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10 September 2014 edition

Dear friends and colleagues,

Laws - what do they say about us?: On the heels of Uganda's HIV criminalization law, The Gambia passes a bill to imprison gays and lesbians for life for "repeat offenders" and people living with HIV. Author Chetan Bhagat condemns Section 377--India's anti-gay law as a British relic, urging straight Indians to take a stand and Matthew McFetridge investigates how Section 377 is affecting LGBT in Myanmar. For an overview, Graeme Reid  looks at how international law attacks or protects sexual and gender minorities.

Jordanian Prince Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the first Arab Muslim to hold the post, delivered his opening remarks to the Human Rights Council on Tuesday. In his remarks he spoke against exploitation for any reason, including sexual orientation.

Denmark progresses in trans rights, but 20 European countries still force transgender individuals to undergo sterilisation if they want their gender choice recognized. Hong Kong hosts international policy leaders to strategize equal opportunities for LGBTI people and Peru hosted the first regional meeting with LGBT advocates from Latin America and the Caribbean

Fear and loathing: After death threats appeared on Facebook Bahamas' first gay pride event was canceled. Elsewhere, Javed Jaghai dropped his Supreme Court suit against Jamaica's buggery law after repeated death threats. Nine Egyptian men were arrested over a gay wedding video that appeared on Youtube, and across the Middle East personal mobile phones are being used to target and entrap allegedly gays and lesbians.

Cameroonian youth leader Abongwa Victor describes how criminalization has led to 'corrective' rape, torture, abuse, and mental anguish among LGBT youth, while the mayor of Kazakhstan's capital fears international media is brainwashing children with gay propaganda. 

Activists in Russia and the Ukraine fear Crimea's threats to expel LGBT from the country. Meanwhile, the World Congress of Families, an anti-gay/anti-abortion US based group, will hold "Large Families: the Future of Humanity" in Moscow, despite economic sanctions forbidding involvement. 

Societal transformation: Good news from Asia where a survey of 7,000 young Chinese found that despite conservative values, 90% accept gays. In Chile the National Youth Institute (INJUV) found that 70% of young people support gay marriage and first member of Chile's armed forces comes out of the closet.
Though evangelical Christians in South Korea continue to promote hate speech, 10,000 participants attended South Korea's Queer Culture Festival.
Meanwhile, Kenyans speak up: out lesbian judge Monica Mburu is unafraid and Kenyan filmmakers come out from behind an anonymous label during their triumphant turn at the Toronto International Film Festival with a film on LGBT love.

Health and HIV: Two Cameroon HIV organizations are no longer able to provide health and social support after being evicted for working with gay people. In the US some doctors are refusing to help women requesting HIV prevention in the form of PrEP.  

Inadequate care is nothing new for many LGBT people in the US and UK, where separate studies show LGBT have bad experiences and worse outcomes from health services than straight people. Good news in Cape Town, where a clinic specifically for LGBT and sex workers has opened to bypass these stigmatizing experiences. Another study investigates intimacy in LGBT relationships, the role of condoms, and the potential to affect HIV transmission. 

Seeking equality through the courts: Coahuila became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in Mexico. Among Nordic countries, only Finland and Faroe Island do not recognise same-sex marriage, but that may soon change. After US state Louisiana failed to overturn the gay marriage ban, other states head to court, but the Economist wonders if the movement is going too fast

For Vivian Boyack, 91, and Alice “Nonie” Dubes, 90, the law has moved just in time, allowing the lesbian couple to marry after 7 decades together. And in London the Southbank Festival of Love hosted a mass wedding to celebrate equal marriage rights. A gay couple in Switzerland and lesbian couple in Italy celebrated the first sets of adoptions by gay parents in each country. 

Entertainment, sport, and culture: On the path to the Oscars, Benedict Cumberbatch talks homophobia, politics, and playing Alan Turing, a brilliant gay World War II hero. A new book examines the history of male sex workers and Pakistan sees its first children's book to promote gay equality.  Both might be found in the re-opened oldest gay bookstore in the US.

Arsenal football players use humor to combat homophobia, while Russian politicians find nothing funny about an ad that depict famous historical Russian men kissing. Send your mail with a Tom of Finland gay erotic stamp and if you need something to watch, check out the seasons of these seven lesbian web series.

