Sunday, May 19, 2019

Thousands march in Northern Ireland for same sex marriage

Thousands have marched in support of same-sex marriage in Belfast. Protesters called for an end to the political impasse whereby the Democratic Unionist Party remains opposed to marriage equality, despite Sinn Fein calls for a law change.

The demonstrators want same-sex couples to be treated the same way in Northern Ireland as they are in the rest of the UK, where same-sex marriage is legal. The issue is a stumbling block to restoring Northern Ireland’s Catholic-Protestant power-sharing administration, which has been suspended for more than two years.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning administration since the government collapsed in January 2017 over a failed green-energy project. The rift later widened to broader cultural issues separating Northern Ireland’s British unionists and Irish nationalists.

The socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party, an ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, is opposed to a redefinition of the law.

Instead, Ireland's Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, called for marriage equality to be introduced to Northern Ireland. He attended Belfast Pride once he was confirmed as Taoiseach.

In addition, a survey found over 68% of people in Northern Ireland support same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland is currently the only part of the UK where same-sex couples cannot marry.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

U.S. House of Representatives passes the Equality Act

Legislation calling for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include gender identity and sexual orientation as protected from discrimination has been approved by the House.

The landmark bill was passed through the House of Representatives with a 236-173 vote led by Democrats.

The Equality Act bill would provide protection to people living in states where it’s legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This protection would extend across education, employment, housing and public spaces.

“The question before us is not whether the LGBT community faces outrageous and immoral discrimination, for the record shows that it clearly does,” said New York Representative Jerrold Nadler and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “The question is whether we, as Congress, are willing to take action to do something about it. The answer goes straight to the heart of who we want to be as a country, and today, that answer must be a resounding ‘yes’.”

While it’s a historic move for LGBT rights in America, the news is somewhat bittersweet as it’s unlikely to pass through the Republican-led Senate and White House.

Friday, May 17, 2019

BREAKING: Taiwan Parliament legalises same-sex marriage, the first in Asia

On May 17, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.

Legislators voted for a government-backed bill that would define a union between a same-sex couple as a marriage. Conservative opponents had proposed rival bills that would define partnerships as “same-sex unions” or “same-sex familial relationships.”

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) pushed through its law in a vote on Friday. Prior to the vote, Tsai tweeted:”Good morning #Taiwan. Today, we have a chance to make history & show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society. Today, we can show the world that #LoveWins.”

Friday’s vote comes two years after Taiwan’s supreme court ruled that defining marriage as being between only a man and a woman was unconstitutional. The top court said then that the island had two years to make necessary changes to the law. But this was met with a public backlash, which pressured the government into holding a series of referendums. 

The referendum results showed that a majority of voters in Taiwan rejected legalising same-sex marriage, saying that the definition of marriage was the union of a man and woman. As a result, Taiwan said it would not alter its existing definition of marriage in civil law, and instead would enact a special law for same-sex marriage.

Lawmakers finally debated three different bills, but ultimately pushed ahead with the DPP’s law considered the most progressive of the three because it will recognise unions as marriages, the same as heterosexual couples, and define partners as spouses. The bill was passed by 66 to 27 votes.

Congrats Taiwan!!!

Taiwan President, Tsai Ing-wen, pushed the change, bravo!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The first Australian footballer comes out as gay

Andy Brennan has become Australia’s first professional male footballer to come out as gay while still playing the game.

The 26-year-old, who had played for the Newcastle Jets in the A-League, and now plays for Green Gully in a lower division, made the announcement in a social media post.

He said he had spent many years of uncertainty about his sexuality and the reaction such an announcement would get, but came to the conclusion that being open was the best way for him to feel comfortable.

“I’m gay,” he wrote. “It’s incredible saying that now; it feels amazing. And weirdly, it doesn’t feel like a big deal. Really in 2019, it shouldn’t be. But I couldn’t be happier that despite taking so long, ruminating over this decision for so many years and being entirely unsure about myself, I can finally come out and say it.”

