Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Saudi Arabia threatens to apply death penalty on gay people who come out

People who come out in Saudi Arabia could face the death penalty.

A Saudi newspaper reported that prosecutors in the city of Jiddah have proposed to apply the death penalty to the entire country on gay people who publicly come out, in response to dozens of cases they have prosecuted over the last six months. These include 35 people who received prison sentences for sodomy.

Obviously, the proposal has caused fear among LGBT people in the country.

The same newspaper reported that Jiddah authorities have prosecuted 50 cases in which men allegedly dressed as women. And also a doctor who lives in the port city on the Red Sea was arrested for raising an LGBT Pride flag over his home.

Saudi Arabia is among the countries in which consensual same-sex sexual activity remains punishable by death. 

Seven nations still carry out executions of LGBT people: Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Yemen. Sadly, ISIS-controlled territory would be the eighth.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why my gay parents can't get married?

Same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales and Scotland, but continues to be blocked in Northern Ireland by the Democratic Unionist Party.

15-year-old Darragh Tibbs, of  County Down, explains in a video on YouTube that he is the child of a same-sex family, but that his parents are still denied the right to marry after 21 years together.

Darragh discovered that his local MLA Gordon Dunne has repeatedly opposed equality on the issue, and he wrote to him to ask why.

In his letter, he says: 

I am 15 years old and a constituent of yours. I live just around the corner from your office.
You voted no in the Marriage Equality vote of last year: I want to know why. I am the child of a same-sex relationship and I can see absolutely no reason why my brother and I should be denied a secure family set-up.
It seems perfectly reasonable to me that my parents; who have been in a stable relationship for twenty one years, who have two sons, should be supported by their own government.
What gives you the right to take from my brother and me the right for legal protection for our family?
I am asking you to explain why. I don’t want to receive an impersonal reply. I would like you to be transparent, to be an accountable figure, a leader of my constituency.

I would like to know the answer.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Breaking news: Georgia Gov. will veto anti-gay bill

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared that he will veto his state’s anti-LGBT so-called “religious liberty” bill. 

Deal’s veto comes one week after HRC President Chad Griffin called on Hollywood to stop productions in Georgia if Governor refused to veto the legislation at HRC’s Los Angeles Gala. Soon after, many of the biggest TV network, entertainment companies and Hollywood stars responded to the call and signed HRC’s letter demanding veto.

Republican Gov. said he didn't think the bill was necessary. "I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which I and my family have been a part of for all of our lives", he said.

He declared he was not reacting to pressure from the faith-based community or responding to the business community, which warned Georgia could lose jobs if he signed the bill.

His decision, he said, was "about the character of our state and the character of our people. Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people. ... I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason I will veto House Bill 757".

Equal rights everywhere!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

TV Networks, Film studios and Hollywood stars join threatened boycott of Georgia over anti-gay bill

Netflix, CBS, NBC, Discovery, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros Entertainment all say they will no longer stage productions in Georgia. 

The US’s biggest TV Networks and entertainment film studios and some Hollywood stars have threatened to boycott film production in the southern state of Georgia if it passes a religious liberty bill currently pending legislative approval.

The Walt Disney Co. and Marvel Studios have expressed their opposition to a Georgia religious liberty bill pending before Republican Governor Nathan Deal, saying that they will take their business elsewhere if the state's governor signs the bill into law. 

"Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law", a Disney spokesman declared.

Hollywood figures including Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore, Lee Daniels, Rob Reiner and Seth MacFarlane have said they would refuse to work in Georgia.

Georgia is currently enjoying a production boom as its 30% credit is one of the most generous incentives in the country.

The governor has until May 3 to officially decide

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Antarctica declared the first LGBT-friendly continent

Aaron Jackson, a well-known activist who runs a nonprofit organization called Planting Peace, has just declared Antarctica the first LGBT-friendly continent. 

He visited the freezing land the first week of March and unfurled both a rainbow gay-pride flag and a pink-and-blue transgender pride flag.

