Sunday, January 30, 2022

A new report shows the desperate situation of LGBT people in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover

LGBT Afghans and people who do not conform to rigid gender norms in Afghanistan have faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety and lives under the Taliban, Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International said in a report..

The report, titled «‘Even If You Go to the Skies, We’ll Find You’: LGBT People in Afghanistan After the Taliban Takeover», is based on interviews with LGBT Afghans. 

Many reported that Taliban members attacked or threatened them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Others reported abuse from family members, neighbours, and romantic partners who now support the Taliban or believed they had to act against LGBT people close to them to ensure their own safety. 

Some fled their homes from attacks by Taliban members or supporters pursuing them. Others watched lives they had carefully built over the years disappear overnight and found themselves at risk of being targeted at any time because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Taliban consider that homosexuality is against Sharia Islamic law. A Taliban judge told once: “For homosexuals, there can only be two punishments: either stoning, or he must stand behind a wall that will fall down on him.” A manual issued by the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue in 2020 states that religious leaders shall prohibit same-sex relations and the allegations of homosexuality shall be referred to the ministry’s district manager for adjudication and punishment.

Despite making repeated pledges to respect human rights, the Taliban have engaged in widespread rights abuses since retaking control of the country, including revenge killings, systematic discrimination against women and girls, severe restrictions on freedom of expression and the media, and land grabbing. 

The danger now facing LGBT people in Afghanistan, in an environment devoid of legal protections and under authorities that have explicitly pledged not to tolerate LGBT people, is very grave. A tragedy for them and a shame for us!

Read the report here

Friday, January 28, 2022

More LGBTQ athletes than ever will compete in Beijing's Winter Olympics, despite China's efforts to censor queer people

More LGBTQ athletes than ever before are set to compete at the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing despite growing Chinese repression of gay and lesbian people.

Thirty-two openly gay athletes are bravely heading to a country that has recently banned 'sissy men' from television and where 70 per cent of citizens say they would not like 'a homosexual' as a neighbour.

It is a painful juxtaposition. The Games explicitly celebrates equality in sport and yet the country given the honour of hosting the showpiece in 2022 does not adequately protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. And it is actively seeking to censor them and restrict their influence.

At this year's Games, there are not only more openly LGBTQ athletes, but there is a wider spread in terms of sports, gender and country. A number of nations have multiple out athletes, including Canada (eight), the United States (six), Britain (four), France (two), Sweden (two) and the Czech Republic (two). In contrast, no out Chinese athletes are known.

Among the 'out' athletes are four members of Team GB, including Gus Kenworthy, who will compete in the ski half-pipe in his third Winter Olympics, and Lewis Gibson, a figure skater in his first.

Recently, Olympic diver Tom Daley announced his mission to try and ensure that countries which criminalise homosexuality and the LGBT community can’t compete in and host big sporting events in the future.

Figure skater Adam Rippon made history as the first openly gay
U.S. man to qualify for the Winter Olympics

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

France bans conversion therapy: There is nothing to cure!

A new law in France bans "conversion therapy," a practice that attempts to change a LGBTQ person's sexual orientation or gender identity and has been scientifically discredited.

The French National Assembly approved the new law unanimously, voting 142-0 on Tuesday evening.

The legislation includes criminal penalties for people who are convicted of trying to “convert” LGBTQ people to heterosexuality or traditional gender expectations.

Attempting to "convert" a person to heterosexuality or traditional gender identity will result in up to two years in jail and a fine of $34,000.

If the therapy is attempted on a young person or someone who is deemed vulnerable, the punishment can increase to up to three years in jail and a fine of $50,000.

The law also opens the possibility for campaigners to file civil suits on behalf of victims, an advance hailed in parliament as a breakthrough for people who hesitate or are unable to alert police themselves.

Good news from France! There is nothing to cure!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

German Catholic priests come out as queer and demand reform

Over a hundred LGBT Catholics, employed by the Church or engaged in their parish, came out in Germany, denouncing the “discrimination and exclusion” they suffer and asking for “free access” to pastoral professions.

On the “OutInChurch” site, they demand “a change in the discriminatory work code of the Catholic” Church and the removal of “degrading and excluding wording” in the regulations, as well as the end of a “system of dissimulation , double morality and dishonesty” that surrounds the LGBT issue in the Church.

Neither “sexual orientation or gender identity”, nor “commitment to a non-heterosexual relationship or marriage” should be “an obstacle to hiring or a reason for dismissal”, believe the faithful in a manifest.

The LGBT question is the subject of lively debate within the Church. Pope Francis is in line with the Catholic tradition on marriage (considered as the union between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation), while believing that “God loves each of his children” or "Who I am to judge if someone is gay?"

