Friday, June 30, 2017

Germany says YES to same-sex marriage

The German parliament, or Bundestag, has just passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriages, in a snap vote that made it onto the agenda before the summer break after opposition parties pushed for it and a surprise shift by Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

The bill passed by 393 to 226, with four abstentions. Merkel herself voted against the bill, although it was comments from her that helped bring it about.

Germany’s approval of homosexual marriages adds it to the growing list of Western countries that allow such unions. Fourteen European countries have now made gay marriage legal, with the Netherlands leading the way in 2001.

Many people are celebrating in front of German parliament after the diputies voted on legalising same-sex marriage.

Congrats Germany!!!

Chancellor Merkel voted against but she lost the vote

Thursday, June 29, 2017

#ProudToBe but not always

YouTube released a moving #ProudToBe new video celebrating Pride Month.

YouTube Spotlight launched this video as part of the campaign and already has more than 3 million hits on YouTube.

The video features famous LGBTI YouTubers, clips of viral videos including Rachel Evan Woods, Human Rights Campaign, LGBTI marches, and clips of same-sex parents with their children.

Though YouTube has released this moving video in support to the LGBT community, they still have yet to completely remove the ‘family filter’.

Earlier this year, LGBTI YouTubers have realized that their videos haven’t been showing once the ‘family filter’ was ticked on which restricted content that seemed ‘inappropriate.’ While they issued an apology, and promised some videos would be unrestricted, YouTube said earlier this year they have no plans to remove the filter.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

German opposition pushes to legalize same-sex marriage this week

German lawmakers will decide Friday whether to legalize same-sex marriage. 

The snap vote comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that she would like to see parliament move towards a “vote of conscience” on the issue.

Following Merkel’s comments, German politicians writing on Twitter called for a vote to be held as soon as possible. 

Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the second largest party in parliament, called for parliament not to wait until after the federal election in September. “We will push through marriage equality in Germany”, he tweeted. “This week”.

A survey conducted by Germany’s Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency has found that an overwhelming majority of Germans, over 83%, support marriage equality

It's time Germany!

Monday, June 26, 2017

From Russia with Love... and kisses

On Instagram, the Brazilian organization LGBT+ SSEX BBOX started a campaign to create “the biggest digital kiss in the world” to break the silence of the LGBTQ population in Russia and Chechnya, by using the hashtag #Kiss4LGBTQRights.

The advocacy group encouraged Instagram users to post images of themselves kissing, using the hashtag #Kiss4LGBTQRights and tag themselves at Russia’s political capital, the Moscow Kremlin.

Over 5000 images were uploaded, a simple but efficient way for a lot of couple to claim their sexual orientation. If the gesture seems trivial, it is essential to occupy the public space – virtual or real – to condamne such violence. This is why social media can have an impact.

Since April, men suspected of being gay are being abducted, tortured and even killed in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya according to credible sources inside the country.

And more recently, in a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law is in breach of European treaty rules on human rights.

It is hard not to feel powerless before such atrocities, but although politicians and the international community obviously have a major role to play, it is also possible to demonstrate at the individual level showing our support via social networks.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Turkish police break up Gay Pride protest in Istanbul for the third year

Turkish authorities announced they would not allow the Istanbul Pride march on Sunday, the third year in a row the celebration has been banned since it began in 2003. The Istanbul Governor's office said the Pride march would be banned to keep public order and for the safety of participants and tourists.

Pride organisers said they would defy the ban. For more than a decade, the Istanbul Pride attracted tens of thousands of participants, making it one of largest gatherings celebrating gay, lesbian and transgender rights and diversity in the Muslim world. Unlike many other Muslim countries, homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey.

Turkish police have finally thwarted an attempt by gay pride activists to hold a parade in Istanbul in defiance of an official ban from the local authorities. Riot police fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who defied the ban, and at least four people were detained.