There are no openly gay footballers in any of the major leagues in Europe, an anomaly considering the increasing number of professional athletes that come out of the closet in recent years, but based on the overwhelming support that Brennan received on Instagram, they may be wondering why they take so long.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Warning on step back in LGBT rights in Europe

LGBT rights in Europe are stagnating and, in some countries, regressing for the first time in a decade.

The European chapter of the advocacy group International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) denounced the troubling state of the LGBT rights in the continent after releasing the 10th Rainbow Europe Map and Index.

The 2019 Rainbow Europe Map and Index, a monitoring tool designed to rank 49 countries in Europe on criteria such as their LGBT equality and non-discrimination laws, legal gender recognition and bodily integrity, protection from hatred and violence, family rights, and spaces in civil society, revealed that some countries are regressing as existing laws and policies disappeared.

Overall, the island of Malta scored the highest, topping the Rainbow Europe country ranking for the fourth year in a row, followed by Belgium, for the second year in the second spot. Third came Luxembourg, increasing its ranking by 17 spots year-on-year thanks to a “well-modified legal gender recognition law based on self-determination and a comprehensive national action plan.”

Ranking at the bottom of the 49 countries are Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Monday, May 13, 2019

LGBT activists hold an unauthorized pride parade in Cuba

Cuban gay rights activists held an unauthorized independent pride parade in Havana despite the Communist government warning against it and calling it subversive, an unprecedented show of civil society in the one-party state.

More than a hundred Cubans chanting “long live a diverse Cuba” and carrying rainbow flags joyfully marched nearly one kilometer from Havana’s Central Park down to the seafront boulevard before being stopped by dozens of security officials.

At least three activists were arrested by plainclothes policemen while others were ordered to disperse given the activity did not have an official permit.

“This moment marks a before and an after for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community but also for Cuban civil society more generally,” said LGBT activist Maykel Gonzalez Vivero.

“Social media is playing its role and civil society demonstrated it has strength, and can go out onto the streets if necessary, and from now on the government will have to take that into account,” he added.

This was the second march organized independently of state institutions, a rare occurrence in Cuba, in just over a month, although the previous one, in defense of animal rights, had received a permit from local authorities.

Some activists were arrested by plaintclothes policemen

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Turkish police violently break up student Pride march

Reacting to the news that a Pride march organised by students at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in the Turkish capital of Ankara has been violently broken up by police and 25 students have been arrested, Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International, said:

“It is heart-breaking to hear that today’s Pride march, which should have been a celebration of love and solidarity, was so violently broken up by police using pepper spray, plastic bullets and tear gas, and that at least 25 people have reportedly been unlawfully detained.

“Amnesty International condemns the police intervention to break up this celebration of pride on the METU campus today. Reports of excessive use of force by the police must be urgently investigated.

“It is a dark day when university authorities call the police to silence students who are simply demanding their rights to dignity and equality. All those detained by police must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

Students demonstrated peacefully but were told by police that they were not allowed to stand under tents, to fly a rainbow flag, to sit on the lawn, and eventually they were prevented from reading out a statement. Those detained include LGBTI student activists from ODTU LGBTI Solidarity group Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür and an academic from the university.

Recently, a court lifted ban on LGBT's Pride in Ankara, but things continue in the same bad way.

A shame!

Ankara is more beautiful with colors

Friday, May 10, 2019

85% of LGBT students in China report depression

Around 85% of LGBT students in China report struggling with depression, according to a survey. More than 700 LGBT students from 29 provinces were polled.

The poll, carried out by Beijing Normal University and analysed by Chinese news site Caixin Global, found a further 40% had considered suicide.

The survey found more than 80% of respondents had come out to someone, but three quarters had not told their parents, other relatives or teachers. Only 2.9% said they had supportive teachers.

The report found having a more inclusive school climate and more school resources, in particular positive LGBT role models, improved LGBT students’ mental health.

China decriminalised homosexual acts in 1997, but LGBT communities in the country have been subjected to censorship and discrimination under the Communist government.

