Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sweden gets its first transgender government minister

Sweden’s first female prime minister Magdalena Andersson announced her new government, including Lina Axelsson-Kihlbom as education minister. Prime minister Andersson’s priorities is reforming Sweden’s highly-privatised school system, and Axelsson-Kihlbom is the perfect person for the job. 

Axelsson-Kihlbom, 51, is a former headteacher and lawyer who became known as “Superrektorn” (“Super Principal”) after she appeared on a documentary series in which she managed to turn around a failing school in one of Sweden’s most deprived areas.

The mother-of-two also published a book in 2015 titled Kommer du tycka om mig nu? (Will You Love Me Now?) in which she told the world for the first time that she was trans.

Axelsson-Kihlbom said she knew she was trans from the age of three, but didn’t have the language to describe it, leading her to feel completely alone. She medically transitioned when she was 24 years old, but in an interview she discussed the cruel requirement at the time that she be sterilised in order to gain legal recognition as a woman, a law that was ruled unconstitutional in 2013.

“Trans people have always existed, they will always exist and we no longer feel ashamed. We are the new normal,” she said.

The new cabinet has 12 women and 11 men

Monday, November 29, 2021

A crowd demands marriage equality in Thailand

LGBTQ groups and supporters rally at Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok to demand equal rights in Thailand. The groups are demanding legalisation for and recognition of same-sex marriage 

Thousands were there to hoist rainbow flags and sign a petition calling for legal marriage for all regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation. 

The rally came two weeks after the Constitution Court rejected a challenge to the constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage, a legal maneuver meant to get around parliament, where attempts to write it into law have all but died.

As of publication time, there were more than 130,000 signatures on the petition. Organizers said they will deliver it to lawmakers.

Apart from the petition, the four-hour rally was indeed a gay affair, with live performances including a fashion show, wedding photo booth and space for supporters to write their thoughts on post-it notes.

It's time Thailand!!!

Sign the petition here

Friday, November 26, 2021

The 'new normal' for Afghan women and LGBT people

After Taliban's victory, 'dark days' against Afghan women and LGBT people come back. Afghan women are going to routinely discriminated, and the future of LGBT people is going to be indiscriminate torture and death penalty again.

Habib Khan, an award winning journalist, asked Afghans a simple question. The answers they have given are moving and show the devastation that the Taliban-Haqqani occupation force has placed on the Afghan people.

His question was: What was your profession when Afghanistan was free? And what do you do now? 

Hundreds of Afghans have replied to Habib with their current status. Former journalists, students, government officials, civil society leaders, soldiers, IT experts, teachers, civil engineers, lawyers, social workers, shop owners... the list goes on and on.

All the answers show the same reality:

  • “I was an attorney but now I am jobless.” -Nima 
  • “I was a chairwoman of Afghanistan Election Commision and now I am at home!” -Hawa
  • “I was in my 2nd year of dental residency , now I’m a refugee” -Marjan

Taliban are rolling back freedoms at a rapid pace, especially for women and LGBT people. When Taliban last ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, women were discriminated against in many ways, for the 'crime' of being born a girl. And LGBT people faced tortures and death penalty for the 'crime' of being homosexuals.

For that reason, they are choosing to leave for their own safety or economic hardships.


Thursday, November 25, 2021

LGBTQ rights protection in the new coalition deal in Germany

Olaf Scholz will head a three-party coalition with broad plans for Germany's transition to a green economy, under a deal to end 16 years of government led by Christian Democrat Angela Merkel.

Almost two months after his Social Democrat party won federal elections, he will go into power with the Greens and business-friendly Free Democrats.

LGBTQ rights protection forms part of the coalition deal, with the following takeaways:

  • A new self-ID law for trans people.
  • Reinforced ban on intersex surgeries.
  • Total ban on conversion therapy.
  • No restrictions on blood donations by gay and bi men, and trans people.
  • Funding of gender reassignment surgeries through public-private insurance.
  • Compensation for trans people who have suffered harm due to former gender change requirements.

German parliament legalised same-sex marriage in 2017 despite the oposition of Merkel, and it banned gay conversion therapy for minors in 2020. Recently, two trans women from Green Party also won seats in Germany’s parliament in the last elections. 

With the new government coalition, labelled as "traffic-light" coalition because of the parties' red, yellow and green colours, begins a new era after the conservative Merkel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Switzerland marriage equality will be officially recognised from January

The Swiss government announced same-sex couples as of July 1 will be able to legally marry in the country.

However, same-sex couples who have married abroad will have their status recognised from the start of January. Previously, the couples were seen as a registered partnership in Switzerland.

