Politics and Society: April 2017

April 1, 2017 in General

London: One of the UK’s leading gay health charities has launched a new fundraising appeal to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

The GMFA, launched as Gay Men Fighting Aids on 31 March 1992, was founded by a group of men who were unhappy with the scant resources available for people like themselves, and receives no statutory funding.

The appeal aims to raise £25,000 so the charity and its 150 volunteers can continue their vital work, including HIV prevention and information advertising campaigns, and courses covering sex education and life skills. The GMFA also distributes a free health magazine specifically for gay men, FS, across various gay venues and GU clinics, as well as online and in the form of an app.

The charity’s CEO, Ian Howley, said: “Over the last 25 years, GMFA has been at the forefront of innovated measures of HIV prevention, and provided frank and honest information about HIV, STI and safer sex. We’ve also supported gay men living with HIV and led with powerful HIV stigma campaigns.”

The charity says it reaches over 1.5 million people through its website, and its campaigns have a social reach of over 4 million.There were new challenges arising for gay men, Ian added, in addition to HIV and STIs, such as people not being able to deal with the effects of the drugs they use during chemsex, and an increase in self-esteem and self-worth issues, as well as the frequency of depression and suicide within the gay community.

He continued: “GMFA wants to stop HIV and HIV stigma, we want to make sure chemsex does not ruin lives, improve the mental health of gay men, and stop gay men from feeling like suicide is the best option for them.

“GMFA is the biggest gay men’s health charity this country knows – please don’t let the history of GMFA die. Let us survive, thrive and work together to create a better future for you, your partners, your friends and for any young boy sitting in his room wondering if he’s gay – make sure he grows up in a world where being gay is not a health inequality but grows up to be a happy and healthy gay man.”

GMFA was the best in the sector to help gay men take control of their own lives, he added, saying that they did this “as 5 men sitting in an office with the help of our volunteers and donors.”

The charity also recently launched How Risky Am I? – a new survey to help gay and bisexual men assess the level of risk they take when having sex.

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

London: Gay Times, CARE Fertility and Surrogacy UK have collaborated to address many misconceptions about fertility and surrogacy for gay men in the UK.

Let’s get straight down to it and answer the most common raised by gay men.

Is surrogacy available in the UK for gay men?
Yes. For years, so many happy families have already been created by CARE Fertility and Surrogacy UK.

Is going overseas easier than staying in the UK?
No. Legal and financial implications with changing legislation in many overseas countries along with added concerns over ethical practice and profiteering are issues that are occurring for UK gay men trying the international route. The comparison to the regulated, safe and non-commercial practice in the UK will be discussed in the ongoing campaign.

In the UK, is the surrogate more likely to keep the baby?
No. Stop listening to the horror stories and stay tuned to our information and shared experience on how successful the relationship is between gay intended parents and their surrogate.

Will we get the support and guidance we deserve as gay men trying to have a family?
Yes. Reputable, successful clinics employ experienced surrogacy coordinators that support and guide gay couples and your surrogate through this journey. Not to mention your surrogacy organisation that enables you to meet other gay male couples and the surrogacy community that have done this before. We have been doing this for years and it’s an absolute joy and we think we are good at it too.

What the costs for surrogacy in the UK?
In the UK, there are legal restrictions on commercial surrogacy therefore the total of fertility and reimbursing your surrogate for ‘reasonable’ expenses are nothing compared to the US fees of £100k or more.

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

Ottawa: A Conservative leadership hopeful in Canada has pledged to “never” attend a Pride event.
Brad Trost is one of the hopefuls vying to replace former Prime Minister Stephen Harper as leader of the Tory Party.
The politician, an ultra-conservative MP for Saskatoon, is one of 14 leadership candidates vying to lead the right-wing party, which is currently the official opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals. In fundraising emails this week ahead of the May election, Mr Trost wrote: “I have not marched in any ‘gay pride’ parade. Further, I will NOT march in any ‘gay pride’ parade as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, nor will I march in or FUND any ‘gay pride’ event of any kind as prime minister.”
The fundraising email apparently included pictures of multiple other Conservative candidates standing in the leadership election marching under rainbow banners at Pride events.
In a video, Mr Trost’s campaign manager Mike Patton added: “In case you haven’t noticed, Brad is not entirely comfortable with the whole gay thing… Brad is not a big fan of the gay lifestyle.
“What you do in private is your business, but what you literally do in the middle of the street needs to conform to some basic community standards.”
He continued to brand Pride events “inappropriate for public viewing”.
Meanwhile, the Trost campaign website claims that “families across Canada are under attack”, citing a string of LGBT policies.
It states: “Ontario’s legislature just passed Bill 28 replacing ‘mother’ and ‘father’, with ‘parent’ and ‘birth parent’ when registering births. Children can now have up to FOUR ‘parents’ registered.
“If passed, Bill 89 will redefine best interests of the child in Ontario family law to include ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as factors to be considered in custody cases. This will make it much easier to remove children of devout parents from their homes, especially if their parents reject theories of ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’.”
He adds: “As a father, I oppose this elitist assault on the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit. Government should respect and support parents, not undermine their rights. As Leader of the federal Conservative Party, I will push for measures to uphold the parental rights of ALL Canadians.”
Mr Trost argued unsuccessfully at the 2016 Conservative policy convention to retain the party’s definition of marriage as “the Union of one man and one woman”.

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

Winnipeg: A Canadian politician who said teachers should tell parents if their kids join gay-straight alliances has been criticised as “extremist”.
Jason Kenney, the newly elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, on Tuesday suggested that students who join gay-straight alliances should be outed to their parents.
He said: “I do… think that parents have a right to know what’s going on with their kids in the schools unless the parents are abusive. I don’t think it’s right to keep secrets from parents about challenges their kids are going through.”
“I trust teachers, principals and school counsellors to exercise their judgment about such matters, and that there should be a presumption that most parents are loving and caring, seeking only what is best for their children,” added Kenney in a Facebook post.
“The law should neither force schools to release information to parents, nor should it create an adversarial relationship between parents and their children.”
Many have come out against the suggestion, saying that LGBT+ students or allies could be outed to their parents before they have a chance to come out themselves.
David Eggen, the Alberta Education Minister branded the comments as “extremist”.
He said: “If the government is compelling people to out those students in a very compromised situation, then they are only serving to make the situation even worse.”
Adding: “Jason Kenney has shown, once you scratch the paint off a little bit, you find the extremist that he actually is.”
Eggen suggested that the law should be strengthened to prevent schools from speaking to parents about things like gay-straight alliances.
This came after Kenney said if he became the Alberta premier, he would not repeal the law which means schools cannot ban gay-straight alliances.
Kenney was also criticised by two out of Alberta’s four opposition parties.
“We feel that this stance by Mr. Kenney demonstrates his social conservative credentials and why he is not fit to lead Alberta,” Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said in a statement.
Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said: “It remains to be seen how far Mr. Kenney is willing to push this.
“The appearance is that he wants to interfere in what was a fairly clear statement of principle and practice for these GSAs.
“And we’re quite clear, I think — most of us in the progressive community [feel] that this is appropriate, the way it is written, and it must be followed the way it is written to protect and ensure safe and inclusive schools.”

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

South Sudan: South Sudan has agreed to look at the recruitment of child soldiers, stopping female genital mutilation and to bring an end to ongoing hostility.
However, in turn, they will refuse to end the death penalty and an end to the ban on gay sex citing the country’s ‘traditional culture’.
Amnesty International has told Gay Star News South Sudan is the ‘kind of place, given the lawlessness, where you could easily end up dead because of your actual or perceived sexuality’.
The United Nations Human Rights Council delivered a peer review by the rest of the world to the northeast African country, which gained its independence in 2011.
The Universal Review was delivered in November last year. South Sudan has now given their final position on the recommendations.
Justice Minister Paulino Wanawila claimed the UN Human Rights Council had asked them to legalize marriage equality. This is false. Instead, they were asked to decriminalize homosexuality.
Uruguay’s representative urged on South Sudan to repeal the part of the Penal Code that bans ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ – or gay sex – punishable by up to 10 years in prison. LGBTI people are also subject to local laws, which include the death penalty.
There has only been one LGBTI rights organization in South Sudan, which has since disbanded. Many of its members fled the country after being harassed, attacked or threatened with their lives.
Wanawila told Eye Radio: ‘Same-sex marriage is in conflict with our national laws and our cultures.’
In the response to the Universal Review, South Sudan said decriminalizing gay sex and ending the death penalty was ‘in conflict with national laws and policies’. And so, they would only consider the UN’s recommendations if their ‘traditional culture’ is respected.
Amnesty International South Sudan researcher Elizabeth Deng told GSN that, compared to the rest of Africa, society and government is ‘very hostile’ towards homosexuality.
‘No one can be openly homosexual in South Sudan’
‘No one can be openly homosexual in South Sudan,’ she said. ‘Given the lawlessness, it’s the kind of place where you could easily end up dead because your actual or perceived sexuality.’
Deng suspects it is likely the government will not work on any of the United Nations recommendations.
‘It is not a government which takes human rights seriously,’ she said. ‘When you do not have the basic right to life for its citizens, I’m not expecting [the UN report] to have much impact on the government’s policies.’
She added: ‘Adultery is criminalized. The rate of sexual violence is astounding. I’m sure there are plenty of gay people in South Sudan who suffer in silence. Given what they know to be the cultural hostility, it would be a huge risk to their lives if they came out.’
In 2015, UNICEF helped to free 1,775 child soldiers in South Sudan. However, due to growing violence, there has been a recent surge in ‘new recruitment’.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Taipei: Students at a Taiwan university have staged a number of protests against gender equality classes over fears they will “promote” homosexuality.
Students who stood outside the Ministry of Education called for guidelines in the gender equality curriculum to be “revised” so as “sexual exploration and homosexuality” is discouraged.
Shih Chun-yu, a demonstrator with the Student Alliance for the Protection of Families, said: “We are not opposed to gender equality education, but we are opposed to education that amounts to the exploration of a variety of lusts and the encouragement of homosexual tendencies”.
Along with other protesters, Chun-yu called for the “gender-spectrum” module to be pulled from the module which spans over just four hours in one semester.
“Elementary-school students are still maturing and to tell them they can choose a gender identity different from their biological one just confuses them,” he said.
Hsieh Yu-chan, an executive director with the notoriously homophobic alliance, said that protests are being held across the country in Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung.
Some groups, including the Taiwan Youth Sexual Equality Association are counter-protesting.
Brian Sung is a student at the National Taipei University and is pushing to protect the current education on gender and hopefully improve it in the future.
Sung said: “We approve of these kinds of curriculum materials and we hope that they can expanded to include more people on the gender spectrum.”
Hsieh Chang-yun is the director of the Ministry of Education Special Education.
Chang-yun said that the gender equality education module was established in 2004, and that they would take “into account the views of the public” if further revisions were to be implemented.

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

Cardiff: A Welsh police force is set to introduce gender-neutral uniforms.
The more than 1,000 strong force in Dyfed Powys, will all be subject to the uniform change.
The helmets, hats, ties and cravats will all be made the same for officers or all genders under the new rules. Part of the reason the force said it was changing its uniform policy was to be more inclusive of trans people and has implemented policies to encourage engagement with the trans community.Efforts have been made to make facilities and the force more trans friendly by creating gender-neutral custody cells and toilets, and to avoid using gendered terms like policeman and policewoman.
Assistant Chief Constable Liane James said: “As a force we have learnt that there may have been times when our practices and procedures have adversely impacted our Trans communities and their engagement with us.
“This isn’t right. We have been actively working with these communities to improve our service to them,” James told the Mirror.
The same hat and neckwear is being brought in, the force says, to “minimise gender differences”, adding that gendered uniforms may force people to out themselves when they might not want to.
LGBT rights charity Stonewall praised the decision by chiefs at the 1,195-strong force.
A spokesman told the Mirror: “We know that LGBT people, and trans people in particular, don’t always feel confident that the police will understand their needs.
“It’s crucial therefore that police forces work with LGBT communities in order to improve services and it’s great to see this continued commitment from Dyfed Powys to trans-inclusion as an employer and service provider for all.”
But the move has been criticised by David Davies, a Tory MP, who said the new policy is “ludicrous”.
Davies said: “It strikes me as ludicrous and just a way of trying to win brownie points by pandering to minority groups.
“The only major difference in uniforms now are the hats but I don’t think minority groups are going to be bothered anyway about the headgear worn by men and women officers.”
“It’s a huge amount of work involved for no great gain.”

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

Adelaide: Joel Falcon is the male project worker at the South Australian Sex Industry Network, and also a sex worker himself. South Australia is the only place in Australia where sex work is completely illegal.

He says because the industry is illegal, it’s not restricted by regulations like in most other states.

“Some workers think in a way it’s better than working in say Victoria, where you have to register with the government,” says Joel.

However, workers run the risk of being caught by the police.

“Brothels and street-based sex workers are generally the people most targeted,” says Joel.

Male workers, being mostly private escorts, are harder to monitor, so they tend to get left alone unless the police receive direct complaints from neighbours.

Joel noted: “Of course it can change at any time, but currently it’s almost unheard of for private workers to be targeted. If there were a gay brothel it’s hard to know if it would be targeted as well. Certainly the rhetoric about sex work is nearly always centred around women, so the cops perhaps wouldn’t even think of men as sex workers.”

Joel says last year’s shutdown of the US Rentboy website was the first action of its kind to directly target male sex workers and their advertising.

“They probably thought they were untouchable for that very reason, the way things are policed according to gender,” he says.

Joel agrees that there’s “huge amounts of whorephobia” in the gay community.

“If you go into any gay bar and out yourself as a sex worker, the first response would probably be: you’re a slut.The lack of support for the sex worker community and the sex worker rights movement is a real shame.” However, Joel hasn’t heard of many gay escorts having trouble with homophobic straight clients.

“My overwhelming experience is dudes who come to see me are really appreciative, and homophobia is kind of the last thing on their list,” he says. “More often than not they see it as a safe space for them to explore. I’ve heard from other workers about times where the client has even used it as like a counselling session, in relation to coming out or being a straight guy who has sex with men.”

What about LGB women sex workers? Sarah*, a queer cis woman, hired a female escort for her 21st birthday. At the time she was in an open relationship with a man, and had also been with women before.

She had recently started doing sex work herself, and looked into other escorts’ advertising to help establish her own business, when she decided to treat herself to some time with a working lady as a birthday indulgence.

“She said she had a few other female clients she saw regularly,” says Sarah. “They were all bisexual women in straight relationships, and most had their appointments bankrolled by their male partners.”

Sarah remembers the session very positively.

“It was pretty great,” she says. “We started with a massage then moved to the bed.”

How did it compare to other experiences she’d had with women?

“It was different in that it was so ‘me focused’. I was there for me, and she was there to provide me with a good time. I think it’s a super worthwhile thing for a woman to do for herself,” says Sarah. “Like a sexy spa day.”

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

United States: US Millennials are more likely to identify as LGBTQ and be accepting of LGBTQ people than older generations, yet overall lack of comfort with LGBTQ people remains substantial, according to a new GLAAD study.

The findings come in GLAAD’s third annual Accelerating Acceptance report, conducted for the organization by Harris Poll. Based on an online survey of 2,037 adults done in November, it was released Thursday.

It found 20 percent of Millennials — people age 18-34 — identify as LGBTQ, compared with 12 percent of Generation Xers (35-51), 7 percent of Baby Boomers (52-71), and 5 percent of Elders (72 and older). Millennials were more likely than others to use terms outside “gay/lesbian” or “man/woman” binaries, reporting they know people who identify as bisexual, queer, pansexual, or gender-fluid.

Among non-LGBTQ people, Millennials were the most likely to be allies. The study counted people as allies if they reported being very or somewhat comfortable with LGBTQ people in all situations. The figure was 63 percent for Millennials, 53 of Gen Xers, 51 percent of Baby Boomers, and 39 percent of Elders.

But progress in acceptance of LGBT people has slowed, according to the report. About two-thirds of respondents said they are generally comfortable with LGBTQ people; the proportion who said they’re somewhat or very uncomfortable remained unchanged from the 2015 numbers. The “somewhat” and “very” uncomfortable proportion had declined about 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, likely due to widespread coverage of the fight for marriage equality leading up to the Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2015.

Thirty-four percent of respondents said they would be uncomfortable learning their child had a lesson on LGBTQ history in school, and 29 percent said they were uncomfortable seeing a same-sex couple holding hands. There was about the same level of discomfort with learning their doctor, their child’s teacher, or a family member was LGBTQ.

Still, there was much good news in the study, and acceptance among young people bodes well for the future, said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “As the [Trump] administration begins to fulfill its pledges to move the country backwards, many are concerned about progress made in recent years for the LGBTQ community,” she said in a press release. “However, this report shows a remarkable new era of understanding and acceptance among young people — an inspiring indication of the future. Though laws can be unwritten, hearts and minds in America have been changed for the better — and that is a reality less easily unraveled.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Salt Lake City: A leading Mormon speaker has called for the religion to become more accepting of diverse sexualities.
Speaking at a biannual Mormon conference in Salt Lake City, Jeffrey Holland spoke to an audience in person and online about the need to accept LGBT people into the religion.
Holland, who has been a long-standing member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that there was “room” in the faith to accept people who may have different “sexual attractions”, as long as they “love God” and “honour” his commandments.
He said: “When we disparage our uniqueness or try to conform to fictitious stereotypes — stereotypes driven by an insatiable consumer culture and idealised beyond any possible realisation by social media we lose the richness of tone and timbre that God intended when he created a world of diversity.
Dale Relund, a newer member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said that being intolerant would be repeating the past.
“We must not be guilty of persecuting anyone inside or outside the church,” Renlund said.
“Church history gives ample evidence of our members being treated with hatred and bigotry. How ironically sad it would be if we were to treat others as we have been treated.”
The Mormon church has a long history of persecuting the LGBT community with its strong belief that homosexuality is sinful.
Although Holland and Renlund’s remarks may signify a move towards increasing acceptance of diversity, the Mormon church is still “fighting” for its right to discriminate against transgender children.

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

Dublin: A new gender recognition bill has been submitted to the Irish Parliament on the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Under current Irish law, only people over the age of 18 are able to change their legal gender through a simple legal process. Gender recognition is available to teenagers from age 16, but only if they secure a court order.
But lawmakers today filed the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the Irish Parliament, which would open up the legal process to younger transgender people.
The Bill, proposed by Senator Warfield, and co-signed by Independent Senator David Norris and Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan, would lower the age for self-determination to 16, allowing transgender teens to change their gender without jumping through legal hurdles.
The law also opens a legal pathway for transgender children under the age of 16 to gain legal recognition as their true gender, though on a more restricted basis. The bill would also commit to reviewing the inclusion of non-binary persons in Ireland’s gender laws.
Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield said: “Sinn Féin are proud to mark International Transgender Day of Visibility with the announcement and launch of the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017.
“[We] wish to introduce a right of self-determination for persons who have reached the age of 16 years, ensuring access to a Gender Recognition Certificate for 16 and 17 year olds on the same terms as currently apply to persons who are 18 years or older.
“Through family consent and the Circuit Family Court, the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017 also seeks to open a legal pathway for those under the age of 16 to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
“The Bill recognises that while medical practitioners can play an important role in transitioning processes for transgender and gender-variant children and their families, legal gender recognition for persons under 16 years should not be conditional upon medical assent.
“The third element to our legislation is focussed on the status of non-binary persons in the two-year review of the operation of the Principal 2015 Act. It requires the Minister to specifically consider the possibility of providing a Gender Recognition Certificate to persons who do not identify as male/man or female/woman, in addition to the topics and questions that the Minister chooses to explore in the review.
“Sinn Féin have consistently been serious about legislating for the rights of the Trans community, and the LGBTQI+ more broadly. It is for that reason we have sought cross chamber support for this important Bill.
“Ireland can be a model republic, as a beacon of hope for Trans and LGBQI+ people everywhere. We must continue to strengthen our global standing as a leader for Trans rights and extend that recognition to young people. Let us recognise and celebrate the existence and visibility of Trans young people in law.”

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

London: Lesbian and bisexual teenage girls are the most likely to smoke, according to a new study.
The study found an overall higher percentage of lesbian, bisexual and gay adolescents smoke compared to heterosexual teens.
Lesbians and bisexual girls are more than twice as likely to smoke as straight girls of the same age.
However, gay teens have roughly the same odds of tobacco use as heterosexual boys.
Overall, 41% of lesbians and gay teens smoke (including e-cigarettes) compared to 30% of heterosexual teens.
39% of bisexual teens also smoke, as well as 32% of people who were unsure about their sexuality.
Lead study author Dr Hongying Dai from the University of Missouri said: ‘Gender does matter in tobacco use among sexual minority youth.’
Dai believes this study offers a unique insight into gender and sexuality differences in tobacco use.
The results highlight the need for tobacco control policies that specifically target youth who aren’t heterosexual, say researchers.
The study concludes: ‘These findings underscore the need to develop evidence-based tobacco control policies for sexual minority youth that consider the heterogeneity within the sexual minority population.’
This Free Life
A campaign launched last year hopes to target LGBTI youth to prevent rates of smoking.
Run by This Free Life, the Be Known For Your Flawless campaign features popular drag queens outlining the risks of smoking.
Manilla Luzon, Trixie Mattel, Shangela and Tammie tell teens: ‘Every cigarette is doing you damage.
‘I live free from tobacco,’ Luzon says in the video.
Director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller said: ‘We want LGBT young adults to know that there is no safe amount of smoking.
‘Even an occasional cigarette can have serious health implications and lead to addiction,’ he added.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Berlin: A huge majority of Germans support same-sex marriage, a new poll has revealed. The poll, conducted for German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag, revealed that 75% of Germans favour full legal equality for gay people in life partnerships. Only 20% of those surveyed opposed same-sex marriage, while 5% had no opinion on the matter. This is a higher level of support than it was in the UK the day before same-sex marriage became legal in 2014 – a poll carried out by the BBC found that 68% supported marriage equality, while 26% opposed it.

Germany has had civil partnerships for same-sex couples since 2001, however it remains one of the only countries in Western Europe where gays and lesbians cannot legally wed. In Germany, those in civil partnerships have gained many of the same benefits as married couples but they do not have full marriage rights, such as being able to adopt children together. The country is governed by a Grand Coalition comprised of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), Angela Merkel’s right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria. All parliamentary parties except the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union support marriage equality.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly dismissed calls to introduce equal marriage – in an interview with German YouTube star LeFloid, Merkel said: “For me, marriage is a man and a woman living together.”

However, Merkel’s biggest election rivals – the Social Democratic Party – are set to publish draft proposals to fight for marriage equality in the country. Thomas Oppermann is the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag.

According to The Local, Oppermann said: “I hope that the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union can finally change their spots. Marriage should not be based on gender identity, but rather should only be about whether the partners want to be bonded together permanently, and take responsibility for one another.”

A similar study by Germany’s Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency in January found that 83% of Germans supported legal equality for same-sex marriage, and last October research from Berlin’s Dalia Research company revealed that Germany has the largest LGBT+ population in Europe. Thirteen European countries currently recognise and perform same-sex marriages – Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Britain.

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

Canberra: Sex education is accessible for many young people in Australia.

Whether it’s via a condom and a banana in the classroom, an uncomfortable but necessary conversation between a parent and their child, or posted as a photo series on Tumblr, young people are generally taught about reproductive and heteronormative sex as part of their adolescence.

However, for queer youth this education is often neglected, if present at all. The sex lives of sexual and gender diverse teenagers in Australia are often left out of the classroom, making the exploration and affirmation of their queer identities especially difficult. The rise of initiatives like Minus18 and the Safe Schools program has made information more accessible to LGBTI youth, but there is still a long way to go to make it omnipresent. For a number of LGBTI advocates in Australia that are now adults, learning about things like consent, sexual fluidity, and online sex in high school would have helped them immensely as queer youth coming to terms with who they were.

SALLY RUGG LGBTI rights campaigner

In high school a teacher advised Rugg and her classmates to abstain from sex as part of their sex education. It was an all-girls Catholic private school and a religious educator was running the class. The lessons lasted for around one term and were heavily centred on biology, with a particular focus on sexually transmitted infections.

“We were told that condoms weren’t effective and not to trust them. It was like the joke in Mean Girls – the teacher was telling us not to have sex. It wasn’t until much later that I realised so much was missing.”

As someone who began identifying as gay after high school, Rugg believes she was probably always gay but didn’t have the education or tools to understand it. There was simply no visibility or presence of anything other than cisgender, heterosexual, and monogamous intercourse. But her first exposure to queerness was in a narrative arc on The O.C. that involved a queer woman.
It wasn’t until she started having regular sex and engaging in relationships that she realised sex was so much more than anatomical body parts and venereal diseases. Despite the wealth of things to know about queer sex, Rugg wishes high school had equipped her with the understanding of one concept in particular: consent.

“I remember being 13 at the public swimming pool with friends and there were three older boys there. At the time something happened I thought was fun but it was this wildly inappropriate sexual experience – I thought the guys must think I’m cool but I look back now and it was so fucked up, I was a child being taken advantage of. When I look back at it objectively it was assault but I still don’t feel like it was because I wasn’t equipped with the capacity to understand it at the time.”

Rugg believes all students should learn about queer sex and queer relationships, whether they’re queer or not.

“I’ll always find it really amusing when anti-LGBTI people say ‘we can’t teach kids about queer sexuality because it might make them gay’. It’s funny because all gay kids that have grown up learning about straight sexuality are still gay. Having that education is important, and it’s not just about sex. It should be about queer families, queer relationships, and it’s important for everyone in the class to know it’s okay to be gay.”

With a focus on consent, boundaries, and respect, Rugg also believes many schools need to move away from the Mean Girls, anatomical, STI-fearing form of education.

“Sex is fun and exciting and something really beautiful you do with another person, it’s joyful and romantic and it’s really lovely, rather than being this terrifying thing that gives you diseases,” she said.

MICAH SCOTT CEO of Minus18

One hour was devoted to teaching Scott and his classmates about sex in high school, spread across two classes in physical education. 60 entire minutes. In the time it takes to watch a film, Scott had already been ‘enlightened’ with all the information his school deemed necessary for him to learn as a teenager, and had moved on to his regular class activities.

And the only mention of gay sex during that hour was one throwaway line delivered by the teacher saying that sometimes, two men have sex.

“I completely tuned out, I felt that what was discussed was pretty basic. And I’d already known things from looking online and finding out that way, so the information relevant to me wasn’t covered in class. It was a lot worse as I got older and started to dive into topics like consent, sex online, navigating online sex, and engaging queer sex as a positive thing – those areas were definitely not on my radar as a high school student and it took a lot to discover those.”

A lot of the knowledge Scott acquired as an adolescent was sourced via the internet and through conversations with friends, something he admits was problematic in areas as the stuff he heard and read wasn’t verified, leading to a number of misconceptions. He wishes he’d learned about how to navigate sex online as a gay man.

“It’s such a core component to sex especially in 2017, and that was really new when I was in high school. So it was a lot of trial and error for my own education. From Minus18’s perspective through working with young people we find that a lot of information is learned online which is really cool, but then there’s a lot of misinformation out there as well.”

Scott added that he wants sex education to be less gendered, as his experience saw boys and girls into groups as a means to receive disparate information.

“Schools should come at it from a gender neutral perspective, because a lot of the lessons we’re taught around boundaries were taught to girls even though they applied to me as well. People were split into groups of gender and taught things based on their gender, even though the information was simple and for everyone.”

DANI WEBER Drag performer and presenter for PROJECT ROCKIT

Being bisexual didn’t seem like an option for Dani Weber when they were in high school, with the two sessions of sex education at their school focusing exclusively on penis-in-vagina sex.

And while the education wasn’t fear-mongering, it also wasn’t pleasure-focused and rendered queer sex invisible.

“I thought that when girls kissed girls it was only for a boy’s attention, I didn’t know what sex could look like with someone of the same sex. I literally didn’t think it was an option for me.”

When Weber left high school and started university in Melbourne, they were able to take part in the first radical sex and consent week, tagged as: ‘the sex ed you wished you’d had in high school’. The event was queer-focused, pleasure-focused, and consent-focused, and it was what helped Weber realise they were bisexual. As a non-binary drag performer they play an active role in queer communities, a source of invaluable sex education that was absent in school.

The fluidity and broadness of sex are things Weber wished they’d learned about in high school.

“Honestly I wished I learned that sex can be almost anything. Being non-binary and bisexual as an adult I realise that sex can mean many things but in high school it didn’t feel like that. It’s so important if you have a non-normative body, for instance if you’re trans or intersex, to not only have one model of sex. It’s so harmful. I wished I’d learned that opposite sex relationships can be fluid, experimental, and queer as well. Just because you’re with someone with certain body parts doesn’t mean you have to have heteronormative sex.”

Weber added that learning how to approach sex with someone of the same sex would’ve been helpful as well.

“As a bisexual person I had no idea how to approach same-sex people, I didn’t know how gender roles would play out or how to communicate effectively. You should get sex education around how to ask for what you want respectfully, and how to hear no and take it respectfully.”

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

London: UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is demanding “mandatory equality training” for bus drivers.
The left-wing politician unveiled a new Labour Party “bus strategy” on April Fools Day, though we are assured that the policy document is actually genuine.
The party leader says he wants to “require all bus drivers and staff at bus terminals to complete approved disability equality and awareness training”.
His other promises include “Wi-Fi enabled buses”, “concessionary fares for 16-19 year olds”, and a “commitment to low emissions vehicles”

Mr Corbyn said: “For too long the bus industry has put profit before passengers. Labour will change that.”
He added: “Labour will create the freedom for councils to run first class bus services which the public are proud of. The Tory legacy brought rising fares, plummeting passenger numbers and too many areas where pensioners have a bus pass but no bus. Labour wants to see local communities empowered to determine their own priorities and reverse the decline in bus services.”

The equality training pledge comes after a number of incidents on public transport. In September 2016, a gay couple were allegedly kicked off a London bus after a driver went on a racist and homophobic tirade. There have also been a string of racist incidents on buses. One bus driver who is definitely in need of some equality training is the guy currently touring the US on a bus preaching an anti-transgender message. That bus bears the message: “It’s Biology: Boys are boys…and always will be. Girls are girls…and always will be. You can’t change sex.”

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

Atlanta: TV evangelist Pat Robertson is upset about homosexuals again.
Robertson, 87, is the host of nationally-syndicated Christian Broadcasting Network show The 700 Club, which airs on Disney-ABC channel Freeform.
The TV preacher simply loves putting his overactive imagination to use talking about gay people – whether he’s complaining about how they are all going to be “thrusting” at him or getting upset with gays “getting drunk with the wine of fornication”.
In his latest non-sequitur about homosexuality this week, Mr Robertson revealed he spends a lot of time thinking about getting dominated by gay men. Taking to the airwaves, the long-serving media personality warned that gay people had “dominated” the media, and “infiltrated” academia.
He said: “When you get down to it, Chritians are still the majority in this country, but we have given the ground to a small minority… you figure, lesbians, one percent of the population; homosexuals, two percent of the population. That’s all. That’s statistically all.
“But they have dominated, dominated the media! They’ve dominated the cultural shift and they have infiltrated the major universities. It’s just unbelievable what’s being done.
“A tiny, tiny minority makes a huge difference. The majority… it’s time it wakes up.”
The host attracted fury following the Orlando Massacre last year when he called on evangelicals to “sit back” and let gay people and Muslims wipe eachother out.
He said:”The dilemma of the liberals, the so-called progressives, because they have two favoured groups. One, the Muslims. Number two, the homosexuals.”
“We’re looking at a favoured group by the left, the homosexuals, and that in Islam is punishable by death or imprisonment or some sanction, so what are the left going to do?”
Robertson concluded: “I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.”
The Christian Broadcast Network, which films The 700 Club, has initially insisted that Robertson was using the word “killing” in a “metaphorical” context despite his long history of anti-LGBT comments.
However, the CBN later mysteriously deleted its statement.
Robertson has previously claimed that gay people aren’t capable of feeling love unless they repent their homosexual sins.

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

Sacramento: An anti-LGBT conservative legal group is claiming that religious care homes in California will be forced to operate homosexual brothels for elderly pensioners if discrimination protections are put in place. The surreal claim comes from the so-called Pacific Justice Institute, which is lobbying against a California bill to protect LGBT care home residents. The Democrat-backed LGBT Care Home Residents Bill, would include explicit discrimination protections for elderly residents “on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status”.

The law, which extends existing anti-discrimination protections, is intended to protect vulnerable elderly people who identify as LGBT encountering institutional homophobia.
But the Pacific Justice Institute claims it would lead to the “nuns caring for the elderly and disabled” being forced to run “bordellos” from their Catholic care homes.
In a letter to the bill’s authors they claimed: “For religiously conservative facilities… this [brings] issues related to sexual intimacy and biology.
“SB219 prevents a facility from restricting a resident’s ‘right to sexual intimacy’ which includes receiving visitors.
“Conservative religious institutions typically hold the view that sexual relations are confined to a man and a woman who are married to each other.
“Is it the Author’s position that a Catholic facility should enable residents to have sexual relations with whomever they please? Such an arrangement would resemble a bordello more than a religious healthcare facility.”
The letter continues to claim that forcing care workers to respect the identity and chosen names of transgender people constitutes “compelled speech” that “violates freedom of speech”.
It insists that residents who identify as transgender “may have delusions that should not be imposed on caregivers”.
California has some of the most progressive LGBT legislation in the United States.
The Governor of California recently signed a law introducing education about HIV-preventing PrEP drugs into the standard routine for those undergoing HIV tests.
The law ensures high-risk HIV-negative individuals receive information about methods that reduce the risk of contracting HIV, including PrEP and PEP, during HIV post-test counselling.

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

Washington DC: Hepatitis C rates are shown to be abnormally high among baby boomers, reports CBS Philly. especially with those living in urban areas. In fact, it’s reported that one in 30 baby boomers are living with the virus, and in most of those cases, they transmitted it through intravenous drug use, tattooing, and blood transfusions.

In the state of New Jersey, hep C rates are extremely high even in suburban areas, says NJ.com. The rates have gotten so high that the city of Camden has opened Our Lady of Lourdes, a clinic specifically created to help those living with hep C. Most newly diagnosed hep C cases in New Jersey are heroin users under the age of 35, yet it’s this group who seems to lack accessible treatment. A complete 12-week treatment course can cost upwards of $84,000. Government funded facilities are hesitant to address treating individuals for fear of dwindling funds. So once again, lower income groups will suffer.

Gilead, the company who patented sofosbuvir (Solvaldi), the drug treatment for the virus, are now exploring new ways of cutting the cost of their drug for patients — this has only been taking place outside of the US in places like Egypt, India, Malaysia, and Thailand. In these locations, a fixed dose combination of ravidasvir and sofosbuvir cost as little as $300.

One can hope that the exploration of lower costing treatment for individuals with hep C can make its way to the US. Gilead has stated they are looking into generic drug markets setting the price at $2,000 per treatment course and offer patient assistance for people who aren’t insured. This could be a step forward. Although the cure is out there, many folks are still living with the virus and aren’t undergoing intensive treatments, and often times it’s because those treatments are inaccessible to the poor. It’s time to change that.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Grozny: Reports that authorities in Chechnya have been rounding up gay people have been verified by human rights groups.
Early reports emerged last week that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that more than 100 gay men had been detained in the last two weeks “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge.Several people were also reportedly feared dead following violent raids.
There was initially little verification of the claims from the remote region, which is largely closed off from the centre of Russia.
However the reports have now been separately confirmed by Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, both of which cite on-the-ground sources that appear to confirm gay men have been targeted for detention.
In its report, HRW confirmed: “The information published by Novaya Gazeta is consistent with the reports Human Rights Watch recently received from numerous trusted sources, including sources on the ground.
“The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred.”
Ekaterina L. Sokiryanskaya, Russia project coordinator for the International Crisis Group, told the New Tork Times: “I got numerous, numerous signals… it came from too many sources not to be true.”
“Even delivering the information is very difficult… they are just small islands, isolated.”
According to HRW, LGBT Network in Russia opened a special hotline to provide emergency support to those who find themselves in immediate danger.
A spokesman for the Chechen government, Alvi Karimov, previously denied the reports while claiming that gay people haven’t been targeted because “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
They said: “If there were such people in the Chechen republic, law enforcement wouldn’t have a problem with them because their relatives would send them to a place of no return.”
A spokesperson for the Kremlin denied any knowledge of a purge but claimed the Russian government would “investigate” the reports.
In the UK, activists have written to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, calling for the British government to intervene in the crisis.
The letter, signed by Pride in London’s Michael Salter and Alison Camps said: “Pride in London is alarmed to learn that authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have launched a campaign to identify and execute members of the LGBT+ community within the quasi-independent state, formally under Russian control.
“Pride in London would urge the UK Government to take meaningful steps to assist the LGBT+ community in Chechnya and to offer protection and support to what amounts to state sponsored genocide.
“The statements issued by the authorities in Chechnya, that LGBT+ citizens do not exist in the state, are a chilling indictment to the goals of an extermination agenda rather than that of fact.”
The Foreign Office responded to the pressure, telling BuzzFeed: “We are very concerned by reports of mass arrests of individuals in Chechnya due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation. We condemn any and all persecution.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we have voiced our serious concern over these developments with Russian authorities at all levels.”

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

Chicago: The decision to let a trans girl using the girls’ locker room at her school in Chicago has ignited a federal lawsuit and a district-wide battle over access.
Parents for Privacy, a Christian Right front group “representing” more than 50 families of secondary school children, is suing High School District 211 in federal court over the move.
The district board agreed to let a trans girl – known only as Student A – use the locker room of her choosing after pressure from federal officials.
But the move started a backlash that has resulted in the lawsuit and today’s board election, in which three candidates from Parents for Privacy are running in order to roll back trans rights. The activists have been supported financially by Richard Uihlein, a business and long-time Republican donor who has given millions to conservative causes and candidates including Ted Cruz.
Anna Klimkowicz, who has been a board member since 1997, told the Chicago Times that the district’s policy has worked seamlessly, with no violations or bullying that she had heard of.
“It has to be reviewed, but right now restricted access is working,” she said.
The district changed its rules to accommodate Student A after the department of education under Obama ruled that it was discriminating because of her sex.
This was the first time federal officials had come to this conclusion against a school district, and led to the board providing access after the government threatened to withhold millions in funding.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has supported Student A in her legal battle against the Parents for Privacy.
It said that if three of the parents who support that lawsuit win seats on the school board in today’s election, they will probably have enough votes to change the district’s policy.
As for Student A herself, the girl at the forefront of the controversy said trans access to toilets and locker rooms was utterly unimportant to other pupils.
“Honestly, (students) are sick of this issue. They think it’s quite ridiculous.”
However, the student, who is graduating in June, worried that, depending on the outcome of today’s board election, “other students could have to go through what I went through (before the agreement) or even worse.”

And she’s not the only one who will be affected by today’s election.
Two other students have intervened in the federal lawsuit to try to stop any rollback of the access provided to Student A.
Another student at a different school is also fighting for access to the girls’ locker room, which has thus far been denied to her.
Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for ACLU Illinois, said while the organisation doesn’t get involved in district board elections, it is “very much concerned” with the situation in the district.
“If these policies get reversed, I can tell you who is going to be harmed: Our clients.”
Fights over trans youth’s access to locker rooms and toilets are going on all over the country, exacerbated by Trump’s decision to reverse Obama’s transgender bathroom protections.
Since Trump’s election, battles have been fought in Missouri and Ohio, while in Oregon, a death threat was scrawled on the wall of a gender-neutral bathroom.
In Wisconsin, teenager Ash Whitaker is set to take on his school district in a federal appeals court.
He alleged he was discriminated against by the district’s bathroom policy, which he said required trans students to use the wrong bathroom and to identify themselves with green bracelets.

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

Cardiff: Men who have sex with men in Wales will be offered the HPV vaccine under a new program.
The vaccine was previously only offered to girls, and to some men who have sex with men who attend sexual health clinics.
But from April 1, the vaccination programme was rolled out across the country.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended the programme be rolled out as men who have sex with men can be at higher risk of HPV infection.
Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans said: “A HPV vaccine programme for adolescent girls has been in place since 2008.
“Vaccinating the majority of girls in the UK means that their future male partners get some protection too. However boys who become men who have sex with men will get far less of this protection.
“I am pleased that a new targeted HPV vaccination programme for gay men up to the age of 45 has been introduced across Wales.
“Gay men attending clinics for sexual health services will now be offered the vaccine.”
But some say the new programme doesn’t go far enough to tackle complications sometimes faced by those who contract various forms of the virus, which can lead to cancer.
Gay men were given HPV vaccines for the first time in the UK under a pilot scheme, the government confirmed back in 2016.
A vaccination programme began in 2008 among school-age girls in the UK to tackle the human papilloma virus, which spreads through genital or oral contact and can cause a number of cancers.
Only girls were vaccinated on the grounds that men who only have sex with women would logically also be protected from transmission through ‘herd immunity’.
However, an obvious flaw in the ‘herd immunity’ plan left gay men vulnerable. As they have sex with eachother and not women, they are effectively left without any protection when HPV spreads through the gay community.
The British government last summer confirmed that a pilot scheme is offering the vaccine to men who have sex with men.
Mike Freer MP had asked the government to confirm “on what date HPV vaccinations were made available to men who have sex with men; and how many such men have received that vaccination since that date.”
Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health, confirmed: “A pilot programme offering human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to men who have sex with men up to the age of 45 who attend participating HIV and [GUM clinics] clinics started on 6 June 2016.
“Information on the number of HPV vaccinations administered during the pilot is being collected and, as such, is not yet available.
“It is anticipated that initial validated data covering the period up to the end of September will be available in late November.”
In a statement to PinkNews, Mr Freer said: “This has been a very long campaign, and although there is still much to do to improve access to the HPV vaccination, the launch of the pilot for MSM is a step in the right direction.
“I am looking forward to working with Nicola on a number of campaigns and will be meeting with her in the near future with fellow MPs, to discuss these issues in person.”
The trial comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation warned that gay men were being left vulnerable.
The JCVI advised that the three dose vaccine should be offered to gay and bisexual men who are at high risk of contracting the virus, provided that the service can be delivered at a cost effective price.

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

Lubbock, Texas: Arguments are being heard on both sides of an argument around a law which would allow anti-LGBT discrimination in Mississippi.
The law, which was halted last July before it could take effect by a federal district judge, would allow merchants and government employees to discriminate if they have religious objections to same-sex marriage.
Both sides have expressed confidence after arguments were heard at the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday in Lubbock, Texas.An attorney for some of the plaintiffs who sued the state, Robert Kaplan, says the law is unconstitutional as it allows specific religious belief to trump civil rights.
Alliance Defending Freedom is defending the state. The Arizona-based legal group’s Kevin Theriot has said the law protects those with genuinely held religious beliefs.
The state’s Republican governor wants federal courts to uphold the law.
Governor Phil Bryant believes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, that a person’s gender is set at birth and that gay sex is an act against God – and he wants the state to agree with him.
The Mississippi native has asked a federal appeals court to introduce the “religious objections” law, despite the fact it was previously blocked by U.S District Judge Carlton Reeves.
Reeves ruled that the law “unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
Mississippi’s Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood later refused to appeal Reeves’ ruling, but that won’t stop Bryant.
The appeal is now being dealt with by private attorneys – including some working for Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based Christian legal group that helped write the measure.
The law would have protected business who claim to have “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” in objection to same-sex marriage.
Bryant signed the new law in April last year – ignoring pleas from business leaders in the state.
After signing the bill, Bryant won praise from conservative Christian groups and received a religious freedom award from the Family Research Council.
However, he also faced an immense amount of backlash nationally as well as hundreds of protesters who went to his mansion to demand the repeal of the anti-LGBT law.
In June, Governor Bryant said he’d rather be executed through crucifixion than repeal the anti-LGBT legislation.

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

Launceston: Australian Government Senator Eric Abetz has claimed that gay people can be “cured”, in a debate on equal marriage.
Senator Abetz, the former Leader of the Government in the Senate and a member of Malcolm Turnbull’s right-wing coalition, made the extraordinary claim while appearing on Sky News to discuss same-sex marriage.
He insisted: “The reality is, and evidence has been given to the Senate Committees, where people who have been in gay relationships have then gone into heterosexual relationships and I believe that can happen, courtesy of the evidence.
Asked by the stunned host if gay people should ‘try’ to be straight, he said: “Look, it is up to the individual as to what they want to be and how they want to express themselves. That is up to them in a free society.”

He insisted: “I think we all know people that have been in a straight relationship that have gone into a gay relationship, and people doing the opposite.
“The fact that both occur within our society is established fact and why we can’t report on the two-way traffic is something that has bemused me somewhat and I think it’s indicative of certain bias in the media that they only want one side of the equation spoken about.”
Mr Abetz also lashed out at business leaders for pressing the government to make progress on equal marriage.

He said: “Along with free speech comes the right to be critical of CEOs running politically correct campaigns, in effect with shareholders’ money, in circumstances which it means the cost of their product must be that much more expensive to the consumer of Australia because these campaigns don’t come for free.
“Ultimately the Australian consumer pays in circumstances where, as you would know and your viewers would know, I personally believe that any change to the definition of marriage would not be for the benefit of the children of our nation.”
He added: “People will feel uncomfortable either way with campaigns of this nature… I think there has to be some sensitivity.
“I would have thought let’s say the CEO of Qantas or the CEO of a commercial bank might actually be focused on providing the best possible outcome for their consumers rather than engaging in political campaigns, which clearly do divide the community.”
Abetz has previously claimed that people who are ‘cured’ of homosexuality should be celebrated in public.
The politician also previously suggested that even if the public votes for equal marriage in a referendum or plebiscite, he would try to block it in Parliament.
He added: “There will be people in the parliament who could not support the outcome of a plebiscite whichever way it went.”
His brother Peter Abetz is also a politician, and has compared same-sex parenting to stealing children from Aborigines.

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

Montreal: The Canadian province of Quebec has pledged $550,500 in funding for projects to tackle anti-LGBT+ discrimination.
The funding, which will be shared by thirty groups across the province, was announced by Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée on Monday.
It aims to support LGBT+ communities in bolstering their rights, as well as research and public awareness campaigns. A press conference was held at which Vallée said 88 percent of the initiatives to tackle homophobia between 2011 and 2016 had already been implemented.
Media campaigns, said Vallée, had reached three-quarters of the people in Quebec.
“Again this year, numerous organisations responded to our call for project funding through our Fight Against Homophobia program,” Vallée said.
The province did something pretty amazing for its transgender teenagers back in 2016.
The bill which allows trans minors to legally change their gender, became law in the Canadian province back in June.
The Civil Code will be changed to include transgender kids and teenagers, and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms will also be changed to outlaw transphobic discrimination.
The bill against transphobia was tabled late in May.
Teenagers will not need to undergo gender reassignment surgery to change their birth certificates.
However if they are 14 or older and one of their parents or legal guardians objects to the change, it will go to a tribunal.
If they are 13 or under the request to legally change their gender must come from the parent or guardian.
Canadian MPs earlier this month voted to make changes to its national anthem to make it gender-inclusive.
The country’s Parliament is currently addressing a bill, tabled by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, which tweaks the country’s national anthem O Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who came to power in Canada last year – has put equality at the heart of his leadership: appointing a diverse, expert-led gender-balanced cabinet, speaking out against homophobia, and becoming the first Canadian PM to march at Pride.
He also made history by flying a rainbow flag from Parliament Hill, and announced a raft of new trans rights protections that will bolster anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of gender identity.

