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19 June 2015 edition


Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a new report stating that LGBT people are victims of "pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination" in all regions of the world. In the report, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein says that legal equality for LGBT people is overshadowed by "brutal" and "grotesque" homophobic and transphobic violence that often goes unreported and unpunished.

UNAIDS and partners hosted health and media experts to discuss using new media and technologies for HIV prevention among gay men and other men who have sex with men. And the WHO published a major new report "Sexual health, human rights and the law" with special attention to stigmatized groups that draws from a review of public health evidence and extensive research into human rights law.

HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: The new report from the Academy of Science of South Africa, "Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa" rejects the notion that homosexuality is a disease and provides a scientific investigation of each claim made by those promoting LGBT criminalization. Response to the report was swift, from the Ugandan National Academy of Sciences who endorsed the report to expert and academic commentaries that explored its implications.

The European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control published a new report, "Technical mission: HIV in Cyprus," on the jump in new HIV infections among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). In New Zealand, new HIV infections among gay men and other MSM is at the highest annual level since the start of the epidemic.

In the UK, a study found that nearly half of bisexuals experience discrimination when accessing either National Health Services or LGBT services. In Australia, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria reports that though many LGBTI people suffer from domestic abuse, but few support services exist for the community. And in Canada, a bill has been approved to ban 'conversion therapy' for LGBTQ youth.

From the World of Politics: The Constitutional Council of Kazakhstan rejected a gay propaganda bill that was modeled on Russia's anti-gay bill. The decision comes after Olympic athletes sent an open letter to the International Olympic Committee protesting the treatment of LGBT people in Kazakhstan, a final contender to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Mozambique approved a new penal code that decriminalizes same-sex intimacy. In Belize, activists hope that one man's Supreme Court case will bring down Caribbean anti-gay laws. With a decision pending two years after the hearing, Caleb Orozco's fight is far from over.

Despite pressure from right-wing organizations, the European Parliament has passed the EU Strategy for Equality Between Women and Men Post 2015 including demands for LGBTI rights. Member of European Parliament and Co-President of EU Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, Ulrike Lunacek stated:

The message of the Parliament is clear: It is time to take leadership on gender equality and LGBTI rights. The attempt by [the right] to delete all LGBTI content shows just how out of touch they have become with today’s society. Thankfully, the Parliament rejected their attempts.
In Sri Lanka, a political party leader of political party National Freedom Front called for the arrest of Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera after he voted in favor of gay rights at the UN. In Kenya, MP Irungu Kangata demanded the Judiciary explain donations from the UNDP and the Ford Foundation, organizations that "openly support gay rights," - he suggests the donations influenced the Court's recent pro-gay ruling.

From Gambia, in an 'astonishing' move, the government gave EU representative Agnes Guillaud 72 hours to leave the country. The expulsion came amid international backlash following President Yahya Jammeh's threat to 'slit the throats' of gay people. And out of the US, newly appointed LGBT envoy Randy Berry is on a 15-country diplomatic mission through Latin America, West and Eastern Europe, and Africa.

The Politics of Union: The Irish referendum on same-sex marriage has sparked movement in marriage equality across the world. The German Cabinet approved measures to expand rights of same-sex civil unions, but stopped short of legalizing gay marriage. Italy approved a motion on same-sex civil unions. And Greece has drafted a bill to approve same-sex civil unions.

In Costa Rica, a judge granted Central America's first gay common-law marriage, giving them the same benefits as traditionally married couples. In Greenland, the parliament unanimously passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage. And Guam has become the first US territory to recognize gay marriage, ahead of the Supreme Court ruling expected to come later this month.

Meanwhile, Poland's parliament has dropped a debate on civil partnerships, that could have regulated both gay and straight relationships. And in the US, the North Carolina state government has passed a law allowing officials to refuse to marry gay, interfaith, or interracial couples.

In the Name of Religion: Senior Vatican official Cardinal Parolin called the Irish referendum a defeat for humanity. Irish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin offered a more careful response, saying if the vote reflects views of young people then the church needs "a reality check." Meanwhile, the Vatican Ambassador to Iran, Bishop Leo Boccardi, met with Shiitte Scholar Ayatollah Hosseini Boushehri seeking an interfaith response to gay marriage and a dialogue to address "problems of this sort."

Only a day after 250,000 Italians marched for equality in the 21st Roma Pride event, in his public address, Pope Francis said heterosexual couples are essential for good parenting.

Out of Russia, the Orthodox Church cut ties with France's United Protestant Church, which allows the blessing of same-sex marriages, and the Church of Scotland, which allows ordaining clergy in same-sex civil unions. Out of Australia, Archbishop Denis Hart sent catholic school children and their families a booklet on 'the meaning of marriage.' drawing criticism from anti-bullying program and some principals.

In the UK, Professor Margaret Greenfield and Jewish groups are encouraging inclusion of LGBT people to enrich the community. And in the US, gay activist Matthew Vine is encouraging discussion among evangelicals about including young gay Christians.

Fear and Loathing: In Morocco, two French lesbian activists were expelled from the country for kissing in a pro-gay protest and two men were arrested for violating “public modesty” by standing too close. Out of the Ukraine, an anti-LGBT group called Zero Tolerance posted photos of LGBT activists, noting they "do not deserve to live."

In the US, a gay man has been repeatedly attacked, robbed, and the words "Die F**" carved into his arms. In Iraq, ISIS continues to murder men accused of being gay, this time dropping three men from a roof and posting the pictures online. In El Salvador, leading trans activist Francela Méndez Rodríguez and a friend were murdered. And in Turkey, where 7 trans people have been murdered in the last month, activists say the government encourages hate crimes.

A new report says that murders in the US of LGBT and HIV positive people in the US rose by 11% in 2014. And the rash of US LGBT teen suicides continued with the death of bisexual teen Adam Kizer, who had been bullied in and out of school for years.

Winds of Change: The Irish Parliament is posed to approve a progressive transgender identity law that will allow people to self-declare their gender on legal documents. In Colombia, Justice Minister Yesid Reyes has ruled trans people may change gender on government identification forms without psychiatric or physical evaluation.

Despite ongoing violence against LGBT in Turkey, trans people from neighboring Muslim countries are flocking to cosmopolitan Istanbul. And with publicity surrounding Olympian Caitlyn Jenner's transition, support for trans people in the US is at an all time high, though it is legal to discriminate against them in most states.

Chinese sexologist Li Yinhe discusses the changing face of China sexuality. And from Singapore, advocacy group for sex workers, 'Project X,' examines intersectionality of LGBT and mainstream issues.

In Japan, the gay rights movement continues to gain momentum, with Japan's First Lady Akie Abe saying, "I think that people should be much more open about those issues. I have realized that there are a surprising number of [gay] people around me." A new survey found that 7.6% of Japanese identify as LGBTI. And elsewhere, a survey from Australia found 7% of young people identify as gay.

On the March: Cyprus held its second successful Pride parade, with thousands turning out in support. Israel hosted its largest ever pride event with a special focus on the transgender community. And Brazil's 19th annual LGBT parade included 20 floats, dancers, and an estimated 2 million people.

In Ukraine, several dozen assailants attacked the Pride parade and injured police who were protecting participants. During Russia's 10th Moscow Pride police detained Pride participants, including the parade organizer, while around 30 anti-LGBT demonstrators hurled eggs at the activists.

Cape Verde will host its third consecutive event for LGBT equality with assorted activities, with the slogan "Do not be afraid to come out, we are with you."

In South Korea, the Court ruled that the police violated activists' right to protest when they banned the 16th annual Seoul Pride. Slovakia's 6th annual Pride parade has been cancelled, with organizers citing hostile climate. And in the UK, controversial conservative political party Ukip has been banned from joining London's Pride parade to ensure other participants' safety.

