Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A LGBT youth homelessness report shows a stark picture in Britain

More than half of LGBT people who have been made homeless in Britain have been discriminated against or harassed by people who should be caring for them, according to a new report.

The youth charity AKT surveyed 161 people who have recently experienced homelessness between the ages of 16 and 25, and half who answered said they had feared expressing their LGBT identity to family would lead to them being evicted.

It was already known that LGBT people were disproportionately likely to end up homeless, but the report reveals that almost a quarter (24%) of the homeless population are LGBT-identifying.

Almost two thirds (61%) of LGBT people who had become homeless had first felt frightened or threatened by family, while 16% of those who responded to the survey had been forced into sexual acts by family members beforehand.

The report covered  more subjects and here are some of the headlines:

  • Just 13 per cent of LGBT young people surveyed felt supported by parents or stepparents while homeless. 
  • One in six (16 per cent) of LGBT young people who were happy to answer, were forced to do sexual acts against their will by family members before they became homeless. The same number had experienced this with a romantic partner.
  • Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of LGBT young people who were happy to answer felt frightened or threatened by their family members before they became homeless. One in five experienced this from romantic partners. 
  • Half of LGBT young people (50 per cent) who were happy to answer said they feared that expressing their LGBT identity to family members would lead to them being evicted. Almost one in ten (7 per cent) said the same about romantic partners.
  • Two thirds (64 per cent) of LGBT young people said homelessness made it hard for them to establish or maintain new relationships, including friendships.
  • Almost one fifth (17 per cent) of LGBT young people felt like they had to have casual sex to find somewhere to stay while they were homeless.
  • Less than half (44 per cent) of LGBT young people were aware of housing support services the last time they experienced homelessness. Almost one quarter (24 per cent) weren’t aware of any support services available to them.
  • Only 35 per cent of LGBT young people who have accessed a service whilst homeless recall being asked by service providers to provide information about their gender identity and sexual orientation. Just one third (33 per cent) felt safe to disclose this information.
  • Over half (59 per cent) of LGBT young people have faced some form of discrimination or harassment while accessing services. 
  • The findings of the AKT report, gathered over the past five years, paint a stark picture of queer youth homelessness in Britain. The charity says the government and local authorities need to do more to support homeless young people from LGBT backgrounds.

    Check the report here.

    Monday, April 12, 2021

    Moffie, a gay military drama in South Africa during the apartheid

    Moffie is a 2019 South African-British biographical war romantic drama film co-written and directed by Oliver Hermanus. The plot revolves around two gay characters Nicholas van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) and Dylan Stassen (Ryan de Villiers) who attempt to come to terms with their homosexuality.

    The film is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Andre Carl van der Merwe. The film had its world premiere release at the Venice International Film Festival on 2019. It also had its special screenings at other film festivals and received several nominations in various categories.

    “Moffie” is Afrikaans slang for “faggot,” and the film attempts a bold gesture in reclaiming epithet as an emblem of power. It’s 1981, South Africa, which means it’s not okay to be a “moffie”; effeminacy is a sign of weakness, and being gay is also illegal. It’s also a moment of compulsory military conscription that all (white) boys over the age of 16 must endure, and so that means, as the film begins, Nicholas is readying to ship off to defend colonized land. 

    On its face, the war is between the white minority government and Angola, whose Communism the South African Defense Force wants to stop from spreading; but really, the atrocities as seen inflicted in this movie are governed by the power-seeking regime of Apartheid, and not any real threat.

    Nicholas is a melancholic who’s clearly hiding a secret, but just barely. When two of his comrades who engaged in homosexual activity are trotted out before the brigade, a bloodied cautionary tale for all to see, Nicholas retreats further into the closet. But during a rainy night, passion awakens in the trenches as a spiteful commander orders the men to stay down in the ground, which brings him literally closer to Dylan. An erotic attraction is sparked, but a relationship never quite sizzles as both remain, by the powers of the social hegemony, in the closet.

    Watch the trailer below:

    Saturday, April 10, 2021

    Putin signs constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Russia


    Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a series of constitutional amendments that, among other things, formally defines marriage as between a man and a woman in the country.

    The amendments passed by voters and signed into law by Putin specifically ban marriage equality and adoption by transgender folks. Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Russia, so the new wording in the constitution simply makes it even harder for marriage equality to ever become a reality.

    Upwards of 78 percent of Russian voters backed the amendments in a referendum that took place last July. Russian lawmakers later approved the constitutional changes that also allow Putin to run for president two more times, meaning he can serve an additional two six-year terms in office.

