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7 February 2017


Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: UNAIDS is formally reviewing how the joint UN program works and how best to support countries' efforts to end AIDS. It has invited the public to participate via a Virtual Stakeholder Consultation where participants can engage in meaningful discussion that will be considered by the Global Review Panel as it develops recommendations. Comments will be accepted through 15 February.

The UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Vitit Muntarbhorn held public consultations with civil society, UN agencies, National Human Rights Institutions, and member states in Geneva. Muntarbhorn and participants discussed the scope of his work, including setting priorities and developing effective strategies for moving forward with short and long term goals. UNAIDS also welcomed him to their office to meet with Luiz Loures, Deputy Director, and other staff to discuss the importance of protecting LGBT people and ensuring their access to health and HIV services.

HIV, Health, and Wellness:  Philippines President Duterte announced support for the Reproductive Health Law to curb the rising HIV epidemic; however, several cities have issued local ordinances to stop clinics from procuring or distributing condoms and contraceptives. The Department of Education also blocked the Department of Health's proposal to distribute condoms in secondary schools.   

Hong Kong's Department of Health announced that it has detected an increase in hepatitis A cases among HIV-positive gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. The Department will arrange free hepatitis A vaccinations for this community at public clinics to control the outbreak. 

In Argentina, HIV advocates and health providers protested outside the Buenos Aires Health Ministry over the ongoing shortage of antiretroviral drugs. The Health Ministry’s AIDS director Dr. Carlos Zala said that missing medicines are due to bureaucratic roadblocks and not actual shortages of supplies. 

Canada’s Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance launched ‘The Sex You Want’ campaign to educate trans and cisgender gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men about preventing, testing, and treating HIV and other sexually transmitted infections with sex positivity. 

Ireland and Switzerland both removed lifetime bans on blood donations by men who have had sex with other men. New regulations will allow gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men to donate provided they remain celibate for one year. 

A new US study of men estimated that the prevalence of genital HPV among men 18 to 59 years old is 45.2%, while only 10% of vaccine-eligible males have received the HPV vaccine. 

From the World of Politics:  The White House released a statement saying that President Trump will not overturn Obama’s order barring LGBTQ discrimination in the federal workforce. Many activists became concerned after media published a draft document that seems to restrict LGBT rights. However, Vice President Mike Pence reaffirmed that discrimination has "no place in our administration" during a television interview this weekend.

Liliane Ploumen, Netherlands’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, announced a new global fundraising initiative called “She Decides” to support family planning programs, including sexual health and birth control, in developing countries. Thirteen countries, including Canada, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Sweden announced their support. Netherlands kicked off the fund with a €10 million contribution. 

In Germany, the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs and Inclusion announced that for the third consecutive year it would increase funding to promote acceptance of sexual diversity and gender identity.

The European Parliament passed a resolution that will require all EU member states to recognize adoptions processed in other member states. MEP Daniele Viotti noted that the change will be beneficial to LGBTI families who are “held back due to heteronormative interpretations of family”.

Ireland's Department of Justice announced it will not oppose a bill drafted to pardon gay men convicted of laws criminalizing homosexuality that were in place until 1993. "The Convictions for Certain Sexual Offences (Apology and Exoneration) Bill" will bring Ireland in line with the UK that passed a similar pardon in December.

In France, the leader of the conservative National Front party Marine Le Pen has sought support from LGBT voters in her run for president. Journalist J. Lester Feder explored how right-wing parties have appealed to the LGBT community across Europe.

The Politics of Union:  Poland’s President Andrzej Duda told reporters that he would not be influenced by international organizations or lobby groups to consider any amendment to the constitution to accept gay marriage.

Only weeks after Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern pledged to promote marriage equality if re-elected, Kern announced a new coalition between his Social Democratic Party and the conservative Austrian People’s Party. The new coalition has removed all references to LGBT people, including marriage equality, from the government platform.

In Chile, President Michelle Bachelet announced the government will begin formal debate on a bill for marriage equality.

In 2014, Estonia MPs voted to legalize same-sex marriage with the law going into effect January 2016; however, Parliament has withheld several implementing measures and prevented the law from going forward. Despite the delay, a District Court ruled in favor of a gay couple married in Sweden that want to register their marriage in Estonia.

Let the Courts Decide:  In Lebanon, Judge Rabih Maalouf ruled that “homosexuality is a personal choice and not a punishable offense”. The ruling contradicts Article 534 that criminalizes “sexual intercourse contrary to nature” often used to penalize those accused of homosexuality. Activists say this is a step towards decriminalization.

The Supreme Court of Nepal issued a ruling requiring the Ministry of Home Affairs to allow citizens to legally change their name and the gender of their Citizenship Card to read “Other” instead of Male or Female. 

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit in a District Court on behalf of two restaurant employees who suffered homophobic verbal assaults from coworkers. The Commission is moving forward with the previous administration’s arguments that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Two US advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Utah over state laws that censor discussion of LGBTQ issues at schools. Utah is one of 8 states with a range of laws that forbid any LGBTQ health or other curriculum that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle”.

A UK family court ruled against a transgender woman seeking contact with her children because the family belongs to a Charedi community—a strictly orthodox sect of Judaism. The children’s biological mother argued that they would be ostracized by the community if they were in contact with the woman. The judge agreed that the “gulf between these parents” was “too wide for the children to bridge”. 

In the Name of Religion:  The Church of England will consider dropping celibacy requirements for LGBT clergy. Currently, the Church allows gay clergy to enter into civil partnerships—not marriages—as long as they vow to remain celibate.  

During its General Synod, the Lutheran Church of Norway voted to allow pastors to perform same-sex marriages. The Church will also modify the ceremonial marriage text with gender-neutral language. 

Although several Australian Anglican dioceses have supported marriage equality, the Diocese of Sydney proposed that secular and religious organizations should be allowed to refuse same-sex couples. Dr Muriel Porter, of the Anglican Church’s national General Synod, told journalists that progressive Anglican leaders “feel silenced” and that most worshipers have “no problem” with same-sex marriage.  

Pope Francis ordered the resignation of the chief of the Knights of Malta in a move some say shows that the Pope is not afraid of standing up to traditionalists that disapprove of his more progressive actions. The chief, Grand Master Fra' Robert Matthew Festing, was responsible for firing the Knights’ health minister Albrecht von Boeselager because he oversaw a humanitarian project in Myanmar that included condom distribution. Boeselager appealed to the Pope who ordered an investigation.

