Friday, July 31, 2020

European Union cuts funding to Polish cities declaring themselves "LGBT-free zones"

The European Union (EU) has rejected grants under a twinning programme to six Polish cities because of their attitude to the LGBT community.

The announcement was confirmed by the EU's Equality Commissioner, Helena Dalli. "EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by member states and public authorities," Dalli said. “This is why six town twinning applications involving Polish authorities that adopted ‘LGBT-free zones’ or ‘family rights’ resolutions were rejected,” she added.

The rejected applications concerned financing projects within the EU twinning project framework, i.e. the efforts to facilitate exchange and strengthen institutional cooperation between EU partner cities. Cities included in the twinning network can seek to obtain as much as EUR 150.000.

Supported by local politicians associated with the ruling Law and Justice party, 18 Polish counties and 16 municipalities passed resolutions denouncing “LGBT ideology” and declared themselves “LGBT-free zones”. In total, the zones cover a third of the country.  The resolutions have no legal force, but they are a clear effort to stigmatize and discriminate non-heteronormative groups.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Putin's Russia doesnot like rainbow flag... we do!

The foreign ministry in Russia made a formal complaint to the UK, US and Canadian embassies in Moscow for flying the rainbow LGBT Pride flag during Pride Month.

Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” law bans any positive depiction of LGBT people. Anyone found guilty of sharing such information with minors can be sentenced to heavy fines or up to 15 years in prison.

The UK embassy in Moscow had received a protest note from the Russian foreign ministry for displaying the LGBT Pride flag, which it raised towards the end of June. The same happened to the Canadian empassy.

As well as defying Russian anti-LGBT leader Vladimir Putin, the American embassy also acted in defiance of Donald Trump, who at the beginning of June banned US embassies from flying the rainbow flag for the entirety of Pride Month.

Fortunately, not all countries think the same than Putin's Russia.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

World Rugby considers banning trans women from playing women's rugby

World Rugby, the governing body for the sport of rugby that organizes several international rugby competitions and comprises 120 national unions, is considering barring transgender women from playing women’s rugby.

The body’s transgender working group cites research that claims there is “at least 20 to 30 percent greater risk” of injury when a cisgender female is tackled by a trans player. The group argues that the latest science shows that trans women have “significant” physical advantages over cis women.

Contrastingly, the group makes no argument against trans men competing with cisgender men as long as the player undergoes a physical exam and signs a consent form.

If the ban is approved, World Rugby would be the first sports federation to implement a trans ban.

According to Australian rugby union and rugby league athlete Caroline Layt, World Rugby never consulted trans women while crafting the draft proposal. “It just goes to show the steps the patriarchy has taken to exclude any current or former trans rugby playing women in their working group,” she told.

Meanwhile, activists and rugby teams across the world have taken to Twitter to voice their support for trans women players. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

A British trampoline star comes out as bisexual

Luke Strong, a five-time British champion and a world and European medalist in trampoline gymnastics, has come out as bisexual.

“I’ve never hidden anything and I’m really open about the fact that I’m attracted to both sexes, male and female, but I’ve never been in a relationship with either of them so I don’t know,”  he told.

“I think like most people in the LGBT community, growing up is always a little bit difficult,” Strong said. “Especially wearing a leotard, doing gymnastics, doing the splits, you get the typical ‘you’re a fairy’ and the gay jokes.

“I had that growing up in school and then especially in high school it got a lot worse. There was a period of time in Year 8 and 9 where the bullying was bad. I wouldn’t really talk about trampolining because I was embarrassed.”

“It’s always been fine within the sport, people are pretty understanding,” he said. “But on social media you get your trolls every now and again, with homophobic abuse on comments or personal messages sometimes.

“But I honestly don’t even think about that ever. It doesn’t bother me: I feel sorry for people like that who are close-minded and still think its offensive to be called gay, because it’s not.”

You can listen to the whole interview here.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Mexico City bans gay conversion therapy

Mexico City’s regional congress approved a bill to criminalize gay conversion therapy, in a step hailed as a major victory for Mexico’s gay and lesbian community.

Methods applied by proponents of conversion therapy to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity have ranged from psychological counseling to religious instruction and even electroshock therapy. The practice has become widely discredited in recent years.

