Monday, October 30, 2017

Court blocks Donald Trump’s transgender military ban

Donald Trump stirred anger by announcing in July that he would impose a ban on transgender soldiers serving openly in the military. But, parts of Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military has been blocked.

A federal judge in Washington, DC filed an injunction blocking the order today, ruling that a lawsuit brought by five active soldiers with more than 60 combined years of service was likely to win.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote Monday that transgender members of the military who had sued over the change were likely to win their lawsuit and barred the Trump administration from reversing course.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly wrote: “The Court holds that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their Fifth Amendment claim. As a form of government action that classifies people based on their gender identity, and disfavors a class of historically persecuted and politically powerless individuals, the President’s directives are subject to a fairly searching form of scrutiny”. The judge added: “The effect of the Court’s Order is to revert to the status quo with regard to accession and retention that existed before the issuance of the Presidential Memorandum”.

Taiwan waits for same-sex marriage to be legalised

A sea of rainbow flags and glitzy costumes filled downtown Taipei on Saturday as tens of thousands marched in Asia's largest gay pride parade, the first since Taiwan's top court ruled in favour of gay marriage.

The island looks set to become the first place in Asia to legalise gay marriage after the constitutional court said in May that laws preventing same-sex unions violated the guarantee of freedom of marriage. It gave the government two years to implement the decision.

The anticipation was felt at Saturday's parade, as dancing crowds in colourful wigs and sequined outfits made their way through the capital's centre alongside vans blasting music. Many spared no effort in dressing up, from a man posing in a sweeping bridal dress and a tiara to another donning an inflatable dinosaur costume.

But behind the celebrations, some are frustrated at the lack of progress in changing the current marriage laws since May.

"A lot of people cannot afford to wait for two years", said Joseph Wu, 46, dressed in a matching kilt and rainbow turban with his partner of six years. "We just want the same things heterosexual couples have. We also do our military service, we pay the same taxes, so why can't we have the same thing?" he said.

Gay rights activists expressed frustration last month when a Taipei administrative court rejected a request from a lesbian couple to marry, saying they can register only when relevant laws are in place. Still, Taiwan is seen as one of the most progressive societies in Asia when it comes to gay rights.

It's time Taiwan!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ellen DeGeneres surprised college student for his dedication to LGBT activism

Earlier this week Ellen DeGeneres surprised Trent Bauer, a senior at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, by bringing him on stage after he participated in a segment called “White Men Can Dance”.

Little did Bauer know that his best friend Steph had written DeGeneres and outed him not only as one of Ellen’s biggest fans, but also as one of the “most selfless and special” people she knew. She also told the talk show host about Bauer’s dedication to LGBT activism at his school, where he serves as the university’s first LGBT student coordinator.

“I wrote to the president [of the school] and asked them to create [the position],” he nervously told DeGeneres once he was seated across from her. “As a student of the LGBT community, I felt there was a... lack of resources. So I wrote them and asked if I could do some research to develop a center on campus and... we’re kind of in the process of doing that, so I’m really excited”.

As if getting to meet Ellen wasn’t amazing enough, Bauer, who says he is applying to join the Peace Corps after he graduates, was in for one more giant surprise: $10,000 to help him pay back his college loans.

Sure, do-gooders should never expect to be rewarded for their acts of bravery or kindness but there’s really no feeling like watching Ellen toss a giant novelty check in the lap of an incredibly deserving person.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Egyptian parliament moves to criminalize homosexuality

MP Ryad Abdel Sattar introduced to the Egyptian parliament a draft law entailing four main articles of the criminalisation of homosexuality. The draft law would pave the way for strict punitive measures against the LGBT community in Egypt, in addition to restricting the presence of LGBT People inside Egyptian society.

The first article defines homosexuality as any person engaging in sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex.

The second article clarified that any person engaging in homosexuality in a public or private place should be subjected to punitive action that should be no less than one-year and not exceeding three years in jail. It added that in case those jailed homosexual people repeated having sex after being freed, then the punitive action should be five years in jail.

The third article highlighted that any “supporter” of homosexuality or someone who calls for the acceptance of homosexuality, even if he or she is not a “practitioner of homosexuality,” should be jailed for no less than one year or no more than three years.

The fourth article paid attention to media coverage to parties organized by homosexual people, stipulating that any representatives of the media that “promotes” LGBT parties would be jailed for three years.

The move comes after an open-air concert in Cairo on September 22 by Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, when the flag representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community was raised.

Pictures of the incident were shared widely on social media, leading to a public backlash and discussions on prime time television with many calling for those involved to be punished. Since then nearly 70 people have been arrested, and more than 20 have been handed sentences ranging from six months to six years.

Bad news from Egypt.