In South Africa, celebrity Somizi Mhlongo ignited social media with a video in which he condemned an anti-gay sermon at the Grace Bible Church:
“I’m not going to sit there and listen to somebody offending me. This is who I am. I am a gay man. Get it straight into your skull. My soul is alright with my god! Let me deal with my god and my soul [...] I walked out – and visibly so! And I’m proud and I’m going to remain gay for the rest of my life!” 
The controversy escalated with protesters demonstrating outside the church.
 
Fear and Loathing:  In the Ivory Coast, two gay men were imprisoned for three months without clear charges. The Ivory Coast does not criminalize homosexuality and activists say this is the first known instance of indecency laws used to hold suspected homosexuals. 

The Human Rights Watch reported that Indonesian police have been collaborating with militant Islamists to shut down LGBT events and intimidate members of the community. Most recently police disbanded an annual event from the Forum Kerukunan Waria/Bissu—a local organization of third gender people. 

Brazilian organization Grupo Gay da Bahia reported that they registered 343 LGBT people who were killed or committed suicide in 2016. GGB founder Luiz Mott noted that these numbers under-represent the situation because the government does not collect hate crime statistics. 

Australian authorities have reopened inquiries into the deaths of 88 murdered men during the 1980s and 90s whom they suspect were victims of “gangs of teenagers” that hunted gay men for sport. Former police minister Ted Pickering admitted they could see now that predators were attacking gay men and that “they were doing it with the almost-certain knowledge that the police would not have gone after them. That was the police culture of the day.”

On the March:  Researchers estimate between 3.5 and 5.6 million people around the world marched on 21 January in solidarity with the Women’s March. Protesters spoke out on numerous cross-sectional issues, including gender equality, LGBTQ rights, sexual assault, and migration.

In Kenya, Ugandan LGBTI refugees protested outside the UN Refugee Agency offices to bring attention to the long resettlement process that has left many homeless and victims of police harassment.

Protests continue in response to the US executive order banning refugees and visa holders from seven predominantly Muslim countries. While officials say between 60,000 and 100,000 visas have been revoked, activists warn the situation is particularly dire for the LGBT community who face criminalization and violence at home.

The Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride Parade celebrated its ninth annual march to celebrate the LGBTQ community and protest Section 377—the law criminalizing homosexuality.

Meanwhile officials in Salekhard, Russia, banned “Polar Pride” for violating the country’s gay propaganda law. Organizer Nikolai Alexeyev has lodged a complaint at the Salekhard City Court. 

Winds of Change:  Since 1993, Thailand’s Department of Corrections has separated LGBT people from other inmates in an effort to prevent violence, according to officials. The government announced it is considering plans to build a new detention center for LGBT prisoners. 

Turkey expects to open its “pink prison” this year. The exclusively LGBT facility went into construction in 2015 after the European Court of Human Rights found the country guilty of discrimination due to how it isolated LGBT prisoners within current facilities. 

Brazilian activist and journalist Iran Giusti opened a co-op shelter for LGBT runaways. The shelter was financed through a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $35,000 in less than two months. 

Across the US, gay activists are challenging the gun lobby—from the outspoken Gag (Gays Against Guns) to lobbying group Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. Veteran and political consultant Jason Lindsay noted: “This is a new fight for the gay community, adding our incredible strength and political experience to the existing campaigns, and that will make a difference.”

The UK Girl Guides released new guidelines allowing all people identifying as female to join the organization as members and troop leaders. Furthermore, the Guides considers it unlawful to inform other parents of members and troop leaders identity without an individual’s consent. 

The Boy Scouts of America announced it would accept children identifying as boys on their application forms after a New Jersey mother filed a discrimination complaint against the group for expelling her 8-year-old trans son.

The American Journal of Public Health published research estimating the population size of transgender people in the US that determined about 1 in every 250 adults is transgender. 

School Days:   The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention canceled a conference intended to outline a five-year agenda “to address the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth”.  In place of the conference, the CDC held a workgroup of experts to address health issues of LGBTQ young people on 11 January.

German LGBT organization Schwulenberatung Berlin announced plans to build a mixed-use center that will include an LGBTI senior living center and the country’s first kindergarten run by a gay rights group

The Journal of Adolescent Health published a new supplement that explores sexual and reproductive health, rights, and HIV youth programming, as documented through the International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s youth-led service delivery Link Up Project.

As the UK celebrates its LGBT History Month, organizations including LGBT Youth Scotland and Schools OUT UK have planned series of events and made curriculum resources available to the public. 

Business and Technology:  At the annual International Tourism Fair held in Madrid, Spain, a growing number of tourist companies targeted the LGBT market. This year many companies went beyond promoting gay pride events to include agricultural and local activities geared towards LGBT families. 

After AirBnB purged users violating its anti-discrimination policy, a Russian alternative called MyLinker launched “GayLocator”—a website that claims to calculate the number of gay people in any searched city to “protect” travelers from LGBT persons. 

The US National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce published “America’s LGBT Economy” report which evaluated the impact and demographics of 909 certified as LGBT-owned businesses. Among the results, the report found the businesses contributed over $1.15 billion to the economy and created over 33,000 US jobs in 2015.  

UK LGBT rights charity Stonewall released its annual workplace equality index ranking the top 100 employers for diversity and inclusion. Lloyds Banking Group took the top spot, replacing MI5 from last year’s report. 

Australia’s AIDS Action Council issued a warning that gay apps and forums are being targeted by a group of extortionists in Canberra. 

Sports and Culture:  India’s first openly gay royal, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, is campaigning for gay rights and the end of criminalization which he says contributes to fear and unsafe sex. 

In China, millions of people watched a live web broadcast of a gay couple as they traveled to their parents’ homes and revealed that they are gay. The men were one of six couples participating in a Chinese Spring Festival tradition to bring your boyfriend or girlfriend to meet the parents. 

Belgium top fashion model Hanne Gaby Odiele revealed she is intersex and spoke candidly about the two traumatic surgeries she underwent as a child and the physical and mental consequences she will deal with for the rest of her life. 

From South Africa, journalist Dylan Muhlenberg profiled Cape Town drag artists Queezy, René Sans, and Inkwell Moon, noting: “Drag is not a parody: bigger than that, it’s a slap in the face of conformity, diluting the male vs. female binary that so many of us still hold dear.”

Japanese independent film Karera ga Honki de Amu Toki Ha (aka “Close-Knit”) is the story of a trans woman inspired by a true story director Naoko Ogigami read in her local paper about a mother accepting her transgender teenager.

US independent film Moonlight was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for its lyrical adaptation of the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, a coming of age story about a gay African-American boy.  