The announcement comes less than two months after Swiss voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of the “Marriage for All” law

The new law will enter force six months later, which means couples will be allowed to marry or convert their registered partnership from July 1, 2022.

Preparations for the marriage can be submitted before this date, the government added, but no more registered partnerships will be allowed after this date.

Switzerland will join neighboring France, Germany, Austria and other European counties that have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Monday, November 22, 2021

We stand with Hungary!!

Hungary’s LGBT community faces an uncertain future, with legislative attacks and violence reaching a crescendo this year, but activists remain hopeful that the tide is slowly turning.

Since Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party returned to power in 2010, it has “systematically undermined the freedom and equal rights of sexual and gender minorities”. In 2011, the Hungarian parliament adopted a constitution that banned same-sex marriage on a constitutional level.

Last year, Orbán amended the constitution yet again to change the definition of family and effectively implement a ban on adoption by same-sex couples. His government also ended legal recognition for trans people, and has threatened to hold a referendum targeting LGBT rights and trans kids even further.

But it was Hungary’s anti-LGBT propaganda law, which went into effect in July and banned the “promotion” of queer lives to minors, that really changed things for the worse. The propaganda law really showed people how inhumane they can be, and that was a turning point for the general population.

A lot of people in Hungary don’t want to deal with politics, but the bitter tase of the propaganda law resulted in solidarity that was never seen before, leading to unprecedented pro-LGBT protests. Hungary’s upcoming election could also bring change, but it remains to be seen whether or not that would be to the benefit of the queer community.

This tallies with a report published by the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organisation, which reported a “marked increase” in anti-LGBT hate speech and hate crime across Europe and singled out Hungary, as well as Poland, Russia and Turkey. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has launched legal action against Hungary, as well as Poland, for “violations of fundamental rights of LGBTQ people”.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Thailand’s Constitutional Court rules law has to change to allow same-sex marriage

The Foundation for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights and Justice, a Thai advocacy group, filed a lawsuit that challenged Section 1448 of the country’s Civil and Commercial Code, which does not extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Constitutional Court has ruled that Section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code, which only allows for a man and a woman to register their marriage, is not against people's constitutional rights, marking a blow for proponents of same-sex marriages.

The judges made clear they believed a legislative remedy was required with a positive statement suggesting lawmakers enact laws that “ensure” equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The ruling comes despite Thailand’s reputation as a ‘gay paradise’ and despite widespread recognition of the rights of the gay community by Thai society at large. Besides, Thailand actively promote the country as an LGBTQ friendly nation. The Tourism Authority of Thailand even launched a website for their Go Thai Be Free campaign to reach out to LGBTQ travelers.

Before the constitutional court’s verdict, Thailand also approved a draft bill that would legalise same-sex civil partnerships. The Civil Partnership Bill avoids the term “marriage” but would allow same-sex couples the right to jointly own property, adopt children and pass on inheritances. It would be a first in any Southeast Asian country if passed into law.

It's time to come out, Thailand!!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Lewis Hamilton stands for LGBTQ rights in Qatar

Lewis Hamilton believes sportspeople are duty bound to speak out on human rights matters in the countries they visit. With Qatar hosting its first Formula One Grand Prix this weekend and facing new allegations of worker exploitation and abuse in its preparations for next year’s football World Cup, Hamilton insisted he would hold the sport to account for the places it chooses to race.

Hamilton has been praised for “an incredible act of allyship” after wearing a rainbow-coloured helmet in practice at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix. His helmet bore the colours of the Progress Pride flag – a banner which includes the traditional rainbow design with additional colours that recognise the diversity of the LGBTQ community.

The seven-time Formula One world champion said: “If we are coming to these places, we need to be raising the profile of the situation. One person can only make a certain amount of small difference but collectively we can have a bigger impact. Do I wish that more sportsmen and women spoke out on these issues? Yes. It’s down to whether you decide to educate yourself and hold the sport more accountable and make sure the sport is actually doing something when they go to those places.”

Formula One world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel strongly criticised the Hungarian government and voiced his support for the LGBTQ community in the country before the last Grand Prix in Budapest.

Vettel and Hamilton already showed their support to LGBTQ rights in Hungary

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Trans athletes won't be required to undergo hormone therapy to compete at the Olympics after IOC frameworks' change

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has published a new framework on transgender and intersex inclusion that could lead to drastic change in participation and athlete eligibility.

The new Olympic guidelines, which replace the framework implemented in 2015, suggested transgender athletes will no longer be required to undergo hormone treatments to compete in their respective fields.

