Thursday, October 31, 2019

Support for LGBT rights grows in Europe

European Commission released the new special edition of the Eurobarometer on discrimination. Its chapter 3 is focused on LGBT rights.

More than three quarters of respondents (76%) agree LGBT people should have the same rights as heterosexuals people, with the majority (51%) saying they "totally agree". More than seven in ten (72%) agree there is nothing wrong in a sexual relationship between two persons of the same sex, with 47% totally agreeing. Finally, almost seven in ten (69%) agree same sex marriages should be allowed throughout Europe, with 45% saying they "totally agree" with this.

Since 2015, respondents have become more accepting of each of these aspects of equal rights for LGBT people in Europe. They are more likely agree same sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe (+8 pp), that LGBT people should have the same rights as heterosexuals (+5% pp) and that there is nothing wrong in a sexual relationship between two persons of the same sex (+5 pp).

Although overall support for these aspects of LGBT rights and relationships is strong, there is considerable variation between countries in Europe. Almost all respondents agree LGBT people should have the same rights as heterosexual people in Sweden (98%), the Netherland (97%), Spain (91%) and United Kingdom (90%). In contrast, only think in the same way 31% in Slovakia, 38% in Romania and 39% in Bulgaria.

An overview of all these aspects shows respondents in Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark are consistently amongst the most likely to agree with LGBT rights and relationships, while those in Latvia, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria are consistently amongst the least likely to do so.

Learn more here.

Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain are the
countries where LGBT equality is majority

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Bogotá elects first woman and openly lesbian as mayor

Colombia's capital city elected its first female and openly lesbian mayor in what is being hailed as an important advancement for both women and LGBT rights.

Journalist-turned-politician Claudia López won the race for mayor of Bogota on a platform promising to combat corruption and advance equal rights for minority communities. The Alianza Verde candidate captured over 1.1 million votes, or about 35 percent of the vote, defeating runner-up Carlos Galán by 2.7 percentage points.

With her victory, Claudia also becomes the first openly gay mayor of a capital city in Latin America, a region slowly advancing in improving LGBT rights but where long-standing cultural biases and inequality remain barriers.

"This is the day of the woman," she said to a jubilant crowd. "We knew that only by uniting could we win. We did that. We united, we won and we made history!"

In 2013 Claudia briefly left Colombia after receiving death threats for her research on paramilitary activity in politics. She has long fought against corruption in Colombia and in August 2018 tried unsuccessfully to pass a citizen-driven anti-corruption bill.

Claudia’s brash style of speaking and strong opposition to Colombia’s right-wing politicians made her popular with left and centre voters, but public opinion on her election was mixed. Conservative former President Álvaro Uribe acknowledged his party's setback, stating on Twitter that "I recognize the defeat with humility."


Monday, October 28, 2019

Queen Elizabeth vowed to tackle discrimination against the LGBT community

Queen Elizabeth’s speech at State Opening of Parliament genuinely focused heavily on the logistics of the Brexit, but it also included a line of fierce support for the UK's LGBT citizens.

She said: “Our government will surely make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination. People are usually discriminated on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.”

This was for the very first time, LGBT rights were mentioned by Queen during a speech, since 2003. Earlier, she vowed to increase “equality and social justice. All by bringing forward legislation on the registration of civil partnerships between same-sex couples.”

after Queen Elizabeth gave the assent to the law

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Over 200,000 participants in Taiwan Pride Parade 2019

This year is the first LGBT Pride parade since Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize equal marriage. It is estimated that over 200,000 people were in attendance throughout the day, with visitors from approximately 100 countries.

Taipei’s LGBT parade has become the largest in Asia since its initiation in 2003, drawing visitors every year from countries worldwide to join the festivities and experience the island’s vibrant civil society. 

The 17th LGBT parade focused on the theme, “Together, Make Taiwan Better,” calling for compassion and care among LGBT communities and the general public.

There were two stages (at Taipei City Hall Plaza and Ketagalan Boulevard), six ‘teams’ for each color of the rainbow, 24 floats and approximately 180 groups officially registered for the parade. Five flags representing bisexual, trans, pansexual, asexual and intersex groups led the teams throughout the route.

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

Taipei host the largest Pride parade in Asia

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Drag Queen Story Hour

Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like, drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. 

DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. 

In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real..

