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14 October 2014 edition

Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution that supports rights of LGBT people. Meanwhile in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, political leaders joined UNAIDS Director Michel Sibide to announce the "Fast Track" strategy to end AIDS by 2030-- particularly among those left behind, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men. And the UN's Free and Equal campaign is now a year old -- check out the anniversary video.

Marching 'for' and 'against' equality: In Hong Kong hundreds of queer activists have joined the demonstrations for democracy. However, thousands march in France to "protect family values."

A new study finds a growing acceptance of gay people among American religious congregations and a survey out of Trinidad and Tobago shows support for equality and protection for LGBTI people. In Brazil, schoolboys support their trans classmate by wearing skirts. This small victory is overshadowed by a recent report noting 216 LGBTI people were murdered in Brazil this year.

While India has made progressive strides for trans people, the government does not want to see the same rights extended to gay and lesbian people. And in Egypt, men are forced to 'prove' heterosexuality with an invasive physical exam after a video links them to a 'gay marriage.'

In the Sudan, LGBT human rights group Rainbow Sudan speaks out against injustices. In Uganda a judge comes forward about death threats she's received for overturning the Anti-Homosexuality Act, meanwhile president Museveni suggested a return of the Act will hurt Uganda's economy.

"Faces of Faith" documentarian Daniella Zalcman explores pro-LGBT support among religious Ugandans and Serbia celebrated the return of Pride after four years absence. Meanwhile, in Kyrgyzstan the Russian-style “gay propaganda” ban moves forward just as  Chad looks to become the 37th African state to make homosexuality a criminal offense.

In Foreign Policy, Suzanne Nossel looks at the cultural and political situations that continue to create an "international community that increasingly looks like a tale of two closets when it comes to gay rights."   And the Economist explores progress and backlash in a special issue on gay rights.

But this isn't the whole story as African religious leaders try to find common ground with LGBTI people and Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama says the Catholic Church in Nigeria doesn't wish punitive action on gay people.

HIV, health, and wellbeing: A man is suing clinics and China's premiere Internet search engine over 'gay conversion therapy' in China, while Israel's health ministry issues a public warning condemning these therapies in Israel.  And Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma argues that conversion therapy is the most dangerous trend in Africa.

Fear of violence and discrimination keeps gay Russians from seeking out health services. Meanwhile, a study out of the US shows over half of gay and bisexual men have never discussed sexual health with their doctors. While Thailand hopes to reach these groups by bringing healthcare to the party scene, activists say that adolescents in the UK aren't receiving sex education.

Meanwhile, trans people in Malaysia continue to seek essential healthcare services. Proper healthcare is changing the way people have sex as a landmark study suggests undetectable viral load prevents HIV transmission and more people are "coming out" of the PrEP closet. Not ready for safer sex through AIDS treatment? This latex underwear promises to protect from STIs.

Many doctors and their HIV positive patients are now dealing with the challenges of aging, but these can be particularly difficult for older LGBT people whose community support structure is nontraditional. Meanwhile a study from Canada finds suicide has surpassed HIV as a leading cause of death among gay and bisexual men. The unfortunate suicide of a Colombian gay teen shows the problem is harming youth everywhere.

On Watch: Technology surveillance continues in Egypt where the government uses social media and dating sites to identify gay people, which activists say has led to persecution. In Iran authorities have confirmed using Facebook to arrest suspected gay men. The first progressive gay and female friendly mosque in South Africa remains open despite bureaucratic threats and outright arson attacks.

Lessons learnt: The head of US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for a stronger response to the Ebola crisis saying that "we have to work now so that this is not the world's next AIDS." 

Meanwhile "feel-good movie of the year" tells the story of the joint efforts of LGBT advocates in UK working for local miners' rights

Evolving Culture: Facebook rescinds their controversial 'real name' policy after an outpouring of support for individuals whose identity doesn't match their birth certificate.  

This summer the Inuit people reflected on tradition, culture, homosexuality, and god. MTV will showcase the first intersex character in their teen drama "Faking It." This article provides great background on those who are intersex.

