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16 November 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UNSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepted the 2016 Founder's Award from the Elton John AIDS Foundation in recognition of his continued contributions to the global effort to end HIV/AIDS and his ongoing vocal support for LGBT human rights. 

The UN Human Rights Council's historic vote to create an independent expert to monitor human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is under threat. Only a month following Vitit Muntarbhorn's appointment, the African Group has tabled a motion to defer the appointment by one year—until the next General Assembly—to provide more time to consider the legality of such an expert position.  

Many objected to the motion. Paisarn Likhitpreechakul, co-founder of Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice, argued that Muntarbhorn's home country Thailand has a "legal and moral duty" to support the expert. Noting that Thailand is a global south nation and shares many concerns with Africa, he said the country should reach out to African states to "share our experiences, challenges, and concerns on the protection of LGBTI".

Calling South Africa's participation in the motion a "betrayal of its anti-apartheid history, its constitution, and its own actions on the international stage supportive of LGBT rights", the Geneva Director of ARC International, Arvind Narrain, offered an in-depth rebuttal of the motion. 

The World Bank announced the selection of Clifton Cortez as the first Advisor on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity issues. The senior-level position is part of the coordinated, strategic approach to improve LGBTI inclusion and gender equality through the Bank's work.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism established by the UN in 2006 to address human rights issues through "country reviews" of all UN nations. A new analysis from ARC International, ILGA, and the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) found that in its first two cycles the UPR has been "one of the most progressive vehicles for the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons all over the world".

HIV, Health, and Wellness:  UK researchers are attempting to identify why the incidence of HIV among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men has remained unchanged despite better HIV testing and increased treatment. Using 13 years of behavioral data collected from nearly 12,000 men, researchers determined that people with recently acquired undiagnosed HIV are a primary factor keeping new HIV incidence from declining.

At the HIV Research and Prevention 2016 conference, researchers presented data showing that to achieve a moderate reduction of new HIV infections, the percentage of HIV-infected gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men with suppressed viral loads must be "significantly increased". The UNAIDS call for "90-90-90" remains a powerful target to this effort. 

In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City will provide 12,000 rapid HIV tests to high-risk people, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, trans people, drug users, and sex workers.

Journalist Brian Moylan reflected on the increasingly difficult conversation men have negotiating safer sex when PrEP is involved: "In less than a generation, condoms have gone from an imperative, socially policed by the gay community at-large, to a punch line for some."

A new US CDC study of HIV-positive gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men found that only 11% were screened for anal cancer, despite the high rates of anal cancer in this population. Researchers hope more study will lead to the development of appropriate screening guidelines. 

Globally LGBT people have significantly higher rates of drug abuse than their heterosexual peers. Indian health workers warned of the increasing use of 'poppers' among gay and bisexual men. The inhalant has been shown to increase the risk of HIV infection.

From the World of Politics: Tanzania's Health Minister reiterated earlier sentiments from the Justice Minister announcing that the government has suspended community-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs for gay health because of reports that NGOs were "promoting and normalizing same-sex relationships". 

UK's Prince Harry continued his HIV advocacy work visiting the London sexual health charity NAZ. During the event, several admitted they got tested only after seeing Prince Harry get tested live this summer. 

In the US election, several openly LGBT candidates won or kept their positions, including Oregon's new governor Kate Brown, the first openly bisexual person elected to govern. Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, US suicide hotlines received a record number of calls from people frightened over election results, especially from LGBTQ and sexual assault survivors.

Author Sasha Polakow-Suransky discussed the rise of right-wing political parties across Europe that appeal to "fear, nostalgia, and resentment of elites" and the complicated relationship of the far right to the LGBT community. 

Scottish politicians crossed party lines to form the LBGTI+ Cross Party Group (CPG) to address issues "largely absent from the mainstream agenda" as well as health, education, equality, bullying, geriatrics, and transgender issues.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced that MP Randy Boissonnault has been named Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues. Boissonnault will advise the Prime Minister on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and two-spirited people (LGBTQ2) issues and serve as liaison with LGBTQ2 organizations. 

Also in Canada, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced that the government will update the Criminal Code to decriminalize anal sex for all people over the age of consent.

The South African Cabinet published a draft of the "Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill". Following recent attacks on lesbians, activists say the bill should include specific protection against "corrective rape" assaults.

The Politics of Union:  The Parliament of Gibraltar unanimously passed the Civil Marriage Amendment Bill 2016 that gives same-sex couples marriage rights.

The Australian Senate blocked the bill to hold a national vote on marriage equality. The plebiscite was expected to cost $170 million and was opposed by many who feared the campaign would hurt the LGBTI community.

The Romanian Parliament delayed debate on a referendum to hold a public vote on redefining marriage. A petition signed by nearly 3 million people asked for the constitution to be amended to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Social Democratic Party senators had hoped to hold the referendum in December, but the chairman of the party has asked senators to wait until after the upcoming election.

A committee in Mexico's Congress rejected President Enrique Peña Nieto's proposal to expand marriage equality nationally despite previous rulings from Mexico's Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage remains legal in some jurisdictions and couples retain the ability to sue for their individual right to marry. 

In Taiwan, parents of LGBT children rallied outside the Legislative Yuan where the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the New Power Party (NPP) have pledged to work for marriage equality. 

Let the Courts Decide: France's Court of Appeal fined activist group ACT UP €800—ruling that the group was guilty of defamation for hanging posters labeling the anti-LGBT group La Manif Pour Tous "homophobes".

The UK Court of Appeal upheld a decision by the High Court which ruled that NHS England can pay for PrEP to stop the spread of HIV. The NHS had argued that it is only responsible for treating those already infected and that local councils are responsible for preventing new infections. 

Canadian lawyers in Montreal and Quebec have filed separate class-action lawsuits on behalf of former government employees and military personnel who were removed from service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity

In Morocco, two teenage girls charged with homosexuality will face the court after a photograph of them kissing on a roof was sent to a family member who turned the girls into the police. Under article 489 of the penal code, they could face a sentence of six months to three years in prison. 

The Ugandan Constitutional Court struck down section 15(6)(d) of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act which would have prevented some citizens from being protected. 15(6)(d) stated that the Commission could not investigate any "immoral and socially harmful" behavior considered "unacceptable by the majority", thus potentially preventing LGBT people from the right to a fair hearing.

A Singapore district judge fined a man S$3,500 for posting an "alarming" comment on Facebook in which he stated he would like "permission to open fire" and "see these £@€$^*s die ".  Because he posted on an article about the LGBT Pink Dot festival, his defense argued that his comments were made to support authorities who have curbed foreign aid to Pink Dot.

In the Name of Religion:  The Vatican reacted quickly against statements made by a Roman priest who suggested "human sins such as civil unions" are to blame for the recent Italian earthquakes. The Vatican’s Substitute for General Affairs, Angelo Becciu, called the statements "offensive" and noted they "do not correspond to Church theology".

The Netherlands' Cardinal Willem Eijk told reporters that "It (gender theory) is spreading and spreading everywhere in the Western world, and we have to warn people." He suggested that the pope might need to publish a letter to the bishops to clarify ideology that rejects so-called gender theory

In Barbados, a rally themed "Family, Faith, and Freedom" showcased divisive viewpoints with one main speaker warning sex education would lead to "sexual perversions" and turn children into "little sexual deviants". Representatives of Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination called the rally "out of touch and selfish" when the country faces serious issues such as gun violence, child abuse, and water outages. 

The head of Grenada's Presbyterian Church spoke out on the rights of the LGBT community during which he argued that although "homosexual practice" is "immoral", it is not a "criminal" offense.

