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27 October 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN:  The UN General Assembly elected António Guterres as the incoming Secretary-General to replace Ban Ki-moon this January. The former prime minister of Portugal beat out seven women and six other men for the position. Guterres previously served as the High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015.

During the 2015 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Guterres released a statement appealing to governments to: 

"...promote the values of tolerance and respect for diversity, and to build a world where no one has to be afraid because of their sexual orientation and gender identity."
UN-Globe, the organization of UN LGBTI staff, released a statement supporting Guterres and calling on him to be a strong advocate for LGBTI around the world. 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined 11 presidents and thousands of experts at the third ever UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development—Habitat III—with the goal of establishing the New Urban Agenda. As Ki-moon described, "transforming our world for the better" means re-making towns and cities through sustainable development. Some leaders worked to include mention of LGBT among the "vulnerable populations" the Agenda seeks to protect. However, a group of 17 nations blocked the inclusion and instead inserted the phrase that cities should be "friendly for families".

The UN Free & Equal Campaign celebrated Intersex Awareness Day (26 October) by launching a new site "United Nations for Intersex Awareness" with videos, a factsheet, guides for parents and governments, and a list of resources for further information. UN experts and African, American, and European human rights experts published the first joint statement on intersex-related human rights issues. 

HIV, Health, and Wellness:  A new study has dispelled the origin story of HIV. By genetically sequencing samples from patients infected in the 1970s, scientists have proven that there was no "Patient Zero"—exonerating French-Canadian gay flight attendant Gaetan Dugas who the media had labeled "The Man Who Gave Us AIDS".

Global health organizations who support the LGBT community say they are fighting dueling misperceptions—that the AIDS epidemic "is all over" and that it's "a hopeless case".  

Indonesia's National AIDS Commission warned that the recent wave of anti-LGBT sentiment might prevent the country from reaching AIDS targets by 2030. 

The US honored National Latinix AIDS Awareness Day (15 October). Activists fear the community's resistance to discussing sexuality is behind new infections and the statistic that one out of four Latino gay and bisexual men will become HIV positive. Volunteer Daniel Garza reflected on being rejected by his parents after coming out then finding a family within the AIDS community.

The China Association of AIDS Prevention and Control launched a program to target rising HIV rates among youth by stocking vending machines at Southwest Petroleum University with HIV self-testing kits. Subsidized by a charity, the tests are 10 times cheaper than those bought online.

A new study from Germany evaluated HIV testing behaviors of gay men and other men who have sex with men and found that stigma remains a strong factor preventing men from getting tested. A new South African campaign to promote HIV testing hopes to dramatically increase uptake among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. The campaign is building off of a Department of Health strategy to provide treatment as soon as a person is diagnosed. 

Dating app Grindr added an HIV filter that can hide positive men—Health Innovation Strategist Alex Garner discusses why avoiding people who know their status is bad for preventing HIV infections

The PrEP in Europe Initiative published a new report on the access and uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis across Europe with testimony from men and women in over 30 countries, including from people who must seek PrEP outside of official health systems.

Norway's Minister of Health and Social Care, Bent Høie, announced the country will provide PrEP free of charge through the National Health Scheme. 

Seeing how highly effective PrEP is at preventing HIV, some researchers are questioning if similar pre-exposure tactics could be used to prevent the hepatitis C virus.

New reports from Canada show HPV-induced mouth and throat cancers are increasing as cervical cancers remain stable. Additionally, 1 in 3 HPV cancers are diagnosed in men. The US Center for Disease Control released its annual STD surveillance report and showed that across the country sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high, especially chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

In the UK, LGBT people have significantly higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse than the general population, while government services to help have continued to lose funding.
From the World of Politics: Representatives from the Australian and US governments held a joint dialogue on human rights of LGBTI people during which they recommitted support to the Global Equity Fund—an initiative of 25 governments and corporations for advancing LGBTI rights—and announced an upcoming initiative to address needs of LGBTI in the Pacific region.

US National Security Advisor Susan Rice announced that the Obama administration has enacted a new rule that bans organizations working with USAID from discriminating against LGBT people. Meanwhile, President Obama is prepared to veto the $600 billion defense spending bill if it includes an anti-LGBT "religious freedom" provision that would effectively void the nondiscrimination orders he has put in place.

The Indonesian Youth and Sports Ministry began recruiting applicants for the role of Creative Youth Ambassador. The ministry is seeking someone "physically and mentally healthy" and specifically "not involved in promiscuity and sexually deviant behavior, including LGBT." As anti-LGBT sentiment continues to rise in the country, President Joko Widodo made his first comments to reduce the tension saying that "the police must act" to protect LGBT Indonesians even though "Islam does not allow" the LGBT lifestyle. Journalist Yenni Kwok reflected on how the country's treatment of LGBT citizens undermines the quest for democracy

The Philippines House of Representatives began hearings on the Anti-Discrimination Bill on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Bill. Several cities have already passed local ordinances to protect gender and sexual minorities.

The Japanese Ward Yodogawa passed local initiatives to support the LGBT community in 2013. Since then, the Ward Office has had over 60 visits from public officials and business leaders interested in learning about Yodogawa's efforts. 

US LGBT activists and leaders have split over what national nondiscrimination legislation should look like. Some are calling for compromise with conservative politicians by supporting bills that cover employment and housing but do not protect LGBT people in public spaces such as restaurants, shops, and bathrooms. 

Hungary's Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, László Székely, submitted a 29-page report on gender identity, access to health services, and recommendations for legislation that supports trans individuals to the Ministry of Human Resources. The Parliament of France adopted new legislation that allows transgender individuals to change their legal gender without sterilization or medical treatment.  Meanwhile in Kenya, MP Isaac Mwaura urged Parliament to amend legislation to provide legal recognition to intersex citizens

Germany's Justice Ministry announced €30 million in reparations will be budgeted to pay men convicted of homosexuality. Meanwhile, the UK Parliament failed to pass The Turing Law—a bill to automatically pardon living and dead gay and bisexual men convicted of homosexuality. They are considering a new bill that will allow men to request a pardon.

The Politics of Union:  The Australian Electoral Commission continues to prepare for the public vote on same-sex marriage to occur in February despite a pledge by 40 senators to block the legislation

Taiwan legislators from the Democratic Progressive Party announced they will pursue an amendment to legalize same-sex marriage and give couples adoption rights.

As the Romanian Constitutional Court considers whether same-sex couples married overseas will be recognized in Romania, President Klaus Johannis gave a speech calling for "tolerance and acceptance" for minority groups. He also stated that religious fanaticism would not help society.

In the Name of Religion: In the wake of Mexico's mass protests against marriage equality, Brandon Capece from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs provided a reflection on the history of local LGBT rights, the church, and the law.

Amsterdam police have identified the group behind leaflets calling for Muslims, Christians, and Jews to "unite" to exterminate gay people. Distributed across the western districts, at least 75 homeowners registered complaints with authorities. 

South African LGBT Muslim organization The Inner Circle hosted an international retreat for organizations, academics, and individuals to discuss issues affecting LGBT+ Muslims.

Fear and Loathing:  From Mexico, lawyer José Manuel Ruiz argues that 'outrageous remarks' on gender from organizations such as the National Front for the Family reinforce the stigma and violence the trans community faces. He urged the community to take a stand to stop the recent rash of murders of trans women.

A South African lesbian couple were gang raped in their home by intruders who told the women they wanted to "teach them that they are women".

Police in Cameroon raided a bar popular with the gay community and arrested everyone inside, though officials say occupants were not targeted for their sexuality but for "public disturbance".

LGBT people in Afghanistan spoke to journalists about living in hiding, in fear of rejection and violence. 