Recently, China’s largest e-commerce site, Taobao, removed LGBT-themed items from online stores.The company prohibited items described as ‘LGBT’, ‘Les’ and ‘Gay’. They claimed her products contained ‘obscenity, pornography, violence or political sensitivity’.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

NFL and New York City teams will suport next Gay Bowl football tournament

The National Football League (NFL) and its two New York City teams will be official supporters of Gay Bowl XIX football tournament when it’s held in the Big Apple this October 10-13.

The NFL, the New York Giants and the New York Jets Foundation have come together to commit support for the annual LGBTQ flag football tournament, including an undisclosed financial contribution.

New York Gay Football League commissioner Monty Clinton, whose organization is hosting the event, said the support of these pro football entities will help build a top-notch event for LGBT athletes from across North America, as well as continue to effect positive change in sports.

“This year is especially meaningful, as it comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and World Pride NYC,” Clinton said. The 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City are credited with igniting the modern-day LGBT-rights movement. “What better way to celebrate the amazing strides that the LGBT+ community has made than to add our unified football community to the collective voices that will mark this important occasion.”

The first Gay Bowl took place in 2002 in Los Angeles. New York previously hosted the Gay Bowl in 2007. The New York Gay Football League was founded 15 years ago, with the women’s division being created five years later. This year organizers expect about 60 teams from about 25 cities.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

The First Family

Take a look at the cover of the latest issue of TIME Magazine. South Bend mayor and 2020 presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is on the cover, along with his husband Chasten.

Pete, 37, who would be the youngest and the first openly gay US president, has transformed himself from long-shot to legitimate contender for the White House.

He is the son of an immigrant father from Malta. He is graduated from Harvard, earned a Rhodes Scholarship, and worked as a consultant at McKinsey. He moved back home to Indiana at age 29 to become the mayor of South Bend, making him the youngest mayor of a city with more than 100,000 people. 

A recent poll has found that 70% of voters in the US would vote for a gay man as president. The poll, which was conducted by Quinnipiac, found that 85% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans were willing to see a gay man become president.

Why not?

Pete with his husband and president Obama

Friday, May 3, 2019

Stop Bullying!!!

World Bullying Day is an international day marked on May 2nd to raise awareness of bullying and cyberbullying. It’s a widespread issue that affects millions of students around the world in schools and universities with consequences that range from psychological traumas to even suicide.

World Bullying Day was conceived in April 2013 by various members of the NGO Bullying Without Borders and then presented in 2013 to more than 3.000 NGOs around the world. The iniciative was approved and they all agreed upon the fact that the date should be May 2nd. 

The reason of why they chose that day in particular was because it was the day Bullying Without Borders was founded and also because students from the northern and southern hemisphere attend classes that day, allowing the possibility to create discussion in schools about this topic and thus further raising awareness. 

The NGO considers bullying as “a silent enemy that feeds upon three poisons: loneliness, sadness and fear.” The actions that are directly related to bullying are: cyberbullying, social block, harassment, coaction, intimidation, aggression, threat and gay bashing. In 2014, UNICEF determined that 1 out of 3 children in the world suffer from bullying. 

According to the organization’s statistics, bullying causes around 200 deaths every year due to homicide or induction to suicide. At the same time it’s proven that it affects millions of students that “sometimes abandon their studies or cope them with grief and fatigue as if it were a daily torture.” 


Thursday, May 2, 2019

LGBT Equality Act approved by the House Committee

The Equality Act, a wide-ranging bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee in the US.

LGBT rights advocates have praised the ‘historic’ vote. It will now go to the full House for a vote at a later date. The bill seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected traits.

If passed, it would prohibit discrimination in various areas, including employment, housing, public accommodation, and more on a national level.

This is the third time Democrats have attempted to pass the Equality Act. On the two previous occasions the bill failed to advance past the committee.

In his opening statement, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, said: ‘It is time that the federal government recognizes that discrimination in any form is wrong and that we should move forward with these common-sense protections that simply build on existing statutes.’ And he added that the Equality Act would ‘provide uniform protection for certain basic, fundamental rights of all Americans’.

