Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Rep. Joe Kennedy III invites transgender soldier to State of the Union address

Trump announced last year that he was banning transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. However, courts have since blocked his ban and have allowed transgender people to enlist starting Jan. 1.

Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy III (Mass.) has invited Staff Sergeant Patricia King, a transgender soldier, as his guest to Donald Trump’s first State of the Union in protest of Trump’s attempt to ban transgender Americans from serving in the military.

Staff Sgt. King, who has been deployed to Afghanistan three times, realized she was a transgender woman at the end of her last deployment in 2013 and soon came out to her family. She was the first service member to have her gender reassignment surgery paid for by the military.

“There are much easier ways to get surgery covered than enlisting in the military, facing the possibility of deployment, and dealing with the stigma of being a transgender service member,” she said.

Kennedy, who will deliver the Democratic Party’s response to Trump’s SOTU address, invited King to remind the president of transgender troops’ dedication to the U.S.

“I want her to be there as a real person, and the face of an inhumane policy,” said Kennedy, who is also the chairman of the Transgender Equality Task Force in Congress.

“We will fight back against a Justice and an Education Department that turns a blind eye to discrimination in our schools,” he said, referencing the Trump’s recent rollback of protections for transgender students in schools.

“We’ll fight back against a health care system that treats transgender Americans as second-class citizens. We’ll fight back against our own colleagues, members of Congress that try to undermine religious liberty in this country by using it to support state-sanctioned discrimination,” the congressman continued. 

“And we’ll fight back against a scourge of hate-based and hate-inspired violence that plagues the transgender community every single day, particularly transgender women of color”, he added.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Footballer fights homophobia in football and something happens

Richie Anderson is a BBC reporter and grassroots football player from the UK. He’s been working on a story about homophobia in his sport.

Anderson decided to come out to his teammates as part of his project. The guys knew he was working on a program about grassroots football. But they had no idea it was going to have a gay angle.

Anderson made the big reveal on match day after his team had just won a game 7-2. He asked his teammates to meet him in the locker room along with the camera crew.

“One of the big issues that we’ve looked this week,” he began before getting choked up. After taking a moment to collect himself, he continued, “Sorry. It’s really close to my heart–it’s homophobia in football. And the reason why that means a lot to me is I’m a gay footballer.”

“I just wanted to be open and honest because with you lot it’s just been class. This is really hard for me to do now.”

Much to his surprise, his teammates responded by breaking out into applause. Afterwards, he received lots of affirmations, handshakes, and pats on the back.

Watch the video below:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Gay tests violate asylum seekers' rights, Europe's top court has ruled

Asylum seekers must not be subjected to psychological tests to determine whether they are homosexual, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.

Tests to determine sexual orientation are controversial, but are sometimes used when assessing asylum claims.

The ECJ case relates to a Nigerian man who submitted an asylum application in Hungary. He feared persecution in Nigeria for being gay.

The Nigerian's claim was rejected after a psychologist's report failed to confirm his homosexuality. A court in Szeged, Hungary, must now reconsider his case in light of the ECJ ruling.

Hundreds of homosexuals fearing persecution in Africa, the Middle East and Chechnya have sought asylum in the EU.

The European Court of Justice ruling is binding in all 28 EU states, and it means that EU countries now have no legal right to impose psychological tests to determine an asylum seeker's sexuality.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

'Call Me by Your Name' nominated for 4 Oscars

Call Me by Your Name, a film telling the story of a gay romance in the northern Italian countryside, has been nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture.

The film, based on a novel by Egyptian-American author André Aciman, was written by James Ivory and directed by an Italian, Luca Guadagnino. 

Shot on location in Crema, Lombardy, the film tells the story of Elio, a 17-year-old American boy living with his parents in northern Italy, who has a summer romance with Oliver, a grad student who comes to work with his academic father. 

The film is nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as Best Actor for its young lead, Timothée Chalamet, and Best Original Song for Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens, who wrote three songs for the film. 

Call Me By Your Name has also picked up three Golden Globe nominations. Picking up the Best Picture nomination, both leading actor Timothée Chalamet and supporting actor Armie Hammer also get nominations.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

More gay men arrested in Egypt

Egypt’s crackdown against the LGBT community shows no sign of abating.

Egyptian police arrested 10 people in the latest assault on LGBT rights in the country under the rule of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. But in the face of relentless persecution of sexual and gender minorities in Egypt, world leaders remain largely silent, or worse, praise al-Sisi as a “moderate” leader.