Taiwanese LGBT activists mourned the recent passing of well-known local professor Jacques Picoux who committed suicide after losing his partner of 35 years to cancer. Without legal recognition of their relationship, Picoux was unable to be involved in his partner's healthcare.

Winds of Change: The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) released results from their Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People that collected responses from over 96,000 individuals in 65 countries, including 16 countries with laws criminalizing homosexuality. Among their conclusions, they found that attitudes toward LGBT people are changing and that first-hand experience with the community can have a destigmatising effect. 

A new EuroPulse study of 12,000 people across 28 countries in Europe found Germany has the largest population of those identifying as LGBT (7.4%); over 10% identify as something other than exclusively heterosexual.

The survey coincides with data from the UK and US that found that the number of young people identifying as something other than heterosexual has risen over the last three years. More people than ever are identifying beyond the traditional LGBT spectrum, including pansexual, demisexual, gender fluid, and non-binary. Senior Lecturer Megan Todd explored the changing boundaries of sexual identities and labels.

The Turkish Justice Ministry will soon open its first prison exclusively for LGBT detainees. Journalist Daniel Mallory reviews the use of separate facilities based on sexual orientation going back to New York city's "fag annex" of the 1910s. 

In South Africa participants to the third annual Simon Nkoli Memorial Lecture celebrated the prominent anti-apartheid icon and LGBTI and AIDS activist with discussions on HIV and the experience of African men who have sex with men, LGBTI human rights freedoms, and trans-international solidarity.

In an interview, Amir Ashour spoke about moving to Sweden and establishing IraQueer, the first organization for Iraqi and Kurdish LGBT people.

Intersex people from the UK, US, Uganda, Nepal, and Mexico shared personal commentaries on their experiences navigating stigma and discrimination for Intersex Awareness Day.

On the March:  French police announced that around 24,000 people participated in an anti-gay marriage demonstration throughout Paris. Waving flags and signs stating "All together for the family" and "In 2017, I'll vote for the family", protestors urged politicians to repeal legislation from 2013 that legalized same-sex marriage. 

Students in Delhi, India held their first Pride parade in conjunction with the Indian Institute Of Technology Delhi's annual Rendezvous festival—a four-day event that draws nearly 50,000 attendees from over 350 colleges. 

Australia's Minister for Immigration and Border Security, Peter Dutton, told Parliament that gay and bisexual refugees currently held in Australia's center in Papua New Guinea will no longer be the government's responsibility when the center closes. Gay and bisexual refugees will have to return home or remain in PNG despite the country's laws criminalizing homosexuality. 

German authorities have opened their first shelter for LGBTI migrants and refugees. Initially, LGBTI refugees were placed in hotels and private apartments to protect them from other refugees with anti-LGBT sentiments, but authorities determined it would be more cost effective to create a private shelter. 

School Days:  A new UK survey found that the number of LGBT students who are afraid of being targeted due to their sexual orientation has nearly doubled compared to the previous year's study. 

The website of Russian LGBT youth group Deti-404 has been blacklisted by the government's media oversight group Roskomnadzor. This is not the first time Deti-404 has been found guilty of breaking Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws.

The US student group InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, which has 1,011 chapters across 667 colleges, released a "Theological Summary of Human Sexuality" clarifying the group's position against same-sex relationships. Though the conservative statement was unsurprising, employees were shocked to learn that if they disagree with the position, they will be "involuntary terminated".

Sports and Culture: Filmmaker Barry Jenkins is garnering rave reviews and awards season buzz for his film Moonlight about growing up black and gay in America. A new web drama explores what it means to be gay and HIV positive in 2016

Botswana LGBTI group LeGaBiBo published Dipolelo Tsa Rona (Our Stories)—a collection of stories from the community. British artist Tab Kimpton launched a Kickstarter to publish his book Minority Monstersa collection of LGBTQA+ fairy tales.

Mexican artist Jovan Israel creates illustrations to explore the lives of the LGBTQ community in Mexico and to "show people there is a world beyond heterosexuality".

Artist Mengwen Cao's project Here We Are shares the coming out stories of queer Chinese kids, including her own coming out to her parents. South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi's new exhibit showcases her last 10 years documenting the lives of the black queer community

For the first time, International makeup giant Covergirl selected a male spokesmodel to star in a campaign. The 17-year-old James Charles already has a loyal Instagram following for his makeup tutorials. 

And finally, check out queer artist Mykki Blanco's powerful new recitation of I want a Dyke for President written by AIDS activist and artist Zoe Leonard in 1992.
chansey paech
"Madam Speaker, I am young, I am gay, I am black, a true blue Territorian... I am eternally proud of who I am and where I come from, I own it and wear it with pride."  
~  Chansey Paech, Australia’s first openly gay aboriginal elected to Parliament speaking at the opening of the 13th Assembly of the Northern Territory.  

 “I am black I am gay. I cannot separate the two into secondary or primary struggles.” 
~ activist Simon Nkoli before his death in 1998
Continue for excerpts from the articles
ban ki moon Michel Sidibé UNAIDS report
António Guterres appointed next UN Secretary-General by acclamation
The General Assembly today appointed by acclamation the former Prime Minister of Portugal, António Guterres, as the next United Nations Secretary-General, to succeed Ban Ki-moon when he steps down on 31 December.

Mr. Guterres, aged 67, was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. He will become the world's top diplomat on 1 January 2017, and hold that post for the next five years. Read more via UN

UN-GLOBE statement on the formal recommendation by the Security Council 
UN-GLOBE calls on António Guterres to be a strong advocate as Secretary-General for the equal rights of LGBTI people and for their safety, and stresses that this advocacy is made stronger when the UN’s own LGBTI staff have full access to their rights. Equality called for around the world must be practiced at home.
UN-GLOBE looks forward to working closely with the new Secretary-General to bring greater awareness of LGBTI issues in the UN system, to change its culture to one of inclusiveness, to embrace equal benefits for all families, and to institute inclusive policies for trans and intersex employees, among other issues. We will reach out to him in the weeks ahead. Read more via UNGlobe
Belarus leads group of about 17 nations to block LGBT rights in UN cities plan
A group of up to 17 countries led by Belarus has blocked a plan to include the rights of LGBT communities in a new urban strategy drawn up by the UN, according to sources close to negotiations.

Canada, backed by the European Union, the United States and Mexico, had pushed for including the recognition of LGBT people and an acknowledgment of homophobia in a key policy paper to be finalized at the UN conference in Ecuador next week.

The UN's 'New Urban Agenda' is a non-binding agreement to address the challenges of rapidly growing cities globally and will be adopted at Habitat III in Quito, setting out guidelines for sustainable urban development over the next 20 years.

The recognition of LGBT communities and an acknowledgment of homophobia would be seen as a significant step by the United Nations with same sex relationships illegal in 76 countries around the world and punishable by death in seven.

But sources said a behind-the-scenes campaign by Belarus, supported by various nations including Russia, Egypt, Qatar, Indonesia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, had resulted in the document only referring to cities being "friendly for families". Read more via Thomson Reuters Foundation
End violence and harmful medical practices on intersex children and adults, UN and regional experts urge
Speaking ahead of Intersex Awareness Day on 26 October, a group of United Nations and international human rights experts* is calling for an urgent end to human rights violations against intersex** children and adults. They urge Governments to prohibit harmful medical practices on intersex children, including unnecessary surgery and treatment without their informed consent, and sterilization.

In countries around the world, intersex infants, children and adolescents are subjected to medically unnecessary surgeries, hormonal treatments and other procedures in an attempt to forcibly change their appearance to be in line with societal expectations about female and male bodies. When, as is frequently the case, these procedures are performed without the full, free and informed consent of the person concerned, they amount to violations of fundamental human rights. Read more via the UN
Health organizations challenged to keep AIDS in the spotlight
Stigma against LGBT communities remains a challenge for organizations that work with HIV/AIDS patients. But the biggest challenge of all might be keeping the disease in the spotlight. In recent years we have seen enormous reductions in transmission of HIV/AIDS globally. More people are living with HIV through increased access to antiretroviral therapy.

This progress has allowed the epidemic to slip out of the spotlight, but the disease remains a major threat. AIDS-related deaths have declined over the last five years, but the number of new infections has reached a plateau. And the number of new infections is actually increasing in 74 countries, according to a study published this year.

Stigma against HIV-positive patients is especially challenging in Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of HIV cases worldwide. But stigma, discrimination, and violence prevent men who have sex with men (MSM) –  who, along with female sex workers and injecting drug users, have a disproportionately high risk of contracting HIV – from accessing services. Read more via Humanosphere
HIV’s Patient Zero exonerated
In 1982, sociologist William Darrow and his colleagues at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travelled from Georgia to California to investigate an explosion in cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma, a type of skin cancer, among gay men. Darrow suspected that the cancer-causing agent — later shown to be a complication of HIV infection — was sexually transmitted, but lacked proof. His breakthrough came one day in April when three men from three different counties told Darrow that they had had sex with the same person: a French-Canadian airline steward named Gaétan Dugas.

CDC researchers tracked down Dugas in New York City, where he was being treated for Kaposi’s sarcoma. With his cooperation, the scientists definitively linked HIV and sexual activity. They referred to Dugas as 'Patient Zero' in their study, and because of a misunderstanding by journalists and the public, the flight attendant became known as the person who brought HIV to the United States. Dugas and his family were vilified for years.

But an analysis of HIV using decades-old blood serum samples exonerates the French Canadian, who died in 1984. The paper, published on 26 October in Nature, shows that the virus had been circulating in North America since at least 1970, and that the disease arrived on the continent through the Caribbean from Africa. Read more via Nature
Indonesia: Anti-gay sentiment a threat to goal to end AIDS by 2030
Growing anti-gay sentiment in Indonesia could hamper efforts to combat fast-rising HIV infections among one of the most at-risk groups, threatening the country's target to end an AIDS epidemic by 2030, a senior official has warned.

Although new infections have been falling globally, Indonesia is one country where they are on the rise as the disease spreads rapidly among gay men and other men who have had sex with men (MSM) over the past decade. HIV prevalence among the group jumped to 25.8 percent in 2015 from 5.4 percent in 2007, according to Indonesia's National AIDS Commission.

"In terms of number, MSM is the fastest growing (group)," the commission's secretary Kemal Siregar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Read more via NBC
US: It's National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day And Time For Action
One out of four Latino gay and bisexual men will become HIV-positive in their lifetime, according to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention. As Plus reported, while Latinx represent 17 percent of the U.S. population, they represented 24 percent of new HIV cases in 2014. We've spent enough time discussing the many reasons why Latinx are disproportionately at risk of becoming positive. Now it’s time for change.

National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day is observed every year on the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15. But unlike years before, this time around organizers are prepping themselves to make huge strides and efforts across Hispanic/Latino/Latinx communities across the nation with the theme “We’ll Defeat AIDS con Ganas (with Desire).” Read more via Plus

US: Finding Family in the Latinx HIV Community
I have been HIV-positive for 16 years. As a Latino male with strong family ties, it was very difficult for me to not only reveal to them my diagnosis but also the fact that I was gay. In the Latino community, in general, we have our own views toward sex and sexuality and tend to be more discreet and more conservative. So it wasn’t only about the diagnosis but also about being gay in a machismo culture, where masculinity defines so many aspects of our lives. 

As a way of coping with something they couldn’t understand, my family responded first with silence and then with blame, shaming me for my lifestyle and my HIV-positive status. With so much resentment and fear tearing us apart, I moved in 2009 from Houston to Southern California.

There I found support and a safe haven in the AIDS Services Foundation and its RADAR project (Rendering Access to Disease-prevention Advocacy & Retention) that focuses on helping bisexual and gay Latino men by providing vital HIV services and counseling. It was the first time in nearly ten years that I felt a sense of community.  Read more via Plus
China: HIV is growing so fast among Chinese youth that a university is selling testing kits in vending machines
The kits, which cost less than $5, are sold alongside snacks and drinks in the machines at China’s Southwest Petroleum University in Sichuan Province. The province has a high prevalence of HIV and AIDS and was among the top three Chinese provinces, that accounted for nearly half of China’s half million cases at the end of 2014, according to China’s 2015 AIDS report.

Students use the HIV kits by taking their own urine samples and sending them back to a lab to be tested, the university’s school medical center said. The process is anonymous and the test results can be accessed online.

HIV/AIDS infection rates among China’s young people are growing at an alarming rate. From 2011 to 2015, infection grew in the 15-24 age group by 35%. About 1.6 % of the nation’s 575,000 HIV/AIDS cases were students at the end of 2015, according to Wu Zun, the director of National Center for AIDS Control and Prevention. Read more via Quartz
Germany: HIV risk perception and testing behaviors among men having sex with men
With awareness of the importance of HIV testing and serostatus knowledge, researchers recruited MSM to a nationwide anonymous online-survey in 2013 on MSM social networking/dating sites. Questions included testing behaviors, reasons for testing decisions, and HIV risk perception. 

They found that perceived partner knowledge and reasons reflecting perceived gay- and HIV-related stigma predicted testing decisions rather than risk perception. Read more via BMC Public Health
South Africa: New campaign aims to get MSM testing
Health4Men has launched a new campaign that aims to drastically increase HIV testing amongst gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in South Africa.

As part of ‘We’re Braver Together’, MSM will be encouraged to overcome their primal fears and in doing so find the courage to get tested for HIV with a friend or nurse by their side.

The campaign has set a goal of having as many HIV tests being done as possible amongst members of this population between now and December this year. This will enable those who do test positively to get immediate treatment, regardless of their CD4 count. Read more via MambaOnline
Undetectable: Fear, Filters, And Grindr
Recently, what’s perceived as an HIV filter option on Grindr has caused controversy and discussion among gay men. This development has left people understandably distressed as they worry that it allows the filtering out of HIV-positive guys. But I think we are missing the bigger issue. It’s not just about the existence of the filter but it’s about why men feel the need to use such a filter in the first place.

Filtering is simply an act of ignorance and fear. Avoiding someone who knows that they are HIV-positive is a bad strategy for staying negative. The science is overwhelmingly clear: if someone is undetectable, meaning the amount of virus in the blood is so low it can’t be detected, it’s virtually impossible for the virus to be transmitted. Furthermore, there are still plenty of very effective options for protecting yourself from HIV, such as condoms, PrEP, or PEP if you don’t want to rely on the undetectable status of someone else.

We must encourage gay men to take control and make informed choices about the risks they are willing to take. It’s bad science and simply doesn’t work to eschew poz guys while taking risk with guys who might think they are negative.  Read more via Huffington Post
Norway to provide free HIV-preventing PrEP drugs to at-risk gay men
Norway is sending a bold message to the world by becoming the first country to make HIV-preventing PrEP drugs available through its National Health Service. Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce the risk of being infected with HIV by up to 86% if taken daily, and has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for at-risk men who have sex with men (MSM).

It is already available in a number of countries including the United States, Canada, South Africa and France. Norway has this week become the second country in Europe to make PrEP available, announcing that PrEP drugs will be available free of charge to at-risk groups via its National Health Scheme.

According to HIV Norway, Minister for Health and Social Care Bent Høie announced the move, making Norway the first country in the world to make the drug free for users. The decision by the minister is taken on recommendations from the Health Directorate and the Institute of Public Health. It is a result of two years of lobbying by HIV Norway – the national organization for people living with HIV. Read more via PinkNews
European delays on HIV prevention drug endanger gay men and others at risk of HIV
A new report, PrEP Access in Europe, by the PrEP in Europe Initiative, a coalition of leading HIV organizations that includes NAM, calls on European governments and health authorities to make PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) available to populations at imminent risk of HIV as a matter of urgency.

PrEP means taking HIV drugs, daily or as needed, before possible exposure to HIV in order to prevent infection. Its high level of effectiveness is undisputed. Following US FDA approval in 2012, many countries around the world – including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kenya, France, Peru, South Africa and Thailand – are in the process of introducing PrEP for people at high risk of HIV into their HIV prevention programming.

According to the European Centre for Disease Control, in 2014 at least 30,000 people were infected in the European Union and 140,000 in the whole of the European region. That’s 80 infections a day in the EU alone. Just over half were among gay men. Many of these new infections could be averted by the introduction of PrEP; yet to date the only European country in which PrEP is available from the national health system is France. Read more via AIDSmap
Pre-Exposure Treatment for Hepatitis C?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) works to prevent HIV infection. People at high-risk are being encouraged to take tenofovir (Truvada/Gilead) the antiviral that prevents infection.  Why not apply that concept to preventing hepatitis C virus (HCV)  infection by giving those at risk direct-acting antivirals before they get HCV? 

Writing in an editorial in Hepatology, Gregory Dore, PhD, of The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, argues that men who have sex with men (MSM) and are HIV positive are likely to get HCV sooner or later. That also applies to people who inject drugs. 

Using mathematical modeling, Dore cites a "pessimistic scenario," in which "the proportion of HIV-infected MSM engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors increase to above 20% " and even treating all new cases of HCV annually would not stop the spread of the virus. 

Ongoing high-risk behavior such as unsafe sex and injection drug use "has the potential to produce high rates of both initial HCV infection and HCV reinfection following successful HCV treatment" he writes.  Better to eliminate the virus before it takes hold, he says. Read more via HCP live
Canada: Male HPV-related oral cancer rates on the rise
Mouth and throat cancers now represent about a third of cancers induced by HPV in Canada, according to a new report.

The Canadian Cancer Society and Public Health Agency of Canada released their annual report on cancer statistics Wednesday, with a special chapter on cancers linked to the human papilloma virus.  Almost 4,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with HPV-linked cancers this year and about 1,200 die from it annually. About one third are cervical cancers.

HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease in Canada and the world, the society said. Smith said vaccination policies should reflect that one in three HPV cancers are diagnosed in males. That's why the society is calling on other provinces and territories to expand free vaccination programs to boys. Canadian men are more than four times more likely to get an HPV mouth or throat cancer than women. Read more via CBC
US: STD rates at 'unprecedented high'
There were more reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases last year than ever before in the United States, according to the latest STD surveillance report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The annual report, which was released on Wednesday, showed that the rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis -- the three most commonly reported STDs in the nation -- increased between 2014 and 2015, reaching an all-time high.
Reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis rose by 19%, gonorrhea cases rose by 12.8%, and chlamydia cases rose by 5.9%, from 2014. All three STDs are curable with antibiotics, but most infections go undiagnosed and untreated, according to the CDC. Read more via CNN
UK: LGBT are battling a demon more powerful than HIV – and it’s hidden
Mental distress triggered by deep-rooted homophobia in society drives many LGBT people to abuse drink and drugs, and to harm themselves. The statistics are indeed alarming. According to Stonewall research in 2014, 52% of young LGBT people report they have, at some point, self-harmed; a staggering 44% have considered suicide; and 42% have sought medical help for mental distress. Alcohol and drug abuse are often damaging forms of self-medication to deal with this underlying distress. A recent study by the LGBT Foundation found that drug use among LGB people is seven times higher than the general population, binge drinking is twice as common among gay and bisexual men, and substance dependency is significantly higher.

Why? As Todd puts it: “It is a shame with which we were saddled as children, to which we continue to be culturally subjected.” The problem gay people have isn’t their sexuality, but rather society’s attitude to it. It is “our experience of growing up in a society that still does not fully accept that people can be anything other than heterosexual and cisgendered [born into the physical gender you feel you are]”. There’s the weight of centuries of hatred and bigotry, with legally enforced discrimination only dismantled in very recent times. Read more via the Guardian
Australia-United States dialogue in support of the human rights of LGBTI persons
Representatives of Australia and the United States held their first joint dialogue on advancing the human rights of LGBTI people. The dialogue occurred alongside the Pacific LGBTI Youth Forum. The Forum has been a productive opportunity to hear directly from civil society in the Pacific region.

Australia and the United States are committed to working together to address violence and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

We will increase cooperation to advance the human rights of LGBTI people around the world. We are committed in particular to stepping up our efforts in the Indo‐Pacific region to combat discrimination and violence against LGBTI people, coordinate how we provide targeted funding for LGBTI communities and improve our outreach to civil society organizations, which play a vital role in driving change. Read more via Australian Government
Indonesia's 'youth ambassador' role requires proof that you're straight
A recruitment ad from the Indonesian government seeking a new Creative Youth Ambassador has plainly stated that it does not want anybody from the LGBTQ community to apply.

The statement has drawn brickbats and mockery in online forums, with many questioning just how a doctor might be able to certify someone as straight. The anti-LGBTQ sentiment is just the latest in a year of escalated bashing in the nation of 260 million people.

In January, Indonesia's minister of higher education said he wanted to ban LGBTQ student organizations from college campuses. In the months ensuing, a tirade of anti-LGBTQ hostility started collecting from religious groups and secular organizations in the country. Read more via Mashable
Indonesia: President finally defends country’s LGBT population
The President of Indonesia has broken his silence on the country’s rising political culture of homophobia, finally insisting that LGBT people must be protected. President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo made his first comments on Indonesia’s escalating anti-LGBT violence, calling on the police to protect endangered citizens.

“The police must act [to protect them],” Jokowi told the BBC. “There should be no discrimination against anyone.” That doesn’t mean he’s a staunch support of the community however, as he clarified that “in terms of our beliefs, [the LGBT lifestyle] isn’t allowed, Islam does not allow it.”

Violence against the country’s LGBT population has been rising over the last few months, while the police have cracked down as well. Just this month, a gay couple were arrested for a Facebook photo of them kissing. The anti-LGBT culture has been led in part by a number of the country’s politicians, who have even blocked Grindr and 80 other gay websites and apps in a crackdown on “deviant propaganda.”

“Jokowi’s long-overdue statement in support of LGBT nondiscrimination is a breath of fresh air as Indonesian officials and politicians continue their abusive and ill-informed homophobic onslaught,” said Kyle Knight, LGBT researcher at Human Rights Watch. “A logical next step would be to repeal discriminatory anti-LGBT directives [by government institutions].” Read more via PinkNews
Why Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim democracy, should accept its LGBT citizens
An alarming rise of anti-LGBT sentiment in Indonesia belies the ideal image of the world's biggest Muslim democracy. In his overseas trips, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has one favorite topic to discuss with his fellow leaders: Islam and democracy in his country. Indonesia “is a country where Islam and democracy can go hand in hand,” he said during a speech at the U.K. Parliament in April. In his visit at the White House last October, he told President Obama that Islam in Indonesia is “moderate,” “modern” and “tolerant.”

Indonesia prides itself not only for being a country with the world’s biggest Muslim population but also for its tolerant brand of Islam. Its two largest Muslim organizations, the traditional Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the modernist Muhammadiyah, which have a combined membership of some 80 million, are touted as examples of moderate Islam. But recent events belie the ideal image of the world’s biggest Muslim democracy. Read more via Time
Philippines: 5 things you should know about the Anti-Discrimination Bill
The House of Representatives conducted its first hearing on the Anti-Discrimination Bill on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (or House Bill 267), three weeks after Rep. Geraldine Roman of the 1st district of Bataan gave an emotional privilege speech before the 17th Congress. During the hearing, the bill was subjected to closer scrutiny by various lawmakers and religious groups — some who contested that its provisions violated their right to religious freedom — as its advocates clarified what the bill seeks to achieve, and what it does not.

The bill is the latest version in a string of bills that had previously failed to pass as a law in Congress. Previous proponents of the bill include then Akbayan Rep. Etta Rosales and Rep. Kaka Bag-ao of the Dinagat Islands, who all struggled to convince legislators and related sectors of a need for an Anti-Discrimination Bill. This year, it is hoped that Roman — who has been recently included in a global list of inspiring women for 2016 — will finally set the bill firmly as part of the law of the land.  Read more via CNN
Philippines: Batangas City passes ordinance protecting SOGIE, follows lead of Batangas Province
Batangas City has become the latest locality to pass an ordinance providing protection on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE).

Ordinance No. 12, S. 2016, otherwise known as “The Batangas City Gender-Fair Ordinance” – authored by Councilor Claudette U. Ambida-Alday – declares as a city-wide policy working for the “elimination of all forms of discrimination that offend the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution and other existing laws, and to value toe dignity of every person, guarantee full respect for human rights and give the highest priority to measures that protect and enhance the right of all people.”

The ordinance is SOGIE-specific, instead of the broader non-discrimination ordinances usually filed/passed that only includes the protection of rights of LGBT people with the protection of rights of other minority sectors, including indigenous people, differently abled people, people living with HIV and senior citizens. Read more via Outrage
Japan: Osaka’s Yodogawa Ward serves as municipal model on LGBT rights
Since becoming the first municipality in Japan to declare support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in 2013, the Yodogawa Ward Office in Osaka has attracted attention from other institutions keen to learn from its approach.

The ward first moved to implement measures to help LGBT people after ward chief Masafumi Sakaki met former U.S. Consul General for Osaka-Kobe, Patrick Linehan, who is openly gay, to discuss the issue. Among its initiatives it started a help line and a community events space for LGBT people, and put up a rainbow sign, recognized as a symbol for the LGBT community, at barrier-free restrooms in the ward office.

The interest in the Yodogawa Ward Office also increased after Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward assembly passed a statute in March last year enabling certificates to be issued to same-sex couples. Officials from regional municipalities, assemblies and companies nationwide began visiting Yodogawa. The office has accepted some 60 such visits since last year, including from a university and the Legislative Bureau of the House of Representatives, ward officials said.  Read more via Japan Times
France: Law scraps sterilization for transgender people
Rights activists celebrated a major victory in France after the country passed legislation allowing transgender people to legally change their gender without undergoing sterilization.

The move comes after a handful of European nations strengthened the rights of transgender people by scrapping requirements such as undergoing medical procedures in order to have their desired gender legally recognized.

Since 2014, Denmark, Malta and Ireland have allowed people to legally change their gender by simply informing authorities, without any medical or state intervention. The practice of involuntary sterilization has been widely condemned as a human rights violation, including by the United Nations. Read more via NBC
Kenya: MP urges govt to recognize intersex persons as third gender
Member of Parliament Isaac Mwaura has urged the registrar of persons to take immediate administrative action to recognize intersex people in the country. Mr Mwaura urged the National Assembly to enact or amend laws to facilitate their legal recognition such as amendments to Registration of Persons Act, Kenya National Examination Council Act, Registration of Births and Deaths Act and Basic Education Act, among other laws.

“We have to accept that there is a third gender. It is intersex, an in-between gender. These are people with ambiguous genitalia. Mr Mwaura also called for political support from Parliament, the Executive, the Judiciary and society to ensure that intersex people are recognized under the law and have their rightful place in the society. Read more via Daily Nation
Hungarian ombudsman’s report on legal gender recognition in the country
In Hungary, trans people have the possibility to change their legal gender, but the process is not in line with basic human rights standards such as the right to self-determination and the right to a fair trial. In his 29-page report published last week, Hungary’s Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, László Székely, asked the Minister of Human Resources to address these regulatory problems in collaboration with relevant NGOs and professional organizations.

 The Office of the Commissioner was reacting to petitions submitted by the Transvanilla Transgender Association and two young individual complainants. Transvanilla complained that whilst there is a practice of changing gender markers and first names for trans persons, there is no legislation and or information available on the deadlines, remedies and required documents for this procedure. 

The ombudsman in his report makes it clear that gender identity is one's personal experience of one's own gender. In the case of trans persons, the basis for the definition of their legal gender is their own self-determination and identity, regardless of their sexual characteristics. One of his first important remarks is that legal recognition of gender does not assume that trans-specific medical procedures are being taken and does not necessarily imply a logical connection with these procedures. The gender identity of trans persons might not be in line with their external sex characteristics. In such cases, the possibility of changing the legal gender is not a medical issue, but the realization of human dignity and the right to self-determination. Read more via Transvanilla
USAID Will No Longer Allow Discrimination Against LGBT People Getting Foreign Aid
The Obama administration issued a rule on Tuesday that would bar contractors administering foreign aid programs through USAID from discriminating against LGBT people in providing services.

“This rule means that any organization that contracts with USAID must ensure that all people can benefit from its federally funded programs,” National Security Advisor Susan Rice said during an event Wednesday at American University in Washington. “It’s a major step towards ensuring that American assistance is provided in a fair and equitable manner.”

It’s not immediately clear how broadly this rule will be applied, but it could potentially touch on some of the most sensitive areas of US foreign aid. For example, Bromley said, it could be used to argue that US HIV-prevention dollars cannot go to organizations that advocate against LGBT rights, such as the religious organizations that ran HIV programs in Uganda while simultaneously campaigning for a sweeping Anti-Homosexuality Act enacted in 2014. Read more via Buzzfeed

US: Obama Would Veto Defense Bill Over Discrimination Issue
President Barack Obama is prepared to veto the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill if it includes a provision that the White House believes would allow some forms of discrimination in federal contracting.

So said senior administration officials at a White House meeting Monday of groups that oppose the provision, according to participants in the conclave who requested anonymity to talk about it.

The White House has not publicly and explicitly vowed to veto the $600 billion-plus defense bill over the House-passed provision by Oklahoma Republican Steve Russell. But the administration officials told their allies Monday that they have delivered just that message privately to members in unequivocal terms. Read more via Roll Call
US: Top LGBT leaders are divided over compromising on the bathroom fight
On Aug. 1, two dozen of the country’s top LGBT activists held an invitation-only phone call to hash out a disagreement that had pitted them into two camps. After winning marriage equality in 2015, many of them envisioned passing LGBT nondiscrimination laws nationwide — but they hit roadblocks. Conservatives have argued those policies would let transgender people prey on girls in bathrooms and force Christians to sell wedding cakes to gay couples. The bills foundered in state legislatures and Congress. By August, the leaders were fractured over how to break the logjam.

On the 90-minute call, one faction argued they could make gains with Republicans by accepting a compromise. In particular, several supported a bill in Pennsylvania that would ban LGBT discrimination in workplaces and housing — but not in public places, like restaurants and stores. Many on the call believe this could emerge as a model for other swing states where they’ve hit barricades — namely in Ohio, Florida, and Arizona.

