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25 May 2015 edition

Dear friends and colleagues,

From the UN: May 17th marked the 11th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), celebrating the World Health Organization's decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. IDAHOT is now celebrated in more than 130 countries by over 1200 organizations.  

Marking the occasion, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement that urged businesses to become allies to the community and praised the UN policy of employee benefits for LGBT people, including same-sex spouses. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said, "We cannot tolerate picking and choosing rights in modern society" as he urged for global solidarity in the fight for equality. He called on everyone "to join the movement for social justice, equality, and equity so that all people can live with dignity." 

And in its statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, called for special attention to young LGBT and intersex people and warned that laws that criminalize people based on gender or sexual identity exacerbate violence and discrimination against young people. 

HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: In Bangkok, UNAIDS hosted 50 civil society leaders from around the world to discuss 'Fast Tracking' the AIDS response. The two-day meeting noted that for the greatest impact, interventions must include attention to the most-affected populations including gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who inject drugs. 

As the UN General Assembly prepares to adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance launched a global campaign to ensure equal access to healthcare for LGBTI people.  The campaign aims to pressure those responsible for drafting the Universal Health Coverage text to include the LGBTI community.

And in Australia, Equality Minister Martin Foley announced a funding program for LGBTI seniors to promote health and social inclusion, noting that seniors shouldn't be forced "back into the closet" to receive social services.

Standing Against Discrimination: In celebration of IDAHOT, leaders worldwide spoke in support of the LGBTI community. Among them was Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma who said the ongoing discrimination many LGBTI Commonwealth citizens face is "unacceptable" and "robs millions" of the right to live lives of dignity. And in her video, First Lady of Belize warned of the "harsh reality" of bullying and loss of basic human rights.

The Council of Europe used the occasion to release an issue paper on the human rights needs of intersex people, and presented potential ways to protect intersex people against discrimination and unnecessary medical treatment.

In Cuba, Parliament Member Mariela Castro Espín led over 1,000 participants in a march for equality that ended with a sponsored religious blessing ceremony for same-sex couples. In Lebanon, local celebrities joined the campaign to counter discrimination with the message, "Being different isn't shameful."

Russia held its "largest LGBT rally" in St. Petersburg with representatives from several LGBT and human rights groups. Participant leaders praised local police for supporting the peace and being "true allies" during the event. Meanwhile celebrations in Moscow were less successful, where police disrupted the rally and detained activists, according to participants. 

In Albania, hundreds of activists marched to the Prime Minister's office and demanded he "keep his promises" to the community. In South Korea, over 100 organizations including LGBTI, women, people with disabilities, labor, human rights, and civil society groups joined the IDAHOT festival. Organizers issued a list of demands to end discrimination, including the resignation of LGBTI-phobic commissioners. 

In Turkey, activists used the occasion to bring attention to ongoing issues of discrimination, violence, and murder Turkish LGBTIs face. And in Uganda, hundreds celebrated the second annual local Pride event peacefully.

For a full roundup of IDAHOT events, check out dayagainsthomophobia.org.

From the World of Politics: The big winner from the recent UK general election? It elected more openly LGBTQ representatives than any other nation in the world. 

The deputy president of Kenya announced that there are "no room for gays" in Kenya while speaking to a local church congregation. Days later, the local Kenyan paper Citizen Weekly published a front page exposé identifying 12 prominent activists and leaders as gay and sending LGBT leaders scrambling for cover.

And in Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh threatened to slit the throats of gay people during a speech about fostering a healthy atmosphere for Gambian youth. 

The Politics of Union: On Friday, the Republic of Ireland became the first country in the world to approve same-sex marriage via popular vote with a commanding 62% majority. As correspondent Lester Feder noted, the pro marriage equality campaign won by asking Irish voters to to cast their ballot for “a fairer Ireland,” stating:

They succeeded in making it a referendum on what kind of country voters — the vast majority of whom are straight — wanted to live in, and they resoundingly chose one where gay and lesbian couples are part of Irish families just like straight couples are. 
Kaohsiung has become the first Taiwan city to allow same-sex couples to register. Though the move does not provide the same legal protections as marriage, it will give couples some administrative benefits. In Cyprus, the Cabinet approved a civil partnerships bill that will provide same-sex couples all the benefits of marriage, with the exception of adoption.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel married his longtime partner Gauthier Destinay, becoming the first serving EU leader to wed their same-sex partner while in office.

France's United Protestant Church voted to allow the blessing of gay marriages and the Church of Scotland will permit the ordination of gay ministers who are in civil partnerships.

In Russia, lawmakers drafted legislation to ban trans people from marrying. The legislation is in response to a trans woman who was able to marry her female partner despite anti-gay laws because of a technicality: the woman's passport identifies her as a male.

Let the Courts Decide: In Zambia, the High Court upheld the acquittal of HIV activist Paul Kasonkomna who was arrested for "soliciting in public for immoral purposes" when he appeared on TV to speak about the rights of LGBT people and sex workers. Supporters celebrated the ruling saying that it will protect the right to lobby for marginalized groups. 

The European Court of Human Rights condemned the country of Georgia for failing to protect activists from brutal assault during peaceful protests and additionally ruled that trans people should be protected from discrimination.

In Hong Kong, the High Court will hear a discrimination case between a lesbian couple and the Immigration Department. The couple, who entered into a civil partnership in the UK, have been refused benefits in Hong Kong because officials do not recognize same-sex couples.

Fear and Loathing: In Cuba, the recent murder of a young trans person has some questioning if ongoing violent crimes against LGBT people should be considered 'hate crimes.' Middle East journalist Bel Trew investigates how "distaste" of LGBT Egyptians has become "state-sponsored persecution." Although Egypt does not criminalise homosexuality, activists say at least 150 LGBT people have been arrested by 'morality police' since 2013. 

A new report from France suggests that homophobic acts have increased by 78%, but journalist Marc Naimark explores whether homophobia in the country has risen or just the awareness of the problem. 

A New Zealand father was arrested for beating his daughter because he suspects her of being a lesbian. In the US, New York police have charged a man in the brutal beating of a gay couple in the notoriously 'gay friendly' Chelsea neighborhood.

In Pakistan, four trans women were murdered in one week in two separate incidents. In the last week in Turkey, seven trans women have been attacked in three cities. And in the US, a trans woman in Philadelphia was the 10th trans person to be murdered and a Wisconsin teen was the 10th young trans person to commit suicide in 2015.