“Drag Queen Story Hour is a fun and important program that celebrates diversity in the way that children may dress and act. It encourages children to look beyond gender stereotypes and embrace unfettered exploration of self. Programs like DQSH encourage acceptance of difference and help to prevent bullying, while providing an enjoyable literary experience,” told Judy Zuckerman, director of Youth and Family Services, Brooklyn Public Library.

DQSH events are happening all over the world at libraries, schools, bookstores, museums, summer camps, afterschool programs, and other community spaces. Each chapter is independently operated and funded.

Find an event near you and make donations here.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Mayor Pete jumps to second in Iowa, according latest poll

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is building momentum in Iowa, according to the latest Iowa State University/Civiqs poll. Of likely caucus-goers, 20% said Buttigieg is their top choice among the field of Democratic presidential candidates. That moves him to second in the poll, up from fourth in September, just behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren who maintained her lead at 28%.

The Iowa State University/Civiqs poll surveys the same pool of voters each month leading up to the Iowa Caucuses to understand how voter preferences are shifting. Dave Peterson, a professor and Whitaker Lindgren faculty fellow in political science who organized the poll, says Buttigieg’s ground game in Iowa is paying off.

“You can attribute some of his momentum to basic retail politics. Buttigieg is incredibly well organized and is spending a lot of resources in Iowa. His presence at the Iowa Steak Fry last month was better than any other candidate,” Peterson said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders were tied for second in the September poll. Sanders is now third with 18% and Biden is fourth at 12%. The online poll of 598 likely caucus-goers also asked voters to list the candidate they do not want to win the nomination, Biden and Sanders topped this list.

The online survey was sent to selected members of the Civiqs research panel. Likely caucus attendees were identified as those who responded they would “definitely” or “probably” attend the Iowa Democratic Caucuses and identified as Democrats or independents. An oversample of Democrats and independents were selected to produce a larger number of likely caucus attendees.

Demographic data were collected in previous Civiqs surveys. The results for registered voters are weighted by age, race, gender, education, party and congressional district to be representative of registered voters in Iowa. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 5%. Results of the next poll are expected in mid-November.

Besides, 70% of voters in the US would vote for a gay man as president, a poll 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 next first family?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Hong Kong court rules against same-sex marriage

A Hong Kong court turned down the city’s first judicial challenge for same-sex marriage and civil union partnerships, but urged the government to “undertake a comprehensive review” to save time and money from court actions arising from discrimination.

The court found that the evidence in the case was not "sufficiently strong or compelling" enough to require defining marriage "as including a marriage between two persons of the same sex."

It considered that the existing laws did not cover same-sex marriage, adding it would be “beyond the proper scope of the functions and powers of the court to change a social policy on a fundamental issue”.

The ruling can still be reviewed in Hong Kong's higher court at a later date.

Hong Kong does not recognise same-sex marriage in general, except for limited purposes, such as taxation, civil servants’ benefits, or application of dependent visas if a couple has married overseas, mostly achieved through legal challenges in the past few years.

Hong Kong's government defendes the city's ban on same-sex unions after neighbouring Taiwan legalised gay marriage in an unprecedented first for Asia.

last may 2019, the first in Asia

Monday, October 21, 2019

Northern Ireland set to legalize same-sex marriage

Campaigners who fought for decades to end Northern Ireland's same sex-marriage ban prepared on Monday for a momentous change to the law at the stroke of midnight.

An overwhelming vote by British lawmakers in July to compel the government in London to overhaul the law if Belfast's devolved executive had not been restored by October 21.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay and lesbian couples cannot marry, after same-sex weddings were legalised in England and Wales in 2013 and in Scotland the following year. The first same-sex marriages in the Republic of Ireland took place in 2015, after the country voted for reform in a referendum.

A survey found almost 70% of people in Northern Ireland support same-sex marriage.

It's time Northern Ireland!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Olympic gold medalist Kerron Clement comes out as gay

Olympic gold medalist Kerron Clement came out as gay on National Coming. The American track athlete told he was “tired of loving in the dark.”

“I have been through what a lot of people have been through which is being afraid of being who you are,” he said. “I struggled with my sexuality for 17 years. Over time, as you get older, you care less. Now it’s time to just be yourself and be free. That’s what I’ve become, free.”

Clement competed in the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games, in Beijing and Rio de Janeiro, respectively. The track star won gold and silver medals in 2008, and another gold medal during his Olympic return. 