Read the manifest here or watch a video here.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Taliban arrest Afghan women’s rights activists

Taliban gunmen have raided the homes of women’s rights activists in Kabul, beating and arresting female campaigners in a string of actions apparently triggered by recent demonstrations.

Tamana Zaryabi Paryani and Parawana Ibrahimkhel, who participated in a series of protests held in Kabul over the last few months, were seized by armed men claiming to be from the Taliban intelligence department.

Shortly before Paryani and her sisters were detained, footage was posted on social media showing her screaming for help, saying the Taliban were banging on her door.

The women participated at several demonstrations, carrying placards demanding equal rights and shouted: “Justice!” They said they donot want to be forced to wear the hijab.

Associated Press footage showed the apartment’s dented metal front door sitting slightly ajar. A witness said the armed men went up to Paryani’s third-floor apartment and began banging on the front door ordering her to open it.

The spokesman for the Taliban-appointed police in Kabul, Gen Mobin Khan, tweeted that “insulting the religious and national values of the Afghan people is not tolerated any more."

After Taliban's victory, attacks 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.

Afghan women protest for their rights

Saturday, January 22, 2022

BYU under federal investigation over ‘anti-LGBTQ’ policies

The US Department of Education is conducting a civil-rights investigation to determine whether LGBTQ students face discrimination at Brigham Young University (BYU), a Utah-based private educational institution run by the Mormon Church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The probe deals with ‘Title IX’ protections against discrimination on the basis of sex. The complaint under investigation came after the school said it would still enforce a ban on same-sex dating even after that section was removed from the written version of the school’s honor code. 

The rule’s removal had prompted some students to publicly declare their sexual orientation, but BYU then clarified that LGBTQ relationships were still banned, warning that those who held hands with or kissed members of the same sex would be disciplined, a harsher discipline than that faced by heterosexual couples at BYU. Multiple students and former students have sued the school based on allegations of discrimination.

The same Department announced that it is also launching a Title IX investigation into alleged LGBTQ discrimination at a Christian college in Pennsylvania that kicked out a student for being gay. A former student said that he not allowed to finish his degree because he’s gay, even though he was only a few credits from graduating.

President Joe Biden last year signed an executive order stating that discrimination against LGBTQ students is illegal because it’s impossible to discriminate against LGBTQ people without taking sex into account, a legal idea that the Supreme Court adopted in its 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County decision.

Those investigations signal a sea change in how the federal government perceives LGBTQ discrimination in religious institutions that receive federal money.

LGBTQ protest near BYU headquarters in Salt Lake City

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Adam Rippon announces by surprise he has married

Former Olympic figure skater and medalist Adam Rippon announced  on Instagram that he and his fiancé, Jussi-Pekka Kajaala, wed on Decembar 31.

“SURPRISE WE ARE MARRIED,” Rippon, 32, wrote in the caption (click through to see both photos). “One afternoon JP and I looked at each other and said the very classic *romantic* phrase of ‘let’s just go do it now’. So we did. It was just the three of us and it was perfect 12/31/21”

The trio included the couple's 4-month-old pit bull mix, Tony, who's also pictured in their Instagram post.

Kajaala, a Finnish real estate broker, posted similar photos and a video of the pair (well, the trio, since Tony’s in the back seat) riding in a car. He wrote in his caption, “We are married!! the video is from the actual wedding day on December 31st 2021. It was just the three of us and a simple ceremony. Exactly what we wanted. Tony has two happy dads.”

The whole thing was low-key and inexpensive, with the ceremony performed by a marriage officiant in Encino, California. The couple got hitched in the marriage service’s office suite under an archway of fake plants and flowers.

“It was like what you would get from the dollar store if you knew you had a wedding in five minutes,” Rippon recalled, “but it was perfect.”

Contratulations to the newlyweds!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

First transgender doctor in Pakistan

Sara Gill, a transgender person from Pakistan’s Sindh province, has made history by becoming the first transgender doctor in the country, as she did not let social discrimination and right abuses to weaken her determination.

Although transgender persons have been treated as outcasts in Pakistan, some like Sara continue to fight the discrimination and become successful in chasing their dreams.

Sara studied at Jinnah Medical and Dental College, which is an affiliate institution of Karachi University. "I feel proud to become the first transgender doctor of Pakistan," Sara said. 

She also said: “My family warned me that if declare myself as a transgender, they will stop paying for my studies. Now I will have to arrange for my next year’s fee on my own.”

She added that she intends to use her profession for the welfare and prosperity of other transgender persons.