The latest arrests bring to more than 85 the number reported to have been caught up in a massive crackdown on LGBT people since several young people waved a rainbow flag at a Cairo concert in September. More than 40 have received prison sentences, with some subjected to forced anal exams, a form of torture.

This led to a homophobic campaign by the local media, which published several pieces across news and social media platforms inciting hate speech against members of the LGBT community.

While homosexuality is not currently specifically outlawed in Egypt, LGBT people are targeted and jailed through “immorality” and public indecency laws.

A nice partner of West, isn't it?

Even raising a rainbow flag is a crime in Egypt

Monday, January 22, 2018

West Point hosts a same-sex officers wedding

West Point played host to the military academy’s first same-sex wedding featuring two active-duty officers. Captain Daniel Hall and Captain Vincent Franchino were wed in Cadet Chapel in a ceremony officiated by a Unitarian Universalist minister.

The two met at the academy in 2009, when Daniel was a senior and Vincent was a freshman, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was still a year away from being repealed. Through those years they had to keep their sexuality and their relationship in secret.

Vincent said: “We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street, stuff like that. But despite what we’ve been through, nothing was worse than having served during the ‘ Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ years.”

“We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us. So we put it in our minds that we were never going to say we were gay. We were never going to get made fun of, and we were certainly never going to get kicked out of the Army,” he added.

“It’s really frustrating when two people have feelings for each other but are not allowed to act on them. We were serving under a policy that was telling all of us, perfectly capable soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, to lie about ourselves,” Daniel  told.

Congrats to the newlyweds!!!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Women's March 2018: Hundreds of thousands join worldwide protests

The Women's March was a worldwide protest on January 21, 2017, to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues, including women's rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the natural environment, LGBT rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers' rights.

Most of the rallies were aimed at Donald Trump, immediately following his inauguration as President of the United States, largely due to statements that he had made and positions that he had taken which were regarded by many as anti-women or otherwise offensive. It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history.

One year after, hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets in droves to protest Trump's inauguration, marchers are gathering again in cities across the country and around the world in a sharp rebuke of Trump's presidency and in continuation of a still-growing international movement.

Demonstrators surged into the streets in protests in American cities across the country, with parallel rallies in Europe, Asia and Africa turning the event into a global affair. Authorities estimated that well over 100,000 people attended the New York rally and that some 300,000 showed up in Los Angeles.

This second year of the Women's March also comes in the middle of the #MeToo movement, which has shed light on sexual misconduct and ushered in social change in a bevy of industries. It also comes months ahead of the midterm elections in the United States, in which progressive women hope to turn their activism into victories at the ballot box.

Democratic elected officials and liberal celebrities also urged attendees to channel their energy and frustration with Mr Trump's policies into November's midterm elections, where Democrats hope to wrest back control of Congress, governorships and state legislatures.

Women's March in Washington DC

Friday, January 19, 2018

Queer Taiwan

Asia’s first LGBT streaming service is going from strength to strength and has created original queer content. Queer Taiwan is the first LGBT original series produced by GagaOOLala which launched last year.

The show is a docu-series taking a look at the range of LGBT issues in Taiwan.

‘The goal of producing Queer Taiwan is to showcase the uniqueness of the interviewed individuals and the causes they represent,’ said GagaOOLala’s founder, Jay Lin. ‘Through this series we expect to elevate the overall visibility of the LGBT communities locally and internationally,’ he added.

The story is framed by the narratives of two prominent members of the LGBT community: Leo from the online platform FufuKnows and Jin Tai, the first openly gay Taiwanese singer. They’re tasked with interviewing key players behind each issue while giving voice to every side of the story.

Its first episode delves into the struggle for marriage equality on the island; directed by Liling Gan and produced by Jay Lin and Tiffany Tsai, it provides not so much a celebration of unity in the face of opposition, more a heartfelt attempt to find common ground.

The full first season will be available for free on GagaOOLala in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gus Kenworthy, out and proud

Gus Kenworthy was terrified about the consequences of coming out as gay in 2015 but the American skier says that his decision prompted a huge outpouring of unexpected support and has allowed him to compete without the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Gus had already told his close family and friends, who were all very supportive. Their support, along with a desire to be an inspiration for other young men and women scared to come out as homosexual, drove him to make the decision.