However, the announcement has been met with criticism after the IOC confirmed individual sports will still have the final say on how to enforce their rules. The 10-point document added these cases must demonstrate a "consistent, unfair and disproportionate competitive advantage and/or an unpreventable risk to the safety of the athletes.”

This means trans women could still be prevented from competing in the female category in their respective sports provided organisers can make a valid case as to why.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Trans soccer star Kumi Yokoyama proposes to his girlfriend

Japanese trans soccer player Kumi Yokoyama proposed to his girlfriend at Washington Spirit’s home stadium, Audi Field.

Kumi came out publicly as a transgender man earlier this year, making him the highest-profile athlete in Japan to do so. He played for Japan’s national team at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and then moved to the USA, where he plays for Washington Spirit in the Women’s National Soccer League (NWSL).

Kumi said he is transgender, a revelation praised in the U.S. where they play in the National Women's Soccer League but an identity not legally recognized in Japan. The 27-year-old forward for the Washington Spirit said he felt more comfortable with their own gender identity while living in the United States, where teammates and friends are more open to gender and sexual diversity. 

He also said: "In the future, I want to quit soccer and live as a man." Kumi's revelation was praised by President Joe Biden.

Now, he got down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend. Images of the loving couple appeared on the stadium’s giant screens, and they celebrated with a glass of something bubbly on the field.

 “She said 'YES'!” Yokoyama wrote on social media. “Thank you for everyone!!”

Congratulations Kumi!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

China opens first clinic to support trans youth in Shanghai


The Children's Hospital of Fudan University in the eastern city of Shanghai recently inaugurated a new multidisciplinary clinic to provide support for transgender children, including safely managing their transition needs, the Global Times, a newspaper operated by the Communist Party of China-owned People’s Daily, reported.

Breaking with its usual practices on LGBTQ rights and issues, China launched its first medical clinic to treat transgender children and adolescents. The research by Chinese scholars linking transgender youths to higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide attempts led doctors to believe that specialized care for trans minors was necessary.

Experts expect that the clinic, integrated with psychology, endocrine and genetic metabolic, urology departments among other departments, will serve as a bridge between transgender children, parents, doctors and the various circles of society. 

It’s not clear why the clinic opened now, nor why it’s getting positive coverage by official media at a time when the Communist Party has been cracking down on LGBTQ activists and emphasizing more traditional gender roles and values. 

Homosexuality has not been illegal in China since 1997, but restrictions for LGBTQ people still remain.

Being gay cannot be forbidden

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The new Pete Buttigieg documentary reveals a gifted and complete politician


Mayor Pete, directed by Jesse Moss (Boys State, The Overnighters), will take viewers inside Pete Buttigieg’s headline-generating campaign to be the youngest U.S. President, providing an unprecedented intimacy with the candidate, his husband Chasten, and their team. 

The Amazon Studios documentary will show the former mayor of South Bend, Ind. during the earliest days of the campaign, through his unlikely, triumphant victory in Iowa and beyond — revealing what goes on inside a campaign for the highest office in the land, and how it changes the lives of those involved in it.

Two and a half years after his run for president, Buttigieg has managed to hold America’s attention and fascination. Roads and bridges have apparently never been so interesting. The beat-like coverage of his arrival in Washington this year, of his new kids, his aides, his role in the Biden administration, his presumed future presidential run(s), is not typically commensurate with the job title of transportation secretary. 

Watch the trailer below:

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Study finds nearly a third of U.S. millennials now identify as LGBTQ

A new study of millennials in the United States has revealed a third of those surveyed identify as LGBTQ. The number of people who recognise themselves to be non-heterosexual or non-cisgendered has been slowly climbing over the years thanks to visibility, law changes and acceptance.

The study surveyed 600 people aged between 18 to 37 in the hope it would give them an insight into how these two aspects of identity are tracking in the modern age. It found 30 per cent of millennials now categorise themselves as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.

A decent chunk of these millennials (39 per cent) are aged between 18 to 24. The study concluded that millenials are redefining sexuality, their own and how to perceive and respond to the gender identity and sexual-orientation choices of others.

George Barna, the university's Cultural Research Center's director of research and the person who oversaw the study, invited the public to look upon the group to help them navigate 'through the challenges in which we have immersed them.' 'Rather than blasting them for a range of perceived inadequacies, perhaps we can support them with perspective, solutions, resources, and encouragement,' Barna said.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Spain grants free fertility treatment to single women, lesbians, trans and non-binary people

Spain’s health minister, Carolina Darias, has signed an order granting single women, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people access to medically assisted reproduction in the public health system. That step allows them to get treatment free of charge.

