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7 March 2017 

Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the opening of the 34th Human Rights Council. In his first speech to the HRC, Guterres urged governments to speak up, saying "Disregard for human rights is a disease". He also called attention to the abuses faced by refugees, migrants, and LGBTI people.

On 1 March the UN kicked off celebrations for Zero Discrimination Day on this year's theme to 'make some noise' for zero discrimination in healthcare settings. Launched by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé in 2014, the event is a call to people everywhere to promote and celebrate everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity—no matter what they look like, where they come from, or whom they love. 

UN Free & Equal launched a new campaign to combat anti-LGBTIQ bullying with an animated short called "The Lesson", about a boy whose friendship with a girl becomes problematic after his mother sees her kiss another girl.

Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN Independent Expert (IE) will make his first country trip to Argentina to assess progress on eliminating violence against LGBTI people. During the visit, Muntarbhorn will meet with government representatives, civil society organizations, and individuals in three provinces to identify good practices and provide recommendations. His findings will be presented at the Buenos Aires UN Information Center and a future Human Rights Council.

HIV, Health, and Wellness:  The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) reported that over the last ten years the demographics of HIV diagnosis among migrant groups has shifted. HIV has declined among migrants from sub-Saharan African countries, while HIV diagnoses have increased among migrants from Central Europe, especially among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. 

Using genetic analysis of HIV samples, a UK study found that 18% of HIV-positive men who identify as “exclusively heterosexual” carry an HIV strain most likely acquired from another man

The US CDC released a new report that found the rate of HIV infection in the country has declined over the last six years. However, among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men aged 25 to 34-years-old HIV infections rose 35% during the same period. Additionally, infections among Latino gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men increased by 20%.

A new US study using a serial cross-sectional survey of men attending Pride parades between 1995 and 2015 discovered that as faith in the effectiveness of HIV medications has increased, men perceive AIDS to be less dangerous and are more likely to engage in condomless sex

The Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) published “PrEParing Asia: A Year After” that reviews the efforts of APCOM, UNAIDS, WHO, and other development agencies and civil society groups to roll out pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) across China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. 

In Thailand, a video to promote zero discrimination produced by UNAIDS, the Ministry of Public Health, and the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/Aids (TNP+) will play in 1,000 public hospitals across the country. 

In the journal Culture, Health & Sexuality, author Gary Dowsett explored how HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention has influenced the commodification of sex and impacted both culture and politics surrounding the gay community.

Taiwan’s CDC warned that an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant strain of Shigella infection has been identified in northern and central Taiwan among men who have sex with men. Meanwhile, Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre reported its second outbreak of Shigella within a year—the most recent outbreak is multi-drug resistant.

In a recent study, transgender children living openly in their identified gender had positive mental health indicators comparable with cisgender children. In comparison, previous studies have shown children who do not socially transition have substantially higher rates of depression and anxiety compared with other children. 

From the World of Politics: The Islamic Development Department of Malaysia released a new video explaining how to approach the LGBT community. The video has garnered mixed reactions—although it emphasizes that sexual orientation can be changed and encourages individuals to subdue desires, some have praised the video for speaking without hatred.

Tanzania's Ministry of Health issued a statement declaring the government's intention to close drop in centers that provide HIV testing and counseling and other services, after a special governmental task force accused them of encouraging homosexuality. The Minister also announced that health workers are undergoing training to learn how to positively work with special communities, including men who have sex with men. Meanwhile, the Deputy Health Minister announced they no longer plan to “publish a list of gay people”.

Japan’s National Personnel Authority (NPA) issued new regulations stating that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected by sexual harassment guidelines. The NPA regulates all national public employees.

The local assembly of Budapest, Hungary adopted a new equality program that for the first time includes plans to work with sexual and gender minorities as a vulnerable group.

In the US, the Justice Department and the Education Department announced the new administration would no longer support transgender student protections on a federal level, stating that decisions should be made by each state. Due to this change, the US Supreme Court decided it will not hear a case which could have clarified if transgender students are protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments. Across Europe, transgender activists and students spoke out against the US policy and reflected how it could impact trans rights in their countries. 

The US Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry will maintain his position under the new administration.  

New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams announced the government will allow people convicted of homosexuality to apply for pardons. 

In Ecuador, where voters must line up by sex, new legislation allowing people to change gender on their identity cards gave transgender citizens the ability to vote as the gender they identify for the first time. 

Check out activist Peter Tatchell’s roundup of LGBTI community gains across the globe in 2016—from the decriminalization of homosexuality in Nauru and Belize to improvements in gender identity laws in Lebanon, Vietnam, and Bolivia.

The Politics of Union:  In Slovenia, the first same-sex marriage was celebrated as new legislation came into effect bringing marriage equality to the country.  

The Finnish Parliament rejected a petition signed by over 100,000 citizens to stop the legalization of marriage equality. The law was passed in 2014 and will go into effect in March.  

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen issued a 144-point platform for the government that includes revoking legalization of same-sex marriage and surrogacy. 

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, released a statement defending the need for legal recognition of same-sex marriages and emphasizing the difficulties faced by “rainbow” families. 

US states Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas have put forward legislation to redefine marriage as a union between a man and a woman despite the 2015 Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges. In a new study, researchers found that suicide attempts by US LGBTQ youth dropped by 14% following the legalization of marriage equality. 

Let the Courts Decide: The Okayama Family Court in Japan upheld requirements that transgender people must undergo sterilization before being approved for legal gender change. Plaintiff Takakito Usui has filed an appeal with the Hiroshima High Court.

Although a Guyanese court ruled in 2013 that cross-dressing is legal when not done for "improper purposes", local activists say the phrase "improper purposes" has allowed police and other law enforcement to routinely discriminate against trans people. However, the Court of Appeal dismissed a case seeking clarification, stating that Parliament must define what is improper. 

The International Commission of Jurists, an NGO comprised of senior judges, attorneys, and academics, published "Unnatural Offences": Obstacles to Justice in India Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. The report examines how LGBTI Indians navigate the police, courts, and both local and international human rights law. 

In the Name of Religion:  The General Synod of the Church of England voted to reject Bishop recommendations that the Church continue to oppose marriage equality. The vote is not binding, but Bishops must consider it when creating future documents. UK Anglicans spoke out about the continued division within the church

The UK-based Oasis Foundation published a report exploring how discrimination practiced by church leaders contributes to negativity in the community and poor mental health among LGBT people.

In Barbados, the Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies Dr. John Holder held a press conference during which he said that churches that speak against homosexuality “seem to be misreading and misinterpreting the Bible” and emphasized that all people should be supported and treated equally as children of God. 

In the US, one North Carolinian Protestant minister has made waves—becoming her county's first openly LGBTQ commissioner, elected to office despite North Carolina's ongoing fight over House Bill 2 and local LGBT rights. 

Also in the US, churches across 11 states participated in “Glitter+Ash Wednesday”. Taking place on Ash Wednesday (1 March) when many Christians mark the beginning of Lent with an ash cross on their foreheads as a visible sign of faith, participating churches offered ash mixed with glitter to support “progressive” and “queer-positive” Christianity. 

Fear and Loathing:  Seven trans women have been reported murdered in the US so far this year. In El Salvador, three trans women were reported murdered in less than two weeks. And in Pakistan, members of the trans community rallied to protest the murder of a 25-year-old in her own home—the second murder in 15 days.

Also in Pakistan, three trans women were gang raped by a group of 12 men. Trans Action Pakistan took to Facebook to object to the police’s “shameful” mishandling of the crime. Meanwhile, Malaysian police announced that the murder of trans woman Sameera Krishnan was not a hate crime. Local activists criticized the media for using degrading language about the victim.

The Guardian took a look back at Indonesia’s “national hysteria” against the LGBT community throughout 2016 despite a trend from regional neighbors the Philippines, Thailand, and China who released statements supporting non-discrimination.