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

Panama: Same-sex marriage could be coming to Panama if LGBTI activists win a legal fight with the Supreme Court of Justice.
Álvaro José López Levy is hoping for the Central American country’s highest court to agree to change the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
Article 26 of the Family Code currently defines marriage as a ‘voluntary union between man and woman, who come together to make and share a life’.
He believes this is unconstitutional.
Panama has no recognition of same-sex couples. In 2008 it became the last Spanish-speaking country in Latin America to abolish historic anti-sodomy laws.
Levy’s petition hopes to declare parts of the sentences unconstitutional, the line ‘between man and woman’.
Transatlantic gay couple launched original petition for same-sex marriage in Panama
It’s the second petition filed over the course of six months.
Levy’s claim joins Enrique Raúl Jelenszky and John Winstaley, who filed for similar claims on 17 October last year.
Jelenszky, a Panamanian lawyer, and Winstanley, a British executive, had a civil union in May 2008 at the British Embassy in Panama.
Eight years later, when a British citizen could marry in the embassy of a different country, this became a marriage.
Panama’s Supreme Court has yet to reach a decision on the petition.
Gay couples may not receive equal rights even if they can get married
Juan Carlos Araúz, president of the National Bar Association, has warned same-sex couples might not receive the same benefits as straight couples even if they win the right to marry.
Araúz told newspaper La Estrella if an LGBTI person wants to insure their partner through the Social Security Fund, they might still be turned down even if same-sex marriage becomes legal.
If that’s the case, they would have to start a process so the institution can recognize their marriage, Araúz said.
Some lawyers have already voiced their opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage.
Lawyer claims no famous gay ‘creative’ ever wanted to get married
Gilberto Boutin, dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Panama, claimed marriage equality was a US concept – or an ‘import of gringolandia’.
He also claimed the Ancient Greeks, who he called the ‘parents of homosexuality’, did not allow same-sex marriage.
‘No monotheistic religion accepts homosexuality, neither Christianity, nor Buddhism nor Islam,’ he said.
‘One has to ask, if what is sought is a homosexual movement to replace a secular state with a homosexual state?’
Boutin also told Panamá Americá his opposition to same-sex marriage was based on how no famous gay man in history ever wished to get married.
‘The condition of being gay was to be happy with a hedonistic freedom’, he said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Uttar Pradesh: For the first time ever the Lucknow, the capital city of Indian state, Uttar Pradesh (UP) will host its first Pride Walk.
LGBTI organisations Awadh Pride Team and Humsafar Trust are organising the Pride Walk.
UP is the home of the Taj Mahal in the country’s mid-north.
The Pride Walk on April 9 comes at a critical time for Uttar Pradesh’s LGBTI community. Vigilante groups known as ‘anti-Romeo squads’ have been targeting men
The men are either assaulted or taken to the police where they have to pay a bribe to get out of an arrest.
Last week an uncle and nephew were picked up by a squad on the suspicion they were a gay couple according to the Indian Times.
They each had to pay a 5000 rupee bribe (USD77) to secure their release.
The formation of the anti-Romeo squads was an election promise from the now ruling Hindu nationalist party the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in UP.
Yogi Adityanath’s government had said the squad’s purpose was to protect young women in public from ‘eve-teasers’ (men who sexually harass women in the street).
But the squads have turned into vigilante groups – made up of the general public and police officers. They are now targeting suspected LGBTI people and young couples in public.
Pride Walk could not come sooner
Organisers of the Lucknow Pride Walk said it would be a good opportunity to educate the public about LGBTI issues.
‘Beginning next week, we will reach out to schools to spread awareness about the community,’ Humsafar Trust’s Tinesh Chopade told the Times of India.
‘Our basic motive is to get the Supreme Court’s 2014 order implemented. The order calls for 13% reservation to the community among other rights.’
The Awadh Pride Team also hosted the Awadh Queer Film Festival featured movies about India’s LGBTI community.
‘The conservative society has a very narrow view about our community, which makes life difficult for people like us,’ said film festival organizer Yadavendra.
Social activist Sadaf Jafar said: ‘The solution lies in education and from there on we can get together as a civil society to demand basic education for children from the community.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Beijing: Asian businesses fall dramatically behind other countries when it comes to offering LGBTI employees an equal and inclusive environment.
Consultancy company Mercer’s LGBT Benefits around the World Survey was just released. It revealed companies in North America are nearly twice as likely to equal benefits to LGBTI and heterosexual employees than their Asian counterparts.
The survey interviewed businesses in more than 50 countries. Asia rated lowest of the seven regions included in the survey. Only 49% of Asian companies giving its LGBT employees the same level of benefits.
Singapore had the worst with results, with only 15% of companies giving equal benefits.
‘Organizations have started to understand the power they have to influence the markets to protect LGBT employees providing equal and inclusive benefits,’ Diego Ramirez, principal in Mercer’s Global Health business told Human Resources Online.
‘In a climate where key talent is scarce and public scrutiny of corporate behavior is increasing, organizations cannot afford to overlook their global LGBT policy and how it is articulated on the ground consistently across the borders.’
The survey also revealed the different reasons organizations do not offer equal benefits to LGBTI workers.
Half of the businesses said they are restricted by national laws. About one-third said they don’t offer benefits because of cultural or societal preconceptions. Some said their company was unable to implement such a benefit plan.
‘With all the uncertainty of the past year and the spotlight on human rights issues, it is more important than ever for organizations to reassess their position on LGBT-rights issues,’ said Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s Career business.
‘In the global war for top talent, companies perceived as non-discriminatory and progressive enhance their attractiveness as a workplace by creating a welcoming, supportive, and productive environment.’
Anti-discrimination policies
The survey also found many companies have adopted policies protecting LGBTI people from workplace discrimination or harassment.
42% of companies in Singapore have a non-discrimination policy that protects LGBT employees. In Hong Kong 54% of companies have a similar policy as do 58% of Malaysian businesses.
‘In Asia, diversity & inclusion, including LGBT employees, is becoming an increasingly popular topic amongst organisations,’ said Godelieve Van Dooren, regional benefits Leader at Mercer.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Chicago: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, based in Chicago, has become the first federal appellate court to rule that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The decision came today in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College. Kimberly Hively (pictured) was a math instructor at the college, located in South Bend, who said she was repeatedly denied promotions and ultimately fired after it became known she was a lesbian. She had been seen kissing her girlfriend in the parking lot at the school.

Lambda Legal, representing Hively, argued that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, which is prohibited by Title VII. It argued that the expectation that people will be heterosexual is a gender stereotype, so discrimination against nonheterosexuals is sex discrimination. Today, a majority of the 11 judges on the Seventh Circuit agreed, reversing a decision that came last year from a three-judge panel of the circuit.

“Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype (at least as understood in a place such as modern America, which views heterosexuality as the norm and other forms of sexuality as exceptional): she is not heterosexual,” Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the court majority in the 8-3 decision. “Our panel described the line between a gender nonconformity claim and one based on sexual orientation as gossamer-thin; we conclude that it does not exist at all. Hively’s claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing. The employers in those cases were policing the boundaries of what jobs or behaviors they found acceptable for a woman (or in some cases, for a man).”

Several federal trial courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have interpreted Title VII in this manner, but the Seventh Circuit, as a federal appeals court, is the highest court to make that finding and sets precedent for the three states it covers, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. It remanded Hively’s case to the trial court, which had dismissed her case, for rehearing, but it is likely that at some point the issue of whether Title VII covers sexual orientation discrimination will come before the U.S. Supreme Court. Some courts and the EEOC have held that Title VII applies to discrimination based on gender identity as well.

Hively, represented by Lambda Legal, filed her lawsuit in August 2014. The trial court dismissed her case on the basis that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination did not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now it will have to decide the case on the basis of whether such discrimination actually took place.

“Love won again today,” said Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven in a press release. “Kim Hively loved her job teaching math at Ivy Tech Community College, but she was fired because she is a lesbian. Today the Seventh Circuit said clearly: That’s wrong. Our movement is about love and pride. Pride in yourself and your work, and the freedom to love and to be treated equally. Even in these challenging times, Lambda Legal continues to win in court and make our country better.”

“I have been saying all this time that what happened to me wasn’t right and was illegal. Now I will have my day in court, thanks to this decision,” Hively said in the release. “No one should be fired for being lesbian, gay, or transgender like happened to me and it’s incredibly powerful to know that the law now protects me and other LGBT workers.”

Other LGBT groups praised the decision as well. “This decision opens the door to a new era for LGBTQ plaintiffs under federal sex discrimination law,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “With this historic decision, the Seventh Circuit is the first federal appellate court to acknowledge that discrimination because a person is gay, lesbian, or bisexual can only reasonably be understood as discrimination based on sex. The court deserves credit for rejecting the tortured rationales of older decisions and undertaking a principled analysis, based on the Supreme Court’s affirmation in Price Waterhouse and other cases, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be broadly construed to prohibit the full range of sex-based discrimination.”

One of the judges who dissented, Diane Sykes, was on Donald Trump’s long list of potential Supreme Court picks. She had previously ruled in favor of a college organization’s right to discriminate against LGBT people even if it receives public funds.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: A disproportionate number of queer youth, particular lesbians and bisexual girls, end up in jail or prison in the United States, according to a study released today by researchers at UCLA. Worse, those youth are considerably more likely to be raped during their time in custody.

“The findings support calls by policymakers and advocates for the need to pay attention to the unique needs of LGBT youth in state systems,” says Dr. Bianca D.M. Wilson, lead author on the report, released Tuesday by The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

The study worked on assumptions that 6 to 8 percent of youth and young adults in the general population qualify as sexual minorities, but found that almost 12 percent of youth in state-run and –contracted facilities fall under that same category. The report defines gender minorities as those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual as well as those who “report sexual or romantic attractions to those of the same-sex but do not identify as LGB.”

The report found striking differences in the breakdown of incarcerated boys and girls identified as queer. A survey conducted for the report determined 39.4 percent of girls in juvenile corrections facilities identify as LGB, with an additional 18.5 percent identifying as “mostly straight,” compared to just 3.2 percent of boys who identify as gay or bisexual, with an additional 3.9 percent who self-identify as “mostly straight.” Boys make up a much higher percentage of incarcerated youths. In total, the study found 6.5 percent of all youth in custody identify as LGB, and the number jumps to 11.8 percent when those who describe themselves as “mostly straight” get added to that group.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests nearly 12 of high school girls are lesbian, gay or bisexual compared to 4.5 percent of boys.

Researchers elected not to include trans and gender nonconforming youth in the study due to “major methodological challenges” but the report acknowledges an overlap in the experiences of gender minorities as well.

The study discovered most youth, regardless of sexual orientation, remain in custody less than 12 months, but the chances of spending more time than that are two three times higher for sexual minority youth than for heterosexual youth.

And while in custody, LGB youth are more likely to be sexually victimized. “Reports of sexual victimization by staff were lower for girls than boys and varied from 2.2 percent for straight girls to 15.1 percent for gay/bisexual boys. Youth-perpetrated sexual assaults and injury were the most commonly victimization experienced across all population subgroups. Sexual victimization by other youth using force varied from 1.9 percent for straight boys to 20.6 percent for gay/bisexual boys.”

Social attitudes condoning homophobia could contribute to the likelihood queer youth will be victimized in custody. “These differences may be best understood within correctional environments in which staff biases, disciplinary cultures, and highly gendered programming may endorse or condone homophobic targeting while repressing consensual sexual expression.” Reports of victimization by peers were especially high for gay and bisexual males in the study.

Among sexual minority girls in custody, the study found a greater percentage of Latina inmates, while a greater number of queer boys in custody were white. “The highly disproportionate representation of sexual minority girls, the majority of whom are girls of color, highlights the urgency for explanatory theories, as well as policy and practices, that move beyond uni-dimensional ‘LGBT vs. straight’ frameworks for analyzing juvenile justice disparities. Importantly, these findings mirror those found among adults incarcerated in jails and prisons, which shows that sexual minority women are disproportionately incarcerated, especially sexual minority women of color. The similar findings among girls and women may reflect similar experiences and structural biases across the lifespan leading to incarceration, or that juvenile detention represents an influential pathway to adult incarceration pathways, or both.”

Like all minority groups, law enforcement bias may contribute to overrepresentation, the report says. The study also shows being in a sexual minority can usurp being in an otherwise protected class. “The findings showing that sexual minority boys were far more likely to be white raises questions about the ways in which ‘queerness’ may become a signifier for deviance from social and masculinity norms for a group of youth who have otherwise been protected by white and male privilege,” the report reads.

The study also found that LGB youth remain at higher risk of “traumatic stress, depression, suicidal ideation and substance use” once in custody as well, and that prison staff may take less action to curb that. “Sexual minority youth may be particular targets for sexualized violence and administrative punishment while incarcerated,” the study reads. “Studies with juvenile justice practitioners document widespread misperceptions and negative attitudes toward sexual minority youth that produce and enable inequitable treatment, neglect of health and medical issues, excessive use of force, sexual and physical victimization, and unwillingness to offer protection. Further, scholars suggest that staff stereotypes of lesbian and bisexual girls as sexually predatory and aggressive may result in inequitable administrative sanctioning and further criminalization.”

Writers of the study conclude authorities must broaden their focus in correcting disproportionality of minority representation in jails and prisons. “Girls and sexual minority youth as independent social statuses comprise a relatively small proportion of all youth in custody, and yet sexual minority girls make up a substantial proportion of all girls in custody. This vast overrepresentation warrants future attention in public policy research. As the implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act continues to roll out, attention to the risks faced by LGB and other sexual minority youth in custody should receive particularly focused attention.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Indiana: Women who are given additional doses of a sex hormone are more likely to have a bisexual baby, new research has found.
The children whose mothers were exposed to progesterone during the decades-long study were more likely to define as non-heterosexual.
In fact, researchers at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana found that the 17 children whose mothers were given the hormone were nearly five times more likely to be attracted to their own gender.
In contrast, levels of attraction to the opposite gender were the same in the two groups.
Progesterone naturally occurs in men and women, and is often used to increase fertility, maintain foetus development and prevent miscarriages or premature births. The study, which started in 1959, tracked 34 Danish subjects – 17 men and 17 women – half of whose mothers were given the hormone and half who weren’t.
Researchers found that 21 percent of exposed people labelled themselves as something other than heterosexual, compared to zero of those who weren’t exposed.
In this vein, 29 percent of exposed people said they had been attracted to their own gender, whereas just six percent of the other group said the same.
The researchers said their results showed that attraction to men was more common in exposed participants, as “scores on attraction to females did not differ significantly by exposure.”
They reported that “regardless of sex, exposure appeared to be associated with higher rates of bisexuality”.
“The findings challenge the prevailing view of homosexual interest and behaviour as a simple reflection of feminisation/demasculinisation in males and masculinisation/defeminisation in females.”
They concluded that “prenatal progesterone has been an underappreciated factor in human psychosexual development”.
And since progesterone is a common treatment during pregnancy, the scientists urged that use of the hormone “warrants further investigation.”
The news comes after it was revealed that gay men could one day have babies together.
The prospect of babies being born with three parents is an even closer prospect, with a clinic approved last month to start treatment.

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

Washington DC: The US Senate will vote on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court against a multilayered backdrop of opposition. Opposition that, for many LGBTQ rights advocates, only increased after Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings. During these hearings, Gorsuch referred to Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case that recognized marriage equality, as “settled law.”

This acknowledgement should have come as a relief to many, particularly as the team of people with whom I work at the National Center for Lesbian Rights helped bring this case to the Supreme Court. However, it is cold comfort because after a slew of carefully worded answers, Gorsuch refused to affirm the legal reasoning underlying the court’s interpretation of constitutional protections for the LGBTQ community. Gorsuch has also endorsed the view that religious beliefs can justify discrimination, even when others are harmed. A vote to confirm Gorsuch would jeopardize the LGBTQ community’s hard-won achievement of basic freedom and constitutional rights.Gorsuch is deeply skeptical of the fundamental constitutional rights recognized by the Supreme Court that ensure fair and equal treatment for LGBTQ people. The fact that the cases striking down antisodomy laws (Lawrence v. Texas) and recognizing marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges) have already been decided should not make us complacent. Right now there is a concerted effort by anti-LGBTQ organizations and elected officials to nullify Obergefell by contending that while it may require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it does not require equal treatment of married same-sex couples. The Arkansas Supreme Court recently issued a decision based on that very argument, holding that Obergefell does not require equal treatment of married same-sex couples with respect to the issuance of birth certificates for their children. And a few weeks ago the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case in which state officials are arguing that Obergefell does not require equal employment benefits for same-sex spouses.

These are real, not hypothetical, concerns, and we have every reason to be gravely concerned that Judge Gorsuch would permit Obergefell and other decisions involving fundamental rights to be effectively nullified were he to be confirmed.

Gorsuch also espouses a breathtakingly broad view of religious liberty, one that allows virtually anyone who expresses a religious objection to opt out of laws with which they disagree. His ruling in the Hobby Lobby case (involving employee access to contraceptive coverage) before it reached the Supreme Court gave no consideration to the employees’ health care needs and instead endorsed a view of “complicity” that is sweeping and alarming. Under his reasoning, a religious objection to doing something that might even very indirectly facilitate conduct that violates the objector’s faith is enough to allow for an opt-out.

Religious refusals have long been a significant problem in the realm of reproductive health care, and we now see such refusals surfacing around nondiscrimination laws and the right to marry, which are core concerns for the LGBTQ community. Private businesses are fighting in court for the right to deny services to same-sex couples, states are introducing laws to allow sweeping religious opt-outs from nondiscrimination laws, and employers are citing Hobby Lobby to justify firing transgender employees. Elevating Gorsuch to the Supreme Court would be a serious setback to the equality of LGBTQ people for which we have all fought so hard.

What Justice Kennedy wrote so eloquently in Obergefell contrasts sharply with Judge Gorsuch’s exceedingly narrow views regarding our most cherished rights: “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.” We fear that with Judge Gorsuch on the bench, this continual exercise of securing freedom for all by applying the Constitution’s “central protections” will be halted and many, including LGBTQ people, would be left out in the cold.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Stonewall is calling for the recognition of non-binary people on British passports.
According to the proposal, released today as part of the LGBT charity’s “five-year plan” for trans inclusion, the government would include a new “X” gender category on passports.
The charity is also calling for the spousal veto to be eliminated and changing the Equality Act to protect people’s “gender identity,” eliminating the outdated terms “gender reassignment” and “transsexual”.
Trans people should also not have to provide medical evidence to legally change their gender, the charity has said.
The “X” category would also be on official government forms in the charity’s plan, which it said would help trans and non-binary people to avoid difficulties they have always suffered.“Not having legal recognition means non-binary people must constantly live as someone they are not,” the charity stated, adding that they are “not recognised or protected under law”.
Bex Stinson, head of trans inclusion at Stonewall, said: “Limiting passport gender markers to ‘male’ and ‘female’ often presents hurdles for trans people, and can lead to them choosing not to travel at all.
“If the way a person expresses their gender identity does not ‘match’ the gender in their passport, this can lead to distressing questions.
“This situation would be avoided if ‘X’ markers were available for UK passport holders.”
The document also explained how trans people can face “especially worrying” difficulties while travelling with children, “particularly if they had, or adopted, children when they were legally a different gender.
“The International Civil Aviation Organisation allows passports to be issued with an ‘X’ gender marker, but the UK does not issue these.”
Australia, New Zealand and Nepal already allow third-gender or gender X passports, while Canada allows foreign visitors to identify themselves as “other” on official forms.
Stonewall has also pledged to fight for “better representation of trans people, in both the media and gender equality campaigns, and for LGBT events to be fully trans-inclusive”.
The charity also aims to raise awareness of hate crimes against trans people, as well as ensuring that people know how to report them.
The launch of the five-year plan comes on the heels of HSBC’s announcement that trans and non-binary customers will now be able to choose from 10 new gender-neutral pronouns.
Stonewall recently secured a partnership with Manchester United, the most successful team in British football history, raising the charity’s profile and the prominence of LGBT issues.

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

Chicago: Candidates who pledged to remove trans students’ right to choose their bathroom have lost their local school board election.
Three anti-transgender parents running in Chicago’s High School District 211 were members of Parents for Privacy, which is taking the district board to a federal court over a trans girl being allowed to use the girls’ facilities.
The three members of the group, which allegedly “represents” more than 50 families, had promised to overturn the decision if they were elected to the board yesterday, but they were defeated.
Instead, unofficial results showed that two incumbents and a former member who support trans access were elected, the Associated Press has reported.
“I think the community is aware of the transgender issue, but is supportive of the solution that we came up with because it was the most fair for all students,” Anna Klimkowicz, one of the board members, told the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights. The district board agreed to let a trans girl – known only as Student A – use the locker room of her choosing after pressure from federal officials.
Klimkowicz, who has been a board member since 1997, told the Chicago Times that the district’s policy has functioned seamlessly, with no violations or bullying that she had heard of.
“It has to be reviewed, but right now restricted access is working,” she said.
The district changed its rules to accommodate Student A after the department of education under Obama ruled that it was discriminating because of her sex.
This was the first time federal officials had come to this conclusion against a school district, and led to the board providing access after the government threatened to withhold millions in funding.
As for the girl at the forefront of the controversy, known as Student A, she told the Chicago Times that the issue of trans access to toilets and locker rooms was being blown out of proportion.
“Honestly, (students) are sick of this issue. They think it’s quite ridiculous,” she said.Two other students who have intervened in the federal lawsuit to try to stop any rollback of the access provided to Student A will now also be able to keep using their bathroom of choice.
Another student at a different school is also fighting for access to the girls’ locker room, which has thus far been denied to her.
Parents for Privacy has been supported financially by Richard Uihlein, a business and long-time Republican donor who has given millions to conservative causes and candidates including Ted Cruz.
Fights over trans youth’s access to locker rooms and toilets are going on all over the country, exacerbated by Trump’s decision to reverse Obama’s transgender bathroom protections.
Since Trump’s election, battles have been fought in Missouri and Ohio, while in Oregon, a death threat was scrawled on the wall of a gender-neutral bathroom.
In Wisconsin, teenager Ash Whitaker is set to take on his school district in a federal appeals court.
He alleged he was discriminated against by the district’s bathroom policy, which he said required trans students to use the wrong bathroom and to identify themselves with green bracelets.

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

Pretoria: A body, burned beyond recognition, was discovered meters from an evangelical church in Kroonstad, South Africa yesterday (4 April).
Many believe a gay woman, Nonki Smous, was the victim.
She was just 28 years old.
The charred body was found in the Seeisoville section of the township of Maokeng. Smoke had been spotted by residents the night before.
MambaOnline reports how an identity document discovered on the body indicates it was Smous.
However, police have stated the only way to properly identify the burned body will be with a DNA test.
Local LGBTI rights activist Nthabiseng Mokanyane said her relative Smous was well known for being out about her sexuality in the community.
She said Smous was last seen by her family on Saturday when she left for a funeral.
The 28-year-old has since gone missing. Her family have not heard from her since Saturday.
‘It is not a homophobic area, we always said that it is lesbian and gay friendly, so we are shocked.’ said Mokanyane.
‘We don’t know what to say or do. We are broken. It is really sad.’
The murder came a few days after Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State, held a Pride parade at the weekend.
A OUT LGBT and Love Not Hate campaign study found 41% of LGBTI people in South Africa know someone who’s been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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

Osaka: A city in Japan has become the first in the country to recognise a same-sex couple as foster parents.

A gay couple, who are in their 40s and 30s, has now officially fostered a teenage boy in the city of Osaka, Japan.

The older of the two men – who asked for the family to remain anonymous – welcomed the decision, saying: “I am happy we became foster parents (and recognised) as a single household, not just as individuals.”

The foster child, who has been living with the couple since February, is “living a comfortable life”, he told Japan Times.

The couple registered their intent to foster a child two years ago and has since undergone a series of lectures, training, and scrutiny measures by local authorities.

Same-sex fostering is not banned in Japan but until now it simply didn’t happen.

Compared to other countries where it is more common to see LGBT+ couples fostering children, Japan lags behind because many LGBT+ applicants are turned away at the door.

The latest government figures show that there are 3,703 foster homes nationwide, with the vast majority of them being straight married couples and the remainder being single parents.

A few years ago, a female couple in the Kanto region of Japan were recognised as eligible to become foster parents — but only individually. They raised the one child together after each was individually granted custody.Megumi Fuji heads the charity Rainbow Foster Care, which supports allowing same-sex couples to become foster parents.

Speaking to Japan Times, Megumi Fuji said that many same-sex couples looking to foster have been rejected by public authorities.

They are told, “Children will never be fostered” by same-sex couples or “couples of friends are not accepted.”

“It is very small-minded to think that only couples of men and women can realise an ideal family,” Fuji adds, “Whether they have an aptitude for raising children is what’s important.”

The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare confirmed that there was “no precedent” for a same-sex couple being certified as foster parents.

Osaka, the third largest city in Japan, holds Pride annually, and the first openly lesbian politician, Kanako Otsuji, came out after being elected as an Osaka Assembly member.

Over the past few years, Japan has made significant steps towards LGBT equality.

The country has updated its national anti-bullying policy to protect LGBT+ students at schools and elected its first trans man to public office in March.

And from June this year, Sapporo, with a population of nearly two million people, is set to become the largest city in Japan to recognise same-sex marriage.

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

Canberra: Cross Pharmacy has worked with Australian PrEP activist Rodney Ellis to relaunch its direct service and substantially reduce the cost of PrEP accessed online.

Based overseas, the pharmacy supplies medication to patients in Australia and several other countries.

The relaunched service includes a coupon scheme, funded by sales of PrEP, that continues to provide PrEP free to those who need it most.
“I’m really pleased to be working again with Rodney Ellis to get PrEP into the hands of Australians,” said Noel Offer from Green Cross Pharmacy.

“I’ve never been interested in making money out of this, and the reputation of my business and the community service we provide is my driving force. My customers, and especially my PrEP customers, have always come first.”

Offer and Ellis were dismayed at a recent jump in prices and wanted to work together to build a solution that makes PrEP accessible to as many people as possible, at the lowest price possible. They have removed middleman Dynamix International to reduce costs to customers.

“There have been increased prices for a while and I became alarmed when people were saying they could no longer afford PrEP,” said Ellis.

“The bright side is that Green Cross Pharmacy are back and the prices are back down. I’ll continue working with Noel and Green Cross Pharmacy to see what other overheads we can reduce. Each dollar off the price puts it in another band of customers’ reach.”

Green Cross Pharmacy will continue to offer free PrEP coupons to people on low incomes. Every ten sales generates one free donated coupon.

“The coupon scheme is entirely self funded, not reliant on a government hand-out or the political will of the government of the day,” said Ellis.

“Ultimately this is the gay community providing for its own through the facilities of Green Cross Pharmacy. It will scale up automatically as more people buy PrEP.”

While some states of Australia are currently running trials that allow people to access PrEP free of charge, Ellis said other options are still necessary for people who can’t access these or may not be able to in the future.

“We’ve managed to get about a 30 per cent reduction in price while including those who would normally not be able to afford PrEP,” he said.

“Where there are trials it’s an important community back-up plan in case they are ever taken away.”

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

Hobart: Tasmanian gay rights activists have welcomed the state government’s tabling of legislation to erase the criminal records of men convicted for gay sex.

Tasmania’s laws criminalising gay sex were the last to be repealed in Australia, back in 1997.

“Sex between men should never have been a crime and I welcome the state government’s move to erase the stigma of criminality that still casts a shadow over the lives of many Tasmanians,” said Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome.
“Men convicted under our old laws will now be able to apply for jobs and volunteer positions without the stigma of a conviction on their record.”

Croome said he looks forward to Premier Will Hodgman’s apology to those who were convicted under the state’s former laws. In 2015 Hodgman was the first Australian political leader to commit to such an apology.

“An apology will help heal the deep wounds of the past and allow not only the LGBTI community but the whole of Tasmanian society to move on from one of the worst periods in our history,” said Croome. The decades-long campaign to repeal Tasmania’s anti-gay laws involved the largest acts of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history, as well as large anti-gay rallies. The campaign drew in Amnesty International, the United Nations and the High Court, setting new legal precedents for LGBTI rights worldwide.

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

Brussels: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that requiring sterilisation of individuals seeking a change in their legal gender recognition violates human rights.
Twenty two countries in Europe currently still require sterilisation to access gender identity recognition.
But Thursday’s rulings will require all to change their laws and policies regarding the forced sterilisation of trans people seeking to have their gender identity legally recognised.

Despite the positive element to the ruling the court stopped short of ruling that medical examinations and mental health diagnoses are in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, commented on the decision, saying: “Today the world moved in the right direction for for trans rights everywhere. Forcing unnecessary medical interventions to access basic human rights like legal recognition of a person’s gender is barbaric. As more countries review laws for gender identity recognition it is essential that they forgo outdated policies and follow legislation from places like Malta or Argentina which prioritise self-determination. The decision from the European Court raises the bar globally.”
Julia Ehrt, Executive Director of Transgender Europe, a human rights organisation that has been at the forefront of of fighting these laws, also commented on the ruling.
She said: “Today is a victory for trans people and human rights in Europe. This decision ends the dark chapter of state-induced sterilisation in Europe. The 22 states in which a sterilisation is still mandatory will have to swiftly end this practice. We are looking forward to supporting those and other countries in reforming their national legislation.”
This ruling results from three cases against France submitted in 2012 and 2013 which leveraged Article 8 of the European Convention of Human rights, the “Right to respect for private and family rights,” Article 3 of the Convention the “Prohibition of torture,” as well as Article 14, “Prohibition of discrimination.”
In 2015 the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, considered an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, submitted a written intervention to the court on this case, positing that states should have the right to address issues as they pertain to transgender individuals based on national contexts, and that the court should not consider the Yogyakarta Principles, a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, when considering the three cases.
Stern commented on the intervention of ADF International, and added: “Alliance Defending Freedom makes a mockery of the word freedom when they put religious dogma over the rights of individuals to be legally recognized. These cases are about every trans person’s right to self-determination and the freedom of every trans person to not be forcibly sterilised. This is without a doubt a fundamental right that must be upheld in every context.”
Since October 2016, France no longer force sterilisation on trans citizens to access gender identity recognition.
Sweden abandoned the requirement of sterilisation in 2013. The Swedish Government has recently announced that anyone who was forced to undergo sterilisation to access legal gender recognition between 1972-2013 is eligible for compensation from the state in the amount of 225,000 SEK ($25,000).
Maria Sjödin, Deputy Executive Director of OutRight and former Execuive Director of Swedens largest LGBTQ organizations RFSL, comments: “Money can never fully compensate the suffering of those that were forced to undergo sterilisation, but it is an admittance from the state that the requirement was a violation of people’s rights.”
Only four countries in Europe, Norway, Ireland, Malta, and Denmark currently have gender identity recognition policies that are based on the principle of self-determination without any medical requirements.

Earlier this year, LGBT activist in Ukraine were pleased to see revisions to the rules which allow trans people to legally change their gender.
The gender recognition process for trans people could get a lot simpler in Ukraine under proposed new rules.
Rights group the Human Rights Watch made a complaint to the Special Rapporteur on torture on abuses of the old system.
The new rules, which will build on or change Order 60 of the Ministry of Health in Ukraine still fall short of other countries, notes the Human Rights Watch, but are a welcome step forward for transgender people there.
Previously trans people were made to undergo psychiatric observation and sterilisation in order to get divorced and get access to gender reassignment surgery.
The steps were all necessary in order for trans people to legally change their gender on official documents.
Those who did not want to undergo the process were subjected to a life of uncertainty with ID which does not match up with their gender identity.
The new rules would do away with the sterilisation element to the process, and the psychiatric evaluations would no longer be fully necessary.
They would also not be made to appear before the State Evaluation Commission, but they would still be made to divorce, and undergo outpatient psychiatric evaluations.
Human rights groups like Human Rights Watch still urge countries like Ukraine to do away with the “archaic” system, and put into place something which recognises the needs of trans people.

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

Chechnya: International figures have urged the Russian government to intervene over reports that authorities in Chechnya are ‘purging’ the gay community.
Early reports emerged last week that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.
Russian newspapers and human rights groups report that more than 100 gay men have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge. Several people were also reportedly feared dead following violent raids.
In a chilling response, a Chechen government spokesperson denied that there are any gay people to detain, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”. The Kremlin denied any knowledge of a purge.
This week, foreign ministers from the US, UK and the European Union have all urged Russia to urgently intervene.
A statement from the US State Department said: “We are aware of troubling reports that local authorities in the Republic of Chechnya have arrested or detained more than 100 men, as well as reports that three of those detained were killed.
“We condemn violence against any individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis. We urge the Russian government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the alleged killings and mass arrests, and hold the perpetrators responsible. We were likewise deeply disturbed by local authorities statements that apparently condone and even incite violence against LGBTI persons.
“We are very concerned by the widespread discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons in Russia or any society. We call on the Russian government to protect all people from discrimination and violence, and allow the free exercise of the freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and religion or belief.”
President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani said: “Appalling reports of gay men murdered in Chechnya. Perpetrators must be prosecuted.”
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also spoke out.
A statement said: “We are very concerned by reports of mass arrests of individuals in Chechnya due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation. We condemn any and all persecution.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we have voiced our serious concern over these developments with Russian authorities at all levels.”
The international concerns come after Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group both cited on-the-ground sources that appear to confirm gay men have been targeted in raids.
In its report, HRW confirmed: “The information published by Novaya Gazeta is consistent with the reports Human Rights Watch recently received from numerous trusted sources, including sources on the ground.
“The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred.”
Ekaterina L. Sokiryanskaya, Russia project coordinator for the International Crisis Group, told the New Tork Times: “I got numerous, numerous signals… it came from too many sources not to be true.”
“Even delivering the information is very difficult… they are just small islands, isolated.”
According to HRW, LGBT Network in Russia opened a special hotline to provide emergency support to those who find themselves in immediate danger.

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

Puerto Rico: A federal lawsuit has been filed against Puerto Rico to push the country to allow transgender people to legally change their gender on birth certificates.
The lawsuit, filed by Lambda Legal, states that the country’s policy which doesn’t allow trans people to alter their birth certificates is in breach of another law.
The law the organisation says is it is in breach of is one which allows trans people to legally change their gender on driving licences.
Lambda Legal also states that Puerto Rico’s policy which doesn’t allow birth certificates to be changed is in breach of First Amendment rights to free speech.
The organisation filed the lawsuit on Thursday.
At the same time, a group of trans activists staged a protest against an anti-trans bill being heard in the Senate.
It would scrap the rights of trans people to use bathrooms and choose gendered uniforms which match their gender identity.
Last year the country erected the first LGBT monument to the victims of the massacre in Orlando.
Back in 2015, Puerto Rico’s Education Minister announced changes to a school uniform code that lets boys wear skirts.
A federal court back in 2016 smacked down a judge who tried to re-enforce a ban on same-sex marriage in spite of the Supreme Court ruling.
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and is not fully recognised as a US state.

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

Nebraska: LGBT+ Nebraskans could soon be protected against discrimination in the workplace.
Legislators in the state have begun debating a bill which would extend discrimination protections based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Despite Senators having adjourned on Thursday without reaching a vote on the bill, it is expected to be picked up in the future.
Speaker Jim Scheer will decide the fate of the vote when he brings the bill back to the floor.
The sponsors of the bill have argued that as well as being a civil rights issue, the bill has economic implications for the state.
They say that Nebraska needs to attract and maintain a young and diverse workforce.
But those opposed to it have said it threatens religious freedom.
They say that the bill would threaten the religious freedom of business owners opposed to hiring LGBT+ people.
Earlier this week, a federal appeals court in the US ruled that lesbian, gay and bisexual employees are protected against discrimination.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act already protects LGBT employees from being discriminated against.
As the ruling will not be appealed to the Supreme Court, it takes effect in three states.
A day after the 7th Circuit ruled, another federal judge ruled in favour of a lesbian couple who were discriminated against by a landlord.

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

Aceh: Two men suspected of being gay have been arrest in Indonesia.

Following news that gay men are being rounded up and killed in Chechnya, two men were arrested after their home was raided in Aceh this week.

Neighbours apparently noticed that the students had been “acting lovey dovey” for the past few months and decided to alert the authorities.

When police entered the home, reports claim they caught the men in the middle of having sex. They’ve also claimed that finding condoms in the home “proved” their homosexuality.

If they are convicted, they will face up to 100 lashes, or could face 100 months behind bars.It comes after the world was left stunned when reports claimed 100 men aged 16-50 have been detained by local authorities in Chechnya in recent weeks.

Three men are known to have been killed, and it was estimated that the real figure was even higher.

In a report yesterday (April 6), Human Rights Watch confirmed the shocking claims that have stunned the LGBT+ community around the world.

“The information published by Novaya Gazeta is consistent with the reports Human Rights Watch recently received from numerous trusted sources, including sources on the ground.

“The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred.”

Indonesia’s Aceh province was allowed to implement Sharia law in 2014. Public canings like the one in the photo above of a man accused of adultery have been staged ever since. Now two men accused of gay sex could become the first to face a lashing for that offense.

The Associated Press reports that neighbors identified the men, both in their early 20s, as a gay couple. And a disturbing video online allegedly shows the moment when a group bursts in on the two naked men in a room, blocking the door, as one man frantically calls for help on a cell phone. The men could face 100 lashes with a cane, because even though Indonesia does not criminalize homosexuality, Sharia law does.

Indonesia has been lurching toward religiosity. A story last year in The New York Times warned of an impending antigay crackdown that spreads outside of Aceh. There were reports of “Islamic vigilantes” who searched boarding houses for gays and lesbians.

The Williams Institute in March looked at the economic effects on Indonesia of its anti-LGBT culture and placed the potential loss anywhere from $900 million to $12 billion. A more precise estimate isn’t possible because of the lack of data about LGBT people in the country. But discrimination penetrates into health care, employment and in everyday safety.

Human Rights Watch has been warning of rising danger in Indonesia for years. Most recently, the groups sent a letter to French President Francois Hollande asking him to confront Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during a Southeast Asian tour in March. There’s no report that Hollande raised the issue.

“Since taking office, President Jokowi’s rhetorical support for human rights has yet to translate into meaningful policy initiatives to address the country’s serious rights problems,” they warned. The group specifically called out attacks on LGBT people. “Beginning in January 2016, high-ranking Indonesian officials made a series of vitriolic anti-LGBT pronouncements, giving rise to increased threats, intimidation, and violence against LGBT activists and individuals, primarily by Islamist militants. Jokowi has failed to adequately address the discriminatory statements and policies issued by senior government and military officials that have fueled abuses toward the country’s LGBT population.”

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

Dallas: A Texas bill that would fine men for masturbating has moved a step closer to becoming law.

House Bill 4260, known as the Man’s Right To Know Act, calls for a $100 fine for “emissions outside of a woman’s vagina” which will be “considered an act against an unborn child, and failing to preserve the sanctity of life”.

Men who seek an elective vasectomy or colonoscopy procedure, or wish to be prescribed Viagra, will also be required to undergo a “medically-unnecessary” digital rectal exam if the bill passes.

HB 4260 received it’s first reading in the state’s House of Representatives this week, and has now been referred to the Texas House State Affairs Committee. It’s proposed that it will become law on 1 September.

This whole thing might sound ridiculous, but that’s because it’s supposed to.

State representative Jessica Farrar, a Houston Democrat, introduced the satirical legislation last month in an attempt to make a statement about the Women’s Right To Know Act which previously passed into Texas law.

Under the controversial act, women who want abortions are forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, listen to the heartbeat, and be given a description of the fetus at least 24 hours before going through the procedure.arrar wrote in a statement: “Although HB 4260 is satirical, there is nothing funny about current health care restrictions for women and the very real legislation that is proposed every legislative session.

“Women are not laughing at state-imposed regulations and obstacles that interfere with their ability to legally access safe healthcare, and subject them to fake science and medically unnecessary procedures.

“Texans deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect when making healthcare decisions, regardless of their gender.”

While she knows that the proposed regulations won’t become law, Farrar hopes that it will ignite debate about women’s rights and encourage lawmakers to reconsider what’s actually important.

She told the Texas Tribune: “What I would like to see is this make people stop and think.

“Maybe my colleagues aren’t capable of that, but the people who voted for them, or the people that didn’t vote at all, I hope that it changes their mind and helps them to decide what their priorities are.”

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

London: A new UK study has found that overall suicide rates amongst men who are HIV positive are double that seen in the general population.

While AIDS defining illnesses account for the most deaths amongst people living with HIV (at 58%), the rate of suicide attributes to 2% of the toll.

The new study collected data across a 15-year period of almost 90,000 people diagnosed with HIV in England and Wales, and compared it against the general population.

It also highlighted that the elevated rate of suicide particularly took place in the first year after diagnosis.

“Our findings highlight the need for a reduction in the stigma surrounding HIV, improvements in psychosocial support and routine screening for depression and drug and alcohol misuse, particularly at the time of diagnosis,” said Sara Croxford of Public Health England.

Aside from increased levels of suicides, studies have found that people diagnosed with HIV also suffer higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

“It’s 2017, we have had effective treatment for HIV for over 20 years. By now, nobody should be dying as a result of HIV infection,” said Matthew Hodson, Executive Director of NAM aidsmap.The shocking data presented at the BHIVA conference demonstrates the importance of testing. Late diagnosis accounts for the majority of HIV related deaths. The data also forcefully shows that there is still much work to be done to challenge the stigma that surrounds an HIV diagnosis.

“It’s urgent that people know that with treatment someone can have a normal life expectancy. Both people living with HIV and those who are not living with the virus need to know that an undetectable viral load on treatment means that you will not pass the infection on to your sexual partners.

“More needs to be done to support people disclosing. The viral closet only creates an environment where misinformation and fear flourish. HIV stigma discourages people from accessing testing and honest conversations about what it means to be living with HIV now. HIV stigma is killing people. It must end.”

The 58% of people who died from AIDS defining illnesses were almost always individuals who were diagnosed very late, with having never attended HIV clinical care or taken treatment.

Other causes of death included cancers (8%), cardiovascular disease or stroke (8%), infections (8%), liver disease (5%), and substance misuse (3%).

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

London: The UK has joined the US in calling for an urgent investigation into reports that authorities in Chechnya are “purging” the gay community.
Reports emerged last week that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.
Russian newspapers and human rights groups reported more than 100 gay men being detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge.
At least three people are feared dead following the violent raids, which have been separately confirmed by the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, both of which cite on-the-ground sources that appear to confirm gay men have been targeted for detention. HRW called the developments “devastating”.
Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, reported detainees saying they were tortured and electrocuted in prison, while others described seeing prisoners beaten to death.
In a chilling response, a spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied that there were any gay people to detain, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
The Kremlin has denied any knowledge of a purge.
Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning.Reports have also suggested that at least three of these men have been killed.
“The statement by the regional government, implying that such treatment towards LGBT people is acceptable, is particularly abhorrent.”
The Foreign Office Minister, who has repeatedly spoken out against homophobia and so-called gay conversion therapies, said the government “condemns any and all persecution”.
The Baroness, who made an impassioned address at last year’s PinkNews Awards, added that the foreign office “calls on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.”
Turning her attention to Russia, she said Putin’s government must act or risk exacerbating the already worsening situation for LGBT people in the country.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we continue to voice our serious concern with Russian authorities at all levels.
“Russia’s international human rights obligations require them to protect citizens who may be at risk of persecution.
“We expect the Russian government to fulfil its obligations to this end, and to uphold the rule of law.”

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

Target: Target’s losses from an anti-LGBT boycott against the brand were apparently too insignificant to report to investors, despite the chain’s financial woes.
More than a million people joined an online ‘boycott’ of the superstore in 2016 led by the extreme anti-LGBT American Family Association after Target confirmed that transgender people would not be discriminated against by store policies.
Target had confirmed online that it “welcomes transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity”.
The action led to a string of homophobic and transphobic incidents in Target stores – included a woman who waved a Bible while warning customers “the devil will rape your children”, a man screaming about against homosexual “abominations”, and an incident that sparked an ‘active shooter’ lockdown.
But one thing the protests might not have impacted is the superstore’s bottom line.
Though its sales have been on the slide in recent years thanks to competition from Amazon and other shopping giants, insiders within the company have pretty much dismissed the potential impact of the boycott as a source of its financial woes. According to an insider piece in the Wall Street Journal, execs at the company continue to insist that “any lost sales from the boycott weren’t significant enough to require reporting to investors”, despite a decline in shoppers in some markets, particularly Southern states.
The article reports that consumer research indicates Target’s shoppers are largely liberal or moderate on social issues; and that many of those who supported the online boycott petition still shop there.
One initial boycotter, Mari Arnett, explained: “I tried not to go there, but it’s hard when you like the store. I just don’t care too much for Wal-Mart.”
The WSJ piece also reveals there was a sense of confusion at the top of the organisation over the boycott, which arose over standard LGBT policies in place at most major retailers. Target’s policies had been in place for a number of years.
Sources told the outlet that execs were “perplexed that they were pilloried for a policy common to retailers”. CEO Brian Cornell resisted pressure to change course despite the flood of negative publicity, though he reportedly “felt very stuck” and lamented the decision to publish details of the policy online.
The chain has since amended guidelines to ensure that “public pronouncements on hot-button issues” require the CEO’s consent.
The American Family Association claimed the report as a ‘victory’.
AFA President Tim Wildmon wrote: “Since the boycott started, Target’s stock has lost 35% of its value, and shuttered plans for major expansion projects.
“Together we are making an unprecedented financial impact on a corporation whose policy is to allow men to use women’s restrooms and dressing rooms.
“Target’s decision is unacceptable for families, and their dangerous and misguided policy continues to put women and children in harm’s way.”
He added: “It is urgent the Target boycott reach 1.5 million signers by the end of April. At that point, I will personally return to Minneapolis with an additional 500,000 names.
“I will then discuss how Target can invite 1.5 million AFA supporters back to their stores by having a common sense bathroom and dressing room policy that links use of these rooms to a person’s biological sex.”
Target continues to insist it wants to “make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed”, but acknowledges: “We know our guests have many different points of view on this topic and we respect that.”

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

London: LGBT charity London Friend has launched a new service supporting LGBT refugees.
The charity, which works to improve health and well-being for LGBT people, has today launched a new service alongside Say It Loud Club, a community group that supports LGBT people who have fled persecution in their home countries.
The project will provide social, emotional, and educational support, with regular workshops helping LGBT asylum seekers and refugees to become active citizens in the UK.The partnership, funded via the People’s Postcode Lottery, also includes sessions on rights and responsibilities as LGBT citizens, accessing health care and engaging in local communities.
Regular social groups will help build confidence and self-esteem, and “reduce the isolation many LGBT people can feel from having to leave friends and families behind”.
London Friend will also provide conversational English learning groups, “helping to build language skills and confidence”.
London Friend’s Chief Executive, Monty Moncrieff, said: “We know that LGBT asylum seekers and refugees can feel isolated, and that many feel uncomfortable disclosing their identity in mainstream services, having come from countries where it can be unsafe to do so.
“By supporting them to gain confidence and make connections with other LGBT people with similar experiences this will help them to feel more able to engage in their wider communities, and access support to improve their health and wellbeing.
“We’re delighted to build on our partnership with Say It Loud Club to deliver this project.”
Aloysius Ssali, Coordinator of Say It Loud Club, said: “I am extremely grateful that we will work together with London Friend in reaching out to LGBT refugees.
“London Friend is a place of inspiration to the men and women who have had to flee their countries of origin due to harassment and persecution because of their sexual orientation.
“Working with London friend will give LGBT refugees a unique opportunity to compare experiences and confront mutual challenges in a safe and comfortable environment which will lead to improved wellbeing.”
London Friend clarified: “We are not able to provide legal advice on immigration. We suggest contacting the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group for specialist immigration support.”

