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20 August 2015 edition

Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: The United Nations Security Council has announced it will meet to discuss "systematic targeting of LGBT" people by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This will be the first UN Security Council meeting exclusively on sexual minority rights.

The WHO released a report that finds widespread discrimination significantly impacts HIV rates and poor healthcare for transgender people. And ARC international published an analysis of debates and resolutions relevant to sexual orientation and gender diversity made at the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council Session.

HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: From the US, president Obama released a new National HIV/AIDS strategy that includes prioritization of gay men and other men who have sex with men "of all races and ethnicities" and transgender women.

Research on US gay Latinos demonstrated the difficulty of getting the community to use pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). While a recent study of high risk populations found that transgender women, gay men, bisexual men, and single black women successfully adhered to daily dosing of PrEP in Thailand, South Africa, and the US.

In South Africa, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV brought together health workers, government officials, and advocates to discuss HIV needs of men who have sex with men in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Rwanda Biomedical Centre reported an increase of HIV prevalence among sex workers and gay men. And in Zimbabwe, Health Minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa claims HIV prevalence in prisons shows that "either prisoners are infected already before they get into prisons" or "homosexuality is rampant" in prisons.

In Russia, officials are considering banning foreign brand condoms. Many warn the ban will adversely impact HIV prevention: it will reduce condom access and the quality of Russian brands is questionable. Government advisor Dr. Onischenko claims the ban will "make one more disciplined, more strict, and discriminating in choosing partners, and maybe will do a favor to our society in respect to solving demographic problems."

In Brazil, where transgender people have been able to officially change gender since 2009, many continue to suffer discrimination when seeking healthcare. And India has more foreign transgender people travelling to the country to seek low-cost, high quality sex reassignment surgery.

From the World of Politics: Touring Kenya and Ethiopia, US President Obama ignored warnings to 'stay quiet' on LGBT rights, and spoke frankly against discrimination. President Kenyatta, responded that "gay rights is really a non-issue" in Kenya. While some church leaders praised Kenyatta, saying he showed "courage" with his stance on gay rights, several Kenyan LGBT advocates attended a civil society meeting with Obama the following day.

In Namibia, Deputy Finance Ministry Natangue Ithete accused foreigners of forcing "un-Namibian" ideas about homosexuality, saying they should "keep their gay activities in their countries."

In Uganda, former prime minister and current presidential candidate Amama Mbazazi surprised many, stating he is against homophobia and that "homosexuality is not something new." And George Freeman, a Sierra Leonean refugee in Spain, recounted the violence he faced at home and argues that being "gay and African should not be a crime."

In Venezuela, lawyer and activist Tamara Adrian is the first transgender politician to run for popular election, though she had to register under her given male name as Venezuelan law doesn't recognize sex changes. And in Portugal, Julia Mendes Pereira hopes to be the country's first trans member of parliament.

The Politics of Union: In Australia, thousands across the country rallied for marriage equality. However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's decision to forbid a "free vote" and force Coalition MPs to vote against marriage equality guarantees an equality vote would fail. Several MPs passionately spoke out against the move.

From Japan, professors Hiroyuki Taniguchi and Noriko Mizuno discuss the global trend towards marriage equality and how it fits with Japanese culture and law.

In the Philippines, a new poll found over 80% of Filipinos oppose same-sex marriage. However, local LGBT political party spokesman Bemz Bendito noted:
“The LGBT agenda should not be reduced to same-sex marriage. It is not the be-all and end-all of our struggle because that is only one of the basic human rights that is being taken away from us.”
Let the Courts Decide: In South Korea, film director Kim Jho Gwang-soo and his partner have filed a lawsuit challenging authorities to accept their marriage registration. In Colombia the Constitutional Court heard testimonies for and against marriage equality, including statements from a broad range of international opinions.

The Mexico Supreme Court ruled a law preventing same-sex couples from adopting is unconstitutional. And in the US, the adoptive parents of an intersex child are suing doctors who performed gender sexual assignment surgery and state Social Services for allowing the surgery to take place while the child was in the state's care.

Fear and Loathing: Out of Iraq, ISIS released photos of a large crowd at another public execution of a man accused of homosexuality. From Lebanon, a 24 year old gay medical student describes fleeing Iraq after his father threatened to hand him over to ISIS.

In the US, five trans women have been murdered in less than three weeks.

A Russian viral video of a male couple holding hands sparked experiments in Jerusalem, Ukraine, and Portugal. In Jerusalem passersby called out insults, and in the Ukraine the men were violently attacked. But in Portugal, the couple noted they felt "respected and free." In Serbia, where gay people are experiencing violence, lawyer Milena Vasic provides advice on how LGBT people should respond if they are verbally, physically, or sexually assaulted.

Thailand enacted a new law to stop foreign couples from using Thai surrogate mothers, as an American gay couple was blocked from bringing home their child. In Uganda, Minister of State for East African Affairs, Shem Bageine wants to ban gay couples from adopting children born in the East Africa Community (EAC). And in Australia, where opponents argue that same-sex marriage damages children, the Australian Broadcasting Commission reviewed research on the effects of gender on parenting.

In the Name of Religion: Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern visited the victims who were violently stabbed during Israel's gay pride parade. Several ultra-Orthodox figures condemned the attack, and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef remarked, "It's unthinkable that a man can lift his hand against another Jewish soul in the name of religion." Thousands rallied against the violence during a demonstration that had been scheduled to remember the 2009 attack on an LGBT youth center that killed two and wounded 15.

In Switzerland, Catholic bishop Vitus Huonder raised controversy at a religious forum when he quoted scripture implying gay people should be put to death and followed saying that the passages, "clarify unambiguously the church's position on homosexuality." Though Huonder has now apologized, the Swiss Gay Federation Pink Cross filed a criminal complaint.

In Spain, over 36,000 people signed a petition urging the Pope to intercede when the bishop of Cádiz refused to allow a transgendered person to serve as godparent. Following the negative attention, the bishop reversed his decision.

On a positive note, Sister Monica provides ministry and support to trans Catholics. Responding to anti-trans rhetoric, including the pope's rejection of "gender theory," she says: “God made day and night. There was also dusk and dawn and twilight. There’s no light switch.”

And in South Korea, Jonah Lee has gone from running gay clubs in Korea and Japan to becoming a leading spokesperson for Korea's anti-gay Christian movement.

Winds of Change: The India Government Census Bureau acknowledged transgender people for the first time in a survey on deaths and suicides. Though an important 'first step,' activists noted that recognition is more needed for the living, as in separate prison cells and hospital wards.

In Brazil new regulations provide protections for transgender inmates, including access to hormone therapy, strip searches away from other prisoners, and the choice for those identifying as female to serve their sentences in female prisons. And in Vietnam, nearly 600 trans people have applied for new identification papers that reflect their correct gender.

Out of the UK, a new Ministry of Defense campaign against rape includes male victims of sexual assault, challenging a myth that gay people 'want it.'

School Days: The Australian Christian Lobby has accused anti-LGBTI bullying group Safe Schools Coalition Australia of "promoting queer sex" and has called on the Education Minister to cut the organization's funding. ACL director Wendy Francis claimed, "Our society is already over-sexualised without extreme sexual material and gender theory being promoted in schools."

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the largest national youth organizations, lifted its ban against gay scout leaders, causing multiple churches across the US to announce they would no longer support local scout troops.

In the UK, a report from the National Union of Students warns that 49% of universities have no formal policy to address homophobic abuse or sexual harassment. A recent survey found 1 in 2 young British people do not identify as "exclusively heterosexual," as more young people are rejecting old labels and embracing 'fluidity' in both gender and sexuality.

On the March: From Uganda, journalist Isaac Otidi Amuke takes an in-depth look at the situation facing gay asylum seekers that flee Uganda for Kenya. In the US, the Mexican consulate is exploring how to provide better services for LGBT immigrants.

Jamaica successfully and safely held its first gay Pride event--a weeklong celebration including a flashmob, speakers, and art--after last year's events were canceled due to security concerns. In Uganda, hundreds turned out for the 4th annual Pride celebration--the location of which was kept private until the last moment to discourage violence.

Vietnam's Pride parade was celebrated by hundreds on bike. In Hong Kong, Pride events emphasized the tension between traditionalism and a desire to be a "world city." And in the Netherlands, the Pride festival was an opportunity to call attention to the Dutch Caribbean territories that do not support equal rights for LGBT citizens.

The World of Business: In the Czech Republic, European business leaders participated in the 5th annual Pride Business Forum to discuss LGBTI diversity, inclusion, and future opportunities.

Cuba's tourism industry is reaching out to LGBT vacationers, advertising the island as "the new gay paradise." Out of Spain, Rob Horgan looks at the history of LGBT tourism to the city Torremolinos, a "gay hotspot" even during periods of conservative political regimes.

In Germany, the Hamburg Data Protection Authority ruled Facebook cannot force users to provide official ID nor can they unilaterally reveal users' real names. The 'real name' policy has been criticised globally, especially by trans people, drag queens, and domestic abuse groups.