A rainbow flag waving for the first time 
in Egypt at Mashrou Leila's concert

Thursday, October 26, 2017

UN condemns anti-gay crackdowns in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia

Azerbaijan, Egypt and Indonesia have all unjustly arrested dozens of people during anti-gay crackdowns in recent weeks, subjecting many to mistreatment in custody, the United Nations human rights office said.

“Arresting or detaining people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity is by definition arbitrary and violates international law”, U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.

In Azerbaijan, more than 80 LGBT people have been arrested since mid-September and the U.N. has received allegations that some were subjected to electric shocks, beatings, forced shaving and other forms of humiliation to force them to incriminate themselves before being released, Colville told.

In Egypt, more than 50 people have been arrested so far widest anti-gay crackdown, a swift zero-tolerance response to a rare show of public support for LGBT rights in the conservative Muslim country. In some cases, individuals were reportedly arrested after being entrapped by law enforcement officials on apps and in internet chat rooms. At least 10 men in Egypt have been sentenced to between one and six years imprisonment, while most others await trial and a few have been released, Colville added.

In Indonesia, more than 50 people were arrested at a sauna in Jakarta. Four men and one woman were charged under the country’s pornography law, a vague statute used to arrest people for consensual same-sex relations. “In all three countries, authorities have alleged that those arrested were involved in sex work, although in almost all cases the accused have denied such allegations or indicated that they were coerced into confessing involvement”, Colville said.

He finally called for the release of people detained on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and for authorities to drop charges based on vague or discriminatory laws, and to repeal such legislation.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

ONE Brooklyn Community Campaign supports transgender people

A New York public service campaign is telling the important everyday story of Jodie Patterson, a Brooklyn-based activist and mother of five, who grew up with parents that preached the importance of community. 

For them, family is also about being part of a large black community. “We are numbers”, she remembers being taught. “We are not one in a few. We are many, and we are strong”.

That significance in numbers and togetherness would translate when it came time to raise her own children, one of whom came out as transgender at the age of 3. “My son is transgender, it’s not a scientific thing, it’s not a political thing, it’s just how God made him. Simply, purely, perfectly”.

Patterson's son Penelope Ghartey, who chose to proudly keep his given name, has a community beside him. But not all transgender youth are as lucky. Fifty percent of transgender teens attempt suicide because they have no community.

The goals of the campaign are deep: to increase awareness, community engagement, volunteering, mentoring, in-kind support, and partnerships with local businesses, organizations, schools, and community leaders and to uplift people in underserved neighborhoods. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Russian singer is feared to be dead after visiting Chechnya

A well-known Russian pop singer who went missing in August after visiting Chechnya is feared to be dead.

Moscow-based, Zelimkhan Bakaev, went home to Grozny for his sister’s wedding in August. When he went out one night on August, he never came back.

Friends of the 25-year-old claimed he was detained in the center of the capital Grozny by people in military uniform. Advocates believed Bakaev may have been detained as part of Chechnya’s crackdown on gay and bisexual men. 

Chechnya’s Ministry of Internal Affairs told journalists there had been no reports of someone with Bakaey’s name had gone missing.

Since December, hundreds of men have been persecuted on suspicion of homosexuality. Many were tortured and at least 10 have been executed.

The Russian LGBT Network, one of the country’s leading advocacy groups, feared Bakaey was detained in Chechnya’s ongoing persecution of LGBT people.

The Network confirmed the persecutions were still happening even though a lot of political and media attention has been cast on Chechnya.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hunk of the month October: Quinton Wynn

Quinton Wynn (1995, Indianapolis, USA) is a fashion and fitness model slash actor. 

Featured in hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs and social media posts, Quinton Wynn is a charismatic model with an amazing face and a flawless body. He appeared on the cover of Australia’s DNA Magazine but also featured in many outstanding works by renowned photographers.

Currently in school at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He is pursuing a degree in public safety management and minoring in criminal justice. Once he graduates he plans to work with FEMA as an emergency planner. 

His dream job as a model would be to open his own gym and travel the world and work with the most recognized photographers and film makers.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Record 68 U.S. cities earn perfect scores in LGBT equality test

A record 68 cities in the United States earned a perfect score of 100 in an annual LGBT equality evaluation.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the Equality Federation Institute released their annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI). This is the sixth year of the MEI, which first began in 2012.

The evaluation scored 506 municipalities on things like non-discrimination laws, fair law enforcement, overall relationship with the city’s LGBT community, and more. For each factor, there is a limited amount of available points. 

The official document states its goal is to demonstrate ‘in the most comprehensive form just how much can be accomplished be tenacious city leaders who stand up for full LGBT equality’.