By dropping public accommodations from the bills, they would mostly avoid the bathroom issue and religious objections. Transgender people, like LGB people, would be covered in housing and employment. But such a deal would allow, for example, business owners to reject gay customers and require transgender women to use male facilities. Read more via Buzzfeed
Germany sets aside €30 million to compensate men convicted of gay sex
The German Justice Ministry plans to allocate €30 million to pay compensation to thousands of men convicted under Paragraph 175, a law that criminalized homosexuality that was enforced until late 1960s.

A draft law regulating the compensation will be announced later this month, Justice Minister Heiko Maas told Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday. The minister said it will provide for “relatively uncomplicated” individual claims and allow for collective compensations.

Paragraph 175 of the German penal code succeeded laws criminalizing male homosexuality originating in late medieval times that had existed since the 1870s, when Germany became a unified country. Socialist East Germany effectively stopped applying the law to consensual sex in the 1950s and decriminalized homosexuality officially in 1987, but in West Germany gay adults continued to be prosecuted until 1969, with an estimated 100,000 sent to the docks and about 50,000 sentenced to prison between 1945 and 1969.  Read more via RT
UK: John Nicolson—I’m glad the government will pardon the dead, but they have failed the living
Scottish National Party MP John Nicolson writes for PinkNews after his bill to pardon men with historical gay sex offences was blocked by the government in favour of a rival Lib Dem proposal.  

Last Friday, Westminster was at its best and worst as MPs debated my Stonewall sponsored ‘Turing Bill’ to pardon gay men found guilty of historic crimes no longer on the statute book.

I’d been drawn first in the Private Members’ ballot, and had chosen a piece of legislation I knew could win all party support. In fact, I’d been approached by Tory whips earlier this summer, and in a scene straight from ‘House of Cards’ was told that if I chose this bill they’d support me “with no tricks and no games.”

The Tories under Cameron had long been keen to repackage the party as friendly towards gay rights. I’ll return to events last Friday in a moment, but first let me say why I wanted to pass the Turing Bill.  Read more via Pink News
Romania: Prime Minister and President clash over rights for same-sex couples
The National Liberal Party leader Klaus Johannis has called for tolerance and acceptance for minorities as the country considers banning same-sex marriage, noting he himself was part of two minorities as he is ethnically German and Lutheran, in a primarily Christian Orthodox country.

 Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș voiced his support for the ‘traditional family’.

‘It’s important to reiterate one thing I believe: You have to go back to the tolerance and acceptance of each other,’ Johannis said when asked where he stands on the possible ban of same-sex marriage. Johannis also said if being Christian meant leaning towards fanaticism they were sending ‘a wrong signal’; it would also not help society.

Vlad Viski, the president of MozaiQ, a Romanian LGBTI rights organization said: ‘Klaus Iohannis’ comments are a first for Romania. For the first time, a major politician is coming out in support of diversity. However, his comments don’t go as far as we want.'  Read more via GayStarNews
Australia: Government has not stopped plans for the plebiscite
The government has not told the Australian Electoral Commission to stop preparing for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage in February next year, despite the fact that the legislation is doomed to fail in the Senate.

Although prime minister Malcolm Turnbull remains optimistic about the chances of the plebiscite going ahead, 40 senators have pledged to vote against it – two more than the 38 needed to block legislation.

“Experience tells me that you don’t know what the numbers are until the votes are finally counted,” Turnbull said earlier this week. Read more via Buzzfeed
Taiwan: DPP lawmakers to propose same-sex marriage bill
Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), a convener of the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee who proposed the amendment, said the bill would change wording in the Civil Code to allow all people in a marriage to assume husband-and-wife obligations, hold parental rights and have an equal opportunity to adopt children.

The proposed amendment would change the description of those who make commitments to marry from the current "man and woman" (or male and female parties) to "the two parties" in Article 972 of the Civil Code.

Yu, who is also a lawyer, said at a press conference in Taipei that the amendment had to go through the Procedure Committee and the full legislative floor before it can be sent to committee. Read more via Focus Taiwan
The Catholic Church and Mexico: The Struggle for LGBT Equality
When the Spanish arrived on Hispaniola in 1492, a brand new forum of cultural exchange was opened between the indigenous people of the Americas and the European continent. Outside of a new language and new technologies, the Spanish also brought with them a strong Catholic tradition that was quickly promulgated throughout the region by missionaries of various Christian denominations.

One of the most successful projects took place in what is now modern day Mexico, where missionaries incorporated indigenous traditions with Catholic practices to ensure their acceptance by the people. Although this created a very unique form of Catholicism within the country, the Catholic Church in Rome has retained its role as a moral and spiritual leader of this community.

As such, the Church has been able to influence both politics and culture, often finding itself at the center of conflict. In the present day, this tension can be seen through the national discourse over LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) rights and the opposing narratives of the Church and the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto. Now at a boiling point, it is important to analyze the long history of both the Church and LGBT rights in Mexico to truly understand the current state of affairs. Read more via COHA
Amsterdam: Leaflets calling on all religions to exterminate gay people
The group behind the leaflets in Amsterdam calling on all religions to unite to exterminate gay people has appeared to have been identified.

According to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, homosexuality is forbidden,’ the leaflet reads, before quoting Romans 26-28 that refers to men ‘burned in their lust toward one another’ who received ‘due penalty for the error. On the other side of the Dutch flyers is a list of incorrect and offensive ‘statistics’.

Police have identified the supporters of Turkish hate preacher Harun Yahya, according to the Volkskrant. The Telegraaf newspaper however also suggests it could be linked to Dutch Turkish campaigner Berrak Su, who regularly presents homophobic videos on their Facebook channel.

On Saturday night, two gay men aged 52 and 55 were attacked near Central Station. They were first insulted, and then one was punched to the floor and kicked in the face. While bystanders rushed to help, the perpetrators ran away and have not been caught. Read more via Gay Star News
South Africa: Queer Muslims gather in Cape Town for international conference
South African queer Muslim organization The Inner Circle is hosting its 14th Annual International Retreat in Cape Town. 

“This year’s retreat will focus on movement building,” said the group’s Latheem Nair. “It is the belief of The Inner Circle (TIC) that no organization can work in isolation. The sharing of information, skills and best practices is the cornerstone of creating solidarity.”

Around 80% of delegates at the conference are international while 20% are local. Participants will be able to engage with issues that speak to their particular context and, through networking, apply knowledge and skills gained from workshops, plenaries, and sessions.

“Some of the tracks being covered this year will focus on transgender health and education which will look specifically at accessing educational resources, advocacy and shifting mindsets; while the Program for the Development of Youth will look at developing spiritual leadership amongst Muslim youth,” said Nair. Read more via MambaOnline
Mexico: We can no longer turn a blind eye to murders of transgender women
Paola Ledezma, Itzel Durán and Alessa Flores are the names of three transgender women murdered in Mexico in the past two weeks. The responsibility for these murders goes beyond those who shot, stabbed and strangled them. We are complicit as a society. At least 265 trans people have been killed in Mexico since 1995. And we should take responsibility.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, hate crimes are directed at specific groups, have a symbolic impact and take place in a permissive social context.

Those who commit acts of violence against trans women intend to punish them for having identities and bodies that differ from what we have traditionally been told about what it means to be a man or a woman.

The murders of Paola, Itzel and Alessa impact all trans women: They are tragic reminders that trans women in Mexico run the risk of being murdered even before turning 35. Such incidents turn us into accomplices. Why does Paola’s coffin need to block traffic to remind us that the lives of trans people matter? Read more via Huffington Post
South Africa: Mpumalanga lesbian couple raped to be “taught to be women”
On Saturday 1 October, the couple went to bed after attending a music festival in Nelspruit. The were awoken by noises outside and, to their horror, a group of men kicked the door down and entered the house.