Also from the US, LGBT prisoners are 15 times more likely to be victims of rape than other prisoners, despite the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act.  And in Indonesia, a new survey found that nearly 90% of LGBTI people have experienced abuse, with over 45% victims of sexual assault. 

School Days: Out of South Africa, the Higher Education and Training HIV Programme has found that gay and bisexual students suffer high rates of violence, with more than one in ten reported being raped. A new study in Latin America found that 40% of gay and lesbian students and 65% of transgender students have suffered bullying.

In the UK, during the National Association of Head Teachers' conference, some participants reported that they had received death threats for teaching students about homophobia. 

The Global Alliance for LGBT Education has published country scores rating nations' implementation of the right to education for LGBTI students. Of all the states assessed, only 9.5% are supportive of LGBTI students, 24% deny LGBTI student rights, and 21.5% are considered ambiguous. The Alliance further noted that most LGBTI activists are more focused on survival than on education.

Winds of Change: In Nepal, a lesbian rights organization has set up a temporary outdoor space to supply meals and social services to earthquake victims after their own facility was damaged. The group stated: "This is about showing solidarity over the fear that the multiple quakes and aftershocks have engendered."

In the Ukraine, a new campaign is using billboards to fight intolerance faced by vulnerable groups. The billboards urge people to "speak properly" to LGBT people, Jews, Roma, women, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV. In Canada, a new LGBT human rights group has been launched to advance Canadian involvement in global LGBT human rights issues.

Despite concerns of growing conservatism in Turkey, a new poll across 26 Turkish cities found a positive shift in perception on women's rights and LGBTI acceptance.  

ILGA - the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association - has launched the 10th edition of its annual report on state-sponsored homophobia. The findings include a drop in criminalizing countries from 92% to 76%. 

Transgender Europe has released a new report with detailed findings on the rights of trans people across the continent. The report includes a comparison of laws and protections of where it is safe to be transgender.  And in show of growing acceptance of gender diversity, the Oxford English dictionary is adding a new gender neutral honorific: 'Mx' alongside Mr, Ms, and Mrs.

In the Name of Religion: The National Council of Churches in the Philippines has said their approach to gender, sex, and sexuality has contributed to the spread of HIV and AIDS by marginalizing LGBT people.

The German Catholic Church voted to adjust labor laws and allow lay employees to keep their jobs even if they divorce or enter into same-sex civil unions. In the US, an initiative by the Human Rights Campaign aims to bring discussion on religion, faith, and sexuality to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

And leaders of the International North Point Ministries organization are clashing over LGBT rights. While the evangelical group leader Charles Stanley has regularly made strong anti-LGBT statements, now his son, Pastor Andy Stanley, says church should be the 'safest place on the planet' for all, including gay students.

The World of Business: A Russian politician plans to sue Apple for violating the anti-gay propaganda bill when it automatically sent iPhone users the new U2 album because the album cover features two shirtless men: drummer Larry Mullen Jr. shielding his 18-year-old son in a protective embrace. 

In the US state of Texas, lawmakers are considering anti-gay legislation. Although the business community was integral in stopping discriminatory bills when similar legislation was considered by Indiana, Arkansas, and Arizona, Texas leaders have yet to offer public support of the LGBT community.

In Hong Kong, Community Business has released its inaugural LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index to encourage diversity and inclusion in the corporate world. 

Sports and Culture: As Kazakhstan competes to host the 2022 Winter Games, 27 Olympic and Paralympic athletes have called on the International Olympic committee to take a stand on Kazakhstan's anti-gay legislation which, they say, is "incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement."

This summer Latvia will be the first Eastern bloc country to host the annual Europride festival. Austria is celebrating international Eurovision Song Contest with new permanent traffic lights that display gay couples crossing the road. And in the UK, Transport for London is 'celebrating diversity' with a rainbow taxi, bus, and rainbow pedestrian stripes.

After a Russian sub was spotted lurking around the Swedish border, The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society placed a glowing, animated sign in the water that reads “Welcome to Sweden – Gay since 1944.”

On a TV game show in the US, a Jeopardy contestant shut down his homophobic haters. In Italy, a dancer proposed to his boyfriend on national television. And in a moving article, Irish TV journalist Ursula Halligan explains how the Irish marriage referendum led her to come out of the closet.

Fulfilling his mother's wishes, an Indian gay activist contacted all the local papers until he found one willing to publish his "Groom Wanted" ad. After other papers rejected the ad on legal grounds, Mid-Day accepted the ad saying: 


"A marriage is a meeting of minds, of souls. At Mid-day, we believe that human rights should be applicable to all, regardless of religion, caste, colour, sexual orientation, etc. Therefore, a mother seeking a union for her gay son is perfectly normal." 
A group of straight bodybuilders have joined LGBT YouTube activists to create a video to combat bullying. And finally, check out this series of videos about growing up gay in Kenyan from activists, lawyers, chefs, and scientists. The interviews all include advice and messages of hope to the next generation
I respect culture, tradition and religion, but they can never justify the denial of basic rights. My promise to the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender members of the human family is this: I’m with you. I promise that as Secretary-General of the United Nations I will denounce attacks against you and I will keep pressing leaders for progress.
~ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Wanted: Allies in the fight against homophobia & transphobia
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged more businesses to become allies in equality for LGBT people: "I believe in leading by example. At the UN, I have implemented a policy change to extend to same-sex spouses of UN staff the same benefits as heterosexual spouses, including health insurance coverage. The new policy means that the UN now honours the marriage of any same-sex couple wed in a country where same-sex marriages are legal."

"To mark the Day, the UN human rights office has released a short video called “Faces” as part of its UN Free & Equal campaign. The video, in which I was proud to take part, celebrates the contributions that LGBTI people make to families and local communities everywhere."  Read his full statement
A Message from UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé
We are living in a time of rapid social change. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are now reaching new frontiers and celebrating remarkable achievements. Despite this transformation, acts of discrimination and violence continue against the LGBTI community.

We cannot tolerate picking and choosing rights in a modern society—a society where diversity is celebrated; a society where everyone, no matter where they live or whom they love, is able to live in peace and security; a society where everyone can contribute to the health and well-being of their community. We can make this society a reality, but we will need global solidarity. We did this when we fought against apartheid—and we won!

As we observe the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, I call on everyone to join the movement for social justice, equality and equity so that all people can live with respect and dignity. This is the future I commit to—this is the future I embrace. Watch his remarks here
Discriminated and made vulnerable: Young LGBT and intersex people need recognition and protection of their rights
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, a group of UN human rights experts, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe urge Governments worldwide to protect LGBTI young people and children from violence and discrimination.