Pakistan's transgender person have time and again proved that they are no less than any other member of society and lack no talent, but only opportunities, resources and equal rights.

Congratulations Sara!!!

Monday, January 17, 2022

Gay and bisexual men have a lower risk of suicide in more tolerant countries

Gay and bisexual men who move from a country with a high stigma against LGBTQ people to a country with good LGBTQ rights experience a significantly lower risk of suicide and depression, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association.

The study used data from an online survey 2017-2018 with more than 123,000 participants living in countries in Europe and Asia. Most of the participants were gay or bisexual men. 

The study, which used data from 48 countries, strengthens previous research showing that a country’s anti-LGBTQ laws and social attitudes create structural stigma, which can negatively affect the mental health of gay and bisexual men.

This study used a new approach to test the negative psychological consequences of structural stigma by examining data from gay and bisexual men who moved between countries with different very structural stigmas.

“Our study found that gay and bisexual men had a lower risk of depression and suicidality when they moved from higher-stigma countries to lower-stigma countries, especially when they had lived in the new country for five years or longer,” said lead study author John Pachankis, PhD, an associate professor of public health and director of the LGBTQ Mental Health Initiative at the Yale School of Public Health. 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Cicada, a romantic drama about being queer and in love

Gay romantic drama Cicada is set to be released in cinemas soon. Based on Matthew Fifer’s and Sheldon D Brown’s personal experiences, the film is a heartfelt and refreshingly hopeful tale that tackles complex subjects with grace, delicacy, and honesty.

It tells the story of New Yorker Ben, played by Matthew Fifer, who's stuck between meaningless hook-ups and awkward sessions with his therapist Sophie, played by Cobie Smulders.

Things change when he meets Sam, played by Sheldon D Brown's, a handsome stranger with whom he forms an immediate connection. As the pair while away balmy summer nights getting to know each other intimately, revealing the secrets and fragilities they must share if they are to truly let the other person in.

The film was launched in 2020 at Outfest and has also been featured at the BFI London Film Festival. Fifer and Brown were recently nominated for Best First Screenplay at the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards. It tackles the pain and poetry of being young, queer, troubled and in love. 

Watch the trailer below:

Friday, January 14, 2022

Biden Administration to officially recognize trans & non-binary veterans’ genders

The Biden Administration is now allowing trans and non-binary veterans to identify as such on their medical records.

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) announced that gender selections on paperwork will now include the options of transgender female, transgender male, non-binary, and other. Patients can also indicate a preferred name to be used on their medical records.

“All veterans, all people, have a basic right to be identified as they define themselves,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “This is essential for their general well-being and overall health. Knowing the gender identity of transgender and gender-diverse veterans helps us better serve them.”

McDonough has had a strong focus on making the VA more LGBTQ inclusive. But, while McDonough’s moves have been applauded by trans veterans and activists, some are growing frustrated with their slow implementation.

For example, he announced that the VA would begin covering gender confirmation surgery, but due to drawn out bureaucratic processes, it could be two years before that actually happens.

The updates to the medical records, however, appear to have already been implemented. Beyond that, the Biden Administration has made several moves to protect the rights and dignity of trans veterans as well as active members of the military.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced the new policy

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Orbán sets referendum on anti-LGBTQ law the same day of Hungary's elections

Hungary is set to hold a so-called “LGBT+ propaganda” referendum on the same day as far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán tries to cling onto power in the parliamentary election.

Orbán, an anti-LGBT+ right-wing nationalist who belongs to Hungary’s Fidesz party, is attempting to remain in power for a fourth straight term in the election on 3 April.

The election is likely to be close-cut, with Orbán tied in polls with Péter Márki-Zay, who is leading an alliance of six opposition parties spanning the political spectrum.

But on the same day that Orbán goes up against the alliance, he has announced, his so-called “LGBT+ propaganda” referendum will go ahead.

Orbán proposed the referendum in July last year in response to condemnation, both nationally and globally, of his party’s amendment to a Hungarian anti-paedophilia law banning any discussion of LGBT+ people in schools and in the media.

The timing of the referendum is clearly strategic, as Orbán is basing his campaign on traditional religious values and an opposition to LGBT+ rights.

In a joint statement, 10 Hungarian LGBT+ and human rights groups called for citizens to give invalid answers to the referendum, circling both “yes” and “no” for every question to “help ensure that the government’s exclusionary referendum does not reach the validity threshold”.

The groups, which include Budapest Pride and Amnesty Hungary, said: “This referendum is particularly vile for two reasons. On the one hand, the wording of the questions suggests that young people are harmed by hearing about sexual and gender minorities, and on the other, it violates the dignity of LGBT+ people."

