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23 July 2015 edition


Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: UNAIDS published 'How AIDS Changed Everything,' an evaluation of the progress made on the Millennium Development Goal adopted in 2000 to combat HIV/AIDS. The report announced that the target of 15 million people on antiretroviral treatment has been reached, although significant prevention gaps remain among key populations.

Speaking to Caribbean leaders in Barbados at a CARICOM summit, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon highlighted some of these challenges for the region, noting that the epidemic is "only made worse by laws and stigma" and that "we cannot tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or on the basis of gender identity."

While at the International Financing for Development conference in Ethiopia, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé observed that ending the epidemic is not only about giving pills, and that 'bad laws' drive vulnerable people underground: "Gay people are not reached anymore in many places because of homophobic laws."

At the UN Human Rights Council a resolution was passed on the "Protection of the Family," that was swiftly condemned by the Sexual Rights Initiative, a coalition advocating for gender and sexuality in human rights issues, for ignoring intrafamilial violence and diverse family definitions, including LGBT headed households.

HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: A new article published in the Lancet found that gay and bisexual men in Nigeria fear the benefits of accessing healthcare do not outweigh the risks of arrest and torture imposed by the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. In the US, a report found bisexual men and women have worse health outcomes than either gay or straight counterparts. And in Jamaica, a new report found that in 2012 bisexuals accounted for 40% of new HIV infections.

In the UK Nobel-Prize winning scientist, Professor Harald zur Hausen, the virologist who discovered the link between HPV and cancer, has called for the UK to vaccinate all boys against HPV. After years of similar requests in Canada, the Ministry of Health announced it will offer free HPV vaccines for all boys and men under 26. Known to cause cervical cancer, HPV has also been linked to cases of anal and throat cancers among men and women.

In Serbia health officials warn of a flood of counterfeit condoms in Belgrade and Novi Pazar. And elsewhere, Dr. Steven Kurtz presented research on gay men and other men who have sex with men that found the demand for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is creating a 'black market' for PrEP that undermines treatment adherence.

Out of the UK, transgender people spoke out on the prejudice they face accessing basic healthcare services as providers assume all health issues can be blamed on hormone therapy--from migraines to broken bones. And out of Egypt, Dr. Hashem Bahary discussed providing "Gender Identity Disorder" care for 20 years, though Egypt has only approved gender reassignment surgery since 2013.

From the World of Politics: As President Obama prepares to visit Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto has warned he should not speak on LGBT issues, and a local man promises he and 5,000 others will strip in front of Obama in an anti-gay protest.

From Russia senator Konstantin Dobrynin suggests a "don't ask, don't tell" policy should be implemented towards LGBT Russians, and emphasized the "most important thing is to immediately reduce the intensity of aggression against minorities." His remarks came as a new survey finds 41% of public think Russians with 'untraditional sexual preferences' should be persecuted.

The European Parliament voted to include human rights of LGBTI people in the European Neighborhood Policy, with an aim to improve the situation of LGBTI people living in countries to the east and south of the EU.

Officials in Swaziland, one of many countries whose laws expressly criminalize same-sex activity between men, but neglect to mention women, responded to the recent annual report from ILGA by denying that lesbianism is legal. Although neighboring South Africa fully recognizes all same-sex relationships, in recent years it has hesitated to support gay rights issues.

The Politics of Union: In Spain, 10 years after achieving same-sex marriage, the LGBT community still struggles with daily social equality issues. In Indonesia, officials have rejected the argument by Australian Agricultural Minister saying that marriage equality would negatively impact the economic relationship with Asian partners. And from Peru, some activists warn that the international focus on marriage equality has overshadowed needs for basic human rights.

In Japan over 450 people filed a complaint with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations that accuses the government of a violation of human rights for failing to recognize same-sex marriage. In Taiwan thousands rallied at the Nationalist Kuomintang Party headquarters in support of gay marriage.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said 'marriage' should only be between 'a man and a woman living together,' though she supports 'civil partnerships.' From Russia Dmitry Kiselyov, the head of state-controlled media, unexpectedly came out in favor of same-sex civil unions, despite previously expressing extreme anti-gay sentiments. And in France, Luc Carvounas became the first French Parliamentarian to marry his same-sex partner while in office.

And Jensen Byrne, an Irish trans person serving internationally with the UN, describes the experience of returning for the referendum and how being recognized by the community, made Byrne finally feel 'at home.'

Let the Courts Decide: The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Italy violates human rights by not providing legal protection and recognition of same-sex couples. The ruling does not force legalization of gay marriage or extend rights to same-sex couples, but puts pressure on all European nations that do not recognize civil unions. 

And the Italian Supreme Court has ruled that people seeking to legally change their gender cannot be required to undergo sterilization or genital surgery. With this ruling, 22 European nations still require sterilization before a person's gender is legally recognized. 

In the Name of Religion: In Indonesia transgender Muslims, the third gender known as waria, celebrate Ramadan together outside of traditional worship centers that strictly separate women and men during prayers. In Malaysia LGBTI community members are speaking out against increasing violence in the country spurred, they say, by religious authorities' push for increased power.

From the US, two prominent Muslims have made headlines with an open letter and plea to the American Muslim community to accept marriage equality. While in Nigeria, Chief Imam Sheikh Muhammad Khalid told interviewers that his religion prohibits him from supporting same-sex marriage, and that 'no religion in the world should encourage homosexuality.'

In South Africa leader of the Dutch Reformed Church called for equal rights for gay pastors, including civil unions. And in Paraguay, married gay activist Simón Cazal and a delegation of Paraguayan civil society members met with Pope Francis who gave a "very productive" speech.

Fear and Loathing: Only a week after Istanbul police violently shut down Turkey's pride parade, an Islamist group in the capital city has claimed responsibility for posters that call for gay people to be killed. Also in Turkey, Kemal Ördek, a prominent LGBT and sex worker activist, spoke out after police neglected to help after Ördek was robbed and raped. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a public call to Turkish authorities to "take active measures to combat homophobic and transphobic violence."

From Russia, a viral video exposes the verbal and physical abuse two men experienced holding hands in public. In France, world champion swimmer Mélanie Hénique was forced to withdraw from a competition after she and friends were beaten in a homophobic attack. And in Germany, after Marcel Rohrlack and his friends were beaten, the teen took to Facebook to implore an end to violence against LGBT people.

School Days: Out of Kenya, young LGBTIQ activists from 8 African countries released a joint statement that spoke for a future where all Africans would be free from oppression and discrimination, adding "Young people have a huge role to play in this shared vision and are ready and able to contribute!" Elsewhere, 19 Kenyan high school students were suspended for arguing in favor of gay rights.

And in Saudi Arabia, a school administrator has been jailed and the school fined $25,000 for painting a rainbow "emblems of homosexuality" on the school wall, according to an official tweet from a government agency.

In Croatia LGBT youth are using street art to spread messages of equality in their own words. In Ireland a new bill amended employment legislation to protect openly LGBT teachers. And in Jamaica, after meeting with LGBT civil society groups, the Minister of Education is launching a new security manual with zero tolerance for bullying.

Meanwhile in the US, the Senate voted against a measure to ban LGBT discrimination in schools. Noting that bullying of LGBT students is "becoming an epidemic," Senator Al Franken said that "you can't learn if you are afraid."

Winds of Change: Journalist P Sudhakaran explores the shifting attitudes towards gender and sexual diversity in India, where gay and transgender activists may openly work abroad, but are still fearful in their own communities.

And from the US, Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP Julian Bond warns that marriage equality means little when LGBT people can still lose their jobs, be denied services, and be kicked out of their homes because of their identity.

On the March: At this year's pride parade in Hungary, participants hoped to combat previous violence by making the parade have less of a party atmosphere and more of a political statement. Out of Australia, human rights group Kaleidoscope has published a practical guide for assessing refugees fleeing persecution due to their sexual or gender identity. And from Russia, LGBT activist Alexander Ermoshkin fled the country after he was accused by authorities of collaborating with US spies.

The World of Business: In Italy, the GLBT Diversity Index for 2015 was published listing Telecom Italia as the 'best company' for LGBTI inclusion. Though the public in China has become increasingly accepting, LGBT workers say disclosing sexuality in the workplace is "impossible." And in the US, a rigorous poll found that the majority of small business owners do not believe LGBT people should be discriminated against based on business owners' religious beliefs--despite international media attention to individual cases.

Technology: In India, thieves are using online dating services to extort and violate gay men, but laws criminalizing gay sex make victims afraid of seeking help from the police. While in Vietnam, dating apps are used to connect gay tourists with locals to navigate the culture. Facebook's 'real name policy' has banned an Ethiopian LGBT activist who runs popular groups for gay Ethiopians. The activist uses an alias because homosexuality is criminalized and he could face up to 15 years in prison.

