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20 November 2014 edition

Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people continue to be debated by countries at the United Nations. Despite recommendations from some Member States, Iranian leaders have declared that under 'no circumstances' will homosexual citizens' rights be recognized. Meanwhile the United Nations Committee Against Torture reviews the practice of gay conversion therapy in the US. 

UNAIDS releases the largest survey of Caribbean gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men. Meanwhile, pop star Conchita Wurst joined Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in support of LGBT equality. Check out her comments and performance. 

HIV, Health, and Well-being: In the midst of a cross-country HIV awareness campaign, Australia has launched several initiatives including the "Lifeguard" program to train gay men to provide mental health support, a rapid HIV testing 'roadshow' that travels the country, and an art-installation of a 60 ft (18.3 m) tall pink condom

In the US, AHF is testing free rapid HIV testing from vending machines in bathhouses. And a project on Twitter usage during the UNAIDS/Brazil "Protect the Goal" campaign to promote HIV awareness is evaluating Twitter's viability as a public health tool.

A report from Taiwan finds over 50% of gay people suffer intimate partner abuse and many don't seek help. And a study from Israel finds that gay youth have significantly higher suicide rates than their peers. 

Politicking: Reports are coming in of a new draft of the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill. However, Ugandan activists are seeking support from the East African Court to make it clear such anti-gay laws are unacceptable throughout East Africa. And a draft of a new criminal code in Nepal will target people living with HIV and hepatitis B, despite recommendations against the legislation. 

Let the Courts Decide: A landmark decision in the Malaysian courts gives transgender Muslims the right to cross-dress. And in another landmark decision the High Court of Botswana has ruled against the Department of Labour and Home Affairs, giving lesbians, gays, and bisexuals the right to register their own organization. The ruling will have implications across the region.

Marching for Equality, Migrating to Safety: The conservative Indian city Pune hosted a Pride parade nearly double the size of the previous years and the Pride parade in conservative Montenegro goes off without a hitch. Meanwhile Rio de Janeiro hosted its 19th Pride Parade with thousands of participants flooding the streets. 

Chalwe Charles Mwansa speaks out on the struggle among LGBT activists in Zambia, while the only LGBT organization in Mozambique continues with its 7-year battle for the right to register as an official association.  On the other side of the world, the Queen of the Cook Islands has spoken out in support of gay rights despite on-going criminalization of same-sex relations.

Central American LGBT youth are fleeing to the US to escape violence and seek out the love and acceptance they can't find at home. Meanwhile, asylum seeker Ender Manuel Martínez describes the abuse he and other LGBT people from Central American suffer from in Mexican detention camps

Ignorance, Fear, and Loathing: Reports from Gambia say police have been going door-to-door arresting people suspected as gay.  A new report from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission warns that LGBT Iraqis face "imminent risk of death" under Islamic State rule.  In the UK, an LGBT choir staged a 'sing-in,' flooding public transit and leading singalongs in support of two gay men who were beaten for singing on a train. And local activists question the anti-gay rhetoric regularly coming from daily newspaper The Jamaica Observer.

The Advocate announces Vladimir Putin as "Person of the Year" for being "the single greatest threat to LGBTs in the world."   Meanwhile, LGBT people in Arctic Russia are speaking out about the violence they face everyday. And in a direct response to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Steve Jobs memorial in Russia has been torn down to "protect family values."

Although the Liberian Council of Churches has claimed ebola is punishment for the gay lifestyle, this isn't the first time LGBT people have been blamed for natural disasters or terrorist attacks.  Check out this roundup of the state of LGBT rights across African countries.

Winds of Change: Though discrimination and stigma still exist everywhere, a new study of global attitudes towards LGBT people has found that acceptance of homosexuality has risen worldwideEvangelical minister David P. Gushee articulates why the church must support all LGBTI people.  And Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics has come out as gay via Twitter, earning kudos from supporters and ridicule from Russian leaders.

