produced last November.
The brochure features a cover of two children raising their arms in a Nazi salute to a rainbow flag.
The group claims sexual diversity laws in Spain rewards ‘the conversion of individuals to homosexuality’. They also claim LGBTI people want straights to become ‘second-class citizens’.
LGBTI group Arcópoli is considering taking legal action against Haste Oir.
Madrid City Hall, according to El Pais, says the campaign bus does not meet municipal requirements and is studying possible ways to take it off the road.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Phillipines: Two huge regions in the Philippines’ have passed new laws which will protect people against discrimination.
Baguio City located in the populous Luzon region passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination and fostering equal protection of the law regardless of sexuality and gender identity, religion, ethnicity and disability and age.
Punishments for violating the law include a fine between P1,000 to P5,000 (USD19-99) or a jail term of up to 30 days.
One of the brains behind the ordinance, Vice Mayor Edison Bilog said the move was consistent with the principles of the Philippines’ 1987 Constitution.
He said the ordinance will align with the country’s international human rights and humanitarian standards, international treaties and existing Philippine laws.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office will enforce the law of the and the council will create an Anti-Discrimination Committee to help implement it in its first year.
The Province of Dinagat Islands passed an ordinance to not only protect the rights of LGBTI people but to promote their equality.
Along with the ordinance the Dinagat Islands will create a special council to review complaints of discrimination.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Philadelphia: A federal judge has ordered a school district in Pennsylvania to allow three transgender students to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.
Pine-Richland High School in suburban Pittsburgh was sued after enacting a new policy last fall that forced trans students to use bathrooms according to their birth gender.
Judge Mark R. Hornak granted a preliminary injunction suspending the district policy while the case makes it way through the courts.
‘The Plaintiffs appear to the Court to be young people seeking to do what young people try to do every day-go to school, obtain an education, and interact as equals with their peers,’ Hornak wrote.
The judge added that the case, filed by Lambda legal on behalf of three students, has ‘a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits’ of the claim that the district’s enforcement of of the policy does not afford the students equal protection of the law as guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.
‘This is a huge win,’ said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan.
‘The court recognized that policies that seek to erase a transgender student’s identity do not address any real problems, but rather only serve to discriminate and harm our youth. Such policies are not only wrong, they are illegal. The rescission of a guidance by the Trump administration cannot change that.’
Last week the Trump administration rescinded protective guidance for transgender students in US schools.
The guidance provided clarity on the right of students to not be discriminated against, or bullied because of their gender identity.
It also covered the right to be addressed by the names and pronouns that correspond to their identity and using the bathroom matching their gender identity, among others.
Next month, transgender student Gavin Grimm will make history when his case becomes the first on transgender rights to go before the US Supreme Court.
The 17-year-old sued his school board in Virginia to be able to use the boys bathroom and now finds himself in a middle of a raging national debate over the issue.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Dallas: The Texas Supreme Court is hearing a case that conservatives hope can lead to an overturning of legalised gay marriage nationwide.
Opponents are suing the city of Houston over its decision to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees.
Houston officials argue that they are required to provide them under a US Supreme Court 2015 ruling that same-sex marriage is a legal right nationally.
The court had initially chosen not to hear the legal challenge.
However, under pressure from Republican state lawmakers, including Governor Greg Abbot, the all-Republican court reversed that decision in January and allowed the trial to begin.
In several amicus briefs (advisory opinions to the court), lawmakers asked the court to reject the “‘ideology of the sexual revolution” that federal judges had passed into law.
Conservative lawyers argue that the 2015 decision by the US Supreme Court in Washington, Obergefell v Hodges, does not contain language specifically extending benefits to gay spouses.
“Obergefell may require states to license and recognize same-sex marriages, but that does not require states to give taxpayer subsidies to same-sex couples,” lawyers challenging Houston policy wrote in a court filing.
Houston officials say they had no choice but to offer the benefits, since the law requires same-sex married couples to be extended the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
Arguments began on Wednesday at the state courthouse in Austin.
The court is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.

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

London: Sex and relationships education is to be made compulsory in all schools in England, the government has announced.
All children from the age of four will be taught about safe and healthy relationships, Education Secretary Justine Greening said.
Children will also be taught, at an appropriate age, about sex. But parents will still have the right to withdraw their children from these classes.
Until now, sex education has been compulsory only in council-run schools.
Since academies and free schools are not under local authority control, they do not have to follow the national curriculum and have not been obliged to teach sex and relationships education (SRE).
Current guidance ‘outdated’
In practice, the vast majority do teach the subject – the government’s announcement will mean all schools across the system will be bound by the same obligation.
Age-appropriate lessons will have particular emphasis on what constitutes healthy relationships, as well as the dangers of sexting, online pornography and sexual harassment.
In primary schools, the focus would be on building healthy relationships and staying safe, the Department for Education (DfE) said, while in secondary school it would focus on sex as well as relationships.
The government will hold discussions on what should be taught to children, and at what age, and there will be a public consultation later this year.
Pupils could be taught the new curriculum from September 2019, the DfE said.
In an interview with the BBC, Ms Greening said: “At the moment, many schools teach sex and relationships education.
“But it’s not mandatory, and, therefore, for many children, they are not coming out of our schools really being equipped to deal with the modern world or indeed be safe and protected from some of the very modern challenges that young people face on cyberbullying and sexting.
“What we’re introducing today is mandatory relationships and sex education in all secondary schools, but also mandatory relationships education in primary schools as well.
“And, of course, all of this, it’s important, is age-appropriate and, of course, it’s also important to retain, for sex education, a parent’s right to withdraw their child.”
Ms Greening said schools would have flexibility over how they delivered the subjects and faith schools would continue to be able to teach in accordance with the tenets of their faith.
The current guidance for SRE, introduced in 2000, was outdated, she added.
‘Sexual health time bomb’
The news was welcomed by the Local Government Association, which has been campaigning for compulsory sex education in all schools.
Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the association’s community wellbeing board, said: “The lack of compulsory SRE in secondary academies and free schools is storing up problems for later on in life, creating a ticking sexual health time bomb, as we are seeing in those who have recently left school.
“We believe that making SRE compulsory in all secondary schools, not just council-maintained ones, could make a real difference in reversing this trend, by preparing pupils for adulthood and enabling them to better take care of themselves and future partners.”
Children in sex education lessons
But critics fear the announcement weakens the influence of parents.
The organisation Christian Concern said it was not for the state to prescribe what was taught in this area.
Chief executive Andrea Williams told the BBC: “Children need to be protected, and certainly when they’re [still at primary school], we need to be guarding their innocence.
“We need to be protecting them from things, working with parents to ensure that what they might need to know – which will be different for every child child, different in every context across the country – is properly looked at.
“But this is something that should be individualised, not something that the state can deliver wholesale.”
Safe at School Campaign, run by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, described the announcement as a “tragedy”.
National co-ordinator Antonia Tully said: “Parents will be absolutely powerless to protect their children from presentations of sexual activity, which we know is part of many sex education teaching resources for primary school children.
“The state simply cannot safeguard children in the same way that parents can. This proposal is sending a huge message to parents that they are unfit to teach their own children about sex.”
School leaders, however, welcomed the news.Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “It is so important for young people to be taught about appropriate relationships, and the duties set out today bring that one step closer.”
Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We do not believe it is necessary for the government to provide standardised frameworks or programmes of study, and we would urge ministers against being too prescriptive,” he said.
Jonathan Baggaley, chief executive of the PHSE Association said: “This is a historic step and a clear statement of intent from government.
“Following years of campaigning we are delighted that Justine Greening has taken this vital step to respond to the clear call from parents, teachers and young people that education must prepare all children, in all schools, for the opportunities and challenges of modern life.”
Ms Greening’s announcement follows a widespread campaign by charities, MPs and local authorities, calling for (SRE) to be made a statutory for all schools.
At the end of last year, the chairmen and women of five different Commons select committees called on Ms Greening to make SRE a statutory subject.
Elsewhere in the UK
SRE is part of the curriculum in Wales, but it is not currently compulsory.
The Welsh government says it expects young people to receive age-appropriate lessons in school, covering “all aspects of relationships, sexual health and wellbeing issues”.
The subject is not compulsory in Scotland but new guidance was introduced in 2014. Schools and local authorities are responsible for deciding how to put the guidelines into practice.
In Northern Ireland, the Department of Education requires each school to have its own written policy on how it will address the delivery of relationship and sexuality education (RSE).
RSE must be delivered “in a sensitive manner which is appropriate to the age and understanding of pupils and the ethos of the school”.

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

London: In Attitude, Headley Stewart wrote:

“It’s clear that sex and relationship education is failing young gay people, given that many are having sex without the basic understanding of how to engage in safer sex. It is important for young people to be educated on how to protect themselves and their sexual partners. But moving beyond learning about protection, we also need to let young people know that they are important and that their choices are equally important. If a young gay man feels as though the sex he wants to have is seen to be wrong, or something that he should be ashamed of, he is not going to care about making choices to engage in safer-sex practices; practices that involve healthy levels of self-respect. We need to be sending out the message in sex education lessons that irrespective of who you have sex with, your sexual decisions matter and are important.”

“Perhaps one of the most recent discussions about sex among gay men has been about the use of PrEP, the once-a-day HIV prevention medication currently available in the US and France, and which is about to undergo a small NHS-funded roll-out in the UK. I think that the idea of introducing PrEP as a widely available tool for gay men would be an extremely positive step in reducing the transmission of HIV. That said, let’s not forget the gay men who may not be aware of PrEP, such as young gay men, who have been left out of the sexual health conversation. We should also be concentrating our efforts on them; inclusive sex education in every secondary school may well hold part of the solution.

If we want young gay men to be educated about sex, challenge society’s views on gay men having sex and decrease the rates of sexually transmitted infections, we must start by advocating for inclusive sex and relationship education. There seems to be a consensus that more needs to be done to educate young LGBT+ people about sex, yet equally there seems to be a resistance to introducing change. Young gay people are being failed by the current sex education curriculum, which is having a knock-on effect in their adult lives. They deserve to be taught how to stay safe while enjoying healthy, fulfilling relationships.”

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

Adelaide: A bill allowing equal access to assisted reproductive treatment and unpaid surrogacy for same-sex couples has been passed in the South Australian parliament.

The passage of the bill removes the last legal discrimination against LGBTI people from the statute books of the state.

Previously, only South Australia and the Northern Territory required those accessing assisted reproductive technology to be ‘medically infertile’, a requirement other states didn’t impose.
Lee Carnie from the Human Rights Law Centre said the fact the bill passed was a huge step forward for equality for LGBTI people in South Australia.

“There are many rainbow families already living in South Australia, but this reform will remove barriers to accessing treatment and will ensure couples don’t need to travel interstate to start a family,” she said.

“This reform removes the last stain of discrimination from the statute books of South Australia and mean that lesbian couples will now have access to assisted reproductive technology in every state of Australia.”

Ali and Jo live in Adelaide but had to travel to NSW to conceive their children because of the barriers to accessing IVF in South Australia.

Ali said the discrimination that was in the law made what was already a complicated and stressful process even more complicated and stressful.

“Rather than undergo invasive exploratory procedures to assess my fertility levels, we decided to go to NSW to conceive our two beautiful children,” she said.

“We had to save up each time we needed to travel for a consultation or procedure, sometimes delaying treatment because we ran out of money, simply because of the hurdles in the current law.

“We’re allowed to foster children but not allowed to have our own children in our own state – I hope the parliament finally realises that this just doesn’t make sense.”

The bill also removes the legal barrier to same-sex couples engaging in unpaid surrogacy.

South Australia will become the fifth jurisdiction to allow same-sex couples to have children using altruistic surgery after Tasmania, NSW, Victoria, and the ACT.

Chair of the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance, Andrew Birtwistle-Smith, said the team welcomed the changes that were passed.

“It is an advance for LGBTI families that is long overdue,” he said.

“We look forward to welcoming new rainbow families to our community.”

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

Adelaide: South Australia is beginning a new trial of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV.

Victoria’s Alfred Health and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) have partnered with SA Health and local clinics to deliver the trial, which starts in April.

Professor Steve Wesselingh from SAHMRI says PrEP is an important tool for HIV prevention for South Australians at risk.
“Over the last five years, there has been close to 60 new infections in South Australia each year,” he said.

“PrEP is an antiviral medication taken daily by people at the highest risk of HIV to prevent them from acquiring HIV. PrEP has been shown internationally and nationally to reduce the number of new cases and we hope the same success will occur herein South Australia.”

Associate Professor Edwina Wright from Alfred Health said the program is drawn from a successful Victorian trial that launched in July.

“We are excited for the opportunity to work with South Australia to build a PrEP response that specifically meets the needs of South Australians by working closely with clinicians, local sexual health clinics and the community,” Wright said.

People at risk of HIV have access to PrEP via similar programs in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. A trial is also coming for the ACT.

Tasmania, WA and the NT have not yet announced trials for PrEP.

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

Paris: Nearly one in five French gay men are voting for far-right Presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen, polling has found.
Front National leader Marine Le Pen is currently leading in first-round polls ahead of France’s Presidential election.
Despite pledging to scrap same-sex marriage, Le Pen has recently made inroads with conservative gay voters by playing off concerns about Islamic extremism.
Incredibly, polling by gay hook-up app Hornet this week found that despite Le Pen’s pledge to scrap same-sex marriage, she is still popular among gay men.
Of the 3200 men polled by the app, 19.2% are voting for Le Pen, slightly lower than her standing nationally, with a whopping 38.1% preferring centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, who recently vowed to champion LGBT rights.
Left-winger Benoît Hamon is third-placed among gay men on 18.5%, despite low support in the national polls; while scandal-plagued anti-LGBT conservative Francois Fillon attracted just 7.3% of gay voters despite being tied with Macron nationally.LGBT rights were not a top priority for respondents, with work, education and security all ranked as more important.
Le Pen’s plan to axe same-sex marriage was details in her 144-point manifesto.
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.

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

Arkansas: The Senate in the state of Arkansas has passed a resolution which seeks to define marriage, excluding gay couples, in the US Constitution.
The Senate in the Natural State today passed Senate Joint Resolution 7 by Republican State Senator Jason Rapert.
The measure defines marriage as the “union of one man and one woman.”Filing Senate Joint Resolution 7 earlier this month, Mr Rapert wants to prohibit states from accepting any definition of marriage, “except as the union of one man and one woman and no other union shall be recognised with legal incidents thereof within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction”.
The motion will now go to the state’s House of Representatives.
34 states are currently required for a constitutional convention to be held. This rises to 38 plus a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress to be ratified.
However, in an interview with a local TV station, Senator Rapert said he believed there were enough votes across the country for this to happen and claimed he was part of the “silent majority” that was “going to speak again”.
This is not the first time the GOP Senator has sought a constitutional convention, having tried to also amend the document to ban all abortion.The move was trashed as “meaningless” by the Human Rights Campaign.
“Marriage equality is settled law, and any bill or legislator seeking to undermine it is in conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitution,” said Kendra R. Johnson, HRC Arkansas state director.
“HRC Arkansas calls on our lawmakers put an end to these cynical, divisive theatrics, and start focusing on the issues that matter to Arkansans instead introducing a bill that would only seek to harm LGBTQ people.”

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

Tennessee: Demonstrators in Tennessee have vowed to keep coming out into the streets until anti-LGBT legislation, including the state’s own proposed ‘bathroom bill’, is voted down.
Two bills to ban same-sex marriage and to restrict trans bathroom use were introduced in Tennessee earlier this month.
This is not the first time such bills have been introduced in the state.The Natural Marriage Defense Act seeks to define marriage as specifically between one man and one woman, therefore ignoring a 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalising it in all 50 states.
Despite that the bill would no doubt be found unconstitutional in a court ruling, legislators have reintroduced it in the state legislature.
A second bill, which does not yet have a title, has been introduced to require students to only use the bathroom or locker room corresponding to the sex stated on their birth certificate.
Today the NFL warned that a similar bill proposed in Texas could see the state lose future chances to host the Super Bowl.
A similar bill signed into law in 2016 in North Carolina, HB2, has caused the state to lose estimates of millions of dollars in business, and many high profile sporting and music events.
Both types of bills have failed in Tennessee in the past, and both of the new bills were introduced by Mark Pody in the House of Representatives and Mae Beavers in the State Senate.
Protesters have taken to the streets of Tennessee, and say they will keep demonstrating until the bills are done away with.
Pody and Beavers both sponsored the marriage bill introduced last year which was killed in the House by a subcommittee.
A bathroom bill was introduced by Representative Susan Lynn last year, but was withdrawn eventually.
Jack Daniels was one of 200 business to join a coalition against LGBT discrimination in Tennessee back in December.
Republican lawmakers in the state last month introduced a bill which will sought to strictly define the terms ‘mother’ ‘father’ ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ in the state.

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

Rome: An Italian court has ruled two men can both be registered as fathers of their twins.
Last week the Higher Regional Court of Trento, in northern Italy, ruled both men could be registered as parents to their twin boys.
Their children were born in Canada six years ago, with the help of a surrogate.
The men fought for joint parenthood in Canada and won.
They took the documents listing both men as the twins’ official parents to Italy, to get registered there.
But the city of Trento said only the biological father could be listed as a parent.
Now the court has decided it is against the law to refuse to list both men as fathers.
It is the first time a ruling of this kind has been made in Italy, and activists are hoping it will set a precedent.
‘The Court’s statement is not a law but it has some important effects, beyond the particular case it’s asked to rule,’ Gabriele Piazzoni, secretary of Italy’s LGBTI organization Arcigay, said.
‘First of all, from the cultural point of view, the Trento Court finally frees us from the obsession of the biological and puts at the center the interest of boys and girls.
‘It’s stating that the bond between parents and children is made not so much by the biological link, but by the will of the parents to care for and raise children.
‘The Court has recognized the right of those children to the full protection of their bond with their parents, as their inalienable right.’
He said they hoped it would not remain a single event, even if the ruling has no effect beyond this case.
‘We need to move the debate about parenting away from the biological approach, that ignores the complexity and the wide plurality of families,’ Piazzoni said.
‘And this sentence is definetely an help to reach this purpose.’
Italy does not have full marriage equality; same-sex couples can onyl enter civil partnerships.
Surrogacy is illegal, and same-sex couples can only adopt through step child adoption.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Singapore: Singapore’s Prime Minister will wait until society changes its views before changing laws banning gay sex.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was recently pressed on his personal views regarding 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code.
The code outlaws any acts of ‘gross indecency’ between two men. Those convicted could face up to two years in jail.
Singapore’s long wait
In 2013, Lee said the law should remain because even in countries that had decriminalized homosexuality, the LGBTI community still faced a lot of issues.
‘These are not issues that we can settle one way or the other, and it’s really best for us to just leave them be, and just agree to disagree,’ he said at a conference, which was when he last publicly spoke about the issue.
On BBC HARDtalk journalist Stephen Sackur asked Lee about his position on 377A in an interview that went to air today.
‘If any of your children or grandchildren were gay, would that change your perspective? Would you then think that it was unacceptable for consenting adults to be criminalised for in this way?’ Sackur asked.
‘I think that it is a law which is there — if I remove it, I will not remove the problem because if you look at what has happened in the West, and in Britain, you decriminalised it in the 1960s, your attitudes have changed a long way but even now gay marriage is contentious,’ Lee said.
‘In America it is very contentious. Even in France, in Paris, they have had demonstrations in the streets against gay marriage.’
Sackur went on to ask Lee what his personal view was of the issue and whether he would like to get rid of 377A.
‘My personal view is that if I don’t have a problem — this is an uneasy compromise — I’m prepared to live with it until social attitudes change,’ Lee said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: In the United Kingdom, LGBT issues are assessed by healthcare professionals but maybe it’s time we focus more specifically on each subgroups specific needs rather than viewing us all as one whole, especially bisexuals. The latest figures from YouGov suggesting that while 6% of 18 to 24-year olds identify as completely homosexual, 43% don’t identify as entirely gay or straight. That means almost half of young people have some degree of bisexuality. With that in mind isn’t it only necessary that gay and bisexual men be looked at separately?

For example, in February, this year The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that HIV rates continue to soar among young gay and bisexual men. With diagnoses, up from 7,200 to 9,700 – about 35 percent. Whilst this is important to recognise, would it not be more effective to look at gay and bisexual men separately? Gay men only have sex with men, bisexual men have sex with both men and women. Surely this impacts how likely people are to contract HIV? If they continue to look at gay and bisexual as the same are they not missing unique differences that could help in the fight to bring HIV figures down? Similarly, last year research published in the Journal of Public Health found that gay and bisexual men under the age of 26 are six times more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm. Again, whilst gay and bisexual men deal with similar issues, they are also very unique from each other. Whilst gay men deal with homophobia, bisexual men can deal with discrimination from both outside AND inside the LGBT community. According to Equality Network research 66% of Bisexuals only feel “a little” or “not at all” part of a LGBT community. With many stating that biphobia and bi-erasure within their LGBT communities limited their full inclusion. If we continue to not see gay and bisexual as two different things when conducting research, we could be overlooking some unique solutions for both orientations.

It’s an issue we must look at to better tailor services for both gay and bisexual people. According to the Equality Network 25% of bisexuals were not usually comfortable sharing their sexual orientation when accessing LGBT-related services and 66% of bisexuals feel that they have to pass as straight and 42% as gay or lesbian when accessing services. The truth is bisexuality is the new normal and with more people than ever before choosing the person not the gender, health and LGBT organisations need to catch up and recognise that it’s time to assess our needs separately.

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

Perth: LGBTI advocates in WA are calling for all parties to support a civil union scheme for same-sex couples in the lead up to the next state election.

Advocates suggest the old defacto framework currently in place is insufficient and the state also needs to put legislation into place to place recognizing overseas same-sex marriages.

The issues were raised at a recent community meeting to discuss key policies ahead of the election.

Speaking of the issues, longtime LGBTI advocate Damien Douglas-Meyer said the time had come for the government to introduce a civil union scheme.

“Under WA’s existing de facto laws, same-sex couples have all the same rights and responsibilities as de facto and married heterosexual couples. However, the problem arises when we are challenged to prove our relationships.

“A civil union scheme will enable LGBTI couples to formally register their relationships with the government, helping to eliminate the difficulties they currently encounter in medical emergencies, legal matters and parenting issues in the Family Court,” Douglas-Meyer said.

“Every State and Territory has enacted a civil union ccheme for same-sex relationships, except for WA and the Northern Territory.”

This is not a substitute for marriage, but until we achieve Federal marriage equality from Canberra this is the only legislative option open to us.

“Flowing from this is the need to recognise same-sex marriages legally performed overseas.

“Many countries including Britain, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and the USA now have marriage equality, but a LGBTI couple legally married in those countries and who move to Australia to live, work or simply to holiday, are not recognised as married in Australia.”

“Several Australian states have remedied this by allowing such marriages to be recognised under state law as civil unions.”

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

Ottawa: Following a human-rights investigation, the federal government might be compelled to offer a third-gender option on passports, Xtra has learned.

Rory Vandrish filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) in April 2015, arguing that non-binary people, like themself, should have a third-gender option on passports, following seven other countries that offer “X” as a gender marker including Germany, Nepal and Pakistan.

Vandrish has since changed their request, asking the federal government to become the first country without gender markers on its passports at all.

“If it’s an ‘X’. . . it’s going to out you and you’re going to experience discrimination,” Vandrish told Xtra.

Almost two years after Vandrish filed their case, they says the commission’s confidential mediation has failed to find a solution. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal confirms in an email to Xtra that it will now be taking up the case, with a 10-day hearing currently scheduled for July in Vancouver.

Similar to a court, the tribunal has powers to fine federal departments and compel them to change their processes.

Cases that head to the tribunal can sometimes result in changes to government policy. The vast majority are instead resolved at the commission, like a January 2017 mediation that saw the agency overseeing social identity numbers commit to including a third-gender option.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is now undertaking a review of how it can restrict collecting gender data to only necessary policy-planning work, and how it can keep that data confidential.

The prime minister’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, Randy Boissonnault, told Xtra on Feb 2 that the Liberals are waiting on that review to shape how other departments collect data.

“It’s part of our commitment to upholding the rights of the LGBTQ community,” he said. “Pending the review, we’ll review procedures for other elements as well.”

Boissonnault said the desire for gender-neutral passports came up repeatedly in January, as he visited Toronto and the four western provinces. He said that once the ESDC completes its review, his staff — who have yet to be hired — will examine all federal government services, including passports.

That’s despite Passport Canada studying a third-gender option since 2012, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying in July 2016 that gender-optional IDs are “part of the great arc of history sweeping towards justice.”

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“[There’s] no news on passports,” Boissonnault said. “We need to work with our international partners and the treaties that we’re a part of, so that does require us to have gender identification.”

Vandrish says the government has long argued it must to comply with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules, which state that all passports must include a gender marker that is either M, F or X “where a person does not wish his/her gender to be identified or where an issuing state or organization does not want to show this data.”

Boissonnault’s office didn’t respond to an Xtra request to confirm that this is the government’s reasoning, but officials have previously cited these rules.

While the CHRC couldn’t confirm any details about Vandrish’s complaint, spokeswoman Natalie Babin-Dufresne says the ESDC settlement, and moves by provinces to create third-gender categories, could sway the case. “There is a certain amount of domino effect,” she says.

The commission has previously hinted that the government could easily drop any gender markers on passports and identity documents. Canada already issues electronic visas for people with third-gender designations.

Meanwhile, Vandrish says they still want Canada to scrap passport gender markings entirely, regardless of the ICAO’s rules.

“The Liberal government is looking to legalize recreational marijuana, and that is against some international treaties. So if they say it can be done for them, then it can certainly be done for passports,” they say.

In 2012, New Zealand’s government completed a study for the ICAO, looking at the feasibility of removing gender markers from passports. It concluded that while it would be possible and would crack down on some incorrect passports, that benefit wouldn’t be outweighed by the cost of updating outdated technology, and could thus delay travel times.

“So put an ‘X’ for everybody,” Vandrish argues.

“It’s uncomfortable if I’m trying to purchase alcohol and they ask me for an ID. But from a passport perspective, the scrutiny is so much higher that it’s actually terrifying,” they say.

“It’s totally strange and anachronistic that they’re still requiring this. I look what I look like in my photo. Isn’t that enough to determine who I am?”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Vancouver: But Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelical minister Billy Graham, is setting me straight.

“Mr President, in the Bible rain is a sign of god’s blessing,” Graham junior imparted on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. “And it started to rain Mr President when you came to the platform.” In a few days Graham will be headlining Vancouver’s Festival of Hope, a three-day extravaganza full of prayerfulness, Christian rock, and the wholesome comedic stylings of Leland Klassen, Canada’s self-proclaimed “premier clean comedian.”

Graham is loud and proud about his repugnant views. Gay people are the enemy who “want to devour our homes; devour our nation.” They don’t adopt children, they “recruit children into [their] cause.” Islam is a “very evil, very wicked religion.” Despite expressing empathy for Syrians, he has consistently praised Putin’s indiscriminate bombing campaigns, and he supports banning Muslim Syrians from entering the US

Samaritan’s Purse, Graham’s international charitable organization, pays Graham $350,000. And on top of that, he receives another $669,000 as the head of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, bringing his total annual salary to $1.2 million. In other words, he’s a lot like the American president he so admires: a greedy, loathsome man who owes his success to his father and uses his unearned power to stomp on the marginalized and to enrich himself.

Graham’s views are sure to find a welcome home in the hearts of many Vancouverites. Despite vocal opposition from Mayor Gregor Robertson, city councillors and Christian leaders, I’m not naive enough to believe that there aren’t thousands of people in the city who won’t embrace his hateful screeds. But then again, the very fact of the backlash is reason to be optimistic. When Graham did the same song-and-dance in Toronto in 2014, it was barely commented upon, let alone resisted. Vancouver is a city that is still dealing with the legacies of institutionalized racism and homophobia. But it’s also a city where thousands of Muslims and gay people live openly and side-by-side.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Paris: French Presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron has pledged to “name and shame” employers who discriminate against LGBT people.
Macron, a centrist candidate who is currently the favourite to become the country’s next leader, launched his full policy manifesto today.
While his likely run-off opponent Marine Le Pen’s manifesto included no policies on LGBT rights other than scrapping same-sex marriage, Macron dedicated an entire section to LGBT issues.
In it he pledged to challenge homophobic in everyday life, and to tackle anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace.
The candidate said he would scale up random checks of employers’ compliance with equality laws, while also “naming and shaming” those found to have discriminated.
He also promises to defend progress on equal marriage, hailing the law as a “fundamental achievement” of the past five years and an “an enrichment of what the family is in France that shows its importance to all of us”.
Macron’s stance puts him at odds with far-right candidate Le Pen, who has pledged to scrap equal marriage.
Elsewhere in the document he commits to opening up IVF and medically assisted fertility treatments to single women and female same-sex couples.
In one key concession, the former Socialist minister rules out reform of France’s strict surrogacy laws, any changes to which would be strongly opposed by the centre-right members of his unity coalition.
However, he does pledge to ensure that families with children born via international surrogacy will have their full rights protected, adding that it is wrong to “treat these children as foreigners in their own country”.
The candidate, who maintains a strong lead among gay voters, will be hoping the progressive document puts to bed a row over comments he made criticising the way same-sex marriage was implemented.
Elsewhere this week he was interviewed by France’s main gay magazine Têtu.
Macron told the magazine that he would “protect” equal marriage unlike Le Pen, and that LGBT people “will always find in me a champion”.
Russian government-controlled outlets last month published smears aimed at Macron, reporting a “persistent rumour that [Macron] is secretly gay and living a ‘double life’”, and also accusing him of being in the pocket of a “very wealthy gay lobby”.
The politician, who has been married to his former school teacher Brigitte Trogneux since 2007, attacked the smears in his Têtu interview.
He said: “Two things are vile behind the implication: to say that it is not possible for a man living with an older woman to be anything other than a homosexual or a hidden gigolo is misogynous. And it’s also homophobia.
“If I had been a homosexual, I would say it and I would live it.”

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

Belfast: A lesbian couple has accused the NHS of refusing them fertility treatment because of their sexuality.
Lynsey Kirkwood, who lives in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, with her fiancée Lisa Berry, said a consultant explicitly told them he would not provide IVF on the NHS because of their lesbian relationship.
Writing on the pair’s JustGiving page, Ms Kirkwood said: “I asked the consultant to clarify twice – if Lisa walked in with a man, would she receive NHS help? ‘Yes.’ If she walked in single, would she receive NHS help? Yes.’
“So because we are both women, Lisa and I have been denied NHS funding.”
Ms Kirkwood said she was “beyond devastated” by last week’s development, which led the engaged couple to start their fundraising drive to get the £6,000 necessary for one round of private IVF.
The two women, who have been together for three years but cannot get married in Northern Ireland, decided to start a family in 2015, before discovering they both had fertility issues.
“Lisa’s health means we have an 18-month window in which to start treatment. Having already spent £900 to date and saving every penny we have, we simply don’t have the thousands required,” Ms Kirkwood said.
“As time is biologically against us we were really hoping for at least one round with the NHS, as our GP thought we would get.”
Ms Kirkwood said they now “feel totally betrayed by our so-called government.
“We now realise that the government is against our relationship and therefore our family, and (that we) now need to rely on the generosity of friends and communities to help our family become complete,” Ms Kirkwood continued.

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

Riyadh: Two Pakistanis identified as cross-dressers have been tortured to death by police in Saudi Arabia, it has been reported.
The victims were among 35 men arrested in the capital city of Riyadh for dressing as women, an offence which has its own branch of law enforcement in Saudi Arabia.
According to The Express Tribune, a Pakistani publication, police raided a rest house for people dressing in women’s clothing after keeping the site under constant surveillance.
The two victims were named as Meeno, 26, and Amna, 35. The police allegedly forced them into sacks and thrashed them with sticks while in prison. Local reports have called them transgender, but we have not been able to verify their gender identity.
Qamar Naseem, a Pakistani human rights activist, said that while 11 of those arrested who survived were released after paying a 150 Riyal (£32) fine, 22 of them were still in police custody.
“Torturing humans after throwing them into bags and beating them with sticks is inhumane,” he added.
”No-one is there to save them as the life of a transgender is not of any value to anyone, not even our own government.”
Dressing as a woman is also dangerous in Pakistan, where three people were allegedly illegally arrested and tortured in July after failing to pay a fine to police.

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

Beijing: Chinese LGBTI groups are angry homosexuality was described as the ‘wrong concept of love’.
A coalition of LGBTI groups are calling on the online streaming platform to apologise for the gaffe.
LeTV had said certain content was forbidden to be shown on the platform
That content included the ‘wrong concept of love, such as homosexuality and extramarital affairs’.
Groups such as the Beijing LGBT Center and Tongzhi Zhisheng (Voice of LGBT) condemned the statement.
A number of people said they would not use LeTV anymore because of the ‘stupid’ comment.
The word homosexuality was soon deleted from the site, but the ‘wrong concept of love’ remained as an example of forbidden content.
But LGBTI advocates still want an apology.
‘It’s not about LeTV alone, Chinese video platforms are all banning LGBT,’ a Beijing LGBT Center worker, Xiao Tie, employee told the Global Times.
Other forbidden content on the platform includes vulgarity, violence, and content that defames police, soldiers and teachers.
In 2015 the China Television Drama Production Industry Association and the China Television Production Committee of the China Alliance of Radio, Film and Television recommended certain types of content should not be shown on TV. That content included such as same-sex romance, extramarital affairs and one-night stands.
Also in 2015, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television ordered the removal of an episode featuring the story of a Taiwan celebrity.
It discussed his loneliness living as an openly gay man for 14 years since.
The State Administration said ‘it is inappropriate to discuss the topic in public media’.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Sacramento: A company that invests their clients’ money into niche investment funds has created two new exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that specifically exclude LGBTI-friendly companies.
ETFs invest in specific groups of companies. For example, you can invest in ‘green’ ETFs that only invest in eco-supportive companies, or tech ETFs that only target tech companies.
Yesterday, Inspire Investing announced it had launched two ETFs aimed at conservative evangelical Christians.
The funds exclude any company ‘that has any degree of participation in activities that do not align with biblical values.’
This includes ‘the LGBT lifestyle’
It also excludes companies in any way involved with gambling, abortion, pornography and alcohol.
This is not the first time that ETFs have been created along ethical lines. A ‘Catholic Values’ ETF was launched in 2015 which excluded companies frowned upon by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This includes stocks in defense-related businesses, but does not go as far as Inspire Investing next funds.
Talking to the Financial Times, Robert Netzly, chief executive of California-based Inspire said, ‘There’s huge demand for low-cost investing aligned with biblical values.
‘We love our neighbors in the LGBT community, but our investors want to invest according to conservative values.’
He said any company which takes a ‘take a hardline, activist line’ on gay rights, such as Apple or Starbucks, would be excluded.
‘This is out of step with mainstream America’
Mark Snyder, of LGBT advocacy organization Equality Federation, told FT he was skeptical of the success of the funds.
‘This is out of step with mainstream America, which has embraced non-discriminatory policies and fairness. When organizations and fringe activists have attempted to boycott organizations that support LGBT rights it has tended to be ineffective, so I think it probably won’t garner much interest.’
Two investment funds exist that specifically allow investors to put money into companies that support equality. In 2013, Credit Suisse launched an LGBT Equality Index (CSLGBT), allowing investors to put their money into companies that scored well on LGBT advocacy organization HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.
Pre-dating this, Denver Investments launched its Workplace Equality Index (EQLT) in 2001. It comprises of over 200 companies that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality in the workplace. For the past three years the Workplace Equality Index has returned 9.83% per year versus the S&P 500 Index return of 8.87% per year.
John Roberts, Portfolio Manager at Denver Investments told GSN he was convinced that businesses that embrace LGBTI diversity and inclusion perform better, leaving potential slimmer pickings for indexes that target other S&P 500 companies.
‘I’m not sure of the makeup of the index that the Inspire Investing ETF will track, but it seems like they will be challenged. The Workplace Equality Index identifies 246 companies that have LGBT-inclusive workplace policies, that would most likely exclude them from the ETF you are inquiring about.
‘That leaves them with half the index to work with, and given that the companies with LGBT-inclusive workplace policies have a track record of outperforming the broad market, it seems like a high hurdle to get solid performance out of that subset.’
‘Better served stuffing money under the bed and hoping for the best’
Deena Fidas, Director of Workplace Equality Program at HRC, was even more blunt.
‘The most profitable companies have long embraced LGBT equality because quite simply it’s good for business,’ she told GSN. ‘A full majority of the Fortune 500 (82%) have LGBT-inclusive protections. Anyone thinking of investing in a retirement fund that excludes these and myriad other LGBT-friendly companies is probably better served stuffing money under the mattress and hoping for the best.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Delhi: A film has been banned in India for allegedly “glorifying” homosexual relationships. Director Jayan Cherian is fighting the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in India, who recently censored Moonlight, to try and overturn its decision to ban the film, Ka Bodyscapes.

According to the Wire, the film follows the story of three people – Haris, Vishnu and Sia, as they struggle to find happiness in India. Cherian and his team completed the film last February however committees have been reviewing the film since March. Ka Bodyscape was denied a certification by the CBFC, which is necessary for it to screen in India.

Cherian shared the news on Facebook, posting a photo of the letter he received from CBFC. The letter states that the film was rejected for “glorifying” homosexuality as we;; as portraying Hinduism in a “derogatory manner.” Speaking to the Wire, Cherian said: “The CBFC takes the mere reference to any ‘Hindu organisation’ in the film as an offence. This is the death-knell of independent cinema and artistic expression in India.”

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

Global: Specific words to accommodate people who choose to use genderless pronouns have been around for the best part of 100 years. We all know better than to take notice of certain tabloids moaning about ‘political correctness gone mad’ when it comes to the correct use of language when referring to non-binary gender identities, but now it seems that what they like to suggest is a modern phenomenon, isn’t that new at all. The Merriam-Webster dictionary has pointed out on Twitter that a specific word proposed as a genderless pronoun has been around since 1934. ‘Thon’ was used as a shortened version of ‘that one’, but it was dropped from the third edition later on.

Basically, the word never really caught on, but it proves there was enough of a want for a genderless pronoun at the time for the dictionary to at least include it for a single edition. Maybe it’s time for ‘thon’s big comeback? It follows gender-fluid being added to the Oxford English Dictionary last September.

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

Brisbane: Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital gender clinic is set to receive $1.117 million in extra funding as part of the government’s Sexual Health Strategy. The clinic was formally established in recent months, headed by Dr Stephen Stathis. Dr Stathis previously ran his own unfunded informal clinic out of hours while working at the Royal Children’s Hospital, where he was receiving an increasing number of referrals to see young people with gender dysphoria.

“Once I developed a name that I was interested in this area, suddenly I started to get many, many referrals,” he said. “To the point where in November last year, I had a two-year waiting list for me to see young people.”

The waiting list has continued to grow as more patients are referred to Dr Stathis. Dr Stathis said many of the young people he sees are experiencing distress or mental health issues. Not all his patients have gender dysphoria as such.