Samsung and Google confirmed they regularly censor and remove apps from their international stores "due to the local moral values or laws," and that LGBT content is limited on country by country basis. And a new app, 'MyTransHealth,' uses crowdsourcing to link healthcare professionals reviewed by others in the community so that patients can choose the most trans-friendly providers.

Sports and Culture: From the US, a new documentary, "Do I Sound Gay?" explores stereotypes, internalized homophobia, and linguistic markers of marginalized groups. An Asian film group goes to the street to ask Chinese, Korean, and Japanese people their feelings on being gay or having gay children.

Antonio Mihaylov, president of Subverzivnog Fronta (Subversive Fronts), a group for gender and sexuality in Macedonia, discussed how LGBT people continue to live in the margins of society and what the next steps should be for LGBT activists. In Egypt, transgender women discussed living in fear of police and having little option for work outside of the sex trade. From Australia, genderqueer activist Andrew Farrell discussed the need for LGBTI groups to be inclusive of Indigenous people who are often forced to "forfeit their cultural identity" to be accepted by the LGBTI community.

And from the US, Professor Georgiann Davis explores how legalized same-sex marriage is forcing intersex people, like herself, to reevaluate their personal genders and position in society.

Puerto Rican Junior National Swimmer Javier Ruisanchez came out by tweeting: ‘Yes… I AM GAY… Who cares?’ While former Australian footballer Lachlan Beaton shared the pain of coming out in a new video. And popular Italian magazine SportWeek stirred controversy by publishing two male rugby players kissing on the cover.

From Finland, a viral video shows an HIV positive man's emotional experience when he invited strangers to touch him. Out of the US, a video from celebrity scientist Bill Nye explains how homosexuality exists across species, and is perfectly natural. Out of Sri Lanka, the group Equal Ground has released a music video "Nothing but Pride," shot entirely in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

And finally, check out this humorous and weird video from the UK with talking bananas that educate gay men on using condoms.
Jensen Byrne
"We were seen, we were counted...and in the end we were valued."
 
 ~ Jensen Byrne, UN volunteer on the importance of Ireland's National Referendum on marriage equality. 
ban ki moon Michel Sidibé UNAIDS report
UN says major strides have been made to eradicate HIV and AIDS
The world has exceeded the UN goal of reversing the spread of HIV around the world by the end of 2015, according to a new report from UNAIDS, titled: How AIDS changed everything.

The 515-page report says that since the Millennium Development Goals were set in 2000, unprecedented strides have been made to eradicate HIV and AIDS: 15 million people with HIV are now on antiretroviral treatment, up from fewer than 700,000 people in 2000, and new HIV infection rates have fallen by 35%. The number of deaths related to AIDS has fallen by 41%. Combating AIDS, malaria and other diseases was one of eight goals UN member nations and other organizations pledged to address by this year.

There's still much work left to be done in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially in relation to LGBT people, sex workers, and intravenous drug users around the world, who are often ignored and discriminated against. And nearly half of people living with HIV do not know their status.

"HIV prevention efforts need to be adapted to respond to the new realities and needs of men who have sex with men," the report says. It adds that transgender people are typically excluded from public policy discussions as well as social services for HIV/AIDS and measures should be taken to eliminate gender-based violence and inequality. Read More

Access the report, infographics, and other tools here.
UNAIDS chief: Today's HIV epidemic is 'completely different'
The health community is celebrating a victory at the Third International Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week: the successful completion of the 6th Millennium Development Goal for combating the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Speaking on the sidelines, UNAIDS Executive Director was asked on the challenges moving forward to bring an AIDS-free generation. 

One concern raised was that HIV programing and funding has expanded beyond HIV. Michel Sidibé noted that the epidemic is 'completely different' than it was 30 years ago, noting that there are multiple epidemics and multiple 'driving forces of death.' He continued: 

"It’s the same for reforming laws. With bad laws you know that people will just go underground. Gay people are not anymore reached in many places because of homophobic laws. I don’t think they are going beyond their mandate, because giving only pills is not changing the face of the epidemic. We are talking also about restoring [the] dignity of people." Read More
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ban ki moon barbados youth speech
gay families
Barbados: UN chief concerned about HIV/AIDS approach in the region
With over a quarter of a million HIV-infected persons reportedly living in the Caribbean, visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is renewing a call for regional governments to make swift changes to legislation that promote discrimination as a measure to contain the spread of the mostly sexually transmitted virus which causes AIDS.

Addressing the launch of the Report of the UNAIDS and Lancet Commission that coincided with the 36th regular CARICOM Heads of Government Summit here, Ban noted that regional countries were struggling to address the epidemic with limited resources at their disposal.

“The epidemic is only made worse by laws and stigma. These are [impacting] our vulnerability to HIV infection and our answers to life saving achievements. They threaten both human rights and public health. We cannot tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or on the basis of gender identity,” the UN chief said, also calling for the human rights of sex workers and persons who inject drugs.

“We can leave no one behind. AIDS can only end when we protect the human rights of all . . . We have to [correct] all kinds of societal ills including stigma, intolerance, discrimination and violence. To end this epidemic, we need gender equality. We need to protect the sexual and reproductive rights,” Ban emphasized. Read More
Human Rights Council: Sexual Rights Initiative condemns resolution on “Protection of the Family”
excerpt: The Sexual Rights Initiative condemns the adoption of the 'Protection of the Family' resolution at the UN Human Rights Council’s 29th session. [...] While this serves to further polarise the HRC, it is heartening that the strength of the opposition to the resolution was considerable. How this resolution will now be used needs to be monitored closely. It is likely, for example, to be referenced in regressive positions taken on the Post-2015 development agenda.

The text of this resolution is extremely problematic in that amongst other concerns it sought to elevate the family as an institution in need of protection without acknowledging that families perpetuate patriarchal oppression, traditions and harmful practices, and that human rights abuses do occur within families (i.e., marital rape, child abuse, FGM, early and forced marriage, dowry related violence, so-called “honour” killings and other forms of domestic violence). Further, the core group continuously did not include in the text the recognition that various family forms exist, despite many delegations requesting them to do so. Without such recognition, it cannot be assured that the family-friendly and family-oriented public policies referred to in the resolution will address the needs of all family members in diverse families. Read the specifics of the resolution.
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bisexuals have poor health
Jamaica minister of health
Nigeria: Gay, bisexual men report more fear in healthcare after law 
Gay and bisexual men in Nigeria are reporting increased reluctance to access healthcare. While consensual sexual relationships between men were already illegal in Nigeria, the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, signed into law in January 2014, prohibited participation in organizations supporting gay people or attempts at any kind of civil same-sex relationship.

There were reports of arrests and torture following the enactment of the law, according to a paper published in The Lancet HIV. Since the law took effect, men who have sex with men may fear that the benefits of medical care don't outweigh the risks. The study suggests "that they think the (benefit) of HIV prevention care isn't worth remaining in a system that could potentially out them," she said.

Schwartz and her colleagues analyzed data from 707 gay and bisexual men in Nigeria who were receiving HIV prevention and treatment services from a community-based clinic in 2013 and 2014. Read More
Jamaica: Bisexuals accounted for 40% of new HIV infections in 2012
The Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson yesterday disclosed that men who have sex with both men and women accounted for almost 40% of new HIV infections in 2012.

“While we have a prevalence rate of 1.8% among the general population, female sex workers have a prevalence of 4.2%, young men under 25 years who have sex with men are at 24.3% as at 2013,” the health minister explained.

“I want to further note that MSM who reported being involved in sex work, reported an HIV prevalence of 41%, transgender women 45%, and transgender populations in sex work reaching as high as 56%.”

Insisting that the prevalence rate among these groups are “way too high”, Dr Ferguson said that much of the efforts must be concentrated on these vulnerable groups, adding that there is the ever present challenge of implementing mechanisms to effectively deal with the issue of stigma and discrimination. Read More
US: Bisexuals have worse health than gay, lesbian, or straight people
Professors of Sociology at Rice University have found that bisexual Americans face higher health disparities than their gay, lesbian, and straight counterparts. A variety of these health issues stem from systemic socioeconomic vulnerability in the bisexual community, according to the new study.

“As a group, bisexual men and women have higher rates of a variety of factors that can lead to poor health — things like poverty or involvement with lifestyle activities that can lead to poor health, ” lead author Bridget Gorman said. Bisexual respondents also reported a higher propensity for smoking and using alcohol than straight or gay counterparts — health risks that can be amplified by the higher rates of poverty among the bisexual community compared with other peers. Among gay, lesbian, and straight counterparts, researchers found members of the bisexual community were the least likely to be educated at a university level. Read More
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HPV image
hpv vaccine
Canada: British Columbia to fund HPV vaccine for boys & gay men under 26
After years of requests from gay health advocates, BC’s Ministry of Health announced that it will offer free HPV vaccines for boys and young men who have sex with men, beginning this September.