Laws that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity exacerbate violence and discrimination. This includes ‘anti gay propaganda’ laws that arbitrarily restrict rights to freedom of expression and assembly and threaten the work of LGBT organizations and human rights defenders.  Although it is claimed that these laws protect children, the result is, typically, the exact opposite: they result in violence against children and young activists who speak up against abuses. These and other discriminatory laws go against international human rights standards and should be repealed. Read More
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Bangkok: UNAIDS holds civil society meeting on fast-tracking the end of AIDS
UNAIDS convened over 50 civil society leaders from around the globe to develop a plan detailing how the HIV community can best work together to advocate for accelerated, strategic, and equitable international and domestic responses to HIV. 

“Fast-tracking the AIDS response is about political mobilization,” said meeting moderator Chris Collins, chief of the UNAIDS Community Mobilization Division and amfAR’s former director of public policy. “A revitalized AIDS response won’t happen without civil society, and the reach to people who have been left behind has to come from the community.”

The Fast Track strategy calls for an increased focus on funding HIV interventions proven to have greatest impact and delivering them to most-affected key populations—men who sex with men (MSM), transgender individuals, sex workers, and people who inject drugs. Read More
Leave No-one Behind in the Post-2015 Health Agenda
In just a few months' time, the world will agree on a new set of global development goals which are expected to be more ambitious, more rights-based, and more sustainable than the preceding Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Proposed targets like "end the AIDS epidemic", "ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services" and "achieve universal health coverage", as well as a goal on reducing inequalities, give us a lot of reason for hope. Hope that this time we will get it right and not leave behind people who are marginalised, excluded, stigmatised or even criminalised. These include LGBTI people and other groups most at risk of HIV who can be denied access to life-saving health care for no other reason than their sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV status or trait that marks them as "different" from the majority.

Securing universal health coverage (UHC) is a key priority for the WHO. It's depressing to see that, despite the momentum that UHC has been gaining for a solid decade now, it's clear that it has not been reaching the most marginalised. The International HIV/AIDS Alliance has launched Write Us In, a new global campaign to ensure equitable access to healthcare for LGBTI people. Read More
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Australia: Victorian government announces $400K funding for LGBTI seniors program
The Victorian Government has just announced $402,000 in funding over three years for Val’s Cafe, a program that promotes and advocates for the health, wellbeing and social inclusion of older LGBTI people.

Val’s Café is named after a Melbourne coffee lounge established by Val Eastwood that became a gay-friendly meeting place in early 1950s, during a time when LGBTI people faced persecution. The project was established in 2009 to work with aged-care facilities and help providers understand the histories and experiences of their older LGBTI clients.

“LGBTI seniors shouldn’t have to get back in the closet as they grow older,” Equality Minister Martin Foley said with the announcement.

The project now has 450 members and 5000 monthly online visitors to its website. It has provided support to more than 4000 staff across the aged-care sector, with the goal of ensuring that LGBTI Victorians can be respected for who they are as they grow older. Read More
On the state of LGBTI Commonwealth citizens
Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma statement:  LGBTI Commonwealth citizens remain victims of stigma and discrimination in many of our communities. Appalling persecution and violence are suffered merely because of innate sexual orientation and gender identity. Such abuse is unacceptable: it robs millions of our fellow citizens of the right to live lives of dignity, undermining their mental and physical health, and sense of well-being. Read More
First Lady of Belize, Kim Simplis Barrow statement on Diversity
In her statement, Special Envoy for Children and Women, Kim Simplis Barrow warned against bullying and the loss of basic human rights from the LGBT community. Watch here
Council of Europe: Human rights and intersex people.
European society remains largely unaware of the reality of intersex people. However, through the pioneering work of a growing number of intersex groups and individual activists, the human rights community and international organisations are becoming increasingly conscious of this situation and are working to draw on human rights standards to address such concerns. 

This issue paper aims to stimulate the development of a framework of action by suggesting a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, it calls on member states to end medically unnecessary “normalising” treatment of intersex persons when it is enforced or administered without the free and fully informed consent of the person concerned. On the other, it provides possible ways forward in terms of protection against discrimination of intersex people, adequate recognition of their sex on official documents and access to justice. Read More
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Cuba: Havana Celebrates Gay Pride
LGBT Cubans marched alongside friends, family members and supporters down the streets of Havana, in the eighth Annual March against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Although over 1,000 participants may not sound as much in comparison to Pride parades celebrated in other parts of the world, the figure is quite large in a country where these kinds of public displays were out of the question until recently.

The National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), directed by the daughter of President Raul Castro, Mariela Castro, has played a major role in this change. Mariela sponsored a religious blessing ceremony for gay couples in a dramatic sign of the changing face of a communist island that had a long history of persecuting homosexuals under her family’s rule. Read More
Lebanon: Gays come out to demand equality
As Lebanon's gay community kicks off a new public campaign to counter discrimination and the social taboos against homosexuality, its message is simple: "Being different isn't shameful. What's shameful is fighting diversity."

The group, Proud Lebanon, has roped in celebrities such as actors Christian Chueiri, Zeina Dakash and Fouad Yameen for its campaign. While Lebanon is sometimes dubbed the "gay paradise" of the Arab world, the community still remains vulnerable to exploitation.

Article 534 of the Lebanese penal code says sex "contrary to nature" is a criminal offence that can lead to jail time for the gay community. The campaign is trying to build on a 2013 decision by the country's psychiatric board to remove homosexuality from a list of mental illnesses. Read More
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Turkey: On IDAHOT, LGBTI individuals face countless problems
In Turkey, as in many other regions of the world, prejudice and discrimination not only cause LGBTIs to be excluded from health programs and limit their access to health services but also deprive them of the most basic human rights. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity show themselves in the forms of violence and hate murders. While numerous LGBTIs are massacred in hate murders, many others are forced into making their voices heard through suicide. In the meantime, the government, which refuses to recognize the very reality of LGBTIs, fails to take any legal precautions to protect LGBTIs whom it deprives of basic human rights.

Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association (SPoD) has began its journey with the goal of drawing attention to the discrimination against LGBTIs and of producing stronger solutions to their problems. SPoD has compiled 24 problems commonly experienced by LGBTIs. Read More
Albania: Activists ask the Prime Minister to keep his promises
Hundreds of activists participated in the 4th Pride event riding bicycles in the capital city Tirana. They protested the domestic violence which LGBTI people face every day and they demanded that Prime Minister Edi Rama keep his promises to the community.