US journalist Shannon Keating wrote about the complicated history of lesbian identity, its intersection with feminist movements, and the problematic relationship with racism and transphobia

And UK author Shon Faye wrote about the growing trend of anti-immigrant racism and Islamophobia within the LGBT community from North America to Europe:
“The result harms all involved: those gay people who are co-opted by fascism without realising fascism is fundamentally homophobic at its core and will soon turn on them; the people of colour and refugees scapegoated and reviled as homophobes by heterosexual politicians; and, above all, those who are both queer and a refugee, fleeing persecution in their own country for their sexuality or gender...”

Winds of Change:  In Madrid, Spain, authorities impounded a bus belonging to the group Hazte Oir (Make Yourself Heard). Mayor Manuela Carmena was concerned that anti-transgender phrases written on its sides could spark hate crimes.

The Guardian Global Development Professionals Network highlighted the work of nine "hero" LGBT rights activists who have made significant contributions to LGBT equality. The featured activists come from South Africa, Syria, Brazil, Pakistan, Turkey, the US, the UK, Jordan, and Canada. 

Indonesian journalist Febriana Firdaus was awarded the inaugural Oktovianus Pogau Award for her reporting on human rights, including anti-LGBT sentiment in Indonesia. The award is presented in honor of human rights journalist Oktovianus Pogau who passed away at the age of 23.

The Peruvian activist, artist, and research collective No Tengo Miedo published Nuestra Voz Persiste, a report that features nearly 800 personal stories of LGBTIQ people.

From the US, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney and trans activist Chase Strangio spoke about fighting within the legal system for LGBTQ rights.  From China, attorney and LGBTQ activist Hou Ping discussed how new legislation will force Chinese LGBTQ civil society organizations to look for new avenues of funding support outside of foreign entities. 

On the March:  China’s Beijing LGBT Centre ran a campaign on Valentine’s Day encouraging LGBT couples to dress in wedding attire and post pictures of themselves at famous landmarks to support marriage equality. Meanwhile, Belgium LGBT activists used Valentine’s day to promote bisexual visibility. 

In Croatia, around 1,000 people protested violence and intolerance against the LGBT community after a local nightclub hosting a gay party was attacked with teargas, sparking panic among 300 escaping guests. 

In New Zealand, over 3,000 participants and 50 organizations marched in the fifth annual Auckland Pride Festival as several thousand spectators celebrated along the route to support gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, takatapui (Māori word for non-heterosexual), fa'afafine (Samoan third-gender), intersex, and queer communities.

School Days:  ​The Indian Health Ministry launched a new program that will train 165,000 adolescent peer educators called “Saathiya”. The peer educators are being trained in various health issues including sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, and safe sex. Additionally, the training dispels gender stereotypes and calls same-sex attraction natural.

South Korean civic groups spoke out against the Education Ministry’s decision to exclude LGBT topics in new school guidelines. The guidelines have also drawn criticism for stressing abstinence over providing comprehensive sex education. 

UK Education Secretary Justine Greening announced plans to make sex and relationships education (SRE) mandatory in all local authority-run schools. Activists have spoken out urging the Secretary to make the SRE inclusive of LGBT issues. Meanwhile, a majority of Scottish Members of Parliament signed a pledge to include sexual and gender identity issues in school curriculum—if the proposal moves forward, Scotland will be the first European parliament to support inclusive education.

Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) is amending the Basic Policy for the Prevention of Bullying to specifically include protections on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Ministry invited Human Rights Watch to review the policy which is expected to be finalized in March.  

Australian group Rainbow Families launched “School Support Guide” to provide LGBTIQ-parented families and their children with basic tools to answer questions and find ways to engage with their school communities. 

Sports and Culture:  Zambian church leaders are opposing a proposed change to the Football Association of Zambia constitution which will include a clause that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

Last month the National Geographic was lauded for its special issue on the “Gender Revolution” featuring a transgender girl on the US cover for the first time. However, not all the global editions of the magazine were as progressive. Transgender Europe, Czech organization Trans*parent, Hungarian NGO Transvanilla, German group Bundesverband Trans*, among others spoke out on the problematic and misleading information contained in several of the international editions. 

The Economist profiled Jin Xing, a superstar on Chinese television for her variety program The Jin Xing Show, who happens to be transgender and was previously a soldier in the People’s Army. Meanwhile, a Beijing-based online video provider banned videos with content that include the "wrong concept of love, such as homosexuality and extramarital affairs". Chinese LGBT groups are demanding an apology.

Following in Belgium fashion model Hanne Gaby Odiele’s footsteps, Miss South African finalist Sharon Rose Khumalo revealed she is intersex. Meanwhile, Vogue Paris is the first French magazine to feature a trans cover model—Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio. 

South African artist Clive van den Berg’s latest exhibit A Pile of Stones is a tribute to the Syrian and Iraqi men and boys accused of homosexuality and brutally executed by ISIS. 

Disney's new Beauty and the Beast will feature its first openly gay character. While Disney has often played with ambiguity, the explicit subplot may be a tribute to the original film's lyricist Howard Ashman, who wrote the Beast's story as a metaphor for HIV. Ashman passed away from the disease before the film's 1991 release. 

Botswana hosted the fifth annual Batho Ba Lorato Film Festival celebrating LGBTIQ films with this year’s theme ‘Breaking Down the Walls’. Among the highlights was American film Moonlight about an African American gay man growing up in Miami. Moonlight won three Oscars this week—Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali (the first Muslim-American actor to win an award), and the top prize of Best Picture.

Check out the moving Oscar acceptance speech from playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney: “This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves. We’re trying show you, you and us. This is for you.”
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein
“We have much to lose, so much to protect”

~ UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein at the Opening ceremony of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council
Continue for excerpts from the articles
In Geneva, UN urges upholding human rights amid rising populism and extremism
Disregard for human rights is a “disease,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council, urging Member States to uphold the rights of all people in the face of rising populism and extremism.

Addressing the top UN human rights body for the first time since becoming Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres appealed to world governments to speak up for human rights in an “impartial way.” Among other issues raised, Mr. Guterres also called for protection of the human rights defenders and of journalists who are “essential” to the checks and balances of any society.

“Without a commitment to fundamental human rights, to the dignity and worth of the human person and to the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, our world will become chaos, misery and warfare,” warned UN High Commissioner Zeid. “Of all the great post-war achievements, it is this assertion of the universality of rights in human rights law that may be the most noteworthy.” Read more via the UN
UNAIDS urges everyone to make some noise for Zero Discrimination
Everyone will have experienced discrimination of some kind during their lives; however, non-discrimination is a human right. Equally, states and individuals have a legal obligation not to discriminate. This year, on 1 March, Zero Discrimination Day, UNAIDS is urging people to make some noise around zero discrimination, to speak up and prevent discrimination from standing in the way of achieving ambitions, goals and dreams.

Zero discrimination is an integral part of UNAIDS’ vision and for this year’s Zero Discrimination Day UNAIDS is calling for zero discrimination in health-care settings. The right to health is a fundamental human right that includes access to affordable, timely and quality health-care services for all, yet discrimination remains widespread in health-care settings, creating a serious barrier to access to HIV services. Read more via UNAIDS
Expert to assess violence and discrimination against LGBT people in Argentina
United Nations human rights expert Vitit Muntarbhorn is to make the first visit of its kind to Argentina to assess progress made towards eliminating violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the country.

Mr. Muntarbhorn, the first Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity designated by the UN Human Rights Council, will investigate different forms of violence and discrimination.

“I am particularly interested in legislative reforms and policies that have been implemented in Argentina to protect people targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to create an inclusive environment,” he said. Read more via UNHCHR
UN Free & Equal: The Lesson
The Lesson
Every day, lesbian, gay, bi, trans (LGBT) and intersex kids – and other children seen as defying gender stereotypes - are bullied at school, at home and in their community. Bullying can take many forms –from taunting and name-calling to brutal violence.

