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 holds 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