The Turkish Government insists there is no discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation, they explained that the state of emergency declared after last summer's failed coup has further limited public gatherings. The true is most of LGBT people in Turkey experienced a state of emergency from their birth.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sesame Street supports LGBT Pride Month

Sesame Street team tweeted one image supporting LGBT Pride Month to their nearly two million followers with the words: "Sesame Street is proud to support families of all shapes, sizes, and colors".

Throughout the almost 50 years that Sesame Street has been on television, the show has not shied away from sensitive and tough subjects. Characters on the show openly discussed death when one of the actors portraying a main character died, back in 1982. Since then, episodes have covered topics like HIV, divorce, incarceration and racism. 

Most recently, Sesame Street introduced a new character: a puppet named Julia who has autism. As an educational program on public access TV, the show has the unique opportunity to literally broadcast positive messages to its millions of young viewers, and has been successful in doing so. Children who watch the show learn lessons about tolerance, inclusion and kindness.

It would therefore be reasonable for Sesame Street, a progressive program that is in tune with society and its advancements, to feature gay or lesbian characters. As homosexuality and same-sex marriage have become more mainstream and are no longer things to hide or not talk about, children are exposed to LGBT couples and individuals in their homes and schools.


Friday, June 23, 2017

US State Department and Navy stand with LGBT rights

With the change in the White House, many LGBT activists fear a roll back of their rights. While the White House remains silent this month, fortunately other federal agencies are recognizing June as LGBT Pride month.

The State Department issued remarks from Secretary Rex Tillerson in a statement: "In recognition of LGBTI Month, the Department of State affirms its solidarity with the human rights defenders and civil society organizations working around the world to uphold the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons to live with dignity and freedom".

Elsewhere, the U.S. Navy was one of the first uniformed service organizations to issue a LGBT Pride Month statement. In a press release, the Navy declares the LGBT community is part of One Navy Team that contributes their diverse talents, skills and service to the strength of the force.

"To remain the finest seagoing fighting force, the Navy needs men and women who are the right fit for the right job regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed or gender identity", said Capt. Candace Eckert, Special Assistant for Inclusion and Diversity. "Our goal is to ensure that the mission is carried out by the most qualified and capable Sailors. If an individual can meet the Navy's standards, they should be afforded the opportunity to be part of the One Navy Team", he added.

Proud of them!

President Obama repealed "Don't ask, Don't tell"
military policy in 2011

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Men wear skirts at work as protest

Men across Europe are complaining about what they see as unfair dress codes.  

Bus drivers in France are among those who have been coping with soaring temperatures by ditching their trousers. After finding it too hot to work in full-length leg wear, members of the CFDT Semitan Union in Nantes got around the no-shorts-to-work policy by wearing skirts.

The drivers envied women who were able to wear skirts in the heat wave, and the video of their story has been viewed more than 160,000 times in two days.

Union member Gabriel Magner said: "When it's 50 degrees behind the windscreen all day, those are work conditions which are not acceptable. "What we want is for the company to do something about it so when it gets like this a heat regulation can come into force when the temperature reaches a certain level, to allow drivers to wear Bermuda shorts, for example".

Its not the only bare legged protest over the last few days. Record high June temperatures in the UK have also prompted boys at one school in Exeter to wear skirts in a protest over the school's uniform policy.

In Buckinghamshire, Joey Barge, a call centre worker, was sent home from work because his blue shorts did not meet the company's dress code. In protest Mr Barge changed into a pink and black dress and his tweets documenting the episode were re-tweeted thousands of times.

Most responders were encouraging, applauding him for the unique way he brought attention to the no shorts policy, while others shared their own stories of work place dress rules. 

Mr Barge's employers have since relaxed the rules on work attire, and now Mr Barge may wear three-quarter-length shorts, but only in black, navy or beige.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New York’s highest court has the first openly gay judge

New York’s highest court has a new member. The state Senate confirmed Paul Feinman to serve on the Court of Appeals. He will be the first openly gay person to serve on the court.

Feinman has been a judge for more than 20 years. He fills a vacancy created by the death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who was found dead in the Hudson River near her Manhattan home in April.