Polling has found that there is wide-ranging support for the Equality Act throughout the US. A survey by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute that around 70% of Americans would support a bill like the Equality Act. Surveys have also found strong support for LGBTI employment protections among US businesses.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

70% of US voters would vote for a gay president

70% of voters in the US would vote for a gay man as president, a new poll has found. The poll, which was conducted by Quinnipiac, found that 85% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans were willing to see a gay man become president.

The survey comes as openly gay presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is polling highly among Democratic voters. He is among a field of Democratic contenders who will be running in the 2020 presidential elections.

The poll found that people between the ages of 18 and 34 were the most likely to support an openly gay presidential candidate. 82% confirmed they would, with 14% saying they would not, and 4% saying they did not know.

However, the poll came with a caveat. It also found that 53% of voters do not believe that the US currently is ready for a gay president. Only 11% of Democrats said they would not vote for a gay presidential candidate, compared to 46% of Republicans.

This is both good news and bad news for Buttigieg’s chances at claiming the White House. The good news for Mayor Pete Buttigieg is that voters seem ready to accept a gay man as president, but the bad news for Buttigieg is that voters believe it just isn't going to happen.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

'The Boys in the Band' nominated for The Tony Awards

The Tony Awards nominees have been announced, and The Boys in the Band has been nominated in the category of Best Revival of a Play. Besides, the actor Robin de Jesús has been nominated as Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play.

This play is about a group of gay men gather in a NYC apartment for a friend's birthday party. After the drinks are poured and the music turned up, the evening slowly exposes the fault lines beneath their friendships and the self, inflicted heartache that threatens their solidarity. 

A true theatrical game—changer, Mart Crowley's landmark 1968 play helped spark a revolution by putting gay men's lives onstage, unapologetically and without judgment, in a world that was not yet willing to fully accept them. 

The cast included Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington and Tuc Watkins, and was directed by Tony Award winner Joe Mantello. 

Good luck guys!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Valedictorian at Mormon University comes out in graduation speech

A valedictorian at a Mormon college used their graduation ceremony speech as an opportunity to come out.

Matty Easton attended his graduation ceremony at Brigham Young University in Provo (Utah) and declared he was proud to be gay during an inspirational speech.

Easton, who studied Political Science, shared a video of the speech on YouTube, where it has already racked up over 30,000 views in just a couple of days.

“I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God,” he said to applause and cheering from the crowd.

“I am not broken. I am loved and important in the plan of our great creator. Each of us are. Four years ago, it would have been impossible for me to imagine that I would come out to my entire college. It is a phenomenal feeling.”


Friday, April 26, 2019

A great step forwards for LGBT inclusion in England's schools

We can celebrate a great step forwards for LGBT inclusion in England’s schools. The regulations for teaching Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education in England’s primary and secondary schools have passed safely through the House of Lords.  

These new regulations mark a significant and welcome change to how pupils are taught about LGBT relationships and identities. It’s life-changing legislation that will give LGBT pupils the tools to make informed decisions about their relationships and their futures.  

From September 2020 all secondary schools will be required to teach pupils about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools will be required to teach about different families, which can include LGBT families.  

This teaching is hugely important. In primary schools, teaching about LGBT families ensures that children from LGBT families see themselves reflected in what they learn. 

It also helps all young people grow up knowing that there’s absolutely nothing wrong or unusual about being LGBT, helping to tackle the anti-LGBT bullying that remains widespread in our schools. 

Through building on this work at secondary level, schools can help all young people, including LGBT young people, make informed decisions, have healthy relationships and grow up feeling proud of who they are.  

The passing of this guidance is a landmark moment for LGBT equality in England’s schools that really deserves to be celebrated. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Prince Harry shows his support for transgender children

Prince Harry has offered his support to Mermaids, a UK-based charity which supports trans children and their families.

The Duke of Sussex, who has previously described the charity as “amazing,” invited Mermaids to join the Royal Foundation’s work on mental health.

Formed in 1995 as a support group, Mermaids works to raise awareness about gender issues amongst professionals and the general public, campaigning for the recognition of gender dysphoria in young people. It also lobbies for improvements in professional services.

