Wednesday, March 31, 2021

March 31, Trans Day of Visibility

Trans Day of Visibility, celebrated March 31, is a day to honor the trans community and counter transphobia.

Trans Day of Visibility acknowledges the contributions made by people within the transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse communities, because “trans” is referred to anyone who doesn’t identify with their sex assigned at birth.

This day has been marked annually since 2009. Before then, the only day of recognition the trans community had was Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day of mourning held on Nov. 20 to commemorate trans people who have died in the previous year.

Transgender movements have been increasing over the past few generations because of the biases that some people would assume about the transgender community. While there are holidays commemorating transgender people who have suffered, International Transgender Day of Visibility focuses on more of the positive aspects of what being transgender means and takes direct action in changing the biases of people who don’t understand transgender.

This day encourages people to talk about the issues facing transgender people and why it’s important to talk about those issues. It’s a day of recognition, allowing people to learn about the history of transgender people in the world and day all about building acceptance for a minority group that strives for safety, understanding, and well-being.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Japan gives foreign nationals the OK to bring their same-sex spouse into the country


At least 93 foreign nationals residing in Japan were granted permission to bring their same-sex spouses into the country under a special visa between 2013 and 2020, a government survey showed.

With the institutionalization of same-sex marriage accelerating overseas since the 2000s, the government began allowing spouses to receive the special visa based on “humanitarian reasons.”

In order to be eligible, the couple must both be nationals of countries where same-sex marriage is recognized. The same visa cannot be used to grant residence status to a partner of a Japanese national.

Foreign residents from countries where same-sex marriage is recognized have been permitted to bring their spouses to Japan under a “designated activities” status of residence. 

Under the current system, a foreign national who marries a Japanese national of the opposite sex is eligible for a spousal visa, and foreign nationals who move to Japan can bring their opposite-sex husband or wife under a dependent visa.

On March 17, the Sapporo District Court made history when it became the first court to rule that the government’s failure to recognize same-sex marriage is unconstitutional as it violates the right to equality. 

Taiga Ishikawa is first gay lawmaker who pushes

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Former gay employee sues China Southern, alleging discrimination


Former flight attendant Chai Cheng is suing China Southern Airlines for suspending him after his sexual orientation was made public without his consent last year, in a rare legal maneuver that pits him against the country’s largest airline.

In October 2019, footage was leaked online of Chai kissing a male pilot from the same airline China Southern, the country's largest carrier. Both men were off duty, and the kiss, which has since been viewed millions of times, occurred in an elevator in a private apartment building in the southern city of Shenzhen. 

He is now suing the airline for lost wages, in a case that is seen as a test of China's stance on workplace discrimination. Campaigners say Chai's dismissal highlights the perils faced by LGBT workers in China due to lack of legal protection, and now they're calling for workplace equality laws.

Chai said he had kept his sexuality private during his five years working at China Southern for fear that it would damage his career prospects.

After the video of him kissing his coworker went viral, Chai said he was taken aside by a senior manager who told him that homosexuality was against "socialist core values," and in April 2020 his manager told him they would not be renewing his contract.

"They told me 'it was for obvious reasons,'" Chai said. "But I didn't break any laws or corporate rules. I went from being an outstanding employee, recognized by the company with fast promotions, to someone they wanted to have nothing to do with simply because of my sexual orientation. That's wrong ... and anyone could be the next victim."

Homosexuality is not illegal in China and it was officially removed from a list of mental disorders in 2001. But experts and activists say LGBT people still face persistent discrimination and prejudice.

Chai Chen and his lawyer

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Alan Turing is the new face of £50 note

As already announced, the new £50 bearing the face of LGBT icon and Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing has been revealed by the Bank of England.

The Treasury note, which is the last British banknote to make the transition from paper to polymer, will enter circulation on 23 June this year, on what would have been the mathematician's birthday.

The design  uses a famous 1951 portrait of Turing by Elliott & Fry, which is part of the Photographs Collection at the National Portrait Gallery. Other design features include a table and mathematical formulae from Turing, which is widely considered to be the foundation of modern computer science. And also depicts a ticker tape featuring Alan Turing’s birth date in binary code.