“The human papillomavirus virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection,” BC Health Minister Terry Lake said. “Our vaccination program will help protect all young British Columbians from cancers and other diseases caused by HPV infection.” The vaccine is currently offered to all girls in Grade 6 as part of the province’s routine school-age immunization schedule. 

“We know if you get above 60% of the women vaccinated you get a herd immunity effect in which heterosexual men are protected as well,” says health officer Perry Kendall. “But we are not offering protection to men who have sex with men.”

Infectious disease expert Joel Palefsky says the vaccine may also help prevent oral cancer in men. “Many people in our field believe universal vaccination is warranted even if a high percentage of girls are vaccinated,” he explains. “They will get prevention for most anal cancers and most genital warts as well as the likely but as of yet unproven prevention of oral cancer.” Read More
UK: Nobel scientist calls for HPV vaccination for boys
The UK should vaccinate all boys against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus, Professor Harald zur Hausen, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who discovered the link between HPV and cancer has said. There is now a wealth of evidence that HPV also causes cancers in men, including anal, penile and throat cancer. Professor zur Hausen added that there was now a chance to “eradicate” HPV viruses altogether if the world developed global vaccination programmes for all children.

Since 2008 the UK has offered free vaccinations against HPV to girls aged 12 to 13 – a programme that had an almost 87% uptake from 2013 to 2014 and has led to falls in the number of pre-cancerous abnormalities of the cervix, according to research. Scientists say changes in sexual behaviour – with more couples having oral and anal sex – may be the cause of increased cases of anal and throat cancers in both men and women in recent decades. Read More  
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condoms
black market truvada prep
Serbia: Fake condoms flood region
The Serbian Agency of Medicines (Agenciji za lekove) has confirmed that counterfeit condoms have flooded local markets of Belgrade and Novi Pazar. The condoms carry names from prominent manufacturers, but carry false expiration dates, serial numbers, and country of origins. In a local interview, Doctor Nevenka Dimitrijevic warned that these condoms would not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. Read More
Black market for Truvada PrEP may undermine treatment adherence in marginalised people living with HIV
The increasing demand for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is likely to increase the likelihood that some marginalised individuals living with HIV interrupt their own treatment to sell some of their prescribed medication to pill brokers and drug dealers, according to a study presented to the Conference of the Association for the Social Sciences and Humanities in HIV in South Africa last week.

Dr. Steven Kurtz said that several reports have documented street markets for diverted antiretrovirals (ARVs) in the US. In his study of men who have sex with men, people who didn’t sell their drugs also reported being approached by traders. Less frequently, ARVs were sold or given to individuals who would use the pills themselves, sometimes in exchange for recreational drugs or sex.

There was little evidence that individuals purchased ARVs from the black market for self-treatment of HIV infection, but that the illicit use of Truvada for prevention purposes has been documented. Many HIV-negative people who are at high risk of HIV infection do not have health insurance, perhaps making them more likely to turn to the black market.  “The potential intersection of widespread ARV street markets and misinformed at-risk populations about the effective use of PrEP is a major public health concern,” Kurtz concluded. Read More
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transition surgery
trans rights protest
UK: The dangers of trans broken arm syndrome 
Accessing healthcare is another item on the long list of things that are harder when you’re trans. Transition-related healthcare is notorious for long-waiting lists, unnecessarily strict requirements and a lack of local services. But general healthcare is fraught with difficulties too. Trans people are frequently subject to poor standards of care due to prejudice or plain ignorance. Then there’s the phenomenon known as Trans Broken Arm Syndrome. It’s when healthcare providers assume that all medical issues are a result of a person being trans. Everything – from mental health problems to, yes, broken arms.

The  more a person’s trans status is blamed for a person’s unrelated health problems, the less likely they are to bring it up – even when it is relevant. J summed it up, saying: “It’s a calculated risk on our part: The 1% chance that it is relevant and you make it worse by hiding, versus the 99% chance that it’ll be used to push you out of the clinic with no diagnosis, and ending up made worse by that. I take that 1% risk every time, it’s safer. But if I didn’t have to take that risk then I wouldn’t.” 

While it’s always important to be honest with healthcare providers, with attitudes as they are it is understandable than many trans people find it hard to trust staff. That will only change when workers are fully informed on trans issues. Read More
Egypt: The untold stories of Egypt’s transgender community
Ever since realizing he had Gender Identity Disorder (GID), Bassem has been receiving professional psychiatric support, though mostly “kinda useless.” But Bassam's new treatment is “amazing!” His treatment now is indeed unique and advanced for a country like Egypt, where most psychiatric professionals are uncomfortable with dealing with transgender patients, often not even willing to acknowledge the existence of GID as a medical condition.

Even more unexpected is that this treatment is neither expensive nor private, but is free and provided by a government hospital. Moreover, it is headed by one of Egypt’s most experienced and leading psychiatrists on transgender therapy, Dr Hashem Bahary. 

Dr Bahary, who has been working with transgender patients for 25 years, has been at Al-Hussein Hospital for nearly 10 years now. For almost half of his career, gender reassingment operations were prohibited in Egypt. In 2003, they were allowed only for cases of intersex. However, in 2013, in what is considered a major landmark moment for the transgender and transsexual community, the Egyptian Medical Syndicate issued a new Code of Ethics, which essentially recognised GID as a medical condition and permitted transgender patients, who could prove they have GID, to have gender reassignment surgery in Egypt. Read More
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deputy president william ruto
konstantin dobrynin
Kenya: Leaders tell Obama to leave off LGBT issues during visit.
The White House has downplayed demands by a section of Kenyan leaders for President Barack Obama to keeps off gay talk during his impending visit. The President has used previous trips to Africa to urge governments to decriminalise homosexuality, but heads led by Deputy President William Ruto have warned him not to talk about it.

Obama is not expected to shy off any topic, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, in response to a question on the matter, during a press briefing: "I am confident that the President will not hesitate to make clear that the protection of basic universal human rights in Kenya is also a priority consistent with values we hold dear in the United States of America," he said.

Deputy President William Ruto said he was ready to defend Kenya against homosexuality. "We have heard that in the US they have allowed gay relations and other dirty things. I want to say, as a Christian leader, that we will defend our country, we will stand for our faith and our country," he said. Meanwhile, Vincent Kidaha promises he and 5,000 others will strip naked in front of Obama in an anti-gay protest. Read More
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Russia: Top Russian official says antigay politicians pose direct threat to national security 
Vice-chairman of the Federation Council constitutional legislation committee, senator Konstantin Dobrynin proposes implementing “don’t ask – don’t tell” principle towards LGBT people in Russia and calls to “immediately reduce the intensity of aggression” towards them as they do not pose a direct threat to national security, unlike antigay politicians, as Dobrynin commented the latest MP Milonov’s initiative to ban Facebook in Russia due to rainbow avatars dedicated to celebrating LGBT marriage equality in the USA.

“For Russia, it is important not to turn away from the realities of time and not to fall into the barbarian antigay fight, but to try and find some legal form that will ensure the the public balance on this subject between the conservative part of society and all the rest,” said the senator. “For a period of time the optimal formula, which in our country would be the case and work without causing aggression, could be the “don’t ask – don’t tell” formula”.

“But we need to take away from the political field and from our lives those pseudo-politicians who openly profiteer in the antigay fighting and engage in the legislative spam, the sooner we do it – the better ” concluded Dobrynin.  “Because they are the ones, unlike gays, who pose a direct and clear threat to the Russia’s security and it’s them who the state needs to confront”. Read More

Russia: 41% of public say authorities should persecute gays to ‘exterminate the phenomenon’
Homophobia in Russia has significantly worsened in the last decade, according to a new survey by state-run pollster. The proportion of respondents who consider LGBTI people dangerous and said they should be ‘isolated from society’ grew from 12% in 2004 to 20%.

Some 22% said they didn’t care about other people’s sexual orientation – compared with 24% in 2004. Nearly half of all respondents (41%) said the authorities should persecute people with ‘untraditional sexual preferences’ in order to ‘exterminate the phenomenon,’ while only 12% agreed that the government should protect LGBTI people from discrimination.

‘It’s interesting that we are swimming against the current, strengthening, despite global trends, intolerance toward homosexual relationships. This indicator might serve as a parameter of national identification,’ said Alexei Firsov, the communications director. Read More
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swaziland lesbianism
south africa gay rights
European Parliament: Vote to address LGBTI rights 
The European Parliament voted to put human rights, including of LGBTI people, at the heart of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The Parliament emphasised the “need to focus on strengthening and consolidating … respect for diversity and the rights of minorities, including … the rights of LGBTI persons.” 

The ENP organises relationships between the EU and its closest Eastern and Southern neighbours*, and has a budget of more than €15 billion (2014-2020), part of which goes to civil society.

Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, said: “This report recognises the need to improve the situation for LGBTI people in our neighbourhood. It gives the European Commission and all EU delegations in the ENP countries the mandate to tackle discrimination and work with civil society to change the situation for the better.” Read More
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Swaziland: ‘No legislation against lesbianism’ 
While male homosexuality is criminal in Swaziland, it turns out there has never been any legislation that criminalises lesbian relationships in the country. According to annual research reports, ‘A World Survey of Laws’ compiled by the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), female same-sex relationships have always been ‘legal’ in Swaziland while male same-sex relationships have and still remain illegal, in that sodomy is a common law crime in the kingdom.

Asked yesterday on government’s position on the legality of lesbian relationships as claimed by the reports, Spokesperson Percy Simelane said; “We have made our position clear on these fictitious reports more than once before and are not going to repeat ourselves save to say that someone needs a doctor urgently”.

Last year, Simelane said the state was closely monitoring the situation with a view to take a legal position. He had said gays and lesbians were regulated by the nation’s moral obligations and biblical values, and that as soon as a legal position had been taken, government would make it public. Read More
South Africa: Behind the reluctance to champion gay rights in Africa
South Africa is, in some ways, the exception to the generally grim situation facing the estimated 50 million-strong LGBTI community in Africa. Its progressive constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The country’s vibrant civil society includes a broad range of gay advocacy groups.

But South Africa’s stance on gay rights in Africa is opaque. Scientists from South Africa and Uganda produced research demonstrating that the rationale for repressive laws on the continent are baseless and pernicious. The study found that homosexuality is a normal sexual orientation and that criminalising it can have negative repercussions across society. In 2011, South Africa bravely led on gay rights issues by introducing a resolution to the UN Human Rights Council that called for equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation.

Yet less than three years later it was reticent about a follow on resolution calling for countries to report on LGBTI violations. Graeme Reid of Human Rights Watch described South Africa’s foreign policy on gay rights as “at best inconsistent and at worst obstructionist”. South Africa’s uncertainty on if, and how, it should promote gay rights in Africa stems from two primary sources. Read More
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lgbt advice spain
indonesia australia no prob gay marriage
Spain: Dear America, Some advice from a country where gay marriage has been legal for a decade
In the summer of 2005, the socialist Spanish government legalized gay marriage in Spain. My overwhelmingly Catholic country, with a legacy of a 40-year-old fascist dictatorship that even banned divorce, surprisingly became the third European Union member to authorize same-sex unions.

Ten years and around 28,000 couples married later, a whole generation of LGBT people has grown up. We have developed our sexual and family choices in an environment where we are as free to marry as we are to eschew marriage as an old-fashioned option. As many in the US celebrated legalizing same-sex marriage across the country, I counted myself lucky to have lived with this freedom for a decade.

Here’s some of what that decade has taught us in Spain’s LGBT community, and some takeaways for our US counterparts: Equality is a daily, unfinished fight; the focus should be on helping the next generations; law can help change ingrained attitudes—up to a point; & legal equality does not mean societal equality. Read More
Australia: Indonesia dismisses suggestion relations with Australia could be affected if same-sex marriage legalised
Indonesia's foreign ministry has dismissed the suggestion relations with Australia could be affected if same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia. Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has said Asian countries could see Australia as "decadent" if same-sex marriage was legalised. And Senator Eric Abetz suggested that if Asian countries did not accept same-sex marriage then Australia should not either, pointing to the often-repeated phrase that for Australia this was the Asian century.

Spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said the issue was one for the Australian Government as it was an issue of Australian law: "As I understand it, is a national legislation, national rules and legislation ... and it has nothing to do with ... our national law."

He said Indonesia's law on marriage would stay the same. In addition to not allowing same-sex marriage, Indonesia doesn't allow people from different religions to marry, though some are attempting to challenge that law. Read More
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Peru: Why Peru is a long way from same-sex marriage 
Same-sex civil unions may have been rejected 7-4 in March by a Peruvian congressional committee, but it’s no longer uncommon to see same-sex couples holding hands in public. The latest legal loss has done little to dampen the resolve of those fighting for change. If anything, the massive, nationwide conversation it’s prompted is spurring them forward.

El Movimiento Homosexual de Lima (MHOL) calls itself Latin America’s oldest gay and lesbian organization. MHOL’s current executive director Giovanny Infante says it has grown to be a national force in the push for equality, especially protection, for Peru’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations.

Infante worries the international community is too fixated on Peru’s economic growth and its culture, less so on its human rights: “Latin America should be heading a different direction,” he says, referring to the direction taken by more and more gay-marriage proponents worldwide. “The urgency is that people are being murdered... We have to focus on conditions that allow people to live, such as access to health care, education, housing, work, protection against HIV and hate crimes.” Read More
Japan: LGBT group files human rights complaint in bid for same-sex marriages
Hundreds of members of the LGBT community filed an unprecedented request with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) in a bid to legalize same-sex marriages, saying Japan’s failure to recognize the practice constitutes a violation of human rights.

Coming on the heels of what lawyers behind the move called a gradual softening of traditional prejudice toward gays in Japan, the bid by 455 individuals is the first attempt to legalize same-sex marriages by appealing over human rights. The JFBA, the nation’s biggest bar association, will investigate the allegation and, if necessary, issue a warning to the central government to review its approach toward the matter.

“If issued, the warning will be quite comprehensive, formulated based on the bar association’s meticulous research and analysis,” lawyer Toshimasa Yamashita told a news conference in Tokyo. “It will likely be used as a reference in Diet sessions or trials whenever the topic of same-sex marriages arises.” Read More
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Taiwan: In wake of US ruling, Taiwanese rally for gay marriage
Thousands of gay rights supporters marched through Taipei, months ahead of elections that are likely to usher in a pro-gay party and could make Taiwan the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. Protesters waved rainbow flags, lit candles and shouted "gay votes are still votes" as they marched between parliament and the headquarters of Taiwan's two main political parties.

Taiwan is one of Asia's most gay-friendly places, boasting a vibrant social scene and little overt discrimination. Polls show a majority in favour of gay marriage, and a recent study commissioned by the Ministry of Justice advocated legislation. There is no formal recognition of same-sex couples, however, and many young people are still reluctant to come out to their parents.

"There's a huge generational split on the issue," said Mei-Nu Yu, main author of a stalled marriage bill. Yu's Democratic Progressive Party supports gay causes more than the ruling Nationalist party, whose fortunes have been in steep decline, particularly among young people who accuse it of cozying up to China. Large Chinese cities have thriving gay cultures & there's public discussion of gay rights, but the government has detained activists in a crackdown on civil society. Read More
Germany: Angela Merkel says gay couples should not call their unions ‘marriage’
Angela Merkel has come out against gay marriage, revealing she agrees with civil partnerships but believes matrimony is just for men and women. The German Chancellor backed equal benefits for same-sex couples, such as tax breaks, and said discrimination should be ‘eliminated’.

But the committed Christian, who has been married twice, gave her personal definition of marriage as ‘a man and a woman living together’, in a YouTube interview. “We have come a long way; when I remember, 25 years ago, many people didn’t dare to say that they are gay or lesbian. Luckily we overcame this; you can enter a partnership, a civil partnership."

German interviewer Florian Mundt, pressed her: "So you could say: no to discrimination, but we’ll keep differentiating between the two." The Chancellor, whom US magazine Forbes has rated the most powerful woman in the world, replied: "No discrimination. Marriage is a man and a woman living together." Read More
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Russia: From Burning Hearts To Civil Unions: The Unlikely Evolution Of Dmitry Kiselyov
Somewhere around the 98th minute of his weekly news roundup and commentary for Russia's Rossiya television channel this week, Dmitry Kiselyov got around to saying something truly unexpected.

In his coverage of the US Supreme Court, the head of Rossia Segodnya, Russia's massive state-controlled media conglomerate, came out in favor of same-sex civil unions: "We can figure out how to make life easier for adult people who want to take upon themselves -- including in a contractual way -- the obligations to care for one another. After all, love can work miracles," he added. "Who is against that?"

To be sure, it was a tepid statement from someone who is more famous for colorful pronouncements such as his March 2014 reminder that Russia is capable of turning the United States into "radioactive dust." In April 2012, Kiselyov raised eyebrows with this declaration on homosexuals: "[Gays] should be prohibited from donating blood or sperm. And their hearts, in case they die in a car accident, should be buried or burned as unfit for extending anyone's life." Read More
France: First out gay MP gets married
Luc Carvounas has become the first gay French parliamentarian to tie the knot since same-sex marriage was legalized in May 2013. The Socialist Party senator said yes to his partner Stéphane Exposito to cheers and applause at the town hall in Alfortville, where he is also the mayor.

‘This is a great day for me and I’m happy to share it,’ Carvounas, 44, said. 'The people of Alfortville know who I am. For ten days, I have had nothing but positive feedback that counterbalances what is happening on social networks.’ Carvounas filed two complaints of homophobic threats to himself and his partner, which led to the arrest and conviction of a man on Friday.