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

Minneapolis: Former congresswoman Michele Bachmann has claimed that Donald Trump’s election victory was a “supernatural” intervention by God to stop protections for transgender people.
In his first 100 days as President, Trump has already axed Obama-era guidance on transgender rights, taking an axe to education policies which had extended civil rights protections to transgender children in schools.
He also dropped federal government opposition to state-level anti-LGBT laws, and helped kick a Supreme Court case over discrimination protections into the long grass.
Bachmann, an ultra-conservative Republican who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Minnesota until 2015, has claimed that God made a “supernatural” intervention in the election to secure Trump’s victory. Speaking on ‘Understanding the Times with Jan Markell’, she claimed: “We know that [Trump’s election] just wasn’t in the natural. This was in the supernatural where God sovereignly, I believe, answered the prayers of believers beseeching him and he’s given us a reprieve.”
Of course, many people sensed the mysterious hands of an unknown power interfering in the US election, but most of them have concluded that it was the Russian government – or the electoral college system that allowed Trump to gain power with three million fewer votes than his opponent.
But Bachmann is certain it was actually God.
In the clip transcribed by Right Wing Watch, she explained: “This was the last exit ramp for the country and if we were not going to see a political change,
“We were in a situation where the president of the United States on his own just issued a sheet of paper and said, overnight, every single public school in the country would have to have the girls’ bathrooms open to the boys and the boys’ bathrooms open to the girls.
“What we were told from the White House, is that when we look at our body in a shower, our body isn’t reality anymore, so we actually get to choose if we’re a boy, if we’re a girl, if we’re one of like 58 different whatever that we decide we want to be that day.
“In other words, we were all told that we were forced to repeat a lie, not the truth… and when you repeat lies, Romans 1 tells us, that’s when you fall into deception, God’s gives us over to our own delusion.
“[But] we were given a reprieve… God has privileged us in this country that we get to be able to vote for the laws and the people we live under so people decided to take that vote. It was completely unprobable… I know it was a reprieve.”
The former politician who served on Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board during the election, has grown steadily more extreme and disturbing in her public statements.
Earlier this year she claimed that gay people are working alongside Islamist terrorists and the Black Lives Matter movement to undermine American values.
Ms Bachmann claimed in 2014: “I think [gays] want to abolish age of consent laws, which means we will do away with statutory rape laws so that adults would be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That’s the deviance that we’re seeing embraced in our culture today.” A 2011 investigation found a religious counselling centre owned by Ms Bachmann attempts gay ‘cure’ therapy and aims to repress “homosexual urges”. Her husband, Marcus Bachmann, ran the service.
She has also claimed that God would destroy America because of the “sin-sick” culture of same-sex marriage.

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

Albequerque: The Republican Governor of New Mexico has signed a bill into law which bans gay ‘cure’, or ‘conversion’ therapy for minors.
LGBT rights campaigner and senator, Jacob Candelaria, put the measure forward to the New Mexico state senate.
The Democrat, who represents Albuquerque, convinced politicians to pass the measure in a landmark vote of 32-6, earlier this year. It later went to the state House and passed.
He said ahead of the vote: “When you’re a young Hispanic Catholic kid growing up in Albuquerque and folks use some horrible words to describe you, both to your face and behind your back … that hurts.
“That is abuse. And I hope we don’t adopt the assumption that the only form of abuse is physical abuse.”
Of the victory, Candelaria added: “Today’s historic action by Governor Martinez confirms that our shared commitment to protecting all children from abuse transcends party labels and ideological differences.
“In New Mexico, we value and celebrate every child for who they are. I want to thank Governor Martinez for having the courage to stand up for the simple truth that every LGBTQ kid in New Mexico is born perfect. I also want to thank the victims of conversion ‘therapy’ who came forward to support this bill. Their stories did not fall on deaf ears. They turned their suffering into a force for good, and because of them, and for them, we have made history.”
“This is an incredible victory for LGBTQ youth in New Mexico,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “No child should be subjected to this dangerous practice that amounts to nothing more than child abuse. By signing this crucially important legislation into law, Governor Martinez is standing up for vulnerable youth who deserve to be loved and supported for who they are.”
“As a survivor of conversion therapy that happened right here in my home state of New Mexico, it’s a very special day to see this barbaric and dangerous practice banned in the place that I grew up and call home,” said Equality New Mexico Executive Director Amber Royster. “My hope is that parents and families everywhere will think twice before seeking to change their LGBTQ child or loved one, and now we have the legal mechanism to ensure it doesn’t happen at the hands of licensed practitioners in New Mexico.”
Malta became the first place in Europe to completely ban gay conversion therapy recently, despite not yet having marriage equality.
Conversion therapy has already been banned in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington DC.
Gay conversion therapy is not illegal in the UK, but any medical professional found practicing it would be struck off by their professional body
Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director with Human Rights Campaign, welcome the New Mexico vote: “No child should ever be subjected to the incredibly dangerous practice of so-called conversion therapy.
“This crucially important legislation will help protect LGBTQ youth in New Mexico from a pseudoscience denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association.
“For the sake of some of the state’s most vulnerable youth, the New Mexico House of Representatives should quickly pass this legislation and help end this barbaric form of child abuse.”

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

Delhi: The Indian government has told its states to view trans people as equal, and allow them to use any public toilet they choose “without any embarrassment.”
Three years ago, the Indian Supreme Court granted ‘third gender’ status to trans people, and endorsed people’s right to determine the gender they identify with.
The verdict also included a directive for toilets to be allocated to trans people in public places, but most states have not implemented this rule.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation issued guidelines earlier this week highlighting that “in many communities, the third-gender may often be dissociated from the mainstream.”State authorities should therefore “make a conscious effort that they are recognised as equal citizens and users of toilets,” the letter continues.
“They should be allowed to use the facility of their choice (men or women) in community or public toilets.”
The government department also emphasised the important work done by trans people in improving sanitation in India.
“There are also examples from around the country, where people belonging to the third gender have come up as Swachhta (hygiene) champions and have played a huge role in taking the message of Swachhta to households in the community,” the letter read.
“Where suitable, their support can be enlisted in engaging communities, and their efforts duly recognised and honoured to break any stigma around them, and to also enable them to use facilities without any embarrassment.”
The letter to authorities also encouraged states to promote gender equality to its citizens, in order to – among other reasons – ensure women are not disproportionately made to clean family toilets.
Sangama, an Indian sexuality and gender NGO, told Reuters today that the government’s decision was a good start.

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

Bangkok: Trans Thai women who have not had gender reassignment surgery still have to serve in the country’s military under conscription laws.
At the age of 21 men in Thailand can either serve a voluntary six month stint in the army or risk their chances in a lottery. The annual lottery is held in April.
If they receive a black ticket in the lottery they are free to go home. But if they draw a red ticket the men are forced to serve two years.
For trans women the conscription process can be a stressful nightmare. Some consider taking their own lives to avoid serving in the army.
‘Most are stressed and worried that they will be undressed, stared at, or humiliated in public,’ Jetsada Taesombat, executive director of the Thai Transgender Alliance for Human Rights told Reuters.
Proving your gender
Exceptions are made for people with mental illness or who are not physically able to serve. Trans women are offered exemptions but have to go through a humiliating medical examination to prove they are not lying.
While trans women are generally accepted in Thailand they are not allowed to update their official documents to reflect their true gender. A doctor will examine her to check if she has breasts or had reassignment surgery to see if she is telling the truth.
If a woman has undergone surgery she is exempt for two years from serving. But if an army hospital decides a trans woman has a ‘gender identity disorder’, she is exempt for life.
Trans women said describing them as having a disorder is wrong and stigmatizing. But the army argued it has improved its attitude to trans women.
‘The army is instructed to treat and respect transgender women as women,’ Lieutenant Colonel Ongard Jamdee, who is in charge of a recruitment center told Reuters.
Thai men try to avoid serving in the army as there is a chance they could serve in the south fighting Muslim Malay separatists.
The brutal army cultural is also a deterrent for men. Last week, 10 soldiers allegedly beat to death a conscript.
This prompted Human Rights Watch to call for the end of corporal punishment in the Thai army.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Rio de Janeiro: A gay banker has been fired after sharing his engagement pictures on social media.

The unnamed man from Brazil was axed from his job at Banco Itau because he’s gay, according to claims.

According to reports, he was employed for over a year and a half, and received various awards for his work – all while being the target of regular homophobic abuse.

“I’m deeply outraged that a bank of this size would use homophobia as a basis for dismissal, as opposed to the results of the workers,” he said. “No other LGBT+ worker would ever have to go through this again.”The bank has yet to respond to the claims, but a union leader has suggested that they have a “reputation” for firing people for reasons other than competence.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened at Itaú—we recently reported layoffs of people with disabilities,” said a union leader.

“The bank needs to review its positions and we will make sure that this kind of thing does not happen again.”

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

Canberra: Green Cross Pharmacy has worked with Australian PrEP activist Rodney Ellis to relaunch its direct service and substantially reduce the cost of PrEP accessed online.

Based overseas, the pharmacy supplies medication to patients in Australia and several other countries.

The relaunched service includes a coupon scheme, funded by sales of PrEP, that continues to provide PrEP free to those who need it most.
“I’m really pleased to be working again with Rodney Ellis to get PrEP into the hands of Australians,” said Noel Offer from Green Cross Pharmacy.

“I’ve never been interested in making money out of this, and the reputation of my business and the community service we provide is my driving force. My customers, and especially my PrEP customers, have always come first.”

Offer and Ellis were dismayed at a recent jump in prices and wanted to work together to build a solution that makes PrEP accessible to as many people as possible, at the lowest price possible. They have removed middleman Dynamix International to reduce costs to customers.

“There have been increased prices for a while and I became alarmed when people were saying they could no longer afford PrEP,” said Ellis.

“The bright side is that Green Cross Pharmacy are back and the prices are back down. I’ll continue working with Noel and Green Cross Pharmacy to see what other overheads we can reduce. Each dollar off the price puts it in another band of customers’ reach.”

Green Cross Pharmacy will continue to offer free PrEP coupons to people on low incomes. Every ten sales generates one free donated coupon.

“The coupon scheme is entirely self funded, not reliant on a government hand-out or the political will of the government of the day,” said Ellis.

“Ultimately this is the gay community providing for its own through the facilities of Green Cross Pharmacy. It will scale up automatically as more people buy PrEP.”

While some states of Australia are currently running trials that allow people to access PrEP free of charge, Ellis said other options are still necessary for people who can’t access these or may not be able to in the future.

“We’ve managed to get about a 30 per cent reduction in price while including those who would normally not be able to afford PrEP,” he said.

“Where there are trials it’s an important community back-up plan in case they are ever taken away.”

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

Washington DC:
A new study of syphilis transmission rates reveals men who have sex with men account for 81.7% of cases in the United States.
This study found gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men are 106 times more likely to get the sexually transmitted disease.
Researchers analyzed data collected in 2015 and compiled the first of its kind state-by-state report on syphilis rates.
The study found gay and bisexual men living in the South had the highest rates of the disease, such as North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.
North Carolina, for example, had 748 cases per 100,000 gay and bisexual men.
Alaska had the fewest cases, with only 73 cases per 100,000 gay and bisexual men.Fred Wyand, spokesman for the American Sexual Health Association urged people to look at the broader picture.
Wyand said: ‘Better access to healthcare, more welcoming attitudes, better support systems are all important, of course,’ WebMD reports.
‘We need to understand there are challenges faced by many gay and bisexual men greater than what most folks endure,’ Wyand concluded.
For a full list of State-specific cases of syphilis, check out the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Why do men who have sex with men report higher numbers of syphilis?
A further breakdown highlights men who have sex with men accounts for 309 cases per 100,000.
This is in contrast to men who only have sex with women accounting for 2.9 cases per 100,000.
And women with 1.8 cases per 100,000.
Dr Robert Grant, chief medical officer of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation explains why this might be the case.
Grant told CBS News: ‘Now that we have effective therapies for HIV, people who were previously untested and tested infrequently are now getting tested.
‘Sexually transmitted infections tend to go together.
If they come in and ask for HIV testing, we test for syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea as well.
‘People have everything to gain and nothing to lose by getting an HIV and syphilis test.
‘This report will help reinvigorate people’s awareness and hopefully send the message that by getting a test and following through with treatment, we can decrease or even eliminate syphilis as a problem,’ Grant said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Alabama: The Alabama Supreme Court has given the go ahead for impeachment proceedings against Republican Governor Robert Bentley. The anti-gay politician, who previously labelled same-sex marriage as nothing more than a “social experiment,” has been accused of having an affair with his female aide. Back in 2016, texts and audio recordings of Bentley making sexual remarks to a senior female aide in his office were leaked. Shortly after, his wife of 50 years, Dianne, divorced him. He’s since ignored calls for his resignation, and has insisted that he never “misused” state resources.

“I do not plan to resign. I have done nothing illegal. If the people want to know if I misused state resources, the answer is simply no. I have not,” he said.

When same-sex marriage was legalised in the US by the Supreme Court, Bentley said he was “disappointed” by the landmark ruling.

“I have always believed in the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman,” he said in a statement at the time.

“That definition has been deeply rooted in our society for thousands of years… The people of Alabama also voted to define marriage as between a man and woman. I always respect the people’s vote, and I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has disregarded the choice made by the people of Alabama in its decision today.”

How ironic.

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

Somerset: A UKIP councillor has blamed the NHS for being in a crisis because “too much” funding is given to LGBT services, leaving “other people feeling put out”.
Nigel Pearson, a councillor for Chard North in Somerset, made the sweeping statement in a leaflet that was distributed prior to local elections. As well as pinning the blame of the NHS crisis on LGBT services, the leaflet said that the national shortage of NHS doctors was due to “too many women being hired” in an act of “positive discrimination”.
It reads: “Women take career breaks to have a family and tend to only work part time when they return to the surgery. How many female doctors are there in your surgery working 2 or 3 days a week?”
Pearson told Metro that he believes LGBT people and others will stand by the comments made in the leaflet.
“I’m sure there are a number of LGBT people out there who are passionate about this, but there are other people who will feel put out and will want to know what this money was used for.”
He added that he believed the NHS should “set a quota for female doctors, so we don’t train so many female doctors and instead train more men”.
The leaflet also blames the Conservative Party for spending money on “Syrian refugee children and Syrian families” rather than on the health service. Pearson insisted that the party supported him in his comments, but a spokesman for UKIP said that the party did not.
“It is clear that this individual is not speaking for UKIP as a whole but for themselves. Fortunately this rather eccentric view is not held as a party policy.”

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

Edinburgh:A “game-changing” drug which dramatically reduces the chances of being infected with HIV is to be made available on the NHS in Scotland.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has agreed to approve the treatment, which is known as Prep.
Scientists have found that a daily dose of the drug can protect people at risk of contracting the virus.
It means Scotland will become the first place in the UK to routinely offer Prep to eligible patients.
Campaigners welcomed the SMC’s decision, describing it as a “bold step” which could lead to a reduction in the spread of the virus.
They estimate that up to 1,900 people north of the border could benefit from the drug, which has the brand name Truvada and costs about £450 a month.
Safe sex practices
The anti-retroviral drug is already licensed for use by people diagnosed with HIV in Scotland.
However, the SMC’s decision relates to its use on a preventative basis by people who do not have the virus.
The group said Prep was one aspect of a wider HIV prevention strategy and it should be used in combination with safe sex practices such as using condoms.
SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said: “[Prep] when used together with safer sex practices may help to reduce the spread of HIV, which is an ongoing priority for the Scottish government.”
It was one of series of drugs approved by the body, including Kadcyla, which is used to treat aggressive and advanced types of breast cancer. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or Prep for short) is a small, blue pill.
The pill works by protecting cells in the body and disabling the virus to stop it multiplying – should it enter the body.
Taking it once a day has been found to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 86%.
It is currently used in the US, Canada, Australia and France to help protect gay men at the highest risk of contracting HIV.
The decision on Prep was welcomed by a group of charities, including HIV Scotland and the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, which had campaigned as The Prep4Scotland Coalition.
In a statement, they said: “We applaud the SMC for taking this bold step to tackling HIV in Scotland.
“Prep provides opportunities to reinvigorate how people at higher risk of HIV exposure engage with testing and prevention opportunities, and it is a vital opportunity to make a real reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions.
“All NHS Boards in Scotland need to now follow the SMC’s advice and ensure they’re making Prep available to those who need it, so that no-one at risk is left behind.”
‘Stigmatised condition’
Robert McKay, the national director for the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said the move could save the health service thousands of pounds.
“Today, Scotland has made history in the fight against the HIV epidemic,” he said.
“Prep can now be used as a vital tool – alongside condom use, regular testing and early treatment – to help bring an end to HIV transmission in Scotland.
“Not only will this make a life-changing difference to individuals by protecting them from a lifelong and stigmatised condition, but for every person who would have become HIV positive without Prep, NHS Scotland will save £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs.”
Earlier, HIV Scotland’s chief executive George Valiotis said that there was a growing demand for the treatment in Scotland.
He estimated that “a couple of dozen” Scots are already using variants of the drug after buying generic versions online.

Watty Gaffney is one of about “a couple of dozen” people in Scotland already thought to be buying generic versions of Prep online.
“I started taking it at the turn of the year. I’d been thinking about it for some time. I’d been reading up on Prep and what that means for people.
“It is essentially a preventative treatment for HIV. It seemed the natural way to move forward.
“You come into contact with people throughout your life. You don’t know their history. You want to protect yourself and it seemed like the appropriate thing to do.”
HIV Scotland believes the use of Prep has played a part in reducing the number of HIV infections in Scotland.
The latest figures from Health Protection Scotland show 285 new cases of HIV were reported in 2016, down from an annual average of 359 over the last five years.
The manufacturer of Truvada, Gilead, applied to the SMC after they were urged to do so by the Scottish government last year.
It followed a series of legal battles in England over whether the NHS or local authorities should pay for the medication.
The Court of Appeal eventually ruled that NHS England had the power to fund the drug,
The decision did not mean that NHS England had to fund Prep but in December it announced plans for a large scale clinical trial of the drug, expected to involve 10,000 participants over three years.

The PrEP for Scotland Coalition (HIV Scotland, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, Waverley Care, and the National AIDS Trust) responded to the decision with the following statement: “We applaud the SMC for taking this bold step to tackling HIV in Scotland.
“PrEP provides opportunities to reinvigorate how people at higher risk of HIV exposure engage with testing and prevention opportunities, and it is a vital opportunity to make a real reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions.”

The National AIDS Trust tweeted that the medication would be available within a matter of weeks in Scotland.HIV Scotland commented on the ruling: “HIV Scotland welcomes this great decision that we have spent years campaigning for as an essential addition to Scotland’s HIV prevention approach. In 2016 HIV Scotland published a PrEP good practice guide, and administered Scotland’s expert group which produced prescribing criteria, cost assessments, and mapped information and training needs of workers and the community.”

In December, NHS England has announced that they will be funding for 10,000 people to receive the HIV prevention drug, PrEP, after a long fight with sexual health advocates in court.

NHS England previously stopped commissioning PrEP in March 2016, prompting the National Aids Trust to take legal action in the hope of bringing PrEP back and winning the fight.

Matthew Hodson previously blogged for Attitude on the issue of PrEP, writing: “We already know from numerous studies, including the PROUD study, that PrEP massively reduces the risk of infection. For preventing HIV, PrEP is more effective than condom use. Any further delay now simply means that more people will become infected with HIV, when that infection could have been averted.

“We should not let tradition alone dictate how HIV is prevented. We now have all the tools that we need to effectively end new HIV infections, however, the puzzle is not complete unless we can add something more to our prevention armoury.”

Sources: http://www.bbc.com/news, http://www.attitude.co.uk

Manchester: Greater Manchester Police has become the first police force in the UK to register cases of domestic abuse involving LGBT+ people.

The change was first announced in June, when the force launched a pilot scheme. Since that time, over 150 cases have been recorded.

Those involved in the scheme, including police officers, were given training to better understand the needs of victims of domestic abuse. This was overseen by Independence Choices and the LGBT Foundation. Myra Ball, Detective Chief Inspector of Greater Manchester Police, told ITV News: “This is a huge step forward in tackling domestic abuse specifically within the LGBT community here in Greater Manchester, and shows our commitment to supporting all victims of domestic abuse in the best way possible, for them.

“Over the six month pilot in just one area of Greater Manchester we logged over 150 incidents of LGBT domestic abuse. This code will help us to identify and monitor LGBT domestic abuse incidents, which in turn will help us shape any processes needed to tackle it.”

Joanne Simpson, the manager of Independent Choices, added: “Congratulations to GMP in leading the way on highlighting and identifying domestic abuse incidents in the LGBT communities. This will go a long way in breaking down barriers that prevent people coming forward to receiving help.”

According to LGBT domestic abuse charity Broken Rainbow, many LGBT+ people avoid calling abuse services or reporting crimes because this would involve coming out.

The charity have completed five weeks of three-hour training with Greater Manchester Police’s frontline staff before the pilot scheme, consisting of “detailed understanding of the complexities of domestic abuse within same-sex relationships.”

Emma Baldry, the charity’s training coordinator, said last year: “This new code will enable Greater Manchester police to collect data that will give us a more accurate picture of the extent of LGBT domestic abuse in the Greater Manchester area … and hopefully other forces across the UK will follow their lead.”

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

Grozny: More reports of gay men being detained and tortured in Chechnya have emerged.

Earlier this month, it was claimed by a respected Russian newspaper that around 100 gay men had been rounded up by police and detained in what is widely being referred to as a modern-day ‘concentration camp’.

The men were held “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such”, and at least three people are feared dead after the violent raids.

Human Rights Watch later confirmed the horrific news, explaining that the information was “consistent” with reports they’d received from “numerous trusted sources” on the ground in Russia.

Detainees who were either released or managed to escape have since told Novaya Gazeta of the trauma they faced while imprisoned. Some say they were tortured, while others say they saw prisoners beaten to death.

One victim said: “Several times a day we were taken out and beaten. Their aim was to find out your circle of contacts – in their minds if you are a suspect then your circle of contacts are all gay.

“They kept our phones switched on. Any man who calls or texts is a new target.”

Describing how he was beaten with a plastic pipe, he added: “They always hit us below the waist – on the thighs, the buttocks, the loins. They said we were dogs who had no right to life.”

Novaya Gazeta also reports that some men were handed back to their families with the expectation that they would perform “honour killings”.

Tanya Lokshina, Russia Program Director at Human Rights Watch, wrote: “For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.

“Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.

“Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”

The reported location where men are being held on suspicion of being gay in Chechnya

She continued: “These days, very few people in Chechnya dare speak to human rights monitors or journalists even anonymously because the climate of fear is overwhelming and people have been largely intimidated into silence

“Filing an official complaint against local security officials is extremely dangerous, as retaliation by local authorities is practically inevitable.”

Russian group LGBT Network released a statement explaining that they are “ready to evacuate people” that are in danger in Chechnya.

They said: “No national and/or religious traditions and norms can justify kidnapping or killing of a human being. Any references to ‘traditions’ to justify kidnappings and killings are amoral and criminal.”

The news has been denied by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesperson, who said the reports are “absolute lies and disinformation” and even went as far as to claim there are no gay people in Chechnya.

He told the Interfax news agency: “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.

“If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which their is no returning.”

In a statement to Buzzfeed, the UK Foreign Office said: “We are very concerned by reports of mass arrests of individuals in Chechnya due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation. We condemn any and all persecution.

“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we have voiced our serious concern over these developments with Russian authorities at all levels.”

The Foreign Office also restated that it advises “against all travel to Chechnya”.

One eyewitness told Novaya Gazeta, a Moscow-based Russian newspaper, that this campaign includes concentration camps, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.A reported survivor of a camp set up in a former military base in Argun said he was tortured and interrogated by Chechen officials, who demanded to know the names of more gay men. To this end, they confiscated his phone and targeted his contacts, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Sources claimed that “interrogation” tactics included electro-shock torture and violent beatings. Detainees are reportedly being ransomed to their families, which are selling possessions and property to save loved ones.

The newspaper’s sources also claimed that the Speaker of the Parliament, Magomed Daudov, was present during interrogations and transfers of the camp’s detainees.

Regardless, Chechnyan leaders have denied the accounts of arrests and killings, and indeed, denied that gay people even exist in the region. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov told the Interfax news agency.

“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return,” Karimov added.

Last week, the U.S. State Department issued a strongly worded response to Russian and Chechen leaders that condemned violence against LGBT people.

“We are very concerned by the widespread discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons in Russia or any society,” the statement read. “We call on the Russian government to protect all people from discrimination and violence, and allow the free exercise of the freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and religion or belief.”

Tanya Lokshina, a spokesperson for Human Rights Watch, criticized the Kremlin for its inadequate and tone-deaf response, which told victims to use official channels to report crimes. Lokshina pointed to the culture of fear and homophobia that has kept many from revealing their identities and using such channels.

“It is difficult to overstate just how vulnerable LGBT people are in Chechnya, where homophobia is intense and rampant,” said Lokshina, adding, “Without solid security guarantees, victims and witnesses cannot possibly come forward, and there is no chance that an effective investigation could take place.”

Authorities have been seeking out closeted gay men, partly by pretending to look for dates on social networking sites. Gay men have now begun deleting their social networking accounts, while some have posted harrowing stories — one of a 16-year-old boy who disappeared from a Chechnyan village and was beaten to death, with his bones returned in a bag.

One man who was released from the camp told the newspaper that he was subjected to violent “interrogations” at the camp, as Chechen officials attempted to get him to confess the names and locations of more gay men.
The officials also seized his mobile phone, targeting his network of contacts regardless of whether they were gay or not.
The camp was reportedly set up by Chechen forces in a former military headquarters in the town.
The newspaper reports allegations that the Speaker of the Parliament of Chechnya was among officials to visit the site, though the claims have not been substantiated.
The detainees face electric shock torture and violent beatings, while some of them have been held to ransom and used to extort their families.
The Russian LGBT Network, which is running a support line for men fleeing the region, has confirmed the reports.
LGBT activist Svetlana Zakharova said: “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region.
“Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”

Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch wrote: “For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.
She continued: “Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.
“Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”
She added: “These days, very few people in Chechnya dare speak to human rights monitors or journalists even anonymously because the climate of fear is overwhelming and people have been largely intimidated into silence.
“Filing an official complaint against local security officials is extremely dangerous, as retaliation by local authorities is practically inevitable.
“It is difficult to overstate just how vulnerable LGBT people are in Chechnya, where homophobia is intense and rampant.
“LGBT people are in danger not only of persecution by the authorities but also of falling victim to ‘honour killings’ by their own relatives for tarnishing family honour.”
UK Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay has called on Russia to investigate the mass detention of gay men in Chechnya and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
In a statement to PinkNews, Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning. Reports have also suggested that at least three of these men have been killed.
“The statement by the regional Government, implying that such treatment towards LGBT people is acceptable, is particularly abhorrent. We condemn any and all persecution, and call on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we continue to voice our serious concern with Russian authorities at all levels.
“Russia’s international human rights obligations require them to protect citizens who may be at risk of persecution. We expect the Russian government to fulfill its obligations to this end, and to uphold the rule of law.

Sources: http://www.gaytimes.co.uk, http://www.advocate.com, http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Manila: A court in the Philippines has upheld a jail sentence for a US Marine found guilty of killing a trans woman.
Joseph Scott Pemberton was back in 2015 found guilty of homicide for killing Filipina trans woman Jennifer Laude, avoiding a murder charge.
The Lance Corporal had been charged with the murder of Laude, who was found dead in Olongapo City in October 2014, and claimed he had acted in self defence when he killed Laude.
The killing took place near a former US naval base north of Manila.
Ruling this week, an appeals court upheld the jailing of Pemberton for six to 10 years, and he remains in custody at the military headquarters in Manila.
The appeal court ruled: “The only reason why he attacked Laude was that he was furious at him for pretending to be a woman, nothing more, nothing less.”
Pemberton, found guilty of homicide, was ordered to pay $85,000 in damages to Laude’s family, in addition to his prison sentence of up to 10 years.
He was expected to serve at least six years of the sentence.
But his lawyer, Rowena Garcia-Flores, has said that they will now appeal the case to the Supreme Court in the Philippines.
According to Pemberton’s defence lawyers, Laude was still alive when the Lance Corporal left the hotel.
They argue that evidence which could prove Pemberton’s innocence involving other people had been set aside.
Many speculated that the verdict of the trial could affect relations between the Philippines and the US.
The two countries signed a defence cooperation deal in 2014.
The deal allows the US military to use Philippine bases for storage of supplies for operations relating to maritime security.

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

Kampala: A Ugandan human rights activist was arrested and is still detained for calling President Yoweri Museveni ‘a pair of buttocks’.
Academic Stella Nyanzi is being accused of ‘disturbing the peace’ after criticizing the government.
Nyanzi, a research fellow at Makerere University,was detained last Friday after hosting a fundraising drive to raise money for sanitary pads for schoolgirls.
She slammed First Lady and education minister Janet Museveni for saying the government had no money to buy sanitary towels for poor schoolgirls. The president promised to budget for them when he was campaigning for re-election last year.
Nyanzi is also one of many critics that say President Museveni, who has ruled since 1986, plans to be in power for life.he was charged with using a computer to post on her Facebook page a reference to the president as a ‘pair of buttocks’.
This suggestion, according to police, ‘is obscene and indecent’.
Uganda does not have a sedition law, a crime in which criticizing or mocking a head of state could see a person in jail.
However, Nyanzi is being charged with ‘offensive communication’ of the Computer Misuse Act. The ‘pair of buttocks’ line, according to officers, was an attempt to ‘disturb the peace’ and ‘right of privacy’ of President Museveni.
Academic will continue criticizing Ugandan government
‘I totally reject the idea that one cannot … and should not criticize the people responsible for abusing the rights of Ugandans and resources of Uganda through 31 years of increasing despotic family rule,’ Nyanzi said in one of her Facebook posts.‘As a thinker, scholar, poetess, lyricist, writer, Facebooker and creative producer, it is my responsibility to boldly critique the corrupt tyrants of the day.’
The academic is one of the very few speaking out for LGBTI rights in Uganda. If you have gay sex, you can spend up to seven years in prison.
Speaking shortly after hosting a vigil for Pulse victims last year, Nyanzi said: ‘Love always wins and solidarity gives strength. It is important to know that we are all connected. All humans are human!’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: A new UK study has found that people living with HIV have a suicide rate twice as high as the general population.
The results of the 15-year study were announced yesterday by Sara Croxford of Public Health England at the British HIV Association conference in Liverpool.
The study looked at 90,000 people diagnosed between 1997 and 2012. Of the 6% who died over the course of the study, 58% died from AIDS defining illnesses.
Many of them were diagnosed late or long after infection, when HIV had already begun to wreak havoc on their immune systems.
Half of them had never attended a HIV clinic or received HIV medication.
It also found 2% died as the result of suicide – twice the rate of the general population. Of these, 4 out of ten committed suicide in the first year after diagnosis.
This means that the recently diagnosed men’s suicide rate was five times that of the general population.
Just a handful of women in the study committed suicide: the rate no higher than the suicide rate of women in the general population.
The elevated suicide rate for men did not change between the start of the study in 1997 and the end of the study in 2012.
‘Our findings highlight the need for a reduction in the stigma surrounding HIV, improvements in psychosocial support and routine screening for depression and drug and alcohol misuse, particularly at the time of diagnosis,’ Croxford said.

Matthew Hodson, Executive Director of NAM aidsmap said, ‘It’s 2017, we have had effective treatment for HIV for over 20 years. By now, nobody should be dying as a result of HIV infection.
‘The shocking data presented at the BHIVA conference demonstrates the importance of testing. Late diagnosis accounts for the majority of HIV related deaths. The data also forcefully shows that there is still much work to be done to challenge the stigma that surrounds an HIV diagnosis.
‘It’s urgent that people know that with treatment someone can have a normal life expectancy. Both people living with HIV and those who are not living with the virus need to know that an undetectable viral load on treatment means that you will not pass the infection on to your sexual partners.
‘More needs to be done to support people disclosing. The viral closet only creates an environment where misinformation and fear flourish.’
‘We as a community need to have an honest conversation’
Ian Howley, CEO of gay men’s health charity GMFA tweeted his disappointment at the findings, saying, ‘This is simply not acceptable. This is what stigma does.’
He elaborated to GSN, saying, ‘It is totally unacceptable that gay men living with HIV are dying by suicide in 2017. This is the true face of HIV stigma and shows us just how far the negative impact of stigma has on our community.
‘In 2017 no-one should be feeling suicidal after a positive diagnosis. We, as a community, need to go beyond talking about the affects stigma has on newly diagnosed men and start putting words into action. GMFA has led the way in tackling HIV stigma, but we still have a long way to go. Anti-HIV stigma campaigns can only do so much.
‘We as a community need to have an honest conversation as to how we can stop it getting to a point where gay men living with HIV feel like suicide is the best option for them.’
Need help?

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Grozny: Gay men are fleeing brutal persecution in Chechnya, where police are holding more than 100 people and torturing some of them in an anti-gay crackdown, Russian activists say.
Natalia Poplevskaya of the Russian LGBT Network said “we are working to evacuate people”.
A government spokesman called the reports “lies” and said homosexual people “simply don’t exist in the republic”.
Homophobia is widespread in Chechnya.
The mainly Muslim region is run by Ramzan Kadyrov, an authoritarian leader with a notorious private militia, fiercely loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ms Poplevskaya told the BBC that victims – either gay or just perceived as gay – are being held at a detention centre near Argun, 20km (13 miles) from the city of Grozny.
She said the LGBT Network, based in St Petersburg, was aware of “an organised campaign to detain gay men” in Chechnya.
“Torture is going on with electric shocks, beatings with cables. All the people arrested are homosexual men or perceived as being gay,” she said. Three deaths have been reported.
More than 30 people were crammed into one cell, she added.
Despite appeals to the Russian authorities to stop the abuses, no action has been taken, she complained.
Kadyrov spokesman Alvi Karimov denied the alleged persecution.
“You can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic,” he said.

The gay rights group has an email hotline to help victims, or potential victims, flee to other parts of Russia. Ms Poplevskaya declined to say where those victims were being sheltered.
News of the crackdown was broken by the Russian daily Novaya Gazeta, which specialises in human rights investigations. It reported that the detainees included some influential Muslim clerics close to Mr Kadyrov, and two well-known Chechen TV presenters.
“We confirm what was said in Novaya Gazeta,” Ms Poplevskaya said, while declining to name her sources in Chechnya.

Activists are preparing to protest the Russian Embassy over claims of concentration camps for gay men in Chechnya.
It was revealed yesterday that gay men have been arrested in a ‘purge’ in the Russian region of Chechnya and are being held in concentration camp-style prisons, according to reports.
The Chechen Republic is a federal subject of Russia, but has its own head of government and courts and is predominantly Muslim, unlike Russia.
Early reports emerged earlier this month that gay people are being targeted in the region.
Russian newspapers and human rights groups report that more than 100 gay men have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge.
Several people were also reportedly feared dead following violent raids.
Now British activists have arranged a protest outside the Embassy of the Russian Federation in London, Wednesday, calling on leaders to confront the atrocity.
Organiser Steve Taylor says: “London fails if it does not challenge this inhumanity.
“We must stand up to this. Bring banners, flags and most importantly bring yourselves to challenge this oppression and show solidarity with LGBT+ people in Russia.
“It will be a peaceful and legal protest. The Metropolitan Police have been informed and we will work with them in coming hours to ensure a safe event.”

Sign the petition: Stop the persecution of gay men in Chechnya
The Kremlin has denied any knowledge of a purge of gay men in the region.
A spokesperson for the Chechen government also denied that they were abusing and imprisoning gay people, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
UK Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay has called on Russia to investigate the mass detention of gay men in Chechnya and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
In a statement to PinkNews, Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning. Reports have also suggested that at least three of these men have been killed.
“The statement by the regional Government, implying that such treatment towards LGBT people is acceptable, is particularly abhorrent.
“We condemn any and all persecution, and call on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.”
Reports have since emerged that arrested men are being kept in horrific concentration camp style prisons, where violent abuse and torture is common.

Based on interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports that a secret prison has been set up in the town of Argun to detain the men arrested in the purge.
One man who was released from the camp told the newspaper that he was subjected to violent “interrogations” at the camp, as Chechen officials attempted to get him to confess the names and locations of more gay men.
The officials also seized his mobile phone, targeting his network of contacts regardless of whether they were gay or not.
The camp was reportedly set up by Chechen forces in a former military headquarters in the town.
The detainees face electric shock torture and violent beatings, while some of them have been held to ransom and used to extort their families.
The Russian LGBT Network, which is running a support line for men fleeing the region, has confirmed the reports.
LGBT activist Svetlana Zakharova said: “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region.
“Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”
Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch wrote: “For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.
She continued: “Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.
“Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news, http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Vancouver: Since attack ads targeted him in Chinese-language newspapers last week, Richmond South Centre NDP candidate Chak Kwong Au has sent mixed messages about where he stands on what he calls “moral issues.”

In an interview with Xtra on April 10, 2017, Au affirmed his commitment to human rights and equality, but his statements to the English and Chinese-language media over the past week leave a puzzling trail.

Last week, ads appeared in two Chinese-language newspapers, Ming Pao and Sing Tao, calling on Au to oppose same-sex marriage, safe-injection sites, gender-neutral washrooms and early sex education, lest Richmond become “another Downtown Eastside.” The ads were taken out by a group calling itself the Richmond Community Development Concern Group, which has not responded to calls from Xtra or other media. They accuse Au of turning away from his constituents to join the NDP, and giving up his principles in favour of the party’s alleged moral evils.

At this point, the narratives in the English and Chinese-language media sharply diverge. English-language media such as CBC and CTV reported the ads largely as attacks on Au as an NDP candidate. The CTV story says the ads criticize Au for his support for same-sex marriage, something they never actually say. Instead, the ads criticize the NDP for supporting same-sex marriage, and suggest Au is betraying his principles by joining them.

In an interview with CTV April 8, Au sharply criticized the ads, saying “This kind of biased, anonymous attack should have no place in Richmond, and in BC.”

A few days earlier on April 4, however, in an interview with Cantonese-language Fairchild Radio, Au says he thinks the ads are “reasonable” and not really an attack on him at all. He also says his moral views on these questions have not changed, and that NDP leader John Horgan promised him he could vote his conscience on “sensitive” moral issues.

In an interview with Sing Tao on April 9, Au reiterates that his moral positions have never changed, and that Horgan has promised him the freedom to vote how he likes.

“If the NDP in the future bring up in the legislature policies or positions that do not benefit voters, or are contrary to my faith or beliefs, I will not go along with them,” he says in Chinese. “[The NDP] agreed I could vote my conscience on these sensitive questions. This was a condition of my joining the NDP.”

To the English-language South China Morning Post, Au sidesteps the question, saying the issues in the ads are “not the focus of my campaign.” Au replied that he supports “human rights and equality for all people in British Columbia.” Asked if he supports same-sex marriage, Au said yes.

Au also said the attacks on him have been hypocritical, since the policies attacked in the ads — such as same-sex marriage and gender-neutral washrooms in schools — have also been supported by BC Liberals.

On his agreement with Horgan, Au said the NDP leader expects him to vote for the benefit of his constituents, like any other MLA. Au would not give examples of when he might vote his conscience on moral issues, and did not explain what he meant by his unchanged moral positions.

When pressed on what moral positions he discussed with Horgan, Au said, “They haven’t come up.”

A representative for the BC NDP told Xtra that “John Horgan tells all candidates he expects NDP MLAs to stand behind the commitments they make to voters, and to honour the NDP policies and values they run on.”

Au also published a statement on his website on April 9, replying to the ads:

“I want to be clear about where I stand. I believe in the human rights code and I support the law of the land. I believe in human rights for everyone, including those in the LGBTQ community. My goal is to work with all communities to build an inclusive and accepting society where everyone can be free of discrimination.”

A family therapist and former professor from Hong Kong turned politician, Au has not stuck to one political party. As a city councillor in Richmond, he is a member of the BC Liberal-founded Richmond Community Coalition. In the last federal election, he supported Conservative MP Alice Wong. According to the Richmond News, documents show he flirted with candidacy for the BC Liberals before eventually joining the NDP to run in the upcoming provincial election on May 9.

“I have never been a partisan,” he told Sing Tao. “I have always looked out for the interests of the voters, policies and positions. I will cooperate with whatever party fits those positions.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

London: Public Health England and NHS England have confirmed they will move ahead with a trial of drugs that can reduce the likelihood of HIV infection – after the drugs were approved in Scotland based on existing evidence.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can drastically reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV, and is available in a number of countries to at-risk groups including sex workers, gay men, and people in serodiscordant relationships.
Health experts say rolling out PrEP in the UK would be cost-effective if it leads to even a small reduction in HIV infections, as the lifetime cost of just one HIV infection can be up to £380,000.
Yesterday, Scotland became the first part of the UK to approve the use of PrEP as HIV prevention, with the Scottish Medicines Consortium approving its use to prevent HIV.
But in England, a 10,000-strong trial of PrEP is set to start this summer after a controversial legal battle over the drugs. In the wake of the Scotland decision, Public Health England and NHS England gave an update on the PrEP Impact Trial.
The bodies explained: “Considerable progress has been made in preparing for the HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial [anounced last year].
“The trial, called the PrEP Impact Trial, will include at least 10,000 participants over the next 3 years and will answer key outstanding questions on the extent of need, uptake and duration of use of PrEP in the setting of sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics in England. Our aim is to have the trial started by the summer of 2017.
“The trial protocol is complete, trial participant eligibility criteria have been endorsed by experts in the field and by community representatives, and independent peer review has been conducted.
“The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been consulted about trial categorisation and a relevant opinion received. Submission for ethics committee approval is imminent.”
The health bodies confirmed that “STI clinic attendees considered to be at high risk of acquiring HIV will be eligible to participate in the trial”, with gay men and transgender people facing a high risk.
The trial “will include as many as possible of the over 200 level-3 STI clinics” in England, with clinics set to be consulted “in the next two weeks”.

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

Miami: An extreme anti-gay pastor has been found guilty on child molestation charges.
Pastor Kenneth Adkins of Jacksonville, Florida, was a notorious and outspoken opponent of LGBT rights who refers to gay people as the “devil”.
Adkins celebrated the killing of 49 people in the Pulse gay bar shooting last year, tweeting: “I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!”
Just months after his shocking Orlando comments, the pastor was arrested on a charge of aggravated child molestation.
It comes after a Brunswick Police Department probe launched, focused on suspected molestation taking place in Adkins’ church.
He was found guilty this week on a charge of eight counts of child molestation of a young boy and girl who attended his church and were part of his ‘mentoring’ scheme.
The court heard that Adkins encouraged the young teens to have sex in front of him so he could “judge” them, before joining in himself. He also sent photographs of his penis to the young boy, according to reports.
Adkins will be sentenced April 25, and is expected to be handed a lengthy prison sentence due to strict mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
According to Georgia outlet Savannah Now, the pastor is a former drug addict who reinvented himself in Jacksonville when he opened up his public relations firm.
Adkins previously made headlines when he dressed as a woman to protest LGBT rights law. He insisted at the time: “I am gonna ‘pee’ next to your women in the women’s bathroom and let’s see how yall feel.”
Adkins also claimed that homosexuals had tricked black people into supporting anti-discrimination protections, writing: “Black Democrats have very quiet about this issue because the Homosexuals have fooled them into thinking that Black Lives Matter.
“Trust me, they ain’t Marching for Black folks. I Got a Message for the Homosexuals: You Can Still Go To Hell!”

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

Washington DC: A mother has finally had a ban on revealing her sexuality to her own children lifted.
Rachelle Black filed for divorce from her husband in 2011, after coming out as a lesbian.
Ms Black had been married to the man, Charles, a devout Christian, for 20 years.
When the divorce went to court, the father received primary custody of the couple’s sons at the divorce trial in 2013.
In a shocking move, the court banned the woman from telling her own children of her sexual orientation, which it described as “alternative lifestyle concepts”.
Her sexual orientation was also considered a primary reason for giving custody to the father, over her.
The initial divorce trial said that her “lifestyle choice,” such as that she “considers herself to be a lesbian,” conflicted with the religious beliefs of their children, who attended a private Christian school.
She was ordered to refrain from: “Having further conversations with the children regarding religion, homosexuality, or other alternative lifestyle concepts and further, that she be prohibited from exposing the children to literature or electronic media; taking them to movies or events; providing them with symbolic clothing or jewelry; or otherwise engaging in conduct that could reasonably be interpreted as being related to those topics unless the discussion, conduct, or activity is specifically authorized and approved.”
After a six year battle, a Washington state court has overturned the cruel ban, allowing the mother to be open with her children.
They also accused the first trail of having an “improper bias” in coming to its conclusions.
The initial draconian ruling is thought to have been brought about after she showed one child a film on different attitudes to same-sex marriage among Christians.
The trial report said: Rachelle showed her oldest son a video documentary addressing different Christian attitudes toward same-sex relationships after he asked a question about the issue.
“On another occasion, the second oldest son asked if he could wear a rainbow bracelet Rachelle had with the words ‘love and pride’.”

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

Lucknow: At least 300 turn out to celebrate the first queer pride parade in the city of Lucknow, India, on Sunday.
Members from both the LGBT and straight communities took to the streets in solidarity nearly 18 years after Kolkata held the first pride event in the country.
People came from as far away as Mumbai, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Jaipur to walk the 1.5km parade route hand in hand, waiving rainbow flags and sporting placards saying “I am Gay and it’s okay” and “I am a queer Muslim, babes, get over it”.
Ashock Row Kavi, chairman of India’s oldest LGBT organisation the Humsafar Trust in Mumbai said, “Lucknow was the epicentre of gay culture in the Gangetic plain which was evident in even its literature such as Umrao Jan Ada and was suppressed by the British.
“We are only keeping the tradition alive though the modern Indian political class is ashamed of it.”
An organiser from the Awadh Pride Committee, Darvesh Singh Yadavendra told The Times of India, “Like many others, I’m also surprised to see so many people coming out and supporting us. It is very moving for me and for everyone participating.
“A country where queer people are free is truly free and everybody can walk with dignity, so we are here to celebrate diversity of gender and sexuality, against any discrimination.”
He said the parade was organised to celebrate the diversity of sexuality and gender, and protest against harassment and discrimination aimed at the LGBT community.
Homosexuality is illegal in India under Section 377 of the penal code, based on outdated British colonial-era law that was reinstated by the Supreme Court in 2013.
Hundreds were arrested last year under the law, though due to its vague nature it is often hard to distinguish between people charged over consenting and non-consenting sexual acts.
Violation of the law can result in a prison sentence of up to ten years.
America’s first trans judge was denied entry to India last month.