Students in Japan celebrate "Sexchange Day" and being different by wearing opposite gender school uniforms. And young people in Kenya start their own organization to support LGBT peers and prevent HIV. Unfortunately, as the LGBT community grows in Haiti, so does anti-gay violence. 

Activists in Macau region of China are demanding that a new domestic violence bill include protection for same-sex cohabitants. Meanwhile, a report from nearby Hong Kong finds that 60% of residents support laws that protect gay people. 

Antonio Simoes, the Chief Executive UK for HSBC banking who came out last year, has criticized other gay business leaders for staying hidden.  The Economist takes a look at the changing scene for LGBT people in the US workforce. Equality is not only a rights issue, but an economic one as well: a new study from the World Bank shows that pro-LGBT laws can spur economic growth in developing countries.  

Remembrance: During this season of reflection Dr. James Waller discusses the history of Nazi anti-homosexuality with an analysis of "Paragraph 175." And culture journal Slate highlights the contributions of two World War I gay soldier poets.

Culture, Entertainment, and Sport: The Canadian Museum of History is adding gay stories to its exhibits. The Country Music Awards gives the Song of the Year title to Kacey Musgraves's gay positive anthem. And Thailand launches the first transgender modeling agency in the world.

The International Olympic Committee has announced it will include sexual orientation and gender identity in the new charter to prevent discrimination. Professional Strongman Champion Rob Kearney redefines expectations of masculinity as he comes out as gay. He is in good company as New Zealand Olympic rower Robbie Manson also comes out.

When a story broke that Irish stud bull 'Benjy' prefers male to female company, supporters across the UK rushed to keep him from the slaughterhouse.  Harvard University is offering a course on safe anal sex and check out this Kenyan hip-hop group using music to spread LGBT activism. 

From age 12 to 16, I shamed myself for having different feelings from my heterosexual classmates. I didn’t treat myself as I should have. I didn’t say, It’s OK to be different. There weren’t any people in my South African community who validated my feelings. There weren’t any mentors who could help me figure out how to be in the world as a queer female.

~ Lareto Mokube, South African poet and artist, currently seeking asylum in the US 
UN Secretary-General praises Conchita Wurst's gay rights fight
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the Austrian winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, Conchita Wurst as she sang for hundreds of UN staff, diplomats, and members of civil society.

Speaking at the event the Secretary-General said he knew Wurst was the star of the world when she won the Eurovision Song Contest and turned her victory into an electrifying moment of human rights education. The Secretary-General said: "Conchita is promoting respect for diversity …. She confounds people's preconceived ideas of gender and sexuality - and she appeals to them to accept her as she is. That is a powerful message." Read More
UN Committee Raises Concern About LGBT Conversion Therapy in U.S.
For the first time in its history, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) expressed concern over the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy being used on LGBT youth in the United States.

This historic development comes after leaders from the National Center for Lesbian Rights’  #BornPerfect campaign, Samantha Ames and Samuel Brinton, testified before the Committee.

Along with other signatories to the Convention Against Torture, the U.S. is reviewed by CAT about its compliance with the convention, which prevents both torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. In addition to conversion therapy, issues such as police violence, detention of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, and the sexual abuse of children by priests were raised as matters for the U.S. to address. Read More

Op-ed: The UN's Collective Gasp When Addressing Conversion Therapy
Attorney Samantha Ames describes the joy and tears that came presenting to the United Nations on conversion therapy. Read More 
Abuse, self-stigma revealed by ground-breaking Caribbean study
Conducted by the UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team in collaboration with Sigma Research of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, The Caribbean Men’s Internet Survey (CARIMIS) is the region’s largest study of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men as well as the first such survey to be conducted online. While many respondents experienced homophobic abuse and negative self-perception, others were open about their sexuality and proactive about their sexual health. Read More
Iran Representative to the UN: Under no circumstances do we recognize the rights of homosexual citizens
During the UN session of the 2014 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Iran, member states presented a total of 291 recommendations to the Islamic Republic of Iran, including 11 that addressed sexual minorities.