These are a few of the stories that caught my attention -- all shape our world and influence the people in it
~ Richard Burzynski
"Most developed and free nations of the world accept homosexuality, as they should. If we want to be one of them one day, it is time to start behaving like we belong in the modern world. Strong minority rights are evidence of justice in society. It shows even the powerless are heard and protected. So, gay or not, we need to do this. We need to move ahead in the world."
~ Chetan Bhagat, acclaimed Indian author 
Gambia Lawmakers Pass Bill to Jail Gays for Life
Gambia's National Assembly has passed a bill imposing life imprisonment for some homosexual acts, potentially worsening the climate for sexual minorities in a country with one of Africa's most vocal anti-gay leaders. The charge of "aggravated homosexuality" could be leveled at repeat offenders and people living with HIV/AIDS. Homosexual acts were already punishable by up to 14 years in prison under a law amended in 2005 to apply to women in addition to men. The bill awaits approval by President Yahya Jammeh, who in 2008 instructed gays and lesbians to leave the country or risk having their heads cut off. In February, Jammeh said, "We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively." Read More
Bestselling author calls India's colonial anti-gay law ‘our collective sin’
Author Chetan Bhagat has spoken about India’s anti-gay law to say that it contradicts the country’s culture: "Section 377 is not an Indian law but an inheritance of British law. The same law existed in over 40 colonies of the British empire. Most have junked or modified it to decriminalise homosexuality. We have held on to it as if it is part of India’s cultural heritage, whereas it is nothing but a relic of an unscientific, Victorian past. Of course, the final question is this: Why should the selfish, non-homosexual, growth-seeking Indian care? Well, we should." Read More
International Law and the Uncertainty of Rights for LGBT People
For a vulnerable minority, and an unpopular one, domestic and international law has proven to be an indispensable tool, sometimes the only tool, for LGBT people to claim a space in the world. Read More
High Commissioner al Hussein delivers his inaugural address to the UN Human Rights Council. 
He prefaced his written remarks with statement, during which he said: "There is no justification ever, for the degrading, the debasing, or the exploitation of other human beings – on whatever basis: nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or caste." After the High Commissioner's remarks, Allied Rainbow Communities International delivered their first UN statement since achieving ECOSOC accreditation, and highlighted the importance of addressing sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and intersex issues. Read the pdf statement here.
Nearly 300 Latin American, Caribbean LGBT advocates attend Peru meeting
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute co-organized what it described as the “first-ever gathering of LGBT political leaders” from the region alongside Promsex and Caribe Afirmativo, LGBT advocacy groups from Peru and Colombia respectively. Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute President Chuck Wolfe said: “The LGBT community is global, and there is a growing need for out people around the world to become engaged as public leaders in their own communities.” Read More 
First Bahamas Gay Pride Event Cut Short After Death Threats
Members of the LGBT community abandoned the first pride event in the English-speaking Caribbean "out of fear" of repercussions after death threats were posted on Facebook. Read More
Europe's terrible trans rights record: will Denmark's new law spark change?
Denmark has become the first European country to allow legal change of gender without a medical expert statement. In one leap, Denmark has changed its law on trans rights, taking it from a country where transgender people were forced to undergo sterilisation in order to be legally recognised as a different gender, to one of the most progressive countries on the issue in the world. Unlike in most of the countries that allow new gender recognition, trans people in Denmark now do not even need a medical expert statement, but can simply self-determine. But there are still 20 European countries where sterilisation is a requirement, including much of Eastern Europe. Read More
Hong Kong holds its first ever international symposium on LGBTI rights
York Chow, chairperson of Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission, said "In mapping out our approaches to promote LGBTI rights, we should look at what has been done in other jurisdictions. This symposium is an important opportunity for mutual learning, with the goal to achieve equal opportunities for sexual and transgender minorities." Read More
Mobiles and phone apps used to entrap LGBTI
In Lebanon police have intensified their campaign against LGBTI people by using arrestees’ mobile phones to try to entrap other allegedly gay men, according to Helem, Lebanon’s LGBTQI advocacy organisation. Meanwhile sources claim Egyptian cops have used popular dating app Grindr to arrest gay and lesbian community members.  A reported security flaw compromises users' security by revealing their GPS location.
Buggery Law No Longer on Trial in Jamaica
A man has withdrawn his Supreme Court case against Jamaica's antigay law out of fear for his safety. Javed Jaghai said he's received death threats since bringing his case before the Supreme Court, which would have considered the constitutionality of Jamaica's law against gay sex. Read More
South Korea’s gay march forward
An estimated 10,000 participants attended the Queer Culture Festival with concerts, drag and dance performances, booths from different LGBT organizations, representatives from the American, German, and French embassies, and Christian protesters. Protestors shouted slogans and carried signs that read, “Our youth are getting AIDS because of homosexuality,” and “Homosexuality is not genetic. It’s an acquired choice. Treatment is possible”  Read More
90% of China young people accept gays
An overwhelming majority of Chinese young people are fine with gay people, according to a recent survey conducted by internet giant Baidu, the Chinese version of Google and Wikipedia, and asked 7,000 internets users born in the 1990s their views on love, friendship, consumption, family and employment Read More
The Outlook for LGBT Rights in Myanmar
Despite a push among conservatives to strictly enforce the imprisonment of same-sex sexual relations, some parliamentarians are slowly accepting the call for LGBT inclusion. Recently elected MP Aung San Suu Kyi rallied for the removal of Section 377 to allow for HIV/AIDS treatment for marginalized groups. Stigma is high for gay men and especially for gay men with HIV/AIDS in the country. Without greater access to resources and without acceptance of their lifestyles, at-risk gay men continue to engage in high-risk unprotected sex. Read More
Out and Proud Gay Kenyans
As part of an ongoing series looking at gay rights around the world, DailyXtra talks with one of Kenya’s highest profile LGBT activists. Monica Mbura is a Kenyan judge who is one of the few out lesbians in the country. Watch Now 