Openly gay New York Sen. Brad Hoylman reacts: “I’m overjoyed that Judge Paul Feinman has been confirmed by the State Senate to the New York State Court of Appeals as its first openly LGBT member. This historic appointment by Governor Cuomo sends an important message to all New Yorkers about the importance of diversity and acceptance. Even more important, Judge Feinman is a seasoned jurist with impeccable credentials and the respect and admiration from peers and practitioners, alike, who will apply the law fairly. Today’s confirmation of the first gay man on the Court of Appeals is a wonderful way to begin Pride Weekend.”

Via press release from Gov. Cuomo: “Paul Feinman’s confirmation as Associate Judge on the Court of Appeals is a major step forward for the state’s judicial system. With decades of experience, Judge Feinman is a leader in his field and a trailblazer who joins the Court as its first openly gay judge. He has spent nearly his entire career serving New York courts and championing the principles of justice and fairness. With today’s confirmation, we are honoring the legacy of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam and adding another supremely talented and deeply respected legal mind to the state’s highest court. I thank Chairman John Bonacic, members of the Judiciary Committee, and the Senate for their consideration of this nominee, and I congratulate Judge Feinman on his confirmation.”


Judge Feinman (right) with his husband Robert Ostergaard

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law ruled as a violation of human rights

In a landmark ruling, The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law is in breach of European treaty rules on human rights.

“The Court found in particular that, although the laws in question aimed primarily at protecting minors, the limits of those laws had not been clearly defined and their application had been arbitrary”, the court said in a statement. “Indeed, by adopting such laws, the authorities had reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia, which was incompatible with the values of a democratic society”, it added.

Under this legislation, since 2013, any event or act regarded by the Russian authorities as an attempt to promote homosexuality to minors is illegal and punishable by a fine. The legislation has been used to stop numerous gay pride parades and events since it was brought into effect.

The ruling made by the court is binding, because Russia is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. However, following the ruling, the Russian government has pledged to appeal what it labelled an "unfair decision".

What is unfair is the way that 
LGBT people is treated in Russia

Monday, June 19, 2017

Texas allows discrimination on religious grounds

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law legislation that would enable taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse to place a child with LGBT families out of religious objections.

The legislation, House Bill 3859, forbids government agencies or contractors from taking “adverse action” against an agency that “has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate, or refer a person for child welfare services that conflict with, or under circumstances that conflict with, the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Many child placement agencies are religious institutions, such as Catholic adoption agencies. Under the new law, these agencies could be free to deny placement to an LGBT family, or Jewish people, Muslims and single parents, based on religious beliefs.

The new law also prohibits the state from taking adverse action against adoption agencies for providing children with a religious education, which observers have interpreted as allowing agencies to engage in widely discredited conversion therapy. Further, the law allows agencies to decline to refer a person to abortion or contraception-related services.

Other states with laws allowing adoption agencies to deny placement to LGBT households are Michigan, South Dakota, North Dakota, Virginia and Alabama.

Abbott might not be done signing anti-LGBT legislation anytime soon. He called for a special session of the legislature starting July 18 to pass a bill that would inhibit transgender people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The musical 'Dear Evan Hansen' wins six Tony Awards

Dear Evan Hansen, the touching, heartfelt musical about young outsiders, has won the biggest theater popularity contest, winning the best new musical trophy at the Tony Awards.

The show centers on a profoundly lonely 17-year-old who fabricates a prior friendship with a classmate who has just committed suicide. 

The story charts his acceptance into the young man's grieving family and the heartbreaking truths that emerge as the deception becomes more elaborate, sped along by social media.

The acclaimed musical's story is by Steven Levenson, with songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (recent Oscar winners for "City of Stars" from the movie "La La Land"). It stars Ben Platt.

"Dear Evan Hansen" beat out "Come From Away," ''Groundhog Day the Musical" and "Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812."

The musical won six Tonys, the most of any show.

You Will Be Found, a cappella cover from 
Dear Evan Hansen, by BYU Vocal Point 

Friday, June 16, 2017

An openly gay woman is nominated as prime minister in Serbia for the first time

Serbia's president Aleksandar Vucic announced that Ana Brnabic, 41, was nominated as the prime minister-designate, which would be the first openly gay prime minister and also the first female head of government in the highly conservative country's history. 