Finally, check out this documentary short from the Mesahat Foundation called Queer Voices From Sudan...What is it like to be Queer in Khartoum? that showcases the challenges faced by the Sudanese LGBT community.
 
Jensen Byrne
"À l'heure où le monde est en train d'évoluer, à l'heure où certains pays ont instauré le mariage homosexuel et l'ont reconnu, la moindre des choses est de dépénaliser au Liban, ce qui constitue véritablement une liberté personnelle." 

"At a time when the world is evolving, at a time when certain countries have established gay marriage and recognized it, the least thing to do is to decriminalize homosexuality in Lebanon, which really constitutes a personal freedom."

~ Former Lebanon MP Salah Honein wondering how it is possible to criminalize "a feeling". 
 
Continue for excerpts from the articles
Consultation on UNAIDS Joint Programme model
The world has committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. In partnership with a range of stakeholders, including people living with HIV, UNAIDS plays a key role in the global effort to deliver on these ambitions.  The new United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has committed to leading a comprehensive reform effort.

A Global Review Panel has been convened by Helen Clark, Chair of the United Nations Development Group and Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director to address the challenges faced by UNAIDS—to make recommendations on how to make the Joint Programme sustainable and fit for purpose. The leadership of the Panel is committed to making this process as inclusive as possible. 

The Panel will focus specifically on three fundamental pillars of the Joint Programme: joint working, governance, financing and accountability. The discussion forums of the virtual consultation are organized the same way: one forum for each of the three pillars, and one forum for general discussion about how UNAIDS works. UNAIDS needs your voice! Contributions to discussion will be taken through 15 February. Read more via UNAIDS
 
New UN expert launches open consultation on sexual orientation and gender identity
On the 24th to 25th of January 2017 the UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Vitit Muntarbhorn, convened a public consultation in Geneva including States’ representatives, United Nations agencies, programmes and funds, regional human rights mechanisms, National Human Rights Institutions and civil society organizations.

The IE discussed the following five linchpins, interrelated and mutually reinforcing, that are instrumental in addressing the challenges of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and that will help frame the priorities of the mandate:
  • Decriminalization
  • Destigmatization
  • Legal recognition of gender identity
  • Cultural inclusion with gender-and-sexual diversity
  • Empathization
Watch the archived live stream via YouTube

Read more via OHCHR
Argentina: Medicine shortages pose a threat to HIV-positive Argentines
For nearly a year, HIV positive Argentines have endured what advocates call a “crisis” and a “national emergency.” Shortages and delays in the delivery of antiretroviral drugs have beleaguered many who depend on them to stay healthy, sparking public outcry and a protest outside the Health Ministry in Buenos Aires in December.

Since then, officials from the ministry have met with representatives from groups at the front lines of the fight against HIV, and promised that the shortages have been addressed. However, reports of missing medication persist. On Jan. 17, the health minister of Chubut province, in southern Argentina, said in an interview that the national Health Ministry had not sent shipments of drugs for HIV, cancer, and tuberculosis. Read more via Americas Quarterly
Philippines: Unprepared government faces AIDS
Billy Santo recently spent two sleepless nights looking after a friend who had just found out that he’s reactive to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV antibodies have been found in the friend’s blood and he must take another set of tests to confirm if he is HIV positive.

Santo is HIV-positive himself. A peer counselor to those who have contracted the virus, he is one of a growing epidemic that numbers 35,000 cases since 1984 and shows little sign of abating. While the Philippines has one of the world’s lowest rates of infection, it has one of the fastest-growing number of cases worldwide. Read more via Asia Sentinel

DepEd blocks condom distribution in schools
The Department of Education (DepEd) blocked the initiative of the Department of Health (DOH) to distribute condoms to senior high school students. DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones made this stand amid uproar against DOH’s condom distribution project. Briones said that DepEd has already informed Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial that the agency cannot support DOH’s plan to limit the spread of AIDS. Read more via News Info
Hong Kong: Vaccination for high-risk male attendees to control hepatitis A outbreak
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (February 2) announced that in view of an unusual increased number of hepatitis A cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-positive) in recent months, one-off hepatitis A vaccination would be arranged for MSM attending designated public clinical services as a control measure of the hepatitis A outbreak. 

"Hepatitis A vaccine is safe and effective in preventing the infection. The World Health Organization recommends hepatitis A vaccination for high-risk groups, such as travelers to endemic areas, MSM and chronic liver disease patients. To control the further spread of hepatitis A, as a one-off measure, the Government will provide two doses of hepatitis A vaccines, to be given at least six months apart, for target MSM for free from tomorrow (February 3)," Dr Wong said.

In addition, the CHP will step up health education and publicity based on its Red Ribbon Centre's ongoing community programs for MSM in collaboration with non-governmental organizations to raise their awareness of the risk of contracting hepatitis A via sexual transmission, promote safe sex, and encourage them to consult a doctor if necessary. Read more via 7th Space
Ireland: Blood donation ban lifted 
Men who had sex with men (MSM) more than a year ago are permitted to donate blood from Monday under a change to the rules operated by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS). The new rule replaces a previous lifetime ban on blood donations by MSM. It applies so long as the person meets the other blood donor selection criteria.

Only 3 percent of the eligible population of Ireland are active blood donors yet one in four people will require a blood transfusion at some time in their lives. The risk of transmitted infection of blood is at its highest when individuals donate blood during a window period of five to 15 days following exposure to a virus.  Read more via the Irish Times
Switzerland: Blood donations from gay men to be accepted
The Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, Swissmedic, approved the July 2016 request of the Swiss Red Cross blood service Swiss Transfusion SRC to end the exclusion of blood donations from homosexual men, which was instituted in 1988 due to the risk of HIV transmission.

The lifting of the ban is nevertheless subject to very strict conditions. Homosexual men wishing to donate blood must have been abstinent for 12 months. In addition, ongoing monitoring of new risk assessment is required, as well as an assessment of risk posed by those who fail the tests. Finally, a report on the effects of the new fitness criteria for donations from gay men must be established annually.

Several organizations defending the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) people call the exclusion discriminatory. "The rule is hypocritical. Under the pretext of safety, one excludes an entire section of society," Mehdi Künzle, co-president of Pink Cross, told swissinfo.ch. Read more via Swiss Info
US: HPV prevalence rates among men, vaccination coverage
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, as well as a cause of various cancers, and a new study published online by JAMA Oncology estimates the overall prevalence of genital HPV infection in men ages 18 to 59. Read more via Science Daily
Canada: The Sex you want
Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH) are pleased to announce the official launch of The Sex You Want. A campaign aimed at getting cisgender and transgender gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men preventing, testing, and treating HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This campaign is timely with so many ways to have great sex and maintain our health regardless of our HIV status! Read more via GMSH
US: Obama’s protections for LGBT federal workers will remain 
The White House said on Monday that President Trump would leave in place a 2014 Obama administration order that created new workplace protections for LGBT people. The Obama order banned companies that do federal work from discriminating against LGBT employees.