“Many of these young people were just gender variant,” he said. “They didn’t identify as the opposite gender, they just like to do things that the opposite gender likes to do.”

He said cultural norms make distinguishing gender variance from gender dysphoria complex. Girls can do “stereotypical boy things” and be considered tomboys, while “boys, you put on a pink tutu and you’re off to see the doctor”. Dr Stathis said reducing waiting times is crucial to ensure young people who need medical transition have timely access. Young people desperate for treatment sometimes buy illegal hormones when medical care is unavailable to them. The increased funding is intended to help alleviate clinic wait times, and will ensure permanent staff can be hired.

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

Ottawa: Canada’s federal immigration department has acknowledged it resettled fewer LGBT Iranians from Turkey within Canada, in order to make space for the late-2015 Syrian airlift.

The comments were made by a senior official at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They came on Feb 21, 2017, two weeks after an Xtra Canada investigation found that Canada had started referring LGBT Iranians to the United States for resettlement. Under the previous Harper administration, Conservatives gained international praise for the program that brought hundreds of LGBT asylum seekers from Turkey.

“We never stopped taking LGBTQ Iranians. We had a large flow of referrals that involved Iranians. As we increased the number of referrals for Syrians, we decreased the number of referrals from Iranians,” says David Manicom, the associate assistant deputy minister for strategic and program policy.

“Referrals continue at lower volumes, and may start again in the future,” Manicom says..

While federal Canadian officials say they don’t receive data on how many members of Canadian refugee communities identify as gender and sexual minorities, the immigration department’s internal figures show an 85 percent drop in all Iranians resettled within Canada through the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

LGBT Iranian transient refugees in Turkey, and their advocacy groups, say referrals dramatically slowed in November 2015, as the Syrian program got underway. Six-month delays became year-long holds, before the UNHCR started referring the refugees to the United States by October 2016. The department’s data shows that Canada took in 1,022 Iranians through that process in 2014, which dropped to 374 in 2015 and only 152 in 2016. (These numbers reflect government resettlement totals, and don’t include refugees who were privately sponsored by Canadian citizens and groups.) According to Xtra, seven Iranians in Turkey provided documents showing that Canada initially accepted them from third-country resettlement before suspending their cases. All were referred to the United States, which has now halted refugee resettlement for 120 days (and Syrian refugees indefinitely).

One of the seven asylum seekers provided a recording of a late-2016 conversation with a UNHCR official, which Xtra is not broadcasting for legal reasons. The six other refugees said they have all had similar phone calls with the UNHCR. In the Persian-language conversation, translated for Xtra by both activists and non-activists, the UN official recommends re-applying for resettlement through the US.

“Canada is currently accepting only Syrian refugees [from Turkey],” the UN official says, explaining why one claimant’s file languished for almost a year.

“Canada said it would resume accepting refugee files after five months. Then, the five months were prolonged into six months . . . then six months were again prolonged into one year,” the official says on the tape. “Afterwards, Canada suddenly declared it would not accept any refugee files. At the time we submitted your file . . . we referred all LGBT files to Canada for processing, until all of a sudden, Canada stopped accepting these files and left its accepting status as ‘undecided’ for us.”

Xtra asked Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen on Feb 21 how he justifies this policy, which may come under parliamentary scrutiny.

“We have a refugee policy that is first and foremost informed by vulnerability,” Hussen responded. “And we work very, very closely with the UN Refugee Agency as well as private sponsors to identify the most vulnerable, and that would include members of the LGBTQ2 community.” He also touted a private-sponsorship program, in which groups have helped LGBT Iranians resettle in Canada through a longer process.

“That is work that we’ve engaged in, and we’ll continue to — to do so, to help those ones.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Edinburgh: Scottish Secretary David Mundell has blasted a homophobic tweet by a pro-independence blogger.
The Scottish blogger Wings Over Scotland wrote on twitter about David’s son, Oliver who is a MSP for Dumfriesshire and was addressing the Tory conference.
The blogger wrote: “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad embraced his homosexuality sooner.”
David Mundell, who came out in January 2015, shut the comment down.
“This sort of behaviour has to be called out. We’re not going to face down homophobia unless we call out people who practice it,” the Scottish Secretary retorted.
Oliver Mundell, who was elected into the Scottish parliament last year, called the comment “absolutely disgusting and unacceptable”.
He said: “It is really important they call out this kind of behaviour. There are lots of reasonable people within the independence movement. But there are still some unpleasant figures who get given airtime by senior people within the SNP.
The MSP added that it was their job to call out those who are “offensive and unpleasant”.
“This is an individual who has interacted with SNP MSPs and MPs, and distributed material in the last independence campaign. There is duty for all of us in politics to call out those within their own ranks who are offensive and unpleasant,” Oliver Mundell added.
He went on to explain that he had received a lot of abuse online in the past, and called that a Scotland that nobody wants to “live in”.
He said: “I get a lot of abuse online. There are certain individuals you don’t want to give oxygen to but sometimes comments people make just cross the line.
“For other families who have gone through similar situations, comments like that make it more difficult for people to be who they are,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the kind of Scotland anyone wants to live in.”

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

Belfast: Civil marriage equality could be finally about to arrive in Northern Ireland after provincial elections. The Democratic Unionist Party has lost its power to veto same-sex marriage following an election within Northern Ireland. The party, headed by Arlene Foster, emerged from the election with 28 seats but requires a signature from 30 Assembly members to pass the petition that could block marriage equality. In order to pass a “petition of concern” over same-sex marriage, the party would need to be supported by a majority of nationalist and unionist members.
The DUP held 38 seats before the governmental collapse that led to the elections, allowing the party to block same-sex marriage laws.
Sinn Féin took 27 seats, while the SDLP had 12, the UUP 10, the Alliance party eight, and other parties taking 5 of the 90 seats declared.
Just 1,168 votes separated the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin, meaning that for the first time Unionists will not hold a majority vote at Stormont.
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Mike Nesbitt, who previously said same-sex marriage opponents are “on the wrong side of history” while opposing it himself has resigned from his position because of his parties poor performance.
The hardline anti-gay DUP politician Jim Wells retained his seat.
The government in Northern Ireland collapsed after a power-sharing agreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin broke down.
Sinn Féin repeatedly called for the DUP leader to quit as First Minister over her involvement in the RHI scandal, a botched energy scheme she oversaw while serving as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, which has been hit with serious allegations of incompetence, corruption and abuse.
Following the results of the election, the parties will have three weeks to establish a government that will have to be run by both nationalists and unionists.
Another election will be called if a government cannot be formed within that time, and if no power-share agreement is made that power could return to the UK government for the first time in a decade.

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

Washington DC: A number of US Jewish and Muslim faith leaders have joined a legal brief defending anti-discrimination protections for transgender kids.
The Supreme Court is set to hear the case of Virginian trans teen Gavin Grimm, whose school ordered him to use a toilet that correspond with his “biological gender”.
Grimm is suing the Gloucester County School Board with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing that the policy violated his right to freedom from discrimination.
The Supreme Court case is expected to set precedent on legal protections for trans people, and is considered ‘must-win’ after the Trump administration acted to withdraw trans protections.
Ahead of the case, a legal brief has been filed on behalf of a number of faith groups defending LGBT rights.
A total of 1800 faith leaders and a string of religious groups joined the brief, including from both Muslim and conservative Jewish groups. Their brief attacks any ‘religious freedom’ justification for allowing discrimination,
In their statement, Muslims for Progressive Values profess a “belief in transgender equality as rooted in our understanding of our faith and the values at the heart of Islam, embodied in the commandment in the Holy Qur’an 5:8 to pursue justice”, interpreting the Qur’an as “having no concept of assigned gender roles, gender-based behavior, or separation of the sexes, deeming any discrimination on such bases as cultural and not to be given any divine mandate”.
The Jewish Theological Seminary, also a signatory, added: “JTS is compelled to act in the face of state and federal actions which undermine the Jewish principle of human dignity (kevod haberiyot) as it relates to our LGBTQ students, teachers, family members, neighbors, and all those targeted in the larger community.
“We are chagrined to find that the rights and security of [trans people] are newly under attack from the very government entities and institutions to which we are all entitled to look for protection.
“We are particularly distressed that the White House and Department of Justice have reversed existing government positions that provided protections to members of the LGBTQ community, in spite of President Trump’s earlier statements supporting LGBTQ rights.
“A Justice Department that fails to advocate on behalf of vulnerable minorities subject to discrimination and even violence forfeits the right to be known by that name.”
They added: “Laws such as the one at issue in the Supreme Court case have the effect, if not the purpose, of publicly humiliating transgender students by refusing them access to facilities consistent with their gender identities, and singling them out for discriminatory treatment in full view of their fellow students. As members of the Jewish community, our hearts bleed with theirs from such humiliation.”
The signatories include the Rabbinical Assembly; the Episcopal Church the United Church of Christ; the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association; Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Methodist Federation for Social Action.

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

Moscow: The Russian government may ban the new Beauty and the Beast movie after director confirms ‘gay moment’.
Since 2013, Russia adopted ‘gay propaganda’ laws, which effectively gag all LGBTI material.
The new Beauty and the Beast live remake will have an ‘exclusively gay moment’ for the first time in a Disney film.
LeFou, the manservant to Gaston, will show a struggle with his sexuality and his feelings for leading man Gaston.
Played by Frozen star Josh Gad, the director promised there will be a ‘big pay-off at the end’.
But Russian MPs say this is a ‘shameless propaganda of sin,’ according to the BBC.
Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said: ‘As soon as we get a copy of the film with relevant paperwork for distribution, we will consider it according to the law.’
Once the Russian government sees the film, they will decide on the course of action.
Vitaly Milonov, an MP of the governing United Russia party, wants to ‘take measures to totally ban’ the movie.
Russian actor Pavel Derevyanko also told state-run TV Russia 24: ‘I will not take my kid to this movie.’
The movie is due to be released in Russia on 16 March.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Beirut: A new BBC documentary explores what it’s like being LGBTI and illegal in Lebanon.
The documentary takes a close look at the criminalization of homosexuality and how it affects LGBTI people.
Sasha Elijah, a transgender model in Lebanon says: ‘It’s 2017, we already go through a lot – give us a chance and let us breathe.’
Elijah describes the story of her transgender friend who was stripped, beaten and left on the street.
‘I love their hate and I grow on it,’ Elijah says.
The documentary opens with producer Benjamin Zand meeting a ‘well-known’ gay man around town, named Lary.
Lary shows what Grindr is like in Lebanon and says: ‘In Beirut, you can rarely find faces.
‘Because they don’t want people to know they’re gay,’ replies Zand.Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits having sexual relations that are ‘contradicting the laws of nature’.
People caught in breach of this law are punishable for up to one year in prison.
But actual enforcement of the law varies from place to place in Lebanon.
While homosexuality is still technically illegal in Lebanon, a landmark case this year suggests times might be changing.
The case ruled that ‘homosexuality is a personal choice, and not a punishable offense.’
Stigma against LGBTI people also remains high in Lebanon.
A report released in 2015 reveals 64.6% of survey respondents felt LGBTI people should not be accepted into society.
Zand interviews anti-gay religious leader, Father Abdo Abou Kassm, who believes homosexuality is a disease.
When asked if homosexuality and same-sex marriage could ever be legal in Lebanon, Father Kassm disagrees.
‘We will never get to that point in Lebanon as long as there are morals,’ he says.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Darwin: A specialised LGBTI health clinic in the northern Australia city, Darwin, may close down due to lack of funding.
Dr Danielle Stewart opened a monthly health service for LGBTI people in her practice in Darwin in the Northern Territory (NT).
She started the service after she realized there was a lack of knowledge about LGBTI health issues in the NT.
Since it opened in mid-2016 the service has a 90% rate of transgender and gender diverse patients.
‘It was a wonderful experience working there and I realised the sense of community that it gave and a sense of trust for people coming to the clinic,’ Dr Stewart told ABC Online.
‘People were well and enjoying coming to see their doctor instead of being frightened.’
Dr Stewart many people in Darwin were ‘patching together’ their own health care and ‘self-treating’.
However, Dr Stewart is worried she might not be able to continue providing the service if they don’t get funding soon.
Her practice has been coveting the travel and accommodation costs interstate specialists.
‘At the moment we’re self-funding and we’re running at a loss to be honest,’ she said.
‘We’ve shown that this clinic is worthwhile.
‘To make it sustainable, we need to find some money.’
NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said her government will collect data on its gender diverse population. But it would not make a decision about funding services until the data had been analyzed.
It’s a challenge around understanding what need there is and obviously in terms of the primary health care that fits with the Federal Government,’ she said.
‘We have to remember that we’re a relatively small population and isolated.
‘So it’s a real balance between providing these services and making sure health outcomes are equally met.’
General practice and mental health services are funded by the Federal Government, which recently announced cuts to the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Berlin: The junior party in the ruling coalition in Germany has announced a new bid for same-sex marriage.
The Social Democrats (SPD), the junior party in coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats announced the new bid on Sunday.
Accoring to Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary leader for the SDP, the Green Party will also push for the move.
Oppermann suggested to Der Spiegel magazine that his party would push for pardons for men convicted of historic gay sex offences.
The SDP hopes that in the upcoming September elections, that it may be able to form a government with smaller parties, and move away from the coalition with the Christian Democrats.
The Green Party’s parliamentary group leader Katrin Goering-Eckardt released a statement saying the party would ask for public debates on the issue.
“For years, we’ve seen nothing but hot air from the conservatives and the SPD,” she said.
Various studies have found a majority in support of same-sex marriage in Germany.
But despite this the Christian Democrats have continually opposed it.
Officials claim they are unable to pursue reform on the issue due to the strict coalition agreement.However, the leader has overseen other reforms, strengthening protections for same-sex couples and issuing compensation to men with historic gay sex offences.
Merkel last year warned US President Donald Trump to respect freedom from discrimination, in her statement on his victory.

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

London: Feminist columnist, Jenni Murray believes trans women will never be ‘real women’.
Writing in the Sunday Times, she says: ‘What I have difficulties with is this concept that if you make the transition, you are a real woman.
‘You are a trans-woman or a trans-man,’ she says.
Murray claims she wants to bring ‘sanity and reason’ into a debate that has become ‘bitter and cruel’.
‘I am not anti-trans,’ she says, as she proceeds to be transphobic.She sites the male privilege trans-women have before they transition and provides examples from previous interviews.
One example is Reverend Peter Stone, who transitioned from male to female in 2000, now Carol.
When asked if she owed a debt of gratitude to women in history for paving the way to become religious leaders, Stone was allegedly more concerned with what make up and heels to wear in front of her parishioners.
Murray writes: ‘It was news to Carol that life as a woman, especially a middle-aged woman, stepping into male territory in which she was unwelcome would be extremely tough.
‘I prayed Carol would not find it so hard.
‘Experience told me otherwise.
‘It wasn’t going to be all about frocks and make-up.
‘It was about sexual politics and feminism — ideas of which she seemed woefully unaware,’ Murray writes.
Critics argue the article is problematic for trans people and takes too much of a simplistic approach.
Rachel Cohen, executive director of campaigns and strategy from LGBTI charity Stonewall said: ‘Whether you are trans or not, your identity is yours alone.
‘My experiences of being a woman are undoubtedly different to yours.
‘However, their differences do not make them in any way less valid,’ Cohen said.
Cohen urges Murray to reach out and speak to more trans people and become an ally.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Warsaw: Same-sex couples are ‘unconstitutional’ and should not find love on TV, a Polish broadcasting boss claims.
Jacek Kurski is a former member of the of Law and Justice Party (PiS) and co-founded its right-wing spin-off United Poland (SP).
He is also the director of Poland’s publicly funded broadcaster Telewizja Polska (TVP).
And as Poland gets it own version of successfull UK and Australian blind date-show First Dates, Kurski said viewers would probably not see same-sex couples.
Because their looking for love is, apparently, ‘inconsistent with the Constitution’, according to WP teleshow.
‘We’re a publicly funded broadcaster and have to follow certain rules firmly expressed in both our Constitution and the law,’ Kurski said.
‘The Constitution says that the family, according to Polish law, is the union of man and woman.
‘And because dating serves the purpose of establishing a family, or marriage, and because the law, the Polish tradition, and morality see these unions as between man and woman, it is obvious that there must be opposite-gender couples.’
Some activists reacted amused rather than appalled.
On their Facebook page, Stonewall Poland said: ‘Sorry, but we’re cancelling all same-sex dates.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Auckland: The anti-LGBT Conservative Party of New Zealand says it is annoyed about being kicked off the line-up for the first political debate of election year.

But the party won’t take the issue to court, according to current leader Leighton Baker. The University of Auckland Debating Society is hosting the debate on Thursday, and representatives from National, Labour, Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party, United Future and Mana will take part. The Conservative Party was originally invited when the panel format was first mooted in November 2016, but the invitation was withdrawn on Friday 3 March. ADBS President Callum Lo said the organisation did not expect so many parties to respond, and it had decided to limit participatation to parties which were in, or had been, in Parliament.

That meant there was no room for either the Conservatives or The Opportunities Party.

“The lineup had become quite bloated,” Lo said. “We had 11 or 12 people and for an hour and a half debate we were looking at only around eight minutes per person.”

Baker said his party’s exclusion was “a wee bit unjust” given the Conservatives had polled fifth-highest in the last election, and higher than four other parties being represented at the debate. It was also “common courtesy” to uphold an invitation, he said. In 2014, Craig successfully challenged TV3 in court after being left out of its minor parties debate.

Baker said he wouldn’t go that far on this occasion: “That’s not how we roll”. The Conservatives received 3.97 per cent of the vote in 2014 but failed to get into Parliament because they fell below the 5 per cent party vote threshold and won no electorate seats.The party has since been torn apart by the departure of founder, leader, and main funder Colin Craig amid allegations of “inappropriate conduct” in relation to his former press secretary in 2015 and neverending litigation ever since. It does not register in most opinion poll results.

Baker said he was determined to prove the Conservatives were not a one-man party and they were busy working on policy and recruiting candidates for the election. He said the election campaign would be “much more grassroots” without the financial backing of Craig, a millionaire property manager who funded most of the party’s campaign.

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

Washington DC: The US Supreme Court has reversed its decision to hear a landmark case on transgender bathroom rights.
Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, sued his school board over their policy which prevented him from using male facilities.
The Supreme Court had scheduled for a hearing on 28 March.
However, it has now sent the case back to a lower court after Donald Trump’s administration issued new policy guidance relevant to the case.
The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit originally ruled in Mr Grimm’s favour in April last year.
It deferred to then-president Barack Obama’s directive on the issue – which said that federal law banning sex discrimination in public schools extended to protecting transgender bathroom rights.
The supreme justices later accepted a petition from Gloucester County, Virginia, to hear an appeal – in what would have been the first Supreme Court ruling on transgender rights. However, in late February, Donald Trump’s administration overturned the guidelines laid down by President Obama.
Mr Trump’s new guidance allows individual states to decide what bathroom facilities students may or may not use.
In light of the change in circumstances, the Supreme Court decided to return the case to the lower appeals court to reassess its decision. A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union representing Mr Grimm maintained that Title IX – the legislation Mr Obama decided should protect transgender bathroom rights – still applied.
“Nothing about today’s action changes the meaning of the law,” Joshua Block said.
“While we’re disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be hearing Gavin’s case this term, the overwhelming level of support shown for Gavin and trans students by people across the country throughout this process shows that the American people have already moved in the right direction and that the rights of trans people cannot be ignored.
“This is a detour, not the end of the road.”
The Supreme Court is petitioned to hear more than 7,000 cases in an average year, but usually considers about 80.
Gavin Grimm is now unlikely to have his case resolved by the Supreme Court before graduation. However, there are several other pending cases in other states about the application of Title IX to transgender bathroom rights.
If one of them makes it to a hearing at the country’s highest court, it would set a precedent for all future disputes on the issue. t looked like Virginia high school student Gavin Grimm was going to get transgender kids their day in court, with the Supreme Court having already set a date to hear his case — March 28. Then Jeff Sessions was named attorney general of the United States.

Sessions moved quickly to undo the Obama administration’s guidance that said transgender students must be treated according to their gender identity, which had meant trans kids like Grimm couldn’t be forced into single-occupancy bathrooms or other inappropriate facilities. Grimm’s school board had prevented him from using the boys’ restroom and required him to use an inconvenient, single-occupancy one.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case after a three-member panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in Grimm’s favor, citing both the Obama guidance and the federal Title IX law. When Sessions undid the Obama guidance, trans activists — and the Gloucester County School Board, which was being sued — had hoped the justices would still move ahead and decide whether transgender people are included in Title IX’s protections against gender-based discrimination.

Today, the hobbled court, with only its eight justices instead of nine, vacated the case. That means it not only didn’t take the case — which would’ve meant Grimm’s win at the lower court had stood — but also that the justices undid the appeals court ruling and asked it to start again.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Grimm’s case won’t still end up at the Supreme Court. But the change in law initiated by Sessions and Trump now means the case must be decided only on Title IX. From the perspective of Sessions and opponents of trans rights, that’s the best possible outcome. They’re hoping a do-over comes with a different outcome.

“This announcement speaks volumes to the ways that President Trump’s actions are already having devastating consequences for transgender youth across the country,” said Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, in a statement. “All students, including transgender students, deserve to participate fully and succeed in school, and to feel safe and respected while doing so.”

“The Supreme Court has missed an opportunity to end the painful discrimination currently faced by tens of thousands of transgender students nationwide,” said Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. They have been “left in limbo,” she said.

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

Darwin: Darwin’s only specialised LGBTI clinic fears it may close down due to lack of funding. Dr Danielle Stewart runs the monthly clinic, which sees 90 per cent trans and gender diverse patients. She started the service last year in response to a lack of knowledge of LGBTI issues in the Northern Territory.

She said many people in Darwin had been “self-treating” and “patching together” their own health care prior to the clinic starting. It was a wonderful experience working there and I realised the sense of community that it gave and a sense of trust for people coming to the clinic,” Dr Stewart said.
The clinic is self-funded, with the practice covering travel costs for visiting interstate specialists.

“We’re running at a loss to be honest. We’ve shown that this clinic is worthwhile. To make it sustainable, we need to find some money.”

NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the government will collect data on the gender diverse population, and would not make funding decisions until after the data is analysed.

“We have to remember that we’re a relatively small population and isolated. So it’s a real balance between providing these services and making sure health outcomes are equally met.”

General practice services are funded by the federal Australian government, which recently announced cuts to the Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis Council’s programmes.

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

Belfast: Just days after Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party lost their veto power over same-sex marriage, another MLA has vowed to help them block it.
Assembly elections were held last week in Northern Ireland after the collapse of the previous government, with the anti-gay marriage DUP losing ground to Sinn Féin.
The DUP, which lost nearly all of its hefty majority, had previously used peace process powers known as ‘petitions of concern’ to block same-sex marriage.
Hopes of progress were raised over the weekend when the DUP won just 28 seats – two short of the 30 needed to pass a petition of concern by themselves.
However, it’s far from plain sailing, and unionists from two other parties, the Ulster Unionist Party and Traditional Unionist Voice, have vowed to prop up the DUP on the issue.
Though the currently-leaderless UUP includes some members who support equality, East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs told Sunday Life he would join a veto effort.
He said: “I am against gay marriage and that is still the case.
“Nobody is sure what rules may apply for a petition of concern or if there will even be an Assembly, nobody knows. Where do we go from here?
“I wouldn’t be honouring the people who voted for me if I voted any differently because I have spoken openly in the past about my views on the matter.”
TUV MLA Jim Allister also previously vowed to aid any bid to block equal marriage, saying: “TUV is a party committed to traditional family values and will continue to resist attempts by the homosexual lobby to introduce the oxymoron which is same sex marriage to Northern Ireland.”
With the support of Beggs and Allister, the DUP would have the 30 signatures needed to veto equal marriage.
The blow comes despite a strong majority in the new Assembly for equal marriage.
Before any move on the issue, however, an Executive must be formed – with the DUP and Sinn Féin having just weeks to agree a power-sharing deal.
Sinn Féin have refused to work with DUP leader Arlene Foster over a corruption scandal, while Ms Foster has steadfastly refused to resign.

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

Portland: A fundamentalist bakery in Oregon that waged a court battle against anti-discrimination rules are now trying to avoid paying legal costs – despite donors giving them several times the full amount.
The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa came to national attention when they claimed it would be “sinful” to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, launching a legal battle against the state’s equality laws.
After losing the long-running court case last year, bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein were ordered to pay $135,000 in costs and damages .
More than $400,000 was raised online after the anti-gay American Family Association (AFA) rallied its supporters to donate to Sweet Cakes to cover the fine.
But despite the hefty donations, the bakers are now apparently trying to avoid paying the costs.
They launched a last-ditch appeal this week in a bid to get out of paying the fine.
Melissa Klein said: “We just want the government to tolerate and accept differences of opinion, so we can continue to follow our faith.
“We hope that, even if people have different beliefs from us, that they will show each other tolerance and that we can peacefully live together and still follow our faith. That’s all we want.”
Their attorneys argued: “The government should never force someone to violate their conscience or their beliefs.
“In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We hope the court will uphold the Kleins’ rights to free speech and religious liberty.”
It is unclear what the money raised to pay the fine is being used for.

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

Manchester: Manchester United have become the first UK football club to partner with LGBT+ charity Stonewall.

The new initiative will see the Premiere League club work alongside Stonewall to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the sport while also exploring ways to encourage equality and inclusiveness.

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said: “Manchester United’s support means we can reach millions of football fans both here and around the world, to encourage them to do their part in making all people feel welcome in sport.

“It’s crucial for organisations like Manchester United to show they not only welcome LGBT people, but are active in leading the change. At the moment, many LGBT people want to take part in sport, either as players or fans, but the behaviour of a minority can make them feel unsafe, unwelcome or unable to be themselves.

“There’s so much work left to do to ensure that all LGBT people feel able to participate in sport, and we hope to see other clubs take Manchester United’s lead and join the Rainbow Laces campaign to make this a reality.”As part of the partnership, the club will become an official member of TeamPride, which uses the power of sport to spread the message of equality, while Old Trafford will host Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces Summit later this year.

Manchester United’s Group Managing Director, Richard Arnold, said: “Manchester United always look to be a leader in everything it does and we are proud to be the first sports club to sign up to TeamPride.

“The club has an ongoing commitment to equality across all areas and with 659 million followers around the world, it is our responsibility to show support and recognition to everybody who loves this football club.

“We have built up a positive working relationship with Stonewall and it’s a great way for us to learn from each other and progress together as we strive for equality for all of our supporters.”

It’s not the first time Manchester United have shown support for the LGBT+ community – in February last year, they exchanged rainbow laces with Arsenal in a pre-game ritual to signify their commitment to equality.

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

Beijing: A new inclusive sex education textbook has received mixed opinions in China.

The book, which is published by Beijing Normal University and is reportedly being used in at least 13 schools in the capital city, teaches children about intercourse, homosexuality, sexual abuse and gender equality.

On one page of the book, a pair of students ask their teacher about their female neighbours who live together as a couple, a subject that is still stigmatised and considered taboo in China.

The teacher replies: “The majority of people are heterosexual, but there are some people who feel attracted to the same sex. This is a completely normal phenomenon. We can’t discriminate against them.”he book has become the centre of debate after a user on social media website Weibo shared photos of the textbook and complained about the “graphic illustrations”, questioning if they were “fake textbooks”.

According to What’s On Weibo, other social media users agreed, labelling the book “vulgar” or even “pornographic”, but many others have come to its defence and praised it for being progressive.

One Weibo user named Didi said: “For children, these textbooks are like a holy book, and when the teacher tells them that women can become police officers, that men can be nurses, it is such an encouragement for them.

“And when you explain to children that homosexuality is normal and that they shouldn’t discriminate against it, it really is a step forward against discrimination.”

As well as teaching children about sex, the book also promotes gender equality, explaining that all professions can be pursued by both men or women, and that it’s normal for a man to take care of a household.Beijing Normal University explained in a statement: “The book was rigorously designed, tested, and revised. In China, sex has been a taboo issue; parents still do not want to discuss these things with their children, while children are increasingly exposed to inaccurate sexual portrayals in the media.

“We hope children can form their own values based on accurate, scientific information.”

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

Toronto: More than 50 protesters gathered silently in the snow outside New West Community Church on Sunday, March 5, 2017, to mark their opposition to Paul Dirks, the church’s lead pastor.

Dirks spearheaded a campaign against Bill C-16, the federal bill that would protect trans people from discrimination across Canada. Dirks’ campaign gained attention in January when anti-trans posters appeared in the Davie Village, but Dirks insists that his campaign is misunderstood.

“This is something that needs to be really clear about our campaign: we’re not saying that trans people are more of a risk; we’re saying that predators will take advantage,” Dirks tells Xtra. “My view is based on women’s rights campaigns and protections. There’s women both in my immediate family and my faith community who don’t feel that it’s safe to have no criteria around them when they are vulnerable or unclothed.”

Protesters say that’s a red herring.

“It’s something that people who object to extending trans rights trot out as a way of justifying their own bigotry,” Mary Ann Saunders says.

“When he talks about the discomfort of women, he’s not talking about all women, he’s talking about a small number of women. And he’s not taking into account the needs and comfort and rights of trans women.” Saunders transitioned while a member of a church community, and says her church has always been a safe and welcoming environment, both during and after her transition. She wants people to know that Dirks’ way of understanding faith and Christianity is not the only way.

“It’s really important to counter misinformation and fear with factual information about the implications of Bill C-16 and about whose lives are actually in danger,” she says. “We know that it’s trans people that are more in danger than anyone Pastor Dirks is talking about.”

Protester Hazel Plante is concerned about the apparent disconnect between Dirks’ words and his campaign.

“He says things like, ‘I love trans people,’ and then I see the actions and it’s clearly designed to make trans women look like predators,” Plante says.I think it’s really important to protect trans rights, and to make attacking someone who is trans a hate crime. Seems pretty fundamental and obvious to me,” she says.

“If you want us to be a part of society, then we need to be able to use the washroom,” she continues. “It’s really not about the washroom at all. It’s about what spaces can we enter? Where can I be a fully functional human being?”Dirks allotted an hour to meet with protesters and create a dialogue before his sermon. Though some protesters engaged, many turned their back on him and refused to interact, instead chanting, “Love thy neighbour.”

“I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t feel like he’s created a safe space,” explained one of the protest organizers, Lorne Gille. “I don’t want to dialogue with Paul, I don’t feel like it’s helpful or productive. We’re just here to voice our dissent against him.”

“We had some fears around not wanting to give him more air time,” adds Gille, who says he joined the protest as both a trans man and a Christian, after reading about Dirks.

“I just think this gives a really negative connotation to Christianity and religion,” he says of Dirks’ campaign. “There’s just no place for this.”

Dirks maintains that he loves everyone, including trans people, and that his church “welcomes anyone who wants to worship Jesus.” In a crowd made up predominantly of trans people and their families, many protesters expressed fear that Bill C-16 might not pass in Parliament. The bill is now headed to the legal affairs committee for review, having finally passed its second reading in the Senate on March 2.

“As a transgender woman who came out later in life, I don’t want the younger generation to have to go through this hatred, this violence and dissociation from society,” says Candace Boer, who attended the protest with her husband. “I’m not hiding anymore, and I’m not going to let anyone else push me back in.”

“That’s all I’m asking — just to live like any other normal person. I don’t want to be someone that’s considered less human.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

London: British MPs have passed a government amendment to make sex and relationship education mandatory.
Education Secretary Justine Greening had drawn up plans that she would act to make SRE mandatory in all schools, after pressure on the issue from sexual health and children’s campaign groups.
The plans do not include a commitment to LGBT-inclusivity, but LGBT charity Stonewall says it will be “working with the Government to ensure [LGBT issues] are reflected in updated guidance for schools”.
Her plans were given the green light by MPs today in a vote in the Commons, with the amendment to the Children and Social Work bill passing with near-unanimous support.
When the bill itself is passed, the amendment will make SRE mandatory in all schools, based on guidance to be drawn up by the Department for Education.
Schools must also make public a “statements of policy in relation to the education to be provided”.
The amendment itself does not go into specifics about the details, pending consultations – but does specify lessons will cover “safety in forming and maintaining relationships, the characteristics of healthy relationships, and how relationships may affect physical and mental health and well-being”.

Stonewall Chief Executive Ruth Hunt, said: “This is a huge step forward and a fantastic opportunity to improve inclusion and acceptance in education.
“Currently over half of secondary school students say they never have any discussion of LGBT relationships in their lessons, and over half of lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people are bullied in our schools because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That is unacceptable. By mandating all schools to provide good quality, age-appropriate relationships and sex education the Government has paved the way to change that situation.
“This should mean that all schools provide the space to discuss LGBT relationships and the issues LGBT people face, enabling more lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people to feel accepted in their school environment.
“We look forward to working with the Government on updating the guidance for schools to ensure that this measure helps to transform the experience of LGBT young people in all schools.”
Campaigners have urged the government to commit to LGBT-inclusive SRE in all schools.
David Geary of Pride in London said: “Healthy sex and relationship education cannot be wholly effective until it helps every pupil in the classroom. In continuing to separate, single out and ignore the needs of LGBT+ pupils, the government is helping to cement stigma, self-doubt, confusion and bullying.
“Such an omission lets down pupils right across the country, who need effective and positive support to develop into the healthy, confident and safe LGBT+ adults they deserve to be.
“Parents too benefit from having such a support as they learn to be the best guardian they can be for their LGBT+ child.
“Politicians across the political spectrum have signed the Pride in London Pledge which calls for the inclusion of same-sex relationship education in all London schools to ensure the representation of different families and communities within SRE.”
Ian Green of HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “In order to fully address the sexual and mental health crisis among young people, we will need to ensure that any legislation around SRE has a strong emphasis on neglected topics such as sexual health and on LGBT relationships, in order to tackle high rates of STIs among young people and ongoing homophobia in our school corridors.
“To deliver real change for young people, the government must also ensure teachers get allocated time, resource and training to do justice to this vital subject. With the budget announcement expected next week, now is the time to invest in SRE.
“Only then can we ensure that all young people – wherever they go to school, and whatever their sexuality – are empowered to make positive and informed decisions and to have healthy relationships, which they are ready for, and want.”

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

London: Antigay UK pension rules mean that a man’s battle to equalise pensions law for same-sex couples will be heard by the UK Supreme Court this week.
Current pensions law leaves some married gay and lesbian couples worse off than their heterosexual counterparts – because same-sex couples have only been recognised in the eyes of the law since civil partnerships were introduced in 2005.
The loophole means that while elderly straight couples have had decades to accrue rights to partner benefits on private pension plans, a number of plans only offer entitlements from 2005 onwards to gay and lesbian couples.
62-year-old John Walker is challenging rules that mean he would only be entitled to pass £500 of his final salary pension on to his husband and partner of more than 30 years when he dies – compared to £41,000 that a female widow could claim.
Same-sex couples outraged at the ‘short-changing’ have long been trying to re-address the rules, and after a defeat at the Court of Appeal, Mr Walker is taking his case to the Supreme Court.
The court will begin hearing the case tomorrow (March 8).
The Department for Work and Pensions had supported Mr Walker’s employer, the chemicals company Innospec, in the dispute.
John Walker said: “The government should be ashamed that – in 2017 – I and so many others are being forced to live with the worry that our loved ones won’t be provided for when we’re gone, solely because of our sexuality.
“My husband and I have been together for 24 years. During that time, I also gave more than two decades of my life to Innospec, paying in exactly the same amount into the company pension fund as my heterosexual colleagues.
“How can it be right that my husband will get practically nothing but, if I were to divorce him and marry the very first woman I see, she would be immediately entitled to the full spousal pension? It’s not just unfair – it’s absurd.
“For as long as I can remember, successive governments have talked about creating a fairer society – but while this exemption exists, they continue to sanction discrimination and inequality.”
Emma Norton, a lawyer at Liberty acting for Mr Walker, said: “This is a clear case of discrimination. Mr Walker gave 20 years to his employer and made the same pension contributions as his heterosexual colleagues but – solely because of his sexual orientation – his husband will see nowhere near the same benefits. Many, many others will be suffering the same injustice.
“This archaic loophole has no place in the UK in 2017, and it is disgraceful that the Department for Work and Pensions continues to spend taxpayers’ money fighting to preserve it. There can be no price tag on equality.
“We hope the Supreme Court will drive the law into the twenty-first century and take a huge step towards equal pension rights for same-sex spouses and civil partners.”

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

Kansas: Anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis will not have to pay legal costs over her long-running dispute.
Rowan County clerk Kim Davis famously refused to issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015, after the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states.
Four couples (two same-sex ones and two straight ones) sued Davis over her actions, with help from the ACLU..
The case gained national attention when Davis was jailed for several days for contempt of court, after refusing to comply with repeated court orders.
The lawsuit was resolved last year after the Republican Governor of Kentucky changed state law to eliminate the need for clerks like Davis to authorise licenses.
As well as ending the legal battle, the Governor’s actions sparked a dispute as to who should fit the legal bill for the case – with the ACLU attempting to reclaim costs from Davis.
However, this week a judge rejected the ACLU’s bid to reclaim $230,000 in legal costs, on the grounds that they were not technically a “prevailing party” due to the resolution of the case.
This means that Davis, who had pro bono support from the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel, does not have to pay costs despite being the one in violation of the original law.
U. S. Magistrate Judge Edward Atkins on Monday wrote: The plaintiffs are not ‘prevailing parties’ within the meaning of [the legal system] and are therefore not entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees.”
“Upon the enactment of Kentucky Senate Bill 216, which removed the name of the county clerk from marriage license forms, all claims asserted in this action, including the pending appeals, were dismissed as moot, and the preliminary injunction, vacated.
“This voluntary conduct by the state changing the marriage license forms so that the county clerk, Kim Davis, was no longer required to sign the license, does not signal that the plaintiffs prevailed in the action, and cannot serve as the basis for an award of attorney’s fees.”
The Liberty Counsel hailed the victory.
They said: “The ACLU and others still want to punish Kim Davis for daring to take a stand for religious liberty, but today the court recognized that the ACLU does not deserve to get paid for its bullying.
“Kim Davis never violated her conscience, and she still has her job and her freedom—that is a win for Kim and for all Americans who want to perform public service without being forced to compromise their religious liberties.”
The ACLU lamented the decision.

