Friday, January 22, 2021

President Biden signs LGBT Equality Bill on the first day


On day one of his presidency, Joe Biden has signed the order enforcing the Supreme Court’s decision on LGBT workplace equality.

It was one of 17 orders signed by the incoming president including declarations re-joining the Paris climate agreement, overturning the ban on travel from a handful of Muslim-majority countries, and strengthening the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

This order will direct agencies to take all lawful steps to make sure that federal anti-discrimination statutes that cover sex discrimination prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, protecting the rights of LGBT persons.

The executive order is a clear statement on the part of the Biden administration, that there is no place for discrimination in the federal government. President Biden has committed to overturning every Trump administration rule that limits transgender rights, including tossing out its near-total ban on transgender troops serving in the military.



Thursday, January 21, 2021

US embassies will fly Pride flags again

 

Antony Blinken, who will lead the Biden administration’s Department of State, made several comments supporting LGBT rights at his confirmation hearing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He outlined changes he would make to ensure that the US government was standing up for and defending the LGBT community once Biden is in office, and to support LGBT rights, was left vacant during Trump’s presidency.

Blinken said that filling the role was “a matter, I think, of some real urgency”. He added: “We’ve seen violence directed against LGBT people around the world increase. And so I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBT people is something that the department is going to take on and take on immediately.”

Lastly, Blinken said he would allow all U.S. embassies to fly Pride flags, after Trump banned them from flying it for the entirety of June, 2020.


Antony Blinken, the new Biden's Secretary of State


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Joe Biden makes history by appointing transgender Dr. Rachel Levine to Assistant Secretary of Health


 

Dr. Rachel Levine, the current Pennsylvania Health Secretary, is President-elect Joe Biden's pick to be his assistant secretary of health, and if confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Levine will be the first openly transgender federal official.

"Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic, no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond. She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration's health efforts," Biden said.

Levine stepped into her current position in 2017 after being appointed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. She breezed through the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate, and has become the spokesperson for Pennsylvania's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Levine is a pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general with degrees from both Harvard and Tulane University School of Medicine and currently serves as the president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

Joe Biden will be the most pro-equality U.S. president ever!



Sunday, January 17, 2021

LGBT TV representation falls, Glaad report finds


LGBT representation on television decreased, an annual report by the LGBT advocacy organization Glaad has found.

The percentage of regular characters scheduled to appear on prime-time scripted broadcast television who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer decreased to 9.1 percent in the 2020-21 season, from the previous year’s record high of 10.2 percent. 

The findings were published in a report called “Where We Are on TV,” available at glaad.org. The report analyzes the overall diversity of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks and looks at the number of LGBT characters on cable networks and streaming services for the 2020-2021 TV season.

Across those platforms, the 2020-21 season includes 360 LGBT characters, down from 488 in the 2019-20 season, the report found. Primetime series in the 2020-21 season feature 81 regular LGBT characters, down from 121 last season, and 37 recurring ones, down from 94. The number of transgender characters across broadcast, cable and streaming also decreased to 29 from 38 last season. 


Download the full report here



Friday, January 15, 2021

Israel agrees that being trans is not a mental disorder


New guidelines, drafted by Israel’s health ministry after three years of consulting with LGBT and trans organisations, set out how hospitals and healthcare facilities must treat transgender people.

The new guidance on how to treat trans people in healthcare settings follows joint recommendations, made in December 2020, by the Justice and Social Welfare Ministries that suggested implementing sweeping reforms to trans rights in Israel.

The guidance directs that hospitals and healthcare facilities must have at least one staff member trained in trans awareness, use a trans person’s correct pronouns regardless of the gender on their official documents, and to provide unisex facilities where possible while allowing trans people to use gendered spaces in accordance with their gender identity.

Ministers also noted that so-called conversion therapy that tries to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity has no ethical or professional basis, as well as confirming that being trans is not a psychological disorder.

Israel is considered the most progressive country in the Mideast regarding LGBT rights, they recognize same-sex unions though they still don’t legally allow same-sex marriage. In any case, Israel stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the region and becomes an exception on acceptance of LGBT rights. 


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Pope Francis helps children of gay couple to be brought up in Catholic faith


Thanks to the personal intervention of Pope Francis, three young children of one Italian gay couple are being brought up in the Catholic faith and even ministering as altar servers.

Andrea Rubera and his husband Dario de Gregori were considering whether to enroll their oldest child in a catechetical program at a Rome-area parish. But they were afraid their child might be treated differently, or be subject to some sort of prejudice.

When by chance Rubera was asked if he would be part of a group invited to participate in the pope's daily Mass at the Vatican's Santa Marta guesthouse, the gay Italian Catholic brought a letter to give to Francis, laying out his dilemma.

