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16 November 2015 edition


Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: UNAIDS released a new five year strategy to end the AIDS epidemic that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals and incorporates human rights based approach to development. While UNAIDS acknowledges the strategy to be 'bold and ambitious,' some are calling it a 'breath of fresh air' and 'remarkable.'

The strategy recognizes sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, calls for comprehensive sexuality education, and the removal of 'punitive laws, policies and practices that block an effective AIDS response, including travel restrictions and mandatory testing, and those related to HIV transmission, same-sex sexual relations, sex work and drug use.' 

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, governments need a solid framework of indicators and statistical data to monitor progress to the goals. To this end, the UNDP and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights are reaching out to civil society for help determining how LGBTI people should be measured in international development.

HIV, Health, and Wellbeing:  Elton John announced a new $10 million partnership between his foundation and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to increase access to HIV medication for LGBT people living in countries with anti-gay laws. 

In Tanzania, a new program is training government healthcare workers to help gay men, intravenous drug users, and sex workers in an effort to reduce HIV infection despite ongoing stigma against these communities. In the UK, health authorities collaborated with businesses that cater to the gay community to provide HIV prevention and other health services, including training business staff in sexual health. In the US, a new HIV campaign is targeting men who 'like to party' to destigmatize pre-exposure prophylaxis. 

New research suggests a single injection every eight weeks could replace daily HIV medication.

In a recent edition of British Medical Journal, sexual health and drug abuse specialists warn that "chemsex"--using hardcore drugs to engage in lengthy sexual encounters--is a rising public health concern among gay men.

Both the ministers of health in France and Netherlands announced they have lifted the ban on blood donations from gay men, though advocates in both countries have spoken against continued provisions which will treat heterosexual and homosexual blood differently

From the World of Politics:  After six rounds of voting the Ukraine Parliament passed an amendment to end workplace discrimination. The amendment specifically adds protection for LGBTI and HIV positive people, among others. With this change Ukraine has met requirements laid out by EU officials to allow Ukrainians visa-free travel in Europe. 

The European Commission's latest progress report on states' progress towards EU Membership includes focus on the discrimination and violence faced by LGBTI people in those countries. 

Residents in the US city of Houston, Texas voted against an equal rights ordinance that would have banned discrimination against 15 different groups--including LGBT people--after an intense campaign convinced residents that the bill would allow male predators into women's bathrooms. 

In China, the sexual assault law has been revised so that it will now specifically protect both men and women from rape. 
 
Members of parliament in Russia have introduced a bill that will punish any public display of 'non-traditional sexual orientation' with fines and up to 15 days in jail. 

In Colombia, voters elected right-wing candidate Julián Antonio Bedoya, the first openly gay mayor.

The Politics of Union: Chile has begun issuing legal recognition to cohabiting gay and straight couples under the recently passed Civil Union Agreement.

In Australia, Foreign Affairs MInister Julie Bishop voiced her support for a free vote on marriage equality.  In Israel, an NGO is petitioning the Supreme Court to recognize same-sex marriages. After 80% of Channel Island Bailiwick of Guernsey residents said they supported equal marriage, the government announced they will debate the policy.

Although the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to legalize same-sex marriage, the majority party--the Democratic Unionists--were able to stop the motion with a parliamentary veto

Let the Courts Decide: Italy's highest administrative court has ruled that same-sex couples married outside of Italy have no legal rights within the country, and has ordered city officials, including the mayor of Rome to stop recognizing these unions.

A Zambian court has ruled against Hatch Bril, a trans woman accused of having anal sex with a man. Although Bril said the man forced the sexual encounter, she faces a possible life sentence in prison. Meanwhile the man faces no criminal charges as he claims he was 'deceived' into believing Bril is a woman.

In India, Prithika Yashini has become the first transgender police officer after the Madras High Court directed the police recruitment board to accept trans candidates. 

In the US, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Dana Alix Zzyym, the associate director of Intersex International, after the State Department denied Zzyym a passport. Although Zzyym's legal birth certificate lists Zzyym's sex as 'X' and the State Department was provided evidence of Zzyym's intersex identity, the department refused to issue a passport unless a gender was selected. 

Eight years after the Nepalese Supreme Court ordered the government to create a third gender category, transgender activist Bhumika Shrestha has become the first Nepali citizen to successfully travel abroad with a passport marked 'O' for 'other.' 

Fear and Loathing:  The Indonesian province of Aceh passed a new bylaw that explicitly criminalizes sexual activity between people of the same-sex, with a punishment of public caning. Homosexuality is not criminalized elsewhere in the country.

In Jamaica several armed men attacked a group of homeless gay youths. A young man who volunteers with the homeless was reportedly admitted to the hospital in coma.

In Uganda, where eight transphopic attacks have been reported in less than a week, the Chief Executive of Human Dignity noted that: "Criminalization makes the perpetrators of these horrific violent attacks see themselves as vigilantes, upholding the laws which persecute LGBT people."

In the Name of Religion: The Mormon Church revealed that same-sex couples will be subject to excommunication from the church and their children will not be baptized. Children over the age of 18 whose parents are gay must disavow all same-sex relationships if they wish to join the church. Over 1,000 Mormons have announced plans to attend a mass resignation event over the change. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury is seeking to forestall a schism in the Anglican church over gay rights and other issues by inviting heads from both conservative and liberal churches across the globe together this winter. 

As the Catholic synod concluded with little evolution on issues of marriage and sexuality, Pope Francis warned bishops against sticking too rigidly to doctrine, noting that God, "wants to include above all those kept on the fringes who are crying out to him."

The Church of Norway voted to allow blessings of same-sex marriage. In the US, the Reform Jewish Movement passed a comprehensive resolution on transgender rights.

Winds of Change:  In India, a young gay man is being heralded for his courage seeking help after he was sexually and physically assaulted. And the local police are being applauded for their unusually supportive response which led to the arrest of four men. 

Sweden has opened the first rape centre dedicated to male victims

In the US, the Girl Scouts Washington State chapter raised over $365,000 in online donations after media revealed that a donor had revoked a $100,000 donation because the Scouts accept transgender girls. 

School Days: In the UK, the non-profit Gendered Intelligence is being accused of 'child abuse' for teaching children who are 'too young' about gender diversity. In the US, a Nebraska school board meeting devolved into screaming and shouting as parents spoke against changes to the sex education curriculum. Reportedly, a group of LGBTI students waiting to speak sat politely despite the vitriol. 

In Scotland, a Christian organization has called a proposal to improve sex education that is backed by the National Union of Teachers, a "trojan horse" to indoctrinate students with a "perspective on moral and sexual ethics that is contrary to mainstream Christianity."

In Germany, the LGBT school education group SchLAu NRW says that despite having given workshops to over 70,000 young people over its 15 year history, the demand for sexual and gender diversity education is higher than ever.

On the March: In the US, the State Department has expanded its interpretation of 'spouse' to include partners of same-sex refugees and asylum seekers. 