“I have a global brand backing me,” he added, mentioning the difficulty some other athletes have had in the past being supported by institutions after sharing their stories publicly. “It’s absolutely amazing. I wish all companies would do.”

With the love from his community of family and friends, Clement said he’s now experiencing a level of freedom and not walking around worried that someone might discover his “secret.”

Be free and proud Kerron!!!

Friday, October 18, 2019

John Bercow declares trans rights are human rights in passionate speech

John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, proudly declared that “trans rights are human rights” at the 2019 PinkNews Awards.

Bercow took to the stage to accept a Special Award in recognition of his tireless support of LGBT issues during his 22-year political career.

He was honoured by his US counterpart, speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called him “a steadfast ally and a committed fighter in the struggle to end discrimination and honour the dignity and worth of every human being”.

In his acceptance speech, Bercow recalled the journey to legalising same-sex marriage, and compared this to the current struggle faced by trans and non-binary people today.

“From the criminalisation of a type of love 50 years ago to almost complete legal equality today, that is one hell of a journey,” he said.

“But as others have noted, I feel I must acknowledge that there is still work to be done, work to be done on trans rights, because trans rights are human rights.”

His words were met with a tremendous applause from the audience of LGBT advocates, celebrities and politicians.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

A gay guy faces prison for wearing shorts in a picture in Saudi Arabia

A gay social media personality from Saudi Arabia says he is facing prison for posting a picture of himself in leopard print short shorts on Twitter.

Suhail al-Jameel, 23, posted a statement saying authorities had charged him with sharing nudity online, after initially detaining him for wearing shorts at the beach on October 6.

"In 2019 LGBTQ are not welcome in Saudi Arabia, you must live in secret and can't live in peace. You want tourism but you won't give us freedoms," al-Jameel, who has over 171,000 Twitter followers, wrote.

"I take a photo of myself wearing shorts at the beach and I go to jail for wearing shorts. Then the police change my charges to electronic crimes for sharing photos of nudity. How am I nude if I am wearing shorts on a hot beach?"

al-Jameel openly documented his sexuality on Snapchat and Twitter and posted makeup tutorials, dance videos, and images in revealing outfits. 

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

The "infamous" picture

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Harry Styles releases a ‘bisexual anthem’ on National Coming Out Day

After months of hints and teases about new, sexually charged music, Styles unleashed the thirst-quenching video for his new single, ‘Lights Up’.

Filmed in Mexico, the clip finds the ex-One Direction singer topless and glistening with sweat, as he writhes with a scantily-clad crowd of men and women.

Released on National Coming Out Day, the track features Styles singing about “step[ping]into the light” of a new identity and “never going back”.

Fans put two and two together and got 100 percent queer, with many hailing the track a “bisexual anthem”.

Watch it below:

Monday, October 14, 2019

Hungary's opposition wins in Budapest and more cities

Liberal opposition candidate Gergely Karacsony won Budapest’s mayoral election, beating the ruling party Fidesz and sending a strong message to the nationalist-populist government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

With most ballots counted, Karacsony had the support of more than 51 per cent of voters in the capital of Hungary. Ten of 23 major cities also fell to opposition parties in local elections billed as a trial run for taking on Orban as a united front in parliamentary elections in 2022.

"October 14 marks the start of a new era for Hungary in its quest to regain its freedom", Karacsony said in his speech. "The victory was not mine or the opposition parties but that of Budapesters who were fighting to win back the capital," he added. 

Is this the beginning of the end of Orban’s power? 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

National Coming Out Day celebrates 30 anniversary

For three decades, every October 11, the LGBT community and its allies have celebrated National Coming Out Day (NCOD), a positive celebration of queerness that encourages folks to share their truth with the world and take a stand against homophobia. But how did NCOD start?

On October 11, 1987, over half a million people marched for queer rights in Washington, D.C., an event that resulted in the founding of several LGBT organizations. The progressive momentum of the movement continued over the following year, and LGBT activists Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary decided to create National Coming Out Day on the march’s first anniversary. NCOD’s logo was famously created by late artist and HIV activist Keith Haring.