Jeffery Tambor stars in a new Amazon on-demand show about a trans woman coming out to her family, India sees its first transgender news anchor, and Canadian hockey players get a gender inclusive locker room. Meanwhile the Smithsonian is preparing for a "post-homophobic" future. 

Finally, check out these responses to being "queer" or read this Japanese cookbook using condoms

“With love for all of those who are positive and are afraid to speak, to all of those who know the horrible taste of rejection, to all of those who at least once have rejected or turned down someone just because of HIV status... and to the gay community, let's not forget that this is still our fight. Yes, the situation is different as it was in the beginning of the epidemic, but that doesn't mean gay positive people don't exist... We are here!”
Pablo Aguilera
Director, HIV Young Leaders Fund, Mexico
UN passes resolution on behalf of LGBT citizens around the globe
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a landmark resolution for LGBT rights on Sept 26, the second-ever motion of its kind. Passed by a 25-14 vote margin after more than an hour of debate, it condemns violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity across the globe. 

“We are pleased to see that today the international community is visibly and publicly upholding the rights of LGBT individuals, and thereby we demonstrate ourselves as a global community respecting the rights of all,” said Ambassador Keith Harper, who represents the U.S. on the U.N. Human Rights Council. 

Still, since the resolution comes with no enforcement capability — it simply calls for a report from the U.N. high commissioner on LGBT rights abuses — it will likely largely be seen as a symbolic gesture, albeit it one that the U.N. has largely failed to make in the past. This resolution is only the second time the U.N. Human Rights Council has referred to LGBT rights as “human rights.” Read More
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UNAIDS plan to “Fast Track” the end of AIDS  
Fast Track, the strategy to end AIDS by 2030, was outlined by UNAIDS at a side event to the United Nations General Assembly. The strategy calls to protect the human rights of people involved in commercial sex work, transgender individuals, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and  young women and girls to live without fear and access means of harm reduction and health services. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry embraced the strategy at the event where UNAIDS Director Michel Sidibe, along with Swiss Confederation President Didier Burkhalter, Ghana President John Dramani Mahama, and South Africa President Jacob Zuma described it.  Read More
Gay activists on front line of Hong Kong protests
Thousands of protesters sit peacefully on the streets of the Causeway Bay shopping district. The chants of 'Leung Chun-ying, ha toi [step down]' quieten down as gay singer Anthony Wong starts to perform.

Tommy Chen, spokesperson for LGBTI rights group Rainbow Action, says there can be no equality for LGBTI people without democracy: ‘The queer community actually understands this quite well, so that’s a reason the queer community in Hong Kong has been involved in the social movement for over 10 years,’ he said. The group is a member of one of the protest organizers Civil Human Rights Front, which Chen said had a 'disproportionately high' number of LGBTI volunteers and organizers. Read More
After new UNAIDS poll: Way clear for PM to revisit gays issue
The path is now clear for Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to “very easily” go back to Parliament and amend the Equal Opportunity Act to protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. So said attorney Douglas Mendes following the launch of the results of a UNAIDS poll that showed a majority of T&T citizens are against discrimination. He said amending the act would send a clear message to the population, the region and the international community that T&T did not discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation.  Read More
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The Closeted Continent 
The progress for LGBT equality has been powered by an increasingly potent global gay rights movement driven by major international organizations like Human Rights Campaign and the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, as well as smaller grassroots gay groups that have sprouted up (or, in some cases, chosen to work underground for fear of activists' safety) in many dozens of countries worldwide. Elsewhere in the world, though, signs of momentum in the global gay rights struggle are fueling a determined effort to slam the closet door though legal measures, harassment, and violence. Read More
The gay divide
The change in attitudes to homosexuality in many countries—not just the West but also Latin America, China and other places—is one of the wonders of the world. But five countries still execute gay people: Iran hangs them; Saudi Arabia stones them. The gay divide is one of the world’s widest. What caused it? And will tolerance eventually spread? Read More
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Kyrgyz Parliament Proposes Criminal Liability for Protection of LGBT People's Rights
The ban proposes up to a year in prison for individuals, including journalists, found guilty of spreading “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” RFE/RL reported. The bill would also ban LGBT advocacy organizations. Read More
Serbia Gay Pride march returns after four years
Serbia's first Gay Pride march for four years has been held in the capital Belgrade, amid huge security, including special forces and armoured vehicles. Authorities had cancelled the event every year since marchers were attacked in 2010 - nine years after Gay Pride was first held in Belgrade.