Born in London in 1912, Turning went on to study at Cambridge before becoming a key figure in the breaking of German ciphers at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. His work cracking the German Enigma code is widely credited with bringing the war to a more swift end.

In 1952, Turing was convicted of gross indecency because of his homosexuality, pleading guilty and opting for a course of hormone treatments that effectively amounted to chemical castration rather than being imprisoned. He was also immediately barred from working for the British security services.

Turing died just two years later, at the age of 41, as a result of cyanide poisoning which ruled to be suicide. Over 60 years after, Queen Elizabeth II has granted him a posthumous pardon for "a judgment that is now considered unfair and discriminatory".

Alan Turing the gay man who saved the world

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dr. Rachel Levine becomes the highest-ranking transgender person to serve in U.S, government


The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, the first out transgender federal official to be confirmed by the chamber.

The vote was 52-48. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined all Democrats in voting yes.

Levine, a pediatrician, previously served as Pennsylvania's secretary of health and as physician general, the state's top health official and top doctor.

"The confirmation of Rachel Levine represents another important milestone for the American LGBT community," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness and depression than almost every other group, it's important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who by virtue of being in the public spotlight will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear."

After her nomination by President Joe Biden, Levine said she was proud of the work she's done to address the Covid pandemic and opioid epidemic, fight diseases like HIV, prevent diseases through childhood immunization and raise awareness of LGBT issues. She graduated from Harvard College and the Tulane University School of Medicine, and completed her training in pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A same-sex parenthood campaign gets unexpected support in Hungary

Firms from Ikea to a Michelin star restaurant have signed up for a campaign in defense of same-sex parenthood in Hungary, bringing unexpected resistance to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s anti-LGBT crackdown.

The Family is family campaign has enlisted 140 companies so far, up from 40 in February, in response to steps by Orban to effectively ban adoption for same-sex partners and enshrine in the constitution the idea that marriage is possible only between a man and a woman. 

The ranks include international giants such as Levi Strauss & Co. and WarnerMedia’s HBO, as well as small- to mid-sized local businesses. The drive’s popularity is surprising even its organizers in a country where companies have long been wary of taking a stand against Orban. 

Hungary’s premier since 2010, Orban has sought to consolidate his hold over courts and civil society, and is embroiled in clashes with European Union leaders alarmed by his authoritarian turn. For years, Orban and his followers have been promoting what they call conservative Christian values

The moves against the LGBT community are designed to fire up his voters ahead of elections in 2022, with polls showing the four-term premier trailing a united opposition. Yet they sit uncomfortably with the majority of Hungarians, according to one survey in December, with many rejecting them as a step too far.

It’s hard to predict how successful the campaign will be. In the past, businesses remained largely silent when the government imposed special taxes on entire sectors while extending generous subsidies to companies that strike up an alliance with the ruling elite. Civil society groups critical of the government have been labeled foreign agents while an entire university that promoted an open society jarring with Orban’s nationalist vision was expelled.  

Indeed, though the drive is growing nearly every day, one kind of company is still missing, Hungary’s largest. None of the 14 members that make up the main Budapest stock exchange index nor any state-controlled corporations have signed on.

But this is not about politics, this is about human rights and equality!

Watch the video of this campaign:

Monday, March 22, 2021

Protests in Turkey because Erdogan abandons a treaty on combating violence against women alleging it promotes homosexuality


Turkey has abandoned an international accord designed to protect women. It signed the Council of Europe's convention 10 years ago at its launch in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The pact was the first international treaty to set legally binding standards in some 30 countries to prevent gender-based violence.

But Turkish conservatives argue its principles of gender equality and non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation undermine family values and promote homosexuality. In a decree, Erdogan finally announced his country's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is "devastating news" and "compromises the protection of women" in the country, said the Council of Europe.

According to women's rights activists, at least 300 women were murdered in the country last year but the number could be even greater, with dozens more found dead in suspicious circumstances.