Gus declared: “I thought it would maybe help other people, either in professional sports or amateur sports or even just in communities where they felt isolated and scared to be themselves.” And he added: “I knew I would feel so much better because I was being authentic and maybe it would help kids going through the same transition as me.”

After his silver medal in Sochi, in 2014, Gus is more confident than ever heading into the Pyeongchang Winter Games next month.

"The Olympics is a cool opportunity to represent our country, which is amazing, but I have another community I am competing for and that is the LGBT community. Having someone at the Olympics, the pinnacle event in sports, competing against the best in the world and being out and proud and gay and getting a medal, it would be amazing", he affirmed.

Best of luck, Gus!!!

Gus with his beau, the actor Matt Wilkas

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Love, Simon

Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year old Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) it’s a little more complicated: he’s yet to tell his family or friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. 

Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing, this movie is a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about the thrilling ride of finding yourself and falling in love.

Directed by Greg Berlanti (Riverdale, The Flash, Supergirl), written by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger (This is Us), and based on Becky Albertalli’s acclaimed novel.

Cast: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg, Miles Heizer, Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Tony Hale.

In Theaters March 16, 2018

Watch the trailer below:

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A majority of football fans would support LGBT players

Over 50,000 football fans have taken part a survey exploring global attitudes towards gay and bisexual players.

Live score app Forza Football and LGBT charity Stonewall teamed up to conduct the largest ever study of its kind, and found some interesting results. The key finding was that 76% of football fans internationally would feel comfortable if a player in their national team came out as gay or bisexual.

That percentage climbs to 80% for British fans, but actually falls to 63% for American fans. However, it’s Irish and Icelandic football fans who would feel the most comfortable, with both at 87%. Unsurprisingly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE would feel the least comfortable, coming in at 10%, 11%, and 13% respectively.

With the World Cup taking place next year in Russia, the survey also asked fans if LGBT rights should be considered when FIFA are deciding on the host nation for the tournaments. 64% of fans globally think that FIFA should consider LGBT rights should be a factor in the decision-making process.

They are not bad results, but there is a long way to go.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saudi Arabia police arrest men who appear in a gay wedding video

Police in Saudi Arabia say they have arrested several young men who appeared in a video of what was described as a "gay wedding scene".

A video circulated widely online shows two men walking side by side as they are showered in confetti. A long bridal train appears to trail along the ground behind one of the men.

Mecca Police arrested a number of people at the event and their cases had been referred to prosecutors, they added. But they did not name the men or provide details of the charges they faced.

Police said the event had happened at a festival at a resort in the holy city, and had left people present "surprised".

The Kingdom does not have written laws concerning same sex relationships, but Saudi judges use principles of sharia law to sanction people they suspect of having sex with someone of the same gender, according to Human Rights Watch.

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

Friday, January 12, 2018

First openly gay US man qualifies for Winter Olympics

Figure skater Adam Rippon made history as the first openly gay U.S. man to qualify for the Winter Olympics. 

Rippon, 28, was selected to join fellow skaters Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou in representing the U.S. at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from 9-25 February.

He told reporters: "I’m really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons. A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview, and I tweeted about it, that they asked me, what was it like being a gay athlete in sports? And I said, it’s exactly like being a straight athlete, only with better eyebrows…"

While Rippon makes history as the first openly gay man to qualify, a number of Olympic figure skaters have come out as LGBT after their competitive days have ended. 

Openly gay freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who came out as gay in 2015, is also expected to make the U.S. Olympic team. Kenworthy won silver at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where he struggled with Russia’s oppressive anti-LGBT agenda.

Best of luck, Adam!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Costa Rica must guarantee same-sex marriage and trans rights

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH) issued a landmark ruling that recognises same-sex marriage and transgender rights in Costa-Rica.

The seven judges issuing the ruling stated that the government “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.”

Six out of the seven judges also ruled that it is necessary for governments “to guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without discrimination.”

This comes after the Costa Rican government asked for an advisory opinion as to if they have an obligation to extend property rights to same-sex couples. The Government also asked for advisory opinion from the courts as to allowing transgender people to change their name and gender marker on identity documents.

The ruling says the Costa Rican government must allow trans people to legally change their name and gender marker on official documents.

The ruling is legally binding in Costa Rica and 19 other countries throughout the Western Hemisphere that currently recognize the convention.

IACHR oversees are Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador and Guatemala. They also rule over Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Suriname and Uruguay.