It was the first time the government explicitly protected federal workers from discrimination based on gender identity.

Leaving those protections, of course, does not preclude another executive order that would roll back gay rights in other areas. Mr. Trump could, for example, still enshrine a religious freedom provision in federal policy. Read more via New York Times
US: Activists concerned over leaked document 
A draft of an executive order on "religious freedom" outlined a possible weakening of protections designed to shield LGBT individuals from discrimination. Although the document appears similar to something written 5 years ago, major media outlets brought new attention to this document, prompting fears within the LGBT community

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday began an exchange on ABC’s “This Week” with an effort to affirm support for LGBT people, but subsequently dodged on whether he thinks a religious freedom executive order is needed that could undermine LGBT rights. 

“I think throughout the campaign, President Trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration,” Pence said. “I mean, he was the very first Republican nominee to mention the LGBTQ community at our Republican National Convention and was applauded for it. And I was there applauding with him. I think the generosity of his spirit, recognizing that in the patriot’s heart, there’s no room for prejudice is part of who this president is.” Read more via Washington Blade
Netherlands: 13 countries sign up to support Dutch safe abortion initiative
So far 13 countries, including Canada, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Sweden have signed up to support the Dutch safe abortion fund being set up to mitigate the effect of US president Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Global Gag Rule’ Dutch media reported. 

Private individuals have already donated more than €140,000 to support the initiative, which has been named She Decides and has a target of €600m. There is also talk of a massive concert to raise funds.

This Gag Rule, which was first instituted in 1984, has been shown to decimate family planning programs and increase abortion rates in countries around the world. And, because the rule targets organizations and not specific programs or services, it negatively impacts HIV-prevention programs, as well. Unfortunately, the wording of Trump's presidential memorandum seems to expand the reach of the GGR, meaning that it could have an even bigger impact on HIV prevention efforts overseas. Read more via the Body
Germany: Project funding for acceptance and diversity increased significantly
The commissioner for integration and anti-discrimination, Secretary Jo Dreiseitel, announced this year's state support for inclusion and diversity in Hessen. "I am pleased that the Hessian government will support innovative projects in the third consecutive year that promote the acceptance of diversity of sexual and gender identities in Hessen." The government has more than doubled funds available for LGBTIQ projects. Additionally, money has been set aside for refugees and asylum seekers who have fled home because of their sexual or gender identity.

"Under the Sign of the Hessian Action Plan for inclusion and diversity, the Hessian state government once again sends a clear signal for a cosmopolitan Hessen and for respect and recognition towards lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals, transgender, intersex and as queer defining persons (LGBT * IQ)," the State Secretary said. Read more via Hessen
European Parliament demands action on EU-wide recognition of adoptions
The European Parliament adopted a report (533 +, 41 -) demanding the automatic recognition of domestic adoption orders across EU Member States. The report stipulates that the recognition should happen without discrimination, including on the basis of the parents’ sexual orientation.

The report highlights that the lack of provisions for the recognition currently cause significant problems for families, which move from one Member State to another. The other Member State may not recognize parents’ parental rights, which exposes them and the children to all sorts of legal risks. Read more via Intergroup on LGBT Rights
Ireland following UK’s footsteps on gay and bisexual pardons
A bill to pardon gay and bisexual men convicted in Ireland of now abolished sexual offenses cleared a major parliamentary hurdle in the Seanad. Senator Gerald Nash’s Convictions for Certain Sexual Offences (Apology and Exoneration) Bill mirrors similar legislation that has taken effect in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Minister David Stanton, speaking for the Department of Justice, did outline concerns over provisions of the bill. Mr. Stanton also said there was a “difficult question of legal theory” around whether the bill can grant an apology and exoneration to those convicted prior to the creation of Saorstát Éireann.

But he told senators: “Despite the concerns expressed, the Government does not, of course, oppose the principle of this Bill.

“These issues are raised simply to highlight the areas which the Government believes require further consideration if the Bill is to achieve its purpose and not have unintended consequences. Read more via Irish Legal
How France’s Nationalist Party Is Winning Gay Support
The courtship of LGBT voters by one of the leading candidates for the presidency of France began as she tried to distance her party from the Nazis.

While campaigning to lead the National Front in 2010, Marine Le Pen set out to bury the legacy of the party’s founder, her own father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who had twice been prosecuted for Holocaust denial. She wanted to rebrand the party, to rid it of its obsession with the Nazi occupation of France in the middle of the last century. Instead, Le Pen believed voters should be much more worried by a new “occupation” that she thought would bring even the party’s old enemies to her side: the “illegal occupation” of France by Muslim immigrants.

Muslim headscarves and public prayer had become so common in “a number of territories” that some areas have become “subject to religious laws that replace the laws of the Republic,” Le Pen said during a campaign speech in Lyon on Dec. 11, 2010. As a result, she said, “I hear more and more testimonies about the fact that in certain districts, it is not good to be a woman, homosexual, Jewish, even French or white.” Read more via Buzzfeed
Polish president rules out gay marriage
The Polish president has said that the country’s constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, adding that the governing majority will unlikely change the law.

President Andrzej Duda has said that the issue of marriage is “clearly and expressly regulated in the Constitution”.

Speaking to the TV Republika broadcaster, Duda was asked whether it is likely that “international organizations, various lobby groups, but also some European countries” could force Poland to accept gay marriage. Read more via Radio Poland
Austria will not consider marriage equality until 2018
Marriage equality in Austria will not be possible until at least 2018. In the middle of January, Austria’s most powerful politician made LGBTI equality a part of his re-election program. But now it is becoming clear same-sex marriage is definitely not an option for nearly two years.

On 30 January, chancellor Christian Kern and his vice chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner announced they had decided on a new coalition program.
Kern represents the Social Democratic Party of Austria; he is the first chancellor to have taken part in Vienna Pride. His VC, Mitterlehner, represents the Christian democratic and conservative Austrian People’s Party.

