Friday, February 26, 2021

Pride in London 2021 is officially set to go ahead in September

Pride in London was cancelled, alongside every other Pride festival in the world, due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were hopes that the event, which usually takes place over the course of a weekend in June, would be able to go ahead in 2021.

It has now been revealed that the event will take place on the weekend of 11 September, although it is not yet clear exactly what the festivities will look like. Organisers also said they are working on plans to mark Pride’s traditional anniversary in the summer.

“We’re delighted to announce that Pride in London will take place on the weekend of 11September,” Michael Salter-Church and Alison Camps, co-chairs of Pride in London said.

“Now we have the roadmap from the government, we’re working closely with the mayor’s office, Westminster City Council and other key bodies in London to finalise what our plans will look like. We’ll be announcing further details of the event, including what format it will take and how to participate or volunteer, in due course,” they added.

Pride in London’s momentous announcement comes just two days after Birmingham Pride announced plans to host its festival on the weekend of 25 and 26 September.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

U.S. adults identifying as LGBT rise to 5.6%

Gallup's latest update on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identification finds 5.6% of U.S. adults identifying as LGBT. The current estimate is up from 4.5% in Gallup's previous update based on 2017 data.

Currently, 86.7% of Americans say they are heterosexual or straight, and 7.6% do not answer the question about their sexual orientation.

The identity question asked in 2020 offers a greater level of detail than the question asked in previous years. Now, respondents indicate their precise sexual orientation, rather than simply answering "yes" or "no" to whether they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

More than half of LGBT adults (54.6%) identify as bisexual. About a quarter (24.5%) say they are gay, with 11.7% identifying as lesbian and 11.3% as transgender. An additional 3.3% volunteer another non-heterosexual preference or term to describe their sexual orientation, such as queer or same-gender-loving.

Finally, about one in 10 LGBT adults in the U.S. (9.6%) are married to a same-sex spouse, with a slightly smaller proportion (7.1%) living with a same-sex domestic partner. Half of LGBT adults have never been married, while 11.4% are married to an opposite-sex spouse and 9.5% are either divorced or separated.

Gallup's 2012-2020 data

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Chechen Top Court rules abduction and detention of gay teens are legal

Chechnya's top court has ruled that the arrest of two young gay men was legal amid growing concern over their safety and lack of legal representation in the region know for abuses against LGBT people.

The court ruling comes after Salekh Magamadov, 18, and a 17-year-old companion were abducted by security agents earlier in the month from Nizhny Novgorod in western Russia and driven back to Chechnya.

The two are accused of providing food to an illegal armed group and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. According to the Russian LGBT Network, the young men were forced to sign statements and testimonies under threats and pressure.

The nongovernmental organization helped both men leave Chechnya and settle in Nizhny Novgorod in July. The teenagers intended to leave Russia, but they were detained by Federal Security Service agents and taken to Chechnya.

Several news and reports dennounced Chechnya for attacking LGBT people, including the use of abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killing.

What are Western countries waiting for to act?

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Bisexual actress Gillian Anderson to play bisexual First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

A new history-based anthology is coming, and legendary actress Gillian Anderson has just been added to the all-star cast. Anderson will play Eleanor Roosevelt in the series titled The First Lady.

Gillian Anderson came out as bisexual in 2012, and this is the second hugely influential historical figure she playes recently, as she has appeared as Margaret Thatcher in Netflix’s The Crown.

Eleanor Roosevelt is known as one of the most influential First Ladies of all time, serving from 1933-1945 and was outspoken on women’s rights and civil rights and pushed the United States to join the United Nations. While she was married to Franklin Roosevelt, she also had a decades-long affair with journalist Lorena Hickok.

The lifelong love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok is a matter of fact, documented in decades of blunt correspondence between the two women, a staggering 18 boxes of which are preserved in FDR’s own presidential library, and Hickok had her own room just down the hall at White House.

The show is created by Aaron Cooley, and features stories about Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama in its first season. Anderson is joined in the cast by Michelle Pfeiffer, who will play Betty Ford, and Viola Davis, who will play Michelle Obama.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok

Sunday, February 21, 2021

'I Am Samuel' on streaming at Toronto HRW Film Festival

Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival presents: I Am Samuel, a Peter Murimi's movie about love, family and acceptance, a portrait of a Kenyan man torn between balancing duty to his family with his dreams for his future.

Samuel grew up on a farm in the Kenyan countryside, where tradition is valued above all else. He moves to Nairobi in search of a new life, where he finds belonging in a community of fellow queer men and falls in love with Alex. 