As international campaign marked October 19th - 25th as Asexual Awareness Week, writer Gwendolyn Rosen discussed how the asexual community is expanding human rights issues and the meaning of family.

On October 26th, people around the world celebrated Intersex Awareness Day. Intersex activist Small Luk discusses the diverse challenges intersex people face in China and Hong Kong

In Taiwan over 78,000 people marched in Taipei's LGBT Pride parade. In Jamaica, an intimate crowd celebrated the first successful Pride event in Montego Bay. From Iceland, Bob Christie examines how a close-knit community has made Reykjavik Pride a bigger public event than many national holiday celebrations. 

The World of Business and Technology:
In Japan, Lifenet Insurance Company is the first company to offer policy plans to cover same-sex partners. From Australia a diversity and inclusion study found that many companies have far to go to support a diversity agenda. And a report from the US finds that same-sex marriages have brought in an estimated $813 million to local economies.

Sports and Culture:  In the US, the National Football League is facing pressure to withdraw the Super Bowl from Houston after the city failed to pass protections for LGBT people.

Irish singer-songwriter Hozier, whose international hit song 'Take Me to Church' depicts a gay couple facing violent homophobic backlash, spoke out strongly against institutionalized homophobia and the Pope's lackluster steps towards LGBT rights. In an interview, British musician Labi Siffre known for his anti-apartheid song 'Something Inside So Strong' said that the song was actually written about experiencing homophobia as a black gay man.

A Swedish artist published an erotic 'tactile' book for blind people that includes gay and straight couples. With 'The Gay Men Project' Asian American artist Kevin Truong photographs the gay male experience across six continents.  And Ugandan group "Queer Collective" is raising money to create an online archive of stories from LGBTQ Ugandans.

The world's highest ranked transgender military officer, Australian Group Captain Cate McGregor has been named Queensland Australian of the Year.  Podcast Radiolab explores how a small conservative town in Oregon redefined what they accept as 'normal' after their mayor Stu Rasmussen came out as transgender in 2008. Rasmussen was the first transgender mayor in the US.

Take this interactive quiz from HIV/AIDS Alliance that asks if your favorite vacation spot is 'Paradise or Persecution.' Watch this humorous short: The Lesbian Bride of Frankenstein.

And finally, please check out how you can contribute to the recovery effort in Paris.
Jensen Byrne
“Homosexuals are around us, like it or not, this is a fact that has been true since long ago and it is still true today. They might be those closest to us, our children, our siblings, our grandchildren, or our best friends, but sometimes we have no empathy for this issue. They are not people who have invaded from the West but rather they are part of us."

~ Hartoyo, an LGBT activist from Jakarta in an open letter to a newly-elected politician 
ban ki moon Michel Sidibé UNAIDS report
A Strategy For All
It's rare that we get excited about a UN document. We're excited. 

The Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) of UNAIDS recently approved a new five-year strategy for 2016 to 2021. For all the UN bodies, these strategy documents serve to guide the organization. Usually, they are jargon-filled, top-down documents that look good but have little meaning for the people that the agencies are supposed to serve.

UNAIDS has shown itself to be exceptional. Its new Strategy, "On the Fast-Track to end AIDS" is a remarkable document that not only people living with HIV and those working on it, but that anyone involved in health and development should definitely read.

It is the first time we have seen a comprehensive human rights-based approach (HRBA) be genuinely at the core of a strategic plan of a UN agency. Almost every page of the document refers to our rights, and links them to the specific steps that UNAIDS will undertake in the next few years. It is a excellent example of how to use the Human Rights (HR) framework to build a program on. Read more via IMAXI

 Read the strategy at UNAIDS
Protecting human rights defenders: UNDP/OHCHR Global LGBTI Inclusion Index
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), UNDP, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are conducting a survey to include civil society voices to help guide how LGBTI people will be measured in international development. 

While the final text of the SDGs does not mention SOGI, UN agencies consider these populations as being intrinsic to the general population and deserving of the protections afforded in international human rights law. Therefore, UNDP together with OHCHR are developing a Global LGBTI Inclusion Index that will show how well governments are delivering on these goals to LGBTI populations. Read more via ILGA and add your voice
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elton john
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Elton John partners with PEPFAR, will petition world leaders on HIV, AIDS treatment 
Rock star Elton John is working to use his global fame and charitable foundations to help overturn homophobic laws around the world. John and his husband, David Furnish, unveiled a new $10 million partnership with the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), to increase access to medication for people with HIV and AIDS in countries that are prejudiced toward the LGBT community.
 
John noted: "We're seeing an alarming growth in infections amongst these communities [where] we find that LGBT people are stigmatized where they live." He added that the stigmatizing laws a relics from the Commonwealth and said, "These laws can be changed very easily by the Queen saying, 'change the law.' I haven't approached her about that yet." Watch the interview and read more via CNBC
Tanzania: Fighting social stigma to prevent HIV spread
Staggering AIDS death toll has forced conservative Tanzania to help gay people long rejected by its health system. In a country where obtaining legal rights for gay people is not likely to happen soon, they are using a public health crisis to demand recognition. Tanzania has the 4th-highest number of deaths from AIDS in the world, and the HIV infection rate among gay men is more than four times the national average - yet stigma prevents many from seeking treatment.

As one man said: "In the government hospitals, we face discrimination. Instead of treating us, they'll call people over: 'Come and see, we have a gay here.' Then they'll say, 'We can't treat you. Get out of here.'"

While gay men are rarely, if ever, prosecuted under the law in Tanzania, the social stigma it perpetuates can be deadly. A new program is working to change that. Read more via Al Jazeera
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'Transformational' HIV injection every eight weeks could replace daily pills
An injection every 8 weeks could replace the current HIV treatment of daily pills, experts have revealed.
A combination of two long-acting HIV medicines – rilpivirine and cabotegravir – injected every four or eight weeks have been just as effective at suppressing the AIDS-causing virus as a daily oral regimen of three HIV medicines in phase 2 clinical trials.

If successfully developed and approved by regulators, the new treatment could offer people living with HIV who are virologically suppressed the option to switch from the standard daily regimen of three-drug therapy to a long acting all-injectable regimen that could potentially maintain viral suppression with just six or twelve shots of each drug per year. Read more via Gay Star News
US: New PrEP campaign targets men who like to 'party' 
A new series of public service announcements is aimed at getting effective HIV prevention into the hands of those who are most at-risk of contracting the virus: men who enjoy recreational sex and drug use, but may be ashamed to address those habits with a doctor. 

As creator Kenny Neal Shults explains: "When we sat down to consider the best audiences for the campaigns we knew only one thing for certain: We wanted to address gay men who might fall under the puritanical 'Truvada Whore' classification. That is, we wanted to reach men whose sexual and recreational drug behaviors both put them at a greater risk for both contracting HIV and being stigmatized for even considering going on PrEP." Read more via the Advocate
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blood
Marisol Touraine
Netherlands: Ban lifted on gay male blood; advocates critical of new restrictions
A permanent ban on blood donations from homosexual men was lifted in place of new restrictions that state gay men may only donate blood if they have not had sex with another man over the last 12 months. The decision was announced by Edith Schippers, the Minister of Health, after she made her department’s research on the subject available to members of Parliament.