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

Grozny: Labour peer and LGBT+ campaigner Waheed Alli has called upon the Russian and Chechen governments to account for the gay men who have been detained in Chechnya in recent weeks.

Respected Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that around 100 gay men had been rounded up by police and detained in what is widely being referred to as a modern-day ‘concentration camp’.

Three men are feared dead after violent raids, as authorities targeted men “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such”.

Human Rights Watch later confirmed the horrific reports, adding that the information coming through was “consistent” with “numerous trusted sources” they had spoken to on the ground in Russia.

In a new piece for Progress Online, Waheed Alli has outlined the three things both the Russian and Chechen governments must now do.

“Chechen authorities have refused to stop the arrests, with one government spokesman denying that there are even LGBT people in Chechnya at all, saying, ‘you cannot arrest and repress those who simply aren’t in the republic’,” he wrote.

“The Russian government likewise has also refused to intervene, telling the victims to ‘file official complaints and go to court,’ which will ring hollow given the nature of the rule of law in such cases, especially when so-called ‘honour killings’ are common place in the Northern Caucuses.“The Chechen and Russian governments must therefore do three things.

“First, explain and account for those who have been detained with details of their status and health. Second, pledge that such illegal detentions will not be tolerated and these existing cases will be investigated.

“And third, that those who have been targeted will be given safe transport out of the region to safety.”

Waheed also added that the Russian LGBT Network has received numerous requests for help in the past few weeks, as they try to evacuate gay men at risk in the area to safety.

“Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region,” Svetlana Zakharova, from the Russian LGBT Network told Waheed.

“Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”

A protest will take place outside the Russian embassy in London this evening at 5:30pm to urge international authorities to help bring an end to this brutal form of LGBT+ oppression in Chechnya.

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

Falkland Islands: The Falkland Islands have passed legislation to legalise same-sex marriage with an overwhelming 7-to-1 vote in their Legislative Assembly. The same piece of legislation legalised civil partnerships for all couples, which now puts marriage and civil partnerships on equal footing. The British Overseas territory, which has a population of 3,000, passed the law after conducting a public consultation in which an overwhelming 90% of respondents said they were in favour of same-sex marriage.

Eighty-seven per cent of respondents also said that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in churches when permitted by the church. The public consultation and subsequent legislation “send a clear and powerful message that all people and all relationships are equal.

“It does not matter whether they are a same sex couple or not and the law now reflects the Falkland Islands’ tradition of being an open, tolerant and respectful community,” said the spokesperson for the islands, located just off the southern coast of Argentina.

The spokesperson went on to laud the decision to put marriage and civil partnerships “on equal footing. It will be open to any couple who wish to solidify their relationship with legal underpinning, but who do not wish to go down the traditional route of marriage.” The island — maybe one of the most LGBT+ friendly in the world with 90% support of same-sex marriage — will have a lot to celebrate at this month’s Falkland Islands Pride, heralded as “the world’s most Southerly Gay Pride event.”

Them’s fighting words!

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

Tunisia: A medical watchdog in Tunisia has called for an end to forced anal testing to ‘prove’ homosexuality.
Sex between same-sex couples is illegal in Tunisia, where doctors conduct unscientific, humiliating anal and genital examinations under the guise of finding evidence of homosexual acts.
Police and judges also order these violations, Human Rights Watch has said, despite them being technically against the law.
In a statement released earlier this month, the National Council of the Medical Order in Tunisia said it viewed “the practice of a genital or anal examination to verify the nature of the sexual practices of a person without his free and informed consent as an attack on his dignity”.
The organisation called on physicians to let people know that they have the right to refuse such an examination.
At least seven men accused of sodomy under article 230 of Tunisia’s penal code were subjected to anal exams in the towns of Sousse and Kairouan in 2015, according to HRW.
Several of the victims compared the forced anal exams to being raped.
One 22-year-old student from Kairouan told HRW a policeman forced him to do the test through physical abuse including punching and slapping.
In an HRW submission to the United Nations Committee against Torture, the victim said: “It felt painful. I felt like I was an animal, because I felt like I didn’t have any respect.
“I felt like they were violating me. I feel that up to now. It’s very hard for me.”

HRW hailed the medical watchdog’s condemnation as “an important step toward ending degrading, discriminatory, and unscientific ‘testing’ for evidence of homosexual conduct.”
But the organisation said that “because of their unscientific nature, the use of anal exams to test for consensual homosexual conduct should cease altogether, regardless of consent”.
Neela Ghoshal, senior LGBT rights researcher at HRW, said: “Tunisian doctors have taken a courageous step in opposing the use of these torturous exams.
But she emphasised that there was more to be done, saying that to “ensure that forced anal testing in Tunisia ends once and for all, police should stop ordering the exams, and courts should refuse to admit the results into evidence.”
The United Nations Committee against Torture reported in June that “several persons” have accepted the examination “under threat from the police, who contend among other things that a refusal would be interpreted as incriminating.”
The committee called on the government to “prohibit intrusive medical examinations that have no medical justification and cannot be performed with the free and informed consent of the persons subjected to them, who consequently will then be prosecuted.”
It added that the government should also decriminalise homosexuality.
In January, a 19-year-old was sentenced to four months in prison for being trans, and last month, two men in the country were imprisoned for eight months for allegedly being gay.
In 2015, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to a year in prison for having gay sex.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/03/14/two-tunisian-men-to-be-imprisoned-for-8-months-for-looking-gay/

Moscow: The Russian daily Novaya Gazeta says it is alarmed by a Chechen Muslim call for “retribution” after the paper reported violence against gay men in Chechnya.
Chechen Muslim clerics met on 3 April, two days after the paper’s revelations, and said the report had insulted their faith and the dignity of Chechen men.
“Retribution will catch up with the true instigators, wherever and whoever they are,” their resolution said.
Novaya Gazeta says it amounts to a call for “reprisals against journalists”.
“We urge the Russian authorities to do everything possible to prevent actions aimed at inciting hatred and enmity towards journalists, who are doing their professional duty,” the paper said.
On 1 April it reported that more than 100 people had been detained in Chechnya on suspicion of being homosexual, and that at least three had been killed.
The Russian LGBT Network, in touch with victims in Chechnya, told the BBC that the report was true.
Homophobia is rife in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus republic. Authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov is fiercely loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Chechnya map
A spokeswoman for the LGBT Network said detainees were tortured with electric shocks and beatings at a prison near Argun, 20km (13 miles) from the city of Grozny.
“All the people arrested are homosexual men or perceived as being gay,” said Natalia Poplevskaya.
Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the allegations, calling them “lies”. His spokesman Alvi Karimov said there were no gay people in Chechnya.
‘Allah’s punishment’
The Chechens’ spiritual leader, Mufti Salah-haji Mezhiev, confirmed that “retribution” was part of the resolution adopted at the special Muslim meeting in Grozny on 3 April.
“There will be retribution!” he told the Russian news website RBC. “Allah will punish those who slandered the whole Chechen nation and Chechen Republic’s clerics.”
Novaya Gazeta’s 1 April report said the detainees included some influential Muslim clerics close to Mr Kadyrov, and two well-known Chechen TV presenters.
Novaya Gazeta chief editor Dmitry Muratov, 2009 file picImage copyrightAFP
Image caption
Novaya Gazeta chief editor Dmitry Muratov has called for dialogue
In an open letter to the mufti, the paper’s chief editor Dmitry Muratov said his journalists would continue investigating human rights abuses in Chechnya.
“We did not insult – nor had we the slightest intention to insult – the Chechen people,” he wrote, urging dialogue.
Chechens have been linked to two murders of Novaya Gazeta reporters who investigated crimes in Chechnya – Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova.
But much remains unclear about those contract killings, and that of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician who was shot dead in Moscow in 2015 and also exposed corruption and organised crime in Chechnya.
The LGBT Network says it is helping people to flee the persecution in Chechnya and accuses the Russian authorities of ignoring the abuses.
If Russia fails to prosecute anyone, it says it will file a case at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has called on President Trump to raise the purge of gay Chechnyans with Russians.
Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta broke the news earlier this month that more than 100 gay men have been detained in Chechnya “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation”.
The disturbing reports, since corroborated by human rights groups, also alleged that the men are being held in secret concentration camp-style prisons where they face torture and abuse.
Chechnya is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.In response to the crisis, 50 Members of Congress this week signed a letter urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to speak out publicly against these reports and to pressure the Russian government to investigate and stop the violence and arrests.
Reacting to the news, Biden said in a statement sent to CNN that he is “disgusted and appalled” by the reports.
“I hope that the current administration lives up to the promises it has made to advance human rights for everyone by raising this issue directly with Russia’s leaders,” Biden said.
“The United States must lead the way to demand an end to these egregious violations of human rights.”
He went on to say that “every man or woman on this earth is entitled to be treated with dignity — to live without fear and to love freely.”
Russian leaders on Friday said there is no “reliable information” regarding the purge.
Petition: Stop the persecution of gay men in Chechnya
A spokesman for Putin Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday: “We do not have any reliable information about any problems in this area.”
Amnesty International in Russia on Friday called for Russia to investigate the purge.
The organisation also criticised a gathering of Chechen elders and clergymembers which took place days after the original article in Novaya Gazeta.
The assembly reportedly threatened a push back against anyone who “insulted the centuries-old foundations of Chechen society and the dignity of Chechen men.”
Amnesty said it “considers this resolution as a threat of violence against journalists.”
Earlier this week, 50 members of the United States Congress signed a letter calling for an investigation into the homophobic purge.
“The situation in Chechnya is horrific,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. David N. Cicilline (RI-01). “Chechen authorities are acting in clear violation of international law. Secretary Tillerson needs to clearly condemn these actions during his visit to Moscow. These abuses cannot be tolerated.”
“These reports coming out of Chechnya regarding the targeted arrests and murders of gay men are appalling,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47).
“The most fundamental internationally-accepted human rights are the right to life, liberty, and security of person. I stand with the LGBT community in the Chechen Republic, and I call on Secretary Tillerson to denounce these atrocities and I call on the Russian and Chechen authorities to immediately halt these arrests and prosecute those who have tortured and murdered innocent people”.
The ‘bi-partisan’ letter was signed by 47 Democrats. The only Republicans to sign were Carlos Curbelo, Charles Dent and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Elsewhere yesterday a number of the UN’s most senior experts on human rights called for action against the purge.
“We urge the authorities to put an end to the persecution of people perceived to be gay or bisexual in the Chechen Republic who are living in a climate of fear fuelled by homophobic speeches by local authorities,” the experts stated.
“It is crucial that reports of abductions, unlawful detentions, torture, beatings and killings of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are investigated thoroughly,” they added.
“These are acts of persecution and violence on an unprecedented scale in the region, and constitute serious violations of the obligations of the Russian Federation under international human rights law,” the experts said.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also condemned the purge. Johnson tweeted: “Outrageous Chechnya govt supports rather than stops ill-treatment of #LGBT people. Completely agree w/ [junior Foreign Office minister] Joyce Anelay”.
In a previous statement to PinkNews, Baroness Anelay called on Russia to investigate the mass detention of gay men in Chechnya and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning. Reports have also suggested that at least three of these men have been killed.
“The statement by the regional Government, implying that such treatment towards LGBT people is acceptable, is particularly abhorrent. We condemn any and all persecution, and call on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we continue to voice our serious concern with Russian authorities at all levels.
“Russia’s international human rights obligations require them to protect citizens who may be at risk of persecution. We expect the Russian government to fulfil its obligations to this end, and to uphold the rule of law.”
Mr Johnson’s comments come after Liberal Democrat leader questioned his continued silence on the issue.
Commenting on reports that Chechnya has opened concentration camps for gay men, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “These reports from Chechnya are truly horrifying, and represent an extreme manifestation of increasing homophobic brutality and intolerance in Putin’s Russia.
“The UK government must strongly condemn this disgusting violence, and use every possibly opportunity to raise this with the Russian government, as well as in the UN and other international bodies.
“The UK must work with those who share our values to stop the mindless targeting of the LGBT community, which is still prevalent in too many countries across the world.
“Only through defending universal human rights will we ever hope to achieve a world in which every person can live, work and flourish without discrimination.
“It is disappointing that Boris Johnson has failed to stand up for these people by not visiting Russia after Trump told him to stay at home.”
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hastily cancelled a planned visit to Russia this month so that Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could make a trip.
Mr Tillerson travelled to the Kremlin without a press pool, and it is unclear whether he raised the issue.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news, http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Hobart: The Tasmanian government has apologised for the historic criminalisation of homosexuality.

Men who were convicted of “sexual intercourse against the order of nature”, “consensual sexual intercourse between males” and “indecent practices between males” during the time that homosexuality was illegal will have their convictions wiped.

Homosexuality was illegal in Tasmania until 1997. The state was the last Australian territory to decriminalise consensual sex between men. Speaking to the Tasmanian parliament, Acting Attorney-General Matthew Groom said “We are sorry.

“We hope those affected will accept our acknowledgement that those laws were wrong.”Will Hodgman, the current Premier of Tasmania, said: “It is our view that the broader Tasmanian community would believe that people should never have been charged or convicted in the first place, even if it was thought at the time it was the right thing to do, it was not,”

Cassy O’Connor, leader of Tasmania’s Green Party asked the LGBT+ community “to forgive us for not holding you in our arms.

“This apology doesn’t change the history, but what it does do is make it very clear to those who suffered, those who have fought so hard for change, that the Tasmanian Parliament recognises a terrible historical wrong.”

Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under the UK’s historical anti-gay laws have been posthumously pardoned after the so-called “Turing’s Law” took effect earlier this year.

The “historic moment” was confirmed by the Ministry of Justice after the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent from the Queen.

The legislation – first announced last year – pardons an estimated 49,000 men convicted of consensual same-sex relations before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967.

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

Barbadoes: Dozens of neatly-dressed church and community leaders, including a Barbadian senator, packed into meeting rooms and diligently took notes as speakers opined on the evils of abortion, contraception, sex education and LGBT rights. The World Congress of Families, one of the largest and most influential anti-LGBT networks in the world, had invited a murderers’ row of homophobic speakers.

Scott Stirm is an evangelical missionary from Texas who was one of the most virulent critics of the effort to decriminalize homosexuality in Belize, arguing gay tourists come to the country to corrupt children. He also believes that Haiti made a pact with the devil 200 years ago when it broke the bonds of slavery. Phil Lees is a Canadian who travels the world condemning the evils of Ontario’s comprehensive sex education curriculum, and Theresa Okafor, a Nigerian LGBT opponent, who claims queer and trans advocates are conspiring with Boko Haram. Philippa Davies perpetuates the false belief that homosexuality and peodophilia are linked, provided lessons learned from the fight to maintain homophobic laws in Jamaica. Don Feder, who inveighed against Harriet Tubman going on the US $20 bill because “American history was made by white males,” gave a lecture to the mostly black audience about the fast-approaching “demographic winter.”

The World Congress of Families was using the playbook it had perfected in Russia, Nigeria and Uganda, where it is credited with helping pass some of the world’s most vicious anti-gay laws.

The message was clear: unless conservative Christians in the Caribbean draw a line in the sand, their countries would become havens for feminism and gay rights, just like the United States and Canada. It wasn’t exactly the kind of company Ro-Ann Mohammed, a lesbian, is used to keeping. Mohammed, a co-founder of Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD), one of Barbados’s few LGBT advocacy groups, had snuck into the conference with a handful of other activists.

“It was the worst thing I have ever been to, honestly,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it was happening in this day and age.”

And Mohammed couldn’t shake the sense that history was repeating itself. Barbados, a small, windswept island-nation on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, has had a history of outsiders coming in and causing trouble. First, it was Spanish slavers, who decimated the indigenous Taino and Kalinago inhabitants in the 16th century. Then came waves of British settlers, who brought with them sugarcane, West African slaves and the racial hierarchies and puritanical Christianity of imperial Britain.

But throughout the colonial years, Barbados was much more permissive of homosexuality than the mother country, owing to the fact that it was overwhelmingly single men who came to settle. And the West African slaves came from cultures where there was spiritual and social room for relationships between men.

This all changed in the Victorian era, when panic around moral decline led to the British Parliament passing harsh laws against gay intimacy. But despite the statutes, which remained on the books when Barbados became independent in 1966, people who didn’t fit into the restrictive sexual or gender norms still found a country where they were often tolerated, and even occasionally celebrated.

Visibly queer and gender nonconforming people carved spaces for themselves, as rum shop owners, jewellers and dressmakers. Gay men would socialize together in semi-private events in rented rooms or backyards.

And the Queen of the Bees pageant, an annual drag show where all segments of society would dress up in their finest, was a social highlight and was even held at the National Stadium at the height of its popularity.

“It was mostly the white American men speaking to a crowd of predominantly black Barbadian people and telling them what to do,” she says.

“We have these attitudes that were brought to us through imperialism and colonization. And then there are these people coming from North America telling us that we’re too progressive.”

Mohammed grew up in Trinidad, but moved to Barbados to attend university. There, she and Donnya Piggott co-founded B-GLAD in 2011 as a queer students’ organization. When people from outside the university began to join, Mohammed and Piggott realized they could do more good if they expanded to the rest of the island.

Before B-GLAD, the LGBT movement in Barbados was centred around HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, catering mainly to gay men. Queer women, homeless LGBT people and trans youth had especially few options.

“We realized that these people don’t have anywhere to go,” she says. “And people wanted help.”

B-GLAD became a country-wide LGBT advocacy organization and Mohammed decided not to return to Trinidad.

“I found that if nobody else wanted to pick up the mantle in this space, I didn’t see why I wouldn’t be able to do so,” she says.

And now, five years later, she was sitting in a room at a seaside resort, watching influential Bajans lap up homophobic and misogynistic propaganda from wealthy North Americans.

“It was fear-mongering at its best,” she says.Barbados, a small, windswept island-nation on the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, has had a history of outsiders coming in and causing trouble. First, it was Spanish slavers, who decimated the indigenous Taino and Kalinago inhabitants in the 16th century. Then came waves of British settlers, who brought with them sugarcane, West African slaves and the racial hierarchies and puritanical Christianity of imperial Britain.

But throughout the colonial years, Barbados was much more permissive of homosexuality than the mother country, owing to the fact that it was overwhelmingly single men who came to settle. And the West African slaves came from cultures where there was spiritual and social room for relationships between men.

This all changed in the Victorian era, when panic around moral decline led to the British Parliament passing harsh laws against gay intimacy. But despite the statutes, which remained on the books when Barbados became independent in 1966, people who didn’t fit into the restrictive sexual or gender norms still found a country where they were often tolerated, and even occasionally celebrated.

Visibly queer and gender nonconforming people carved spaces for themselves, as rum shop owners, jewellers and dressmakers. Gay men would socialize together in semi-private events in rented rooms or backyards.

And the Queen of the Bees pageant, an annual drag show where all segments of society would dress up in their finest, was a social highlight and was even held at the National Stadium at the height of its popularity.But the 1980s brought with it drugs and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and with them an increased interest in fundamentalist forms of Christianity, such as Pentecostalism and Seventh Day Adventism. The tolerance that LGBT Bajans had enjoyed was tested, and some people began to flee the island.

Today, Barbados continues to criminalize buggery and gross indecency, two provisions that essentially refer to gay sex. The punishment for buggery is life imprisonment, the harshest sentence for this charge of any country in the Western hemisphere.

Though the law is rarely enforced, its very existence stigmatizes LGBT people and turns them into unapprehended felons, say activists.

And while violence against LGBT people is not as high as in other English-speaking countries in the Caribbean, such as Jamaica, advocates say that discrimination and harassment is common.

There are no anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT Bajans, and the handful of political victories that have been won over the past few years continue to come under assault from a resurgent fundamentalist Christian movement fuelled by North American homophobes.

As Barbados celebrates a half-century of independence, queer and trans Bajans feel they’re still not being afforded the respect and recognition they deserve as citizens of a free nation. And some fear that things may be about to get worse.Barbadian Prime Minister Freundel Stuart came to Canada and held an open forum at the University of Toronto as part of the festivities around the anniversary of independence.

Dressed in a powder-blue Tommy Hilfiger shirt, the 65-year-old attorney addressed a lecture theatre without a microphone, fielding questions from members of the Barbadian diaspora who had come to hear him speak.

In a professorial tone and with a penchant for historical tangents, Stuart went into the weeds on issues such as Barbados’ debt burden, how to enhance the tourist economy and the ins-and-outs of obtaining building permits.

But when Xtra asked him if his government would commit to repealing Barbados’ harsh buggery laws, Stuart reverted to the sharp-witted attorney, rejecting out of hand the question’s very premise.

“I have been a lawyer for the last 34 years now,” he said. “And I am not aware that we have what you call ‘harsh’ buggery laws.”

Stuart maintained that the buggery laws were merely the same-sex equivalent of rape laws.

“Rape is the offence committed against in a heterosexual relationship, and buggery is the offence committed in a same-sex relationship,” he said. “At the kernel of both is the absence of consent.”

First, there must be a complainant who can bring forward the allegations so that a prosecutor can push the case, Stuart said. Therefore, if the sex is consensual, there can’t be a case.

“There is a lobby that is trying to get the government, trying to get successive governments, in Barbados to decriminalize, as they say, homosexuality,” Stuart said. “But you can only decriminalize something that is already a criminal offence.”

He acknowledged that almost every family includes people who are LGBT, but stated that the country’s Christian character precludes any further steps to change the law.

Stuart then launched into a condemnation of many of the aims of his country’s LGBT rights movement.

“Those people, who feel that we should create an environment where they can practise their lifestyles in public on high noon on a sunny day,” he said, “want even the very limited controls we have, removed.”

“We respect that — as long as you don’t become too evangelical about it and want to convert all of us to it,” Stuart said, prompting a round of laughter in the room.

While the prime minister argues that the buggery laws are about consent, he’s contradicted by a prosecutor who actually brought forward charges last year.

Elwood Watts, principal Crown counsel in a buggery case, said in no uncertain terms that buggery does not require consent.

“As long as the penis enters the anus, and there is a complaint, it is an offence,” Watts explained. “It does not matter if you claim the person consented or did not consent.”

And according to LGBT activists, the prosecutor’s views reflect how the law is viewed by everyday people, the police and the courts.

Speaking on the phone from Barbados, Shari Inniss-Grant and Stefan Newton, both directors at Equals Barbados, an LGBT-rights group, say they’re disappointed, though not surprised, by the prime minister’s stance on buggery.

“What he said about the law is a misstatement of the law,” Newton says. “And he’s an attorney — he should know better.”

“It’s clearly understood around the world, in the Commonwealth and particularly in Barbados, as something that’s criminalizing homosexuality,” Inniss-Grant says. “And it has the effect of stigmatizing individuals who are queer and really promoting discrimination against them.”

The text of the law itself is clear and makes no mention of consent.

“Any person who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life,” it reads.

And when someone is charged with buggery in a rape case, the result can be a conflation of homosexuality and peodophilia.

When a scout leader was charged with buggery for raping a 12-year-old boy, the chief scout commissioner didn’t speak out against child predators, but against gay men.

“My organization will not tolerate any practice of homosexuality in its ranks, whether boy scout to boy scout, leader to leader or leader to boy,” he said.

And the laws can sometimes lead to vigilante violence.

“Some persons perpetuate violence against LGBTQ individuals because they even think they’re privately enforcing the law,” Newton says.

The prime minister’s denial that the buggery law is “harsh” is absurd, Newton says, considering that it comes with the most severe penalty for any sexual offence.

As for his comments about people “practicing their lifestyles in public on high noon, on a sunny day,” Newton is perplexed.

“I don’t think two men are going to be out and buggering each other in the middle of the road,” he says.About a month after the World Congress of Families conference, the gossip writer for the Nation, Barbados’ leading newspaper, gleefully recounted the public rape and humiliation of an LGBT Bajan.

“She has been a good ‘man’ to many women,” the column began. “Her habits are no secret and she prefers to be referred to as the masculine sex.”

“You see, she had one too many drinks in a farming community recently, and while out cold, a man had his own way with her. He even left the evidence on her body.”The victim, who hadn’t been seen for days because of the humiliation, had photos of the aftermath of their rape distributed online.

“Some fear ‘my gentleman’ may never be the same after being emasculated,” the writer concluded.

The LGBT community and its allies were horrified and demanded a retraction. The piece was pulled by the paper, which issued an apology to “right thinking members of our community,” but not to the victim.

Though violent hate crimes against queer and trans Bajans are less common than in other parts of the region, harassment, discrimination, property damage, verbal abuse and occasional episodes of violence are a reality for many LGBT people on the island.

And there’s no guarantee that police will help. A recent study showed that 75 percent of LGBT Bajans who went to the police said they were denied assistance.

Sometimes, the police themselves are accused of being the perpetrators.

In September 2016, Raven Gill, a 25-year-old trans woman, complained that she was verbally abused, publicly humiliated and forced to strip in front of male officers after she was arrested for causing a disturbance. Gill claimed that officers repeatedly questioned her gender and placed her in a male holding cell.

Gill, along with René Holder-McClean-Ramirez, a director of Equals Barbados, filed a complaint with Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, who promised to look into the matter.

According to Holder-McClean-Ramirez, many LGBT people are wary of any interactions with the police.

“You’re not treated as a person reporting a crime,” he says. “There’s always this other layer where you’re guilty of some behaviour, or encouraged what happened to you.”

“And sometimes the same policemen are the persons who are inflicting violence on LGBT persons,” Newton adds.

B-GLAD has hosted multiple sensitivity training sessions with Barbadian police officers. Mohammed says that while she doesn’t think that the police force is resistant to change, there’s still a long way to go.

Discrimination, especially in housing and employment, remains far too common. Mohammed and a former girlfriend were evicted from their home by their landlord for being in a relationship.

“She didn’t want lesbians living in her apartment building, and we had to leave,” she says. “And in Barbados, there’s no way for us to challenge that.”

The lack of recourse is one reason why Barbadian activists have made an anti-discrimination law one of their top priorities.

“It just makes daily social interactions hard if you are a member of the LGBTQ population,” Newton says. On Nov 6, 2016, hundreds of Christians adorned in the national colours of blue, gold and black held a rally to decry sexual immorality for the second year in a row.

Amid the festivities, which included gospel music and dancers, speakers made the case that LGBT Bajans represented a moral and demographic threat to the soul of the nation.

Johanan Lafeuillee-Doughlin, a local lawyer and pastor, said Barbados should not decriminalize gay sex, and begged the crowd to not give into the cultural imperialism of developed countries.

But despite the nationalistic rhetoric, Americans featured prominently in the night’s proceedings.

Charlene Cothran, a once-prominent LGBT activist and publisher who became ex-gay in 2006, said that no one is born gay, a fact she claimed to be certain of because she had previously chosen to become a lesbian.

“I gave myself fully over to it,” she said. “The lesbian spirit saturated every part of my conscious and subconscious mind.”

Judith Reisman, a conservative activist who claims that homosexual “recruitment techniques” rival those of the US Marines, and that Nazism was a “German homosexual movement,” delivered a powerpoint presentation from the stage.

She went on a conspiratorial rant about Alfred Kinsey, the influential sex researcher, claiming he was a sado-masochistic psychopath, beastiality enthusiast and pedophile, whose work is responsible for many of society’s ills.

“He actually was involved in the sexual torture of 300 to 1,000 infants and children,” Reisman said, matter-of-factly.

She argued that comprehensive sexual education would turn children into “little sexual deviants,” bedeviled by substance abuse, AIDS and venereal disease.

After the event, Steve Blackett, the minister of social work, told a Barbados’ newspaper that he wholeheartedly agreed with Reisman’s presentation.

Barbados must stand firm against the foreign evils and foreign values that threaten the country, he said. In 2003, then–attorney general Mia Mottley spoke out in favour of decriminalizing buggery and prostitution.

“Law, which seeks to discriminate in a society whose history has been scarred with the cancer of discrimination, has in fact, to be reformed,” she said.

But even after a government report recommended reform the following year, change didn’t come. Since then, support for the buggery laws has fallen significantly, though a majority of Bajans still support them.

Today, no one in government is speaking about decriminalizing homosexuality. Some government ministers have spoken out against discrimination, while others remain firmly fundamentalist.

But recent comments from a high-ranking government official presage that politics in Barbados may take a homophobic turn.

Speaking at a constituency meeting for the ruling Democratic Labour Party in November 2016, Chris Sinckler, the minister of finance, said that his party would make morality a key issue in the next election, which will take place sometime before early 2018.

“In my mind, if it is not in other people’s minds, that the next election is also going to be fought for the moral heart of this country,” he told the crowd. “When you lay down at nights and you get up with the Grace of God in the morning, think about the ethics and morals that underpin this country.”

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the government is thinking about making this push when Mottley, who pushed for decriminalizing homosexuality, is now the leader of the opposition and poised to form the next government.

One clergyman heard the dog-whistle loud and clear.

“His reference to morality is restricted; it would appear to refer to sexual issues surrounding homosexuality,” Canon Wayne Isaacs, a senior Anglican cleric, wrote on Facebook.

“We must not allow our thinking on moral issues to be influenced by a ‘right-wing’ form of Christianity coming out of North America that is not in our interest politically, socially nor morally.”

A few months later, government Senator David Durant viciously attacked a comprehensive sex education curriculum aimed at fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, calling it “one of the greatest assaults on the health and innocence of children.” That was followed by an HIV/AIDS counsellor arguing the curriculum was turning children gay.

To Maurice Tomlinson, this rhetoric is all too familiar.

The Jamaican-Canadian lawyer who is challenging Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws in court, says that the Jamaica he grew up in was considerably friendlier towards LGBT people than today.

“We had ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ — everybody knew who was gay,” he says.

But things started to change.

“In the late ’80s and the early ’90s, we ignored the rising rhetoric of the churches, when the evangelical North Americans started to come down to Jamaica with their hateful rhetoric,” he says. “After the religious rhetoric started to rise, we started to see the attacks.”

The combination of well-financed outside organizations like the World Congress of Families and the politicization of homophobia is a dangerous cocktail for Barbados.

But Tomlinson, who lived on the island while he was attending law school, thinks it’s not too late for the nation.

“I’m hoping that in the case of Barbados, we can be more proactive, we can nip it in the bud,” he says. “We can call it out, we can prevent it from escalating.”

“Because I don’t want to see us lose Barbados, the way we’ve lost Jamaica.”During a trip to la Francophonie summit in Madagascar last November, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke up for LGBT rights to the assembled leaders, which included 10 who lead countries where homosexuality is illegal.

“Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities suffer in too many countries, including certain members of la Francophonie who are here today,” Trudeau said.

“We owe them the same respect, the same rights and the same dignity as all other members of our society.”

Barbados is the third-largest destination for Canadian foreign investment. Canadian banks have a strong presence in the country and Canadian tourism dollars contribute greatly to the economy.

The Canadian government isn’t above using that klout to pressure the Barbadian government around LGBT issues. On April 11, the Canadian High Commissioner raised the issue of Barbados’ buggery laws to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, who denied that LGBT Bajans are persecuted.

To B-GLAD co-founder Ro-Ann Mohammed, that smells like colonialism all over again.

“It creates more problems than anything when entities from the global north come and say, ‘This is what you should do,’” she says. “‘We left you with these laws, but now you’re wrong and you’re backwards and you’re savages.’”

Much of the opposition to LGBT rights in Barbados is galvanized by what they see as imperial bullying from countries like Canada, the US and the UK.

“That’s a huge part of their argument — pushing back against any sort of progression for the movement,” Mohammed says.

After then–British prime minister David Cameron threatened in 2011 to cut aid to countries that continue to criminalize homosexuality, there was significant pushback in Barbados.

That doesn’t mean that foreign entities don’t have a part to play in the struggle for LGBT recognition in the Caribbean.

“Instead of going above them, try reaching out to community leaders,” she says. “What resources can I provide you with? How can we be of assistance? How can we strengthen or fortify your movement?”

Despite the increasing influence of North American Christian fundamentalists in Barbados, organizations like B-GLAD, Equals Barbados and their predecessors have made significant progress over the years.

Acceptance for LGBT people in Barbados is growing, though most people still think the buggery laws should be maintained. And even while some members of the government appear to be on the verge of adopting more hateful rhetoric, others are approaching the issue with compassion.

B-GLAD is helping organize sexual education seminars, and Equals Barbados is fighting back against police mistreatment. As Christian organizations host pro–family values rallies, LGBT people are now holding counter-rallies. Queer and trans activists from across the eastern Caribbean are partnering together to advocate for their rights.

And there’s more visibility for LGBT people than ever before.

“We can slowly see that there’s a shift and a change,” Mohammed says.

And though LGBT Bajans must contend with a suspicious public, a sometimes-hostile press, vacillating politicians and well-financed North American homophobes, the progress made over the past few years speaks for itself.

“We weren’t always homophobic — this was brought to us,” Mohammed says. “But we have the burden of trying to reverse it.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Ottawa: Apparently, it’s illegal to sell Superman comics in Canada? According to Section 163 (1) (b) of the Criminal Code, anyone who “makes, prints, publishes, distributes, sells” a “crime comic” – defined as any comic book that depicts a real or fictitious crime – is guilty of an offence. That would include any comic where Lex Luthor kidnaps Lois Lane.

It’s also illegal to sell or advertise Viagra, the morning-after pill, any cure for a “venereal disease,” or any other medicine or service that claims to improve virility, cause an abortion, or cure a sexually transmitted disease under S163 (2) (c). Other parts of s163 criminalize the creation and distribution of obscene written matter and photos, exhibitions of a “disgusting object or indecent show.”

Despite the obviously unconstitutional impingement on free speech , it’s not one of the provisions that’s targeted by Bill C-39, an “Act to amend the Criminal Code (unconstitutional provisions,” that justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced into the House of Commons on March 8, 2017.

Among the provisions that are under scrutiny here are several clauses struck down by the courts related to the definition of murder, how breathalyzer tests can be administered, vagrancy and publishing fake news. And sodomy law repeal, which has been stalled in Parliament since Wilson-Raybould introduced it in November 2016, is folded into this bill as well.
The bill was timed for release on International Women’s Day to call attention to the formal repeal of the abortion law struck down in 1988. (Bizarrely, the ban on advertising abortion services would remain. Nobody mentioned that when Trudeau used the same day to announce a new global fund to provide abortion services in developing countries.)

It’s all well and good that the Trudeau administration is finally doing what the Canadian Supreme Court ordered, in some cases, several decades ago. But why do they have to wait for the court to rule on laws that are obviously unconstitutional, or just anachronistically stupid, to change the law? A close review of the Criminal Code could probably find a dozen other unconstitutional provisions,, including vague provisions related to public morals and obscenity that have come under Supreme Court scrutiny for their use against LGBT people and businesses. Chief among them ought to be the provisions added by the Harper Conservatives’ “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” — the sex work law.

The Conservatives introduced the law after the Supreme Court struck down the previous provisions on sex work. The new law got cute with the Court’s ruling, by criminalizing the clients rather than the sex workers themselves, and also struck new ground in offence to free speech by criminalizing the placement of ads for sexual services. That included criminalizing anyone who works at a newspaper that places such ads. Although a Supreme Court challenge is years away, it doesn’t take much analysis to recognize that the current sex work laws recreate exactly the same dangers for sex workers that the Court found violated the right to their security of person.

Indeed, shortly after being sworn into office in December 2015, Wilson-Raybould committed to “reviewing the prostitution laws and making sure that we’ve adequately addressed the concerns expressed by the Supreme Court.”

As a candidate for office, Toronto Liberal MP Adam Vaughan went further.

“It concerns me substantially that the federal government would take steps that put free speech at risk,” Vaughan said back in June 2014. “When Charter issues are abridged, it’s something all Canadians need to worry about.”

Indeed, these sections of the Criminal Code are not just insulting to sex workers and queer artists. They directly impact fundamentals of free speech and the free press.

That the government tabled this incomplete review of the Criminal Code betrays its superficial commitment to upholding Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Canada: On a much more positive note, rans rights are now protected nearly all across Canada. In March 2017, three holdout province and territories took steps forward, leaving just a few jurisdictions without protection for trans people in Canada. Yukon and New Brunswick are in the process of legislating trans-inclusive antidiscrimination laws, which will make coverage total. Bill C-16 will join the list shortly.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Dallas: Legislators in Texas are to debate a bathroom bill next week, despite massive criticism across the US of such pieces of legislation.
The measure is being pegged as one which is more “business friendly” than other proposed bills, and those passed in other states.
But similar to North Carolina’s partially repealed HB2, the bill would roll back and ban local ordinances protecting LGBT people against discrimination.House Bill 2899 would stop cities or counties from passing anti-discrimination bills.
It is expected that the bill will be backed by the Dallas Cowboys.
“It’s a bill that’s trying to strike a balance between all the interested parties,” Representative Ron Simmons, the bill’s sponsor, told The Dallas Morning News.
“It’s our belief that discrimination issues related to privacy should be handled at the state level.”
Texas only protects against discrimination based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin or age.
The Texas House Speaker has cast doubt on the future of a previous state’s proposed ‘bathroom bill’ HB6. The bill had passed in the Senate, but looks like it won’t see the light of day in the House.
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

Delhi: An Indian university has made its courses free for trans students.
Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) took the step, seemingly a first for universities across the country, to help trans students increase the quality of their lives and improve India.
The resolution, which will take effect from this academic year after being passed with overwhelming support, covers trans students financially from undergraduate to doctorate level.
Courses at the university can cost as much as nearly 20,000 Indian Rupees.
In an emotional statement, MSU vice-chancellor Dr Krishnan Baskar said that “after getting neglected by the society and even by their parents, the transgenders are forced to beg on the streets.
“If we can create a favourable condition for acquiring better educational qualifications, it will enable them to occupy enviable positions in government or private institutions, and hence, the MSU has taken an initiative in this direction,” he added.The institution in Tamil Nadu, a southern India state, has 65,000 students across its affiliated colleges.
MSU will also create facilities including separate toilets for trans students, the vice-chancellor said.
“A transgender from Salem has become the first Sub-Inspector of Police in Tamil Nadu to prove that providing right opportunity is important for them to come up in life,” he observed.
“We, by giving the fee waiver, have announced in an unequivocal manner that MSU is for the upliftment of the third gender.
“We should ensure a respectable life for them,” the vice-chancellor said.
Another university official has also announced that he will create a scholarship to fund the living expenses of two trans students who gain entry to a postgraduate course at MSU.
The state of Tamil Nadu has a well-deserved progressive reputation, having appointed the first trans police officer last year and seen the first trans woman to run for a seat in parliament in 2014.
In 2009, Tamil Nadu organised the country’s first ever pride parade, while a news network in the state appointed the first trans news anchor in India in 2014.
The state also hosted the first genderqueer pride parade in Asia in 2012, and built toilets for its trans citizens in 2009.
Earlier this week, the Indian government passed a “historic” law ensuring equal rights for people with HIV or AIDS.
The law is a welcome relief for many in India, with LGBT people in the country still suffering from discrimination. Nearly half of all Indian trans children are subjected to violence before they turn 18.
And figures released earlier this year revealed that the great majority of trans people in the country are missing out on the electoral process because they do not have sufficient ID.
Just four percent of the trans community are enrolled in voter lists, according to the Election Commission of India’s statistics.
Earlier this week, at least 300 people celebrated the first queer pride parade in Lucknow, a city in the north of the country.
Members from both the LGBT and straight communities took to the streets in solidarity nearly 18 years after Kolkata held the first pride event in the country.
And last week, the Indian government told its states to view trans people as equal, and allow them to use any public toilet they choose “without any embarrassment.”

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

Detroit: A policy which means trans students are only allowed to use staff restrooms or gender-neutral toilets is facing opposition in Michigan.
The American Civil Liberties Union in the state objects to the policy by the Jenison district.
Although it allows trans students to use a gender-neutral or staff bathroom, it does not allow them to use facilities not matching their gender assigned at birth.According to the Grand Rapids Press, the students, according to Tom TenBrink, the Ottawa County district superintendent, are treated with “sensitivity and dignity”.
The ACLU in the state has written a letter in protest against the policy.
The letter, written by attorney Miriam Aukerman, says the policy is discriminatory and should be changed.
She writes that trans girls should be allowed to use girls’ restrooms and trans boys should be afforded the right to use boys’ facilities.
The issue of transgender bathroom use has sparked fierce debate and legislation across the US, as well as a federal government response.
The Trump administration earlier this year officially revoked guidance protecting transgender students in public schools.
The guidelines had been introduced by the Obama administration, but were rescinded by the White House in February.
In early March it was announced that the Supreme Court would not go ahead with a planned hearing on transgender rights, in light of the Trump administration’s removal of key protections.
The highest court in the US had been set to hear the case of Virginian trans teen Gavin Grimm, whose school ordered him to use a toilet that corresponds with his “biological gender”.
The teen appeared at the US Congress earlier this week, taking aim at President Trump, and his administration, for a policy which rolled back guidance in favour of trans teens introduced under the Obama administration.

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

Delhi: People living with HIV (PLHIV) in India now have equal rights after the government passed a historic bill ensuring their protection.
The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill was passed in the federal parliament on Tuesday. The bill makes it illegal to discriminate against PLHIV.
India is the first country in south Asia to introduce anti-discrimination legislation. It will protect PLHIV’s access to health, housing education and prevent restaurants or shops refusing them entry.
India has the third highest number of PLHIV at 2.1 million, with more than 68,000 people died of an AIDS related illness in 2015.
The legislation also protects people from undergoing a HIV test, medical treatment or research without their consent.
A person would not be force to disclose their status unless a court order requires it.
India’s Health Minister J. P. Nadda told the Press Trust of India the bill was ‘historic’ and promised action ‘against those who create hatred against HIV patients.’
A good move, but it’s flawed
The legislation was welcomed by some HIV organizations but not everybody was happy with one part of the bill.
The new law requires all state governments establish an ombudsman to investigate violations of the new law. Another clause requires the government must provide free treatment ‘as far as possible’.
‘This ‘As far as possible’ is a loophole which will turn the clock back to the mid-1990s. Without the guarantee of treatment, HIV will once again become a death sentence,’ Anand Grover, senior advocate with the Lawyers Collective told The Guardian.
‘As for the ombudsman, it is neither a full-time post nor is the person required to have any judicial training.’
Paul Lhungdim, project coordinator for the Delhi Network of Positive People asked how poorer states would pay for the ombudsman.
‘It might just leave the post vacant. We would have preferred this responsibility for the ombudsman to have stayed with New Delhi,’ he said.
‘This is like opening the door and wondering why the horse bolted. How do we hold anyone accountable with a clause like this?’
He also the treatment clause would badly affect the effectiveness of the new legislation.
‘Yes, discrimination is a bad thing but it is likely to continue in some form or another given what society is like. For us, treatment is the absolute priority, so that we can be healthy and live. This clause dilutes the impact of the law,’ Lhungdim said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Suva: The Fiji government has confirmed gay men are banned from donating blood in the country.
The policy was confirmed in the Fiji Village after it questioned why a gay man was not able to donate blood during a recent drive.
The Health Ministry said homosexuals were seen as high risk donors.
The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission said it would investigate the Health Ministry’s policy. that homosexuals cannot donate blood to the National Blood Service even if they have only one partner and practice safe sex.
Its director, Ashwin Raj said the policy is unconstitutional.
The man in his 20s was prevented from donating his blood and was rejected in front of other donors.
He said he was embarrassed when he was told the only reason he could not give blood was because of his sexuality.
The National Blood Service official allegedly just assessed that the man is homosexual.
The man says that he was embarrassed because he was branded as a homosexual with the assumption that he has several partners although he only has one partner.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Dublin: An Irish LGBT+ charity is facing an investigation after its outgoing CEO reported financial irregularities to the Charities Regulator.

Áine Duggan, who served as the CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) from October 2016 until recently, confirmed that she was aware of mismanagement of finances.

In an interview with Morning Ireland, Duggan said: “I would like to be able to stand up and say, ‘I can absolutely one hundred percent stand over a statement that there was no misappropriation’, unfortunately, I can’t.Nobody can, and that’s why the audit is so important and I think that it’s really important that we let the audit run its course.”

Ms Duggan said that she noticed irregularities in GLEN’s finances soon after she became CEO. “There were transactions in excess of €60,000 that were not being reported in the management accounts,” she said.

“In some instances you can definitely see that people got into a habit of doing things without necessarily thinking about it and and that was all behavior that needed to be corrected.”

In a statement responding to the allegations yesterday, GLEN said that “all grants received have been used for the intended purpose and has no reason to suspect there has been any misappropriation of fund”. They did not address any of Duggan’s accusations directly.In 2015, emergency services were called to the offices of GLEN after a member of staff opened a letter addressed to the organisation which reportedly contained an unidentified blue powder along with a note reading ‘Goodbye’.

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

Canberra: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has raised concerns about the recent reports that over 100 people have been sent to concentration camps for gay men in Chechnya.

Australia has raised the concerns directly with the Putin regime over reports gay men have been rounded up, tortured, and killed as part of an anti-gay crackdown.
Speaking to Fairfax Media, Ms. Bishop said that her Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had sought information from Moscow that no Australians were involved.

“The Australian government is concerned at reports of mass arrests of individuals in the Republic of Chechnya in the Russian Federation due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation/ We have raised concerns directly with the Russian government. We are seeking advice from the Russian government on whether any Australians are involved so that we can offer appropriate consular assistance.”

Outside Russia, hundreds of people recently protested the reported concentration camps in London outside the Russian embassy. The UK Foreign Office has also condemned the alleged treatment and executions of gay men in Chechnya with Baroness Anelay calling on Russia to investigate the mass detention.

“The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning. We condemn any and all persecution, and call on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.”

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

Vancouver: After missing the deadline to protect LGBT students in schools across British Columbia, the Abbotsford school district has now passed a policy that is raising concern with one of Vancouver’s longtime gay-education activists.

The westernmost Canadian province’s ministry of education ordered all school boards to explicitly add sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) language to their codes of conduct by Dec 31, 2016. The Abbotsford school board was scheduled to meet about the SOGI policy on Nov 1 2016, the same day 13-year-old Letisha Reimer was fatally stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary school.

Shirley Wilson, chair of Abbotsford’s board of trustees, maintains the school board was always in compliance with the ministerial order because the code of conduct had a link to the BC Human Rights Code.

“It was never out of compliance, we just took the extra step to completely add all of the language from the Human Rights Code,” she says. The board also decided to create an administrative procedure to help guide schools, she adds.

James Chamberlain, a Vancouver vice-principal who has been pushing for LGBT-friendly schools for 20 years, says Abbotsford’s record of supporting its queer students has been questionable. He points to the school board’s decision in 2008 to withdraw a Social Justice 12 elective course after parents complained about the content.

“They wanted the LGBTQ portion of Social Justice 12 removed,” Chamberlain says. “They didn’t even want to run it as an elective in their schools unless they could brand it in their own way, which basically flew in the face of the provincial curriculum — and it still does.”

After students protested the withdrawal, the school district relented and decided to offer the course but only with parental consent.

Chamberlain, who went to school in Abbotsford, says the district’s current policy and administrative procedure pale in comparison to policies passed by other districts.

“Other policies lay out that there need to be safe contacts in schools, [that] the board explicitly supports the formation of gay-straight alliance clubs, that counsellors will be trained on LGBTQ issues, that they’ll examine school libraries from an anti-bias lens around materials that would be deemed homophobic or transphobic or outdated. None of those things are in this policy.”