Earlier in September a German LGBT rights speaker was treated in hospital after being beaten in Belgrade. In response to the attack, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said: "We will not allow this kind of thing to remain unpunished." Read More
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The Free and Equal campaign is 1 year old… 1 billion rising
A year ago, the United Nations Human Rights Office launched an unprecedented global public education campaign for lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender rights: Free & Equal. This inspiring video tells the story of what happened next.  Watch Here
Q. and A.: Xiao Zhen on Trying to End ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ in China
A man going by the pseudonym Xiao Zhen is the first person in China to file a lawsuit against a clinic offering “gay conversion therapy,” to change sexual orientation that medical experts criticize as ineffective and harmful. With the help of the Beijing LGBT Center, Xiao Zhen has sued the Xinyupiaoxiang Counseling Center, as well as Baidu, China’s Internet search engine, for posting the ads that led him there. Read More

Israel warns public about dangers of ‘ex-gay’ therapies
Israel’s Health Ministry has formally adopted the recommendations of its country’s Council of Psychologists and the Israeli Psychological Association against so-called reparative therapies aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation - issuing a public warning against them on Sunday. Read More
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Chad becomes 37th African state to seek ban on homosexuality
Chad government ministers voted to make same-sex relations a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison and 50,000-500,000 Central African francs. 

The decision was condemned by human rights groups as another setback in the struggle for gay rights on the continent. Chad’s penal code is more than half a century old and does not explicitly mention homosexuality. The cabinet claims the measure is intended to “protect the family and to comply with Chadian society”.  Read More
Because You Are, Therefore I Am: African leaders discuss sexuality, religion, and equality
Leaders from Botswana, Cameroon, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe gathered for a historic consultation. Rev. Dr. Kaypa Kaoma and I worked with leaders from the World Council of Churches and Dr. Gerald West, University of KwaZulu-Natal in organizing this consultation. We are committed to changing the narrative in Africa from persecution of LGBTI persons and their families to acceptance. We are committed to making change happen in faith communities, theological schools, universities and in civil society. Read More
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Why Are HIV Rates So High in Russia?
In 2013, Russia's national parliament, the State Duma, passed a federal law banning gay "propaganda", amid a Kremlin push to enshrine deeply conservative values. Human rights campaigners said the law had resulted in an increase in homophobic and transphobic violence, along with the suppression of information on sexual health and HIV for the LGBT community.  Read More
Is 'Undetectable' the New Safe Sex?
A landmark Partner study which tracked HIV transmission risk through condomless sex if the HIV-positive partner is on suppressive antiretroviral medication has so far found not even one case of an HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load transmitting the virus to a partner. But people in your everyday life may still be a little disbelieving. Read More
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Coming Out of the PrEP Closet
Scott Wiener, San Francisco Supervisor, District 8: "I'm HIV-negative, and I want to remain that way. I recently decided to be public about my use of PrEP in order to raise awareness about this relatively new tool for preventing HIV. It's important to encourage people at risk for HIV to talk to their medical providers."  Wiener isn't the only one coming out for PrEP, everyday couples and individuals share their stories about being proactive for safer sex. Read More
HIV, Aging, and LGBT people: A Metamorphosis
Aging with HIV can be especially difficult. Older adults with HIV report high levels of isolation, yet few community spaces embrace their full identities as older people, people with HIV and, in most cases, given the epidemic's prevelence, LGBT and people of color. Additionally, medical research has found multiple health concerns related to aging with HIV—and the psychological dimensions of living with HIV, or a new diagnosis, can spur its own storms. Read More
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Inclusive sex education is vital – and British schools aren’t delivering it
Why isn’t there a mandatory requirement to teach children about sexual health and diversity, including LGBT, in the same way as other curriculum subjects?