In South Africa, openly gay Imam Muhsin Hendricks continues to open his Cape Town mosque to LGBT worshipers

Fear and Loathing:  The Human Rights Watch published an in-depth report on the impact of Nigeria's Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014 on the LGBT community. The report documents widespread abuses, mob violence, torture, and arbitrary arrest "legitimized" without fear of legal consequence. 

US activists reported that already this year the number of murders of known trans people in the country has hit an all-time high.

In Russia, a trans woman was murdered after her father went on television and invited viewers to kill her for marrying a man.

OutRight Action International published a new report, "Transgender in Iran: a Human Rights Report", which explores the complicated relationship of trans rights with political, religious, and cultural attitudes of Iran. Iran has supported gender confirmation surgery and hormone replacement therapy as religiously acceptable practices, however, trans individuals are systematically discriminated against and often face violence and fear. 

Winds of Change:  The Americas Society and the Council of the Americas (AS/COS) selected Uruguay as the leader of its Social Inclusion Index, an annual survey that measures how countries in the region serve their citizens. Uruguay has ranked number one for three years in part for its support of LGBT citizens, including marriage equality, adoption rights, and progressive gender identity laws. Among the rankings, Argentina and Brazil also scored highly on LGBT issues, while Panama ranked lowest.

Human Dignity Trust hosted a panel of experts to discuss "Breaking the Silence", the first global analysis of criminalization and persecution of lesbian and bisexual women. An audio recording of the discussion is now available to the public. 

Organisation Intersex International (OII) Europe launched a new website about being intersex that includes resources and testimonials in 23 languages.

Canada implemented a new Electronic Travel Authorizations system that for the first time allows travelers to identify as male, female, or other. Canadian citizens will soon be able to change gender on their official documents.

Also in Canada, a gay couple have been licensed to open the first LGBT foster agency in Ontario. LGBT youth are over represented in the foster system, and their agency aims to alleviate the stress youth face within traditional channels. 

The Government of Queensland Australia passed an amendment to give gay couples and single people the ability to adopt children.

The Belize Youth and Education Minister retracted his threat to rescind an award given to HIV and LGBT activist BDF Lieutenant Derrin Jael Castillo. Castillo had posted on Facebook that she was "the first honored for her work with LGBT"—Minister Faber clarified that she was awarded for HIV work and not work with LGBT community.

On the March:  For the first time, Taiwan's Taipei City Hall raised a rainbow flag alongside the national and city flags to support the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade. Reports suggest around 80,000 people marched through downtown Taipei during the parade. 

The city council of Perm, Russia is considering defying the country's Anti-Gay Propaganda Ban by allowing the public to hold a Pride parade. Activists urged the council to consider existing laws that protect freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Meanwhile, some residents started a counter-petition arguing they "have a right to live on their land without facing the public promotion of homosexuality".

The Netherlands' Minister for Migration expanded the country's list of "safe countries of origin" to include Algeria, Georgia, Ukraine, and Tunisia. LGBT asylum seekers from Tunisia and Algeria will be able to petition the court to stay in the Netherlands.  

A new report from Stonewall and the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group found that LGBT asylum seekers residing in UK refugee detention centers are isolated and routinely face abuse and discrimination.

In South Africa, LGBTI asylum seekers report they face employment discrimination and xenophobia, but the biggest challenge is violence and harassment from fellow refugees who oppose their lifestyle. 

In the Albanian capital of Tirana, the first private residential center for LGBT young adults has started accepting LGBT from across Southeast Europe, though director Marsida Cela says that the need far outweighs the center's capacity for care.

School Days:  Indonesia's University of Gorontalo announced plans to establish a "special team" to monitor suspected LGBT students. Students identified as LGBT will be forced to attend special sessions to "be normalized". University head Syamsu Qamar Badu said, “This is simply a warning. [LGBT people] must return to their true and correct nature.” A coalition of 16 NGOs spoke out against the plan

At Uganda's Intergenerational Dialogue (IGC) on Sexuality and Reproductive Health Rights, education took center stage as 3,000 young people spoke out against the Ministry of Gender's recently announced ban on comprehensive sexuality education. On hand for the IGC, local health experts, UN representatives, and the Netherlands Ambassador condemned the ban. 

The Human Rights Watch Japan director, Kanae Doi, urged Japan's education ministry to include gender orientation and sexual minority education in the 10-year review of the country's official curriculum guidelines.

Business and Technology:  OUTstanding and the Financial Times celebrated the success of the LGBT community with a list of the year's "Leading 100 LGBT Executives" from around the world. The list includes Gigi Chao—Executive Vice Chairman of  Hong Kong real estate firm Cheuk Nang Holdings, Jonathan Mildenhall—Chief Marketing Officer of Airbnb, and Peter Arvai—Hungarian CEO and co-founder of Prezi.

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs announced that all "foreign entities" must now apply for permits before supporting, promoting, or funding events held in the country. The official statement follows ministry warnings to corporate sponsors of the annual LGBT Pink Dot celebration, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Barclays, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, BP, and Twitter.

In Germany, many public wi-fi providers block LGBT-related websites automatically in an effort to censor pornography. Though the blocks can be individually removed by businesses that own the internet hotspots, Jörg Steinert, director of LSVD (Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany) noted that the issue is indicative of a larger issue: "We are not treated as equals, even in comparison to more religious countries."

Sports and Culture:  Representatives from 13 European football associations joined the launch of "Heroes of Football"—a campaign to target homophobia in the sport.

US Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, Florida announced plans to spend $2.25 million to purchase the Pulse nightclub. The site where 49 people were murdered and 53 injured will be turned into a public memorial

The UK's Queer Media Festival will showcase the winner of first the queer mobile documentary contest, inspired by the success of the 2015 iPhone created Tangerine, a drama about trans women of color in Los Angeles. 

Over the past five years, Tatiana von Fürstenberg has collected the artwork of LGBTQ prisoners. Her current exhibit On the Inside captures how "biology informs one's identity" and that visitors will be able to send text messages to the prisoners whose are is being featured. 

Author Vivek Shraya's new picture book The Boy & The Bindi is dedicated to South Asian "gender-creative" kids. The BBC defended its show Just a Girl, a fictional series about an 11-year-old transitioning from a boy to a girl. 

And finally, check out this podcast "In Praise of Incrementalism" from Freakonomics Radio that explores how rights for the US LGBT community were made by taking tiny steps.  
elton john award
"I like to remind others that LGBT people are just that – they’re people. They are worth just as much as anyone else. And they are born with the same inalienable rights as everyone else."

~ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepting the Elton John AIDS Foundation award for his work in AIDS and LGBT advocacy
Continue for excerpts from the articles
ban ki moon Michel Sidibé UNAIDS report
UN chief honored by Elton John AIDS Foundation
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, on receiving the Founders Award from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, in New York today:

Thank you, Sir Elton, David and all of you for this great honour.  I proudly accept this award in the name of my fellow United Nations colleagues working for justice and equality for every member of our human family.  I also want to thank the Elton John AIDS Foundation for your extraordinary work.

I grew up long ago in a deeply conservative Korea.  There were almost no visible gay and trans people.  We never discussed sexual orientation and gender identity.  I think that’s true for many people of my generation — in Korea and most other countries.

So, this advocacy did not come naturally to me.  But, when I saw that lives were at stake, I had to speak up.  This is a matter of life and death.  It is a struggle for human rights.  And no matter how much opposition I faced, I knew it was a mission for the United Nations. Read more via the UN
African states bid to stop work of UN gay rights investigator
African states launched a bid at the United Nations to halt the work of the first UN independent investigator appointed to help protect gay and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.