As an example, Iceland recommended repealing laws that criminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations; amend laws and policies that treat homosexuality as a mental disorder and outlaw forced sterilisation and reparative therapies against LGBT individuals. 

In response, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary in Iran, stated that under no circumstances will the Islamic Republic of Iran “accept imposing a lifestyle under the banner or umbrella of human rights”, indicating that the lifestyle of LGBT individuals in no circumstances or arguments can be legitimized and justified. Read More
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Arctic Russia's LGBT community speaks: 'the danger is everywhere'
Members of the LGBT community in Murmansk speak out about living in a country where the government has declared them an enemy of the state. One organization is reaching out to help youth and adults overcome the stigma and prejudice of homosexuality and live openly. But some are finding escape from Russia is the only way to gain freedom.

My translator, Maria, trails off. “We have…a fancy word for ‘gay guy’ in Russian,” she explains, hesitating, trying to find the English equivalent for me.

“Faggot,” says a woman in a black checked shirt wearing a yin and yang necklace.  But that’s actually the polite translation. “Pederast” is one of the most offensive words in Russian to use when talking about the LGBT community. If you trace back its roots, the exact English translation is child rapist. Read More
LGBT Iraqis face ‘imminent risk of death’ under Islamic State  
A new report just released from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and MADRE, a global women’s advocacy organization, notes the Sunni militant group has imposed a strict interpretation of Shariah law. The report documents widespread violence and death sentences carried out by ISIS for crimes of homosexual acts and warns that anyone believed to be LGBT is at "imminent risk of death."

“What makes today’s situation lethally dangerous to LGBT Iraqis is less likely to be a profound shift in Iraqi society’s values towards gender norms, but the breakdown of law and order and a rise of the law of strongmen — within the family, tribe, militia and complicit state security forces,” reads the report. “Those who translate societal hostility towards LGBT compatriots into violence, today do so with near total impunity.” Read More
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Thousands of Brazilians March in Gay Rights Parade
Thousands of Brazilians took part Sunday in Rio de Janeiro's 19th Gay pride parade, speaking out against homophobia in a country that has seen years of violence targeting the gay community.

Brazil recorded 312 murders of people in the gay community in 2013. The country averages about 300 murders motivated by sexual orientation a year. Read More
As Jamaica Reviews Its Homosexuality Ban, a Top Newspaper Is Waging an Anti-Gay Campaign
Something is going on at The Jamaica Observer, the daily newspaper in the Caribbean island nation. LGBT rights have featured heavily in its pages over the past six months and, although the paper claims to support balanced journalism, critics note that some of the content has been overtly anti-gay — even going so far as to claim that gay men are killing each other and deliberately portraying the murders as homophobic.

The island nation is currently experiencing heightened social tension over the LGBT rights debate as Jamaicans — encouraged by religious and conservative groups — voice their objections towards a government-led select committee review of the Sexual Offences Act, which could potentially lead to a parliamentary vote on decriminalising same-sex relationships. Read More
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New Anti-LGBT Legislation Drafted In Uganda
A committee comprising leading members of Uganda’s ruling party have prepared a new draft of legislation targeting LGBT people, according to Nicholas Opiyo, a human rights lawyer who obtained a leaked copy of the proposal.

The legislation would replace the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was struck down on technical grounds in August following a global outcry. Opiyo, who is one of the lawyers for the legal team that successfully challenged the Anti-Homosexuality Act, said his sources “in cabinet and on the committee [working on the bill] have confirmed that this is the real draft bill." 

The new bill is called the Prohibition of Promotion of Unnatural Sexual Practices Bill of 2014. Opiyo said, “It appears even worse, even more draconian than the law” it is intended to replace by going into much greater detail about what activities are criminalized. Read More 
Challenge to Ugandan anti-gay law seeks regional impact
Activists in Uganda are continuing their legal battle against the country’s now-defunct Anti-Homosexuality Law, hoping that the Tanzania-based East African Court of Justice will issue a ruling that will make clear such anti-gay laws are unacceptable throughout East Africa.