Under the new law, conversion therapy is defined as psychological or psychiatric measures or treatments which intend to “nullify, hinder, modify or undermine” the expression of a person’s gender identity or their sexual orientation.

Conversion therapy providers now face up to five years in prison, with higher sentences for those who subject minors to the practice.

Its approval makes the Mexican capital, which in 2009 was the first region of the country to legalize same-sex marriage, the first jurisdiction in Mexico to ban the practice.

Good news from Mexico!!!

A crowd attended Mexican City Pride Parade in 2019

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Brazilian football fans protest homophobic racist president Bolsonaro

Brazilian football fans from rival teams are joining together to protest against their homophobic racist president Jair Bolsonaro.

Rogerio Bassetto, a fan of one of Brazil’s most famous football teams Corinthians, explained what it took for fanatical football fans of rival teams to come together: “Our president is a homophobic racist and we all have to stand up to this enemy of humanity!”

Bassetto has not become one of the most recognizable faces in Brazil because of his love for football though, but because he the leader of the protests against Bolsonaro. In doing so, he has won the support of fans from arch-rivals Corinthians, Palmeiras, Sao Paulo and Santos. The fans from the four biggest clubs in Sao Paulo have demonstrated against the country's leader.

Fears have been growing that Bolsonaro will soon exert more control over the country’s Supreme Court, one of few forces in the country able to progress civil, including LGBT, rights.

Bolsonaro, who for months shrugged off pleas to take the novel coronavirus seriously and who refused to wear a face mask before they were “too gay”, has tested positive for COVID-19…. again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Turkey bans a Netflix series because it features a gay character

Negotiations between Netflix and officials linked to Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over a gay character featured in a popular Turkish series by the streaming platform have ended in a faceoff.

The dispute revolves a coming-of-age comedy drama Aşk 101 (Love 101) that featured a storyline surrounding a gay high school student Turkey’s state broadcasting regulator wanted censored.

Shortly before Aşk 101 launched in April, Turkish authorities said they would not tolerate a homosexual theme, adding that they would apply sanctions to Netflix if the series featured a gay character. The subsequent airing of the show was interpreted as the series being clear of any themes of homosexuality.

After days of talks, Netflix drew the line at AKP's homosexuality censorship and stopped shooting the show in Turkey. It refused to accept the censorship.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, however its LGBT community has faced considerable hostility under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party. Turkish authorities have banned pride celebrations in the past few years citing “security concerns”.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Hundreds of Russians arrested for protesting against Putin's constitutional changes

More than 200 Russians have been arrested in Moscow’s Pushkin Square for protesting a series of constitutional changes that will allow Vladimir Putin to remain in power for another 16 years.

About a thousand demonstrators, many of whom wore face masks branded with the word “no”, chanted calls for Putin to resign and held up banners against the reforms.

As well as extending the limits of Putin’s presidential term, the constitutional amendments included a provision defining marriage solely as a “union between a man and a woman”. Adoptions by same-sex parents are also banned on this basis, including in cases of transgender people.

The move is largely symbolic given that gay weddings and same-sex adoptions were already banned in Russia and are extremely unlikely to be legalised — but writing the measure into the constitution further entrenches the country’s anti-LGBT beliefs into law, and makes it almost impossible for any future reforms to happen.

Shame on you Putin!

Protest in Moscow against Putin constitutional changes

Friday, July 17, 2020

Sudan changes death penalty for jail to punish gay sex

Sudan has abolished the death penalty for gay sex as part of a series of human rights reforms in the east African state.

The Sovereign Council of Sudan amended article 148 of the Penal Code, which banned same-sex relations and prescribed the death sentence, as part of a series of widespread human rights reforms which also included a ban on female genital mutilation, public flogging, and the stoning of 'apostate' who leave the Islamic faith.

Despite the removal of the capital punishment for LGBT people, same-sex sexual relations will remain outlawed and punishable with up to seven years in prison.

Currently, same-sex relations carry the death penalty in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen, and capital punishment remains an option in the UAE, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Brunei and northern Nigeria under Sharia law.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Proud of U.S. Embassy in Moscow

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow hung a rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBT community, from its front facade in honor of Pride month.

The flag is not often displayed in public in Russia due to a controversial law that prohibits “homosexual propaganda toward minors” and persistent anti-LGBT attitudes across the country.