Sports and Culture: From the US, Colin Walmsley explores how the success of the gay rights movement, include marriage equality, has marginalized many trans people, queer people of color, and homeless youths, and also encouraged discrimination within the LGBT community.

Sweden hosted over 5,000 LGBTQ athletes, including lesbian and gay Olympians, at EuroGames 2015. From Switzerland, the Court of Arbitration in Sport struck down a provision that testosterone levels could prohibit females from competing in sports, opening the door for transgender and intersex athletes.

Malaysian cartoonist Kazimir Lee Iskander captured the harassment and arrest of 17 Malaysian trans women. From Israel, drag queens star in a safety video for air travel. And from Egypt, Omar Sharif Jr. talked on Arabic television news about letting gay people "live openly and authentically."

Finally listen to this audio series from Nigeria: NoStrings, a weekly LGBTIQ podcast that "debunks the negative ideas" about LGBTIQ by mainstream media. And watch "The Rejected," the first ever US documentary about homosexuality, released in 1961.
Taim Iraqi refugee
“All I want now is to be in a safe place, unreachable by my dad or anyone with extremist thoughts. I want to be safe, to be free, and to be myself - to get my degree and start living… I just want to start living.”

Taim, who escaped Iraq after ISIS members told his father Taim is gay 
Continue to article excerpts. Click 'Read More' to get the whole story!
UN Samantha Power USA
ISIL attacks on sexual minorities on UN meeting agenda
The UN Security Council will hold a meeting to discuss Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacks on sexual minorities in what will be the first ever council meeting focused on gay rights.  

The United States ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power told reporters that the informal meeting will highlight "ISIL and its systematic targeting of LGBT persons who find themselves in ISIL-controlled territory."   

The US and Chile will host the meeting which will be open to all member-states interested in the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people persecuted by the armed group: "This will be a historic meeting. It will be the first Security Council meeting on LGBT rights," Power said. Read More
WHO: Discrimination to blame for HIV Rates, poor healthcare for trans people
A WHO study on transgender people and HIV notes that inadequate health care for the trans population sits squarely on those who oppose the expression of authentic gender identity. The report sums up the situation in dire terms: “Transgender people are often socially, economically, politically and legally marginalized.” The result is that transgender women have "shocking rates" of HIV, study coauthor JoAnne Keatley said. "There was a recent meta-analysis demonstrating that a transgender woman was 49 times as likely to be living with HIV [than the general population] in 15 countries in which data was looked at and analyzed."

But it’s hard to collect reliable data, as only those 15 countries offered laboratory-proven data on HIV prevalence among transgender people. Not one country in Eastern Europe or Africa could provide information to the WHO team by the time researchers needed it. The available information, though, did show a health crisis, and Keatley, who works with the Center for Excellence for Transgender Health at the University of California, and is herself trans, said discrimination is to blame. 

“What is driving the epidemic is really the refusal — I would say — of governments to pass legislation that allows [transgender people] to function in society, and allows them to participate in the workplace,” she said. Still, Keatley said she sees some progress. Read More 
Analysis of the HRC: Denying the rights of LGBTI persons 
via ARC International: The highlight of the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council from the point of view of the rights of LGBTI persons was the release of the report of the High Commissioner on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The increasing mainstreaming of the rights of LGBTI persons was reflected in the fact that LGBTI issues found mention in the reports of many Special Rapporteurs including the Special Rapporteurs on the right to health, and the protection of human rights during counter terrorism, as well as in state and civil society responses to the same.

Even as the rights of LGBTI persons are possibly more mainstreamed than ever before, the opposition to granting these rights remains as strident as ever. Apart from openly homophobic statements by states opposed, the opposition is also crafting other strategies. Part of the new strategy is to couch their opposition in more subtle terms. An example in this Council is how the resolution to protect the family became a theatre for shadow boxing wherein the code for supporting the resolution was seen as an opposition to the so-called ‘LGBTI agenda’. Read More
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truvada prep
South Africa: Sub-Saharan African HIV advocates meet government to strengthen HIV response for MSM
The MSMGF co-hosted a workshop of advocates, government officials, healthcare providers and public health practitioners from twelve African countries. Regional advocates discussed the HIV needs of men who have sex with men with their government officials, armed with guidelines by the WHO. In some instances, this is the first time advocates sat across the table with government officials in their respective countries.

“We have a groundbreaking opportunity to scale-up high quality sexual health services for MSM in Africa”, said Dr. George Ayala, executive director of the MSMGF, “We have sound technical guidance from the WHO, as well as a wealth of program experience from community-led organizations around the world. These have been used in developing a practical guidance for implementing WHO recommended interventions, which we discussed at the meeting.” Read More
Thailand, South Africa, US: HIgh risk groups adhere to daily PrEP 
A recent study reports that those with a high risk of contracting HIV — including gay and bisexual men and transgender women — will adhere to a daily pre-exposure prophylaxis regimen to prevent HIV, shutting down critics who've said PrEP won't work because of adherence issues.

The study looked at adherence among transgender women and gay and bisexual men in New York and Thailand as well as young, single black women in South Africa. All of these groups successfully adhered to daily dosing.

Some previous placebo-controlled PrEP clinical trials had found challenges with adherence, but in this HIV Prevention Trials Network study, 76% of women prescribed PrEP adhered to the daily regimen. Trans women and men who have sex with men from Harlem and Bangkok showed adherence rates of 65% and 85% respectively.  Read More
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rwanda HIV sex work gay
zimbabwe HIV prisons
Rwanda: HIV prevalence among female sex workers, gays rises
HIV/AIDS prevalence is increasing among female commercial sex workers and the gay community, according to a report by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre. Findings reveal one reason behind high HIV among the Rwandan gay community is stigma and resentment, which has made them continue practising their lifestyle discreetly and dangerously. Many of members of the LGBT community who live with HIV do not seek treatment, while others do not get HIV tested because they fear mistreatment from the public and medics.

The survey also indicates that some MSMs are involved in commercial sex. Some 42.5% reported having ever been paid with money, goods, or services for sex. “It is true, commercial sex among LGBT is high,” said Enoc Ndahenyuka, member of Rwanda Rainbow Rights, an association for gay rights. “It’s because most of them are really vulnerable; some have no jobs, others have been rejected by their families & others have kept their orientation secret so that they don’t get thrown out of home."

Authorities at Rwanda Correctional Services recently confirmed the existence of homosexuality in prisons, raising concerns that many of those who are HIV-positive go on to spread it when they are released. However, calls to distribute condoms in prisons have been suppressed by state health authorities. Read More
Zimbabwe: HIV prevalence in prisons alarms Health Minister
Speaking at a prep meeting for the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections, Health and Childcare Minister David Parirenyatwa said, "The rise of HIV prevalence in prisons shows that it is either these prisoners are infected already before they get into prison and if not then it means homosexuality is rampant in prisons." 

According to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service, HIV prevalence among prisoners is 28%. Dr. Parirenyatwa said it was important for the government to address the prevalence of HIV and Aids in prisons. He said although Zimbabwe had its own cultural expectations, the country could not run away from the idea that homosexuality "is happening in our prisons". Read More

Gays and Lesbians of ZImbabwe (GALZ) has come out against the statement, with director Chesterfield Samba, urging that "prison culture encourages men to have sex with men" and that it isn't a homosexual issue. Furthermore, he says "Not providing condoms to prisoners has serious implications that when prisoners are released and come back into society to wives and girlfriends they may infect healthy partners and spread HIV." Read More
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new US HIV strategy
gay latinos prep
US: Obama signs Executive Order for new National HIV/AIDS Strategy
Updated to 2020, a new HIV/AIDS details principles and priorities to guide the collective national work to address HIV in the US over the next five years. Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, Douglas Brooks said that the level of HIV infection in the U.S. is “stable overall, but the risk to gay men remains severe. We still have an HIV epidemic, especially for young black men.”

Brooks said HIV “remains a major health crisis for the United States.” Despite successes in treatment and prevention, certain groups, highlighted by Brooks, remain a priority in the new strategy. This includes gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men of all races and ethnicities, black women and men, Latinos and Latinas, people who inject drugs, people between the ages of 13 and 24, people living in the Southern United States, and transgender women.

Brooks noted the particularly high burden of HIV among black transgender women and black gay and bisexual men, especially among young men. Read More
US: Promoting the PrEP pill for HIV prevention among Latinos
Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV, making up about 21% of new infections nationally, though they represented about 17% of the population. Latinos are more likely than non-Hispanic whites and blacks to get diagnosed later in the course of their illness, raising the risks to their health and the likelihood of transmission to others.

In California, New York, Texas and elsewhere, health workers are trying to get more high-risk Latino men to use the pre-exposure prophylaxis drug, Truvada--shown to be more than 90% effective when used correctly. But health workers are encountering barriers among many Latinos.