In the US, activists including LGBT immigrants, protested at the Immigration Customs Enforcement headquarters for the release of LGBT immigrants in detention centers who regularly suffer psychological and physical abuse. In the UK, asylum seeker Jamaican bisexual Orashia Edwards had his deportation flight cancelled, though the reprieve is temporary. And Iranian immigrant Tooji, Norway's representative in Europe's 60th Eurovision Song Contest, was banned from returning to Iran after speaking out on human rights abuses and LGBTI persecution.

The World of Business: A new analysis in Australia reports that legalized same-sex marriage could mean $1.2 billion to the economy. In the US state of Texas, a new initiative of pro-equality business leaders helped defeat anti-LGBT legislation.

Also from the US, seven openly gay ambassadors joined LGBTI envoy Randy Berry in pledging to support and promote equality, stating: “We are committed to working closely with the White House to ensure that any trade arrangement approved by Congress is a force for progress on human rights for everyone, including for LGBTI persons.” However, many are questioning the value of commitments with no action.

Sports and Culture: The International Olympic Committee rejected a petition to revoke Caitlyn Jenner's gold medal, won in 1976 as Bruce Jenner. Transgender American Samoan World Cup Star Jaiyah Saelua reflects on the hope inspired by Caitlyn's transition, while a US mom shares the inspiring moment when her trans daughter met Laverne Fox. And Australian teen Kai Clancy urges trans and gender initiatives to include Aboriginal people.

Three new photo exhibits explore the experience of being gay in small town Brazil, "black and queer" in South Africa, and "cross gender" children in Amsterdam. And gracing the cover of Europe's edition of Time magazine, lesbian Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera hopes to bring awareness to the plight of LGBT Ugandans to a broader audience.

Celebrities in the UK urge the government to keep the Human Rights Act, though PM Cameron is threatening to abandon it. In the US, a secondary school valedictorian was banned from giving his graduation speech when authorities saw he planned to come out as gay. Check out his speech.

New authors are filling the void in children's literature for trans and gender fluid kids. From Cambodia Q Magazine is providing a voice for the local LGBT community. And Palestine film Oriented gives insight to Tel Aviv's LGBT community.

Finally, check out this moving clip from Broadway musical Fun Home, based on lesbian author Alison Bechdel's childhood. The show took home the top US musical theatre award during this year's Tony Awards.
"As variation in sexual identities and orientations has always been part of a normal society, there can be no justification for attempts to ‘eliminate’ LGBTI from society. Efforts should rather be focused on countering the belief systems that create hostile and even violent environments for those who are made to feel alienated within societies...

The study suggests that African health professionals and their associations should adopt affirmative stances towards LGBTI individuals."


excerpt from The Academy of Science South Africa report "Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa".
UN: 'Brutal, grotesque' violence overshadows progress on LGBT equality
Progress towards giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people legal equality has been overshadowed by "brutal" and "grotesque" homophobic and transphobic violence which often goes unreported and unpunished, according to the United Nations. 

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured in recent years, in violence that included knife attacks, anal rape and genital mutilation, as well as stoning and dismemberment, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in the report. Yet the lack of effective systems for recording and reporting hate crimes against LGBT people masks the true extent of such violence.

"While some progress has been made since the first study in 2011, the overall picture remains one of continuing, pervasive, violent abuse, harassment and discrimination affecting LGBT and intersex persons in all regions," Hussein said. The report called for the implementation of anti-LGBT hate crimes laws, decriminalisation of consensual same-sex activity, legal protection for same-sex couples and their children and a ban on so-called "conversion therapies," which are intended to "cure" homosexual attraction. Read More

Access the full report here
World Health Organization: Sexual health, human rights and the law
This report demonstrates the relationship between sexual health, human rights and the law. Drawing from a review of public health evidence and extensive research into human rights law at international, regional and national levels, the report shows how states in different parts of the world can and do support sexual health through legal and other mechanisms that are consistent with human rights standards and their own human rights obligations.

The report notes there has been a rapid increase in the documentation and understanding of the nature of discrimination and inequality related to sexuality and sexual health. This includes information about the marginalization, stigmatization and abuse of those perceived as having socially unacceptable sexual practices or characteristics and the toll that discrimination takes on people’s health. Read More
UNAIDS: Using new media for the health and well-being 
UNAIDS, in collaboration with the Global Forum on MSM & HIV, the USAID funded LINKAGES programme and Health Policy Project, hosted health and media experts, including representatives of private dating platforms, programme implementers, researchers, and advocates for a meeting on using new media and communication technologies to affect the health of gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). 

Participants consulted to develop a framework to engage the private and public sectors in using new media technologies for HIV prevention.

Geng Le, Chief Executive Director of Chinese app 'Blued,' said: “Undeniably, gay social networking applications can be a great tool. Blued, as a gay dating application with social responsibility, is keen to make our platform available for HIV interventions. We just need to learn how to work more effectively and innovatively.” Read More
Cyprus: HIV infections on the rise
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has released a mission report on HIV in Cyprus. Up until 2005, levels of HIV infection in Cyprus were relatively low, with fewer than 30 new cases diagnosed annually. However, the number of new HIV cases diagnosed annually has steadily risen. These new cases occurred predominantly among men who have sex with men of Cypriot nationality.

It is unclear whether this increase is due to more testing (which results in more diagnoses), an increase in the number of HIV-positive people who returned to the country after having lived abroad, or to an actual increase in the number of HIV infections among MSM in Cyprus. This mission report addresses this issue and provides options on how Cyprus can respond to the epidemic. Read the report
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South Africa: African academics challenge homophobic laws
A Western import. Unnatural. Contagious. Un-African. All of these arguments and more have been invoked to support the numerous laws criminalizing homosexuality in Africa. But now African academics have used scientific evidence to argue against such laws and to urge African nations to abandon them.

In a report published by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the academics, most of whom are scientists, make the case that laws criminalizing homosexuality have no basis in science and hamper efforts to prevent and treat HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (see go.nature.com/q3rr4k).

Partly because those arguing in favour of criminalising sexual and gender diversity have made explicit appeals to science, this report examines the extent to which science supports any of the arguments that proponents of these new laws make. Drawing on recent scientific evidence and, where possible, on systematic reviews, the report seeks to provide an up-to-date overview of the state of the current biological, socio-psychological, and public health evidence and assess how this supports, or contests, the key arguments made in favour of new laws. Read More

Analysis: The Conversation – an independent site, sourced from the academic and research community – ran an extensive series on the report and implications. Expert scholars from around the world authored articles uncovering why there is such an anti-gay sentiment in Africa, local responses to tackling stigma and myths around sexuality, the science behind understanding sexual orientation and a warning from Professor Dennis Altman that to shift prejudice requires local organizing and local discourse - not international human rights rhetoric. Read the full series here.
Ugandan academy endorses pro-gay report
The Ugandan National Academy of Sciences (Unas) has endorsed a report that says homosexuality and gender and sexual diversity are natural phenomena, which contradicts Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s stance that homosexuality is abnormal and should be outlawed. Unas and the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (Assaf) are the only academies of science in Africa to endorse the report.

Uganda’s infamous anti-gay laws were justified with a study which Ugandan MPs claimed stated: “Homosexuality is not a disease but merely an abnormal behaviour which may be learned through experiences in life. In every society, there is a small number of people with homosexuality tendencies. Read More
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UK: Bisexuals still face discrimination from the National Health Services and LGBT services
With the legalisation of same sex marriage in Britain and Ireland given the green light over the past few years, it’s easy to assume attitudes toward the LGBT community are becoming more accepting. Yet despite this, a portion of bisexual people are still experiencing discrimination.

Almost half of bisexuals claim to have experienced biphobic comments while accessing mainstream services, a new report launched by the Equality Network found. Biphobia was most commonly experienced within NHS and LGBT services. The research is said to be the first UK-wide research report on bisexual people’s experience of services. The study revealed 66% respondents felt they had to pass as straight and 42% felt they had to pass as gay or lesbian while accessing services.