Their new program is based on Kern’s so-called ‘Plan A’, his re-election program which should ‘reform’ Austria. In Kern’s original plan, he said he wanted to establish same-sex marriage. But in the new program, which is very close to Kern’s Plan A proposal, something crucial is missing: Kern’s stance on LGBTI people. Read more via Gay Star News
Gay couple win right to be married in Estonia
Estonia was the first ex-Soviet Union country to legalize same-sex civil unions. Earlier this week, the Baltic state strengthened the rights of two same-sex couples, giving others the hope that equality may not be far off. Last week, a court in the capital Tallinn decided in its second instance to recognize the marriage of two men.

It is the first time a marriage between two men has been legally recognized in Estonia. The couple wed in Sweden, but now reside in Estonia. In the first instance, the authorities in the district of Harju, which includes Tallinn, refused to enter the men’s marriage into the civil register. Read more via Gay Star News
Chilean president to promote marriage bill debate
The Chilean government has formally begun the long-delayed process through which citizens can debate a proposed marriage equality bill.

President Michelle Bachelet made the announcement on Jan. 20 at La Moneda Palace, fulfilling one of her most long-awaited campaign promises she made before she was elected president for a second term in 2013: The beginning of a debate over granting same-sex couples the right to marry.

In the presence of public officials and representatives of local sexual diversity organizations, Bachelet reconfirmed her government’s commitment to an open and participatory conversation. Read more via Washington Blade 
Lebanon: Judge’s ruling ‘major step forward’ for sexual rights movement
A recent ruling by a Metn judge that has set a new precedent for court cases against LGBT individuals was met with support from activists working on the case who called it a significant development.

"It is a huge step forward for the sexual rights movement," Ghenwa Samhat, executive director of Lebanese LGBT organization Helem, to the Daily Star.

The ruling by Judge Rabih Maalouf referred to the court's role in protecting freedoms and safeguarding human rights in the ruling. Maalouf specifically invoked Article 183 of the Penal Code that state "the act committed is not considered to be a crime if exercised as a right without exceeding its limits." Read more via the Daily Star Lebanon
Nepal: SC directs to ensure citizenship to LGBTI on the basis of identity
Supreme Court on Monday issued a verdict requesting to provide citizenship to gender and sexual minority under the Others (O) category. The Ministry of Home Affairs has already begun providing citizenship on the basis of identity but there are still obstacles in the districts.The fresh verdict by court is likely to ease the process across the country and there will not be hassles. A joint bench of Hari Krishna Karki and Deep Kumar Karki issued a verdict to the District Administration Office to issue citizenship on the basis of gender identity.

According to advocate Sujan Panta, the verdict has paved the way to change the gender who has earlier received citizenship on the basis of male and female. The court has also given the verdict to conduct an orientation on the same issue.  Though the issue was settled by the court in 2064, a writ was filed at Supreme Court after members of this community faced various difficulties including the medical certificate and reluctance of government agencies.Read more via Pachican
US: An independent federal agency is suing to advance gay rights 
Federal lawyers are still going to bat for gay workers. It isn’t clear what the Trump administration thinks about LGBT protections under the law — his nominee for attorney general hasn’t been confirmed — but one independent agency isn’t waiting.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal civil rights laws in workplaces, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 20 to protect two restaurant employees who allege anti-gay harassment. The employees report being called “fag,” “faggot,” and “sissy” by their colleagues, according to a complaint filed in US District Court in Arizona, which says one of the men quit the job and the other was fired.

The commission argues their treatment violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination at work. The case is part of a broad push the past several years to expand the interpretation of civil rights laws to cover LGBT people — even though there is no federal law explicitly banning LGBT discrimination. Read more via Buzzfeed
US: Lawsuit challenge censorship of LGBTQ topics in school
As a 16-year-old junior in high school, Harper McGee had to fight for the ability to say “gay” on campus.

At the time, McGee and a friend were trying to create a Gay-Straight Alliance group at Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah, in the fall of 2014. McGee wanted to have an organized place where students could talk about LGBTQ issues, but It wasn’t easy. School officials were concerned about the name because, as one of them said, it “include[d] a reference to human sexuality.”

Utah is one of eight states that has laws, sometimes called “no promo homo” laws, that limit how teachers can talk about LGBTQ issues with students, or forbid it altogether. While some teachers say the laws reflect parents’ concerns about discussing sex at school, some LGBTQ activists say they perpetuate a culture of fear among students who need support. And now, for the first time, a lawsuit is aiming to overturn one of them. Read more via PBS
UK: A transgender Orthodox Jewish woman has been denied access to her children
A transgender woman has been refused direct access to her five children by a family court judge who said there was a risk they would be shunned by the strict orthodox Jewish community they live in.

She is the biological father of the children, who are aged between 2 and 12, and has not seen them since she left the family home to live as a woman in June 2015. She applied through the courts in 2016 after being denied access by the children’s mother.

Through her lawyers, the woman argued that she should be sensitively reintroduced to the children, who should be helped to understand her new identity. According to the judgment, she said “the opposition of the community should be confronted and faced down”. Read more via Buzzfeed
Anglican Leaders "feel silenced" by church on same-sex marriage
Dr. Muriel Porter, a Melbourne journalist and author, also said that progressive Anglican leaders “feel silenced” on the divisive issue.
“It looks as if the whole Anglican church is unanimously opposed to same-sex marriage. I know for a fact that it isn’t,” she told BuzzFeed News.

“I think most ordinary Anglicans in the pews in church, most of them, in most places, have no problem with same-sex marriage. People who worship in the church, they’ve got gay sons and daughters, gay grandsons and granddaughters, they’ve got gay friends, gay neighbors.”

In her submission to the current Senate inquiry into marriage equality, Porter, who has served on the Anglican Church’s national General Synod for 30 years, said the government’s proposal, should marriage equality be legalized, to allow civil celebrants and religious organizations to turn away same-sex couples goes too far. Read more via Buzzfeed
Church of England to consider dropping celibacy question for gay clergy
The Church of England has been urged to turn a “blind eye” to gay clergy members sex lives as part of a push to eradicate homophobia in the church. Currently, gay clergy members are asked to remain celibate when they change jobs or seek out a promotion to Bishop in order to carry out relationships with people of the same gender. 

However, discussions are due to take place in the House of Bishops in which a proposal to overhaul the system will be introduced. If the motion passes, LGBT clergymen will not face an inquisition into their private lives upon joining the church. Read more via Pink News
Norway's Lutheran Church embraces same-sex marriage
Norway's Lutheran Church voted on Monday in favor of new ceremonial language that will allow its pastors to conduct same-sex marriages, bringing it into line with several other mainstream Protestant denominations abroad.

