Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Gabon Senate votes to decriminalise homosexuality

Lawmakers in Gabon’s lower house of parliament voted to decriminalise homosexuality, becoming one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to reverse a law that punishes sexual relations between people of the same sex.

Forty-eight members of Senate backed the proposed initiative by the government to revise an article of the 2019 law that criminalised homosexuality. Twenty-four voted against, while 25 others abstained.

The legislation has not gone down well with a core section of the largely religious Gabonese society with reports indicating that prominent politicians, religious leaders and a cross section of the public have denounced the legislation, describing it as a change designed to appease foreign donors.

The ball is now in the court of President Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose ratification will make the bill law in the central African country. Gabon will join a handful of African countries to legally allow homosexuality.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Love, Victor: much more than a Love, Simon sequel

Set in the same world as Love, Simon, the series focuses on Victor (Michael Cimino), a new student at Creekwood High School who, like Simon (Nick Robinson), is on a journey of self-discovery as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality.

Upon release, Love, Victor received acclaim from critics for Cimono’s lead performance, the supporting characters and for capturing the essence of the original teen drama, which made history as the first Hollywood film to focus on a gay teen romance.

In the 10-episode first season, Victor seeks out Simon (with Robinson returning as narrator) after learning about his declaration of love for Bram at the school carnival, which turned them into legends at Creekwood. He confides in Simon about his sexuality, his sudden romance with Creekwood’s most popular girl, Mia (Rachel Noami Harrison), and his mother and father’s conservative beliefs in regards to homosexuality.

Love, Victor is a well-built teen show, prominently featuring a coming-out story, and the first Disney branded series to explicitly focus its attention on LGBT issues. Love, Simon may was first, but if Love, Victor is any indication, it won’t be the last. Enjoy it!

Watch the trailer below:

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Israel set to have record number of openly gay MPs

Israel is set to have a record number of openly gay Members of Parlament (MP) after new rules allowing cabinet members to give up their seats came into effect.

Six gay MPs from five parties across the political spectrum will serve in the 120-seat Knesset as a result.

Last year, Amir Ohana, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, became Israel's first openly gay member of cabinet when he was appointed acting justice minister. He is currently minister of public security.

The country has the most progressive attitude towards LGBT people in the Middle East, despite opposition from some conservative sections of society.

They are protected by anti-discrimination laws, have adoption and same-sex inheritance rights, and have been allowed to serve in the military since 1993.

Yorai Lahav-Hertzano will become the sixth 
openly gay MP when he is sworn in next week

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Barack Obama will deliver message in Stonewall Day livestream

President Barack Obama will send a special message to the LGBT community Friday during a livestreamed event for Stonewall Day.

His message will be part of a virtual fundraising event for Trans Lifeline, Brave Space Alliance, TransLatin@Coalition, and the Ally Coalition, four LGBT organizations severely affected by COVID-19 and recent events highlighting the need for fair and equal treatment under the law for all.

Stonewall Day, launched in 2018 by social advocacy and community engagement group Pride Live, is a global campaign to elevate awareness and support for the legacy of the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the continuing fight for full LGBT equality. 

This year, the third annual Stonewall Day will offer support to the Black Lives Matter movement and address LGBT issues including the dangerous rise of violence facing transgender women, especially Black trans women.

Friday’s event, presented in partnership with WarnerMedia, Nasdaq, and Pride Media, will stream from 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, on Logo’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

Watch the video here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

LGBT activists in Kyiv use drones to give an old statue new meaning

Like Pride parades around the world, the annual Kyiv Pride march in Ukraine's capital city, has been cancelled in 2020 due to coronavirus.

With people prevented from marching through the streets, some LGBT activists from Kyiv Pride decided to do the next best thing and take to the skies of the city instead.

They used a drone to give an old Kyiv statute new meaning. They used a drone to carry a giant rainbow flag to the top of the controversial Motherland Monument a, large steel statue of a symbolic mother holding a sword and shield, erected in 1981 as part of a Soviet Union propaganda blitz.