In any case, her cabinet needs formal approval by parliament next week, but she should get it because her party, the conservative party, has the majority in the chamber.

Vucic declared that it has been a difficult decision reached in the interest of Serbia and its citizens. Remember that he is a former extremist-turned-reformist who has promised to boost gay rights as part of efforts to move closer to European Union membership.

This nomination follows the recent one occured in Ireland, where an openly gay man was also elected as Prime Minister for the first time.

Brnabic participates at Belgrade's Pride Parade every year

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Canada will erase past convictions for same-sex acts considered unlawful in the past

The Toronto Star reports:

The Liberal government will introduce legislation later this year to erase past convictions for sexual activity with a same-sex partner, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced as multi-coloured flags were raised on Parliament’s west lawn.

The legislation would add to reforms already in the works to atone for the damage caused to thousands of Canadians convicted of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts.

Egale, a national organization that advocates for the rights of sexual minorities, handed the government a report last June that recommended those convictions be expunged, pardoned or somehow stricken from the records of those convicted. Before 1969, same-sex acts between consensual adults were considered unlawful.

“Our government will be moving forward with a process for the expungement of criminal convictions for Canadians who were unjustly convicted of a crime simply for who they were and who they loved”, Trudeau said as dozens of people gathered for the announcement cheered.

A new step in Canada to achieve full equality.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Atlanta's rainbow crosswalks will be permanent

The city of Atlanta, Georgia, has decided to show their pride permanently.

During Atlanta Pride Week in 2015, a rainbow crosswalk was temporarily installed on the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street, an area that is known as a hub for the city’s LGBT community.

In May, more than 20,000 people signed a petition in support of the crosswalks being a year-round addition to the neighborhood.

Atlanta’s mayor, Kasim Reed, just announced that the city would make the rainbow crosswalks a permanent fixture. 

In a release, Reed said: “For the past year, Atlanta has grieved alongside Orlando. Our city has rallied around our LGBT community, and we have not shied from demonstrating our unity and solidarity. And with this spirit, I cannot think of a more important time to reaffirm our unwavering and unqualified support for our LGBT residents”.

It is more than a painting, it signifies that the LGBT community is a visible part of the city of Atlanta.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Scottish Episcopal Church approves same-sex marriage

The Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to allow gay couples to marry in church. It makes it the first major Christian church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages.

The vote to amend canon law on marriage, removing the stipulation that it is between a man and a woman, was carried by the Synod in Edinburgh. It means that gay Christians from any Anglican Church can now ask to be married in a Scottish Episcopal Church.

Clergy who wish to officiate at gay marriages will have to “opt-in”. The church said this meant that those who disagreed with gay marriage would be protected and not have to act against their conscience.

The Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Edinburgh, The Right Reverend Dr John Armes, said: "I am very pleased for the couples who can now have their relationships recognised by the church and blessed by God".

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hundreds of thousands rally for LGBT rights at Equality March in Washington DC

Hundreds of thousands participated in the national Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C. There were close to 100 other marches scheduled around the U.S.

The Equality March aimed to bring together and affirm LGBT people and their allies to highlight a number of causes, including disability rights, preventing violence against LGBT community, and support for LGBT immigrants.

The march also commemorated the upcoming anniversary of the shooting deaths of 49 people and wounding of more than 50 others at gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 

Demonstrators filled the streets with signs, flags and chants. Some participants said they marched to celebrate friends and family, while others wanted to demonstrate resistance to Trump administration.

Although Trump has continued President Barack Obama's executive order protecting LGBT federal workers and LGBT military service members still serve openly, his administration has revoked protections for transgender school students, and its mentions of the words lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in statements have been few and far between.

In addition, Trump administration's refusal to issue an official statement commemorating LGBT Pride Month is symptomatic of the White House's agenda for LGBT Americans. In any case, the Equality March has been a demonstration to show to Trump administration that America's LGBT community can not be ignored.