Costa Rican Vice President confirmed the Government’s compliance with this ruling saying “The Executive Branch will focus on studying the resolution in depth”.

It's time Costa Rica!

Every June, Costa Rica's capital hosts a crowded Gay Pride Parade

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Gay couples marry in midnight weddings across Australia

Same-sex couples married in midnight ceremonies across Australia on Tuesday after the country’s last legal impediment to gay marriage expired.

Marriage equality became law on Dec. 9 with overwhelming support in Parliament, after a nationwide postal survey found that 62 percent of respondents wanted marriage equality. But Australia’s requirement that all couples give a month’s notice for weddings made Tuesday the first possible date for gay marriages.

Although, the one-month waiting period was waived for some couples who wed in recent weeks. Those exceptional circumstances included a partner’s terminal illness and overseas-based relatives booking flights to Australia before the official start date for the new law was known.

Athletes Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan married at a midnight ceremony near the east coast city of Tweed Heads.

“It’s another way to show your love and appreciation of your partner in front of the people in your life,” said Burns, a 29-year-old sprinter who will compete in the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast in April.

Congrats to all newlyweds!!!

Australia said Yes!!!

Monday, January 8, 2018

The gay-themed musical Bare will be a movie

A big-screen adaptation of the gay-themed musical Bare: A Pop Opera is currently in the works.

The coming-of-age rock musical, written by Jon Hartmere, Jr. and the late Damon Intrabartolo, is about the struggles of two gay students at a Catholic boarding school.

Bare made its world premiere in 2000 in Los Angeles and then had a brief run off-Broadway in 2004. The show has since enjoyed more than 100 productions around the world, including an revised version that opened off-Broadway in 2012.

The original off-Broadway bare cast included John Hill and Michael Arden as secret gay lovers Jason and Peter. The 2012 production starred Jason Hite and Taylor Trensch, who will soon take over the lead role in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen.

The musical “is a significant piece within the history of gay theatre,” according to the official film site. “With a community of both gay and straight people, it shows the ’bare’ humanity of the issues each individual faces, rather than sexuality being the forefront of their struggles.”

Original bare director Kristin Hanggi, a Tony nominee for Rock of Ages, has been tapped to direct the film version and has adapted the script for the screen.

Watch a clip from the 2013 L.A. revival below:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Released the music video of Call Me By Your Name

Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens is undoubtably the most iconic song from the Call Me By Your Name soundtrack. And now the American singer-songwriter has an official music video featuring all of the best bits of this romantic story.

Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 romantic coming-of-age drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman.

Set in Northern Italy in 1983, the movie chronicles the romantic relationship between Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old living in Italy, and his father's American assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer).

Call Me By Your Name has picked up three Golden Globe nominations. Picking up the Best Picture nomination, both leading actor Timothée Chalamet and supporting actor Armie Hammer also get nominations.

And if you’ve not seen the movie yet, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A drag queen participates in the Epiphany feast parade in Spain's capital

The drag queen "La Prohibida" starred on one of the floats in the Epiphany feast parade in the Puente de Vallecas district in southern Madrid, one of 17 parades planned for the Spanish capital.

The  parades are held across the country each year on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany, which celebrates the coming of three wise men with gifts for Jesus.

Children write letters to the Magi asking for gifts, which are left for them on 6 January, a national holiday. The celebration is more popular than Christmas in Spain and in parts of Latin America.

The float featuring La Prohibida was proposed by Orgullo Vallekano, a gay rights association based in the Vallecas district, whose local football club, Rayo Vallecano, wore rainbow shoelaces and T-shirts during matches as part of a campaign against homophobia in football.

Spanish conservative politicians and some media had criticised Madrid city hall for allowing a drag queen to take part in an Epiphany feast parade, arguing it is “distorting” an event aimed at children.

The drag queen answered the float aimed to defend “diversity and equality” and questioned on Twitter why nobody had complained when previous parades featured people dressed up as Star Wars characters that had nothing to do with Christmas.

Two years ago the Vallecas district chose a woman to represent one of the three kings at its Epiphany parade to promote equality.

Vallecas' soccer team wearing rainbow T-shirts

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Football teammates engages in a romantic proposal

Two footballing teammates have got engaged in the cutest sunset and sunrise proposal you can imagine.

Tameka Butt, a star for Australia’s national side, was central to her team beating Brazil, US and Japan on the way to winning the Tournament of Nations this summer. 

And the year has gotten even better for her, after she found love on the pitch.