More than a quarter of those asked claimed to have experienced prejudice even when accessing LGBT services. One respondent reported they had “heard lots of negative comments about bisexual people and dismissal of the need to include bisexual people”. Another respondent reported being told that “bisexuals are ‘confused’ and not as good as ‘real gays’”. Read More
Australia: Domestic violence in gay and transgender community neglected
Domestic violence rates among LGBTI Victorians mirror the broader community but support services are not equipped to provide adequate help, a leading research centre has reported. Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria is calling for better-targeted training for family violence support services and the justice system.

The research centre's submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence said too many abuse victims in  the LGBTI community suffer in isolation.

"Generally services are indicating they haven't thought about [the LGBTI community] much or aren't confident," submission author Dr Horsley said. She said support services needed specific training in dealing with the LGBTI community. Read More
New Zealand: Increasing HIV+ numbers strain services
Figures released show that for three years the number of new diagnoses amongst men who have sex with men has continued to rise, to the point where it is at the highest annual level since the epidemic started. Opinions are mixed as to the contribution to the high rate of diagnoses of heightened HIV testing campaigns, immigrant communities with less knowledge of HIV and how to avoid it and the increasing pool of people with HIV.

The country's largest HIV peer-support and advocacy organisation, Body Positive, already has 800 people on its books and funding to provide services to the increasing numbers of gay and bi men with HIV is not keeping up with demand, says Body Positive general manager Mark Fischer. Read More
Canada: Conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth to be banned in Ontario
Ontario has given final approval to an NDP private member's bill that bans so-called conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children.

New Democrat Cheri DiNovo says therapists should not try to "fix" LGBTQ kids or subject them to what she calls unethical and abusive conversion therapy. DiNovo says not only did Ontario allow conversion therapies to go on too long, the province actually covered the treatments under its health insurance plan, a practice that ends now. Read More
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Kazakhstan: Constitutional Council rejects “Gay Propaganda” bill
Kazakhstan has thrown out a Russian-style bill that would ban “propagandizing non-traditional sexual orientation” to minors. The bill passed Kazakhstan’s Senate in February but had not yet been signed into law by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The council cited technical reasons in its decision to reject the bill. 

Though this prevents this bill from being signed into law, the council ruled that Kazakhstan’s government can enact laws that restrict citizens’ rights to access and distribute information as part of its responsibility to “defend marriage and family, motherhood, fatherhood and childhood.” 

The decision comes after a group of prominent athletes including Olympic diving gold medalist Greg Louganis, tennis great Martina Navratilova, and Olympic snowboarder Belle Brockhoff signed an open letter calling on the International Olympic Committee to uphold its non-discrimination principles. Kazakhstan and China are the two remaining nations bidding to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Almaty and Beijing respectively. Read More
Mozambique: New penal code decriminalising homosexuality set to take effect
A new penal code in Mozambique will soon come into effect under which same-sex intimacy is no longer illegal. The new criminal code is set to come into effect in June, and removes a clause which previously allowed “security measures” to be taken against people “who habitually engage in vices against nature.”

Although homosexuality was not specifically mentioned under the old penal code, it was sometimes interpreted that “vices against nature” referred to same-sex intimacy. The previous penal code had been in place, aside from some amendments, since Mozambique was a Portuguese colony, and was written in 1887. Although homosexuality will soon be legal in Mozambique, the law will still offer no protections for LGBT people against discrimination. Read More
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Belize: The lonely fight against Belize’s anti-gay laws
In Belize — a small Anglophone Caribbean nation tucked into the eastern flank of Guatemala and Mexico — “batiman” (Creole for, literally, “butt man”) has long been the supreme slur against gay men, the worst possible insult to their personhood and dignity. But now another slur is beginning to take its place: “Orozco.”

Five years ago, Caleb Orozco’s lawyer walked into the Belize Supreme Court Registry and initiated the first challenge in Caribbean history to the criminalization of sodomy. Caleb Orozco v. the Attorney General of Belize focuses on Section 53, a statute in the criminal code that calls for a 10-year prison term for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” If Orozco won, his supporters hoped, it would establish a moral precedent across the Caribbean and even create a domino effect, pressuring other governments to decriminalize sodomy. But it took 3 years for the Supreme Court to hear the case; 2 years later, the nation still awaits a verdict.

Caleb Orzco is Belize’s most reviled homosexual and its most ostracized citizen, a man whom fundamentalists pray for and passers-by scorn. His weary face is on the evening news and in newspaper caricatures. His name is now a label, one used to remind other gays that they are sinners and public offenders. Read More
Gambia: EU anger over expulsion of top diplomat
The European Union was 'astonished' when EU representative Agnes Guillaud was expelled from Gambia without explanation, said a spokeswoman. Guillaud had 72 hours to leave the country. The EU has been critical of The Gambia's human rights record, particularly regarding its laws penalising homosexuality. Last year the EU blocked nearly $15m in aid to Gambia. 

President Yahya Jammeh has governed the small west African nation with a firm hand since he came to power in a coup 20 years ago. He has crushed dissent and faces mounting international criticism over issues ranging from human rights to his stated belief that he can cure Aids. The president has also implemented tough measures against Gambia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He has called gay people "vermin" and has threatened to slit their throats.

The EU summoned the Gambian ambassador to seek an explanation for the expulsion, officials said. Read More
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Sri Lanka's foreign minister threatened with arrest after UN vote
Sri Linka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera should be arrested for voting in favor of gay rights at the UN, an MP has said.

Wimal Weerawansa, leader of the National Freedom Front, said the minister had violated the country's penal code by voting against a Russia resolution calling for the withdrawal of partner benefits to gay and lesbian UN employees. Read More
Kenya: MP makes a stink over Sh167m donated to Judiciary
Member of Parliament Irungu Kangata wants Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Chief Registrar Anne Amadi to explain what Sh87 million from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and a further Sh80 million from the Ford Foundation was meant for. The two organizations, he said, have openly declared support for same sex rights.

The Sh167 million was allocated for “capacity building” for the Judicial Service Commission, with an extra Sh2 billion from the National Treasury set aside for the expansion of magistrates courts.

Mr Kangata also challenged the Judiciary to open up about a seminar organized by Ford Foundation and attended by a number of judges days before the High Court ruled that the Registrar of Societies should facilitate the registration of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) society.

“I want the Judiciary to come clean on this seminar and tell us the agenda… and who attended it. I am posing questions… so that (those of) us who are litigants in the appeal against the ruling can ask the said judges to disqualify themselves.” Read More
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European Parliament votes for LGBTI rights in EU Gender equality strategy
In a landmark vote, the European Parliament has demanded to include LGBTI rights in a future EU gender equality strategy. Though the right parties of the EU, the European People’s Party (EPP) and European Conservative and Reformists Party (ECR), of which the UK Conservative Party is a member, attempted to delete all LGBTI content, the strategy passed with the LGBTI content in tact.

Specifically on LGBT issues, the parliament has made several changes to its strategy, including: ensuring the full legal recognition of a person’s preferred gender, demanding an inclusive definition of families in labour and family law, and tackling LGBT prejudice in schools. The Parliament also reiterated its call to adopt a separate strategy on LGBT rights. Read More
US: LGBT Envoy wants to get by with a little help from our friends
Newly appointed U.S. LGBT rights envoy Randy Berry doesn’t see his primary job as weighing in in countries where LGBT rights are most embattled. Instead, he’s targeting “the vast set of countries in the middle” on the question of embracing LGBT rights as a human rights concern.

Berry is beginning a 15-country swing through Latin America and Europe set to coincide with LGBT Pride Month. Though Berry is working on plans to head to Uganda in July, he is first visiting countries that have made rapid progress on LGBT rights over the past few years to get ideas on what strategies have been most effective.

“A great deal of leadership is coming out of several places in Latin America,” Berry said, adding that he hoped the trip would generate ideas on how to diffuse the attack often made by LGBT rights opponents that the U.S. is forcing acceptance of homosexuality on the rest of the world. Berry is kicking off his tenure by emphasizing his role as an international emissary, but he has also been charged by Secretary of State John Kerry with coordinating the U.S.’s response to anti-LGBT crackdowns when they occur. Read More
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How Ireland's gay marriage referendum created a wave of hope for LGBT people
The Irish referendum on same-sex marriage has created a wave of hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality across Europe and indeed the rest of the world. Last weekend, 62% of Irish voters chose to back gay marriage in what the archbishop of Dublin described as "a social revolution."