“We were only 12 people who challenged the discrimination and fear in 2012 and now we are hundreds”, said Kristi Pinderi, activist. He added: “We know we are thousand and we protest today also on behalf of those who cannot be here.  Missing is our Prime Minister Edi Rama and the leader of the opposition Lulzim Basha who know very well they give promises but they always fail to keep them”. Read More
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Russia: St. Petersburg’s IDAHO became a celebration of solidarity and pride
As over 350 people celebrated IDAHO in the center of St. Petersburg, the event became the largest LGBT rally as of today in Russia. Representatives of “Coming Out”, the Russian LGBT Network, Side by Side LGBT festival, the Youth Human Rights Group, and the Center for Development of Democracy and Human Rights spoke of the importance of solidarity within civil society, support of vulnerable groups, and the growing strength of the LGBT movement in the struggle for peace and human rights in Russia. Read More

Russia: Moscow police break-up rally, detain activists
Moscow policemen disrupted the Rainbow Flashmob dedicated to IDAHO, as reported by participants of the rally in their blogs on social networks. The event of launching colored balloons to the sky was to be held in the Yekaterininskiy Park, but police stopped the rally.

Activist Nikolai Kavkazskiy said “The police brought me to the bus and said that they were not detaining me, but forwarding me somewhere.” According to him, a total of 14 police officers detained LGBT activists, who planned to take part in the celebration. The detainees were taken to the police station, then policemen seized their documents and demanded to undergo fingerprinting. Read More
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Uganda: Hundreds gather for peaceful IDAHOT pride 
Ugandan LGBT and sex worker communities gathered on Saturday (May 16) for their second annual peaceful Pride celebration, sponsored by the grassroots anti-HIV, pro-LGBT Youth on Rock Foundation.

The event was  scheduled to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). It brought together 240 Ugandan LGBT and sex workers from a variety of organizations for food, fun, games and entertainment on the shores of Lake Victoria.

“It was a huge sign of solidarity and togetherness. Let’s continue getting together as one community. With time, we will gain more visibility. And the more the visibility of the movement, the faster it will gain recognition, respect and dignity,” said event coordinator Frank Kamya. “Let’s not give up till our sexual and health rights are recognized, just like other rights.” Read More
South Korea: Support across sectors
The biggest IDAHOT festivity in South Korean history was held by 103 LGBTI, women’s, people with disabilities’, labor, human rights, and civil society organizations and 159 supporters. With the title “STOP HATRED and OPEN the SQUARE”, over 1000 people from all over the country celebrated IDAHOT at the Seoul Station Square. 

The organizers issued “Demands of the Joint Action for the 2015 International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT)” and “Resolution of the Joint Action for the 2015 International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT)”. Read More
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Canada: A new hope for international gay rights
The Dignity Initiative, an LGBT human rights working group, launched on May 14 with a panel discussion. The initiative aims to advance Canadian involvement in international LGBT human rights by connecting existing human rights organizations across the country.

In addition to building on existing Canadian efforts, the Dignity Initiative is developing a non-partisan policy document that will outline recommendations as to how the Canadian government can advance LGBT human rights globally. The Initiative is soliciting public input to inform its future development via a survey for Canadian LBGT and human rights organizations available at www.dignityinitiative.ca 
Read More
UK: Britain Now Has More Openly LGBTQ Legislators Than Any Other Country
This isn’t a great moment to be a liberal in Britain. In last Thursday’s general election, our largest left-wing party was eviscerated, leaving the Conservative Party with enough of a majority to do pretty much whatever it wants over the next five years. (So far, this appears to be cutting disability benefits, scrapping the Human Rights Act, and bringing back foxhunting.)

But while the country now has the least progressive government it’s seen since the early ’90s, there are a few sources of liberal glee: Britain now has 191 female MPs, more than ever before, and the number of black and ethnic minority legislators increased from 27 to 43. Oh, and somehow, fusty old Britain now holds the world record for LGBTQ political representation. Read More
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Kenya: Dep. President says 'no room for gays' in country
Kenya's deputy president has said there is "no room" for homosexuality in the country’s society, the latest comments from an African government to anger activists and likely annoy Western donors. William Ruto made the remarks at a church service Sunday, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived for talks. 

"The Republic of Kenya is a republic that worships God. We have no room for gays," Ruto told a Nairobi church congregation in Swahili, according to an online video posted by Kenyan broadcaster KTN. Speaking to Reuters on Monday, Ruto's spokesman Emmanuel Talam confirmed the deputy president's remarks, adding: "The government believes that homosexual relations are unnatural and un-African." Read More

Kenya newspaper prints list of 'top homos'
Citizen Weekly has exposed 12 LGBTI activists and leaders. Several were previously in the closet. While some are known internationally as spokespeople for the community, others included a closeted senator and a gospel singer.

Activists fear the newspaper will incite mob violence, similar to when Ugandan activist David Kato was killed after being 'named and shamed' on the front page of a tabloid in 2010. While the frontpage headline reads: 'TOP GAYS, LESBIANS LIST IN KENYA OUT', the actual article does not call for violence or murder like other past tabloid lists of this nature. Read More
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Ireland becomes first country to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote
Ireland has officially passed the same-sex marraige referendum with 1.2 million people voting in its favour. The result was confirmed just before 7pm on Saturday although the result was clear from very early in the count. The Yes vote prevailed by 62 to 38 per cent with a large 60.5 per cent turnout. In total, 1,201,607 people voted in favour with 734,300 against, giving a majority of 467,307. The total valid poll was 1,935,907. Read More

Ireland: Priests Defy Bishops To Support Marriage Equality
Father Martin Dolan faced a difficult decision. With Ireland’s referendum on marriage equality looming, he could either go along with his bishops’ official opposition to it, or he could be honest with his Dublin congregation. Read More

A New Era For Global LGBT Rights Begins After Ireland’s Vote for Same-Sex Marriage
When historians write about the global LGBT rights movement, they will probably divide their timeline into “Before Ireland” and “After Ireland.” 

Before Ireland, a country whose sodomy law wasn’t struck down until 1993, the goal of changing a nation’s mind about LGBT rights seemed daunting if not impossible. After Ireland, it seems like it may just be a matter of time even in countries where public support for LGBT equality remains very low and where powerful religious institutions are vocally opposed. Read More
Taiwan: Kaohsiung set to allow same-sex couples to register
Kaohsiung is to become the nation’s first city to recognize same-sex partnership, albeit not in legal terms, as same-sex couples who are Kaohsiung residents can register their partnership at the city’s household registration offices.