He declared: “I was just watching a documentary on Antarctica and thought, ‘Aw, man, ‘I’d like to visit Antarctica — that would be real interesting. Maybe I should bring a pride flag.’ It’s not governed by any one country — just international treaties. No government is in charge of Antarctica. That would be interesting if we declared it the first gay-friendly continent. The reality is, no one will be able to tell me it’s not”.

Jackson flew to Argentina, then joined a cruise on a research vessel. He said the purpose of the trip was to spread “visibility for the need for basic human rights for the LGBT community. It was an honor to carry the pride flag throughout Antarctica, and Planting Peace will not stop fighting for LGBT rights until all sexual minorities experience full, fundamental rights in every corner of the world”.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Breaking news: Colombia Constitutional Court could legalize same-sex marriage

In Colombia, several media outlets have reported that a 20-page Constitutional Court opinion that will bring marriage equality to the country is ready and only awaits a meeting to cast a Court vote.

According to them, sources close to the Court say that the magistrates will vote against one conservative judge’s proposal to annul marriages registered by lower courts, keep civil unions as the only option for couples. The expected vote is 6-3 to defeat this opinion.

Next would come the final vote on a counter-opinion to legalize same-sex marriage. The same 6 out of 9 judges are expected to extend the right to marry to gay couples.

We will see...

Being Ambassador to an anti-gay country when you’re a lesbian

I've read a very interesting interview to Judith Gough, who became the British ambassador to Ukraine last year and previously served in South Korea and the former Soviet republic of Georgia. For her, the major problems for being lesbian and to serve in homophobic countries have not come from the host countries but from other diplomats.

“I’ve had some quite biting comments from diplomats representing other countries", she said. Those comments include: “Somebody like you shouldn’t be posted in a country like this” and “You shouldn’t be doing the job you’re doing”.

“There is a level of difficulty sometimes in dealing with other countries where they do not have the same approach to LGBT issues as we do”, she continued. “But then I’ve also had comments that ‘as an ambassador really you should be at home with your children, and not being a full-time ambassador’”, she added.

In those occasions, she responds with a couple of things: "One is: I’m here because I’m good at my job and I have the right expertise, and the second is: I represent the U.K. and we are a diverse country based on a certain set of values. I therefore reflect that country”.

Gough and her civil partner, engineer Julia Kleiousi, have two children, aged 3 and 11. The ambassador told she’s had nothing but support from the U.K. Foreign Office, which she has served since 2001, just 10 years after it opened diplomatic posts to LGBT people, once considered a security risk. “I can genuinely say that within the Foreign Office I have never experienced discrimination or harassment on the grounds of sexuality”, she said.

Read the full interview here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A new attack on LGBT event in Ukraine

The organisers of an LGBT festival in the Ukrainian city of Lviv have been forced to call off the event as a far-right group surrounded the venue. 

The equality festival was a regional branch of a Kiev event which was first held in December. It included literary readings, film screenings and public events. The planning for the event had been difficult, as the police nor the city offered support. 

Around 200 far-right activists surrounded the Dnestr hotel where 70 participants of the event had taken shelter. The aggressive demonstrators surrounded the venue demanding that authorities to stop the event, and threw stones. 

More police reinforcements were deployed at the hotel with authorities having forcefully canceled the event. Police later explained that they had received an anonymous bomb threat. Bomb squad units were sent to the hotel to search for the hoax explosives, while the attendees were escorted out.

As the participants of the event were being boarded into buses by the officers, the ultra-nationalist group started throwing stones and firecrackers at the attendees and attempted to break through the police lines and shouting “Kill! Kill! Kill!”

One of the orgnisers Olena Shevchenko said: “The hotel we had booked for people coming from outside Lvov told us we could not stay there”. He added: “When we arrived, the administrator told us the city authorities had told them we were perverts, they had Googled us and said people like us should burn in hell”.

The mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovy, wrote on Facebook but only to condemn the LGBT group, rather that offer support.

Recently, Ukrainian activist Bogdan Globa wrote about the problematic situation of LGBT people in Ukraine.