Butt, 26, and Kirsty Yallop, who has played 90 times for New Zealand, are both midfielders at Norwegian team Klepp IL.

And as it turns out, their on-pitch connection has transformed into an off-pitch engagement.

Butt posted on social media yesterday with the heartwarming news, writing: “We are officially ENGAGED 💜💙 @kirstyyallop11 😍”.

She explained the romantic way in which the pair had proposed to each other.

“I asked Kirsty when the sun went down with the heart of lights on the hill 💛 and Kirsty asked me with the sunrise on the beach 💍🌅”.

Congrats Kirsty and Tameka!!!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

US Administration announces it will stop trying to enforce Trump's military transgender ban

The United States Justice Department has put Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people in the military on hold.

Starting 1 January, transgender people can begin to enlist in the military. In fact, the Pentagon has already released a detailed policy for recruiting transgender troops. However, the future of trans people in the military remains unclear.

The Department of Justice is reportedly waiting on an independent study by the Department of Defense to be released in the coming weeks before deciding next steps.

Last August 2017, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis already announced that transgender troops will be allowed to continue serving in the military pending the results of a study by experts.

Despite the Trump's announce in a tweet, they perfectly know there is no reason to exclude transgender people from military service, especially when they have already proved their ability to serve.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The head and tails of LGBT rights in 2017

In one face of 2017, more marriage equality came into effect around the world. With Austria, the last country to legalise same-sex marriage in this year, there is a list of fellow countries, islands and an archipelago that have taken a step in the right direction of equality in last year. 
  • Finland, in March 1
  • Falkland Islands, in April 12
  • Guernsey, in May 2
  • Bermuda, in May 5
  • Taiwan, in May 24
  • Germany, in June 30
  • Faroe Islands, in July 1
  • Malta, in July 14
  • Australia, in November 15
  • Austria, in December 5

But, there is other face in 2017, absolutely shameful and condemnable, the increase in persecution and purges against LGBT people in some countries around the world.

Human rights monitors warned earlier 2017 that authorities in Chechnya, an autonomous region within Russia, had orchestrated a violent purge of the gay community, with concentration camps and systematic torture and murders of gay men.

Sources on the ground have repeatedly raised the alarm about Egypt’s so-called ‘Public Morality Investigation Unit’, which actively targets the gay community with raids and entrapment. The state has also banned all mention of LGBT rights or homosexuality in the local media, stifling reporting on the issue.

Police have clamped down on the gay community in Indonesia in 2017, with more than a hundred arrested in raids on gay venues and establishments in Jakarta. It is technically legal to be gay in Indonesia apart from in the ultra-conservative Aceh province, which implements harsh punishments under Islamic law.

In October Tanzanian police arrested 12 in Dar es Salaam for “promoting homosexuality” as part of an ongoing crackdown. The group, included several lawyers and a charity exec, who had been meeting at a hotel to discuss LGBT rights. A lesbian couple were also arrested after a video of a commitment ceremony went viral on social media. Tanzania’s law states that being gay is “against the order of nature” and anyone convicted could face life in prison.

Officials in Tajikistan have reportedly created a list of homosexual people in a move which has been called ‘Operation Purge’. They had drawn up a register of 367 gay and lesbian people, who they have intimated will be forced to undergo testing to avoid “the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases”. The central Asian country removed the prohibition on gay sex in 1998. However, the mainly Muslim country, which is officially secular, does not recognise same-sex couples or protect its LGBT people from discrimination.

Reports emerged in September of a clampdown on the gay community in Azerbaijan. According to monitors, dozens of LGBT people have been detained, beaten and forced to give up friends to authorities. Some of those detained have reportedly had their heads shaved.

Violence is nothing new for the LGBT community in Turkey, but police responded with shocking levels of violence as activists attempted to hold Pride celebrations over the summer. In June, police in Istanbul fired tear gas and rubber bullets at LGBT activists who had been gathering in order to hold a Pride march. In Ankara, the capital of Turkey, a gay film festival was banned just days before it was scheduled, and finally banned all LGBT events, citing “public sensitivity”. 

The reports out of Belarus are alarming, Police targeted legal businesses, violated the privacy of their patrons, demanded personal information, and dragged some away to detention.

In the rest of world, 
Activists in Bangladesh, Uganda, Georgia and Nigeria have also warned about clampdowns against LGBT communities. The U.N. condemned anti-gay crackdowns in all of these countries but it is not enough.