Kaohsiung Civil Affairs Bureau Director-General Tseng Tzu-wen (曾姿雯) said that in the spirit of respect and good will, the city would unblock the city’s household registration and conscription system to allow same-sex partnerships a place within the system.

The city’s move is symbolic rather than legal, as civil law stipulates that only a man and a woman can lawfully marry, she said, adding that the administrative recognition is to allow same-sex couples a degree of psychological comfort before any amendment to civil law, she said. Dubbed the “sunlight registration,” the same-sex partnership registration is a non-binding statement that enjoys no legal status of any sort in terms of civil law. Read More
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Cyprus: Government approves civil partnerships
The long-awaited bill has gained the approval of the Cabinet, and now passes to the Parliament where it will be voted on. The bill gives couples in civil partnerships all the benefits of marriage – with the exception of joint adoption.

Advocacy group Accept-LGBT Cyprus said: “The government is living up to its promises, taking the first step towards modernising the state’s institutions." Read More
Luxembourg: Prime Minister is first serving EU leader to wed same-sex partner
Luxembourg's Prime Minister has become the first serving leader in the EU to wed someone of the same sex after marrying his partner in a ceremony on Friday.

Xavier Bettel and Belgian architect Gauthier Destenay were among the first men to marry under the country’s new law on same-sex marriage, which came into force on 1 January. They have been civil partners since 2010. Read More
French Protestant church allows gay marriage blessing
France's United Protestant Church (EPUdF) voted to allow pastors to bless same-sex marriages, two years after Paris legalized gay nuptials amid protests backed by the majority Roman Catholic Church. The EPUdF, created in 2012 in a merger of France's Lutheran and Reformed churches, said its synod also agreed that individual pastors or parishes can decide whether or not they will organize such blessings.

"The synod has decided to take a step forward in accompanying people and these couples by opening the possibility of celebrating liturgical blessings if they want," said Laurent Schlumberger, president of the United Protestant Church.

Blessing or marrying same-sex couples has been a divisive issue in Protestant churches, with some liberal ones - such as those in Sweden and Denmark - fully approving gay weddings and others only offering a blessing service that is different than that for traditional marriage. Read More
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Church of Scotland votes to allow gay ministers in civil partnerships
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to allow congregations to ordain gay ministers who are in same sex civil partnerships.

Supporters said it was time for the church to be inclusive and recognise the "mixed economy" of modern Scotland. Opponents warned that the move was contrary to God's law, would prove divisive and lead to resignations. 

Outgoing Moderator Very Rev John Chalmers was to say: "We cannot go on suffering the pain of internal attacks which are designed to undermine the work or the place of others. It's time to play for the team. And let me be very clear here - I am not speaking to one side or another of the theological spectrum. I am speaking to both ends and middle. It is time to stop calling each other names, time to shun the idea that we should define ourselves by our differences and instead define ourselves by what we hold in common - our baptism into Christ, our dependence on God's grace, our will to serve the poor and so on." Read More
Russia: Lawmakers Propose Banning Marriages For Trans People
Lawmakers in Russia introduced draft legislation today that would ban marriage between two people of the same sex, including cases where a trans person has transitioned or is in the process of transitioning. Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Russia, but the measure aims to close a bureaucratic loophole that allowed Irina Shumilova and Alyona Fursova to marry in St. Petersburg last November. Shumilova, who identifies as a transsexual woman, is still male according to her passport. Their wedding made headlines around the world and angered conservative politicians. Read More
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Zambia: High Court confirms acquittal of HIV activist, Paul Kasonkomna
Paul Kasonkomona was arrested after he appeared on a MuviTV programme where he spoke about the need to recognise the rights of vulnerable groups such as LGBT persons and sex workers in order to comprehensively address the HIV pandemic. Kasonkomona was charged under section 178(g) of the Penal Code with the idle and disorderly offence of soliciting in a public place for immoral purposes. 

After his initial acquittal, the State appealed, arguing that it was justifiable to limit the right to freedom of expression where persons expressed their views on the rights of LGBT persons. However, High Court Justice Mulongoti confirmed the 2014 ruling that the State did not present sufficient evidence on all the elements of the offence.

“The judgment of the High Court is important because it confirms that it is not unlawful to lobby for law and policy reform and for the protection of the rights of marginalised groups,” says Anneke Meerkotter, from SALC. “It in unacceptable that the State doggedly pursued criminal prosecution of a human rights activist when they never had any evidential basis for such persecution.The outcome of this case is a victory for freedom of expression in Zambia.” Read More
European Court of Human Rights: “Gender Identity” Protected Against Discrimination
In Identoba and Others v. Georgia, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) clarified that all trans people are protected against discrimination on grounds of gender identity under art. 14 of the Convention (ECHR). This is an important and awaited step.

On the occasion of IDAHOT in 2012, Georgian activists held a peaceful march in Tbilisi. When counter-demonstrators were attacking them, brutally assaulting and beating them, the police failed to protect the activists adequately. Therefore, the ECtHR condemned Georgia for degrading and inhuman treatment in a discriminatory manner.

The court says clearly that especially in a homo- and transphobic society the state has a “compelling positive obligation” to protect the LGBT community against such (foreseeable) discriminatory inhuman and degrading treatment and if such attacks happen it has to unmask the discriminatory motive behind the violence and brutality. For the whole LGBT community this is a significant judgment. Read More
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Hong Kong: Gay woman challenges Hong Kong in landmark trial
Hong Kong bills itself as Asia's World City, a cutting-edge metropolis that effortlessly fuses the traditional and the modern. But on the subject of rights for sexual minorities, gay rights activists say the city is firmly stuck in the past. The High Court will hear a landmark judicial review challenge by QT, a British lesbian woman who is accusing the Immigration Department of discrimination.

