Monday, July 31, 2017

More than 40 gay men arrested in Nigeria hotel

Over 40 men were arrested in Nigeria over the weekend for performing “homosexual acts”.

Following a police raid in Lagos state at a hotel, it is believed that 42 men were arrested.

The men, who are accused of homosexuality, are due to appear in court today. If found to be guilty, they could face up to 14 years in jail.

Witnesses of the arrest who live in the local area claimed that the hotel was known to “harbour homosexuals”. LGBT people in the country face unprecedented homophobia.

It has been illegal to be gay in Nigeria for a long time, but a 2013 law increased penalties and included same-sex unions as well as gay sex in what is criminalised.

Under the barbaric law, people who enter any form of same-sex union are liable for 14 years’ imprisonment, while people who witness, abet and aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union can face up to 10 years in jail.

Earlier this year 53 men faced criminal charges as police claimed that they had attended a same-sex wedding. 45 of those jumped bail and warrants were put out for their arrest.

A recent Human Rights Watch report stated: “While existing legislation already criminalizes consensual same-sex conduct in Nigeria, the report found that the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibiton Act, in many ways, officially authorizes abuses against LGBT people, effectively making a bad situation worse.

Sign a petition to repeal Nigeria’s anti-LGBT law here.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Walking with Steve Grand

Walking is the new Single from Steve Grand, the amazing singer-songwriter from Chicago.

With over 10 Million views on YouTube, a #3 Album on The Billboard Independent Album Artist Charts, and one of the most successful Music Kickstarter campaigns ever under his belt, Steve Grand has not just broken the rules, but has changed the game when it comes to being a successful singer-songwriter in the era of YouTube and Spotify.

Walking is the first single off his upcoming record which will be out in a few months. You can get it here.

With this song, we start summer with a lighter and fun tone, but with a great desire to listen the next release.

Thanks Steve!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

No step back can be allowed

In June of last year, President Obama asked the Pentagon to lift its long-held ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military. The Department of Defense was given until July 1 of this year to implement the policy, with LGBT advocates hopeful that transgender soldiers would finally be able to serve openly.

The decision was delayed by the new Administration, but Trump confirmed yesterday that he would reverse the decision put the ban back in place.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand yesterday said she was working on legislation to reverse the announcement by Trump. Now Gillibrand has the signatures of 44 other senators urging the Pentagon to at least let the Department of Defense finish a review on the issue before bringing in the new policy.

The letter was addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Gillibrand and the senators wrote: “We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it. This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation. Transgender Americans who serve in our military put their lives on the line to protect America… They make up a small percentage of the military population, but are reportedly twice as likely to serve in the military as other Americans”.

A new poll has found that a majority of Americans are opposed to Trump’s policy banning transgender people from serving openly in the military. The poll by Reuters and Ipsos found that 58 percent of Americans were in support of trans troops. According to reports, the Pentagon was unaware that Trump was about to announce the rolling back of the Obama-era change.

The decisions sour Trump’s previous claims during his election campaign to be a “friend” of LGBT people. In a speech directly after the Orlando massacre he had claimed: “Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the L-G-B-T community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words”.

Did anyone believe him? Really?

Friday, July 28, 2017

A China court dictates that trans worker's dismissal is unfair

A 29-year-old Chinese man who was unfairly fired from his job has won a court battle against a former employer. It has become China’s first lawsuit based on the discrimination of an LGBT person.

The man was employed by Ciming Checkup a health care service provider. He had been unfairly treated and discriminated against because he was trans. A district court in the southwestern city of Guiyang agreed. It ordered Ciming to pay him $297 in damages.

"Short of a formal apology from Ciming, I think this lawsuit has achieved its purpose", the man said. "It’s never been about money. We hope, through this case, people in similar situations will realize they have a right, and we hope it will eventually result in a workplace anti-discrimination law", he added.

China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997. And the Chinese Psychiatric Association removed it from list of mental disorders in 2001.

While being LGBT is not illegal there are not any anti-discrimination policies in place to protect the community. Recently, China banned LGBT content from Internet and last year Chinese authorities banned portrayals of LGBT people from appearing on TV.