Days later, Rubera got an unexpected phone call. "I answered and it was the voice of the pope asking me, 'Mr. Rubera, is that you?' I think you should do it," Rubera remembers the pope saying. "Go to the pastor, ask for a meeting, introduce yourself transparently and I'm quite confident that everything is going to be all right."

The layman did as the pope suggested. His three children have now each gone through the catechetical program and minister as altar servers. And the oldest is preparing to receive first Communion.

Rubera previously spoke about his personal experience with Francis as part of the documentary "Francesco," directed by Evgeny Afineevsky and released last year. He says now that the pope's advice offered a "fundamental step" in his family's life.


Andrea and Dario got married in Rome in 2014


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Joe Biden will be the most pro-equality US president ever


President-elect Joe Biden became a fast friend of the LGBT community as vice president in 2012 by stating his support for same-sex marriage in a television interview even before his boss, President Barack Obama, did. That same year, outside an Obama-Biden campaign office in Florida, it was Biden's unexpected support for the transgender community that elevated his status of LGBT ally. 

When he left the vice presidency, Biden partnered with other advocates to start the As You Are campaign to advocate for families' acceptance of their transgender children. Now advocates say Biden will be the nation's most pro-LGBT president ever

He and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have committed to overturning every Trump administration rule that limits transgender rights, including tossing out its near-total ban on transgender troops serving in the military. They also have promised to reinstate Obama-era guidance for protecting transgender students that the Trump administration withdrew.

Biden has said he will protect the rights of anyone who qualifies to adopt, regardless of religion or family composition. Biden, who is Catholic, has split from his church's stance on some issues, saying he values "the dignity of every person."

But he could face his most laborious hurdle in passing the Equality Act, a package of measures that protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation that was passed by the House in 2019 but blocked by the Republican-led Senate. That act, which Biden has pledged to make a policy priority during his first 100 days in office, has been a cornerstone of the community's fight for equal rights in housing and employment since it was first discussed after the Stonewall riots in 1969.

Finally, Joe Biden has nominated Pete Buttigieg as his administration’s Transport Secretary. The former mayor of South Bend Indiana will become the first LGBT cabinet member.




Monday, January 11, 2021

LGBT rights activists face 2 years in prison in Poland

 


Unfounded charges of “offending religious beliefs” are being brought against three women LGBT rights defenders in Poland for simply exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Three LGBT rights activists, Elżbieta, Anna and Joanna, are facing trial for ‘offending religious beliefs’ in relation to the use of posters depicting the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo symbolic of the LGBT flag around her head and shoulders. They now face up to two years in prison if found guilty for their peaceful activism.

The authorities are alleging that the three activists pasted the posters in public places such as on portable toilets, dustbins, transformers, road signs, building walls in public areas in the city of Plock, and have ‘publicly insulted an object of religious worship in the form of this image which offended the religious feelings of others’. 

The Prosecutor General should drop the charges and the Polish authorities should amend their legislation and bring it in line with international human rights standards and abstain from using it against activists to unduly curtail their right to freedom of expression.

Same-sex relationships are not recognized there and LGBT people are frequently used as scapegoats by politicians in the deeply-conservative nation, which takes many cues from nearby Russia.

Besides, one-third of the nation's municipalities passed resolutions in the past years outlawing "LGBT propaganda". Activists have called these areas, which add up to a land mass larger than the nation of Hungary, as LGBT-free zones.  



Saturday, January 9, 2021

Trump Administration allows adoption agencies to reject LGBT parents


Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule that would allow the recipients of the federal department’s grant money, including adoption and fostering agencies, to discriminate against LGBT people.

The final rule was issued in the aftermath of the MAGA riots, dropping Obama-era rules that banned recipients HHS grants from discriminating based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. The rule change also removes a requirement that grantees treat as valid the marriages of same-sex couples.

The scorched earth tactics continue as the Trump Administration torches every LGBT protection it can on its way out the door.



Friday, January 8, 2021

Every LGBT House member is calling for Donald Trump’s impeachment


All nine of the out LGBT members of the U.S. House of Representatives have publicly called for Donald Trump to be impeached following Wednesday’s MAGA riots at the Capitol, with Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) among the Democrats taking the lead.

Democrats are accusing Trump of inciting violence against Congress by making statements that encouraged the crowd to raid and loot Congress. The rioters came armed and brought bombs into Congress, instigating a violent confrontation with police that left five dead.

The two gay House members, Cicilline and Jones, are leading the effort to remove Trump from office. Even though there aren’t that many days left before Biden’s inauguration, a resolution would show condemnation of Trump’s attacks on Congress, remove him from office so he can’t do anything extreme in the next two weeks, and squash a potential run for president in 2024.

Articles of impeachment that Cicilline is circulating accuse Trump of making false statements about winning the election and false claims of voter fraud in an attempt to “subvert and obstruct” Congress from certifying the election’s results. The resolution calls him a “threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution.”