Children who experience this kind of abuse have a higher risk of anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, self-harm, depression and suicide. They are also more likely to skip or drop out of school.

The United Nations is calling on everyone - from parents and teachers to Governments - to protect these children’s fundamental right to live free from violence and discrimination. Your actions matter! Read more from UNFE
PrEPping Asia a Year After
In September 2015, APCOM, together with multiple UN and other development agencies, co-organized “PrEParing Asia” – the region’s first community-led consultation to discuss with policymakers, healthcare providers and community advocates the strategies of introducing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) as a new tool for HIV prevention for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) within the Asia and Pacific region.

Since the consultation, eight countries have created next-step plans for the roll out of PrEP within their respective national contexts, ranging from national consultation to behavioral studies to preparation of the pilot project. These countries are China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

APCOM’s new report outlines the activities that have been ongoing within these eight countries, while also documenting the progressive steps taken in several additional countries within the region. Read the report
Men from Latin America and central Europe now outnumber sub-Saharan Africans in HIV diagnoses in European migrants
The latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), presented at the recent HIV in Europe HepHIV2017 meeting in Malta, show that while in the last ten years in Europe the proportion of people with HIV who are not from the country where they are diagnosed has hardly changed, the makeup of the migrant population has. Although sub-Saharan Africans still form the largest regional population, diagnoses (in countries that document ethnicity adequately) in migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, and intra-European migrants from central and eastern Europe, now comfortably outnumber new diagnoses in sub-Saharan Africans.

Julia del Amo, from the National Center for Epidemiology in Spain, told the conference that the annual number of HIV diagnoses has been falling in sub-Saharan Africans since 2008 and is now in steep decline.

In the migrant groups in which HIV is increasing most diagnoses are in men and most of those in men who have sex with men. HIV diagnoses among Latin American men seem to have peaked around 2010-11 and may be starting to decline. But diagnoses in migrants from central Europe – the former communist countries from Poland south to the Balkans, plus Turkey – are continuing to rise, as are the smaller number of migrants from eastern Europe (the former USSR). Read more via aidsmap
US: HIV rates dropped for almost everyone—except some gay and bi men
We're winning the fight against HIV/AIDS, thanks to awareness and the development of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment, but, as with all fights, there's still work to be done. A new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle outlines just how much work. 

Between 2008 and 2014, the CDC estimates the number of annual HIV infections in the U.S. dropped 18 percent, from about 45,700 to 37,600. Infections dropped 18% among men who have sex with men (MSM) ages 13 to 24, and 18% among white MSM. Among the most vulnerable populations, African American MSM saw infection rates remain relatively stable (about 10,000 per year), which is good news since the CDC's report last year that estimated at current rates, one in two black MSM would contract the virus.

The CDC says the decline in HIV rates is largely the result of efforts to increase people's awareness of their HIV status and take steps to viral suppression, thus reducing the risk of transmission. Read more via OUT
 “Abjection, Objection, Subjection. The History of AIDS in Australian Gay Men’s Futures”
In coining the term ‘post-AIDS’ some 20 years ago, I was noting the dissolution of a singular and unified experience of HIV and AIDS for gay communities that had been the case until that time. Not only were HIV-positive and HIV-negative gay men having increasingly different experiences, but divergent trajectories were opening up. Since then, many other factors have come into play, for example age and generation; the ascendancy of the biomedical and the technosexual; and the supremacy of neoliberal politics (including sexual politics).

Now, if gay men are to survive as such – and there is a question about this – are there larger issues than HIV and AIDS that ought to command our attention? Or do we need to rethink how we situate HIV and AIDS within the larger framework of gay men’s health and wellbeing. This might be just a question of politics, or it could be a question of theory. Are we finally returning to the original gay liberation agenda of the eradication of difference, or simply being traduced (seduced?) by our success at intimate citizenship? Read more via Culture, Health & Sexuality 
Resurgence in unsafe sex practices tied to belief that HIV Tx reduces risk 
Community-wide awareness that antiretroviral therapies (ART) provides protection against HIV has the potential to increase perceived safety and thereby increase condomless anal sex among men who have sex with men (MSM). Furthermore, reductions in condom use can increase exposure to sexually transmitted infections, which in turn can reduce the protective effects of ART on HIV transmission. The current study extends previous community-based behavioral surveillance research on beliefs regarding use of ART for HIV prevention and sexual practices among MSM.

Anonymous cross-sectional community surveys were collected from 1831 men at the same gay pride event in Atlanta, GA four times over nearly two decades. Results indicate clear and consistent trends of increasing beliefs that HIV treatments reduce HIV transmission risks, reflecting the dissemination of HIV prevention research findings. Changes in treatment beliefs coincide with increased rates of condomless anal intercourse.

Results illustrate the emergence of an era where ART is the focus of HIV prevention and community-held beliefs and behaviors regarding definitions of risk create a new and potentially problematic environment for HIV transmission. Read more via Archives of Sexual Behavior
One in five ‘heterosexual’ men in the UK caught their HIV from another man
A genetic analysis of a large database of people with HIV in the UK in care shows that 18% of men with HIV who claim to be exclusively heterosexual in fact belong to clusters of linked infections that consist only of men.

This provides a minimum figure for the proportion of men with HIV in the UK who are what the researchers call “undisclosed men who have sex with men (MSM)”. It is a minimum figure because other men who caught HIV through sex with another man may be in mixed-gender clusters.

A second analysis of the same data found that undisclosed MSM were more likely to be the linking partner between a disclosed MSM and a woman than a woman was to be the link between a disclosed bisexual man and a heterosexual man. Read more via aidsmap
Taiwan’s CDC raises alarm
Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Saturday raised the alarm that Shigella bacteria resistant to antibiotic azithromycin are circulating among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Taiwan, reporting that the outbreak of the life-threatening infection is featured by a research paper published in the latest issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases journal of the U.S. CDC. 

The research paper written by Taiwanese authors focuses on the outbreak of azithromycin-nonsusceptible Shigella cluster (Shigella flexneri 3a) infection in Taiwan associated with MSM.

The research paper states that Taiwan’s Web-based National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NDSS) detected the first shigellosis outbreak in MSM during March–May 2015. During June 2015–May 2016, a total of 200 shigellosis cases were reported to the NDSS, of which 21 were domestically acquired S. flexneri 3a infections in northern and central Taiwan. Read more via Taiwan news
Ireland: Disease control workers at ‘sex-on-site’ Dublin venue due to dysentery
Disease control workers carried out an environmental investigation at a “sex-on-site” venue in Dublin following an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant dysentery among men who have sex with men (MSM).

The investigation was ordered after it was found that four people who contracted shigella, or bacillary dysentery, reported having had sexual activity in Dublin city and two said they had visited the venue, according to the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre. This is the second outbreak of shigella among MSM within a year. Read more via Irish Times
Malaysia conversion therapy: Sexual orientation can be changed, Jakim says in new LGBT video
The federal Islamic authorities have suggested that sexual orientation can be changed with extensive training, in a recent video explaining how Muslims can approach the LGBT community. 

In the video, Jakim had likened sexual orientation with horse-riding, claiming that when someone realises that he has “different” orientation from others and wishes to change that orientation, he should receive extensive training and guidance.

In the video, Jakim had likened sexual orientation with horse-riding, claiming that when someone realises that he has “different” orientation from others and wishes to change that orientation, he should receive extensive training and guidance. Read more via Malaymail Online
Trans kids massively benefit from being allowed to socially transition, study
A new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has good news for trans kids who just want to be themselves.