She moved to Hong Kong in 2011 when her partner accepted a technology job. The couple are in a civil partnership in the UK and she applied for a dependant visa, granted to the husbands and wives of expatriates working in Hong Kong. Such a visa allows the bearer to work, to access public medical services and provides a path to permanent residency. But applications to the Immigration Department proved unsuccessful, because officials refused to recognise her UK-registered civil partnership. Read More
Europe: The Best And Worst Places In Europe To Be Trans
Transgender people might be more visible than ever, but across much of Europe having their gender identity recognised by law remains either impossible, or beset by obstacles. The group Transgender Europe has released a report with a wealth of detailed findings about the differing rights of trans people across the continent. The study compared policies and laws for trans people in 22 different areas, including asylum, employment discrimination, hate speech laws, goods and services discrimination, and whether official documents can be changed to register gender identity. Read more
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Egypt: How distaste of LGBT people in Egypt has turned into state-sponsored persecution 
Whenever protests are planned and the Egyptian tanks roll into Cairo’s main squares, Mariam takes a longer route to work, the one that avoids the police checkpoints. Her ID carries the name she was born with (a boy’s name) and a number that signals her original gender (male). These details are not easily changed, and they could get her arrested.

“Last time I got stopped, I panicked and pretended I was going to a fancy-dress party. The officers made fun of me but it worked and they let me go,” she says. The policemen ridiculed her for a bit, and called her names, but she played along and once they got bored they let her pass. With dozens of members of the LGBT community in prison on so-called charges of “debauchery”, she does not want to risk it again.

Being gay or transgender is not illegal in Egypt but since the military pushed out the unpopular Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in the summer of 2013, the country has been engaged in a fierce crackdown. Human rights workers say at least 150 LGBT people have been arrested. Read More
France: Is Homophobia Really on the Rise in France? 
France may have taken the historic step of legalising gay marriage last year, but it appears the landmark social reform came at a cost. The number of reported homophobic acts increased in 2013 by a staggering 78%, according to SOS Homophobie, a homophobia hotline and LGBTQ defense organization. 

The cases are striking to Americans because of the widely held fallacy that France is a tolerant society. This is not entirely the case. Religious diversity is tolerated as long as minorities remain quiet. “Laïcité,” the French version of secularism, favors Catholicism and is often used as a cudgel against the Muslim (and in some cases the Jewish) minority.

If there are more reports of homophobia, it is partly because of more homophobic incidents. But it is also because of more reporting of those incidents. For many years French LGBTQ people bought into the notion that France was tolerant. The virulence of the attacks on homosexuals during marriage equality was a revelation to these gays, as were the visible physical assaults on gay men. Read More
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Gambia: President Yahya Jammeh threatens to slit the throats of gay people
Gambia's notorious dictator Yahya Jammeh recently intensified his anti-homosexual rhetoric, threatening to slit the throats of gay men living in the small West African nation while seeming to claim that the West could do nothing to stop him.

"If you do it [in the Gambia] I will slit your throat — if you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again, and no white person can do anything about it," he said to a crowd in the town of Farafeni as he spoke about fostering a healthy atmosphere for the country's youth.

The US and the European Union have both slashed aid to the country in the last year, citing general concerns over continued human rights abuses. Read More
Pakistan: Four transgenders killed in week
Three transgenders were shot dead and six other people were injured after two gunmen ambushed them in the bustling Rialto Chowk on Saturday night.

Ahmed alias Tania, who was among the injured, in her statement told the police that she along with some other transgenders were standing at the corner of a street in Chamanzar Colony when two motorcycle riders brandishing guns reached there and opened fire on them. As a result, two of the transgenders died on the spot and five other people, including three transgenders, injured. 

On May 5, the decomposed body of a transgender was found from a greenbelt at Koral. Police said the deceased, Falak Sher alias Bijli, a native of Bahawalpur, was strangled. The motive behind the murder could not be ascertained. Read More
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Turkey: Two trans women brutally attacked in Istanbul
Two trans women sex workers were attacked on the same night. Migel was attacked in her own apartment by a group of men. She was brutally injured with deep cuts on several parts of her body. The same night, Işıl was attacked by a group of 5 men. She was assaulted and her jaw was broken. 

Attacks on trans women are increasing. Last week there were 4 attacks on trans women sex workers in 3 different cities (Istanbul, Izmir and Kocaeli). Read More 
US: Wisconsin trans teen bullied for femininity dies by suicide
Just days after teen Cameron Langrell announced to friends and classmates online that she identified as a transgender girl, switching her Facebook gender identifier to "female," the 15-year-old took her own life.

The artistic freshman had faced incessant bullying at Horlick High School. Now, Cameron's parents are calling on officials to be more proactive about bullying to stave off the kind of harassment their child endured. "There needs to be more within the school, not just some outside resource," Jamie Olender, Cameron's mother. 

Meanwhile, Langrell's death is the tenth reported suicide of a trans youth in the U.S. this year, in an "epidemic" that trans advocates say sees far more casualties than make headlines.  An additional nine trans people have been murdered since January. Read More

US: Transgender woman stabbed to death in Philadelphia
London Chanel, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was stabbed to death in North Philadelphia. Chanel is the eighth transgender woman of color (the 10th over all) killed in the United States this year — a trend that anti-violence advocates have called an epidemic. And as in many of the cases, Chanel was misgendered in early reports. Read More
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Cuba: Murders of gays raise question of hate crimes
During the events surrounding the annual celebration of IDAHOT in Cuba, it emerged that a young transsexual had recently been killed in the city of Pinar del Río near the western tip of this Caribbean island nation. While efforts to combat discrimination against LGBT are stepped up in Cuba, this segment of the population remains vulnerable to harassment and violence – and even death.

Violent crime is generally surrounded by silence in this island nation of 11.2 million people, and killings of LGBT individuals are no exception. The 1987 penal code does not specifically recognise hate crimes, or sexual orientation and gender identity as aggravating circumstances in murders.

National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX) said the number of murders of MSM in 2013 and 2014 was high. At that time the issue came to the forefront because of the deaths of two high-profile openly gay cultural figures, who died in strange circumstances, according to activists. Read More
Indonesia: Nine in ten gays have faced abuse
Some 89.3% of LGBTI people in Indonesia have experienced some form of violence due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by LGBTI group Arus Pelangi, found that 79.1% of respondents had experienced psychological abuse, 46.3% had been physically assaulted, 45.1% were the victims of sexual assault and 63.3% had endured cultural violence. Read More
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US: Prison rape epidemic still plagues LGBT inmates 12 years after passage of federal law
After decades of societal indifference to prison rape, Congress, in a rare show of support for inmates’ rights, unanimously passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003, and [Rick] Perry’s predecessor as governor, President George W. Bush, signed it into law.

“The emerging consensus was that ‘Don’t drop the soap’ jokes were no longer funny, and that rape is not a penalty we assign in sentencing,” said Jael Humphrey, a lawyer with Lambda Legal. 