The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, created the position in June and in an unusual move, African states circulated a draft resolution on Friday in the 193-member U.N. General Assembly third committee, which deals with human rights, calling for consultations on the legality of the creation of the mandate. Read more via Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thailand must join the LGBTI battle
Just a month ago, Thailand celebrated the United Nations Human Rights Council's appointment of Vitit Muntarbhorn, a Thai international law professor, as the first independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). African countries last week tabled a resolution in New York, aimed at blocking the appointment.

The resolution calls into question the legal basis of SOGI. Botswana's ambassador to the UN, Charles Ntwaagae, said on behalf of African countries that the council should not be looking into "sexual orientation and gender identity". He insisted that the "two notions are not and should not be linked to existing international human rights instruments." 

[...] No matter which way the UN votes, Thailand is in a unique position and has a much greater role to play beyond this resolution. As a fellow global south country, Thailand shares with African countries concerns about development, peace, public order and social cohesion. Like in Thailand, gender non-binary and sexually non-conforming people thrived in many pre-colonial African societies. Read more via Bangkok Post
South African somersault: From defending LGBT rights to denying them?
South Africa as member of the African Group has signed onto a statement delivered by Botswana at the Third Committee of the General Assembly in support of a position suspending the operation of the first independent expert on SOGI, Mr. Vitit Mutarbhorn appointed by the Human Rights Council.

The letter by the African Group which has been surprisingly signed onto by South Africa departs sharply from the South African Constitution’s commitment to universal human rights.  Some of the more egregious statements in the letter need to be highlighted in full. Read more via ARC International 
World Bank announces new advisor on sexual orientation and gender identity issues
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today announced Clifton Cortez as the Bank’s Advisor on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) issues. 

Cortez has more than 20 years of professional experience working in developing countries with the UNDP and USAID, focusing on health, HIV, and sustainable development – including the important intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity, and development. Most recently, he managed UNAIDS partnerships, in which he played a key role in UNDP leadership addressing the broader governance, law, and human rights challenges faced by LGBTI people. Read more via World Bank
New report finds that the UPR holds significant promise for LGBTI communities
At a joint side event at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, the three organizations in charge of the ARC International, the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) launched their joint report on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics at the Universal Periodic Review. The report highlights the successes of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in its first two cycles and addresses the challenges in turning the UPR into a greater mechanism to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons on the ground.

The UPR has been one of the most progressive vehicles for the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons all over the world. First, because it periodically reviews the human rights records of all UN states irrespective of which UN treaties they are parties to. Second, the review is universal and extends to a wide array of human rights, including the rights of LGBTI persons.  Third, civil society participation in the UPR is relatively easy, making it an accessible space to human rights defenders. Read more via ARC International
Vietnam: 12,000 free HIV tests for high-risk groups in City
The HCM City-based Centre for Promotion of Quality of Life (LIFE) is providing 12,000 sets of rapid HIV tests free to high-risk groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender women, drug users and prostitutes via community-based organizations.

Counseling on the free service is provided via the centre’s hotline 0943 108 138 and community-based organizations.

The service is a part of the international PATH organization’s Healthy Markets project, a five-year initiative which aims to provide a viable market for HIV-related goods and services capable of meeting the needs of populations facing the greatest risks. Read more via Viêt Nam News
UK: Changes in sexual risk behavior and sustained HIV incidence among MSM
HIV incidence in men who have sex with men (MSM) in the UK has remained unchanged over the past decade despite increases in HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage. In this study, we examine trends in sexual behaviors and HIV testing in MSM and explore the risk of transmitting and acquiring HIV.

 In this serial cross-sectional study, we obtained data from ten cross-sectional surveys done between 2000 and 2013, consisting of anonymous self-administered questionnaires and oral HIV antibody testing in MSM recruited in gay social venues in London, UK. Data were collected between October and January for all survey years up to 2008 and between February and August thereafter. All men older than 16 years were eligible to take part and fieldworkers attempted to approach all MSM in each venue and recorded refusal rates. Data were collected on demographic and sexual behavioral characteristics.  Read more via UNAIDS
Large increases in HIV suppression needed to reduce new infections in critical population
Achieving moderate reduction of new HIV infections among men who have sex with men (MSM) will depend on significantly increasing the percentage of HIV-infected MSM whose viral load is suppressed to undetectable levels, according to a new mathematical model based on data from Baltimore. Access and adherence to antiretroviral therapy are key to sustained HIV suppression, which dramatically reduces the risk of transmitting HIV to others.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) will present their results on Oct. 19 at the HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) 2016 conference in Chicago. 

MSM in the United States are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS (link is external), and rates of viral suppression among MSM are quite low. Although MSM represent approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 67 percent of newly diagnosed HIV infections in 2014,

“Achieving and maintaining viral suppression is essential both for individual health and to reduce HIV transmission within the community,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Developing and validating strategies to enhance the engagement of men who have sex with men living with HIV in care and treatment is essential for controlling the HIV epidemic in this critical population in the United States.” Read more via NIH
US: Few HIV+ gay men receive anal cancer screening
Nationwide, only 11% of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men received anal Pap smears to detect anal cancer or precancerous cell changes during 2009-2012, with disparities between patient groups and wide variation across centers, a researcher said here.
White men were more likely to be screened for anal cancer than black men receiving HIV care, according to Mark Freedman, DVM, of the CDC.
And, although smoking raises the risk of cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), smokers were less likely to undergo screening, Freedman reported at the annual IDWeek meeting. 

HPV infection, anal dysplasia, and anal cancer are more prevalent among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) than in the general population, and studies indicate that the incidence of anal cancer has risen as people with HIV live longer thanks to effective antiretroviral therapy.
Indeed, HIV-positive gay men have a 37-fold higher rate of anal cancer than HIV-negative MSM, Freedman said.

Noting that guidelines for cervical cancer screening have reduced morbidity and mortality among women -- including HIV-positive women -- Freedman suggested that anal cancer screening might be similarly beneficial for HIV-positive gay men, but additional research is needed on its effectiveness. Read more via MedPage Today
Not being on PrEP is making it harder for me to get laid
A study released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this July found that condom use, particularly among young gay men, is on the wane. It found that in 2005, 28.7 percent of HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM) were having condomless sex, whereas in 2014 the number was 40.5 percent.

Anecdotal evidence backs this up. My friend Joe* was at a sex party in Provincetown last summer when he asked the host for a condom. His request was met with a look of surprise; he was told that the guys at the party were all on PrEP, and while he helped my friend look for rubbers, he couldn't find any. Joe eventually left when he realized that no one there was interested in keeping it wrapped even if he did find a condom. 

It's not surprising, then, that STIs are on the rise among gay men: On October 19, the CDC released its 2015 STD Surveillance Report, which found that total combined cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reported last year reached their highest level in history; from 2014 to 2015, those STDs respectively saw a 5.9, 12.8, and 19 percent increase in reported cases. Gay and bi men, they said, accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea and syphilis cases. Read more via VICE
India: Gay men are taking ‘poppers’, and they could be risking HIV
It all started with a filmmaker friend telling me how, for an upcoming project, she was researching the nightlife of the gay community in India. The conversation then steered to drugs, and the vulnerability of the community to drug abuse, unprotected sex, and worse, even an HIV infection.

Poppers are inhalable alkyl nitrates, that are popular in the gay community. Apart from giving a quick high, poppers are also said to enhance sexual pleasure. Some members of the Indian MSM (men who have sex with men) community, who prefer to be the more passive of the partners, say they can’t have sex without the use of the drug. Others reported their partners making them inhale the drug in bed.