Chamberlain says the policy doesn’t mention parent and teacher education which he calls a “glaring omission.”

“The education of parents is huge in a very conservative school district like Abbotsford.” Chamberlain notes. “The faith-based beliefs of some families will butt up against the equal rights of LGBTQ people. The human rights protection is one thing but changing people’s hearts and minds is about education.”

Wilson says the school board has met the ministry’s requirements.

“There was no requirement to do anything other than change the policy,” she says. “We took the extra step to add the AP [administrative procedure].”

Chamberlain contends that the policy and administrative procedure don’t give explicit support to teachers to teach about LGBTQ issues, either. “Unless teachers have the permission to teach in conservative districts, they’re often fearful,” he notes.

“The status quo, which is basically silence or omission in Abbotsford, can continue,” he says.

Wilson says the school board is working to ensure that no student feels isolated in Abbotsford schools. “We care about each student individually and their success,” she says.

Caleb Boulter, who left WJ Mouat Secondary School after Grade 10, thinks the new SOGI language will help LGBT students in Abbotsford schools.

“If there had been a policy when I was in Grade 9 or 10 at Mouat, it would have basically saved my life,” Boulter says, adding that access to a gender-neutral washroom would have helped a lot.

“At that point, gender-neutral washrooms weren’t even something I was thinking about let alone fighting for because I was closeted,” Boulter explains. “I ended up missing a whole bunch of school in my Grade 10 year because of how uncomfortable I felt there.”

Boulter says the new policy is a good sign but there is much to be done for queer students in Abbotsford.

“Do training with teachers,” Boulter urges. “Listen to what the students actually need. Hear their voices, their perspectives, their stories in the school district and prevent further damage, as well as giving queer students a step up in coming out and being in a safe environment in school.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

London: A businessman who was publically outed by a Sunday newspaper has called for more gay people in business to be open about their sexuality.
Lord Browne, who was revealed as gay by The Mail on Sunday in 2007, said in an interview with the BBC that it was important for gay people to have role models “at the top levels of business”.
“People join businesses when they see people like themselves doing well,” he continued. “So if a gay person comes into business and see no gay people at the top levels of business, they will probably go elsewhere.
“We need more of those role models. More people to come out, more people to be successful and to be openly gay as well.”
The peer, formerly head of BP, had concealed his sexuality for more than fifty years. However, in January 2007 he received a call from the Mail on Sunday, telling him they were about to publish a ‘kiss and tell’ by a former Brazilian escort, Jeff Chevalier who he had been in a relationship with for three years.
In an attempt to quash the story he applied for an injunction – but lied to his lawyers about where the pair had met, saying they had met jogging in Battersea park. They had in fact met on a gay escort website.
Although he quickly retracted the lie, the injunction was quashed and the paper reported he had lied in court documents. He resigned.
The businessman has since bounced back from the scandal, quickly joining the board of Foster + Partner Architects. He also wrote a book, The Glass Closet, telling his story of being gay in business.
Speaking ahead of its publication he said he wrote it because “I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.”
“You had to blend in, be chameleon-like, so no one would notice your private life. But you could be noticed in your work life, so you sublimated a lot into that. People say minorities have to overachieve, and I guess I did.”
When asked if there were other gay people in business yet to come out, the peer said they were “probably in the closet somewhere”.

He pointed to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple as the only openly gay CEO in the world’s top 500 companies – though statistically, you would expect more.
“Ten years ago I thought [talking like this} would be out of the question,” he added, stressing he had always felt his business and personal life were separate.
A recent study also found that male bosses were less likely to hire LGB employees than their female counterparts.
As part of the study, researchers at the university had participants pick hire from two equally-qualified applicants. One CV identified the applicant as part of the ‘Los Angeles Gay Business Professionals’ group, while the other only identified the ‘Los Angeles Business Professionals’ group.
They found that male bosses were more likely to pick the straight job applicants over equally-qualified gay and lesbian counterparts.

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

Vermont: An American state pushing to take gendered signs off single-occupancy toilets could run out of time to pass the bill this year.
Campaigners in Vermont proposed that all self-contained toilets should be open to people of any gender, but the lead sponsor of the bill is unsure if it will make this year’s guillotine.
Progressive Representative Selene Colburn said she hadn’t faced any opposition to the bill, but with just three weeks left of lawmaking season, she is unsure if it will pass.
The proposed law is still yet to be considered by the state’s full House or Senate, however, is expected to pass a vote on the House Committee on General Housing and Military Affairs.
Other representatives have also backed the bill, with Democrat Bill Lippert claiming taking gender labels off single-occupancy bathrooms can be a practical step, as well being inclusive, highlighting how everyone could experience lower waiting times.
There has been one dissenting voice though, with Republican Vicki Strong stating it is not an area “which should be coming down through law”, as schools and businesses should have their own policies.
Business groups, however, are also said to support the move, with costs to the state estimated at just $2,000 to change bathroom signs in state buildings. The move towards genderless bathrooms is a stark contrast to proposals in other parts of the country, such as North Carolina’s hugely controversial bathroom bill, also known as HB2.
The law, which was passed in 2016, bans trans people from using gender-appropriate bathrooms, as well as rolling back on LGBT+ laws.
The state has since lost a string of big investments, and could face losing out on more than 100 champion level sporting events.
Similarly, the Texas senate passed a bill which bans gender neutral bathrooms and forces trans people to use toilets of their ‘biological sex’.
It has yet to be debated in the house, however, the senate is set to debate further proposals to cut back on LGBT rights.
More than 55 athletes have since signed an open letter in opposition to the Texas bathroom bill, saying they were “committed to upholding the very values that sport instils in each of us.”
“Values like fair play, equality, inclusion and respect.”
It continues: “We believe that everyone should be afforded the same access, opportunity, and experience both in sport and under the law.
In total, 13 states were considering laws by late March that limit access to bathrooms in some way, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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

Virginia: The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that students in the state must continue to face punishment if they discriminate against their transgender peers.
The ruling came as the court prevented a challenge to policy held by the school board which called for “gender identity” and “gender expression” to not be included under discrimination policies.
The student, who remained anonymous as Jack Doe in the lawsuit, said that the categories were not defined meaning he could be “suspended for offending a transgender peer”.
Liberty Counsel, who are notorious for supporting numerous anti-LGBT causes, backed the lawsuit.
The policy is currently protecting trans students and allowing them to use the bathroom and locker room that corresponds to their gender identity.
The high court ruled that the student’s case had no standing because he had not been punished in the way he feared he would.
The court ruled: “We are left with Jack’s bald assertion of fear of discipline without any alleged predicate facts to form the basis for such a fear.
“While we do not reach the question of what must be pled to establish an actual controversy, the injury pled here is insufficient because general distress over a general policy does not alone allege injury sufficient for standing, even in a declaratory judgment action.”
A faction was added into the ruling that stated that if the student was punished for offending another trans student then he could exercise a “private right of action” within 30 days of being punished.

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

Dallas: A Republican with ties to Senator Ted Cruz has claimed that the evil spirit behind the Nazis is now pushing the “homosexual lifestyle”.
The extraordinary claim comes from David Barton, who is the former vice chair of the Republican Party of Texas and the former director of the ‘Keep the Promise PAC’, which supported Senator Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Barton made the claim on his WallBuilders Live radio show, noticed by Right Wing Watch. Speaking a few days into the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover), the evangelical Christian activist insisted that the evil behind the Holocaust is now powering the “homosexual lifestyle”.
He said: “Every evil that’s ever appeared in the world occurs every generation (…) it does not change over time.
“The evil that’s there, it still works in the same deceptive means today, it still has that nice smiling face and, you know, a homosexual lifestyle, ‘it’s such a wonderful lifestyle!’ Yeah? Why don’t you look at the medical stats and see if that’s really true? “It always disguises itself in different ways, it comes through different means. We see it all the time.
“What I learned is what I already knew, and that is human nature does not change and if you don’t have the impact of religion to change a heart you will end up like the Nazis. These are guys who had no conscience and that comes from not fearing God.”
He added: “You see the good stuff of human nature, because the Christians were saving the Jews, and then the pagans – the Nazis.
“You see what happens when you have a secular, God-free society… and that’s what Poland proves is the good stuff is Bible based, Jews and Christians, the bad stuff is secular pagan.”
Another prominent Christian radio host, Bryan Fischer, insisted earlier this year that homosexuals are ‘literally’ Nazi stormtroopers.
The right-wing American Family Association, which runs American Family Radio, pretended to sack spokesperson Bryan Fischer in 2015 for comparing gays to Nazis after senior Republican lawmakers faced questions over financial ties to the AFA.
While he was stripped of a symbolic title, Mr Fischer was never actually dismissed from his American Family Radio show. He is still employed by the AFA, and still making the exact same offensive comparison.
Speaking on his show in February, he claimed: “Homosexual supremacy is the doctrine that homosexual rights trump every other right in the world.
“They trump every right that heterosexuals have, they trump every right that citizens have not to be pushed around by the activists and the LGBT agenda.
“You know, Meryl Streep is out there saying she is going to stand up to the Brownshirts in our culture, referring to Donald Trump
“The real Brownshirts are in the homosexual movement. In fact, the Brownshirts under Hitler literally were homosexuals. You couldn’t become an officer without being a homosexual.
“The gay Gestapo have the same kind of tactics, the same kind of worldview, the same kind of mentality [as Nazis].”

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

North Carolina: A bill banning same-sex marriage in the state of North Carolina is dead on arrival, according to a Republican House speaker.
Just one day after the bill was introduced, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said the bill won’t be heard afterall.
The bill, known as the Uphold Historical Marriage Act, aims to bypass the nationwide right to same-sex marriage.
HB780 says: ‘Marriages between persons of the same gender [are] not valid.’
‘[It is] clear that laws concerning marriage are for each state to establish and maintain severally and independently,’ it said.
But House speaker Moore believes there are ‘strong constitutional concerns’ with the bill.
‘House Bill 780 will be referred to the House Rules Committee and will not be heard,’ he said.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tweeted on Tuesday (11 April): ‘This bill is wrong.
‘We need more LGBT protections, not fewer,’ he said.
North Carolina’s anti-LGBTI past
Last year, North Carolina introduced infamous anti-trans law House Bill 2.
The bill effectively forces transgender people to use the bathroom that matches with the gender on their birth certificate.
The state suffered various boycotts from sporting associations, music artists and even state-sanctioned travel bans.
Governor Roy Cooper had hoped to repeal the law at the start of this year, but was unsuccessful.
He repealed it just a few weeks ago, in-part.
The replacement bill allows provisions of HB2 to remain in effect through 2020 and could push the possibility of full repeal out of reach, according to HRC.
The governor said he wanted a full HB2 repeal but ‘this is the best deal we could get.’
The amended bill has been slammed by LGBTI groups for it’s blatant anti-trans discrimination.
At the start of this year, the bill cost the state more than $560 million, reports Facing South.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Seoul: The South Korean army is reportedly trying to out gay soldiers in its ranks. The Military Human Rights Center for Korea (MHRCK) has claimed that General Jang Jun-kyu, the army’s chief of staff, has launched an attempt to bait gay soldiers to reveal their sexuality. According to reports, one method being used is the setting up of fake profiles on gay apps in a bid to track down closeted soldiers. It’s believed that over 50 gay soldiers have been indentified so far, with more than 20 of them now facing charges over the country’s anti-gay military law.

“Gen Jang is obviously incapable of leading the army,” MHRCK said in a statement. “He treated his men who did their best to protect their homeland as if they were culprits and made them suffer the most horrible fear — losing personal dignity. He must take responsibility and resign immediately,” added the statement.

Article 92 of the Military Penal Code, which is currently under a legal challenge, singles out sexual relations between members of the same sex as “sexual harassment”, and is punishable by a maximum of one year in prison. Despite the claims, the army has denied a large scale hunt of gay men, and has only admitted to one incident. A spokesperson told The Korea Herald: “The investigation team launched the probe after recognizing that an incumbent soldier uploaded a video of him having sexual intercourse with another male soldier on social media.”

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

Grozny: It is a sad fact, but nonetheless…a fact. Many British journalists and news producers in journalism see LGBT rights as a niche story. In fact, more than that, a good number seem to have an unspoken feeling that a gay man talking about gay rights is exaggerating, whining, bleating or self-indulging. Like an exasperated long-suffering mother who is tired of the demands of her needy child, they show a faint, jaded smile as we tug at her skirts and grizzle that gay people are still being brutalised.

One UK Gay Times journalist has had countless conversations with fellow journalists, producers and editors who simply didn’t take stories about gay people seriously.

Last week, the news broke that gay men in Chechnya are being hunted and rounded up like vermin and then imprisoned, beaten, electrocuted, forced to sit on bottles and – in at least three cases we are told – murdered. The latest reports imply that hundreds of men have been abducted after being betrayed by their own families and communities. According to a fresh interview with a former abductee who escaped the so-called gay ‘concentration camp’ near Grozny, prisoners are being forced through torture to implicate former friends and lovers. Yet, though the story had been running for a few days and in spite of the fact that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had made a very robust statement corroborating and condemning the reports, most of the British journalists that the GT journalist had contacted hadn’t heard of the story. Most depressingly, one said ‘It’s not really news to be honest.’ Not really news. That isn’t honesty it’s arrogant, blinkered, foolish disregard.

He does acknowledge that a couple of them, both in online journalism incidentally, were instantly able to see the true implications of the story, not only for gay people in the Caucuses but for anyone who can hear the low growl of a new worldwide disaster.

And amidst this volatility, a top UK news editor says reports of a seeming extermination of gay people is ‘Not really news. The abduction and imprisonment of gay men in Chechnya has been likened to Nazi death camps, where many gay people were experimented on, castrated, enslaved, raped and killed. It might also be likened to one hundred other contemporary acts of barbarity against gay people and other religious and ethnic minority groups in parts of Africa, India, Myanmar and the Middle East. This is the immolation of a very vulnerable minority and it is symptomatic not of embittered, self-indulgent gay lefties, but of a growing will on the part of quasi-‘civilised’ countries, to oppress and bully people and propagate their power through division and terror. The bully always begins with the weakest victims.

Is it the case that the largely white, middle, class, straight people deciding the news agenda today are complacently disregarding this quiet swell of cruelty?

While we are still waiting for the full horror of these reports from Chechnya to be revealed and corroborated and while our media is right to be circumspect and considered in its treatment of such emotive stories, we can be in no doubt that gay people in that region are being treated as animals. And that should matter. We are talking here about the ongoing extermination of people who are already suffering extraordinary prejudice in a fascistic, Islamic society that already treats gay people like rats.

In Britain, where recent generations have fought on battlefields, at summits and in parliament to win freedom and dignity for vulnerable people at home and beyond our shores, we need to tell our politicians and our news editors and producers – to the very top – that this story matters, that we want them to uncover the truth and help those poor men. To say, with as loud a voice as we can muster, this is news.

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

Sydney: The LGBT-inclusive Australian Safe Schools program is set to be scrapped in both New South Wales and Tasmania once federal funding for it runs out later in 2017 NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes confirmed it will instead be replaced with a new anti-bullying strategy. In a statement Stokes said he will consult with the education sector, including Catholic and independent schools, about the new strategy.
“Bullying will never be accepted in NSW public schools whether it be because someone is overweight, gay, based on the colour of their skin, or for any other reason. Students and parents should expect that schools are a place where they feel safe. Schools remain one of the most secure and trusted public institutions in our community.”

Federal funding for Safe Schools will stop on June 30 but the new NSW program will receive funding in the state budget and will be ready for implementation in the second half of the year. Tasmania’s Education and Training Minister Jeremy Rockliff has similarly confirmed that his government won’t fund the Safe Schools program once federal funding stops mid-year, despite it already being implemented in 22 Tasmanian schools. Rockliff said he will instead opt to focus on a comprehensive anti-bullying scheme for the schoolyard.

In an article by The Australian Rockliff said the Tasmanian government is committed to providing a safe and inclusive school environment.

“It is up to each Tasmanian school to make their own decisions about the programs used in their school, and government schools are encouraged to use the Department of Education’s own program. Given the significant investment in our own anti-bullying initiative, the state government has no plans to take over funding for the federal program.” Western Australia’s new ALP government has committed to funding the Safe Schools program over the next four years, and a spokeswoman for Queensland’s ALP Education Minister said there were no plans to ditch the programme. In South Australia, the government is weighing up whether to take over funding, while Victoria has committed more than $2 million to roll out the program to all state schools by the end of 2018.

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

Brisbane: More than 1,200 Queenslanders are participating in the state government’s $6 million four-year expanded PrEP trial as part of efforts to prevent HIV transmission.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the strong uptake demonstrated the high demand for the Q-PrEP trial, which has filled more than half of its 2,000 places, less than five months after its launch.

“The research shows PrEP can dramatically reduce the risk of contracting HIV, so this trial really has the potential to positively impact the lives of Queenslanders at high risk of contracting the virus. We still have 800 places available on the trial so we’re encouraging eligible Queenslanders to get involved.”

Twenty Q-PrEP trial sites from the Gold Coast to Cairns and west to Mt Isa and Toowoomba are now operational, including sexual health services, general practices, and community-based organisations across Queensland. The medication is free to trial participants. Recent data shows that there have been 48 HIV notifications compared to 57 in the same period last year—a reduction of almost 16 per cent.

“This is an encouraging sign but the challenge now is to sustain this reduction which will require a strong response from the community,” Dick said.

Increased testing for HIV and significant uptakes in treatment by HIV positive men in Queensland are highlighted by the release of the 2016 Queensland Gay Community Periodic Survey. The survey shows more queer men testing for HIV, and more having regular tests. HIV-positive men on antiretroviral treatment increased from 70 per cent in 2012 to 96 per cent in 2016.

The findings were welcomed by Adjunct Associate Professor Darryl O’Donnell, CEO of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations.

“This is a great testament to Queensland’s efforts and the continuing responsiveness of communities to HIV. Queensland is seeing striking year on year increases in HIV testing and HIV treatment. We can take real comfort that even after 35 years, gay and bisexual men remain engaged and proactive around HIV prevention and treatment. Results like these don’t occur by accident. They require enormous effort by community organisations that are trusted and credible with those who are at risk of HIV.”

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

London: Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron is under fire after again refusing to say whether he believes homosexuality is sinful.
Farron, who replaced Nick Clegg as leader of the UK political party in 2015, is currently under the microscope as his pro-European party is expected to make gains in the country’s snap election, announced by PM Theresa May today. Unlike Mr Clegg, who fiercely championed LGBT rights, Mr Farron rose to the position with a poor voting history on the issue – though he has become an outspoken and consistent supporter of equal rights since becoming party leader. The evangelical Christian MP has come under some scrutiny for his religious views – and during a Channel 4 interview in 2015, he refused to answer three times when asked if he thinks gay sex is a sin.

In another interview with Channel 4’s Cathy Newman today, Mr Farron was pushed on the issue again.
She challenged him: “A while back I asked you whether it was true that you believed homosexuality was a sin, and you struggled to answer. Now you’ve had a while to consider that question, what is the answer?”
The Lib Dem leader insisted: “I don’t think I struggled to answer, I talked about how I’m not in a position to be making theological pronouncements. I can promise you one thing, over the next six weeks I’m not going to spend my time talking theology or making pronouncements. As a liberal, I’m passionate about equality – about equal marriage, about equal rights for LGBT people, fighting not just for LGBT rights in this country but overseas. Just because I’m a Christian, it would be a bit boring for everybody if over the next six weeks I’m being asked to make theological pronouncements. I am not planning to do so.”

His comments were seized upon by Labour supporters as evidence of anti-LGBT beliefs. Guardian columnist Owen Jones wrote: “This is an absolute disgrace. But hey, I’m just some sinning gay, what would I know.” Others on social media branded him an “illiberal democrat,” wefenders of Mr Farron pointed to his enthusiastic support for LGBT causes since becoming leader as taking precedence over his personal views, however. Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Featherstone, the architect of England’s civil marriage equality legislation, fired back: “Turn your attack on those religions that make their followers choose between their sexuality and their faith. Tim is solid on lgbt rights”

Farron has been a consistent progressive campaigner on LGBT issues as Lib Dem leader.
Just last week, Mr Farron was leading calls against the persecution of gay people in Chechnya, lobbying Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on the issue.
He told PinkNews: “These reports from Chechnya are truly horrifying, and represent an extreme manifestation of increasing homophobic brutality and intolerance in Putin’s Russia.
“The UK government must strongly condemn this disgusting violence, and use every possibly opportunity to raise this with the Russian government, as well as in the UN and other international bodies.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did not respond to PinkNews’ request for comment on Chechnya and did not make a public statement.
Through his time in Parliament Mr Farron has lobbied on a number of other issues, championing transgender equality and criticising the blanket ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men.
He also personally intervened in Parliament to help secure the safety of a transgender woman who has been sent to a man’s prison.
Two out transgender women are expected to stand as Lib Dem candidates in June’s election.
Mr Farron previously spoke candidly about his mixed voting record on equality legislation in a PinkNews interview, saying that he “regrets anything that gives people the wrong impression”.
The politician claimed he voted against the Programme Motion on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, because he was trying to secure more time to discuss trans issues.
He was also forced to apologise to rights campaigner Peter Tatchell – after claiming Mr Tatchell agreed with his decision to vote against 2008’s Sexual Orientation Regulations.
When challenged on his opposition, he claimed that “Peter Tatchell was on the same side as me” – but Mr Tatchell, a veteran campaigner for of LGBT rights, was actually a vocal supporter of the Act.
Making pledges on LGBT issues going forward, Mr Farron said: “On LGBT+ issues, how do you follow it? I’ll give you three things I’m very keen we do.
“One, when it comes to the equal marriage legislation, I think we really missed a trick on trans issues. On the spousal veto, I think it’s an appalling thing that one person is allowed to block another person’s freedom. We should be making that a priority.
“Secondly, it strikes me as deeply troubling is that there was no regulation of psychotherapists in the UK for quack conversion therapy.
“Thirdly, we’ve got to end the gay blood ban, which is a disgrace. My pledge to you is that my first opposition day bill will be getting rid of the gay blood ban. All of these things need to be based on the science, not on prejudice.”

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

Atlanta: An LGBT theatre company in the US has prompted controversy by showing a play which depicts gay versions of Bible Stories.
The Atlanta-based Out Front Theatre Company, which only stages performances from LGBT writers, is remaining defiant after a Christian group called the play “blasphemous”, and gathered 40,000 names on a petition demanding to have it shut down.
The play, called ‘The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told’, depicts comic versions of Old Testament Bible stories, seen through the eyes of a gay couple called Adam and Steve and a lesbian couple called Jane and Mabel.
The play opens next week.
The protest is being driven by a conservative Catholic group called America Needs Fatima, which aims to “spread the message of [the Virgin Mary] throughout the United States”.
The group, which also protested popular film The Da Vinci Code in 2006, has called the play “blasphemous”.
Members of the Christian group are particularly angry about a scene in the play that “refers to the Virgin Mary as a lesbian”. The group has mentioned on its website that “the playwright himself is a homosexual”.
Paul Conroy, the theatre’s artistic director, has said the play will go ahead as planned.

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

Vancouver: Fundamentalist Trinity Western University’s anti-LGBT “covenant” has sparked controversy across Canada for years, especially since the university announced its intention to open a law school in 2013.

Many lawyers objected to seeing future members of their profession trained on a campus governed by a discriminatory policy against LGBT students. Several provincial Canadian law societies have outright refused to accredit the school’s future grads. (Ontario said no, BC initially said yes then changed its mind, and Nova Scotia said it would only recognize TWU’s grads if the school changes its covenant.)

The question of discriminatory enrolment policy is now making its way through several court cases, which have so far all yielded different results. In a June 2016 ruling in Ontario, the justices found that TWU’s covenant was discriminatory and said LGBT students deserve equal access to law school. In July 2016, Nova Scotia’s court of appeal sided with TWU, saying the school is entitled to its religious freedom. In December 2016, BC’s court of appeal sided with TWU as well. The fundamentalist law school has a right to its beliefs, the court ruled, even as it acknowledged that the covenant is “deeply offensive and hurtful to the LGBTQ community.” The Supreme Court of Canada has now decided to weigh in on the appeals with what is sure to be a landmark ruling in the case. The judges’ decision will likely determine whether graduates of a fundamentalist university law school can practice as lawyers in Canada.

TWU encouraged students to seek reparative therapy, and brought in speakers to chapel sessions who talked about homosexuality and how “God’s love can bring you out of it, stated one former student. In one class, a professor started a debate about whether homosexuality, as defined by fundamentalist Christian beliefs, should be labelled a “mental illness.”

TWU’s president, Bob Kuhn, a practicing lawyer for over 30 years, is no stranger to defending discriminatory “religious liberty” dogma.

In 1997, an elementary school teacher named James Chamberlain wanted to use three books depicting families with same-sex parents in his kindergarten classroom in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, British Columbia. Kuhn’s law firm represented the Surrey school board in the ensuing legal battle, after it refused to allow the books into its classrooms. The board claimed that children were too young to learn about homosexuality, and that schools should not use books that conflict with some parents’ religious beliefs. In 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the board, stating that “tolerance is always age-appropriate.”

In 1995, WU had applied to the BC College of Teachers to accredit its teacher-training program. Like the lawyers associations would do nearly 20 years later, the teachers’ association rejected TWU’s application, saying the school’s covenant violates its anti-discrimination policy. Kuhn represented TWU in the case and led it to victory when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in its favour in 2001. The court found no evidence that teachers trained at the evangelical university would discriminate against gay and lesbian students in their classrooms. TWU now offers a five-year teacher education program.In 2005, Kuhn’s firm also represented the Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance in the Kempling versus British Columbia College of Teachers case. Chris Kempling was a high school counsellor in the northern town of Quesnel, BC, when he was suspended by the BC College of Teachers for sending anti-gay letters to the editor endorsing reparative therapy. This time the teachers’ college won. Kempling left the public school system three years later, after the college accused him again of conduct “unbecoming” of a teacher.

According to his TWU bio, Kuhn studied at TWU in the early 1970s before pursuing his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of British Columbia. While at TWU, he served as student-body president. Kuhn was awarded an honourary doctorate from TWU’s board of governors in 2012. He was also president of the TWU Alumni Association at the time. He stepped in as interim president in 2013 and was then named president and vice chancellor of the university in March 2014, three months after TWU got preliminary approval to open its proposed law school. (Under pressure, BC’s education ministry rescinded its approval one year later.)

Another lesbian former TWU student says she faced discipline for challenging the covenant when she was a student at the university from 2000 to 2007, prior to Kuhn’s arrival. She says she was working as a teaching assistant when she wrote an article in favour of same-sex marriage for the student newspaper, Mars’ Hill. Shortly thereafter, she says, she was pulled into the office of the professor she was working for and nearly fired. In a detailed post about her years at TWU, she says the school is not a safe space for queer people. She says students are discouraged from openly expressing any views inconsistent with fundamentalist Christian beliefs. However, after her Mars’ Hill story was published, another professor wrote a piece in the newspaper’s following edition that was also in favour of LGBT rights.

However, some students and grads are taking it upon themselves to create space for their queer peers to speak. Straight TWU alumnus Matthew Wigmore helped run the Facebook group One TWU, to support LGBT students safely exploring their sexuality and faith on campus, and to encourage the university to amend its covenant to “reflect the diversity of opinion regarding same-sex marriage within the Christian Faith.” He distanced the online group from the administration. Some students are taking tangible steps on campus, too. The student government organized an event on Nov 23, 2016, where students read aloud stories from queer TWU students.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Toronto: An Ontario judge has ruled that a $104-million lawsuit against a notorious Canadian fundamentalist anti-gay activist and his allies who crashed the 2016 Toronto Pride parade can’t go forward as a class action, but individuals could sue if they wished.

But Bill Whatcott — who has a history of crashing Pride parades across Canada — will have to reveal the identities of the other people who snuck into the parade with him, as well as their financial backers. Whatcott is one of Canada’s most notorious anti-gay extremists and was found guilty of distributing hate literature by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2013.

During 2016’s Toronto Pride parade, he dressed in a neon green bodysuit and distributed anti-gay literature to the crowd as part of the “Gay Zombies Cannabis Consumer’s Association”, a group fabricated in order to sneak into the event. Former Ontario MPP George Smitherman, who plans to seek a city council seat in 2018, and Christopher Hudspeth, the owner of Pegasus Bar in Toronto’s gay Village, had filed suit on behalf of members of the federal and provincial Liberal parties, and the 500,000 estimated people who participated in the parade, for defamation, conspiracy to injure and inflicting mental distress. Judge Paul Perell concluded that the suit can’t go forward as a class action because only individuals who have been specifically harmed can sue on those grounds. He suggested that the plaintiffs were trying to act as “public prosecutors for a hate crime,” which isn’t appropriate for a civil court.

“Criminal law responds to crimes against the community,” he wrote.He also noted that some individuals who may have been defamed in the anti-gay pamphlets may have grounds to sue, and the case could continue if they came forward and if the plaintiffs submitted new pleadings.

The individuals mentioned in the pamphlets include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne, former Liberal leader Bill Graham, and Benjamin Levin, a former Ontario Liberal deputy minister convicted of making and distributing child pornography. Neither Pride Toronto nor the federal or provincial Liberal parties participated in the lawsuit. The judge did grant a motion that will force Whatcott to name his associate marchers and their financial backers, who are currently anonymous. Throughout his ruling, Perell chided both sides for making improper pleadings, noting that they submitted “jeremiads, diatribes, ad hominies, polemics, and propaganda pieces far removed from proper pleadings and proper legal argument.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

United States: The 19th-century American frontier was one of the the gayest periods in the country’s history, sexually speaking. Scottish-born adventurer and noted homosexual William Drummond Stewart knew what he’d find in the untamed west. Born on Dec 26, 1795, Stewart was the second son of a Scottish baronet. His family’s seat was located at Murthly Castle, about a day’s journey north of Edinburgh. Stewart had the unfortunate position as a second son only meant to inherit a modest allowance, so when he was 17 his family bought him a position in the British Army’s cavalry— a way for the somewhat foppish adolescent to make a name for himself.

Stewart would see combat in the successful Waterloo campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte and was eventually, through familial connections, raised to the position of captain in 1820 before the young man retired on half pay soon after.

Although it’s undocumented if he ever consummated his homosexual feelings in these early years, Stewart was certainly aware of them, and of the dangers they posed in a society on a moral crusade. He wrote two autobiographical novels, but named his narrator “Edward Warren.” In the book, Warren describes his inner struggle with his desires.

“However I may be alive to surprise or admiration, or to those mysterious sympathies which are electrically conveyed by the touch as well as by the sight, I have never been conscious of betraying it by outward emotion,” he writes.

After his military career, Stewart split his time between his family’s estate in Scotland and their London home in the Belgravia district. He learned quickly that a moral campaign against sodomites and increased police prosecution throughout the early 19th century made the UK a less than ideal place for the homosexually inclined.

Perhaps to prove he could, or at least throw off the scent, Stewart managed to impregnate a young servant girl, and they had a son. Stewart’s family fabricated a marriage to her, conveniently nine months before the birth, and he then set up a household for his new wife and child in Edinburgh, though he never lived with them. He maintained a distant but amicable relationship with his son, but had little contact with his wife.

In Men in Eden: William Drummond Stewart and Same-Sex Desire in the Rocky Mountain Fur Trade, author and historian William Benemann muses that it would have been an enviable set-up: a lowborn mistress and a bastard child, proving the still unmarried man’s heterosexuality. Stewart’s fantasies for an all-male world untainted by female contaminant did not include a “beard,” like his fake wife. He would soon find this masculine utopia in the American west.

The American West was literally a man’s world. According to the Annenberg Learner’s article, “Paradise of Bachelors,” the 1850 California census showed that more than 90 percent of the state’s population consisted of men, which likely reflected the rest of the fledgling territories’ population. This was just before the explosion caused by the Gold Rush, when the population would double within the span of two years. Life for African-American, Chinese, Latino, European and Anglo-American immigrants in the American frontier consisted of mining, cattle herding, ranching, hunting and trapping, or the military — work that mostly excluded women.

Annenberg Learner’s article cites historian Susan Lee Johnson, who says this homosocial society necessitated “drastically altered divisions of labor in which men took on tasks that womenfolk would have performed back home.”

Groups of all-male units would build little homes together, working their mining claims, sharing a common fund of money divided equally with men who had never cooked, washed or mended clothing before learning to do so for their newfound familial unit. “Paradise of Bachelors” notes that “household intimacy inherent in camp life could also transcend racial difference. White men amicably shared tents, food, and economic responsibilities with Chinese, African American, and Latino miners.”

In this all-male society, lines between emotional and sexual relationships blurred easily. Depending on the racial group each labourer came from they may have had their own ideas about men who have sex with men, but there was no concept of “homosexual” or “heterosexual.” The article notes:

As traditional notions of “normal” gender roles were challenged and unsettled, men could display both subtly and openly the erotic connections they felt for other men. When the miners at Angel Camp in southern California held dances, half of the men danced the part of women, wearing patches over the crotches of their pants to signal their “feminine” role. Men routinely shared beds in mining communities and on the range, and cowboys and miners settled into partnerships that other men recognized (and sometimes referred to) as “bachelor marriages.”

Colonists making a life in the so-called “New World” also had role models — societies who had lived there for thousands of years. While the term “berdache” is now considered a pejorative, more than a hundred North American nations and communities had words or roles for people who expressed unique gender and sexual identity beyond the male-female or man-plus-woman binaries.

Our Scottish dandy, William Drummond Stewart, first arrived in America in 1832, when he was 36 years old. He began his new life in St Louis, Missouri, where he accompanied a pack train west to an 1833 “rendezvous” of hunters and trappers in the Green River Valley of Wyoming. At the rendezvous he met a renowned French Canadian-Cree hunter named Antoine Clement, who became his lover.

As Benemann notes from Stewart’s autobiography, Warren (Stewart’s narrative stand-in), meets a “seductively handsome American Indian, and indeed it was not uncommon for a European who had carefully repressed his homosexuality at home to find it blossoming — to his dismay and to his wonderment — once he encountered Native Americans so strikingly handsome that it became almost a cliché to compare them to a naked Adonis or Apollo.”

The couple would stay together for a decade, even travelling to Murthly Castle in 1839 after the death of his childless older brother, to take up his position. They lived in Dalpowie Lodge on the estate, and he presented Clement first as a valet, then as a footman. Clement was apparently unhappy in Scotland, and so they spent a significant amount of time traveling, including a visit to the Middle East, before eventually returning to America together.

Stewart had a dream of recapturing the glory age of the frontiersman rendezvous, although with a twist. Benemann describes a group of hunters at the time finding “a rollicking medieval market faire magically transported to the American West. Festive pennants waved above a jumble of colorful tents. Here and there naked men crawled out from beneath striped canvas and ran to a nearby lake, where they hooted and splashed in the morning sunlight.”

The revellers, around 80 of them in total, were “mostly young men in their teens and twenties, and those who were clothed could be seen sporting the most fantastic and colorful costumes,” that being authentic medieval costumery at best, or simply the styles of Broadway dandies at worst. Essentially a big, gay, medieval-themed orgy.

Stewart was at the centre of it all, literally, where his “large striped marquee stood in regal splendor, a white pennant waving from its peak.”

Stewart’s infamous rendezvous ended in his leaving the country after the expedition returned to St Louis, soured by “camp tensions turned into nasty rumours”— Benemann doesn’t specify what these rumours were, but we can certainly guess. Stewart was forced to leave America and his lover behind. America was being tamed under the steady march of European heterosexuality, and Stewart lost his paradise of bachelors.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Ottawa: A Canadian human rights organization that assists LGBT people in escaping places where they face persecution is launching a campaign to help gay men get out of Chechnya, the semiautonomous Russian republic where at least 100 gay men have been arrested and detained recently.

“Since we first received initial reports of gay concentration camps being established in Chechnya, Rainbow Railroad immediately re-classified Eastern Europe as a priority region,” said Rainbow Railroad executive director Kimahli Powell in a statement. “This means we’re expanding our on-the-ground contacts as well as increasing our capacity to identify and assess new or alternative safe routes out of Chechnya.” Rainbow Railroad is collaborating with the Russian LGBT Network, which is working to rescue gay men who are in danger in Chechnya. The two plan to identify specific individuals who need to be evacuated, and Rainbow Railroad will provide travel assistance for those people.

“An important part of our emergency response plan is to support the Russian LGBT Network in their rescue campaign,” Powell said. “This includes fundraising to support the organization while allocating resources to increase the number of people we can support in the region. In addition, we are formally requesting the Canadian government provide direct assistance to those in need by way of emergency visas.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, condemned the human rights violations against gay men in Chechnya Monday, a few days after GLAAD petitioned her to do so. Reports say that along with the 100 or more men who have been detained, at least three have been killed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechen authorities deny the accusations. Authorities in the region claim gay people do not exist in Chechnya.

Former Vice President Joe Biden released a statement calling on President Trump to address the human rights violations directly with Russia. Trump has yet to raise the issue publicly. The State Department issued a statement against the reports but there is no indication that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson brought it up when he met with President Putin in Russia recently.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Edinburgh: The Church of Scotland is considering whether to allow ministers to perform ceremonies for same-sex weddings.
The Kirk’s General Assembly will discuss the issue in May.
Presented by the Theological Forum of the Church of Scotland, the group has called on the Church to ‘recognize’ its faults.’As a Church we have often failed to recognise and protect the identity and Christian vocation of gay people and believe that the Church as a whole should acknowledge its faults, whose identity and Christian vocation it has failed to recognize and protect,’ the report states.
While the report states that most people the Bible condemns homosexuality, they also suggest there are interpretations of scripture that even welcomes gay love.
It said: ‘Scriptural condemnations of same-sex sexual activity were framed in cultural contexts very different from our own and referred to individual acts rather than committed and faithful people willing to enshrine their relationships in vows before God.’
Even if the Church of Scotland allows same-sex marriages, it is likely the Kirk will ensure ministers or deacons to decline to carry out services to gay couples will not be prosecuted.
In 2015, the Church in Wales discussed same-sex marriages and ‘more than half of its Governing Body voted in favor’. However due to a need of a two third majority, the Bench of Bishops decided to approve a ‘series of prayers which may be said with a couple following the celebration of a civil partnership or civil marriage’.
It is written in the same-sex marriage law that the Church of England are expressly banned from carrying out ceremonies for gay couples.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Hanoi: Many members of Vietnam’s trans community are turning to the black market to buy hormone medication.
Hormone replacement therapy and gender reassignment surgery are not legal in Vietnam. Many trans people have resorted to buying bootlegged drugs from neighbouring Thailand.
Huynh Nha An, 21, self-prescribes and injects hormones to stop her facial hair growing back. Every month she must decide whether she will spend her minimum wage on hormones or food. She relies on advice from her friends about how much medication she should take and how often.
‘When I don’t use hormones regularly I turn back into a boy, I’m no longer smooth like a girl,’ she told the AFP.
In 2015, Vietnam updated its laws to recognise the true gender of people who had undergone gender reassignment surgery. But the surgery is still banned in the country, so many travel abroad to have it.
For 10 years twins, Truc Lam and Truc Linh have taken multiple morning-after pills everyday in the hope they’ll grow breasts. The right hormones for their transition are easier to come by now. But they hope the law will soon change in Vietnam.
‘We did it secretly and by ourselves,’ Lam said
‘I wanted my transition to be quick, I wanted to be beautiful.’
‘It’s good to have someone who could supervise us in using hormones, it could assure us about our health, but it could cost us more money,’ said Linh.
‘I hope the government can help on this.’
New law provides a new hope
The Vietnamese government is now drafting legislation that will allow people to officially change their gender. But the law is unlikely to come into effect until 2019.
Its health ministry is also weighing up whether to legalize hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery as part of the law. People who do not undergo hormone therapy or surgery would not be allowed to update their gender legally.
‘We have to assess what medical facilities will be compatible to do hormone therapy or surgery for trans people,’ Nguyen Huy Quang, head of health legislation at the ministry told the AFP.
‘There would be some legal barriers as well as psycho-social and traditional cultural barriers.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Delhi: The stigma of AIDS’ might sound like a phrase from another era but in India anyone who is HIV-positive or has AIDS continues to feel the whiplash of contempt and discrimination from the moment their condition is discovered.

To counter this treatment, the Indian parliament passed a new law last week that makes it illegal to discriminate against those with HIV/AIDS in jobs, housing, education, or in public life.India has 2.1 million people with HIV/AIDS. Although attitudes in the big cities such as New Delhi and Bombay have softened slightly as people become more aware and sensitive, deep fear, bordering on hatred, continues to be the norm in more socially conservative smaller towns and rural areas where attitudes tend to be based on ignorance and superstition.

The United Nationals program UNAIDS called the new legislation a landmark that will provide strong legal protection not just against discrimination in the workplace, schools and homes but also unfair treatment in access to shops, restaurants, hotels, and public facilities.”This is an important step forward for people living with and affected by HIV in India and around the world,” said Steve Kraus, UNAIDS director in Asia Pacific. “This legislation begins to remove barriers and empowers people to challenge violations of their human rights.”

Children can be thrown out of school. Adults have been sacked, refused homes, and denied hospital treatment by doctors who refuse to touch them. The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill makes all such discrimination illegal.”Although most people with HIV/AIDS obviously don’t tell anyone outside their family, employers sometimes learn of their condition when medical tests have to be carried out for insurance and landlords when they start seeing a tenant constantly buying medicines or ailing,” said Paul Lhungdim, president of Delhi Network of Positive People.

Neelimi Mohanty is project director of a home for HIV-positive children, founded by G.Ravi Babu, on the outskirts of Hyderabad in southern India, called the Desire Society. The NGO runs four other homes in other parts of the country. It takes in orphans, houses them and enrolls the at local schools.The latter is a mammoth task as both teachers and parents of the other children often rise up in disgust at the idea of having HIV positive children in the same classroom.

Mohanty says the hostility has not softened much ever since the case of Bency and Benson in Kerala caught the headlines. These two young siblings were left orphaned after their parents died of AIDS in 2000. Their grandparents continued raising them but when other parents heard of their condition, they forced the school to expel them.

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http://www.theage.com.au/world/india-passes-hivaids-antidiscrimination-law-but-stigma-endures-20170418-gvmxq6.html

Paul Lhungdim, president, Delhi Network of Positive People in the Indian capital.
Paul Lhungdim, president, Delhi Network of Positive People in the Indian capital. Photo: Supplied
It was one of India’s most publicised cases. After a long, lonely battle, they were finally able to attend school in 2003. Bency, the girl, died in 2010, aged 15.

“There has been some change in the cities but in most places, people are still unwilling to accept our orphans. The parents always say ‘why our school? Send them to another school’. They won’t accept them,” Mohanty said.

At the Desire home in Gurgaon, outside the Indian capital, neighbours even object to the rubbish. “They want the home’s rubbish to be put in a separate dustbin, not the dustbins for the neighbourhood. Can you ever imagine them sharing a meal with our children?,” she asks.

Mohanty has welcomed the new anti-discrimination law as a “sincere and long overdue” attempt to protect the rights of Indians with AIDS/HIV. While countries such as South Africa and Nigeria already have anti-discrimination laws, the Indian law is a first in South Asia.

Other NGOs in the same field have also applauded it but with significant reservations. One provision of the law is that state governments will have to set up an ombudsman who will look into violations oand take action.

“I would rather that the federal government had kept this responsibility. How do we know that the state governments will act on this? They are often fiscally weak and may not want to spend money setting up and maintaining the office of an ombudsman,” Lhungdim said .

He would also have preferred the bill to have specified that the ombudsman will be a full-time post.

Anjali Gopalan, founder of the Naz Foundation which works with HIV/AIDS children, welcomed the law for giving a recourse to those who suffer discrimination but had strong misgivings about a clause in the legislation which promises that the government will provide free treatment and medicines “as far as possible”.

“This is a huge loophole which will lead to problems. As to the ombudsman, when state governments implement federal laws, they make their own rules and these can often water down the original law so I’m worried about how this will work out,” she said.

As for the provision of free treatment, Lhungdim saus the caveat is a “ready escape clause” for the government. He said primary health centres in India often run out of basic medicines and hospitals sometimes turn away patients for the flimsiest of reasons.

Mohanty thinks it will take “decades and decades” before most Indians treat those with HIV/AIDS fairly. Attitudes are changing, she concedes, but far too slowly. She speaks of the Hyderabad landlord who, unusually, agreed to let the Desire Society rent his building to use as a home for the orphans. After a few years, Desire was able to buy some land and build its own home. It then vacated the building.

“That landlord will curse us every day for the rest of his life. No one has been willing to rent the house since we moved out, just because our HIV-positive children, who have done nothing wrong, lived there,” she said.

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

Barbadoes: Xtra asked Barbados’ prime minister, Freundel Stuart, about his country’s buggery law when he spoke at an open town hall meeting at the University of Toronto on Sept 25, 2016. Some of this interview was used in a recent Xtra feature on LGBT Bajans and their experiences of discrimination on the island, where fundamentalist forms of Christianity are spreading homophobic rhetoric.

Xtra: Prime minister, thank you for being here and for giving us this opportunity. Despite progress on acceptance of LGBT people and on fighting HIV, Barbados still has the harshest buggery law in the Western hemisphere. Now I know that the laws around buggery and serious indecency are rarely enforced, but over the past decade, over 300 LGBT Barbadians have left the country and applied for asylum abroad, including over 100 in Canada.

Will your government commit to decriminalizing buggery, and if not, why not?

PM Stuart: Thank you very much for telling me about life in Barbados, I didn’t know much about it.

I have been a lawyer for the last 34 years now. And I am not aware that we have what you call harsh buggery laws. If the offence of buggery, it is an offence on the statute books of Barbados.

But if the offence of buggery is committed, the prosecutor needs to have somebody push the case. If the prosecutor doesn’t have somebody to push the case [inaudible] he has no buggery charge. If the patient, the language of the law uses the agent and the patient, if the person buggered does not go and complain to the police, or if he’s a consenting person, there’s no issue. The law of buggery has to do with abuse, where A abuses B without his consent.

Which is the equivalent of the law of rape, where A has sexual intercourse with B female without her consent. But in terms of Barbados being a place where if two men or two women are seen together, any presumption can be made that they’re involved in any improper relationship and we try them before the courts, none of that exists in Barbados.

I want you to just equate in your own mind, buggery with rape. Rape is the offence committed against in a heterosexual relationship and buggery is the offence committed in a same-sex relationship. At the kernel of both is the absence of consent and therefore a protesting party who wants to ensure that he or she gets justice through the courts.

There is a lobby that is trying to get the government, trying to get successive governments in Barbados to decriminalize as they say homosexuality. But you can only decriminalize something that is already a criminal offence. As I say, if buggery is an offence, then buggery takes place if A has anal intercourse with B without B’s consent. But as far as I’m aware, homosexuality is not criminalized in Barbados. So there is nothing to decriminalize.

Those people who feel that we should create an environment where they can practice their lifestyles in public on high noon on a sunny day, or whatever, want even the very limited controls we have, removed. We have not reached a stage yet where we think that we want to do that. But we allow people to conduct their lives in accordance with their orientation or practices. Those people who have decided, I don’t know, went abroad and said, and made untrue representations of Barbados in this regard, about people being in prison and being persecuted, that has not happened in the country over which I preside and it didn’t happen in the country over which any of my predecessors presided. Barbados is a safe place for that, we don’t believe the state should be any policeman in anybody’s bedrooms. I want to make that very clear.