The drone was manoeuvred in front of sword, giving the impression that the mother is in fact waving a rainbow flag above the city. Kyiv Pride shared the video on Facebook with the hashtag #momwillunderstandandsupport, adding: “Mother for equality for everyone!”


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Global Pride will take place June 27

This year, Pride Month will look much different, as nearly 400 LGBT Pride Parades across the world have already been canceled or postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing measures are still in place, leading to the cancellation of large events such as festivals.

For that reason, the European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA) and other organizations have band together to put on a digital Global Pride event to take place June 27.

Besides, organisers have said they will amplify black voices this edition, acknowledging the international response to the death of George Floyd and the unprecedented demand for racial justice, by working with founders of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Global Pride will use online platforms to deliver a Pride in which everyone can participate, wherever they are in the world. It will include musical performances, speeches, and key messages from human rights activists. The event will be live-streamed and people will be invited to join in the event from home.


Global Pride will take place June 27

Friday, June 19, 2020

Spanish courier service celebrates Pride month all over the country

Correos, the national courier service in Spain has launched its first-ever LGBT stamp in commemoration of Pride month. The official Pride Day is celebrated on June 28 and therefore Correos has joined the rest of the world in celebrating this event. 

The courier service has created a rainbow stamp which resembles the famous LGBT flag. This tribute to the LGBT community will also be illustrated with some rainbow mailboxes, vans and post offices all over the country.

The bottom of the stamp has ‘Pasaje Begoña (Torremolinos, Malaga)’ written on it, as in 2019 this location in the Costa del Sol was declared a ‘Place of Historical Memory’ due to its significance with the movement for the Rights and Freedoms of the LGBT group.

Happy Pride!! Feliz Orgullo!!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sesame Street celebrates Pride

Sesame Street sent an adorable message of love and acceptance for LGBT Pride Month. And in doing so, the show has done more to openly support the queer community than Donald Trump has done this year.

Taking to social media, Sesame Street posted a short but sweet line of solidarity to the LGBT people, paired alongside an illustration of its colourful characters holding hands, recreating the famous six-striped Pride flag.

"On our street, we accept all, we love all, and we respect all", it wrote. 

Happy Pride Month!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Polish president's offensive against LGBT rights

The president of Poland Andrzej Duda has pledged to ban LGBT education in schools, as well as blocking the legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption.

Duda ramped up his homophobic rhetoric to jump-start his re-election campaign, which had been interrupted by to coronavirus.

In an apparent pitch to his conservative base, he signed a ‘family values’ declaration that vows to protect children from LGBT ideology and prohibit the teaching of LGBT inclusion by public institutions.

“Parents are responsible for the sexual education of their children. It is not possible for any institutions to interfere in the way parents raise their children,” he said.

His proposals include the preservation of special benefit schemes for families and pensioners, alongside the promise that same-sex couples will never be allowed to marry or adopt children.

Remember that a third of Poland is declared as 'LGBT-free zone' and Pride Parades need a police strong presence to be protected

Monday, June 15, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court rules that federal law protects LGBT workers

Federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The landmark ruling will extend protections to millions of workers nationwide and is a defeat for the Trump administration, which argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination based on sex did not extend to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The 6-3 opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four liberal justices.

"Ours is a society of written laws. Judges are not free to overlook plain statutory commands on the strength of nothing more than suppositions about intentions or guesswork about expectations," Gorsuch, one of the court's conservatives, wrote in the majority opinion. 

"In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee's sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law," he added.

Great news!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

First openly trans person elected in a West Virginia City Council

Rosemary Ketchum won a seat on a City Council in West Virginia, making her the first openly transgender elected official in the state.

Ketchum was elected to the Wheeling City Council, after running on a platform addressing affordable housing and opioid addiction. She will be one out of just 27 openly trans elected officials in the entire country, according to the Victory Fund. 

"I am incredibly grateful to get the opportunity to represent my city," Ketchum said. "I hope that this election helps us push the needle in West Virginia so that we can fully embrace the power of culture, diversity, and representation in politics. I ran for office because I believe the job of an elected official is to reflect the values of their community in the actions of their leadership and that is why I am excited to serve."