Among them are a lack of knowledge about the drug and the stigma attached to sleeping with men or perceived promiscuity. Many Latinos also have concerns about costs and side effects. For instance, a study with gay and bisexual Latino men in Texas, finds 58% of those surveyed see themselves as good candidates for PrEP, compared to 82% of non-Hispanic whites, according to preliminary data. Read More
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russian bans foreign condoms
brazil transgender discrimination
Russia: Considering ban on imported condoms
Foreign-made condoms, X-ray machines, and other medical equipment may be barred in Russia. The ban, which would prevent the Russian state from purchasing the items from foreign markets, was proposed by the Industry and Trade Ministry as part of an ongoing trade war between the West and Russia. It would not prevent shops from selling foreign-condoms but it would prevent the state from buying and distributing them, as well as raise the price of foreign-condoms. 

The ban raises concerns about Russia's fight to control HIV, as it's one of the few places where infection rates are still increasing rapidly. New infections are most common among injection drug users, though advocates say antigay stigma may prevent men who have sex with men from revealing how they were infected. Dr. Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Russian Federal AIDS Centre, said more needs to be done to prevent infections, including public health campaigns and rolling back restrictions on sex education in schools. 

In response to criticism, former chief sanitary inspector and current government advisor Dr. Gennady Onischenko said condoms "have nothing to do with health." Pokrovsky argued that there is no direct link between imported condom sales and infection rates because the cost of imported condoms are high, saying that if given the choice between buying a condom and buying a beer, the average trade school student would choose the beer. Read More
India: Foreigners pick India for bargain sex-change operations
54yr old British national Sue Pascoe won't forget her trip to India in March. It was at Olmec Plastic Surgery Centre in Delhi's Pitampura that she was given the body she always craved of, a woman. Though she was officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2014, the earliest she could have undergone sex reassignment surgery under UK's National Health Service would be in 2018. Private treatment would have set her back by £40,000, so she started scouring the internet for alternatives. 

"I wanted affordable quality care from a highly experienced surgeon with high patient satisfaction from reference-able clients. What also attracted me to India was the fact that it is home to such a huge population of trans people," says Pascoe who gleaned information online. Like Pascoe, more transgenders are choosing India as a destination for surgery.

The procedure costs between Rs 7.5 lakh and 11 lakh in Thailand whereas in India you can get a new sexual identity starting Rs 3.5 lakh without compromising on the quality of treatment. Transgender tourists are now adding to India's booming medical tourism market, expected to attract 320 million tourists this year. Read More
Brazil: Transgender people encounter resistance from many healthcare professionals 
The Supreme Court of Justice of Brazil approved legal gender reassignment in 2009,  and with support from the Ministry of Health, Brazil's public health system provides free gender reassignment surgeries. 

In practice, many transgender people face discrimination at healthcare facilities. Given the social context of Brazil, the ordinances by the Ministry of Health are still not enough. Coordinator of the State Center for Combating Homophobia in Pernambuco, Hugo Felipe Lima, said "The context is discrimination, people are depending on the humanity of others. No one admits to being biased, but from the doctor to the professional cleaning prejudice happens."

In 2012 the Center began offering priority job training in health. More than 400 people have passed through awareness workshops. This semester, classes are expected to resume, covering the 12 regional health managers.  Read More
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kenyans during obama visit
kenyatta gays not issue
US: Obama clashes with Kenyan president over gay rights
US president Barack Obama, visiting his late father’s homeland for the first time as president, launched an unprecedented defence of gay rights in Africa, telling Kenya’s president that the state has no right to punish people because of “who they love”. Homosexual acts are illegal in Kenya and surveys show nine in 10 people find them unacceptable.

Obama personalised the issue by comparing homophobia to racial discrimination that he had encountered in the United States: “When you start treating people differently, because they’re different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode. And bad things happen. When a government gets in the habit of treating people differently, those habits can spread. As an African-American in the United States, I am painfully aware of the history of what happens when people are treated differently, under the law”

The Kenyan president publicly disagreed with Obama. “There are some things that we must admit we don’t share,” Kenyatta said, insisting that gay rights “is not really an issue on the foremost mind of Kenyans”. He added: “It’s very difficult for us to impose on people that which they themselves do not accept.” Watch the remarks      Read More
Kenya: Church leaders praise President Kenyatta for his stand on gays
Church leaders have praised President Uhuru Kenyatta for his courage regarding homosexuality during a press briefing held at the State House, Nairobi with US President Barack Obama.

Speaking in Isiolo, Methodist Church of Kenya Presiding Bishop Rev Joseph Ntombura said as a church they were happy with the way President Kenyatta responded to the issue gays. Rev. Ntombura said the move by President Kenyatta was an assurance that he understands and respects the culture and religions of Kenyans. The bishop said homosexuality was against Kenyan culture and the Holy Bible adding that as a church they were not ready to be engaged in any talks regarding gay and lesbianism rights.

On his part the head of National Independent Church of Africa Eastern Diocese Bishop Stephen Karunyu said that the courage by President Kenyatta to respond to the gay matter in front of Obama should be emulated by many who do not support such orientations. Read more
Kenya: LGBT advocates meet with Obama
A White House official said LGBT advocates were among the more than 70 members of Kenyan civil society who attended a “town hall” with Obama in Nairobi. Eric Gitari, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, a Kenyan LGBT advocacy group, was among those who attended the gathering.

“We discussed the importance of creating strong movements and organizing collectively as civil society against oppression,” Gitari said, noting Kenyan television stations broadcast the meeting live. “The meeting was inclusive of other movements and mainstreamed our struggle with others. Our inclusion in it was monumentally symbolic.” Read More
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namibia natangue ithete
amama mbabazi
Namibia: Deputy Finance Minister’s anti-gay rant 
Namibia’s Finance deputy minister, Natangue Ithete, launched a scathing verbal attack on homosexuality this week, declaring to Ministry of Finance staff that African culture does not entertain gays. Ithete accused foreigners coming into Namibia under false pretences and selling the idea to local cultures that homosexuality is acceptable. Ithete’s remarks have an international flair to it, following only days after Kenyan President Kenyatta said gay rights were a non-issue. 

“You are either a man or a woman. Don’t come from outside and tell us this is acceptable. They must keep their gay activities in their countries. We will not entertain any of this gayness [sic],” Ithete told staff during a visit to the ministry’s western region. Ithete’s attack on homosexuals followed as he urged customs and excise staff to welcome foreigners “with a true Namibian welcome”.  Foreigners will always be treated well in Namibia on condition they respect Namibia’s cultural orientations and not encourage or entertain anything he labelled as “un-Namibian”, said Ithete.

Despite the segmented homophobic remarks, Ithete welcomed foreigners to Namibia and acknowledged the importance of foreign involvement in the country like investment and assistance in areas the country lacks. “We have our president to respect. The president of Angola is not above any other president in Africa. When you are the president of your country, direct your people in your country and don’t influence us here. Sorry, this is how it’s going to be,” he pressed. Read More
Uganda: Presidential candidate backs gay rights
Amama Mbabazi has become the first Ugandan presidential candidate to say he is opposed to homophobia. The former Prime Minister, who launched his campaign last month to be named president in 2016, shocked the public by saying on TV: ‘I am opposed to homophobia. While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, homosexuality is not something new. I have stated very clearly that there shouldn’t be any discrimination and it is not the biggest threat right now in the country.’ 

Gay rights activists have hailed this as one of the most significant moments of progress that Uganda has seen in years. In Uganda, there is an attitude that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ or that it is a Western import. By making clear it is not anything new, it could begin to be seen as natural. And by saying it is not a big threat, it should force the public to look at the serious issues that have been disguised by the current president Museveni’s unrelenting and public campaign against the LGBTI community.

His statement caused a deep divide among the Ugandan public, with some saying it was right that LGBTI people should not be persecuted while others said they could not support him because of this issue. While Sesange said he was concerned his message might be used against him in the election, he added: ‘We have more work to be done to support those allies who are against homophobia as well as helping to change people’s attitudes towards the LGBTI community.’ Read More
Sierra Leone: To be gay and African should not be a crime
George Reginald Freeman: In my home country of Sierra Leone, homosexuality is punishable by a minimum of 10 years in jail. My first punishment was when I was 12 and came out. I confided in my uncle. Instead of the acceptance, he beat me up and called me names: “shob am na kaka hole,” which loosely translates to “ass-fucker.” His screaming and yelling brought neighbors out of their homes. They yelled at me while my uncle went to get the police, who arrested me.

Sierra Leone is my homeland, yet I lived in constant fear of the police and officials who arrested and detained me numerous times because I am gay. Yet there are longstanding traditions of homosexuality in African history. The Mende tribe in Sierra Leone has the “sande bwake,” which means male cross-dresser. The word “mabole” means a woman who plays the role of a man and at times dresses like men, while eschewing “women’s” activities.