Because the ban still restricts sexually-active gay men from donating blood, even if they only practice safe sex, LGBT advocate Tanja Ineke found the new policy “very disappointing.” In an interview with broadcaster AT5, Ineke, the head of non-profit COC Nederland, said, “The policy is only of practical importance for bisexual men in long-term monogamous relationships with a woman.” Read more via NL Times
France to lift ban on gay men donating blood 
France will lift a ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men starting next year, officials announced, joining a growing list of countries that have loosened or scrapped such restrictions, which many see as outdated vestiges of the 1980s AIDS crisis.

“Giving one’s blood is an act of generosity and of civic responsibility that cannot be conditioned by sexual orientation,” the health minister, Marisol Touraine, said. “While respecting the absolute security of patients, it is a taboo, a discrimination that is being lifted today.”

Gay advocacy groups in France welcomed the end of the ban but criticized new provisions that would continue to treat homosexual and heterosexual blood donors differently. Some critics, while welcoming the lifting of the lifetime ban, say that a 12-month deferral period is not medically justified, mainly because the so-called window period for HIV is much shorter than 12 months. They assert that the restriction amounts to a de facto lifetime ban for many gay men, since it requires that they be celibate for a year before being able to donate blood. Read more via the New York Times
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UK: Making business the frontline in the fight against HIV
In the UK, HIV represents one of the most serious health conditions; there are an estimated 107,800 people living with HIV, one quarter of whom are estimated to be unaware of their infection. The main routes of transmission vary, but infection rates remain stubbornly and disproportionately higher in some key populations such as men who have sex with men, migrant populations, injecting drug users and sex workers.

One way to reach those who either don’t want to or don’t feel able to use sexual health clinics is to deliver services where those who need them are--creating opportunities for healthier “settings”, or more supportive environments for health. A bar, club, or sauna can be developed into a healthy place to reach target populations.

In recent projects business owners successfully engaged with HIV prevention and other health promotion interventions. They provided customers with access to condoms and lubricants, HIV/STI information on prevention and treatment, and offered HIV/STI testing. In some cases, business owners went even further. Important changes were made to workplace policies to support HIV issues. Staff got sexual health training so they were better able to support customers, while staff and clients were assured non-disclosure and non-discrimination through supportive policies and practices. Read more via The Conversation
What You Need To Know About Chemsex
Mainstream awareness about "chemsex,” a little-discussed public health issue in the gay community, is on the rise. Programs like BBC Radio 4’s July segment on chemsex in London and Vice Media’s upcoming documentary on chemsex in England and Ireland shed light on what some say is a growing phenomenon of men using hardcore club drugs to fuel hours- or days-long sex sessions.

Chemsex generally involves taking substance like GHB, crystal meth or mephedrone (known as meow meow) to enhance or prolong sexual activity, primarily among a subset of city-dwelling gay men. Crystal meth and meow meow stimulate sexual arousal and euphoria, while GHB removes inhibitions.

Researchers suspect that the practice could be driving London’s rising HIV rates among young men, but the practice is so covert and the population of participants so small that not enough research exists about the topic. Read more via Huffington Post
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Ukraine finally passes anti-bias law, a prerequisite for visa-free travel to EU
Ukraine’s parliament passed amendments to the Labor Code that will end lingering Soviet-era workplace discrimination over sexual orientation, political and religious beliefs.

The law was the most controversial bill in parliament among a package of anti-corruption and other legislation the European Union requires in its visa liberalization action plan.

The voting process has been excruciating, requiring six rounds of voting and frantic consultations before it finally passed. In the last unsuccessful vote, 219 lawmakers voted in favor, seven votes short of the votes that are needed for a bill to pass. Parliament’s speaker Volodymyr Groysman announced:  “Dear deputies: Seven votes stand between us and a visa-free regime,” before calling a break.

Arguing in favor of the bill, Groysman said that “the individual and his rights are at the foundation of our society.” He ensured that the anti-discrimination measure had no bearing on the broader issue of gay rights. “God forbid same-sex marriages in our country,” he said. Read more via Kyiv Post
Russia: New bill orders fines, arrest for public coming out as gay
State Duma lawmakers Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolay Arefyev want to amend the Russian Administrative Code with a new article listing “public expression of non-traditional sexual relations” as a violation.

“I think that the problem is acute and urgent because it concerns the social diseases of our society and the moral upbringing of the younger generation. Unfortunately, the mechanism suggested in the 2013 law ‘On the protection of children against the information that harms their health and development’ has proved to be ineffective and this prompted us to develop new measures,” Nikitchuk said in comments with Izvestia daily.

The lawmaker also told reporters that he considered homosexuality to be a “grave danger for any normal person and for humanity as a whole” because it can affect children and grandchildren and prevent them from reproduction. “In a biological sense, failure to reproduce is the same as death and this makes homosexuality a deadly danger for humanity,” Nikitchuk said. Read more via RT
Western Balkans and Turkey: New EU accession reports
The European Commission’s published its annual progress reports on accession states’ progress towards EU Membership. The reports include important and extensive information on the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in those 7 countries. 

The European Commissioner responsible for Enlargement, Johannes Hahn, presented the 2015 progress reports. In his speech the Commissioner emphasised that the reports have “a strong focus on fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and fighting discrimination, notably against the LGBTI community and Roma”. Read more via Intergroup on LGBT Rights
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gay families
US: Houston fails to pass Houston Equal Rights Ordinance
Early voting numbers showed that Houston, Texas, failed to pass Proposition 1, also known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO. Prop 1 would have prohibited discrimination in everything from employment to housing based on, among other things, someone's sexual orientation or gender identity, two classes of people not currently protected under federal anti-discrimination laws.

"We are disappointed with today's outcome, but our work to secure nondiscrimination protections for all hard-working Houstonians will continue," the ordinance's supporters said in a statement, according to the Houston Chronicle. "No one should have to live with the specter of discrimination hanging over them. Everyone should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living and provide for themselves and their families."

However, the legislation faced an ugly, conservative media-backed campaign aimed at convincing residents the bill was actually a measure that would make it easier for sexual predators to attack women in public bathrooms. Read more via Mic

The ugly myth about transgender people opponents of a Houston civil rights law used to win
Opponents of LGBTQ rights in Houston used a big, ugly myth to take down a law that would simply ban discrimination in certain settings. Opponents of the ordinance fell back on age-old, desperate tactics to try to combat the law, using what's widely known as the bathroom myth. You can see it in the advertisement by Texas Values Action, which shows a trans woman using the locker room that corresponds to her gender identity — and posing some sort of danger to other women in the facilities.