Ketchum has served on the board of ACLU West Virginia and is a member of Wheeling's Human Rights Commission. She is also the associate director of NAMI of Greater Wheeling, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.


Friday, June 12, 2020

We remember Pulse

Four years ago today, a gunman entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and committed one of the most devastating acts of terrorism. 

Motivated by hate, he murdered 49 people and wounded 53 more in an attack on the LGBT and Latinx communities. 

Today, we remember the lives we lost. We grieve for their families and friends and continue the fight against hate.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Same-sex marriage is closer in Switzerland

Same-sex marriage is one step closer in Switzerland, after the National Council voted in favour of the 'Marriage For All' initiative.

Switzerland's lower house surprisingly voted in favour of a proposal with two important components which will have potentially significant impacts for same-sex couples. The first part of the proposal is to allow same-sex couples to marry in Switzerland. The second is allowing lesbian couples to access sperm donation services. 

The proposal passed the National Council by 132 votes to 52, with 13 abstentions. Other than the right-wing Swiss People's Party, the proposal was supported by all major Swiss political parties. 

The proposal will now go to the Council of States, where if approved it will be put before the Swiss populace for a referendum. 

The vote in the Council of States is not expected until after summer, with the referendum to be scheduled if the vote is successful. The National Council vote follows a referendum in February which criminalised homophobia.

Same-sex marriage is currently illegal in Switzerland. There is a ‘registered partnership’ option which allows couples (and de facto same-sex couples) to enjoy many of the same rights and obligations as married couples.

A new step towards equality. It's time Switzerland!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Transgender women are women!

"Transgender women are women", that is what Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the "Harry Potter" franchise, responded to franchise creator J.K. Rowling's controversial tweets about gender identity.

Rowling, who has often come under fire by the large Potter fandom for her social media posts, sparked backlash over the weekend after mocking a headline about people who menstruate. "People who menstruate... I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. "Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?" Shortly after, the author's name was trending on Twitter, with many accusing her of transphobia.

Radcliffe, who doesn't have a public presence on social media, wrote a heartfelt response to Rowling's comments in a blog post for The Trevor Project, a non-profit devoted to suicide prevention among LGBT youth.

"Transgender women are women," he wrote. "Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo (Rowling) or I."

"According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity," wrote Radcliffe, who said he has been "honored to work with" The Trevor Project for the last decade. "It's clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm."

Read Radcliffe's full blog post here.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The last Putin's political ad directly attacks gay marriage

An anti-LGBT ad has sparked outrage on Russian social media, and drawn attention to a propaganda campaign for a national referendum that could pave the way for Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.

The video depicts a young boy being greeted at an orphanage by his new adoptive father. "And where's my mother?" the boy asks. "There's your mother," the father says, nodding to another actor, a caricature of a flamboyantly gay man, waiting in a car outside.

The video then ends with a voiceover. "Is this the Russia you want?" it says. "Decide the future of the country. Vote for the amendments to the constitution."

At issue is a national vote that would amend the constitution and reset the clock on presidential term limits, allowing Putin to stay on as president past 2024, when his second consecutive term in office comes to an end, among other things.

The set of changes also includes controversial amendments such as defining marriage as a "union between a man and a woman." Russian law does not permit same-sex marriages or partnerships, and adoption laws generally bar same-sex couples from adopting.

The video clearly incites hatred and hostility towards LGBT people. Shame on you Putin!!!

Watch the homophobic video below:

Saturday, June 6, 2020

LGBT rights situation in Ukraine

It is not easy for LGBT people to live in Ukraine. Since the country’s independence in 1991, homosexuality is not illegal any more. But that’s it for the moment. The population’s attitude towards LGBT people has been hostile for years now.

Assaults on LGBT-people are common. It is not unusual for individual gay-rights opponents to hunt down and threaten gay men in the streets of Kyiv. Like in Russia, neonazi-groups (“Occupy pedofily”) pretend to date gay men on the Internet to bring them into their houses where they humiliate them, film everything and put the movies online. 