The challenge is being pursued by the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), which provides legal assistance to LGBTI defendants in Uganda, under the umbrella of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CSCHRCL),  a coalition of 50 organizations opposed to the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Read More
The State of LGBT Equality in Africa
Homophobia thrives in most countries in Africa, making the continent an oppressive place to live for countless LGBT people. Check out this comprehensive roundup of the situation across the continent. Read More
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Activist Chalwe Charles Mwansa on LGBT activism in Zambia
While lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in some sections of the world have progressed in recent years, equality remains elusive in other parts of the world, such as Zambia. The paramount issue on the table, with regard to LGBT rights, is how we create an African-centered dialogue that tackles the social and political issues that currently drives homophobia across the continent. Read More
19 calamities where gays get the blame, besides Ebola
With the  the Liberian Council of Churches blaming gays for the Ebola epidemic — with no rational reason, as usual — it’s a good time for a recap of other calamities that LGBTI people have been blamed for.

More than a dozen natural disasters are on the list, each one interpreted as God’s violent response to the existence of LGBTI people or the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage. Also on the list are various murders and massacres, somehow attributed to gays who weren’t on the scene, along with some surprising accusations, such as gays’ alleged responsibility for the existence of autism and the size of Spain’s national debt. Read More
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The New Bathhouse Vending Machines That Offer Free At-Home HIV Tests
In an effort to combat increases in HIV infections, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has teamed up with FLEX Spas, a national chain of bathhouses, to install vending machines in their Los Angeles location that will dispense Ora-Quick In-Home HIV Tests.

“The new HIV self-test kit vending machines available at sex clubs in Los Angeles are a true breakthrough in access to HIV testing,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, of UCLA, stating that the vending machines represent the successful partnership among researchers, community organizations and businesses. Read More
Giant pink condom erected in Sydney for HIV awareness
The 157 year old 60 ft tall obelisk in Sydney's Hyde Park has been sheathed in the pink condom-shaped cover as is part of the Aids Council of New South Wales (Acon) "I'm ON" campaign to encourage safe sex among gay men.

Some have criticised the decision to erect the giant condom in a park where children are playing, but the stunt has yet to experience the kind of backlash recorded over the giant inflatable "sex toy" sculpture in Paris, which was meant to depict a Christmas tree. Read More
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Young LGBT People in Kenya Fight the Odds & Make Life Better for Peers
A lot of work remains to be done before LGBTs in Kisumu and in the rest of Kenya are fully accepted. Yet, with relatively few means, a young organisation like Men Against AIDS Youth Group (MAAYGO) has created a safe environment where LGBTs can talk openly about their sexuality and safe sex and where they can just simply be themselves for a moment without having to worry about what others might think of them.

 'At some point, my friends were dying one after another', says Kennedy, one of the founding members. 'No one dared to admit they were suffering from HIV/AIDS. They all pretended it was malaria or tuberculosis. As a result of this shame and denial, the disease spread only further.' Read More
New Mental Health Campaign Trains Gay Men To Become “Lifeguards” 
The National LGBTI Health Alliance has recently launched a campaign aimed at fostering a community conversation and giving gay men the confidence, knowledge and skills to become “lifeguards” in their social networks to support themselves, partners and friends. Research shows that gay men often see their friends struggling with anxiety and depression but lack the confidence or skills to reach out to them to help. 