The wedding was also an occasion that brought a divided left together. Prime Minister Manuel Valls, President of the National Assembly Claude Bartolone and First Secretary of the Socialist Party Jean-Christophe Cambadélis were among the nearly 300 guests.

‘This is both normal and symbolic. This is the implementation of a law, a breath of liberty and of tolerance,’ the PM said. Although more than 8,000 gay couples have married in France, gay marriage opponents – including former president Nicolas Sarkozy – are calling for the ‘marriage for all’ law to be repealed. Read More
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Ireland: Standing up, being counted in Ireland 
Jensen Byrne describes their experience returning home for the marriage referendum--excerpt: Hundreds, possibly thousands, of overseas citizens returned home to vote. #Hometovote trended on Twitter with over 72k mentions in 24 hours. Citizens travelled from as far afield as Namibia, Thailand and Canada and flights to Ireland sold out. Those returning were joined by the 100,000+  primarily young and first-time voters registered  as part of a drive spearheaded by marriage equality campaigners.

LGBTI people and their allies started a 'Call your Granny' movement where people called their elderly relatives and spoke to them about the upcoming vote and what a 'Yes' would mean to them. For many it was the first time they had discussed their sexual orientation or gender identity with a grandparent.

My grandparents all passed when I was young, but my parents are both in their 60’s. My mother, a quiet woman who, while accepting, never spoke about LGBTI issues, broached the topic with friends and acquaintances. She spoke to a friend, my neighbour, who had reservations. She said to her "You never know who your children or grandchildren will be, don't make that assumption now. You might regret it later. Vote with that in mind." Read More
European Court: Countries must recognise same-sex partnerships
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Italy has failed to protect the private and family life of cohabitating same-sex couples by not allowing for any legal recognition of same-sex relationships. The ruling does not demand that Italy recognize same-sex marriages. Still, the potential effect of this decision is huge.

The Court argues that not having a law that recognizes same-sex relationships is a human rights violation. The ECtHR has jurisdiction over more than 800 million people in 47 countries, 23 of which do not have any form of registered partnership for same-sex couples. Potentially, this ruling affects all these countries. But the effects are not direct and may not materialize any time soon. Below is a quick explainer. Read More
Italy: Supreme Court rules against sterilisation requirement
The Italian Supreme Court has ruled that medical intervention and sterilisation is not necessary for having one’s gender legally recognized.

A 45-year old trans woman who had been living for 20 years as a woman had been denied the recognition by the court of Piacenza. Basis for the denial was a strict interpretation of Law 164 from 1982 (later modified) that requires more or less invasive reassignment surgery (up to state of the art reconstruction) or at least permanente sterilisation. The Supreme Court clarified now that mandatory genital surgery cannot be justified by a public interest in establishing certain genders. It recognized that the intervention in primary sex characteristics of a person can only be considered as ‘necessary’ if the trans person considers it. Read More
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Indonesia: Transgender Muslims, known as waria, celebrate Ramadan
During the holy month of Ramadan, a group of transgender Muslims in Indonesia meets regularly at the Al-Fatah Islamic school on the outskirts of the city of Yogyakarta to practice their faith. 

The Islamic school, or Pesantren, is a haven for waria -- transgender Indonesians who were assigned male at birth but feel that they have women's souls. Other worship centers in the country strictly separate women and men from each other during prayers, leaving the waria with few options for places to pray. The Al Fatah Pesantren was established by a waria named Maryani, to help fellow transgender Muslims gather and worship God freely. Read More 
US: An open letter to American Muslims on same-sex marriage
Reza Aslan is a writer and scholar of religions, and Hasan Minhaj is a comedian and correspondent on The Daily Show: To Our Fellow American Muslims,

Hey there. It’s two of your brothers. We’re writing to you about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in all fifty states. The good news is that a whopping 42% of you support marriage equality, as do both of our Muslim elected officials in the United States Congress. One even serves as vice chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus! There are many faithful gay and lesbian Muslims in the US and we love and support all of them.

At the same time, many of you are scandalized by the ruling (we know because you keep tweeting about it), and many more of you are equally perturbed but have chosen to keep it to yourself. With all the rainbow-flag waving and self-congratulatory pats on the back this country is giving itself right now, you don’t need another reason for Americans to dislike you. Read More

Listen to an episode of BBC’s “World Have Your Say” devoted to Reza Aslan and Hasan Minhaj’s letter.
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Malaysia: Transgender targeted as religious authorities' influence grows, LGBTI community says
Members of Malaysia's LGBTI community are speaking out about being violently attacked in the moderate Muslim nation, saying the abuse has become common as religious authorities push for more power.

"We have cases of transgender [people] that have been killed," said Mitch, a transgender man. "For us, we call it a hate crime. For the police they don't call it that, because for them these people are not recognised."

The rights of LGBTI people are largely unrecognised in Malaysia. Homosexuality as well as oral sex, sodomy and cross-dressing are illegal in both the criminal code and sharia law. Representatives of Malaysia's LGBTI community said the laws were largely unenforced in the past, but that had changed in recent years. Read More
Nigeria: Chief Imam says gay sex is anti-human
A Chief Imam from Nigeria has condemned the acceptance of same-sex marriage by countries such as England, Ireland and the US, labelling it as anti-human. Sheikh Muhammad Khalid, the Chief Imam of Apo Legislators’ Quarters Jumat Mosque, made the comments in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, stating those pushing for same-sex marriage and the countries who had already approved it, were taking a stand “against humanity”.

“I will never support same sex marriage, because of my religion and I am sure that no religion in the world will support it,” he said. “It is against our culture as Nigerians, and against normal human life before the Almighty Allah.” Khalid said that no religion in the world should encourage homosexuality and praised former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan for signing an anti-gay marriage bill into law. Read More
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South Africa: Dutch Reformed Church leader calls for gay clergy to be allowed to marry
The moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church says he wants equal rights for homosexual pastors in the church. Moderator, Nelus Niemandt, says the church already took significant steps in 2007 when it changed its policy to include gay pastors, though they are required to remain celibate

Niemandt wants the church to further discuss the matter at its annual general synod in October: “There isn’t a clear prohibition in the bible on what we see as a life-long union between two people of the same sex who live according to Christian values.” Read More
Paraguay: Married gay activist’s meeting with Pope was ‘very productive’
In a historic first, a married gay activist met with Pope Francis on Saturday — and walked away with a sense that the pope genuinely believes “dignity is for everyone.”  Simón Cazal, executive director of Paraguay LGBT group SomosGay, was among a delegation of 1,600 Paraguayan civil society leaders and members who met with the Holy See in Asunción.

 Although the pope did not directly address LGBT issues during his speech, Cazal told the Blade the pontiff “did mention others in which they are included.” “The pope’s speech was very productive,” Cazal added. “The local church insisted on talking about the family and other conservative issues… [But] he distanced himself from this discourse and highlighted diversity in its place.”   

The Paraguayan Episcopal Conference last month invited Cazal and other LGBT rights advocates to attend the meeting, though Cazal was the only one to accept the invitation. Read More
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Kemal Ordek
Turkey: Posters threatening gays with death appear in capital
An Islamist group has pinned posters to walls and posts in Turkey's capital Ankara threatening gays with death, adding to concerns over growing intolerance against homosexuals in the country. The appearance of the posters in Ankara comes just over a week after police prevented Istanbul's annual gay pride march - a successful tradition over the past 13 years - from going ahead, using tear gas and water cannon against activists who showed defiance. 

"Should those who engage in ugly behavior and adhere to the practice of the people of Lot be killed?" read posters that appeared in the Turkish capital overnight, referring to Lot, who features in the Old Testament and the Quran. Many Muslims believe that the decline of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah stemmed from the sexual preferences of their inhabitants.
  
A hitherto low-key Islamist group called the "Young Islamic Defense" claimed responsibility for the poster campaign through a Twitter account @islamimudafaa, saying it was trying to "respond to the immoral actions" of lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Read More

Turkey: No place is heaven for trans people, hell is everywhere for sex workers
Founder and chairperson of the Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association Kemal Ördek was robbed and raped in their home in Ankara. A police officer at the police station reacted by saying “Enough with this tribe of Lot.” 

It has been three days since the attack. At the police station the assailants threatened Ördek by saying, “We know where you live now. They’ll release us anyway and you’ll have to deal with the consequences.” The assailants are free and they continue to harass Ördek on their cell phone.

We met with Kemal Ördek when they arrived at Istanbul for Pride Week and discussed sex workers’ rights struggle. Ördek explains that, as long as it does not include violence, threat, or coercion, sex work needs to be legalized, which would lead to a decrease in sexually transmitted infections since sex workers would be able to freely access healthcare without being discriminated: “Everything starts at legal recognition and guarantees. The current atmosphere of dismissiveness needs to be addressed; dismissiveness also means precarity.” Read More

Turkey: UN rights office urges authorities to tackle anti-LGBT violence and discrimination 
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed deep concern over attacks and incitement to violence against LGBT people in Turkey, a UN spokesperson said today.