Eichberg, who died of AIDS complications in 1995, was a psychologist and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience. O’Leary was an out lesbian political leader and longtime activist from New York and was the head of National Gay Rights Advocates in Los Angeles at the time of NCOD’s founding. Rather than react defensively to oppressive anti-LGBT actions, Eichberg and O’Leary’s vision was to create a holiday that celebrated queer identities in order to decrease stigma and homophobia.

Haring's NCOD logo

Friday, October 11, 2019

Uganda plans to resurrect the 'Kill the Gays' bill

Uganda announced plans for a bill that would impose the death penalty on homosexuals, saying the legislation would curb a rise in unnatural sex in the east African nation.

The bill, colloquially known as “Kill the Gays”, was nullified five years ago on a technicality and the government said it plans to resurrect it within weeks.

“Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that,” Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo said.

“Our current penal law is limited. It only criminalises the act. We want it made clear that anyone who is even involved in promotion and recruitment has to be criminalised. Those that do grave acts will be given the death sentence,” he added.

Lokodo also said the bill, which is supported by President Yoweri Museveni, will be re-introduced in parliament in the coming weeks and is expected to be voted on before the end of the year.

Even without it, Uganda is one of the hardest countries in Africa to be a sexual minority. Under British colonial law, gay sex is punishable with up to life imprisonment and activists said the new bill risked unleashing attacks.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Kosovo hosts 3rd Pride Parade

Activists and supporters of the LGBT community in Kosovo have gathered in the center of Pristina to participate in what organizers described as their third-ever pride parade.

Ahead of the event capping Pristina 2019 Pride Week, organizers called for more tolerance and respect in general, and they have put a special emphasis this year on getting the authorities and the judicial system to actually implement the law.

One of the organisers of the Pride parade, Lend Mustafa, said it had been a very difficult year for Kosovo’s LGBT community. “Our hearts beat for those who were kicked out by their family, for transgender people who were denied their identity until recently, for those who thought, at least once, that it would be better if it didn’t beat at all,” he said.

Pride Parade organisers also condemned hate speech and other hate-motivated crimes and called for more acceptance of the LGBT community by the rest of society.

Mainly Muslim Kosovo remains socially conservative in its attitudes. A 2017 report by the National Democratic Institute, NDO, concluded that Kosovo was one of the most homophobic countries in the Balkans.

Despite that, no incidents marred previous Pride parades and top government officials, such as President Thaci, have taken part. However, members of the LGBT community say they often face threats, are disowned by their families, lack access to justice and have difficulties in finding work.

Happy Pride!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Outed Iranian singer faces execution for being gay

Mohsen Lorestani, a Kurdish-Iranian musician, has been accused of homosexual conduct after allegedly flirting with a man in a private chat conversation on social media. Authorities have charged Lorestani with “corruption of the Earth,” which carries the death penalty.

Iran, a fundamentalist Muslim state, remains one of the most antagonistic nations on Earth when it comes to queer people. Iran imposes particularly harsh laws regarding homosexuality. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, and although executions are rare, leaked documents in 2008 estimated that several thousand LGBT people have been killed by authorities since the the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

In recent years, the execution of two men made international headlines. Police arrested Hasan Afshar, age 17, for homosexual conduct in 2014. Authorities held him in captivity for two years before a public hanging. Alireza Tajiki, only 15, was also executed in 2016, after confessing to being gay under torture.

Iran is one of around a dozen nations that mandate the death penalty for homosexuality, and others include nearby countries like Qatar, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Stop this barbarism!!! #SaveLorestani

Monday, October 7, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court will deal with three LGBT rights disputes this week

The U.S. Supreme Court kicks off its new term this week, with a major dispute on tap over whether a landmark decades-old federal anti-discrimination law that bars sex discrimination in the workplace protects gay and transgender employees.

The nine-month term opens on Monday with three cases to be argued before the nine justices. On Tuesday, the court turns to one of the term’s biggest legal battles, with two hours of arguments scheduled in three related cases on a major LGBT rights dispute.

At issue is whether gay and transgender people are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex as well as race, color, national origin and religion. But Trump’s administration has argued that Title VII does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity.

The court, whose 5-4 conservative majority includes two Trump appointees, will hear two cases about gay people who have said they were fired due to their sexual orientation. One involves a former county child welfare services coordinator from Georgia named Gerald Bostock. The other involves a New York skydiving instructor named Donald Zarda. He died after the case began and the matter is being pursued by his estate.