Their love thrives even though Kenyan laws criminalize anyone who identifies as LGBT, and together they face threats of violence and rejection. Samuel’s father, a preacher at the local church, doesn’t understand why his son is not yet married and Samuel must navigate the very real risk that being truthful to who he is may cost him his family’s acceptance. 

Filmed over five years, this movie is an intimate portrait of a Kenyan man balancing pressures of family loyalty, love, and safety and questioning the concept of conflicting identities.

Watch the movie on streaming for free from Feb 19 - 22 here.

Peter Murimi, the movie's director

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Britain's spy chief apologises for historic discrimination against LGBT people

Richard Moore, the chief of Britain’s foreign intelligence service, publicly apologised for historic discrimination against LGBT people in the spy agencies before 1991. 

Moore, known as "C," released a video on his personal Twitter account to say sorry for the treatment of LGBT individuals.

Britain decriminalised homosexual acts between men in 1967, but its spy agencies refused to hire gay, lesbian and transgender officers until 1991 because they believed they would be susceptible to blackmail.

“Until 1991, being openly LGBT in MI6 would cause you to lose your job or prevent you from being allowed to join in the first place,” said Moore. “Committed, talented, public-spirited people had their careers and lives blighted because it was argued that being LGBT was incompatible with being an intelligence professional. This was wrong, unjust and discriminatory,” Moore added.

Moore's apology comes in the same week that country's defense ministry apologized to gay service personnel who were thrown out of the military and had their medals stripped before 2000.

Watch Moore's video below:

Friday, February 19, 2021

Bundesliga players offer support to gay footballers


More than 800 players, both male and female, across Germany have offered their support to any gay footballer addressing their sexual orientation, in the latest edition of 11Freunde magazine.

"We will support you and encourage you, and defend you against alienation, if necessary. Because you are doing the right thing, and we are on your side," the players said in a statement.

"There is not one openly homosexual player in the German men's professional leagues in 2021. It appears that the fear of being alienated and excluded and to endanger the career as a football pro is still so big that guy footballers believe they have to hide their sexuality."

The statement "you can count on us" is signed by the entire squads of Bundesliga clubs Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim, Schalke, Werder Bremen and Freiburg, Union Berlin star Max Kruse and Germany internationals Jonas Hector and Niklas Stark, and Germany women's internationals Alexandra Popp and Almuth Schult.

The players said that no one should be forced to come out but that anyone who does will have their full support.

11Freunde cover: 'You can count on us!'

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

World premiere of Firebird announced for BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival


Romance movie Firebird will have its world premiere at 35th BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, it has been announced.

Firebird is directed by Peeter Rebane and streaming as a sweeping love story about freedom and love against all odds set in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, and based on a true story.

A troubled soldier (Tom Prior) forms a forbidden love triangle with a daring fighter pilot (Oleg Zagorodnii) and his female comrade (Diana Pozharskaya) amid the dangerous surroundings of a Soviet Air Force Base.

Tickets for the digital world premiere of Firebird at BFI will be available to BFI Members from Friday 26 February and to the general public from Tuesday 2 March.

Check out the first look clip of Firebird below:

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Soccer stars Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger are proud moms

Orlando Pride soccer stars Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger are officially proud moms of an adorable baby girl. They tied the knot in December 2019. 

The couple, who are also reigning World Cup champions as members of the U.S. women's national soccer team, announced on Valentine's Day that they had adopted a baby daughter. The two named her Sloane Phillips.

The happy new parents, both 36, shared photos on social media of them holding their daughter and leaving the hospital.

They also penned a sweet message to their daughter's birth mom: "Dear Birth Mom.. Our promise to you: We promise Sloane will be loved every single day by us, our friends and our family. We promise to give her the tools to live a happy, successful life of inclusivity and support. We promise to share her adoption story with her from the very beginning and celebrate every milestone!" they wrote. "We promise to encourage her to follow her dreams no matter how big or small. We promise to be open minded and respect your wishes to have future communication and that she will always know how much you love her!"


Monday, February 15, 2021

Trans Rights are Human Rights again in White House


White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said "trans rights are human rights" during a briefing this week.

Psaki, who took on the role the day of Joe Biden's Presidential inauguration, was fielding a rambling question about trans and cis girls competing in school sports when she made the comment. She also pointed to Biden's Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation in her answer.

Asked by a reporter: "What message would the White House have for trans girls and cis girls, who may end up competing against each other, in sparking some lawsuits and some concern among parents? So does the administration have guidance for schools on dealing with disputes arising over trans girls competing against and with cis girls?" Psaki simply replied: "I'm not sure what your question is."

The reporter continued: "My question is, [does] the President have a message for local school officials on dealing with these kind of disputes that are already starting to arise between, you know, trans girls who are competing and cis girls, and a level playing field? Because particularly in high school sports, when it leads to college scholarships, is there any kind of messaging or clarification that the White House wants to give on the executive order?"