One in three gay men diagnosed with HIV in 2012 were in their teens or early 20s, yet more than three-quarters of gay and bisexual young people receive no information at school about same-sex relationships or gay safer sex. These failings border on child neglect, and have prompted a coalition of LGBTI, sexual health and HIV campaigners to petition British leaders for change. Read More
From Diagnoses to Dignity -- Barriers to Health Care for Transgender People
Dorian Wilde, an activist from Malaysia, was thrilled to be invited to the World Professional Association of Transgender Health symposium in Bangkok, but his journey to Thailand was fraught. His experience is not unique - to him, to Malaysia, or to air travel. Transgender people everywhere face extraordinary barriers when attempting to access services, including the most essential, such as health care.

From being labelled as having a disorder to shouldering the burden of some of the highest rates of violence and HIV infection in the world, the perils of daily life for transgender people are multi-layered and can inflict substantial harm, experts and activists say. Read More
Gay Conversion Therapy: A bigger Threat to Africa than Scott Lively 
Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma was the original researcher to expose the ties between U.S. right-wing evangelicals and the anti-LGBTQ legislation in Uganda, and has testified before Congress and the United Nations. He is the author of "Globalizing the Culture Wars" and "Colonizing African Values," and appears as an expert voice in the 2013 documentary God Loves Uganda. He argues that pseudoscience is the biggest threat to African equality. Read More
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Study finds more gay men now die of suicide than HIV
New research suggests that suicide has surpassed HIV as a leading cause of death among gay and bisexual men in Canada. The study examines suicide and HIV-related mortality data from Statistics Canada, the Canadian Community Health Survey and other sources from 2000 to 2011. Read More
India government asks Supreme Court to clarify pro-trans ruling
The government says transgender rights should not be extended to gay people and asked the Supreme Court to clarify the definition of transgender so that it would not include gay people. In April the Supreme Court recognized transgender people as a third sex and a socially and educationally backward class, entitled to education and employment quotas as well as the rights to marriage, adoption, divorce, succession and inheritance. The same court recriminalized homosexuality in December last year. Read More
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Egyptian men arrested declared ‘not gay’ after exam, will appear in court in November 
A group of Egyptian men arrested on the accusation that they are gay were subjected to invasive medical exams intended to show whether they engaged in homosexual activity. Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat ordered the men detained and “physically examined” after an online video emerged showing the men attending what appeared to be a same-sex marriage ceremony on a Nile riverboat. They are set to appear in court on November 1st.

Egypt's LGBT community began a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #stopjailinggays.  Read More
Thailand Hits Party Scene To Combat HIV Rates Among Gay, Bisexual Men
Bare-chested male models strutted through the glitzy ballroom in Bangkok to the beat of house music while dozens of young gay men waited anxiously, working up the nerve to have a blood test. Once touted as an HIV success story, Thailand is now faced with infection rates in its gay population comparable to those in Africa's AIDS hotspots. Read More
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Rainbow Sudan seeks LGBTI rights in Sudan
The LGBTQI community of Sudan rarely appears in the media, but Sharon Wagiella of SOGI News recently interviewed a leader of that community’s anti-AIDS, pro-human rights group Rainbow Sudan, which was founded on Feb. 5, 2012. Read excerpts from that interview: here
Uganda’s leader, Museveni rethinks the anti-gay law
President Museveni signalled he is having second thoughts over tough anti-homosexuality legislation, arguing the impoverished east African nation needed to consider the impact on trade and economic growth. Saying he only signed off on the anti-gay law earlier this year because he wanted to protect children and stop people being “recruited” into homosexuality, he now worries the law could lead to a trade boycott which would hurt Uganda.