With young children increasingly expressing a gender identity that does not match their sex assigned at birth, both parents and doctors have had questions about whether to affirm such a gender identity. Before puberty, transition requires no medical interventions, but generally involves changes to appearance, name, and pronouns.

Previous studies about gender nonconforming kids who were not allowed to transition found they experienced high levels of depression anxiety. The new study shows, in “striking contrast,” that allowing this social transition can be greatly beneficial to these young people’s mental health. Read more via Think Progress
Thailand: HIV stigma 'hinders fight against virus'
Zero discrimination is crucial for the country to achieve its aim of stopping the HIV/Aids pandemic before 2030, according to experts at the briefing.

A video by UNAIDS, the Ministry of Public Health and the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/Aids (TNP+) was launched yesterday as a tool to promote zero discrimination.

The video portrays people living with HIV/Aids who have overcome discrimination and also features a message to encourage everyone to join the zero discrimination movement.

It is set to play in 1,000 public hospitals across the country for four weeks to raise awareness about the rights of all patients to non-discriminatory treatment, the briefing was told. Read more via Bangkok Post
Tanzania: Govt halts drop-in HIV services 
The government yesterday banned the provision of HIV/Aids services in at least 40 facilities that the authorities have accused of clandestinely promoting homosexuality.

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu told reporters that health workers in the banned facilities, known as drop-in-centres, will now be shifted to public health facilities where they will be allowed to offer HIV/Aids services to those afflicted by the disease.

But, she noted, "I have ordered all relevant authorities under my docket to ensure that all people in this country are offered HIV/Aids services without discrimination. The law does not allow health workers to discriminate who should and who should not receive these services," she later said in an interview. For those who might miss out HIV/Aids services at facilities in some parts of the country, the minister says, the government will intervene through special outreach services by deploying health workers from public facilities.

She added that health workers were already undergoing training on how to deal with special groups of people, such as MSMs who are afflicted by HIV. "Special guidelines will also be offered on the matter before the end of February, 'she added. Read more via All Africa
Tanzania drops its threat to publish a list of gay people who ‘sell their bodies’
Tanzania has backed down from its threat to publish a list of gay people who are allegedly selling sex online.
The deputy health minister of the African nation had made the threat last week.

Hamisi Kigwangalla allegedly announced the plan as part of a government crack down on “the homosexuality syndicate”.

However they have now backed down – saying they will “deal with this issue differently”. “We cancelled the press conference. We are not going to announce the names of (LGBTs) who publicly market themselves for technical reasons,” Kigwangalla wrote on Twitter. “For strategic reasons and to avoid destroying evidence we will deal with this issue differently and will keep you informed at every step.” Read more via Pink News
Hungary: Budapest equality program to cover sexual and gender minorities
The equality program adopted by the local assembly of Budapest for the period 2017-2022 lists sexual and gender minorities as a specific target group, and includes a detailed analysis of their situation. The program was adopted amidst high level of political homophobia and transphobia in Hungary.

On December 7, 2016 the local assembly of the Hungarian capital city of Budapest adopted an equality program for the period of 2017-2022. As opposed to its predecessor, the new program includes sexual and gender minorities as a specific target group among nine others the city administration plans to work with in the coming years.

According to the Act on Equal Treatment and the Promotion of Equal Opportunities introduced in 2003, local governments can adopt equality programs that analyze the situation of vulnerable groups and put forward interventions needed to deal with the identified problems in a comprehensive manner.  Read more via Magyar LMBT Szövetség
Japan: LGBT discrimination by national public servants now subject to punishment
The National Personnel Authority (NPA) has issued changes starting this year on how regulations for preventing sexual harassment are to be implemented at government ministries and agencies, explicitly stating that discriminatory speech and behavior regarding LGBT people constitute sexual harassment.

The NPA, which manages personnel administration for national public employees, now clearly says that discriminatory remarks and behavior relating to sexual orientation or gender identity -- like saying that "homosexuals are sickening" or calling someone a "man-woman" -- constitute sexual harassment. The rules apply to some 280,000 national public servants, and those who violate the rules are subject to punishment.

"We've long understood these behaviors to be examples of sexual harassment, but as issues surrounding sexual minorities have become more prevalent in our society in recent years, we decided to make the rules clearer," an official with the NPA said. Read more via The Mainichi
There are reasons to be cheerful ... LGBTI rights gains in unlikely countries
In the last 12 months, Martin Luther King’s “arc of the moral universe” has bent towards LGBTI human rights. Nauru and Belize decriminalised homosexuality and the Seychelles parliament passed a bill ending the ban on same-sex relations. In India, the supreme court said it will review its 2013 judgement that upheld the colonial-era law criminalising “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

More reasons to be cheerful: Greece, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina enacted new statutes to protect sexual and gender minorities from discrimination. Same-sex marriage was legalised in Colombia, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Guernsey and the British Antarctic Territory. Italy became the 27th country in Europe to officially recognise same-sex couples, approving the law on civil unions. Similar civil unions were agreed by lawmakers in the Caribbean island of Aruba. Read more via the Guardian
Ecuador: Transgender community votes for first time according to chosen gender
Ecuadorean transgender people on Sunday voted for the first time according to their chosen gender, in what activists say are signs of progress in the socially conservative and Catholic Andean nation.

In Ecuador, men and women wait in separate lines to cast their ballots which for years created uncomfortable moments for transgender voters who had to queue up according to their biological sex.

“The rumors would start, and the looks,” said LGBT activist Mariasol Mite, 32, who changed her ID description from “sex: male” to “gender: female” last year. Fears of harassment were such that voters would sometimes send their brothers or husbands to wait in line until they got close to the booth, according to LGBT activists. Read more via Hindustan Times
US: Administration rescinds rules on bathrooms for transgender students
President Trump rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, placing his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars that many Republicans have tried to leave behind.

In a joint letter, the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Education Department rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

That directive, they said, was improperly and arbitrarily devised, “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

The dispute highlighted the degree to which transgender rights issues, which Mr. Trump expressed sympathy for during the campaign, continue to split Republicans, even as many in the party argue that it is time to move away from social issues and focus more on bread-and-butter pocketbook concerns. Read more via the New York Times
US: Supreme Court Will Not Hear Transgender Student’s Case This Term
The Supreme Court will not be hearing the transgender student’s case that the justices had agreed this past fall to hear, the court announced Monday. The case instead will be sent back to the appeals court that previously heard Gavin Grimm’s challenge to the Gloucester County School Board policy limiting restroom use to a person’s biological sex.

Due to the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw pro-transgender guidance that had been key to the appeals court’s decision in favor of Grimm, the justices vacated that decision and asked the lower court to reconsider the case. Read more via Buzzfeed
Trump’s roll-back of transgender rights causes worldwide scare
Coming out as a transgender boy brought untold relief to Irish student Lucas Cross. After years of holding it in, he could finally start using the boys’ restrooms at school — because Ireland, like some other parts of the world, doesn’t make a federal issue about where children do their business.

As Donald Trump and U.S. courts seek to make transgender use of toilets an American battleground in schools , the more progressive corners of Europe and Latin America are shaking their heads in bewilderment. From Tipperary to Tierra del Fuego, schools let children go to the bathroom that suits their identity, a trend that could be reversed if the bitter U.S. debate travels overseas. Read more via AP
US: Top gay rights envoy stays at State Department
Despite Rex Tillerson’s questionable stance on gay rights, the Trump administration has opted to keep President Obama’s top advocate for LGBTI rights at the State Department. Randy Berry was named Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons in February 2015, and will continue his role, according to a State Department spokesperson.

“This is really surprising to me,” GLAAD’s Ross Murray told Foreign Policy. “I don’t think I can applaud it until I see what his mandate becomes in this administration. But Berry has been really effective in that job.”