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

Dallas: The Texas lieutenant governor just won’t quit with his generally unpopular anti-LGBT bathroom bill, and has enlisted Christians and their pastors to push it through.
The proposed bill, which has been opposed by many in and outside of Texas, including businesses which say it would be catastrophic, would limit the rights of trans people to use a gender-appropriate bathroom. The lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who announced the measure earlier this year, announced a “one million voices” campaign to get pastors to push their congregations to support the measure.
“North Carolina was the tip of the spear. We will be next to pass a bill that focuses on privacy, a person’s privacy, and public safety,” Patrick said.
He also claimed, as he has previously, that there would be no economic damage from passing the bill.
Last month a group of investors worth a combined $11 trillion warned Texas that it should not pass a proposed bill to limit the rights of transgender people.
Also in February, the NBA weighed in on the anti-LGBT ‘bathroom bill’, suggesting that the state could lose future All Star games if it is passed.
Earlier that month the NFL warned that Texas could potentially lose the chance to host future Super Bowls
But since the group of investors has suggested that the state could lose out on jobs and investments, should it pass discriminatory legislation.
The letter, in part, reads: “As investors in companies that employ hundreds of thousands of people across your state, we (as well as our respective beneficiaries and investors) want Texas to continue to thrive as a successful business environment and to be a financial leader in our country. However, discriminatory legislation that undermines these opportunities may hinder public and private investment, as well as the ability to raise capital, throughout your state. “
“The undersigned investors are therefore united in our opposition to SB6 and any other forthcoming legislation that is hostile to LGBT people. Consequently, we urge you to oppose such legislation so that Texas can remain a competitive, vibrant, and innovative business and investment environment.”
The letter also specifically mentions SB6, the bathroom bill, and cites a study suggesting that Texas could lose almost a billion dollars if it passes.
The study was attacked by the state’s Lieutenant Governor, who called it “mostly false”
Despite claims by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that “we don’t care” about the NFL threats, the NBA suggested that the bill could make Texas ineligible to host the All Star game.
“We consider a wide range of factors when making decisions about host locations for league-wide events like the All-Star Game – foremost among them is ensuring the environment where those who participate and attend are treated fairly and equally,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement to FOX Business.
The bill, which has drawn massive controversy for state Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick who proposed it, would ban transgender people from using bathrooms other than that which corresponds to their birth certificate.
The revelation by the NFL was made in an email by NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy to the Houston Chronicle.
It reads: “The NFL embraces inclusiveness… 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.”

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The legislation is similar to HB2, introduced in North Carolina last year which has lost the state a raft of high profile and collegiate sporting events.
State Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick earlier this year said moves to introduce such a bill as has proven catastrophic to states like North Carolina, would be a priority in the new legislative session.
The bill, a version of which has caused North Carolina to lose business, sporting events and music events, would stop transgender Texans from using any bathroom which does not correspond to the gender stated on their birth certificate.
Since, the Texas Association of Business (TAB) had published a study estimating roughly the state losses at between $1 and 8 billion.
Patrick has since come out swinging, saying: “I hope all the media sources who printed that bogus TAB report will at least do a story now that TAB report has been shown not to be valid.”
But the TAB stood by the study, releasing a statement saying: “We don’t need studies alone to prove the negative impact of this unnecessary legislation. The hard data exists in real time and in dramatically quantifiable ways when you look at North Carolina and Indiana today.”
Adding: “This represents the tip of the iceberg for Texas, and we must avoid this collision course by rejecting discriminatory legislation.”
Despite being called a priority by Patrick, the bill could threaten to split the Republican party, which controls the three branches of Government in Texas.
House Speaker Joe Straus has cast doubt on the measure, saying it could be “bad for business”.
“I think we should be very careful about doing something that can make Texas less competitive,” he told the Texas Association of Business.
North Carolina, which at the end of December failed to repeal HB2, lost out on the All Star NBA game for 2017, lost the NCAA regional games out of the state, and performances from Bruce Springsteen and other high profile musicians cancelled North Carolina performances.
It has been estimated by Forbes that NC lost $600 million over six months because of its controversial legislation.
“Legislation to protect women’s privacy and business is essential to assure that sexual predators … will not be able to freely enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms or showers …,” a note from Patrick, applauding efforts to derail the repeal of HB2 read.
“The message from the Texas business community is loud and clear,” Chris Wallace, the TAB’s president said at the press conference in December.
“Protecting Texas from billions of dollars in losses is simple: Don’t pass unnecessary laws that discriminate against Texans and our visitors.”

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

Tokyo: Most LGBTI people in Japan were bullied in school and many more were not protected by their teachers.
A survey by the Takarazuka University School of Nursing in Osaka showed more than 50% of LGBTI people were bullied at school.
Nearly 70% of survey respondents said their teacher did nothing to help men. clearly show that proper knowledge and information have not fully spread at schools, and that
Professor of Social Epidemiology, Yasuharu Hidaka, lead the study which revealed teachers had not been trained in how to support LGBTI students.
15,000 people completed the only survey which found 58% of people had been bullied during all levels of schooling. them replied that they had suffered bullying while in elementary, junior high and high school.
Many respondents said there was no education about LGBTI issues and a number had reported self-harming when younger. 21% said they had refused to go to school at some points in their lives.
‘There is surely a higher proportion of those from sexual minorities among victims of bullying and truant pupils and students,’ Professor Hidaka told The Mainichi.
‘I want schools to take action to protect children in distress.’
What happened MEXT
The results come just days after Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) added LGBTI-specific protections in its national bullying prevention policy.
‘In order to prevent bullying toward students based on their gender identity…or sexual orientation/gender identity, schools should promote proper understanding of teachers on…sexual orientation/gender identity as well as make sure to inform on the school’s necessary measures regarding this matter,’ the draft policy reads.
The policy will be finalised by the end of March and follows a number of MEXT initiatives to protect LGBTI students.
In 2015 MEXT sent a directive to all school boards with several accommodations schools should make for transgender students.
It then released the ‘Guidebook for Teachers Regarding Careful Response to Students related to Gender Identity Disorder as well as Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’ in 2016.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Dallas: Over 400 LGBT supporters protested at Texas State Capitol but the state’s anti-transgender bill is now being sent to the Senate. The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-1 early this morning to advance the bill, despite huge opposition. Huge crowds gathered outside the government building on Tuesday to object the state’s proposed Texas Privacy Act, which would require all Texas residents to use public bathrooms according to the sex on their birth certificate.

Similar to North Carolina’s House Bill 2 that passed last year, the so-called ‘bathroom bill’ seeks to invalidate gender identity, reinforces transgender stereotypes and puts the safety of transgendered people at risk. Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, is determined to pass the controversial bill, despite both Democratic and Republican citizens and government officials publicly declaring their disapproval. Joe Straus, Republican House Speaker, spoke against his party’s bill, saying: “They have their agenda, we have ours.”

he transphobic bill has even divided Republicans, if at very least over economic concern following warnings from major corporations including Google, Amazon and the NFL.

Last month, the NFL threatened that the lucrative Super Bowl would not return to Texas if the bill progressed further. This year’s event was held in Houston, where Lady Gaga defiantly performed her LGBT anthem Born This Way during her halftime show spectacle.

These aren’t empty threats either: after the HB2 bill passed into law last year, major companies and events boycotted North Carolina, reportedly costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Too bad.

A host of celebrities also signed a public letter condemning the anti-trans bill, including LGBT artists Troye Sivan, Tegan and Sara, and Justin Tranter.

It’s extremely important that the severity of these bills is not downplayed. Last year Trans Lifeline announced that the number of calls to their trans helpline doubled after the North Carolina law passed, which shows the terrifying impact these laws can have.

Public support from citizens, public figures, politicians and companies is certainly hopeful and surely will bring support to the trans community in Texas. However, it may not be enough to prevent the bill from reaching its full potential.

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

Melbourne: Melbourne users of the hookup website Squirt are using the app to report danger areas for homophobic assaults.

Last week, Westgate Park and Footscray Park were reported as sites of recent attacks by groups of men. The reports follow more alleged attacks in Footscray Park earlier this year.

One user wrote, “Beware there is a group of dickheads around here looking for trouble. There is about 8 of them.”

Another left the comment, “Fuck I just escaped with my life. I was about to go to the dunnies when 5 or 6 guys jumped out of the bushes with bars … have the police showed up yet?”

Inspector Adrian Healy of Victoria Police said no police reports have been made, but they are aware of safety concerns at Footscray Park.

“I want to reiterate our commitment to the safety of the community,” said Healy. “On the whole Footscray is inclusive and secure, and police patrols in the area will be focused on the safety of park users to ensure this.

“I encourage anyone who witnesses or is subject to threats, discrimination or victimisation on the basis of sexuality or gender identity to inform police immediately—we are here to help.”

LGBTI community members can contact a LGBTI Liaison Officer (GLLO) for support in reporting crimes to police.

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

Connecticut: Students at an all-girls Catholic high school are calling on administrators to lift a ban on same-sex prom dates.
The Mercy High School in Middletown, Connecticut, currently bans students from bringing a same-sex date to prom.
A Change.org petition has been started by students at the school who say the “archaic and highly discriminatory rule” is “beyond shameful” and “aggressively discriminatory”.

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

Boston: An LGBT veterans group whose participation in Boston’s 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade was a historical first says it has been stopped from marching this year “because we are LGBTQ.”
OutVets, a New England-based organisation, broke down the barriers which had been in place against LGBT groups wanting to attend the annual event for decades.
In response, the city’s mayor Martin J. Walsh told the Boston Globe he would not march unless organisers reversed their decision, and called on other citizens to join him.
“I will not tolerate discrimination in our city of any form. We are one Boston, which means we are a fully inclusive city,” Walsh said.
“I will not be marching in the parade unless this is resolved. Anyone who values what our city stands for should do the same.”
The parade’s organising group, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, voted 9-4 on Tuesday to deny the group a place in the March 19 parade, AP reported.
In a message on its Facebook page, OutVets wrote that the council “did not give a clear reason, but, given the tenor of the Council’s deliberations, one can assume it’s because we are LGBTQ.
“This is a sad day for the LGBTQ community and for veterans of all backgrounds.
“OutVets has marched in this parade for two years without incident. Understanding the concern and controversy that surrounded our application, we followed the South Boston Allied War Veteran Council’s rules to the letter, each time.
“Our presence helped to break through the fog ill-will and discrimination that so distracted from the fine goals of this event – a community-hosted parade to honour all kinds of veterans.”
The message ended with a lament that “even after bringing honour to this parade, this community, and to all those who have served, we fight every day to be treated with the basic dignity that comes with service to country.”
Ed Flynn, a member of the council and veteran of the Navy, told AP he voted in favour of allowing OutVets to participate. He said he was “saddened and outraged” that the council had “voted to turn back the clock on equality.”

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

Manila: A Christian leader in the Philippines has expressed reservations over the creation of a specialized working group to tackle discrimination in eight Filipino laws.
The Philippines’ House Committee on Human Rights approved the creation of the group to ‘harmonize eight bills seeking to prohibit discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, language, disability, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status, and other status’.
Biblemode International (Bible Believers’ League for Morality and Democracy International) chairman Pastor Benny Abante, Jr. is a former House member and chairman of the House committee on human rights.
Biblemode International is a socio-civic, socio-political organization that represents more than 6,000 Bible-believing Baptist Churches in the Philippines and abroad.
Abante expressed reservations over the inclusion of the LGBT community and the sexual orientation and gender identity and expression clause in the proposal.
Abante argued he was not ‘condemning LGBTI’ people but believed in the rights of women and children and of religion as natural rights.
According to Abante, LGBT rights are ‘special rights’ whose further protection is no longer needed since these are already safeguarded in the Constitution under the equal protection clause.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Legal, Legislative and Linkages supported the move.
‘It is high time that a legislative measure is put in place,’ said CHR lawyer Eunice Sta. Maria.
‘Since basic human rights are not only enshrined in the Constitution, but also embodied in several treaties and conventions which the country is a signatory to.
Committee member Evelina Escudero said the provisions of her proposed ‘Anti-Religious and Ethnic Stereotyping Act’ seek to protect the rights of Filipinos against discrimination arising from race, religion and ethnicity.
‘Under the bill, there should be no discriminatory treatment on the basis of one’s religion or ethnicity, and there should not be any stereotyping or profiling of any person especially when they apply for work,’ she said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Taipei: Same-sex couples living in Taiwan’s capital will so be able to rent public housing.
Chien Se-fang, a division chief at the Taipei City government’s Department of Urban Development said it had approved changes to regulations of public housing rentals.
Chien confirmed the amendments were now on to the next stage of public approval and will then be submitted to the city’s municipal administrative council for final approval in May.
If all of the steps are approved, people in registered same-sex partnerships will be able to apply for public housing.
In 2015, Taipei became the second Taiwanese city to allow gay residents to list their partners in household registration records.
Since then the number of same-sex couples registrations has reached 298 with 55 of those being gay men 243 are lesbians, according to city government data.
Taiwan is set to become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage with a number of its government branches have agreed to review the marriage equality legislation.
The announcement comes just months after a Taipei city government survey revealed 75% of residents approve of public housing rather than selling the units.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Salt Lake City: The Utah legislature has given final approval to a bill removing a ban on “advocacy of homosexuality” in schools, sending it to Republican governor Gary Herbert for his signature or veto.

If signed by the governor, the measure could help the state settle a lawsuit brought by Equality Utah and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of several students and their parents, reports Salt Lake City TV station KSTU. The groups last year sued the state and three districts in federal court over the law, saying it precludes any positive discussion regarding LGBT people.The state Senate passed the final version of the bill today, replacing the words “advocacy of homosexuality” with “advocacy of premarital or extramarital sexual activity,” which would cover either same-sex or opposite-sex activity, the Associated Press reports. The bill has received strong bipartisan support, with today’s Senate vote coming in at 27-1. The House of Representatives had already OK’d it 68-1.

At least seven other states have similar laws, according to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network: Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. The groups that sued hope their action, the first lawsuit brought over such legislation, will have implications in those states.

Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams praised legislators’ vote and thanked lead sponsor Stuart Adams, a Republican who is Senate majority whip. “This is a historic day for LGBTQ students in Utah,” he told KSTU. “We commend Sen. Adams and the Utah legislature for recognizing that LGBTQ students should be treated with the same respect and dignity as straight students. The removal of discriminatory language from school curriculum will send a positive message that all students are valued in Utah.”

This week legislators withdrew another pro-LGBT bill, however. Rep. Elizabeth Weight, a Democrat, had authored a bill to prevent parents from defending themselves against charges of child endangerment if they kicked out a minor son or daughter because of disapproval of the child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, the Deseret News reports. Members of a House committee had raised concerns about the bill, saying it interfered with families or was unnecessary.

Although most of the objections came from Republicans, it was a Democrat, House Minority Leader Brian King, who said the bill should not get a vote yet. “King said he recognized it was not going to pass, and he wanted to help the bill avoid getting ‘thrashed’ by its opponents in order to encourage the sponsor to keep working on it,” the Deseret News notes.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Belfast: There is now a majority in favour of legalising gay marriage in Northern Ireland.
That’s the claim of a campaign group, who say most Northern Ireland Assembly members support the move.
Clare Moore, from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said: “A decisive majority of new MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) to support marriage equality”, at a press conference in Belfast organised by the Love Equality coalition.
The Democratic Unionists Party (DUP), who have a staunch conservative wing, have blocked same-sex marriages in the region for some years.
They used a mechanism called ‘petition of concern’ to stop the measure being debated.
Stormont previously voted in favour of same-sex marriages in 2015, but the DUP used the petition to block the measure.
However in last week’s elections they failed to secure the 30 MLAs they need to push through the petition in this session, and so are no longer able to block the measure outright.
The DUP won 28 seats, losing 10, while left-wing Sinn Fein won 27 seats.
It’s now hoped marriage equality could be achieved once a new power-sharing agreement is decided.
Declan Meehan, of Cara Friend, which campaigns alongside Amnesty International for equality, said: “All of the people of Northern Ireland must be served by the incoming government – that includes the LGBT community.
“Before any new executive is formed, there must be a firm commitment to deliver equal marriage legislation.
“Without that, we know it will be another five years of LGBT people being treated as second-class citizens of Northern Ireland.
“Clearly, we think any new executive should legislate for equal marriage.
“At a minimum, there must be a public commitment by any parties forming a new executive that their members will not deploy a petition of concern to prevent a private members’ bill on equal marriage similar to laws which already exist in England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.” rlene Foster, leader of the DUP and Northern Ireland’s previous First Minister, has refused to stand down, despite losing 10 seats.
If they fail to come up with a power-sharing deal, either another election will be called or the UK government will take over.
“I am listening not just to those who voted for the DUP but to those who cast their votes for other parties,” said Mrs Foster, who has faced fierce criticism of her leadership style after her party lost 10 seats in the Assembly election.
Just 1,168 votes separated the DUP and Sinn Féin in the election, meaning that for the first time Unionists will not hold a majority vote at Stormont.

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

Paris: The far right candidate for French president is on course to lose.
For the first time, poLls show Marine Le Pen behind in the first round of voting.
The French presidency involves two rounds of voting – the first with all candidates, then the top two, who go through to the second and final round of voting.
Emmanuel Macron, the moderate, centrist candidate is in the lead for the first round of voting for the first time.
The new poll has him leading with 26%, while Le Pen is on 25%, and right-wing candidate Fillon at 20%. Macron has faced unsubstantiated rumours about his sexuality during the election campaign.
He labelled the rumours as “vile homophobic” slurs that there is no evidence for.
But other polls have revealed surprising trends in voting intentions.
Nearly one in five French gay men are voting for far-right Presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen.
Despite pledging to scrap same-sex marriage, Le Pen has recently made inroads with conservative gay voters by playing off concerns about Islamic extremism.
Incredibly, polling by gay hook-up app Hornet this week found that despite Le Pen’s pledge to scrap same-sex marriage, she is still popular among gay men.
Of the 3200 men polled by the app, 19.2% are voting for Le Pen, slightly lower than her standing nationally, with a whopping 38.1% preferring centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, who recently vowed to champion LGBT rights.
Left-winger Benoît Hamon is third-placed among gay men on 18.5%, despite low support in the national polls; while scandal-plagued anti-LGBT conservative Francois Fillon attracted just 7.3% of gay voters despite being tied with Macron nationally.LGBT rights were not a top priority for respondents, with work, education and security all ranked as more important.
Le Pen’s plan to axe same-sex marriage was details in her 144-point manifesto.
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.

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

Florence: A landmark court ruling in Italy recognises a gay couple as the adoptive parents of their child.
The couple are Italian citizens but adopted their two sons in the UK, where they have lived for years.
The ruling at the Florence Court for Minors represents the first time the country has legally recognised a foreign adoption by same-sex parents, reports the Local.
The Wednesday ruling was issued to the family, represented by Susanna Lollini.
Lollini said the ruling was “undeniably a huge satisfaction from a personal and professional point of view, but even more so from a human point of view.”
The decision by British authorities to allow the couple to adopt was taken into account with the ruling.
According to the Local, the court wrote that, should Italy not recognise the parents, “this would result in a legal uncertainty that would negatively affect the children’s development of personal identity.”
The court ruled that the family was “a real and authentic family, and the parent-child relationship as such should be fully protected”.
Earlier this year, the Court of Appeal in the city of Trento ruled that two men could be named as fathers to their children born by surrogate. The surrogate mother in Canada, nor the fathers of the child have been identified.
The children were conceived by artificial insemination.
According to the court judges, parental relationships are not solely defined by a biological link.
“On the contrary, one must consider the importance of parental responsibility, which is manifested in the conscious decision to raise and care for the child,” the panel wrote.
The details of the ruling were published on the Article 29 website, which links it to an article to do with family in the country’s constitution.
The 23 February ruling was described as having “great significance” as it is the first time an Italian court has ruled that a child could legally be recognised as having two fathers.
“This is a recognition of full parenthood, in other words, not adoption,” the couple’s lawyer, Alexander Schuster said of the ruling.
“It has recognised for the first time a foreign provision that gives the second father the status of a parent.”
Currently Italian law bans couples from using surrogate mothers.
A child was removed from parents who had paid a Ukrainian surrogate two years ago. The couple were charged with fraud and the child was put up for adoption.
After a long battle, and much opposition from the Catholic Church, last year Italy legalised same-sex civil unions.
Before the law managed to pass in Italy, adoption rights were stripped out, in an effort to appease Catholic politicians.
The bill passed in the Senate after having the adoption provision removed.
The civil union bill came about after the European Court of Human Rights upheld complaints of discrimination by same-sex couples, who currently have no legal rights in Italy.
However, it stirred up resentment between the LGBT community and the country’s powerful anti-gay Catholic lobbying groups – with large rallies and political manoeuvring against the measure.

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

Sydney: The rate of new HIV diagnoses in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has dropped to the lowest number in five years.
NSW is the biggest state in Australia and whose capital city, Sydney, boasts one of the largest populations of gay men in the country.
The 2016 NSW Annual Data report shows 317 NSW residents were notified with HIV last year. This was despite a 21% in the number of HIV tests with the previous year.
NSW Chief Health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said the latest figures were an encouraging sign of the progress being made toward the state’s ambitious goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020.
‘The decline in new diagnoses in 2016, along with increased levels of HIV testing in high risk groups, suggests HIV may be declining,’ Dr Chant said.
‘It is timely… to remind people to get tested and seek treatment. We also advise people follow safe sex practices, using condoms to protect against HIV and other STIs, and to seek advice about PrEP medications if they are at high risk of HIV infection.’
PrEP the new way to beat HIV
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is the use of antiretroviral drugs to prevent the infection in those at high risk of the virus.
Studies have shown PrEP is safe and very effective, offering up to 99% protection for homosexually active men and 94% protection for women, if taken every day.
In March last year, NSW launched the landmark trial, EPIC-NSW (Expanded PrEP Implementation in Community), becoming the first state in Australia to do so.
‘One year on, more than five thousand people at high risk of HIV infection are now being treated at 21 clinics across NSW,’ Dr Chant said.
‘And enrolment of high risk people is continuing.’
One of the interesting figures to come from the data was that gay men and men who have sex with men made up 259 of the total 317 new diagnoses. This is 8% less than the average annual new diagnoses count for these men over the 2010 to 2015 period.
The 2016 data also indicated earlier diagnosis through increased testing, greater reach and uptake of treatment, and the scale up of PrEP are all contributing to changing the prevention landscape in NSW.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

United States: Dr. Joseph Nicolosi (1947-2017) is dead. He co-founded the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and ran the largest conversion therapy clinic for over 30 years, which aims to ‘cure’ gay people by trying to turn them straight. He was one of the most prominent faces and biggest advocates for the cruel ‘therapy’, with his entire career being a statement that being gay is a choice and ‘ex-gay’ is a possibility. Nicolosi ran the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic in California, where he was found dead, and was the author of four books about the ‘cure’ for homosexuality.

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

Perth: Western Australian state MPs have renewed attacks against Safe Schools ahead of this weekend’s state election, making claims about the program that many advocates have dispelled as inaccurate. While Labor and the Greens have both promised to fund the inclusive anti-bullying programme if elected, the Liberal party has said it will not if re-elected to a third term in government.

Liberal member Joe Francis posted a video to Facebook earlier this week deriding Safe Schools, stating that nothing is more important than the future of young children.
“I will never accept Labor’s proposal to use your money to fund the so-called Safe Schools program, which is anything but safe. I’ll never accept it’s okay to tell a child as young as four that they can choose and change their gender on a daily basis.”

Despite Francis’s claims that the program would teach four-year-old children about gender theory, the program has only ever been rolled out in high schools in Western Australia.

In a report by OUT In Perth, Chief Executive of the WA AIDS Council Andrew Burry said the program is an important resource for teachers.the

“The Safe Schools program is simply professional development for teachers and allied staff and is implemented at schools, only through consultation with their parent body,” he said.

A spokesperson for the National Office of the Safe Schools program also discounted the claims made by Francis, saying that none of the program’s approved resources suggest that gender can change daily.

“[Safe Schools] continues to support secondary schools as its main focus. We also respond to requests from primary school educators for assistance such as support, advice, and staff training in meeting the needs of their students and school communities,” they said.

Despite Francis’ claims being dispelled, fellow Liberal member Peter Abetz similarly posted a video to Facebook denouncing the Safe Schools program and the funding the Labor party intends to push into it.

“[Labor leader] Mark McGowan is going to give money to a group to push radical gender ideology into our schools,” he said.

Abetz then highlighted The Gender Fairy, a trans-inclusive children’s book penned by author and trans advocate Jo Hirst, calling it ‘nonsense’.

“As a father, I know that it’s nonsense. Because our gender is determined by our biology. Labor are intent in pushing this nonsense into our schools at the expense of our children.”

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

Sydney: Twenty Australasian intersex activists came together in Sydney to issue the Darlington Statement, which outlines key priorities for the intersex community. The statement prioritises legal reform to recognise bodily autonomy, effective rights-based oversight of clinical decisions, access to affirmative heath care, and peer support.

It reads: “Current forms of oversight of medical interventions affecting people born with variations of sex characteristics have proven to be inadequate.”
The intersex community is calling for the respect of human rights and bodily autonomy, greater respect for diversity and identity, and effective protection from discrimination. The statement contains calls for action from government, clinical institutions, and LGBTI and other allies.

Morgan Carpenter, co-executive director of Organisation Intersex International Australia, said, “Among those priorities, we seek a prohibition of unnecessary so-called ’normalising’ surgeries, like that in the 2016 Family Court cases of Re Carla.

“We need to make sure that such cases don’t happen again, and provide lifetime support for people dealing with the lifelong effects of what the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recognises to be harmful practices.”

Bonnie Hart, president of AIS Support Group Australia, said, “The coming together of so many different intersex people from around Australia and New Zealand is cause for celebration in and of itself. However, the penning of the Darlington Statement has made this intersex retreat absolutely historic. This statement is a powerful and directive message addressing the key issues currently affecting intersex people in our countries. By transparently outlining our common direction, the Darlington Statement has galvanised our community and the intersex movement generally. I feel so honoured to have been exposed to such insight and resilience and urge governments, health and social services to hear our voice and implement our demands.”

Intersex people are born with physical or biological characteristics such as anatomy, hormones or chromosomes that are more diverse than stereotypical definitions of male and female bodies. Up to 1.7 per cent of people are born with such characteristics—the same proportion of people who have red hair.

Mani Mitchell, executive director of Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand, said, “This movement has come so far. Proud to be part of this ‘red hair’ mob.”

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

Ottawa: Experts will be called to testify in April 2017, on a bill aimed at embedding trans rights in Canadian federal antidiscrimination laws, after the Canadian Senate delayed the bill’s deliberation over the course of 13 weeks. Bill C-16 is likely to pass a committee study without major amendments that gutted similar legislation in 2013, according to senators, despite some of their colleagues opposing the bill’s potential costs and espousing theories that it will lead to a crackdown on free speech. On May 17, 2016, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould tabled Bill C-16, which would enshrine protection from discrimination based on gender identity and expression into Canada’s human-rights and hate-crime laws. The House of Commons passed Bill C-16 on Nov 18, 2016, after the government fast-tracked the bill’s committee phase in the House. The Senate then took up the bill, starting its second reading Nov 28, 2016.

But the bill has languished through six weeks of Senate breaks and 23 sitting days in the chamber, 16 of which saw the bill postponed without debate. In the same time frame, two other bills started and completed their second-reading phase.

A Senate committee has now invited the justice minister to testify on Bill C-16 in the first week of April. Her appearance should be followed by four two-hour sessions of testimony by experts, such as human-rights lawyers, activists that support or oppose the legislation, and psychologists. The committee will then study the bill clause by clause. Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, the bill’s sponsor, notes that the House passed a similar bill back in 2009, only to see it die in the Senate. “It’s been eight years. It’s way past due; this is a human rights issue, and every day that it’s not passed is a day that injustice is perpetrated.”

The debate

Four Conservative senators have spoken against Bill C-16. Some cited the controversy surrounding University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson. Others took aim at campaigns for and against the bill. Meanwhile, thirteen Canadian senators spoke in support of the bill, including new senators like André Pratte.

“Gays and lesbians have made great strides in their fight against prejudice. Transgender people are just beginning their journey. By passing Bill C-16, we can help them take a crucial step,” he said.

But minutes later, Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak warned the bill would lead to higher taxes to fund lawsuits and public-awareness campaigns, and force businesses to buy new bathroom signs.

“There is simply not enough taxpayers in our nation to pay for everyone’s preference or choice,” Beyak said.

She praised John McKellar, a ’90s activist who founded “Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism” “to prevent the radicals of the gay movement, who expected all of Canada to be their closet, from setting the agenda. My other gay friends” agree, Beyak said, that “by living in quiet dignity, they have never had to face any kind of discrimination or uncomfortable feelings.”

Beyak added that “sex education is better left to parents,” because the topic takes up scarce classroom time. She also said her northwest Ontario district would be best left to make its own choices on bathroom signs.

“We do things differently in Rainy River than they do in Vancouver or Montreal, and we certainly know our needs much better than folks in Ottawa or Toronto,” Beyak said. Beyak’s comments prompted outcry and mockery from trans people and allies. Mitchell says the debate was “a juxtaposition of where the society had been and where it is going,” noting that many senators spoke about discrimination they had witnessed. “There wasn’t one that wasn’t moving.”

Conservative and Liberal-leaning senators blamed each other for the bill’s delay, with Mitchell noting that Senator Don Plett — who opposed a similar previous bill on the grounds of perverts allegedly assaulting children in bathrooms — repeatedly left the chamber around his scheduled time to speak. In a response, Plett noted that the government had set six other bills as a priority. Because Bill C-16 is a government bill, Liberal head Peter Harder could have invoked time allocation, ruling that enough debate had taken place. Harder’s office did not respond to Xtra’s interview request. But Mitchell says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to make senators independent means the Liberals can no longer force them to vote along government lines. He also says it’s a measure of last resort. “Time allocation is just the flipside of those who oppose delaying by adjourning.”

Bill C-16 has now been assigned to the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee, where 15 senators will closely examine the legislation. It was at this stage that the same committee gutted earlier trans-inclusive antidiscrimination laws in 2013. When a Senate committee studied Bill C-279, Plett amended it to exempt trans protection in jails, women’s shelters, bathrooms and change rooms, warning “it allows for pedophiles to take advantage of legislation.” As a non-government bill, C-279 spent twenty months in the Senate, whose committee was preoccupied with law and order bills at the time, before Parliament ended with the summer 2015 election call.

Fortunately, on Dec 14, 2016, the Senate reshuffled its committee seats for the first time since the election. Bill C-16 is facing a committee with six senators appointed by Trudeau, three members of the Liberal caucus and six Conservatives, just half of whom voted for the 2013 bathroom amendment: Denise Batters, Jean-Guy Dagenais and Paul McIntyre. In an Xtra survey in November 2016, Batters’ office said she’d have to study Bill C-16 before deciding whether to support it, while the other two did not reply. Mitchell says the committee’s new structure, along with evolving popular opinion, give Bill C-16 a much better chance than its predecessors.

“The public society really has evolved, and is much more supportive of the plight of trans people,” he says. “We are fair and we are just. Sometimes it takes society a while to get there, but we get there.’

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

New York: Hundreds of transgender New Yorkers have legally changed their gender following a rule change.
A total of 731 transgender residents of New York City have changed their legal gender following the rule change from 2014, enacted in 2015.The City Council and the Health Department, made it easier for trans people to change their gender identity on their birth certificate.
Previously, on average, around 20 people legally changed their gender in the years before it became easier.
The Department says 55 percent of those changing their gender did so from male to female, and 45 percent legally changed from female to male.
Those taking advantage of the new rules range from five years of age to 76. Those under 18, of which there were 41, were approved with parental consent.
The city’s Health Department in 2016 issued the first intersex birth certificate.
“As jurisdictions around the country continue to adopt policies of discrimination against transgender people, it is crucial for this city to reaffirm its commitment to equality and health equity,” said Health Commissioner Dr Mary Bassett.
A transgender man in New York in December celebrated victory after being allowed to legally change his name.
Ben Stanford had previously been denied the name change petition after a lower court said he declined to provide “medical evidence” of his transition.
Earlier in 2016 a trans man sued Indiana over a law that has blocked him from changing his name.
The man was granted asylum in the US last year as “a protective step” in case he was deported to Mexico, where he could face persecution for being transgender, and is now suing Indiana because of a law that blocks him from changing his name.

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

Dallas: Texas has 125,000 trans people and now – finally – one free clinic to offer them care.
On Wednesday (8 March), the Lone Star State took a massive step back for trans rights. SB6 – their version of North Carolina’s bathrooom bill – cleared its first hurdle and is now on the way to the full Senate.
But yesterday (9 March), Austin took a step forward. Texas’ first free clinic specializing in caring for trans and non-binary people opened its doors in the capital city.
It is the first clinic of its kind in Central Texas and, according to some reports, the entire state.
The non-profit Kind Clinic, in the state’s capital of Austin, aims to assist trans and non-binary citizens.
It will be providing full-service care, including hormone replacement therapy, STD screenings and HIV prevention and treatment drugs.
They will not provide gender-confirmation surgery.
The clinic’s services will be at very little or, if possible, no cost at all.
Texas Health Action said they will cover any expenses not covered by patients’ insurance.
And they’re already looking to extend their services beyond physical care.
‘In the future, we’d also be able to offer some counseling services,’ Dr Cynthia Brinson, Texas Health Action’s medical director, told KAGS TV.
‘This will be a wonderful opportunity to really find out how patients in Austin will seek out are care and we’ll get a better idea of how many people need this care.’
Despite its specalization on trans people, the Kind Clinic’s care will be open to anyone regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Texas’ trans population is the second largest in the United States by numbers.
Only California’s trans community is bigger, with 218,400 people identifying as trans according to a 2016 survey by the UCLA law school’s Williams Institute.
Where is SB6 right now?
The Kind Clinic opened a day after SB6, Texas’ version of the bathroom bill, was cleared with an 8-1 vote in the legislative committee.
The proposed law, which would force trans people to use the bathroom compliant with the gender on their birth certificate, will now be considered by the full Senate.
A majority of Conservatives, as well as one Democrat, have already signed on to SB6.
But it might not pass: Republican Joe Straus, speaker of Texas’ House of Representatives, denounced the bill, while Governor Greg Abbott, also Republican, has not indicated where he stands on SB6.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s government has been put on call to introduce legislation against LGBTI discrimination.
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Gender Research Centre (GRC) of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong issued a joint statement calling on the Government to launch a public consultation and introduce the legislation.
The statement was supported by 75 wide-ranging organizations, academics, businesses and religious bodies.
Some of the supporting businesses include, Google, Goldman Sachs and law firm Linklaters.
‘Across the world, the plight of LGBTI communities has been gaining increasing concern. As human societies progress, governments are expected to take greater responsibility in defending the marginalised and vulnerable groups in society from discriminatory treatment,’ said EOC chairperson Professor Alfred Chan Cheung-ming.
‘Offering the LGBTI communities better legal protection is more than just a moral and human rights obligation.
‘It also makes business sense… by promoting a diverse and inclusive culture, Hong Kong will be able to retain and draw in talent, which is important in the competitive global environment.
‘Hong Kong should modernise its anti-discrimination legislation.’
Discrimination is rampant in Hong Kong
Last year the EOC and the GRC published a Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status.
To this day it remains the most comprehensive research of its kind in Hong Kong.
The study revealed two major trends: LGBTI people in Hong Kong experience significant discrimination in all aspects of their public life, such as in employment, education and the provision of services.
Secondly, public opinion had visibly shifted in favour of the passing of legislation to protect LGBTI persons from discrimination.
Now more than 55% of the general public and more than 90% of 18 to 24 year olds support the introduction of legislation.
‘Such incidents of discrimination mean LGBTI people lose out on equal education and employment opportunities,’ GRC associate director Professor Suen Yiu-tung said.
‘The GRC is ready to work with different stakeholders including the Hong Kong Government and the EOC, and provide our expertise and assistance to inform the debate.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

United States: A poll has revealed that a majority of Americans oppose ‘bathrooms bills’ that require transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond with their birth-gender, rather than their gender identity. Public Religion Research Institute released a poll on Friday (March 10) which found that 53% of the 2,000 people surveyed said they oppose the bills. Around 40% said they support the bills while under 10% claim they had no opinion on the matter. According to Reuters, the results also revealed that 65% of Democrats and 36% of Republicans oppose the bills.

The poll also found that acceptance for same-sex marriage is also growing as support for it has risen by 52% in three years. The poll’s results come as Republican leaders in Texas are considering to follow North Carolina by requiring people to use the bathrooms matching their birth-gender. The decision has sparked a number of protests across the state.

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

Global: Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen are nations where the law calls for capital punishment of homosexuality. Not to mention Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Mauritania, Qatar, Brunei and Afghanistan, all countries whose laws call for homosexuals to be executed.

The terrible fact that gay men live in fear of state-sanctioned death simply for existing in these countries is often cited as one of those awful truths of the oppression that queer people still face in parts of the world less fortunate than New Zealand.

But as much as the legal execution of queer people is an obvious wrong, criticizing Saudi Arabia for its lack of gay rights is like a firefighter considering paint swatches while a house burns down. Let’s be clear. None of the 11 countries I listed above would be bastions of human rights if only they stopped killing homosexuals. With the exception of Nigeria, arguably none has a functioning democratic government. Women have limited rights compared to men. Basic freedoms of speech, conscience, religion and assembly are severely limited. Where rule of law is upheld at all, defendants typically do not have access to fair trials or humane treatment.

Take a look at some of the other crimes that carry the death penalty in Saudi Arabia: adultery, atheism, apostasy, blasphemy, carjacking, drug use or possession, fornication, idolatry, robbery, sedition and political opposition, sorcery and witchcraft. The long list of “crimes” for which the death penalty is an available punishment is clearly tailored not to the preservation of justice, but to the preservation of an order that oppresses minorities — sexual and gender minorities, yes, but also religious, political and racial minorities, as well as the poor, and potential political opponents.

Saudi Arabia isn’t alone on this count. The United States — the only western country to maintain capital punishment — has long been criticized for the disproportionate use of the death penalty against racial minorities and the poor, especially Black Americans and immigrants. According to the Village Voice, anti-LGBT bias is also exploited in US death penalty cases. (In colonial America, homosexuals were also executed.) Where the death penalty is not sought, it is often used to coerce confessions and plea bargains. Queer people ought to recognize the injustice immediately: the key evil isn’t the death penalty for homosexuality — it’s the fact that the death penalty exists at all.

A growing global movement recognizes this injustice. The death penalty has been almost completely eradicated from Europe, Latin America, Oceania, and Southern and West Africa. There are 102 countries that have abolished the death penalty. According to Amnesty International, while 2016 saw a record surge in executions, 140 states across the globe (nearly two-thirds of countries) are considered “abolitionist in practice,” meaning that they haven’t executed anyone in 10 years and have a policy of not seeking the death penalty even though it remains on the books. Mauritania is actually one of the “abolitionist in practice” countries, though the potential to put homosexuals to death lingers.

Legislative abolition of the death penalty in many countries is sometimes tied with general updates to criminal codes — many of which were inherited from the colonial period. These updates can sometimes achieve wider justice goals, including eliminating gender biases and decriminalizing homosexuality. When Nauru updated its criminal code last year, it eliminated both the death penalty and the prohibition on sodomy.

Continuing to build the global consensus against the death penalty is not only a good goal in itself, but could help to achieve wider justice goals for LGBT people, especially in some of the countries listed above.

But the United States remains one of the biggest obstacles to achieving this consensus. While the US justice system isn’t quite the charnel house of its counterparts in China, Iran, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, the US is the only Western country to retain the death penalty. Aside from those four countries, the US executes more people than any country. And capital punishment remains popular there — abolition referendums in three states last year failed to pass. In California, referendums have failed twice in the last five years, and by a wider margin the second time.