Physiologically, usage of poppers is said to relax rectal muscle tissues thus easing anal sex. But this expansion of blood vessels in the rectum may also make the rectal tissues more susceptible to HIV infection. Read more via Quint
Tanzania suspends some HIV programs for gay men, says health minister
Tanzania has suspended community-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs for gay men, the health minister said on Monday, in the latest crackdown on the high-risk group.

Ummy Mwalimu, Tanzania's minister for health said the government had received reports that some local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were promoting and normalizing same-sex relationships as part of their HIV programs.

Gay sex is illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

In September, the government threatened to ban groups that "promote" the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in its first public statement against the minority group.

"We have suspended MSM (men who have sex with men) community-based interventions pending (a) review," Mwalimu said. The minister, however, said the government would continue to provide HIV/AIDS services to adolescent girls, drug users and other groups. Read more via Thomson Reuters Foundation
UK: Prince Harry proves powers of persuasion as he meets people with HIV
Prince Harry proved that he has inherited his mother’s remarkable powers of persuasion today when he met a group of people living with the virus.

Before the Prince arrived at the event in London for the sexual health charity Naz, only five HIV positive members of the charity’s Joyful Noise Choir had agreed to be photographed with him. But after a rallying call from the Prince about the need to go public, all but a handful of the 25-strong group were happily posing for pictures with him. 

The Prince, speaking off the cuff, told them: “I don’t want to be here in 10 years talking to you guys and saying we’re making a difference. There’s no reason why we can’t turn this around in two or three years.

“Not talking about something can actually kill you. People are happy to talk about their youngest child having cancer, that might even kill them, but the other child who has HIV, they don’t talk about that." Read more via the Telegraph
US: Election night victories we can cheer about
Today is a tough day for LGBT people—and women, immigrants, Muslims, people of color, Native Americans—let’s just say, it’s not a red-letter day for a lot of us. But some good came out of last night, too.

In Oregon, bisexual governor Kate Brown (D-OR) beat Republican opponent Bud Pierce, 50% to 44%. Brown was appointed to the position in February 2015 when former Governor John Kitzhaber resigned, but now she’s be elected in her own right. It marks the first time an out LGBT politician has won a governor’s seat.

“Kate Brown’s win in Oregon is one for the history books,” said Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which backed Brown and other LGBT candidates. Read more via New Next Now
US: At suicide hotlines, the first 24 hours of Trump’s America have been full of fear
The outcome wasn’t certain, but in the 60 minutes that seemed to stretch for much longer between 1 and 2 a.m. Wednesday, while the swing states deciding our next president flipped between red and blue, the phone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline rang 660 times.

People were scared — for their rights, for their safety, for their children.

They were thinking about taking their lives.

It was an unprecedented volume for that hour on a Wednesday — 2½ times the average — which is perhaps unsurprising when you consider the extreme levels of anxiety Americans feel during election cycles. They watch, overwhelmed, as the nation’s game plan changes overnight. They seek reassurance.

But this cycle, and this candidate, stoked fearful calls unmatched in the hotline’s history.  Read more via the Washington Post
The ruthlessly effective rebranding of Europe’s new far right
Across the continent, rightwing populist parties have seized control of the political conversation. How have they done it? By stealing the language, causes, and voters of the traditional left.

Europe’s new far right is different. From Denmark to the Netherlands to Germany, a new wave of rightwing parties has emerged over the past decade-and-a-half, and they are casting a much wider net than Jean-Marie Le Pen ever attempted to. And by deftly appealing to fear, nostalgia, and resentment of elites, they are rapidly broadening their base. 

These parties have built a coherent ideology and steadily chipped away at the establishment parties’ hold on power by pursuing a new and devastatingly effective electoral strategy. They have made a very public break with the symbols of the old right’s past, distancing themselves from skinheads, neo-Nazis, and homophobes. They have also deftly co-opted the causes, policies, and rhetoric of their opponents. They have sought to outflank the left when it comes to defending a strong welfare state and protecting social benefits that they claim are threatened by an influx of freeloading migrants. Read more via the Guardian
Scottish leaders form cross-party group on LGBT rights
The Scottish Parliament saw the official go-ahead for the formation of the LBGTI+ Cross Party Group (CPG), establishing a consensus to tackle many of the issues still surrounding the LGBTI+ community in Scotland. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie will represent their parties, alongside Jamie Greene  of the Scottish Conservatives and Ben Macpherson of the Scottish National Party.

The group first met to discuss the potential agenda and aims of the group and is scheduled to first meet officially in the Scottish Parliament on 14 December to agree on a work program for the parliamentary term.

Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale said: “I am very pleased to co-convene the LGBTI+ CPG. It’s very important to me that we use our voices and the power that we have to make a difference for LGBTI+ people across Scotland, particularly LBGTI+ young people.

Jamie Greene MSP said: “When I was sworn into the Scottish Parliament I was surprised to learn that no such group that promoted the rights of LGBTI+ currently existed. In a parliament with such a strong track record of being open and tolerant towards the community, it was unthinkable that it didn’t offer a formalized platform to promote and address the core issues that affect this community today. Read more via Pink News
Canada: Prime Minister announces Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues
Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, has been named Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be named to this role. I will work hard with the Prime Minister and the LGBTQ2 community to advance and protect their rights and address historical injustices they have endured.  I look forward to collaborating closely with Egale and other organizations in the coming months to advance the government's agenda for equality."
-Member of Parliament Randy Boissonnault, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Prime Minister's Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues Read more via Justin Trudeau

Canada: Liberals to revamp 'discriminatory' age law for anal intercourse
The Liberal government is repealing what it calls a "discriminatory" law that makes it illegal to have anal sex under the age of 18, unless it is between a husband and wife. 

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced the change today, saying the "outdated" law violates equality rights. "The proposed amendment would ensure, in law, that all forms of consensual sexual activity are treated the same," she said. "Diversity and inclusion have long been among the values Canadians embrace. Canadians expect their laws and their government to reflect these values." Read more via CBC
South Africa: ‘Hate crime’ call for corrective rape receives boost 
Six years after the South African government promised to address violence toward the LGBTIQ community, a hate crimes bill was opened for public comment this month – but the struggle to ensure lesbians enjoy a life free from violence is not over, say activists.

One night earlier this month, a lesbian couple were sleeping at home after having returned from a music festival. They were woken by loud noises outside. Shortly after, a group of men kicked down their door, entered the house and demanded sex. Both women were raped while the gang admonished them for being gay.

Corrective rape, the belief that heterosexual rape can “cure” or “correct” a woman’s homosexuality, is known to be common in South Africa, although the exact number of incidents is impossible to calculate. There is no separate category for corrective rape in the law, which means incidents are not officially recorded. Despite promises of a law to deal specifically with corrective rape in 2010, and years of pressure from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) groups in South Africa, activists say concrete government action has been slow to materialize. Read more via News Deeply
Gibraltar votes unanimously to legalize same-sex marriage
Felix Alvarez, Chairman of Equality Rights Group Gibraltar, said: “Today is a happy and long-awaited day for many in Gibraltar. Equality Rights Group extends a big thanks to all the LGBTI community and also to the very special people who have fought unfailingly alongside us.

“There is still much to do, and we will achieve it together because it’s not the Law that changes people – it’s the People that change the Law! And we have proven that to be a poignant truth today!”

The group pointed out that there was concern over a ‘conscience clause’ which would allow registrars to opt out of conducting same-sex marriages, but noted that in these cases a replacement must be provided by the government.

Alvarez continued: “But on days like today, when Gibraltar, despite its differences, puts them aside and shows it cares, it is impossible not to feel immense pride in our country and our people. Read more via GT
Australia:  Same-sex marriage plebiscite bill blocked by Senate
The Federal Government's bid to hold a plebiscite on whether to legalize same-sex marriage has been defeated in the Senate. The proposal was voted down on Monday night in the Upper House 33 votes to 29.

The Attorney-General George Brandis had warned a defeat would result in delaying same-sex marriage in Australia for years to come. But the Federal Opposition says the plebiscite would have resulted in harmful debate against the gay and lesbian community and want a direct vote in Parliament, instead.

It ends 14 months of debate over the fate of the plebiscite, which was first proposed by the former prime minister Tony Abbott and taken by his successor Malcolm Turnbull to the 2016 federal election. Read more via ABC
Romania: Victory as government delays public vote on whether to ban same-sex marriage
On 7 October, Parliament was supposed to debate a potential referendum which would see citizens vote on whether the constitution should define marriage as between a man and a woman. It was introduced by the anti-gay Coalition for Family.

In a petition, signed by more than three million people, they demand the constitution should be changed to state ‘the family is founded on the freely consented marriage between a man and a woman, their equality and the right and duty of parents to ensure the upbringing, education, and instruction of children.’

At the moment, the constitution states a marriage is between two spouses.
As a result, a positive vote on the referendum would automatically place a ban on same-sex marriage and make full equality impossible. ‘The push to change the Constitution of Romania and ban gay marriage right before the beginning of the electoral campaign for legislative elections would have gravely affected the status of the Romanian democracy,’ Vlad Viski, president of Romanian LGBTI organization MozaiQ, said. Read more via Gay Star News
Mexico: Congressional Committee nixes same-sex marriage proposal
A committee in Mexico's lower house of congress on Wednesday rejected a proposal by President Enrique Peña Nieto for legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Peña Nieto's proposal for same-sex marriage sparked massive demonstrations by both opponents and supporters.

The measure on enshrining same-sex couples' right to wed in the constitution was defeated 19-8, with one abstention, in the Commission on Constitutional Matters.

Mexico's Supreme Court ruled last year that it was unconstitutional for states to bar same-sex marriage. But the decision did not have the effect of overturning or rewriting any laws on the books, meaning individual couples still have to sue in each case for the right to wed. Read more via AP
Taiwan: LGBT parents urge marriage equality
Parents of gay sons and daughters and their supporters gathered outside the Legislative Yuan on Monday morning, calling for lawmakers to expedite legalization of same-sex marriage.
"Please do not deprive me of my right to grandchildren," said a parent named Corrine, who was joined by a dozen other parents and supporters. Under current law, LGBT couples enjoy no parental rights.

LGBT groups in Taiwan have been pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage within this legislative session. Different versions of amendments to the Civil Code, which governs spousal and parental rights and obligations in the nation, have already been submitted by a number of parties.

As of late October, the party's draft amendment to institutionalize same-sex marriage has been signed by more than 30 lawmakers. The bill still requires three readings in the Legislative Yuan in order to take effect. According to Jennifer Lu of the Taiwan LGBT Hotline Association, LGBT groups in general support the version proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Mei-nu. Read more via the China Post
Uganda: Human rights defenders win Constitutional Court battle
In Uganda, the Constitutional Court handed down its favorable judgment in the case Juuko Adrian v Attorney General, Constitutional Petition No. 1 of 2009, which challenged Section 15(6)(d) of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act.

The provision barred the Commission from investigating “any matter involving behavior which is considered to be immoral and socially harmful, or unacceptable by the majority of the cultural and social communities in Uganda”.

The Petitioner argued that the Section breaches the right to a fair hearing guaranteed in Article 28 and Article 44 of the Constitution.

In allowing the Petition, Court noted that a close analysis of the section brings out that the broad mandate of the EOC excludes investigation into certain groups. That if a person appeared before the Commission, they would likely be excluded from any form of hearing.

The Court then held that a law that precludes a group of people from adjudication on violation of their rights and does not create an alternative forum to hear them out breaches the right to a fair hearing. Court also held that this limitation on the right to a fair hearing is not acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. Read more via Oblogdeeoblogda
France: Calling a homophobe a homophobe is 'defamation'
Laure Pora, formerly president of the Paris branch of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), was ordered by the Cour d’Appeal to pay €800 to anti-LGBTI group La Manif pour tous. She also has to pay the judicial cost of €1,500.

In 2013, ACT UP staged a protest against the pro-life Jerome Lejeune Foundation, which provides ‘research, care, and advocacy for people with genetic intellectual disabilities’. It was staged because the foundation supports La Manif Pour Tous and employed the organization’s founder, Ludovine La Rochère.

La Manif Pour Tous has staunchly opposed not just same-sex marriage, but also adoption rights for same-sex couples; they also renounce gender theory and fight against rights for trans people. ‘Describing La Manif pour tous as homophobic is a criminal offense,’ said the organization’s lawyer, Henri de Beauregard, according to Le Monde. Read more via Gay Star News
UK: NHS to consider funding 'game-changer' HIV drugs 
National Health System will be forced to formally consider whether to fund pills to prevent HIV despite claiming that doing so could mean cancer victims and children with cystic fibrosis are refused treatment.

The court decision yesterday was welcomed by Aids charities, who say the drug – PrEP – is a "game-changer" in the fight against HIV, reducing the chance of infection by up to 90%.

But it came under fire from critics, who say the therapy amounts to a “promiscuity pill” which would encourage risky behavior, and the spread of other infections. The Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling which found NHS England has the power to pay for £5,000-a-year drugs used to block the spread of infection. Read more via Telegraph
Canada: Class action lawsuit filed to compensate fired LGBT public servants
The federal government faces increasing pressure to deliver on its promise to right historical wrongs against LGBT Canadians, from both activists and members of Parliament — including some Liberals.

On Oct 31, 2016, lawyers filed two class-action lawsuits, seeking at least $600 million in compensation for LGBT Canadians pushed out of the military and public service. Meanwhile, the House defense committee unanimously voted on Oct 25 to ask the government to have the military’s ombudsman probe the issue.

Researchers estimate that 800 to 1,200 Canadians were dishonorably discharged due to homosexuality, until the practice was banned in 1992. During the Cold War, authorities feared LGBT soldiers could be blackmailed by foreign enemies into divulging confidential information.

Previously, nine members of Parliament voted unanimously for a motion asking Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to have the military’s ombudsman, “revise the service records of LGBTQ members of the Canadian Forces who received dishonorable discharges from the military based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Read more via DailyXtra
Morocco: Teenage girls face prison over 'lesbian kiss'
Two teenage girls are to go on trial in Morocco on homosexuality charges after they were caught kissing and reported to police.

The girls, identified as 16-year-old Sanaa and 17-year-old Hajar, were detained after being "caught kissing and hugging on the roof of a house" in Marrakesh last week, according to the Moroccan Association of Human Rights.

A passer-by photographed them and sent pictures to the families of the girls who informed the police and the two girls were arrested on the same day, activist Omar Arbib said. The girls will be defended by a lawyer appointed by the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, and were due to appear in court on Friday. Read more via the Daily Mail
Singapore: Facebook user fined for threatening to 'open fire' on LGBT community
A user who threatened to “open fire” on the LGBT community has been fined S$3,500 for posting the “alarming” comment. Bryan Lim Sian Yang, 37, pleaded guilty to making a threatening communication likely to cause alarm under the Protection from Harassment Act.

Among those who made police reports was an employee of Oogachaga, a support group for the LGBT community in Singapore. The employee said Lim’s comment had caused the group’s staff, volunteers, and clients to fear for their safety.

Defence lawyer Adrian Wee said Lim’s comment “was an over-exuberant and poorly thought-out rant replete with hyperbole”. But the effect of Lim’s comment was limited, he argued. “It is in the context of the Orlando shooting that the comment caused alarm to (the LGBT community here),” Mr Wee said. Mr Wee also claimed that Lim’s comment was not targeted at LGBTs, but at foreign entities supporting Pink Dot, an annual event held in support of the LGBT community. He pointed out that “foreign interference” in Pink Dot has since been curbed by the authorities. Read more via Channel News Asia
South Africa: Cape Town's gay mosque provides rare haven
Friday prayers at the People's Mosque in Cape Town looks like any other around the Islamic world, except in this case the imam is openly gay and the teaching promotes homosexual rights.

It is a stance that provokes outrage from many Muslims, but Muhsin Hendricks has built up a small, loyal congregation by helping worshippers try to reconcile their sexuality and their religion.

"There is this love-hate relationship from the Muslim community," Hendricks told AFP.

"Sometimes they feel that I should be thrown from the highest mountain, and sometimes they appreciate that there is one imam who is willing to work with people who they are unwilling to work with." Read more via News24
Grenada: Dr. Osbert James: “Homosexual practices is not criminal”
Head of the Presbyterian Church, Dr. James made the statement while participating in a Town Hall Meeting at the Grenada National Stadium. He was speaking on the topic: “Is Christianity a Gospel of inclusion?” which looked at the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

“Our argument is that homosexual practice though in our view is immoral, it is not criminal”, he told the gathering.

“It is not inconsistent if some of us, while advocating for the decriminalization of sex between two consenting adults, while at the same time would refer to homosexual practice as something prohibited in scripture,” he said.

The Presbyterian Minister noted that the denominations of the church in North America with which they have fraternal relationships, including the United Church of Canada for a number of years have been pushing for gay rights, and have gay ministers, and recently made it possible for gays to be married. However, he said the Presbyterian Church in Grenada is a fully autonomous body and its practices will, to a large degree, reflect the religious culture or context in which it is operating. Read more via The New Today
Netherlands: Dutch cardinal floats idea of encyclical on gender theory
Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht in the Netherlands has said a papal encyclical or other magisterial document “might appear to be necessary” to counter the spread of the new theory that gender can be determined by personal choice rather than by biology.

He said even Catholic parents were beginning to accept that their own children can choose their genders partly because “they don’t hear anything else.” The church, he said, now had an urgent duty to remind them of the truth of its teaching about the human body.

“From the point of moral theology, it’s clear - you are not allowed to change your sex in this way,” he added.

“It is like euthanasia and assisted suicide,” Eijk continued. “When people first began to discuss them they were unsure,” but many people have now become so acquainted with such practices they are now deemed ordinary. Read more via Crux Now
Vatican condemns priest for linking gays to earthquakes
The Vatican on Nov. 4 reacted almost immediately after a Catholic priest in Rome stated on a radio talk show that he believes two earthquakes that struck central Italy this year and claimed the lives of nearly 300 people were caused by “human sins such as civil unions” for gays, the Italian news service ANSA reports.

The priest, Fr. Giovanni Cavalcoli, was referring to a civil unions law approved by the Italian Parliament in May that provides some of the protections and rights of marriage to committed same-sex couples, according to ANSA.

“They are offensive statements for believers and scandalous for non-believers,” ANSA quoted the Vatican’s Assistant Secretary of State Monsignor Angelo Becciu as saying.

“Christ revealed the face of God as love, not as a capricious and vengeful God,” ANSA quoted Becciu as saying. “That is a pagan vision, not a Christian one.” Read more via Washington Blade
Barbados: False doctrine
Selfish and out of touch with reality! That is how the gay, lesbian and transgender community here this afternoon described the churches that organized Sunday night’s Barbados Religious Rally on protecting the traditional family.

Speaking on the theme, Family, Faith, and Freedom, one of the main speakers at Sunday’s event, American research professor Dr Judith Reisman, warned Government to be aware of homosexual influences on the society and the educational system.

Reisman charged that the new comprehensive sex education program being taught in American schools, if implemented here, would lead to drug and alcohol abuse, and a number of other ills, including higher rates of sexuality transmitted diseases, because children were being introduced to sexual perversions in order to turn them into little sexual deviants.

But in a stinging response Tuesday afternoon, head of Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination (B-GLAD) Donnya Piggott stopped just short of describing the religious leaders as hypocrites. Read more via Barbados Today
Nigeria: Harsh law’s severe impact on LGBT community
 Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013 (SSMPA) has made a bad situation much worse for Nigeria’s beleaguered lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The law has led to an increase in extortion and violence against LGBT people and imposed restrictions on nongovernmental organizations providing essential services to LGBT people in Nigeria.

The 81-page report, “‘Tell Me Where I Can Be Safe’: The Impact of Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act,” shows how the law, which took effect in January 2014, is used by some police officers and members of the public to legitimize abuses against LGBT people. Read more via HRW
US: 2016 deadliest year on record for transgender people, campaigners say
Murders of transgender people hit an all-time high in the United States this year, campaigners said on Thursday, amid fears of a backlash against the transgender community following the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president.

GLAAD, a U.S. advocacy group that tracks transgender murders said 24 transgender people were murdered, exceeding last year's tally of 22. Most of this year's victims were women of colour, GLAAD said.

The announcement comes as transgender advocates worry of a reversal of their civil rights gains under the new government of President-elect Trump. Read more via Thomson Reuters Foundation
Russia: Trans Muslim woman killed days after her wedding
A Muslim transgender woman was killed in Russia three days after marrying her husband this week. Raina Aliev was left virtually unrecognizable as her body was hacked into pieces.

The incident allegedly took place after Aliev’s father, Alimshaikh Aliev, called for his daughter’s execution on a Russian TV station and misgendered Raina.
“Let him be killed, I don’t want to see him,” Alimshaikh said. “Bring him here and kill him in front of my eyes.”
A Dagestan mufti, a legal expert who interprets Muslim law, told Russian media that being transgender is banned in Islam: “Changing sex is totally forbidden, because it means that a man will be a woman,” they said.
The exact motivation and cause behind Aliev’s death is still under investigation. Read more via Pink News
Iran: Being lesbian and trans in Iran
 OutRight Action International, the global LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer) human rights organization, has released a groundbreaking report: Transgender in Iran: A Human Rights Report, which sheds light on the complicated status of trans rights and how they intersect with religion and social attitudes in the country.

This report was developed through interviews with 34 trans Iranians, within and outside Iran, as well as through research into a wide range of text-based sources and through limited responses from the Iranian government. This report is intended primarily as a resource for the Iranian trans community and for trans rights advocates working in and around Iran. Read more via OutRight International
Uruguay, Argentina ranked most LGBT-friendly Latin American countries
A report from the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas indicates Uruguay and Argentina are Latin America’s most LGBT-friendly countries. The 2016 Social Inclusion Index notes Uruguay “has been a leader” in the LGBT rights movement that has gained traction throughout the region over the last decade.

“The laws that the LGBTI social movements of Argentina and Uruguay have achieved over the last few years have allowed for an opening and social inclusion that has contributed to a climate of respect for sexual diversity,” LGBT Federation of Argentina Vice President Esteban Paulón told the Washington Blade in response to the report.

“Public policies that have broken down barriers and extended equality to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans people have also been implemented in both countries,” he added. “The report reflects that this combination of legal framework and public policies has, without a doubt, improved the conditions in which the LGBTI community lives and they are the correct path forward for effectively fighting discrimination.” Read more via Washington Blade
Canada: Federal government offers first gender-neutral travel document
The federal government has begun accepting gender-neutral travel documents for people planning to fly into, or through, Canada. Canada's new Electronic Travel Authorizations, or eTAs, which become mandatory for visitors to Canada starting Thursday, for the first time allow travelers a third choice on the online application form under gender: other.