Under Obama, the State Department was instrumental in advocating for LGBT rights across the globe, pressuring governments to be inclusive and providing more than $35 million to NGOs since 2011. Read more via Foreign Policy
NZ Government to quash historic gay sex convictions
Gay men who have carried historic convictions for homosexual acts for more than 30 years will soon get the opportunity to be pardoned by the Government.

They could also get an official apology from Parliament if all parties agreed to it, Justice Minister Amy Adams said today.

In a significant victory for campaigners, the move will allow nearly 200 people convicted before homosexual law reform in 1986 to have their crimes erased. It will not be an automatic or blanket pardon. Instead, the Government will consider pardons on a case-by-case basis. Affected people will not be able to claim compensation. Read more via NZ Herald
Slovenia allows same-sex marriage
Slovenia permitted same-sex marriage for the first time on Friday, with a law coming into effect that gives gay couples largely the same rights as heterosexuals, but bars them from jointly adopting children. At least one same-sex couple will get married in Slovenia on the first day the ceremonies can be held. 

“This is a big step forward,” Lana Gobec of LGBT rights group Legebitra said. “But we will continue to strive for complete equality of heterosexual and same-sex couples.” Read more via Politico
Finland: Parliament confirms same-sex marriage law
Finland's parliament voted down on Friday a citizens' petition demanding the repeal of a law that will allow same-sex marriages, securing the future of the law that will come into force next month.

In the vote, 120 members of parliament were opposed to the petition, while 48 supported it. The law, passed in 2014 by the previous parliament, will end the distinction between same-sex unions and heterosexual marriages, giving same-sex couples equal rights to adopt children and share a surname.

Finland has been the only country in the Nordic region not yet to recognize same-sex marriage, although gay couples have been able to enter into registered partnerships since 2002. Read more via Reuters
France: Marine Le Pen pledges to end same-sex marriage
Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s has issued a 144-point manifesto on her ambitions for government, pledging to make France “free, safe, prosperous, fair, proud, powerful, and sustainable”.

Not many people will have the inclination to read the lot, but I did. And what I discovered was a candidate who plans not so much to take France out of Europe as cut it free of the whole continent.

The key themes of the weighty manifesto are for France to leave both the eurozone and the EU and to prioritise national interests over global forces. Le Pen wants to lead a strong, interventionist and muscular state and to reduce immigration to virtually zero. Along the way, she wants to combat multiculturalism and reinforce secularism, to the point of banning outwards signs of religious belief in all public spaces, as one of the antidotes to fundamentalist Islam. Read more via the Conversation
US: Arkansas introduces bill to destroy marriage equality on Valentine’s Day
Arkansas will hold a hearing tomorrow to petition Congress to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Republican Senator Jason Rapert filed the bill, Senate Joint Resolution 7, earlier this month that would prohibit states from accepting any definition of marriage “except as the union of one man and one woman, and no other union shall be recognized with legal incidents thereof within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Read more

The “Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act,” says that the state of Tennessee will only recognize marriage between one man and one woman, and requires state agencies to ignore the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that outlawed discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage law. Read more

The Texas Supreme Court  said Friday it will decide whether the husbands and wives of gay city employees in Houston deserve spousal benefits, a surprising and rare about-face spurred by pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott and dozens of other top Republicans. Read more
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe supports Rainbow Families
There is a growing trend in Europe and beyond towards granting same-sex couples legal recognition for their relationships, which confers certain specific protections. The first country to provide “registered partnerships” was Denmark in 1989, while The Netherlands was first to adopt same-sex marriage in 2001. Today, 47 countries in the world, 27 of which are in the Council of Europe, provide some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

In my recent visits to San Marino, Slovakia and Latvia, I met with lesbian and gay activists who gave me vivid examples of the specific problems engendered by the absence of legal recognition of same-sex stable relationships.

Same-sex couples may lack inheritance rights, even after a lifetime of sharing and acquiring property. Having no legal recognition as next-of-kin means that a person may not be entitled to a survivor’s pension, to a living partner’s health insurance or to continue living in the home of a deceased partner. If someone is hospitalised after a serious accident and not in a position to explain one’s personal relationship, the person’s partner may be denied visitation rights or access to the medical file. Read more via Council of Europe
Same-sex marriage policy linked to drop in teen suicide attempts
State-level legalization associated with an estimated reduction of 134,000 suicide attempts per year.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning students the risk is much higher. In a new JAMA Pediatrics study, Julia Raifman and colleagues, report that state-enacted laws that legalize same-sex marriage were linked to a significant reduction in the rate of suicide attempts by high school students. Read more via Research Gate
Japan: Transgender man appeals ruling that calls for sterilization
A transgender man’s plea to have his sex changed legally without undergoing sterilization was declined by a family court here. The man immediately appealed the decision.

Takakito Usui, who was born female, argued that the law requiring sterilization is “unconstitutional” as it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of people’s right to be respected as individuals.

But in the decision dated Feb. 6, the Tsuyama branch of the Okayama Family Court said the sterilization requirement “is not unreasonable to the extent of violating the Constitution.” Usui, 43, who lives in the village of Shinjo in the prefecture, criticized the law for being “out of touch with reality”. Read more via Asahi Shimbun
"Unnatural Offences": Obstacles to justice in India based on sexual orientation and gender identity
In contemporary India, the enforcement of the law by the police and the country’s justice system fails queer people and is in sharp contrast with India’s obligations under international human rights law. 

The International Commission of Jurists has released a research report that draws from interviews with a 150 persons from across the country along with a range of Right to Information applications filed in different state departments to examine the ways in which LGBTI persons attempt to negotiate with and navigate substantive laws, the police, and the courts. Read more

Guyana: Appeal Court upholds ruling on cross-dressing
The Court of Appeal confirmed the ruling of the then acting Chief Justice Ian Chang in the High Court that the expression of one’s gender identity as a trans person is not in and of itself a crime.

However, the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal, rejecting the appellants’ arguments that the law in question discriminates based on gender and violates multiple equality provisions in the Constitution. The appellants confirmed that they intend to appeal this ruling to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

The Court of Appeal admitted that the expression ‘improper purpose’ could be rather broad, but held that from a practical perspective, certainty and accessibility of laws are not always attainable. As such, the Court of Appeal said that it would fall to magistrates to determine the meaning of the term on a case by case basis. 

Twinkle Bissoon, a trans-woman activist who has been repeatedly barred from court for dressing in female clothing, observed that “the ruling of the Court of Appeal leaves the application of the law to be done on a case by case basis and is very problematic because it allows police officers and other law enforcement to interpret the provisions to give effect to their own prejudices.” Read more via Guyana Chronicle

UK: In The Name Of Love
Through pastoral ministry, proactive outreach and the personal testimonies of team members, volunteers and church attendees, Oasis has become increasingly aware of how the Church’s traditional narrative around sexual identity and same-sex relationships has been destructive to the lives, wellbeing and mental security of people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual. 

In the past three decades, a growing body of research has demonstrated that people of sexualities other than heterosexual are significantly more likely to experience poor mental health ranging from depression and anxiety to self-harm and suicide.  Similarly, researchers have been able to link these problems to a sense of ‘societal discrimination’ and a perception of inferiority.  This report however, is the first of its kind to explicitly make the link between local churches’ pastoral practises of discrimination and its substantial contribution to negative attitudes in society, to a reduction of mental health and quality of life in lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Read more via Oasis
Church of England General Synod votes to reject controversial same sex marriage report
The Church of England’s General Synod has voted to reject a report which recommended the church’s continued opposition to same-sex marriage. The report by the House of Bishops, which was presented to the Synod meeting in London, called for the Church to adopt a “fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” towards gay people – but retain its opposition to equal marriage. 

It also suggests gay and straight men and women training for the priesthood should face the same questions about their lifestyle – a suggestion which has been likened to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of the US military.