Still, abolishing the death penalty must remain a principal aim for anyone claiming to seek justice. For queer people, it is literally a matter of life and death.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

London: A top London university has held its annual debate competition, named in honour of one of the driving forces behind same-sex marriage.
The London School of Economics (LSE), held its annual Featherstone Sexual Orientation and Gender Moot.
The competition is named after Baroness Feathersone, a Lib Dem peer who was one of the first to push for same-sex marriage.This year’s moot focussed on gay asylum, and over a hundred students weighed in on the case of a fictional asylum seeker, Karim Nasri.
His story focussed around being gay, and fearing for his life if he were to be deported from the UK.
Students argued both sides, including making submissions on behalf of the Hom Secretary.
Organisers said the moot this year “highlighted the deep injustices faced by LGBT+ asylum seekers in the UK, including how asylum seekers are asked deeply personal questions about their sex lives if in order to prove their sexual orientation.”
Workshops and talks were also held alongside the moot.
The Saturday kicked off with a workshop on sexual orientation discrimination and religious freedom given by Sarah Crowther, the barrister who represented Ashers Bakery in the gay cake case.
It also includeda seminar on LGBT+ family law from Dr Bianca Jackson, head of the Alternative Families Practice at Coram Chambers. Finally, there was a workshop on trans rights in the UK and US, given by Michelle Brewer (Garden Court) and David Bufton (Linklaters) from the recently launched Trans Equality Legal Initiative, and Corey Stoughton, a leading US civil rights lawyers who until recently led the Obama administration’s work on trans rights. There was also an NGO area where students could find out more about how to get involved with Stonewall, the Human Dignity Trust, Galop and other LGBT+ rights NGOs.
At the moot’s closing party at Garden Court Chambers, Baroness Featherstone gave a speech before handing over hosting duties to drag artist Kitty Monroe.
David Bufton, Chair of Linklaters’ LGB&T group commented that “Linklaters is proud to once again be the gold sponsor for the LSE-Featherstone LGBT+ Moot following the highly successful inaugural competition last year. Judging the final round alongside esteemed experts in the field of asylum law was an absolute joy and the standard of talent and passion this year was extremely high.”

Leading LGBT+ asylum barrister S Chelvan (No5 Chambers), who judged the final added: “Both teams displayed high-quality research and preparation, strong advocacy skills, including the ability to address difficult questions from the mock bench. The BPP Law School team were unanimously held to be the overall winners, evidencing the added skills of flair and compassion, for one of the most vulnerable groups in our LGBT+ community, those seeking asylum.”
Baroness Featherstone described it as an “enormous honour” to be associated with the moot and hoped that “many of the more than 100 students who competed in the oral rounds will be inspired by their involvement in this competition, to continue to help advance LGBT+ equality through representation or advisory work, whether pro bono or paid, or perhaps through involvement in politics.”

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

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Pride parade is set to be doubled up as a protest march this year.
Organisers for the event, which is due to take place on June 11th in a host of major cities across the US, have teamed up with LGBT Resist March.

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

United States: The Trump administration is moving to prevent access to PrEP in over 30 states in America, with the help of other republicans.
As the newly instated administration is moving to abolish the Affordable Care Act and implement Trumpcare, access to PrEP is threatened by change in pricing and insurance coverage.
Currently, the HIV prevention drug currently costs $1,500 without insurance but most users can get it for anything up to $500 thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
However, the move to eliminate the Medicaid expansion means that new applicants to PrEP will likely be blocked, and low-income earners will also be affected.
If the new bill is passed then a fixed-sum per person would replace Medicaid, and the ACA’s cost-sharing assistance would be repealed. This helps reduce the burden of health cost, but if repealed would mean a rise in cost of coverage.
Between 2012 and 2015, 80,000 American’s started on the prevention medication.
“When PrEP was first approved, gay and bisexual men were not using it,” Noël Gordon Jr., a senior program specialist for HIV prevention & health equity at the Human Rights Campaign said. “Now, we’ve seen an exponential increase in users.”
Gordon deemed the potential ACA repeal “devastating” as “it has the potential to turn the tide the other direction, where we could potentially see the spread of HIV.”
Trans healthcare is also coming under fire because of the changes.
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.
Researchers have said that if PrEP is continuously taken by eligible men in America then infection rates could be slashed by more than a third.
It is estimated that PrEP is 92 percent effective at preventing HIV infections.

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

South Dakota: A governor in South Dakota has officially signed a bill into law making it legal for taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBT people.
It’s the first piece of anti-LGBT legislation to be signed into the law this year, but LGBT activists fear many more are yet to come.
Governor Dennis Daugaard signed SB149 which allows agencies to refuse to provide service based on religious or moral convictions.
This means LGBT youth are going to be put at risk, as well as prospective LGBT couples who are looking to adopt or foster.
Interfaith couples, single parents and married couple where one partner has previously been divorced are also targeted by the bill.
Sarah Warbelow, a legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, deemed the law a sign of the “dark new reality” for LGBT rights.
Warbelow said: “Governor Daugaard’s action not only puts the best interests of the more than a thousand vulnerable children served by South Dakota’s foster care system at risk, it signals the potential of a dark new reality for the fight for LGBTQ rights.”
They added that the bill was a “vendetta” against LGBT children and couples.
“These children could now wait longer to be placed in a safe, loving home at the whim of a state-funded adoption or foster care agency with a vendetta against LGBTQ couples, mixed-faith couples or interracial couples — all while being taxpayer-funded.”
Elizabeth A. Skarin, a Policy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union in South Dakota said the bill was “deeply disappointing.”
Skarin added: “This law directly affects the hundreds of children in South Dakota awaiting their forever families – and those children deserve better from our state leaders.”

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

Perth: Marriage equality activists were celebrating last night after WA Premier Colin Barnett’s Liberal-National Government was kicked out of office by an unprecedented swing towards Mark McGowan’s Labor Party. The results mean that now every Australian State and Territory leader supports marriage equality. The results also meant a victory for Safe Schools, with Peter Abetz, who routinely spoke out against the program, losing his Southern River seat after eight years.

The issue that I’m focussing on is that the Safe Schools program,” Abetz said on the campaign trail last year.

“It sounds great, Safe Schools, everyone wants their school to be safe, no question about that, we all agree bullying is a bad thing that should be dealt with – but I believe it’s important parents are made aware that the Labor Party promise to fund Safe Schools. Given that the program has caused so much controversy in the Eastern States, I really think the electorate should be aware of this part of Labor Party policy. I see this as part of my campaign to retain my seat.”

Mark McGowan is expected to be sworn in as WA’s 30th premier within days.

“First, can I congratulate Mark McGowan and the Labor Party. They have had an emphatic victory,” Mr Barnett said at the Liberals’ election gathering last night.

“To those Liberal members of Parliament who have lost their seats, my heart goes out to you. Politics is a brutal, harsh business. That’s the nature of the beast.

“When we won the election in 2008 and I became the State’s 29th premier, I made some commitments to myself. I would give it my best shot. Maybe that wasn’t good enough, but I assure you it was my best shot.”

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

Sydney: ACON has announced that $450,000 in new funding is set to help improve the response to problematic use of alcohol and other drugs among LGBTIQ people in Central and Eastern Sydney.

The funding was awarded from Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (CESPHN), which focuses on areas from Strathfield to Sutherland and east to Bondi, and will be provided over two years with the goal of addressing three key areas of concern in the LGBTIQ community.

Firstly and primarily, the funding will be used to increase ACON’s capacity to provide counselling and other support services for LGBTIQ people experiencing problematic alcohol or other drug use. Secondly, ACON will develop a specific campaign to help LGBTIQ people more easily identify problems with alcohol and other drugs (AOD) and raise awareness of how to access help. In addition, these funds will also help ACON provide training for mainstream AOD services, to improve the inclusiveness of these services so they can better respond to the needs of LGBTIQ clients.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says the LGBTIQ community face a range of specific challenges in relation to substance use and identifying when use becomes problematic.

“While we know that most LGBTIQ people who use alcohol and other drugs do so in a non-problematic way, some experience significant harms related to their use. Helping our communities identify early signs of problems where they may need assistance with their AOD use requires sensitive messages. Handled appropriately, health promotion campaigns can assist our communities to check in and get support which in turn improves the overall health of our communities.” Mr Parkhill says.

“We know that LGBTIQ people can be reluctant to seek treatment because of concerns about prejudice and discrimination from support services. We warmly welcome funding for ACON’s specialist service to be able to reach more people in a community based setting – a setting we know our communities find approachable.

“It’s also important that we will also be able to work directly with AOD service providers to support LGBTIQ clients. This means that LGBTIQ people seeking support elsewhere within the PHN are more likely to receive appropriate care, which improves outcomes.

“We’re extremely grateful to CESPHN for recognising the needs of LGBTIQ people and for providing this funding, particularly because it provides a much needed boost to our ability to provide client services.”

CESPHN CEO, Dr Michael Moore, says that effective responses to AOD use are a priority for the primary health network and this also includes a focus on LGBTIQ people.

“We recognise that drug and alcohol problems, and the people that experience them, are not homogenous. These problems cross several boundaries and life experiences and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. To support our community we need cater to their diverse needs and ensure the right services are available, at the right time.” Dr Moore says.

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

London: A lesbian Ugandan woman seeking asylum in the UK faces deportation by the Home Office because they do not believe her sexuality.
Lydia Nabukenya fled to the UK from Uganda after her life became endangered when she was outed to the local community.
She is currently living in Manchester, but her asylum application was rejected in January 2016.
Reasons given for the failure were that she “could not” be a lesbian because she did not live with her partner, despite the Home Office sending the two to different places to live and register.
It’s also believed she was given wrong advice when completing the application, as well as issues with her legal team.
Since her application was rejected, she has been working in close conjunction with the Lesbian Immigration Support Group and was instructed to submit a new application on the 23rd of March.
While submitting the claim, Lydia was detained and reportedly sent to Yarl’s Wood detention centre.
It is believed that she has been released from detention today, but those working with Lydia are unsure of her future and have set up a petition calling for her to not be deported.
Lydia left Uganda after she was forced into a marriage by an aunt who found out she was a lesbian. The husband later found Lydia and her girlfriend kissing, and beat her and threatened to report her to the police.
She left the marriage and continued to have a discreet relationship with her partner, but they were discovered in 2014 which led to them fleeing the country because they feared their safety.
Those working with Lydia told PinkNews that they believe if she is deported she may be at risk of serious violence.

A gay Ugandan asylum seeker is facing deportation after failed attempts to prove he’s gay.
Abbey Kyeyune fled from Uganda after family members discovered he was in relationship with a man and violently assaulted him.
Homosexuality is punishable by life imprisonment in Uganda.
He went to the UK and settled in Manchester, a city with a large LGBTI population.
After fleeing his home country, Kyeyune found out there was a warrant for his arrest and his boyfriend had been detained.
‘I can’t go back home because my family will kill me,’ Kyeyune told the Independent.
He continued: ‘I have been very happy in Manchester.
‘I have many friends there, and I have been going to church a lot,’ he said.
Community reaction sparks outrage
Phillip Jones runs a support group for LGBTI asylum seekers in Manchester and also started an online petition for Kyeyune.
Jones said: ‘[H]e found it difficult to get over the shock of having to flee.
‘But I think he just needed to meet people like himself.
‘I got the sense that he was really coming to terms with the situation, and enjoying being a gay man amongst other gay men,’ Jones said.
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who genuinely need it.
‘Where people establish a genuine need for protection or a well founded fear of persecution, refuge will be granted.
‘If someone is found not to need our protection, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily.
‘Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure,’ the Home Office spokesperson said.
Kyeyune will be deported on Monday (13 March).

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

Oxford: Marcel is a gay man in Oxford, born nearly thirty years ago in a Commonwealth country that criminalises homosexuality, where showing who you are can lead to prison or death. Forced to hide who he was for so many years, Marcel struggles to feel good about himself. The pain of living in his home country may have passed, but Marcel’s memory of living there lingers. Refusing to bottle up his memories and, like so many LGBT+ refugees from the Commonwealth, in need of support, Marcel reached out.

Marcel isn’t alone. Other local councillors tell me about similar experiences of linking up LGBT+ refugees with support services. What is the point of the Commonwealth if its countries hurt their LGBT+ citizens so badly? And the UK government stands by and does nothing? This year’s Commonwealth Day is in the fiftieth year since the partial decriminalisation of sex between men in England and Wales. Fifty years on, the majority of the Commonwealth has not followed the UK’s example. Why? And what can we do to bring about change? In 2015, the Commonwealth produced 83% of the people granted asylum and helped by the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), a major charity supporting and protecting LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees. I believe this shows that the UK has a responsibility and a reason to make the Commonwealth safe for its diverse population.

We also have a historical responsibility and a historical reason. The UK’s colonial past is partially responsible for LGBT+ Commonwealth citizens living as criminals today. We need to accept the British Empire’s role in introducing anti-homosexual legislation. You can go too far with this argument: acknowledging the Empire’s role is key, but so is acknowledging the role of the Commonwealth countries themselves. These Commonwealth countries are free to end discrimination, have been free to end discrimination for years, and just choose not to.

And that gets to the heart of the challenge for the Commonwealth, a political club of 52 countries who volunteer to associate. All members carry equal weight and make decisions by consensus, so the Commonwealth best achieves change when member governments agree to rise to a challenge. The Commonwealth’s Secretary-General Baroness Scotland is working energetically to build consensus and galvanise governments. Next year, leaders hold a big summit in the UK. This is a real opportunity to strengthen LGBT+ rights, and the Commonwealth and the meeting chair, Theresa May, have to seize it with both hands.

We’ve seen some steps forward recently. Mozambique is a recent example of a country refusing to cling to outdated laws. The Seychelles has also repealed a ban on gay sex. 36 Commonwealth countries now criminalise homosexuality, down from 46 ten years ago. In the UK, Stonewall trustee and Black Pride co-founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah turned down an MBE last year in protest at the repressive anti-LGBT+ laws of Commonwealth countries. Whatever your view on monarchy, it’s a big deal when a future Head of the Commonwealth appears on the front cover of a gay publication – Attitude – for the first time. Prince William and other royals could use their positions and profile to make history again, this time standing up for inclusive Commonwealth societies for all people. Allies count and symbols matter.With the Commonwealth pressing members to improve their human rights records and UK activists sharing support and platforms to LGBT+ activists in their home countries, we may yet see more progress. We need to use the fiftieth anniversary of decriminalising same-sex relations in England and Wales to campaign for change across the Commonwealth. And we need to exploit summits like the one being hosted in London next year to protect LGBT+ rights.

This Commonwealth Day, everyone who cares about LGBT+ rights has a chance to stiffen the spine of politicians to put pressure on leaders in Commonwealth capitals that repress LGBT+ people. We have a chance to help activists to drive change in their own Commonwealth countries. Prejudice and discrimination confines us all and fails us all. The buck stops with all of us for helping LGBT+ people enjoy an inclusive Commonwealth.

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

London: Transgender students have voted to try and block police from attending Pride events – branding them racist, classist and transphobic.
A battle on the issue took place at the National Union of Students transgender conference last week.
Students voted to pass the motion ‘No Pride in the Police’, submitted by University of Manchester Students Union.
The motion vowed to “support and organise actions against police presence at Prides” because “many trans people have faced mistreatment and violence at the hands of the police”.
It resolved “to encourage Prides to not have a police presence as part of parades, especially Pride events organised by students unions”.
The motion explained: “The police disproportionately target trans people, along with sex workers, working class communities and communities of colour for policing, leading to an increase in those groups in the prison population.”
A further motion approved by the conference backed the “abolition of prisons” – apparently calling for all prisoners in the UK to be freed and released into the community.

A candidate for NUS President, Tom Harwood, attacked the “damaging” moves.
Mr Harwood told PinkNews: “This motion and too many others like it make it clear that the NUS has been hijacked by extreme fringe activists who do not come close to representing the views of students.”
He added that “these damaging motions only serve to de-legitimise our student movement.”
It is not the first time police presence at Pride has been challenged.
Earlier this year Pride Toronto board members voted to ban LGBT police from participating in its Pride parade, after a highly controversial clash with Black Lives Matter protesters.
In July last year, the Canadian city’s Pride parade ground to an unexpected halt when Black Lives Matter protesters disrupted the event, refusing to let the march continue until organisers agreed to a string of demands.
The group, who criticised the event’s alleged “anti-blackness” in a statement, only agreed to let the parade continue when Pride Toronto organisers signed a “contract” that commits to more funding for minority events and the removal of police floats at future Prides.
In January, Pride Toronto board members narrowly agreed to ban the police from marching in uniform, having a float, or having a stall. Individual police officers will be able to march, but only if they agree not to march in uniform.

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

London: Senior MPs have warned that the UK’s proposed withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights would embolden persecution by Russia.
The concerns arose in a report from Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, which cited extreme concern about the persecution of LGBT people in Russia.
The report warns that Theresa May’s proposals to pull the UK out of the human rights convention would “risk sending a signal to Russia that it can freely disregard international human rights norms at home and abroad, and would undermine UK support for the work of human rights groups in Russia”.
The committee, chaired by out Tory MP Crispin Blunt, also flags concerns that the withdrawal plan would also “deprive the UK of a key source of soft power and influence among reformers and human rights activists in Russia”.
It adds: “In order to maintain international standards on human rights, the UK Government should not withdraw from the ECHR and should make it clear that no such step is contemplated.”
The ECHR is not a European Union institution, and so the Brexit process will not lead to automatic withdrawal.
While serving as Home Secretary last year, now-Prime Minister Theresa May set out the case for the UK leaving the European Convention on Human Rights, claiming it had done “nothing” for Brits – despite the court helping to secure many early LGBT rights victories.
May’s proposal was shelved during her leadership bid to quell concerns from other senior Tories, but reports have since suggested ECHR withdrawal will be a key plank in the next Conservative manifesto.
Elsewhere in the report, the committee cited concerns about human rights violations by the Russian government in order to target LGBT people.
MPs cited a Human Rights Watch study that warned: “The Russian authorities have introduced severe restrictions on freedom of association and expression, and political opponents, journalists and NGOs are harassed, threatened, repressed, imprisoned and sometimes killed for their criticisms of state policy.
“The country’s discriminatory legislation on lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people is used to harass LGBT and disrupt
pro-LGBT events and the authorities largely fail to prevent or prosecute homophobic violence.”
The committee added: “Anti-liberal rhetoric has been reflected in Russian law, particularly on LGBT and human rights issues.
“In 2013, for example, the State Duma passed a law imposing heavy fines on individuals and groups accused of “promoting” homosexuality to minors in order to protect the “religious feelings of the faithful”.
“When we visited Russia, we met representatives of several groups that had been branded as ‘foreign agents’, including journalists, LGBT
rights activists, social science researchers and veterans’ rights advocates. They described the huge practical impediments to their work that resulted from their being labelled in this way, including fines and the imposition of major bureaucratic obstacles.”
Article 14 of the ECHR, which affords protection from discrimination, has been used in many legal cases to argue for protection for LGBT people, most notably securing an equal age of consent in the UK.
The ECHR was also vital in securing a settlement in the Republic of Ireland in 2014 on gender recognition. It remains influential across Europe on LGBT rights, with Italy securing civil unions following an ECHR ruling.

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

Singapore: A church in Singapore has sent an “alert” about the “homosexual content” of the new Beauty and the Beast film.
Josh Gad, whose character Le Fou struggles with his sexuality throughout the film, said it was a shame the twist had been revealed, adding: “I hope that it’s a surprise to audiences to some extent.” The film will include a character exploring his sexual orientation which will end with a “gay moment” says the film’s director, which has been reported as him dancing with another man.
Bill Condon suggested that the character LeFou, Gaston’s manservant, has confusing feelings about the major character.
Ahead of the release of the film, Bishop Rennis Ponniah of Singapore’s St. Andrew’s Cathedral sent an “alert” to warn his congregation about the “homosexual content”.
“Disney films for children’s entertainment are usually associated with wholesome, mainstream values … [but] times are changing at a foundational level,” the statement from the Bishop reads.
“Parents are therefore strongly advised to provide guidance to their children about this remake … and indeed to their children’s entertainment choices in a rapidly changing age,” the statement continues.
The film has been rated 16+ by Russia, and Malaysia has moved to ban the film.
Earlier this month an Alabama drive-in cinema said it had cancelled plans to screen the film over the gay character.
The company made the announcement on its Facebook page, informing followers that the new ownership had decided “with great sorrow” to not show the film.
“We all make choices and I am making mine,” continued the post on the page belonging to the drive-in, which is owned by Alabama native Lanita Price.
“For those that do not know, Beauty and the Beast is ‘premiering’ their first homosexual character. The producer also says at the end of the movie ‘there will be a surprise for same-sex couples’.”
Apparently, the drive-in’s owners had not previously noticed the clear sexual overtones between Gaston and Le Fou.
The message continues: “If we can not take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it.”
“If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.
“I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That’s fine.”

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

Tunisia: Two men in Tunisia were sent to prison because a police officer suspects them to be gay.
Achref, 20, and Sabri, 21, were sentenced to eight months in prison on Friday (10 March).
They were arrested on 7 December last year in the city of Sousse, three hours south of Tunis, according to French newspaper L’Express.
‘You were doing something with your boyfriend, weren’t you,’ one of the police officers told them, Achref said.
‘You bring the curse on the country.’
Mounir Baatour, President of Tunisian LGBTI organization Shams, told Gay Star News Achref and Sabri were just walking down the street when the arrest happened.
‘For the police they were looking gay,’ he said.
‘I don’t know what they mean with that, but the police, they have a stereotype of what “gay” looks like.’
At the police station, the young men were ’slapped, insulted and forced to sign’ a written statement of the allegations made against them, Achref told L’Express.
He also said they were subject to degrading and abusive anal probe testing.
These tests involve examining someone’s anus to see if it has been penetrated.
Based on the belief that all gay men are bottoms, they are intended to ‘prove’ men have been involved in anal sex and, as a result, are seen as ‘evidence’ of homosexuality.
There is no medical evidence for these claims.
Anal probe testing has been discredited as inaccurate and is considered a form of torture and sexual assault by major NGOs.
Baatour confirmed this account, saying the test was ordered by the General Attorney.
‘The General Attorney told them if they don’t accept the anal examination, it will be considered by the judge as evidence,’ he said.
Achref and Sabri submitted to the testing.
But even though the result was ‘negative’, the Sousse court still sentenced the men.
Baatour said one of the police officers testified in a written statement he had seen the men engaged in ‘sodomy’ on the street.
Despite the defendants arguing it was untrue, and no further evidence was reportedly given, the judge found them guilty and sentenced them.
Achref and Sabri were released from their arrest on 13 December.
Their trial was originally set for 6 January, but was postponed first to 3 March and then again to 10 March.
‘They are not in prison now,’ Baatour said.
But if the ruling is confirmed next month, they will have to serve their sentences.
Shams will also appeal the ruling.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia and can be punished by up to three years in prison.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Adelaide: Members of the LGBTI community and their allies are calling for a boycott of Coopers beer after the brewer recently teamed up with Bible Society Australia to create a commemorative beer.

The South Australian brewery, who have been long-time donors to the Bible Society, helped to celebrate the Society’s 200th anniversary with a commemorative beer that featured Bible verses on its cartons.

Accompanying this was a video from the Bible Society featuring Liberal MPs Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie in which they discussed their opposing positions on marriage equality.

The video is part of the Bible Society’s Keeping it Light series, which is described as proving ‘it is possible to have a light discussion on the heaviest topics’.

In response to the video, many have expressed outrage in Coopers for sponsoring a religious organisation to make an explicitly political point about same-sex marriage.

People have also criticised the video campaign as promoting the views of members who belong to a party that hasn’t taken action on marriage equality, and for suggesting people need to ‘keep it light’ when it comes to the debate around same-sex marriage.A handful of bars have also vowed to take Coopers beer of their taps.

In a Facebook post from Melbourne gay bar Sircuit, the staff can be seen dumping cartons of the beer into a bin. General Manager Chris wrote that it was his choice to make.

“What Coopers products that were available in Sircuit, have been removed,” he said.

“Actually I threw them out. Sircuit and Mollies, like beer companies, have choices. I have made mine.

“If Coopers wish to discuss, they have my number.”Newtown Hotel has also made a similar move, replacing Coopers Green on its tap with a freshly kegged batch of Boxer Red Ale from Rocks Brewing Company.

In a Facebook post the bar said that for every pint sold this month it will donate one dollar to GetUp, who help to campaign for the rights of the LGBTI community and are strong advocates for marriage equality.Coopers have since released two statements in an effort to backtrack what unfolded.

In the first, the brewery defended the video.

“This is a light-hearted but balanced debate about an important topic within Australia,” it read.

“As a mature community it’s a debate we need to have but in a good spirited and good natured way.”

However, after further backlash, Coopers released a second statement stating the brewery only made the commemorative beer and didn’t give permission for it to be featured in the Bible Society’s video.

“We want you to know that Coopers did not give permission for our beer to feature in or ‘sponsor’ the Bible Society’s Keeping It Light video,” it read.

“Our family brewery is made up of individuals from a number of different backgrounds, all of whom hold differing views on politics and religion, which we think is reflective of the wider community.”

Despite this, advocates have created a Change.org petition calling on Australians to boycott the brewer.

Created by Sydney-based James Brechney, the petition calls on individuals in support of marriage equality to boycott Coopers’ products.

“Coopers’ recent alignment with the Bible Society, who are openly against marriage equality, is shameful,” Brechney wrote.

“We call on Coopers Brewery to publicly come out in support of marriage equality and to make three generous donations to Australians for Equality, and Make It Law via PFLAG and just.equal.”

The petition currently has over 1,100 signatures.

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

Vancouver: Five months after BC’s Ministry of Education announced that all school districts need to protect LGBT students through mandatory anti-bullying policies, Xtra has learned that private school admissions policies are exempt from the ministry’s order.

At least two private schools, both of which receive funding from the provincial government, have anti-LGBT admissions policies posted online that restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

Langley Christian School and Abbotsford Christian School both require parents to sign a community standards form that says marriage should be a covenant between a man and a woman.

Both schools describe their communities as “a group of believers in and followers of Jesus Christ” who strive to honour their faith commitment in all aspects of life.

Both say they expect “all persons with influence over our students to model behavio[u]r and lifestyle choices consistent with the Christian walk of faith,” and both require students and teachers to “refrain from sexual misconduct such as adultery [and] sexual relationships outside of marriage.”

Both schools also receive money from the provincial government.

The amount of their funding is based on enrolment numbers, and is equivalent to half of what the government provides each public school per student in the same district. (Though some independent schools receive just 35 percent of public school funding per student, if their operating costs are higher than the district’s average per-student grant amount. All independent schools receive the same funding as public schools for students with special needs and for online courses.)

Advocates for LGBT students say they’re disappointed the minister’s order didn’t address private school admissions policies. Glen Hansman, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, says it sends a mixed message to LGBT youth.

“It’s very problematic because it’s inconsistent to on the one hand say we’re going to ensure, under the code of conduct order, a safe and inclusive environment for all identified groups under the BC Human Rights Code including LGBTQ youth — but at the same time potentially exclude those students through admission policies.” Spencer Chandra Herbert, the NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End, says he’s not surprised the minister’s order doesn’t fully protect LGBT students at private schools. That was one of his first concerns when the policy change was announced, he tells Xtra.

“Exclusionary policies like that don’t make our province safer and in fact lead to greater divisions,” Chandra Herbert says.

Public schools are about bringing communities together, he explains. They’re about “meeting your neighbours, people who are different from yourself,” which in turn creates a “united community of diversity.” The problem arises when private schools take public money but “only allow certain types of people to attend,” he says.

“How is it somehow acceptable in this day and age [to say] that ‘you can’t come to our school if you’re gay?’” he asks. “That seems to be what they’re trying to do here.”

He says the BC Liberals’ order to support LGBT students was long overdue but still doesn’t go far enough to make sure kids have safe access and inclusion in “all the schools who receive tax money in BC.”

The discrepancy between some of these admission policies and the ministry’s new LGBT order raises the question of where religious freedoms should end and where human rights begin.

Education Minister Mike Bernier would not provide an interview for this article. Asked by email why his order did not extend to admissions policies, the ministry of education provided a statement saying, “we believe in safe, respecting and inclusive schools,” later adding that “the Human Rights Code provides exemptions for specific organizations or corporations to give preference.”

While BC’s Human Rights Code protects LGBT people from discrimination, it also provides an exemption for non-profit religious or other organizations that exist to promote the interests and welfare of a specific group, such as a group with a common faith.

Chandra Herbert says he’d like the government to take a stronger stance on independent schools. He recognizes certain religious freedoms, but doesn’t think the government should be supporting schools with exclusionary policies.

“I think people are allowed to have their religions,” he says. “But once they start providing a public service, and get supported or subsidized through public money, they have a duty to do that in a way that includes . . . that whole human family.”

Xtra phoned and emailed the Langley Christian School and Abbotsford Christian School to request an interview with each, but did not hear back before deadline.
In a Jan 17 interview, Peter Froese, president of Federation of Independent School Associations in British Columbia, told Xtra that enrolment policies vary from school to school.

Each school can set its own policy, he said, and these may vary from “open enrolment” to “restrictive enrolment that is specific to a particular faith.”

Froese acknowledged that the ministry’s new policy requires BC’s private schools to protect LGBT students from bullying — “while remaining consistent with the school’s faith values, cultural perspectives and philosophical values,” he said.

Asked if an independent school’s “faith values” could override protection for some LGBT students, Froese said schools are allowed to set their own enrolment policies but once enrolled, students would be protected against gender and sexual orientation-based discrimination, no matter whether the independent school is faith-based, secular, special needs-based, or pedagogical like Montessori.

Xtra examined enrolment policies of 15 private Christian schools in BC, as well as the BC Muslim School and a handful of private Catholic schools. While most schools require families to support their children in a religious practice outside of school, only the Langley and Abbotsford Christian schools contain explicitly anti-LGBT admission requirements. Some of the schools have enrolment forms that request contact information from a mother and a father (leaving no room for same-gendered parents), and the Duncan Christian School makes no mention of sexual orientation or gender identity as grounds for protection in its admissions procedure, but says no child will be denied admission on the basis of race, colour or national origin.

Even as some admission policies raise questions, some faith-based private schools in BC have adopted a transgender inclusion policy. After a human rights claim was launched against the Catholic Independent Schools of Vancouver Archdiocese, the association adopted a policy in 2014 that says its schools will support gender nonconforming students and respect their chosen name and gender. However, the policy distinguishes this from “gender transitioning,” which it says is “contrary to Catholic teaching, and therefore the Catholic school cannot support any transitioning actions.” The association’s website also links to literature arguing against same-sex marriage.

Spencer Chandra Herbert questions whether private schools with discriminatory policies should receive any government funding.

The question of funding private schools is complicated. Some argue that providing independent schools with public funding keeps them accountable in other important ways because it ensures schools follow the BC curriculum.

Jason Ellis, assistant professor in education at the University of British Columbia, suggests that a common curriculum for all students may benefit society at large.

“If your view is that the BC curriculum teaches certain civic values and core types of knowledge and types of competencies that are generally required and beneficial to children who are going to grow up and live in a civil society in BC then . . . having everyone follow that curriculum is advantageous,” he says.

Since funding for BC private schools is based partly on a school’s adherence to the provincial curriculum and teaching standards, Ellis says it can be argued that funding is a tool to ensure they teach the curriculum.

Chandra Herbert disagrees. He says that in allowing schools to discriminate, their teachings are contrary to the BC curriculum. “The BC curriculum teaches that you can’t discriminate against gay people yet these schools are discriminating against gay people by banning them from attending, so I think it’s something the education minister needs to take an immediate look at,” he says.

Chandra Herbert says he would like to see the schools fund themselves and receive less public funding, or none at all. “If they want to shut the door to gay people then they can run it themselves and fund it themselves.”

“You can’t claim that your school is following anti-bullying behaviour and embracing diversity and the Human Rights Code on one hand, as the minister does, and then on the other, embrace them banning gay people from being anywhere on their premises,” he says.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: Democrats are reintroducing a federal bill to outlaw discrimination against LGBT people – but senior Republicans are expected to continue blocking it.
There are currently no federal-level protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the US. This means that it is legal to fire people for being gay in dozens of states due to patchy state-level protections.
The Democrats have repeatedly tried to add LGBT rights protections to existing anti-discrimination civil rights laws, but Republicans in Congress have blocked both the Equality Act and its predecessor, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
This week, the Democrats reintroduced the Equality Act in Congress, though hopes are not high that the legislation will pass given the Republican majorities in both houses.
But the bill’s Democratic sponsors have vowed to ensure LGBT issues don’t fall off the agenda.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said: “It’s important for Americans to know whether members of Congress support full equality for our community or whether they support continued discrimination against LGBT Americans.”
Senator Jeff Merkley added: “Every member of Congress should have to be counted and show exactly where they stand: either for or against full equality for all Americans.
“In 2017, any elected leader who wants to use their position to maintain outdated and discriminatory policies should have to stand up and explain why.”
Recent polling found that 69 percent of voters – including a 55 percent majority of Trump voters – support the Equality Act.
Despite the views of the electorate, Republicans are overwhelmingly opposed to the legislation.
Though there was some limited cross-party support for its predecessor ENDA, this did not translate into votes, and the GOP has continued to block protections.
In its previous incarnation, the Equality Act garnered support from major corporations including Apple and Coca-Cola.
A statement from Apple said: “At Apple we believe in equal treatment for everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. We fully support the expansion of legal protections as a matter of basic human dignity.”

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

Nunavut: The Nunavut Legislative Assembly voted unanimously on a comprehensive trans-rights bill on March 13, 2017, making it the latest jurisdiction to acknowledge the need for explicit human rights protections for trans people.

Bill 31, An Act to Amend the Human Rights Act, had just two clauses, which added the categories “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds for discrimination in the territory.

The massive Arctic territory includes 20 percent of Canada’s land mass and is home to about 35,000 people. Nunavut was created in 1999 as part of a land claims agreement meant to be a separate territory and home for the indigenous Inuit people.

Justice Minister Keith Peterson introduced the bill by speaking of the inclusive values of Nunavut’s people.

“To include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination . . . will make clear that Nunavummiut who are transgender have the same right to live a full and productive life as anyone else in the territory, free of discrimination,” he said in the Legislature. “This change will help . . . prevent discrimination and prejudice against people who are transgender in Nunavut.”

Peterson also credited local activists Catherine Lightfoot and her son, Kieran Drachenberg, who is trans, who helped build support for the bill.

“All parents want to ensure the safety and well-being of their children. Most take it for granted their kids’ rights will be protected and respected,” Lightfoot says. “That is what I wanted for [Kieran] and today with the passing of Bill 31, it happened.”

“I am so proud of the Nunavut government for taking such an important step in recognizing transgender people are entitled to all the rights and protections of all Canadians,” Lightfoot added.

Drachenberg says the bill is monumental for trans people in Nunavut.

“[It’s] is a long overdue step forward in improving and catching up to the other provinces and territories of Canada. It shows that the people in our government are willing to do what is best for its people, regardless of how they identify, gender-wise,” he says. “It makes me feel safer, more protected and more like a proper citizen of Nunavut. It also makes me prouder to be one,” he says.

All provinces and territories except for Yukon and New Brunswick have explicit protections for “gender identity” in their human-rights acts. In Yukon and New Brunswick, protections for trans people are currently only implied under the category of “sex,” which trans activists say is not clear. Yukon new government announced its intention to add trans protections last December, but its legislature has not sat since it was elected in November.

A bill to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code has passed the House of Commons and is before the Senate. It is expected to be debated in committee in April before third and final reading.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

WAshington DC: An appeals court has dealt a setback for efforts to expand the scope of federal civil rights law, saying it doesn’t cover discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled Friday in the case of Jameka Evans, who said she suffered harassment and discrimination at her job as a security guard at Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, and was eventually forced out, because she’s a lesbian and gender-nonconforming, the Associated Press reports. A federal district court had dismissed her suit, and a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit upheld the dismissal. Lambda Legal, which is representing Evans, plans to ask for a rehearing by the full court.

In a 2-1 decision, the panel said it accepted the facts of her case as true, but said it was bound by precedent that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds that it does, in addition to covering discrimination based on gender identity, but courts are still free to interpret the law. If the Eleventh Circuit had ruled in Evans’s favor, it would have been the first time a federal appeals court had upheld that interpretation of the law.

Judge Jose Martinez, writing for the majority, said the court was bound by a 1979 decision, Blum v. Gulf Oil, “that has not been overruled by a clearly contrary opinion of the Supreme Court or of this Court sitting en banc.” He also said, though, that Evans could amend her suit to make a case that she was discriminated against due to gender stereotyping, given her masculine gender presentation. In the current suit, “she did not provide enough factual matter to plausibly suggest that her decision to present herself in a masculine manner led to the alleged adverse employment actions,” Martinez wrote.

Lambda Legal’s Greg Nevins, however, said being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is gender-nonconforming on its face. “There is no way to draw a line between sexual orientation discrimination and discrimination based on gender nonconformity because not being straight is gender-nonconforming, period,” Nevins, the group’s employment project director, said in a blog post.

Joining Martinez in the decision was Judge William H. Pryor, who had been on Donald Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees. “Just as a woman cannot recover under Title VII when she is fired because of her heterosexuality, neither can a gay woman sue for discrimination based on her sexual orientation,” Pryor wrote in a concurring opinion. “Deviation from a particular gender stereotype may correlate disproportionately with a particular sexual orientation, and plaintiffs who allege discrimination on the basis of gender nonconformity will often also have experienced discrimination because of sexual orientation. But under Title VII, we ask only whether the individual experienced discrimination for deviating from a gender stereotype.”

Pryor is not known for LGBT-friendliness. In the case of Lawrence v. Texas, which led to the Supreme Court striking down sodomy laws nationwide, he had written a friend-of-the-court brief supporting sodomy laws, and he has derided LGBT rights as “political correctness.” But in 2011, in the case of Georgia state employee Vandy Beth Glenn, he ruled that her termination for being transgender did violate federal law. But Evans’s case is different, Pryor said, because it was based on status rather than behavior (in Glenn’s case, the “behavior” was transitioning and making it known to her boss).

“A gay individual may establish with enough factual evidence that she experienced sex discrimination because her behavior deviated from a gender stereotype held by an employer, but our review of that claim would rest on behavior alone,” he wrote. Not all gay people, he said, engage in the same behaviors.

The dissenting judge, Robin Rosenbaum, took a position similar to Lambda Legal’s. “Plain and simple, when a woman alleges, as Evans has, that she has been discriminated against because she is a lesbian, she necessarily alleges that she has been discriminated against because she failed to conform to the employer’s image of what women should be — specifically, that women should be sexually attracted to men only,” Rosenbaum wrote.