Nearly half of all individuals who identify as transgender experience depression or anxiety issues while more than four in every five transgender school children have self-harmed.

The Mermaids CEO told that trans people are facing the “same headlines” as the gay community did 20 or 30 years ago, when Harry’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales, worked to transform public perception about HIV/AIDS.

“I think it’s always really important to young people to see that people with the authority and credibility that Prince Harry has are supporting them and are listening and acknowledging the fact that they exist,” she said.

Prince Harry has recently made young people a key focus of his work and spoke at a recent roundtable meeting, where he reportedly said: “They are on the front line of mental health work in the UK.”


My friend/sibling came out as trans

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Gay kisses to protest discrimination in Colombia

LGBT Colombians hold a 'besatón', or kiss-a-thon, to protest discrimination at a shopping mall in Bogota.

Dozens of couples kissed at the same time in the midst of a supportive crowd, in protest of an incident that happened at the mall a couple days earlier.

Esteban Carrillo and Nicolas Tellez were the victims of this act of discrimination they were also present in the protest.

The two gay men, who say they were merely hugging and holding hands, were harassed by another customer who claimed they were fondling each other in front of children.

The men called police to protect themselves from harassment, but the cops fined them for indecent exposure instead.

And so the protestors gathered, wielding rainbow flags and chanting in favor of gay rights. And, of course, kissing.

“Kissing someone is no crime,” Esteban said. “All we want is for there to be less divisions in this society, and no discrimination against people over their sexual preferences.”

Colombia has more protections for its LGBT citizens than many South American countries, but the stigma in the public eye is still very real.

Esteban and Nicolas, the young couple harassed and fined for being gay

Monday, April 22, 2019

Court lift ban on LGBT Pride in Turkey's capital

LGBT Pride events can now be held in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, as a court has lifted a ban that previously prohibited such celebrations.

The ban, which was imposed in November 2017 using legislation brought in by the state of emergency that was imposed following the July 2016 coup attempt, had been the subject of an appeal by the Turkish LGBT rights group Kaos GL.

Although an initial appeal to the court was rejected in November 2018, on Friday it was announced that an appeal had been successful.

“We can say that the court has accepted our arguments that we have advocated since the day when the ban has declared," said Kaos GL's lawyer, Hayriye Kara, in a statement. "Instead of banning fundamental rights and freedoms to protect social peace, they said that the group that is vulnerable to any attack should be protected. It can be said that the court ruled that the state must protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBTI+s”.

Although homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, homophobic attitudes persist, and in recent years Istanbul and Ankara have used emergency powers to ban the annual Gay Pride and Trans Pride marches in the cities.

Activists have persisted with attempting to hold the annual marches in Ankara and Istanbul, where it had been regularly held since 2003, but have faced mass arrests, beatings and tear gas from the police.

Recently, Mansur Yavas of opposition Republican People's Party was elected mayor of Ankara metropolitan municipality, on March 31 local elections in Turkey, in front of Erdogan's conservative candidate. 

Maybe things are changing in Turkey...

The last attempts to celebrate Pride in Ankara
were brutally disbanded by the police

Ankara is more beautiful with colors

Friday, April 19, 2019

China's largest e-commerce site removes LGBT products

China’s largest e-commerce site, Taobao, began removing LGBT-themed items from online stores this week.

Taobao, owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, told vendors selling products such as rainbow clothing and accessories that ‘erotic, violent and vulgar content’ was not allowed. 

The company prohibited items described as ‘LGBT’, ‘Les’ and ‘Gay’. They claimed her products contained ‘obscenity, pornography, violence or political sensitivity’.

This week, China’s largest social media, Sina Weibo, also removed LGBT content. A page dedicated named ‘Les’ and dedicated to lesbian users disappeared on Sunday. It had 143,000 members and 540 million engagements. A lesbian group, meanwhile, is no longer accepting new members.

It comes almost exactly a year since Weibo first cracked down on LGBT content. It said any ‘content that violates correct marriage and family ethics’ should be removed.

Homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, but LGBT people lack legal recognition and are not afforded basic rights.

Another step back in China. Until when?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

California National Guard to defy Trump's transgender military ban

Trump’s policy banning transgender soldiers from joining the military has finally gone into effect, but the California National Guard is pushing back.

Anyone who has already transitioned or is in the process of doing so, will no longer be able to enlist, unless they are willing to serve as their birth gender. Similarly, anyone currently enlisted who is diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the future will only be allowed to serve as their birth gender.

The ban’s implementation would mean the discharge of an estimated 13,700 transgender service members, the largest single layoff of trans people in history. And it would come despite testimony from service chiefs that they had seen no discipline, morale or unit readiness problems with transgender troops serving openly in the military.

But Major General Matthew Beevers, who is one of the highest ranking officers of the California National Guard, has indicated that officials in charge there are interested in pursuing the exceptions and waivers that may be available to continue to allow transgender people to join up. “Anybody who is willing and able to serve state and nation should have the opportunity to serve,” he said.

“We intend to exercise every available avenue inside the policy and out, to ensure transgendered people who want to serve the California National Guard are afforded the opportunity to serve,” he added.

“It’s unconscionable in my mind that we would fundamentally discriminate against a certain class of people based on their gender identity. That should be the absolute least of our worries,” Beevers concluded.

Major General Beevers

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya: A timeline

On April 1, 2017, Novaya Gazeta published the first material about the abduction, torture and murder of LGBT people in Chechnya. In 3 years, with the support of an enormous number of supporters, the Russian LGBT Network has:
  • Evacuated over 150 people from the region.
  • Made it possible for people in Chechnya who have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity to leave Russia.
  • Prepared two reports (in July 2017 and March 2018) and a huge number of analytical and informative material about the persecution of LGBT people in the North Caucuses.
  • Filed numerous appeals to Russian law enforcement agencies.
Thanks to the work of the Russian LGBT Network, the international community has recognized the mass persecution of LGBT people organized by the Chechen authorities. In the past three years, a huge number of governments, along with international, intergovernmental and human rights organizations, have made statements about the need to conduct a thorough investigation into what is taking place in Chechnya.

At the end of December 2018, Austrian Professor of International Law, Wolfgang Benedek, presented a report that was prepared as part of the Moscow Mechanism of the OSCE. He wrote: “The evidence clearly shows that the allegations of very serious human rights violations in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation have been found confirmed. This concerns in particular allegations of harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.”

Russia continues to deny both the existence and mass persecution of homosexual, bisexual and transgender people in the Chechen Republic. The Russian LGBT Network will do everything possible to ensure that the violence is stopped and the perpetrators punished.

Despite the alarming reports of anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya, Trump's Administration did not join several countries in signing a joint letter to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council calling for an investigation into the ongoing LGBT crisis in Chechnya.

The most significant dates concerning the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya are listed here.

Kadyrov, Chechnya president, has the support of Putin

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A gay Democratic candidate should concern Trump the most

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend (Indiana), has become an unlikely rising star in the 2020 Democratic presidential field. 

In just a matter of a month, this 37-year-old - who would be the youngest and the first openly gay US president, has transformed himself from long-shot to legitimate contender for the White House.

Speaking to an audience gathered to see him in Manchester, New Hampshire, he admits that his campaign has had a "really good few weeks". And he added: "I'm mindful that this is a marathon but we're certainly thrilled with the way our message has been resonating."

A month ago, the mayor was a political afterthought in a Democratic field that seems to be expanding by the day. That was before a well-received nationally televised town hall appearance that caught the attention of political commentators and a public that was, perhaps, in search of a fresh face.

Obama campaign veteran David Axelrod raved that Buttigieg in his television appearance was "crisp, thoughtful and relatable".

Seth Mandel of the Washington Examiner said he is "calm, sane, and funny in a sea of performative-anger posers, and we should be able to appreciate that regardless of politics".