To this, Psaki replied: "I would just say that the President’s belief is that trans rights are human rights, and that’s why he signed that executive order.

President Biden also reversed Trump's trans military ban

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Angola just decriminalizes same-sex relationships

A new law decriminalizing same-sex sexual relations has gone into effect in Angola, a move concluding a painfully long decriminalisation process in the African country. The original Penal Code dated back to 1886 and was inherited from Portuguese colonisers.

Lawmakers first voted to remove a ‘vices against nature’ law widely interpreted as outlawing same-sex sex in in January 2019. However, the president of Angola João Lourenço did not sign the new Penal Code into law until November 2020. It has taken until this week for the law to come into effect.

The new version of the Penal Code also prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation, with those refusing to employ or provide services for people based on sexual orientation facing up to two years in prison.

According last poll, 61% of Angolans believed that LGBT people should enjoy the same rights as straight people, while 65% agreed they should be protected from workplace discrimination. Meanwhile, 63% of Angolans said that transgender people should have the same rights as cisgender people.

Well done Angola!!!

 69 countries still criminalize same-sex relations

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Iran tortures LGBT youth, UN report says


A new UN report says that Iran's government has inflicted electroshock "torture" on LGBT children, along with psychoactive drugs and hormone therapy, apparently in the belief that these procedures would "cure" them.

Javaid Rehman, who serves as the UN Special Rapporteur for the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressed concern at practices reportedly employed by the theocratic state that "amount to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and violate the State's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child."

The report noted that the torments and procedures allegedly used on children are not the worst of that LGBT people face under the Iranian government. The death penalty can be imposed for consensual sexual activity between members of the same sex in Iran.

Recently, an Iranian cleric has made an unfounded claim on social media that the COVID-19 vaccine makes people gay. Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian told don't go near those who have had the COVID vaccine because they have become homosexuals. Obviously, his claim is not substantiated with any evidence whatsoever.

Read the full UN report here.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Olympian Adam Rippon finally engaged to boyfriend despite the pandemic

Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is engaged to his boyfriend after the pandemic forced the pair apart for almost a year. Adam shared the news in a heartfelt post on Instagram which captured the Olympic figure skater alongside his new fiancé Jussi-Pekka “JP” Kajaala.

In the post, Adam shared how he and Kajaala didn’t get to see each other for almost all of 2020 because of the pandemic. So when there was a chance for Rippon to go and see his boyfriend in Finland, he said, “I jumped at it”.

He also wrote: “While I was there [in Finland], I would tell him about five million jokes that I would want to pitch during my five-hour zoom meetings for our NBC comedy. And he would drive me into the Finnish forest where I would attempt to try and ‘help’ him shovel snow so he could keep working on the cottage he’s building. So, in between all that and binging the entire four seasons of The Crown, we bought ourselves some rings and said that magic word. ‘Duh!’ We got engaged.”


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

New Council of Europe report denounces increasing attacks and discrimination against LGBT people in Poland

A new report of Council of Europe, on a fact-finding mission to Poland in November last year, draws attention to increasing attacks and discrimination against LGBT people in the country, focusing on cities, provinces and regions that are adopting family charters and resolutions against so-called "LGBT ideology."

During the mission, the delegation gathered facts and information from the government, parliamentarians, the Commissioner for Human Rights, local and regional authorities and their associations, as well as NGOs.

As part of the politically-driven attack on LGBT people, nearly 100 Polish municipal or local governments have proclaimed themselves zones “free from LGBT ideology” and opposing gay “propaganda”, covering nearly a third of the country.

Report affirms those cities and regions make up a third of all Poland, so the impact on LGBT people is not negligible. It emphasises that family charters are detrimental to the rights, safety and well-being of LGBT people in Poland and contrary to the crucial role that territorial authorities should have in defending citizens' rights and promoting social cohesion. 

Report also recommends to European authorities to prepare a resolution calling on Polish local and regional authorities to withdraw their family charters and to develop policies that will protect the rights of vulnerable groups. 

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

Read the press release and report here.

Map of LGBT-free zones in Poland

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Change gender for trans people could be easier in Spain

Spain's Equality Ministry introduced a bill which would amend existing legislation on changing gender. The draft bill was part of a political agreement signed between Socialist Party (PSOE) and leftist party Unidas Podemos.

Currently, to change gender in Spain, the individual must undergo medical and psychological exams or several years of hormone treatment. In the newly proposed bill, the process of acquiring a gender change will be made more accessible.