Last April the annual conference of the Church -- to which nearly three-quarters of Norwegians said in 2015 they belonged -- backed the principle of same-sex marriages, but did not agree on a wording.

Monday's decision involved modifying the marriage text to make it gender-neutral, removing the words "bride" and "groom". The new liturgy will come into effect on Wednesday.

In 2015 the French Protestant Church allowed gay marriage blessings, while the U.S. Presbyterian Church approved a change in the wording of its constitution to include same-sex marriage. Read more via NBC News
Vatican condom row: Pope prevails as Knights of Malta chief resigns
In an extraordinary display of papal power, Pope Francis has taken control of the Knights of Malta. To non-Catholics, this move may seem like an obscure intramural skirmish, but it has sent shock waves throughout the Roman Catholic world.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is recognized as a sovereign entity under international law, so the pope’s firing of Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing amounts to a Vatican takeover of an autonomous state. This intrepid move sends a signal to Catholics around the world that Pope Francis isn’t afraid to play hardball with ultratraditionalists who oppose the way he is running the Catholic Church. Read more via The Trumpet
South Africa: Grace Bible Church throws out LGBTI demonstrators protesting religious homophobia
Members of the LGBTI community took a stand against religious homophobia on Sunday with a protest at the Grace Bible Church in Soweto.

The demonstration was sparked by a recent sermon at the church given by Ghanaian evangelist Dag Heward-Mills in which he said that homosexuality is unnatural. Celebrity Somizi Mhlongo said in a video posted on Instagram that a guest pastor at Grace Bible Church in Soweto had said being gay was "unnatural". The TV and radio personality said he was deeply offended by the words.

The church also does not recognize same-sex relationships and asserts that “adherence to this stated principle of sexual behavior is an inherent requirement of membership of Grace Bible Church”. Read more via Mamba Online
Indonesian Police, Anti-LGBT Islamists Restart Sinister Collaboration
Indonesian police are once again helping carry out the anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) agenda of militant Islamists. Last week, police in South Sulawesi province canceled a public sports and cultural event involving transgender people after the Islamic Congregation Forum, a militant Islamist organization, complained the event violated “religious values.” Police added insult to injury by temporarily detaining 600 transgender and bissu (a gender-neutral identity in South Sulawesi’s Bugis tradition) people hours before the three-day event was scheduled to begin.

This is the latest incident in which Indonesian police have openly collaborated with militant Islamists to unlawfully disrupt LGBT-related events and harass and intimidate LGBT people who attend them. In November, the Islamic Defenders Front (or FPI), a militant group with a well-earned reputation for harassment and violence against minorities, led police to raid a gathering of men for a so-called “sex party.” In January 2016, the FPI brought police to a hotel in Jakarta and urged them to shut down a training session about access to justice for LGBT people. Read more via HRW
Ivory Coast: Two men jailed for being gay in a country with no sodomy laws
Authorities in the Ivory Coast have refused to explain why two gay men were arrested and jailed in a country that does not criminalize same-sex acts, and is widely regarded as a beacon of tolerance for sexual minorities.

Yann, 31, and Abdoul, 19, are openly gay but deny any romantic relationship. They were arrested in October in a village in southwestern Ivory Coast, apparently for “public indecency”.

Though prosecutors have declined to confirm the charge against them, activists say if the indecency law was used it would be the first known instance of the provision being used to jail gay people in the country. Read more via the Guardian
Brazil: One LGBT person is killed almost every day
Every 25 hours an LGBT+ person is killed in Brazil, according to a new survey.

The Gay Group of Bahia (GGB) - the country’s oldest gay rights group - says that in 2016 they registered 343 deaths of LGBT+ individuals.

This includes 173 gay men, 144 transgender people, 10 lesbians and 4 bisexuals. 12 of the victims were straight and were killed for either being in a relationship with a bisexual or transgender person or for assisting the LGBT+ community.

The GGB’s annual report also accounted for suicides that were motivated by discrimination against gender identity or sexual orientation. Read more via SBS
Australia: When gangs killed gay men for sport
On a December day in 1988, a teenager on a spearfishing expedition found a body at the bottom of one of the wild, honey-colored sandstone cliffs that line Sydney Harbor.

Naked, torn and battered by the rocks, the dead man was a promising American mathematician, Scott Johnson. His clothes were found at the top of the cliff in a neat pile with his digital watch, student ID and a $10 bill, folded in a small plastic sheath. There was no wallet and no note.

The police concluded that Mr. Johnson, 27, had committed suicide, and a coroner agreed. Fatal leaps from the cliffs around Sydney into the fierce sea below were not uncommon, then or now.

But 28 years later, a new inquest into Mr. Johnson’s death has begun. It appears Mr. Johnson may not have been the only one. Now the police in New South Wales, the state that includes Sydney, are reviewing the deaths of 88 men between 1976 and 2000 to determine whether they should be classified as anti-gay hate crimes. Read more via New York Times
Thailand considers opening ‘gay prison’
Theerayut Charoenpakdee was terrified when police stopped her outside a shopping centre in Pattaya, a Thai resort famous for its sordid nightlife. A urine test on the spot revealed meth coursing through her veins.

“I thought I was going to be thrown in prison with all the men because I still have the title of Mr,” the transgender woman said. “I was afraid. News and TV tells us that being sent to prison is scary.”

It turned out not to be the ordeal she expected. The prison she was destined for – Pattaya Remand – separates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners from other inmates, a little-known policy despite being in place nationwide since 1993, according to the Department of Corrections.  Read more via Associated Press
Turkey: A gay prison “to combat discrimination”
The Ministry of Justice has launched the construction of a prison reserved to the LGBT next to Izmir, the 3rd biggest city of the country on the west side of Turkey. This somewhat surprising decision is supposed to resolve problems of discrimination directed to gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals in Turkish prisons. All the LGBT arrested and sentenced to prison will be sent to this new establishment. 

In 2012 the European Court of Human Rights judged Turkey guilty of discrimination because of its policy of isolating the LGBT in its prisons. The decision forced the Ministry of Justice to give serious attention to the problem. The thing is, the solution chosen by the country is quite extraordinary: Turkey has decided to build a special prison reserved exclusively to the LGBT. “They argue this allows them to better protect the arrested LGBT”.  Read more via Le Journal International
Brazil’s first co-op shelter for LGBT runaways opens its doors
Brazilian funk music is blasting on a sunny afternoon in this traditional working-class neighborhood of downtown São Paulo. A crowd of all ages, genders, and colors spills out onto the street from a humble two-story corner house. Local LGBT artists’ work cover the walls and a series of DJs work the turntable to keep the crowd dancing. Volunteers in spandex leotards and flowery prints dance in sync while sorting through piles of incoming donated items. A young student stands on the table of the makeshift bar and shouts, “As women we stand in solidarity with all LGBT victims of domestic violence!”