Until now, applicants had to choose between male or female, which prevented some potential visitors from completing the form — an issue that was noted in an internal report obtained under the Access to Information Act.

"The system cannot finalize applications when the client indicates that they are of a third-sex designation," says the May 2 troubleshooting document from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Read more via CBC
Canada: First LGBT foster agency in Ontario opening its doors
Lucas Medina knows that there’s a problem with Ontario’s foster care system.  After all, he grew up as a Crown ward. And from what he can see, the situation hasn’t changed much in the years since he was a gay teenager trying to survive the system.

“It’s just amazing to me that we’ve failed these youth to this degree,” he says. That’s why Medina felt compelled to start the first LGBT foster agency in the province.

Five/Fourteen, which Medina launched with his husband, Chad Craig, in Windsor, Ontario, will help place queer and trans foster children into welcoming homes.

“I just needed to do something because nobody else was actually doing anything about it,” Medina says. Read more via DailyXtra
Australia: Adoption laws in Queensland changed to allow same-sex couples to become parents
Same-sex couples, single people and couples undergoing fertility treatment will now be able to adopt a child in Queensland. The Palaszczuk Government passed the Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 last night with the help of the three independent MPs.

The LNP and Katter's Australian Party opposed expanding the adoption criteria to include same-sex couples and single people. LNP's communities spokeswoman Ros Bates argued the expanded criteria was not needed.

The changes put Queensland in line with most other states and territories - except South Australia and the Northern Territory. Read more via ABC
The place for stories of intersex people across Europe
OII Europe is proud to announce the launch of its intervisibility.eu website. That milestone project will for the first time make information about intersex available in 23 European languages with hopes to increase that base in the future. Over time intervisibility.eu will gather audio-visual testimonials from all over Europe, as well as articles about the situation of intersex people in different European countries. It will be a platform for intersex people to share and a resourceful website for allies and NGOs to learn directly from such expertise.
Dan Christian Ghattas, Co-Chair of OII Europe, explains: “For about 20 years now, intersex people and activists worked on making their voices and their lives visible. But stigma and silence are hard to overcome. On the top of this European activism deals with a vast diversity of languages. This is wonderful as the different cultures enrich our activism. But it also makes reaching out on a regional level so much more challenging for everyone. We hope that intervisibility.eu will empower intersex people in all European Countries to come out in their language and their region, get in touch with each other and with us and stand up for their human rights.”
 Read more via Invisibility 
Belize: Education Minister reconciled with Derrica Castillo
As part of Youth Month - Education and Youth Minister Patrick Faber handed over the Minister's award to twenty- eight-year-old BDF Lieutenant Derricia Jael Castillo.  It happened at the youth awards and was the highlight of the evening, a moment reserved for an exemplary young person who has spearheaded a positive cause which has impacted his or her community.

Dericcia is a well trained Aircraft Maintenance Officer in the BDF who - according to the Youth department - has assisted in creating and implementing a BDF HIV Response, spoken at the 38th Meeting of UNAIDS in Geneva, worked as a Conflict Mediator, is a member of the Caribbean Women's Alliance for Diversity and Equality and Created awareness and sensitize communities on human rights issues. But, shes also a proud member of the LBGT community and an activist. 

So, Derricia posted on her Facebook that she was honored for her positive impact in the LGBT community, and the people living with HIV community. She noted quote, "what is most impressive is that since the inception of the Belize Youth Award, this is the first time that someone has been awarded for their work with the LBGT community from any government entity that is mandated to interface with the youth population." 

The Minister made it clear that her sexual orientation or her work in the LGBTQ community were not the problem, but that he was upset about the misrepresentation of the award. Faber also said that he was considering rescinding the award. So, today, when we spoke to the Minister about the matter, he said that he will not be taking the award away from Castillo, at least not unless a proper review has been conducted. Read more via 7newsBelize
Panel discussion at the launch of first global analysis of the criminalisation and persecution of lesbian and bisexual women
Same-sex intimacy between women is illegal in 1 in 4 countries - a figure that has been rising in the past 30 years - exacerbating forced marriage, rape, murder & other extreme human rights abuses against women because of the intersection between their gender and sexual orientation. Yet women’s experiences of anti-gay laws are rarely the focus of discussion or advocacy either in the women’s human rights or LGBT human rights discourses.

To highlight these issues, the Human Dignity Trust organized a panel discussion marking the official launch of the first-ever global analysis of the criminalisation and persecution of lesbian and bisexual women. The report, “Breaking the Silence: Criminalisation of Lesbians and Bisexual Women and its Impacts” has been produced by the Human Dignity Trust. Listen now
Taiwan: 80,000 take to streets amid rising hope for same-sex marriage
It might have rained on their parade, but Taiwan’s wet weather did not dampen the spirits of Asia’s largest gay pride march, as over 80,000 took to the streets of the capital, Taipei, on Saturday to call for equal rights and same-sex marriage.

Rainbow umbrellas went up, matching a sea of multi-coloured flags and hats, in a typically flamboyant scene that included lederhosen, gravity-defying gold heels, and a dozen young men clad in tiny briefs to advertise a gay social network app with their impeccable pecs.

At 2.30pm, as two giant rainbow banners were unfurled and a brass band struck up, the crowd cheered. Read more via Telegraph

Taipei City raises rainbow flag in support of gay pride
The Taipei City Council passed a resolution in June to have the city government raise a rainbow flag on the day of the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade as a sign of respect for and recognition of diversity and differences, said Lan Shih-tsung (藍世聰), commissioner of Taipei's Department of Civil Affairs.

Speaking to reporters at an event to announce the completion of the Taipei Gymnasium, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) admitted Saturday that the city government had received complaint calls over the decision to raise the rainbow flag. But he said his government followed through on the move as the city council passed a resolution on the issue.

When asked if the move meant that the city government supports same-sex marriage legislation, Ko said it meant that his government respects diversity. Read more via Focus Taiwan 
Russia: This city might become the first to break national law and allow a Pride parade
Perm, a city in western Russia, is considering whether the law against ‘gay propaganda’ is actually in contradiction with laws protecting freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Gay rights activists have lodged an application with the Perm authorities and, unlike other cities, they didn’t revoke it immediately citing the nationwide ban on promotion of ‘non-traditional relationships’ to children.

Just this past week, the cities and regions of Yekaterinberg, Ufa, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Kurgan have all banned Pride events in reference to the homophobic law. However Yuri Utkin, the head of Perm city council, has said Russia’s government has no authority on whether to decide someone can hold a public event.

‘The right of citizens to freedom of peaceful assembly is conflicting with the need to protect children from information that could harm their health, moral and spiritual development,’ he said. Read more via Gay Star News
UK: LGBT asylum seekers are not safe in detention, the home office must do more
Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people face persecution, harassment, and violence all over the world. In many countries the law does not sufficiently protect LGBT people, and in 72 countries sex with someone of the same sex is illegal.

The constant fear and experience of violence and rejection by family and society forces some LGBT people to flee countries as a last resort to survive. Many come to the UK looking for safety, and to lead a life where they are free to be themselves.

Sadly, the reality often looks very different. Detention centres in the UK, as our new report shows, offer little respite or refuge. While there is no doubt the UK asylum system has improved for LGBT people, especially since our report No Going Back in 2010, this report demonstrates there is still a long way to go. Read more via the Huffington Post
Albania: LGBTs from region find shelter in Tirana
Nineteen-year-old “S” cuts an unusual figure in Albania. Born a woman, S now wants to be considered a he/him, not a she/her. Facing a good deal of psychological violence from his family about his sexual orientation, he says he tried committing suicide several times because of the pressure.