New draft is advocating for the right of gender expression, to make hormone blockers more accessible, to allow individuals aged under 16  to decide their own gender, to offer recognition of trans and non-binary individuals, and to encourage LGBT education.

Individuals aged under 16 and older would be able to change both their name and gender at a registry with a statement. This would remove the need for medical checks or hormone treatments.

Non-binary representation is also being considered in the proposed bill. The new legislation would recognise the rights of non-binary individuals and is suggesting the possibility of removing the gender category on the relevant certificates.

Transsexuality is not a disease

Sunday, February 7, 2021

President Biden calls for protecting LGBT rights globally in memo

President Joe Biden has signed a historic memorandum calling for the worldwide protection of LGBT rights. The memo was announced as Biden delivered his first major foreign policy speech during a visit to the State Department.

It’s the latest in a series of pro-LGBT orders from the Biden administration, including repealing the ban on trans people in the military and implementing the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling against discrimination.

Biden alluded to the toxic Trump administration’s as he spoke of his intention to “repair our moral leadership”, issuing the presidential memo to “reinvigorate our leadership on the LGBT issues and do it internationally”.

“We’ll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals included by combatting criminalisation, and protecting the LGBT refugees and asylum seekers,” he vowed

It reflects Biden's deep commitment to LGBT issues in the United States and everywhere around the world.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

180 German actors come out as LGBT en-masse in a magazine


A group of actors in Germany have come out as LGBT en-masse, revealing that they have been warned to keep their identities a secret so their careers could thrive.

Some 180 actors publicly came out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, non-binary or trans in an article published in Süddeutsche Zeitung magazine.

They published a joint manifesto calling for more LGBT characters on screen, as well as demanding a change in attitudes towards LGBT actors in the industry.

“Until now, we have not been able to talk openly about our private lives without fearing professional consequences,” the actors said in the manifesto.

“All too often, many of us have been cautioned – be it by managers, casting agents, colleagues, producers, editors, directors, etc – to keep quiet about our sexual orientations and gender identities to avoid jeopardising our careers.”

The actors also said they decided to “come together” to put an end to such discriminatory attitudes.

Germany legalized same-sex marriages in 2017 and recently banned gay conversion therapy for minors.

Friday, February 5, 2021

EU condemns Turkey’s detention of students and anti-LGBT 'hate speech'

The European Union (EU) decried the detention of university students in Turkey and the use of anti-LGBT “hate speech” after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at youth-driven protests.

More than 300 students and their supporters were detained in İstanbul and the capital Ankara in increasingly violent and politically-charged altercations with the police this week. 

The protests first erupted after Erdoğan named a party loyalist as head of Boğaziçi University at the start of the year. Students saw this appointment as part of Erdoğan’s broader effort to centralise control over Turks’ daily lives.

Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano issued a statement on the detentions of students and developments around Boğaziçi university.

Stano said the "European Union is seriously concerned over the negative developments in Turkey in the areas of the rule of law, human rights and the judiciary," and added that "the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be used as a means to silence critical voices. Hate speech displayed by high-level officials against LGBT students during these events and the closing of a LGBT association is unacceptable.

Stanno continued: "The detention of more than a hundred students exercising their legitimate right to freedom of assembly as well as the Istanbul governor’s decision to ban all kinds of meetings, demonstrations and marches in two districts covering the hinterland of the Boğaziçi university is a deeply worrying development, and goes against the authorities’ stated commitment to reforms towards EU values and standards."

Stano called "on Turkey to respect its national and international obligations and to release those arbitrarily detained for exercising their right to peaceful assembly over the last weeks. The excessive use of force by the police against people using their right to freedom of opinion is contradictory to Turkey’s obligations as a candidate country and long-standing member of the Council of Europe."

The United States has also condemned the detentions and anti-LGBT rhetoric.

The last attempts to celebrate Pride in Istanbul 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

US Senate confirms openly gay Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation


The U.S. Senate in a historic and overwhelmingly bipartisan vote confirmed Pete Buttigieg's nomination 86-13 as Secretary of Transportation. He is the first openly gay person to lead a department and hold a Cabinet-level position.

He is expected to play an important role in promoting Biden’s sweeping green initiatives, helping to oversee stronger automotive fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the president’s push later this year on a $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan. 

That plan will be focused on rebuilding roads and bridges and expanding zero-emission mass transit while boosting electric vehicle infrastructure, including building 500,000 charging stations over the next decade.

Besides, Cabinet officers which are confirmed by the Senate are in order to become President if anything happens to the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, or President Pro Tem of the Senate, in order of seniority of creation of Cabinet Office. So, Buttigieg is 9th in line to the Presidential succession.

Congrats Mr. Secretary!!!

Buttigieg ceremonially sworn by VP Harris