The third case involves a Detroit funeral home’s bid to reverse a lower court ruling that it violated Title VII by firing a transgender funeral director named Aimee Stephens after Stephens revealed plans to transition from male to female. Rulings in the cases are due by the end of June.

The legal fight focuses on the definition of “sex” in Title VII. The plaintiffs, along with civil rights groups and many large companies, have argued that discriminating against gay and transgender workers is inherently based on their sex and consequently is unlawful.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Help to choose the design for the Pulse memorial

Six designs for a memorial and museum honoring the victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting have been revealed and all of them are stunning. 

The National Pulse Memorial & Museum will be dedicated to preserving the memory of the 49 victims of the domestic terror attack at the LGBT nightclub on its Latinx night.

“Community involvement and engagement is at the core of everything we do. We invite the public to view the concept designs and share their feedback because their voice is essential in helping select the winning team,” said onePULSE Foundation CEO Barbara Poma.

“The concept design viewing marks the next major milestone in the creation of the National Pulse Memorial & Museum, which will honor the 49 lives taken and pay tribute to all those impacted by the tragedy while ensuring that future generations never forget.”

Organizers are asking the public to help a jury decide which plan to choose here.

Watch the designs below:

Friday, October 4, 2019

Out US athlete wears rainbow sneaker at Qatar championships

US heptathlete Erica Bougard wore her trademark sneakers with a rainbow strap during her appearance last night at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Qatar, like neighbouring United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, is a conservative Muslim nation where homosexual acts are illegal and punishable with up to three years in prison. It’s just one of the reasons why some advocates and athletes have criticized the decision to allow the event to take place in the Middle East country.

Following her appearance, Bougard spoke about her decision to wear the shoes with the pride flag. “I only did it to show everybody love is love, and whether you’re against it or not, I’m still for it,” she told. “And then for all the young people out there, if you’re ever frightened, don’t ever feel sad, don’t ever have suicidal thoughts, because it’s normal to me, so it should be to you, so don’t be afraid to come out,” she added.

The power of visibility in the sports world

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Dutch king calls for LGBT rights at UN General Assembly

At the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, Dutch king Willem-Alexander expressed the need for worldwide LGBT rights. He urged countries to make laws to protect sexual minorities.

“The Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes the fact that the rights of lesbian, gay and transgender people and of other minority communities are being laid down in law in more places around the world. We hope this trend continues. But ultimately, words must translate into action,” His Royal Highness told the world leaders.

The king also expressed the inequality all around the world regarding these minorities. “The fight against discrimination, whether open or hidden, must continue on every continent,” he added.

The head of state is not the only Dutch representative who is pushing for sexual rights. The Dutch minister for Foreign Trade, Sigrid Kaag, is opposing a conservative proposal by the US. Also, other countries such as Hungary and Poland want to change the description of worldwide rights for sexual healthcare. The group wishes to change for example “sexual and reproductive health” to “health for young people” in official UN documents. Kaag is committed to maintain the existing rights. 

The Washington Post reports 58 countries are in support of Kaag’s approach. Kaag expressed her fear for the consequences for women and LGBT people, once the access to sexual healthcare becomes more difficult. She worries these groups might be excluded from the needed healthcare.

The openly gay prime minister of Luxemburg also made a statement on LGBT rights in his speech. “Being gay is not a choice, but not accepting it is a choice. Homophobia is a choice and we have to fight against it.”

Watch his speech below:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Igor Kochetkov addressed persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya at OSCE

The Director of the Russian LGBT Network Igor Kochetkov made an oral statement the 11th Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of OSCE participating States in Warsaw. The statement was devoted to the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya.

In December 2018 the OSCE accepted the report, prepared within the Mandate on the Moscow Mechanism. This report discussed at length persecution, unlawful arrests, arbitrary detentions, tortures, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions happening on the territory of the Chechen Republic, a federal subject of the Russian Federation. The rapporteur, in particular, confirmed the facts of arbitrary detention, tortures, and inhumane treatment of individuals based on their sexual orientation.

Those responsible for named atrocious violations of human rights have not been brought to justice; there is yet to be an investigation of these violations. The Russian Federation continues to deny the crimes first identified by the human rights defenders and then confirmed by international organizations. Moreover, law enforcement agencies the Chechen Republic continue to persecute, detain, and torture civilians based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Read his recommendations here.

Check the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya here