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2 June 2016


Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN:  The 12th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) was celebrated on 17 May. In recognition of this year's theme of 'mental health and well-being' UN agencies released a joint statement that called for the end of pathologization of LGBT adults and children and noted that: 'branding them as ill based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression - has historically been, and continues to be, one of the root causes behind the human rights violations that they face.'

To mark IDAHOT, the UN Free & Equal campaign released a new music video 'Why We Fight' featuring LGBT activists and allies from around the world.

In a video message UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé remarked that LGBT people are often excluded, living 'in the shadows' without access to lifesaving health services. He stated that to reach the Sustainable Development Goals 'we must end discrimination in all its forms.' And UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean regional director Dr. César Núñez used IDAHOT to emphasize how LGBT people in the region ‘remain degraded, discriminated against and excluded’ and are driven from seeking health services. Dr Núñez urged that ‘People must be held accountable for hate speech, acts of violence and discrimination.’

During the 72nd Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child both Nepal and the UK were separately questioned over the 'harmful practice' of 'medically unnecessary procedures' on intersex children.

The UN Committee Against Torture's recent evaluation of Tunisia called on the government to end criminalization of homosexuality and immediately ban the use of forced anal examinations against accused homosexuals.

The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released Out in the Open, the 'first global synthesis' of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity in educational settings.

As the UN prepares for the upcoming High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, some states raised objections to the participation of NGOs with links to LGBT people. In response UNAIDS released a strongly worded appeal calling 'for inclusion and full participation of civil society organizations.'

The Global Fund released a new Community Guide to the Global Fund's Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Strategy that highlights the Fund's strategic actions to address the impact of HIV on sexual minorities. And the World Bank hosted an event to explore the economic impact of discrimination against LGBTI people.

HIV, Health, and Wellness:  As the Philippines launched its first 'AIDS hour' to commemorate those lost to HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch warned that the country's efforts cannot be successful as long as it continues to exclude men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.

From New Zealand the AIDS Epidemiology Group warned that diagnosis of HIV remains high in the country. And the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control saw a significant increase in syphilis rates across Europe, especially among men who have sex with men. 

Out of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe came a unique report assessing HIV prevention and care initiatives aimed at gay men and other men who have sex with men. AIDS Alliance launched an online resource of these initiatives to further help these men living in hostile environments.

During a recent webinar, activists and researchers from across the world discussed the widespread usage of PrEP for HIV prevention despite the lack of formally available channels of the medication. Meanwhile the National Health Service (NHS) of England reconfirmed it will not provide PrEP despite protests from leading HIV organizations.

US researchers found that bisexual Americans routinely face biphobia and have statistically poorer health than gay or straight people. And in recognition of the discrimination trans and gender diverse people routinely face in health care, Australia's Victorian AIDS Council launched Equinox, the country's first peer-led health service.

Denmark announced it will no longer classify being transgender as a mental illness—the first country to depathologize transgender people. 

Portugal's Parliament voted to extend access to fertility treatments to all women—previously the treatment was restricted to heterosexual couples. 

From the World of Politics: The Central Pacific island nation Nauru and the Republic of Seychelles— the 115-island country off the coast of East Africa—both updated their criminal codes to decriminalize same-sex sexual activity.

Australian Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews made a formal apology during parliamentary session to those convicted of homosexuality—decriminalized in 1981—and will introduce legal reforms to expunge criminal convictions. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced the government will expunge the records of the more than 50,000 men convicted of homosexual acts—decriminalized in 1969—and will offer compensation to those convicted.

The UK announced it has earmarked 9% of its human rights budget to aid LGBTI people around the world.

Norway's Minister of Health proposed new legislation to allow transgender people to legally change gender without undergoing medical treatment. The Congress of Bolivia approved a new law giving trans people the right to legally change their gender with a psychological review. And Canada introduced progressive legislation to protect transgender people that, if passed, prevents discrimination based on gender expression or identity and updates the criminal code to protect trans people from hate speech and violence. 

In the US, the Obama administration is pushing pro-transgender rights initiatives—from issuing nation-wide guidance on rights of transgender students to prohibiting discrimination of transgender patients in health care. Meanwhile the US House of Representatives held a "chaotic" vote that resulted in approval of legislation to permit discrimination of LGBT federal workers and left many lawmakers openly booing and yelling "Shame!"

The European Union released a statement that condemned anti-LGBTI legislation in US states and declared that these laws violate international human rights laws

In the UK, Hannah Blythyn was elected to the Welsh Assembly, the first openly gay official to office. And in the Philippines, Geraldine Roman was elected to Congress, the first openly trans person elected to office. 

The Politics of Union:  A new survey in Mexico found that a majority of people believe in marriage equality—whereby same sex couples are permitted to marry and receive equal protections under the law.

The Italian Parliament voted to approve same-sex civil unions, although they stopped short of extending adoption rights to couples. 

Let the Courts Decide: The US state of North Carolina kicked off a round of lawsuits by suing the federal government over transgender rights. The Justice Department countersued declaring that the state law violates federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. Days later the Obama administration released federal guidelines clarifying that transgender rights are protected within the Title IX Education Act. In response, 11 states have sued the government to stop the expansion of transgender student rights. 

The Australian state Queensland has drafted an amendment to strike the 'Homosexual Advance Defence' —or 'gay panic defence' through which one claims temporary insanity caused by a homosexual sexual advance—from the criminal code.

Fear and Loathing: In Syria another man accused of homosexuality was executed—thrown from a building and stoned to death while residents, including small children, stood witness. Days later a 15 year old boy was also accused of homosexuality and stoned to death.
 
In the US state of Idaho a man was brutally beaten after responding to an online gay escort ad. The victim reported the attack and later died at the hospital. In Pakistan trans activist Alisha was taken to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, however disagreement over which ward she should be admitted to delayed care and Alisha passed away

Nigerian police arrested six men suspected of homosexuality and released their names and addresses to the media. The charge carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.  And Canadian police are investigating the arson of the country's main gender affirmation surgery clinic as a hate crime. 

From the Philippines author Laurel Fantauzzo described the daily struggle and fear she faces when deciding whether to be public about her homosexuality

In the Name of Religion: The Coalition for the Family, an organization of the Romanian Orthodox Church, says it has collected 3 million signatures to block same-sex unions.  

Protesting the United Methodist Church policy that bans LGBT people from serving in the church, over 100 clergy released a statement 'coming out' as LGBT and over 5,000 signed a petition calling for reforms. 

The South African Anglican Church revoked the license of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's daughter the Reverend Mpho Tutu-Van Furth due to her recent marriage to her wife—Professor Marceline Van Furth. She will retain the ability to practice within the US Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile the Church of Scotland's general assembly voted to allow ministers to enter into marriage with their same-sex partners.

In an interview the Pope said that Catholic government officials should have the 'freedom of conscience' to discriminate against same-sex marriages. And in Australia the Catholic Church has refused to revise a booklet for school children titled 'Don't mess with marriage' that—according to complaints—contains 'insulting, offensive, and humiliating' language towards gay people. 

Winds of Change: The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) released its latest edition of the Rainbow Index, a multifactor evaluation of the best and worst places to be gay in Europe. Since last year's Index, Malta and Belgium overtook the UK for the best ranking—with Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan retaining the lowest ranking.

The East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative released several new reports on the situation faced by LGBT and sex workers in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.

The Human Dignity Trust published a new report with specific focus on the impact of criminalization of lesbian and bisexual women around the world. And the Harvard Kennedy School published the 6th edition of LGBTQ Policy Journal with a focus on global and local policy issues affecting trans people.

South African LGBTI community members gathered in the Limpopo province to protest recent hate crimes and violence. In Uganda the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum held a workshop to educate LGBTI and sex worker organizations about taking advantage of the protections afforded in the new 'NGO Act 2016'.

Led by the efforts of Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology Hiroshi Hase, local LGBT activists are hoping that hosting the 2020 Olympic games will put a spotlight on LGBT rights issues in the country. 

From Kyrgyzstan, journalist Andrew North explores how the country's ties with Russia influenced a rising tide of homophobic violence.

And from Australia, bloggers express the frustration over the biphobia faced by many bisexuals even during events like International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). 

On the March: Author Mark Gevisser explored the highly nuanced and dangerous situation of gay Ugandans seeking asylum in Kenya, where help from foreigners can be a double-edged sword. 

Daughter of president Raúl Castro, MP Mariela Castro led Cuba's largest ever Pride event marching through Havana. In Brazil hundreds of thousands marched in possibly the world's largest Pride parade ever. And in South Africa around 500 people marched through Langa, Cape Town for 'Khumbulani Pride'khumbulani meaning 'remember' in Xhosa—to honor LGBTI people who have lost their lives to violence.  

In Lebanon activists supporting the LGBT community protested for the first time in 4 years. They staged a sit-in outside the morality police headquarters, called for an end to criminalization of 'relations against nature' and demanded the release of 4 trans women.

School Days: Echoing the themes of UNESCO's global report on violence against LGBT students, Human Rights Watch released a new report on the 'epidemic' levels of LGBT bullying in Japanese schools. 

In Australia, documentary film producers of banned film Gayby Baby distributed a tool-kit to encourage inclusive classrooms and support diverse families. 

Students in the UK are petitioning for housing exclusive to LGBT students to end 'victimisation' from straight roommates. 

In the US, where trans student rights have become a divisive issue, a federally funded school in Wisconsin told parents they will discipline or expel gay and trans students for 'an outwardly sinful lifestyle'. Meanwhile in China two male college students went viral and risked expulsion by declaring their love in a public demonstration on campus

Business and Technology: Openly gay Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss Apple's expansion in the country—a move that had some calling attention to India's ongoing criminalization of homosexuality.

Heralded video game 'Fragments of Him' —a game about coping with death told through the sudden passing of a bisexual man—is now available to the public. 

YouTube bowed to Kenyan censors by adding a warning to 'Same Love,' a music video supporting equality that the Kenyan board claimed 'promotes' homosexuality.  Meanwhile, the Union des étudiants juifs de France—Union of French Jewish Students—announced plans for legal action against YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook over hate speech and bullying, accusing the social media sites for taking more action against female nudity than racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or violence inciting speech.

And from China LGBTI activist Xiaogang Wei has run webcast 'Queer Comrades' for nearly a decade, giving a voice to the local queer community despite stringent Chinese censors. 

Sports and Culture:  In the US the National Football League upheld its promise to keep the Superbowl in states without anti-LGBT legislation through 2021—the announcement included awarding the 2019 event to Georgia following the governor's veto of a local 'religious liberty' bill. 

South Africa's first gay rugby club is recruiting new members with a provocative campaign that pairs homophobic slurs with pictures of players defying stereotypes. 

From Europe author Fiona Zublin highlights the expanding segment of YA fiction featuring intersex protagonists

In China the Dutch embassy hosted China's 'First LGBT Stamp Design Competition'. Traditional paper-cut artist Xiyadie won with his stamps honoring 'peace, harmony, and happiness to LGBT people everywhere.'

Check out this video by the Asian Pride Project showcasing LGBT Muslims and their allies, family, and friends. And this short video from Egypt explains how LGBTQ+ people are targeted by officials and victimized by local legislation.

And finally, you can check out and vote now for Bangladeshi artist Gazi Nafis Ahmed—shortlisted for the Prix Levallois Award for his “Inner Face” photographic series, addressing human rights of LGBT community in Bangladesh.
 
Jensen Byrne
“There was a time in our history when we turned thousands of ordinary young men into criminals. And it was profoundly and unimaginably wrong."
~ Victorian State Premier, Daniel Andrews MP in a formal apology to Australians convicted of homosexuality
Continue for excerpts from the articles
Why We Fight: LGBTI people from 21 countries around the world explain why they fight for equality
For International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), the United Nations asked LGBTI people around the world to film a short clip of why they fight and why they stay strong.

Some, like India and Lebanon, are fighting for decriminalization. But for many more from Japan to Jamaica, the UK to United States, many said they are fighting for love, for acceptance and for people to be themselves. Read more via Gay Star News
IDAHOT 2016: Media Statement
Once again this year, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia truly deserves its title of a "Global Celebration of Sexual and Gender Identities". Beyond the rather narrow notions of "Homo", "Trans", "Bi"; the day offers a fantastic display of diversity, which mirrors the many facets of human sexualities and gender identities and expressions.

All over the world, advocates and their allies are fighting for what matters most to them: the right to be free from criminalisation, persecution, stigmatisation. Sometimes the right simply to live, as in many countries people have to fear for their lives.

This year specifically, we are seeing the "fault-line" deepening between places where activism is increasing and those where it is repression that is on the rise. Read about this year's activities via IDAHOT
UNAIDS Caribbean: All human beings are born free and equal
Excerpt of statement by Dr. César Núñez, UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean Regional Support Team Director:
[IDAHOT] comes at a critical time for Latin America and the Caribbean. This year the world started its 15-year journey toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with their emphasis on dignity, equality and security for all. Yet recent events in the region demonstrate that entire communities remain degraded, discriminated against and excluded.

[...]Here’s an idea of the fallout. According to UNESCO almost half of LGBT students in Latin America do not finish secondary school. Global AIDS Response Progress Report data show that in some countries HIV rates among men who have sex with men and transgender women are as much as twenty times the national average.  Globally, there were more than 1300 reported killings of transgender people between 2008 and 2013. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights notes that four of every five such murders occurred in this region.

Discrimination increases the vulnerability of entire communities by driving them away from life-saving services like health. Our words, actions and attitudes really do hurt. We have learned over the last three decades that HIV is not just about sex. Social exclusion, gender-based violence, poverty, unemployment and unmet health needs are among the contributing factors.
Read his full statement via UNAIDS Caribbean
UNAIDS Executive Director's Message on IDAHOT 2016
The key pillar of the Sustainable Development Goals is ensuring that no one is left behind. But LGBT people continue to face challenges in many parts of the world. Embrace diversity on this day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Learn & watch more via UNAIDS
"Pathologization – Being lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans is not an illness" 
Speaking ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May, a group of United Nations and international human rights experts* call for an urgent end to the pathologization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) adults and children.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, a group of UN human rights experts, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’  Rights and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe urge Governments worldwide to reform medical classifications and to adopt measures to prevent all forms of forced treatments and procedures on LGBT persons....

Pathologizing and stigmatizing medical classifications relating to gender identity and expression are used to justify subjecting trans people, even at young ages, to forced or coercive sterilization, hormone therapy, surgeries, and psychiatric evaluations, and in other ways abusively conditioning their human rights. Read more via OHCHR
UNESCO: Report shows homophobic and transphobic violence in education to be a global problem
In some countries, 85% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students experience homophobic and transphobic violence in school, 45 % of transgender students drop out. Homophobic violence also targets 33% of students who are wrongly perceived to be LGBT because they do not appear to conform to gender norms.

These are the findings from Out In The Open, a global report on education sector responses to violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Compiled by UNESCO, the report reveals the nature, scope and impact of the violence, the status of education sector responses and recommendations for the way forward. Read more via UNESCO
World Bank: To fight poverty, we need to fight homophobia and transphobia
Due to persistent stigmatization and discrimination, LGBTI people are likely overrepresented among the poor. When people are left behind – including due to sexual orientation or gender identity – everyone misses out on their skills and productivity

As part of its commitment to social inclusion and shared prosperity, the World Bank is scaling up efforts to make sure LGBTI people can be fully integrated into development. Because of its consequences on the lives and poverty levels of an entire group, but also due to its adverse impacts on economies and societies at large, LGBTI exclusion is very much a development issue.

“Eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity requires coordinated action by all segments of society to eradicate the root causes of exclusion. The exclusion that affects indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, LGBTI people, and other marginalized groups,” said Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director for the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice. “We will not be able to achieve our mission of fighting poverty and boosting shared prosperity unless everyone can participate in the development process and reap the benefits of economic growth.” Read more via World Bank
A community guide to the Global Fund’s strategy in relation to sexual orientation and gender identities 
This week, we are releasing our third community guide on the Global Fund. The Community Guide to the Global Fund’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities (SOGI) Strategy has important human rights components that are essential for an effective response to HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, at all levels.

This community guide is a basic overview of the Global Fund’s SOGI Strategy. 
 
In this guide you will find: 1) What is sexual orientation and gender identity? 2) Some fast facts on how HIV/AIDS  disproportionately impacts sexual minorities 3) Four strategic actions that the Global Fund takes to ensure grants meet the needs of SOGI communities Read more via Global Fund
UN Committee against Torture  to reprimand Nepal, UK over IGM Practices
This week it's the turn of the UK to be questioned over Intersex Genital Mutilations at the 72nd Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). UN-CRC recognises IGM as a 'harmful practice' (like FGM) and as'violence against children', has recently reprimanded Ireland,FranceChile and Switzerland, and only last week questioned Nepal over IGM practices.

UK government bodies, while admitting to the harm done by IGM practices, are quick to actively shield IGM perpetrators from human rights criticism by simply declaring the ongoing practice in the UK a thing of the past:

“Until recently [intersex people] would usually undergo genital surgery at a young age to given them characteristics which are clearly either male or female. Medical professionals are now more likely to advise waiting until the child is older and able to provide informed consent to surgery, because of the implications surgery can have on future health and function.” - House of Commons, Women and Equalities Committee (2016).

On the other hand, the “Society for Endocrinology UK guidance on the initial evaluation of an infant or an adolescent with a suspected disorder of sex development (Revised 2015)” generally advocates early unnecessary surgeries as legitimate, framing the human rights issues involved as mere “controversies”: Read more via STOP IGM
Tunisia: UN Panel Condemns Forced Anal Exams
The United Nations Committee Against Torture, in its most recent evaluation of Tunisia, condemned the use of forced anal examinations as an attempt to find “proof” against people accused of homosexual conduct. Tunisia should uphold its commitments as a state party to the Convention Against Torture and ban the use of forced anal examinations.

The committee released its “Concluding Observations,” based on an assessment of the Tunisian government’s report on its efforts to combat torture and the reports of non-governmental organizations that work on issues related to torture in Tunisia, including Human Rights Watch. They call on Tunisia to revoke article 230 of its penal code, which criminalizes sodomy, and to prohibit the invasive medical examinations, “which have no medical justification and cannot be consented to freely.”

The UN committee voiced concern that “persons suspected of being homosexual are forced to undergo an anal examination, ordered by a judge and carried out by a forensic doctor, intended to prove their homosexuality.” The committee noted that while suspects can in theory refuse to undergo the exams, many consent only “under threat from the police, who argue…that refusing consent will be interpreted as a sign of guilt.” Read more via HRW
States block gay groups from UNAIDS meeting 
A group of 51 states has blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from attending a high-level meeting at the UN on ending AIDS, sparking a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member General Assembly on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the 11 groups. It did not give a reason in the letter, which Reuters saw. Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft and said the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.

"Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic," Power wrote. Read more via Reuters
UNAIDS calls for inclusion and full participation of civil society organizations at the 2016 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS
From 8 to 10 June 2016, world leaders, government representatives, HIV programme implementers and civil society organizations from across the world will gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America, to chart the way forward to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is crucial that the voices and perspectives of individuals and organizations be heard at this United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, including the voices of people living with HIV and people most affected by the epidemic, including women and girls, sex workers, people who use drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men and transgender people. Nongovernmental organizations working on the ground to ensure that no one is left behind must have the opportunity to contribute to this important forum. Read more via UNAIDS
Getting HIV prevention and care to men who have sex with men in sub-Saharan Africa
New report examines HIV interventions in four countries where homosexuality remains illegal.

ISHTAR Wellness CentreCommunity-led HIV prevention and care initiatives for men who have sex with men (MSM) in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have been examined in a new report by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The research offers key tips for practical success when implementing sexual health and rights programmes in the region.

The report assesses the Men’s Sexual Health and Rights Programme (SHARP), a three-year initiative coordinated by International HIV/AIDS Alliance and funded by the Danish Department for International Development (DANIDA). It is one of very few appraisals of HIV interventions for MSM in sub-Saharan African, where the intensely hostile environment for gay men has led not only to difficulties in providing HIV services but also in researching what works and why.

The researchers looked in detail at 37 interventions delivered by MSM-led community-based organisations (CBOs).  These range from mobile clinical outreach to social networking and from community building to documenting and responding to human rights abuses. Key findings include...Read more via London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine 
Working with MSM in hostile environments
A new resource working with men who have sex with men in hostile environments has been launched today on IDAHOT 2016.
  
The web area is a learning resource, packed full of videos, infographics and case studies and highlights some of  the impressive work of our partners in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. We are extraordinarily proud of the activists and programme staff in the CBOs who are brave, smart and savvy and have found ways to keep operating and make traction in places that are so difficult to be MSM.
 
Thanks to their amazing leadership and hard work SHARP exceeded its original target by 80% and reached nearly 15,000 MSM. To continue improving the health and lives of MSM we’ve captured our learning, which is aimed at programme and technical staff. We've put this into one, comprehensive online resource at www.aidsalliance.org/MSM-sexualhealth
 
We hope that this site helps to convey the impact and importance of communities in responding to HIV and ensuring dignity and human rights for all. Read more via International HIV/AIDS Alliance
Pre-exposure prophylaxis 'in the wild' around the globe
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been approved only in the U.S. and a handful of other countries, but people at risk of contracting HIV elsewhere in the world have nevertheless found ways to get the only available PrEP drug, Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) or its generic equivalents. In a recent webinar sponsored by several HIV organizations, activists and researchers spoke about PrEP access in various parts of the world, challenges to approval and to actual use of the medication, and advocacy efforts underway.

The webinar was entitled "PrEP in the Wild", which is also the title of a global survey that includes sections for those using Truvada informally, medical providers who manage such patients and people who unsuccessfully tried to get the drug through unofficial channels, webinar host Jim Pickett said. He asked that the survey be widely circulated in order to gather sufficient data on the informal use of PrEP. Read more via the Body
UK: NHS will not fund anti-HIV Prep drug plan
NHS England has reiterated it will not fund a "game-changer" drug treatment that can prevent HIV, angering HIV charities which had been campaigning to reverse the decision.

Ian Green, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "Today is a shameful day for HIV prevention: "This country used to lead the way in the fight against the HIV epidemic, but today, our national health service has washed its hands of one of the most stunning breakthroughs we've seen - a pill which, if taken correctly, is almost 100% effective in preventing HIV. A pill which is already available in America, Canada, France, Kenya and soon to be Australia." Read more via BBC
Philippines not doing enough to curb HIV epidemic, says HRW
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the country is not doing enough to address the epidemic, even as the Philippines launched the world's first AIDS hour on May 14, Saturday, in observance of the 33rd International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM),

In May 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the country has the fastest growing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in the world. The Department of Health (DOH) estimated in November 2015 that HIV cases in the Philippines may reach 133,000 by 2022.

While raising awareness is key in helping solve the problem, HRW said DOH should be targeting critical groups: "By omitting HIV prevention measures for men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSMs) and people who inject drugs (PWIDs), the AIDS Hour is the government’s latest missed opportunity to educate and assist people at highest risk of contracting the virus," HRW said in a statement. Read more via the Rappler
New Zealand: High level of HIV diagnoses persists in 2015
224 people were diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand in 2015 - a similarly high figure to last year - according to data released today by the AIDS Epidemiology Group based at the Department of Preventive and SocialMedicine at the University of Otago.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) were the largest group affected. Of all those diagnosed 153 (68%) were MSM and 42 (19%) were heterosexually infected men and women. "Of particular concern is that the number of MSM diagnosed and infected in New Zealand continues at the high rate seen in 2014," says AIDS Epidemiology Group Director Associate Professor Nigel Dickson.

"While the number diagnosed each year will not necessarily reflect the number newly infected, for the past two years there has been a higher number of MSM being diagnosed with evidence of a relatively newly acquired infection, suggesting an increase in recent incidence in this group. Read more via Voxy
Europe: Syphilis rates in men surging across Europe with 50% increase in UK, France and Germany
Syphilis rates are on the rise in Europe, particularly among men, scientists have warned. A European report reveals that between 2005 and 2014, a total of 208 134 cases of syphilis were reported in the 29 countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

In some European countries, including the UK, France and Germany, there was more than a 50% increase in syphilis cases between 2010 and 2014. In 2014 alone, the data suggests that the number of cases diagnosed reached 24,541 in 2014. The rate of syphilis now stands at 5.1 per 100,000 population.

However, the annual epidemiological report published by the ECDC points out there are great variations between population groups and countries. The highest rate was, for example, observed in Malta (11.5 per 100,000 population), followed by Lithuania (8.7), Iceland (7.7) and Spain (7.7). Other figures indicate that men are the most affected by the sexually-transmitted disease − men who have sex with men (MSM) in particular. Reported syphilis rates were six times higher in men than in women. MSM accounted for almost two-thirds (63%) of the syphilis cases, with information on the transmission category described in the report. Read more via International Business Times
Australia: First peer-led trans and gender diverse health service launched
AUSTRALIA’S first peer-led trans and gender diverse health service was launched in Melbourne to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Equinox was created by the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and will offer the trans and gender diverse community general medical care, mental health checks, a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) clinic, support for trans people living with HIV, and sex work checkups.

Advisory group member Margot Fink spoke at the launch, highlighting the importance of trans-inclusive health services: “Sometimes accessing medical care isn’t always the most comfortable thing for trans people,” she said. “Many doctors might not have knowingly had trans patients before, and they might not have the experience to support us properly. Even worse, some doctors are openly transphobic.” Read more via Star Observer
US: The hidden health costs for bisexuals
When Vanessa Schick asks certain subjects in her studies if they’re sexually attracted to both men and women, they often tell her yes. But ask them if they’re bisexual and the answer isn’t always the same. Bottom line, there are countless shades of identity on the spectrum between totally straight and totally gay — if either thing even exists, which is debatable. But many say they specifically don’t want to identify as bisexual because of stigma. You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about bi people: They’re hypersexual, they can’t stay monogamous, they transmit sexually transmitted infections between straight and gay populations.

That type of thinking, called internalized biphobia, means that even bisexuals often have negative stereotypes about themselves. Rice University sociology professor Bridget Gorman and her team were some of the first to look at extant data from the Institute of Medicine on race, gender and sexuality as well as health and class, and to tease out how gay Americans and bisexual Americans differ — statistically speaking. Turns out, it’s a significant difference. Bisexuals are more likely to be smokers, less likely to go to the doctor and more likely to be poor. Nearly 20 percent say they’re in poor or fair health, while it’s about half that for people who identify as gay or lesbian. “In bisexual adults we saw a lot of evidence of health risk, of factors that are factors of poor health,” Gorman says. Read more via Ozy
Denmark to no longer classify transgender individuals as mentally ill
Denmark is set to become the first country to no longer define being transgender as a mental illness. Government officials said classifying transgender people as mentally ill was “stigmatising” and they had “run out of patience” with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) work on the definition. 

Being transgender is officially considered a mental or behavioural disorder by the WHO, although the organisation is currently assessing its guidance.  Changes by the WHO are characteristically slow, and the Danish government will now aim to push ahead with the move on 1 January 2017.  

“At the moment, transgender is listed as a mental illness or behavioural problem,” Social Democrat health spokesman Flemming Moller Mortensen told Danish news agency Ritzau. “That is incredibly stigmatising and in no way reflects how we see transgender people in Denmark. It should be a neutral diagnosis.” 

He added: "The WHO is currently working on a new system for registering diagnoses. It has been working on it for a very, very long time. Now we’ve run out of patience, and want to send out a signal saying that if the system is not changed by October, then we in Denmark will go it alone.” Read more via Independent
Germany to quash historic convictions of gay men, pay compensation - minister
More than 50,000 men who were found guilty of homosexual acts in Germany will have their criminal records expunged and will be eligible for compensation through a central fund. The men were convicted between 1946 and 1969 under the Paragraph 175 law which was introduced in 1872 and was tightened by the Nazis during their time controlling Germany. Homosexuality was decriminalised in Germany in 1969.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas revealed the plans to annul the men’s criminal records in a statement say the government wanted to make amends for its history.
“We will never be able to remove these outrages committed by this country but we want to rehabilitate the victims,” he said.

“The convicted homosexual men should no longer have to live with the black mark of a criminal conviction. Read more via Star Observer

Australia: Victoria to become first government to apologise for gay convictions

Premier Daniel Andrews has apologised for ‘abominable’ historical laws that made homosexuality punishable with jail.

Before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1981, men could be sentenced for up to 15 years in prison for having consensual sex with other men. In September the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, introduced legal reforms to help those affected by the old laws to expunge their criminal convictions. 

The scheme applies to past sexual and public morality offences such as buggery, gross indecency with a male and offensive behaviour that once criminalised consensual homosexuality. Read his full speech here
Seychelles: Parliament passes bill to decriminalize sodomy 
Seychelles' National Assembly has passed an amendment to the penal code that decriminalizes the act of sodomy. Out of 28 members present for the vote, 14 voted in favour while the other half abstained. Four members were not present for the vote.

The proposal was first made by President James Michel in his State of the Nation address. Island church leaders were against the proposal but said God's love applies to everyone. A leader from the gay and lesbian community said she appreciated the fact that no members of parliament voted against it.  

A representative from the ruling Parti Lepep - which holds 31 seats in parliament -- said that politicians need to fight for equality, including that of sexual preference. Read more via Seychelles News Agency

Nauru, one of the smallest countries in the world, decriminalizes gay sex
The tiny island nation of just 9,000 people in the Central Pacific, has updated its antiquated criminal code to bring it up to international human rights standards.
Previously, those prosecuted of homosexuality could be jailed for up to 14 years.

The outdated criminal code, which dated back to 1899, was based on old Queensland laws. Other laws changed include decriminalizing suicide, outlawing slavery and forced child labor, and broadening the definition of rape to include in married couples. Read more via Gay Star News
 
UK: will give 9% of its £10 million human rights fund to aid LGBTIs around the world
The UK will be giving 9% of its £10.6 million human rights fund to aid LGBTI people around the world. Foreign and commonwealth minister Baroness Joyce Anelay announced that approximately £900,000 ($1.3 million, €1.1 million) of the Magna Carta fund will go towards LGBTI causes across the globe.

In a statement, Baroness Anelay said: ”I am proud that the UK continues to be a leading voice in global efforts to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. Each of our Ambassadors, High Commissioners – and indeed all British diplomats – work as envoys on this issue.
‘The British Government firmly believes that human rights are universal and should apply equally to all people, as enshrined in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Magna Carta fund is aiming to encourage ‘democratic values and the rule of law, strengthening the rules-based international order, and human rights for a stable world’. Read more via Gay Star News
European Union says US states are ‘breaking human rights treaty’ with anti-LGBT laws
The European Union has warned that North Carolina and Mississippi are violating a human rights treaty with anti-LGBT legislation. The two states have attracted scrutiny for passing laws rolling back vital LGBT anti-discrimination protections, ostensibly with the goal of stopping trans women from using men’s bathrooms.

But the over-reaching laws have led to condemnation from across the world, with the UK government updating its own travel advice to warn LGBT people they may face discriminatory treatment in the states.

A spokesperson for the EU said: “The recently adopted laws including in the states of Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee, which discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in the United States contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the US is a State party, and which states that the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection. Read more via Pink News
US: Obama’s latest evolution is trans rights
The Obama administration is taking monumental strides in favor of transgender rights that may seem unprecedented, but trans advocates have differing takes on whether these developments represent a change since the start of President Obama’s tenure in the White House.

The new initiatives, unveiled last week, began with a lawsuit filed by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch against NC’s House Bill 2.  At the end of the week, the Departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance informing schools discrimination against transgender students, including in bathroom use, constitutes a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which could result in a loss of federal funds for the state.

Finally, the Department of Health & Human Services announced it had made final a rule prohibiting anti-trans discrimination in health care and insurance. The rule requires insurance plans to cover transition-related medications, gender reassignment surgeries and other treatments for transgender people if these plans cover similar services to non-transgender people with other medical conditions. Read more via Washington Blade
US: Yesterday’s GOP Switcheroo on LGBT Equality Was More Heinous Than We Thought
Chaos erupted on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives after 7 Republicans switched their votes from “yea” to “nay” on an amendment that would have protected LGBT workers from discrimination.

The amendment was introduced by openly gay Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) who went into the vote with enough support to pass the amendment. However, at the last minute, Republican leadership began strong-arming members to switch their votes. After the amendment was defeated by only one vote, Democratic lawmakers chanted “shame!” at Republicans. Read more via Towleroad
Canada: Human Rights Bill to protect transgender Canadians unveiled by Liberals
Transgender Canadians and human-rights champions cheered as the Liberal government introduced legislation that would make it against the law to discriminate on the basis of gender identity or expression. The legislation would, if passed, make it illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act to prevent someone from getting a job or to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of the gender they identify with or outwardly express.

It would also update the Criminal Code to extend hate speech laws to include gender identity and expression. Criminal laws would also be updated to make it a hate crime when someone is targeted because of their gender identity or gender expression, meaning judges would have to consider it as an aggravating factor in deciding what sentence to impose.

"We live in a time when discrimination in any form is completely unacceptable," Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told a news conference Tuesday after introducing the bill. Read more via Huffington Post
Bolivia: Approves progressive law recognizing transgender rights
The Bolivian Congress approved a law that will grant transgender people the right to change their name, their gender, and their photo in their government documentation in order to reflect the gender they identify with. 

Alex Bernabe, an LGBT activist from the city of Santa Cruz, welcomed the news as a step forward for human rights: “This progress is important because we have fought for many years so that our rights to identity would be recognized,” Bernabe told ANF.

David Aruquipa, another LGBT activist who witnessed the debate in the Senate, told AFP that “justice had been done for a population who had been historically excluded.” Read more via Telesur
Norway: Allows ‘one click’ sex changes, govt will decide on kids’ gender if parents disagree
As the commander of a Cold War submarine tracking the Soviets, John Jeanette’s dresses were stashed away in a locker reserved for top-secret documents. Soon, this former Norwegian navy captain will be recognised as a woman born in a man’s body.

Under a proposed new bill hailed by activists as one of the most liberal in the world, people who want to change gender in Norway would no longer be required to undergo any physical transformation.

No more humiliating psychiatric exams, no lengthy hormone treatments and invasive surgeries resulting in irreversible sterilisations that have been the practice for a legal gender change in Norway since the 1970s. All you would have to do is notify authorities — a click on a website would suffice — to change your legal gender if the bill becomes law. Read more via Breitbart
Portugal: Lawmakers extend pregnancy rights to gay women
Gay women will soon have access to artificial insemination in Portugal after the country's Parliament approved legal changes widening access to the procedure.

Lawmakers voted to change the law on artificial insemination, which previously was restricted to heterosexuals who were married or living together for more than two years. The changes also brought legal recognition for surrogacy, but only for women with health problems preventing pregnancy. The measures are due to come into force within weeks.