Furthermore, the municipalities earning perfect 100-point ratings increased from last year’s 60 cities. Some the 100-earning locations include Phoenix, Los Angeles, Orlando, Atlanta, Louisville, Denver, Kansas City, and more.

A total number of 11 cities earned scores of 0. They include: Sitka and Wasilla, Alaska; Monroe, Louisiana; Southaven, Mississippi; Jefferson City, Missouri; Moore and Stillwater, Oklahoma; Clemson, South Carolina; Mitchell and Pierre, South Dakota; and Sheridan, Wyoming.

You can read the full report here.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Prince Harry accepts Attitude's Legacy Award on behalf of Princess Diana

Prince Harry has accepted the Legacy Award at The Virgin Holidays Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar, on behalf of Princess Diana, for her ground-breaking HIV/Aids activism.

Harry, 33, paid tribute to his late mother as he collected the award at the star-studded ceremony at London’s Roundhouse.

The Prince was introduced by Ian Walker, a former Senior Occupational Therapist at the London Lighthouse Aids centre, and Julian La Bastide, a former nurse at the Mildmay Mission Hospital, who discussed their experiences of meeting Diana and the on-going legacy of her HIV/Aids work.

The award, presented in the 20th anniversary year of Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris, recognises the significance of her work in challenging the stigma and fear that surrounded HIV/Aids in the 1980s and ’90s.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

95% of gay couples are afraid to show public affection on holiday

An overwhelming 95% of same-sex couples say they are afraid to show any sort of affection in public while traveling, according to a survey conducted by Virgin Holidays.

The airline polled 1,000 LGBT couples and 1,000 straight couples in order to get the startling results, in which only one in 20 same-sex couples reported being comfortable showing affection abroad.

The research also revealed that 58% of the gay couples polled had been stared at while on holiday, 29% had been verbally abused, and one in ten were threatened with physical violence.

Virgin Holidays recently created a video that highlights the problem as part of the airline’s three-year plan to become one of the most LGBT-friendly travel companies in existence.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Two-thirds of Australians have voted in equal marriage ballot

Two-thirds of Australians have voted in the country’s ballot on same-sex marriage.

The country is currently holding a public vote on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The informal postal vote is entirely advisory and non-binding, but will inform MPs in the country when the issue goes to Parliament.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics, which is responsible for running the vote, confirmed the amount of votes cast so far. With just weeks until the November 7 deadline for ballots, it has been confirmed it had received 10.8 million forms (67.5 per cent) back.

The Equality Campaign released an image of former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, 87, backing the YES campaign for marriage equality.

It's time Australia!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Explaining gender, love & family

There’s finally a book that explain the complexities of gender and love to children: You Be You! Explaining Gender, Love & Family, by Jon Branfman and illustrated by Julie Benbassat.

Branfman was inspired to write this book not only because of his own life experiences, but also because of his professional experiences teaching as a grad student at The Ohio State University.

"I believe teaching children accurately about gender, sexual orientation, and family at an early age is important for two reasons", Branfman explains. 

"First, because kids are already absorbing many harmful, inaccurate beliefs on these subjects from peers, TV, and implicit (or explicit) messages from adults around them. So it’s not a choice between letting kids receive an education about these topics or not. Rather, it’s a choice between proactively educating kids in a way that’s accurate, or passively allowing them to learn all kinds of untrue ideas".

"Second, because social beliefs about gender, sexuality, and family have profound real-world consequences. These ideas shape how children see themselves and others for the rest of their lives: Whether they can accept themselves, whether they treat others well, whether they participate in persecuting others or help to end persecution".

The illustrations are significant too. They break from the conventions of children’s books, that often show only white and able-bodied faces. Julie’s beautiful illustrations feature people of all genders, orientations, colors, ability statuses, and ages, as well as many different religions.

The book is just as informative to adults as it is to children. It really helps them get a handle on these topics.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Hundreds march in New York to protest anti-gay purge in Chechnya

Hundreds of New Yorkers marched from the Stonewall National Monument, the birthplace of the modern gay liberation movement, to Trump Tower, demanding humanitarian visas for those who’ve escaped from Chechnya, and are now hiding in safe houses in mainland Russia,

An urgent action is needed: Trump's Administration and the Department of State must help LGBT Chechen survivors and must commit to grant public benefit paroles (aka humanitarian visas) to victims in the immediate danger, and to accept refugees and expedite refugee resettlement process.

Human Rights Watch reported that police in Chechnya are rounding up men believed to be gay, holding them in secret detention, and beating and humiliating them. Sometimes police forcibly “out” these men to their families, hinting that they should be taken care of in an “honor killing”.

Sign a petition to stop atrocities against gay men in Chechnya here.

The march started at Stonewall Inn...