But having said all of that, Barbados is still a predominately Christian society. They are values that have helped to make Barbados the strong country that it has been over its entire history, but certainly over the last 50 years as an independent nation.

And we are reluctant to discard things that have worked for us over the last 50 years, for the better part of our history. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? And therefore, we will continue to monitor the situation and if further intervention is required, we will do it.

As far as I know, and I think I know a little about Barbados, in practically every family, not in all but in practically every family, there is likely to be somebody challenged by that kind of orientation. And I don’t know that Barbadian fathers or mothers or uncles or aunts disown nieces and nephews and children because they have those orientations.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: In the United States in the 1950s, thousands of homosexual men and women lost their jobs or had their lives ruined because of McCarthyism.

A response to the fear of Soviet influence and Soviet spies in the period following the end of the Second World War, McCarthyism (named for its most memorable proponent, Republican senator Joseph McCarthy) was a Communist witch hunt. Often with little evidence, this movement saw many people including teachers, government workers, Hollywood film stars and screenwriters ousted from their jobs or sent to prison for supposed Communist ties.

McCarthyism also targeted homosexuals working government jobs or serving in the military, or persecuted them in other areas of their lives. Proponents of McCarthyism argued that homosexuality and Communism were in some way linked. They said that homosexuals were inherently subversive. They said that because homosexuality could get you fired from a government job, homosexuals could be blackmailed and controlled by Soviet spies.

The arguments for a link between homosexuality and Communism were all dubious at best (the blackmail concern loses its force when you consider that all the government needed to defuse the supposed threat was to make it a policy that nobody could be fired for being gay). What’s more likely is that the momentum of McCarthyism was seen as an opportunity to persecute an unpopular group.

Homosexuals — “sex perverts,” as they were called at the time — were considered mentally ill in 1950s America. And many considered homosexuals a threat to so-called American values and the traditional American family structure.

Whatever the justification behind it, the trumped-up homosexual threat was known as the Lavender Scare.

More gay men than lesbians lost their jobs and had their lives ruined because of their sexual orientation in this period, but that’s only because there were more men working the types of jobs that were targeted. Lesbians were hunted with just as much zeal. Lillian Faderman discusses how lesbians suffered in her 1991 book, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers.

Since many schools wouldn’t allow women to study to become doctors or lawyers in the 1950s, many middle-class lesbians who wanted to maintain their social standing had little choice but to take government jobs like teaching or social work, making them a target of McCarthyism.

Government employees were investigated for signs of homosexuality, sometimes using a lie-detector test. A lesbian could be fired based on accusations alone, and had little to no recourse. And of course she then had to cope with bigotry once the world thought she was a lesbian — whether she actually was or not.

It was nearly impossible to put up any kind of resistance to this treatment. Even the American Civil Liberties Union did not oppose the federal government’s firing of gay and lesbian employees.

A 1954 issue of Jet, an African-American magazine, said this about lesbians: “If she so much as gets one foot into a good woman’s home with the intention of seducing her, she will leave no stone unturned . . . and eventually destroy her life for good.” According to Faderman, some lesbians, who were expected by their families to marry and settle down, felt the need to arrange to marry gay men so that both parties could have a cover, hiding their true orientations from their parents, employers and nosey acquaintances. According to Daniel Rivers, author of Radical Relations: Lesbian Mothers, Gay Fathers, and Their Children in the United States since World War II, two women living together was less suspicious than two men, making it was easier for lesbians to pursue non-traditional relationships and live with other women or alone with their children.

However, there was some small pushback in the form of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), one of the first lesbian organization in the US. Founded in the mid-1950s as a private social group for middle-class lesbians, the organization became an activist group dedicated to promoting lesbian rights. It had several chapters across the country and a magazine called The Ladder.

The DOB kept member identities secret for safety, but it wasn’t long before the CIA and FBI had informants sneaking into meetings.

Many less affluent women chose a career in the military because there they could get training they wouldn’t otherwise get and travel the world. Unfortunately, the military was one of the most dangerous places for a woman to work if she was a lesbian — she could be kicked out without notice or even benefits.

According to Faderman, women in the US Navy were regularly given anti-lesbian lectures, and encouraged to inform on peers they thought were lesbians. Even military doctors and chaplains were supposed to help find and boot out lesbians.

Women in the Air Force were subject to similar treatment. They were routinely questioned, and some women had their possessions routinely (and without warning) searched for evidence of “homosexual tendencies.” You got in trouble even if you only had one encounter with another woman and even if it was years before joining up. Even being the friend of a lesbian was enough to get you in trouble.

Entrapment was routine in the military. Faderman says that during the Korean War (a conflict that ran from 1950 to 1953), women from the criminal investigation division were sent into lesbian bars as bait. Female agents were also put on military softball teams to catch lesbians.

Faderman’s book includes several firsthand accounts from women who lived and worked during the McCarthy era. The most brutal case she relates, from 1954, involves an army nurse and her lover. An officer accused them of being lesbians, and then, according to the nurse, the officer raped the nurse’s lover “to teach her how much better a man was than a woman.” He was not punished.

In January 2017, then-US Secretary of State John Kerry apologized for the persecution of LGBT State Department and foreign service officers who were gay.

The McCarthy era was traumatic for many lesbians. So much so that decades later, when Faderman was talking to people and gathering information for her book, she had to promise anonymity (and even with that promise, many were still afraid to speak). But Faderman points out a bit of an upside to it all. It forced women to band together, helping to create a subculture. And the persecution, awful though it was, gave publicity to lesbian desire, letting more women know that a lesbian life was possible.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Paris: Far-right French politician Marine Le Pen, who has pledged to abolish same-sex marriage, to is tipped to do well in the first round of the country’s Presidential election this week.
France is set to go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new President to replace outgoing Socialist François Hollande.
From the crowded field of candidates, none are expected to achieve a majority, meaning the top two will go forward to a May 7 run-off.
Of the eleven candidates, four are currently all near-tied with around 20 percent of the vote – centrist Emmanuel Macron, scandal-plagued conservative François Fillon, far-left Eurosceptic Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the far-right Le Pen.The candidates are all polling within the margin of error of victory with unpredictable turnout, meaning no outcome can be confidently predicted.
Of the four, only Mr Macron and Mr Mélenchon have voiced strong support for equal rights.
However, the split field could mean that LGBT voters end up with an unsavourty choice in the run-off between Le Pen, who has pledged to end same-sex marriage in France, and Fillon, who has vowed to outlaw adoption by gay couples.
Le Pen is tipped to squeak through the first-round vote, but could end up facing any one of the three other politicians in the run-off.
Polling shows that Le Pen has the strongest chance of getting elected if she faces Fillon, who is facing a corruption probe, or Mélenchon, whose Eurosceptic views are still far from mainstream in France.
In a recent manifesto Le Pen promised 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.
Fillon’s proposls will be no more appealing to LGBT rights activists.
The candidate, who voted against an equal age of consent in 1982, says he wants to change the law to ensure “a child is always the fruit of a father and mother.”
Under Fillon’s proposals, same-sex couples would be banned from adopting children, under a new requirement that children must have both male and female parents.
In his platform, Fillon wrote: “A repeal of [same-sex marriage] is not possible… but without questioning the principle of marriage for same-sex couples, the rules concerning parentage must be reviewed, because it is in the child’s interest, which for me comes above all other factors.
“I know that gay couples welcome children with love, but it does not seem right that the law allows children to be a son or daughter of two parents of the same sex.”
Mr Fillon claims that the “biological” meaning of parenthood should be restored “in respect of a father and a mother”.
Under the change, which he insists would not be “retroactive”, full adoption would only be available to couples comprised of “two different sex parents”.
Mr Mélenchon is a supporter of LGBT rights, while Mr Macron’s manifesto vows to defend LGBT equality and “name and shame” employers who discriminate against gay people.
Russian government-controlled outlets previously published homophobic smears aimed at Macron, who is often touted as a ‘unity’ centrist candidate, 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 misogynistic. 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

London: im Farron: ‘I don’t get to choose the questions people ask me.’ Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images
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Jessica Elgot
Wednesday 19 April 2017 18.43 BST Last modified on Wednesday 19 April 2017 19.47 BST
Tim Farron has said he does not believe being gay is a sin and suggested he has been repeatedly asked about his views on the subject because he is a practising Christian.The Liberal Democrat leader has been pressed to clarify his position on homosexuality in the last 24 hours because of an evasive answer he gave two years ago on whether he believed gay relationships were sinful.Speaking to the Guardian after a morning of campaigning in Richmond Park, Farron said he had voted for equal marriage and was proud of his party’s record on LGBT rights.

He said the question of homosexuality and sin was “not a statement that I make, this is something I get asked because of my faith”.

Two years ago in response to a question on Channel 4 News, he responded: “We are all sinners.” The remark was raised again in an interview with Channel 4 News on Tuesday night, and in the Commons where, asked again whether he believed being gay was a sin, Farron replied: “No I do not.”

Asked whether he felt he was being pressed on the issue because of his Christianity, he said: “It may be, I don’t get to choose the questions people ask me. All I can do is be absolutely open about my belief in the fundamental equality of every human being, my passionate belief in fighting for equality where there isn’t equality.”

Describing himself as “a liberal to my fingertips”, Farron said his defining cause in life was “celebrating people’s right to be who they are, to love who they love, to marry who they marry”.

He said equal marriage legislation was progress but there was further work to be done. “It doesn’t include full equal marriage for people who are transgender and our fight for rights and freedom will continue,” he said.

“We should never be complacent about freedoms that have been hard fought for LGBT people, and for other minorities too, including religious minorities, protecting people’s rights to be who they are.”

Launching his party’s election campaign in south-west London alongside the Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney, who defeated the former Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith in a byelection in December, Farron was buoyant about his party’s chances of making more gains in Tory seats.As activists gathered on Richmond Green, with Olney preparing to fight her second election in less than six months, a few miles away the coalition cabinet ministers Vince Cable and Ed Davey were preparing to stand again in their old south London seats. Both Twickenham and Kingston and Surbiton were won by Conservatives in the 2015 election when the Lib Dems were reduced to just eight MPs.

Farron has not ruled out another coalition with the Conservatives but said his real focus was making the Lib Dems a strong opposition party. “The issue is not about who might work with whom, it’s about whether she [Theresa May] can be defeated at all,” he said.

“It seems to me the Labour party is in a position where they are going to go backwards. I don’t think that’s an arrogant thing to say, I think it’s a reasonable assumption based on all the available evidence.”

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He declined to put a number on how many seats the Lib Dems would consider a decent result, but said he was firstly targeting seats the party lost in 2015, as well as those that had high remain votes.

“Vauxhall; Esher and Walton, where there is an incredibly pro-leave MP [Conservative Dominic Raab],” he said. “Things have changed a lot, so I don’t actually know the limit of our ambitions. I don’t even have a number in my own head.”The party also hopes to win seats back in Scotland from the SNP, including with former MP Jo Swinson, who has confirmed she will stand again in East Dunbartonshire. “I think there is a top chance of getting seats off the SNP. There are four, five, six seats where there are possibilities for us in Scotland,” he said.

arron said increasing the number of female MPs was a priority for the party, with eight of its nine current MPs male and many of the big-name former cabinet ministers standing again also men.

“It’s the party’s policy to put women in the seats we think we can win, and because it’s a snap election obviously a lot of former MPs are standing again,” he said. “When we had a former incumbent who was male, that makes it a bit lop-sided, but we have many new women candidates including one in Sutton, and obviously Richmond Park.”

Health and social care will be the other key message for the party, but Brexit will take centre stage for every Lib Dem candidate in every seat. “Brexit has an impact on everything: if you are worried there are not enough carers, about the state of the hospital, that your school is not properly funded or there are too few police officers, then leaving the single market is a reason why that is the case,” he said.

His party’s health spokesman, Norman Lamb, has proposed that income tax should be increased by 1p to deliver a £4.6bn boost to the struggling NHS while a long-term funding solution is found, putting the party in the unusual position of promising tax rises going into an election campaign.

Farron said he thought his party should be honest about the need for more tax income to fund health and social care. “People don’t trust politicians at the best of times – nobody believes you can have a better NHS and social care without more money,” he said. “We have to be really clear that there is a way of getting more money if we as a community make a choice to invest in it together.”

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

Lagos: 53 men have been arrested in Nigeria for celebrating a same-sex wedding. Nigerian police confirmed they had arrested the group of young men for “belonging to a gang of unlawful society”, according to Associated Press. The men were arrested on Saturday (April 15) in the northern city of Zaria during a celebration to mark to wedding of a same-sex couple, prosecuting officer Mannir Nasir told a court on Wednesday (April 19). A defence lawyer for the group said most of the accused were students and that they had been illegally detained by the authorities for more than 24 hours, local outlet Premium Times reports. Same-sex marriage is banned in Nigeria, while the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act introduced in 2014 also made it a criminal offence to perform or witness a gay wedding ceremony.

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

Ottawa: Canadian LGBTI activists, federal politicians and allies gathered in Ottawa on April 12, 2017, to take stock of the successes and the challenges still facing LGBT people in Canada. The annual Day of Pink started when two Nova Scotia high-school students chose to wear pink in 2007 to support a classmate who was being bullied over his shirt. This year the day was marked on Parliament Hill through a morning session in the Senate chamber, where Senator Mobina Jaffer invited elementary school children wearing pink T-shirts to hear about the dangers of bullying.

Senator René Cormier, who is gay, spoke about being picked on as a closeted child, saying that life is still not easy for many young Canadians despite a rapid increase in societal acceptance.

“Silence is intimidation’s best friend,” he said in French.Later that evening, about 250 people gathered for a gala in downtown Ottawa run by the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD), including environment minister Catherine McKenna and members of Parliament from the three main parties.

At the gala, MP Randy Boissonnault, the prime minister’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, urged people to phone senators to tell them to support trans-rights bill C-16, which is scheduled for hearings at a Senate committee for four days, starting May 4.

“There’s still work for us to do,” Boissonnault said. “We need some lesbian members of Parliament; we need trans members of Parliament; we need two-spirited members of Parliament.”Multiple speakers mentioned the reports of gay men being rounded up and killed in Russia’s Chechnya region. Some, like NDP MP Randall Garrison, explicitly called on the federal government to demand Russia investigate the situation (which Canada’s foreign minister did in a statement three days later, but still won’t say whether Canada will take more refugees).

Garrison also raised the government’s “unfinished business,” like apologizing to queer people arrested for their sexual orientation and those purged from the military.eremy Dias, head of CCGSD, said any donations collected at the gala will go to Russian activists. He said the gala made a point of starting with an indigenous circle dance to recognize two-spirit people.

“Intersectional, diverse communities are really starting to speak up louder, which is incredible and awesome,” Dias said. “Our job is to make the LGBTQ community stronger and better.”

The gala also awarded advocates, including elementary-school students, Toronto trans activist Susan Gapka, and Lori Jean Hodge, an Ottawa musician and activist who died last year from cancer.

“For me to see youth coming up like that, it’s a real hope for the future,” said Karen Benoit, who accepted the award on behalf of Hodge, her late wife.

Andrée Cooligan, Canada’s ambassador to Finland, was in town on a vacation. “It was proud and loud and really well represented,” she said, adding that the gala could be a model for countries bordering Russia.

“We have to support them,” she said. “Those countries are really struggling with their human rights these days.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

London: As the UK heads towards a General Election, Andrew Reynolds and Gabriele Magni of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill look at how LGBT candidates performed compared to their straight counterparts in 2015.
As Britain gears up for a snap general election in 50 days and candidates are being adopted, our analysis of the performance of out LGBT candidates in the 2015 General Election shows that out gay candidates actually outperformed straight candidates in a number of important respects.
After centuries of exclusion, driven by homophobia, voters now appear to be embracing LGBT identities in modern British politics.
The evidence from only two years ago suggests that political parties no longer need to shy away from selecting out LGBT candidates in winnable seats, indeed having a roster of candidates that looks like modern Britain will likely maximize seat winning prospects.
The number of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates in May 2015 was unprecedented.

There were 155 self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates, standing for all main parties, in 140 of the constituencies, across all regions of the United Kingdom.
Thirty-two of those candidates were elected (12 Tories, 13 Labour and 7 SNP).
In the time since the 2015 election, 7 more MPs have subsequently come out (5 Tories, 1 Labour and 1 SNP).
At dissolution, these thirty-nine MPs (6%) will represent the highest number of LGBT parliamentarians in the world.
There are also out 10 Members of the Scottish Parliament and three in the Welsh Assembly.
No LGBT politicians sit in the Northern Ireland Assembly.As of 2017 the Scottish National Party, Conservative Party and Labour Party are three of the most LGBT inclusive parliamentary parties in he world.
The Tories are an unlikely presence on any top ten LGBT inclusive list but they represent a global trend of right wing parties becoming less homophobic even if they remain xenophobic and economically conservative. They lso controlled for candidate characteristics beyond sexual orientation; such as, gender, ethnicity, education, political experience, campaign expenditure, and even the ‘degree of outness’ of LGBTQ candidates as measured by their election materials and newspaper coverage.
In the overall model we found that being an out LGBT candidate did not have a negative impact on personal vote share.
Indeed, LGBT candidates for Labour achieved, on average, a vote share +0.9% higher than straight Labour Party candidates.
Overall, LGBT candidates suppressed Conservative Party vote share by 0.6% but in marginal constituencies Tory LGBT candidates had larger vote share increases than the national trend, and on average their gains were three times the Tory average.

Only 32 constituencies have a proportion of Muslims greater than 18%. Even then, the negative impact is limited: -0.25% when Muslims are 30% of the constituency.
We wondered whether LGBT candidates were demonstrably different in their backgrounds to straight candidates and indeed we found that they were slightly more highly educated than straight candidates, slightly more likely to have gone to Oxbridge, and spent slightly more money in the campaign than the average.
When we control for campaign spending and candidate education in our model we find that LGBT candidates across all parties increase vote share by 1.4% and the impact of LGBT candidates for the Labour Party becomes even more positive: +1.7%.
On a related note, in the 2015 election being female did not negatively impact vote share but black and minority ethnic (BME) candidates did -0.8% worse than their white counterparts.
However, just like LGBT candidates, female and BME candidates had a positive impact for Labour.Our analysis suggests that if there were a few votes withheld for candidates because they happened to be LGBT, they were more than made up for with votes won because the candidate was LGBT.
In 2015 out LGBT candidates sent an ideological signal to voters – they were perceived as more progressive, empathetic, and resilient.
Such positive cues outweighed negative traditionally homophobic cues. In marginal districts LGBT candidates did better for the Conservatives because they were perceived to be more moderate and were more likely to attract Labour and Liberal Democrat voters.

LGBT acceptance is driven by visibility and familiarity.
In rural areas extended families are often in close proximity and the community is close knit. In essence the act of coming out affects not only immediate family but the broader village.
A decade ago the gay son would flee for the big city – today they are more likely to find acceptance at home – and their impact has a broader reach.
None of this evidence diminishes enduring and insidious homophobia in schools, the workplace, on sports fields and in some communities but what it does show is that in the world of politics the extra hurdles being placed in front of LGBT Brits are beginning to lessen and in certain contexts LGBT status actually communicates attributes that voters find appealing. Being LGBT suggests to an increasing number of voters empathy, tenacity and progress.
Most of the sitting out LGBT MPs are likely to be returned in June and they may be joined by a new cohort of younger politicians who came of age after the gay rights movement had already broken through. However, one glaring absence remains. Britain has never elected a transgender voice to parliament – indeed only six countries have broken that barrier. Will 2017 be the year?
Full details in: Andrew Reynolds and Gabriele Magni. Forthcoming. “Does sexual orientation still matter? The impact of LGBT candidate identity on vote share in the UK elections of 2015.”

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

Beijing: Two students who held up a homophobic banner at a Chinese university have attracted the ire of the country’s LGBTI community.
‘Protect Chinese traditional mores, defend core socialist values, resist corrosion from decadent Western thoughts, and keep homosexuality far from the university campus,’ the banner read.
The photo of the two women holding the banner was posted on the Chinese social networking site Qzone.
The photo was taken at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, central China.
HUST women’s basketball coach, Ling Bing, posted the photo which featured two of his player on Sunday.
‘It’s the wish of the public, which I always bear in my heart,’ the caption on the post read.
One of the girls posted on her Qzone account that ‘the women’s basketball team used to be disaster area for homosexuality’.
‘But after our positive education and reform, there are very few gay people left on the women’s basketball team,’ she wrote.
Gay HUST student Linlin — not his real name — was angry when he saw the photo and said players in the basketball team used to bully their lesbian team mates.
‘I have never seen such specific exclusion or discrimination committed with such great fanfare,’ he told Sixth Tone.
HUST’s policy was that it would not discriminate against LGBTI students and its counselling center had sent emails to students educating them on LGBTI issues. The university even posted graduation photos on social media from last year of students holding rainbow flags.
The university told Sixth Tone it would soon release an official statement on the incident.
HUST was known ‘relatively friendly campus’ for LGBTI students according to Wuhan Companion LGBT Center staff member Huang Haojie.
‘Many LGBT students experience a lot of psychological pressure because of their sexual orientation,’ he said.
‘[The people holding the banner] have freedom of speech, but they don’t have the right to attack the gay community.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Delhi: Families in the Indian state of Gujarat are more accepting of their LGBTI children than anywhere else in the country.
A study by India’s Gay Arranged Marriage Bureau revealed about 753 of 769 Indian families disowned their LGBTI. These figures work out to only 2% of Indian families accepting their LGBTI children.
‘A lot of Gujaratis accept their kids because they are too attached to let them go,’ Urvi Shah, CEO of Gay Marriage Bureau told the Ahmedabad Mirror.
‘These ties of love are the only thing keeping families from breaking apart.’
Since 2015, the Gay Arranged Marriage Bureau has been operating in Gujarat to find partners for their clients. It has a total of 1,298 clients of which 24 couples are living together, four are married and nine are engaged.
A bit of convincing is all it takes
Vadodara, 34, came out to his family who tried to convince him to marry a girl to ‘make him straight’. But now they have accepted his partner and the two are marrying in December.
‘I was in a live-in relationship for two months. It was a huge mess initially when I told my parents about it,’ he said.
‘My family disowned me and my relatives stopped talking to me.
‘I was taken to tantriks and psychologists, but nothing worked. It took Urvi 14 hours to explain to my parents about my homosexuality.’
Vadodara’s father said he did not understand homosexuality until he did some readings and met with LGBTI allied. But with time both he and his wife came to accept their son’s sexuality.
‘When he said he had found someone, I asked him which caste she was from,’ Vadodara’s mother said.
‘It came as a shock to me when he told me about his partner. It took me a long time to accept the fact. But now I am looking forward to my son’s marriage.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Barbadoes: Barbados, like many other English-speaking Caribbean countries, continues to criminalize homosexuality through buggery and sodomy laws. These laws, which were instituted by colonial British governments, continue to be challenged throughout the region.

The Bahamas decriminalized gay sex in private in 1991 through legislation. Last year, Belize’s top court struck down the country’s sodomy law for violating the right to privacy, equality and freedom of expression. Similar legal challenges have been launched in Jamaica and in Trinidad and Tobago.

But the Barbadian constitution makes it essentially impossible for citizens to challenge the buggery law through the courts.

When Barbados became independent in 1966, a “savings” clause was included in the new constitution that saved any pre-independence laws from judicial review. In other words, if a law was in place before 1966, citizens can’t challenge it in the courts.

“The whole purpose of the savings law was they thought there was going to be this rush of people litigating everything before the court that was unconstitutional,” says Stefan Newton, a director of Equals Barbados, an LGBT advocacy organization.

But unlike other countries with similar clauses, Barbados never removed it.

“Therefore the law is just there, we can’t fight it,” Newton says. “It’s an unbreakable barrier.”Barbados is one of a handful of countries that recognizes the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In 2007, the court found that the death penalty, which was similarly saved from constitutional challenge, violated the right to life.

The Barbadian government pledged to comply with the ruling and scrap the mandatory death penalty as well as remove the savings clause from the constitution. While they did the former, the latter never happened.

“There seems to be no political will on the part of this current administration to uphold their international obligations or to affect rights in the constitution by removing the savings law clause,” Newton says.

So now, LGBT Bajans are stuck. A challenge could be made to the Inter-American Court, but there’s no guarantee that Barbados would comply.

“There is the complicating factor of finding a complainant in a small society like Barbados,” says Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican-Canadian attorney who is challenging Jamaica’s anti-gay laws in court.

“If you are a claimant in such a challenge, you will be exposed to backlash, your family would victimized. So people are not likely to come forward to challenge it.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Grozny: The president of Chechnya has issued a chilling warning to gay men in the region.
Britain’s deputy foreign secretary revealed the terrifying threat from the Chechen leader while taking an urgent question on the situation in parliament.
Gay men have spoken of horrific beatings and torture in ‘concentration camp’ style prisons.
Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, told parliament: “Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
“He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community.
“Sources have said that he wants the [LGBT] community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.”

The minister added: “Such comments, attitudes and actions are absolutely beyond contemptible.”
PinkNews has spoken to the Foreign Office, who verified that President Kadyrov had made the threat in local Russian language media, seen by the UK government.
Ramadan starts on May 26 this year, and is widely celebrated in Chechnya, which is a predominantly Muslim area.
These allegations have been supported by human rights groups, and led to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, UK and US governments to call for the Kremlin to investigate.
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s deputy, who is gay himself, labelled the reported abuses of gay men as “utterly barbaric” and “despicable” in a strongly worded statement to the Commons.
Mr Duncan revealed that he spoke directly to his counterpart, Russia’s deputy foreign secretary Vladimir Titov, to challenge the Russian Federation on human rights abuses against LGBT people.
British Embassy representatives have also spoken directly to the Russian government to raise the issue. However a spokesperson for Vladimir Putin has said the Russian president has no reason to believe the attacks are genuine.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s Press Secretary, claimed that investigators have found no evidence to support reports of the purge, which originated in respected newspaper Novaya Gazeta, according to Associated Press.
The Chechen republic is a federal subject of Russia, but has its own government and court system.
This week, Putin had a meeting with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who told the Russian president not to believe the “provocative” articles. He also accused international organisations of conducting a “massive information attack using the most unworthy methods, reality is distorted, attempts are being made to blacken our society, lifestyle, traditions and customs.”
A spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov has previously denied there are any gay people to purge, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
Novaya Gazeta reported that more than 100 gay men have been detained, allegedly in concentration camps, and four are now thought to have been killed.
Editors of Novaya Gazeta have voiced fears over the safety of the staff after they received countless threats following reports on the alleged purge.

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

Washington DC: Studies conducted by a US university show that homeless LGBT youth are at a higher risk for sex trafficking.
Covenant House International, the largest privately funded youth homeless shelter in the Americas, commissioned a study from Loyola University’s Modern Slavery Research Project (MSRP) on Labor and Sex Trafficking Among Homeless Youth.
The research shows that homeless LGBT youth are disproportionately affected by sex trafficking.
The MSRP interviewed 641 young adults aged 17-25 from ten cities across the US and Canada.
Nearly one in five (124) were identified as victims of some form of human trafficking.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), defines sex trafficking as “the recruitment, harbouring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”
Of the 124 trafficking victims, 74 percent reported being trafficked for sex, 41 percent for labor and 17 percent for both sex and labor.
Of the 92 young people trafficked for sex, over a third identified as LGBT.
Half of the LGBT youth interviewed reported they engaged in the sex trade in some way during their lifetime.
Homeless youth are more vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking because they experience a high rate of trafficking risk factors.

These include: poverty, a history of mental health problems and sexual abuse, unemployment and unstable home lives.
Those interviewed expressed that they struggled to find paid work, housing and support systems once they were on the streets.
Traffickers prey on these factors and manipulate them to turn to the sex trade for survival.
Another Covenant House study commissioned from The University of Pennsylvania’s Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research interviewed nearly 270 youth in Phoenix, Pensilvania and Washington, DC.
Nearly one fifth of those interviewed were victims of sex trafficking.
39 percent of those trafficked for sex identified as LGBT.
Both studies also show that homeless transgender youth have the highest rates of sex trafficking within any demographic.
The Field Center reported that 60 percent of the youth involved in sex trafficking identified as transgender. 56 percent involved in the MSRP study reported the same.
Both studies mention that the sample for trans youth was too small to make a conclusive statement about this data. Although they did expressed that it could indicate an important and concerning trend.

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

Tehran: Iran police have arrested, attacked and physically beaten more than 30 gay men in a raid of a private party.
Authorities fired their guns while seizing the men in the Esfahan province, the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) reported.
‘IRQR received several reports in the last few days and we were able to confirm that police attacked guests and physically beat them,’ the human rights NGO said.
‘Police detained the men, ages 16 to 30, at the Basij [Revolutionary Guard Militia] Station and then transferred them to Esfahan’s Dastgerd Prison.
‘A few people managed to escape and we received reports that there were several heterosexual individuals among those arrested.’
They added: ‘After a few days, all the families were informed by Basij that their sons were arrested for sodomy.
‘A special prosecutor has been assigned to their cases and they were charged with sodomy, drinking alcohol and using psychedelic drugs.
‘It was reported that prisoners will be sent to Esfahan’s Medical Jurisprudence Department for anal examination in order to provide evidence of homosexual acts to the court.’
‘Anal examination’ is in reference to an act deemed to be torture by human rights groups. These ‘probes’ involve examining someone’s anus to see if they had been penetrated, check for traces of sperm and taking a picture to ‘study’ the shape of the hole. If it is wider, the more ‘likely’ the person has engaged in gay sex, according to the widely discredited 19th century test.
Forbidden under international law, they are widely known across Africa as the ‘tests of shame’.
The IRQR added: ‘This unfortunate event has created chaos among the LGBT community in Esfahan since prisoners were forced to write down full names of all their LGBT friends and acquaintances. IRQR is deeply concerned about this situation since Iran has a well-documented history of persecuting homosexuals.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Delhi: About 30 massive unnamed businesses are working together to empower LGBTI workers in India.
IBM is leading the initiative of bringing together the multinational companies (MNCs). They plan to work out strategies together to become more inclusive of LGBTI employees.
‘We cannot name the companies but these are a mix of MNCs and Indian companies from technology, retail and FMCG domain,’ Ajay Dua, executive sponsor LGBTI, IBM India told The Economic Times.
‘We are visibly LGBT-inclusive in the external marketplace to remain an employer of choice for this talent pool. Our hiring practices are inclusive.’
The Indian branch of global consultancy firm Bain & Company started aiming for greater diversity amongst its workforce last year.
‘The association provides a unified diversity message throughout the recruiting process, an open communication channel with leadership to advise them on relevant policies, ensure a supportive work environment, and overall awareness of LGBT issues,’ said Bain partner, Parijat Ghosh.
Other MNCs spoke to The Economic Times about how their European and US offices already had diversity policies in place. But the companies were hesitant to go on the record because of a lack of legal protection for their employees.
‘We have two LGBT employees and it is disclosed to management at the time of hiring but we would want their identities protected, mainly because of legal reasons,’ said a spokesperson for a consumer goods firm.
Inclusion means attracting the best talent
Real estate company Godrej has gone one step further in promoting inclusivity.
Its equal opportunity policies apply to all and it does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
‘Our anti-harassment policies are gender neutral,’ said head of Godrej India Culture Lab, Parmesh Shahani.
‘We also have equal benefits to same-sex partners of employees, fully paid three month adoption leave (which is also gender neutral) and a medical benefit scheme which includes the spouse/domestic partner, parents and/or children of an employee.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Paris: The policeman killed in Thursday’s night’s attack by a gunman in Paris was a proud gay rights activist with a civil partner, it has emerged.

Tributes have been flooding in for Xavier Jugelé, 37, who was killed by a gunman on the Champs-Élysées on Thursday night in what French authorities are treating as a terror attack.Jugelé, who was a member of Flag, a French association for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender police officers, leaves behind a civil partner, The Telegraph reports.

“He was a simple man who loved his job, and he was really committed to the LGBT cause,” Mikaël Bucheron, the president of Flag told the New York Times.“He joined the association a few years ago and he protested with us when there was the homosexual propaganda ban at the Sochi Olympic Games.”

Jugelé, who joined the Paris police force in 2010, was part of the response team called to the Bataclan concert hall following the deadly Paris terror shooting in November 2015.

The officer later attended the re-opening of the venue, where 90 people were killed during an Eagles of Death Metal concert, telling People magazine in an interview: “I’m happy to be here. Glad the Bataclan is reopening.”He continued: “It’s symbolic. We’re here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civic values. This concert’s to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists.”

Islamic extremist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for Jugelé’s killing, which took place three days before the first round of the French presidential election.

“He was aware of the risks of the job and the terrorist threat, although we did not speak a lot about it,” said Bucheron. “He was a great man and friend, it is a big shock for us.”

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

London: Britain is now staring face-first at a titanic contest with very real consequences for our nation – but even after the Eurovision Song Contest has concluded, we’ll barely have time to dust ourselves down before the UK goes to the polls in a snao general election on June 8. Gay Times has provided a useful run-down on each of the main nationwide UK political parties’ stances on LGBT+ rights. In 2017 Britain, it may seem that the battle has been won for LGBT people, but remember: rights can take years to win and seconds (the time it takes to sign a new piece of legislation) to lose.

Conservatives

Leader: Theresa May
The Conservative Party has, more than any other, been on a journey with LGBT+ rights. Their historic record was mostly poor – Maggie Thatcher had voted for the legalisation of homosexuality in 1967, but 20 years later her government passed Section 28, which banned schools from the ‘teaching or promotion’ of homosexuality.

In 2004, the party split down the middle on Civil Partnerships. Later, David Cameron, pitching himself as a liberal Conservative, formally apologised for Section 28 in 2009. Then, in 2013, his government legalised same-sex marriage (although even then more Tory MPs voted against it than for it), with Cameron saying at party conference: “I don’t support same-sex marriage despite being a Conservative, I support it because I am a Conservative”, to applause.

After entering Parliament in 1997, Theresa May had voted against an equal age of gay consent and gay adoption – but her views softened and she was praised as an “unsung hero” by Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone for her role in marriage equality.

The Tories have 12 LGBT+ MPs, just one less than Labour, and Scots Leader Ruth Davison is gay. The leadership now seems solidly behind LGBT+ rights, but the question remains whether the bulk of backbenchers are quite so enthusiastic.

Either way, the majority of Conservatives now look to be heading towards the light, and crossing the Tory box is no longer seen as an act of political suicide by LGBT+ voters.

Labour

Leader: Jeremy Corbyn
The Official Opposition’s record on LGBT+ rights is not quite as interesting a story as the Tories’, simply because the party has stood unwaveringly behind the cause since the 1960’s, when Harold Wilson’s government legalised homosexuality (although Wilson personally was known to be ambivalent). Labour opposed the introduction of Section 28.

Later, despite whatever else is said of it, Tony Blair’s government did more than any other for LGBT+ people, gradually bringing in a range of equality measures including equal age of consent, gay adoption, civil partnerships and, yes, the repeal of Section 28.

It is not controversial to assume that if Labour had clung on to power in 2010 they, rather than the Tories’ Coalition, would have legalised same-sex marriage.

We know that current leader Jeremy Corbyn divides opinion – fair enough. But his record is strong on LGBT+ rights – and includes fighting for equality in the dark days of the 1980’s before it was fashionable. Some LGBT+ voters may, of course, disagree with the rest of the party’s policies, but it seems fair to say that on gay rights, Labour’s legacy is a proud one.

Liberal Democrats

Leader: Tim Farron
You would expect Britain’s third party, with a name like the Liberal Democrats, to be pretty solid on LGBT+ rights – and you’d be right.

Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone pioneered the same-sex marriage legislation, and Nick Clegg was the first leader to support it in 2010. Since 2011, the party has pushed for an end to the gay blood ban, and in 2008 announced a policy to end the deportation of gay asylum seekers to homophobic countries.

Of course, it hasn’t quite been plain sailing – you may have heard that leader Tim Farron, a committed Christian, refused for quite a while to say whether he thinks gay sex is a sin (he has since addressed this).

His voting record is mixed – he abstained on the same-sex marriage bill and voted against the LGBT Equality Act regulations in 2007, but he’s since said he regrets both votes, and after becoming leader he’s stood up for trans marriage rights, personally intervened in a case of a trans woman sent to a male prison, and voiced strong opposition to the appalling treatment of gay people in Chechnya.

If we judge Farron on actions not words, he now has a good story to tell, and the party he leads has consistently, with one or two exceptions, stood squarely behind equality.

Green Party

Leaders: Caroline Lucas, Jonathan Bartley
The pro-environment party is, appropriately, still somewhat green when it comes to politics – despite having been around since the 70’s, only recently have they begun to make any electoral headway, with their first and so far only MP elected in 2010.

Their stance on LGBT+ rights, however, is rock solid – the sole MP, now co-leader, Caroline Lucas, spoke in Parliament to praise the same-sex marriage bill and voted for it. In 2015, the party’s manifesto pledged to create equality in the pension system for same sex couples, require every school to combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and halt NHS cuts which they said would impact on HIV treatment.

Even though, with their single MP, they will not form the next government, the Greens have been a long-standing ally of LGBT+ rights, so casting a ballot for them would be anything but a wasted vote.

UKIP

Leader: Paul Nuttall
If you’re an LGBT+ person who cares passionately about Britain’s departure the EU, UKIP could well be your choice in June. If, however, you’re an LGBT+ person looking for a party that will fight tirelessly for your rights, you may wish to look elsewhere first.

Homosexuality probably wouldn’t be re-criminalised if UKIP were ever to hold elected office, but the steady march towards equality since the 90’s would certainly be halted, perhaps even reversed. Much of their pronouncements on LGBT+ rights read like things Thatcher’s government would have signed off on in 1981 – the party opposed same-sex marriage, and Nigel Farage raised the prospect of the NHS turning away foreign citizens with HIV in a leaders’ debate.

New leader Paul Nuttall has attacked a plan to tackle homophobic bullying in schools as “politically correct nonsense”. There was also the tragicomic episode of David Silvester, a councillor who in 2014 blamed flooding on same-sex marriage. The party has an LGBT Youth wing (although the leader was removed in 2013 for supporting same-sex marriage…), and a couple of big hitters, Deputy Leader Peter Whittle and Scotland MEP David Coburn, are gay.

It’s difficult, however, to escape the feeling that a vote for UKIP is a step backwards for gay people in the UK in 2017.

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

Belfast: Northern Ireland’s DUP has apparently laid down a ban on same-sex marriage as a ‘red line’ in the country’s ongoing power-sharing talks.
Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK without same-sex marriage because the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party has employed peace process powers known as ‘petitions of concern’ to block all progress.
Following a devolved assembly election earlier this year, the DUP is required to form a new power-sharing government with second-largest party, Sinn Féin – but talks have repeatedly stalled.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, former DUP minister Jim Wells said that Sinn Féin’s insistence on same-sex marriage is a “red line” for his party that would prevent a government being formed.
He said: “Peter will not marry Paul in Northern Ireland.”
As there is already a majority for equality in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the DUP would not need to vote for same-sex marriage for it to pass. They would only need to allow a government to be formed, and not employ a veto against it.
But Mr Wells said even that minor compromise would split the party.
He said: “Don’t even think that. That’s an absolute no.
“Some of us would walk before that would happen. We feel very, very strongly about that.”
Of proposals for a civic forum that could lead to same-sex marriage, Mr Wells said: “We will strangle that idea at birth if that’s what it’s going to bring. Nobody wants it except Gerry Adams anyway.”
His remarks were condemned by Sinn Féin.
Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon said:”Comments from Jim Wells that the DUP could split if there is equal marriage in the north highlights the attitude of that party to equality.His remarks show just how out of touch he and his party are
“His remarks show just how out of touch he and his party are with the views of the general public.
“And it shows once again that the DUP is placing its party self interest above the need for equality for all.”
Gerry Adams previously named equal marriage a “key issue” in the talks to form a new power-sharing government.
Mr 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.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster has also reaffirmed plans to continue employing powers to block any future marriage legislation. She recently insisted 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.”
Last year Mr Wells said he would launch legal action against journalists who reported allegations he is homophobic.
The former Health Minister has branded Pride parades ‘repugnant’, refused to take part in LGBT rights debates, and as a minister ignored scientific advice to keep a blanket ‘gay blood’ ban in place.
He resigned in 2015 after outrage over alleged anti-gay comments during a hustings in South Downs.
A tape of the hustings appeared to reveal that Mr Wells said: “All evidence throughout the world says the best way to raise children is in a loving, stable, married relationship; the facts show that, the facts show that certainly you don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship.
“I say again, I say again, a child is far more likely to be abused or neglected in a non-stable marriage situation, gay or straight.”
Mr Wells, who insisted his remarks were “doctored”, claimed that he had been “vindicated” after a woman who pursued a police complaint against him admitted wasting police time.
In response, Mr Wells threatened to launch legal action against the news outlets that have reported his anti-LGBT comments.

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

London: A former British Conservative Cabibnet minister famed for his anti-LGBT views will not be seeking re-election. Selections are currently underway ahead of June’s Snap Election, called by Prime Minister Theresa May last week in a surprise announcement. The Conservative MP for Aldershot, Sir Gerald Howarth, has this week confirmed he will not be standing for re-election.
Mr Howarth is most famous for warned of the dangers of the “aggressive homosexual community” during 2013’s equal marriage debate.
The MP claimed during the debate: “I fear the playing field is not being levelled I believe the pendulum is swinging so far the other way, and there are plenty in the aggressive homosexual community who see this as but a stepping stone to something even further. There are people out there who will be intimidated by this legislation… Opposition Members speak effortlessly of their belief in freedom of expression, but I am afraid that the reality out there is very different. Our constituents do feel intimidated. They fear that they will be accused of a hate crime. That, in my view, is a new and wholly pernicious development of the law.”
Mr Howarth later said the “wretched” legislation had been “bulldozed” through Parliament.
He said: “I have to say that it is astonishing that a bill for which there is absolutely no mandate, against which a majority of Conservatives voted against, has been bulldozed through both Houses and just two hours of debate tonight is an absolute parliamentary disgrace. I think the government should think very carefully in future if they want the support of these benches, offending large swathes of the Conservative Party is not a good way of going about it.” He more recently backed an amendment to ban people with HIV from the UK.

Along with marriage equality, Howarth was also staunchly opposed to the introduction of civil partnerships and the recognition of same-sex unions.
Speaking about rights protections for same-sex couples in 2005, he said: “[It will be] quite upsetting for families in the married quarters and I am personally very much opposed to it. This is a Christian country and Christian teaching is very clear on these matters and I am extremely concerned that young people today are being bombarded with literature which suggests that a homosexual relationship is the same as a heterosexual relationship, which it is not.”
In a statement this week, he said: “It is with some sadness that last night I informed the Chairman and Officers of the Aldershot and North Hampshire Conservative Association that I shall not be seeking re-election at the forthcoming General Election. It has been a huge privilege to have represented, as their Member of Parliament, the people of Aldershot for the past 20 years, and the people of Cannock and Burntwood for 9 years before that. I have every confidence in the outstanding leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May and have assured her of my fullest support from beyond the Palace of Westminster.”

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

London: The UK Independence Party is under pressure over a local candidate who wants to bring back public hangings and “doesn’t want any LGBT community”.
The claims come from Ms Gisela Allen, who is standing for the pro-Brexit party in May’s local elections in Glasgow.
The Clydebank Post revealed that Ms Allen has been locally distributing a leaflet which makes a string of bizarre personal policy pledges.
It says: “UKIP needs a representative and I’m a very good public speaker.Women with small children should stay at home and look after their own children. Nurseries shouldn’t get support. The whole school system needs to be overhauled. Every class should have a classroom and not get moved around. No sex education in school and I don’t want any LGBT community – it’s private life, none of anyone’s business.”
The bizarre leaflet also called for “the death penalty to be re-enacted” via public hanging or the guillotine.

Ms Allen also wants to introduce euthanasia for the elderly because “people are becoming far too old”. To this end, she also plans to abolish free bus passes for the elderly because “these people should be encouraged to walk.” The local UKIP branch has insisted her comments were personal views and did not reflect the party line.

A UKIP councillor in Somerset claimed last month that the NHS is in a crisis because “too much” funding is given to LGBT services, leaving “other people feeling put out”. Nigel Pearson, a councillor for Chard North in Somerset, made the sweeping statement in a leaflet that was distributed prior to local elections. As well as pinning the blame of the NHS crisis on LGBT services, the leaflet said that the national shortage of NHS doctors was due to “too many women being hired” in an act of “positive discrimination”.
It reads: “Women take career breaks to have a family and tend to only work part time when they return to the surgery. How many female doctors are there in your surgery working 2 or 3 days a week?” Pearson told Metro that he believes LGBT people and others will stand by the comments made in the leaflet. He said: “I’m sure there are a number of LGBT people out there who are passionate about this, but there are other people who will feel put out and will want to know what this money was used for.”
New UKIP leader Paul Nuttall recently he insisted he has no problems with diversity because “my deputy is an open homosexual”.

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

Portland: A faith-based US homeless youth centre rejected a $3,000 donation from Portland’s Gay Men’s Chorus – at the same time as making an emergency plea for government funding. The Portland Gay Men’s Chorus had raised more than $3,000 for charity through a performance at a Methodist church in Grants Pass, Oregon. The group had attempted to donate the proceeds from the concert to local Grants Pass charity Hearts With A Mission, which provides shelter and support to runaway, and at-risk youth.

However, the charity decilned the donation because the donor was an LGBT group, fearful of a negative reaction from its evangelical Christian support base.
Hearts With A Mission Despite declining the $3,000 donation from the Gay Men’s Chorus, the charity recently made a plea for $26,000 of emergency taxpayer funding from the Department of Public Safety – leading to strong criticism locally. Despite the anger, the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus has avoided directly criticising the youth shelter.

PGMC Executive Director Richard Jung said in a statement: “In keeping with our mission to ‘affirm the worth of all people,’ PGMC and its chorus members cover all costs associated with our tours, leaving all earned proceeds in the host communities.
“These concerts have raised monies for charities as diverse as local arts organizations, youth groups, homeless advocacy, and AIDS support organizations. Last month we were honored to perform to a sold-out house in Grants Pass at the invitation of the Newman United Methodist Church [and] remains deeply appreciative of the kind hospitality we received. Whatever controversy may have surfaced since, what is most important to us is that on one evening, a community came together united by music. We look forward to performing there again in the future.”
In a statement, Hearts With A Mission said the situation “should have been handled differently”.
It said: “We regret the outcomes of turning down the funds from Portland Gay Men’s Chorus event. We recognize this situation should have been handled differently. Hearts With A Mission made this decision in an attempt to keep the focus on the youth services we provide and avoid undo [sic] controversy. We are very glad another local program serving homeless youth was the beneficiary of the funds. We did not mean to disrespect the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus or to the LGBTQ Community.
“Hearts With A Mission believes in helping all youth, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, or ethnicity. We meet every youth where they are at and welcome them into our shelters. This is how we started 8-years ago and it is how we will be 20 years from now. Our inclusive practices apply not only to the youth we serve, but also to our staff, board members, volunteers, and community partners. These are the values we live by. As a result, we have nondiscrimination policies and procedures in place we adhere to with the strictest of standards.”