Despite backlash against the flag from Russian lawmakers and right-wing groups, Muscovites snapped some photos in front of the flag in a show of support for gay rights.

Donald Trump banned American embassies from hanging Pride flags on official embassy flagpoles in early June, but the U.S. Embassy in Moscow wrote in a statement that "June is Pride Month and we celebrate that everyone deserves to live a life free from hatred, prejudice and persecution."


A gay couple kissing in front of U.S. Embassy

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Poland’s ‘LGBT-free zones’ are a grim reminder that, even in Europe, the fight for human rights is far from over

They have already been around for a year now, the so-called ‘LGBT-free zones’ in Poland. Some 90 municipalities, primarily in south-eastern Poland, have officially declared war on what they deem ‘gay propaganda’.

In February 2019, the municipality of Warsaw created a manifesto aimed at achieving equal rights for the queer community, and providing better information on gender and sexual orientation. But what they achieved was the absolute opposite: Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, labelled the manifesto both anti-Polish and a threat to Christian family values.

His statements were met with resounding support from the electorate. He had clearly found a scapegoat for his campaign for the European elections, which he overwhelmingly won. After that, the Archbishop of Kraków took things up a notch by talking about a “rainbow plague” that would infest Poland. 

Then, the far-right news magazine Gazeta Polska started their ‘LGBT-free zone’ sticker campaign. And, finally, local authorities in Lublin created an antimanifesto, the first resolution to make a Polish municipality ‘LGBT-free’. Today, almost one-third of Poland has followed this example. 

In opinion of Bartosz, a prominent queer activist and documentary-maker from Warsaw, although it’s basically gesture politics, LGBT people has a huge problem because homophobia has become a political instrument. There is no political consensus such as “We don’t want you here”, but it’s a license to utilise violence. 

Nevertheless, he thinks there is reason for optimism from the new generation. Because we are living in a time of social media, young people are not falling for the lies spun by the Church or TV any more, and Polish queers have never been as united and organised as they are now, and Pride marches are spreading across the whole country.

Poland map of LGBT-free zones

Monday, July 13, 2020

Turkish clothing chain bans use of rainbows and other LGBT images

LC Waikiki, a clothing retail giant in Turkey, has banned the use of rainbows and other symbols associated with the LGBT community, in one of the country’s more pitiful anti-queer attacks.

In an email sent to a group of company employees under the subject line “Design bans”, LC Waikiki’s administration shared a list of LGBT symbols, such as rainbows, unicorns and figures resembling people from the LGBT community, that “should never be used”.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey, however its LGBT community has faced considerable hostility under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party. Turkish authorities have banned pride celebrations in the past few years citing “security concerns”.

Turkey has also seen increased pressure on the LGBT communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and husband are new dads

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and husband Justin Mikita have welcomed their first child together.

"Jesse and Justin welcomed their little bundle of joy Beckett Mercer Ferguson-Mikita on July 7, 2020," says the couple's rep. "The new parents are overjoyed and excited for this new journey as a family of three."

Ferguson and Mikita tied the knot in July 2013 at a ceremony in downtown New York City, with playwright Tony Kushner officiating.

Ferguson, who played uptight lawyer Mitchell Pritchett on the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family, and Mikita, a real-life lawyer, became engaged in 2012 when the two vacationed in Mexico after being together nearly two years.

Ferguson shared that he and Mikita were expecting during a January visit to James Corden's late show, telling "This is something I haven't even mentioned to anyone, if we could just keep it between us, but I'm actually expecting a baby in July with my husband."

Congrats to new dads!!!

The "other family" of Ferguson in Modern Family

Friday, July 10, 2020

Dutch Constitution enshrines protections for LGBT people

Politicians in the Netherlands have voted to enshrine protections for LGBT people in the country’s constitution.

The Dutch House of Representatives voted by 124 to 26 in favour of a measure to amend the country’s constitution to add explicit protections based on sexual orientation.

Article 1 of the Constitution currently states: “All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.”

In the recent vote, lawmakers opted to add “sexual orientation” and “disability” to the list of protected characteristics, alongside assurances that gender characteristics, gender identity and gender expression are covered by existing sex and gender provisions.