Executive director Rebecca Reynolds said: “This project will provide a whole new level of support to gay male identified individuals and communities by encouraging them to be confident to know how and when to help their mates experiencing anxiety and depression and how and when to encourage their mates to seek help and support.” Read More
Israel gay teens are eight times more likely to attempt suicide
Israel's gay teens are attempting suicide at an alarming rate, but the group Israel Gay Youth has said they are being ignored.  They say LGBTI teens attempt suicide at a rate of 20%, compared with 2.5% for teens overall. Read More
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Macau activists demand domestic violence bill includes gays
LGBTI activists delivered a letter to Macanese government headquarters yesterday demanding domestic violence laws include gay couples. One of the arguments for dropping gay couples from domestic violence laws was that their inclusion would be inconsistent with the penal code. Read More
60% of Hong Kong backs anti-gay hate laws
Six in ten Hong Kong people support legal protections for LGBTI people, according to a new report. The paper, published by the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), comes two weeks after a three-month public consultation on the city's anti-discrimination laws.  Read More
Haiti's fight: As LGBT community becomes visible, anti-gay violence rises
The courtyard, tucked off a quiet road here and ringed by mango trees heavy with immature green fruit, was bedecked with a rainbow of balloons. One proclaimed “Happy Valentines Day!” though it was May. Another advertised specials at the fast-food chain Red Robin, while a third was imprinted with the Whole Foods logo. There is no Red Robin or Whole Foods in Haiti, but the energy in the courtyard of SEROvie, Haiti’s best-known LGBT health organization, had the flavor of an American gay-pride parade. Read More
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Nepal: Draft criminal code prohibiting infectious disease transmission singles out people with HIV and hepatitis B 
Lawmakers in Nepal are considering a draft law that singles out people with HIV and hepatitis B, contrary to recommendations from UNAIDS and the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.

According to the draft text, tweeted by IRIN Humanitarian News, Article 103 ‘Prohibition of transmission HIV’ of Chapter 5, Offenses against Public Interest, Health, Safety, Facilities and Morals, criminalises people who are “aware of knowledge of one’s own positive HIV or Hepatitis B status”, who “purposefully or knowingly commit acts that would transmit Hepatitis B or HIV, give blood or coerce to give blood or come into sexual contact without precautionary measures in place, or cause entry of blood, semen, saliva, or other bodily fluids into the body of another.” Read More
Rapid HIV Testing Roadshow An Australian First
HIV Foundation Queensland is taking its new Rapid Roadshow vehicles to the road in the coming weeks in an Australian-first concept aimed at raising awareness around 20-minute rapid HIV testing.

The eye-catching Rapid Roadshow vehicles are themed with colourful and vibrant pink flamingos and we encourage anyone seeking more information about HIV or rapid testing to come and join us on the astroturf lawn and chat to the team of HIV educators. Read More
Can twitter be a force against HIV discrimination?
A project analysing tweets alongside take-up of HIV services in Brazil show social media can inform public health. Advertisers have seen the potential of social media for informing their work for years, but public health is only just looking into the potential for improving the impact of campaigns. Read More
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Gay people in business: Out at the top
When American politicians, television presenters, and even clergy come out of the closet these days, it barely makes the headlines. But the corporate world is different: until Apple’s boss, Tim Cook, said on October 30th that he is gay, there had never been an openly homosexual CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

The crossing of this symbolic threshold demonstrates both how much conditions have improved for gay executives and how far boardrooms lag the rest of society. Read More
HSBC UK: Business leaders have ‘huge personal responsibility’ to come out
The head of UK banking at HSBC has criticised business leaders who stay in the closet, saying it’s not acceptable they “take for granted” the work being done by others on issues of equality. Speaking at the third-annual ‘Out on the Street’ LGBT summit in London, Antonio Simoes, who revealed he was gay last year, said business leaders have a “huge personal responsibility” to come out. At the conference, Simoes also described himself as “the short, bald, Portuguese gay guy”, adding that being “authentic” makes him a “more empathetic and better leader.” Read More
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Steve Jobs memorial torn down in Russia after current Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out as gay
A Russian group of companies ordered the destruction of a memorial tribute to late Apple founder Steve Jobs after the technology giant’s current CEO, Tim Cook, came out as gay last week.