Even the masquerades allow cross-dressing during festivals and cultural performances. Most women who are not able to give birth are allowed to marry their fellow women for child-bearing. These women are not considered the wife to a husband, but the wife to a wife. Homosexuality is not “un-African.” We are the cradle of human life, and nothing human is alien to us. Read More
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venezuela congress tran candidate
portugal mp trans candidate
Venezuela: First transgender candidate to run for Congress
The first transgender politician to run for popular election in Venezuela registered as candidate for Congress as part of the opposition bloc, promising to advance gay rights in the traditionally macho South American society. Lawyer and gay rights activist Tamara Adrian had to register under her given name Thomas Adrian despite a 2002 sex change, because Venezuelan law does not allow anyone born male to legally become female or take a woman's name.

"We're going to fight so that everyone gets respect," said Adrian, amid a tussle of candidates and cheering supporters at the gates of an elections authority office in Caracas. Adrian is running with the opposition party Voluntad Popular, which includes some of the most outspoken critics of President Nicolas Maduro. Two gay candidates are also running with Voluntad Popular.

She argued that Venezuela, along with Paraguay, Guyana, Suriname and Peru, has done little to extend equal rights to homosexuals. It was not immediately evident if the electoral council will register Adrian as a woman. In June the council said at least 40% of candidates in the upcoming vote must be women. Read More
Portugal: The 'trans' who wants to be MP
Julia does not like the word transsexual. She says it is a medical term that carries pejorative of a pathology. Instead, she prefers to be called - and others like her - 'trans': people who are born with mismatched body of their gender identity. At 25, she is running for a seat in Parliament by the Left Bloc (BE). If she can win this battle, she will be the first trans MP in Portugal, though not in the world.

In November 2011, Anna Grodzka reached the integrated Polish parliament in the liberal movement of left-wing Janusz Palikot. Julia Mendes Pereira, who is running for deputy for integrated Setúbal circle in the list headed by Joan Mortágua, joined the block in 2010 and around the same time began to make her voice heard on several fronts to fight for the rights of sexual minorities. 

Julia Mendes Pereira is campaigning on several issues. The first is to fight for self-determination of 'trans' people, requesting the right to change their civil status according to their gender identity, without testimony from doctors and psychologists. Additionally, she is interested in feminist issues, defending the right to abortion, gender violence, and LGBT parenting. "These are my priorities as much as intersex rights," says Julia. For clarification, intersex people are born with sexual characters of both sexes, making it difficult to identify as a man or woman. Read More
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australians rally for marriage equality
australia passion for marriage equality
Australia: Marriage rallies across the country
Thousands are turning out in Australia to call for same-sex marriage, as its Federal Parliament prepares to debate the reform next week. In Brisbane, more than 5,000 people attended a rally at Queens Garden. Lisa Origliasso from band The Veronicas spoke, saying “I hate to say it by Australia is still sadly standing behind the rest... Now is the time for us to get loud. Now is the time for us to kick and scream for human rights. The right to be you. The right to me. To put it simply, we stand hand in hand with our loved ones today, unified to send a message to this great nation, that we are here to make this country better.

In Hobart, 1,500 people packed Hobart City Hall, with the crowd so large it flowed out onto the street. They heard from Tasmanian celebrities, leaders and advocates, including Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey. The audience also heard from Nick Outterside, who spoke about being raised by two mothers and the death of one before they were able to marry.

Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman has also supported the Federal Government allowing federal MPs a free vote on the issue. "Ahead of the introduction of a cross-party bill this week, the rally sends a strong message to federal parliament that Tasmanians want marriage equality,” says Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome. Rallies were also held in Sydney and Perth. Melbourne and Adelaide rallies will happen next Saturday. Read More

Australia: With no Coalition free vote, where to now for same-sex marriage?
The much-anticipated announcement of the government’s position on same-sex marriage raised more questions than it answered. By rejecting a free vote on same-sex marriage for Coalition MPs during this term of parliament, the government ensured that Australia will continue to be the only developed English-speaking country in the world where marriage is an exclusively heterosexual institution.

72% of Australians believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, according to a 2014 poll. The government’s position is out of step with the Australian population. So what is the way forward? Prime Minister Tony Abbott raised several possibilities: a referendum, a national vote, a court challenge, and parliament. Let’s consider each of them. Read More

Meanwhile, federal Labor MP Tim Watts gave a powerful speech in favour of marriage equality. Watts addressed comments allegedly made by conservative senator Eric Abetz that gay men don’t really want to get married. A clearly emotional Watts told the story of his uncle Derek, who was in a long term same-sex relationship when he died of AIDS when Watts was a child. More

And the deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, Tanya Plibersek, apologised to all the families who will continue to go without legal recognition because of politicians failing. She said: “I just want to take a moment to talk directly to gay and lesbian teenagers about the decision the Liberal and National Parties made last night. It made be that you feel very disappointed, and it may be that you feel very let down, and it may be that you feel you have been treated by this Parliament as second class citizens. I want to say to you today: That is not true." More
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Philippines: 8 in 10 Pinoys oppose same-sex marriage 
A poll cited that 8 in 10 Pinoys oppose same-sex marriage – something that LGBT activists say is not surprising because of the continuing effect of religion in the country. Most Filipinos are keen on preserving stereotypical “traditional marriage”, with 84% of Filipinos opposing passing a law allowing same-sex marriage in the Philippines, according to the Standard Poll.

Of the 1,500 respondents from all over the Philippines, 14% somewhat disagreed, and 70% strongly disagreed with passing a law allowing same-sex marriage in the Philippines. The opposition was strongest in Northern and Central Luzon at 92%; with more residents in rural areas rejecting same-sex marriage (87%) than those living in urban areas (80%). Also, more mature respondents reject same-sex marriage (85%) than the younger respondents (81%). Read More
Japan: Is same-sex marriage right for Japan?
Article 24 of the Japanese Constitution states, “Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes.” Whether this is a regulation denying same-sex marriage is an issue on which the opinions of scholars are divided. In Japan this spring, a law took effect in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward that recognizes same-sex couples.

How will the world move on same-sex marriage, and how should we consider its domestic institutionalization? We posed these questions to two individuals. Deciding whether to recognize same-sex marriage is a sensitive topic that divides countries right down the middle.

Recently, major corporations have started popping up in Japan that recognize marriage leave for same-sex couples. Such cases show that the eyes of Japanese society have now begun to turn toward the pleas of sexual minorities. From that perspective, the fact that laws granting certificates to same-sex couples have been enacted by local governments, which are so interwoven with the citizenry, is symbolic. We must continue, carefully, to debate whether to change legal systems such as the Civil Code. Read More
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South Korea: Activist couple test gay rights barriers in conservative South Korea
Growing up as a gay man in South Korea in the 70s and 80s, film director Kim Jho Gwang-soo was warned that his homosexual “disease” would condemn him to a life of loveless, insatiable promiscuity. “From an early age, my dream was to become a director, but instead of making movies I was apparently going to waste all my time and energy looking for sexual partners,” Kim said.

Times have changed. The gay rights movement in South Korea is currently riding something of a mini-wave in terms of support. Last month’s gay pride parade had thousands marching through central Seoul despite vocal protests by conservative Christian groups. And earlier this month, Kim and his longtime partner, Kim Seung-hwan, went to court to demand legal status as a married couple.

The two Kims are the most high-profile gay couple in South Korea and the lawsuit they filed over their marriage license is the first of its kind. Their lawyer, Ryu Min-hee, said she is pushing for the recognition of precedent in existing rulings where courts have struck down discriminatory family law provisions using the constitution’s equal protection clause. 

“This case isn’t just about marriage rights,” Ryu said. “LGBT people in South Korea are discriminated against in law and life and we want to share this story with the Korean public,” she added. “That’s our goal.” Read More
Colombia: Constitutional court held test for global marriage equality
Colombia’s top court held a day-long hearing on whether it should interpret its constitution as giving marriage rights to same-sex couples — framing the debate in a wider discussion about whether international standards now dictate that marriage equality is a fundamental right.

Colombia’s Constitutional Court weighs foreign precedent and international human rights law in its decisions. To discuss the question of marriage equality, the Court’s judges invited a broad range of international opinions, including representatives of the UN human rights office, the U.S.-based conservative legal group the Alliance Defending Freedom, and Albie Sachs, the former chief justice of South Africa’s Constitutional Court who authored a 2005 marriage equality ruling.

The case concerns several questions of Colombian law but the list of participants signals that the justices see themselves as also adjudicating a question that extends beyond the country’s borders: Now that marriage equality is becoming the norm in almost all of the world’s democracies, should it be considered a fundamental right in countries that strive to meet a gold standard for human rights? And if the court concludes that this is the key question in this case, those arguing to uphold the existing marriage law appear to face an uphill battle. Read More
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US: Should Doctors Operate On Intersex Babies?
M.C. was born with ambiguous genitalia, a rare condition that doctors addressed with surgery. Now, in a landmark lawsuit, M.C.’s parents are challenging the medical mainstream: Why does a surgeon decide what sex a child should be?