In any case, “this is not the end of the road” for Evans, Nevins said. “Ninety percent of Americans believe that LGBT people should be treated equally in the workplace,” he added. “The public is on the right side of history, and it’s time for the Eleventh Circuit to join us.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Romania: Romania could be able to pass civil unions for same-sex couples, as a ‘compromise’ between religious and LGBTI rights groups.
As I have written before, for the past year and a half the LGBTI community in Romania has been challenged to respond to a national campaign to ban gay marriage in the Constitution, led by the powerful Orthodox Church and by groups connected with the religious right in the United States.
After raising 2.7 million signatures, the discriminatory initiative lays in the Romanian parliament, with a large majority of political parties and politicians openly expressing their support for the ban.
At the same time the public discourse surrounding legalizing civil partnerships has shifted tremendously. Opinion leaders, journalists, even some conservative voices have expressed publicly support for legal recognition of same sex couples.
Several politicians have done the same thing and now a bill in the parliament has received positive recommendations from two parliamentary committees, a first. Some might dare say that we’re witnessing an opportunity for civil partnerships to become a reality in Romania.
However, there are a few aspects to take into account.
First and foremost, the current bill sitting in the parliament is far from perfect. Even LGBTI-friendly voices and activists admit certain rights included in the draft are not clearly explained and coordinated with current Romanian legislation regarding married couples.
Moreover, the political environment in Romania has been dominated now for months by anti-corruption, following mass protests in February. The referendum to ban gay marriage has been used as a political tool by all major parties.
Nowadays the Social Democrats seem to be taking the lead in promoting the referendum, while their embattled leader, Liviu Dragnea, recently expressed support for civil partnerships:
‘Let’s be honest. We have in Romania a category of citizens with a different sexual orientation (…) we must find a solution for them as well.’
This sort of double-sided discourse is practiced by other political parties as well. The Liberals have supported strongly the ban on same-sex marriage in the parliamentary electoral campaign, now they claim they’ve included legalization of civil partnerships in their platform.

The new, populist anti-corruption party Save Romania Union have been ambivalent on the issue as well, facing strong public pressure from within their ranks, as their electorate is comprised mainly out of urban, educated, young, middle class people.
However, within this party the more progressive wing has made some serious steps in favor of legalization of civil partnerships.
On the other side, various religious bodies have come out publicly and have used their influence in order to kill the bill concerning civil partnerships. As expected, the Coalition for Family, the main organization trying to ban marriage equality in the Constitution, and the Orthodox Church asked the parliament to reject the bill.
The leader of the Evangelical church called civil partnerships ‘ugliness’, while Baptists and Catholics called it ‘an attempt to destroy the family’. In one week major religious entities declared war on civil partnerships, using their full power to influence politicians to reject the bill meant to legalize same sex unions.
On top of that the issue of banning abortions is gaining traction, with the Orthodox Church assuming, for the first time in history, officially, organizing a major anti-abortion march in Bucharest on 25 March. Both same-sex marriage and women’s reproductive rights seem to be under attack.
The LGBTI community find itself in a rather difficult situation. Lacking resources and at times know how, activists are trying to both stand off to all of the attacks directed at LGBTI people and their families, while building solidarities within the community.
Groups have been more active in various parts of Romania, not only in Bucharest. Community events are often held in Bucharest. Public support for civil partnership seems to be on the rise, even though there is no clear data to confirm this.
During a recent national tour in Romanian universities organized by the Coalition for Family, people in the audience protested against their hateful messages.

There is room for more support and visibility. We are yet to witness a major coming out in Romania, a country with a dense pop scene, but with many artists or public figures too scared to come out.
For a year and a half the LGBTI community has been engaging in a long-term fight for equal rights. Opportunities shift all the time, the community is being used in different political games without its knowledge, while LGBTI people still face discrimination.
Could civil partnerships be a beacon of light in a sea of pessimism? Would civil partnerships delay full equality or protect LGBTI families? Difficult questions which remain unanswered. Regardless, the winds have changed for the LGBTI community in Romania.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Yukon: Yukon’s government is looking to change a pair of laws in order to protect transgender rights. The territorial government says in a release that changes to the Vital Statistics Act and the Human Rights Act are part of a commitment to eliminate discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or gender expression. The proposed changes include removing a requirement that a person have sex reassignment surgery before they can change the gender on their birth registration. Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost says the new legislation will ensure that transgender Yukoners have equal access to government programs and services. Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee says the amendments will allow the territory to keep pace with legal and societal developments in the rest of the country.

Source: http://www.globeandmail.com

Daylesford: The Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) has expressed its deep concern about the appearance of two white supremacists in Daylesford wearing Neo-Nazi clothing during Victoria’s ChillOut festival.

The two individuals were seen wearing shirts with ‘Sieg Heil’, ‘Faggots’ and the Nazi swastika.
Ali Hogg captured photos of the pair in a Daylesford supermarket.

“I saw two skinheads,” said Hogg. “I was basically in shock because his t-shirt said ‘sieg heil, faggots’. Considering there’s an LGBTI festival on it was quite concerning. I didn’t have the confidence to say anything so I just took photos.

“The police tried to have a discussion and ask them to leave. They argued with the police briefly and the police let them be.”

Hogg said people in the supermarket were visibly afraid of the two.

“The guy seemed to be drinking alcohol out of a water bottle and he was… quite loud and aggressive,” she said. “A lot of people were just intimidated. Thankfully there weren’t too many of them. People were concerned that they would attack the parade or the carnival day, but thankfully I didn’t see any incidences like that happen.”

ADC chair Dr Dvir Abramovich said, “We find it absolutely outrageous and shocking that these two white supremacists, with hate in their hearts, were openly and brazenly targeting the LGBTI community with these virulently racist insignia, as well as intimidating and victimising all residents in the area.

“Wearing these shirts is an insult and an affront to the millions of innocent victims, including gays and lesbians, who were murdered by the Nazi regime. Clearly, white supremacists are becoming more visible and active in promoting their bigoted ideology, and this alarming escalation will leave many fearful.

“The ADC stands firmly with the LGBTI community in sending a clear message that ignorance and intolerance, which represents a serious threat to the fabric of our cohesive, multicultural life, do not reflect the true character of our country and have no place in our community.

“We call on leaders to swiftly decry such hateful conduct and to declare in one voice that such a vile and racist agenda will never find a safe haven in our midst. It takes all Australians working together to eradicate such prejudice and discrimination.”

“Unfortunately the right is growing internationally and Australia’s not excluded from that,” said Hogg. “We’re going to need to look at how we respond to situations like this.”

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

London: A Christian group behind dozens of British faith schools has denied being homophobic – after planning an event with an author who claims lessons about homophobic bullying “normalise sexual immorality”.
Christian Education Europe provides faith-based education via two dozen faith schools across England, as well as materials for homeschooling.
The religious schooling chain is facing questions this week over its ‘Unmasking Secular Religion’ event, which takes place in Reading on Saturday.
The event is set to feature a speaker attacking an anti-bullying scheme that educates children about homophobia.
According to the group’s website, author Brian Hadley will talk about “Society Indoctrinating The Innocent”.
The listing states: “What are they teaching the children? Brian reveals the hidden dangers of the government’s scheme to challenge homophobia in primary schools (CHIPS).”
CHIPS is an anti-bullying scheme that aims to tackle homophobic language and bullying in primary schools, and has become popular in state schools.
In book ‘What Are They Teaching Our Children’, published by fringe anti-LGBT group Christian Concern, Hadley claims that CHIPS “contributes to the normalisation of sexual immorality and the desensitisation of children to it”.
He added that the anti-bullying scheme “inevitably forces the early sexualisation of very young children”.
Speaking to Schools Week, a spokesperson for CEE dismissed concerns about their ties to Hadley.
They said: “How does this show we’re homophobic?
“We certainly believe he’s got something worthwhile to say, and yes it’s about education, but it’s not directly about our schools. It’s his research.”
The spokesperson added: “All of our schools have anti-bullying policies. This speaker has done some research and is suggesting some dangers of the CHIPS scheme. We wouldn’t have someone who is pro-bullying.”
Christian Education Europe administers the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum, a Christian fundamentalist course of learning that grew up in Texas.
Concerns have been repeatedly flagged about the use of ACE in British schools in the past, with an investigation in 2014 raising concerns about ACE textbooks teaching that homosexuality is a choice, evolution is a lie, abortion is wrong, and AIDS can be avoided by following the Bible.
Last year, a number of ACE schools threatened legal action after having their status downgraded by education watchdog Ofsted, partly for failing to “promote respect” for LGBT people and British values.

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

Arkansas: A church in Arkansas is pushing leaflets through people’s letterboxes claiming there’s “no such thing” as homosexuality.
Lighthouse Baptist Church in Fayetteville was behind the leaflets, which had local residents up in arms.
The fliers, which were distributed to local residents, claim to “debunk some myths” about homosexuality.
It says: “Does God love homosexuals? This is a flawed question, there are no such things as Homosexuals.
“God created male and female. There are male and females that engage in ‘unseemly’ acts of immorality.”
It goes on to claim that homosexuals are actually eunuchs, and encourages them to abstain from “immoral” gay sex.
In a response to KNWA, Pastor Paul Caldwell of Lighthouse Baptist Church claimed the leaflets were meant to show “love” by convincing people to renounce their sexuality.
He said: “Our church loves the LGBT community, hence the reason we have decided since Spring 2014 to reach out to them. This is just another avenue we are trying.
“To them it is simply a reminder that God loves them, and if I were to truly love them then I must tell them the truth.”
Local resident Joanna McCusker was one of many who discovered a leaflet had been left at her home.
She said: “I was just offended that they would be going door-to-door in this community with that information. I think most neighbours were pretty offended.
“There was a young boy who was attaching some sort of literature to our door. It’s very sad that they’re using children to promote their message.
“If you read their literature you’ll see that they don’t actually believe that there are such thing as gay people, it’s almost a science-fiction idea that they have.”
Perhaps the Church would have better luck with their message if they moved to Iran.
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously claimed that there were zero homosexuals in his country – though he later admitted they existed by accusing his opponents of working with “thieves, homosexuals and scumbags”.
A Mormon church leader also previously claimed that there are zero gay Mormons.
Mormon leader David A Bednar, who sits on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made the claim when asked about the Church’s approach to gay members.
He insisted: “First I want to change the question – there are no homosexual members of the Church.”

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

Dallas: Trans people in Texas face being banned from using the right bathroom for them but one unlikely man can save them – a top Republican.
In 2010, the Dallas Voice said House Speaker Joe Straus ‘may be the LGBT community’s best friend in the Texas Legislature’ and now he has got the chance to prove it.
The Senate passed SB6, Texas’s version of North Carolina’s infamous HB6, with a 21-10 vote yesterday (14 March).
Senators debated the bill for four and a half hours on the discrimination of trans people in Texas before casting their votes.
Introduced by Lt Governor Dan Patrick, SB6 would require trans people to use the bathrooms matching their ‘biological’ gender and not their gender identity.
It would also bypass any local legislation passed with the intent to allow trans people to use the bathroom in accordance with their gender identity.
The bill was introduced by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who calls it the privacy act and insists SB6’s purpose is to prevent sexual predators from enterin women’s bathrooms.
The vote split conservatives, but also saw one Democrat, Senator Eddie Lucio Jr of Brownsville, voting in favor of the law.
But despite the Senate’s vote, SB6 could still be defeated.
It first needs to gain approval from the Senate’s upper chamber, and then SB6 will be sent to the House of Representatives.
And House Speaker Straus is not favor of the bill.
So far he has not declared SB6 dead on arrival, but repeatedly denounced it in public.
Straus said it would potentially lead to job losses and that Texas needed to ‘send the right signals’ if it wants to keep its economic edge.
‘It’s not just about basketball tournaments or conventions,’ Straus said.
‘Many people where I’m from are concerned about anything that could slow down overall job creation.’
Some threats have been made already. The National Football League said should SB6 pass, they would have to reconsider whether they could bring the Super Bowl back to Texas.
A similar warning came from the National Basketball Association, who pulled their All-Stars game from North Carolina over the bathroom bill.
What has HB2 done to North Carolina?
North Carolina’s bathroom bill, the first in the US, caused significant economic damage.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) pulled all seven 2016-17 championship events from the state.
North Carolina is also on the cusp of losing all NCAA championship events through 2022, which could result in a $250 million loss for the state.
The law also badly damaged North Carolina’s reputation and saw major music stars, including Bruce Springsteen, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato, cancel gigs.
Deutsche Bank and Paypal canceled plans to expand in North Carolina, which lost the state 650 jobs.

he Texas Senate has passed a bill that bans gender-neutral bathrooms and forces trans people to use the bathroom of their “biological sex”.
The North Carolina Senate ignored warnings from business leaders this week, voting to advance the Republican-backed bill, SB 6, by a vote of 21-10.
The bill threatens schools with hefty fines if they permit transgender children to use the bathroom of their preferred gender – up to $10,500 for “multiple violations”.
The proposed law would also voids local anti-discrimination protections for trans people.
Anti-LGBT groups in the state have previously run ads depicting a little girl getting raped in a bathroom in a disgusting anti-trans smear campaign.
After North Carolina faced a crippling economic boycott over a similar law, leaders from the entertainment industry, business world and sport have all this month warned Texas lawmakers that their state will also be shunned if SB 6 passes.
Among them are the National Basketball Association and National Football League, both of which have threatened to move major games out of Texas if the law is passed to ensure the safety of fans and staff.
But the warnings were ignored.
After clearing the Senate vote, SB 6 will now move to the Texas House of Representatives, before landing on the desk of Governor Greg Abbott if it passes.
JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs of the Human Rights Campaign, said: “After hearing an outpouring of opposition to this bill during nearly 20 hours of citizen testimony last week, it’s outrageous that the Texas Senate would advance SB 6 to the House.
“This measure is another product of Dan Patrick’s anti-LGBTQ agenda, and it’s troubling that lawmakers in the Senate cannot see it for what it truly is: an attack on their transgender neighbors, coworkers and friends who deserve the same dignity and rights as anyone else.
“We hope the House members recognize this and stop SB 6 in its tracks.”
HRC added: “SB 6 is a discriminatory, anti-transgender bill, and one of the many egregious anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in Texas this legislative session. By making it illegal for transgender people in Texas to be afforded access to facilities consistent with their identity, it opens them up to increased discrimination and harassment as they simply live their everyday lives.
“It also exposes Texas to tremendous risk of the kind of financial, legal, and political blowback that North Carolina has continued to reckon with after the passage of HB2.​”

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Amsterdam: Right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders has accused the country’s victorious incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte of treating his supporters like ‘semi Nazis’ after his party lost the General Election.[Only semi-Nazis?- Craig] Rutte’s VVD party won with a predicted 32 seats in the 150-seat parliament, while Wilders’ populist PVV party is joint second with 19 seats, alongside the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) and the Democracy party (D66).
The anti-Islam sectarian and anti-immigrant racist politician has previously promised to deliver a ‘Nexit’, a Dutch version of Brexit from the EU, and a ‘patriotic revolution’ to the Dutch people. However, the loss represented a decrease of nine seats for Rutte and an increase of seven seats for Wilders. Speaking after exit polls predicted he had won his third term as Prime Minister, a jubilant Rutte said: ‘This is an evening where the Netherlands, after Brexit and Trump, said ‘That’s enough of the wrong sort of populism’.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4315374/Europe-braced-NEXIT.html#ixzz4bSpyJA3U

London: The British Government has responded to a petition to make gay conversion therapy a criminal offence in the UK.

The campaign – which was launched a few months ago – has so far received just under 33,000 signatures, but needs 100,000 to be considered for debate in the Houses of Parliament.

“Conversion Therapy is counselling or training which attempts to ‘reverse’ a person’s non-heterosexual identity,” the petition reads.

“This therapy often includes electric shocks, counsellors encouraging suicide, and damaging ideology linking LGBT+ identities to sexual abuse from family members in early years. It is scientifically proven that this therapy does not work.”

The government has responded to the petition, condemning the practice of gay conversion therapy, but does not state that it will take steps to make it a crime in the UK. Instead, they state that they will continue to give relevant education and training to prevent conversion therapy over time.

“This Government does not believe that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is an illness to be treated,” the response reads. “Gay conversion therapy is an attempt to use therapeutic approaches to change a person’s sexual orientation. It is sometimes known as ‘reparative’ or ‘gay cure’ therapy. The Government fully recognise the importance of this issue and the adverse impact this treatment could have on lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people.

“There is no evidence that this sort of treatment is beneficial, and indeed it may well cause significant harm to some patients. It is incumbent on professionals working in the National Health Service to ensure that treatment and care, including therapy, is provided to every patient without any form of discrimination.

“This Government is committed to tackling discrimination towards LGB people.

“That is why we have already worked with the main registration and accreditation bodies for psychotherapy and counselling practitioners, including the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), to develop first a consensus statement and then a Memorandum of Understanding committing signatory organisations to a range of activities including training and awareness raising amongst their members in relation to this issue.

“This Government has already taken the necessary steps to prevent the practice of gay conversion therapy in the UK.”

LGBT+ charity Stonewall reports that a 2009 survey of over 1,300 accredited mental health professionals found that more than 200 had offered some form of conversion therapy.

What’s more, further research found that one in 10 health and social care staff have witnessed colleagues express the belief that sexual orientation can be ‘cured’.

That statistic rises to 1 in 5 among health and care staff in London.

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

London: Barely any UK same-sex couples are opting for religious wedding ceremonies in England and Wales, data has revealed. Same-sex couples were able to enter religious unions for the first time when same-sex marriage became legal in 2014. Prior to this gay couples were only able to enter civil partnerships, which were not permitted in religious institutions.
However, despite the ability to have a religious ceremony, data released by the ONS this week has shown same-sex couples overwhelmingly shunned the option of a religious ceremony.
Just 0.47 percent of same-sex weddings in 2014 were religious ceremonies, with 99.53% opting for civil ceremonies. Of 4,850 same-sex marriage ceremonies, only 23 were religious.

By comparison, religious ceremonies made up 28 percent of weddings for opposite-sex couples.
The news is unsurprising given that all of the largest religious groups in the UK ban same-sex weddings, including the official bodies for Catholicism, Islam and Orthodox Judaism.
The Church of England is legally banned from conducting same-sex weddings under explicit provisions in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.
Unitarians, Quakers, Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism are some of the religious bodies who do invite same-sex couples to marry in their places of worship.
This statistic is reflected in which days of the week same-sex couples chose to have their weddings on.
Sunday, a day which is favoured for weddings in certain religions, was the least popular day for same-sex marriages.
British Humanist Association chief executive Andrew Copson said that the new figures strengthened his organisation’s campaign for legal recognition of humanist marriages in England and Wales.
He said that the option “would be particularly valued by same-sex couples, who at present overwhelmingly feel they have no choice of type of marriage at all.”
Humanist weddings are permitted in Scotland, but in England and Wales only approved faith groups can carry out non-civil ceremonies.

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

London: The first British three-parent baby could be born this year after a Newcastle clinic was given the first license.
The fertility regulator Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority announced this morning that a team of scientists at Newcastle University has been given the go-ahead to perform the procedure.
Because applications are approved on a case-by-case basis by the HFEA, each patient will have to be approved individually, despite the Newcastle scientists being shown the green light.
The HFEA initially indicated that an application for an individual woman to undergo the treatment had been approved.
Later, a spokesman issued a correction, saying: “This is a licence only for the first stage relating to clinic’s capacity to perform the techniques, and no patient application has yet been approved.
“This will form part of the next stage.”
Newcastle University has been at the forefront of these treatments in research, and has now become the first institution to pass the HFEA’s two-stage application process.

HFEA chair Sally Cheshire said: “I can confirm today that the HFEA has approved the first application by Newcastle Fertility at Life for the use of mitochondrial donation to treat patients.
“This significant decision represents the culmination of many years hard work by researchers, clinical experts, and regulators, who collectively paved the way for Parliament to change the law in 2015 to permit the use of such techniques.
“Patients will now be able to apply individually to the HFEA to undergo mitochondrial donation treatment at Newcastle, which will be life-changing for them, as they seek to avoid passing on serious genetic diseases to future generations.”
According to the HFEA, if mitochondrial DNA – which is inherited via the mother – is faulty, she could pass on one of “a number of rare but very serious mitochondrial diseases” to her children.
These can include muscle, cardiac and neural diseases.
IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) clinics will be able to replace an egg’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor’s egg.
This will result in babies having DNA from three people – and effectively, two mothers.
In 2015, The UK became the first country to approve a law to allow babies to be created from the DNA of three people using the technique.
And in September, the first ever three-parent child was born to Jordanian parents, thanks to pioneering work from John Zhang and his team at New Hope Fertility Center in New York City.
Using a technique known as mitochondrial replacement, doctors were able to extract the nucleus from one of the mother’s eggs, inserting it into a donor egg with a nucleus removed.
The egg was then fertilised with the father’s sperm, meaning the baby has DNA from two mothers and one father – also preventing the disease from being passed on.
As the procedure is not legal in the US, it was carried out in Mexico.

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

Lynchburg: A leading evangelical group is terrified that “radical leftist” homosexuals are planning a coup against Donald Trump.
The warning comes from the Liberty Counsel, the ultra-conservative Christian law firm that battles against LGBT rights across the US.
They warned that “an army of radical leftists is gathering… to mobilize against President Trump’s policies on the local, state, and federal levels”
The law firm continued: “Their agenda includes an aggressive pro-LGBTQ campaign that includes fighting against any religious liberty protections that they deem to be ‘antigay’ offered by President Trump or Congress.
“The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is already attempting to overturn President Trump’s revocation of the former president’s Bathroom Directive.
“The plans of this radical group are now among the biggest threats to life, liberty, and family in the history of America.
“Now armed with over $80 million in post-election war chest funds, the ACLU is pushing to advance its radical agenda like never before.”
The Liberty Counsel rose to national prominence after providing free legal representation to embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, when she refused to carry out her duties because of same-sex marriage.
The group has more recently been secretly helping Republican lawmakers draft anti-LGBT legislation in a number of states, leading to a wave of anti-LGBT ‘conscience’ bills and ‘bathroom laws’ that exploit transgender issues as an excuse to strip back anti-discrimination protections.
The group has shockingly anti-LGBT views, however. Its head Mat Staver recently falsely claimed that first responders at last year’s Pulse nightclub shooting have to “get tested for AIDS-related conditions” because of the blood of gay victims.
They have also claimed the United States might be destroyed unless you give them money.
Mr Staver wrote: “We have exposed the dangerous lies of the Obama agenda, especially as it has impacted life, faith, and family. This work has been vital in keeping the flame of liberty burning in our land!
“We are entering the most important season of all in this battle for the very heart and soul of our nation and the rights of people of faith to stand in our culture.
“In the coming months, we could witness a rollback of President Obama’s radical initiatives OR a decisive defeat of life, family, and religious liberties.
“If we fail to reverse course and restore liberty, our nation will not long survive!”

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

Berlin: A German politician is demanding all HIV positive people are put on a national watchlist – without their consent.
Ralph Weber represents the right-wing Alternative for Germany in the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the north of Germany.
He now wants to change the Law on the Protection from Infection (Infektionsschutzgesetz). He would require states’ Health Departments to register the names of people diagnosed with HIV in a form of watchlist.
The politician gave the growing number of new HIV infections in his state as the basis for his demand, according to German newspaper Nordkurier.
In 2015 41 people newly contracted HIV; in 2010, it was only 24.
Since 2012, HIV infections have been on the rise again across Germany.
According to Weber, the reason for the once-again rising numbers is ‘irresponsible behavior’. And he thinks that validates changing federal law.
He now wants to submit a motion to the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Parliament to make named registration compulsory.
Tom Scheel, sex educationist at the Centrum for Sexual Health in Rostock, called Weber’s idea ‘absolute drivel’.
He also said there was no problem in the state.
According to Queer.de, Weber already submitted a small motion on the same demand earlier this month.
He declared measures of HIV prevention to have failed and said there was a collision between the rights of those affected by control measures and HIV negative people for whom the state has a duty of protection from infection.
HIV prevention in Germany focuses on education and guidance.
The state’s government struck Weber’s motion down.
In their reply, they said rising numbers were due to ‘diminishing individual preventive measures because of better therapy options, changes in sexual behavior, new patterns of drug use and also the growing mobility in Germany, Europe but also worldwide’.
But they also said the names and personal details of HIV positive people ‘would not offer further protection’.
The Robert Koch Institute, which registers HIV stats across Germany, said they would not comment on Weber’s statements.
Gay Star News has contacted the Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe, Germany’s leading organization for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: A British actor says there’s a generational disconnect in the gay community. Alan Cumming stars as Sam Cooper in new movie After Louie, which “explores the contradictions of modern gay life and history,” which is something he sees as “pandemic” among LGBT+ people.

“That sort of discussion between an older gay man and a younger gay man, and the differences between their generations, is happening everywhere,” Alan told The Guardian.

“It’s pandemic, and yet I’ve never really seen it represented in a film. I know so many older gay men who are like: ‘You don’t know what the Aids crisis was like,’ but I also know a lot of young gay guys who are like: ‘Who cares?’”

Asked which side of the fence his view on it is, Alan said: “I can see it from both sides. I can understand why younger people can feel slightly patronised by older people who lived through it.

“But at the same time, I can also understand the bewilderment and despair that people from an older generation went through. I know people who went through all that, who are like: ‘Isn’t it amazing that these kids don’t have to worry like we did?’

“It’s a very nuanced argument. What I love about the film is that both characters learn and grow, and realise that maybe they were a little too didactic in their respective corners.”

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

Sydney: New South Wales’ LGBTI health organisation ACON will be supporting community groups to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17.

This year IDAHOT has joined forces with International Family Equality Day with the joint theme Love Makes a Family.

ACON will support ten organisations in NSW with small grants to help highlight the impact that homophobia, transphobia and biphobia have on the health and wellbeing of LGBTI families.
The IDAHOT grants program is in its fifth year of providing support. Five metro and five regional events will each receive a $500 grant towards recognising the important day, and promoting the message that LGBTI families need to be protected from homophobic and transphobic prejudice, harassment, violence and discrimination.

“Despite significant progress made over recent years in fostering a more inclusive society in Australia, many LGBTI Australians and families continue to be targets of violence, discrimination and exclusion,” said Nicolas Parkhill, ACON CEO.

“Indeed, just because of their sexuality or gender identity, many Australians are separated from family and friends, harassed in their workplace or on the sporting field, abused by their neighbours or assaulted on the street. This is why IDAHOT has been capturing the interest of more and more people right across the world.

“ACON celebrates all families, whether traditional, kinship or chosen—it’s really just love that counts. We’re excited to help celebrate the rich diversity that makes up so many rainbow families around Australia, and by raising visibility we hope to work to address the discrimination they continue to face.”

IDAHOT takes place every year on May 17, the day that homosexuality was removed from the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases in 1990. Celebrated in over 130 countries, IDAHOT aims to unite people in recognising human rights for all, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

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

New Brunswick: The New Brunswick government introduced a bill to explicitly protect trans people under the province’s human-rights act, making it the last province in Canada to do so.

Bill 51 adds “gender identity or expression” to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in New Brunswick. It also adds the category “family status,” intended to protect single parents from discrimination. It was introduced March 15, 2017, and had a second reading the next day.

The province has also introduced Bill 37 to amend the province’s Change of Name Act and Vital Statistics Act. The bill removes the requirement for gender-confirming surgery in order for trans people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates and simplifies the process of obtaining a legal name change.

Bill 37 was introduced in December 2016 and had its second reading Feb 14.

Together, the two bills would bring New Brunswick in line with how all other provinces, as well as Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, protect trans people from discrimination and allow them to access gender-confirming documents. Bills to make similar changes in Yukon have been proposed but not yet introduced.

Michelle Leard, who founded the trans support group UBU Atlantic and is based in Moncton, says the big changes in New Brunswick are the culmination of two years of talks between the government and trans advocacy groups.

The New Brunswick government moved to include gender-confirming surgery in the provincial health care plan last summer in response to local advocate demands. It was the last province to do so.

“For a long time we haven’t had an organized request to have these things,” Leard says. ”I couldn’t possibly be happier because what we’ve wanted and asked for, we’re getting.

“Seeing this happen, with trans issues being more on the national stage, to the [New Brunswick Human Rights Act], it really legitimizes the situation for trans people in New Brunswick.”

Leard also says that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s support for the federal trans-rights bill C-16 has also helped nudge provincial premiers along.

“Once you see our prime minister say, ‘this is something I want to see happen,’ it makes the premiers say, ‘how long can we say no?’” Leard says.

With trans people soon to protected in all provinces and territories in Canada, the pressure increases on the Senate to pass Bill C-16, which adds “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act and to the list of aggravating factors in the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code. A committee is expected to hold hearings on the bill in April before a third and final reading.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Ottawa: A new antiretroviral drug will soon be available to Canadian HIV patients, but it comes with a dose of controversy and likely a daunting price tag.

Odefsey, the successor to the older Complera, is the latest in Gilead Sciences’ line of anti-HIV drugs. Gilead also makes Truvada to treat HIV and Truvada for PrEP to lower the risk of HIV transmission.

Health Canada gave Odefsey its stamp of approval in February 2017.

Lower side effects, lower doses

The new pill’s advantage is the compound tenofovir alafenamide (TAF), a new means of delivering the drug tenofovir. Compared to the tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) found in Complera, TAF boasts better “targeting,” delivering the drug efficiently to parts of the body where it is most needed. That means TAF drugs require much lower doses, achieving the same effect while reducing harm to the bones and kidneys.

While Complera packs 300 milligrams of TDF, Odefsey contains only 25 milligrams of TAF. The new drug could be a boon to an aging population of HIV patients, many of whom are taking other medications and are hoping for long golden years on antiretrovirals, free from side effects.

The rollout of Odefsey, however, comes with a big catch: patent law. Odefsey is hitting the market just as Gilead’s patent on TDF drugs is set to expire in December 2017. While the older TDF drugs are likely to plummet in price, Gilead has the patent on TAF locked down until 2022.

The timing is suspicious enough that the San Francisco-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation sued Gilead last year, accusing the company of deliberately delaying the development of TAF to squeeze money out if its customers. The lawsuit failed, but HIV activists have pointed out that the timing is, if not conspiratorial, at least very convenient for Gilead. Activists also point out that Gilead has raised prices on its older drugs, in an apparent bid to convince patients to switch to the new TAF regimes before the company’s patent falls through.

Will provinces pay for Odefsey?

For Canadian provinces, which will soon have to negotiate with Gilead over the price of Odefsey through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, this raises two important questions: How much more expensive will TAF be than generic TDF, and is it worth paying for?

There’s no question, says Dr Stephen Shafran, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta, that TAF is the better drug.

“I think any clinician would tell you, if price is not a consideration, why would we use TDF if you have access to TAF?” he says.

Shafran says the most recent research shows TAF beating its forebears for better viral suppression and fewer bone and kidney problems over time. But money, unfortunately, is on the table. He says it’s likely that provinces will decide not to cover TAF for everyone with HIV, and health services or doctors will have to pick and choose which patients get access.

“I’m hoping that government and industry will agree on a price that allows us open access,” Shafran says. “But if they don’t, then it will put us in a position that makes things more complicated.”

In the best case scenario, access to cheap TDF drugs could drag down the price of TAF, and make it accessible to all. In the worst, TAF could remain a luxury for those with gold-plated insurance.

Is a new antiretroviral drug really necessary?

Dr Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, says not all patients need TAF. The existing drugs already work perfectly well for nearly all patients, he says, and when rare side effects do appear, they are easy to detect. Unlike the switch from first to second generation drugs in the early 2000s — when the newer drug could mean freedom from crippling side effects and disease — the marginal differences between second and third generation drugs are slender.

“The current treatments we have available are operating at a very high level of performance,” Montaner says. “We have the Cadillac of a treatment available. The question now is, is a Ferrari needed in every instance?”

Montaner says he is confident the BC government will cover TAF drugs for the few patients who need them. In most cases, however, generic TDF drugs will do just fine.

“The question is, how do we create a system that’s best for the patients, and not get distracted by the hype that the pharmaceutical industry is creating about every single new molecule,” he says. “What problem are we trying to solve here? Is there a clinical problem? Because I haven’t seen it. Or are we trying to solve a problem of income for the pharmaceutical industry?”

Odefsey is not the first TAF drug from Gilead to arrive in Canada; the single pill regimen Genvoya was approved in 2015.

Price and access have also been key issues for Canadians trying to take Gilead’s TDF-based drug Truvada, which is used for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Since PrEP drugs were approved in Canada, they have commonly been accessible only to people on certain medical insurance plans, or to those who bring generics semi-legally across the border.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Belfast: The departing leader of Northern Ireland’s Ulster Unionist Party has finally backed equal marriage for the first time, two weeks after quitting his job.
The ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) previously used a procedure known as a ‘petition of concern’ to block same-sex marriage – but after this month’s elections, no longer has enough assembly seats to do so.
Conservative unionists may still be able to continue to block equality if MLAs from the Ulster Unionist Party lend their support to a petition of concern, but today departing UUP leader Mike Nesbitt has come out in favour of same-sex marriage.
Mr Nesbitt, who is set to be replaced as party leader next month, finally spoke out on the issue on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show.
The leader had previously opposed equality but suggested he was “evolving” on the issue. Speaking to Stephan Nolan, he confirmed he had “finished the journey”.
Asked if he personally believes gay people should be allowed to marry he said: “Yes they should, but the churches must also have protections.
“One of the reasons I took a position of not supporting the change in the law was sitting in my own church on a Sunday and thinking, how would this congregation feel if there had been a gay marriage here on Saturday afternoon?’

“I reckoned a lot of people wouldn’t have been that comfortable, but the legislation will put in protections so no minister will have to conduct a same-sex marriage if it’s against his conscience and no church will have to allow it in their church if they’re against it.
“If those protections are in, you know what? If two people love each other and that’s what they want.”
He added that he would not have backed equality in the past “because I was on a journey…. but that journey is now complete.”
Asked if he was backing equality now because he has less to lose, he said: “If that’s how [people] feel, it’s how they feel. I was on a journey.”
Of his rationale he explained: “If it was your son, your daughter, your niece, your nephew? Would you stop loving them because they were gay? Or would you continue to love them and want the best for them?”
However, he added that the UUP will continue to consider same-sex marriage a “matter of conscience”, saying that it’s up to MLAs to “decide for themselves”.
The DUP have just 28 seats in the Northern Irish Assembly – two short of the 30 needed to pass a petition of concern by themselves.
However two other MLAs have suggested they would prop them up.
UUP MLA Roy Beggs said he would join a veto effort.
He said: “I am against gay marriage and that is still the case. Nobody is sure what rules may apply for a petition of concern or if there will even be an Assembly, nobody knows. Where do we go from here?
“I wouldn’t be honouring the people who voted for me if I voted any differently because I have spoken openly in the past about my views on the matter.”
TUV MLA Jim Allister also previously vowed to aid any bid to block equal marriage, saying: “TUV is a party committed to traditional family values and will continue to resist attempts by the homosexual lobby to introduce the oxymoron which is same sex marriage to Northern Ireland.”
With the support of Beggs and Allister, the DUP would have the 30 signatures needed to veto equal marriage.

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

United States: Over 55 American athletes have signed an Athletes Ally open letter opposing the proposed Bathroom Bill in Texas.
The open letter was signed by a number of people including sports stars affiliated to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
The letter was published yesterday by nonprofit organisation Athlete Ally, a group that promotes inclusivity in sports communities.
Former players of the US Women’s National Team and current players in the NWSL appear on the letter which opposes Texas’ anti-transgender bathroom bill, SB6.
The letter explains that those who have signed it are committed to “upholding values of equality, inclusion and respect”.
“As members of the athletic community, we’re committed to upholding the very values that sport instills in each of us. Values like fair play, equality, inclusion and respect.
“We believe that everyone should be afforded the same access, opportunity, and experience both in sport and under the law.
The letter goes on to say that the bill would damage Texas, sports and the transgender community.
“This is why we’re joining together to speak out against Senate Bill 6 (SB6), and the dozen more anti-LGBT bills already filed, and the harm they would do to the state of Texas, to the transgender community, and to the sports, we have come to know and love.”
Hudson Taylor, the Executive Director of Athlete Ally, said that the letter proves that all Texans “deserve equal respect and protection”.
“The athletic community refuses to be sidelined while the state of Texas debates anti-transgender bills like SB6,” Taylor said.
“Today, the athletic community made it clear that SB6 is counter to the values of sport, and that all Texans — regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity — deserve equal respect and protection on the playing field, in the locker room, and under the law.”
The bill is alike to the controversial HB2 bill that was passed in North Carolina.
It dictates that people must use restrooms and changing facilities in public that correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth – their “biological sex”, which the bill states is the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate.
The Texas Senate passed the draconian bill earlier this week after a long scaremongering campaign.
The bill threatens schools with hefty fines if they permit transgender children to use the bathroom of their preferred gender – up to $10,500 for “multiple violations”.
The proposed law would also voids local anti-discrimination protections for trans people.
SB6 will now move to the Texas House of Representatives, before landing on the desk of Governor Greg Abbott if it passes.

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

Washington DC: LGBT organisations have asked Trump officials to explain why they sent activists from a group that supported Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law to a UN women’s rights conference.
The President is facing questions over the State Department’s delegation to the 61st annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York month.
The official US government delegation includes an activist from the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) – a fringe faith groups that oppose LGBT equality and women’s healthcare laws.
C-FAM is designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has attacked the “homosexual agenda”.
Austin Ruse, the group’s President, has previously voiced support for the criminalisation of homosexuality and openly supported Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law. Ruse also claimed previously that professors behind “the nonsense that they teach in women’s studies (…) should all be taken out and shot”, .
In the wake of the revelations, the Human Rights Campaign has penned a letter to Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asking him to explain the decision.
Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global, said: “It’s appalling and completely unacceptable that individuals from organizations peddling hatred against LGBTQ people and their families have been appointed to an extremely important commission on women’s rights.
“To be clear, these individuals and the organizations they represent do not serve the best interests of women — including lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer women — in the United States and around the globe.”
The letter says: “Austin Ruse, is a highly visible international anti-LGBTQ extremist. He has called for help in stopping the “ghastly work” of the United Nations in
protecting LGBTQ people from violence and discrimination, calling those efforts “deadly propaganda.” Lisa Correnti, its Vice President, has her own long anti-LGBTQ record. She recently co-authored an article that directly referred to Trump Administration efforts to undo policies protecting women, including LBTQ women, from violence.
“If the United States is truly committed to improving the lives of women, including LBTQ women, in the U.S. and beyond, then Lisa Correnti and Grace Melton and the organizations they represent should not be the public face of our delegation.
“We urge you to immediately rescind the appointment of these delegates who do not represent our shared American values.”
The US was also represented by activists from the Heritage Foundation – which has been embroiled in several legal battles opposing LGBT equality, and has claimed that anti-discrimination laws grant LGBT people “special privileges”.