In the old days, there would have been nowhere to turn – but now “S” has found a place of refuge and support in the Albanian capital, Tirana.It provides a residential home for up to eight young people at a time, aged 18 to 25, who are at risk of violence and discrimination at the hands of their families or the local community if they come out as LGBT.

Initially established to help Albanians, it has since opened its doors to ethnic Albanians from outside the country as well. Read more via Balkan Insight
Netherlands: Safe countries of origin list expanded 
The Dutch Minister for Migration, Klaas Dijkhoff, has expanded the list of countries deemed by the Netherlands to be “safe countries of origin,” to include Algeria, Georgia, the Ukraine and Tunisia, according to an October 11, 2016 announcement. Such countries are ones that are sufficiently safe and asylum applicants can return to them without risk. The Dutch government tends to reject the applications for asylum from nationals of those countries; the list, therefore, serves to quicken the asylum application process. 

For asylum seekers from safe countries, applications for asylum are handled under an accelerated procedure consisting of one interview and “may be rejected as manifestly unfounded,” meaning that the rejected applicant must immediately leave the Netherlands and also be subject to “an entry ban for the entire Schengen Area for a period of two years.” 

While asylum seekers from safe countries of origin will have chance to show why the given country may not be safe in their specific circumstances and can appeal a rejection decision, they are typically not permitted to remain in the Netherlands while awaiting a court decision. In the case of Algeria and Tunisia, the countries are safe countries of origin except for LGBT residents, while for Georgia and Ukraine there is an exception for asylum applicants from “certain areas that are not controlled by the authorities.”  Read more via Library of Congress
South Africa: It's hard to escape the hate
Kelvin Mazungo is a 31-year-old gay man from Kariba in Zimbabwe, Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a 27-year-old transgender woman from Blantyre in Malawi and Jerryl Mondongo is a 30-year-old gay man from Brazzaville in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

They have more in common than just being young, queer and African. They have all faced trauma, and have taken refuge in South Africa to escape persecution at home.

And all of them told City Press that as out and proud lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Africans, you can run but you really can’t hide from your homophobic countrymen, even when far from home. Read more via City Press
Indonesia: UNG to force LGBT students to change their sexual orientation
State University of Gorontalo (UNG) Rector Syamsu Qamar Badu decided to take stern measures against LGBT students on campus. 

Syamsu plans to establish a special team to monitor students who have claimed an LGBT sexual orientation. The LGBT students will be obligated to attend special sessions to be “normalized”, and if they defy the requirements, the university will impose severe sanctions against them.

The special team will include psychologists and other related experts and will function like an intelligence agency, in which its members will work undercover making friends with students in order to diagnose their sexual orientation. Read more via the Jakarta Post

Indonesia: Leave students alone, say activists
Students must not be the target of discriminatory policies set by the State University of Gorontalo (UNG) as they need to study in a safe and supporting environment regardless of their sexual orientation, activists say.

Not only was it discriminatory, the regulation also violated basic human rights for people to get an education as stipulated in the Constitution, head of Nahdlatul Ulama’s Institute for Research and Human Resources Development (Lakpesdam) Wahiyudin Mamonto said. Read more via the Jakarta Post
Ugandan youth challenge ban on sexuality education
The Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda has condemned the Gender Ministry’s ban on comprehensive sexuality education in schools. His Excellency Henk Jan Baker, said Ms Janat Mukwaya, the gender minister, could have been misinformed on the critical role of young people having access to sexuality education.

“Sexuality education is something that needs to be taken forward at both community and political level because it a very good thing towards the accessibility to sexuality reproductive and health rights,” Mr Baker said.

He was speaking on Saturday during Reach a Hand Uganda’s (RAHU) third intergenerational dialogue on Sexuality and Reproduction Health Rights (SRH) in Kampala. The dialogue attracted over 3,000 youths and students across the country who also expressed dissatisfaction against the banning of sexuality education in schools.

Ms Mukwaya in her Friday press release banned comprehensive sexuality education in schools until a policy to regulate sexuality education is formulated. She the sexuality education was leading to decline in national values. Read more via the Daily Monitor
Japan: Human rights watchdog urges LGBT-inclusive curricula for schools
With a new proposal, a human rights group is urging the government to give ample consideration to sexual minority students when compiling educational guidelines and teacher training programs.

The proposal is part of ongoing efforts to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children from harassment and bullying at school.

Given the lack of an LGBT-inclusive curriculum, students in Japan receive inaccurate and biased information about members of sexual minorities from teachers, Kanae Doi, Japan director of Human Rights Watch, said in a recent interview.

“It is necessary to enable teachers, through comprehensive training, to adequately respond to consultations by LGBT students and make it obligatory to cover LGBT issues in classrooms, rather than leaving it optional, to shed light on the minority children,” she said. Read more via Japan Times
Germany: Berlin public and corporate Wi-Fi block LGBT-friendly websites
A Berlin Ikea blocking the website for an LGBT advocacy group was just the tip of the iceberg. This is symptomatic of a government unconcerned with gay rights, a prominent activist said.

On a recent family shopping trip to the Ikea outlet in Berlin's Schöneberg district, one father noticed something strange. As he went to look up the schedule for an upcoming family picnic hosted by the German Association for Lesbians and Gays (LSVD), he noticed the website was blocked. Out of curiosity, he tried several other portals for LGBT resources; articles about homophobia, advice columns on coming out. None of them worked. Queer.de, a website that advocates for homosexuals' rights, was similarly blank.

Apparently, the websites were "labeled as pornography and disabled under Germany's child protection laws," said LSVD Director for Berlin and Brandenburg, Jörg Steinert, in an interview with DW. "Unfortunately, this is nothing new for us," said Steinert. Read more via DW
Singapore: Anti-LGBT tilt taints commerce
Recent moves by Singapore's government to change its notoriously narrow public order law to further restrict free speech came as no surprise. But the specificity and persistence of the moves by the country's home affairs ministry -- first, in June, a warning to corporations that sponsor a gay-themed gathering, and from Nov. 1 the imposition of a new bureaucratic hurdle for event sponsorship -- is peculiar for a city-state keen on projecting a reputation for welcoming international business.  

The new restriction, which requires companies that are not "Singapore entities" -- meaning they are not incorporated in Singapore and do not have a majority of Singapore citizens on their board -- appears to be aimed at corporate sponsorship of Pink Dot, an annual gathering that, since 2009, has brought together Singapore citizens and permanent residents to express support for the LGBT community.  Read more via HRW
2016 Leading 100 LGBT Executives
From real estate to media, out professionals are excelling across all industries. To recognize and celebrate their success, OUTstanding and the Financial Times have teamed up to put together a list of the 100 top LGBTQ executives around the world. Read more via Outstanding
In Praise of Incrementalism
What do Renaissance painting, civil-rights movements, and Olympic cycling have in common? In each case, huge breakthroughs came from taking tiny steps. In a world where everyone is looking for the next moonshot, we shouldn’t ignore the power of incrementalism. Listen or read more via Freakonomics
This beautiful children’s book is exploring queer South Asian themes Read more
The Liberating art of LGBTQ prisoners Read more
Could you be the Michael Moore of the mobile phone? Read more
US: Orlando to purchase Pulse and turn it into a memorial Read more
Several European national soccer groups sign agreement to end homophobia Read more
BBC defend CBBC's Just a Girl following claim that transgender series is "inappropriate" for young audience 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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