Despite the ruling, according to Just Detention International, which works to eliminate sexual abuse in detention facilities, LGBT inmates are 15 times more likely to be victims of prison rape than non-LGBT inmates. And Texas is home to five of the 10 facilities in the nation with the highest rates of sexual assault. Read More
Latin America: 40% of gay students suffer bullying 
Approximately 40% of gay and lesbian students and 65% of transgender students suffer bullying in Latin America according to a new report from UNAIDS and IDAHO Committee.

As explained from the IDAHO Committee, the impact of stigma and discrimination is very high and has serious consequences, including threat to LGBT safety, increase vulnerability to HIV, distance them access to health and impede their stay in the school, stand system.

In this regard, Cesar A. Nunez, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America said " infographics carried out jointly by the IDAHO Committee and UNAIDS America are a useful tool for advocacy, ensuring that no one is left out. Show what the impact of stigma and discrimination in various areas of everyday life of LGBT people. Stigma and discrimination threaten the security of LGBT people, increase their vulnerability to HIV, they distance them from access to services health and impede their stay in the school system. Read More
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New Zealand: Abuse trial - man beats daughter he thought was gay
An Auckland man has admitted a number of child abuse offences, including beating his daughter because he thought she might be a lesbian.

Court documents say on one occasion the man "became enraged" after hearing his teenage daughter had hugged and kissed a female friend in school as a greeting, "sparking rumours of lesbianism".
He was angry because homosexuality "is contrary and in direct conflict to his interpretation of the Islamic faith", the summary of facts said. Read More
US: Police investigating anti-gay hate crime in NYC after video shows attack 
A gay couple was bashed over the head with a wooden chair, knocked to the ground and kicked by two men hurling anti-gay slurs at a restaurant in notoriously 'gay-friendly' Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The attack was captured in a graphic video, according to police and the victims.

"These guys attacked us specifically because they knew we weren't their type of people," said Jonathan Snipes, 32, who had a tooth knocked loose and cartilage snapped in his ear during the beating.

"It was disgusting. It was awful," Snipes, who was attacked alongside his boyfriend Ethan York-Adams

The restaurant issued a statement on facebook: Dallas BBQ is deeply saddened by the altercation between several of our patrons at our Chelsea location on Tuesday night. We have been proudly serving Chelsea for over a decade and will not tolerate violent or hateful behavior within our restaurant. Read More
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South Africa: Study unearths high rates of violence against gay, bi-sexual students
The National Student Health HIV Knowledge, Attitude and Behaviour Survey surveyed about 9000 students from 14 higher education institutions across the country. Commissioned by the Higher Education and Training HIV Programme (HEAIDS), the study found that about 10 percent of students reported having sex with men. More than 20 percent of students surveyed reported identifying as gay or bi-sexual.

About 10 percent of men who had sex with men (MSM) reported being the target of campus violence due to their sexual orientation while more than one in 10 reported being raped. Read More

UK: Schools sent death threats, dead animals hung up in playgrounds for pro-gay teaching
Teachers in parts of the UK with large Muslim populations are receiving threats for teaching about homophobia. Speaking at the National Association of Head Teachers’ annual conference in Liverpool Sunday, one teacher said she had been sent a death threat on Facebook. And others reported that dead animals were left on their campuses. 

'Any head teacher who teaches my children it’s alright to be gay will be at the end of my shotgun,' one threat read. Read More
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Nepal: Lesbian rights group provides meals for victims of quake
Mitini Nepal, a lesbian rights organisation based in Kathmandu, is setting up a community kitchen to provide food for its members and others who are now camping in an open plot of land near their office since the earthquakes that have hit Nepal over the last few weeks. This is about showing solidarity over the fear that the multiple quakes and aftershocks have engendered, offering a basic meal once a day to ensure that people get some nourishment while they examine their options and organise their next steps. See More
Turkey: Shift in gender and sexuality perceptions
Concerns about growing social conservatism have been a recurring theme in Turkey in the past few years as President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan and government officials frequently expressed their opposition to abortion, promoted traditional gender roles and urged women to have at least three children. 

A study just released by the Gender and Women's Studies Research Center of Kadir Has University offers some answers. Conducted among 1,000 people in 26 cities across Turkey, it suggests a more hopeful trend. Along several gender and family planning questions, the survey revealed significant social changes and found that attitudes towards women’s rights and LGBTI rights are steadily improving.

A subtle evolution is also taking place on other sensitive issues. More than 60 percent still view same-sex relationships as unacceptable, but this ratio was 78 percent in a Pew survey published in 2013. In this latest study, 18.8 percent did not view homosexual relationships as a violation of social mores. Read More
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Ukraine: These billboards are aiming to combat anti-LGBT discrimination
Billboards appeared in several Ukrainian cities this week calling for tolerance towards LGBT people, Jews, Roma, women and people with disabilities and living with HIV.

The east Ukrainian separatists and others who favor a closer relationship with Russia denounce LGBT rights as a Western phenomenon, incompatible with Slavic, Orthodox Christian values. Even among those Ukrainians who have set their sights on integration with Europe, LGBT activists say anti-LGBT sentiment is pervasive. In March, a coalition of LGBT groups wrote an open letter to Ukraine’s justice ministry about the country’s new draft strategy on human rights, which does not mention LGBT rights.

“Homophobia is etched into the mass consciousness of Ukrainian society – in particular, due to the tireless efforts of our churches and politicians,” the letter says. The Russian media had a field day with the billboards. Bloknot.ru plastered this across the image: “In Ukraine a scandalous agitation for gay marriage has begun openly.” Read More
UK: 'Mx' Could Be Oxford English Dictionary's First Trans-Affirming Honorific
For years, trans and gender-nonconforming people have been using the gender-neutral title "Mx" (pronounced "mux" or "mix") to identify themselves in lieu of gender-specific honorifics like "Mr.," Ms.," "Miss," and "Mrs."

As Mx has recently been gaining traction in the United Kingdom, it comes as little surprise that the first dictionary to consider making the word "official" is the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED has "flagged" the word "Mx" for possible inclusion in this year's edition in response to a "quiet" shift in the nation over the past two years: the addition of the honorific as an option on official documents and databases, including those for driver's licenses, mail, banks, government purposes, and some universities.