This is a tactic that has been used time and time again — not just against LGBTQ efforts, but against the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have established equal rights for women. The idea is that men will somehow take advantage of equal rights laws to disguise themselves as women and attack women in bathrooms.

HERO would not have protected people who commit crimes in bathrooms — they could still be prosecuted. And business owners would have been able to deny a customer they believe to be a man entrance to a women's bathroom. What business owners wouldn't have been able to do under HERO is deny trans people entrance to a bathroom in a way that's clearly discriminatory — by, for example, using a slur or insulting a person's gender identity. Read more via Vox
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gay families
China: Male rape now a crime after law revision
The sexual assault of men, which was not previously listed as an offense under Chinese law, is now a crime after an amendment to the Criminal Law took effect. The amendment, adopted by the top legislature in August, stipulates that indecent assault on others, men or women, now carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison. In the former law, the clause "others" was "women."

In addition, the revised law repealed the crime of sex with underage prostitutes and reclassified it as rape. Under the previous law, people who have sex with prostitutes less than 14 years old face a maximum of 15 years in prison, while those convicted of raping a child may face the death sentence. Read more via Shanghai Daily
Colombia elects first openly gay, right-wing mayor 
For the first time, Colombian voters have elected a mayor who campaigned as openly gay — proving the Latin American nation is ready to embrace candidates who are honest about themselves. 

Although the South American nation has long welcomed LGBT candidates, Julián Antonio Bedoya, the mayor-elect of Toro, in the western coastal state of Valle de Cauca, is the first mayor to win election after campaigning as an out gay man. This year's election included 72 LGBT candidates nationwide, including Ramón Rojas, a trans politician who was elected for his third consecutive term for the Council of Chaparral in Tolima.

"The challenge is immense for Julián — he should be a very good mayor and represent the LGBTI community," says Angelo Araujo, LGBT leader in the state."This must be done with the best possible administration. There's no point in having an openly gay candidate who has problems of corruption, and leaves things unfinished in their municipality. " Read more via the Advocate
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gay families
Chile issues first civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples
Chile’s Civil Registry made an exception last month to its ongoing strike to perform the country’s first civil union ceremonies for same-sex couples. After 12 years of debate in the Chilean Parliament, President Michelle Bachelet signed the Civil Union Agreement into law in April, granting cohabitation rights to homosexual and heterosexual couples. 

In a country with a historically Catholic majority and socially conservative culture, many Chileans have protested the government’s increasingly liberal social agenda. Activists count the law as a victory in the move toward legalizing same-sex marriage. A survey in September showed 60% of Chileans support same-sex couples’ right to marry, up from 50% last year. Supporters see civil unions as a step toward a more modern and tolerant society. 

High-profile evangelical pastor Javier Soto has vocally opposed homosexual advances in society, including the recent release of a book called Nicolás Has Two Dads. Soto’s opposition provoked the leader of the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual), Rolando Jiménez, to urge evangelical Christians “not to allow themselves to be deceived by these pastors who offend and hurt people just for being different than the majority.”  Read more via World Mag
Australia: Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop lends support to same-sex marriage
Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop has effectively endorsed same-sex marriage, in her strongest comments to date about the landmark social reform. In an interview with the Ten Network's The Project, Ms Bishop, who has until now been guarded about her personal view on same-sex marriage, said she supported the government's plan to put the proposal to a plebiscite.

But the popular Foreign Affairs Minister, who only hinted at support for the reform during months of debate earlier this year, finally signalled her personal view. "I think the Australian people should have their say. I have absolutely no concerns about it myself, but I know there a lot of people who are deeply concerned about the issue," she said. Read more via The Sydney Morning Herald
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Israel: NGO petitions High Court to allow same-sex marriage 
Israeli NGO The Aguda, also referred to as The National LGBT Task Force, petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday to allow same-sex marriage in Israel. In their petition, The Aguda claimed that the discrimination against the gay community in the field of marriage is unconstitutional and that if the rabbinical court should choose not to recognize same-sex marriages, those marriages should still be recognized by civil law.

The lawyers representing The Aguda, Ohad Rosen and and Hagai Kalai, argued that in accordance with previous court rulings, if the rabbinical court chooses not to recognize a marriage, the High Court has the authority to approve a marriage in the civil courts.

Oded Fried, executive director of The National LGBT Task Force: "The reality we live in is absurd; on the one hand, the rabbinical courts do not recognize same-sex marriages, and on the other hand, are reluctant to give up the exclusive jurisdiction to recognize them." Read more via Jerusalem Post
Northern Ireland assembly fails to approve same-sex marriage
Northern Ireland’s assembly voted narrowly in favour of gay marriage equality but the largest party in the devolved parliament, the Democratic Unionists, have since vetoed any change in the law.  The DUP used a “petition of concern” to argue that the law change that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Northern Ireland did not command sufficient cross-community support.

Under the complex rules of power sharing in the region, parties from either the unionist or nationalist community can use this mechanism if they feel there is not enough backing from Protestants or Catholics for particular legislation. It was designed to ensure no one community dominated the other following the 1998 Belfast agreement. Amnesty International said it was ironic that a mechanism established to ensure the rights of minorities in Northern Ireland had been used to deny a fundamental right to the LGBT minority in the province.

Jim Allister, leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice, said same-sex couples getting married was a “perverse definition” of marriage. Allister said the gay marriage equality campaign was a “worked-up phoney demand for rights”. Read more via the Guardian
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Channel Islands: Plans for same-sex marriage to be introduced in Guernsey
Landmark plans to introduce equal marriage in Guernsey have been announced. It comes following a consultation which saw around 80% of the respondents say they supported the introduction of equal marriage locally.

Despite this support from the public, the Guernsey arm of the Catholic Church has voiced its concerns. The proposals also ask for Policy Council to monitor the progress of Union Civile internationally, whilst not actually asking for it to be introduced. The proposals will be debated at December's States meeting. Read more via ITV
Italy: Hundreds of married same-sex couples ‘stripped of legal recognition’ by court ruling
An Italian court has ordered cities to stop recognising the existing overseas marriages of same-sex couples. Italy has poor provisions for LGBT people party due to the strong influence of the Catholic Church, with no country-wide recognition of same-sex couples at present.

Over the past year a number of Mayors and city officials – including the Mayor of Rome – have officially recognised the weddings of gay and lesbian couples overseas, despite threats from the government not to do so.

However, they will now be compelled to stop doing so, and to strip existing same-sex spouses of their legal rights, after Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano took the issue to the Council of State, Italy’s highest administrative court. Read more via Pink News
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Zambia: Trans woman convicted, faces 15 years to life
A trans woman in Mongu, western Zambia, was found guilty last week of permitting a man to have carnal knowledge of her “against the order of nature.” In Zambia, that is a crime punishable by a prison sentence of 15 years to life under Section 155 (c) of the Zambian Penal Code. 

Hatch Bril, 27, pleaded innocent to the sodomy charge, which was filed after taxi driver Abraham Chilemu, 19, complained to police about Bril, saying that she had deceived him into sex. Bril said that Chilemu had forced her to have sex with him, but the magistrate rejected that account. 