Over 200,000 attend Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade

Thousands of people from around the world are partying in Tel Aviv at the Gay Pride Parade, the region’s largest. The Municipality said over 200,000 people celebrated the event.

The theme of the parade this year was “Bisexual Visibility,” making it one of the largest parades in the world celebrating bisexuality. Each year, members of Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ community choose a theme for the week of events in June. Past themes included last year’s “Women for a Change” and “Transgender Visibility” the year before.

Amid tight security, revelers celebrate freedom and tolerance at annual event in the one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations.

The parade in Tel Aviv began at noon, and proceeded to the beachfront, along Bugrashov Street, Hayarkon Street, Frishman and Herbert Samuel, concluding at Charles Clore Park in the city’s south, where a party will be held into the evening. .

About 10 floats took part in the beachside procession, one of them depicting an ancient warship built by staff at the British embassy in Tel Aviv, the embassy website said. Britain’s ambassador to Israel is David Quarrey, an openly gay man.

Israel stands in sharp contrast to much of the region. Across the rest of the Mideast, gay and lesbian relationships are mostly taboo. Pervasiveness of religion in everyday life, along with strict cultural norms, plays a major factor.


Friday, June 9, 2017

A record number of LGBT people elected to UK Parliament

The UK has elected a record number of LGBT people to Parliament.

45 out LGBT MPs were elected on June 8, a net gain of six.

2015 – 39 – 17 CON: 14 LAB: 8 SNP
2017 – 45 – 19 CON: 19 LAB: 7 SNP

The 45 represent 7% of the new House of Commons and is the highest level of representation ever in Britain and the world, representing a rise from 2015.

31 of the MPs are from England, 10 from Scotland, and 4 from Wales. Scotland continues to lead the way in the inclusion of LGBT voices in politics at 17%.

The 45 MPs do not reflect the diversity of the UK LGBT community. There are 36 men and 9 women. None are transgender.

Stuart ANDREW – Pudsey
Crispin BLUNT – Reigate
Nick BOLES – Grantham & Stamford
Conor BURNS – Bournemouth West
Alan DUNCAN – Rutland & Melton
Nigel EVANS – Ribble Valley
Mike FREER – Finchley & Golders Green
Nick GIBB – Bognor Regis & Littlehampton
Justine GREENING – Putney
Nick HERBERT – Arundel & South Down
Margot JAMES – Stourbridge
Daniel KAWCZYNSKI – Shrewsbury & Atcham
Mark MENZIES – Fylde
Damien MOORE – Southport
David MUNDELL – Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale
Lee ROWLEY – Derbyshire North East
Iain STEWART – Milton Keynes South
Ross THOMSON – Aberdeen South
William WRAGG – Hazel Grove

19 LABOUR (7%):
Angela EAGLE – Wallasey
Clive BETTS – Sheffield South East
Nick BROWN – Newcastle upon Tyne East
Ben BRADSHAW – Exeter
Chris BRYANT – Rhondda
Dan CARDEN – Liverpool Walton
Stephen DOUGHTY – Cardiff South & Penarth
Nia GRIFFITH – Llanelli
Gerald JONES – Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney
Gerard KILLEN – Rutherglen & Hamiton West
Peter KYLE – Hove
Gordon MARSDEN – Blackpool South
Sandy MARTIN – Ipswich
Luke POLLARD – Plymouth, Sutton
Steve REED – Croydon North
Lloyd RUSSELL-MOYLE – Brighton Kemptown
Cat SMITH – Lancaster & Fleetwood
Wes STREETING – Ilford North
Stephen TWIGG – Liverpool West Derby

7 SNP (20%):
Hannah BARDELL – Livingston
Mhairi BLACK – Paisley & Renfrewshire South
Joanna CHERRY – Edinburgh South West
Angela CRAWLEY – Lanark & Hamilton East
Martin DOCHERTY – West Dunbartonshire
Stuart McDONALD – Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch
Stewart McDONALD – Glasgow South

Some LGBT MP of the previous legislature