The passing of the law in Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, is already having a knock on effect all over the world, even in Italy, which has long been considered the home of the Catholic Church. Politicians in several countries are making renewed attempts to advance marriage equality legislation. German, Italian, and Australian lawmakers have all launched new efforts to allow same-sex couples to wed after an historic vote for marriage equality in Ireland. Read More
Costa Rica: Grants first gay common-law marriage in Central America
A Costa Rican judge has granted the first openly gay common-law marriage in Central America, said Francisco Madrigal, political affairs director for the Center for Research and Promotion of Human Rights in Central America.

Gerald Castro and Cristian Zamora, a gay couple in the city of Goicoechea, north of San José, were granted a common-law marriage by the Family Court. Along with being the first legal recognition of a same-sex relationship in Central America, the decision could set an example for judges elsewhere in the country to recognize gay relationships and even adoption. But both supporters and opponents of the decision expect a forthcoming legal battle over the landmark ruling.

Common-law marriage grants all the same benefits of a traditional marriage in Costa Rica, but requires the approval of a judge after the couple has been together for at least 3 years. It guarantees partners the rights to inheritance, to social security and public insurance benefits and to visit the other person in the hospital. Costa Rica does not currently recognize gay marriage but a bill is pending in the Legislative Assembly that would approve civil unions here. Read More
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Germany: Cabinet okays more rights for same-sex couples
Germany's cabinet on Wednesday approved a raft of draft measures to extend the rights of same-sex couples but faced criticism for allowing only civil unions, not full gay marriage.

Three days after Ireland voted "Yes" to gay marriage in a referendum, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert defended the moves that aim to ensure equal treatment for gay couples without granting them the right to legally wed.

"We will, in Germany, have to find our way," he told reporters. "Non-discrimination against civil partnerships is the clear goal of government policy. Read More

Italy: Gay civil unions measures passed
Italy's Lower House on Wednesday approved a motion on same-sex civil unions promoted by the Democratic Party. The motion commits the government "to promote the adoption of a law on civil unions, particularly with regard to the condition of the people of same sex". It also commits the government "to ensure equal treatment throughout the nation" of civil unions. Read More

Greece to grant gay couples right to civil union
Greece's radical-left government on Wednesday proposed a bill to grant same-sex couples the right to a civil union, two years after the European Court of Human Rights condemned the country's existing legislation as discriminatory. Read More
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Greenland: Parliament unanimously passes same-sex marriage laws
The autonomous Arctic country of Greenland followed the lead of its former colonial master Denmark by legalizing same-sex marriage in a parliamentary vote that follows the Irish referendum on the same subject.

Greenland, which is three-quarters covered by sub-Arctic ice sheet and is the worlds most sparsely populated country, had gay marriage legalised by a 27-0 legislative vote yesterday. 
 
Greenland’s proposal to allow same-sex marriage was first brought up in 2010 but because the issue was seen as something to be decided by the Kingdom of Denmark, the plans were put on the back burner until Denmark passed its same-sex marriage legislation in June 2012. Read More
US: Guam becomes first US territory to recognize gay marriage after judge strikes down ban
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood issued the decision and gay couples can begin applying for marriage licenses, the Pacific Daily News reported. Attorneys representing the government of Guam said in a May 18 court document that "should a court strike current Guam law, they would respect and follow such a decision."

Loretta M. Pangelinan and Kathleen M. Aguero filed the lawsuit in April after the 28-year-old women were denied a marriage license. They based their lawsuit on a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year in favor of same-sex marriage.

Attorneys for the Guam plaintiffs had argued the territory must fall in line with the 9th Circuit decision and accept marriage license applications unless the U.S. Supreme Court rules otherwise. Currently, gay couples can marry in 36 states, the District of Columbia and now, Guam. Read More
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Poland: Parliament drops civil partnership debate
The Sejm lower parliamentary house has voted against a debate on a bill which would regulate civil partnerships – both heterosexual and homosexual – in Poland. The proposed law – which was put forward by the Democratic Left Alliance – foresees the possibility of joint payment of income tax, the right to inheritance as well as social security benfits in the event of one of the partner’s deaths. However, the bill will likely now be shelved after MPs overwhelmingly voted against any discussion on the matter.

“We are lied to by politicians – mostly conservative – who say that Poland is not ready for civil partnerships, let alone [same-sex] marriage,” said head of the Campaign Against Homophobia, Agata Chaber. “That is a lie, Poland is ready,” she said. Read More

US: North Carolina allows officials to refuse to perform gay marriages
North Carolina House of Representatives overrode Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a new bill that allows magistrates to refuse to marry any couple if they have a “sincerely held religious objection.” The Senate already overrode the veto, meaning the bill is now law. In addition to exempting magistrates, the measure permits registers of deeds to refuse to issue marriage licenses to any couple on religious grounds. From now on, a magistrate or register of deeds need only assert that serving a gay couple (or interracial couple, or interfaith couple) violates her religious beliefs. As soon as she does, she will be allowed to refuse to do her job. Read More
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Vatican says Ireland gay marriage vote is 'defeat for humanity'
A senior Vatican official has attacked the legalisation of gay marriage in Ireland.  “I was deeply saddened by the result,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state. “The church must take account of this reality, but in the sense that it must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation. I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity.” 

The remarks by the Vatican’s top diplomat, who is seen as second only to the pope in the church’s hierarchy, represent the most damning assessment of the Irish vote by a senior church official to date.

It was a far more critical response than the circumspect reaction offered by archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who said: “It is very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people … [then the church needs] a reality check.” 

While the results were celebrated by advocates of gay rights in Ireland and around the world, it was also seen as a stark symbol of how wide the chasm has grown between young people in what has traditionally been a staunchly Catholic country and the church itself, which says that homosexual acts are a sin and vehemently opposes gay marriage. Read More
Iran: Bishop ​Leo Boccardi, the Holy See Ambassador to Iran seeks interfaith response to gay marriage 
Bishop ​Leo Boccardi, the Holy See Ambassador to Iran says that he would like to see an interfaith solution to  problems such as the legalization of gay marriage in Ireland. The Apostolic Nuncio to Iran​ made his comments during a meeting with Ayatollah Hosseini Boushehri, the President of Iran's Seminary Schools.  

Boccardi is quoted saying, "A referendum in Ireland took place that legalizes marriage between two men. Now what should we do and how can we respond to this?... My hope is that religions can start a dialogue among themselves and keep close contacts to address problems of this sort."

When asked by his host about the reason for the lack of a strong response from the Vatican against the spread of homosexuality, he said, "In today's societies, secularism is institutionalized and the separation of church and state has made religion a personal choice... Over the past 50 years, a trend has been growing that distinguishes between morality and faith, allowing the people of faith to commit immoral acts." Read More
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Italy: LGBT pride to demand respect for human rights
Twenty floats, a procession and thousands of participants--the 21st annual Roma Pride was a parade full of color, music and fun. A party with a serious message: the recognition of the rights, as recently happened with the referendum in Ireland. Organizers said over 250,000 attended the event. Leading the march, the mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino , who commented: "We are here to celebrate. Rome, the host city, the city that believes in love, has made ​​promises and kept them all. In Rome love counts." Read More
Vatican: Children need heterosexual parents, says pope after gay pride march
Pope Francis stressed the importance of children having heterosexual parents, just a day after Rome’s gay pride march demonstrated the changing attitudes about same-sex couples outside the Vatican walls. Addressing around 25,000 followers from the Diocese of Rome, the pope said the differences between men and women are fundamental and “an integral part of being human.”

The pontiff likened a long-lasting marriage to a good wine, in which a husband and wife make the most of their gender differences.