Bril’s clothing was entered into evidence — bracelets, makeup, a bra, leggings, and hair extensions. On the basis of those and photos of Bril taken by Chilemu, the magistrate concluded that Chilemu was deceived by Bril into believing that Bril  was a woman. Bril was forced to undergo an anal examination — a procedure that LGBTI activists categorize as a form of torture and criticize as an unreliable indicator of whether anal intercourse took place.

Chilemu apparently was a willing participant in the encounter, but does not face criminal charges. Read more via 76crimes
India: Meet Prithika Yashini, set to be India's first transgender Sub-Inspector 
K Prithika Yashini is set to become the first transgender police officer in India after winning a prolonged court battle to gain eligibility to be recruited to the sub-inspector (SI) post. The 25-year-old, born and brought up as Pradeep Kumar, had undergone gender reassignment surgery. She applied for the SI post in February, but was rejected on the ground that the Tamil Nadu Uniformed Services Recruitment Board (TNUSRB) doesn't have a third gender category.

Unwilling to give up, she moved the Madras High Court, which allowed her in various stages of the selection process, including the written examination, physical endurance test and viva-voice through interim orders. However, she had to approach the court again as the state police recruitment board rejected her citing various reasons.

The First Bench directed the board to recruit Prithika as SI and include transgenders as a "third category" in future recruitment processes. "The social impact of such recruitment cannot be lost sight of, as this would give strength to the case of transgenders. We are thus of the view that the petitioner is entitled to be recruited as SI with the hope that she would carry out the duties with dedication and commitment to advance the cause of other transgenders," The Hindu quoted the Bench as saying. Read more via International Business Times
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US: Intersex person sues State Department over passport denial
Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department on behalf of an intersex person who was denied a passport because they do not identify as male or female. The lawsuit notes that Dana Alix Zzyym, the associate director of the U.S. affiliate of the Organization Intersex International, applied for a passport in September 2014 in order to travel to Mexico City this week for an international conference that will focus on intersex-specific issues.

Those applying for a passport for the first time must submit a copy of their birth certificate. The State Department stated it denied the application because it was “unable to fulfill your request to list your sex as ‘X,’ even though doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed the gender listed on the birth certificate as “unknown.” The State Department said Zzyym could receive a passport with a male or female gender marker or withdraw the application.

“When I was a child, I had no say in what was done to me in order to make me ‘fit’ in some acceptable category,” said Zzyym in a press release that Lambda Legal released on Monday. “I continue to suffer the consequences of those decisions today. But, as an adult, I can take a stand. I am not male, I am not female, I am intersex, and I shouldn’t have to choose a gender marker for my official U.S. identity document that isn’t me.” Read More via Washington Blade
Nepal: Third-Gender Passports May Be the Future of Trans Travel
The arrival of a transgender activist from Nepal in Taiwan for the 2015 International Lesbian and Gay Association’s Asia conference may seem unremarkable. But it was in fact quite special: The activist, Bhumika Shrestha, is the first Nepali citizen to travel abroad carrying a passport marked O for “other” instead of M  for “male” or F for “female.”

This is a groundbreaking and long-overdue achievement for global travel because it demonstrates that self-identification can and should be the sole factor in obtaining gendered documents.

Nepal’s legal recognition of a third category began with a 2007 Supreme Court case in which the judge ordered the government to create a legal category for people who identify as neither male nor female. Crucially, the judgment dictated that the ability to get documents bearing a third gender should be based on “self-feeling.” That is to say: no tests, expert opinions, or other potentially humiliating adjudication should play a role in the process.

But that concept had at the time only recently been enshrined in the Yogyakarta Principles, the first international guidelines on sexual orientation, gender identity, and human rights standards. And carrying out the court decision proved knottier than the court’s declaration. Read More via the Advocate
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Indonesia: Gay sex made punishable by public caning
Human rights activists have called for the immediate repeal of new laws passed in Indonesia's conservative Aceh province that make gay sex punishable by 100 lashes of the cane, calling it "an enormous step backwards". Aceh is the only part of the majority-Muslim nation that is allowed to implement Islamic sharia law and already carries out public canings for gambling, drinking alcohol and fraternising with the opposite sex outside of marriage.

The law explicitly outlaws anal sex between men and "the rubbing of body parts between women for stimulation", making homosexuality technically illegal for the first time in Aceh. The bylaw will also be the first in Aceh to be applied to non-Muslims, both Indonesians and foreigners.

Amnesty International, which has called for an end to caning in Aceh, asked that the bylaw be repealed immediately. "The criminalisation of individuals based on their sexual orientation is a huge blow for equality in Indonesia," the group's Asia-Pacific director Richard Bennett said.

The province of Aceh, in Indonesia's west, has been slowly implementing sharia law since gaining a degree of autonomy from Jakarta in 2001 in a deal struck to quell a decades-long separatist movement in the province. Read More via Australian Broadcast Co.
Jamaica: Mob attack leaves one young man in critical condition 
A brutal mob attack has left one young man in critical condition, with a punctured lung and constant brain swelling. The incident took place on Saturday, October 24, 2015 after two cars reportedly stopped in the vicinity of the Canadian Embassy where several men emerged from the vehicles, armed with knives. The suspects then began to chase and attack other men who were thought to be the homeless gay youth that were known to be living in the area. Two individuals who were not a part of the group were also badly injured and  have since hospitalized.
 
While the homeless youth living in the area contest that that the brutal attack was not provoked, they also pointed out that public harassment and attacks have increased since the Sunday Gleaner published an article on October 4, 2015 with the headline “Homeless Cross-Dressers Living Among The Dead”.

One of the young men who was hospitalized has been identified as Asheen Walford, of a Papine address, who is a well known volunteer that works closely with the homeless population in Kingston and St. Andrew. The other victim, who has not been identified,  was reportedly admitted to hospital in critical condition and is currently in a comma, battling for his life with a punctured lung and constant brain swelling. Read more via NADA
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Uganda: Activists warn about ‘alarming’ spate of trans bashings
LGBT rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda issued a stark warning today, after eight reported transphobic attacks in less than a week. SMUG, one of the few LGBT rights groups in a country where homosexuality is illegal and trans people are persecuted, called for the community to remain vigilant.

According to the group, the spate of attacks have included mob beatings, home invasions and death threats – and that in least one instance, the victim ended up in the back of a police van while the attackers were allowed to go free. It notes that “reports from victims include being punched in the face outside their homes, having bottles thrown at them, and being threatened with the removal of teeth and testicles, as well as death threats”.

Pepe Julian Onziema, Programme Director at SMUG, said: “More than ever LGBT people should be on alert 24/7. Avoid walking alone especially in the night and going to LGBT unfriendly places for their own safety." Read more via PinkNews
US: Mormon Church bars same-sex couples and their children 
Children of same-sex couples will not be able to join the Mormon Church until they turn 18 — and only if they move out of their parents’ homes, disavow all same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s top leadership as part of a new policy adopted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In addition, Mormons in same-sex marriages will be considered apostates and subject to excommunication, a more rigid approach than the church has taken in the past. Before the change, bishops and congregational leaders had more discretion in whether or how far to discipline Mormons in same-sex marriages. 