Calling on a vast network cultivated over 10 years of LGBT activism, Giusti’s crowdfunding campaign to open the shelter received donations from 1,048 contributors, totaling over $35,000 in less than two months. The house’s upstairs has been turned into a simple dorm-style living space that fits up to 20 people.  Read more via Plus 55
US: Boy Scouts of America to begin accepting transgender boys 
It took several decades of legal challenges and funding boycotts for the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on openly gay Scout leaders in 2015. Remarkably, organization leaders deliberated for just a few weeks before deciding to allow transgender male scouts to participate in all programs.

This sensible policy, announced on Monday, came about after Joe Maldonado, a transgender boy from New Jersey who turned 9 on Wednesday, was expelled from his Cub Scout pack late last year. “I’m way more angry than sad,” he told The Record newspaper at the time. “My identity is a boy. If I was them, I would let every person in the world go in. It’s right to do.” Read more via the New York Times
UK: Transgender kids are now able to join the Girl Guides
For the first time ever, transgender children will be allowed to join Rainbows, Brownies and Girl Guides in a landmark move that breaks 107 years of tradition. Transgender women will also be able to become leaders, also known as Brown Owls.

In the new guidelines, it explained that doors will be open for new members who were born male but ‘self-identify’ as female. 

A spokesman for the Girl Guide Association told metro.co.uk that it would be unlawful to tell parents that there is a trans member in a unit without their consent. Read more via Metro
Transgender Population Size in the United States: a Meta-Regression of Population-Based Probability Samples
We used data from national surveys to estimate the population size of transgender people in the United States. Estimates of the number of transgender adults significantly increased over the past decade, with a current best estimate of 390 per 100 000 adults. That is about 1 in every 250 adults, or almost 1 million Americans. These numbers may be more typical of younger adults than of the entire US population. We expect that future surveys will find higher numbers of transgender people and recommend that standardized questions be used, which will allow a more accurate population size estimate. Read More via American Journal of Public Health
Gays Against Guns: can the LGBTQ community curb the power of the gun lobby?
Patty Sheehan’s biggest worries on 11 June 2016 were parking tickets, potholes and whether her latest artwork was a good enough likeness of her cat, Loui. The Orlando city commissioner had stayed up late painting Loui that muggy Saturday night. 

Seven months later the portrait remains unfinished. Sheehan was woken by a phone call early the next morning telling her that a gunman armed with a military-style assault rifle had opened fire on clubbers at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub three miles from her door. Within minutes, she was on the scene. 

Sheehan is part of a growing movement among gay people across America vowing to take on the gun death epidemic, following successful campaigns for marriage equality and the repeal of the government’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, which prevented gay soldiers from serving their country openly. Read more via the Guardian
Sydney, Tokyo, Dublin, Capetown: Women's March on Washington goes worldwide
From Capetown to Tokyo and Dublin to Melbourne, more than 2 million activists inspired by the Women's March on Washington turned out worldwide Saturday in a show of solidarity a day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

Long before the sun rose in Washington on the first full day of the Trump administration, marchers were already on the streets in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney with a variety of messages, some supporting abortion rights, some pressing for women's equality, and some driven chiefly by an anti-Trump message.  Read more via USA Today

The Exhausting Work of Tallying America's Largest Protest
A pair of political-science professors are combing through news stories and individual reports to estimate the number of people who demonstrated on Saturday. Read more via the Atlantic
Kenya: Desperate refugees protest in Nairobi
A group of desperate LGBTI refugees have been protesting for the last two days outside the offices of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Nairobi.

According to Fierse Hydary Aidan, Executive Director of Youth Uplift Uganda, the peaceful protest aimed to draw attention to their longstanding and increasingly dire plight.

The refugees say they fled to Kenya from Uganda to escape persecution because of their sexuality or gender identity. Many are now homeless, living on the streets and are going hungry. They also claim to often be victims of police harassment and extortion. Read more via Mamba Online
LGBT refugees’ lives depend on the U.S. resettlement program
President Donald Trump issued an executive order suspending refugee resettlement in the United States for 120 days and indefinitely suspending it for Syrian refugees—except on a case-by-case basis for people whose admission “is in the national interest,” particularly those fleeing religious-based persecution. In the executive order, he also proclaimed that the United States should not admit those who “engage in acts of bigotry and hatred” or “those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”  This prohibition is already well-founded in U.S. immigration laws. Reiterating the need to protect Americans from persecution because of their sexual orientation in the same order that yanks the welcome mat out from under LGBT refugees fleeing the Islamic State and militias is hypocritical.

The executive order will prevent refugees such as Sham Hasan, an Iraqi LGBT and refugee rights advocate who risked his life as a linguist for U.S. troops in Iraq, from coming to the United States. In an interview with the author, Hasan expressed fear that without the hope of resettlement in the United States, some LGBT refugees may see suicide as their only option. He said that “if my country shuts the door in my face and America shuts the door in my face as well, that would cause me to break down. I would have no hope to live again.” Read more via American Progress
Mumbai Pride March: LGBT supporters share their hopes for the future
Traffic came to a stop on a Saturday afternoon as a sea of colour and mirth marched through Grant Road. The QAM (Queer Azadi Mumbai) Pride March 2017 was as colourful as ever, and appeared to be bigger than ever before.

There were men in heels, women in dhotis, dogs in rainbow outfits (lesbian dogs, we were told). Massive flags floated down, dhols played, and placards demanded equality for the LGBT community.

As this colorful army walked, windows facing the road opened, car windows rolled down, and cell phones were fished out. “What’s going on?” “Why are they marching?” some curious bystanders asked. Read more via Hindustan Times
Polar Pride banned due to Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law
Pride event in the Arctic circle is banned over ‘gay propaganda’ laws. Police in the region of Salekhard, Russia, have banned around 300 gay rights activists from marching on 29 January.

The city administration cited the ban on ‘propaganda of non-traditional family relationships’. They also claimed the affectionately named ‘Polar Pride’ would be harmful to children’s ‘health and development”. Nikolai Alexeyev, leader of Russian LGBTI group Moscow Pride, has helped several activists apply for permits to hold Pride parades across Russia.