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

Tokyo: Japan has become the first country in the world to elect a trans man into public office.
The country has made the landmark step with the election of Tomoya Hosoda as a councillor for the city of Iruma.
The 25-year-old won of the 22 seats up for grabs in the election.
The country elected its first trans politician in 2003, Kamikawa Aya. However, New Zealand was the first country to have an openly transgender member of parliament, Georgina Beyer, who was elected in 1999.
Hosoda came out as trans while he was a student at the Teikyo University studying medical sciences, and began his transition in 2015.
The newly elected official said that he hopes he can meet the “expectations” of those in the country.
“Until recently, people have acted as if sexual and gender minorities do not exist,” he said. “We have many hurdles to overcome, but I hope to live up to everyone’s expectations.”

In a profile for Out in Japan, Hosoda explained that he will be working for LGBT rights as well as improving the lives of the elderly and disabled.
He said: “For me, coming out is just the starting line.
“It is now time to build a foundation for the people who need to move forward. Some walls can not be overcome by one person. We have to work together, and help each other out.”
He credits his friends and family for being a great support network during the election process, and acknowledged that while it was difficult he hopes his political presence can help stop trans discrimination.
“My parents, friends, colleagues and old schoolmates support me. While there were so many troubles, a lot of suffering, we can move forward one step at a time.
“The more we meet people, the narrow-minded way of thinking will expand.”

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

Portland: Two US states are fighting back against transphobic laws by making it easier to legally change your gender.
Colorado and Oregon are both working towards passings bills which would make it easier for trans people to change the gender markers on their birth certificates.
Yesterday (16 March) Oregon’s HB2673 passed the House with a 37-23 vote. It will have its first Senate reading today (17 March).
Under the new law, trans people with Oregon birth certificates would be able to update their name and gender markers in a private process.
Instead of going before a judge, they would be able to change their birth certificate through the Oregon Health Authority.
Apart from making the transition easier for trans people, proponents have also argued HB2673 would protect trans youth after Title IX protections were revoked at federal level and Gavin Grimm’s case was dropped by the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday Colorado’s House gave initial approval to HB1122, which would allow trans Coloradans to change their birth certificate much easier.
Currently, trans people willing to change the gender markers on their birth certificate have to either go before a judge or undergo gender-confirmation surgery.
HB1122 would eliminate those requirements.
But it faced loud opposition from some Republican House members.
‘In my world, the birth certificate is sacrosanct,’ said Hugh McKean, a Republican representing Loveland.
‘It doesn’t mean who you are today. It means who you were the day you were born.’
He said a birth certificate states facts, but ‘doesn’t say anything about how you felt about it’, and tried to make his point by using his birthday as an analogy.
‘I am not 60. I’m not 60 because I’m not 60. I was born in 1967,’ he said.
‘I was not born in 1947. I was not born in 1957. I was born in 1967. My birth certificate says who I am on the day I was born.’
Democrat Jessie Danielson, Representative for Wheat Ridge, called the bill ‘an opportunity to remove a barrier for transgender Coloradans to make life easier for them’.
‘This is not a use of alternative facts,’ she said.
‘This is people trying to live their lives.’
And fellow Democrat Alex Garnett, representing Denver, said the current legislatio placed ‘a significant burden’ on trans people’s right to privacy.
With a Democrat majority of 37-28 the bill looks likely to pass the House vote.
But Colorado’s Senate is held by the Republicans, with a slim majority of 18-17.
It’s the third time in three years the law has been proposed; the last two times, it died in a Senate committee.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Kuala Lumpur: After a lot of uncertainty around the release of Beauty and the Beast, Disney has confirmed it will not screen the film in Malaysia.
The live action remake of the animated film starring Emma Watson was due for release globally on March 16.
Its release was delayed in Malaysia as Disney reviewed a request from the Malaysia Film Censorship Board to remove the film’s controversial ‘gay moment’. The scene featured side-character LeFou singing an admiring song to the manly Gaston and dancing with another man.
The censor board said it would give the film a PG-13 rating if the scene was cut it. That meant children under the age of 13 must see the film with an adult.
Disney was quick to refuse the censor’s request and stood by its position to leave the scene intact.
‘The film has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia,’ Disney said at the time.
It’s over, officially
Now the film will not be shown in Malaysia after Disney it altogether from screening.
When asked whether the board would back down now that Disney has pulled the film, its chairman Abdul Hamid said: ‘(It’s) Still the same decision.’
Hamid confirmed local distributors had asked for a review of the decision and the board should meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
Malaysia has strict anti-sodomy laws and in 2010 the Film Censorship Board said it would only allow depictions of homosexuals onscreen if they repent or die.
What’s going on in the hood
In neighbouring countries Singapore and Indonesia – which is the most populated Muslim nation in the world – the film opened without any cuts and a PG-13 rating.
But the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore did warn viewers about what they might see in the film.
‘With extensive media reports of the purported ‘gay moment’ in this movie, we believe that parents must discern and reflect with their children on whether the lifestyle portrayed is consonant with the teaching of Christ,’ it said in a statement.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Wellington: The parade is being billed as the first of its kind in nearly 25 years and a chance to celebrate diversity in Wellington.
It’s is part of the Wellington Pride Festival celebrating the rainbow community in New Zealand.
The parade starts on Cambridge Terrace at 10.45am today and has a theme of “A World of Fantasy”.

Pacific Liaison Coordinator Constable Loretta Hunt-Tevaga says invitations have been extended to all police staff to participate in the parade.
On-duty police staff will also be providing support for the event.
“This is exactly what valuing diversity is all about – showing support for our colleagues, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, or sexuality,” she says.

Source: http://www.tvnz.co.nz/news

Oklahoma: Steak and Catfish Barn in Oklahoma City has come under fire for it’s anti-transgender bathroom sign.

The signs warn its patrons: “We do not have a transgender bathroom. So don’t be caught in the wrong one.”

According to Gay Star News, restaurant owner Bob Warner has denied that the signs “threaten” and “attack” transgender people.

Speaking to NewsChannel4, he said: “We have a lot of redneck guys that come in here, truck drivers and everything.

“They’re big husky guys, and I said ‘Man alive! If their wife or little girl walked in that bathroom and a man followed them in there, I wouldn’t have a restaurant.’”

Warner then states that he doesn’t mind which bathroom transgender people use, as long as they’re “dressed appropriately.”

Warner claims he’s trying to protect his business and his customers – including those who are transgender.

“I don’t want to see nobody get hurt,” he adds.

The incident is the latest example of the anti-transgender ‘bathroom’ smears employed as a tactic by anti-LGBT campaigners over the year bleeding through to the local level.
A horrific pro-Republican has been aired in a number of states depicting the fictional rape of a little girl in a bathroom, in a shocking attack on transgender people.
The National Organisation for Marriage pushed the an ad campaign in North Carolina, blaming “[Democratic candidate] Roy Cooper’s bathroom plan” for the apparent rape of the little girl, who is a fictional character and does not exist.
There are zero recorded cases in the United States of transgender people taking advantage of bathrooms to commit sexual assaults.
But the ad claimed: “Any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day. No-one is exempt.
“Even registered sex offenders could follow women into the bathroom or locker room, and no-one could prevent them.”
The same ad has been recycled in other states. An identical campaign was launched in Texas – which succeeded in persuading voters to vote down an Equal Rights Ordinance providing basic protections for LGBT workers.

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

Ottawa: Ever since Conservative MP Rob Anders — who ardently believed that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist and publicly speculated that Tom Mulcair may have killed Jack Layton — Canadians have been waiting with bated breath for who will emerge as Canada’s most repugnant Parliamentarian. Lynn Beyak, the Conservative senator from Dryden, Ontario, has scrappily fought her way to the top of the heap, despite stiff competition from Maxime “Red Pill” Bernier and Kellie Leitch, the world’s least convincing demagogue.

“I speak partly for the record, but mostly in memory of the kindly and well-intentioned men and women and their descendants — perhaps some of us here in this chamber — whose remarkable works, good deeds and historical tales in the residential schools go unacknowledged for the most part,” Beyak said about the priests and nuns who oversaw the system of genocide known as the residential school system.

It’s an especially shocking statement coming from someone who sits on the Senate standing committee on Aboriginal peoples. Beyak, who portrays herself as a good Christian woman who is just so irked about taxes, is very pleased that many of the indigenous people who were kidnapped from their homes retained their Christianity after they left.

“I was disappointed in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report in that it didn’t focus on the good,” she said. “The people I talk to are Christians.”

She fails to mention the 3,201 children who didn’t have a chance to keep attending church since they died at those schools from abuse and neglect. To top it all off, Beyak said these horrific statements in front of Senator Murray Sinclair, who not only headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but has spoken publicly about the abuse his father and other family members suffered in residential schools.

But that’s not all. Last week, Beyak, during a debate on C-16, the transgender rights bill, went on a bizarre rant bemoaning that the radicals of the gay movement expect “all of Canada to be their closet.”

She continued to pine for a happier time when folks like her simply didn’t have to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that gay people exist because they weren’t flaunting their homosexuality in her face.

“By living in quiet dignity, they have never had to face any kind of discrimination or uncomfortable feelings,” she said, without a hint of irony. “I would assert that is how the vast majority of the LGBT community feels.” Would Beyak would have given the same advice to Christians in Rome who, if they just lived in quiet dignity, would never have faced any discrimination, lions or crucifixions? Regardless, her sentiment typifies Beyak’s total aversion to facts.

While stressing her love of the assimilationist 1969 White Paper that would have abolished the Indian Act, Beyak stated that it included a one-time payout of $500,000 to Aboriginal people in exchange for their status card. The only problem is that Beyak completely made that up. The only compensation included in the paper was $50 million for a development fund.

Throughout her speeches in the Senate, Beyak is extremely polite and friendly, and gracious to the people she is questioning or criticizing. But niceness is not the standard by which we judge our political leaders. A parliamentarian must also have at least some grasp of reality, an understanding of history and some human decency in the positions and policies they put forward. Beyak fails on all of these counts. She doesn’t seek to understand Canadian history; instead, she fabricates it. She absolves Christians of genocidal actions because they had “good intentions.” She fights strenuously against the expansion of civil rights by gaslighting LGBT Canadians.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Taipei: Taiwan’s Christian Right is still mobilising hundreds of people in Taipei to again protest against proposed marriage equality legisltion. The protest which was held in Taipei was ran in association with the Rescue Taiwan Hope Alliance, a homophobic group working to prevent the introduction of same-sex civil marriage.
Protesters held signs showing pro-LGBT politicians as scorpions, snakes and tarantulas.
Chao Ying-ling, a spokesperson for the alliance said:“In our view, a huge amount of controversy has already been caused, and the government is not prepared to address the issue, so it should be put aside temporarily.”
The protest was one of many in recent months that have aimed to prevent the laws being passed.
Although anti-LGBT groups are kicking up a fuss with the protests, it seems that Taiwan may be set to become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex weddings.
Organisers for the protest are even dismissing anti-LGBT groups by allowing LGBT activists to have their own tents at the protest.

Liu Yu, a gay internet celebrity in Taiwan, set up in one of the tents which promoted inclusivity.
“They told us not to make a scene and that they were willing to give us two tents, while urging us not to argue and instead take a look at their ideas. It is not too bad — of all the events I have attended, this is the first time I’ve been directly invited.”
Hsu hosted, financed and was the main organiser for the event. She said that the protest was not anti-LGBT, and insisted they were just worried about teaching children about LGBT people. In the past, homosexual protesters were barred, even though we often talk about love and tolerance. In ordinary life, there are homosexual friends all around us, and there is no need to exclude or create conflict and opposition.”

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

Washington DC: HIV and AIDS funding has been spared in the new budget from the Trump administration.
The news comes as a surprise because the Department of Health and Human Services suffered an 18 per cent cut.The budget states that HIV and AIDS providers are some of the “highest priorities” for the department.
Activists were preparing to work with a reduced fund.
The budget promises to “provide sufficient resources to maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment under the President’s Emergency Plans for AIDS Relief.”
Dr. Jen Kates, the director for Global Health and HIV Policy at the Kiser Family Foundation said the news was “not a slam dunk by any stretch”.
“What’s unknown is how this might affect a whole range of other programs that provide HIV support: in awareness, research, prevention, housing and other areas,” she explained.
Dr. Kates and other HIV and AIDS activists suggest that the more detailed May budget may contain more worrying information.
“We should be cautious — somewhat optimistic — but cautious given this budget is a skinny budget,” Kates said.
“It’s notable that a global and a domestic HIV program are called out, but we don’t know how some of these other programs might change.”
Mick Mulvaney was instated as Trump’s budget director.
The South Carolina Republican Congressman has a history of anti-LGBT policies.
He is known for being a co-sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act which sought to limit the rights of LGBT+ people and embolden those seeking to discriminate based on “religious freedom”.
He has also described Democratic efforts to protect LGBT+ people against discrimination as “a political move designed to shipwreck the appropriations process.”
The Congressman has scored zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard for both of his terms in the House.

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

Colorado: A former Republican state congressman has claimed that “demons” are behind the release of upcoming film Beauty and the Beast, in order to make kids gay.
Disney has come under sustained fire from evangelicals in recent weeks after news of a gay character in live-action remake Beauty and the Beast.
Though the character, Le Fou, is only seen fleetingly dancing with another man, it’s enough to upset Colorado Republican Gordon Klingenschmitt.
Klingenschmitt, who until this year sat in the Colorado House of Representatives, took to his talk show Pray In Jesus Name to claim that “demonic spirits” are using the film to “recruit children into sin.” In the clip, noticed by Right Wing Watch, the politician and evangelical TV host says: “I recommend a boycott of the movie… I recommend that Christian parents avoid having their children recruited into the homosexual agenda.
Behind the human actors, the Disney Corporation and the owners thereof are intentionally promoting sin to children. When we discern through the moral lens of human interaction with the demonic spirits, pride is a demonic spirit. Sexual immortality is demonic, but what about pride?
Homosexuals proudly marching in the streets… pride is the sin of arrogance, thinking that you’re smarter than God, your creator. If God made you male and female, but you want to be confused and celebrate the sin of being sexually immoral, there is a demonic spirit behind that.
He proceeded to lead a prayer to “stop the recruiting of our children into the sinful lifestyle of homosexuality”, adding: “Father, protect America from using cartoons to recruit children into sin.”
Obviously, Klingenschmitt could not be more wrong; the film is live-action, not a cartoon.

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

Canberra: Voters in some of the most conservative seats in Australia overwhelmingly support legalising same-sex marriage in 2017, according to a decisive new poll of a dozen Coalition seats.

And Coalition MPs are seen as out of touch with the community – and could lose votes, and even their seats – if they continue to block a free vote in Parliament and insist on the defeated plebiscite policy. The ReachTel poll of 12 Coalition seats, commissioned by Australians for Equality, targeted Bowman, Brisbane, Cook, Fisher, Goldstein, Moncrieff, New England, Pearce, Petrie, Robertson, Swan and North Sydney. Its findings are in line with a February ReachTEL poll of seven Coalition seats.

More than 50 per cent of voters in all 12 seats said “yes” when asked if same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. A majority of voters in all 12 seats also said it was “very important” that the issue was resolved by parliamentary vote in 2017. The findings underscore how politically unpopular the Coalition’s support for a plebiscite – which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull restated on Friday – and opposition to a free vote in Parliament is and call into question conservative claims the issue has been settled.

Divisions emerged in the federal cabinet on Sunday after Health Minister Greg Hunt and Resources Minister Matt Canavan backed Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s call for the government to keep the plebiscite policy and warned the chief executives of some of Australia’s biggest companies to “stick to their knitting” and stay out of the debate. But Education Minister Simon Birmingham backed the chief executives’ right to freedom of speech: “I see no reason as to why business leaders are not free to do so on marriage equality.”

Of the 12 seats polled, four are held by cabinet ministers, with about 700 people polled in each seat.In Treasurer Scott Morrison’s NSW seat of Cook, 56.2 per cent of voters said the law change should be enacted and 32.5 per cent opposed it; 50.9 per cent said Mr Morrison should vote on the matter in Parliament and 54.8 per cent of voters strongly agreed or agreed the Coalition was out of touch on the issue.

In Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s NSW seat of New England, 50.5 per cent of voters backed same-sex couples being able to marry, while 39 per cent opposed it; 54.7 per cent backed a vote in Parliament, and 49.4 per cent of voters agreed or strongly agreed the Coalition was out of touch on the issue. Mr Joyce opposes same-sex marriage. In Social Services Minister Christian Porter’s WA seat of Pearce, 52 per cent of people backed same-sex marriage and 35.8 per cent opposed it. Significantly, after big swings in the seat against the Liberal Party in the recent state election, 36.4 per cent of voters said they were less likely to vote for Mr Porter if the issue wasn’t dealt with, with 25.1 per cent more likely to vote for him and 38.5 per cent unchanged.

And in Trade Minister Steve Ciobo’s safe Queensland seat of Moncrieff, a thumping 61.2 of voters backed legalising same-sex marriage, with just 28.7 per cent opposed. Mr Ciobo supports changing the law. Australian for Equality director Tiernan Brady said the poll reflected “what we are seeing in town hall meetings all around Australia”.

“This won’t go away, this doesn’t need to be a political football, a clear majority of voters in every party want this,” he said.Australian Marriage Equality co-chair Alex Greenwich said the poll represented “the strongest support for marriage equality we have ever seen in Coalition-held seats”.

“Whether their MP is a supporter or an opponent of marriage equality, the strong message from constituents is that they want their MP to have a vote on the floor of Parliament this year.” In Queensland, voters in Brisbane backed a law change 67.5 per cent to 23.1 per cent opposed; in Bowman, voters backed change 59.3 per cent to 33.2 per cent and in Fisher, there was 58.2 per cent support and 35.6 per cent opposed and in marginal Petrie, support for the change ran to 59.4 per cent while 32.2 per cent opposed changed.

In Victoria, the blue ribbon seat of Goldstein saw a whopping 77.1 per cent of respondents back change, with just 17.1 per cent opposed while in the key WA marginal seat of Swan, 56.6 per cent backed change and 31 per cent opposed it. In NSW, 62.2 per cent of voters in the Central Coast seat of Robertson backed change and just 26.9 per cent opposed the law change, while in North Sydney, a thumping 70.8 per cent of voters backed change and 21.1 per cent opposed it.

Liberal moderates continue to work for a free vote before the May budget, as revealed by Fairfax Media in February, though such a move would trigger a backlash among conservative MPs.

The findings come as the Turnbull government prepares for the last two sitting weeks before Parliament rises, with the Coalition set to focus on its plan to cut company tax, pass the omnibus savings bill and debate changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

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

Cardiff: The Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Jeffrey John, was not chosen as the Bishop of Llandaff earlier this month.
A current bishop said it would be “too much of a headache” to appoint him, he claimed. The Church in Wales “strongly denied” the accusations of homophobia.
Dr John said he had been told appointing him would be difficult because he was in a civil partnership, although celibate in line with church teaching.
He wrote to the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon – the Right Reverend John Davies, who is currently the church’s senior bishop – after an electoral college of bishops, clergy and lay people failed to reach a decision about who should replace Dr Barry Morgan as bishop.
It is understood Mr John received a majority of the votes, but not the two-thirds required by church rules.
He said homophobic remarks had been made at the electoral college meeting.
“Much more importantly, the only arguments adduced against my appointment – in particular by two of the bishops – were directly related to my homosexuality and/or civil partnership – namely that my appointment would bring unwelcome and unsettling publicity to the diocese,” he wrote.

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

Canberra: Qantas will continue advocating for marriage equality despite Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s criticism of CEO Alan Joyce over the matter. Joyce was among more than 30 prominent executives who earlier this week called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to legalise same-sex marriage, in a letter coordinated by Australian Marriage Equality.

Dutton singled out Joyce at an LNP conference on Saturday, saying he should express his views “as an individual” and not using his company’s brand.

“It is unacceptable that people would use companies and the money of publicly listed companies to throw their weight around. If Alan Joyce and any other CEO wants to campaign on this or any other issue in their own time and on their own dime, good luck to them. Don’t use an iconic brand and the might of a multi–billion dollar business on issues best left to the judgements of individuals and elected decision-makers.”

Dutton said companies were being “morally coerced” into supporting social issues for fear of boycotts.

“It is simply unconscionable,” he said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appeared to support corporate campaigning, saying free speech should be protected in a democracy.

“If chief executives believe that it’s in the interests of their company to collaborate on a public statement, then they’re free to do so,” she said.

Qantas has stated the company will continue to support marriage equality.

“Qantas speaks out on a number of social issues from Indigenous recognition to gender diversity and marriage equality. We do so because we believe these issues are about the fundamental Australian value of fairness and we’re the national carrier.”

Australian Marriage Equality is calling for people in support of marriage equality to join their Equality Campaign to tell their local MPs why equality matters. After a critical week for the issue of marriage equality, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) has also urged supporters to take action through their new Speak Up campaign. It follows PFLAG’s previous Make It Law campaign, which last year helped defeat a marriage plebiscite.

“Now is the time to act if we are to have any chance of achieving marriage equality in this term of government,” said PFLAG spokesperson Shelley Argent.

“I urge anyone who is yet to send an email to do so asap at demandafreevote.com.au. Do it for yourself and do it for your loved ones.”

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

Washington DC: Anti-LGBT activists are facing accusations of violating federal ethics laws to fundraise off the back of their ties with the Trump administration.
Questions emerged last week about the State Department’s official delegation to the 61st annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which is taking place this month.
The US government delegation includes an activist from the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) – a fringe faith groups that oppose LGBT equality and women’s healthcare laws.
The State Department has declined to explain why it has included C-FAM, which is designated as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has attacked the “homosexual agenda”.
Austin Ruse, the group’s President, has previously voiced support for the criminalisation of homosexuality and openly supported Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law. Ruse also claimed previously that professors behind “the nonsense that they teach in women’s studies (…) should all be taken out and shot”.
The group now faces accusations that it has exploited its role “to fundraise for itself in what appears to be a violation of federal ethics rules” in mailings to supporters.
Their combative mailout highlighted their presence at the UN event, concluding: “support us right now at [link removed] and support us as much as you can”.
Flagging concerns over the C-FAM fundraising activity, LGBT activist group OutRight Action International called for C-Fam’s “immediate removal from the US delegation”.
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight, said: “C-Fam’s actions appear to violate federal ethics laws.
“We don’t know who decided C-Fam should be on the official delegation, but we look to head of delegation US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for clarity.
“We ask Ambassador Haley to immediately investigate whether it is ethical for a civil society representative to directly profit from appointment to a US government delegation or whether this amounts to a conflict of interest.”
She added: “When C-Fam walks into the negotiating room as a member of the official US delegation, are they advocating for the human rights of women and girls internationally or for the donor who paid the most?
“C-Fam should disclose how much they raised in donations and the names of these donors so they can be vetted for conflict of interest. Their fundraising does not go unnoticed, and there must be repercussions.
“If C-Fam’s violent views were not enough to keep them from being appointed to represent the United States, we hope that exposing how they have unethically tried to profit off ties to this administration will compel Ambassador Haley to immediately remove them from the delegation.
“C-Fam must not be permitted to enter the negotiating room of the CSW while these questions of nearly certain violation of federal law remain unanswered.”

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

Manila: Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, has rejected the idea of same-sex marriages, turning his back on a promise he made to the LGBT community.
In a speech transcript released today, the leader also refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of trans people, saying: “Wherever God has placed you, stay there.”
At a forum in January last year, during the run-up to the presidential election, he said he would push for legislation to allow same-sex marriage.
Duterte added that there seemed to be an “error in the Bible,” referring to passages where it states that marriage is between a man and a woman.
He told the applauding crowd that it should have said marriages were for “Adam, Eve and the gays.”
The 71-year-old president, whose war on drugs has killed 7,000 people since he launched it in July, referenced a recent American magazine cover which featured a trans person during his speech. “That is their culture,” he said, referring to western countries. “That’s for them. That can’t apply to us, because we are Catholics.
“And there is the civil code, which states you can only marry a woman for me, and for a woman to marry a man. That’s the law in the Philippines.”
He again spoke about how two of his brothers-in-law and some of his cousins were gay, but nevertheless emphasised: “Wherever God has placed you, stay there.”
He added that no-one has the power to “erase the great divide between a woman and a man.”
Duterte made homophobic comments about US Ambassador Philip Goldberg last year, saying: “I had an argument with their gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off.”
The president also publicly admitted in December to killing suspected criminals during his three years as mayor of Davao City.
The Philippines is one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia, with a 2014 poll finding that 73 percent of Filipinos believe homosexuality should be accepted.
However, there has been little in the way of progress.
There are no national LGBT anti-discrimination laws, no recognition of same-sex marriage, and the Family Code of the Philippines defines marriage as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman”.

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

Canberra: Australian politicians are considering holding a national ballot on same-sex marriage.
Ministers from Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative government are pushing to hold a national plebiscite on marriage equality.
They want the referendum to held by voluntary postal vote.
The ministers are now in talk with cabinet colleagues about the possibility of holding the national vote, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Australian Electoral Commission would send out postal ballots for a voluntary vote by Australians to partake in the vote on same-sex marriage.
Labor and Green party politicians had attempted to kill off the proposal of a national plebiscite, but this postal option would avoid the need for new legislation.
Chief legal officer Paul Pirani has confirmed that the parliament could go ahead with a plebiscite without bringing new legislation, using a “voluntary postal vote methodology.”
Co-chair of the Australian Marriage Equality campaign, Alex Greenwich, called the move a “desperate ploy”.
“Voters actually want the parliament to have a vote on it and for it to be resolved,” he said.
“Let’s this unpack a bit this further, this is a voluntary postal vote process, which is still going to require a vote in parliament.
“Let’s save the taxpayer the money, let’s save the government the distraction of three to six months, and let’s just get on with it and get the parliament to do its job.”
Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has reaffirmed his opposition to passing same-sex marriage without a public vote beforehand.
Right-wing Prime Minister Turnbull has refused to permit a free Parliamentary vote on equal marriage.
Last week, 20 heads of some of Australia’s largest companies penned a letter to Turnbull urging him to allow a free vote on the issue in Parliament.
However, the PM – who is thought to have made assurances to his Coalition’s anti-LGBT wing against any such move during his leadership bid – rebuffed any change.
Mr Turnbull told reporters: “Our policy on this is well-known, which we took to the election [last year].
“There should be a plebiscite on the issue first.
“The Labor Party has frustrated that by opposing it in the Senate, despite the fact that Mr Shorten only three years ago gave his very public and vocal support for a plebiscite which would give every Australians a say on the matter.”
Meanwhile, Turnbull’s immigration minister Peter Dutton attacked business leaders for shoving “politically correct nonsense down our throats”.
In a radio interview he said: “If they want to run for politics, well resign from their position and stick their hand up at the next election but don’t jam your politically correct views down our throats”.

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

Manila: One of Manila’s most prestigious universities is about to get gender-neutral restrooms for its students and staff.
The Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) approved the construction of two-gender neutral toilets at its Manila campus.
The approval came at the request on LPU KASARIAN, a recently founded LGBTI student organisation at the university.
LPU KASARIAN was established to ‘champion equality of all genders and to acknowledge the rights of the LGBT community that continuously grows in time’.
Its founder and president Dencio Pedere Arcadio took to Facebook to express their excitement with the decision.
‘Spread the good news friends and family,’ they wrote.
‘[This is] One big step for a more open-minded and a more embracive LPU.’
Arcadio said this was an important move forward for LGBTI rights on campus.
‘[I] believe that having a gender-neutral restroom is one way to achieve our goal – that is, gender equality – as well as to eradicate or minimize discrimination and bullying,’ Arcadio told the Rappler. Founded in 1952, the LPU boasts current Filipino President Rodrigo R. Duterte as one of its notable alumni.
In September last year the Ateneo de Davao University in Davao City also installed a gender-neutral restroom.
Its president, Father Joel Taborato said it was to ‘increase understanding and respect for the human needs and sensitivities of all’.
‘The dialogue, I pray, shall foster greater insight into and understanding of the LGBT community and the needs of others who interact with it, even as I already initiate certain changes in the management of our physical plant,’ he said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: There have been huge cuts to HIV support services in parts of the UK over the past year. Freedom of Information requests have exposed an alarming trend for cutting or completely decommissioning HIV support services across England and Wales. There’s been an average cut of 28 per cent in spending on HIV support services between 2015 and 2017, with some areas actually losing support entirely. HIV support services help those living with the condition to come to terms with their diagnosis and overcome the stigma surrounding it. They also aid curbing the repercussions of the diagnosis, that can include mental health issues and social isolation.

In a shocking report launched by the National Aids Trust (NAT), the charity found that more than a quarter of local authorities have cut support by a staggering 50 per cent year-on-year.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of NAT, said the impact of such cuts could be disastrous.

“The disappearance of support for people living with HIV in England and Wales is extremely alarming,” she said. “This trend leaves people living with HIV without the support they need to live well. This is dangerous and short-sighted, creating a need for more urgent and more expensive care for people living with HIV further down the line.” She added: “With this evidence of widespread decommissioning of crucial and, at times, life-saving services, which ensure people living with HIV can manage their long-term condition, we are calling on NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to accept their role in ensuring needs are met.

“Support services alleviate the pressure on clinical services, meaning their provision is a responsibility CCGs are currently not fulfilling.”

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

Sydney: Homophobia is costly to workers and the businesses that employ them, research shows. Unfortunately, it’s still prevalent in Australia and the latest lobbying from 34 business leaders for marriage equality emphasises the need for it to be addressed both within and outside the workplace.
It’s little wonder some of Australia’s leading companies called on the government to get on with the job of legislating for marriage equality. Businesses increasingly recognise that homophobia and transphobia limit their organisation’s ability to attract and retain a high calibre workforce and is hurting their bottom-line.Smart employers know that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more profitable, innovative and have employees who are more engaged, and have a higher level of staff retention.
Homophobia is prevalent and costly

Research tells us that close to one in two LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) Australians hide their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status in the workplace for fear being “out” could damage their careers.
And despite Australia having some of the most inclusive anti-discrimination protections in the world for LGBTI people, most LGBTI employees in Australia have witnessed or heard of homophobic incidents at work.
Those experiencing homophobia and transphobia are likely to have decreased well-being and negative work attitudes, suggesting that homophobia and transphobia (including not recognising LGBTI relationships) can hurt the quality of work life and the general well-being of LGBTI individuals.
LGBTI individuals face barriers even before they start a job. The probability of gay and lesbian applicants being selected for a job interview is lower than it is for their heterosexual counterparts. This is especially true for those residing in areas lacking legal protection such as Texas in the United States and working in male or female-dominated industries.
Homophobia and transphobia can also have a detrimental impact on productivity and profitability. In Australia, lesbian and gay marketing specialist firm Out Now estimates the financial benefits associated with encouraging closeted workers to come out could be as much as A$285 million per year. This includes an 11% increase in staff retention and 30% improvement in the productivity of closeted workers.
Research from the US shows companies that adopt LGBTI-supportive policies achieve higher productivity and profitability resulting in a greater growth in their share price. This is compared to companies that are not supportive of their LGBTI employees. So LGBTI inclusion makes good business sense.
What should business do?

Over the past decade, companies have made significant progress towards creating more inclusive workplaces for LGBTI employees. And this is having a pay-off for all employees, as a recent review of LGBTI studies shows.
Research shows that inclusive leaders play a critical role in unlocking the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Having an inclusive leader who is a member of a minority group may reduce unconscious bias towards this minority group.
So it follows that having visible LGBTI senior leaders in an organisation could help to reduce homophobic and transphobic attitudes and demonstrate a more inclusive culture within the organisation.
Research in social psychology has also found that clear instructions to avoid stereotyping can be an effective way to reduce unconscious bias. Therefore, a firm and consistent message on LGBTI inclusion from supervisors, managers and executives, may minimise unconscious bias and stereotyping towards LGBTI employees.
Companies can also create an LGBTI-inclusive workplace by developing and implementing specific LGBTI-inclusive policies and practices. Examples of this include providing information and support to LGBTI employees (such as establishing a LGBTI network) and also making the support of LGBTI inclusive initiatives visible to all their employees, business partners and the community.
Businesses can also create diversity champions, employees who model inclusive behaviour and positive attitudes towards LGBTI employees. These champions can create a safe space for LGBTI individuals. This practice is increasingly common in sports.
Homophobia is costly to individuals, businesses and the community. Unfortunately, it is still prevalent and needs to be addressed both within and outside the workplace. Leaders, organisations and the community should work together to tackle homophobia and achieve equality.

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

Accra: Two men were arrested and forced to pose naked after they were caught having sex in a Ghana hotel.
According to reports in local media, two men aged 18 and 28 were arrested over the incident in a Accra hotel.
The pair were discovered by a receptionist who reportedly barged into their private hotel room after growing “suspicious” of the two men.
The police were subsequently called over the incident, according to GhanaWeb, and the the pair were arrested.
It appears that the men were forced to pose naked together in a bid to publicly humiliate them, with photos of the incident spreading across social media in the country.
A local newspaper, the Daily Guide, published a picture of the pair.
In one photo, the pair appear to have been ordered to simulate sexual activity.

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

Sapporo: Nearly two million more people will be able to have their LGBT relationships legally recognised from June.
Sapporo, a Japanese city on the northern island of Hokkaido, has finished a public consultation which led to an overwhelming 1,500 people writing in to support the proposal.
Opponents who wrote in were largely concerned that the step could exacerbate the country’s already low birth rate.
Japan does not recognise same-sex marriage on a national basis, but the new law will confer more rights on LGBT couples.
Any couple over 20 years old who both live in the city will be allowed to ask for a “partnership vow,” which will enable them to be recipients of each other’s life insurance payouts.
The official recognition will also provide couples with the opportunity to use family discounts on commercial products, such as phone contracts.
The law was originally intended to come into effect in April, but it was postponed for a public consultation – which made many couples in the city nervous that it would never be implemented.
“I was anxious about a postponement,” 42-year-old Kumiko Kudo, who lives with her same-sex partner, told Japan Times.
“But now I feel relieved as (the government) made clear when it will start,” she said after sitting in on the session with the committee which decided the law’s starting date.
The decision comes hot on the heels of Japan electing its first trans man into public office, with Tomoya Hosoda winning the position of councillor in the central city of Iruma.

And in April 2015, Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward became the first place in the country to recognise same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage.
Several municipalities have since followed in Shibuya’s footsteps, with support for same-sex relationships growing steadily in Japan over recent years.
A poll in 2015 suggested the majority of people were now in favour of marriage equality.
Many businesses in country, such as Panasonic, have started to adopt policies to recognise same-sex partners for benefits such as health insurance and pensions.

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

Brisbane: Queensland, Australia has scrapped the controversial ‘gay panic’ defence – despite opposition from anti-LGBT Christian campaigners.
The defence – which allows criminals to get more lenient sentences after violent murders – is based around the suggestion that a perpetrator was “panicked” into committing a violent crime due to an unwanted advance from a gay person.
The law has been removed from the statute books across most of Australia, with Queensland and South Australia only jurisdictions that continue to permit the defence.
The government of Queensland this week passed legislation to repeal the section of the Criminal Code that lowers the sentence for crimes committed in “the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation” from a homosexual advance.
The legislation received bipartisan support, despite opposition from the anti-LGBT Australian Christian Lobby, which claimed the change was actually an attack on women’s rights.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the legislation addressed an unacceptable inequality.
Mrs D’Ath said: “Queensland’s criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community.
“The passing of this legislation sends an important message that discrimination is not acceptable and that we value the LBGTI community.”
“Equality before the law is a fundamental principle of human rights and the amendment to section 304 will ensure that this provision operates equally for all members of our community,”
The amendment has been welcomed by Father Paul Kelly, who has campaigned for change since Wayne Ruks was bashed and killed in his Maryborough church ground in 2008.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that the 290,000 signatures on my change.org petition and support from Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath led to the axing of this homophobic, archaic and outdated law,” Father Kelly said.
“After five years of relentlessly campaigning for the gay panic defence for murder to be scrapped from the legal books in Queensland, I can today breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment,” he said.
Wayne Ruks’ mother Joyce Kujala said she had waited eight years for this day.
“Thank you for persistence in pushing today’s outcome. It can’t bring Wayne back but it’s some small justice and it could save a lot of lives in future,” Mrs Kujala said.
‘Gay panic’ defences still exist in varying forms around the world, and in 2009 a man was acquitted of a double murder in Spain, after he claimed he burned down the home of an engaged gay couple due to “an unbearable fear”.
The best-known case of the gay panic defence was in the murder of US student Matthew Shepard.
He was killed in October 1998 on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, by two men he had met in a bar.
Local residents Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, both 21 at the time, were charged with his murder.
The thugs attempted to argue in court that that they suffered “a moment of insanity” when Mr Shepard allegedly made sexual advances to him.
Shepard was robbed, beaten and left to die tied to a fence. Both men are serving consecutive double life sentences.

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

Cardiff: A British radio presenter was fired after saying no babies would be born because of ‘everybody being bis and gays’.
Dai Haywood, a host on BRFM in Brynmawr, Blaenau Gwent in south Wales, was suspended following the offensive comments that aired in October.
Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, found the quote had breached the broadcasting code.
Haywood, who presented a weekly show featuring rock music from the 50s and 60s, was talking about his granddaughter’s career choice.
He said: ‘Just been talking to Graham about the way, the way the world is going with everybody being bis and gays and, well they say, like Betty was saying; there won’t be no midwives 20 years from now, midwives will be a thing of the past.
‘Cause my granddaughter’s hoping to become a midwife and funny I only said to her yesterday “you’ll be redundant by the time you’re 40, with all the gay people around. There’ll be no reproduction going on”.’
Ofcom launched an investigation and found the comments breached the broadcasting code.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Berlin: Germany’s cabinet has backed a bill to clear men handed sentences for homosexuality after World War Two under a Nazi-era law.
The notorious Paragraph 175 of the penal code was eventually relaxed in 1969, but not before 50,000 men were convicted.
Many were sent to jail and some took their own lives because of the stigma.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas said it was a flagrant injustice and those still alive would be given compensation.
The German government’s decision comes months after the UK said it was pardoning 65,000 gay and bisexual men who were convicted under the Sexual Offences Act that criminalised private homosexual acts in England and Wales until 1967 and later in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Alan Turing law: Thousands to be pardoned
What will quashing the sentences mean?
The cabinet decided on Wednesday to back a bill annulling the sentences and handing compensation to all those affected.
If the law is passed, every man convicted who is still alive will receive a €3,000 (£2,600; $3,240) lump sum plus a further €1,500 for each year spent in jail.
Only 5,000 men are thought to be eligible for compensation as most have since died.
Condemning the convictions as the “crimes of the state”, the justice minister said the men’s rehabilitation was long overdue.
“It was only because of their love of men and their sexual identity that they were persecuted, punished and outlawed by the German state,” said Mr Maas.
What was Paragraph 175?
The law prohibiting “sexual acts contrary to nature” first appeared in Germany’s criminal code in 1871 shortly after the country was unified.Unsuccessful attempts were made to repeal it under the Weimar Republic, but under the Nazis it was tightened in 1935 to criminalise “lewd and lascivious acts” between men. Tens of thousands of homosexuals were imprisoned and many died in concentration camps.
The article remained part of the criminal code in East and West Germany. In the East it was removed in 1968 and in the West it was relaxed before being finally repealed by the unified German government in 1994.
Between 1949 and 1969 50,000 men were prosecuted and there were a further 14,000 cases until 1994.
Wolfgang Lauinger, now 98, was persecuted first by the Nazis and then held in prison uncharged for several months in 1950 by the West German authorities.
“I still believe they used old Gestapo files,” he said of his post-war interrogators in a 2016 interview.
What is the Turing law?
Alan Turing was both a renowned mathematician and World War Two codebreaker when he was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for having sex with a man. He lost his job, was chemically castrated and two years later took his life aged 42. He was finally pardoned in 2013.
In January 2017, the UK government granted a posthumous pardon under the “Turing law” to an estimated 50,000 men convicted of having consensual homosexual sex.
Some 15,000 are still alive but have to apply to have their conviction removed under a “disregard process”. No compensation is involved.