Andrew Sullivan of New York Magazine said he might be the best possible Democratic matchup against Donald Trump. "In style, generation, demeanour, and background, Buttigieg is a near-perfect way to put a drop shadow behind all of Trump's grandiosity, age, temperament, and privilege," he wrote.

Also former Ohio Gov. John Kasich told CNN's Chris Cuomo which Democratic presidential candidate he thinks poses the greatest challenge to President Donald Trump in 2020.

Recently, a new public opinion survey in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House indicates that onetime longshot Pete Buttigieg is now in third place among the multitude of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Very interesting, isn't it?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Trump's transgender military ban comes into force

Three years after the Obama Administration told transgender individuals they could serve openly and have access to gender-affirming medical and psychological care, the Trump Administration has reversed course. 

On July 26, 2017, Trump announced his plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, at the White House. On April 12, the Pentagon began to implement a controversial new policy that critics say is essentially a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for trans service members.

Under the new policy, currently serving transgender individuals who have already received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria may continue to serve in their preferred gender, receive hormone treatments and undergo gender-affirming surgery. But after April 12, anyone with gender dysphoria who is taking hormones or has already undergone a gender transition will not be allowed to enlist. Further, any currently serving troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria after this date will have to serve in their sex as assigned at birth and will be barred from taking hormones or getting gender-affirming surgery.

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan resolution condemning Trump’s transgender military ban. A bipartisan majority join leading medical associations, national security experts and former military officials in opposing this dangerous and discriminatory policy. 

While Trump’s policy restricting transgender military service started, there are still four lawsuits pending against the policy, and all four cases are proceeding.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Arizona repeals homophobic education law

The Arizona House and Senate voted to advance Senate Bill 1346, which amends an existing 30-year-old law regarding AIDS instruction by repealing homophobic provisions, including that no course study may present “homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style.”

Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) swiftly signed the bipartisan bill after the Senate’s vote, calling it a “common sense solution.”

The 1991 law, which also prohibited HIV and AIDS instruction that “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex,” was challenged in a lawsuit filed last month on behalf of LGBT advocacy group Equality Arizona.

The suit alleged the law discriminated against LGBT youth and “communicates to teachers and students that there is something so undesirable, shameful, or controversial about homosexuality that any positive portrayals of LGBT people or same-sex relationships must be explicitly barred.”

After nearly three decades of this law placing stigma on LGBT community, the repeal sends a signal to every student, teacher, and family in Arizona that they are welcome in schools.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Crowned the second Mr Gay Japan

The Japanese LGBT community celebrated the crowning of the second Mr Gay Japan at an intimate event in the heart of Harajuku. The winer was 21-year-old Tiger Shigetake, from Tokyo.

But what made this event particularly significant was the activism and strength of individuals to make a change in a country where LGBT people live a relatively closeted life.

Although it’s safe to be LGBT, there is a lack of visibility in Japanese society so most remain hidden. This is largely due to a lack of positive representation in mainstream media.

Television and press depict LGBT characters as a point of humor or comedy. Things are changing, but rarely will you see LGBT individuals or couples celebrated amongst mainstream television and the media.

It’s just one of the many reasons why events like Mr Gay Japan are so important to create visibility.

The community’s current agenda focuses on pushing for marriage equality in Japan. A cause close to the heart of last year’s Mr Gay Japan, Shogo Kemmoku. To the surprise of the audience, Shogo got down on one knee and proposed to his boyfriend Geoff. 

This moment highlighted the imminent need for marriage equality and recognition of same-sex marriage in Japan and throughout Asia.

It's time Japan!

Last year's winner made a heartwarming 
marriage proposal to his boyfriend 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Biggest Kenya's refugee camp will host Pride again

Organizers of the first Pride parade in a refugee camp will defiantly return despite violence after the inaugural event. Mbazira Moses and his organization, Refugee Flag Kenya, put together the 2018 Pride at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Kakuma is one of the world’s biggest refugee camps and has a sizeable population that identifies as LGBT. Many of the LGBT people come from Uganda where gay sex is illegal.