Europe can't accept this behaviour!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Marriage equality is in Puerto Rico to stay

Last Twesday, U.S. District Court Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez ruled that Puerto Rico’s marriage ban remains valid because the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision doesn’t apply in Puerto Rico, as it’s a territory and not a state.

Shortly after the federal judge ruled against marriage equality in Puerto Rico, Governor Alejandro García Padilla has sided with the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The fundamental right to marriage has been ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit of Boston. Thus, I’m going to respect the rulings of the higher courts which, thankfully, ordered matters to proceed much differently than Judge Pérez-Giménez", the Governor declared.

Lambda Legal staff attorney Omar González-Pagan said in a statement: "The marriages of same-sex couples in Puerto Rico are not in limbo and we appreciate that Governor García Padilla has reassured LGBT people and made clear to all others in the Island that marriage is here to stay".

The U.S. Supreme Court has indisputably held that the constitutional guarantees of liberty and equality apply with equal force to the Commonwealth.

No steps back!

Ricky Martin proud of his island

Friday, March 18, 2016

The first openly gay player to compete in the NCAA

Derrick Gordon, 24, is currently the only out Division I basketball player. On Thursday, he made history as the only out player to ever compete in the NCAA tournament.

Gordon said: "I just hope one day when somebody else comes out that it's not as big of a deal as when I came out. It's 2016, my teammates are the perfect example that it's all about basketball with us". And he added: "They accepted me for who I was, and it made things a lot easier".

Gordon came out two years ago while playing for the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He had support from his coach and from fans, who even staged a counter protest when members of the Westboro Baptist Church decided to picket at one of his games.

His current coach Kevin Willard said he was supportive of Gordon being out in the Division I league. "It's been such a blessing having him here. Our guys accepted him right away. It just shows you what a great place it is to go. It was so supportive for him, I think it made the transition so easy".

Congrats hunk!

Coach Willard with Derrick during a game

Thursday, March 17, 2016

LGBT groups march in New York's St Patrick's Day parade for the first time

LGBT groups have marched in New York’s St Patrick’s Day parade today for the first time, after a historic ban was lifted.

The annual event, which attracts over a million tourists each year, has maintained a long-held ban on gay groups, due to the influence of anti-gay Catholic groups, although it also faced a large commercial boycott and protests over the exclusion of LGBT groups.

Due to the anti-LGBT policy, Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio had shunned the parade every year since his election, but for the first time ever he marched in today’s parade.

Crowds lined the streets this morning for watching the parade, with Mayor de Blasio also taking part. The Mayor declared: “The St Patrick’s Day parade is a New York City tradition, but for years Irish LGBT New Yorkers could not show their pride. Finally, they can celebrate their heritage by marching in a parade that now represents progress and equality”.

Well done Mayor de Blasio!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Most Australians are in favor of gay marriage

A new poll in Australia has shown that support for marriage equality has reached its highest-ever level of public support.

An Essential Poll released this week has found that 64% of people in the country now want marriage equality compared to 59% in late October 2015.

Support for same sex marriage is 62% among men and 67% among women. 76% of under 35’s support same sex marriage, while those aged 65+ split 45% in favour and 41% against.

“I attribute the increase in support to everyday conversations about why marriage equality matters, as well as growing impatience with Parliament’s do-nothing approach to the issue”, said Rodney Croome from Australian Marriage Equality.

This week the Green Party tabled a motion to hold a vote in the Senate to pass a bill that would allow for marriage to be redefined. However, after prioritising voting reform in the chamber, the Greens voted to postpone a debate on the issue until Thursday.

The bill, which would redefine marriage in the federal Marriage Act, would still have to pass the lower house should it pass the Senate.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Australia's Senate will hold a tiny debate on gay marriage on Thursday

Australia’s Senate will hold an opposition debate same-sex marriage on Thursday. A one-hour opposition debate on the issue but given the complexity of equal marriage, it is unlikely to come to a vote within the time frame

Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, a supporter of equal marriage, had attempted a political manoeuvre last week to force a vote on the issue, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition refused a free vote on the issue and blocked it from coming to a vote.