Some liberal Mormons expressed outrage online at the new policies. Jana Riess, a columnist with Religion News Service, said she was livid that children born to those living out of wedlock, as well as rapists and murderers, can be baptized and blessed, but not children of monogamous same-sex couples. Read more via the New York Times
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Justin Welby launches ‘last throw of the dice’ to avert worldwide Anglican split
The Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to gamble his legacy on a high-stakes plan to overhaul the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican church in what he sees as a “last throw of the dice” to avert a permanent split over issues such as homosexuality.

The Most Rev Justin Welby has invited the heads of all the other Anglican churches – some of whom have not spoken directly to each other for more than a decade amid a deep liberal-conservative split – to a make-or-break meeting in Canterbury in January.

He wants them not only to acknowledge the rift but effectively formalise it by scaling the Anglican Communion back into a loosely linked organisation – a step aides liken to “moving into separate bedrooms” rather than full-scale divorce. But he is understood to fear that the confrontation will trigger an angry walk-out by traditionalist archbishops, particularly from Africa, which in turn could lead to “large chunks” of the Church of England itself breaking away. Read More via Telegraph
Pope Francis warns bishops against turning people away who do not fit 'scheduled faith'
Pope Francis has warned Catholic bishops against turning away from people who do not fit their "scheduled faith", a day after a divisive synod on the Church's attitude to sex, love and marriage ended in stalemate. Bishops submitted a report to the Pope that fudges the key issue of whether divorced and remarried believers should be allowed to play a full role in the Church, reflecting a stalemate in the battle between the conservative and liberal wings.

The document includes only one brief article on the Church's approach to gay believers, framing the question in terms of how priests can help support families who have "persons with homosexual tendencies" in their midst. The emphasis contrasted sharply with first drafts last year which spoke of recognising the value of loving same-sex relationships, to the outrage of those opposed to any dilution of Church teaching that homosexuality amounts to a kind of disorder.

Pope Francis is free to ignore or implement the document, which leaves him room for manoeuvre should he wish to defy his conservative opponents and push on with his attempt to make the Church more relevant and more welcoming towards believers who find themselves in breach of its rules.

"We are able to walk with the people of God, but we already have our schedule for the journey, where everything is listed: we know where to go and how long it will take, everyone must respect our rhythm and every problem is a bother," he said. Instead he pointed to the Gospel story of Jesus healing the blind man Bartimaeus as evidence that God "wants to include above all those kept on the fringes who are crying out to him". Read more via Australia Broadcasting Corp
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Church of Norway votes in favor of gay marriage
The General Synod of the Church of Norway, the largest Christian denomination in the Scandinavian country, has voted in favor of accepting same-sex marriage, and will be offering the service to gay couples in the future.

Church of Norway chairman Sturla Stålsett said that the Synod's decision is "historical," The Nordic Page reported. The decision still allows individual priests and other church staff to decide whether they want to participate in ceremonies for gay people, however.

Breitbart noted that the vote from the country's 12 bishops was unanimous, but will first need to be ratified by the Synod next spring before it becomes official. It opens the door for the first gay weddings to take place in Church of Norway churches by 2017. Read more via Christian Post
US: Reform Jewish Movement Passes Transgender Rights Resolution
The organization that represents 900 American synagogues in the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest branch of Judaism in the United States, passed a historic resolution on transgender rights Thursday at the movement’s biennial conference in Orlando, Florida. It is the most comprehensive and extensive set of guidelines for transgender rights adopted by any major religious organization.

Some 5,000 reform Jews attended the Union for Reform Judaism biennial meeting where they approved the resolution that calls for Jewish congregations and camps to institute gender-neutral bathrooms, gender-neutral language, and arrange gender issues training for teachers and staff at religious schools. The resolution passed on a voice vote without opposition, and applause followed the the results of the vote. Read more via IBT
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India: 4 arrested for attacking Andheri-based youth 'for being gay' 
What was meant to be a casual smoke break for a 22-year-old man, ended up being one of the most traumatic experiences of his life after he was sexually and physically assaulted by strangers for 'dressing and talking like a gay person'. However, Andheri resident Divyaroop Ananda turned his trauma into his strength. He is now an icon within the LGBT community for not only standing up for his rights, but also mustering courage to register a police complaint against his molester and assaulters.

Fearing social stigma attached with the LGBT community and those supporting it, Divyaroop's near and dear ones tried to dissuade him from filing a police complaint against the accused. But he mustered courage to approach the police after seeking help from the Humsafar Trust.

“There have been several cases wherein homophobia has led to attacks on members of the LGBT community. Besides, the victims of such attacks are scared of the social stigma attached to their sexuality, the unwillingness of the society to accept them and discrimination by police. This deters them from registering complaints,” said Sonal Giani, advocacy manager at Humsafar Trust.

“It's not just about the society's mindset, but the bigger challenge is to encourage people from the LGBT community to overcome their anxiety and approach police. Divyaroop's courage, as well as the understanding exhibited by API Shashikant Padave and officers from Khar police station is exemplary and is sure to encourage others as well,” said Giani. All four accused were produced in the court on Thursday, where they managed to secure bail. Read more via Mid-Day
US: Gay issues enter the world of philanthropy
When a donor made a $100,000 gift to the Girl Scouts’ Western Washington Council last March, it was time to break out the hand-shaped clappers. One hundred thousand dollars was a big donation for the council, which represents about 25,500 girls in 17 counties in the western part of Washington State.

But in late April, after the funds were in hand, Ms. Ferland received a letter from the donor. "They wanted assurance that their funds would not help support transgender girls participating and if I couldn’t give that assurance they wanted the money returned.” Before she even finished reading the letter, “I thought to myself, ‘The money’s going back.’”

After the money was returned, Ms. Ferland says, a staff member suggested the organization start a crowd-funded campaign to replace the lost donation. 

“Help us raise back the $100,000 a donor asked us to return because we welcome transgender girls." In a little over five hours,  the site had already received over $100,000 in donations. By the end of that first day, the number was up to $243,958 from 4,760 donors. By the time the fund-raising effort was concluded a month later, the organization had raised $365,573. Read more via New York Times
Sweden’s Inclusive Rape Care Model
A hospital in Stockholm is understood to be first in the world to set up an emergency department specifically for male rape victims. The clinic at Södersjukhuset opened as part of a strategy to ensure "gender equal" patient care.

Sweden has the highest rape rate in Europe, a statistic that gained global prominence in 2010, when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was first accused of sex crimes in the Nordic nation, allegations which he still strongly denies.