Enough, Orbán!!!

Protesters against the law gather near the 
parliament in Budapest on June 14, 2021

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Greece lifts ban on gay men donating blood

Greece has lifted a longstanding ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men in a historic move for the LGBTQ community. A ministerial decree has signed by Health Minister Thanos Plevris and his deputy, Mina Gaga.

The decree created a new form for people wishing to donate blood to complete, which removes homosexual acts from the list of things restricting someone from doing so.

Now, people can donate if they have had the same sexual partner for the last three months, meaning gay and bisexual men in sexually active and monogamous relationships can give blood for the first time.

The ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men was first implemented in 1977. Many countries introduced blood donation controls in the wake of the HIV/Aids epidemic. Greece was one of the few countries that upheld the ban, until now.

Last year, several countries lifted this ban too, including U.S., Brazil, GermanyIsrael and England, Scotland and Wales

Monday, January 10, 2022

First trans woman to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress

Michaela Jaé 'MJ' Rodriguez made history in becoming the first trans woman to win a Golden Globe, claiming the honors for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role as housemother and nurse Blanca on the FX show “Pose.”

MJ's win is a milestone in Golden Globes history as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association or HFPA, which awards the Globes, has often been accused of issues of diversity and ethics.

MJ already made history for the first time last summer after becoming the first transgender performer to be nominated for a lead acting Emmy. Rodriguez did not end up winning that award.

While “Pose” has been hailed for the largest transgender cast in a scripted series, the show’s stars have been vocal regarding the lack of award recognition they had received.

She celebrated her win on social media: “Wow! You talking about sickening birthday present! Thank you! This is the door that is going to open the door for many more young talented individuals,” she wrote on Instagram. “They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark, New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS. To my young LGBTQAI babies WE ARE HERE the door is now open now reach the stars!!!!!”


MJ is the nurse Blanca in FX "Pose"

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Taiwan court allows a gay man to adopt his husband adopted child

Although same-sex marriage has been legal in Taiwan since 2019, gay couples still face an array of restrictions that others do not.

This week, a Taiwanese court allowed a married gay man to legally adopt his husband’s non-biological child Joujou in a historic case. The family court approved an appeal allowing a same-sex partner to adopt the child adopted by his husband prior to their marriage.

Wang Chen-wei (王振圍) and Chen Chun-ju (陳俊儒), the child’s adopted parents, were told it is in the best interests of their child by the court in the ruling. Celebrating on Facebook, Wang said: “Finally, the issue of Joujou’s parental rights has come to an end.”

This marks the first time a same-sex couple has been permitted to adopt a child that neither have biological relation to in Taiwan.

Despite LGBTQ activists in Taiwan hailing the historic court decision, it appears that the ruling does not offer a general precedent for other gay couples seeking a similar outcome.

Last year, another Taiwanese court ruled trans woman can change gender without surgery

Friday, January 7, 2022

British schoolgirl calls TV broadcasters to highlight Qatar's LGBTQ stance during 2022 World Cup coverage

British schoolgirl is calling on the BBC, ITV and FA to highlight Qatar’s death penalty for LGBTQ people during their coverage of the 2022 World Cup.

Chloe, a 15-year-old from Thirsk (UK), believes that the BBC and ITV should use their platform and their coverage of the tournament to “regularly” highlight the dangers LGBTQ people face in the country.

A petition has been launched by Chloe encouraging the broadcasters to act after she said she was “appalled” after hearing the 2022 World Cup would be held in Qatar.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, with a punishment of up to three years in prison and a fine and even the possibility of death penalty for gay Muslims under Sharia Law.

She said: “The BBC and ITV, which are planning on televising the Qatar World Cup, and the FA, which is sending a team to the tournament, all have stated promoting equality is at the heart of their core policies."

“We want the FA to follow its policies, such as the Respect and poppy campaigns, and the example of the Danish national team in showing their solidarity with the LGBTQ community by having a clear message on their shirts.”

And she added: “It’s disheartening to know that Qatar do have the laws that they have, I’m very lucky to have been born, purely by chance, into a country where I’m not going to get sentenced to jail and it’s not illegal to be who I am."

Casey Stoney, the head of the England women's football team, affirmed they would boycott the upcoming Qatar World Cup because LGBT people are discriminated there. In the same way, F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton also did stand for LGBTQ rights in Qatar.

Surprisely, the "gay icon" David Beckham signed a deal worth £150 million to become the “face of Qatar” ahead of next year’s World Cup. This decision contrasts with the announcement made by Tom Daley, who decided to try and ensure that countries which criminalise homosexuality and the LGBT community can’t compete in and host big sporting events in the future.