“They’re not scared of the differences!” the pope said. “What great richness this diversity is, a diversity which becomes complementary, but also reciprocal. It binds them, one to the other.” Heterosexual marriages not only ensured couples’ happiness, the pontiff said, but were essential for good parenting. Read More
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Russian Orthodox Church ends ties with protestants over gay marriage
The Russian Orthodox Church says it is severing ties with the main protestant churches of France and Scotland over the issue of same-sex unions. The Moscow Patriarchate said that "formal contacts" with the two institutions were pointless after France's United Protestant Church last month voted to allow pastors to bless same-sex marriages and the Church of Scotland approved ordaining clergy in same-sex civil unions.

"We regretfully acknowledge, that today we have a new divide in the Christian world, not only regarding theological subjects, but regarding moral issues as well," the patriarchate said in a statement.

The Moscow Patriarchate noted that it had previously suspended ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church in 2003 after it consecrated an openly gay bishop, and with Sweden's Lutheran Church after it sanctioned ceremonies for civil unions in 2005. Read More
Australian Archbishop Denis Hart lobbies parents to support 'the meaning of marriage'
Children at Catholic schools have been sent home with glossy booklets that oppose gay marriage following a request by the Archbishop of Melbourne. The 15-page booklet, "Don't Mess With Marriage" said redefining marriage would have "far-reaching consequences". "All marriages would come to be defined by intensity of emotion rather than a union founded on sexual complementarily and potential fertility."

The Safe Schools Coalition, which works to create a safe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students, urged principals not to distribute the material. The coalition's co-ordinator, Roz Ward, said the material could damage the mental health and wellbeing of same-sex attracted young people, by suggesting their relationships were unnatural or not as important.

 "At school it is particularly important that they can feel they can be themselves and valued for who they. In a situation where you feel that is not valued, everything else becomes more difficult." She said same-sex families who sent their children to Catholic schools would see this as a "direct attack on their existence as gay Catholics". Read More
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How recognizing LGBT Jewish identities and ritual practice enriches the entire Jewish community
Ritual Reconstructed is a collaborative project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project is a partnership between Liberal Judaism and several universities to work with London-based Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex communities to explore faith rituals which combine both Jewish and LGBTQI identities.

We’re working with film, performance, installation and narrative storytelling to look at the ways in which Jewish LGBTQI people engage in religious and community life.

We are also working with Rabbis, philosophers and theologians to enable us to explore the importance of  ‘queering’ text and to think about how we can challenging hetero-normative assumptions about what it means to be a ‘good Jew’. The aim of the project is not only to demonstrate the richness, pride and imagination LGBTQI Jews bring to ritual practice, but also to show the importance of inclusive religious identities.  Read More
US: Evangelicals open door to debate on gay rights
As a young, gay Christian activist, Matthew Vines considered it a victory just to get into a room at a conservative Christian university with influential evangelicals who disagreed with him over what the Bible says about homosexuality. Youth ministers and chaplains are studying how to respond to students struggling with their sexual identities. Governing boards are re-examining their policies on allowing openly gay people in Bible studies. And pastors are preaching and writing about, rather than ignoring, the recent books arguing that the Bible can be read to support same-sex marriage.

Few are dropping their opposition. But aware that they are seen by many as bigots, some evangelical leaders are trying to figure out how to stand firm without alienating the rising share of Americans — especially younger ones — who know gay people and support gay rights, or who may themselves come out as gay.

“Because this is such a relatively new thing, pastors and church people want to know, ‘How do we navigate this, and how do we navigate this well, without doubling down or capitulating?’ ” Glenn T. Stanton, the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, said. Read More
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Turkey: LGBTI activists say 'You can murder f*gs, there is no penalty for that'
Seven trans women were assaulted in Istanbul in the last month. Kıvılcım Arat of Istanbul LGBTI said: “It is the government, which avoids producing legislation [against hate crimes] and which issues press statements that point people out as targets, who is responsible for the increase in assaults.”

Kıvılcım Arat, member of the board of directors of Istanbul LGBTI [sic] tied the high number of assaults during the month to the statements by government authorities. While they have avoided issuing statements regarding LGBTIs up until now, government authorities have begun bringing the issue to the forefront as the elections are approaching. Arat reminds us of the statements by President Erdoğan, “We do not put forth homosexual candidates,” and by Prime Minister Davutoğlu, “Homosexuals caused the destruction of the tribe of Lot.”

“Ever since the HDP [which has an LGBTI candidate and actively campaigns for LGBTI rights] started its election campaign, statements by government authorities about LGBTIs have encouraged people to commit hate crimes. Read More
Ukraine: Nationalists post photo album threatening LGBT activists
Groups affiliated with far-right Ukrainian nationalists have launched online campaigns threatening LGBT activists after an LGBT rights march was attacked.

“For the first time I am afraid for my and my boyfriend’s lives,” LGBT activist Dmitry Pikakhchi said. “Considering the number of these posts, the number of participants [of the group] and the radicalism — I think that the danger is more than real.” Pikakhchi said he was especially worried about a group called Zero Tolerance hosted on the Russian-owned social network VKontakte, which is the dominant social network in much of the former Soviet Union. The group, which has more than 2,800 followers, has posted a photo album of at least a dozen people the group’s moderators say are LGBT activists. 

“These degenerates do not deserve to live,” said one person who posted to page. Another wrote, “Homothugs will be destroyed.” Read More
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Iraq: Gripped by his ankles, a gay man is dropped to his death by ISIS executioner
Militants fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq have brutally murdered three gay men by throwing them from the top of a high building in front of a huge crowd of bloodthirsty onlookers.

Disturbing photographs of the atrocity - believed to have been taken place in ISIS' stronghold Mosul - shows one man being dangled over the edge of the building by his ankles before being dropped. In the event the horrifically injured men are not killed upon impact with the ground, the baying crowd are encouraged to surge forward and stone them to death with a mass of rocks helpfully provided by the ISIS savages who organise the terror group's sickening public executions.
Read More (Warning graphic images)
El Salvador: Leading trans activist murdered
A leading trans activist was killed recently in El Salvador, prompting calls by human rights groups to ensure the authorities to prosecute and punish those responsible.

Francela Méndez Rodríguez was murdered by a group of unknown assailants while she was visiting the home of a friend in Sonsonate, which is roughly 40 miles west of the capital San Salvador. Her friend Consuela Flores Martínez, was also killed.

The 29-year-old had been a member of Salvadoran trans advocacy group Colectivo Alejandría since it was founded in 2010, working tirelessly for human rights and in HIV prevention programs. Read More
Morocco: Gay men to be tried for violating 'public modesty' over photo
Two Moroccan gay men are set to go on trial for violating “public modesty” after holding each other for a photo at a historic site in Rabat, and could go to jail for up to three years. Mohsine and Lahcen were touring and taking pictures near Hassan tower, the capital’s famous minaret, earlier in June when they were arrested by the police for supposedly standing too close to each other, activists said. It is not clear if the men were in a relationship.

Last month, Morocco sentenced three gay people to three years in jail, the first time the authorities are known to have used the maximum sentence to punish homosexuals. This week, the latest issue of Maroc Hebdo magazine controversially asked on its cover: “Should we burn gays?”

On Tuesday authorities arrested two French members of the controversial feminist campaign Femen after they protested topless in front of a Rabat landmark against Morocco’s treatment of gays. The women, one of whom had the slogan “in gay we trust” written in black on her torso, were expelled Tuesday evening. They had protested in front of the Hassan Tower, a landmark minaret in Rabat. Read More
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US: Murders of LGBT and HIV-positive people in the US rise 11% in 2014
Homicides targeting LGBTQ and HIV-positive people rose by 11% in the US last year, making 2014 the deadliest year for people in those communities since 2012, according to a report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. While the report shows that non-lethal attacks against LGBTQ and HIV-positive people has decreased, transgender women of color were still found to be at high risk of murder.

The report, which drew from data across 14 states, comes after a transgender woman was thrown on to subway tracks in NYC, the same week Caitlyn Jenner introduced her new identity as a transgender woman to the world, to a largely positive reception.