The changes were largely welcomed by gay rights groups and came after left-of-center parties achieved a parliamentary majority following elections at the end of last year. Those parties also recently passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt children and removing some abortion restrictions. Read more via ABC news
UK: First ever openly LGBT members elected to Welsh Assembly
On the premise of better late than never, the Welsh Assembly has elected its first ever openly LGBT politicians. Labour candidate Hannah Blythyn won a seat for the Delyn constituency with 9480 votes, giving her a majority of 3582, while Jeremy Miles won the Neath constituency.

Hannah, a former LGBT Labour co-chair, tweeted: “Thank you to all those who have put their faith in me – it will be a privilege to serve you as your assembly member.” She has previously described how lesbians in the workplace face a “double glazed glass ceiling”. Read more via Gay Times
Philippines: First out transgender person to public office
Geraldine Roman celebrated overcoming "bigotry, hatred and discrimination" as results showed she had become the first transgender politician to win a congressional seat in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

After her victory, Roman, 49, is being seen by the LGBT community as a source of hope in a country where Church influence means divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage are banned.

"The politics of bigotry, hatred and discrimination did not triumph. What triumphed was the politics of love, acceptance and respect," Roman told AFP after her victory for a seat in Congress representing the farming province of Bataan just northwest of Manila. Read more via DNA
Italy legalizes same-sex civil unions
After decades of struggle by gay rights groups, and months of contested political negotiations, the Italian Parliament gave final approval to a law recognizing civil unions of same-sex couples.

The vote — 372 to 51, with 99 abstentions — was followed by long applause in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament. At the Trevi Fountain in Rome, people with rainbow flags gathered to celebrate.

It was a historic occasion for a nation that is still dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, which opposed the measure, and where traditional family norms are still strong. It was also a victory for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who supported the bill. Read more via New York Times
Mexico: 65% of Mexicans support marriage equality 
65% of Mexicans agree with "approving marriage of persons of the same sex at the national level," a new BGC-Excélsior poll has found. 34% disagree.

66% agree or agree in part with changing the federal constitution to permit at the national level that persons of the same sex or different sex can establish a legal union to live together with rights and obligations under the law, such as inheritance, joint property and procreation and education of children.

55% said same-sex marriage should be legalized with equal rights to marriage between a man and woman. 18% said same-sex marriage should be legalized but with fewer rights than marriage between a man and woman. 25% said it should not be legalized under any circumstance. Read more via Excelsior
Australia: Queensland moves to strike 'gay panic' Homosexual Advance Defence
Queensland is finally moving to strike the 'gay panic' defence from its books, making it one of the last jurisdictions to do so. The Homosexual Advance Defence, known as HAD or gay panic, has been on Australian law books since the 1990s, as a provocation defence.

Because of the mandatory sentencing which accompanies murder charges, provocation is an important defence. Under the Queensland law, which was changed under the Newman government to ensure that words alone did not count to provocation, "unless exceptional circumstances exist", an accused could claim they had experienced temporary insanity after being overwhelmed by a homosexual advance. Read more via Brisbane Times
US: Department Of Justice and North Carolina sue each other over anti-LGBT law
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, facing a Department of Justice deadline to decide if his state would not comply with an anti-LGBT “bathroom law,” defiantly sued the federal agency on Monday — and hours later the DOJ responded with its own suit against the state.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the law — which was passed in March and bans transgender people access to restrooms that match their gender identity in government buildings and schools — violates federal civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex.

The law — known as HB2 — “created state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals, who simply seek to engage in the most private of functions in a place of safety and security – a right taken for granted by most of us,” Lynch said at a news conference. Read more via Buzzfeed
US: Eleven states sue federal government to keep trans kids out of school bathrooms
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton launched a lawsuit against the federal government on Wednesday, suing to block the Obama administration’s recent trans rights directive. The directive urged public schools to let trans students use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, affirming the Department of Education’s interpretation of existing federal law to bar anti-trans discrimination. Any schools that violate the directive risk losing federal education funding.

Ten other states joined Texas’ suit, which named the Education, Labor, and Justice Departments—as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—as defendants. The states have asked a federal court to declare the directive invalid and block it permanently. They allege that the directive erroneously interprets federal law—and that it violates the 10th Amendment, the 14th Amendment, and state sovereign immunity.

If recent history is any guide, the federal government will vehemently defend its directive in response to Texas’ attack.  Read more via Slate
Syria: Small kids made to look on as ISIS throws ‘gay’ man off building and stone him to death
New photos have emerged of young children and families looking on as a man accused of being gay is brutally killed by Daesh militants. According to local reports, the man was sentenced to death by stoning, and was thrown off the building, accused of “sodomy”.

Local activist Nasser Taljbini said: “The barbaric execution took place in front of hundreds of people.”  The young man was taken by the masked militants to the top of the building and threw him blindfolded said an eyewitness. Warning graphic images Read more via Pink News

Syria: Islamic State executes Syrian teenager on charges of homosexuality
Extremists of the Islamic State (ISIS) stoned to death a teenage boy in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province on charges of being gay, activists and eyewitnesses reported. 

Jamal Nassir al-Oujan, 15, was arrested by the ISIS-led Islamic Police in the Mayadin city of Deir ez-Zor province earlier on Sunday. The Sharia Court accused him of sodomy and decided to stone the boy to death. 

“Some civilians were forced to participate in stoning the victim,” an eyewitness said. “The brutal scene has shocked all residents of Mayadin.” Read more via ARA News
Nigeria: Police arrests six suspected homosexuals in Edo State 
Nigerian police have arrested six men for the ‘crime’ of having gay sex. Musa Daura, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, boasted to media about the arrest of the ‘gang’. They had been caught by anti-vice officials in Benin City, the Edo state capital.

He claims the six men, all in the young 20s, had ‘confessed’ to committing the ‘crime of homosexuality’ since 2006. Read more via Gay Star News
US: Idaho gay man brutally beaten to death after answering online escort ad
Steven Nelson answered an gay escort ad online and it cost him his life. The Idaho man was brutally beaten – including being kicked 30 times by a man with steel-toed boots as he begged for his life – and left for dead.

Nelson, 49, was stripped naked in 30 degree weather, robbed and his car was stolen. He managed to make it to a nearby house to get help but later died in the hospital. But Nelson survived long enough to provide police with key details of the attack. Four men have been arrested in the attack including Kelly Schneider who was allegedly the man in the ad and the ringleader.

Nelson was an openly gay man who managed a call center Boise State University and in 2014 appeared in a gay marriage documentary called Little Blue Dots. Read more via Gay Star News
Pakistan: Trans activist who died after being shot was humiliated in the hospital 
A Pakistani transgender activist who’d been shot several times died after a Peshawar hospital delayed treatment because of disagreement over placing her in a male or female ward, according to activists who brought her in.

The woman — identified only as Alisha — received multiple gunshot wounds during an altercation on Sunday evening and was taken to the city’s Lady Reading Hospital.
After arriving at hospital, activists said the medical staff kept her waiting for several hours, as they could not decide whether to put her in a male or female ward, the Express Tribune reported. 

Despite several requests to move her to a female ward, Alisha was eventually moved between male and female wards, according to reports, which sparked a protest on Trans Action Alliance (TAA) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Facebook page. Read more via Buzzfeed
Philippines: Yes, taxi driver— I'm a t-bird
One morning this past December, a Filipina woman hailed a cab in a popular city where call center agents work for companies like Dell and IBM. Her cab driver declared a robbery. Then he shot her in the face. OK, that’s rare, I tell myself. But then a few weeks later, a woman from the U.K. took a cab from Malate to Makati — another popular route, where most foreigners in the Philippines live and work and play. The cab driver shot her in the face too.

Now, whenever I get into a cab, I tweet the identification of the taxi so my whereabouts will always be public, just in case. My Twitter feed reads like a series of secret codes: W Africa UVU 388, Lady Ella Txm 952.

Traffic stops for a full five minutes. The driver turns all the way around to look at me. He could be 20 or 40, in the ageless, exhausted way of Manila’s working poor. He turns back to face the windshield and asks another one-word question. “T-Bird?”

T-Bird is an old-fashioned slang word. It means lesbian.

The driver suddenly confronts me with the choice I face daily: Come out, and risk the dangers of the Catholic country? Or lie, applying needless shame to my truth? Read more via Ozy
Canada: Police are treating an arson as a hate crime
A fire intentionally set at Canada's main gender affirmation surgery clinic is being considered by local police as a hate crime: "We're not saying it's not a hate crime, so we're going to treat it as a hate crime until [and if] the investigation proves otherwise," Const. Abdullah Emran of the Montreal police service confirmed late Tuesday night.

The Centre Métropolitain de Chirurgie — a clinic in Montreal's Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough that specializes in plastic and bariatric surgery — was the target of an alleged arsonist.

The trans community says the clinic is the only one in the entire country that accepts government health insurance, meaning its temporary loss is a significant blow for the growing waiting list of transgender Canadians looking to undergo the complicated surgery. Read more via Vice News
Romanian groups push for same-sex marriage ban
Romanian campaigners said they had collected three million signatures on a petition to block same-sex unions in the EU member state. Several groups linked to the Orthodox Church and united under the umbrella Coalition for Family are seeking a constitutional amendment to narrowly define marriage as the "union between a man and a woman".