Campaigners hailed the decision to throw out the report as "a victory for love and equality". Read more via the Independent
UK: 'Honour love whatever package it comes in': LGBT Christians on the synod vote
Division within the Church of England became apparent after its synod decided “not to take note” of a report on marriage and same-sex relationships. Those who responded to a Guardian callout say not enough is being done for gay Christians and that a split in the wider Anglican communion may be on the horizon.

The published report, which upholds the traditional teaching on marriage, resulted in a mixed reaction among Anglicans. Some were pleased the church recognised the need for “a fresh tone and culture of welcome and support” for gay Christians. Others felt it did not go far enough in accepting same-sex unions, whereas some believed it put the church’s biblical tradition at risk. Read more via the Guardian
Barbados: All must be treated equally
Some churches are being accused of misusing and misinterpreting the Bible as it relates to how they treat the issue of homosexuality in Barbados.

Dr John Holder said the position of the Anglican Church in the Caribbean is that every human being must be treated equally, and indicated that an individual’s sexual orientation does not deny their status as a child of God. He said churches speaking out against homosexuality seem to be misreading and misinterpreting the Bible, which clearly outlines that all human beings are accepted by God.

“I think it is sad when persons get up as Christians and ridicule another human being and give the impression that they are children of the devil and not children of God. That is out for us as Anglicans, we don’t do that,” he said. Read more via Barbados Advocate
Glitter Is Serious Business: The Story Behind Glitter Ash Wednesday
On March 1st, as the Christian world enters the holy season of Lent, LGBT and LGBT affirming clergy will be offering ashes mixed with a bit of purple glitter as a means of welcoming LGBT people who may have felt rejected by the church and as an affirmation of God’s love for all.

The project is a partnership between Parity, Liz Edman (the author of Queer Virtue), and Metropolitan Community Churches, and has clergy from a variety of denominations who will be participating throughout the country, currently in eleven states. Read more via Patheos
US: The queer pastor riling up conservative North Carolina
This coffee shop is Jasmine Beach-Ferrara’s local haunt, all laminate wood, distorted murals, black-and-white photos. This all might read quirky elsewhere, but here in Asheville, the eclecticism is an almost tired trope. And, here at least, Beach-Ferrara herself isn’t totally out of left field: a queer pastor in a purple state recently known for battles over which gender can use which bathroom.

Raised in Chapel Hill, Beach-Ferrara hails from Tar Heels, Panthers and Bible country. She raises those Southern charms often in her fight for LGBTQ equality: After founding the Campaign for Southern Equality in 2011, Beach-Ferrara played a pivotal role in overturning the Tar Heel State’s same-sex marriage ban, eight months before the Supreme Court followed suit in 2015. 

The Center for American Progress named her a Faith Leader to Watch last year, and, in November, the 40-year-old was elected as the first openly LGBTQ-commissioner in Buncombe County. “She represents a very new kind of politician for us,” says Dwight Mullen, a political scientist at UNC-Asheville. “When Jasmine got elected, I said, ‘We’re not experimenting anymore. We’re doing things.’ ” Read more via OZY
Why LGBT hatred suddenly spiked in Indonesia
A few nights ago Sudarsa received a text message from his ex-boyfriend Hendro. “I can’t sleep because I’m missing you,” it read. The pair had been together for seven years. But two years ago Hendro, struggling to be open about his sexuality, succumbed to family pressure and married a woman.

“80% of gay men in Indonesia have the same problem. They get married for status, because of family and social pressure,” explains Sudarsa, 30, a hairdresser who works in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and who asked to use his first name only.

In the past, vitriol against LGBT occasionally flared up and died down soon enough, a one-off flash in the pan – an Islamic group up in arms about a transgender paegant, or queer film festival, a gay couple arrested and abused by police. And then all of a sudden in 2016, an unprecedented tide of vitriol and violence was unleashed against sexual and gender minorities across the country. Following a series of discriminatory comments from government ministers and officials, reinforced by medical professionals and Islamic clerics, moral panic and paranoia around LGBT set in. Read more via Guardian
Ukraine: LGBT activists freed after being held in Eastern Ukraine
Last week, I heard news I feared might never come: two Russian activists detained in eastern Ukraine had been freed, unharmed.

Seroe Fioletovoe (Grey Violet), a Russian transgender person, and Victoria Miroshnichenko arrived in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) on January 31 and were immediately detained by DNR security services. No one heard from them for two weeks. They had come to the DNR, controlled by Russian-backed separatists, to stage a public performance in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

Their story is evidence of the lawlessness of the security services in the separatist-held regions of eastern Ukraine. Read more via HRW
US: HRC Mourns Jaquarrius Holland, Third Black Trans Woman Killed in Louisiana This Month
Ciara McElveen, a black transgender woman, was stabbed to death in New While mourning two transgender women murdered in New Orleans on Saturday and Monday, HRC was deeply saddened to learn that yet another woman—18-year-old Jaquarrius Holland—was killed in Louisiana earlier this month. Holland was shot to death in Monroe, about four hours north of New Orleans, on February 19. Media coverage initially misreported her gender, and advocates did not learn that Holland was a transgender woman until her family and friends corrected those reports on social media

Holland is at least the seventh transgender person killed in the U.S. this year, nearly all of them black women. The shockingly disproportionate representation of black women among transgender murder victims speaks to how racism and sexism can compound anti-transgender bias, as HRC and the Trans People of Color coalition explained in a 2016 report on fatal anti-trans violence, A Matter of Life and Death. At this time last year, only four murders of transgender people had been reported nationwide; by the year’s end, advocates had recorded more murders than in any previous year. Read more via HRC

Jaquarrius Holland is the seventh reported trans woman to be killed in the US this year, after Ciara McElveenChyna GibsonMesha CaldwellJamie Lee Wounded ArrowJojo Striker, and Keke Collier.
El Salvador: NGO Demands Justice for Three Transgender Women Killed This Week
Human rights organizations have repeatedly demanded justice for hate crimes against LGBT individuals in El Salvador. Three transgender women were killed in El Salvador this week, bringing attention to the high rate of violence against the LGBT community in the small Central American nation.

Human Rights First, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, issued a statement Thursday speaking out against these murders and urging the U.S. government to condemn these acts of violence.

“The reported murders in El Salvador are just one example of the extreme violence, homophobia and transphobia that is prevalent in the country,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. Read more via telesur
Pakistan: 12 men rape three transgender women 
Three transgender women were allegedly raped by 12 men in Pakistan on the weekend.
The crime reportedly happened in the Umarzai province about 180kms north-west of the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Trans Action Pakistan reported Strawberry, Mena and Sheerry were gang raped and while police said they had arrested the suspects the women did not see them in the police lockup.

‘The police is behaving strangely and have made us sit in the police station for hours without a reason,’ the group reported on its Facebook page. ‘Also police has refused to conduct DNA test. This so shameful. Read more via Gay Star News
Malaysian police: Transgender's murder not a hate crime
There is no element of hate crime in the murder of transgender woman Sameera Krishnan. "We are looking into the victim's past activities and also whether the murder was linked to a kidnapping case in Klang two years ago.

"We are investigating if it was an act of vengeance but there is no indication that the murder was a hate crime against a transgender individual," said Pahang CID chief Senior Asst Commissioner Datuk Raja Shahrom Raja Abdullah. Read more via Asia One

Human Rights Watch called for action on Sameera's murder — Authorities Should Investigate the Killing, Prosecute Perpetrators Read more
Can Lesbian Identity Survive The Gender Revolution?
In the 1970s, radical lesbian “separatists” advocated for women’s complete withdrawal from men and the privileges of heterosexuality, going as far as to establish and live in women-only communes — quite a different approach than that of most major LGBT activist groups now, which remain determined to paint queer people as just like everyone else, seemingly able and willing to assimilate into the mainstream. 