Fritz Schmeling, who is now 74 and was convicted as a teenager in 1957, told AFP: “I don’t want to die with a criminal record. I’ve had cancer twice and was operated on but maybe I will still get to enjoy the moment my name is cleared. As sad as it is, in the time it takes, many of the older ones among us are going to die.”

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

London: Attitude has raised huge concern about reports that funding for HIV support services has been cut throughout England and Wales. Most shockingly, this has been done quietly, and as a result is putting thousands of lives at risk. Being diagnosed with HIV is hard enough, let alone having to find the strength to go through such an experience alone and without any support or guidance. These services are crucial, and they argue that British PM Theresa May needs to rectify the issue immediately. In response, UK Labour’s Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon Hodgson, has pledged to Attitude that she will raise the issue in Parliament. Attitude also discussed the issue with Christian, who was diagnosed back in 2009 with HIV.

After making attempts on his life twice, he was saved thanks to the support he was able to get.

How does the news about the cuts to support services make you feel?

Anxious – especially for those newly diagnosed. I know back in 2009 when I received my diagnosis, it was the support services that I had access to which saved my life.

You talk openly about suicide following your diagnosis, are you hoping your bravery will stop others doing a similar thing?

Firstly, suicide, its thoughts and tendencies like HIV, are a subject of taboo amongst some. I’ve heard things like ‘oh such-and-such’ a person would never do that. The thing is people do not know what demons others are fighting so don’t be quick to judge.

Secondly, me overcoming suicide – It’s not bravery. I would never say that I am brave – I was dealt a card and I choose how to handle it, albeit not the best way initially. However it’s down to the support services, not my ‘bravery’, that I would hope stop others from doing a similar thing.

Why didn’t you visit support services initially?

I was in-denial about the whole diagnosis as well as being in shock and quite frankly, I tried to run away from it.

What role did they play in helping you come to terms with having HIV?

The support services gave me meaning to life, to go on, to know that I can have a normal life.

What do you believe the impact of these cuts will have on those living with the disease?

For those newly diagnosed who may be in a similar position to what I was in – i dread to think. For those who need ongoing support still – some needing it on a daily basis. I think it will be detrimental to their well-being and way of life. I really do worry for people in this situation. For me as someone who is living with HIV – I currently am not accessing any services, but should the time come that I need to, I worry that I may no longer have that option.

Is there anything you’d like to say to Theresa May in response?

I would like to think she will consider these factors mentioned and take heed to the necessity of them. I would like her to meet people such as myself who have relied on these services and take action to ensure that cuts are not made.

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

United States: A right-wing pastor has suggested that Christians can ‘cure’ gay men by baking them a cake.

During a Periscope livestream, Lance Wallnau, a conservative preacher and vocal Donald Trump supporter, was told by a viewer that she needed prayers to help ‘cure’ her son of his homosexuality.

Wallnau responded to her concerns by recalling a story of Christians who apparently convinced the owner of a gay bar to renounce his homosexuality after they baked him a cake ‘anointed by prayer’.

He said: “One of the guys who used to hang out [in the gay bar] was saved and he baked a cake for the owner of the bar, who was gay and very adamantly anti-Christian.

“They basically prayed over the cake, it was an anointed cake. They made the cake and gave it as a gift. And when he ate the cake, the power of God hit him while he was eating the cake.

“[The baker] ends up leading the guy to the Lord and baptises him, and when he gets baptised, the guy gets delivered, and the spirit that was at work in him got broken off. I’m telling you, it’s a story.”

Wallnau did admit that the story was “crazy” and said he wasn’t sure whether it would work for everyone, though.

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

Melbourne: Victorian high school students will now be able to identify as having a gender other than male or female on their VCE documentation.

“The inclusion of Gender X in student records is of importance to the health and welfare of individual students who do not identify as male or female,” said a spokesperson from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Students studying VCE will have the option of choosing their gender as male, female or gender X with the VCAA altering the form after requests from transgender pupils or individuals who are not exclusively male or female as well as representatives from schools.

“We do have young people in our education system who are gender diverse so it is about reflecting and respecting every student,” said Education Minister James Merlino.

In a move that has shocked no one, Dan Flynn from the Australian Christian Lobby and called the change in documentation a “threat to change rooms and bathroom usage” and causing potential problems to sport teams: “Giving boys the right to self-identify as a girl creates all those safety problems. Boys are boys and girls are girls and there would be a fractional category of people who are truly intersex. We are also opening the door to say ‘I don’t want to be a male or a female, I want to be something else,” he said.

“On this, let me clear a few things up,” Minister for Equality Martin Foley said earlier today in a Facebook post, “Any measure that sends a message to young transgender and gender diverse young people, telling them we value their role in the education system and in our society, is a big step forward. Trans and gender diverse people are disproportionately affected in many poor social outcomes – particularly in suicide. If the VCE’s ‘undefined gender’ ruling sends the message just to one young person that we value them, then it’s worth the effort. For the Victorian Liberals to dispute this – it says more about them and how they view the world than it says about these young people.”

Transgender Victoria has called for the forms to offer four options, male, female and “other please specify” with another allowing pupils not to answer.

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

Kentucky: Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has signed a bill that allows student groups at high schools and public universities to bar LGBT people from their organizations on religious grounds, reports The Washington Blade.

Senate Bill 17, which Bevin signed into law Monday, came in response to a school’s deletion of a Bible verse from a student production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, reports the newspaper. The measure is intended to protect students’ religious freedom, allowing then to express their religious opinions, wear clothing that has religious meaning, and use school media to disseminate information about faith groups’ meetings. The law also makes it so “no recognized religious or political student organization is discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs,” which means religious groups are able to reject LGBT students if they so desired, reports the Blade.

The Human Rights Campaign spoke out against Bevin’s decision to sign the bill. “Governor Bevin’s shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardizes nondiscrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities,” said HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow. “No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ. While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds.”

These “all-comers” nondiscrimination policies are in place at many Kentucky schools, “prohibiting student groups from refusing membership to other students, such as an LGBT student, based on a discriminatory reason as long as these groups rely on student resources,” the Blade notes.

A law similar to the one Bevin just signed is in place in Kansas, and such legislation is under consideration in some other states.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Lynchburg: US President Donald Trump has been announced as the commencement speaker at a university that bans gay sex.
Liberty University, which claims to be the largest private Christian university in the world, has come under scrutiny for its controversial discriminatory policies on gay sex.
The university banned all LGBT groups in 2006 on the grounds of ‘morality’, and in 2014 secured an exemption from federal anti-discrimination laws to allow it to discriminate against LGBT people.
All students are required to sign a statement promising not to have gay sex, or sex with a transgender person – even if they’re married.
It states: “Sexual relations outside of a Biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University.”
Trump has repeatedly been tied with the university in the past, giving a speech there during his election campaign which no reference to its discriminatory policies. He also offered a cabinet post to Liberty President Jerry Falwell after receiving his endorsement.
The President was today announced as the university’s commencement speaker.
The Christian Broadcasting Network, given the exclusive news by the White House, failed to scrutinise the university’s anti-LGBT stances.
Trump said: “I look forward to speaking to this amazing group of students on such a momentous occasion.
“Our children truly are the future and I look forward to celebrating the success of this graduating class as well as sharing lessons as they embark on their next chapter full of hope, faith, optimism, and a passion for life.”
Falwell said: “His supporters, including over 80% of the evangelical community, are thrilled with President Trump’s actions so far.
“The fact that the mainstream media and the Establishment (on the left and the right) remain in attack mode with their often baseless and dishonest claims against Trump is a sign that President Trump is doing a wonderful job.”
Recently a veteran’s partner was denied a Liberty University tuition discount for military spouses – because of their lesbian relationship.
The university insisted: “Any scholarship that is made available to spouses… will only be available to ‘spouses’ as defined by Liberty University as a husband or wife of a service member who together are in state-sanctioned marriage and are natural-born members of the opposite sex.”

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

London: A transgender prison inmate has been moved to a women’s prison after undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
Jessica Winfield, was moved from the top security Whitemoor prison has been moved to HMP Bronzefield in Ashford, Surrey.
She is serving a life sentence for rape, and previously said she was victimised for her gender identity.
Writing to Inside Time ten years ago, a prisoners’ newspaper, Winfield said she was given a “hard time because of my sexuality, possibly through lack of understanding and empathy”.
She wrote: “I have changed my name to that of a female to prove to the authorities and everyone concerned that I am very serious about my gender and that I do not feel right being a man.”
But her move to the prison has been criticised by campaign groups over her conviction.
Voice4Victims wrote on Twitter: “Rapist has sex change op funded by NHS whilst victims struggle to access treatment support and recovery.”
A victim of Winfield’s crime, committed before her transition, told the Sun that it is “diabolical” that she has been moved to the women’s prison.
“There are not enough words to describe him and the evil he has done.
“It is diabolical they have allowed him to have a sex change and diabolical that he could be freed this year.
“He may have changed physically but his brain is still the same.”
A transgender woman has been found dead in an all-male prison, just two months after a government overhaul of the system supposedly introduced safeguards for trans prisoners.
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 in prisons inconsistent with their gender.

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

Philadelphia: A student has sued his school district claiming that his privacy has been violated due to a pro-transgender policy.
The lawsuit was filed against the Boyertown Area School District on Tuesday at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania federal court.
It named the high-school junior as Joel Doe, as the plaintiff who says that he was changing in the boys’ locker room when he saw a student wearing a bra and shorts. It claimed that the pro-trans policy constitutes sexual harassment and a privacy violation.
“Joel Doe experienced immediate confusion, embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of dignity upon finding himself in this circumstance,” reads the lawsuit.
It was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
ADF’s Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek tells the Associated Press: “Our laws and customs have long recognised that we shouldn’t have to undress in front of persons of the opposite sex.
“But now some schools are forcing our children into giving up their privacy rights.”
The district has failed to comment on the lawsuit.
But LGBT groups state that the lawsuit was avoidable, if the student who felt uncomfortable was given the option of a different locker room.
Eliza Byard, executive director of Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network says: “The existence of a transgender person living their life appropriately at school cannot constitute sexual harassment.
“It might make another student uncomfortable and in that case, there is a common sense legal remedy of providing separate accommodations to the student who feels uncomfortable.”
The move comes just weeks after the Trump administration rescinded Obama administration regulations instructing schools to make provisions for transgender students and to allow them to use gender-appropriate bathrooms.
“The actions of our current administration have created confusion and a perceived opportunity to roll back the support currently available to trans students across the country,” Byard said.
Trump scrapped the Obama administration guidance, with his Press Secretary Sean Spicer explaining “certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level” – giving a boost to states that want to pass anti-trans laws.

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

Melbourne: High school students in Victoria will now be able to identify as having an ‘undefined gender’ in their official documents under changes introduced this year.

Personal details forms will allow VCE and VCAL students to select whether they are male, female, or ‘gender x’.

In a notice to schools last month, VCAA said it introduced the change in response to the queries it had been receiving around how gender diverse students should fill in their forms.
“This is entirely a student choice and recognises that individuals may identify and be recognised within the community as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender that is not exclusively male or female,” it said.

Victoria is the second state to introduce a third gender option. In Western Australia students can nominate their gender as male, female, or ‘not specified’.

In a report from the Herald Sun, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Victorian director Dan Flynn said the move was a ‘threat’ to change rooms and bathrooms.

“Giving boys the right to self-identify as a girl creates all those safety problems,” he said.

“Boys and boys and girls are girls and there would be a fractional category of people who are truly intersex.”

Shadow Minister for Education Nick Wakeling also slammed the move.

“[Premier] Daniel Andrews need to stop pushing his radical gender and sexuality theories onto other people’s children,” he said.

In a report from The Guardian, Minus18 Chief Executive Micah Scott said misgendering a young LGBTI person or referring to them by the incorrect pronoun could have a profound psychological impact.

“Receiving that sort of correspondence from the department – and you receive quite a bit of it through year 12 – there is an impact, there is a day to day impact of what that pronoun or what that gender identifier has on a young person. The inclusion of a gender neutral option is really bringing the department in line with the expectations of students and schools. This is something that schools have been asking for for a while now.”

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

United States: A bus with an anti-trans message, known as the FreeSpeechBus, is raising eyebrows on its tour of the U.S.

Currently in New York City, the bright orange bus is adorned with the message, ‘It’s biology: Boys are boys… and always will be. Girls are girls… and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all.”

The organisers behind the bus include the notoriously anti-LGBTI group National Organization for Marriage, and International Organization for the Family, labelled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
LGBTI advocates have called for New York City leaders to speak out against the harmful, untrue and discriminatory message the bus promotes and the violence against trans people it may encourage.

“Free speech is a constitutional right, but language has consequences,” said Jessica Stern of OutRight Action International.

“Trans youth already have an extremely high risk for violence, discrimination and suicide. Broadcasting a message that erases and denies the reality that trans and intersex youth exist is irresponsible, factually misleading, disrespectful and dangerous.

“This vehicle is part of the reason trans youth are driven to suicide.”

Intersex youth advocate Kimberly Zieselman said, “This isn’t biology—this is hatred rooted in an entirely false understanding of the human body.

“The reality is that biological sex is on a spectrum, and no amount of argument will prove otherwise.

“This bus attempts to erase the lived realities of the incredibly brave young people I work with every day who do not fit into this binary. In the same way that gender si not limited to strict male and female categories, neither is our biological sex.”

A similar anti-trans bus received pushback in Spain in recent months, and was banned in Madrid for being discriminatory and potentially inciting hate crimes.

After New York City, the bus is intended to stop in New Haven, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington DC.

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

Geneva: Though overall rates of tuberculosis have been declining in European countries, recent research shows that TB rates are on the rise among those living with HIV. An alarming trend, since TB is one of the leading causes of death in HIV positive people. The data was released this week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office of Europe.

The research shows that new TB cases and deaths in the 53 countries of the WHO European Region declined each year by 4.3 percent and 8.5 perecnt respectively between 2011 and 2015 — but unfortunately, new TB/HIV co-infections increased by 40 percent during the same time period. This is of great concern for health officials because, as of 2015, the cases of cumulative TB/HIV have reached over 2 million for the first time ever.A large part of the problem, say experts, is that many of these people are unaware of their status, and are not on antiretroviral therapy. Of an estimated 27,000 new TB/HIV patients in the region in 2015, only about two thirds were diagnosed, and 5,800 had started antiretroviral treatment. People who both TB and are also HIV positive have a seven times higher risk of treatment failure, and have a three times higher risk of dying than people with TB only.

“The flare-up of TB/HIV co-infections from 2011 to 2015, together with persistently high rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis, seriously threaten progress made towards ending TB, the goal that European and world leaders have committed to achieve by 2030,” said Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, the regional director at WHO’s European Office. “One in three people co-infected with TB/HIV do not know about their status, which drastically lowers their chances of being cured. In turn, this favors the spread of the diseases, putting health systems and governments under pressure.”

To help solve this problem, the WHO is strongly recommending that European countries begin providing HIV testing and counseling to all TB patients, and vice versa, as stated in their 2016-2020 TB action plan. The ECDC also says the need to attack this problem head-on is vital to ending TB once and for all. “The general downward trend in reported TB cases is encouraging,” said Dr. Andrea Ammon, ECDC’s acting director, “but some groups are not benefiting from this trend and we need to target our efforts better if we want to end the TB epidemic.”

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Salt Lake City: Leaked Mormon Church training documents detail its key role in the US anti-gay marriage movement during the passage of California’s Proposition 8.
The tax-exempt Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) has repeatedly sought to downplay its direct political role in the battle over California’s Proposition 8, a measure which succeeded in banning same-sex marriage in 2008.
Today, leaked documents released via MormonLeaks show how senior church leaders appear to have directly colluded with the campaign to ban same-sex marriage.
The documents were released via MormonLeaks, an anonymous whistleblowing website which has previously exposed homophobic practices within the Church.
The LDS Church has always maintained its activities were comprised of grassroots volunteering.
But a diagram of the campaign leadership appears to show that three senior church leaders, M. Russell Ballard, Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton, played a major organisational role.’

The documents include an apparent recruitment training manual for Mormon activists taking part in the Prop 8 campaign.
This includes a pre-written script for canvassers who are trying to convince voters to ban same-sex marriage.
It tells campaigners to appeal to concerns about children, directing them to relay to voters that “the best situation is for a child to be raised by a married mother and father in the bond of marriage.”

The script continues: “We should not accept a court decision that results in public schools teaching our kids that gay marriage is okay. That is an issue for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. It should not be forced on us against our will.”.
A second Mormon document, titled “Proposition 8 Volunteer Outline”, also contains an apparent info sheet for volunteers filled with misinformation.
This claims: “If same sex marriage is legal, it will become illegal not to perform a marriage for them. A school cannot be accredited if it does not teach, professional licenses will not be issued to those who do not agree, tax exempt status could be lost, and our tax dollars would be used to support the education that taught these values.”
It adds: “Gays have the right to live the lifestyle they choose, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for everyone else. Proposition 8 respects the rights of gays while still reaffirming traditional marriage.”
The outline directs volunteers to push the line that “protects our children from being taught in public schools that same sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage. “
Questions have long been raised about the role of the Church in the anti-gay marriage movement given its status as a tax-exempt organisation.
President Trump has pledged to repeal laws that prevent churches from direct involvement in political campaigns.
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, known as the Mormon Church, preaches a rejection of homosexuality unless members remain celibate for life.
The religion also rejects the children of gay couples unless they actively disavow their parents’ “lifestyle”, and has been linked to a number of dangerous gay ‘cure’ practises.
A clampdown on LGBT people in the church has been linked to a surge in Mormon youth suicides – while the church has also used its influence to block LGBT rights legislation in Utahand channel funding to anti-LGBT campaign groups.

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

London: A conservative Christian pressure group has claimed that equal marriage has led to a surge in people trying to get married to themselves.
The extraordinary claim comes from anti-LGBT fundamentalist group “Anglican” Mainstream and the Coalition For Marriage, after the Office for National Statistics confirmed data on the first same-sex weddings in England and Wales in 2014.
The group claimed that equal marriage has been a “flop”, though same-sex weddings account for 2% of all weddings in the data period.
They said: “Few same-sex marriages have actually taken place. But the shockwaves of the momentous decision to redefine marriage continue to reverberate around our culture.
“Thanks to the redefinition of marriage all manner of future redefinitions are now being advocated (…) now there are reports of the rise of ‘sologamy’ – people seeking to marry themselves.
“There’s no doubt sologamy is only promoted by a few individuals. Apparently ‘the idea is to give yourself a commitment that values self-love and self-compassion’.
“This may give someone their day in the limelight, but it is a million miles away from the self-giving, outward-looking nature of marriage.
“Only true marriage binds people and society together, providing children with a mother and father who are committed to each other for life.”

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

Virginia: The Governor of Virginia has vetoed two bills to allow tax-payer funded agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples if they hold religious or moral objections.
Governor Terry McAuliffe vetod both Senate Bill 1324 and House Bill 2025.
The bills sought to allow taxpayer-funded agencies and service providers to discriminate against LGBT+ people.
House Bill 2025, which was being pushed by Delegate Nicholas Freitas, was earlier in February passed by the full House of Delegates. The bill states that “no person shall be required to participate in the solemnisation of any marriage.”
People who do discriminate will not be “subject to any penalty” if they are seen to be acting in “accordance with a sincerely held religious belief.”
The bill will allow discrimination against same-sex couple wanting to marry.
It has since been passed by the House of Representatives with 53 to 38 in a final vote which.
Governor McAuliffe vetoed a similar proposal last year.
The move was condemned by the Human Rights Campaign, which compared it to other discriminatory pieces of legislation across the US.
“Governor Terry McAuliffe continues to solidify his place in history as a stalwart champion of fairness and equality,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs.
“In truth, this vile legislation had nothing to do with protecting the right to practice one’s religion and everything to do with enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people into state law. By vetoing this discriminatory legislation, Governor McAuliffe has sent a powerful and inclusive message that Virginia is welcoming and open for business to all. We urge the Virginia Legislature to uphold this decision.”
House Bill 2025 comes just after Virginia’s version of controversial bathroom-ban bill HB2 was killed without debate.
Introduced by Bob Marshall, the bill would have banned individuals from using a bathroom corresponding to any gender other than that displayed on their birth certificate.
The bill was quickly condemned by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, who vowed to fight against such legislation.
Following the doing away with Marshall’s bill, he accused legislators of breaking campaign promises.
Governor McAuliffe earlier this month signed an executive order protecting the rights of LGBT+ people in public services.
Governor Terry McAuliffe signed executive order 61, which protects the rights of LGBT people in public services.
The Order extends pre-existing protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees to contractors and in the delivery of state services.

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

Copenhagen: The Danish Supreme Court – the highest court in the country – has ruled today that same-sex marriages in church do not go against the Danish constitution.
Same-sex civil unions have been legally recognized in Denmark since 1989 (the first country in the world to do so).
In 2012, same-sex marriages were legalized, including marriages performed by the Church of Denmark.
Legalization came about through a constitutional amendment that changed the recognition of marriage from solely being between a man and a woman to being between two people.
The 2012 amendment has been challenged by opponents of same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. It wasn’t challenged by the Church of Denmark itself, but by 300 individuals who joined together to form a pressure group, Foreningen Med grundlov Skal Land Bygges.
The individuals have argued that the amendment violates their right to religious freedom. They claimed any same-sex marriages performed by the Church of Denmark since 2012 should be ruled invalid.
They also claimed that their right to religious freedom was protected by European Human Rights legislation. The Danish Supreme Court disagreed on both counts, and said that the amendment was within the scope of what the Danish Parliament can decide.
‘We welcome the ruling’, said a spokesperson for LGBT Denmark on the advocacy’s group’s Facebook page.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

North Carolina: In March 2016, North Carolina’s HB2 was signed into law. The bill, which bars transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify, has been proven controversial, with several celebrities and businesses boycotting the state. Now, however, the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has given the state an ultimatum. If lawmakers fail to repeal the anti-LGBT law by April 18, the state could lose its chance to host championship games until 2022.

this would include prolific events such as the NCAA Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness.

In a statement released yesterday (March 24), the NCAA said:

“Last year the NCAA Board of Governors relocated NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina because of the cumulative impact HB2 had on local communities’ ability to assure a safe, healthy, discrimination free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events. Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state.”

The league said next week its various sports committees will begin making championships site selections for 2018-2022. The site selections are based on bids received from across the country and, if North Carolina fails to repeal the law, they’ll lose their chance of hosting the events. The NCAA previously pulled all championship events in 2016 and 2017 from the state and the ban could result in a loss of up to $250 million for the state.

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

Tokyo: Japan has finally updated its national anti-bullying policy to protect LGBT+ kids at school. According to Human Rights Watch, the country will officially include protections for sexual and gender minority students in its Basic Policy for the Prevention of Bullying for the first time ever. The updated policy, which was revised by the Education Ministry on 14 March, states that schools should “promote proper understanding of teachers on… sexual orientation/gender identity” to prevent such bullying.

Kanae Doi, Japan Director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Japan’s new policy on bullying is an important step toward ensuring equal access to education for all Japanese children.

“The government is demonstrating leadership in educating and empowering teachers to protect LGBT students.”

Last year, Human Rights Watch released a report suggesting that LGBT+ students were being failed by the Japanese government, and labelled the country’s anti-bullying policies as “inadequate” – hopefully this will now change.

Kanae added: “Japan’s support for two recent United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions on LGBT rights and co-chairing the 2016 UNESCO conference on LGBT bullying should be points of pride for the government.

“By amending the Basic Policy for the Prevention of Bullying to include sexual orientation and gender identity, Japan has taken the crucial step of bringing its own policies in line with its international human rights obligations.”

Japan is slowly but surely aligning itself with other forward-thinking countries when it comes to LGBT+ rights.

Back in 2015, the country issued its first ‘partnership certificate’ to a same-sex couple in Shibuya. While not legally binding, the certificates look to ensure that same-sex couples have certain rights, such as the ability to visit each other in hospitals.

It was announced earlier this week that Sapporo would become the largest city in Japan to officially recognise same-sex relationships as equivalent to marriage in the form of “partnership vows”.

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

Melbourne: Victorian Government has announced it will provide additional funding towards the state’s pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial to give nearly 4,000 people access to the HIV prevention pill.

While the trial has already seen nearly 3,000 people access the drug, there is still over 600 people on the waiting list. To clear this list, the state government will provide an additional $100,000 in funding towards the trial.

The announcement follows a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on Friday morning, where Victoria called on the federal government to take action and provide additional funding for high-risk people to access PrEP now.
However, these calls were not responded to.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said she was disappointed at the federal government’s lack of response around the issue.

“It is extremely disappointing that once again the Federal Liberal government are delaying and refusing to take the action required to make this life-saving drug more affordable and accessible for people at risk of HIV,” she said.

“PrEP is critical to achieving our goal of virtual elimination of new HIV infections by 2020 but we can’t do it alone.

“Our funding boost will mean the hundreds of Victorians waiting to access PrEP won’t have to wait any longer.”

The funding announcement follows a similar $100,000 funding boost by the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) earlier this year, who also called on the federal government to fund PrEP nationally to no avail.

Chief Executive of VAC Simon Ruth said the state government’s announcement is an important step, but now Australia needs the federal government to take action.

“The fact that so many are enrolling in the trial shows real motivation by the public to take responsibility for their sexual health and the prevention of HIV transmission,” he said.

“At this stage the federal government needs to acknowledge that community demand and demonstrate their commitment to making PrEP accessible and affordable to everyone as quickly as possible.”

Currently only half of Australia’s states and territories have government-supported access to PrEP, and among those with trials, only the New South Wales trial is uncapped.

Michael Whelan from the community PrEP activist group PrEPaccessNOW believes all states and territories should have equal access to the drug.

“This level of inequity and inconsistency in PrEP access across the states is shameful and harmful,” he said.

“The federal government cannot stand idly by and just hope that this issue will simply fix itself.

“PrEP works – and federal funding is essential to ensure PrEP access to all Australians.”

Victoria’s state PrEP trial is expected to reduce new HIV infections in the state by up to 30 per cent over the next few years.

PrEP is a way for people who don’t have HIV to prevent infection by taking a pill every day. Evidence has shown it is up to 98 per cent effective in preventing HIV infection.

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

Dallas: Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs has been given approval to compete against males, but there’s a catch.
The teen was told that he is now allowed to wrestle boys but only during the off-season.The policy, which allows Beggs to fight against male opponents, is newly adopted by USA Wrestling. It determines that female to male trans people are only allowed to compete in the male category.
However, this goes against a policy instated by the University Interscholastic League which requires public school students to compete in the gender category that they were assigned at birth.
The policy change comes a month after Beggs won the girls’ state wrestling title – much to the dismay of parents of other contenders who took legal action to sue the 17-year-old.
Parents argued that Beggs had an “unfair advantage” because of his testosterone treatment, although he was literally forced to compete in the girls 110 pound category.
A number of trans-sports activists believe that Beggs’ case could mean a huge change for trans athletes in the future.
Chris Mosier, one of the first athletes to come out as transgender, said that the policy was “not well thought out”.
“Mack is challenging what people thought was a good policy.
“This very well may spark change from people just by seeing how the policy was not well thought out and this is the outcome of following the rules exactly as they are.”
Since his case hit headlines, Beggs has pushed to send an important message to the young trans community.
The wrestler spoke about how he felt suicidal when he was younger, but insisted his “persistence and hardwork” has paid of.
“There’s always going to be another day or another week, you just have to keep going,” he said.

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

London: A bill that removes one of the last UK-wide sodomy laws has passed unanimously.
The Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill, which was submitted by Tory MP John Glen, would address one of the last remaining homophobic measures in UK law.
The bill addresses a reference in maritime shipping law that includes “homosexual acts” as grounds for dismissal from the crew of merchant ships.
The provisions, which were introduced when gay sex in the Navy was decriminalised in 1994, are already rendered unenforceable by existing equality law – making the repeal a largely symbolic measure.
The bill achieved a rare distinction today as it became one of the first pieces of legislation on LGBT issues to pass through the House of Commons without any opposition.
The bill was approved on third reading with government support and without a division, as there were no opponents.
Mr Glen said: “The Bill is short and simple. However, what it symbolises and the lasting impact it will have are about more than the repeal of [the regulations. The Bill sends the important message that, when it comes to employment in this country, what matters is a person’s ability to do the job, not their gender, age, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. By passing the Bill we make a clear statement that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has no place in our country. We should not underestimate the importance of that statement. It only remains for me to wish the Bill safe passage as it now goes to the [House of Lords], which I hope will share the conviction of this House that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong and that it is time for the entirety of our statute book fully to reflect that reality.”

Labour’s Andy McDonald added: “Labour Members wholeheartedly support this Bill and what it represents, and I congratulate the hon. Member on introducing it.
“By doing so, he has focused our attention on anachronistic and unfair provisions from the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which suggest that it would be lawful to dismiss a seafarer for a homosexual act. This Bill would remove ambiguities surrounding whether it is legal to dismiss a seafarer on the basis of such an act, but, as has been pointed out, the discriminatory provisions targeted by the Bill have been superseded by current equality legislation, primarily the 2010 Act. The Bill is therefore, ultimately, symbolic, but importantly so, as we should not underestimate the importance and power of symbols.We believe that this Bill, which would amend legislation to better reflect the values of equal rights to which we now adhere, is a powerful symbol, and Labour Members are pleased to give it our support.”

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Andrew Jones spoke in favour at a previous sitting.
Explaining government support for the bill, Mr Jones said: “The wording currently on the statute book has no effect, but it represents a historical hangover from when it was possible that a seafarer — indeed, any employee — could be dismissed for being gay. That is no longer the case, but the laws that we pass in this place and that form our statute book represent, both practically and in the signals they send, the established morals and values of our country. It is right therefore that when the statute book contains wording that is inconsistent with those values we should change that wording. For that reason, the Government are happy to state now, formally, that we support this measure.”
The bill will now head to the House of Lords.’

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

Taipei:Taiwan’s Supreme Court is hearing a case that could make same-sex marriages legal.
The 14 judges are currently hearing a case that, if siccesful for the gay rights activists, could make it the first nation in Asia to introduce equality.
Long-serving gay activist Chi Chia-wei attempted at registering marriage with his male partner in 2013, but was rejected.
He responded by petitioning for the case to be heard, prompting the current situation.
Their case has been helped by municipal authorities in Taipei seeking clarity over other same-sex marriage requests.
Taiwan’s civil code that states marriage should be between a man and woman.
However, it is hotly disputed as to whether the code is constituional, something experts and judges will have to debate.
It’s the first time the judiciary is opening the Constitutional Court on the issue of marriage equality.
If campaigners succeed, legislators will be forced to change the law to allow gay couples the protection.
In Taiwan, the issues has been widely debated, with strong views for and against equality.
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Taiwan recently to protest against same-sex marriage laws, which are also being discussed by politicians.The protest which was held in Taipei was ran in association with the Rescue Taiwan Hope Alliance, a homophobic group working to prevent the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
Protesters held signs showing pro-LGBT politicians as scorpions, snakes and tarantulas.
Chao Ying-ling, a spokesperson for the alliance said: “In our view, a huge amount of controversy has already been caused, and the government is not prepared to address the issue, so it should be put aside temporarily.”
The protest was one of many in recent months that have aimed to prevent the laws being passed.
Although anti-LGBT groups are kicking up a fuss with the protests, it seems that Taiwan may be set to become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex weddings.
Organisers for the protest are even dismissing anti-LGBT groups by allowing LGBT activists to have their own tents at the protest.
Liu Yu, a gay internet celebrity in Taiwan, set up in one of the tents which promoted inclusivity.
“They told us not to make a scene and that they were willing to give us two tents, while urging us not to argue and instead take a look at their ideas,” he said.
“It is not too bad — of all the events I have attended, this is the first time I’ve been directly invited.”
Hsu hosted, financed and was the main organiser for the event. She said that the protest was not anti-LGBT, and insisted they were just worried about teaching children about LGBT people.
“In the past, homosexual protesters were barred, even though we often talk about love and tolerance,” she said. “In ordinary life, there are homosexual friends all around us, and there is no need to exclude or create conflict and opposition.”

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

Dallas: The Texas House Speaker has cast doubt on the future of the state’s proposed ‘bathroom bill’.
State Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick earlier this year said moves to introduce such a bill as has proven catastrophic to states like North Carolina, would be a priority in the new legislative session.
The bill, a version of which has caused North Carolina to lose business, sporting events and music events, would stop transgender Texans from using any bathroom which does not correspond to the gender stated on their birth certificate.Despite being called a priority by Patrick, the bill could threaten to split the Republican party, which controls the three branches of Government in Texas.
House Speaker Joe Straus has again cast doubt on the measure, stopping short of calling the measure doomed.
Straus, who sets the agenda of the Republican-controlled legislature spoke at a University of Texas forum.
“I don’t feel a great deal of fervor to promote that bill in the House,” Straus said.
“I think we should be very careful about doing something that can make Texas less competitive,” he told the Texas Association of Business earlier this year.
North Carolina, which at the end of December failed to repeal HB2, lost out on the All Star NBA game for 2017, lost the NCAA regional games out of the state, and performances from Bruce Springsteen and other high profile musicians cancelled North Carolina performances.
It has been estimated by Forbes that NC lost $600 million over six months because of its controversial legislation.
“Legislation to protect women’s privacy and business is essential to assure that sexual predators … will not be able to freely enter women’s restrooms, locker rooms or showers …,” a note from Patrick, applauding efforts to derail the repeal of HB2 read.
A press conference was held last month by the Association of Business, which announced the results of a study which estimated that 100,000 jobs and $8 billion in the state’s economy could be lost if Texas passes its own bathroom bill.
“The message from the Texas business community is loud and clear,” Chris Wallace, the organisation’s president said at the press conference.
“Protecting Texas from billions of dollars in losses is simple: Don’t pass unnecessary laws that discriminate against Texans and our visitors.”
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has not taken a side on the topic, and has not indicated whether he would sign a bill if it came to his desk.

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

Virginia: The Governor of Virginia has vetoed two bills to allow tax-payer funded agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples if they hold religious or moral objections.
Governor Terry McAuliffe vetod both Senate Bill 1324 and House Bill 2025.
The bills sought to allow taxpayer-funded agencies and service providers to discriminate against LGBT+ people.
House Bill 2025, which was being pushed by Delegate Nicholas Freitas, was earlier in February passed by the full House of Delegates.The bill states that “no person shall be required to participate in the solemnisation of any marriage.”
People who do discriminate will not be “subject to any penalty” if they are seen to be acting in “accordance with a sincerely held religious belief.”
The bill will allow discrimination against same-sex couple wanting to marry.
It has since been passed by the House of Representatives with 53 to 38 in a final vote which.
Governor McAuliffe vetoed a similar proposal last year.
The move was condemned by the Human Rights Campaign, which compared it to other discriminatory pieces of legislation across the US.
“Governor Terry McAuliffe continues to solidify his place in history as a stalwart champion of fairness and equality,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs.
“In truth, this vile legislation had nothing to do with protecting the right to practice one’s religion and everything to do with enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people into state law. By vetoing this discriminatory legislation, Governor McAuliffe has sent a powerful and inclusive message that Virginia is welcoming and open for business to all. We urge the Virginia Legislature to uphold this decision.”
House Bill 2025 comes just after Virginia’s version of controversial bathroom-ban bill HB2 was killed without debate.
Introduced by Bob Marshall, the bill would have banned individuals from using a bathroom corresponding to any gender other than that displayed on their birth certificate.
The bill was quickly condemned by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, who vowed to fight against such legislation.
Following the doing away with Marshall’s bill, he accused legislators of breaking campaign promises.
Governor McAuliffe earlier this month signed an executive order protecting the rights of LGBT+ people in public services.
Governor Terry McAuliffe signed executive order 61, which protects the rights of LGBT people in public services.
The Order extends pre-existing protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees to contractors and in the delivery of state services.