“This year, the report reconfirms some of the trends we’ve seen for multiple years and that includes a high number of homicides,” said Chai Jindasurat, co-director of community organizing and public advocacy. Read More
US: They carved ‘Die F**’ into his arms
Rick Jones suffered horrific wounds after a vicious homophobic attack. Then the thugs went after his family. Detectives are trying to catch whoever did this by ramping up their patrols and keeping a closer eye on the victim. But the string of attacks is doing a number on a the town of Delta, Utah (population just under 3,500) which was described by Jones’s mom as a real life utopia. 

The attack on Jones was particularly ferocious. But it wasn’t uncommon, unfortunately. Out of the almost 6,000 hate crimes committed in 2013—the last year for which statistics are available—20 percent (approximately 1,200 that year) were based on victims’ sexual orientation, according to the FBI.

The family-owned Grand Central Pizzeria, which Jones runs along with his sisters and parents, has a policy in place for safety’s sake to never close up solo. “He sent his last employees home for the night saying, ‘I’ll finish this,’” Ricky’s mom Terri Jones, who works as a chef at the eatery, told The Daily Beast. “My son, being a male, was thinking he’s invincible.” Read More
US: Father of bisexual teen who died by suicide: 'It’s the worst pain you can ever imagine'
For the father of bisexual teenager Adam Kizer, the pain is still fresh, days after his son was taken off life support last weekend following a suicide attempt. He was 16.

According to the Post Democrat, on May 17, Contra Costa, Calif., "sheriff’s deputies took [Adam] for a mental health evaluation,” but released him claiming he wasn’t a risk to himself. On May 26, not 10 days later, Adam killed himself.

Adam came out as bisexual six months ago, to a supportive family and to friends. However, his father said, “I don’t think the boy went a whole week without somebody messing with him.” School officials told the local media they were oblivious to the bullying. Read More
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Ireland: Poised to have better transgender identity law than most of the world
This month Ireland may go from not legally recognizing transgender people to having one of the best trans identity laws in the world. The nation made history when it became the first country in the world to approve gay marriage by a popular vote. Ireland may once again make history by allowing transgender people over the age of 18 to self-declare their gender on legal documents solely based on their self-determination, and without any medical intervention.

Minister of State Kevin Humphreys explained: As the marriage equality referendum has been passed there is no Constitutional barrier to a person in a marriage or civil partnership having their preferred gender legally recognised. Read More
Turkey: Transgender people fight for recognition and representation
Transgender people from more conservative Muslim countries such as Syria and Iraq are moving to a flourishing LGBT community in Istanbul, Turkey’s most cosmopolitan and liberal city, to live. Yet LGBT people still struggle to fit into mainstream Turkish society. Transgender people are often assaulted in the street, even killed by their own family members. LGBT have trouble finding jobs. Most enter into the sex trade, lacking any other employment opportunities. 

This year Deva Ozenen, a transgender woman, is running for parliament for the first time, one of only four openly LGBT candidates seeking national office. 

The transgender community in Turkey, Sechil says, hopes that if it is represented in parliament it might have a better chance of gaining quicker approval for gender reassignment surgeries. It’s possible to get the operation in the country, but as the law stands now, Turkish citizens can legally undergo gender reassignment operations only if preceded by sterilization. Read More
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US: Transgender people are more visible than ever, but it's still legal to discriminate against them in most states
Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover was met with an outpouring of love and acceptance. Though Jenner's coming out marks a huge moment for trans visibility, daily discrimination and violence is still the norm for thousands of transgender Americans. The rate of violence against trans women, especially trans women of color, is alarming -- according to a 2013 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 72% of victims of anti-LGBTQ homicide were transgender women, and 89% of victims were people of color. 

It's not surprising there are so many health and safety issues in the trans community -- in many places there aren't laws to protect them from housing or workplace discrimination, and hate crime legislation is nonexistent or doesn't include trans people as a protected group. Read More
US: My daughter, Caitlyn Jenner, and Laverne Cox
Blogger Marlo Mack, who chronicles raising her transgender daughter, captures the hope that has spread by the positive media surrounding Jenner and Cox. In a recent post, Mack shared what happened when her daughter was able to meet Ms. Cox:

Laverne waved her Hollywood wave at the crowd, thanked us graciously, and then looked down at the little girl blocking her path. “Well, hello,” she said. “I’m M.,” my daughter said. Laverne smiled down at her. “Hello, M.” “And I’m trans,” M. said. I don’t think Ms. Cox saw that coming. Read More
Colombia: Changing gender identity card is fast and simple
Members of Colombia’s transgender community now will have an easier time changing their names and sex on identification cards under a new law. Colombians will be able to change their sex on identification forms without having to prove their sexual identity through psychiatric or physical evaluations.

Justice Minister Yesid Reyes told Colombian newspaper El Espectador he approved the rule change Friday to allow people to change their sex on government-issued ID cards by signing a document before a notary, bypassing the “cumbersome” way those changes currently are approved.

Nevertheless, Colombia’s transgender community remains vulnerable to discrimination and violence. Nearly 70 transgender people have been slain in Colombia in the last eight years, according to Todd Howland, the U.N. human rights representative in Colombia. Read More
Chinese Sexologist Opens Up About the Future for China's LGBT Community
Li Yinhe, born in Beijing in 1952, is a sociologist, sexologist, and LGBT activist and has studied sexuality in China for over four decades. She is also considered a pioneer of gender studies and advocate of sexual openness in China. She shared with us the huge changes she has seen in China, throughout the entire country as well as within the LGBT community.

“I believe the changes [in attitudes towards sex] have been huge. In the past, sex was only a way to produce children and expand your family. Since the implementation of family planning, this was bound to change since families were only allowed to have one child, or two in the countryside. Now people have sex for their own enjoyment rather than just as a means to procreate,” Li says.

“I remember about 20 years ago, in the People’s Daily, homosexuality, prostitution, and drugs were all supposedly linked to social evils. This was the media’s attitude towards the LGBT community before, and a main reason for discrimination against the LGBT community.”

Li emphasizes the increasing visibility of the LGBT community, and how much more frequently they are now mentioned in state media. This wasn’t the same even 10 years ago, when everybody was convinced that no one was gay, and so they had never met someone who purported to be homosexual. The LGBT community back then was completely invisible. Read More
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Singapore: In the line of duty
Introducing Project X, a Singapore-based sex workers' rights advocacy group that recognizes the intersectionalities of LGBT and mainstream issues. Its head, Vanessa Ho, laments that much remains to be done to help better the lives of those in the sex industry – the LGBT community, for one, “needs to be more embracing of other minorities” – but she also believes that those in the industry can take steps to help alleviate their situation. “Don’t stay silent. Speak out,” she says. Read More
Japan: Gay Rights Movement Gains Steam
To get a local council here to grant symbolic recognition to same-sex couples, the main pitch wasn’t about civil rights but about sharpening the ward’s cutting-edge image at home and abroad: “We need to be on par with London, New York and San Francisco as a cultural center,” said Ken Hasebe, who pushed the issue for 3 years as an assembly member in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

His success this spring in passing the ordinance—the first of its kind in Japan—illustrates how changes under way in the West are having ripple effects elsewhere, even in deeply conservative countries like Japan. Many activists see the ordinance as a monumental step, however, because it has helped ignite a public discussion about long-ignored issues such as antigay discrimination.

Mr. Hasebe said he avoided painting same-sex partnerships as a human-rights issue to appeal to a wider audience and avoid arguments with conservative assembly members.

“I told them, only we, Shibuya, could be so bold and diverse,” the 43-year-old said in an interview. The ward, with about 200,000 residents, is known for its street fashion and youth culture, but isn’t considered a particularly gay area. Not only did the strategy work in the assembly, but Mr. Hasebe also pulled off a surprise win in April’s elections for ward mayor, beating a candidate from an established party who wanted to roll back the same-sex recognition. Read More
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Japan: 7.6% of Japanese people identify as LGBTI
Japan has an LGBTI population of 7.6%, according to a recent survey. This is equivalent to one in every 13 persons or 9.67 million people.