But even as straight, white feminists were actively excluding lesbians, white lesbian separatists were pulling the same shit with trans people, bisexual women, and women of color. Groups like the Combahee River Collective and black lesbian intellectuals like Barbara Smith and Audre Lorde were responsible for some of the seminal texts on intersectional lesbian civil rights activism, at a time when white lesbians were succeeding only in looking out for their own interests.

Reverberations of separatist ideology are still causing rifts in today’s queer feminism. TERFs, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists, have long refused to recognize that trans women are, in fact, women. Read more via Buzzfeed
We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Racists
As anti-immigrant racism and Islamophobia intensify across most of the Western world, Shon Faye looks at the growing prominence of the gay far-right.

Last week an acquaintance of mine – a deputy editor at a prominent gay magazine – attended the anti-Trump demonstrations against the ‘Muslim Ban’ at Downing Street. Like many attendees, he had made a sign and uploaded a picture of himself with it to Twitter – it read ‘Gays and Lesbians Support the Muslims’. This was inspired, perhaps, by the 80s solidarity movement ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners’ and its more recent variation in the organisation ‘Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants’. Not long after he tweeted the sign he received a reply: “you do not speak for all gays!” The person replying went on, “guess it’s left wing to ally yourself with people who want you in prison or dead! Saying gays and lesbians support Muslims is like turkeys and chickens supporting Christmas!”

Anti-immigrant racism and Islamophobia are currently emboldened across Europe and North America, suffusing political discourse and public life. To those who are not gay, it may come as some surprise that these prejudices are just as likely to be found in LGBT communities as they are outside of them. Read more via Zed
Beijing LGBT community calls for equality on Valentine’s eve
In a Valentine's event sponsored by the Beijing LGBT Center, gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans campaigners held up placards with slogans like 'Let us taste the bitterness of marriage!', while dressed in full wedding regalia. They sought to remind their hundreds of millions of compatriots that, while China's heterosexuals are increasingly free to make their own life choices and marry for love, the country's queers are legally prohibited from doing so. Read more via TimeOut Beijing
Belgian activists stage 'Bi My Valentine' event to show being bi is not just a phase
LGBTI activists in Belgium have staged a Valentine’s Day event to increase bi visibility. On the Korenmarkt in the city of Gent, a small group of people handed out small Valentine’s favors to passersby.

Led by LGBTI organizations Casa Rosa and çavaria, represented Cathy Heyman and Alex De Greef, they wanted to increase people’s awareness about bisexuality. Read more via Gay Star News
LGBT change heroes 2017: breaking through from oppression
Across much of the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people continue to live in fear of persecution. The last few years have seen a series of gains made by the international LGBT community, however. But none of these changes would have been possible without great campaigners on the ground and we want to recognise these people. 

We asked for nominations of LGBT rights activists who are having a positive influence all over the world and were overwhelmed by the response. Read more via the Guardian
Peru: Nuestra Voz Persiste 
No Tengo Miedo is a collective whose mission is to promote social justice, freedom and equal access to resources, from a trans-feminist and intersectional perspective, the LGBTIQ population. No Tengo Miedo collective articulates activists, artists and researchers to promote LGBTQ advocacy through artistic creation, pedagogy, theater, and the preparation of working papers to facilitate social change. No Tengo Miedo born in Lima in early 2014 made up 6 people in the coordination committee (figure analogous to the board), with about 20 people working on the project and a network of volunteers up to 100 people. 

Their new report Nuestra Voz Persiste collects almost 800 personal stories of LGBTIQ people in the country, and highlights how violence has been a recurring problem for most of them. Read the report here
US: Trans ACLU attorney and activist is passionate about his community’s past, present and future
“I vow to be kind and joyous and creative. I vow to dream and strive for whatever seems impossible.” Chase Strangio shared this pledge with his community on the eve of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. A staff attorney at the ACLU and longtime activist, Strangio has been bringing this determination and care to the fight for LGBTQ rights for years, beginning with his time as a student of history at Grinnell College, where he learned about the white supremacist origins of the country’s legal system.

“I was particularly interested in the telling of history—how we recreate historical narratives, how those narratives themselves build our systems of white supremacy, including the legal system,” Strangio said. “I never really imagined I would go to law school.”

Strangio did not initially see working within the legal system as the best way to bring about justice, but that assessment changed through his exposure to lawyers fighting to abolish the current prison system while still working within that system to protect vulnerable people. Read more via Go Mag
Fearless Indonesian Journalist Wins Award For Reports On LGBT Issues
Indonesian journalist Febriana Firdaus who once had to go into hiding from Islamic militant groups has won a top award for her reporting. Firdaus won the inaugural Oktovianus Pogau Award for her fearless reporting on human rights, including LGBTI issues.

The Pantau Foundation created the award named in honour of West Papuan journalist Oktovianus Pogau. Firdaus won the award for her reporting on the 1965 anti-communists murders, disappearances and arbitrary detentions. Firdaus also made a name for herself covering the increasing anti-LGBTI sentiment in Indonesia.

‘LGBT is a very sensitive subject in Indonesia where many religious communities, including Muslim organisations, still consider homosexuality a psychological disorder,’ said Imam Shofwan, chairman of the Pantau Foundation. ‘Febriana Firdaus is courageous to stand up for LGBT, to affirm that LGBT is nature, and to expose their side of the story. Read more via Gay Star News
China: Could volunteer-based CSOs be a model for practicing human rights in China?
Compared to only a decade ago, the visibility of LGBTQ issues in China has significantly improved. The Chinese mass media are now more likely to cover LGBTQ issues in a positive and comprehensive way, and members of the LGBTQ community are increasingly coming out and telling their life stories. In addition, in recent years community members have filed a series of lawsuits to defend their civil rights and challenge existing legal systems. After over two decades of hard work by activists and the entire LGBTQ community, there are now at least 190 LGBTQ organizations and networks across China.

However, beyond the vibrant surface, LGBTQ organizations are faced with two major problems: financial sustainability and legal status. First, due to deeply social and political stigma of homosexuality, the resources that the LGBTQ community historically have had access are scarce. LGBTQ orgs were the most directly affected by the implementation of China’s Law on the Management of the Activities of Overseas NGOs within China (FNGO Law), which came into effect on January 1, 2017.  Read more via Open Democracy
Pakistan: Transgender persons protest killing of fellow in Lahore
In a cold-blooded murder, a transgender’s throat was slit and stabbed to death on Friday at her residence in Lahore’s Bhatta Chowk. Muskan, 25, had gone missing on Friday and her dead body remained unnoticed for 1 day at her home’s bathroom until her friends found it out on Saturday. Muskan is the second victim of such a brutal murder engulfed in mystery, in 15 days. Read more via Daily Pakistan

A demonstration was held on Mall Road and protesters demanded the arrest of Muskaan's murderers. Read more via Geo News
Spain: Officials impound bus with anti-transgender message
Madrid authorities said they have impounded an orange-and-white bus used by a group campaigning against teaching schoolchildren about transgender people. Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena said police stopped the bus from returning to the Spanish capital's streets to prevent a hate crime.

The eye-catching bus has several anti-transgender phrases written on its sides. One says, "If you're born a man, you're a man. If you're a woman, you will always be a woman." The vehicle created an outcry after it first appeared in public Monday.

The Hazte Oir organization said in a statement that it disapproved of teaching "sexual diversity," which it criticized as introducing the "dogma of the homosexual lobby in schools." Gender identity is unrelated to sexual orientation. Read more via AP
Croatia: Citizens protest over gay club tear gas attack
Some 1,000 people protested in Zagreb on Monday calling for tolerance after unknown attackers released tear gas in a nightclub hosting a gay party at the weekend.
The incident in the early hours of Sunday sparked a panic at the Super Super club in staunchly Catholic Croatia's capital, with some of the 300 revellers smashing windows as they tried to escape.