LGBT activists say there is currently a majority of MPs and Senators in favour of equal marriage, 

Besides, Australian Marriage Equality national director, Rodney Croome, declared: “A majority of Senators have already publicly declared their support for marriage equality so the legislation could pass if a free vote was allowed”. And he added: “If marriage equality passes the Senate it will increase pressure on the Government to allow Parliament to do its job and pass the reform as soon as possible”.

It's time Autralia!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Calvin Klein ad accused of "gay propaganda" in Russia

The new Calvin Klein's ad for the perfume CK2, which features two opposite-sex and two same-sex couples, has been reported to the Russian authorities for containing elements of propaganda of homosexuality.

Complaints have been made to authorities in Arkhangelsk after someone watched the advert on YouTube. An official has announced that authorities are investigating to see whether it has broken the law.

In the ad, besides two heterosexual couples, a same-sex male couple is riding on a motorcycle shirtless while a lesbian couple bares their breasts on a highway. While both of the straight couples kiss in the video, the same-sex couples do not.

Only in Russia one ad about perfume can be accused of "gay propaganda" instead of "cologne propaganda".

Watch the video below and judge for yourself.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Constellation Park: The 12 outdoorsmen of the Zodiac by Michael Sanderson

Michael Sanderson is an illustrator born in Colorado, in the picturesque backdrop of the Rocky Mountains of North America, something very important for inspiration and artistic development.

Sanderson has a unique artistic style and based on the male figure approach. The aesthetic sense of his illustrations reflect the most chic and sexy side of fashion, especially as a result of his many business trips around the world.

Combine references fetishists late 70s, with elements of contemporary fashion, athleticism and an addiction to establish a world cured of strong contradictions; working a visual style that resurrects a lost era. 

His most recent project is "Constellation Park: The 12 Outdoorsmen of the Zodiac", a series of printed illustrations conceptualise the 12 signs of the zodiac as all kinds of attractive and adventurous men.

All prints in this series are available in the Print Shop for purchase.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Obama and Trudeau celebrate marriage equality together

U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have had an historic meeting in Washington and they celebrated marriage equality together.

President Obama welcomed the PM Trudeau to the White House, marking the first time in 19 years a Canadian leader has been welcomed there. As well as healthcare and climate change, the pair also celebrated same-sex marriage, which is now legal in both the U.S. and Canada.

“No matter what province or state you live in, you have the freedom to marry the person you love”, said President Obama.

“We’re celebrating 10 years of taking the decision the Supreme Court in the U.S. just took”, Trudeau told.

It’s wonderful to see political leaders celebrating this.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Attempt to prevent marriage equality in Switzerland finally defeated

Any change to the Switzerland's constitution requires a popular referendum, and a referendum can be requested for any law being considered by the legislature. 

In 2007, a popular vote in the Central European Country ushered in registered partnerships which provided same-sex couples with most of the protections and rights afforded to heterosexual couples. However, the issue of full-fledged marriage equality has not yet made its way to the ballot.

In a recent underhanded attempt to restrict the institution to one man and one woman, the Christian Democratic People’s Party brought a bill up to a national vote entitled "For Marriage and Family—Against the Penalty of Marriage", which would have extended the same tax breaks given to married couples to unmarried couples. But, the bill also was a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as a heterosexual union. 

Voters rejected the bill by a very  narrow margin of 50.8 to 49.2. This means that Switzerland will be able to move ahead with the adoption of marriage equality, should the necessary legislative push arise. 

Same love, same rights!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Baseball player David Denson enjoys his life after coming out

David Denson, the first openly gay active player in baseball, is ready to start the rest of his career.

The Milwaukee Brewers outfield prospect, who came out publicly last August, says that his decision to tell his teammates brought the group closer together, rather than ostracize him like the player feared.

Denson declared: “I think it actually formed a bond between my teammates and me even more". And he added: “They had an idea. They would never cross the boundary of actually asking me, but they always had an idea in their mind. So when I actually said it, it's like ‘It's out there, it's cool and we've passed it’".

As I usually say, be yourself my friend and, of course, enjoy your life after coming out!