In Istanbul, people gathered for a demonstration 
under the slogan "You'll never walk alone".

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Bangladesh gets its first transgender news anchor on Women’s Day


A Bangladeshi satellite television station has hired the country's first transgender news anchor, saying it hopes the appointment will help change society. 

Tashnuva Anan Shishir, who previously worked as a rights activist and actress, debuted on Dhaka-based Boishakhi TV on International Women's Day. She read a three-minute news bulletin, and after finishing cried as her colleagues applauded and cheered.

"I was very nervous, I was feeling so much emotional, but I had in my mind that I must overcome this ordeal, this final test," Shishir said. 

Born Kamal Hossain Shishir, she said she found in her early teens that she was stuck in a man's body and behaved like a woman. She said family members, relatives and neighbors started teasing her and she was bullied and sexually exploited. She started feeling that it was impossible to continue living and attempted suicide, she said. 

After fleeing her home town, she lived alone in the capital Dhaka and in Narayanganj. Determined to study, she went on to gain a masters in public health in Dhaka. She also approached a number of TV stations to ask for work, but said that only private station Boishakhi was "brave enough to take me in". And she finally got it.

Around 1.5 million people are transgender in Bangladesh and face discrimination and violence, with some forced to survive by begging or working in the sex trade. But in 2013, the Bangladeshi government allowed trans people to be recognised as a separate gender and five years later they were allowed to register to vote as a third gender.

Watch Shishir's TV debut:

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Marvel announces a gay teen as the next Captain America

The United States of Captain America, Marvel Comics' planned celebration of Captain America's debut 80 years ago in 1941's Captain America Comics #1, will introduce several new heroes all of whom are influenced by the legacy of Captain America.

It's been announced that a gay teenager named Aaron Fischer will be the latest character to take on the superhero mantle previously held by the likes of Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, in a plot that will see "everyday people" from across the States become Captain America.

Written by Christopher Cantwell and illustrated by Dale Eaglesham, this series finds Rogers hunting down his shield after it's stolen. On his journey, he'll come across a group known as the 'Captains', people who undertake the iconic role.

Known as the 'Captain America of the Railways', Fischer, an openly gay hero, is described as a "fearless" teenager who steps up to protect those around him, including fellow "runaways and the unhoused".

The United States of Captain America #1 goes on sale on June 2, the first week of Pride Month. 

Chris, we don't forget you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Japan court rules same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional

A district court in Japan has in a landmark decision ruled that the country's failure to recognise same-sex marriage is "unconstitutional".

Japan's constitution defines marriage as one between "both sexes". But a Sapporo court ruled that this denied the couples constitutionally-guaranteed equality, in what is seen as a symbolic victory for LGBT activists.

The case was one of several brought to district courts in various parts of Japan by a group of same-sex couples who are seeking damages for mental suffering.

The Sapporo court rejected the compensation claim of one million yen per person for being denied the same rights as heterosexual couples. But it found that not allowing them to marry was unconstitutional.

Japan and Italy are the only countries in the G7 group of developed nations that does not allow same-sex marriage.

Although Japan does not recognise same-sex marriage, a majority of Japanese show their support, and a number of municipalities issue partnership certificates for LGBT couples.

It's time Japan!!!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Catholic Church refuses to bless same-sex unions

The Vatican said that priests cannot bless same-sex unions and that such blessings are not valid, in a ruling that greatly disappointed gay Catholics who had hoped their Church was becoming more welcoming under Pope Francis.

In some countries, such as the United States and Germany, parishes and ministers have begun blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage, and there have been calls for bishops to de facto institutionalize these.

In response to formal questions from a number of dioceses on whether the practice was allowed, the Vatican's doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued the ruling: The Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions. Such blessings, therefore cannot be considered licit.

The ruling does not preclude the blessings given to individual persons with homosexual inclinations who manifest the will to live in fidelity to the revealed plans of God as proposed by Church teaching.

The response, approved by Pope Francis, noted a fundamental and decisive distinction between gay individuals and gay unions, saying that the negative judgment on the blessing of unions of persons of the same sex does not imply a judgment on persons.