The Balkan country's top officials and rights groups strongly condemned the incident. The conservative government vowed in a statement to "firmly oppose any form of violence and hate speech, as well as racial, religious and gender discrimination". Monday's "protest against hatred and violence" was organised by the Zagreb Pride gay rights group, which called the incident a "brutal and barbarian attack on human lives". Read more via Pulse
New Zealand: The Pride Parade Experience
With the roar of Dykes on Bikes and the cutting of rainbow ribbons the 2017 Auckland Pride parade made its way down Ponsonby Road in a riot of colour, noise and sexualities. Leading all were the combined Tangata Whenua and Tangata Pasefika entries followed by Rainbow Youth, representing three communities within the glbti community which the overall Pride Festival has worked hard to ensure are as visible as possible in the annual celebration of glbti cultures and lives.

Three young ones, Tahjai, Olive and Layne, walking with their whanau wrapped with rainbow flags and with rainbows painted on their cheeks were having a ball. "With came with our aunty, we love it! - it's a really chill vibe," grinned Tahjai, while aunty said: "They are the heroes". Read more via Gay NZ
Korea: Gay rights groups call for LGBT-inclusive education at school
Civic groups in support of sexual minorities on Wednesday called for the abolishment of the Education Ministry’s sex education policy which excludes any mention of sexual minorities, calling it “discriminatory.”

“The Education Ministry should discard the sex education guidelines which only promote discrimination and prejudice against sexual minorities and should opt to give LGBT-inclusive education,” they said during a press conference held in front of the government complex in central Seoul.

The Education Ministry in late January confirmed its stance to exclude the LGBT -- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender -- topics in its new guidelines, rekindling controversy over educating students about homosexuality at schools. Read more via Korea Herald
Australia: School support guide launched for rainbow families
A school support guide has been launched to help rainbow families and same-sex parents support their children throughout their early childhood and school life.

The guide, which was created by Rainbow Families, provides information for parents and children about how to deal with questions around their family structure, dealing with bullying, and events like Mother’s or Father’s Day.

Rainbow families have to deal with the same changes and challenges as any other. However there are also some things that are unique to rainbow families, from small day to-day challenges to bigger questions and concerns. Read more via Star Observer
UK: Government announces mandatory sex ed… but LGBT issues are absent
The Education Secretary has announced plans to require sex and relationships education in all schools – but has not yet committed to it being LGBT-inclusive. At present, sex ed is only required in local authority-run schools, leaving academies, independents and faith schools free to ignore the subject or to teach a narrow version of SRE.

There have been multiple warnings that the system is leading to a lack of basic sex ed among young people, and the government has come under repeated pressure to act on the issue.  The statement confirms that the expanded SRE guidance will address “cyber bullying, ‘sexting’ and staying safe online”, but it is unclear whether teachings on same-sex relationships will also be a part of this guidance.

PinkNews understands a consultation will be held on the substance of the SRE guidance to determine its content, including the inclusion of LGBT issues. Stonewall says it will be “working with the Government to ensure [LGBT issues] are reflected in updated guidance for schools”. Read more via PinkNews
“Historic” milestone: Scottish Parliament becomes first in Europe to back LGBT+ education
Tipping point reached as a majority of MSPs back inclusive education proposal. Sixty six MSPs have backed the programme of the Time for Inclusive Education (Tie) campaign, the culmination of their two year fight to win broad public and political support for school level education to tackle the abuse and isolation of LGBT+ youth.

For months the campaigners have been calling on MSPs to back a five point pledge calling for legislation to require schools to implement inclusive education, deal more robustly with instances of homophobic abuse and bullying. Read more via Common Space
India: Health Ministry's Saathiya scheme to educate adolescents on gender, homosexuality and abortion
The legality of homosexuality may still be an open question for the judiciary and the Government is yet to change the law but resource material prepared by the Health Ministry for adolescent peer educators has taken a step in the sensitive direction.
It tells young people that it is all right to “feel attraction” for the opposite sex or the same sex during adolescence. The crucial aspects of all such relationships, it says, are consent and respect.

“Yes, adolescents frequently fall in love. They can feel attraction for a friend or any individual of the same or opposite sex. It is normal to have special feelings for someone. It is important for adolescents to understand that such relationships are based on mutual consent, trust, transparency and respect. It is alright to talk about such feelings to the person for whom you have them but always in a respectful manner… Boys should understand that when a girl says ‘no’ it means no,” reads the resource material in Hindi that is going to be circulated to states as part of the adolescent peer-education plan. Read more via Indian Express
Japan: Moves to curb LGBT bullying
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) has added LGBT-specific protections to its revised draft on the national bullying prevention policy, scheduled to be finalized in March.

“In order to prevent bullying toward students based on their gender identity…or sexual orientation/gender identity, schools should promote proper understanding of teachers on…sexual orientation/gender identity as well as make sure to inform on the school’s necessary measures regarding this matter,” the current draft reads.

MEXT has been at the forefront of progress in the area of education-related rights for sexual and gender minority students. The 2016 MEXT “Guidebook for Teachers Regarding Careful Response to Students related to Gender Identity Disorder as well as Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” signaled an evolving view on LGBT rights and recommended several protective measures for LGBT students. Read more via HRW
The Touching Tribute Behind Disney’s First Openly Gay Character
Director Bill Condon confirmed that Josh Gad’s LeFou is, indeed, Disney’s first openly gay character. What’s more, his sexuality may pay homage to one of the creators behind the original, beloved 1991 animated classic.

Condon, who is openly gay himself, points out that the gay community has a long history with this Disney princess tale in particular. Howard Ashman, the brilliant lyricist who co-wrote the first film’s songs with his creative partner Alan Menken, was fighting a losing battle with AIDS as he worked on Beauty and the Beast. As Ashman was battling for his life, the stigma of being both gay and sick in the early 90s crept into his work. “It was his idea, not only to make it into a musical but also to make Beast one of the two central characters,” Condon explained. 

“Specifically for him, it was a metaphor for AIDS,” Condon continued. “He was cursed, and this curse had brought sorrow on all those people who loved him, and maybe there was a chance for a miracle—and a way for the curse to be lifted. It was a very concrete thing that he was doing.” Ashman wrote the film’s now-famous lyrics while he was dying in his home, attended by a private nurse paid for by Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. Read more via Vanity Fair
China: LGBT groups demand apology
China's LGBT groups are demanding a public apology from a video streaming platform for calling "homosexuality" a "wrong concept of love."

Beijing-based online video provider Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp, better known as LeTV, said in a statement on Friday that videos containing certain content are forbidden on the platform, including the "wrong concept of love, such as homosexuality and extramarital affairs."

The statement was widely criticized by Chinese LGBT groups, including the Beijing LGBT Center and Tongzhi Zhisheng (Voice of LGBT). Many netizens claimed they would not use Letv anymore for such a "stupid" statement.

LeTV later deleted the word "homosexuality" and only said "wrong concept of love" is forbidden in LeTV videos. Read more via ECNS
Review: European editions of the Jan 2017 National Geographic special issue “Gender Revolution” Globally, 30 editions of the National Geographic January magazine have been published with a “Gender cover”. This is a review of some of the European editions as translated into European languages. Comments on the translations  are listed in alphabetical order according to country of issue. Where possible trans people from the country or region have given comments on the national editions and suggestions for improvement. Read more via TGEU
South Africa: Local Beauty Queen Has Come Out Publicly As Intersex Read more
French Vogue features transgender cover model Read more
Outrage over attempt to block anti-gay discrimination in Zambian football Read more
South Africa: Mourning the faceless gay victims of Isis Read more
‘Moonlight’ Writer Dedicates Film To All POC And Gender-Nonconforming Read more
Botswana to host 5th annual LGBTIQ Film Festival Read more
Meet the Oprah of China, Who Happens to Be Transgender 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 © 2017 Richard Burzynski, All rights reserved.

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