Roughly 1 in every 2,000 babies in the U.S. are born, like M.C., with a range of traits that fall somewhere along the wide spectrum between male and female. Some doctors argue that the number of these so-called intersex babies is even higher — as many as 1 in 100 — depending on what biological markers are used to draw the line where nature hasn’t. Many intersex patients, parents, legal experts, and bioethicists are opposed to surgical fixes, which they argue are often medically unnecessary, riddled with consent issues, and physically and psychologically harmful.

As M.C. begins the anguish of adolescence, Pam and her husband, Mark, are waging a landmark lawsuit against the hospitals and state guardians who decided to put their son through sex-assignment surgery. The Crawfords’ lawsuit is only the latest development in a movement against intersex surgeries that has been building since John Money’s John/Joan case re-emerged in the late 1990s. Read More
Mexico: Ban on same-gender couples adoption unconstitutional
 A Mexican law prohibiting civil unions that bans both heterosexual or homosexual couples from adopting minors was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) on the basis that the union is recognized as a family model by the Constitution.

The decision comes after a series of reforms were approved in order to ban same-gender couples from adopting in the southern Mexican state of Campeche. Nine out of ten lawmakers were against these reforms and declared the law unconstitutional for discriminating against same-gender couples. Read More
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Iraq: Huge crowd gathers to watch ISIS throw gay man off building
Yet another huge crowd has gathered to watch ISIS execute a man accused of being gay – some even brought their children. The man was thrown from a high building after being “found guilty” by a man posing as a judge, wearing a mask.

This is the latest in a spate of killings by ISIS, of men accused of homosexuality. Last week, another video, shot in Palmyra, showed two Syrian men be thrown off a building before being stoned to death. The terrorist group, which operates predominantly across Syria and Iraq, is notorious for filming videos in which captives are brutally slaughtered. It has also taken to executing men it claims are gay, by throwing them off of tall buildings and pelting them with rocks in IS-produced videos.

Members of the terrorist group, which has published a number of graphic videos featuring the murder of supposed gay men, holds power across parts of Iraq, Syria and Libya. Read More

Lebanon: Why my own father would have let IS kill me
The group that calls itself Islamic State (IS or Isis) has a special punishment for gay people - it kills them by throwing them off high buildings. Taim, a 24-year-old medical student, tells the story of how he only escaped this fate by fleeing from Iraq to Lebanon: 

If I'd stayed, Isis would have come for me and killed me the way they've killed others. If Isis didn't get me, members of my family would have done it. A few days after I left, I learned that my uncle - my father's brother - had taken an oath to cleanse the family honour. Read More
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Ukraine: Gay couple violently attacked for holding hands in public
A shocking video shows the reaction of a group of neo-Nazis to a gay couple holding hands in public. The video shows Zoryan Kis and Tymur Levchuk holding hands in the Ukrainian capital, in order to gauge the response from the public.

ChebuRussia TV of YouTube previously conducted a social experiment to see what would happen when two men holding hands walked through the streets of Moscow, Russia. For both videos, footage was captured by a third member walking in front of them with a camera hidden in his bag. The first part of the experiment in Ukraine shows no extreme reactions other than some funny looks, and one group of women actually just want to have their photo taken with the couple. 

The couple are later attacked with pepper spray and beaten. Despite the violent attack, the couple say in the video that they see the overall lack of reaction as a “step forward”. Read More

Jerusalem: Gay couple abused while holding hands
A social experiment where a gay couple holds hands in public has been recreated in Jerusalem. Similar to videos created in Ukraine and Russia, the video shows the men enduring vile abuse. As they walk down the street, dozens of people look, and others make homophobic comments. The video comes 2 weeks after 6 people were stabbed at a Pride parade in the city, which left one 16-year-old dead. Read More

Portugal: Finally, a 'gay couple holding hands in public' video that won't ruin your day
In the past two weeks, viral videos from Ukraine, Russia, and Israel have shown us how dangerous it can be for gay men to holds hands in public. But a new version of the same "social experiment" offers some hope for humanity.

"There was no hate, threat, punches — not even a single verbal abuse," Lorenzo reported in the video. Some people stared, but he and Pedro felt that these weren't "negative stares," but rather evidence of surprise or curiosity. Before shooting the video, Lorenzo and Pedro rarely held hands in public.

Maybe they were a "bit frightened," they explained. Seeing how people of Lisbon reacted to them change that. "We felt respected and free," he said. "We felt what any straight or gay couple should feel: comfortable." Read More
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Serbia: We asked experts what you can do when you're under attack because you're gay
For those who closely follow the media in recent months in Belgrade there has been a growing epidemic of violence towards LGBT people.  We do not know the exact number of these cases of attacks and beatings in Belgrade and in Serbia. People may be embarrassed to report the crimes, they may feel ashamed, and they may be afraid of repercussions from the attackers. The reasons are myriad.

But what can a person who was attacked or suffered some form of violence because of their gender identity or sexuality do in order to protect and resumed a normal life? Lawyer Milena Vasic from the organization Yucom - Lawyers Committee for Human Rights from the Institute for Criminological and Sociological Research answered common questions and concerns people face after suffering assault. 

Questions addressed included: Should I report the attack to the police? Will the police treat me fairly? How to I obtain a lawyer? What if my abuser is a family member? How should I respond if I am verbally attacked in public?  Read More
US: Three more black trans woman slain in US
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), Kandis Capri, 35, was one of 16 transgender people to be murdered in the US this year. 

Earlier this year, the NCAVP released a report that said LGBT homicides rose by 11% in 2014. In 2015, with the recently reported deaths in Michigan, Texas and North Carolina of Amber MonroeShade Schuler and Elisha Walker – whose body was discovered on Friday – murders of transgender women have hit historic levels.
This week, a petition was launched asking the White House to open an investigation into the deaths. After the death of Kandis Capri, pressure will only grow. Read More
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Thailand: Declares itself closed for surrogacy as a gay couple struggles to get their American daughter home
Following contentious cases involving suspected abuse of surrogate mothers and the children they carry, Thailand has enacted a new law that prohibits foreigners from seeking surrogates in the country. 

A child born in Thailand by surrogate last year was left behind after he was born with Down’s syndrome. It’s still unclear whether that was because the couple refused to take him following the diagnosis or if the surrogate mother refused to let him go, but in the fallout the Thai government decided to ban the country’s “womb-for-hire” industry where they saw many risks for Thai surrogate mothers and children.

As the new rules takes effect this week, a couple is in the midst of a battle to bring the daughter they had through a Thai surrogate home. American Bud Lake and his Spanish husband, Manuel Santos, say their daughter has been granted American citizenship but can’t leave Thailand without a passport and permission from the Thai government. Read More
Uganda: Ban gay couples from adopting children in EAC countries 
Uganda’s state minister for East African Affairs, Shem Bageine wants foreigners from countries practicing same sex marriage barred from adopting children from East African Community (EAC) group. Bageine was addressing members of the East African legislative Assembly who are sitting in the Ugandan Parliament. 

The East African Community group is comprised of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. See more here.
Australia: Fact or fiction? A mother and father are better than same-sex parents
Riding the momentum of the Irish referendum and US supreme court ruling legalising same-sex marriage, there are expectations Australian legislators will change the Marriage Act. A cross-party bill to legalise same-sex marriage is expected to be introduced in the Federal Parliament. But passage of the bill is not guaranteed, and many MPs are against the change.

An argument often used against legalising same-sex marriage by groups like the Australian Christian Lobby, and even a group of 40 religious leaders from multiple faiths, is that gay marriage will have a negative impact on children's wellbeing. Opponents of same-sex marriage, including groups like Family Voice Australia claim that studies show a man and a woman are best placed to raise children.

ABC Fact Check took a look at the research on the effects of gender on parenting and found most studies from the US and from Australia saw no difference between families headed by homosexual or heterosexual couples. Read More
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Israel: Jerusalem’s chief rabbi visits victim of gay pride parade stabbing
A few hours before Shabbat in Israel, Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern posted an arresting photograph on his Hebrew Facebook page. In it, the ultra-Orthodox cleric, in his full rabbinic regalia, is holding the hand of a victim of Jerusalem pride parade attack. Six people were initially reported as wounded, including a sixteen-year-old girl who who later died. The alleged assailant, Yishai Schlissel, was an ultra-Orthodox man who had previously served 10 years in prison for a similar crime in 2005.

At the hospital, Stern said, “The person that committed this sinful act is a criminal in every way, and his intention to kill Jews is something which is terrifying.”