After listing recent disturbances, he said the Office is “further concerned about allegations that in the [Ördek case], police officers trivialized the attack, used discriminatory language, tried to dissuade the victim from filing a complaint, and did not provide protection from additional threats by the alleged perpetrators.”

“We call on the Turkish authorities to take active measures to combat homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, to uphold the rights of LGBT people to peacefully assemble and express themselves and to ensure that LGBT victims of crimes are treated with respect and dignity and have access to protection mechanisms and effective remedy,” Mr. Colville said. Read More
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France: Swimmer suffers broken nose in anti-gay attack
World champion swimmer Mélanie Hénique, 23, and two female friends were attacked by four men as they left a restaurant in Amiens, northern France. The men hurled insults and hit the women, after which the ladies sought emergency healthcare. 

Hénique said she ‘fully accepts’ her homosexuality but preferred to keep her private life private. However, she felt it was her duty to make public the facts, ‘if only to help all those who dare not complain. It happens too often...I have been insulted, but have never been hit,’ she continued, without wanting to specify the ‘violent’ homophobic slurs.

Hénique had to postpone training after the attack and was a forced to withdraw from the French Open over the weekend. She won bronze in the 50m butterfly at the world championships in 2011 and has been selected to compete again at the 2014 world championships in Kazan, Russia in August. Read More
Russia: Video shows what it’s like for two men to walk around Moscow holding hands
A video of two men experiencing verbal and physical abuse as they hold hands on the streets of Moscow is going viral, with more than 1 million views since it was posted to YouTube Sunday. Passersby shout expletives and anti-LGBT slurs at the men as they walk around the city. In one shot, the pair are pushed by an aggressive man. No one comes to help them.

Filmed in the style of this viral video documenting one woman’s experience of street harassment while walking through New York, the footage has clearly been edited but captures numerous insults. The two men in the video say they are not gay but staged a “social experiment” to spark discussion of LGBT rights in Russia.

“We thought that it’s strange, that in USA if two guys have a walk holding hands, it would be not a big deal. So we wanted to see the same situation in Russia.” The men, who post footage of their “pranks” and “social experiments” under the name ChebuRussiaTV online, said they were surprised by the aggressive public reactions they received while filming. Read More
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Kenya: African LGBTIQ youth speak out
Young African LGBTIQ activists from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda attending the Fifth Changing Faces Changing Spaces conference in Kenya gathered together to discuss issues affecting LGBTIQ youths in Africa. The participants shared our collective observations that the voices of young LGBTIQ Africans are quite often not heard even within LGBTIQ spaces.

There is the erroneous belief that young people lack the ability and capacity to organize due to lack of professional experience as well as misconception about their ability for self-determination around their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. These among other factors have silenced the voices of young LGBTIQ Africans in the struggle for LGBTIQ rights in the continent.

We, young LGBTIQ Africans are a huge part of the movement and in so many instances lead organizations that are not necessarily youth focused but are at the forerun in the struggle for LGBTIQ rights in our regions and countries. We have proven to be a driving force of the movement in Africa; both as leaders and as beneficiaries and are changing the notion that young people are being “recruited” into homosexuality in Africa. Read More
Kenya: 19 school students suspended for supporting LGBT rights
A group of Kenyan high school students from St. Mary’s Kibabi Boys High School in Bungoma County – were sent home, pending an investigation by the school into the allegations against them, after anti-gay students accused them of being gay. The teenagers were taking part in a group debate regarding gay rights – an issue no doubt heightened by the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama.

After the school boys vocalised their own support for gay people, their opponents accused them of being homosexuals themselves, and they were subsequently asked to leave school. They will be allowed to report back to the school next week with their parents to hear the verdict against them. The school’s principal, Mathew Namunwa, has warned that if any of the students are discovered to have participated in homosexual acts, they would be given counselling.

Namanuwa confirmed that there had been a debate the previous week between the pro and anti-gay pupils, which led to divisions among the peers. He said those accused of being gay are suspected to have been practising “it” with the school’s youngest and most vulnerable students. Read More
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Germany: Green Youth Munich leader, involuntary hero of CSD-Parade
As board member of political youth group 'Grüne Jugend München,' Marcel Rohrlack, 18, speaks out for LGBT rights and marriage equality, but also minimum wage, housing, and environmental issues. After attending Munich's annual pride event--Christopher Street Parade--Rohrlack and a friend were attacked and beaten by a group a five men. Documenting his injuries on Facebook, Rohrlack urged an end to violence. Read More
Croatia: messages LGBT youth on the walls as a driver of positive change
In order to familiarize the wider community with the inequalities in the society towards marginalized communities and to encourage an environment for positive change, the group Info Zone, led a program to explore marginalized youth. 

Dealing with the problems of the lack of adequate family support and / or support the environment, issues of prejudice, discrimination, labeling, obstacles to the exercise of their own desires, ambitions and dreams, difficulty in continuing education or employment the project included three focus groups: young LGBT people, young people without adequate parental care, and young people with disabilities.

Speaking in a focus group for the LGBT community in which he participated, activist Mirjana Lolić reveals some simple messages that have derived from it: Fear and shame are not the same, Silence is the biggest problem, should have equal rights, BUT .., pride is what is after all stripes ascend, lesbophobia, Advanced minorities contribute to the development of civilization. Read More
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Saudi Arabia: Authorities reportedly fine school more than $25,000 over “emblems of homosexuality”
A school in Saudi Arabia has been fined more than $25,000, with authorities claiming the rainbows on its building were “emblems of homosexuality,” according to a Twitter account associated with the agency that enforces the country’s religious law. The tweet, from the Saudi Society Channel, also showed that the Talee al-Noor International School has been repainted. The Saudi Society Channel is one of the Twitter accounts associated with the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the agency that enforces Islamic law in the country.

Homosexuality and trans people are routinely punished by flogging in Saudi Arabia, and the country’s authorities are among the most aggressive in the region in targeting LGBT people online and on mobile hookup apps. In July of 2014, a 24-year-old man was sentenced to 450 lashes and three years in prison for soliciting sex with other men on Twitter, according to a US State Department human rights report, & 35 men alleged to be gay were arrested this April in a raid. Read More
Ireland: Gay teachers welcome greater employment protection
A Bill which amends employment equality legislation to protect gay teachers in schools was passed through Report Stage by the government. It allows for LGBT teachers to be open about their sexual orientation in their school communities knowing they have robust protection under the law.

With marriage equality now becoming law, gay teachers say this is a further step towards feeling protected and proud of who they are. The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) has welcomed the law, saying there was a “chilling effect” for many teachers around the country who are afraid to come out in schools.

Chairperson of the INTO LGBT Teacher’s Group Anne Marie Lillis said: “LGBT teachers can be secure in the knowledge that speaking about our families and our relationships, in the same way as our colleagues and that being gay or lesbian will have no bearing on job security or on prospects for promotion.” Read More
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US: Senate votes down measure to ban LGBT discrimination in schools 
Fifty-two senators voted for an amendment Tuesday to ban discrimination against LGBT students in public schools, but the measure to amend the Every Child Achieves Act failed because 60 votes were required for passage.

“I’m tremendously disappointed in the Senate,” Sen. Al Franken, who sponsored the amendment, said in a statement after the vote. “The inability to put in place meaningful protections for some of our most vulnerable children is an enormous disservice to LGBT students all across the country who face terrible bullying every day.”

In addition to banning LGBT discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, Franken’s amendment would have required campus officials to intervene when an LGBT student is being bullied. It would also bar schools from retaliating if a student complains to officials. Sen. Patty Murray, from Washington, pointed out the amendment would give LGBT students similar protections to those already on the books for students based on their race, gender, religion, disability, and country of origin. Read More
Jamaica: Harassment of homosexuals triggers new security manual in schools
Concerns over the bullying of homosexuals in schools is among issues at the root of a security manual to be launched at the start of the new academic year. The disclosure was made by Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites, who, following his presentation in Parliament, said that the manual dubbed 'Security and Safety Guidelines' is expected to be included in the schools' curriculum and will be a platform to sensitise students on security issues.

"A number of civil society groups including members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), fraternity, have raised with me, issues of bullying. It is of serious concern and the policy of Government and of the ministry (of education) is to protect the sexual integrity of everyone, so the fact that they raise the concern would be an important issue for us," the minister said.

"Bullying not only affects this society (LGBT), as we have heard reports of issues with regards to older students interfering with younger students, issues of gender also arise, all of which offer a clear position on offering zero tolerance for bullying of any sort. The manual is now being prepared and will be fleshed out." Read More
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India: op-ed Why are we afraid of gays?
When Manabi Bandopadhyay became India's first transgender principal of a Kolkata college, we praised it as a gender-sensitive revolution. However, same-sex marriage in India remains a criminal offence. The attitude of the mainstream society, including political parties towards the Queer Pride March organised by Queer Pride Keralam in Thiruvananthapuram is a reflection that we are a homophobic society. 