It is the second such move in Europe this month after a group of mostly right-wing Italian politicians said they will push for a referendum to overturn the introduction of gay civil unions in their country.

"This is a historic moment," said Mihai Gheorghiu, one of the leaders of the Romanian initiative, which has been given strong backing by the Church: "Three million Romanians, in an unprecedented show of solidarity, signed this proposed amendment." Read more via AFP
Thousands call for United Methodist Church to permit LGBT clergy
A petition signed by more than 5,000 people calls for the United Methodist Church (UMC) to allow lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual (LGTB) people into the clergy. The petition also asks the UMC to allow same-sex marriage in the church. It says that the church is now threatened with division primarily because of its "punishment of LGBTQ persons and its allies."

Before the conference began, more than 100 UMC clergy came out as LGBT. In the surprising move, the group tried to show that having LGBT ministers is a reality in the church.

The issue has brought the UMC "at a point of crisis," Matt Berryman, RMN's executive director and former UMC clergyman, told Christian Today, adding that it is causing a breakdown of the system. Read more via Christian Times
South Africa: Desmond Tutu’s daughter forced to quit church position
The daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Rev. Mpho Tutu-Van Furth, has resigned as an Anglican minister after threats to fire her over her lesbian marriage. Tutu-Van Furth married her wife, Professor Marceline Van Furth, in The Netherlands in December. This was followed by a wedding in the Western Cape earlier this month.

“Because the South African Anglican Church does not recognise our marriage, I can no longer exercise my priestly ministry in South Africa. The bishop of the Diocese of Saldanha Bay [Bishop Raphael Hess] was instructed to revoke my licence,” Tutu-Van Furth said.

“I decided that I would give it to him rather than have him take it, a slightly more dignified option with the same effect,” she explained. Read more via Mambaonline
Church of Scotland votes to allow ministers to be in same-sex marriages
The Church of Scotland’s highest law-making body has voted to allow its ministers to be in same-sex marriages. The church’s general assembly voted in favour of extending a law passed last May that permits ministers to be in same-sex civil partnerships.

The decision, after years of deliberation, means the church maintains the traditional view marriage as between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to “opt out” if they wish to appoint a minister or deacon in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership.

Any wider consideration of the theological understanding of same-sex marriage will not take place until the Theological Forum presents its report to the church next year. More than 850 commissioners from across Scotland, the rest of the UK, Africa, Asia, North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean registered to attend this year’s assembly, which began with a ceremony at the Assembly Hall attended by Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Read more via the Guardian
Pope says Catholic government officials should be able to ‘opt out’ of recognising gay unions
The Pope has claimed that government officials who are Catholic should have the ‘freedom of conscience’ to discriminate against married gay people. Pope Francis made the comments in an interview with French newspaper La Croix.

The religious leader was asked about whether Catholics should “defend their concerns on societal issues” such as same-sex marriage. He responded: “It is up to Parliament to discuss, argue, explain, reason [these issues]. That is how a society grows.

“However, once a law has been adopted, the state must also respect [people’s] consciences....The right to conscientious objection must be recognized within each legal structure because it is a human right. Including for a government official, who is a human person." Read more via Pink News
Australia: Catholic church unwilling to make changes to ‘offensive’ school marriage booklet
After a woman took the Catholic Church to an anti-discrimination tribunal for publishing an anti same-sex marriage booklet called ‘Don’t mess with marriage’, the Church has ignored her efforts to make the booklet more respectful.

The booklet was distributed to Catholic schools across Australia and outlines the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and parenting.

Martine Delaney submitted a complaint over the “Don’t Mess With Marriage” booklet in September last year, contending that the booklet was “insulting, offensive and humiliating” towards same-sex attracted people. After the conciliation process broke down, Delaney withdrew her complaint last week due to the cost of a tribunal hearing and her fear that traditional marriage activists would continue to cite the case as evidence their voices were being shut down.' Read more via Buzzfeed
Japan: Can the Olympics bring marriage equality to Japan? 
Shoko Usami decided she wanted to marry her girlfriend Miho Okada after watching her mother die. Eight months later, the two women walked into the squat, white building that houses the local government of Aomori. They marched into the building’s marriage office, accompanied by around 15 friends, some of whom had flown in from Tokyo and Osaka after the couple announced their plan to marry. They’d heard rumors others had tried to register before, but as far as they knew, they were the first same-sex couple to publicize an attempt to legally register a marriage in Japan.

From the outside, it’s a mystery why Okada and Usami’s stand was so lonely. Some polls suggest support for marriage equality in Japan tops 50%, and there are no religious blocs or socially conservative lobbies organized to oppose LGBT rights in the country. But one of the most striking features of marriage equality in Japan has been just how few same-sex couples are confronting their government to demand it.

Now, for the first time, a path to partnership rights may be opening — not because of a growing clamour from gays and lesbians, but because of the Olympics, which are coming to Tokyo in 2020. The organizers believed the showdown over LGBT rights that led up to the 2014 games in Russia guaranteed Japan’s record on the issue would be put under the microscope as their games approached, and they wanted to show the world they stood with countries like the United States and Germany on the issue. Read more via Buzzfeed
Kyrgyzstan: Beacon of tolerance under threat from manufactured Kremlin homophobia
It was never easy being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Kyrgyzstan’s patriarchal, Muslim-majority society. Nonetheless, in a region where the Soviet past hangs heavily and ossified dictatorship is the norm, the smallest of the Central Asian ‘Stans’ was seen as a relative beacon of tolerance and democracy. But over the past few years, internal and external forces have “dragged the LGBT community into a battle for Kyrgyz identity,” said Medet Tiulegenov, chair of international and comparative politics at the American University in Bishkek.

Poor and landlocked, Kyrgyzstan has been a geopolitical and economic supplicant ever since it became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union, always vulnerable to bigger powers. And since winning power in 2011, President Almazbek Atambayev has cemented a shift away from the West towards Russia. “We cannot have a separate future,” he declared when President Vladimir Putin visited Kyrgyzstan in 2012.

First came a virtual clone of Moscow’s offensive on NGOs, with legislation demanding all groups receiving external funding declare themselves as ‘foreign agents’, targeted at human rights groups, including those advocating for the LGBTQ community. And then, in March 2014, MPs from the ruling coalition announced the ‘anti-gay propaganda’ measures, with even harsher penalties on paper than the Russian version. They were necessary to “protect the rights of the majority rather than of the minority,” said one of the co-sponsors, Talantbek Uzakbaev, a member of the pro-Russian ‘Dignity’ party. “We cannot tolerate gay propaganda.” Read more via Coda Story
South Africa: Limpopo’s LGBTI community speaks out about hate crimes
Activists and community members gathered in Limpopo to speak out against the scourge of LGBTI hate crimes in the province. The LGBTI Dialogue event included representatives from OUT LGBT Well-being’s Love Not Hate campaign, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Project, the SA Human Rights Commission, Limpopo Proudly OUT, and Access Chapter 2.

The dialogue aimed to provide a platform for the LGBTI community in Limpopo to ask questions, engage and speak out about their experiences. The participants also held a minute’s silence to remember the victims of LGBTI hate crimes.

The event followed the recent attack on a young gay man, Tshifhiwa Ramurunzi, in the town of Thohoyandou. He was repeatedly stabbed and left for dead because of his feminine appearance. Ramurunzi, who is now on the mend, was one of those who took part in Saturday’s meeting. Read more via Mambaonline
Uganda: HRAPF continues to strive for a conducive environment for sexual minorities
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) an organization that provides free legal services to the Ugandan sexual and gender minority community, held a one day workshop to sensitize members from different LGBTI and sex workers’ organizations about the impact of the NGO Act 2016. The same workshop also highlighted other barriers affecting the operations of these marginalized groups.

The NGO bill which was first introduced in Parliament in April was passed on November 26, 2015 and signed into law early 2016.

Under this Act, there are various clauses enshrined within, making it hard for LGBTI and sex workers’ organisations to carry out their operations since most of their work the bill deems most of their work illegal. Read more via Kuchu Times
East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative on the reality of sexual minorities and sex workers
UHAI EASHRI released reports on the lived realities of LGBT and sex workers in Ethiopia Outsider Citizen, Tanzania The Other Tanzanians, Burundi Turi Abande? and Rwanda Aguciro.

Analyzing policy, providing case studies, and reviewing public discourse— the reports cover five broad thematic areas including: legal context and policies; lived realities; organising and movement building; public discourse; and health.  They are available in English, French, and Swahili. Access the reports via UHAI EASHRI 
Europe: What is the best and worst place to be gay in Europe?
Malta is at the top of the 2016 Rainbow Index, compiled by ILGA-Europe, thanks to their pioneering laws on transgender and intersex equality. The UK, as a whole, has fallen from first to third place in a ranking of 49 European countries, with a score of 81%.