After the shameful amendment of Russian Constitution banning same-sex marriage last week, there is good news from Netherland!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Two years in prison for Homosexuality in Tunisia

A Tunisian court sentenced two men accused of sodomy to two years in prison. The decision violates their rights to privacy and nondiscrimination under international law and Tunisia’s 2014 constitution. The police also attempted to subject the defendants to an anal exam, apparently to use as evidence in the case.

Police arrested the two men, both 26, on suspicion of same-sex conduct in Le Kef, a city 175 kilometers southwest of Tunis, after one of them filed an unrelated complaint against the other. The prosecutor of the Kef First Instance Tribunal charged the men with sodomy under article 230 of the penal code, which punishes consensual same-sex conduct with up to three years in prison. Hassina Darraji, the lawyer who took on the men’s defense for the upcoming appeal, told Human Rights Watch the defendants told her they had refused the police’s demands that they undergo an anal exam.

During Tunisia’s 2017 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hearing at the UN Human Rights Council, in response to the recommendation from several countries, Tunisia formally accepted the recommendation to end forced anal examsas a method of “proving” homosexuality. 

Furthermore, the tests are of no scientific or evidentiary value in proving homosexuality. Indeed, such examinations, when forcible, are intrusive, invasive, and amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that violates international law. State-sponsored forcible anal exams violate medical ethics and have been recognized as torture by the UN Committee Against Torture.

Tunisia’s parliament should repeal penal code article 230, and the Justice Ministry should direct public prosecutors to abandon prosecutions under article 230 and issue a directive ordering prosecutors to stop sending detainees for anal examinations as part of police investigative procedures to determine suspects’ sexual behavior. 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Be a rainbow in someone else's clouds

These beautiful Maya Angelou words, as read by Dr Ranj, are a reminder of the universality and enduring freedom that rainbows mean to so many of us.

Watch it below:

Friday, July 3, 2020

The world is still divided on homosexuality but acceptance increases in many countries

Despite major changes in laws and norms surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage and the rights of LGBT people around the world, public opinion on the acceptance of homosexuality in society remains sharply divided by country, region and economic development, Pew Research Center's report found.

As it was in 2013, when the question was last asked, attitudes on the acceptance of homosexuality are shaped by the country in which people live. Those in Western Europe and the Americas are generally more accepting of homosexuality than are those in Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. And publics in the Asia-Pacific region generally are split. 

But even with these sharp divides, views are changing in many of the countries that have been surveyed since 2002, when Pew Research Center first began asking this question. In many nations, there has been an increasing acceptance of homosexuality, including in the United States, where 72% say it should be accepted, compared with just 49% as recently as 2007.

Many of the countries surveyed in 2002 and 2019 have seen a double-digit increase in acceptance of homosexuality. This includes a 21-point increase since 2002 in South Africa and a 19-point increase in South Korea over the same time period. India also saw a 22-point increase since 2014, the first time the question was asked of a nationally representative sample there.

Read the complete report here.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Putin wins referendum and same-sex marriage loses

Russia's referendum on constitutional changes showed voters overwhelmingly approved the amendments that would allow Vladimir Putin to potentially extend his rule until 2036.

Russia's Central Election Commission said 78% of votes had supported changing the constitution. Just over 21% had voted against. Turnout was 65%. The Kremlin called the result a "triumph" and said it demonstrated the public's trust in Putin.

The referendum asked Russians if they agreed or disagreed with changes to the country's constitution, including a provision that defines marriage strictly as a "union of a man and a woman."

The changes to the constitution effectively reset the clock on Putin's term limits, allowing him to seek two more six-year terms when his presidency ends in 2024. For now, Putin's presidency looks likely to end in 2036, when he will turn 84.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Breaking News: Montenegro legalises same-sex civil partnerships

Montenegro voted to legalise same-sex civil partnerships, becoming the first European country outside of Western Europe and the European Union to legally recognise gay and lesbian couples.

The law received 42 votes in the 81-seat parliament, after it was rejected by parliament in July 2019.

“A great step in the right direction for (Montenegro) society, its democratic maturity and integration processes,” Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said. “Born free and equal in dignity and rights”, he added.

The country, with a population of about 620,000 people, becomes the 32nd United Nations member to recognise some form of civil partnership for same-sex couples.