In 2014, a study by sexual education organization RFSU suggested that in most municipalities across Sweden, men were uncertain where they could get emergency help following a rape. Inger Björklund, a spokesperson for the group told The Local in June that it was looking forward to the opening of Stockholm's new facility.
 
"There are myths about masculinity that make it difficult for men who have been sexually traumatized to talk about their experiences," she said. Read More via Local
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UK: Trans group branded ‘child abusers’ for teaching kids about gender
The Mail on Sunday has criticized transgender non-profit group Gendered Intelligence – for teaching children about gender. 

The Mail said that it had “seen footage of Gendered Intelligence conducting workshops with primary classes”, in which founder Dr Jay Stewart explained to children he was a man, despite being assigned female at birth. It added that “thousands of pupils” had the “controversial classes” – claiming that children were “encouraged to explore their gender identities”.

Comments on the article were shockingly hostile, with one popular comment claiming: “The people who advocate this kind of policy aught (sic) to be prosecuted for child abuse.”

The group spoke out against factual inaccuracies, writing: “There are some misconceptions in the article – mainly the alluding to Gendered Intelligence encouraging young people to become trans, which of course is not true. Dr Jay Stewart said: “It’s so important to teach children in schools that they can be anything that they want to be, regardless of the gender that they have been given at birth." Read more via PinkNews
Scotland: Group pushes mandatory LGBT education in public schools; proposal seen as 'Trojan horse' to indoctrinate pupils 
An LGBT group called Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) is campaigning for public school children to "learn about homosexual, bisexual and transgender issues." The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has backed the promotion of LGBT History Month last April. "This includes making it compulsory for all schools' sex education policies to include a positive portrayal of same-sex relationships, promoting LGBT History Month in all schools, and encouraging schools to develop a curriculum that is inclusive of LGBT issues," said Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT.

Rev. David Robertson, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland said an LGBT education would violate the human rights of Christian parents: "Human rights legislation says that 'the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions. The petitioner's demand for statutory teaching of such topics without provision for parents and pupils who disagree is in direct conflict with this legislation," he said.

Robertson warned that the aim of the proposal is indoctrination: "We believe that the real object of the petition is to indoctrinate school pupils with one particular perspective on moral and sexual ethics and one which is contrary to mainstream Christianity. We believe this is a Trojan horse to impose an ideological perspective on all pupils, whether they want it or not," he said. Read More via Christian Today
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US: The mob of screaming parents who want their kids kept ‘pure’ of LGBTI sex ed
Omaha Public Schools has not revised its sex education classes for 30 years. So there’s nothing about ‘sexting’ or bullying over sexual orientation and gender identity. This curriculum goes back to a time where no sitting President had even uttered the word ‘AIDS’ in public.

Updating it is a no-brainer. Omaha parents agree. In a survey of 1,500 parents, 97% supported almost all the proposed changes. The only drop in support was about discussing sexual orientations, gender concepts and relationships. 25% of the parents were against kids being given that information. But that means the majority are in favor.

A group of healthcare professionals, educators, and reproductive rights activists were prepared to vocally support the new curriculum in front of the Omaha Public School board. Nebraskans for Founders Values, Christ Community Church and other mega churches had recruited their supporters to show up brandishing signs, pasting stickers all over the auditorium and yelling. Read more via Gay Star News
Germany: The Demand is higher than ever for LGBT school education
The LGBT-school education project SchLAu NRW draws the face of a specialist day for 15-year anniversary in Bochum balance: Overall, more than 70,000 young people have participated in SchLAu workshops. The number of participants has risen considerably in recent years.

"The demand is higher than ever," explains Benjamin Kinkel, country coordinator of SchLAu NRW. "Questions about sexual orientation and gender diversity have all young people." SchLAu take young people with their questions seriously and answer them professionally sensibilisiere simultaneously for a democratic and multifaceted cooperation. The increasing demand of the schools show how important the commitment of more than 200 volunteers at SchLAu NRW. Read more via QueerDE
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US: Administration seeks protection of refugees' LGBT spouses
Without much fanfare, the Obama administration recently took a significant step towards helping LGBT people fleeing persecution. The State Department is expanding its interpretation of the term "spouse" to include partners of same sex refugees and asylum seekers.

Buried in the State Department's annual report to Congress on refugee program admissions for fiscal year 2016, the government announced that it will allow an already qualified refugee to apply to bring their same-sex partner to the United States even if they are not legally married.

The refugee has to file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) providing evidence that the relationship has existed for at least one year overseas prior to the application; the relationship is on-going; and legal marriage in the home country was not possible due to "social and/or legal prohibitions." Read more via NPR
Asexuality Awareness and The Right to Family
Last week was Asexuality Awareness Week, an international campaign to educate communities about asexual, aromantic, demisexual, grey-asexual experiences. In honor of the shared stories about asexuality that have been circulating through cyberspace, I want to talk about what the asexual community is doing for human rights, specifically the right to family.

While the Supreme Court ruling was a great victory for LGBTQ+ community, it supports a “just like you” identity trope: Same-sex couples want the same rights as heterosexual couples because they are no different; they deserve the same privileges because they live their lives adhering to the same standards.

This still creates a dividing line of who should count legally, and who should not. With this boundary, families that don’t fit into legal marriage are forced to choose between accentuated privileges and the relationship structures they want and need. Often times, that choice is not even available to minority groups. Read more via Woodhull Foundation
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Intersex Awareness Day marked around the world
Advocates in the U.S. and around the world this week marked the annual Intersex Awareness Day. Intersex Awareness Day — which falls on Oct. 26 — provided the backdrop for the federal lawsuit against the State Department that Lambda Legal filed on behalf of an intersex person who was denied a passport because they do not identify as male or female. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development on Oct. 19 hosted what a State Department spokesperson described to the Washington Blade as “the first-ever U.S. government interagency intersex forum” that the Council for Global Equality and Advocates for Informed Choice, a group that advocates on behalf of intersex children, organized.

“The United States government places great importance on the protection and promotion of the human rights of all people, including intersex individuals,” said the State Department spokesperson. “We are committed to raising awareness about the challenges faced by the intersex community.” The State Department earlier in the week declined to comment on Lambda Legal’s lawsuit against it. Read More via Washington Blade

Beyond boundaries: intersex in Hong Kong and China
I am Small Luk, an intersex activist from Hong Kong, and the founder of a project called BBKCI “Beyond the Boundary – Knowing and Concerns Intersex” (藩籬以外-認識及關愛雙性⼈) in 2011. 

I became public about my intersex status in February this year, and that has helped me to educate on intersex issues. I’m the first person to be public about being intersex in Hong Kong. I welcome interviews with media, and I connect with government departments.

I’m asking government to recognise our human rights as ordinary people, and change laws to end intrusive and irreversible treatments. These include forced genital normalizing surgery, involuntary sterilization, unethical experimentation, medical display, “reparative therapies” or “conversion therapies”, when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned. Read more via Intersex Day
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Iceland: Reykjavik Pride, Close-knit community key
Iceland’s national assembly, the Althingi, was the first parliamentary democracy in the world, founded in 930 by Vikings interested in distributing resources, making laws and dispensing justice. Democracy and progressive social justice values continue to thrive here: homosexuality was decriminalized in 1940, Iceland was the first nation to democratically elect a female president, and in 2009 Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became prime minister — the world’s first elected, openly lesbian head of government.