But some progress is also happening, last Valentine's Day some gay couples called for same-sex marriage in Beijing, and earlier this month a court ruled that it was illegal to force people to undergo gay conversion therapy.

Is something changing in China?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump doesn't want transgender soldiers in the U.S. army

Thousands of transgender people serving in the U.S. army face an uncertain future after Donald Trump said he would ban them from serving. 

Trump made the announcement in a series of tweets, but offered no details on how they would be implemented. The move reverses President Obama's policy that loosened restrictions on transgender people to serve in the U.S. armed forces.

Thanks to Obama, transgender people have been allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military, receive medical care, and start formally changing their gender identity in the Pentagon's personnel system since October. 

Trump consulted with “generals and military experts” on the sweeping policy, he said: “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you”, he tweeted.

When Trump became president quickly revoked protections for transgender school students, some months later he will ban transgender soldiers from U.S. army.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Texas trans bathroom bill goes on

Transgender Texans are having their public rights sent back to the Stone Age after the Senate State Affair Committee voted to approve Senate Bill 3,  which would restrict bathroom use in government buildings and public schools based on the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate.

The bill, like many other proposed ones of its kind, forces transgender individuals to use the public restrooms that correspond with their assigned gender at birth. The bill goes to prevent public facilities like schools and government offices from enforcing rules that contradict the law.

The author of the proposal, the Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, said at the start of the hearing: "We’re here today because Texas has a tradition of taking care of these issues and not being dictated to by the federal government", referencing since-rescinded guidelines from the Obama administration that accommodated transgender students in public schools.

Democrats continued questioning the legality of the proposal and its discriminatory effect on transgender people.

More than 250 LGBT business owners, activists, school administrators, and teachers signed up to testify against the bill, quoting the heart-rending suicide rates in the trans community and how a public lashing out like this could increase them.

A new HB2 is here!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Berlin Pride celebrates the new same-sex marriage legislation

Tens of thousands of people flocked to the streets of Berlin over the weekend to celebrate Pride.

Berlin Pride, called “Christopher Street Day” (CSD) in German, consists of two parts: the actual Pride march (CSD Demo) and a big final rally (CSD Finale) which took part in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate. 

The 2017 Christopher Street Day event was a special one for many German’s as it marked the legalisation of same-sex marriage after the parliament (Bundestag) voted for the bill. The new law will be enacted on October 1.

With gay marriage being legalized in Germany last month, a recurrent theme of wedding imagery kept cropping up throughout the parade. Organizers of CSD stressed the importance of tolerance and inclusivity, underscored here with the proximity of revellers to the site of the deadly Christmas market van attack at the Breitscheidplatz Square last year, which cost 12 lives.

Berlin is regarded as one of the most tolerant capital cities in the world. With its diverse LGBT community, Berlin likes to show off just how open-minded the city is, especially during Gay Pride.

Proud Germany!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Australian Christians support gay marriage

The majority of Australian Christians support same-sex marriage being legalised.

The poll, released today by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Australia, found that 54 percent are in favour of same-sex couples being able to marry.

And an overwhelming 77 percent of Christians want parliament to hold a free vote on the issue, with all the indications pointing to a vote for same-sex marriage.

The findings will increase the pressure on the country’s right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has repeatedly blocked a free vote despite clear public support.

What’s more, 49 percent opposed the idea that those who perform weddings could refuse to marry same-sex couples.

And when asked whether they wanted conservative religious groups, who are firmly opposed to same-sex marriage, to speak for all Christians on the issue, 61 percent rejected the idea.

The poll also found that support for a free vote in Parliament stands at 73% across Australia, while just 27% support Turnbull’s plebiscite plan.

With Australian Christians so conclusively behind marriage equality, it’s time for politicians to have a free vote and get this done.

It's time Australia!

Australia... when???

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hunk of the month July: Sebastian Wileman

Sebastian Wileman (Sydney, 1993) is a rugby player and model. 

Following an impressive 2016 season in First Grade of the Shute Shield, Sebastian was nominated for Shute Shield Rookie of the Year. As well as this, he was selected for the Sydney Rays as the starting outside centre in the National Rugby Championships.

He currently works for Chadwick Models in Australia.

He is also studying at the University of Technology Sydney.