There is high level of prejudice against homosexuality in the state though we claim to be progressive. The role of so-called progressive movements should be blamed for this, says P Surendran, who has exhaustively studied the issue of the third gender and the hijada community in the country . "While we cannot expect Gandhians to support such social realities, the communists too have failed to address the rights of LGBT community because they are afraid of such micro narratives," he says. "When you analyse society in terms of class struggle, you cannot comprehend the essence of gender identity and your thinking will end up being monolithic," he explains. 

It is a reality that homosexuals and transgender are prevalent in rural areas but they are afraid of coming out of the closet. Even Malayali women who openly declare their sexual identity abroad are afraid of doing so in their own native place. If we fail to recognize homosexuality as a social reality, which is genetically determined, the society, including police, will keep on hunting homosexuals. Read More
US: Op-ed: LGBT work, housing protections needed now, says NAACP leader
The fight for full equality has been a long and winding journey. It has taken us from the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS pandemic to this moment in time, this place, an America when LGBT Americans have the right to marry in every state in the union. I am proud to have stood with so many on the right side of history, aligned with those who believe that all Americans deserve the dignity of equal treatment.

But our journey is nowhere near over. Because for millions of Americans, you can finally wed the person whose love sustains you, but that marriage could cost you your job, your home, and your basic rights. Because transgender Americans must still battle everyday discrimination in places that most people access without blinking an eye, and no one should be humiliated at the grocery store or dentist. Because for so many, true and lasting equality is still so far away. 

Every American has the right to build their lives on the bedrock principles of hard work and determination, with the full knowledge that if they can get a fair chance, they can earn a living, provide for their families, and protect the ones they love. But for LGBT people living in 31 states, those rights could be denied because of who they are or whom they love. They are judged, not on their performance, but on their personhood. Read More
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Hungary: In Europe, Pride is a key political barometer. Budapest’s was safe, at times even joyful. 
When Pride marchers had filled Elizabeth Bridge, the people walking in the front released hundreds of multicolored balloons, and the thousands of participants let out a happy cheer. I realized it was the first such cheer I had heard since the march began two hours earlier. “You see, it's a hybrid,” said Katalin Orban, a media studies professor who marched with her partner, Zsofia Ban, a prominent Hungarian fiction writer. “It's not like Moscow or Kiev, but it's not like Vienna, either—it's not a celebration.”

Something odd has happened in Europe: The continent's political dividing line seems to have become defined by the way the Pride march proceeds there—if it proceeds at all. In Moscow, an attempt to stage Pride in May was punished with beatings and jailings. In Kiev, Ukraine, in June, the police failed to adequately protect marchers, some of whom were beaten. Later in June, police used water canons to disperse the Pride march in Istanbul, Turkey.

Hungarian pride organizers have worked to normalize the event by attracting corporations, straight allies, and gay celebrities. Unlike last year, marchers did not walk through a tunnel of police in riot gear. But it also meant that spectators were too far away to see anything. This march was a statement, not a spectacle. The gathering place, in front of the opera house, stank of excrement. Shit had apparently been strewn along the bottoms of the trees that line Andrassy Street. This was a milder form of the tactics of Moscow's self-proclaimed Orthodox activists, who consistently throw human waste at LGBTQ demonstrators. Read More
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Alexander ermoshkin
Australia: Kaleidoscope Australia develops guide for LGBTI refugees
Human rights organisation Kaleidoscope Australia has developed the first guide of its kind to processing LGBTI refugees, intended to provide governments, refugee advocates, and NGOs with a basic introductory tool. President of Kaleidoscope Australia Dr Paula Gerber said, “Our hope is that this guide will assist governments around the world to properly and fairly assess applications for refugee status based on sexual orientation or gender identity grounds.”

A 2012 survey on attitudes towards LBGTI refugees and asylum seekers found that around 175 million LGBTI people were living in places where they faced persecution. From that number, the report projects that of the 5000 that apply for asylum, less than 3000 are granted protection each year.

Concerns have been raised where refugees seeking asylum for persecution based on sexuality have been confronted with the task of having to “prove” their sexuality. The process has involved refugees seeking and presenting video or photographic evidence of their participating in sexual acts in order to make credible their claims. The guide covers procedures of “ascertaining credibility” in a respectful manner, and dealing with applicants who are uncomfortable or who have not disclosed their sexual orientation.  Read More
Russia: LGBT activist flees after accusations of collaborating with US intelligence
Russian LGBT rights activist Alexander Ermoshkin has left the country after a nationally televised story on the state-owned Russia-1 channel accused him of collaborating with U.S. intelligence services. He confirmed in a Facebook post that he had arrived in New York and was staying with friends.

Ermoshkin refuted the allegations, saying the show’s producers had set him up. “Without the help, so to speak, of the authorities, it would have been impossible to do this,” he said. “The Rossiya 1 footage cynically distorts the normal diplomatic activities of our Embassy,” a U.S. Embassy said. “Moreover, it includes fake events such as the obviously staged scene in Moscow of supposed recruitment which involved video of people who were clearly not associated with the U.S. Embassy, but were presented as such.”

Ermoshkin is not the first person accused by Russian media of working with American spies: Kendrick White, an American professor who has lived in Russia for more than two decades, was fired from his post at a Russian university earlier this month after being accused of spying in a state television documentary. Read More
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Italy: Most gay-friendly Italian companies revealed
Telecom Italia has been named ‘Best Company’ in the GLBT Diversity Index 2015 – an annual survey of businesses compiled by Italian LGBT workplace diversity and inclusion group. Telecom Italia, which has over 66,000 employees, earned the honor through its introduction of a number of initiatives to promote LGBTI inclusion. These have included extending healthcare insurance and other benefits to all cohabiting couples irrespective of gender.

The company runs awareness-raising workshops for all staff around LGBT issues and has also taken part in a Government-backed scheme, Project DJ (Diversity on the Job), to help find employment for people who have been discriminated against.

The Index’s two other award winners were Microsoft Italia (for ‘Best Improvement’) and Zeta Service (for Best SME). Read More
China: Homosexuality in China, government workplaces unwelcoming
Even though Chinese public sentiment has become increasingly accepting of homosexuality, gay government employees find that their sexual orientation remains taboo in the workplace: “It’s impossible for me to disclose my sexual orientation at the office,” Cheng He, a 25-year-old employee at a government-affiliated research center in Beijing, said. “I don’t think it’s necessary, but my colleagues would not accept me being gay anyway.”

A survey from 2014 by the Shanghai-based human rights NGO WorkForLGBT found that in a survey of 8,000 people, only 2 percent of those who worked at state-owned enterprises disclosed their sexual orientation to their employers or co-workers. But at foreign companies, 9 percent of employees polled had revealed their sexuality to their bosses.

Cheng said for the most part government officials are expected to have a spouse (gay marriage is not legally recognized in China) and children to show that they are “normal” and are stable enough to handle their responsibilities. Being discreet about sexual orientation and remaining single is no refuge, he said, since if you’re over 30 and unattached, bosses and colleagues will often try to set up dates. Read More 
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US: Scientific opinion poll finds small business owners don't support LGBT discrimination based on religious beliefs 
A poll released today shows that small business owners believe they should not be able to refuse goods or services to LGBT individuals or to deny services related to a same-sex wedding based on an owner’s religious beliefs. Following the intense national debate surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the results show that small business owners oppose overly broad religious exemptions that could allow for anti-LGBT discrimination.

The poll found that two-thirds of small business owners say businesses should not be able to deny goods or services to someone who is LGBT based on the owner’s religious beliefs. When asked about wedding-related services, 55% say they do not believe a business owner should be allowed to deny services to a same-sex couple based on religious beliefs. In fact, 59% of small business owners who responded to the poll oppose laws allowing individuals, associations, or businesses to legally refuse service to anyone based on religious beliefs.

The survey responses crossed ideological and religious divides, with a plurality of small business owners—47%—who identified as Republican, 33% as Democrat, and 19% as independent. Survey participants reported varied faith traditions, as well, with 27% who regularly attend religious services. Read More
India: Online dating fuels new danger for gays
Sonal Giani, a Mumbai-based gay activist, said the Internet gave many men a false sense of security. “Online spaces are deemed to be oh-so-safe” compared with the limited options otherwise, since connections are made in private, Ms. Giani said. “But we’ve been seeing gangs operating online.”

Since India’s Supreme Court recriminalized gay sex more than a year ago, homosexuals have increasingly become targets of robbery and extortion, gay men and activists say. The trend has been fueled by the rise of Internet dating, which has become an easy way for urban, middle-class gay men to meet, but also exposed them to online predators. “It’s more and more frequent,” said one 26-year-old engineer who lives in Mumbai. He said he was robbed in January after inviting a man he met on PlanetRomeo to his apartment.