Other ultra-Orthodox figures have also sharply condemned the attack. “The Torah of the Jewish people is the Torah of life, and the value of life is above everything,” said Moshe Gafni, head of ultra-Orthodox UTJ party. “The attempt to kill & injure is something severe which we utterly reject. [It] is opposed by Judaism, morality, Jewish law, and our path since we have been a people.” Read More
Switzerland: Catholic bishop in ‘death to gays’ storm 
Vitus Huonder, the controversial Catholic bishop of Chur in eastern Switzerland, has once again attracted criticism for quoting homophobic Bible passages and denouncing non-traditional family models att the “Joy in Faith” forum in the German city of Fulda. In his address, titled “Marriage – a gift, sacrament and order”, Huonder quoted various passages backing up his views. He also slammed gender theory, divorce, sex education and gay marriage. Regarding homosexuality, the bishop quoted from the book of Leviticus, including: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” 

In response to applause, he continued: “Both of these passages alone suffice to clarify unambiguously the church’s position on homosexuality”. In his opinion, the passages had implications for the definition of marriage and the family. “There is no diversity when it comes to marriage and family models,” he said. “Even speaking of family diversity is an attack on the Creator.” 

Swiss gay organisation Pink Cross said it was “shocked and angry” by Huonder’s comments, calling for a “public apology for the latest gaffe”. Pink Cross said it was looking into how such hate speech could be prosecuted, pointing out that representatives of the church do not live in a legal vacuum.  The bishop later released a statement saying he regretted that his comments had been misunderstood and interpreted as contemptuous towards homosexuals. Read More
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Spain: Bishop reverses decree that transgendered person may not serve as godparent
Over 36,000 signed a petition against Bishop Rafael Zornoza Boy of Cádiz and Ceuta after he decreed that Alex Salinas could not serve as godparent to their nephew because Alex is transgender. 

Bishop Rafael Zornoza Boy of Cádiz and Ceuta said that the parish priest was "kind and understanding" in conveying to Alex Salinas, who identifies as a man, that while he cannot serve as a baptismal sponsor because of canonical requirements that a sponsor live in accordance with the faith, he could spiritually encourage and help the child in living the faith. A transgendered Spanish legislator called for a study of whether the diocese's decision violates national hate-crimes legislation.

Following the backlash, Bishop Zornoza Boy has reversed his decision. Read More
Sister Monica’s secret ministry to transgender people
Sister Monica lives alone in a small house at the edge of a Roman Catholic college run by a community of nuns. She doesn’t want to reveal the name of the town where she lives, the name of her Catholic order, or her real name. Sister Monica lives in hiding, so that others may live in plain sight.

Now in her early 70s and semiretired because of health problems, she remains committed to her singular calling for the past 16 years: ministering to transgender people and helping them come out of the shadows. “Many transgender people have been told there’s something wrong with them,” she said. “They have come to believe that they cannot be true to themselves and be true to God. There is no way we can pray, or be in communion with God, except in the truth of who we are.” Read More
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South Korea: This man’s story explains the emergence of South Korea’s anti-LGBT movement
Jonah Lee, a round-faced 63-year-old with a swoop of graying hair, once spent his days running gay bars and drag clubs in Korea and Japan in the ’70s and ’80s. His flagship, Hot Love, was a hit in both Seoul and Tokyo. Today, Lee is known for something else entirely. He claims, through a ministry he started in the Korean capital in 1994, to have counseled more than 1,200 people seeking to “escape homosexuality.”

Lee’s story — from gay entertainment pioneer to the leading spokesperson for Korea’s ex-gay movement — was made possible by the trajectory of many of South Korea’s Christian churches, which have grown exponentially since Lee first became a Christian almost 40 years ago. Today, many of Korea’s most important Christian leaders have come to preach homosexuality as an existential threat. These churches believe their movement is doing more than just saving people from sin; they believe they are saving the nation itself.

Lee’s path to ex-gay leader is a story in miniature of how homosexuality rapidly went from an almost invisible issue in South Korea to one that is now bringing tens of thousands of shouting protesters to the streets. Read More
India: Government's Census recognizes transgenders as third gender
After being counted as 'males' by the Indian Government's Census department for decades, the transgender community for the first time found mention in a survey report released by the National Crime Records Bureau. In its new report of 2014, the NCRB recorded the deaths and suicides of the transgender community, making it the first time that transgenders have been recognised as a separate category in an official survey undertaken by the ministry of home affairs.

Transgender activists believe that induction of a third category in a National level survey marks a new beginning. However, there were some who said that in India where there is very little awareness about the rights of transgenders, categorising the community for the first time in NCRB survey might not be the ideal start.

"It seems like a good step but for people to recognise us as a people with equal rights, we would have preferred other concrete steps instead of featuring in a survey about deaths," said Rudrani, a Delhi based transgender activist.

"Another reason for suicide can be the lack of opportunities faced by the community be it in getting an education or jobs," said Rurani. The data provided by NCRB corroborated Rudrani--Out of the 16 people who allegedly committed suicide four were un-employed, two were self employed while profession of 10 others falls under "other professions". The economic status showed that 12 of them earned less than 1 lakh rupees. Read More
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UK: Powerful Ministry of Defense campaign aims to challenge sexual assaults
A campaign launched by the Ministry of Defence aims to tackle the issue of rape in the armed forces. The campaign features a number of soldiers – both male and female – who are the victims of sexual assault. The posters aim to disspel the idea that ‘not saying no’ is enough – with the slogan “Don’t Kid Yourself! Without consent it’s rape”.

One of the posters features someone speculating: “He’s gay, he would have been gagging for it.” Others feature heterosexual pairings, with one soldier remarking of a woman: “Yeah, she just lay there, but I had fun.” Army chief General Sir Nick Carter launched the campaign after a survey found a shocking 40% of women in the armed forces have received unwanted comments of a sexual nature in the past year. 

An Army spokesperson said: “The Consent Campaign, which has been endorsed by Rape Crisis and Stonewall, is the latest in a number of internal initiatives that the Army has launched to ensure all of its employees act lawfully and treat each other in a way that is consistent with our values and standard.” Read More
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro prisons seek to protect transgender inmates
Brazil’s penitentiaries are notorious for rampant overcrowding and violence endured by all inmates. But advocates say few prisoners are as vulnerable as transgender people, who are often singled out for taunting, physical, and sexual abuse. In Rio de Janeiro, new regulations aim to curb such abuse within the state’s 52 penitentiaries. Advocates have hailed the rules that ban discrimination against transgender prisoners and protect their gender identities while behind bars.

“In Brazil, even regular prisoners are an invisible to society at large. Transgender prisoners are doubly invisible and vulnerable,” said Claudio Nascimento, who heads the Rio Without Homophobia advocacy group, which lobbied for the new rules. The rules allow transgender inmates to be known by their common, rather than only their legal names. They guarantee access to conjugal visits and let transgender people who identify as female decide whether to serve their sentences in a women’s facility.

Rio’s new measures were adopted amid an outcry over the brutal beating in April of a trans woman at a detention center in neighboring Sao Paulo state. Police are investigating allegations that officers tortured Veronica Bolina after graphic photos of her went viral online. In images taken before her detention, Bolina is striking, with cat eyes, prominent cheekbones and flowing hair. After, she’s unrecognizable, her hair roughly shorn, her face a patchwork of lesions, & her eyes swollen shut. Read More
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Vietnam: Hundreds of transgender people who had reassignment surgery request new identification
Nearly 600 transgender people in Vietnam who underwent sex reassignment surgery have proposed having their names and identification papers changed in accordance with their reassigned gender. The information was announced by a representative of the Maternal and Child Health Department under the Ministry of Health.

The ministry has also suggested adding transgender people’s identification adjustment to a draft amendment to the Civil Code. According to the ministry’s staff, current regulations do not allow the modification of transgender people's identification. The only exception is for people who have a gender which is different from their looks due to defects in chromosomes or genitals.

Studies presented at a seminar on trans people at Ho Chi Minh City University last year showed that it is usually hard for young transgender people to access social and health services as well as land jobs because they do not have appropriate identification. Trans people face significant challenges because their appearance differs from the image on their ID card. Read More
Australia: ACL calls for defunding of school anti-LGBTI bullying program
National anti-bullying campaign, Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) has come under attack for supposedly "sexualising" children and promoting "queer sex" by the Australian Christian Lobby. The ACL urged the federal Education Minister to stop the organisation's $8 million funding. ACL Queensland director Wendy Francis stated SSCA promotes “radical sexual experimentation,” saying: “Children have the right to their innocence. The political ideology carried by this program denies children this right.” 

Speaking in her capacity as a trans* and youth advocate, journalist Kate Doak said that SSCA’s fundamental goal is to provide educators with material and resources to combat bullying of LGBTIQ students. “Whether we like it or not, LGBTIQ youth exist, and by providing resources that help both teachers and students to create more inclusive schools, programs like SSCA are ultimately saving lives by letting kids know that it’s okay to be themselves.”