All countries were ranked from everything from marriage equality to being able to hold Pride without fear of state obstruction to adoption rights. Scotland, according to The Equality Network, would be top of the chart if it had been counted apart from the rest of the UK. They said they had been held back on trans and intersex rights, as well as Northern Ireland holding out on refusing to give same-sex couples marriage equality. Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Turkey are at the bottom of the list.

ILGA-Europe executive director Evelyne Paradis said: ‘The countries who are on this upward curve tend to be the ones who have protected people from discrimination on grounds of gender identity, or legislated to protect the bodily integrity of intersex people and who have ingrained this change in everyday measures such as equality action plans.’ Read more via Gay Star News
Breaking the Silence: Criminalisation of Lesbians and Bisexual Women and its Impacts
Laws that criminalise homosexuality exist in 78 jurisdictions worldwide, or 40% of all countries, including 80% of Commonwealth countries. Of these, at least 44 jurisdictions criminalise consensual same-sex intimacy between women. Despite a general global trend towards decriminalisation, at least 10 jurisdictions that previously only criminalised gay men have recently added new criminal sanctions against lesbians.

Further, Breaking the Silence finds that even where lesbians are not captured by the criminal law they have been subjected to arrest, detention and police abuse as well as severe forms of state-sanctioned family and community abuse. Any form of law that criminalises LGBT people engenders discrimination against the entire LGBT community. As such, lesbian and bisexual women are at serious risk of persecution in any criminalising country.

Importantly, lesbians who have no practical choice but to enter straight marriages may have little or no control over their sexual and reproductive choices, enduring in effect a lifetime of invisible, undocumented and state-sanctioned rape. Moreover, the laws criminalising consensual female-female sexual conduct often exist alongside other laws that disproportionately impact on women, such as laws against adultery and abortion, or those permitting child marriage or marital rape.

The report is an in-depth analysis of how laws criminalising consensual same-sex intimacy specifically impact lesbians and bisexual women. Read the report
Trans* Rights:  the Time is Now, has been released
Throughout the world, trans* and gender-nonconforming communities have been at the forefront of movements to end oppression based on gender and sexuality. And while progress has been slow in the fifty years since the Compton Cafeteria riots, recent times have brought hard-won victories.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled the prohibition of discrimination based on sex in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes trans* people. In Nepal, Malta, Australia, and New Zealand, a third gender category is permitted on official documents, such as passports. Thailand opened the first trans* health and support center in Asia. In South America, Michelle Suárez Bértora and Tamara Adrián became the first openly transgender women to be elected to national legislatures, in Uruguay and Venezuela, respectively.

And yet, despite these gains, trans* people and trans* issues continue to be marginalized in virtually every society in the world. This is the reality for trans* people: hard-won victories are juxtaposed with daunting challenges. The LGBTQ Policy Journal at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University chose to focus on trans* policy this year, in an effort to further the discussion about the roles policymakers—at all levels of society and in all sectors—can play in impacting trans* lives for the better. This year’s journal features eight phenomenal articles covering a range of topics. Read more via Harvard Kennedy School
Australia: Why would you bother ‘coming out’ as queer while in a heterosexual relationship?
I am a queer man, which means that I am equally attracted to both genders and none. Like, completely and utterly equally - if you were able to somehow put the world's most beautiful man next to the world's most beautiful woman and for some godforsaken reason they both wanted to sleep with me, it would be a really difficult decision to make.

This weird hypothetical is actually an important point to make, because my queerness is also in some ways hypothetical - I've been in a relationship with a woman for the past ten years. It was only a few years ago, years into our relationship, that I actually started identifying as queer or bisexual or pansexual, or whatever the best word to describe being attracted to both/no genders is.

A lot of coming-out narratives are seen as a statement of intention - "I am now a woman who sleeps with other women", "I was previously mis-gendered as a woman and now I am a man" - but my own coming out is more of a grey zone, as there isn't immediately a call to action. I am not renouncing my former sexuality. If there isn't an intention behind my coming out, then why do it at all? The short answer is because by identifying with my sexuality, I am for the first time, actually identifying as myself. Read more via Daily Life

Australia: Biphobia in allegedly inclusive spaces
Queer film festival shOUT claims to be for the community, yet excludes bisexuals in their advertising. Sadly, I wasn’t convinced that leaving out bisexuals on the poster was entirely an accident, though it would be hard to argue that they didn’t have the space to fit it in, because as a queer film festival, and one that had used the #LGBT hashtag, they clearly knew that bisexuals exist, and yet made a conscious choice to not include us.

shOUT confirms they left off bisexuals in the poster because homophobia allegedly includes biphobia: We fully recognise bisexuality and do use the term “LGBT” where possible. However, we have chosen not to recognise “biphobia” or bisexuality in our communications as we believe (as does IDAHOT) that biphobia is inherently included under homophobia – as the phobic responses exhibited by persons toward those whom are bisexual are not in response to the heterosexual relationships those people maintain, but the same-sex (homosexual) relationships they maintain.  

Just let that sink in for a moment.  An organisation that is hosting a queer film festival, one that allegedly represents the entire QUILTBAG community, chose to not recognise bisexuality or biphobia because marketing and well bisexuals only face homophobia, not biphobia from within our own community. Read more via Bluebec
Uganda: Love’s runaways—the gay Ugandans forced into exile
After my meeting with Michael Bashaija in July 2015, I dropped him on the Ngong Road to get a matatu (minibus) back to where he lived, outside the city, in a communal house with 20 other refugees. I watched him tuck his long braids back into his red beanie and marshal his slight frame – which looked even skinnier in his tight green jeans – into the more masculine step of the street. He arranged his eloquent features into a blank rictus and disappeared into the rush-hour throng.

If asked a question by someone else in the matatu he would try to mutter something in Swahili, he told me, even though this was a language he still barely spoke. If he answered in English, he would be identified as a foreigner. If it was a policeman, he might be asked to show his papers. And that is “when the trouble will begin”, he said. “There’s no war in Uganda, so when someone sees that I am asylum seeker here, they know there can only be one reason.”

A few hours earlier, I had watched Bashaija pull the beanie off and shake out his braids, parted in a line along the top of his crown so that they fell down the sides of his head to make a heart of his fine-boned face. I had not seen him in a year, and I noted immediately how he was both more feminine and more assertive than the shy and composed boy I had met in the Ugandan capital of Kampala. There was something in his manner, even in the way he threw his tote bag down in rage and frustration, that told me he had stepped into himself since I had seen him last. Read more via the Guardian
Brazil: Sao Paulo just hosted the world’s biggest Pride, attended by hundreds of thousands
Hundreds of thousands of revellers took to the streets, many supporting a federal proposed law to allow trans Brazilians to legally change their gender. Over a thousand police officers were on hand, particularly because protests were planned against acting president Michel Temer, the replacement for Dilma Rousseff, who is undergoing an impeachment trial.

While there is hope that legislation will be brought in to protect LGBT people, a law to punish homophobic crime has been stalled by Catholics in Brazil. Read more via Pink News
Cuba: Mariela Castro leads LGBT march
Mariela Castro, director of Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education that is known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX, joined transgender actress Candis Cayne and hundreds of others who marched from the oceanfront promenade at the base of the Hotel Nacional to a nearby pavilion under a scorching sun.

Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry and Freedom to Work President Tico Almeida were among those who gathered along the march route that went through Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. “The Cuban people are prepared to advance themselves,” Mariela Castro told reporters before the march began. 

Mariela Castro’s supporters credit her with championing LGBT-specific issues in Cuba. Mariela Castro, who is a member of the Cuban Parliament, has publicly spoken in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples. She voted against a gay-inclusive workplace discrimination bill in 2013 because it did not include gender identity. Read more via Washington Blade
South Africa: Khumbulani Pride remembers victims of LGBTI violence
Around 500 people took part in the fourth annual Khumbulani Pride march in the Cape Town township of Langa on Saturday. Khumbulani (“remember” in Xhosa) Pride aims to honour the lives of LGBTI people lost in hate violence in the Western Cape.

The event takes place in a different township in the city every year. On Saturday, marchers wore t-shirts and help up placards with messages such as: “Love is love”; “Black lesbian”; “This is what inclusivity looks like”; and “Young, gifted, gay & black. We are busy with our liberation.”

One woman held up a banner that read: “We apologise for the hurt the church has caused.”

The network added: “It is an event that mobilises community members in different townships to care enough not to discriminate or harm others on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation or nationality.” Read more via Mambaonline
Lebanon: LGBT activists stage rare sit-in
Some 50 activists backing the LGBT community staged a rare sit-in in Lebanon to demand the abolition of a law criminalising relations "against nature". In the first such protest in four years, they also demanded the release of four transsexual women as they gathered outside the Hbeish gendarmerie in Beirut, where activists say morality police often hold such suspects.