... and finished in front of Trump Tower

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Aussie celebrities speak out for marriage equality

Some of the most well-known Australian celebrities encouraging Aussies to vote 'Yes' in the country's marriage equality survey. 

Australia is in the final weeks of its national postal survey and some leading stars of film and television are joining together to encourage all Australians to "Vote Yes!" in this pivotal moment for LGBTQ equality. 

While non-binding and voluntary, should the majority vote 'Yes', Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he would introduce pro-marriage equality legislation to a free vote in Parliament. 

Polls have shown that 63% of Australians support marriage equality.

It's time Australia!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Gay spouses become first same-sex couple in Germany to adopt

Two gay men have become the first same-sex married couple to adopt a child in Germany.

Michael and Kai Korok married on October 2, just one day after same-sex marriage was made legal in the country.

Now, the pair have become the first same-sex couple to adopt, becoming the proud parents of two-year-old Maximilian. The Berlin Kreuzberg district court approved the couple’s application eight days after the pair officially married.

The Koroks have known the child since he was born as they took him in as foster parents. Then, when Germany finally legalised gay marriage and gave gay couples equal rights in adoption, they took legal responsibility over Maximilian.

When asked about being the child’s legal parent, Michael Korok said: “It is a wonderful feeling to be jointly registered as parents”.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Yes" is winning in Australian poll on gay marriage

Australians appear to be unmoved by anti-same-sex marriage warnings of creeping gender ideology, social destruction, or sexual confusion, with the case for change surging ahead.

With more than a month to go in the government’s controversial postal survey, an aggregation of public polling and some recent unpublished research shows the “yes” case for legalising same-sex marriage has maintained its strong lead among ordinary voters.

Nearly 60% of eligible voters have already returned their surveys with a month to go before the deadline. Stirton’s summary of recent polls shows that 65% say they voted “yes”. 

The result will be announced on November 15th.

It's time Australia!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Now more than ever, Philly Trans March stands for trans rights

Last Saturday was held the 7th Annual March for trans rights in Philadelphia, the Philly Trans March.

The March is not only a rally and demonstration, but also a revolutionary movement. Open to people of all gender identities, expressions, and experiences, Philly Trans March welcomes everyone towards equity and liberation.  

It is an affirmation of beauty, strength, and diversity. Organized by members of Philly's Trans and Gender non-conforming communities and accomplices, this endeavor is committed to creating a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone.

Issues such as hate violence, specifically against trans women of color, and the lack of official concern, oppressive healthcare policies, media misgendering, financial and housing insecurity, police brutality, workplace policies and employment discrimination, and the lack of resources for youth and elders trans people, are just a few of the concerns being voiced upon in this year's March. 

The March raises awareness, specially of violence against trans women of color. Marchers chanted: "I deserve equality now. I am somebody". Of course, they remembered that Donald Trump revoked protection for trans people at work or school and banned them from military.

Hey hey! Ho ho! Transphobia's got to go!

The trans flag raised at Philadelphia City Hall

Saturday, October 7, 2017

First gay kiss in Marvel comics

Comics has had another landmark moment as adult Iceman – Bobby Drake – has had his first gay kiss.

But wait, you’re saying, hasn’t Iceman been out and gay with a boyfriend for a while now? To be clear, there are two Icemans currently running around the comics X-Men universe. 

There is the adult Iceman, the same one that comic fans have grown up with since the 1960s. There is also a time-displaced Iceman, after teenage Bobby was brought from the past to the present. 

Teen Bobby was outed by psychic Jean Grey, and has since come out, kissed a guy and got a boyfriend. It was revealed it wasn’t just teen Bobby that was coming to terms with being gay, it was adult Bobby too.

In a new mini-series penned by gay writer Sina Grace, the first Marvel solo series to star a gay lead, adult Bobby is seen exploring his sexuality.

Meeting a guy in Los Angeles named Judah, he hilariously nervously flirts his way into his first gay kiss.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Increasing gay purge in Egypt

Fears of a homophobic purge have been confirmed in Egypt after dozens of arrests targeting the LGBT community.

A number of arrests were made in Egypt last month after a rainbow flag was waved at a concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou Leila, whose lead singer is openly gay.

However the incident has sparked a wider crackdown, and there have been reports that Egyptian authorities have begun actively targeting the gay community, implementing a harsh crackdown.

Amnesty International said today that Egyptian authorities have arrested 33 people over the past weeks, stepping up a campaign of persecution.

Though the crackdown has largely targeted gay men, one woman was detained by authorities on suspicion of “promoting sexual deviancy” and “habitual debauchery” for waving the rainbow flag.

The Egyptian government, by rounding people up based on their presumed sexual orientation, is showing flagrant disregard for their rights.

The gay purge in Egypt follows the same ones denounced in Chechnya and Azerbaijan.