Qatar punishes gay people by death

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Barcelona is the best LGBTQ destination, according GayTravel

GayTravel connects the LGBTQ community with gay-friendly destinations, hotels, cruises, tours, events, entertainment, attractions, clubs, and restaurants worldwide. Their mission is to provide the community with safe, welcoming, and curated recommendations to ensure that every vacation is both pleasurable and memorable. 

According to the 2021 GayTravel Awards, Barcelona (Spain) is the best city outside the United States of America to travel to for the LGBTQ community. This edition, the best U.S. city is San Francisco.

Barcelona is known as the second most important city of Spain after Madrid. Barcelona is also the capital city of Catalunya, a region in Northern Spain that has its own traditions and language. Barcelona does a great job of incorporating the LGBTQ population with the events, sights, and city life.

Barcelona is quite a visually appealing city. From the magnificent architecture to the museums and galleries, you can visit and see, for example, the greatest works of the well-known architect Antoni Gaudi and many paintings of the world famous painters Picasso and Miró. 

Spain is one of the best countries for LGBTQ people, it tops the list of countries most accepting of homosexuality, according to Pew Research Center, and same-sex marriage is legal since 2005.

Congratulations Barcelona!!!

Visit Gay Barcelona

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Israel lifts surrogacy restrictions for LGBTQ people

Israeli male homosexual couples, single Israeli men and transgender individuals will be permitted to arrange surrogate pregnancies in the country, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced. The new policy takes effect on January 11.

Following a ruling by the High Court of Justice, the Health Ministry issued a circular amending Israel’s surrogacy law to provide equal access to surrogate pregnancies “to any person in Israel.”

“Today, we are putting an end to years of injustice and discrimination,” Horowitz told. “A week from today, we will also give equal access to surrogacy in Israel to single men, future fathers, as well as male homosexual couples, actually to any individual". 

The court ruling struck down discriminatory definitions in the existing law that excluded access to surrogacy to some men. The court ruled that the government has an obligation to provide the same surrogacy conditions to men as women. 

The ruling means that anyone who is suffering fertility limitations of the kind and quality that can only be resolved through resort to a surrogacy process can do it in Israel. That will create full equality between women suffering from a medical problem and men.

Early 2021, Israel agreed that being trans is not a mental disorder, and also lifted restrictions on blood donations by gay men since August, saying the longstanding limitation was discriminatory. In fact, Israel is considered the most progressive country in the Mideast regarding LGBTQ rights.

Israel's Health Minister announced the lift

Monday, January 3, 2022

Switzerland permits simple legal gender transition

Legislation significantly facilitating the procedure for changing gender and name came into force in Switzerland. For this, citizens of the country now only need to submit an application to the authorities and pay a fee of 75 francs. No medical examination or other preconditions are required.

Parliament introduced the relevant amendments to the legislation and the Federal Council decided to enter into force on January 1, 2022. The Federal Council clarified that citizens now have the right, through a simple and quick procedure, to modify the indication of gender and name by filing an application with the Office of Civil Status.

Such a statement can be submitted by any citizen who has an internal firm conviction that he does not belong to the gender indicated in the civil status act. If the person wishing to change gender and name is less than 16 years old, then the consent of his legal representative will be required.

The Government clarified that the gender-related changes in the civil status act did not affect family law in any way, including kinship and marriage registration.

In 2022, same-sex couples in Switzerland will have the right to enter into a full-fledged marriage: the relevant legislation will enter into force on July 1. At the referendum held in the country in September 2021, 64.5% of citizens spoke in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Swiss said 'yes' to marriage equality

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Photographing gay youth across Russia

Russian photographer Vlad Zorin has defied Russia’s hateful law banning “gay propaganda”, signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2013, with his new photo book With Love from Russia. As such, he and his photo subjects risk arrest, fines and possible imprisonment.

The book features intimate portraits of gay Russian men alongside stories about their comings out, sexual awakenings, romantic relationships, heartbreaks, and in some cases contentment with life in an anti-gay country.

He found his participants through social media and visited their homes in order to shoot them in their native surroundings. In some cases, the men lived with their relatives, some of whom they hadn’t come out to.

The book contains the men’s portraits. Some of the men are masked to hide their identities. The images seem both inviting, yet isolated, an apt illustration of being gay in a country whose laws punish open queer expression.

Russia’s gay propaganda law, it ostensibly seeks to “protect children” from any “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships” that might “raise interest among minors.” However, it has mostly been used to shut down LGBTQ events and websites, break up LGBTQ families and harass queer-friendly teachers.

You can sign now and repeal the "gay propaganda" law in Russia.

The book is available here