After they had sex, the visitor threatened to tell the engineer’s neighbors he was gay unless he handed over 10,000 rupees, about $157. The engineer didn’t notify police. “If I file a complaint because a man I had sex with robbed me, I’m denouncing myself under Section 377,” he said. “It’s a lose-lose situation.” Read More
Vietnam: Navigating the streets of Ho Chi Minh City 
I’ve always been rather skeptical of those who claim to be on Grindr to ‘network’ or ‘look for a room’. Like – really? But having now used Grindr to find a tour guide in Vietnam, I’ve been forced to review my cynicism.
I was in Ho Chi Minh City – formerly known as Saigon, and now often abbreviated to HCMC – with one of my best friends from London. All the organized tours seemed rather expensive. There’s also that feeling of being on a tourist hamster wheel when being shown around a city by an official guide.

My friend suggested I ask the cute Vietnamese guy I’d been flirting with on Grindr if he would be interested in being our guide for the day. A few of the familiar bleeping purrs of Grindr later and the deal was done. Read More
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Ethiopia: LGBT activist banned by facebook under real name policy 
An Ethiopian LGBT activist and leader who runs multiple Facebook groups for gay Ethiopians has had his account blocked by Facebook for not using his real name. The activist, who goes by the pseudonym HappyAddis, used the social network to create and administrate some of the most popular groups for gay Ethiopians, including Zega Matters, which has more than 1,000 members.

The East African country considers homosexuality a crime and those convicted of same-sex relations can face 15 years in prison. For that reason, many LGBT citizens use an alias to interact with others online in order to avoid punishment from the authorities and anti-gay violence.

A Facebook representative, who could not speak about HappyAddis’s situation since the company does not comment on specific accounts, said that users who require anonymity can either use a secret Facebook group or a different platform that allows anonymity.

But HappyAddis says neither of those options would work in his situation. Secret groups still require users’ real names, a non-starter for those who fear physical violence if their identity is revealed. Using a real name is “like outing yourself." “People will go and attack you. Even other gay people, you don’t trust them. How can you find out whether they’re real gay people using a real account?” Read More
South Korea: Samsung & Google censor LGBT content in some App stores
Samsung, one of South Korea’s largest business conglomerates and the largest maker of smartphones worldwide, rejected an application from gay hookup app Hornet to be listed in its app store in 2013. In a memo sent from Samsung to Hornet’s CEO, said the app could not be listed because, “due to the local moral values or laws, content containing LGBT is not allowed” in places like the Middle East, parts of east and south Asia, and LGBT-friendly places like the U.S. and the Nordic countries.

This kind of censorship of LGBT content — sometimes under government order and sometimes under internal corporate policies — reveals the paradox of South Korea: It is a hub of international industry, one of the most wired nations in the world, and a democracy closely allied with the United States. But it also has a government that has created an extensive censorship regime in the name of protecting the state from North Korea, with which it is technically still at war, and has extended that apparatus to monitoring “obscenity” and “material harmful to minors” in a way that often silences the LGBT community. Read More
US: New app 'MyTransHealth' will help trans patients find healthcare
MyFitnessPal, Uber and CityMapper are all apps which make things a little easier. However, a soon-to-be released app MyTransHealth is set to change life as we know it for trans people everywhere. The crowdsourced program will allow people to see reviews on doctors before attending an appointment, so they can choose the most trans-friendly. 

Users will be able to see how healthcare professionals match up in terms of inclusiveness under the categories medical, legal, mental health, and crisis. They can then delve even deeper and work out their score in terms of language and insurance issues.  Read More
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Is there a ‘gay voice’?
Filmmaker David Thorpe's documentary, “Do I Sound Gay?" explores the gay voice. The subject sounds slight, but Thorpe digs surprisingly deep, asking questions about stereotypes and self-loathing that are seldom asked. Putting himself on camera, Thorpe visits a speech therapist who points out his “upspeak,” his “nasality,” and his “singsong pattern.” He talks to a linguistics professor, a film historian, and a Hollywood voice coach who trains actors to sound straighter. He interviews gay public figures, who have had to listen to themselves for a living. He even asks people on the street if they think he sounds gay. “I woulda just maybe lumped you in with the artsy-fartsy,” one woman tells him.

The subject turns out to be a minefield, because what’s more connected to personality than the way we speak? Gay adolescents, Thorpe points out, often learn that the “tell” of their sexuality is their voices, even more so than physicality—a limp wrist is easier to straighten out than an inflection. The world’s homophobia becomes internalized homophobia. 

Any marginalized group faces its own version of this dilemma, whether it’s immigrants straining to erase their accents, the debate over Ebonics, or women of the “Lean In” age redefining what it means to be assertive without imitating men. As gays and lesbians gain cultural capital, helped along by equality victories like the one just handed down by the Supreme Court, “gay voice” will surely evolve, too. For more and more people, there will be less need to hide it, at school, at work, or on television. On the other hand, it could assimilate into oblivion. Read More
Asians respond to question: ‘Would you tell your parents if you were gay?’
Asian adults have revealed how their parents would respond if they came out as gay, in a video created to educate others about Asian culture and values. Titled ‘Would You Tell Your Parents If You Were Gay’, in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese, a range of adults of all ages answer three important questions: ‘What do Asians think of same-sex marriage?’, ‘Would you you tell your parents if you were gay?’ and ‘What would you do if your son or daughter was gay/lesbian?’

Despite many negative attitudes, some video participants were more accepting. ‘It’s up to the younger people to do their research and see if they can change the minds of the generations before them,’ one woman explained. Read More
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Macedonia: Interview with Antonio Mihaylov: the LGBT community is at the margins of society in Macedonia
Antonio Mihajlov, president Subversive Fronts an association for a critical approach to gender and sexuality in Macedonian capital Skopje spoke in an interview about the position of the LGBT population in Macedonia. He discusses LGBT people's place in society and the government's position towards the community. He also discusses the impact of the current socio-political situation in the position of the LGBT population, same-sex marriage, and plans of LGBT activists for the future. Read More
US: What’s marriage equality got to do with intersex?
Professor and author Georgiann Davis describes the challenge many intersex people go through in discovering and identifying with a gender and how marriage plays a part. excerpt

Intersex people have, consciously or not, been queering marriage long before activists were fighting for marriage equality. Some intersex people, encouraged by medical providers who wanted to make sure our gender identity aligned with the sex they surgically constructed, looked to heterosexual partnering to validate their gender identity.

As it was in my case, marriage was a path by which intersex people learned to accept themselves as “real” women, or in some cases “real” men, while also pleasing their parents, medical providers, and others in their lives by assuring them they made the correct medically unnecessary and irreversible surgical decisions.

When the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage was a constitutional right, my social media exploded with excitement. Many of my intersex friends from around the world also shared these celebrations. But marriage has historically functioned as a heteronormative institution, and one of the primary ways intersex people have validated their gender assignment and normalized their selves. So I wasn’t surprised that the marriage equality ruling also seemed to cause some uneasiness among a few, albeit a minority, of intersex people and parents of intersex children. Read More
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Australia: The importance of LGBTI indigenous inclusion
Does LGBTI solidarity exclude Indigenous people? Andrew Farrell urges non-Indigenous LGBTI people to look to inclusion: We live in a diverse system of social and cultural worlds, all of which are performed on Indigenous land. On a practical level, what can you — as non-Indigenous LGBTI people — do to support racially-diverse minorities? 

As an Indigenous person first and foremost, I am obliged to be aware of the land I am standing on. As a queer-identified person, I have often felt that I have had to forfeit my cultural identity and its conventions in order to belong. Minority inclusion, awareness, and representation are important for mediating that space.

I shouldn’t have to adjust or calibrate my cultural identity in order to exist in the LGBTI community. The LGBTI community prides itself on being diverse. That diversity is not limited to our sexual and gendered identities. Read More
Puerto Rico: Swimmer on how life has changed since he sent out this tweet: ‘Yes… I AM GAY… Who cares?’
Puerto Rico's Junior National Swim Team Javier Ruisanchez, 18, on coming out to his family and friends. Read More
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UK: This weird and amazing video wants to encourage gay men to use condoms Read More
Australia: Former footballer Lachlan Beaton shares agony of coming out in touching video See more
Science Expert Bill Nye explains why homosexuality is perfectly natural and practiced by different species Read More
Sri Lanka: Equal Ground presents a wholly homegrown composition "Nothing but Pride" was filmed entirely on location.
 
Finland: The tear-jerker moment as man with HIV breaks down in tears as he is hugged by strangers during project inviting passers-by to touch him Read More
Italy: Sports magazine causes outrage over gay kiss on cover 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 © 2015 Richard Burzynski, All rights reserved.

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