Kenyan filmmakers at the Toronto International Film Festival did something brave — they told people their names. Jim Chuchu, George Gachara and Njoki Ngumi are just three of the 10 filmmakers in Nairobi’s NEST collective. They produced Stories of Our Lives, LGBT stories about love, sex, and friendship set in Kenya. The film was anonymously released to protect the crew from retaliation. Premiering at TIFF last week, it received a standing ovation and has been described as one of the top 10 films to watch at this year's festival. Read More
First member of Chile’s armed forces comes out to fight homophobia
Member of the Chilean Navy, 24-year-old Mauricio Ruiz has come out as gay and says his superiors support him. He told the press conference that, as a gay man in the armed forces, he had ‘no reason to hide.’ ‘In life there's nothing better than to be yourself, to be authentic, to look at people in the eye and for those people to know who you are.’ Read More

Youth in Chile support same-sex marriage and adoption
Ahead of an anticipated law change allowing gay civil unions, a poll reveals that more than two-thirds of Chilean youth support same-sex marriage. Read More
Cameroon AIDS support groups evicted for supporting LGBTs
Two AIDS support groups, Colibri and Humanity First Cameroon, have been evicted from their respective headquarters due to homophobia, according to the organizations' leaders. Both centers provided human rights advocacy, health counseling, STI treatment, and HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Read More

Op-ed: Countries That Criminalize Homosexuality Don't Just Hurt Adults
Youth leader Abongwa Victor delivers an impassioned plea for Cameroonian youths: Over and over the LGBT youth of Cameroon have been subjected to “corrective” rape, torture, and abuse in detention cells, extended stay in custody before being charged, refusal of family visits, denial of counsel — just because of who they are. Read more
Russia LGBT Activists Worried After Crimea Leader Lashes Out
Head of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov, announced that LGBT people will not be allowed to hold public events and may be deported. Gay Forum Ukraine estimates there are about 10,000 gays and other sexual minorities living in Crimea. Russian activist Kochetkov says they have been caught up in the “general deterioration of human rights” in the region since it was annexed by Moscow where the anti-gay propaganda law has led to increased rights violations and violence since the new law was passed last year. Read More
Did Anti-Gay Evangelicals Skirt US Sanctions on Russia?
US sanctions may forbid the World Congress of Families' involvement in an upcoming family values conference in Moscow. The conference titled "Large Families: The Future of Humanity," will focus on defending "the way of life of large families" and includes workshops on topics such as the "natural family." Two of the WCF's key Russian allies have placed on a list of individuals sanctioned by the US Treasury Department, making the conference possibly forbidden. Read More
Kazakhstan: Media are ‘brainwashing’ children with gay ‘propaganda’
Mayor Akim Tasmagambetov of Kazakhstan's capital city has accused the international media of “promoting” homosexuality, and “brainwashing” children. “It has not just become a political norm in a range of developed countries, but the perception of the society has been distorted to such an extent that the US state of California approved a compulsory course on historical accomplishments of representatives of sexual minorities. I think you see for yourself how the topic is promoted in the international media.” Read More
Need for Intimacy Plays Role in Condomless Sex, Study Finds
New study from Brown University finds gay, bi men, and trans women in relationships with other men forgo condoms to "preserve intimacy." Taking a swipe at PrEP naysayers, study authors note that the findings do not indicate MSM will stop using condoms once they get access to PrEP; rather the study finds the participating MSM were already forgoing condom use. Read More

Women and PrEP: Dissed By Her Doctor for Wanting HIV Protection
In 2010, Poppy Morgan wanted to stop using condoms so she could have a baby with her HIV-positive husband. She asked her doctor to prescribe Truvada, an HIV drug that can keep her from contracting the virus. But Morgan’s doctor didn’t just say no; she told her that she would no longer treat Morgan if she went ahead with her plan. 