Gay people must be treated with dignity and respect, the decree said, upholding the church’s welcoming and blessing of gay people. However, it said that their unions could not be blessed as any such sacramental recognition could be confused with marriage, which is a lifelong union between a man and a woman intended for the sake of creating new life.

A Pew Research survey last year showed that a majority of Catholics in the United States and Western Europe approved of gay marriage while a majority in Eastern Europe and former Soviet-bloc countries opposed it.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Amazon bars books that frame LGBT identity as a mental illness

Amazon announced plans to stop selling all books that frame transgender and other sexual identities as mental illness. The retail giant was responding to Republican senators who asked why it had removed a book by a conservative author from all of its platforms.

Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, said “We reserve the right not to sell certain content.” He noted that Amazon has clarified its content guidelines. 

The company now explicitly bars books that frame LGBT identity as a mental illness. The company hadn’t intended to single out one book. Rather, it will be banning the entire category altogether.

"We carefully consider the content we make available in our stores, and we review our approach regularly... we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBT identity as a mental illness," Huseman said.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that prohibits LGBT discrimination. The landmark Equality Act, however, still needs to pass the Senate. So far, no Senate Republicans, who hold 50 of the 100 seats, have said they will vote for the bill.

Friday, March 12, 2021

EU declared an ‘LGBT freedom zone’ in powerful response to Poland’s bigotry

The European Union has been declared an “LGBT freedom zone” in a powerful response to Poland and Hungary’s growing discriminatory policies against people from the queer community.

The members of the European parliament voted in majority to adopt the symbolic resolution by 492 votes in favour, 141 against it and 46 abstentions in rebuttal to Poland where local authorities declared itself an ‘‘LGBT free zone” two years ago.

Shortly before the parliament was set to declare its resolution to support rights of LGBT people, the Polish government announced that it was planning to bar those living in same-sex relationships from adopting children even as single parents. Same-sex relationships are illegal in Poland and the ruling government already bans same-sex couples from adopting children together.

The EU resolution declared that members of the LGBT community “in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution”.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Joe Biden signs executive order against LGBT discrimination in education

Joe Biden issued an executive order calling for a discrimination-free environment within federally funded educational institutions. 

The President called to protect and ensure educational environments would be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual orientation or gender identity, which includes the LGBT community.

The order directs the Secretary of Education to review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, and policies that are inconsistent with the aforementioned policy within 100 days of the President signing the order.

As part of the review required, the Secretary of Education shall review the rule entitled “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance,” signed in May 19, 2020, and any other agency actions taken pursuant to that rule. 

Besides, as soon as practicable, and as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, the Secretary of Education shall review existing guidance and issue new guidance as needed on the implementation of the executive order described.

Joe Biden will be the most pro-equality US president ever. He signed LGBT Equality Bill on the first day and he reversed Trump's trans military ban.

Read the executive order here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

San Francisco leads cities with greatest share of same-sex households in U.S.

According to a newly released report by the U.S. Census Bureau, diverse group of cities have the highest concentrations of gay and lesbian coupled households in the U.S. 

The report examines characteristics and geographic distribution of the nation’s estimated 980,000 same-sex couple households, both married and unmarried, and not LGBT people who are single. About 1.5 percent of all coupled households nationwide are same-sex. 

The San Francisco metro area boasts the greatest share of same-sex households in the United States which represent 2.8 percent of all coupled households. San Francisco metro area is followed by the Portland metro area at 2.6 percent. Same-sex couples make up 2.4 percent of the population in Seattle and Orlando.

Rounding out the top 10 list are Austin (2.2 percent), the Miami/Fort Lauderdale metro area (2.2 percent), Boston (2.1 percent), and Denver, Phoenix, and Baltimore, which are all at 2 percent,

Among married same-sex couples, 22 percent have children under age 18 in their households, while just 14 percent of unmarried same-sex couples have children. More than half of married same-sex couples have biological children, along with 44 percent of unmarried same-sex couples. Meanwhile, 17 percent of married same-sex couples have adopted children compared to 6 percent of unmarried partners.