Go Aussies!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Almost half of LGBT pupils still face bullying at school in the UK

Nearly half of LGBT pupils experience bullying in the U.K., a new report published by LGBT charity Stonewall, amid growing concern that transphobia is on the rise in schools. 

Stonewall’s School Report 2017, conducted with Cambridge University's Centre for Family Research, looked into the experiences of over 3,700 LGBT pupils.

Although homophobic abuse has declined in recent years, the research shows that 64 per cent of  transgender pupils have been subject to bullying, with many schools found to be "not equipped" to support transgender pupils.

While seven in 10 LGBT students believes their school will not tolerate homophobic bullying, less than half believe their teachers are as stringent when addressing abuse directed at transgender students. 

Transgender  pupils are also twice as likely to try to take their own lives. Two in five transgender pupils have attempted to commit suicide, compared with just one in five among lesbian gay and bisexual pupils. 

The likelihood of bullying due to sexuality varies throughout the country, it adds. The highest rate of bullying was reported in Wales, where 54 per cent of LBGT pupils are subject to bullying, while the lowest rate was found in Greater London, where less than 40 per cent receive abuse.

Researchers also found that only one in five LBGT pupils had been taught about safe sex in same-sex relationships.

There is still a lot of work to do.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Alarming homeless rates for LGBT teens in the US

Around 40% of young homeless people in the U.S. are LGBT, even though people with these identities only constitute around 8% of American youth.

Hearing that 40% of homeless people are LGBT is upsetting enough, but the statistics become even more shocking when you look at how many LGBT people are homeless. At least 320,000-400,000 gay and transgender youth are homeless every year.

A large part of the reason so many LGBT people end up homeless is that their families kick them out. Tragically, this happens to over a quarter of LGBT teens when they come out, and over half face disapproval from family members. 

Other alarming facts about LGBT homeless youth are:
  • They commit suicide at higher rates (62%) than heterosexual homeless youth (29%)
  • They are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth
  • While homeless youth typically experience severe family conflict as the primary reason for their homelessness, LGBT youth are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse before the age of 12.
  • LGBT youth, once homeless, are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, and unsafe sexual practices.
  • 58.7% of LGBT homeless youth have been sexually victimized compared to 33.4% of heterosexual homeless youth.
A big issue that has to be taken seriously by the Administration.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ranking of the Best LGBT Cities

A recent study ranking the world’s “100 Best LGBT Cities” has been released, featuring both well known queer-friendly hot spots and a few surprises

The ranking was compiled in celebration of Pride month by housing aggregator Nestpick, who considered thousands of cities across the globe for the top 100 slots.

“For a city to rank strongly as an LGBT destination, we determined that it must have a vibrant gay dating scene, a lively alternative nightlife, open minded citizens, and low levels of hate crime,” reads a statement from the study. “We also took into account the national laws affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, such as the right to get married or adopt children.”

Once researchers whittled down the options to just 100, surveys were carried out with LGBT people in each of the respective cities. At least 2,500 people participated in each survey, with a total of at least 200,000 responding worldwide.

The top 10 LGBT cities are:

1. Madrid, Spain 

2. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3. Toronto, Canada

4. Tel Aviv, Israel

5. London, UK

6. Berlin, Germany

7. Brighton, UK

8. Barcelona, Spain

9. New York City, US

10. San Francisco, US

Friday, July 14, 2017

Malta Makes History

Malta's parliament voted to allow same-sex couples to marry, three years after passing a law permitting civil partnerships in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

Lawmakers gave near-unanimous approval to the bill, which represents a major step for LGBT rights on the island, which legalised divorce only in 2011 and where abortion is outlawed.

Malta, the EU's smallest nation, becomes the bloc's 15th member to legalise same-sex unions.

The vote was one of prime minister Joseph Muscat's first actions following his election victory last month.

"It's a historic vote. This shows that our democracy and society have reached a level of maturity and we can now say that we are all equal", he said after the text was passed.

The Netherlands was the first European country to legalise same-sex marriage, in 2001, with the most recent being Germany on June 30 after a surprising shift on the issue by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Gay marriage has also been approved in Canada and the United States, and in four South American countries, though it remains illegal in most of Africa and Asia.

Congrats Malta!