Meanwhile Judge Solomy Bossa Balungi has said she has received numerous attacks from the public after she helped with the ruling to nullify the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Read More
Nigerian archbishop defends gays, criticizes Western intervention
Earlier this year, Nigeria adopted a law that hands out 14-year sentences to anyone entering a same-sex union and bans public displays of affection between homosexual couples. At the time, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama announced the Church’s support for the legislation. But now the archbishop said the Church only supported the elements of the law that set out that marriage is between a man and a woman. 

“We are not supporting the criminalisation of people with different sexual orientations,” Archbishop Kaigama stressed. “We would defend any person with homosexual orientation who is being harassed, who is being imprisoned, who is being punished.” Read More
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Religious Perceptions Of LGBT People In Uganda
When we talk about the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Uganda, it tends to always be in terms of religion-based oppression, violence and murder. However, are the voices that often rise to the top when same-sex attraction in Uganda is discussed truely representative of religious leaders as a whole in this African nation? This is the question documentary photographer Daniella Zalcman sought to explore through her new portrait series "Faces of Faith." Read More
Teen's Suicide Highlights Struggle of LGBT Colombians 
Two photos — one haunting, the other simply poignant — published separately last weekend by two Spanish-language news groups tell the story of Colombian society's urgent need to reconcile its religiously conservative culture with acceptance and respect for its LGBT men, women, and children.

The first photo is of a handsome young Colombian who committed suicide recently, after his teachers and school administrators allegedly harassed him because he was gay. The second shows his mother, Alba Reyes, with solemn eyes narrowed to a point of focus that only mothers of lost children know. Read More
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216 gay murders in Brazil this year
Homophobia is not a crime in the country even though it has the highest LGBTI murder rate in the world. The data was collected by the Gay Group of Bahia from January to 29 September and is based on police records and news reports as there are no official statistics. Read More
Thousands demonstrate in France to defend "traditional family values"
Protestors took to the streets in Paris and Bordeaux to demonstrate against medically assisted procreation techniques for lesbian couples and surrogacy. According to Ludovine de la Rochere, president of Manif Pour Tous that organised the demonstration, such techniques must be "fought at all costs.” Manif pour Tous fought against the adoption of same-sex marriage in France last year. Read More
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More Than Half of Gay and Bisexual Men Say a Doctor Has Never Suggested H.I.V. Testing
American gay men and their doctors aren’t talking enough about sex, and that’s making it harder to control the spread of H.I.V.  That’s the conclusion of a new survey of gay and bisexual men by the Kaiser Family Foundation. It found that 47 percent of the men have never discussed their sexual orientation with their doctors, and 56 percent have never been advised by a doctor to be tested for H.I.V. Read More
CDC director on Ebola: 'Only thing like this has been AIDS'
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for a stronger response to the spread of Ebola on Thursday, saying that "we have to work now so that this is not the world's next AIDS." 

Chinua Akukwe, the lead African analyst with the National Academy of Public Administration, told lawmakers Wednesday that the U.S. should look at its response to HIV/AIDS over the last decade when mapping out its plan to fight Ebola. The HIV and Ebola outbreaks have struck different corners of the continent, but both hit quickly and powerfully, straining fragile governments and even more fragile health systems. Both diseases are difficult to treat and come with strong stigmas. Read More
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Gay in Nunavut: How politics, culture, religion and the English language shape sexuality in the North
This February Inuit people were confronted with questions over homosexuality which had perhaps been brewing for a while: Was homosexuality part of traditional Inuit society? Does it matter? What do the elders say? Are gay people born that way or is it a choice? Are gay kids killing themselves? What should leaders be doing?