A version of the resolution accuses Trump of making false statements about the election that encouraged violence against Congress, framing Trump’s rhetoric as an attack by one branch of government against another. Out Representatives Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) are listed among the co-sponsors of the resolution.

Out Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) tweeted that she has joined the resolution as well. She encouraged the Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which allows a majority of the Cabinet to “declare the president unable to carry out his duties”, to remove Trump as well.

Out Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) also tweeted that he is signing on to the articles of impeachment. “Trump must be held to account,” Maloney said. “You are either with the U.S. Constitution or you are with that mob.”

Out Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) tweeted a video explaining why “Trump must be impeached and convicted immediately.” “He has shown himself to be a deranged demagogue that is a threat to our democracy,” Takano wrote. “Yesterday’s assault and desecration of our temple of democracy, the U.S. Capitol, was a direct result of his words and actions.”

Out Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) called on the Cabinet to remove Trump through the 25th Amendment as well and said that he should be impeached. “For the first time in history we have a President who should be impeached twice but because of the time constraints and inaction of Senate Republicans, I urge the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment now,” Davids said. “We will have a new President on January 20th, but we cannot trust Donald Trump to uphold his oath of office over the next 14 days. Our democracy, safety, and security is at stake.”

Out Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) also supports impeachment, saying that the MAGA riots show that Trump “should not serve one more day in office.” “What we witnessed yesterday should chill Americans to their core,” Pappas said. “Riotous, armed mobs overcame law enforcement and stormed the Capitol, and they attempted to derail American democracy. They did this after being incited and instructed by President Donald J. Trump.”







Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Greece just appointed its first openly gay cabinet minister

 

Greece has made major strides toward inclusion because Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appointed the country’s first-ever openly LGBT cabinet minister.

Nicholas Yatromanolakis is set to become the country’s next deputy minister of culture after making history in 2019 as the first LGBT person ever seated to a senior government position.

Currently serving as the General Secretary of Contemporary Culture, Yatromanolakis’ appointment is considered historic as he is the first openly gay minister in Greek history.

The new minister, who frequently posts selfies with his dog and cat on Instagram, has yet to issue a public statement regarding his appointment. He has been noted as a vocal advocate of LGBT rights, and he’s also been focused on LGBTQ and human rights, mental and physical health of children, and the social inclusion of vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Although Yatromanolakis’ selection follows some recent progress for Greek LGBT community, the nation still remains sharply divided on matters of equality. In 2015, Greece began recognizing same-sex civil unions, but it has yet to extend full marriage benefits to same-sex partners. Two years later, the government permitted transgender people to correct their legal gender without having previously undergone any form of gender confirmation surgery. In 2018, Greece allowed same-sex couples to foster children for the first time.



Sunday, January 3, 2021

US transgender soldiers are waiting to serve their country again

 

Donald Trump in July 2017 destroyed lifes of all transgender soldiers with a simple tweet: "The United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US Military."

It is unclear how people have been affected by Trump's policy. Figures from 2016 show there were around 10,000 transgender individuals in active service or in the reserves.

Joe Biden has promised to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military. He also acknowledged the support of the transgender community during his election victory speech.

Biden has made clear his commitment to protecting the rights of the LGBT community. "This is the civil rights issue of our time - if this fails think of all else that fails," the president-elect said on the campaign trail. 

The president-elect promised that during his first 100 days in office he would pass a law that would make discrimination against the LGBT community illegal. Democrats need to win both Senate races to hold the power on Capitol Hill and provide Biden with enough votes to pass legislation.


#ProtectTransTroops


Friday, January 1, 2021

Gay adoption drama movie becomes a hit in China


A simple film about a gay couple who adopt a homeless child, Forbidden Love in Heaven has become something almost unthinkable for LGBT filmmakers and moviegoers in China: a hit.

19-year-old filmmaker Ran Yinxiao sought to challenge the industry with his film, it was a “bold attempt to explore the difficulties that sexual minorities face in starting a family”, Yinxiao said. “My thinking was that if three different people without any blood ties could start a family, then this must be the world’s strongest family,” he added.

Yinxiao, a Communication University of China film student, based his film on a real-life family. He said it had one simple aim: “I wanted to emphasise that an LGBT couple can raise and nurture a child too.”

The young filmmaker is one of a number of increasingly vocal activists challenging China’s traditional views of the LGBT community, despite the government’s growing censorship of the issue.

Indeed, the film presented a fresh test for media regulators, where the broadcasting of vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content is banned by the National Radio and Television Administration. The agency’s regulations have forced many moviemakers to veil queer stories in subtext or cut and censor their films to get them aire, Yinxiao managed to drop the trailer for his film only after making it more “ambiguous”, he said.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997 and removed from the official list of mental illnesses in 2001, but the country has yet to legalise same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples, currently campaigning to be recognised in the country’s census, also cannot adopt children.



Ran Yinxiao, the young filmmaker