The ACL did not condemn Catholic Church dioceses for distributing anti-same-sex marriage booklets to school children across Australia last month. Read More
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US: Boy Scouts ends ban on gay leaders
The Boy Scouts of America ended its blanket ban on gay leaders , following an executive board vote that capped off several months of quick movement on the issue. “The national executive board ratified a resolution removing the national restriction on openly gay leaders and employees,” Boy Scouts President Robert Gates said in a video announcing the news. Under the new policy, however, individually chartered troops — many of which are backed by churches — will be allowed to continue the ban.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote,” the church said in a statement. “The admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.”

“While this isn’t a complete victory, it’s an enormous step forward,” said Brian Peffly, who was kicked out of the Boy Scouts this spring because he is gay. “We so much closer to getting back to being about what scouting is all about, going on camping trips and teaching how to build fires and tie knots and lash poles together and build stuff,” he said, “and learning to be a good leader and good friend and good citizen in the midst of all that.” Read More

US: From South Carolina to North Dakota, churches cut ties with Boy Scouts
With the Boy Scouts of America having lifted its blanket ban on openly gay adult leaders, some churches that sponsor scout troops are cutting ties with the organization — even though the BSA’s new policy does not require any church-affiliated troop to accept gay leadership.

The First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in South Carolina sent a letter to parents last week announcing it would no longer sponsor a scout troop, ending a nearly 50-year relationship. The letter, from church member and scout leader Buddy Lever, noted that homosexuality goes against the church’s beliefs, and that staying with the BSA might eventually force  to accept gay leaders.

Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic bishop of North Dakota has ordered churches in his diocese to end any affiliation with the BSA: “I cannot permit our Catholic institutions to accept and participate directly or indirectly in any organization which has policies and methods which contradict the authoritative moral teachings of the Catholic Church.” Churches within the diocese sponsor 8 Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs, and they will now look for alternatives. Read More
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UK: Universities are failing to tackle sexist and homophobic 'lad culture'
"Lad culture” that can result in sexual harassment is being allowed to fester at British universities because of a lack of action by institutions, the National Union of Students (NUS) has warned. Sexist or homophobic behaviour linked to heavy alcohol consumption is often rife at universities across the country, a study by the organisation found, with staff and student unions failing to take action on campuses.

Policies to tackle the issue are lacking in almost half of UK universities, with just 51 per cent having a formal policy on sexual harassment. Just one in 10 had a policy that covered the display of sexist and discriminatory material on campus. Misogynistic jokes, so-called “rape banter” and pressures to engage in sexual behaviour are an increasingly common problem affecting students, and NUS Women’s Officer Susuana Amoah claimed violence and discrimination were making the education system “inaccessible for many students, not just women”. Read More

UK: 1 in 2 young people say they are not 100% heterosexual
Invented by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s, the Kinsey scale plots individuals on a range of sexual dispositions from exclusively heterosexual at 0 through to exclusively homosexual at 6. Asked to plot themselves on a 'sexuality scale', 72% of the British public place themselves at the completely heterosexual end of the scale, while 4% put themselves at the completely homosexual end and 19% say they are somewhere in between. 

With each generation, people see their sexuality as less fixed in stone. The results for 18-24 year-olds are particularly striking, as 43% place themselves in the non-binary area between 1 and 5 and 52% place themselves at one end or the other. Of these, only 46% say they are completely heterosexual and 6% as completely homosexual. Read More
UK: ‘I’m a bisexual homoromantic’: why young Brits are rejecting old labels
The gay-straight binary is collapsing, and it’s doing so at speed. The more people who are out, the more normal it becomes. Combine that with the seemingly unstoppable legislative reinforcement of equal rights and it seems less “abnormal”, less boundary-busting, to fall in love or lust with someone of the same gender.

In fact, the word queer, once the defiant reclamation of a homophobic slur, has become a ubiquitous term. While the young people I spoke to were largely resistant to the word “bisexual”, even if they are sleeping with both men and women, they used “queer” easily and freely. “Among our callers and our volunteers, more people are identifying as ‘queer’, particularly among younger generations,” says Natasha Walker, of the LGBT+ Helpline. “In the past, people were fighting for the right to be able to define themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* etc. Although this is very much still the case, there is also a definite shift towards an acceptance of people as they are – label or no label.”

Moving beyond the need to identify as one thing or the other feels utopian in many respects, and it acknowledges that for many people, sexuality is not an either/or decision. But it also relies on an idealised vision of an open-minded and kind society, which is true for the privileged world of, say, celebrities, but is not always the case elsewhere. Casual homophobia has not been erased by semantic optimism. 
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Uganda: Facing the mediterranean 
For the last five decades, Kenya and Uganda have had an unofficial pact of providing a passageway for each other’s escapees.  This started with the 1971 Idi Amin overthrow of Milton Obote, which saw a mass exodus of Ugandans into Kenya and elsewhere in the world. The other mass exodus happened in 1986. The second Milton Obote government was overthrown by Brigadier Bazilio Olara-Okello and General Tito Okello. Following the post–coup chaos, the Yoweri Museveni–led National Resistance Army (NRA) seized power.

The story is different in 2015. There is no military takeover in Uganda and Kampala has not fallen. Yet today there are growing numbers of Ugandan refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya. The shift in circumstance is that these particular Ugandans, mainly in their 20s, say they are running away from home because of their sexuality and whom they choose to love.

According to official UNHCR documents, the present crisis began in 2014 when a handful of Ugandan escapees showed up at UNHCR in Nairobi and at Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya. They were all seeking asylum, citing the passage of the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda as one of their reasons for fearing for their safety. Read More
US: A Diplomatic Approach to the Mexican LGBT Community in the USA
In the past few years, the Mexican diplomatic and consular network in the United States, following its long tradition of innovation and dynamism, has began actively engaging with an important segment of its immigrant diaspora: the LGBT community. 

There are approximately 11 million people of Mexican origin living in the U.S., creating a unique environment that is permeated by distinct historical, cultural, economic, social and political realities. Consequently, Mexican consulates have gone beyond the traditional services and practices, evolving into dynamic centers that provide wide-ranging services, programs and activities. Those programs engage a wide and specialized network of partners to address issues ranging from immigration, criminal and civil rights, to labor rights, and now represent key allies to maximize our ability to reach out to LGBT communities.

In September of 2014 the webinar “An overview of HRC and Understanding Ways to Better Protect LGBT Immigrant Families and Individuals” was presented to consular staff with specific material to take into account the particular characteristics of Mexican consulates. The presentation addressed what it means to be LGBT, statistics about LGBT immigrants, their ethnicities, immigration and civil status, and the benefits that were available to same sex-couples at the time. Read More
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Israel: Thousands rally in Israel to protest attack during Pride march
Across Israel, thousands of people took to the streets to protest a week of violence. Yishai Schlissel, an Orthodox Jew who was previously convicted of stabbing three people at a Jerusalem pride parade in 2005, was recently released from prison after serving 10 years for the previous attack. After his release, Schlissel returned to his hometown where he began distributing handwritten pamphlets 'all Jews faithful to God' to risk 'beatings and imprisonment' for the sake of preventing the parade. At this month's parade he stabbed 6 people, killing a teenage girl.

Thousands attended a previously scheduled rally in Tel Aviv's Meir Park meant to commemorate an attack six years ago on a LGBT youth community center that left two dead and wounded 15 others. Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and former Israeli president Shimon Peres attended the rally.

"I cannot believe we have reached such an abyss," Peres said in his speech. "I took before this stage six years ago, mere days after the murders at Barnoar. I am finding it difficult to believe that we are standing on that same stage, once again before the same phenomenon. We have gathered this evening for a war of independence – Israel's independence from insanity and insane people. This is not a disagreement between right and left. This is a profound clash between those with a conscience and those who lack a conscience." Read More
Jamaica: First public gay pride event a symbol of change, 'It felt liberating'
Early August is a special time for Jamaicans. The Emancipendence holidays celebrate both the end of slavery in 1838 and the country’s break away from British colonial rule in 1962. But this year has seen a very different kind of symbolic even, one that for LGBT campaigners in the country marks an equally important moment in the future development of this young nation.

It started not with a proclamation or a flag being hoisted up and down a pole but with a flash mob, an art day and a chance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans to show things are changing for the better. PRIDE JA was the first public gay pride celebration in the English-speaking Caribbean, after a similar event had to be canceled due to security concerns in the Bahamas last year. 

For those involved in the week’s activities – organised by JFLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays – it was a chance to be proud and visible. “It felt liberating”, said Nicki who attended the arts performance. “It was safe with no fear. In public, if you express yourself in a particular way or use certain mannerisms you have to be on your guard but this really felt like it was ours.” Read More
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Uganda: The Gay Pride festival defied local law and taboo
Members of the Ugandan LGBT community celebrated their annual Pride Uganda festival this weekend, defying strict laws criminalizing homosexuality with up to 14 years in jail. Crowds of Ugandans traveled to the shores of Lake Victoria to walk in the festival’s gay pride parade, which was held at a secluded botanical garden 30 miles outside the nation’s capital of Kampala. 

