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.