    This latest attack on the LGBT community is no surprise in Putin’s Russia, where the queer community faces frequent violence and discrimination, and a notorious “gay propaganda” ban, prohibiting the distribution of anything viewed as vaguely pro-LGBT, has been in place since 2013.

    Putin’s Russia is a very homophobic country

    Thursday, April 8, 2021

    Swiss citizens will have to vote on marriage equality in referendum


    Swiss voters will have to decide the fate of marriage equality in their country. It will become the 29th country to recognize marriage equality if voters approve the referendum as expected.

    Marriage equality and other LGBT protections were approved by the Swiss Parliament late last year, but a coalition of conservative groups has gathered enough signatures to force a referendum. While the move is seen as a setback by some, a recent poll found four out of every five Swiss citizens support same-sex marriage, and the referendum is expected to confirm the bill and make marriage equality the law of the land.

    Legislation recognizing marriage equality had been languishing in parliament for years before it was finally passed in December. Switzerland had previously banned conversion therapy, expanded anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, allowed LGBT people to serve in the military, but had not officially approved marriage equality.

    It's time Switzerland!

    Tuesday, April 6, 2021

    Kate Winslet says Hollywood is still full of actors who fear coming out

    Kate Winslet opened about the stigma surrounding LGBT actors in the cinema industry. The Academy Award winner revealed that she knows some actors that are fearful of coming out.

    “I cannot tell you the number of young actors I know, some well known, some starting out, who are terrified their sexuality will be revealed and that it will stand in the way of their being cast in straight roles, ” Kate said.

    The actress added that top Hollywood agents are still telling their gay and bisexual clients to keep their sexuality in the closet. “I’m telling you. A well-known actor has just got an American agent and the agent said, ‘I understand you are bisexual. I wouldn’t publicise that.’,” she elaborated.

    The actress also pointed out that the stigma applies mostly to male actors. She fumed that the film industry should take a more enlightened view of sexuality, insisting: "Hollywood has to drop that dated crap of, 'Can he play straight because, apparently, he’s gay?' That should be almost illegal... and it can’t just be distilled to the question about gay actors playing gay parts," she exclaimed.

    Winslet portrays historical palaeontologist Mary Anning in her recent movie Ammonite, in which her character embarks on a same-sex romance with geologist Charlotte Murchison, played by Saoirse Ronan. Watch the official trailer below:

    Saturday, April 3, 2021

    20 years of first legal same-sex marriage

    In April 1, 2001, Netherlands became the first country in the world to conduct same-sex marriages.

    In the two decades since, the legalization of same-sex marriage has been neither uniform nor particularly rapid. In all there are now 28 countries in the world which allow same-sex marriages. 

    More than half of those are in Europe, but even here there are notable divides. While most of Western Europe now permits same-sex marriage, most of Eastern Europe doesn't. 

    Some of the countries yet to legalize same-sex marriage, including Czechia, Greece and Italy, have permitted some sort of civil union, if not with full legal parity with marriage. 

    Other governments are opposed. Last year, Poland's President Andrzej Duda was re-elected after campaigning against gay rights, which he called "destructive."

    Last December, Switzerland's parliament approved the legalization of same-sex marriage, but the law has yet to take effect, while opponents are actively endeavoring to collect enough signatures to force a confirmatory referendum.

    The countries where gay marriage is legal in Europe:

    Thursday, April 1, 2021

    Pentagon releases new transgender policy after Biden's executive order

    The Pentagon will sweep away Trump-era policies that largely banned transgender people from serving in the military, issuing new rules that offer them wider access to medical care and assistance with gender transition. The new rules also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

    President Biden’s executive order overturned the Trump policy and immediately prohibited any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin then gave the Pentagon two months to finalize the more detailed regulations that the military services will follow.

    The new department regulations allow transgender people who meet military standards to enlist and serve openly in their self-identified gender, and they will be able to get medically necessary transition-related care authorized by law.

    Until some years ago, service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender, but that changed during the President Obama's Administration. In 2016, the Pentagon announced that transgender people already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly, and that by July 2017, they would be allowed to enlist.

    Afetr his victory, Trump caught military leaders by surprise, tweeting that his government wouldn’t accept or allow transgender people to serve in any capacity in the military. Fortunately, President Biden has reversed Trump's shaming decision.

    President Biden reversed Trump's trans military ban 
    just the day after he took the office