"Homosexuality is not a disease," and "Sex is not illegal -- your law is archaic," read a placard at the event organised by the Lebanon-based Helem association, considered to be the most important Arab group defending LGBT rights.

Helem chief Genwa Samhat told AFP the sit-in "calls for the abolition of this section of law dating from the (1920-1943) French mandate in Lebanon". "Most people arrested under this law aren't detained in the act but in the street because of their appearance," she said. Read more via AFP
Japan: Bullying ‘epidemic’ says Human Rights Watch
Bullying of LGBT students is at “epidemic” levels in Japanese schools, exacerbated by government’s failure to institute effective policies, inadequate teacher training and strong gender segregation, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report.

Titled “The Nail That Sticks Out Gets Hammered Down: LGBT Bullying and Exclusion in Japanese Schools,” the 84-page report said LGBT students routinely suffer harassment, threats and violence in a nation where prejudices against sexual minorities remain alive in the school yard.

“The Japanese government has made gestures of support to LGBT students in recent years, but national anti-bullying policies remain silent on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Kanae Doi, Japan director at HRW, said. “The government should urgently bring its policies to protect LGBT students in line with international standards and best practices.” Read more via Japan Times
Australia: Gayby Baby creators release school toolkit
The team behind the groundbreaking documentary Gayby Baby have created their own unique toolkit to be used by teachers in schools to promote greater understanding of LGBTI families. Gayby Baby – a film about the children of same-sex parents – was at the centre of a national storm of publicity in 2015 after the NSW State Government prevented it from being shown at state schools during school hours.

The School Action Toolkit is a comprehensive resource which includes excerpts from the film and lesson activities that celebrate the diversity of the modern Australian family. The resource also includes ideas for teachers wishing to foster a more inclusive classroom environment, strategies for school leaders wishing to take steps to welcome diverse families at an executive and administrative level, and frequently asked questions regarding diverse family units. The broader aim of the Toolkit is to support all schools to foster a sense of belonging for all students and their families. Read more via Star Observer
UK: Students call for gay-only accommodation at universities
Students are calling for separate LGBT accommodation at universities to avoid being victimised at the hands of their straight housemates. At present, Birmingham University is the only institution that offers an 'LGBT housing option' for freshers who do not want to live with straight students.

Students across England are now campaigning for the same rights so they could live without fear of 'victimisation as well as homophobia, biphobia and transphobia from flatmates'. Students at the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston, are also pushing for LGBT-only housing. Read more via Daily Mail
US: Lutheran school tried to discourage gay, transgender students from enrolling
St. John’s Lutheran School in Baraboo, Wisconsin, which receives federal funding is under investigation for a handbook it distributes warning students that they’ll be disciplined or dismissed for being gay or transgender. The revised document given to parents, states that “although we do not have the right to refuse admittance to people choosing an outwardly sinful lifestyle, we do maintain the right to discipline and dismiss students for these choices.”

Because the school receives taxpayer money for its free and reduced lunch program, disciplining students for their sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under Title IX. The new handbook also instructed parents to present a child’s birth certificate prior to enrollment.

“I would say we’re surprised, but more disappointed,” Freedom From Religion Foundation Attorney Patrick Elliott said. He also says this is likely not an isolated incident, but it’s hard to prove discrimination in parochial institutions. Read more via The Oregon
China: Gay Renmin University student publicly announces love 
Two brave college students in China declared their love for one another, then kissed, in a public demonstration on campus last week. Photos posted on Sina Weibo, the popular Chinese social media site, show the men standing inside an illuminated heart on the campus of Beijing Renmin University.

“I will be with you, not to play basketball, but to kiss you,” one of the students told the other, according to WhatsOnWeibo.com, which reports that the exchange drew mixed reactions on the site. 

The United Nations Development Program recently found that only 5 percent of gay people in China have come out to anyone except family members, due to fear of discrimination. Read more via Towleroad
Netherlands: Fragments of Him is an astonishing story of love and loss
Fragments of Him is a game about loss, grief, love and life. It's a devastating two-hour narrative journey into the inner thoughts of three people who look back on the life of a man they loved, as well as into the memories of the deceased.

It takes most of its running time to rise to its emotional heights, but when it finally gets there, it does so with a searing and open humanity that connects the player with each of its characters, and, fleetingly, with the immensity of their desolation. 

Early in the game, Will is involved in a fatal car accident. It is a moment almost as humdrum as the rest of his morning. A screech, a crash, blackness and silence. The point of view then turns to his college girlfriend, his grandmother and his lover. Each in turn remembers Will, the good times and the bad. A picture emerges of his passage from boyhood, through the confusions of adolescence, into something fuller. We find an ordinary person leading an ordinary life, and we find that his life, like all lives, is invaluable, unique and infinitely precious. Read more via Polygon
Kenya: YouTube cedes to censors
YouTube has partially acceded to Kenyan censors by adding a warning to a music video supporting LGBT equality in Africa. In February, the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) banned the video, a reworking by Art Attack of the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song Same Love, which features new lyrics and a video depicting the lives of LGBT people in Kenya.

The KFCP wrote to Google, the parent company of YouTube, demanding that the video be removed from the video streaming site within a week.

According to CIO East Africa, while the video can still be viewed, YouTube has added a warning that’s only visible to Kenyan viewers that states: “The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as being potentially inappropriate. Viewer discretion is advised.” Read more via Mambaonline
India: Tim Cook's meeting with Modi puts focus on gays 
Took is openly gay. In fact, he is the only gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Before he became the Apple chief this wasn't something that was in spotlight but after 2011 he not acknowledged only this in public but also, in his personal capacity, pushed for greater inclusion and equality for LGBT community in the US. Now, when he meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unwittingly he put spotlight on India's archaic laws against homosexuality.

India still criminalizes homosexuality. It has the Section 377 that forbids "unnatural sex" even if is between consenting adults. And while there has been some efforts to do away with this 155-year old law, nothing specific has come out of it yet. One of the reasons why India continues to keep and enforce Section 377 is the unwillingness of political parties to come out and call it barbaric, which it is. In fact, most political parties support it, including BJP, which is a good cheerleader for the Section 377.

This adds an interesting context to Tim Cook's meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Although, Modi had met Cook earlier when he visited Silicon Valley, this time it is different. When Modi meets Cook, he won't be meeting just the Apple CEO but he will also be meeting someone who is probably on the wrong side of the law in India. A person with the sexual orientation that Cook can be lawfully imprisoned for life in our country. Read more via India Today
France: Gay group to sue social media
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are facing legal action as anti-racist and gay rights groups plan to sue over an alleged lack of control over hate-speech. The Jewish Students’ Union (UEJF), the anti-racist SOS Racism campaign and SOS Homophobie, have said they plan to take legal action against the social media sites for failing to tackle hate messages.

The three organisations accuse Facebook, Twitter and YouTube of taking more action against nudity than they do about hate messages posted to their platforms. A study published on Sunday says the groups found 586 items which were “racist, anti-Semitic, negationist or homophobe or condoned terrorism or crimes against humanity” posted between 31 March and 10 May.

Out of the nearly 600 hate messages, as deemed by the organisations, “only four percent were taken down from Twitter, seven percent from YouTube and 34 percent from Facebook”. Read more via PinkNews
China: Meet the LGBT activist crossing the 'Great Firewall'
In December 2015, President Xi Jinping introduced a ban on "abnormal sexual relationships and behaviors" from film and television. As a result, gay and lesbian characters were taken off the air, leaving the Chinese LGBTI community stranded by the notorious 'Great Firewall' of China, a phrase coined in 1997 to refer to its stringent online censorship policies. 

Since then, China's online censorship policies have become an international issue. 

What does and does not violate Chinese censorship standards has become a multi-million dollar guessing game for the American film industry, who regularly alter and edit films in order to screen them in the world's fastest growing box-office market. The U.S. Trade Representative wrote in an annual report that Xi's push for increased web censorship has become an international trade barrier, which China denies, and non-profit Great Fire alleges that China has blocked ramped up online censorship by blocking thousands of webpages, domains, and IP addresses. Read more via Tech Insider
South Africa: First gay rugby club
The Jozi Cats, Africa’s first gay and inclusive rugby club, launched a provocative recruitment campaign that made headlines across the world. The campaign has started a critical conversation that is long overdue in South Africa Read more
Egypt: The legal situation report for LGBTQ+ Watch now
Introducing intersex young adult literature Read more
China: 1st LGBT Stamp Beautiful postage that actually works See more
Allah Loves Us All Watch now
Bangladesh: Gazi Nafis Ahmed Inner Face photo series Vote now
US: NFL awards Super Bowls to states without anti-LGBT laws Read more
Equal Eyes is edited by Christina Dideriksen and Richard Burzynski. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the view of UNAIDS or its Cosponsors.
All stories and photographs linked within are the property of the original publishers.
Equal Eyes Copyright © 2016 Richard Burzynski, All rights reserved.

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