I’ve arrived here for Pride. It’s the last stop on a 2015 tour of my 2009 documentary Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride that the Canadian embassies in Helsinki, Stockholm and Reykjavik have organized cooperatively. The screening in Reykjavik draws a full house, the biggest audience of the tour.

“I think that we gained a lot by being such a small country because it’s easier to raise awareness when it’s a small group,” says Ugla Stefanía Jónsdóttir, a trans activist who sits on the panel following the film’s presentation.

“It’s usually that everybody knows someone that belongs to any of these groups,” Jónsdóttir says. “So it’s more difficult to be the asshole who is against someone because you will know someone eventually.” Read more via Daily Xtra
Jamaica: Deliriously happy after first Montego Bay Pride
We are deliriously happy to report that Montego Bay Pride 2015 was an unqualified success!! The best quote from someone who attended the intense one-day event was that it felt like a real Pride, as nearly 100 persons of all classes, sexualities and gender expressions (including several straight allies) freely and easily rubbed shoulders in a safe, fun and incident-free environment!

Our major sponsors (The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, The Round Hill Hotel and Villas, the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and Miracle Transport) were awesome and we simply can’t thank them enough. Through their overwhelming generosity we were able to ensure that Pride was accessible to all by providing free meals, entertainment and ground transportation to our happy revelers! Several persons also donated Pride swag — especially the critical rainbow masks that allowed members of the community to freely and safely enjoy the day without fear of unintended exposure.

Most Pride patrons agreed that we must — and will — be hosting another Pride event in Montego Bay in 2016. Truly, Pride is Here to Stay in the Bay. Read more via 76crimes
Taiwan: 78,000 march for marriage equality, rights in Taipei LGBT pride parade
Nearly 80,000 locals and tourists converged in the Taiwanese capital city of Taipei on Saturday to support marriage equality and LGBT rights at the 13th Taiwan LGBT Pride parade.

The parade this year saw many participants from other parts of the world, including the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore as over 300 LGBTI activists attended the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Asia conference in Taipei earlier in the week.

Organizers say this year’s theme ‘No Age Limit’ encourages attendees to bring their children along, and for attendees and the public to rethink societal norms with regard to age, sex and gender. Organizers also called for more space and rights to allow Taiwan’s youth to explore their sexuality. Read more via Gay Star News
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Japan: Lifenet to let same-sex partners be designated policy beneficiaries
Lifenet Insurance Co. has said it will allow policyholders to designate their same-sex partners as their life insurance beneficiaries. The Japanese company currently restricts the scope of beneficiary designation to legal spouses and relatives within two degrees of relationship, as well as to opposite-sex partners in de facto relationships under certain conditions.

The move comes after Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward put an ordinance into force in April to allow the municipality to certify same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage. The ward began accepting applications this week. Read more via Japan Times
Australia: Business study says firms can do more to promote diversity and inclusion
A study carried out by the University of Sydney Business School (USBS) has concluded that Australian companies could be doing more to promote diversity and inclusion (D&I), and that doing so will boost business performance. The study, entitled Benchmarking Diversity and Inclusion Practices in Australia, found that approximately 4 out of ten companies (39%) who responded to the survey had no diversity and inclusion budget.

‘I think the budget issue is quite a complex one,’ said Associate Professor Di van den Broek from the University of Sydney’s Business School. ‘Sixty per cent of our respondents said they had a budget but a lot of those who had a budget said it was inadequate to push through the diversity and inclusion agenda that they wanted.’

Another key finding was that only 41% of diversity and inclusion practitioners said that their organizations measured the outcomes of their D&I initiatives. This is despite the fact that an increasing number of companies are recognizing the business benefits of promoting diversity and inclusion. Read more via Gay Star News
US: Weddings of same-sex couples boosted state and local economies by $813M this summer
Marriages by same-sex couples have generated an estimated $813 million boost to state and local economies and $52 million in state and local sales tax revenue since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision extending marriage equality, according to a new study.

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, 96,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot. This study, titled “Estimating the Economic Impact of Marriage for Same-sex Couples after Obergefell,” estimates the impact of those marriages on state and local economies, sales tax revenue and job creation. Read more via Williams Institute
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Uganda: I am Other
The Queer Collective, a new organization in Kampala, Uganda with the goal of creating a space for queer artists working in east Africa to come together and share their work, is fundraising to support its first major project. I am Other will document the stories of LGBTQ people across Uganda.

See the group's Indiegogo campaign to learn more
US: The NFL must move the 2017 Super Bowl out of Houston
The defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) represents one of the ugliest moments in the LGBT rights movement since Proposition 8 in California. Except that this time the target was transgender people, and it was far, far nastier.

Opponents went out of their way to misrepresent the actual contents of the bill, which was to provide legal protections in jobs, housing, and in places of public accommodations for people regardless of things like sex, race, veteran status, sexual orientation and gender identity. 

It also happens that Houston is to be the site of the 2017 Super Bowl. In the past, the NFL punished the city of Phoenix by moving the 1990 Super Bowl out of the state when Arizona voters did not approve a state wide holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King. The NFL wanted to send a message that they would not tolerate even the appearance of supporting racism.

Similarly, the NFL hinted in 2014 that they would move the Super Bowl if Arizona passed a "License to Discriminate" bill allowing people to refuse to serve LGBT people on religious grounds. While the bill ultimately was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer (a Republican), it is believed by many that the NFL's threat was a factor in her decision to make such a politically unpopular move. Yet here we stand today.  Read more via OutSports
US: Update the New Normal
Radiolab profiles the US's first openly transgender mayor, Stu Rasmussen. He became the nation's first openly transgender mayor when he was elected as the mayor of Silverton, Oregon in November 2008.

This episode we return Oregon where choice has challenged destiny to see what's changed and what has become deeply normal for a small conservative town.  Listen via Radiolab
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Swede draws 'tactile' sex book for blind people Read more
Australia: Trans* military officer Cate McGregor named 2016 Queensland Australian of the year Read more
UK: Anti-Apartheid anthem is actually about gay rights, singer reveals Read more
Is your fav vacation spot Paradise or Persecution for LGBT people? More
Lesbian Bride Of Frankenstein
Ireland: Hozier calls Pope Francis' LGBT position 'lip service' that 'should have been said 100 years ago' Read more
For Photographer Kevin Truong, Telling Stories of Gay Life is Global Read more
Equal Eyes is edited by Christina Dideriksen and Richard Burzynski. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the view of UNAIDS or its Cosponsors.
All stories and photographs linked within are the property of the original publishers.
Equal Eyes Copyright © 2015 Richard Burzynski, All rights reserved.

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