“I asked them what they wanted. They turned off the light and one of them came straight towards me and demanded to have sex with me,” one of the victims said. “When I refused, one pushed me onto the bed, undressed and started to rape me. Another one raped my girlfriend and they then took turns to rape us.”

The couple believes that the attack was planned because the men bought condoms with them to use in the rape. “They also hurled insults at us and told us that they wanted to teach us that we are women and how it feels to be a woman,” revealed the victim, who had previously been raped in 2013.

“This time around it is not that easy to let it go. Every time I see a group of men, I have flashbacks of the ordeal and it is not easy to hang out with my male friends,” she said. Read more via Mamba Online
Cameroon: Mass arrests at gay bar
Police raided a popular gay bar in Yaoundé early this morning, surrounding the site with police vehicles and making arrests en masse.

The Mistral bar in the Essos neighborhood of Cameroon’s capital city had been a welcoming oasis where gay men could relax, but starting at around 3 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 9, it became a traumatic location that police ordered to be evacuated, carrying away all the patrons in trucks to area police stations.

About 30 minutes earlier, police blocked the entrance to Mistral and would not allow anyone to leave. Two police officer entered the bar.  People became anxious as they began to think of themselves as hostages. Read more via 76Crimes

Police said it was not an anti-gay operation, although the violence had seemed to suggest that it was, especially because Cameroon is a country where homosexual activity remains a crime and LGBTI people are shunned, or worse.  But everyone whom police took to the 4th district station at 3 a.m. Sunday was released by about 1 p.m.

LGBTI rights activists who had been alerted to the incident went to the police station and were reassured by the officer handling the case that there was no problem. He said that raid was aimed at public disturbances. Read more via 76Crimes
Taiwan: Tragic end to 35-yr relationship puts Tsai’s gay rights inaction under spotlight
On Oct. 16, Jacques Picoux (畢安生) died after falling from the 10th floor of a building in Wenshan District, southern Taipei. Police found no signs of a struggle and have suggested that Picoux committed suicide, state-run CNA reports. Local gay rights activists have connected Picoux’s death to the recent passing of his long-time partner Zeng Jingchao (曾敬超) and their struggle to legalize their relationship. 

After news of Picoux’s death, advocate Chiu Hsin-yi (瞿欣怡) blamed Taiwan’s same-sex marriage laws: “Why can’t the couple, together for 35 years, live as a legal couple and face sickness and death together?” Chiu wrote today. Chiu says the government oppresses and discriminates against homosexuals because of a perceived “unpleasant public opinion” toward the gay community.

“They [the government] claim that Taiwan is friendly to homosexuals and fully support them, but they aren’t offering them any rights,” Chiu says. “As long as same-sex marriage is still not legalized, gay rights do not exist in this country and the other same-sex couples will continue suffering from discrimination and pain.” Read more via The News Lens
Afghanistan LGBT community living under threat of death
Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Afghanistan, rarely discussed in the media and widely condemned as immoral and un-Islamic. As a result, there are no statistics indicating the size of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the country.

The BBC spoke to four Afghans with different sexual orientations. All told stories of a life in hiding, but all were determined to stand by their identity. All names in the article have been changed for safety reasons. Read more via the BBC
ILGA releases new results of global attitudes survey on LGBTI people
ILGA shares the second round of results of the ILGA-RIWI Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People in partnership with Logo. This is a new annual survey to gather credible data on public attitudes to particular issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics on every continent.

While the first report, released in May 2016, looked at sexual orientation as its predominant subject, this second output, titled The Personal and the Political: Attitudes towards LGBTI People around the World, allows a deeper analysis into global attitudes also to gender identity, gender expression and to a lesser extent, intersex issues. It also shows relevant differences in how people respond at a personal level to encountering LGBTI people or issues, when compared to more ideological or political attitudes they may hold. Read more via ILGA
Germany is the queerest country in Europe
Germany has the largest LGBT population in Europe, according to research. The news comes from Berlin’s Dalia Research, which published the results of a Europe-wide EuroPulse study, which interviewed 12,000 people across 28 EU countries.

According to the study, reported by Vice.de Germany leads Europe in terms of LGBT population size, with 7.4% of Germans identifying themselves as LGBT. When asked to place themselves on a Kinsey scale between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual, 10.9% of Germans said they weren’t exclusively straight.

Across Europe, 5.9% defined as LGBT, and 8.6% indicated that they were not exclusively heterosexual. The figure represents a large spike in Germany from 2000, when just 1.3% of men identified as gay, 0.6% of women as lesbian. The country with the smallest population of LGBT people is Hungary, where just 1.4% identified themselves as LGBT. Read more via PinkNews
UK: New data shows sexual boundaries are changing – but what do we really know?
The Office of National Statistics has released its latest data on sexual identities in the UK, and some striking patterns jump out – especially when it comes to bisexuality. The number of young people identifying as bisexual has apparently risen by 45% over the last three years. Women are more likely to identify as bisexual (0.8%) than lesbian (0.7%), whereas men are more likely to report as gay (1.6%) than bisexual (0.5%). That last finding chimes with other studies in the UK and the US – but why should this be? 

Some research into women’s sexuality has also suggested that women take a more fluid approach to their relationships than men. But then there’s the more general matter of how much sexual labels still matter to people – and here, the ONS findings really start to get interesting. Read more via the Conversation
What is pansexual? LGBTQ terms explained as Miley Cyrus candidly talks gender identity
The 23-year-old revealed that she identifies as pansexual in a ground-breaking interview with Variety. She said: “My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word “bisexual,” because that’s even putting me in a box. I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl.” 

Miley, whose Happy Hippie foundation works with at-risk LGBTQ and homeless youth, told the magazine that she doesn’t identify as a man or a woman, nor as straight or gay. “I never related to loving being a girl. And then, being a boy didn’t sound fun to me,” the Wrecking Ball singer said. Instead, she describes her gender as “unassigned”. Read more via Express
Sweden: Amir Ashour on IraQueer
Amir Ashour isn’t afraid to think big. From his base in southern Swedish city Malmö, he runs IraQueer, the first and only organization for the LGBT community in Iraq and the Kurdistan region. Ashour speaks to The Local about his life working in Sweden, his hopes of returning home, and his political ambitions.

“I started working with human rights six years ago, working with several international and local organizations on questions related to LGBT,” Ashour tells The Local. “That’s the main reason I ended up in Sweden. But then I started needing political protection, so that prolonged my stay.” Read more via the Local
Mexico: The situation of the intersex community
In Mexico and in Latin America the intersex community faces similar problems to those faced by intersex people elsewhere in the world, with some local quirks.
Medical protocols still include genital mutilation, and these practices are justified as necessary to “normalize” genital appearance and so avoid problems in social interactions. These surgeries irreversibly alter healthy tissues and organs, or gonads are removed without evidence of disease, leading to sterilization. They are carried out on young infants, children, adolescents, and youth. Read more stories via Intersex Day
South Africa: Black, Love, Borders—“Long live the undying spirit of Simon Nkoli”
The third annual Simon Nkoli Memorial Lecture was hosted at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein. In an effort to challenge LGBTI stigma, the lecture not only touched on Nkoli’s life, but was also informative through the discussion of issues that the LGBTI community still face in this current age.

As part of exploring Nkoli’s political contribution, the lecture focused on several themes; including HIV, human rights, violence, youth, and transgender experience. In his discussion of HIV/AIDS – MSM African experience, Director of AMSHER, Kene Esom, said the juxtaposition of HIV and queer identity in Africa has led to the sexualisation of queer identity.