ZEFS, which originally had the six-foot monument in the shape of an iPhone erected outside a college in St Petersburg in January to pay homage to the achievements of Jobs following his death from cancer in 2011, has since taken the decision to dismantle it: “After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for sodomy, the monument was taken down to abide to the Russian federal law protecting children from information promoting denial of traditional family values.” Read More
Cook Islands Queen: criminalising gays 'unfair'
The' queen of the Cook Islands,' Takitumu paramount chief Marie Pa Ariki says it is unfair and unjust for gay people to be treated as criminals due to who they love and how they express that love.

The Cook Islands is one of several Pacific nations which still criminalise same-sex relations between men and offer no human rights protections to those who are widely ostracised for not being born heterosexual. Pa Ariki stated: "[Gay] people are knowledgeable and contribute to society and to home life," she says. "They are human like everyone else... we are all whanau." Read More
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Total of Gambia’s anti-gay arrests reaches 8 
A police sweep of suspected LGBT people continued in Gambia, with a total of five men, three women and one teenage boy all in custody, according to the Fatu Radio website, run by Fatu (Fatou) Camara, a journalist and former Gambian official.

Gambia secret police reportedly went door-to-door with the teenager so he could identify more people suspected of being gay or lesbian. Read More
Over 50% of gay population in Taiwan have suffered partner abuse
As many as over 50 percent of gay and lesbian Taiwanese have suffered abuse at the hand of their intimate partners, and nearly 10 percent of victims have never sought outside help, a new survey conducted by The Modern Women's Foundation has suggested.

The Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association said that many LGBT people in Taiwan do not seek assistance in abusive situations because they are afraid of being "outed" or have no trust in formal institutions. Read More
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Latvian Minister Declares He’s Gay, Exposing New Culture War in Europe
When Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics, declared on Twitter on Thursday that he was “proud to be gay,” the announcement was welcomed there by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights activists, who have faced open hostility from social conservatives in the former Soviet republic.

In neighboring countries, contrasting reactions to the minister’s declaration — and his statement, in Latvian, that he would also work for legal recognition for same-sex couples — seemed to reveal the contours of a cultural fault line on the issue in post-Cold War Europe between West and East. Read More
Study: Pro-LGBT laws spur global economic growth
A study from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Williams Institute suggests pro-LGBT laws can spur economic growth in developing countries. The Global Index on Legal Recognition of Homosexual Orientation ranks countries on a scale from zero to eight. And researchers concluded that a country’s gross domestic product was $320 — or three percent higher — for each point it gained on the index. Read More
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Germany’s shame: Paragraph 175 and homosexuality
Gay men were not only persecuted by the Nazis, but were revictimized when liberating armies put the men they rescued from concentration camps back into prison, Dr James Waller told a Toronto lecture hall.

The Nazis, he said, rationalized their persecution of male homosexuals on the basis of their failure to reproduce for the Aryan race, their alleged propensity to “infect” youth, and their existence as a disloyal, subversive threat to the regime. Within the span of a few years, Germany went from being the home to a 1920s Berlin that had more gay bars than 1970s New York City, to more than 100,000 gay men arrested under the newly expanded Paragraph 175.

The statistics Waller cites are grim. About half the men arrested served some sort of prison term as convicted homosexuals. Between 5,000 and 15,000 gay German men were sent to concentration camps; they are often referred to as “The 175ers.” An unknown number of gay men were institutionalized in mental hospitals, castrated or committed suicide. Read More
How The Bond Between Two Gay Men Produced Some Of The Finest Poems Of WWI
The warrior-poets were among the most significant chroniclers of World War I. “If I should die, think only this of me;/ That there’s some corner of a foreign field/ That is forever England” and “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row” are lines that live on in the popular imagination, 100 years after the outbreak of hostilities.