Advertising company Denstu polled 69,989 adults aged 20 to 59. A similar survey in 2012 found that only 5.2%, or one in 19, Japanese people identified as LGBTI. Dentsu said their methods had changed so it would be difficult to directly compare the 2012 and 2015 results, but it noted that more LGBTI people were daring to come out as society changed. Read More

Almost 7% of young Australians identify as gay, study finds
A new study has found that 6.5% of Australians in their 20s identify as gay, more than any other age group surveyed. The survey asked 18,000 Australians aged 14 and over to agree or disagree with the statement: “I consider myself a homosexual.”

The general trend shows a steady increase in people identifying as gay across all age groups. The figure increased from just over 4%t in 2006 to 2008.

Roy Morgan Research chief executive Michael Levine said that the overall rising numbers reveal a cultural shift. “Finding out the ‘real’ number, therefore, is less about getting a head-count and more a gauge of just how open we are." Read More
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Cyprus: Thousands turn out for 2nd Gay Pride Parade
Several thousand people marched in the streets of Cyprus' capital for the east Mediterranean island nation's second gay pride parade as detractors stayed away.

Parade organizer and ACCEPT-LGBT Cyprus President Costas Gavrielides says turnout was roughly the same as that of last year's inaugural parade, showing that taboos in the country are fading away. Read More

Israel: Transgenders take center stage at Tel Aviv gay pride parade
The parade is the highlight of the city’s Gay Pride week and is expected to be Tel Aviv’s largest-ever pride event, with 180,000 participants including 30,000 tourists. This year’s celebration features Eurovision winner and LGBT rights representative Conchita Wurst and focuses on supporting the transgender community. Read More

Brazil: Big turnout for Sao Paulo’s gay pride march
Participants gyrated through the heart of Brazil's business metropolis, letting their hair down at the 19th Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) parade, whose slogan this year is "I was born this way, I grew up so I will always be like this: respect me."

The parade, which saw around 20 themed floats replete with dancers join the party, dwarfed the first, held back in 1997 and attended by only around 2,000 people who professed on that occasion that "we are many, and we are in all professions.” Since then, the LGBT community has increasingly secured rights in a mostly Roman Catholic and socially conservative country of 202 million and where there is widespread discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Organisers said they expected upwards of two million people to attend the event, the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. Read More
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Ukraine: Assault on Kiev Pride
Kiev Pride organizers had been in negotiations with police for a month. According to the event’s executive director, Anna Sharygina, in the days leading up to the march they were meeting daily—still, the police would give no promises. Late into the night, the organizers were making contingency plans for “what we would do if we showed up and there were three cops there,” Sharygina told me. When they showed up, they found several buses full of police in riot gear—but also a number of young men and at least one woman wearing black T-shirts with the logo of Right Sector, the ultranationalist coalition that had threatened violence.

“Right now, during the war with Moscow,” the Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh wrote on his Facebook page on the eve of the march, we “will be forced to be distracted from other things in order to stop those who hate the family, break morals, and destroy morality and the traditional concepts of humankind.” He went on to say that the West is exercising too much influence over Ukraine “in order to force them to introduce the ideology of LGBT people.” 

During the event, at least a dozen people were injured, including police, and more than 20 others arrested as scuffles broke out between members of a rare Ukrainian gay pride march and their nationalist opponents.  Read More
Russia: Police hold gay activists at unauthorised rally, including Pride parade organizer
Russian police held around half a dozen activists for attempting to stage an unauthorised gay pride rally in central Moscow, AFP journalists witnessed. Police officers detained the activists and loaded them into waiting vans as around 30 nationalist counter-demonstrators in camouflage clothing and football fans hurled eggs at the activists and attacked them.

Several religious counter-demonstrators were also detained by police as a large crowd of Russian and international journalists looked on.

"Arrested and beaten at 10th Moscow Pride. We are arrested! They probably broke my left hand finger," leading gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev wrote on Twitter, posting a photo of himself in detention. Alexeyev, a prominent LGBT activist and lawyer and main organizer of Saturday's gay pride parade in Moscow was sentenced to 10 days in jail for "disobeying police orders" by a city court Monday. Read More
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South Korea: Court Rules Police Cannot Ban LGBT Pride March
A court in the South Korean capital Seoul ruled Tuesday that police violated the law when they banned a pride march to be held June 28 as the culmination of the Korean Queer Cultural Festival. Police had denied permits to hold the march, citing conflicting applications for events that overlapped the parade route. These applications were filed as the result of a showdown between Christian conservative activists and LGBT activists, who had both camped out in front of the police station processing applications for more than a week in May. The conservatives managed to get their public use applications in first.

On Tuesday, the court ruled this violated the LGBT activists’ right to protest. “Unless there is a clear risk of danger to the public, preventing the demonstration is not allowed and should be the absolute last resort,” the court ruled, according to a local news report. Read More
Cape Verde: The search for real equality
This year, for the 3rd consecutive year, the protest march for equality returns to pound the pavement of Mindelo,Cape Verde to conjoin the week for equality for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals of Cape Verde.

LGBT week commences the June 19th with activities at the Cultural Center of Mindelo with training activities on Human Rights through the Arts, a conference on sexual and reproductive health of LGBT persons along with the Third Festival of Cinema and Human Rights focused on all different people in addition to a video and photography expedition; not to mention a photography and drawing competition, on behalf of the organization where everyone is welcome to participate regardless of sexual orientation. On June 27th Mindelo will receive the LGBT parade with the slogan "Real equality in Cape Verde for Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals. Do not be afraid to come out, we are with you." Read More
Slovakia’s annual LGBTI pride parade has been cancelled until 2016 
What would have been only the 6th annual Duhovy PRIDE march will not take place this year after organizers cancelled the event.

Duhovy PRIDE has often been targeted by far right extremists and the organizers fear that the climate is not right in the country after opponents of LGBTI rights in Slovakia forced a referendum to try to strengthen the country’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Read More
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Pride in London 2015: Ukip rejected from pro-LGBT parade 'to protect participants'
Ukip has been banned from joining marchers at London’s world-famous gay pride parade to “ensure the event passes on safely and in the right spirit”. Almost 2,400 people had signed an online petition to exclude the political party, calling Ukip “inherently homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic”.

It cited Nigel Farage’s comments on HIV treatment, the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage and other “controversial views” voiced by members. The directors said they had “wrestled with the difficult issue” of whether to allow the application over several days, adding that the intention was to unite, rather than divide, people with an event that serves the whole community.

“This decision has been made after careful consultation in order to protect participants and ensure the event passes off safely and in the right spirit, it has not been made on a political basis,” a spokesperson added. "Of paramount concern to us is the experience of all participants at Pride, most especially the position we would be putting our volunteer stewards in." Read More
Norway: Tooji on Eurovision, sexuality, and why he’s banned from Iran
The name Tooji should be synonymous to keen Eurovision fans with the world’s biggest display of wind machines, costume reveals and key changes. Either for his song, his disappointing final result or his off-screen drama involving 2012 host country Azerbaijan’s controversial human rights record, the Norwegian entrant certainly had an interesting experience.

He explained that in addition to wanting to voice his support for the protests and rights for marginalised communities — an issue that is of great importance and significance for him — he wanted to shine a light on his native Iran’s human rights record. It was something that resulted in Tooji being banned from ever returning to his native land.

Fighting for the rights of women, children and LGBTI people is a cause that comes naturally to Tooji, not only because of personal experiences in Iran with his family, but also because of bullying during his childhood in Norway. “I think it’s just basically being a human. How could I not be interested in standing up for human rights? As a human race we want to be told how to think and we want these boxes to tick and clear lines to follow,” he said. Read More
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US: Trans, queer immigrants demand ICE release LGBTQ detainees
More than 50 transgender and queer immigrants rallied in front of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters in Washington D.C. demanding the release of LGBTQ immigrants from ICE detention centers. The demonstration was part of Operation Break the Cage—a multi-organizational effort to raise awareness of the horrendous psychological and physical abuses suffered by immigrant transgender women currently detained in ICE facilities, many who are ignored and completely isolated without the personal or legal resources to find help.