Brewers players support his gay teammate

Monday, March 7, 2016

LGBT travellers prefer to visit countries where homosexuality is legal

According to a new survey, conducted by travel service and Attitude Magazine, 61% of LGBT individuals would not travel to a destination where homosexuality is illegal. 

The survey revealed that amongst the group of people surveyed, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami and Thailand were the most visited destinations, while Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam were the most popular cities that respondents have expressed they would like to visit in the next 12 months.

Homosexuality currently remains illegal in over 70 countries worldwide, where LGBTs are also disadvantaged in terms of employment, marriage and adoptions rights.

Check the World Gay Happiness Index here.

Barcelona is one of the favorite destinations for LGBT travellers

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Coming out video goes viral in Taiwan

A new ad by a fast food chain in Taiwan features a young man coming out to his father by writing on a paper coffee cup. 

In a McCafé, the son writes "I like boys" on his coffee cup and shows it to his father. The father sighs loudly and walks away from the table without saying a word. He returns with his own beverage in hand, and writes several words over what his son had initially written to read, "I accept that you like boys". The son tries to hold back his tears as they sip their drinks and exchange smiles of relief.

The 90-second ad is the third and latest in the More Warmth in Conversations campaign by McDonald's. Since the ad was posted on Friday evening on McDonald’s Taiwan’s Facebook page, the video has been shared more than 6,800 times and viewed 1.9 million times.

Sadly, conservative and anti-gay religious groups call for boycott of McDonald's, for them gay people should drink coffee at their closets, but Taiwan is one of Asia’s most gay-friendly territories,

Saturday, March 5, 2016

First gay wedding in Cyprus

At last, a same-sex couple has become the first to tied the knot in Cyprus.

The country passed a civil unions bill in November last year, with a huge majority in the Parliament. Although the law took effect the following month, no Cypriot couple has come forward to publicly wed until now.

This week, gay couple Marios Frixou and Fanos Eleftheriades bravely spoke to the media about their decision to wed as they tied the knot in the capital, Nicosia.

Marios told: “We wanted to give courage to other couples and to all gay and transgender people to accept themselves and not to be ashamed of who they are”.

Considering that homosexuality was only legalised in Cyprus in 1998, the country has made large strides on equality in recent years. 

The parliament of Cyprus voted in favour of 
the Civil Partnership in November last year

Friday, March 4, 2016

Malta is in progress

The Prime Minister of Malta has signalled that he now wants to finally introduce same-sex marriage. 

Speaking at an event marking Women’s Day, PM Joseph Muscat said: “I am in favour of gay marriage and the country is ready for a debate about it”.

The once-conservative country has made a raft of changes on LGBT rights, knocking the UK off the #1 ranking in Europe on the issue last year.

As part of the government’s reforming agenda, Malta has introduced LGBT-inclusive education, passed same-sex civil unions, and pushed through progressive gender laws.

Muscat also declared: “We strongly believe in the progress we are making… it’s not a question of imitating other countries but because I will never accept a mentality that harms gay people”.

Yes, Malta is in progress.

Annual Gay Pride Parade in Malta

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Italy court allows a lesbian couple to adopt

A court in Rome has allowed a lesbian couple to adopt each other’s children. Both women have a daughter and they conceived by artificial insemination, a procedure reserved only for married couples in Italy.

"Now each child has a biological parent and a social parent, both with full and equal parental capacity and responsibility", said Francesca Quarato, the couple´s lawyer.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had promised to pass stepchild adoption rights along with the civil unions bill by the end of last year, but his plans were frustrated by repeated challenges from within parliament and the Catholic church. The bill did pass the Senate last week but only after the adoption provision was dropped. 

Italy is the only major Western country left that does not recognize either civil unions or gay marriage.

Ad campaign against adoptions by gay people

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A gay kiss in the Spanish Parliament?

This morning, Members of the Spanish Parliament and television viewers, who followed the Prime Minister´s investiture session, have seen with astonishment the kiss on the mouth among the leftist deputies Pablo Iglesias and Xavier Domènech.

As far as I know both men are heterosexuals, but it seems they often greet this way. Well, why not?