One commenter said: “You should be absolutely ashamed. There was nothing Christian about your behavior. Maybe you need to go back and study your bibles a little more.”

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

Washington DC: US anti-LGBT activists are gearing up for the rumoured retirement of a Supreme Court justice – which could put the narrow majority on LGBT issues at risk.
Trump-nominated Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch took up his seat on the highest court in the US this month – after Republicans changed Senate rules to push through his confirmation without the required number of votes. With conservative Justice Gorsuch filling the seat of late conservative justice Antonin Scalia, the nine-person US Supreme Court retained the narrow 5-4 divide on LGBT rights protections that led to the 2015 Obergefell v Hodges same-sex marriage decision.

However, anti-LGBT activists are hopeful that they can turn the tide on the court, amid rumours that a liberal-voting justice is about to vacate their seat.
Three of the justices who sided with marriage equality – 84-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 80-year-old Anthony Kennedy and 78-year-old Stephen Breyer – are rumoured to be approaching retirement.
Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, hinted he expects a Supreme Court justice to retire soon, saying: “I would expect a resignation this summer”.
Following the hint, anti-LGBT activists are gearing up for a battle, hopeful to convince Trump to appoint a conservative to fill the vacant liberal seat, and swinging the court’s balance.
In a mailout calling for donations, the National Organisation for Marriage said it was planning a lobbying campaign on the issue.
The group’s President Brian Brown wrote: “We need to be ready at a moment’s notice to spring into action to urge the appointment of a strong constitutionalist to the Court, someone who will have the courage to vote to reverse the illegitimate, anti-constitutional Obergefell ruling that redefined marriage. With Justice Gorsuch on the Court, we are likely just one vote away from restoring marriage to our nation’s laws. Whenever the next opening on the Court occurs, NOM will be there fighting for a conservative justice just as we did in fighting to secure the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch.”

Much of the speculation surrounds Justice Kennedy, a Bush appointee and the court’s often-crucial swing vote, who has hinted he will retire in the summer. Following 2014’s equal marriage verdict, LGBT activists had been hopeful that the court would prove an avenue for a string of LGBT issues. The court is expected to eventually hear a case regarding discrimination protections for transgender children in schools, while lower courts are divided on whether civil rights protections extend to LGBT people, signalling scope for Supreme Court review.
Issues relating to ‘religious freedom’ following the equal marriage ruling may also end up back before the court, and a shift of just one seat would likely alter the verdict.

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

Vancouver: Morgane Oger, 49, is at a JJ Bean on Davie Street in the heart of Vancouver-False Creek, the riding she hopes to win in this May’s British Columbian provincial election. As her orange scarf suggests, she’s running for the BC NDP, a candidacy that made headlines when she won the party’s nomination last November because of Oger’s gender identity:

“BC NDP nominates transgender candidate Morgane Oger in Vancouver-False Creek”

“BC’s Morgane Oger first transgender woman to be nominated by major party”

“Transgender candidate Morgane Oger makes history in Vancouver-False Creek”

Now more than four months later, her campaign is well underway. Even while waiting in line for her cappuccino, Oger strikes up a conversation with the couple standing in front of her, introducing herself as a local candidate and asking about the issues that matter most to them.

It’s a role that appears to come naturally to her, but according to Oger it all still feels a little surreal.

“It’s very strange for me because I’m not a politician in my heart. I’m doing politician things, but in my heart I’m still an advocate,” she says.

Born in France, Oger moved to North America at age 10 when her father — a professor of neuroimmunology — took a position at the University of Chicago. It was there, in a racially diverse neighbourhood and at a public school that mixed students from lower-income areas with more privileged children like her, that Oger got “a big dose of social justice” that she carried with her when the family relocated to Vancouver five years later. She says it’s stayed with her in one form or another ever since. Oger studied mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia, worked for years designing submarine and space robotics, then moved to Europe with her partner, settling in Switzerland and working as a freelance software engineer for financial institutions. In the late ’90s, she also became involved with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, setting up a server farm from her home in Switzerland and acting as webmaster for the group as it worked to distribute photographic and video evidence of abuse suffered by Afghan women.

In 2009, Oger and her family moved back to Vancouver. By now she was married and had two small children. There were a number of factors at play in the decision to move back — career options, a car accident, disadvantages that come with being a foreigner in Switzerland — but one of the biggest motivations for Oger was a long-held desire to transition.

“My gender identity was starting to leak. I was starting to have a really hard time with staying inside the suit,” she says. “Switzerland was not the best place to be if you were, say, ‘gender creative’ let’s call it.” When Oger came out as transgender in 2013, she dove headlong into advocacy work, both for trans rights — she chairs the Trans Alliance Society, helped add protection for gender identity and gender expression to the BC Human Rights Code, and is now pushing the federal government to pass its trans-rights Bill C-16 — and in education. As the parent of two elementary school age children, Oger chaired the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council, a body that oversees more than 50,000 students, until she stepped down to run for politics.

Only recently did Oger start to seriously consider provincial politics as an option. As an advocate she had always preferred the grassroots to the machine. She joined the British Columbian New Democrat Party’s executive in 2015 because she wanted to see if the party would “put its money where its mouth is” on trans rights. It did, she says.

“As I become part of this establishment I realize it’s actually an incredible tool for social change, and having people in the ‘establishment’ who really actually represent the people that we govern [matters],” she says, half-interrupting the thought to admit it feels weird use the word “govern” in relation to herself. But if Oger manages to unseat BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan in False Creek, governing is exactly what she’ll have to do — potentially making history in the process as the first openly trans person in Canada to win an election for any level of government. The significance of such a win is not lost on Oger.

“We need representation, we need diversity, and by having a trans lawmaker in power you will have one more person who understands what systemic discrimination and stigma are,” she says.

Oger’s campaign has had the feel of history being made since its very beginning. Some have pointed out she’s the first transgender woman to run for a party with seats in BC’s legislature, while others argue she is the first trans person to be nominated by a major political party in Canada. (Running with the Ontario Libertarian Party in 2011, Christin Milloy was the first person in Canada to publicly identify as trans and run for office at the provincial level, and Jamie Lee Hamilton was the first openly trans person anywhere in Canada to seek public office when she ran for Vancouver city council in 1996.) Since announcing her nomination, Oger has been joined on the campaign trail by three additional trans candidates seeking seats in the BC legislature — the Green Party’s Nicola Spurling (Coquitlam-Maillardville) and Veronica Greer (Surrey-Panorama), and the BC Liberals’ Stacey Piercey (Victoria-Swan Lake).

Hamilton says her campaign team decided to prepare voters early for a trans candidate, announcing her plan to run a full year before the 1996 municipal election.

“We developed a strategy that it should be introduced to the voting public on my terms and not by the media outing me,” she remembers. “We decided to announce a year ahead of time to give people an opportunity to get used to the idea because once the actual campaign rolled around I wanted to speak on the issues I’d always been speaking on. I didn’t want my gender identity to be the issue of the campaign.”

Hamilton says she was concerned about how people might react to her. Headlines from that time used the terms “transsexual” or “transgendered” to describe Hamilton, and she remembers participating in radio talk shows in which the hosts only wanted to focus on her gender identity.

“I think I was treated, personally, as a novelty. They were erasing part of who I was, which was an activist, a very well-known activist in the Downtown Eastside,” she says. “Some really wanted to sensationalize my life. So I was trying to balance the right of the public to know about me but also the serious issues happening in the city.”

Although Hamilton lost her run in 1996, she says she felt “generally well received” by constituents she met along the way. Hamilton ran for council again in 1999, then in the 2000 federal election (with the Green Party of Canada), and then in two unsuccessful bids for the Vancouver parks board in 2008 and 2011. In the years since her first run for office, Hamilton thinks society has progressed, and she’s proud to see more transgender candidates running for office.

“I ran 20 years ago and I like to think that now it shouldn’t be an issue,” she says.

Nicola Spurling of the Green Party initially spoke to Xtra on the condition her name not be published. While she’s not ashamed of her gender identity, she says, it’s not something she wanted others to make a big deal about.

“I want to be focused on the issues and I know that when you introduce something like gender identity, which is still a big story in the news . . . that there’s the risk that it will overshadow the issues,” she told Xtra in late March. This was before Global British Columbia aired a news story outing Spurling as one of four trans candidates in this May’s election. In a subsequent Facebook post, Spurling noted the potential risks of outing trans people but attributed her inclusion in the story to a miscommunication between Global and the Greens’ communications department. Her colleague, Veronica Greer, says campaigning openly as a trans person is difficult but “no more than being any other type of minority.” She has some concerns about potential transphobia on the campaign trail but believes that running will help bring gender identity and its attendant political issues to the forefront.

“Running brings it out into the open more. And that’s what’s needed,” she says, adding that while they may support different political parties she reacted positively to news of Oger’s nomination to the BC NDP. “Any person who paves the way like that, it takes immense courage.”

Leaving JJ Bean, Oger heads up the street to Emery Barnes Park where she’s meeting a dozen or so volunteers from her campaign. It’s April 2, 2017, the first truly sunny day of spring, and the sidewalks are bustling. Perfect for an afternoon of canvassing.

When Oger arrives, most of the volunteers are already there, some decked out in BC NDP T-shirts. Her campaign manager, Todd Hauptman, has set up a table at the south side of the park with orange balloons and promotional materials.

“We couldn’t have picked a better spot,” Hauptman says. And it’s true. Their display is situated under a cherry tree that has just come into bloom. As passersby stop to take photos of it, some also make their way to the table and peruse the election literature.

At one point, a Translink bus stops and the driver steps off to take a selfie with Oger.

In addition to the info booth, today’s activity is collecting signatures from people who feel something needs to be done about housing affordability in BC. After volunteers receive a brief tutorial on canvassing, they disperse in pairs to different parts of Yaletown. Oger and Hauptman are among those who stay at Emery Barnes Park, with its crowds of noisy children on the playground equipment and dog-walkers meandering along the paths.

The park itself is surrounded on all sides by tall condo towers — a perennial challenge of the downtown riding, where advertising with lawn signs is not an option. While landlords and strata corporations cannot prohibit tenants or owners from displaying election signs in their windows, there’s little uptake in the towers surrounding Emery Barnes Park, possibly due to an Election Act prohibition on election advertising signs within 100 meters of a building where voting is conducted.

That most constituents live in condo buildings also means door-knocking is impossible throughout most of the riding.

“People love her as soon as they meet her. The challenge is just to get her in front of people,” Hauptman says.

As the cherry blossoms drift through the air around Oger’s table, she approaches people on the sidewalk. She soon introduces herself to a couple who have stopped to take photos of the tree.

“Do you think housing is too expensive?” she asks them.

“Rental or real estate?”

“Either. Both,” she says. “Which is important to you?”

The couple seem friendly and engaged, although they ultimately decline to sign the BC NDP’s affordable housing petition. Later on she approaches a man sitting on a park bench but he shakes his head, refusing to even look at her. Oger says despite her years of activism, she finds it hard to solicit support in person. And this has nothing to do with her gender identity. She doesn’t automatically assume someone has declined to sign a petition or chat with her because she’s transgender, although she admits that as a trans woman there is an elevated risk for her when approaching people on the street.

“But then again, it’s a sunny day, I’m under the pink cherry blossoms, I’m at a busy intersection, I’m at a busy park with a hundred people nearby. It is very low-risk here,” she says.

After receiving the party’s nomination last fall, Oger needed to collect 100 signatures from constituents, so she went door knocking in some of the neighbourhoods south of False Creek within her boundaries. Oger says that was the only time during the campaign she truly felt threatened, when she was greeted angrily at one of the homes she stopped by.

“He came out aggressively,” she says. “He was sweating and red in the face — and I stayed way out of his way. He came out six feet, I backed up eight feet, and there was a wall, so it was pretty scary.”

It had been a gloomy night in December and Oger was door-knocking by herself. She made it out of that situation shaken but unscathed, and says other women candidates later scolded her for going canvassing alone like that.

“I was really taken aback that this person exemplified the phenomenon that my life could be put at risk,” Oger says. “But I learned from that lesson . . . Rookie mistakes get made and that was my rookie mistake.”

Of course trolls aren’t new to Oger. As an openly trans activist, she has encountered her share of “poorly socialized people sitting in their underwear in their mothers’ basements” — and some scarier people as well.

“The people who talk about harming me, people who talk about my children. Really really scary,” she says. “When the [candidacy] happened, the nature of the troll changed. I immediately caught the interest of the leaders of the anti-trans movement. Specifically the TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] leaders. . . . I got a shower of anti-trans messages.”

Now Oger and members of her team simply mute the trolls who come after her on Twitter. She says she would much rather be meeting constituents. As the afternoon wears on, Oger leaves the sidewalk and moves through the park, saying hello and striking up conversations.

“It’s very nice that she comes to the playground to actually meet people and talk to the families,” says Maija Wiik, who’s there with her grandchildren. “She probably knows that everybody’s in trouble. Everybody’s trying to make ends meet. It’s tough.”

Wiik says she was not aware that if elected Oger could be the first openly transgender person elected to public office in Canada.

“Kudos to her. But I think it really depends if she’s a good person and she has the values that many people do. It sounds like she will represent everybody, so kudos to her.”

Oger acknowledges that her campaign has required her to shift gears, to go from focusing predominantly on gender identity and human rights to showing that as an MLA she’d be there to represent the needs of everyone in her riding.

“It’s not lost on me how important it is that I get elected for my community, as a trans woman,” she says, taking care to point out she wouldn’t be where she is today if not for Jamie Lee Hamilton and other trans trailblazers who came before her.

She wants to be elected because of her education policy, her housing policy, her human rights advocacy.

“That’s much more important than the fact that I’m transgender,” she says. “Because that will mean a trans woman can get elected on the basis of her skills and her contribution to society rather than on the fact that she’s trans.”

As the canvassing event winds down, Oger thanks her volunteers for their support and takes a seat for the first time since leaving the coffee shop earlier that day. She almost seems tired, until a troupe of five-year-olds dressed as Disney princesses hurry past towards the playground, their parents not far behind.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Paris: Far-right French politician Marine Le Pen, who has pledged to abolish same-sex marriage, may have won the first round of voting alongside one other candidate.
Some had said a four-way battle of the most popular candidates for the French presidency was too close to call, but now Le Pen may face off against Emmanuel Macron in a run-off.Projected results say Mr Macron won 23.7 percent of the vote, compared to Le Pen’s 21.7 percent.
The pair saw off Francois Fillon and Jean-Luc Melenchon, say projections on French TV.
A run-off will take place on 7 May.
France went the polls on Sunday to elect a new President to replace outgoing Socialist François Hollande.
Of the eleven candidates, four were all near-tied with around 20 percent of the vote – centrist Emmanuel Macron, scandal-plagued conservative François Fillon, far-left Eurosceptic Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the far-right Le Pen. The candidates are all polling within the margin of error of victory with unpredictable turnout, meaning no outcome could be confidently predicted.
Of the four, only Mr Macron and Mr Mélenchon had voiced strong support for equal rights.
In a recent manifesto Le Pen promised 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.
Russian government-controlled outlets previously published homophobic smears aimed at Macron, who is often touted as a ‘unity’ centrist candidate, 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 misogynistic. 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

Santiago: Protesters turned up this morning outside Chile’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores) in the capital, Santiago, to protest against the setting up of ‘gay concentration camps’ in Chechnya. Using pink triangles to symbolize how the Nazis used to identify gay men during World War II, the demonstrators urged Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Heraldo Muñoz to speak up against the reported mistreatment received by Chechen gay men. Originally slated to happen yesterday evening but postponed due to wet weather reasons, the protest in Santiago happened around 10am local time and lasted for about an hour. Protesters wore black shirts with pink triangles pasted in front, a collective symbol that the organizer had hoped to replicate how Nazis identified gay male prisoners sent to the concentration camps during World War II.
The protest comes at a time when Muñoz was slated to give his annual address that very morning in the building itself.
Luis Larrain, the 36-year-old organizer of the protest, who also recently stepped down as the president of Iguales, Chile’s largest human rights organization fighting for the rights of LGBTQs, said: ‘He (Muñoz) should say something, but in three weeks he hasn’t said a word.’
‘I think that’s very problematic because our government has supposedly even led resolutions to punish violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and also the Council of Human Rights in Geneva, so why did the government lead such a resolution in 2014 and 2016, and then in 2017 says nothing in three weeks about these gay concentration camps where they torture and kill gays just because of the fact that they are gay?’‘We want Minister Muñoz to say something, to publicly condemn the situation of the gay concentration camps in Chechnya,’ added Larrain, who is currently also aiming for political office in the Chamber of Deputies under the country’s National Congress.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Adelaide: Australian Senator Cory Bernardi’s breakaway Australian Conservatives party will join forces with the Australian Family First Party but the incoming Senator for the soon-to-be-defunct party will not join the Liberal defector, depriving the Senator of a two-person voting bloc. The merger is a significant coup for Senator Bernardi, whose Australian Conservatives will gain thousands of members, finances and two MPs: Robert Brokenshire and Dennis Hood in the South Australian parliament, along with grassroots campaigners around the country. The merger has been approved by every state division and the federal body of the Family First Party. Senator Bernardi will announce the merger on Wednesday in South Australia.

Senator Bernardi was a close friend and philosophical ally of Bob Day – who was re-elected as Family First’s South Australian representative in the 2016 double dissolution election. Senator Day was this year disqualified from the Senate with the High Court ruling that he had an “inappropriate pecuniary interest with the Commonwealth” because of the way he had arranged the ownership of his Adelaide electorate office. There has been growing concern about the damage to Family First’s brand as a result of his disqualification.

Kenyan-born lawyer Lucy Gichuhi, who was second on Family First’s South Australian ticket at the last election was declared the winner of the spot after a special recount. But Ms Gichuhi, a wild-card entrant to the Senate, is defying the will of the party she was elected to represent in choosing to sit as an Independent. Ms Gichuhi was placed in the unwinnable spot after interning with Senator Day for two weeks under a scholarship program funded by the Australian Christian Lobby.

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

Grozny: Horrifying new accounts coming out of Chechnya claim gay men are tortured until families pay police large bribes.

Gay men are being detained and abused in six prisons, which is four more than the two initially reported on earlier this month.

The latest report from Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta indicates that the scale of the anti-gay operation currently underway in Chechnya is much bigger than first thought.

What’s more, the outlet has also revealed that the men are only released once their families pay huge bribes to the police.

It comes after Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied that the country was illegally detaining and torturing men based on their sexual orientation.

However, just a few days later it emerged that Kadyrov publicly declared that he wants all LGBT+ people in the country to be eliminated by May 26, which marks the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.Novaya Gazeta reported last month that around 100 gay men had been rounded up by police and detained in what is widely being referred to as a modern-day ‘concentration camp’.

Human Rights Watch later confirmed the horrific reports, adding that the information coming through was “consistent” with “numerous trusted sources” they had spoken to on the ground in Russia.

Last week, two of Chechnya’s victims came forward for an interview with CNN, recalling horrific accounts of torture and electrocution of gay men.

The British government has since condemned the “utterly barbaric” torture of gay men in Chechnya, with Sir Alan Duncan telling the House of Commons that the country’s actions are of the “utmost concern to the UK”.

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

Perth: Western Australia’s Labor leader Mark McGowan was recently sworn in as the state’s 30th premier, marking the end of an eight year Liberal-National alliance government. For his acceptance speech, he stood in front of a rapturous audience and recounted travelling across the Nullarbor in his Corolla to move to the state 27 years earlier.

“Western Australia is truly a wonderful state. The greatest people and the greatest state, in the greatest country in the world.”

He told voters in no uncertain terms that by electing him as premier they’d opted for ‘hope and opportunity’ over ‘desperation and division’. And given the divisive nature of many issues afflicting LGBTI Australians, McGowan has no plans to omit them from the agenda. In fact, his election has meant that every state and territory leader in the country now supports marriage equality. He said marriage inequality is a fundamental issue, but one he doesn’t see being resolved in this term of parliament. He believes it likely won’t be legislated until there’s a federal ALP government in office.

“It’s about treating everyone fairly and making sure that no-one is discriminated against. I think the Australian community has moved a long way over the last ten years, it certainly wasn’t the same issue back then that it is today.”

When it comes to anti same-sex marriage proponents, McGowan believes it comes down to the ‘perceived’ and largely inaccurate pitfalls posed by allowing same sex and gender couples to legally wed.

“People are elevating the perceived pitfalls beyond the status they deserve. I think same-sex marriage has become a bogeyman for anti-marriage equality advocates in Australia, which it doesn’t deserve to be. It’s not actually a big deal to let people get married, it’s not the end of Western civilisation.”

During his election campaign, the Labor party committed to use $1.4 million in funding towards the Safe Schools program over the next four years to ensure its continuation. Both Labor and the Greens had promised to fund the anti-bullying and pro-LGBTI program if elected, while the then-government said it wouldn’t. A handful of Liberal members such as Joe Francis and Peter Abetz even took to social media to deride the program with ‘facts’ that were dispelled by many community advocates.

McGowan said the program is important in making sure young people are free from bullying and discrimination.

“It saves lives and it saves anguish, it’s hard enough being a young person without having to go through bullying about your sexuality. I remember being a 15-year-old – it’s a tumultuous time. People don’t need that additional pressure.”

Looking ahead, McGowan’s government also plans to introduce legislation expunging historical gay sex convictions, following in the footsteps of a number of fellow states and territories.

“One law we’re going to introduce is about expunging the historical convictions for the offence of homosexuality. Only 25 years ago people could be convicted for the ‘offence’ of being homosexual, and that should be expunged. I think psychologically it’ll be important for those convicted, because what they were convicted of isn’t a crime.”

While advocating for marriage equality, funding the Safe Schools program, and expunging historical gay convictions are on Western Australia’s agenda during this term of parliament, McGowan said he plans to continue championing equality beyond these areas.

“Equality is the Australian ideal. Other countries don’t have it as their driving factor whereas here it’s made us one of the greatest countries on earth. We believe everyone should be treated fairly and equally.”

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

Canberra: The last few years have seen dramatic changes to the ways in which Australian gay and bisexual men practice safe sex, particularly since the introduction of PrEP.

The PrEPARE Project, conducted by the Centre for Social Research in Health at the University of New South Wales, is an online Australian survey assessing gay and bisexual men’s attitudes to PrEP, HIV treatment, and condoms. It has been conducted since 2011. Dr Martin Holt, lead researcher for the project, said given the proliferation of PrEP use, the survey is important now more than ever.

“This year we’re expecting to see big changes in the survey, because of the rapid increase in the use of PrEP. We want to understand the experiences of men on PrEP in negotiating sex, but also how the rest of the community is reacting to the shake-up of safe sex.”

The 2017 round of the survey has been launched and can be completed at: http://prepareproject.csrh.org. It’s completely confidential and open to all gay and bisexual men in Australia.

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

Vancouver: In early May 2017, British Columbians decide who will represent them in the provincial legislature, and among those angling for a seat in Victoria are more LGBT candidates than ever before.

Between the province’s three main political parties, 12 openly LGBT candidates are running, up from seven main-party LGBT candidates in the last BC election. (The last election also saw one gay candidate running for the BC Conservatives and one independent, for a total of nine openly queer candidates in 2013 — four of whom got elected.)

This year, the BC Green Party is running Nicola Spurling (Coquitlam-Maillardville), Ian Soutar (Coquitlam-Burke Mountain) and Veronica Greer (Surrey-Panorama).

The BC Liberals are running Nigel Elliott (Vancouver-West End) and Stacey Piercey (Victoria-Swan Lake).

The BC NDP is running the largest slate of LGBT candidates: newcomers Morgane Oger (Vancouver-False Creek), Sue Powell (Parksville-Qualicum) and Gerry Taft (Columbia River-Revelstoke), and incumbents Mable Elmore (Vancouver-Kensington), Mike Farnworth (Port Coquitlam), Nicholas Simons (Powell River–Sunshine Coast) and Spencer Chandra Herbert (Vancouver-West End).

Xtra interviewed a cross-section of the parties’ LGBT candidates for this story. While they represent parties and platforms from across the political spectrum, everyone Xtra spoke to agreed on the importance of having queer voices represented in BC’s government.

“I think often LGBTQ2+ people are forgotten by a lot of people in the legislature, if [they’re] not involved in the community,” says Green candidate Nicola Spurling. “It’s important we have people in the legislature that understand the struggles of marginalized groups.” A project coordinator at SNC-Lavalin, Spurling also sits on the Vancouver Pride Society’s board of directors, chairing the outreach committee.

Nigel Elliott, of the BC Liberals, agrees. “I think through the BC legislature, through elected office, [that’s] one of the strongest ways you can have a good impact on your community. So every community does need to be represented,” he says.

An independent public affairs consultant, this may be Elliot’s first time running for office but he’s no stranger to the workings of government, having previously been a researcher at the BC legislature and a ministerial aide. He volunteers with a gay men’s health organization that provides counselling for at-risk youth, and is a visual artist whose work typically focuses on themes of sexuality and personal identity.

Elliot is facing off against another gay candidate in Vancouver-West End — incumbent Spencer Chandra Herbert of the BC NDP. Chandra Herbert, who recently became a father for the first time, is seeking his fourth term in office. Chandra Herbert agrees that having LGBT representatives in government is as important today as ever.

“You can’t understand how a system discriminates against you completely or not unless you’ve lived it,” he says.

One subject on which Chandra Herbert and Elliott differ is what should be done about independent schools that have anti-LGBT admissions policies yet receive funding from the provincial government. Chandra Herbert says unequivocally that no school should receive public tax dollars if it discriminates against LGBT families. Elliot admits that news of such discrimination makes him angry and his first impulse is to say their funding should be cut. But, he says, upon reflection he’s come to question that reaction. “Is immediately eliminating their funding the best approach? I don’t think so,” he says. “We need to explore other things we can do to bring those schools into compliance in a way that we don’t push people to the margins.”

Ian Soutar, one of the BC Green Party’s youngest candidates, says it’s important for constituents to have access to a variety of choice in schools. “But when it comes to government funding to anyone that has any line of discrimination . . . I think that’s absolutely outrageous,” he says.

Soutar is the communications chair for the Young Greens of Canada and youth representative for the Green Party of Canada. He says while he’s not a one-issue candidate he tries to campaign with a focus on how issues will impact youth.

NDP incumbent Mable Elmore says anyone who experiences discrimination should be able to seek assistance to make sure their human rights are protected. “My expectation is all institutions obey the law. We have a Human Rights Code that prohibits discrimination so it’s my expectation that be upheld throughout the province.”

She would like to see the BC Human Rights Commission reinstated to help more people bring their cases to the tribunal. One subject of particular interest to many gay men in BC is easier access to Truvada for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) which, taken daily has been found to significantly prevent HIV transmission. On this topic, Elliott and Chandra Herbert seem to agree: both say British Columbians need better coverage for PrEP.

Last fall, Vancouver’s Health Initiative for Men called on the BC Liberals’ health minister, Terry Lake, to fund Truvada as PrEP by adding it to the list of drugs covered provincially through Pharmacare.

In an emailed statement last September, Lake told Xtra that BC will work with other provinces to negotiate a lower price for PrEP. But nothing has been announced, even though Health Canada approved Truvada for PrEP more than a year ago.

PrEP is one of the subjects Elliot says he hears about most from queer constituents in the West End, and he believes it’s an important next step in one day seeing HIV eradicated.

“I do, as a candidate, support expanded access to and funding for PrEP. And if elected as an MLA of course I’ll continue to advocate for that,” Elliot says, adding that it’s important to remember PrEP is not right for everyone. “It only prevents against HIV, not other STIs [sexually transmitted infections], so it’s just one tool in the tool kit.” Chandra Herbert says the government needs to examine the health care costs for people living with HIV versus the cost of prevention through an effective tool like Truvada.

“The answer will be pretty clear,” he says. “I can’t tell our pill regulator exactly what to do, because we try to keep the politics out of ‘is this particular prescription approved’ but . . . This looks like it works, so why isn’t the government taking steps to make it widely available?”

Spurling agrees and urges the government to research PrEP.

“My stance is that we need to do some research on Truvada and we need to look at if that’s the best option,” she says. “And if that’s the best option — which it seems to be — then we should be funding it.”All the LGBT candidates Xtra spoke to for this piece pointed out that many of the issues that concern their queer constituents are the same as their straight neighbours.

Affordability in BC was mentioned by all the candidates. Spurling says she’s also been hearing about a need to protect the province’s water; Soutar, about the need for mental health services; Elliot’s younger constituents in the West End want ride-sharing services like Uber, while older residents, according to Chandra Herbert, are fearful they will lose their housing. Elmore says she’s been hearing about the need for childcare for families, and Nicholas Simons says in his Powell River riding, which is ferry dependent, transportation is always a concern.

“Our issues are the same as others,” says Simons. “We’re concerned about child care, we’re concerned about minimum wage, we’re concerned about the environment and jobs. We want to have a vibrant community that’s a good place to live, a safe place to live.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Berlin: In a development sure to horrify most lesbians outside Germany, Germany’s right-wing populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) have moved to end months of vicious in-fighting by appointing a 38-year-old lesbian to front September’s election campaign.
Alice Weidel, an economist and consultant from the party’s western conservative-liberal wing, will front the Bundestag campaign alongside Alexander Gauland, of the party’s eastern nationalist branch.
Her appointment followed AfD leader Frauke Petry’s refusal to enter the race. Two years after she snatched the party leadership and pulled the AfD onto an anti-immigrant, anti-Islam path, Ms Petry was herself sidelined by delegates at the weekend conference in Cologne.
Instead the party has backed Ms Weidel, a rising star in the party with a CV that includes stations in Goldman Sachs, Allianz and six years in China.
Despite frenzied applause, the Weidel-Gauland appointment marks a ceasefire rather than a resolution of an underlying identity crisis within the AfD. Ms Weidel, an AfD spokeswoman for economic affairs and a vocal critic both of the euro and euro bailouts, appealed to voters on Sunday to embrace the AfD as a corrective to the centrist course – and refugee policies – of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
‘Imported civil wars’
But the liberal economist made a play, too, to the AfD’s nationalist wing, calling it a “scandal” that German Christmas markets have to be protected by armed police and concrete lorry barriers.
“We don’t want any imported civil wars on German streets,” said Ms Weidel. “Political correctness belongs on the rubbish heap of history.”
Ms Weidel has come under fire for her apparent contradictions between her private life – she lives with her partner and two sons – and loyalty to a party that propagates the “natural union” of father and mother as “the best for a child’s welfare”. The AfD party programme attacks sex education in schools and insists children must not become a “plaything for the sexual inclinations of a loud minority”. Challenged on this in interviews, Ms Weidel has drawn a distinction between her personal life and public political preferences. After a riot on Saturday outside the Cologne conference hall, with 10,000 protesters and two injured police, some 600 delegates backed a programme positioning the AfD to the right of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
It calls for annual asylum deportation quotas, an end to family reunions and additional measures to boost Germany’s birthrate to “retain the state people”. It calls for deportation of criminal immigrants and a halt to Germany’s transition to renewable energy, disputing that carbon dioxide emissions pose a danger for the environment.
As a western AfD liberal, Ms Weidel faces a challenge counterbalancing Alexander Gauland, the wily 76 year-old who has defended eastern colleagues who relativise Adolf Hitler’s crimes and call for an end to post-war Germany’s “cult of guilt”.
“We’re often asked what we want,” Mr Gauland told delegates. “We want to retain the country we inherited from our mothers and fathers. We want our homeland, our identity and we are proud to be Germans.”

Source: http://www.irishtimes.com

Washington DC: White House officials are still working on a US anti-LGBT “religious liberty” order which was supposedly abandoned earlier this year.
A draft executive order leaked from inside the White House last month that would actively permit religious discrimination against LGBT people.
The leaked order would protect people who discriminate based on “the belief that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman [or that] male and female refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy at birth”.
After the document leaked and sparked immediate protests, White House officials claimed it had been spiked – but there have been several indications it is being worked on, and is being re-drafted to make it less vulnerable to a legal challenge.
Earlier this month, a group of 18 Republican Senators and 51 Congresspeople signed letters urging Trump to sign the executive order.
The Republican politicians claim that executive action is needed “to protect religious liberty in light of the Supreme Court’s recent redefinition of marriage”.
It asks: “We request that you sign the draft executive order on religious liberty… in order to protect millions of Americans whose religious freedom has been attacked or threatened over the last eight years.”
Speaking to USA Today, a senior White House official confirmed that executive action on ‘religious freedom’ is still in the works, but that the proposal is under development to find a “middle ground”.
The source said the President wants to “allow for people to express and maintain their strongly held religious beliefs”, but is wary of directly rolling back LGBT rights protections.
A retired former Republican Senator previously spoke out against the order.
Alan Simpson, a former GOP whip and United States Senator from Wyoming, wrote in an open letter to Trump that the order would be a “political tinderbox that could explode in the faces of Republicans everywhere, reinforcing negative stereotypes about the party’s dislike of LGBT Americans”.
He wrote: “As one Republican to another, I’d like to offer this bit of advice to President Trump: Don’t do it.”
The retired politician added: “[The order would] reignite a feckless debate that time and time again has forced Republicans to retreat, as we’ve seen with North Carolina’s bathroom bill [and] Indiana’s similar “religious freedom” law. Vice President Mike Pence might consider telling you about the last of these because he spearheaded the effort as governor. It was quite a doozy.”

He continued: “What would you get out of signing this executive order? You would placate a vocal minority that includes some certified hate groups and far-right activists who are truly out of step with most Americans and many Republicans across the country.
“What would the other side get — or in other words, what gifts will you be handing to Democrats and others on a silver platter? A great cause, new supporters, new energy and money, the mother’s milk of politics.
“Aside from being plain cruel and ugly, permitting discrimination against L.G.B.T. Americans in the name of religion would fuel the progressive Democratic base, which devours these morsels of archaic predisposition and then expertly seizes on them — and the big bucks it raises would most likely be used to take you to court.
“I would respectfully suggest that you expend your time and energy on other issues — the solvency of Social Security, the cost of health care, humane immigration reform, building infrastructure and educating kids to succeed — that Republicans could leverage for broad support and for more praise for you and the party as it creeps closer to the midterm elections in 2018.”

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

London: No charges will be brought against British Conservative MP Ben Howlett over allegations of sexual assault. Mr Howlett, the Conservative MP for Bath, was quizzed by police last year after a sexual assault complaint was filed against him. The alleged assault was said to have taken place on a man at a Eurovision Song Contest party in a private residence in Mr Howlett’s Bath constituency in May 2016. Mr Howlett, a member of the Women and Equality Select Committee and Secretary of a cross-party group on Global LGBT Rights, had strongly denied any wrongdoing.

The Crown Prosecution Service has now confirmed that no action will be taken against Mr Howlett, due to a lack of evidence.
A CPS spokesperson said: “In November 2016, the CPS received a full file from Avon and Somerset Police relating to an allegation of sexual assault in Bath.
“This file has now been considered by a specialist lawyer who has concluded that it does not meet the evidential threshold, and no charge has been authorised.”
Mr Howlett’s office confirmed: “[We] understand the matter is now closed”.
When news of the allegations first broke in November, Mr Howlett had said: “The Sun Newspaper and others have published stories concerning allegations about me today.
“My legal team is closely looking into this. I strenuously deny any wrongdoing.
“I will be making no further comment on this matter.”
No action was taken against Mr Howlett by the Conservative Party, and he remained an active MP during the investigation.
The politician is currently campaigning for re-election ahead of June’s snap election.
In a release last week he said: “Bath needs a champion now more than ever, one who is willing to stand up to the Government as well as his convictions whilst putting residents first.
“I have decided to stand again to be your local Member of Parliament for Bath, my home.
“I hope I can count on your support on June 8th so that I can continue to represent the beautiful city that my partner and I call home.”

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

United States: The United Methodist Church is to hold a hearing tomorrow to consider the future of a married lesbian who was elected as a bishop.
San Francisco pastor Karen Oliveto was elected unanimously to serve as bishop of the UMC Western Jurisdiction last year, in spite of official rules which ban LGBT ministers from serving openly.
Bishop Oliveto is married to her partner of 17 years, angering conservatives within the church who strongly opposed equal marriage.
The bishop has already been consecrated to lead the 400 churches in her jurisdiction, but members of the UMC’s South Central Jurisdiction, which spans Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas – filed an objection, alleging she is ineligible for the role.
The challenge to her election will be heard by The Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church tomorrow, as it considers demands to disqualify her.

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

Canterbury: Hardline fundamentalist “Anglican” church leaders from Africa and Asia are considering consecrating an anti-LGBT bishop as a ‘missionary’ to the UK, without permission from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Deep divisions have arisen in the global Anglican church over LGBT issues, which has been exacerbated by the shift in Western churches towards LGBT rights. In the past few years, Canadian Scottish and American churches have all sparked anger from hardline African archbishops by modernising on LGBT rights, while the Church of England is also considering adopting a more liberal stance.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently vowed to go back to the drawing board on LGBT issues, promising “radical new Christian inclusion in the Church”, though details of any agreement are murky. Anti-LGBT Anglicans have been incensed by the discussions – and the Mail on Sunday reports that a number of “Anglican” Archbishops from Africa and Asia are considering making a provocative move to challenge Welby’s authority. The newspaper reports a controversial plan to consecrate a UK bishop without permission is this week under consideration at the meeting of archbishops affiliated with conservative group GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference).
Anglican leaders from African and Asian nations could throw their weight behind a plan, which would see a ‘traditional’ UK bishop consecrated without support from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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

Washington DC: Marco Rubio took to the floor of the US Senate today to speak out against a government-backed crackdown on the LGBTI community in Chechnya.
The US Republican Senator from Florida called out the ‘brutal tyranny’ of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov who has been reported to have said he wants to eliminate all gay men from the autonomous Russian region by the ‘start of Ramadan’ – or 26 May. Russian President ‘Vladimir Putin is choosing to prop up Kadyrov, the Chechen brutal dictator, and prop up his brutal regime instead of holding them accountable,’ Rubio said.
‘The United States and other responsible nations should do more to ensure that all people are protected, and those who harm them are held responsible. We should use our voice on the global stage to call attention to these horrifying acts and to ensure that they are condemned in an appropriate way, and ultimately in the hopes that they will be stopped.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Taipei: Taiwan’s top court will make an official ruling on the constitutionality of marriage equality on May 24.
Its secretariat confirmed on Monday that the 14 grand justices of Taiwan’s Constitutional Court will reveal their decision at the end of May, according to a news report in The China Post.
City government officials and lawyers for LGBTI activist Chi Chia-wei presented arguments to the court last month. They argued marriage equality should be legal because Taiwan’s Constitution says ‘all citizens, irrespective of sex … shall be equal before the law’.
If the justices agree with that interpretation then it will all but legalize same-sex marriage in Taiwan. It would make Taiwan the first Asian country to have marriage equality.
A same-sex marriage Bill was introduced into the country’s parliament in December, but the Court’s ruling would overide any parliamentary decision.
It has to be Constitutional
Marriage equality advocates are pushing for changes to the Civil Code rather than creating a unique law for LGBTI couples. Advocates argue that seperate marriage legislation makes them feel like second-class citizens.
‘We are concerned that our Justice Department clearly supports a separate law for the same-sex couple,’ said Jennifer Lu, leader of the Marriage Equality Campaign and research fellow at the Taiwan LGBTI Tongzhi Hotline Association.
‘The Minister of Justice Department says that the Civil Code do not allow the same-sex couple to get married right now doesn’t violate the Constitution in Taiwan.
‘We are strongly unsatisfied his attitude and will continue to watch our ruling party in the near future.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Jakarta: A rising political star in Indonesia has said he does not want LGBTI people flaunting their lives on social.
Ridwan Kamil is currently the mayor of Bandung the capital city of Indonesia’s West Java province. He is rising in the political ranks and was slated as a potential rival to Jakarta’s outgoing governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – also known as Ahok – in the recent election.
Political commentators have said Kamil is likely to run in the 2018 West Java gubernatorial elections.
But advocates are concerned about his comments on LGBTI issues.
Earlier in the year he told Tempo that he does not object to people supporting LGBTI rights, but they should not do it publicly or on social media.
‘Speaking personally, basically I am not concerned about their personal affairs. But it becomes a problem when a private matter that cannot be accepted as the norm is published,’ Ridwan told Tempo.
‘So, if there are publications on an account like that, I would definitely find a way to block it.’
‘Social media also has rules on pornography, as it does not fit the norms.’
Ridwan is no stranger to LGBTI gaffes
Although Ridwan is seen as a progressive politician his comments on LGBTI people are worrying for some.
Last month, the mayor almost caused an international incident with Thailand when he used transphobic comments against a famous Thai actress.
When actress PunPun Sutatta Udomsilp visited Bandung she posted a photo on her Instagram account praising Kamil. She called him a #BandungChampion and even used his popular nickname Kang Emil.
Kamil then reposted the photo to his own Instagram account saying, ‘Regards to this Thai artist. I hope she is not a man’.
Following an immediate backlash Kamil was quick to delete his comment and apologize for the ‘mixed interpretations’ of his post.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Adelaide: Older LGBTI people living in South Australia still face ongoing discrimination but a historic project might change all of that.
The state’s Rainbow Advocacy Alliance will work with South Australia’s Council of the Ageing on the year-long project to help older LGBTI people.
The project’s objective is to ‘engage and empower’ older LGBTI people by raising visibility, public policy recommendations and identity problems.
Long time LGBTI activist Desmond Ford will run the program which he said would give ‘much needed visibility’ to older people.
Couple Desmond Rutherford, 72, and Erwin Robins, 65 have faced discrimination their whole lives. They welcomed the announcement. The men have been together for 45 years.
‘It is very difficult,’ Rutherford told Adelaide Now.
‘You still have the rednecks out there.’
Recently Robins was denied entry to Rutherford’s room after he had surgery at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
This was despite having a medical power of attorney for Rutherford.
‘He was threatened with removal by security,’ Rutherford said.
The men said they were worried about discrimination they might face if they have to enter aged care facilities. But they the new project to empower older LGBTI people was welcomed and needed.
‘We fight severely for the opportunity and the ability to choose,’ Rutherford said.
The project would help aged services reflect South Australia’s diversity, according to SA Rainbow Advocacy Alliance chair Andrew Birtwistle-Smith.
‘This project will ensure that there is a strong voice in all policy and service development for older people in SA, including through the advocacy and representation,’ he said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Cardiff: All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) today announced that it does not recommend NHS Wales prescribe the HIV prevention drug PrEP to patients.

The agency – who makes recommendations to the Welsh government – has indicated that it is not convinced that the treatment is cost effective.

PrEP – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – is an anti-HIV medication taken by people who are HIV negative to lower their risk of contracting the infection.

Although the drug – in this case called Truvada – could cost up to £400 per patient a month, multiple studies across the world have shown the medication to be an effective way of reducing the risk of contracting HIV.

However, this decision is only a recommendation and the Welsh Government could decide against it.

Gay men’s health charity, GMFA, naturally called upon the agency to reconsider their recommendation.

“GMFA are disappointed by the recommendation today from the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) not to recommend that PrEP should be made available for the most at risk in Wales,” said Nick Baker, Outreach and Communications Manager at GMFA.

“We have already gone through a major trial by the PROUD study, and over the past year we have seen statistics that prove PrEP works and is helping in the fight against HIV.

“In some cases, GUM clinics have seen a 40% drop in new HIV infections, and an independent review commissioned by the Welsh Government has also shown PrEP to be highly effective.

“We are calling for the AWMSG to reconsider.”

It comes after Scotland announced it would become the first country in the UK to offer PrEP on the NHS.

What’s more, after losing a high-profile court battle last year, NHS England are expected to offer patients a trial of the drug in the coming months.

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

Canberra: People around Australia and New Zealand turned out in crowds to pay their respects for Anzac Day on Tuesday.

In Sydney, thousands packed Martin Place for the dawn service, with heightened security this year due to fears of terrorism. A rainbow wreath was laid to commemorate LGBTI soldiers by the Defence LGBTI Information Service (DEFGLIS).
“DEFGLIS participates in Anzac Day because this day is important to all Australians,” said president Vince Chong.

“It is a day where we can celebrate our shared values as Australians and be proud of who we are. Wreath-laying is an activity that seeks to recognise all who served. We do not know who they all were, but they don’t deserve to be forgotten. The rainbow wreaths placed by DEFGLIS incorporate respectful commemoration of LGBTI personnel who served, and recognition about the effects that the wars had on their families.”

DEFGLIS renewed its practice of laying rainbow wreaths for Anzac Day in 2015 following urging from LGBTI ex-service personnel. Commemorating LGBTI service personnel has been a historical struggle. In 1982, the Gay Ex-Services Association was prevented from laying a wreath at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, and led away by police. Anzac Day events are increasingly inclusive of LGBTI and other minority groups.

“Historians have pointed out that Anzacs came from across society and included members with a range of backgrounds, such as Chinese, Aboriginal, Eastern European, Jewish, or Pacific Islander. We should not overlook the contribution of any individual or group who served.”

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

Alabama: Alabama legislators have approved a bill that would protect the state licenses of adoption agencies that follow faith-based policies, such as refusing to place children with same-sex couples.

House Bill 24, which now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature, would not protect the licenses of agencies that receive state or federal funds, but opponents say it is still state-sanctioned discrimination, reports AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers.

“This bill obviously came about because same-sex marriage was approved,” said Rep. Patricia Todd, a Birmingham Democrat who is the only openly gay member of the legislature, the site reports. “It’s based in a stereotype. And it’s wrong. And we shouldn’t discriminate and I will always fight that. When a faith-based organization decides to step into either adoption or child care, they should have to follow the same rules and regulations as every other agency.”

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Rich Wingo, countered that the measure is necessary to prevent discrimination against faith-based agencies. Around the nation, some “have been forced to close their doors because they refuse to place children in homes that go against their faith,” he said. That has usually happened, however, with agencies that receive state funding.

The state House of Representatives gave final approval to HB 24 Tuesday, concurring with an amendment the Senate added last week. South Dakota, Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia have similar laws, according to the Associated Press.

Equality Alabama denounced the legislation. “The Alabama House of Representatives proved today that they don’t have the best interest of the nearly 5,000 children in Alabama’s child placing systems in mind,” board chair Alex Smith said in a Tuesday press release. “This bill robs these children of a loving home and gives the state’s seal of approval to unnecessary religious exemptions that open the door to discrimination.” Equality Alabama and the national Equality Federation both called on Ivey to veto the bill.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Guernsey: Same-sex marriages will be able to happen in Guernsey from May 4, also known as Star Wars Day.
The last legislative hurdle was cleared this morning, when the island’s parliament voted through its last part.
The law will come into effect on May 2, and couples will be able to hold weddings from May 4 onwards.

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

Beijing: China has begun trialling selling affordable HIV testing kits in vending machines on university campuses.
The kits are sold alongside fresh food and other items.
The pilot scheme hopes to help those worried about going to a clinic for a test have access to testing kits.The experiment began on five university campuses in 2016, but was only recently reported on by local media.
The campuses in Beijing, Harbin, Guangxi and Heilongjiang stocked the testing kits for around $4 each.
It includes a urine sample bottle which can be dropped off at the vending machine, and results are available to view online 10 to 15 days later.
Those behind the scheme say they hope it represents a positive step towards more people being tested.
“Helping people to run a test for themselves like a take-home pregnancy test would be very helpful,” Martin Yang, a program manager at the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, tells NPR.
While some steps towards acceptance have been taken in China, homosexuality still remains taboo.
According to reports, those who are HIV-positive say they are turned away from clinics and hospitals despite regulations outlawing discrimination.
A university basketball team last week came under fire for carrying signs which encourage anti-LGBT attitudes.
Apple earlier this year stripped all reference to HIV/AIDS from the launch of a special red charity edition iPhone in China.
The absence of any charity branding in China could be a response to the country’s cultural skittishness around the AIDS crisis.
A gay woman in China has also set up a marriage of convenience service called iHomo to help gay people trick their families into thinking they are married.
A transgender man in China in January won an illegal dismissal case after being fired from his job.