“This juxtaposition has reduced queer identity to sex and disease and it is important to interrogate how this has affected the discourse of queer inclusion, acceptance, and equality in many of our African contexts.”

Esom said that we need to interrogate the terms we appropriate to ourselves and our struggles much more deeply: “The term MSM strips the gay community of visibility and relevance… and it reduces the importance of gay communities and their associated human rights.” “There are many ways these phrases which we adopt and carry shape our consciousness of those within our communities and those outside our communities,” he said.  Read more via MambaOnline
Turkey: Should LGBT inmates have their own prisons?
When compared to its more buttoned-down neighbors, Thailand is home to a gay community that speaks in a loud voice and commands a prominent position in society. But discrimination and violence remain, especially behind bars. So when the Department of Corrections opened a new building at Min Buri prison on the outskirts of Bangkok to house only transgender inmates, it was presented as a victory for gay rights, an offer of refuge for a vulnerable population.

But some of the country’s activists were not so sure that the motives of corrections officials were all that enlightened. “There is a feeling that they are doing this not because they recognize the rights of LGBTI detainees,” says Paisarn Likhitpreechakul of Thailand’s Foundation for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights and Justice, “but because they want to manage them, these detainees, based on suspicion or feelings that they are causing certain problems.” Read more via OZY
France: Thousands march in Paris to repeal same-sex marriage law
Thousands of opponents of gay marriage took to the streets of Paris to defend their vision of family values, hoping to revive the issue in political debates ahead of next year's presidential election. About 24,000 people took part in the demonstration, police said, far fewer than the several hundreds of thousands the group "Demo for All" mobilized in 2012 and 2013 in an unexpectedly strong show of opposition from conservatives, especially Roman Catholics.

Opinion polls show that a majority in France do not want the gay marriage law to be repealed. Demonstrators also spoke out against surrogate motherhood, which gay couples could use to create a family.

Same-sex marriage proponents pushed for surrogacy to also be allowed in the 2013 law, but the government decided not to revoke the current ban after seeing the unexpected protests that "Demo for All" staged during the heated debate over the reform.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is trailing rival Alain Juppe in the race to head the conservative Republicans party ticket in 2017 election, said on Sunday he would not repeal same-sex marriage if he were returned to the Elysee Palace.  Read more via NBC News
India: LGBT Pride Parade in Delhi University: Take pride in yourself
I am what I am.. and I love it!’ and ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ were some slogans raised by students from colleges of Delhi as they took over the streets of North Campus in an LGBT pride parade. ‘Let’s Stand With Pride’ was organized by IIT Delhi as a part its annual fest Rendezvous on Monday. Students chanted, danced and even participated in a flash mob, which a few opponents tried to stall.

Keeping in mind the theme this year Pehchaan- Finding your identity, the procession commenced from St. Stephens College, accompanied by the infectious beating of dhols, and proceeded towards Hansraj College. The speakers for the day included Anwesh Sahoo (Mr. Gay World India 2016) and Sharif D Rangnekar, lyricist and LGBT Activist. Read more via Hindustan Times
Australia: Gay refugees on Manus not our problem, says immigration head
The prospect of gay refugees being resettled in Papua New Guinea, where homosexuality is illegal, is not Australia’s problem, a top immigration bureaucrat has said. 

Earlier this year, immigration minister Peter Dutton said none of the 854 asylum-seekers detained on Manus Island would be resettled in Australia, following the announcement the detention centre would close.

However, this leaves gay and bisexual refugees in a state of fear over two undesirable options: returning to their country of origin or being resettled in a country where homosexuality is illegal. Read more via Buzzfeed
Germany sets up safe shelters for gay migrants
A tall, muscular man walked across the lobby wearing large earrings, generously applied make-up and a light blue dress. “Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” said Abdel, a transvestite from Iraq.

Welcome to Germany’s first shelter for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transvestite and intersex migrants. It is hidden away on a quiet, leafy road in Berlin, where dozens of migrants are kept under round-the-clock security to protect them from fellow migrants hostile to homosexuality.

“I wouldn’t want to be in a shelter with straight refugees,” said Bashar Taha, an ethnic Kurd from northern Iraq. “It’s too dangerous. Many people from the Middle East are very homophobic — people get beaten and even killed.” Read more via The Times
Russia: LGBT teen support site blacklisted
A Russian website supporting LGBT teenagers has been blacklisted by the state media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

Founded in 2013, online project Deti-404 provided help and support for young people in Russia who were questioning their sexuality. The site also published letters from LGBT teenagers as they documented the struggles and homophobia they faced in their everyday lives.

The site has repeatedly attracted the attention of Russian authorities, who claim that the project illegally promotes “non-traditional relationships” to children.

Writing on her VKontakte social media page, site founder Yelena Klimova said that the project had been found guilty of “spreading banned information,” but that the court had not explained the decision in detail.

“Most likely, the site will be suspended in Russia in the near future,” she wrote. “We shall keep working.” Read more via The Moscow Times
US: Is this Christian campus group purging LGBT sympathetic members?
InterVarsity, one of the largest Christian presences on campuses, shocked members with a hardline stance on LGBT issues that many interpreted as a step to purging its ranks.

When InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA endorsed Black Lives Matter last December, it saw racial reconciliation as “an expression of the gospel.” The evangelical student outreach, which has 1,011 chapters on 667 campuses, was both criticized and praised. A recent controversy over the group’s position on same-sex relationships and how it affects employees, however, shows that any fears of their impending liberal takeover are greatly exaggerated. 

The statement complicates things for many of InterVarsity’s employees who are LGBTQ+ or affirming straight allies. Employees who disagree with the organization’s position are asked to tell their supervisors, after which a two-week process of “involuntary” termination is initiated. Read more via the Daily Beast
UK: Fear of LGBT hate crimes surges among university students
A YouGov survey published today reveals more than a third (37 per cent) of LGBT students say they are worried about hate crime as a result of their sexual orientation – an increase on last year’s figure of 19 per cent.

The survey, commissioned by Emerald Life, an insurance provider to the UK's LGBT community, also found that LGBT students are more likely to fear discrimination in the workplace than any other LGBT group in the country. According to the research, nearly a quarter of LGBT students worry about being subjected to hate crime at work due to their sexual orientation, a figure that has doubled since last year.

Cai Wilshaw, Founder of LGBT Leaders, said the findings were not entirely surprising, but that employers and university leaders had a responsibility to take action in supporting the LGBT community. Earlier this month, research by Galop, an LGBT anti-violence charity, revealed homophobic attacks had risen by 147% in the three months following the Brexit vote.  Read more via the Independent
Love, Your Queer Daughter
Coming out to my Chinese parents
It has been three years since I came to the States and I have grown a lot. Ages 22 to 25 seem to be my belated adolescence, yet I try to follow my heart in everything I do. My relationship with you also transitioned from parents and daughter to friends...
Here We Are explores the stories of Chinese and Chinese-American LGBTQ youth Read more via Mashable
Mess picks up where Normal Heart and Angels In America left off Read more
South Africa: We will not be erased Read more 
Provocative rapper reads Zoe Leonard’s 1992 poem as US election machine goes into overdrive Watch here
This Mexican Artist Is Challenging Sexuality And Gender Norms Read more
LGBTQA+ Adventures through Alphabet Soup Land! Challenging Mythconceptions, one monster at a time. Learn more
The Magic of ‘Moonlight’: To Be a Black Gay Man in America Read more
Book of LGBTI stories launched in Botswana Read more
CoverGirl crowns James Charles 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 © 2016 Richard Burzynski, All rights reserved.

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