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

Canberra: State government leaders have criticised the Australian Federal Government for not making PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) more accessible.
At a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on Friday morning the leaders said it was time to fund PrEP. The council is made up of the heads of Australia’s states and territories.
They argued funding PrEP would help reach the target of virtually eliminating new HIV transmissions by 2020.
PrEP is a HIV preventative treatment and is awaiting approval to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). A listing on the PBS would mean PrEP is more affordable and accessible.
Studies have proven PrEP is very effective and safe, offering up to 99% protection for homosexually active men and 94% protection for women, if taken every day.
Five Australian states – Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland – have or will soon commence PrEP trials. The trial provide treatment to thousands of people at high risk of acquiring HIV.
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy lead the call to push the Federal Government into action.
‘It is extremely disappointing that once again the Federal Liberal government are delaying and refusing to take the action required to make this life-saving drug more affordable and accessible for people at risk of HIV,’ she said.
‘PrEP is critical to achieving our goal of virtual elimination of new HIV infections by 2020 but we can’t do it alone.
‘Our funding boost will mean the hundreds of Victorians waiting to access PrEP won’t have to wait any longer.’
PrEP trials grow
The Victorian Government also announced a further $100,000 of funding to its PrEPX trial. The extra funding which will give 600 more people access to PrEP.
The Victorian AIDS Council also called on Federal Government to fund PrEP access nationally.
‘This further commitment from the [Victorian] Government is an important step, but now we need the Federal Government to take action,’ said VAC CEO Simon Ruth.
‘The fact that so many are enrolling in the trial shows real motivation by the public to take responsibility their sexual health and the prevention of HIV transmission.
‘At this stage, the Federal Government needs to acknowledge that community demand and demonstrate their commitment to making PrEP accessible and affordable to everyone as quickly as possible.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Los Angeles: A veteran lesbian journalist is taking legal action against Frontiers magazine after the publication fired her from her position as news editor.
Karen Ocamb was led to believe that she was fired for financial reasons within the company, however it soon came to light that the reason was based solely on her age.
Bobby Blair, the CEO of Multimedia Platforms Worldwide (the parent company of Frontiers) said: “Unfortunately, Karen fell where we realised we were moving toward a digital and Millennial audience, and we wanted to give the generation of Millennials a real shot at creating out content.”
Ocamb revealed that she would be taking legal action against Frontiers and Multimedia Platforms Worldwide in a Los Angeles Blade column.
“That was a gut-check. I realised I had silenced myself to be ‘nice,’ to be ‘fair,’ to be ‘brave’—all the learned traits growing up female in a military family,” Ocamb wrote.
“Despite my hard-earned reputation, despite working diligently to contribute to both the publication and the LGBT movement, despite having to put up with what at times was a hostile working environment where I was expected to shrug off antics and comments and endure sneers when I complained.
“I was tossed out to make way for millennial writers—according to a published interview with the owner,” she wrote. The company is already in a spot of financial difficulty as it faced a court order dictating for the company assets to be seized after it defaulted on over $1 million in loans.
Frontiers has also since suspended publication after its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

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

Georgetown: Transgender activists in Guyana are fighting against transphobic laws that have led to the trans community become used to dealing with daily abuse and violence.
The push to beat transphobia in the country comes after a trans resident in the capital of the country, Georgetown, encountered abuse and found it near impossible to seek justice.Petronella Trotman was attacked my a young man who stabbed her in the neck with a pair of scissors because he believed Trotman had “disrespected her”.
Trotman told the BBC that after the initial attack the man ran but came back quickly to carry on attacking her with glass bottles.
“It happens a lot here in Guyana to transgender women. We live in a very homophobic society,” she said.
The attack spurred Trotman to seek conviction but realised that an arctic 124 year old law that criminalised “cross-dressing” stood in her way.
When attempting to appear in court, Trotman was told that she must “dress like a man” by the magistrate Dylon Bess.
Her dress was seen as a violation of law, a factor that led to the eventual dismissal of the case because magistrates would not let her testify as a female.
Magistrate Bess tried to defend the move, calling it a “preference and not a requirement” but insisted that parliament should abolish to outdated law, not the courts.
Since hearing about the case, local LGBT groups in Georgetown and the rest of the country are pushing to have the old law overturned.
Some are even calling for magistrates to aide in taking down the law.
Joel Simpson, the managing director at Guyana’s Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) said Bess had demonstrated a “dereliction of duty”.
“While he is a magistrate not a judge, the court does have the power to declare that a particular law is unconstitutional… Where there’s conflict, the constitution prevails,” Simpson said.
The fight to raise awareness for trans communities was initially sparked several years ago in 2010 after a number of trans activists were arrested for wearing female clothing.
In conjunction with SASOD, the Guyana Trans United (GTU) group launched a challenge in the Supreme Court against the cross-dressing law.
Much to their dismay, the case felt through when Ian Chang, the chief justice at the time, ruled that cross-dressing was legal unless done for an “improper purpose” – a term he did not define.
Now, the two advocacy groups believe that they are left with limited options and so they are turning to mass petitions and protests.
“Our next step is to continue to have protests, let our voices be heard and then to get a petition before parliament,” founder of GTU, Quincy McEwan, said.
“And we’re not stopping there. We’re going to appeal our matter before the Caribbean Court of Justice.”

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

Stockholm: The Swedish government has pledged to pay compensation to transgender people who were legally forced into sterilisation in order to transition.
Health Minister Gabriel Wilkström said that the Swedish government was set to introduce a bill that would award 225,000 kroner ($26,000) to those who were affected.
Swedish law forced transgender people into sterilisation if they wanted their gender identity to be recognised by authorities between 1972 and 2013.
It specified that people who wanted to change legal gender had to be “lacking the ability to procreate”.
This meant that hundreds of transgender people were forced to undergo surgery to prevent them from ever having children.
The court then ruled that this practice was wrong and violated European Human Rights.
“The demand for sterilisation that existed previously laid out a vision from which today’s society wishes to distance itself and the government believes it was wrong to demand it,” Wikstrom said.
While the initial sum of compensation was celebrated, activists in the country have insisted that they will push for more compensation.
“The sum should be at a level that constitutes a real recognition of the excesses of the state,” said Swedish LGBT group RFSL President Frida Sandegard.
After the country deemed the practice illegitimate over 150 transgender people in the country banded together to call for an official apology and compensation totalling nearly 5 million.
It is believed that nearly 800 people may have been affected by the laws.
Kerstin Burman of Swedish LGBT group RFSL said: “Monetary reparations cannot completely compensate for the violations of forced sterilisation, but financial redress initiated by the government is an official acknowledgement that these actions were wrong and that the State should not have treated its citizens in this way.

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

Portland: A 27-year-old person in the United States has become the first person to be legally recognized as genderless, or agender.
Oregon Judge Amy Holmes Hehn granted a petition allowing Patrick Abbatiello to now be referred to only as Patch.
‘As a kid – probably starting around age six – gender didn’t make sense to me,’ Patch told NBC News.
‘I was told “men were this, women were this.”
‘As a teen, I learned about transgender people and that didn’t seem like what I was.
‘And then I learned about genderqueer, and that didn’t seem like what I was,’ Patch said.
Patch also doesn’t identify with any gendered pronouns: ‘Even gender-neutral pronouns don’t feel as if they fit me.
‘I feel no identity or closeness with any pronouns I’ve come across,’ Patch said.
Patch writes and designs video games and has been using the singular name since ‘well before’ the decision to legally change it.
Patch: ‘What describes me is my name’
Gender is inexplicably linked to legal forms and Patch believes this is problematic: ‘I think it’s creepy that society wants to track such personal information about everybody.
‘Why does it matter?
‘But we do exist in that system, and since we do, we can’t just scrap it all,’ Patch said.
Patch is not the first person to be legally reconized as agender.
In Australia, self-identified intersex activist Norrie May-Welby successfully won a court case in 2014 to be listed as Gender: Non-Specific.
The court case was dragged out over four years and Norrie was ecstatic when they found out: ‘It’s a very exciting victory.’
‘Maybe people will now understand there’s more options than the binary, and even if a person is specifically male or female, their friends might not be – and hopefully people might be a little bit more accepting of that,’ Norrie said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Surrey: Sounding like you have a ‘gay voice’ could cost you a top job or promotion, a new study has found.
Undertaken at the University of Surrey, the study found gay men face discrimination for feminine-sounding voices.
The same is also true for lesbian women, who face discrimination for ‘huskier’ voices.
Researchers asked participants to listen to various voices and form impressions based on features like tone and pitch.
Participants were also shown photos of the heterosexual and homosexual people attached to the sound clips.
They were then asked about the suitability of each candidate for a fictional job of a CEO and the monthly salary they should get.
Heterosexual men are less likely to think a ‘gay sounding’ person should get a job or higher salary over a ‘straight sounding’ person.
Dr. Fabio Fasoli, lead researcher of the study, told Broadly that this research proves real discrimination: ‘This study highlights that it can be a real problem in the workplace and for people’s career prospects.
‘It is revealing, that despite all the work to lessen discrimination against the LGBT community, people subconsciously typecast an individual before getting to know them.
‘This study demonstrates that unacceptable levels of discrimination, be they subconscious or conscious, still exists in our society.
‘We need to do more to tackle the discrimination faced by the LGBT community,’ Fasoli said.
‘Do I sound gay?’
David Thorpe is a documentary film maker and openly gay man with a self-confessed gay voice.
He has often wondered where his voice came from, so asked celebrities like David Sedaris, Tim Gunn and Margaret Cho.
In his film, Do I Sound Gay? Thorpe goes on a journey to try to challenge his own misconceptions about his voice.
Thorpe believes the recent study would have similar results if conducted in the States.
He believes studies like these are important ‘because they prove that people have these stereotypes.
‘Obviously in real life when you’re sitting in a real interview situation you’re seeing much more.
‘I don’t know that the outcome would be the same if you were able to study actual job interviews,’ he said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Sydney: Australian marriage equality advocate and just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome has condemned the proposed postal plebiscite as “inherently rigged”.

The latest news indicates a growing push from opponents of marriage equality in the Turnbull government for a postal plebiscite on the issue.

“There will be no parliamentary oversight of the question, the campaigns for and against the proposition, or the voting procedure,” Croome said.
“A non-compulsory vote also means the 30 per cent of the electorate who are soft supporters of marriage equality are much less likely to vote.

“Another problem is that a vote run entirely through the post could favour older voters and disenfranchise younger ones, further skewing the results against marriage equality.

“The current plebiscite proposal wouldn’t just be easy to rig, it would be inherently rigged.”

Croome said the LGBTI community has already overwhelmingly rejected a plebiscite.

“This concern ran so deep 85 per cent of LGBTI Australians said they would rather wait for marriage equality than achieve it through a plebiscite,” he said.

“The broader community also said no to a plebiscite because of concern about the cost and the fact politicians could ignore the result.

“Plebiscite Mark II may reduce the financial cost… but the human cost would remain.”

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

Sydney: The New South Wales Supreme Court has allowed a lesbian couple to adopt a four-year-old girl despite her Catholic birth parents’ opposition. The girl has been raised by lesbian foster parents since the age of six months. The couple wanted to adopt her legally, but it was opposed by the birth family because the foster parents would not commit to a Catholic upbringing.

The court heard that the birth mother is “a practising Catholic and she is not comfortable with the placement of [the child] with the proposed adoptive parents because of her upbringing and religious values.” The birth father also told the court he was from a Catholic family and wanted his daughter raised in the faith. The lesbian couple have been in a stable relationship for almost a decade. They told the court they couldn’t raise the girl Catholic due to the religion’s opposition to gay relationships. Various experts testified that the child saw her foster parents as family and breaking that attachment would cause psychological harm.

Justice John Sacker found the birth parents were incapable of caring for the child and ruled that the foster parents be allowed to adopt her. He said that while the law required cultural and religious ties to be preserved “as far as possible”, those factors should not outweigh the child’s best interests.

“While the birth parents’ religious beliefs must be respected, the proposed adoptive parents’ attitude to the Catholic faith requires equal respect,” he said. The court also ruled that the child’s surname should be changed to that of her adoptive parents. Adoption by lesbian and gay couples has been permitted in NSW since 2010. New Zealand has had it since 2013 as part of the Marriage Amendment Act when it introduced marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform at the same time for married LGBT couples.

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

Belfast: Sinn Féin had set out demands on same-sex marriage as part of attempts to reach a fresh power-sharing deal in Northern Ireland.
Assembly elections were held earlier this month in Northern Ireland after the collapse of the previous government, with Democratic Unionist Party losing ground after a corruption scandal.
The anti-gay marriage DUP, which is still the largest party with a reduced majority, had previously used peace process powers known as ‘petitions of concern’ to block same-sex marriage.
Under the Good Friday Agreement, second-largest party Sinn Féin must form a new power-sharing government with the DUP – but the two parties failed to reach a deal by the deadline this afternoon.
The talks collapsed after Sinn Féin set out a number of red lines, including progress on equal marriage.
The party has since alleged that the DUP refused to budge on the issue.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “The DUP’s approach thus far has been to engage in a minimalist way on all of the key issues, including legacy issues – an Irish-language act, a bill of rights and marriage equality.

“They have been reinforced in this by the British government’s stance. This is unacceptable and a matter of grave concern.”
Speaking at a press conference today after the collapse of talks, Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O’Neill said: “Unfortunately the DUP maintained their position in relation to blocking equality and delivering equality for citizens. That is a problem.
“We, over the course of today, have a range of meetings with the other parties. We continue to engage. We do need to make the institutions work, but they can only work on the basis of equality, respect and integrity at their course.”
The DUP’s Arlene Foster, an opponent of LGBT rights, insisted: “These talks failed because there wasn’t a recognition of everyone’s mandates and there wasn’t a spirit of compromise to get back into the executive.”
She insisted: “The DUP stands ready to continue to discuss how we can secure new arrangements for Northern Ireland.”
Ms Foster previously 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.”
The UK government has extended the deadline for the talks.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, branded the collapse of talks “extremely disappointing”.
He said: “We now have a short window of opportunity to resolve outstanding issues and for an Executive to be formed.
“Everyone owes it to the people of Northern Ireland to grasp that and provide the political leadership and the stability they want.”

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

Arkansas: Trans people in Arkansas could soon lead an essentially illegal life.
State lawmakers are currently discussing three bills: House Bill 1986, House Bill 1894, and Senate Bill 774.
If all three pass, it could force trans people out of a majority of public life because their existence would effectively be illegal.
SB774 is Arkansa’s version of North Carolina’s controversial HB2 ‘bathroom bill’.
Called the Arkansas Physical Privacy and Safety Act, it would require trans people to use public bathrooms matching the gender marker on their birth certificate.
It would apply to all government and other state-owned buildings.
And it’s only the tip of an iceberg of transphobic laws.
HB 1986 would expand existing Arkansas law and allow a person to press charges against trans people under indecent exposure laws.
Indecent exposure, it argues, is any situation where someone ‘knowingly exposes his or her sex organs to a person of the opposite biological sex: (A) In a public place or in public view; or (B) Under circumstances in which the person could reasonably believe the conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm.’
The law could, for example, ban trans men who had top surgery from going shirtless anywhere in public.
‘If a transgender man has top surgery, his chest could be viewed as a sexual organ, according to the the language used on the bill,’ Zachary Miller of the Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition, told Salon.
‘Anywhere his chest is in public view — like at a public pool or going to a spa — he could be in violation of the law and be arrested.’
The law could see trans people fined $2,500 and also holds a maximum prison sentence of one year. And that’s only the beginning.
Trans people found guilty four or five times over a 10-year-span would face six years in prison on a Class D felony charge.
Any further charges would result in a 10-year sentence.
The third bill is HB 1894, which was voted down by a committee in early March, but was reintroduced by Representative Mickey Gates.
It would ban trans people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificate.
And it shows the Republican government doesn’t understand what it means to be transgender.
‘What happens if you have a guy and he’s 24 years old and he decides he wants to be a 14-year-old guy so that he can have sex with a 14-year-old girl,’ Gates said.
‘Will that not be rape?
‘Just because you have the right to identify doesn’t mean the state is obligated to recognize the way you feel.’
Currently, trans people in Arkansas need a court order, as well as written confirmation from their doctor that they have completed gender-confirmation surgery to change their birth certificate.
Governor Asa Hutchinson in the past said Arkansas did not need laws like North Carolina.
The House and Senate have until 31 March to reach a decision, before the bills fail. If they do, they will be tabled for the year.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Kerala: The south-western Indian state, Kerala, might become the first to repeal section 377 of the country’s penal code.
Section 377 is a hangover from British Colonial rule and prohibits ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’.
According to reports Law Secretary B G Harindranath has drafted a bill to amend 377 and to be introduced into the state’s Legislative Assembly.
Federal Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor – whose electorate is in Kerala – introduced an anti-discrimination bill into India’s parliament, which if passed would mean the end of 377 nationally.
Tharoor also met with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss Harindranath’s Bill and the possibility of ameding 377 at a state level.
If the Bill was introduced into the assembly and is passed, it would still need Presidential approval.
But LGBTI advocates say it will at least create another path in the fight against 377.
‘It will pave way for the next level of queer movement,’ said Jijo Kuriakose, founder of Queerala, LGBTI support organisation in Kerala.
‘The LGBT community in Kerala hopefully looks forward for the political revamp to happen, which shall set a replicable model for the Indian subcontinent.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: The Australian Red Cross currently relies on just three per cent of the population to maintain our nation’s blood supplies. It excludes thousands of healthy people in monogamous relationships from donating blood. The current regulations established by the independent Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) require gay men to abstain from sex for a full year if they want to donate blood.

In contrast, current guidelines allow straight people who engage in risky behaviour (for example, having multiple sexual partners) to donate blood. This can lead to some awkward conversations in the workplace. Many good organisations are encouraging their employees to donate blood – through blood donation challenges. Since giving blood is an inherently good thing to do, this puts gay men (who are often closeted) in a difficult position of explaining their status.

It also provokes discussion of the question – why are all men who have sex with men banned from donating blood? The ban was established in 1985 in Australia during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Men who have sex with men are more at risk, as a population group, of HIV/AIDS infection and so restrictions were put on them donating blood. All blood donated is tested for sexually transmitted diseases, but preventative deferral periods were introduced to account for “window periods” (which is the incubation interval between sex and the time that HIV/AIDS becomes detectable).

However things have changed dramatically since the 80s. Modern detection techniques are much better for HIV/AIDS, with just 5.9 day window period after intercourse. Rapid testing also means that gay men are much more aware of the HIV status than has previously been possible in the past. HIV is now a preventable disease. There are good drugs that can dramatically reduce the viral load in blood, reducing the risk of transmission. And the advent PrEP as a HIV prevention has also reduced the risk for people with exposure to HIV. Now that detection technology has advanced, there is no excuse to exclude so many members of our community from giving blood. The guidelines should be based on evidence. And in light of medical advances, it’s time the TGA reviewed its policies, like other jurisdictions.

France now allows plasma only donations, if the donor in question has had only one sexual partner in the last four months. Their donation is then placed in quarantine for two and a half months to ensure that it is harmless. France will again review these policies this year with the intention of eventually removing all bans. Likewise, Canada’s new Liberal Government is currently delivering on an election commitment of investing $3 million on blood donation research with the intention of eventually eliminating the current 12-month deferral period. In Chile, Mexico, Spain and Italy; all donors – regardless of sexuality – can donate blood. They are just all required to fill out a questionnaire based on assessing the risk of their recent sexual behaviour.

In 2014, Red Cross Australia recommended a deferral period be reduced to 6 months for men that have sex with men. While this is a step in the right direction – it wouldn’t significantly increase the donor pool. Unfortunately, the TGA also rejected this recommendation.

The TGA has scheduled a review into the guidelines for 2018, but there is no guarantee that they will consider reforms in this area. It is pleasing to see that the Victorian Government has called for the review to be brought forward to next year with the aim of addressing this issue. They have promised to raise the issue at a meeting of national Health Ministers.
The TGA should consider an individual risk based approach, not simply reducing the deferral period to 6 months. Gay men in long-term monogamous relationships are at lower risk of HIV transmission and so consideration should be given to treating them differently than people who are engaging in risky behaviour.

The most obvious effect of an individual risk-based approach is enabling a numerically significant cohort of potential donors to help save more lives, while maintaining the integrity and safety of the blood supply. As Health Ministers meet for their COAG Health Council this week, it is reasonable for them to ask the TGA – why is Australia still banning healthy men in monogamous relationships from donating blood?

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

Paris: The French President has been urged to push Indonesia on LGBT+ rights, as he is set to arrive there this week.
Francois Hollande has been urged by the Human Rights Watch to emphasise that respecting human rights is part of having a strong relationship with France.
“France should ensure that its pursuit of deeper economic ties with Indonesia does not come at the price of silence on human rights,” said Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director at Human Rights Watch.
“Hollande should affirm that promoting and protecting people’s rights is critically important for any country strengthening its engagement with France.”
The HRW says Indonesian President Joko Widodo has failed to deliver on support for human rights.
Widodo in October broke his silence on the country’s rising political culture of homophobia, finally insisting that LGBT people must be protected.
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo made his first comments on Indonesia’s escalating anti-LGBT violence, calling on the police to protect endangered citizens.
He clarified that “in terms of our beliefs, [the LGBT lifestyle] isn’t allowed, Islam does not allow it.”
Violence against the country’s LGBT population has been rising over the last few years, while the police have cracked down as well.
Back in 2016, a gay couple were arrested for a Facebook photo of them kissing.
The anti-LGBT culture has been led in part by a number of the country’s politicians, who have even blocked Grindr and 80 other gay websites and apps in a crackdown on “deviant propaganda.”

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

Montana: Montana’s transphobic bathroom bill was killed on Monday March 27.
The state’s version of North Carolina’s infamous HB2 failed in the judiciary committee.
Called the Montana Locker Room Privacy Act, it would not have automatically forced trans people to use the bathroom matching the gender on their birth certificate,
Instead, HB609 would have triggered a referendum. The question would have been whether trans people should be allowed to use the locker and bathrooms matching their gender identity even if it doesn’t match their birth certificate.
In case of a ‘yes’, this would have meant citizens could use government agencies if they did not take ‘reasonable steps’ to ensure no member of the opposite sex used bath- or locker rooms.
It was killed in a 11-7 vote, with one member of the house abstaining.
The Montana Family Foundation, who supported the bill, said in a statement they now want to bring it forward as a ballot initiative.
Jeff Laszloffy, President of the foundation, said people ‘want to see privacy, safety and dignity protected in our locker rooms and showers’.
‘Girls shouldn’t have to shower in front of boys. It’s just common sense,’ he said.
‘We will take the Locker Room Privacy Act to the people and let them have their say.’
So far, they have done the same for two major laws: the protection of marriage between a man and a woman, and a law ‘requiring parental notification in the case of a minor seeking abortion’.
According to news website Missoulian most of the Representatives who vetoed the bill did so over business concerns, with a nod to North Carolina – which lost major sports events and music gigs after HB2 passed.
‘When we send a message like this, we’re sending a message to a lot of entertainers and other who want to come visit that we’re not a welcoming state,’ said Democratic Representative Virginia Court.
Others said if HB609 passed, the committee would eventually have blood on its hands.
‘When this law passes and people are taking their lives, that’s on us in this committee,’ said Shane Morigeau, also a Democrat.
‘When we see stories pop up in the paper, this committee is going to be responsible for that.’
Although the bill is dead, Glimm could revive it by blasting it on the House floor and effectively forcing a vote; he would have to do so by March 30.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Washington DC: US President Donald Trump has signed away parts of an executive order protecting LGBT federal workers against discrimination, in one of his most overt attacks on the community since taking office in January.

The President signed an executive order on Monday (March 27) revoking three previous orders issued by Barack Obama, including Executive Order 13673 or the ‘the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order’, Keen News Service reports.

The order, signed in 2014, required that companies receiving large federal contracts demonstrate that they had complied for at least three years with 14 federal laws, many of which prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The laws affected include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation; the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, which among other things prevented discrimination based on HIV status.While the laws themselves still stand, by removing the requirement for companies to demonstrate their compliance, the Trump administration has effectively prevented them being properly enforced when applied to federal contracts.

Camilla Taylor, a senior counsel at LGBT legal organisation Lambda Legal, tells Keen News Service that Trump’s actions are “sending a message to these companies… that the federal government simply doesn’t care whether or not they violate the law.”

The move is the latest quiet attack on the LGBT community from the Trump administration, despite previous assurances from the President that he would protect LGBT rights during his time in the Oval Office.

Last month, the announced plans to revoke landmark guidelines introduced by President Obama advising public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice, while a page on the White House website dedicated to LGBT rights was removed entirely just hours after Trump’s inauguration in January.

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

Washington DC: The Trump administration have been criticised over plans to exclude data from LGBT+ people in the forthcoming 2020 Census and the American Community Survey (ACS).

The latest version of the report has excluded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as “planned subjects” for the nationwide survey, with “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” only included as “proposed” subjects.

“Today, the Trump Administration has taken yet another step to deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice, and equity, by choosing to exclude us from the 2020 Census and American Community Survey,” said Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.

“LGBTQ people are not counted on the Census—no data is collected on sexual orientation or gender identity.“Information from these surveys helps the government to enforce federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Housing Act and to determine how to allocate resources like housing supports and food stamps.

“If the government doesn’t know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we’re getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need?”

A number of federal agencies have previously urged the Census Bureau to collection data based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as they argue it is critical to their ability to implement and enforce law.

Maury added: “We call on President Trump and his Administration to begin collecting sexual orientation and gender identity data on the American Community Survey as soon as possible and urge Congress to conduct oversight hearings to reveal why the Administration made the last-minute decision not to collect data on LGBTQ people.”

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

Canberra: Former ALP Leader Mark Latham has defended questioning a high school boy’s sexuality on live television and once again called the teenager gay.

Earlier this month a group of students from Sydney Boys High School released a video on feminism as part of International Women’s Day.

In the video the boys spoke about why feminism would be important to them if they were women.
In response on an episode of Outsiders, Latham said he thought the first boy in the video was gay.

“The boys at the boys school look like dickheads doing their video, total dickheads,” he said on air.

“I thought the first guy was gay.”

The comments were criticised by federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham and NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes, prompting Latham to further defend his comments.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said stood by his comments about the video.

“So if you’re asking me if, on my first viewing of the Sydney Boys High School video, where the young man ‘pretended to be a woman’, I thought he was gay,” he said.

“Well, yes, who wouldn’t think that?

“The student pretended to be a woman by talking about sex with a man – so yes, one would assume he was gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said the comments amounted to bullying.

“I was disappointed when I first heard the comments about the Sydney Boys High Schools students who appeared in the video for International Women’s Day,” he said.

“Adults in privileged high profile commentating roles need to be mindful of the example they set for the community.

“Bullying of any kind is unacceptable.”

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

Ottawa: The Canadian federal government has made LGBT families and single people eligible for the same tax break on reproductive treatments that only people with infertility conditions could previously access — including for services dating back to 2007.

The March 22, 2017, budget also set a $3.6-million budget for the government’s advisor on LGBTQ2 issues.

Currently, the medical expense tax credit covers 15 percent of treatment fees that cost more than either $2,268, or three percent of an individual’s net income — whichever is lowest.

For the year 2017, that tax credit will now available for “single individuals and same-sex couples.”

In Canada, one cycle of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments costs roughly $10,000, meaning a single person who underwent IVF could save $1,500 in taxes. The change to the credit starts in 2017, and applies for the previous decade. That means people who had fertility treatments in 2007 can ask for a re-assessment by the end of 2017, and a 2008 treatment could be counted if claimed by the end of 2018.

“Ending discrimination for families is a good measure,” says Angella MacEwen, a senior economist with the Canadian Labour Congress.

This year is the first federal budget formed through a gender-based analysis, and MacEwen says the tax credit illustrates the importance of that approach. “It really sends that message about what a family is.”

Meanwhile, the federal government pledged $3.6 million for a new secretariat to assist MP Randy Boissonnault, the government’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues. This money will go towards staff hired by the Privy Council Office, suggesting the government will hire staff through a public process, instead of as political appointees.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

London: The May administration has confirmed a major trial of HIV-preventing PrEP drugs in the UK is expected to start this summer.
Appearing before Parliament today, health minister Nicola Blackwood confirmed that plans are still progressing for a trial of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis drugs, first announced last year.
She confirmed: “£10 million has been set aside to fund the trial. It is anticipated that it will include at least 10,000 participants over the next three years.
“We expect the trial to be underway this summer, and it does have the potential to change the lives of thousands of people at risk of contracting HIV.”
NHS England said previously: “Although the evidence around the clinical effectiveness of PrEP is strong, advice from Public Health England has highlighted significant outstanding implementation questions that should be answered prior to using PrEP in a sustained way on a substantial scale in England. These questions will be answered by the clinical trial, paving the way for full rollout.
“Detailed planning will now take place to ensure the launch and the clinical trial phase can begin as swiftly as possible. Up to £10 million will be made available over the next three years to fund all aspects of the trial.”
Elsewhere, Ms Blackwood came under pressure from MPs over reports of dire cuts to HIV prevention and support services.
Though the government has not directly slashed funding for HIV services, there has been a significant squeeze on the budgets of cash-strapped local authorities, many of whom have had no choice but to axe HIV services to meet central government austerity targets.
Addressing the reports, the minister admitted: “I do recognise that local authority funding remains tight and that councils have tough decisions to make to ensure that vital public services remain sustainable.”
She said local councils should focus on the “most effective and efficient use of resources available”, adding that the government and Public Health England would roll out an “action plan” on the issue.
Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce the risk of being infected with HIV by up to 86% if taken daily, and has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for at-risk men who have sex with men (MSM).
Last year NHS England took to the courts to argue that it is not responsible for commissioning the drugs, in a contentious spat with HIV activists. The body had attempted to place the burden of PrEP commissioning on local authorities, whose HIV prevention budgets are already squeezed.
Though it did eventually agree to launch the trial after losing the bitter court battle, it continues to maintain that it does not have an “obligation” to commission services.

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

Washington DC: Donald Trump and Mike Pence have made proposals to gut the funding for the US’s pioneering HIV/AIDS prevention projects.
The bulk of the cuts are proposed to the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which was set up by former President George W Bush to tackle the AIDS crisis, and is one of the largest providers of funding for global projects battling the spread of HIV/AIDS.
White House budget documents supplied to Congress and published by Politico this week reveal that Trump and Pence are planning to slash $242 million from the PEPFAR budget.
The White House claims the cuts will “maintain current commitments” and that the savings will come from ending “less effective HIV research and prevention activities”, but activists say the cuts will cripple global attempts to eradicate AIDS.
The budget document claims: “This reduction would achieve savings by requiring PEPFAR to begin slowing the rate of new patients on treatment in FY 17, by reducing support to low-performing countries, by reducing lower-priority
prevention programs, or by identifying new efficiencies or other savings.”
Further cuts of $50 million are also set out in the document for the domestic HIV/AIDS budget, with an equal $50 million cut from the CDC’s Global HIV/AIDS program, despite previous assurances that HIV/AIDS budgets would be protected.
The document claims: “This reduction would eliminate less effective HIV research and prevention activities and accelerate reductions proposed in FY 2018.”
US government projects including PEPFAR have previously been credited with helping bring the global AIDS crisis under control, halving the death rate in countries where it is active within just five years.
The proposed cuts to PEPFAR come despite Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson describing it as “one of the most extraordinarily successful programs” during his confirmation hearing.
The billionaire had claimed: “I saw it up close and personal, and I know that PEPFAR has broadly brought so much goodwill from Africa, recognition of the goodwill and the compassionate nature of the American people.
“[PEPFAR] is one of the best projections of compassion into the continent that I think that you will ever find, and it is broadly recognised by the leaders, and more importantly, recognised by those who it touches.”
President Obama previously warned about the importance of maintaining funding for HIV/AIDS projects.
In a World AIDS Day message ,the outgoing President said: “We need to do more to reach those who are at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, and the United States is helping shape the world’s response to this crisis and working alongside the international community to end this epidemic by 2030.
“We have strengthened and expanded the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), with now more than $70 billion invested, to accelerate our progress and work to control this epidemic with comprehensive and data-focused efforts.
“With PEPFAR support for more than 11 million people on life-saving treatment and through contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria — including a new pledge of more than $4 billion through 2019 — there are now more than 18 million people getting HIV treatment and care.
“Because in sub-Saharan Africa young women and adolescent girls are over eight times more likely to get HIV/AIDS than young men, we launched a comprehensive prevention program to reduce HIV infections among this population in 10 sub-Saharan African countries.
“We have also helped prevent millions of new infections worldwide, including in more than 1.5 million babies of HIV-positive mothers who were born free of HIV.”
He warned: “Although we have come far in recent decades, our work is not yet done and the urgency to intervene in this epidemic is critical… accelerating the progress we have made will require sustained commitment and passion from every sector of society and across every level of government around the world.”
When it comes to controversial policies on HIV, Vice President Mike Pence has plenty of prior experience.
As Governor of Indiana, Pence stood in the way of expanding HIV services and preventative measures like needle exchanges – until he was forced to declare a public health emergency due to a sharp rise in transmissions.
Pence famously once suggested that HIV prevention funding be drained in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy.
On a 2000 Congressional campaign website, Pence wrote: “Congress should support the reauthorization of the [HIV funding] Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.”

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

Vimeo: Fundamentalist Christians are throwing a temper tantrum because a channel advocating ‘gay cure therapy’ was taken down on Vimeo.
Pure Passion Media, formerly known as Mastering Life Ministries, is a Christian channel. It is led by David Kyle Foster who describes himself as a ‘former homosexual’.
The site claims to cure people of being homosexual or transgender. And it calls being LGBTI ‘sexual sin and brokenness’.
The channel was full of videos showing the testimonies of self-proclaimed ex-gay or ex-transgender people who were ‘healed’ through Christ.
Now video streaming platform Vimeo has pulled the plug on Pure Passion as it promotes dangerous and discredited ‘gay cure therapy’.
All the world’s major professional medical organizations condemn ‘gay cure therapies’. They are ineffective and can kill.
Vimeo contacted Pure Passion for the first time in December last year, according to World Net Daily.
They informed Foster a moderator had flagged up some of the channel’s videos, and reminded him that ‘Vimeo does not allow videos that harass, incite hatred or depict excessive violence’.
He was told to remove all videos not complying with this rule, before his account would be reviewed 48 hours later.
Foster didn’t comply, but instead denied everything.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: Stansted Airport was forced to briefly close its runway earlier this week after a number of protesters from Lesbians and Gays Support Migrants surrounded a parked plane.

Activists said they were attempting to keep a “deportation flight,” which are used to remove failed asylum seekers, grounded at the Essex airport.

Following the incident, one of the protesters – Charlie Smoke – shared his story with Attitude.

It’s been 50 years since male homosexuality was decriminalised in the United Kingdom, but the British government still deems itself as fit to decide who is considered legal and illegal in our society; which LGBT people are granted the right to live, and those not afforded that privilege.

Instead of raiding LGBT+ venues and harassing queer people on the streets, the May administration is now engaged in the mass deportation of migrants, many of whom are LGBT and in the UK seeking refuge or asylum. Officers might no longer be busting through the doors of underground bars, but instead they enter homes and communities, snatching people from their beds in the dead of night before forcing them into handcuffs. Before long they’re throw into detention – the United Kingdom is the only country in Europe where this incarceration without trial has no time limit – before being thrown onto planes with no outside eyes to witness this brutal treatment.

On March 29, asylum rights activists from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants joined End Deportations and others to blockade a non-commercial runway at Stansted airport to stop a mass deportation charter flight to Nigeria and Ghana. While the May administration loves to present itself with a friendly, pink and fluffy façade, espousing proud statements about gay rights, their attitude to LGBT+ people has changed very little since the law was changed half a century ago. Last year an LGBT+ person who was deported on a charter flight to Ghana feared for his life because of what could happen upon his return. He was never heard from again, not even by his partner or friends. One of the people who was supposed to be on the flight last night is a lesbian woman who fled her abusive husband and arrived in the UK back in 1999. Now she’s being torn away from her wife and family after 18 years in this country, callously forced back to a country where she has no life, no money, and will undoubtedly face persecution.

This is just one example of countless number of desperate people who’ve fled to the United Kingdom to seek refuge in a LGBT+ friendly country. The current government claims to believe in human rights, but asylum seekers then find themselves faced with accusations of lying about their LGBT+ identity, get harassed by the state and are summarily deported. It’s an injustice that simply cannot go unchallenged, and this why LGSMigrants took action to stop the latest flight. Smoke argues that solidarity is required in communities targeted and attacked by the May administration. The treatment of asylum seekers and refugees discloses what it means to be considered ‘non-citizens’ by the current government and demonised by the media, and British LGBT citizens must stand up to the treatment that LGBT+ asylum seekers face today, not standing by and allowing members of their community to be torn away and sentenced to death. He concludes by noting at this year’s Pride as we march through the streets of London we will remember the activists and campaigners who fought and paved the way for us to enjoy the freedom we have today.
But it is important too to remember the new atrocities that are occurring, out of sight and behind locked doors. British LGBT community members all have a responsibility to stand with them stop the deportation of LGBT+ people.

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

North Carolina: The transphobic HB2 bill is to be repealed in North Carolina, but regulations to replace it will retain crucial parts of its anti-trans discrimination, leading to outrage from LGBT+ campaigners.

The bill, which forces transgender people to use the bathroom which corresponds to their gender at birth, has been controversial from the outset, but the ‘compromise’ reached in its place by Republicans and the state’s Democratic governor has been lambasted for making no real difference to trans people.

Despite repealing HB2, the state of North Carolina will still retain regulation of bathrooms – this means that the cities and local governments across the state are barred from passing their own anti-discrimination laws for another three years until 2020.

Governor Roy Cooper said: “I support the House Bill 2 repeal compromise that will be introduced tomorrow – it’s not a perfect deal, but it repeals HB2 and begins to repair our reputation.”

LGBT+ rights campaigners have reacted with fury at the failure to remove the worst aspects of HB2 – Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro called the result a “fake repeal”.

Meanwhile Human Rights campaign president Chad Griffin posted angrily on Twitter: “This ‘deal’ does NOT repeal HB2. It’s simply another version of HB2 dressed up in a way desperate lawmakers hope will save the state’s economy.

“Any ally of the LGBTQ community cannot support this new version of HB2. There will be political consequences for those who do, Dem or Rep.”

Cooper has been keen to repeal the bill since he was elected, and the clock was ticking to remove the legislation after the NCAA, which regulates athletes and athletics programmes across colleges and universities, said they would cancel all of their planned events in the state until 2022 in protest.

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

London:
The Journal of Interpersonal Violence has published a new study which found that students perceiving their campus as more LGBT-friendly were less likely to be sexual assault victims.

Robert Coulter, an author of the study, told Reuters: “I believe this study provides proof of concept for how environment may influence sexual assault violence.”

The journal – published in March – states that sexual assaults can affect two to 15 percent of undergraduates in the U.S.

Those saying they had experienced sexual assault and felt LGBT+ people were welcomed on campus was 27% lower than those who said their campus was less inclusive.

In addition, those who reportedly had never seen anti-LGBT+ harassment were 32% less likely to have been sexually assaulted.

The authors discuss whether this could be down to societal change, or that LGBT+ people and allies may be more empowered against sexual assault.

A researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Coulter and other authors highlighted in the journal that some groups of people are more at risk of sexual assaults than others, for example transgender people.

5.2 percent of students who identified as LGBT+ said they had been sexually assaulted.

“There are great disparities of sexual assault victimisation for LGBT people and we need to find ways to reduce their greater risk,” Coulter added.

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

London: A government-backed report has condemned the UK standard of care for LGBT people with dementia as “a woeful failure”.
The government-backed study, which has been three years in the making, has said older LGBT people tend to be more isolated than their straight, cis counterparts.
A lack of research can be blamed on the widespread assumption that older people are not LGBT, the report indicates.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission told the study that “older LGB people have been overlooked in health and social care legislation, policy, research, guidance and practice, which assume service users are heterosexual.”
The study was conducted by The National LGB&T Partnership, Voluntary Organisations Disability Group and The National Care Forum.
They have concluded that the national debate about dementia care “seems to be bypassing a whole section of the LGBT community – those in later life.
“This is a woeful failure, particularly considering that the national health and social care agenda is meant to be driven by concepts of personalisation, collaboration, choice and control.
“Given these ideals, it is a gross oversight that people from LGBT communities with dementia are unlikely to be considered when care is being commissioned.”
The 1.2 million older lesbian and gay people in the UK are less likely to have children than straight older people, and therefore “may be estranged from their family and feel more isolated,” the report states.
“This isolation is compounded if you also have dementia. For example, people with dementia who are moving into a care home rely even more on family to help them prepare for the move, to come in and support them and ensure staff get to know them; someone from the LGBT community may not have that same network.”
It also quotes the Social Care Institute for Excellence as saying that “commissioners and providers don’t often think about LGBT people when planning and delivering services, but this does not mean that LGBT people are not using services or do not want to use services.”
Overlooking LGBT people in this way reflects long-standing ageist attitudes, the report says, specifically in the popular assumption that “older people are no longer sexual beings…sexuality and intimate relationships are topics that are often avoided or disregarded”.
Gill Boston, manager of the group which created the report, said: “The best social care takes people’s needs and meets these holistically.
“This must include a recognition of people’s sexuality or gender where it is appropriate to do so.”
Boston said a necessary solution was to build a workforce that is “trained and developed by people from LGBT communities themselves.”

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

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