Last year’s Pride festival went off with a hitch and proved a great success. But organizers then received death threats and violence afterwards. "If you don’t leave the camp we are going to kill you one by one and we mean it", a note to LGBT people in the camp read.

But Refugee Flag Kenya is not intimidated and plans to make the 2019 Pride event bigger than last year. Mbazira decided to engage local LGBT groups and businesses in nearby Nairobi.

‘This time our plan is to involve the Kenyan community and activists in our pride event so that it creates strong solidarity, togetherness and awareness as an LGBT community,’ Mbazira said.

Along with a Pride parade, the Kakuma Pride will host a trans party as the marquee event. The trans party will happen at a gay club in Nairobi. During the party a Mr and Miss Pride will be crowned and will also feature a beauty pageant.

The second Kakuma Pride will run on 27 June with organizers crowdfunding to cover the costs of running the event.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

More companies boycott Brunei over anti-gay laws

A British TV awards show and a Swiss-owned travel agency have joined a growing boycott of businesses owned by the kingdom of Brunei, after the country implemented new laws making gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death.

TV Choice magazine announced on Twitter that the annual TV Choice Awards would no longer take place at London's Dorchester Hotel, which operates under the Dorchester Collection brand, a luxury chain owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

London-based newspaper the Financial Times also said in a story on its website that it would cancel a planned event at the Dorchester Hotel and would not use any other Dorchester Collection hotels.

Deutsche Bank announced in a statement that its employees would no longer use Dorchester hotels on company business. "The new laws introduced by Brunei breach the most basic human rights, and we believe it is our duty as a firm to take action against them," the investment's chief risk officer Stuart Lewis said.

STA Travel, which focuses on travel for students and young people, wrote on Twitter that it would no longer sell flights on Brunei's national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines, "in protest at recent changes to the law in Brunei." Customers who have already bought flights on Royal Brunei Airlines will be refunded if they no longer wish to fly with them, STA Travel said. 

Brunei, a tiny country on the island of Borneo, first nnounced the brutal new anti-LGBT laws in 2014, and they came into effect on April 3.

Celebrities including actor George Clooney, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, musician Elton John and tennis star Billie Jean King have called for a boycott of nine hotels owned by the country, which also include Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, Principe di Savoia in Milan and Le Meurice in Paris.

Clooney said: "Every single time we stay at, or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery." 

We have to stop this new atrocity against LGBT people!!!

DeGeneres wrote on Instagram: "We need to do something now. 
Raise your voices now. Spread the word. Rise up."

Friday, April 5, 2019

Five cities could host EuroPride 2022

For the first time in the history of EuroPride, five different Prides are competing to host the event in 2022. The bidding organisations are Barcelona Pride, Belgrade Pride, Dublin Pride, Variações & ILGA Portugal, and Winter Pride Maspalomas.

Whichever wins will follow in the footsteps of recent hosts Riga, Amsterdam, Madrid, and Stockholm and Gothenburg. Significantly, 2022 will also mark the thirtieth anniversary of EuroPride, established in 1992.

Austrian capital will host this year’s EuroPride in June. After Vienna, it will be Thessaloniki’s turn in 2020 and Copenhagen’s in 2021.

Organizations will present each of the bids at the annual general meeting of the European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA). The meeting will take place in Bilbao, Spain, in September 2019. Every member organisation has one vote.

Kristine Garina, President of the European Pride Organisers Association, said: "I know that all the bids for EuroPride 2022 will have human rights, LGBT equality and political campaigns at their heart. Pride is a movement for fairness and equality, and I am excited to see the bids and to find out who will host Europe’s most important LGBT event in 2022."

Belgrade is among the cities bidding to host EuroPride in 2022. Goran Miletić, of Belgrade Pride, told: "Serbia is still fighting institutionalised homophobia and transphobia as well as lack of acceptance in the general public. Although the status quo is not yet favorable towards sexual and gender minorities, we have made substantial progress, making Belgrade Pride the biggest in all non-EU countries in the region".

The bids will be published on 29 July, while the result will be announced on the afternoon of 21 September.

Good luck for all of them!

Viena will host the EuroPride in 2019