Check the Census Bureau report here.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds donates childhood home to LGBT organisation


Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds has donated his childhood home in Las Vegas to be converted into one of Encircle’s new facilities, which will offer vulnerable LGBT youth a crucial lifeline.

The gift comes as part of the ‘$8 Million, 8 Houses’ campaign from non-profit organisation Encircle, who operate various safe houses in Utah in Salt Lake City, Provo and St George, and a fourth in Heber on the way. The campaign being part of an effort to expand to Arizona, Idaho and Nevada.

Reynolds’ home, valued at $1million, will be the first Encircle home in Las Vegas. The organisation currently has three operational homes in Utah, with a fourth being built.

“Encircle is about bringing young LGBT people and their families together, by including the community and strengthening the bonds that connect us,” Reynolds said in a statement.

Watch the video of this campaign below:

Thursday, March 4, 2021

American Psychological Association considers that being trans is not a mental disorder and also states against trans conversion therapy


The American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution rebuking conversion therapy on trans patients, correctly citing that being trans is not a mental disorder.

The APA is the leading scientific and professional organisation representing psychology in the US, with more than 122,000 researchers, clinicians, consultants and educators as its members.

The biggest professional psychologist organization in the U.S. has come out against transgender conversion therapy, saying that "transgender or nonbinary gender identities are normal variations in human expression of gender. Attempts to force people to conform with rigid gender identities can be harmful to their mental health and well-being.”

The resolution cites copious literature about the harms of transgender conversion therapy and the lack of scientific evidence that a transgender person can be changed into a cisgender person. The resolution also lists out the other psychological associations that beat it to the punch and already came out against the practice.

In 2009, the APA issued a statement opposing the practice of gay conversion therapy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Chinese court says homosexuality can be called a ‘mental disorder’

A young woman lost a court appeal last week against a publisher in China that called homosexuality a “mental disorder” in a textbook that is still used in Chinese universities.

A court in China‘s eastern Jiangsu province has ruled in favour of a publisher that described homosexuality as a “psychological disorder” in a university textbook. It also states that homosexuality is “believed to be a disruption of love and sex or perversion of the sex partner”.

Ou Jiayong, who also uses the name Xixi, first encountered the psychology textbook while studying at the South China Agricultural University in 2016. She told she was “deeply stung” when she read the textbook as she identifies as a lesbian. Xixi sued the publisher of the textbook and the online retailer that stocks it in 2017, demanding the texts remove the reference and publicly apologise.

But her legal battle has ultimately been unsuccessful. The Suyu District Intermediate Court in the city of Suqian said the description of homosexuality under “common psychosexual disorders” results from “perceptual differences” and was not a factual error.

Xixi, 24, told that the court’s decision about what constituted a “factual error” was “random and baseless”. She believed the evidence that she provided to the court was enough to prove the description of homosexuality as a mental disorder was wrong, but said the ruling could be a way to reduce controversy.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997 and was declassified as a mental disorder in 2001. However, the country still does not recognise same-sex marriage, and there are no legal protections from discrimination against LGBT people in China.

Bad news from China.

Xixi, at home in Hong Kong, sued a publisher in China with no success

Monday, March 1, 2021

LGBT people in Ghana live in constant fear


Ghana security forces raided and shut down the office of an LGBT rights group in the capital, Accra, the organisation has said, after politicians and religious leaders called for its closure.

The Inspector-General of Police in Ghana said the practice of LGBT in the country is illegal, and therefore, the service will deal with anybody who infringes the law.

Section 104 of the Criminal Code of Ghana criminalises unnatural carnal knowledge and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years and not more than 25 years. It defines unnatural carnal knowledge as sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner or with an animal.

LGBT persons in Ghana are living in constant fear of being attacked in public because of their sexual orientation. And a lot of politicians use this situation to gain favour once again from the electorate by being homophobic, because they know the population is largely homophobic.

It’s really disappointing the way LGBT individuals are treated in Ghana by politicians, religious leaders, police and even ordinary citizens.