Prides in Arkhangelsk,, Yekaterinburg, Cheylabinsk, Sarank, St Petersburg, Tula, Tver and Vladimir have all not been allowed.

‘It will, if necessary, brought to the European Court of Human Rights,’ Alexeyev said. He added the law is in violation of Russia’s constitution that states people must have the right to freedom of assembly. Read more via Gay Star News
CDC Scraps Plans for LGBT Youth Summit After Election
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has canceled a summit dedicated to LGBT young people. 

An unidentified source, speaking to Talking Points Memo, said the conference, originally planned for December, was a "big deal" that would have outlined a five-year agenda “to address the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth.” The date was pushed back to January 12, then fell off the calendar.

The source said the CDC — anticipating a victory of pro-LGBT presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and cautious about politicizing the event — was waiting until the day after the election to contact groups like the Human Rights Campaign, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and the YMCA. The federal agency had planned to extend formal invitations for potential partnerships. But these invitations were never sent. Read more via the Advocate
First-ever LGBT kindergarten and senior complex proposed in Berlin
The mixed-use buildings would have nursing care, restaurant, and office space.
An organization in Germany is poised to build its very first LGBT kindergarten in Berlin.

Schwulenberatung Berlin, an LGBT organization has developed the project which would house and support many LGBT community members with 60 apartments of varying sizes.

The layout would include 35 apartments for elderly gay men and 25 for lesbians, trans folk and intersex residents.

The complex would also be a mixed-use building, providing a school, two nursing homes, restaurant, offices and a community center.

Marcel de Groot, CEO of Schwulenberatung, founded more than 30 years ago, said, “We want to provide an appropriate space for children of queer families as well as parents whose children need to be familiar with a very diverse lifestyle at an early age.” Read more via SDGL
UK LGBT history month
LGBT HM is celebrated in February in the UK but our work to educate out prejudice continues throughout the year. Our interactive calendar is also all-year-round so check it out or add an LGBT-related event of your own.

This year our theme was Religion, Belief, and Philosophy. LGBT History Month 2016 is over now but we hope we have enabled the faiths to foster good relations with their LGBT congregants and with the wider LGBT community. In 2017 we will look at Citizenship, PSHE and Law as we mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of male homosexuality in England and Wales.

Our academic festival in Manchester and popular festivals in Newcastle, York, Manchester, Shrewsbury, Bristol, and London were immensely successful and we hope they will put LGBT History on the map and in the history books. Read more
Young people, in all their diversity, are central to the HIV response
This week, a Journal of Adolescent Health supplement “Integrating Rights into HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health: Evidence and experiences from the Link Up Project” is published. It brings together key learnings and reflections on the importance of recognizing and engaging with diversity among young people in terms of age, gender, HIV status, and social circumstances, as well as country contexts. Read more via AIDS Alliance
Spain seeks new ways to lure high-spending gay tourists
The travel sector is jazzing up its offer for gay tourists, who tend to spend more than most when away from home, taking it beyond parties in sunny hubs like Ibiza. The trend was underscored at the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid, one of the world's largest, where tourism boards plugged cultural attractions and nature activities to this market.
   
Spain's western region of Extremadura, for example, featured posters promoting annual gay pride festivities in the city of Badajoz which began in response to homophobic comments made by a local politician. But it also promoted bird watching trips, local architecture and rural tourism to gay and lesbian travelers at a special section of the fair dedicated to the market segment.
   
The goal is to appeal to the growing number of gay and lesbian couples who are having children, said Hugo Alonso of the Extremadura's tourism promotion agency at the fair. "We are interested in volume," he said. Gay and lesbians make up around 10 percent of all tourists, he said. Read more via the Local
Russian Developers Launch ‘Airbnb for Homophobes’
A Kazan-based website called “MyLinker” is stirring controversy in Russia with a service that supposedly calculates the number of LGBT persons in cities around the country, in an effort to help people evade anti-discrimination policies by homestay networks like Airbnb.

In Moscow, for example, the website says there are “173,851 gays,” and warns visitors, “Oh my! That's a lot of gays! Danger!” while offering help in “fending off the gays.”

Scrolling further, visitors to MyLinker are told that “AirBnb cleaned up and deleted all the owners who refused to rent to homosexuals,” before getting the sales pitch: the homophobes re-registered with MyLinker, the website claims. Read more via Global Voices
US: There’s green in being gay
he National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, has released the first ever snapshot demonstrating the economic and social impact of America's LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs. The "America's LGBT Economy" report explores the revenues, types, sizes, and geography of LGBT-owned businesses currently certified by the NGLCC, as well as the number of jobs they create and the personal narratives of successful LGBT business owners who reflect the very best about America's innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. 

They found that in 2015, NGLCC certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) alone contributed over $1.15 billion to the US economy; if all estimated LGBT-owned businesses in America are projected, their contribution to the economy exceeds $1.7 trillion. Read more via NGLCC
UK: Stonewall names Lloyds the UK's most inclusive employer
Banking group Lloyds has been named the most inclusive employer in Britain by Stonewall. The firm won the accolade after launching a new volunteering program, forming official partnerships with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender charities.

Lloyds also supported awareness days and social media campaigns as well as flying bisexual and transgender flags at 35 sites. Law firm Pinsent Masons came second, followed by US banker JP Morgan, while intelligence agency MI5, which was top last year, was joint-fifth with the Welsh Assembly.

Stonewall, the leading LGBT rights charity, said its workplace equality index attracted a record 439 submissions, with 92,000 people taking part in a survey about workplace culture. Read more via the Guardian
Australia: Gay hook-up apps targeted by extortionists in Canberra, AIDS Action Council says
Men using gay hook-up apps and forums are being blackmailed by a group of three or four people in Canberra, the AIDS Action Council warns. The ABC understands the perpetrators earn users' trust online but when they meet in person they threaten to expose them if they did not pay them money.

The AIDS Action Council received two separate reports from victims this week but fear there may be more who are too embarrassed to come forward. Read more via ABC
Born naked: Three Cape Town drag artists making waves
Drag is a subculture that’s not strictly limited to the queer scene

Read more via Mamba Online
Gay Chinese Couple Live Stream New Year Homecoming Read more
Gay drama Moonlight racks up eight Oscar nominations Read more
Model Hanne Gaby Odiele reveals she is intersex Read more
Queer Voices From Sudan...What is it like to be Queer in Khartoum?
Queer Voices From Sudan...What is it like to be Queer in Khartoum? Watch here
Is Japan ready to love a transgender lead character? Read more
Gay prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is on the front line of India's war against AIDS 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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