Of the 2,319 Americans prescribed Truvada for PrEP in 2012 and 2013, almost half were women. And women are taking it for good reason. Outside of gay enclaves, another HIV epidemic is flourishing that overlaps with but isn’t the same as, the one in gay communities. The African American community has been devastated by HIV, especially in the South. African Americans make up only 12 percent of the population but comprise 44 percent of HIV cases. And it’s African American women who are among the most at risk. Read More
Poor health among LGBT on both sides of the pond
New reports coming out of the UK and US report that LGBT people report poorer health compared to straight counterparts. In the UK, half of the over 27,000 LGBT people surveyed reported negative experiences with the health care system. A randomized sample of LGBT in the US found that lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women in particular have lower physical well-being than either straight women or GBT men. 
Sex workers, gays get own health clinic in South Africa
Whenever a Cape Town sex worker visited her local primary health care clinic in Gugulethu, not only did she have to spend hours queueing for health services, she was mocked by other patients and health workers - just because she was different. Read More
US: Gay Marriage Bans In Idaho, Nevada And Hawaii Head To Court
"Until all 50 states get on board, it's a legal battle from state to state," said Tara Newberry, one of the plaintiffs in the Nevada case, who wants to marry her longtime partner. "The map is changing. But until the Supreme Court of the United States makes the determination, it's state-by-state." Read More

Gay marriage and the courts Too far, too fast?
As speculation turns to how the US Supreme Court justices will handle the tidal wave of state judicial support for same-sex marriage, it might be natural to assume that we’re gearing up for another 4-4 right-left split, with Justice Anthony Kennedy in the middle. Read More

Mexico's Coahuila state legalizes same-sex marriage
For the first time, a Mexican state legislature has voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The new law alters more than 40 parts of the state's Civil Code. Read More

Two thirds of Faroe Island residents support gay marriage
The Island – an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark – maintain control over their own marriage laws. Finland is the only other Nordic country that does not recognise same-sex marriage, having rejected several same-sex marriage bills over the past few years. Read More

A multitude of celebrations
Two American 90-year-old women married after 7 decades together in a church of the town they moved to in 1947. Meanwhile a mass wedding in London saw 15 same-sex couples and 55 mixed-sex couples tie the knot across 6 ceremonies this weekend, part of Southbank’s Festival of Love programme, which celebrates the introduction of equal marriage earlier this year.
Egypt orders the arrest of nine men over gay wedding video
Egyptian prosecutor general ordered the arrest of 9 men, after a YouTube video depicting a gay marriage surfaced. The video, filmed in April but has only gone viral recently, entitled ‘Egypt’s First Gay Marriage’ shows two men appearing to have a ceremony on a Nile boat. The two men hug and exchange rings, surrounded by male guests. Several charges have been levelled against the men including ‘inciting debauchery and violating public decency’. Read More
Equality for nontraditional European families 
In a historic decision for Switzerland, a court in the canton of Saint Gallen has recognized a gay couple as the legal parents of a child born in the United States to a surrogate mother. Surrogacy is illegal in Switzerland but according to the administrative court ruling the welfare of the child took precedence in this case, the SDA news agency reported on Monday. Meanwhile, in Italy,  a woman whose partner gave birth has been allowed to adopt the child in the first case of stepchild adoption involving a same-sex couple. It's been described by a rights group as an historic step for Italy.
Benedict Cumberbatch on 'The Imitation Game,' Homophobia, and How to Combat ISIS
Cumberbatch is getting rave reviews as Alan Turing, the math prodigy responsible for cracking the German Enigma code, thereby granting the Allied Forces access to once-indecipherable Nazi dispatches detailing the location and activities of the Germany navy. Turing was chemically castrated for "gross indecency"--being gay. Two years later, at the age of 41, the war hero ended his own life with cyanide. Read the interview here.
Russian political party slams ad depicting Russian poet kissing Kazakh composer Read More
'Male Sex Work And Society' Examines Sex Work Throughout History with a collection of essays and studies that examines the role of male sex work from an interdisciplinary perspective, including fields of study like public health, sociology, psychology, social services, history and mental health. Read More
This Is Pakistan’s First Anti-Homophobia Children’s Book, And It Is Beautiful “My Chacha Is Gay” is about a young boy named Ahmed and his gay uncle. Read more
Tom of Finland gay erotic stamps are the biggest sellers in Finland’s postal service history Read More
Seven Lesbian Web Series You Need To Binge Watch Immediately  More
Rainbow laces: Arsenal record hilarious video to help campaign against homophobia in football The players joke about things they "can't change." Watch here
Oldest gay bookstore in America to re-open as AIDS charity shop 
Philadelphia’s Giovanni’s Room, the oldest surviving LGBTI bookstore in the United States will reopen again as a charity store for Philly AIDS Thrift and a center for LGBTI life. Read More
Equal Eyes is edited by Christina Dideriksen and Richard Burzynski. The views in this newsletter 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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