Calling itself the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation comprising 100,000 immigrant youth and allies from 26 states United We Dream's operation in partnership with the Washington D.C. based LGBT advocacy organization Casa Ruby and the nationally renowned Trans Women of Color Collective intends to "expose ICE's human rights violations against the undocumented LGBTQ community." Read More

UK: Bisexual asylum seeker in Home Office battle has deportation flight cancelled
Immigration authorities have cancelled the deportation flight of a Jamaican asylum seeker who faced removal from the UK after the Home Office refused to accept he was bisexual. Orashia Edwards, 34, had been told he could be deported at any time from 5 May, but Edwards was instead detained for nearly a month before being released pending a further appeal against his rejected claim for refugee status – the latest in a series of prolonged periods in detention.

He has been involved in a protracted battle with the Home Office after an asylum tribunal rejected his application, saying that he had been dishonest about his sexuality. But Edwards criticised the decision, claiming he had been the victim of institutional bias because of his sexuality.

“I think they are prejudiced against bisexual people,” Edwards said. “They say I have choices, that I could choose to be with a woman. Maybe if I had lied and said that I was gay things would have been different, but I’m just being honest. For years I was in denial about my sexuality, it took me so long to be honest with myself – I like men and I like women.” Read More
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Australia: Same-sex marriage could be a $1.2 billion stimulus package
Legalising same-sex marriage could pump $1.2 billion into the Australian economy, complementing the government's high priority small business agenda rather than distracting from it. Fairfax Media analysis shows that the reform would double as a stimulus package, especially for the small business sector, despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott's rhetoric that legislating the budget is more urgent.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson, who recently compared the rumbling of an airplane overhead to the "roar of small business" responding to the budget, told Fairfax Media that "the roar might take on a different tone" if there was marriage reform. Mr Abbott has said that same-sex marriage is a significant issue but that the government's "fundamental priority" is legislating the "small business budget boost".

Myriad businesses are involved in weddings. From bakers and tailors to celebrants and jewellers, marriage was worth $7.3 billion last year. While Mr Billson is "thrilled to see anything that energises enterprise", he is cautious and remains uncommitted but open to legalising same-sex marriage. Read More

US: The free market economics of LGBT equality in Texas
When the 2015 Texas legislative session drew to a close, a small group of people behind a new initiative quietly celebrated their part in the defeat of more-than 20 anti-LGBT legislative proposals. The group, known as Texas Competes, is a pro-equality business initiative housed under the non-profit organization, Equality Texas. And while backers of the discriminatory legislation relied on the premise of what is morally right, Texas Competes silently assembled a coalition of Texas businesses based on what is financially beneficial.

The initiative focused on four key components: recruiting top talent, attracting new companies to the state, supporting a healthy tourism industry and illustrated and maintaining the integrity of the Texas brand. As a result, over 250 businesses in Texas -- including Dell, Southwest Airlines, Samsung and Dow Chemical -- signed a pledge stating that LGBT equality was critical to the success of their business.

According to Rudy Oeftering, a representative of Texas Competes, this innovative, free market approach to legislative maneuvering caught the proponents of the anti-gay bills completely by surprise. Read More
America's LGBT Ambassadors: Global Trade Will Lift Up LGBT Lives
Eight of the nation's most powerful LGBT leaders explain how proposed trade agreements will export our values of equality and tolerance: As Ambassadors, we are on the front lines representing the United States. We know firsthand that U.S. interests are best served when we pursue policies that also advance our values. That’s why trade policy is among our most promising tools. Read More

Op-ed: Dear Gay Ambassadors, be straight about trade deal
Activists Cleve Jones and Jerame Davis ask: Why are America's out ambassadors arguing in favor of giving special 'favored nation' status to virulently anti-LGBT countries, including one that stones gays to death? Read More
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Ugandan lesbian covers Time: 'We are here to stay'
In what’s being celebrated as a monumental moment of visibility for Uganda’s beleaguered LGBT community, one of the nation’s leading LGBT activists graces this week’s cover of Time magazine’s Europe edition. 

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, an out lesbian and co-founder and editor of Uganda’s first LGBT publication, Bombastic, tells The Advocate she hopes the cover will not only bring awareness to the plight of LGBT Ugandans, but help people around the world realize that LGBT people are their friends, neighbors, and family members. 

“Now many people will know about the struggles LGBT people go through in Africa and the world over. They will realize that the people they hate most are actually the people they love most when they get to read the article. They could be hating on their beloved family and friend without knowing they are LGBT,” Nabagesera said. Read More
International Olympic Committee responds to petition to revoke Caitlyn Jenner's Olympic medal
A petition is circulating to revoke an Olympic medal from Caitlyn Jenner, who recently revealed her “true self” in stunning Vanity Fair photoshoot. In a rare move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued a statement touching upon Jenner's transition.

Typically, the IOC is slow to address controversies arising from the public sphere —most recently, the committee dragged its heels to tackle Russia's anti-gay propaganda law in the months leading up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, until the international pressure made it impossible to remain quiet. However, the traction gained by the petition apparently struck a nerve in the usually tight-lipped organization. 

IOC communications director, Mark Adams said: "Bruce Jenner won his gold medal in the 1976 Olympic Games and there is no issue for the IOC." Read More

American Samoa: The Triumph of a transgender World Cup star
Jaiyah Saelua, who became the first ever transgender World Cup player in 2014, says Caitlyn Jenner “gave me hope.” She’s looking forward to 2018—without Sepp Blatter as FIFA president. Thanks to Caitlyn Jenner appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair and Sepp Blatter resigning from the presidency of FIFA, the first-ever transgender World Cup soccer player is enjoying a doubly sunny few days.

“It’s been a good start to the week,” 27-year-old Jaiyah Saelua said.

Saelua is a star player for the American Samoa men’s team, once called the worst in the world. She was instrumental in its first ever international victory, defeating Tonga in a 2014 World Cup first round qualifying match. Read More
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South Africa: Documenting love, loss and identity in LGBT community
Since 2006, Zanele Muholi, has documented fellow members of the LGBT community as part of a series titled “Faces and Phases,” which aims to challenge homophobia and transphobia by recording black South Africa’s queer culture and visual history. See More

Amsterdam: "Inside Out - Portraits of Cross Gender Children"  
In the last twelve years, the Dutch photographer Sarah Wong has documented life and experiences of a group of children suffering from gender dysphoria , they had passed the stage of transition - or were going through - to the conquest of self.  See More

Brazil: Photo series denounces pain caused by prejudice in small towns
Being gay in a country town in Brazil can be an oppressive experience -- an oppression of feeling, relating and being. In places far from the cultural energy and multiplicity common in urban centers, different people may not be accepted -- either by force of tradition or by lingering prejudice. See More
Australia: What it's like to grow up transgender and Aboriginal 
Kai Clancy of the Wakka Wakka and Wulli Wulli nations on his life and including Aboriginal transgender identities in future transgender and gender-diverse initiatives. Read More
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UK: Stars campaign to keep Human Rights Act “It’s not for politicians to pick and choose when they apply or who deserves protection" - Benedict Cumberbatch.
David Cameron has pledged to “once and for all” repeal the the act. Read More
Gay high school valedictorian gets second chance at graduation speech he was banned from giving Read More
Cambodia's LGBT community finds its voice with first publication for LGBT and allies: Q Magazine Read More
US: Musical 'Fun Home' sweeps Broadway's 2015 Tony Awards and makes history as first Broadway show to explore growing up as a lesbian Read More
Palestine: Documentary Oriented, a look at the LGBT community of Tel Aviv Read More
Transgender Children’s Books Fill a void - A small group of emerging authors who are writing children’s literature that centers on transgender characters 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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