So, homophobia in Ukraine is very common. Activists within the country say it is promoted by the evangelical and orthodox churches, which are attempting to attract followers in economically difficult times. The state is failing economically and politically and thus needs the support of the church. Few people hate gays and lesbians; but most of them just adopt the majority’s opinions.

Political parties in Ukraine are definitely no fans of LGBT-rights. Only a few members of the Ukrainian Parliament are actively speaking out in favour of such. However, no party officially has announced to fight discrimination against LGBT-people.

But some things have improved in last years. After long discussions, the parliament finally adopted the anti-discrimination law as required by the EU in November 2015. The most controversial law paved the way for visa-free travel.

Since 2016 KyivPride is a huge success with thousands of participants marching peacefully in the very centre of the capital and protected by police. And the same year, the government changed the legislation for trans people which makes it easier for them to get new papers after a successful transition.

In 2019, 8,000 people attended KyivPride, the biggest ever Gay Pride Parade in Ukraine, showing things are slowly changing.

Read more here.

Kyiv Gay Pride Parade 2019 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Trump admin asks Supreme Court to let adoption agencies reject LGBT families

The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples in the name of religion.

Department of Justice attorneys submitted a 35-page brief to the Supreme Court asking it to rule in favour of Catholic Social Services, a Philadelphia-based adoption agency, that insists it should be allowed to turn away same-sex couples under the First Amendment.

“This case concerns the application of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the City of Philadelphia’s termination of a contract allowing Catholic Social Services to help place children in the City with foster parents, on the basis of Catholic Social Services’ unwillingness to endorse same-sex couples as foster parents,” the brief says. “The United States has a substantial interest in the preservation of the free exercise of religion. It also has a substantial interest in the enforcement of rules prohibiting discrimination by government contractors.”

The latest example of the Trump administration seeking to enable legal discrimination against LGBT people.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Social Security has to pay benefits to the surviving partner of same-sex couple

A federal judge ordered the Social Security Administration to pay benefits to the surviving partners of same-sex couples who had been denied the opportunity to marry sooner due to state marriage bans. 

The case centered around Michael Ely and James A. Taylor, a committed Arizona couple of 43 years who wed shortly after the Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage bans nationwide in June 2014. Six months later, Taylor died of cancer. But when Ely applied for federal survivor benefits, he was denied because federal law requires couples be married for at least nine months in order to qualify. The fact that the couple had been illegally banned from marrying sooner was deemed immaterial.

The case was brought in 2019 by the LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal as a class action suit, arguing that the Social Security Administration "cannot rely upon unconstitutional state laws that have since been overturned to justify discriminating against same-sex surviving spouses today."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Macdonald agreed with that reasoning, writing that "reliance on an unconstitutional law" perpetuated an "unconstitutional infringement on Mr. Ely and Mr. Taylor’s fundamental right to marriage.”

Lambda Legal counsel Peter Renn called the ruling a "tremendous victory" for surviving same-sex spouses nationwide.  "No one should be penalized for being the victim of discrimination. The denial of access to these critical benefits can have dire consequences, with some of our class members experiencing homelessness," Renn said.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Bollywood filmmaker wants to normalise LGBT families in India

Acclaimed Bollywood filmmaker Apurva Asrani is an award-winning filmmaker best known for Satya (1998), Shahid (2013), and the human rights biopic Aligarh (2016).

His drama-comedy series Made in Heaven featured a gay man as a leading character and was widely praised for normalising homosexuality on Indian television.

Despite this, Asrani was forced to conceal his sexuality for most of his career, with his long-term partner Siddhant pretending to be his cousin so that they could share an apartment. “For 13 years we pretended to be cousins so we could rent a home together,” he told.

But they recently bought their own home. Now they voluntarily tell neighbours they are partners because it’s time LGBT families are normalised in India.

While Asrani’s announcement received a lot of warmth from his fellow filmmakers, the majority of the comments beneath the tweet unfortunately reveal that India still has a long way to go when it comes to LGBT acceptance.