But many of the finest poems of the Great War—including “Anthem for Doomed Youth” and “Dulce et Decorum Est”—might not exist were it not for the pivotal bond between two gay men who were the era’s finest war poets: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Read More
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LGBT group steps out, marches for pride and acceptance in Pune
People from all walks of life took part in the LGBT parade, which took place in the conservative Indian city. Participants covered many stretches of the city singing songs like 'Born This Way' by international pop artist Lady Gaga', the paean for fearless love 'Jab pyaar kiya toh darna kya' and 'Hum honge kamyaab'.

"Society does not accept us, but we are asserting our right to be here in this march. We respect everyone and deserve respect," said one participant who had traveled from Mumbai. Read More

Montenegro's Gay Pride Parade Draws About 200 Activists Despite Nation's Conservative Mindset
Protected by hundreds of riot police, about 200 gay activists marched peacefully on Sunday in Montenegro, a staunchly conservative Balkan country seeking EU membership.

Carrying banners reading "Let's Love Each Other" or "This is Just Beginning," gay activists gathered in the capital, Podgorica, as police deployed heavily, practically blocking the city center. Read More
Mozambique: Gay Mozambicans Demand Recognition
Lambda, the sole Mozambican association defending the rights of LGBT people, has protested publicly against the illegal refusal by the Justice Ministry to register it as a bona fide association.

On Monday Lambda took out a full page advertisement in the Maputo daily paper “Noticias” protesting at the discrimination it has suffered. Lambda first submitted its application for legal recognition as an association almost seven years ago, in January 2008. Read More
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Malaysian Court Scraps Cross-Dressing Ban in Landmark Decision
Rights group Human Rights Watch has listed Malaysia as one of the worst countries in which to be a transgender person, due to systematic abuses by religious authorities and police. Activists welcomed Friday’s ruling that gives transgender Muslims the right to cross-dress in a landmark decision overturning an Islamic law ban that could trigger similar challenges.

“Now the transgender community know they have their rights to challenge the law and not just plead guilty to charges,” said Nisha Ayub of Justice for Sisters, an LGBT group. Read More
Astounding Victory As Botswana High Court Asserts Right Of Lesbians And Gays To Register Their Own Organisation
The Gaborone High Court delivered judgment in a case concerning the Department of Labour and Home Affairs’ refusal to register the organisation Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO). The case was brought by 20 individuals who argued that the refusal to register their organisation violated their constitutional rights, including their rights to freedom of association, freedom of expression, and equal protection of the law.

“Botswana’s HIV/AIDS National Strategic Framework 2010-2016 seeks to ensure equal access to health and social support services for all people regardless of race, creed, religious or political affiliation, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. LEGABIBO intends to work with government to improve access to health services for LGBT persons, and this judgment enables them to do so,” says Cindy Kelemi from the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA).  Read More
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LGBT migrants face abuse, discrimination in Mexico
In 2013, Mexican immigration officials near the Guatemalan border took into custody Ender Manuel Martínez, an LGBT rights advocate from El Salvador, when he tried to apply for asylum because of death threats he said he received in his Central American homeland because of his activism and sexual orientation.

He alleges authorities at the facility housed him with those who were mentally ill, did not allow him to bathe, forced him to sleep on a damp floor and demanded “sexual favors” from him in exchange for better food. Officials transferred Martínez to another detention facility, but he was still subjected to sexual harassment and anti-gay discrimination and was denied emergency healthcare.

Mexican law bans anti-gay discrimination, but the country’s immigration statutes do not include LGBT-specific protections. Read More
The LGBT Kids Who Flee Their Countries And Their Families For The U.S.
Some of the thousands of Central American children trying to get to the United States are seeking a love and acceptance they can’t get at home. Advocates say most LGBT migrants don’t petition for asylum in Mexico, largely because it doesn’t promise the same work opportunities as the U.S., and Mexico also has high rates of anti-LGBT violence. Advocates who work with LGBT people seeking asylum in the U.S. say that Mexico is among the most common countries their clients are fleeing. Read More
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I’m an evangelical minister. I now support the LGBT community — and the church should, too.
For Christians, the LGBT debate has always been framed as a question of sexual ethics. Our argument has centered on six or seven biblical passages that appear to mention homosexuality negatively or appear to establish a heterosexual norm. For most of my career, these ideas formed the foundation of my views and teachings as an evangelical minister and professor of Christian ethics. I co-authored a popular textbook that stated this position flatly: “Homosexual conduct is one form of sexual expression that falls outside the will of God.” I wasn’t mean about it. But I said it.