The answers to those questions will vary, depending on who you ask, and will be influenced by bravado, wisdom, Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, bigotry, self-righteousness, Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, vocabulary, experience, ignorance, fear, courage, and love. Read More
Research finds more church acceptance of gays and lesbians
A new survey of American religious congregations conducted by researchers from Duke University and the University of Chicago finds that, in recent years, more churches have become welcoming to openly gay and lesbian couples. These findings parallel broader trends showing greater acceptance among the general public of both homosexuality and same-sex marriage during roughly the same period. Read More
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Brazil schoolboys wear skirts to support trans classmate
A group of boys at São Cristóvão do Colégio Pedro II high school in Rio de Janeiro wore skirts to class after a transgender student was fined for breaking the school's dress code. Seventeen-year-old Maria Munez, born Mario Munez, recently came out as transgender by wearing a skirt to school but was fined for not wearing trousers. Read More
South Africa’s First Gay-Friendly Mosque Survives Arson Attack 
A Muslim academic has opened a gay-friendly mosque in South Africa, despite receiving death threats and fierce criticism from parts of the local Muslim community. Women will also be allowed to lead prayers at Taj Hargey's "Open Mosque" in Cape Town. "We are opening the mosque for open-minded people, not closed-minded people," Mr Hargey told the BBC. He says the mosque will help counter growing Islamic radicalism.

South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque could be shut down barely a week after it opened its doors to the public, a Cape Town local official has announced, saying that the Open Mosque had violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces. Read More

Though organizers plan to reopen, the building was recently set ablaze in an arson attack. Read More
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Egypt Begins Surveillance Of Facebook, Twitter, And Skype On Unprecedented Scale
With Egypt’s LGBT community warning the public to avoid using dating app Grindr, a pop-up in the app itself now warns users officials may use the app to entrap and arrest gay people. The Interior Ministry officials said he wasn’t familiar with Grindr, but that there were “dozens of Facebook groups” used by the LGBT community that were being watched. Read More

According to reports, American company Blue Coat Systems has sold the Egyptian government extensive surveillance technology, which the government may use against activists and minorities to persecute and discriminate against them. Local activists have put out a call for support using the hashtag: #Stop_blue_coat to stop extensive surveillance technology and spying softwares against all Egyptians, not just LGBTQ community members.  Read More

Meanwhile the Iranian authorities confirmed the arrest of a suspected gay men for setting up romantic dates on Facebook. Read More

Facebook Apologizes To LGBT Community For Controversial Name Change Policy
After weeks of negotiation with drag queens and transgender people whose accounts were targeted as using "fake" names, the site now claims it will honor chosen names stating: "The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life." Read More
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Meet Television’s Groundbreaking Intersex Character
In the Season 2 premiere of MTV’s Faking It, which explores the spectrum of sexuality, a main character reveals that she was born with an intersex condition. Here’s what went into that decision — and why it was so important to get it right. Read More

Learn more about being Intersex from this informational article. 
‘Pride’ Warmly Epitomizes The LGBT Movement’s Success In Partnering With Other Causes 
UK film, Pride tells the very true story of how a group of gay and lesbian activists from London raised money to support striking coal miners in the small Welsh village of Dulais Valley. 

The story conveys the sincerity of gay and lesbian activists' intentions: even though its members were facing their own struggles related to their identities, they remained firmly committed to supporting the miners. The rapid success of LGBT rights over the last half-century is largely due to the partnerships LGBT people have made with other movements. Read More
Would you have sex in this latex nappy to protect against STIs?
The Scroguard claims to provide users with “less worry, more fun”, as it covers all of the skin in the genital area not normally covered by a condom. Read More
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Transparent is being hailed as the TV show of the year. Jeffrey Tambor talks about his ‘most transformative role’ yet – and the night he went clubbing as a woman Read More
Smithsonian Preserves LGBTQ History for a Post-Homophobic Future 50 years from now when LGBT civil rights will be something that we don’t even think about, you know, people will ask, “Well, what was the big deal?”  Read More
15 Responses To The Question: “What Does The Word ‘Queer’ Mean To You?” Read More
Hockey Canada embraces gender identity inclusion  It agreed to make changes to protect young players from harassment based on a player's transgender status.  The changes resolve a human rights application Jesse filed after facing difficulties at his local arena. Read More
Padmini Prakash is India’s first transgender news anchor Read More
Japan's Condom Cookbook offers more than just tips Japanese men are the third worst condom users in the world; the book, therefore, is an effort to raise awareness about condoms 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 © 2014 Richard Burzynski, All rights reserved.

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