Gay rights activists and allies marched, chanted and danced in the small parade, many waving rainbow flags and wearing colorful masks to conceal their identities. The celebration was part of the five-day Pride Uganda festival, which provided a rare occasion for members of the LGBT community to gather together openly. Many LGBT Ugandans are forced to keep their identities secret, as same-sex relationships are punishable by up to 14 years in prison in the country. 

Not everyone was celebrating. The youngest of 20 brothers and sisters, Badru, a man from Kampala, was thrown out of his home because his family discovered he was gay. Homeless, unemployed and born HIV positive, Badru said he has nothing to celebrate about at Pride Uganda: “Today is rights day but I don’t know what I should be celebrating about when I have so many difficulties,” he said. “Pride is meaningless to me.”

Still, many LGBT Ugandans expressed their desire to live as authentically as possible, despite the almost daily threats of homophobic-based violence. Read More
Hong Kong: One territory, two attitudes on equality
Even in Asia, where the level of LGBT acceptance can vary and change with alarming regularity, Hong Kong is a contradictory beast. In 1991, the territory finally ditched British anti-buggery laws that still dog former colonies like Singapore and Malaysia. Today, Asia’s “world city” embraces its queer celebrities and supports a sizable calendar of LGBT events.

Privately many Hong Kongers face enormous pressure to conform. It’s a common dilemma in Northeast Asia, one that in Hong Kong skews the queer bar scene heavily toward ex-pats and visitors. Despite the 1991 reform, an equal age of consent was not established until 2006, and anti-discrimination laws remain a matter of interpretation rather than being absolute. In this deeply traditional society, less than a third of the population supports the legalization of same-sex marriage. In 2012, property developer Cecil Chao offered 500 million Hong Kong dollars ($75 million Canadian) to any man who could woo his lesbian daughter into marriage, and while mere financial mortals may not be throwing around that kind of offer, the underlying attitude is a common one.

Yet three quarters of Hong Kongers also say they support equal rights for same-sex couples, and most are very accepting of LGBT media personalities. While same-sex unions are still not recognized, transgender citizens were finally granted the right to marry an opposite-sex partner in 2013. It seems that in the land of “one country, two systems,” it’s a case of “one territory, two attitudes” on equality. Read More
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Vietnam: Hundreds brave persistent rain at LGBT rally in Vietnam
 In a country dominated by two-wheelers, Vietnam’s gay pride parade was fittingly on bicycle and motorbike. Organisers counted about 400 people at the start of the bike rally. Though the turnout was smaller than the 600 in the previous year, it was encouraging, they said, given the rainy weather.

"I have a lot of friends from LGBT so I’m here to support them," said Linh, a social sciences student at the Vietnam National University. The crowd grew as more joined the after-party in downtown Hanoi. A notable guest was US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius, the first gay American Ambassador to be appointed in Asia who said: “This is a country with traditional values and very big focus on family, but there is also a great openness to people who may not fit exactly that traditional mould and there is a great sense of fairness in Vietnam.” 

Viet Pride organiser Nguyen Thanh Tam noted, “For a long time LGBT was a very invisible community, but now I think we’re having more and more space in Vietnamese society.” Read More
Netherlands: Dutch activists call for Caribbean Netherlands to adopt gay rights
As a rainbow-coloured flotilla paraded through Amsterdam's canals for the city's annual Gay Pride festival on Saturday, one float carried a sobering reminder that gay rights do not extend to all in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Although the Netherlands itself became the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2001, the three Caribbean members of the larger Kingdom - Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten - have yet to follow suit, reflecting cultural taboos in the mostly Catholic island nations.

That leaves the Kingdom, famed for its tolerant stance on marijuana and euthanasia, apparently less progressive on gay rights than Ireland, where voters approved gay marriage in a referendum in May, and the United States, where the Supreme Court upheld a constitutional right to gay marriage in June.

"We want to have the same legislation throughout our kingdom. That would empower all gay and transgender organizations in addressing the question of social acceptance", said Ramona Pikeur, director of Caribbean gay rights organization Dushi & Proud.The Dutch government says it is seeking dialogue, rather than confrontation, with the island nations to promote gay rights and acceptance of gay marriage. Read More
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Czech Republic: Pride Business Forum says openness pays off
Businesses do better when employees come out of the closet, especially at the CEO or senior management level. That was one of the key messages of the fifth Pride Business Forum, one of the main side events to Prague Pride week. The event featured business leaders from Central and Eastern Europe discussing leadership, LGBTI diversity and inclusion, and business opportunities for those companies that create an inclusive environment.

Among the highlights was a discussion between the BBC’s economic anchor, Evan Davis, with Lord John Browne, author of The Glass Closet and former head of energy giant BP.

Pavlina Kalousova from Business Society led a panel of business leaders on ‘How diversity fits into the business agenda’. One of the organizing partners of the Forum is the Netherlands-based Workplace Pride. Its Executive Director, David Pollard, said, ‘This event, which includes Czech as well as international companies, is another excellent example of how working closely with the LGBT community in the workplace just makes good business sense for employers, both in the public and private sectors.’ Read More
Cuba: Stands out as a tourist paradise for gay community
Amid the "boom" in tourism that Cuba is experiencing with over 2million foreign tourists, the island is emerging as a destination for the gay community. Cuba's "Mi Cayito Cuba" is the first online travel agency specializing in tours geared towards the LGBT community. 

"The island has great potential as living space. We are open to all, and we believe in a free and tolerant space where respect is valued," says director Alain Castillo. Despite being a society still dominated by a patriarchal and sexist vision, Cuba is already seeing noticeable advances in LGBT rights.

"It's vacation time. It is time to Cuba. The new gay paradise", you can read the brochures promoted on social networks. Read More
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Germany: Facebook banned from enforcing its real name policy in country
Facebook may not stop users in Germany creating accounts under false names, a Hamburg privacy watchdog has said. The Hamburg data protection authority said the social network could not change people's chosen usernames or ask them to provide any official ID. The ruling came after Facebook blocked an account set up by a woman using a pseudonym and changed it to her name. 

The company's real-name policy has been the subject of recent protests from demonstrators, including drag queens, Native Americans and domestic violence victims who believe anonymity is crucial to their personal safety. Some drag queens want to use their stage names on the site, while Native Americans' names often incorporate animals, natural features or other elements that can be wrongly identified as pseudonyms.

In October 2014, Facebook clarified its real-name policy, saying users would have to "use the authentic name they use in real life". But the company has been slow to change its rules. The Hamburg watchdog, which regulates the social network in Germany, said making users sign up under their real names violated an individual's privacy rights. Read More
US: The queers left behind - How LGBT assimilation is hurting our community's most vulnerable
On the evening of June 28, two very different celebrations took place to mark the most historic New York City Pride week in decades.

The flashier of these celebrations was the iconic Dance on the Pier. As the Pride Parade came to a drizzly end, an exuberant crowd of young, gay and mostly white men made their way to Pier 26, where Ariana Grande headlined a big-budget outdoor mega-party. The event was a brazen testament to the newfound trendiness of urban gaydom. Admission started at $80, but that didn't stop 10,000 enthusiastic fans from snatching up tickets to what organizers billed as one of the world's top-tier LGBT events.

If any of those 10,000 attendees had taken a break from the dancing and glanced across the river, they may have seen the outline of the Christopher Street Piers, where a celebration of a very different kind was taking place. Here, a motley crowd of queer homeless youths -- who definitely could not afford admission to Dance on the Pier -- decided to throw an impromptu party of their own. With the bass from the Ariana Grande concert pulsing in the background, the youths -- male, female, cisgender, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, black and Latino -- drank, smoked, sang, vogued and played cards under the dim light of the street lamps. Read More
Europe’s biggest LGBT sporting event EuroGames 2015 begins  
games will feature a wide variety of sports, from swimming – which is the first event –  to the European Same-Sex Dance Championships and the world’s first LBGT Ultra Marathon – which will mark the end of the games. Read More
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Malaysia: A gorgeous, stirring cartoon about the status of trans people
When cartoonist Kazimir Lee Iskander learned that 17 Malaysian trans women had been arrested by the Islamic police in June 2014 for the crime of “impersonating women,” he was both riveted by the case and inspired to write about it. He wanted to show how trans people are harassed in Malaysia but also how effective LGBTQ organizing can be.  Read More
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Dutee Chand
India: Sprinter Dutee Chand wins major victory for intersex and gender inclusion Read More
Egypt: Omar Sharif Jr. featured on Arabic TV news, 1st time many in the Arab world have heard directly from a gay person  Read More
the rejected
Watch "The Rejected," first US televised documentary about homosexuality, broadcast on September 11th 1961. Originally titled 'The Gay Ones'
Israel: Drag queens show off in new flight safety video Read More
spain rainbow
Spain: How La Nogalera came to be Torremolinos’ gay hot-spot Read More
Nigeria: NOSTRINGS PODCAST is a Nigerian weekly LGBTIQ podcast that operates in the form of a traditional radio program; it is the first of its kind in Nigeria. 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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