In recent years, my moral position has shifted. It has dawned on me with shocking force that homosexuality is not primarily an issue of Christian sexual ethics. It’s primarily an issue of human suffering. With that realization, I have now made the radical decision to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community. Read More
The International Olympic Committee Comes Out Against Anti-Gay Discrimination
At long last the International Olympic Committee will change the wording of the Olympic Charter to include protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This development was part of 40 recommendations published today ahead of next month’s IOC meeting in Monaco, where IOC President Thomas Bach’s “Agenda 2020” process will conclude with significant changes to the bidding process for and organization of the Olympic Games. The change in language is significant. Read More
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Choir stages singalong, 'Safe to Sing,' on Manchester trams after homophobic attack
A lesbian and gay choir staged a mass singalong on Manchester’s tram network after homophobic thugs attacked two young gay men who were singing songs from the musical Wicked on a night out. Read More
Thailand launches world's first transgender modeling agency
The Bangkok-based Apple Modeling Agency has launched the first transgender model division in the world. Apple is one of the leading and largest modeling agencies in the southeast Asian country. Read More
Students at Japan High School Switch Uniforms With Opposite Sex
A high school in Japan’s Yamanashi prefecture has come up with a unique way for its students to see their world from a different perspective. Fuji Hokuryo High School this week held what it calls a “Sexchange Day,” in which nearly 300 of its students traded uniforms with the opposite sex and attended classes.

“This is a project for students to observe things differently” without being bound by their gender, Hirofumi Miyashita, the school’s vice principal, told Japan Real Time. Read More
Study: The world is becoming a better place to be gay
Social researchers at NORC at the University of Chicago and the LGBT think-tang Williams Institute at UCLA said acceptance has grown by an average of 0.9% annually by nation.

'This study shows a clear trend toward increasing acceptance across the globe,' Andrew Park, director of International Programs at the Williams Institute, said.
Researchers studied hundreds of surveys on attitudes toward gay men and lesbians in up to 52 countries since 1981. Read More
Kenyan Hip Hop Group Pushes Boundaries
"I AM" is a Kenyan hip hop group, consisting of rappers Sue Timon, Grammo Suspect and singer Miss Isle, whose "main agenda" is to be LGBTQ activists. Check it out
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Canadian Museum of History to add gay stories to exhibits Read More
In Sports: Pro Strongman champion Rob Kearney and New Zealand Olympic rower Robbie Manson each come out as gay
Gay+ song wins Country Music Awards song of the year“Make lots of noise/ kiss lots of boys/ kiss lots of girls/ if that’s what you’re into/ if the straight and narrow gets a little too straight/ light up a joint/ or don’t/ and follow your arrow wherever it points.” Read More
Harvard University Is Offering A Workshop On Anal Sex The course will be offered alongside countless others as part of its annual Sex Week initiative. Read More
Benjy the 'gay 'bull saved from slaughter by fundraising effort. Donations poured in to keep Benjy from being slaughtered for refusing to mate. Read More
The Advocate's Person of the Year, Vladimir Putin: the Russian president became the single greatest threat to LGBTs in the world in 2014. Read More
Equal Eyes is edited by Christina Dideriksen and Richard Burzynski. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the view of UNAIDS or its Cosponsors.
All stories and photographs linked within are the property of the original publishers.
Equal Eyes Copyright © 2014 Richard Burzynski, All rights reserved.

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