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

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s health ministry is permitting forms of so-called “spiritual healing” that practitioners claim can cure “LGBT problems”.
Under a policy on “traditional and complementary medicine”, Malaysian hospitals are allowed to offer a string of practices which are totally unproven and have no scientific basis.
These include massages, acupuncture and herbal therapy. But among the treatments available, derided in Western medicine as quack therapy, are some distinctly harmful practices.
The Malay Mail reports that psychiatrists and religious groups in the country are lobbying for the adoption of ‘Islamic psycho-spiritual therapy’. Professor Azizan Baruddin, the director-general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia said: “Islamic psychospiritual therapy must prove itself capable to help in rehabilitating emotional disturbance, anxiety and depression.
“It must also prove itself capable in helping solve psychosis disorder, personality disorder, and problems involving the LGBT.”
Researchers have expressed concern at the lack of standards in the field.
Dr Zul Azlin Razal of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia admitted concerns with the lack of reliable research.
He said: “One researcher may formulate a model for therapy, but others do not wish to apply that model and test it with other populations.
“We don’t have randomised controlled trials. That’s what we don’t have,” Dr Zul Azlin said
“None of [the therapies] are valid, and none of them is reliable. At least so far. That is based on my rough observation.”
It is illegal to be gay in some parts of Malaysia, where Islamic law is strictly applied. Gay people can face harsh penalties and persecution.
The country’s attitude to LGBT issues was exemplified earlier this year when national film censors demanded a gay character be cut out of Disney film Beauty and the Beast.
The live-action remake is the first major Disney film to feature an unambiguously gay character, with Gaston’s sidekick LeFou shown dancing with a man near the end of the film.
After demands from the Malaysian Censorship Board, Disney pulled all screenings of the film rather than allow it to be cut down.
PinkNews revealed that the head of the body had spread overt misinformation about the film to Malaysian media, in order to justify the actions.
Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid had claimed: “The way he dances is… gay and the dialogue and the lyrics of the song are too.
“In the same scene he also lifts up his shirt and shows a love bite on his tummy.
“Even I wanted to bring my grandchildren to watch it… but there are rules. We don’t support LGBT.”
His claims were entirely false. There is no flashing of a love bite in the film, and Disney confirmed no such scene had ever been present.
The film was eventually allowed to be shown in the country.
In a piece published on PinkNews last month, a Malay academic explained: “Opposition to LGBT people is part of a larger framework of hostility towards and the policing of Malaysians who are considered immoral.
“Secular and religious police have raided hotels in search of unmarried Muslim couples who are considered guilty of khalwat – close proximity between unwedded people. And sex workers have been routinely rounded up and sent to police stations for illegal activities.”

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

Seoul: When South Korea announced it was having an election for a new president, it was hoped a left-leaning politician could finally bring in rights for LGBTI people.
But presidential front runner Moon Jae In has said: ‘I do not like [homosexuality]’.
Speaking at a televised debate on Tuesday, the former human rights lawyer of the centre-left Democratic Party was asked by his conservative opponent about how he felt about homosexuality.
Many hoped, with a left-leaning president, same-sex marriage could be a possibility.
But Moon responded ‘I do not like it’, referencing his Catholic faith, and shut down any future of LGBTI equality. Crashing his campaign event today, 13 members from Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea were arrested and detained.
Approaching Moon after his speech, the group said they shouted ‘Are you opposing my own existence?’
Many were dragged away by Moon’s security officials.
Police said they had been detained for violating rules on public protest.
‘Moon needs to offer an apology and a correction of his comments made on live television,’ said Jung Yol, a gay rights activist, to AP.
‘What he said was clearly hate speech, and since he is the candidate favored to win the election, his words can influence how people think.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Guyana: The people of Guyana will head to the polls to decide if homosexuality should remain illegal in their country.
Located in South America’s north Atlantic corner, Guyana is home to about 770,00 people. It is the only country in South America where homosexuality is still illegal.
The Guyanese government announced in a letter to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) it would hold a referendum on the issue.
There are no indications when the referendum will happen according to a report in the Guyana Chronicle.
In the letter the government said there were mixed views on the issue in Guyana. It also declared President David Granger’s support for abolishing the criminalization of homosexuality.
‘With this Executive support, efforts will be made to advance the cause and strengthen the implementation, enforcement and the system of the protection of every Guyanese citizen, including the LGBT community,’ the Government promised the IACHR.
Guyana is keen for change, but it’s up to the people
Despite saying ‘no person should be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, since everyone has a right to work, pension and gratuity’, the government said it was still necessary to hold a referendum.
The government argued in the letter that the Constitution of Guyana has specific guidelines on the fundamental human rights and freedom that do protect LGBTI people.
The government said the LGBTI community were protected under various articles in the constitution, including; Protection from Inhuman Treatment; Freedom of Conscience; Freedom of Expression; Protection of Freedom of Assembly, Association and Demonstration; Protection from Discrimination on the grounds of Race….Sex, Gender, etc.; Right to Free Education (at any Primary or Secondary School owned and funded by the state); and Protection of Human Rights.
Guyana has long been under pressure from international agencies and LGBTI groups to decriminalize homosexuality.
In 2015 the United Nations United Nations Human Rights Commission’s Universal Periodic Review called on Guyana to end its anti-sodomy laws.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

New Mexico: Currently, conversion therapy is banned in New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and New Mexico. Conversion therapy for minors on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation is also banned in the following cities: Cincinnati, Miami Beach, Wilton Manners, Seattle, Miami, North Bay Village, West Palm Beach, Bay Harbor Islands, Pittsburgh, Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, El Portal, Toledo, Key West, Columbus, and Tampa.
On 16 February 2017, the New Mexico Senate approved a bill barring the practice. It was then passed to the New Mexico House of Representative, who concurred on 15 March 2017. The bill was signed into law by Governor Susana Martinez on 7 April 2017.
New Mexico state Senator Jacob R. Candelaria, who sponsored the bill along with Representative G. Andres Romero, told the Human Rights Campaign: ‘Today’s historic action by Governor Martinez confirms that our shared commitment to protecting all children from abuse transcends party labels and ideological differences. In New Mexico, we value and celebrate every child for who they are. I want to thank Governor Martinez for having the courage to stand up for the simple truth that every LGBTQ kid in New Mexico is born perfect. I also want to thank the victims of conversion “therapy” who came forward to support this bill. Their stories did not fall on deaf ears. They turned their suffering into a force for good, and because of them, and for them, we have made history.’
Conversion therapy involves a range of interventions, including social skills training, counseling, psychoanalytic therapy, visualization, and spiritual intervention, like prayer, group support, and pressure. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that these methods change a person’s gender identity or expression or sexual orientation. The reverse is true. Research clearly demonstrates conversion therapy poses critical health risks for LGBTQ youth. They may experience substance abuse, decreased self-esteem, depression, homelessness, and suicidal behavior.
In some circles, reparative therapy is used as a synonym for conversion therapy, Reparative therapy is based on the belief that same-sex attraction is an unconscious attempt to fix feelings of inadequacy. Although the practice has been utterly discredited by the American Psychological Association, there are still people who administer the treatment or seek it out. In fact, the Republican Party of Texas recommended ‘counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment’ as part of their party platform in 2014.
The law applies to mental and physical health care workers but does not apply to clergy, so the practice may continue in some form in New Mexico. However, state licensing boards can take action against medical practitioners who break the law, which details disciplinary measures.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Yukon: Canada’s Yukon provincial government introduced a trans rights bill in its legislature on April 25, 2017, making good on a pledge made in last fall’s provincial election to bring the territory in line with current standards for LGBT people’s human rights. Yukon will be the last province in Canada to pass a trans-rights bill, depending on when federal Bill C-16 and New Brunswick pass their respective legislation.

Bill 5 — the second bill introduced since the legislature began sitting — amends the Yukon Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on “gender identity or gender expression” and amends the Vital Statistics Act to allow a change of gender on a birth certificate without gender-confirming surgery. The revised act will also allow gender-neutral markers to be used on birth certificates.

“All Yukoners have the right to be free from discrimination and harassment because of their gender identity or gender expression. Our laws will soon be a better reflection of Yukon’s rich diversity,” Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said in a press release.

Chase Blodgett, a coordinator with All Genders Yukon credits Xtra’s coverage of the fight for transgender people’s legal rights in the territory with getting the government to move so fast.

“I don’t know that this would have happened if [Xtra] hadn’t done those articles,” he says.

Blodgett says that All Genders Yukon has written commitments from all three parties in the legislature that they will work to improve trans people’s rights and quality of life, so he expects the bill will pass easily.

“We expect there to be little resistance to these long overdue amendments,” he says. But while the proposed changes are a major advance for trans people in the territory, Blodgett says that All Genders Yukon would have preferred if the government took a step further and ceased collecting and recording gender data from its citizens altogether.

“All Genders Yukon will continue to suggest that the government denote the biological sex of all residents as ‘person,’” he says.

He says if the government insists on continuing to record sex data at birth, then it should use scientific methods that are more accurate than the standard visual method used by doctors, as this can sometimes miss intersex people.

The Northwest Territories was the first jurisdiction to amend its human-rights code to include “gender identity” in 2002, and Ontario and Manitoba followed in 2012. All provinces except New Brunswick had done so by 2016. Nunavut followed this March, while a trans rights bill is currently awaiting final reading in New Brunswick. C-16, a bill to amend the federal Canadian Human Rights Act and to add trans people to listed categories under the hate crimes section of the criminal code is currently awaiting final reading in the Senate.

Prior to the changes, human rights commissions interpreted the protected category of “sex” as including trans people.

Changes to provincial vital statistics acts began after the Ontario Human Rights Commission ruled against the surgical requirement for legal gender change in 2012. After similar decisions in Alberta and Newfoundland, the other provinces and territories followed suit between 2014 and 2016, although minor variations remain between provinces as to what is required for a gender change.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Sussex: The Sussex Beacon, a UK HIV/AIDS service organization, will remain open—thanks in large part to a petition signed by more than 10,600 people. The Sussex Beacon, based in Brighton, England, helps hundreds of people living with HIV in the area, and was recently in danger of closing due to threat of closure due to changes in funding.

Fortunately, the local community come to the Sussex Beacon’s aid. The petition, along with support from the English HIV charity, Terrence Higgins Trust, and a few local celebrities, including the Brighton-based DJ Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim). Not only did the saving of the organization enable the continuation of care for many in the area living with HIV, it helped save dozens of jobs, including 14 nurses, who work at the clinic. The Sussex Beacon clinical services director and nurse, Jason Warriner, told the online nursing journal, Primary Health Care, “It has been a difficult and stressful few months for staff, but people have carried on doing their jobs, and the feedback from service users has been amazing.”

“This threat to funding is what all charities are facing at the moment, especially in the HIV sector. It does feel a bit like we’re a sector in decline. If you want to save high quality services, you have to put the funding there,” added Warriner.

Sussex Beacon chief executive Simon Dowe also told the Primary Health Care article, “I feel like we’ve taken a real step forward in our campaign to save the charity. There is still a lot of work to do over the coming months to make the Sussex Beacon more sustainable and less reliant on statutory funding, but I’m delighted we have the opportunity to continue supporting local people living with HIV right now.”

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Wyoming:
U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, is facing criticism after telling a group of students last week at Greybull High School that it is fine to be LGBT but that he knows “a guy” who wears a tutu to bars and gets in fights — and “he kind of asks for it,” reports Wyoming’s Greybull Standard.

“What work are you and your comrades doing to improve the life of the LGBT community in Wyoming?” a student asked during the event last Thursday. “How do you plan to help Wyoming live up to its name as ‘The Equality State?’”

The senator responded:

“We always say that in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face. I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it. That’s the way that he winds up with that kind of problem. I’d be interested in any solutions that you have for how we can make that work better.”
Matthew Burciaga, an editor at the Standard, called Enzi’s comments “tone deaf” in an email to HuffPost. Enzi has since apologized for the comments he made. “I regret a poor choice of words,” he said. Read his full statement below:

“I believe all individuals should be treated with respect. I do not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs. Wyoming’s population is made so great by its mixture — and tolerance — of differing value and belief systems. Our live and let live approach is one of the great aspects of our state. It is important that our students learn that the importance of respecting all people and how it is incumbent on those in the communities we live in to treat others as you would want to be treated. It is such a simple lesson ― it is never permissible to hurt another. Hatred in any form is destructive to the very foundation upon which our society is built.

“No person, including LGBT individuals, should feel unsafe in their community. My message was intended specifically to be about promoting respect and tolerance toward each other. I hope if people look at the entirety of my speech, they will understand that. I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation. None of us is infallible and I apologize to anyone who has taken offense. No offense was intended. Quite the opposite in fact, and so I ask for your understanding as well.”
Max D’Onofrio, a spokesman for Enzi, told HuffPost that he hopes Enzi’s statements are not taken out of context. “He talked about how many Wyoming folks take a live and let live approach to life, but we need to be conscious that everyone may not react the same way to differing value and belief systems. He advocates nothing but respect and civil treatment for members of the LGBT community,” D’Onofrio said in an email to the publication. “No one should take his remarks out of context or misconstrue them to mean anything but advocacy of kindness toward our fellow citizens.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Alabama: In the last week of April 2017, anti-LGBT Alabama judge Roy Moore announced that he is running for the U.S. Senate. Moore, who has been removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for his efforts to block marriage equality, made the announcement at the state capitol in Montgomery, reports AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers. An ultraconservative Republican, he left no doubt about his ideology.

“I know and I think you do too that the foundations of the fabric of our country are being shaken tremendously,” he said. “Our families are being crippled by divorce and abortion. Our sacred institution of marriage has been destroyed by the [U.S.] Supreme Court. Our rights and liberties are in jeopardy.”

He also said, “I share the vision of President Donald Trump to make America great again.” But first, he added, “we’ve got to make America good again.”

Moore is running in a special election to replace Jeff Sessions, himself a longtime opponent of LGBT rights, who has become Trump’s attorney general. The party primaries will be held August 15, with a runoff, if necessary, set for September 26, and the general election will be December 12.

Fellow Republican Luther Strange, formerly Alabama’s attorney general, is filling Sessions’s position on an interim basis, and he has said he will seek to retain the seat. Other Republicans who have announced they are running are state Rep. Ed Henry and Randy Brinson, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, AL.com reports. Those who have said they are considering entering the race include Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, state Sens. Slade Blackwell and Trip Pittman, and former state Rep. Perry Hooper Jr.

Ron Crumpton, who lost the 2016 U.S. Senate race to incumbent Richard Shelby, has said he will seek the Democratic nomination, according to the Alabama Political Reporter. State Rep. Christopher John England and Mobile-based political activist Gary Johnson (not the Gary Johnson who ran for president last year) are weighing whether to enter the Democratic race, according to the site.

While the eventual Republican nominee will be heavily favored in the conservative state, Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley sounded optimistic in speaking with the Alabama Political Reporter. “Democrats in Alabama have an excellent opportunity to fill this Republican-held seat,” she said.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary last September suspended Moore for the remainder of his term as chief justice after finding him guilty of ethics violations related to his anti–marriage equality actions. He had directed state probate judges, who are in charge of marriage licenses in Alabama, to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality decision. He lost an appeal of the suspension last week, at which time he said he would soon announce his decision on running for Senate or another office. At 70, he is too old, under state law, to seek a spot on the court again.

Moore had been removed as chief justice once before, in 2003, for his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building. A federal court found the monument’s presence to be an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Voters returned Moore to the office in 2012. But he has not been successful in seeking other offices, having lost the Republican primary for governor in 2006 and 2010.

He has based his career on far-right positions and outrageous statements about LGBT people. He has said marriage equality will “literally cause the destruction of our country or lead to the destruction of our country over the long run”; that transgender people have a mental disorder; and that actions against opponents of marriage equality are similar to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to shelve plans to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, reports indicate. Britain would therefore be part of the ECHR until the next British general election in 2022, keeping in place a key piece of LGBT rights legislation. 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 United Kingdom. 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 also securing civil unions due to an ECHR ruling. The prime minister is now not expected to include it in the Conservative Party manifesto for the general election in June, making it extremely unlikely that it will happen before 2022, at least.
The ECHR is not a European Union institution, but senior government figures told The Daily Telegraph that pulling out would be a major distraction for May during Brexit negotiations.
Iain Duncan Smith, a Eurosceptic former cabinet minister and party leader, told The Daily Telegraph that the news was “disappointing,” but that he understood May’s thinking.
May set out the case for the UK leaving the ECHR last year while she was Home Secretary, claiming it had done “nothing” for Brits.
She was frustrated by the ECHR, which prevented her from extraditing hate preacher Abu Qatada for a while.
May’s proposal drew fire from other leading Conservatives at the time, with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson warning in a PinkNews interview that leaders in Scotland would fight any changes.
And the prime minister has changed her mind on the issue before.
During her Conservative leadership campaign, May appeared to shelve her proposals, admitting: “I recognise that this is an issue that divides people, and the reality is there will be no Parliamentary majority for pulling out of the ECHR, so that is something I’m not going to pursue.” In addition to endangering LGBT rights, withdrawing from the ECHR would destroy the foundations which the Good Friday Agreement was built on, according to Amnesty International.
Speaking last year, when May was proposing to quit the ECHR, the human rights group’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said the idea was “not just foolish,” but “downright dangerous.
“To undermine an international peace agreement, on which 18 years of peace has been based, is reckless in the extreme.”
Another human rights organisation, Liberty, has made it clear that “for the UK to incorporate any version of the ECHR with diminished or downgraded rights protection…would constitute a failure to incorporate the ECHR as the GFA requires.”

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

Grozny: Authorities running concentration camp style prison in Chechnya are torturing inmates into outing others.
Activists from the Russian LGBT Network have revealed the horrifying abuse as they seek to help victims.
Maksim, who was captured, told the New York Times he had been tortured after meeting up with a gay friend at his home.
“They yelled, ‘Who else do you know?’” Maksim said, revealing that officers zapped him with painful currents.
“It was unbearably painful; I was hanging on with my last strength,” he added.
“But I didn’t tell them anything.”

Partners of the captured now live in fear that they are about to be rounded up.
Authorities are torturing the men into revealing who they know, or who they are dating, in an attempt to round up more people they believe to be gay.
“People whose partners are detained have every reason to believe they will be arrested,” Igor Kochetkov, director of the Russian LGBT Network, said.
“It is very hard not to name the names under torture.”
One 20-year-old student, who identified himself as Ilya, said: “If they caught him, they will get to me.
The network also says gay dating websites are being used to capture men.
Authorities are posing as men looking for dates, then luring genuine gay and bi men into dates, where they then capture and torture them.
Journalists investigating the abuse of gay men in the region now say there are at least six prison camps.
President Kadyrov’s spokesman, Alvi Karimov, said the reports of an anti-gay pogrom had to be false because such men did not exist in Chechnya.
“In Grozny, have you ever noticed people who, by their appearance or manners, resemble people who are oriented in the wrong way?” Mr. Karimov asked.
“A policy is developed for a problem,” he said, referring to a report that said the arrests were official policy.
“I can officially say there is no policy because there is no problem. If there were a problem, there would be a policy.”
It comes after Britain’s deputy foreign secretary revealed a terrifying threat from President Kadyrov while taking an urgent question on the situation in parliament.
Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, told parliament: “Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.”
“He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community.”
“Sources have said that he wants the [LGBT] community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.”
The minister added: “Such comments, attitudes and actions are absolutely beyond contemptible.”
PinkNews has spoken to the Foreign Office, who verified that President Kadyrov had made the threat in local Russian language media, seen by the UK government.
Ramadan starts on May 26 this year, and is widely celebrated in Chechnya, which is a predominantly Muslim area.
These allegations have been supported by human rights groups, and led to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, UK and US governments to call for the Kremlin to investigate.

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

London: A UK LGBT domestic violence charity which closed after receiving £1.4 million in public funding suffered from “chaotic” management, an investigation has found.
Broken Rainbow went into liquidation in June last year, two months after the Home Office had given it an extra £30,000 grant. This was despite Companies House publicly threatening to close Broken Rainbow in March, a development which the Home Office stated it was “unaware” of. The National Audit Office, which examines public spending on behalf of parliament, reported today that Broken Rainbow spent £25,000 of that grant on the day it received it. NAO used the following chart to demonstrate how quickly Broken Rainbow spent the money it was given. HM Revenue & Customs is still owed £34,403 by the charity, which was given at least £120,000 by the government every year between 2004 and 2016.
NAO found the charity “had been spending much more than its income for a number of years before its closure.”
Broken Rainbow’s reserves shrank by 97 percent in two years, from £80,083 to £2,307 in 2014-15, despite income increasing by 52% over the same period, NAO said.
Instead of increasing funding to its helpline, Broken Rainbow spent £16,000 more on consultancy, £25,000 on campaigns, £27,000 on research and £17,000 on staff costs.
On most days after April 2015, the charity was “operating ‘hand to mouth,’” NAO reported, with less than £500 in its bank account.
And on more than half of the days it had less than £500 in its bank account, it actually had less than £100.
The report also discovered that between April 2015 and July 2016, one-third of payments from Broken Rainbow’s bank account went to former chief executive Jo Harvey Barringer.
This expenditure totalled more than £114,000.
Barringer told NAO that some of this amount covered her £57,500 salary as chief executive, her hourly fee as managing director, and salary payments to her wife, who she said worked for the charity.
Barringer told NAO she had a verbal agreement with the charity’s treasurer, and that they authorised her to claim money including a backdated salary increase from August to December 2015.
However, the person who was treasurer in August 2015 had left by October 2015, and therefore was not in a position to authorise this in December.
NAO reported: “We have been told, both by the former CEO and trustees, that there were lengthy periods where there was no treasurer in place, and none of the trustees we have spoken to recall authorising expense payments to the CEO’s account.”
There also appear to have been periods where Barringer had no formal written contract as chief executive, NAO said.
Unfortunately, the investigatory team was “unable to establish a complete picture of Broken Rainbow’s finances in its final year, as the charity’s records were deleted remotely shortly after the liquidators seized the charity’s computers.
“There is disagreement between the trustees and former CEO about who was responsible for this,” the report stated.
The Charity Commission, which was investigating the governance and financial management of the charity, only became aware that Broken Rainbow had gone into liquidation in June 2016 from media reports, NAO said.
When the charity closed, the helpline was transferred to a new provider, Galop.
NAO reported that “a number of other organisations” are also investigating Broken Rainbow.
These groups include the Charity Commission and the insolvency practitioner charged with liquidating the charity.

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

Delhi: The Indian government might consider creating quotas for trans people in the public service.
A recommendation from a parliamentary panel reviewing a Transgender Bill was that the federal government should create the quotas. A reason the panel gave for the recommendation was because trans people are some of the most marginalized people in India.
Various members of parliament who are on the panel told Huffington Post India that quotas in education and employment would help trans people ‘lead a respectful life’.
The parliamentary committee is reviewing the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016.
Elements of the bill will aim to define transgender and enable anti-discrimination laws.
The bill will investigate the rights of trans people to be recognised as trans and will allow them to self-identify their gender.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: UK LGBT lobby group Stonewall have launched a British general election manifesto calling on the May administraton government to make LGBT+ rights a priority. The LGBT+ charity urges the new government to: change the law on LGBT hate crimes so they are treated in the same way as crimes motivated by race and faith, ensure new guidance for relationship and sex education in all schools is LGBT inclusive and improve Gender Identity Services to ensure they are fully equipped to meet the needs of all trans people and are accessible to everyone who needs them. With regard to Brexit, Stonewall had urged the next government to take steps to safeguard LGBT rights after the UK leaves the European Union, in particular keeping the Human Rights Act. According to Stonewall research, more than half of lesbian, gay, bi and trans young people are bullied at school, two in five trans people have been physically intimidated, and millions of LGBT people around the world face violence and persecution.

Stonewall write that they are seeking commitments from all parties and all candidates to help achieve true equality. The group is non-partisan and so do not support any one party.

“If you care about LGBT rights, you need to make sure that candidates know they need to commit to equality to win your vote,” says Stonewall’s Chief Executive Ruth Hunt. “On 8 June, we’re voting for the society we want to live in. Of course, there are issues that divide opinions but during the debates over the next couple of weeks, we must keep LGBT equality firmly on the agenda.

Ruth advises LGBT+ voters to “talk to candidates in your constituency about LGBT equality, make sure they understand the issues affecting the community here and abroad.

She continues: “Over the past two years we’ve seen seismic shifts in the political landscape both here and around the world. If that shows us anything, it’s that we can’t take the progress we have made for granted. We need to join our voice with thousands of others over the coming weeks, to press for a world where everyone is accepted without exception.”

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

London: An MP is standing down after reportedly telling students that homosexuality was “wrong” and “dangerous to society”.
Andrew Turner, the Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, was said to have made the remarks on a visit to a college in Newport.
They were quickly posted on social media by one of the students, Esther Poucher, 16, who expressed “outrage”.
In a statement, Mr Turner said it was time for “a new generation” to take over after his 16 years in Parliament.
It comes 10 days after he confirmed he would seek re-election after a period of ill health. Ms Poucher posted at midday that Mr Turner made the comment in reply to her question about the Isle of Wight’s first-ever Pride event in July.
She said: “He told us that he’d been invited, but wasn’t intending to go… because… he thinks that homosexuality is ‘wrong’ and ‘dangerous to society’. At this answer, I had to leave.”
Another student, Toby Sheard, 17, said: “Everyone was shocked, no-one moved, it was complete silence, all of which he was unfazed by and carried on talking.”
Mr Sheard said the MP later explained his conviction was “to do with religious opinion”.
‘Contemptible bigotry’
Isle of Wight Pride said: “Any person who makes such a statement in a public forum as our MP is dangerous.
“Suicide rates amongst LGBT young people are still disproportionately high. Mr Turner did not know if anyone in the room was struggling with their sexuality or gender identity.”
Dave Stewart, the Conservative leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said: “It is very disappointing to hear such comments from someone I know and it is a shame for him to end to his career in this way, but what he said was unacceptable.”
Isle of Wight Labour Party condemned Mr Turner’s “contemptible bigotry” while the island’s Green Party said the “abhorrent” comments had made his position “completely untenable”.
Mr Turner announced he would stand down five hours after Ms Poucher’s Facebook post.
He said: “After 16 years I have come to the decision that it is time for a new generation to take up the mantle of representing my fantastic constituents.”

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

Moscow: Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova has responded to reports that gay men are being tortured and abused in Chechnya.

She visited Yahoo News this week to chat with Katie Couric about the U.S airstrikes in Syria and President Trump – but the popular presenter instead decided to change the subject.

With the world slamming claims that gay men are being held in camps, many of whom are said to be being tortured and even killed, Katie asked the Foreign Minister what Russia is doing to stop the abuse – and her response was chilling to say the least.

“This is not my issue. Russia is holding an investigation as normal countries do in these cases. This is not my field. My field is international relationships,” she told Katie.I just responded. I just told you all the information I have,” she added.

After the interview began to go viral, hundreds shared their responses on Twitter, with many sharing how troubling they thought the Minister’s behaviour was.

One viewer said: “Clearly she was told was she can/cannot talk about, the latter with clear consequences. We know what happens to truth in Russia.”

While another added: “She looked terrified to even respond to the questions in anyway. This may not be limited to just Chechnya.”Horrifying accounts of brutality and killings have been emerging from the Russian republic over the last three weeks, after Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 gay and bisexual men aged 16-50 had been detained by authorities over the last few months.

It was reported last week that Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov has vowed to “eliminate” the region’s gay population by the end of next month.

The UK’s Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Sir Alan Duncan, revealed last week that the British government had been made aware of the horrifying threat while taking questions in parliament this week.

“Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov,” Duncan said.

“He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community. Sources have said that he wants the [LGBT] community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.”

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

Cardiff: The Welsh government has announced that they will fund a trial for HIV prevention drug PrEP on the NHS.

PrEP – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – is an anti-HIV medication taken by people who are HIV negative to lower their risk of contracting the infection.

The decision comes days after All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) advised the Welsh government to not fund PrEP, suggesting that it is not convinced the treatment is cost effective.

Although the drug – in this case Truvada – could cost up to £400 per patient a month, multiple studies across the world have shown the medication to be an effective way of reducing the risk of contracting HIV.

Wales’ decision to fund a trial for PrEP could hopefully lead to the drug eventually being made available on the NHS.

“We are heartened and relieved that the Welsh government have listened to people affected by HIV, and will make PrEP available to people who need it in Wales, through a three year trial,” Sarah Fuhrmann, National Director for Terrence Higgins Trust in Wales, said. Although this is not a long-term solution, it is undoubtedly a momentous step forward for Wales, where investment in HIV prevention has been patchy at best.

“Making PrEP available to people at risk of HIV will not only protect them from a lifelong and stigmatised condition, it will also save our NHS £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs for every person who would have become HIV positive without PrEP. Common sense has prevailed.

“A trial is only ever a temporary answer, however, and we will be looking to the government to commit to making PrEP routinely available in Wales for those at risk, as Scotland has already done. We must not see the same delays or uncertainty that we’ve seen in England around PrEP.

“Nevertheless this is a welcome step and we hope the trial paves the way for a long-term home for PrEP on the NHS in Wales.”

The decision comes after Scotland announced it would become the first country in the UK to offer PrEP on the NHS.

What’s more, after losing a high-profile court battle last year, NHS England are expected to offer patients a trial of the drug in the coming months.

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

Melbourne: President of a support group for older gay and bisexual men in Victoria has sent an open letter to the community in light of concerns the group may no longer be viable.

The organisation, Vintage Men Inc, was formed in 1992 and provides social support and advocacy for mature aged and older gay and bisexual men in Victoria.

However, in response to decreasing membership numbers, President David Morrison has penned an open letter explaining the organisation’s situation.
“As an organisation Vintage Men Inc… advocates, connects, and promotes visibility,” it reads.

“The part Vintage Men Inc plays in promoting the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Victorians is critical.

“A decline in membership numbers is now threatening our viability – a special meeting has been called to vote on closing or continuing the organisation. We believe it is important that the organisation continues.”

Morrison wrote the letter to appeal to all gay and bisexual older men in Victoria to support Vintage Men Inc.

The meeting to decide on the future of the organisation will take place on Monday 1 May at 7.30pm at the Betty Day Community Centre in St Kilda.

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

New Brunswick: Two bills to expand trans rights passed final reading in the New Brunswick legislature on April 26, 2017, bringing the province into line with every other province.

Bill 51 adds “gender identity and expression” as well as “family status” to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination under the province’s human-rights code, and Bill 37 amends the Vital Statistics Act to give New Brunswick residents the right to legally change the gender marker on their government-issued ID without requiring gender-confirming surgery. The bills will come into effect when they are given royal assent, which should happen next week.

The twin victories cap off a year of mobilization and negotiation by trans activists with the province’s Liberal government.

Sara Hubbard, a member of the transgender support group UBU Atlantic says she “couldn’t be happier” that the bills passed.

“I finally feel like the government has made a major effort to look out for and protect the transgender community,” she says. “If you asked me if this was possible only a few years ago I would have told you not a chance. It is amazing how attitudes have changed here in the province.”

This isn’t the only recent achievement for the trans community in New Brunswick. Gender-confirming surgery was added to the provincial health plan last summer following community demands.But while the province has rapidly expanded basic protections and services for trans people under the current Liberal government, Hubbard says there’s still more work to do. She’d like to see the health plan expanded to include additional gender-confirming procedures such as breast augmentation, chest contouring and hair removal, as well as additional training for medical professionals about the needs of trans patients.

“The province has made some nice first steps, but there are still more than can be done,” she says.

New Brunswick is the last province to make the legal changes to its human rights code or Vital Statistics Act, although similar changes are now before the Yukon territory legislature. Trans people will soon be explicitly protected by anti-discrimination laws from coast to coast to coast.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Paris: Marine Le Pen’s father – and the founder of her party – has condemned the husband of a murdered gay policeman for “exalting” same-sex marriage.
Xavier Jugele, 37, was murdered on Thursday while on duty on Champs Elysees avenue, in an attack which has since been claimed by so-called Islamic State.
The murderer, 39-year-old Karim Cheurfi, was killed at the scene. He had served more than 12 years in prison for shooting at police officers and was being investigated by intelligence service at the time.Jugele’s husband Etienne Cardiles spoke to hundreds of mourners including presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, as well as current president Francois Hollande.
In an emotional, moving speech, Cardiles said his husband had lived “a life of joy and laughter, in which love and tolerance were your uncontested masters.
“You lived like a star, and leave like a star.”
He added that he did not “feel hatred, Xavier, because it is not like you – because it does not correspond to anything that made your heart beat, nor why you entered the police force.”
Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front in 1972, condemned Cardiles’ speech.
Speaking as part of a regular series of interviews on his YouTube channel, the five-time presidential candidate said: “The long speech he made in some ways institutionalised homosexual marriage.”
He added that the grieving husband’s words “exalted it in a public way, and that shocked me.”

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

Tokyo: Children in Japan will not be taught about LGBT issues for at least 10 years after the government decided against including it in the curriculum.
The Japanese government has attracted a backlash from Human Rights Watch after the once-in-a-decade review yet again left out sexual and gender minorities.
HRW said the government had “missed an opportunity” in choosing not to include much-needed information about LGBT people to help children grow and learn.The charity condemned the government’s excuse that doing so would be “difficult” because “the public and guardians have not accepted” the topic yet, calling it “patently untrue.”In a statement, it explained that a two-year survey which concluded in 2013 showed that out of almost 6,000 teachers, between 63 and 73 percent thought LGBT issues should be on the curriculum.
The study, conducted by Osaka-based professor Yasuharu Hidaka, also found that more than half of LGBT people faced homophobic bullying at school.
Just 13.6 percent said teachers had helped resolve the issue.
HRW added that “public opinion aside, Japan’s children have a right to accurate and inclusive education – in particular, sex education.
“Major United Nations agencies, such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and UNESCO, recommend LGBT-inclusive approaches to education.
“Japan’s sex education curriculum falls far short of these standards, and will continue to fail students.”
The charity explained that the current curriculum actually discriminates against sexual minorities, as it excludes them from instructions.
“Japan’s elementary school physical education curriculum instructs teachers to help students understand that ‘when in puberty…young people develop an interest in the opposite sex,’ it said.
“The curriculum for junior high school also notes ‘interest in the opposite sex increases along with the maturation of body functions.’”
HRW detailed how a 14-year-old student in the southern city of Okayama told the charity: “It would make an enormous difference to include LGBT issues in the curriculum.”
The decision is even more disappointing considering the progressive steps Japan has taken recently.

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

London: “I don’t believe that gay sex is a sin.” It took a long time for Tim Farron to say it, long enough for discussion about whether the seeming private illiberality of the Liberal leader was a disgrace or completely irrelevant. The discussion was often heated. Tory Tim Montgomerie decried the “totalitarian” demand for “politicians to reveal inner thoughts and beliefs” while Labour MP Liz Kendall called his initial refusal to say gay sex wasn’t sinful offensive.

The key issue here is not, as Montgomerie claimed, whether or not politicians are entitled to their private views. Rather it is, as one writer put it, whether “this evasiveness may cause potential voters to question whether Farron’s conscience would allow him to whip his party in favour of LGBT-friendly legislation in future votes.”

As soon as the question is asked, the answer becomes obvious. Farron’s record suggests very strongly that however conservative his divine morality, his secular politics is (almost) impeccably liberal. Although he has not always voted in line with majority LGBT-rights opinion, he has expressed regret for some past choices which no one could claim were actually homophobic nor defended with anti-gay rights arguments. It is striking that Pink News pointed this out more strongly than other news sources, noting how Farron led “calls against the persecution of gay people in Chechnya,” helped “secure the safety of a transgender woman who has been sent to a man’s prison” and criticised “the blanket ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men.”

Suspicion of Farron’s equal rights credentials reflects a wider misunderstanding of the very nature of politics and its relationship to morality. Secular, pluralist democracy rests on the assumption that members of society have different, often very divergent conceptions of morality and the good life. It negotiates these differences by distinguishing between public and private space, allowing individuals to live according to their own consciences as far as that is compatible with allowing others to live according to theirs.

To be a liberal in such a polis is to be firmly committed to this principle of individual liberty of conscience. It doesn’t require actually having a liberal personal morality. A political liberal can be a moral conservative. What matters is not whether Farron believes that gays will burn in hell for their sins but whether he believes they have the legal right to secure their own damnation before rule passes from the human to the divine.

To see how deeply illiberal it would be to deny this, just think what would follow if we demanded a liberal personal morality from our Muslim MPs. Muslims differ in what they believe more than others give them credit for, but the vast majority do believe that homosexuality, insulting the prophet and eating pork are all wrong. A great many also believe, however, that it is not the state’s role to outlaw such things. Although there are theocratic states that enshrine Qur’ānic morality in law, there is a long tradition in the Islamic world of religious legal neutrality. Many know the hadith story of two men who, walking the streets at night, realised that a Muslim neighbour was drinking wine. Far from taking action, however, they saw that they themselves had done what Allah has prohibited, remembering the Qur’ānic injunction “Do not spy.”

A failure to distinguish between civic tolerance and personal judgement is one reason why the religious beliefs of politicians are too often swept under the carpet. Politicians are understandably reluctant to discuss their beliefs if people are then going to jump to all sorts of conclusions about what they entail for their political positions.

The Farron case provides a good example of why a politician’s religious views are neither irrelevant nor necessarily critical in deciding whether we give them our support. I want to know what kind of man Farron is and knowing he is an evangelical Christian does make me question his judgement and whether he is the best person to lead his party. However, democracy only works when despite this, people like me are willing to support people like him when we see we share the same political goals. Democracy requires broad coalitions of interests among people who differ. Otherwise, it degenerates into a fractured competition between polarised groups of “people like us.” Sadly, that is just what democracy has become in Britain, in the US and elsewhere. Liberals’ intolerance of Farron’s heretical personal morality is therefore a symptom of a wider malaise in the very nature of pluralist democracy.

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

United States: A US Fox News contributor has claimed that gay men who walk into a bar are “asking” to be assaulted. Right-wing contributor Erick Erickson aired his shocking opinions in a new blog post, where he insisted that if gay men get attacked, it’s there fault for “making people feel uncomfortable” in the first place. He wrote: “You know, I’m really damn tired of all the people running around making other people extremely uncomfortable then screaming about their rights and privileges when called out. If you want to go around making people uncomfortable, you’ve got the problem, not the rest of us.”

Erikson went on to belittle the story of Matthew Shepard, who was brutally beaten and tortured and left for dead in one of the most shocking attacks on the LGBT+ community in America.

He continued: “The dude wearing the tutu shoulders some of the responsibility. He should have known better. And spare me the tirade about Matthew Shepherd. If a guy walks into a bar in Wyoming wearing make up and a tutu, he’s probably going to be asked to leave, if not picked on or punched.”

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

Global: A study has found that bullying within the tech industry is driving away LGBT hopeful candidates.
The Tech Leavers Study surveyed over 2000 professionals who had left a position working in the tech industry and found that 20 per cent of LGBT employees had experienced bullying within the work place.24 per cent of LGBT employees had experienced public humiliation or embarrassment, compared to just 13 per cent of non-LGBT people.
Nearly two thirds of the LGBT surveyed said that the bullying contributed towards their decision to leave the company.
One surveyed employee who works as an engineer and is transgender explained that they had experienced unprecedented discrimination.
“I was grossly underpaid, and my experiences of marginalisation as a minority was dismissed by my manager, whose general disrespect and maltreatment of me caused high levels of stress and job dissatisfaction,” they commented anonymously.
It is believed the discrimination is costing the tech industry upwards of $16 billion, according to the study.
Selisse Berry, the CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates called the workplace bullying “bad for business.”
Berry said: “If LGBT people are being bullied at work, they aren’t able to be as productive, creative, or connected to their role and their workplace.
“How can our country be on the leading edge of technology if we’re still functioning with a 1950s view of who is welcome in the workplace?” Berry added.
The report calls for three key actions within the industry to begin to combat the derogatory practice.
Firstly, it calls for a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy to by implemented. Secondly, an inclusive culture needs to be nurtured by identifying “core values” and having a firm code of conduct. Finally, the report suggests that a fair management process should be reviewed.
The study comes after the federal appeals court in the US has ruled that lesbian, gay and bisexual employees are protected against discrimination.

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

Brighton: The UK Green Party is calling for trans youth to have the right to legally change gender without parental conscent.
In their LGBTIQA+ manifesto for the June 8 general election, launched today, the party has called for the Gender Recognition Act to be updated for under 16s.
The proposal would allow for young people who are trans or non-binary to be able to change their gender in law, without requiring the express support of their parent or guardian. The manifesto pledges to: “Update the Gender Recognition Act to allow trans youth and non-binary people to get legal recognition through self- declaration.”
Asked how a young person would illustrate their readiness for a new legal gender, the party’s equalities spokesperson Aimee Challenor told PinkNews: “We believe a system of self-declaration should be based on Gillick competence.”
Gillick competence is the idea that a minor can determine their own medical choices, “if and when the child achieves sufficient understanding and intelligence to understand fully what is proposed.”
The party has also called for an X gender to be added to British passports, removing the requirement to choose either male or female for non-binary and intersex people, which they believe should be a protected status in the Equality Act.
Calling for a stronger response to the unfolding abuses of gay men in Chechnya, the party’s spokesperson said: “The current ongoing situation in Chechnya is terrifying, and Greens have already called for action at the highest level.
“If Greens formed a Government, then we would swiftly work with the Russian and Chechen authorities to resolve this matter in a way that protects LGBTIQA+ people, we would also work with our colleagues in the EU, and indeed the UN Human Rights Council, to ensure the action is taken.”
The manifesto comes after a tumultuous first week of the general election for LGBT issues.
Tim Farron was forced to clarify he does not believe gay sex is a sin, after refusing to answer the question for two years, and Theresa May has left a question mark over dumping LGBT rights protections, which reports now indicate she won’t.
The pro-EU party currently has one MP, Caroline Lucas, who represents Brighton Pavillion.
The party has also called for mandatory equality and diversity training for border agents, “so they can sensitively ascertain refugees’ identity and past experiences.”
In other proposals, the environmentalist party has called for PrEP to be provided by NHS England as a matter of urgency, to introduce mandatory LGBT inclusive sex, relationship and HIV education in schools, and to remove the spousal veto so that trans people can acquire their gender recognition certificate without needing permission from their spouse.
Writing for PinkNews, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said: “These are troubling times for those fighting for LGBTIQA+ equality.
“From Trump’s election across the Atlantic, to Theresa May’s threat to repeal the Human Rights Act – we’re at risk of going backwards after years of progress.
“Here in Britain people continue to suffer violence and discrimination.”

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

Hong Kong: The Equal Opportunities Commission chairman has called for greater protection of sexual minorities in in Hong Kong, as well as a discussion on same-sex marriage laws. Professor Alfred Chan Cheung-ming said that sexual minorities in the country faced insufficient protection. The chairman’s comments came after the High Court ruled that gay people working as civil servants in the country should be rewarded the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.
The professor said: “The court ruling told us clearly that [same-sex] marriage in Hong Kong is just a start. We agree with it and that a discussion on [same-sex] marriage is unavoidable,” before stressing that the rights of sexual minorities should be handled with serious urgency.
“More discussions on the city’s marriage system are needed. There is support and opposition from difference concern groups. The discussions should continue,” he added.
The lawsuit was launched by Leung Chun-kwong, a high ranking immigration officer. Chun-kwong had married his partner in New Zealand three years ago and called for his marriage to be recognised by the civil service and inland revenue offices.
The final judgement ruled in favour of Chun-kwong’s case against the Civil Service Bureau and deemed its police an “indirect discrimination”. However, it did not rule against the Inland Revenue Department.
Groups of parents in Hong Kong have reportedly expressed concerns and worries over their sons liking Disney princesses.
The revelation came after charities in the city claimed that authorities in Hong Kong are still recommending so-called ‘gay cure’ therapy to vulnerable youths.
The Hong Kong government refused to ban the practice in 2010, despite campaigners presenting extensive evidence to the Legislative Council that the practice can do serious harm to individuals.

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

Charleston: A fundamentalist college in North Carolina has been caught asking staff and faculty to sign a document to declare opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion.
The private Montreat College expects its staff to sign up to oppose the two items. It reads that they must confirm that they support “the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman” as well as the “worth of every human being from conception to death.”

But even more frighteningly, some staff have said they have left because they are expected to uphold a “full 24 hour/seven-day-a-week persona life” involving the college’s stance.
One, Corrie Greene who teaches English at the school has said she and eight other members will be leaving the school
According to Adam Caress, the school has spent years “reviewing and revising” the documents.
He says the process to review the documents has been “transparent and deliberative” and included 13 “listening sessions”.
The school apparently gave a chance for input to its 39 full time faculty members and 142 adjunct aculty members.
Described as the “core documents” Greene adds: “It says we must affirm and uphold the college’s specific spiritual stances in our full 24 hour/seven-day-a-week personal life.
“I can’t let somebody else write my personal testimony. In my faith, Christ is constantly showing me something new.”
Some students have protested against the covenant.
One student Bailey Mathews, a sophomore, has said she hopes that the President of the college, Paul Maurer, should “consider this a family and reconsider some things and that we can fix our broken family.”
But if this does not change, Mathews has said she also plans to leave the college.
“I was going to stay and I planned on graduating from here,” she adds, “but now, no.”

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

Washington DC: The US Holocaust Memorial Museum says it is ‘deeply concerned’ over reports that gay men are being targeted for arrest, torture, and, in some cases, murder in Chechnya.
‘The Holocaust teaches us what can happen when state-sponsored, group-targeted violence is allowed to go unchecked,’ Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield said in a statement Friday (28 April).
‘The reports about the targeting of LGBT persons in Chechnya combined with statements from Chechen officials seemingly endorsing violence are cause for great concern.
‘Both the Chechen and Russian governments need to investigate these allegations and ensure the safety of LGBT populations within the Russian Federation.’
The museum fears a grim history could repeat itself. They point out that Nazis persecuted homosexuals as part of their so-called moral crusade to racially and culturally purify Germany.
An estimated 100,000 men were arrested for violating Nazi Germany’s law against homosexuality between 1933 and 1945.
Approximately 50,000 of those men were sentenced to prison and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 were sent to concentration camps on similar charges, where an unknown number of them perished.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has been reported to have said he wants to eliminate all gay men from the autonomous Russian region by the ‘start of Ramadan’ – or 26 May.
It is alleged that at least 300 people have been detained and tortured in the crackdown and at least four have been killed.
They are imprisoned in two former military jails in the Chechen villages of Argun and Tsotsi-Yurt. Four more concentration camps have also been discovered.
The men face physical beatings, starvation and shocks in homemade electric chairs and are forced to promise to never return to Chechnya or be killed.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

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