Darias signed the order at a ceremony, attended by LGBT activists, and later wrote on Twitter: “Starting today, single women, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people will have access to reproductive technologies on the public health service."

The measure had long been demanded by LGBT rights groups and is part of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE)’s drive for equality.

Queer and single people were previously able to access publicly funded fertility treatments, but in 2013 the right wing Popular Party (PP) rolled back this right. The conservative party changed the law to only allow straight, married couples to access fertility treatment in public hospitals free of charge. 

Now, the current socialist health minister signed a new order restoring these fundamental reproductive rights. Let no one doubt that expanding reproductive rights is expanding human rights.

Health Minister signing the order

Friday, November 5, 2021

Celebrities & entertainment industry leaders reject attempts to boycott Tel Aviv International LGBTQ+ Film Festival


More than 200 leaders from the entertainment industry have signed an open letter released by the non-profit entertainment industry organization Creative Community For Peace in support of the Tel Aviv International LGBTQ+ Film Festival (TLVFest) and the participating filmmakers:

We, the undersigned, believe that artistic freedom and creative expression are critical to a healthy, diverse, and inclusive society.

Films have the power to bring people together, transcend boundaries, broaden awareness, and affect positive societal change. 

In Israel, movies have the unique power to bring together Jews, Arabs, and people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds in collaboration under a shared love of the arts, working together towards the common goal of telling their stories, and building bridges of compassion and understanding.

The annual Tel Aviv International LGBTQ Film Festival (TLVFest) embodies this spirit of unity and truth, featuring films from filmmakers of all backgrounds, including Palestinians.

For this reason, we reject any attempt to boycott TLVFest – Israel’s largest LGBTQ Film Festival — which works to showcase the stories of LGBTQ people globally and create a brighter future for LGBTQ people both inside Israel and around the world.  

We stand united with all the participating filmmakers against the divisive rhetoric espoused by boycott activists who seek to misinform, bully and intimidate artists into removing their films from the festival or shame them for participating in the festival.

We believe that anyone who works to subvert TLVFest merely adds yet another roadblock to freedom, justice, equality, and peace that we all desperately desire, especially for the LGBTQ community that is persecuted throughout the Middle East and around the world. 

Artists should never be silenced, and art should not be subverted for political goals.

We call on our friends and colleagues worldwide to join us in expressing their support for a successful and exciting TLVFest 2021.

Check the TLVFest film guide 2021 here.

Every year, Tel Aviv hosts the biggest Pride Parade of Asia

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Eternals banned in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar due to a gay kiss' scene

Marvel’s latest film, Eternals, has been pulled from Gulf region markets after sources claim the studio refused to remove a same-sex kiss

The film will not be screened in theaters in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, likely due to its inclusion of a gay superhero and his husband in the film (played by Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman), the first openly gay characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film was set to release in the Gulf region on November 11, but has been quietly removed from websites in the above countries. Local censors had requested a series of edits about gay characteres that Disney and Marvel were not willing to make. Other non-Disney films featuring homosexuality like Brokeback Mountain, Carol and Freeheld were banned entirely in the Middle East.

Homosexuality is considered illegal in those three Gulf countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. In Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the legally prescribed punishment for same-sex sexual acts is the death penalty.

In Singapore, Eternals has become the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to gain an M18 certificate, which restricts audiences to those aged 18 and older. An official confirmed that it was a result of “homosexual references”. The film also contains a sex scene between two heterosexual characters.

Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman play 
the first gay couple in Marvel's cinematic universe

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

U.S. Supreme Court spurns Catholic hospital appeal over transgender patient

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a Catholic hospital that was sued for denying a hysterectomy to a trans man.

The patient, Evan Minton, scheduled a hysterectomy at the Mercy San Juan Medical Center in California in 2016 as part of his gender transition. But when he told a nurse he was trans, the hospital suddenly cancelled the surgery.

Minton was able to get the treatment he needed at another facility but went on to sue in state court, accusing the hospital of violating a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The hospital said it does not discriminate against transgender patients but does refuse to perform certain procedures, including abortion or sterilization, that would violate the Roman Catholic faith. Without the Supreme Court's intervention, lawyers for the hospital said, the state law "provides no protection whatsoever to religious health care providers that are compelled to allow procedures that violate their faith."

This ruling rejected the hospital’s argument that forcing it to perform procedures contrary to its religious beliefs would violate First Amendment rights, and held that Minton could pursue a claim for discrimination.

The lawsuit now goes back to the California courts, where Minton looks forward to continuing his fight for justice.