Trans advocates are cheering "Mx"'s possible inclusion as a positive step for recognition. "It's a reminder that people are not feeling validated, and it does cause stress. Documentation and forms that don't match the reality of people's existence are part of that," Transgender Victoria ex. director Sally Golder said. Read More
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State-Sponsored Homophobia Report 2015 In 10 years criminalizing countries drop from 92 to 76
ILGA launches at the Palais des Nations in Geneva the 10th edition of its annual report on State-Sponsored Homophobia, a world survey of laws: criminalisation, protection and recognition of same-sex love, authored this year by Aengus Carroll and Lucas Paoli Itaborahy.

“While in 2006 – said the Authors – 92 countries criminalised same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults, we now see this number falling down to 76 countries in 2015. However, the situation is still unacceptable: more than one-third of the world’s States consider same-sex sexual activity illegal. On the other hand, although 2013 saw an alarming rise in the number of States considering a new wave of criminalisation through “homosexual propaganda” laws, in fact only a small number actually implemented them.” Read More
Global Alliance for LGBT Education publishes country scores on LGBTI education
GALE publishes how States score on their implementation of the right to education for LGBTI students. Ireland scores highest with 97%. Afghanistan, Iraq and Liberia share a joint lowest score of 0%. Of all the States that have been assessed until now, 9,5% is supportive for LGBTI students. Almost a quarter (24%) denies LGBTI students rights, while 21,5% of the States is deemed to be ambiguous. GALE has monitored 55% of all the States. 

The States not yet surveyed are mostly in Africa and in the Middle East. Also, a range of small island States in the Caribbean and Pacific have not been surveyed. In these countries it is difficult to find contacts who are willing or able to assess the right to education. Most educational experts are prejudiced and not willing to cooperate. LGBTI activists are more focused on survival than on education. It is expected that when GALE has assessed all States, 60% will be denying States, 30% will be ambiguous States and 8% will be supportive States. Read More
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Philippines: The National Council of Churches says homophobia and transphobia increase vulnerability to HIV 
The NCCP admits faith expressions have contributed to the spread of HIV and of AIDS by their approach to gender, sex and sexuality.

“This contributed to homophobia and transphobia leading to the marginalization and ‘othering’ of LGBT people. The result is the stigma and discrimination of LGBT people that in turn force them to live double lives and nurture chronically negative self-images. This negative self-image leads to risky behaviour with fatal results. This marginalization creates a disabling environment that affects gravely the LGBT’s uptake of services associated with HIV and to have the right to lead productive and healthy lives,” said Rev. Rex Reyes Jr., general secretary of the NCCP. Read More
German Catholic Church opens labor law more to divorced and gays
Germany's Roman Catholic Church, an influential voice for reforms prompted by Pope Francis, has decided lay employees who divorce and remarry or form gay civil unions should no longer automatically lose their jobs.

Catholic bishops have voted to adjust Church labor law "to the multiple changes in legal practice, legislation and society" so employee lifestyles should not affect their status in the country's many Catholic schools, hospitals and social services. The change came as the worldwide Catholic Church debates loosening its traditional rejection of remarriage after a divorce and of gay sex, reforms for which German bishops and theologians have become prominent spokesmen.

"The new rule opens the way for decisions that do justice to the situations people live in," Alois Glueck, head of the lay Central Committee of German Catholics, said after the decision on new labor guidelines was announced on Tuesday. Read More
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US: ‘The New Black' opens new dialogue about LGBT, religion in the Black community
Is gay marriage a civil right like black equality? Or is it a sin African-Americans should condemn? That’s the question at the heart of “The New Black,” a documentary by filmmaker Yoruba Richen that examines African-American attitudes toward LGBT people. The film is now enjoying a new life as part of an initiative to get students at historically black colleges and universities to talk about a longtime taboo in the African-American community — sexual identity and the church.

The initiative is a project of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocate of LGBT equality, and Promised Land Films, the producers of the film.  “The overarching goal is to create the opportunity to begin a dialogue,” the HRC said. “We want them to create greater safety and inclusion on HBCUs” and their communities." Read More
Leaders of global evangelical group North Point Ministries clash
In a (probably) pretty awkward turn of events, the child of Charles Stanley, the man known for his vehement anti-gay outbursts, has created an accepting, gay-safe environment among his congregation. Charles has made claims about the “destructive behavior of homosexuality”, from his bizarre ideal that it’s a choice to that there has been medical evidence that those who are attracted to the same-sex can just ignore it. His sermons are taught at the First Baptist Church Atlanta, and he has regularly announced that AIDS is the US’s punishment for homosexuality. 

Andy, on the other hand, has glaringly different ideals in terms of his faith, and feels that congregations are meant to be one of the “safest place[s] on planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.” Andy urges Christians to “decide, regardless of what you think on this topic – no more students are going to feel like they have to leave the local church because they’re same-sex attracted or because they’re gay. That ends with us.” Read More
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Russia: Politician wants to sue Apple over U2 cover that “violates ‘Gay-Propaganda’ Law”
Last year, Apple added the U2 album Songs of Innocence to every single iTunes Store account in a publicity stunt related to the iPhone 6. Along many other iPhone users, the member of the Dume and leader of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, Alexander Starovoytov, didn’t like that.

However, unlike many iPhone users, he wants to sue Apple for damages, reports the Muscovite newspaper Izvestia. The newspaper later adds that the main source of such a complaint is the cover of the album, which depicts two men shirtless and embracing, which, in the politician’s view, “depicts the expression of a non-traditional sexual relationship to each other,” and thus breaks the ‘gay propaganda’ law installed in the country. He expressed himself like that in a letter that he sent to the Prosecutor’s Office, asking the case to be investigated. Read More
US: Business leaders silent as Texas lawmakers consider anti-gay vote 
As Texas lawmakers prepare to vote on legislation aimed at circumventing an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, the state’s business leaders are largely keeping quiet. The business community’s opposition in Indiana helped ignite a media firestorm against a religious freedom law there that is so far absent in the Texas debate.

Advocates are looking to the business community to step in much like it did against religious freedom measures seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination in Indiana, Arkansas and Arizona. Although Texas business leaders haven’t been public in speaking out, LGBT group Equality Texas said that behind the scenes they’re meeting with lawmakers to express concerns. 

However numerous business leaders in Texas, including the state’s most influential business association, had nothing to say about the legislation when contacted to see if they’d oppose the measures. Robert Wood, spokesperson for the Texas Association of Businesses, said his organization hasn’t “taken any position, nor testified” on the legislation and doesn’t have any comment at this time. Read More
Hong Kong: First Asia LGBT Index highlights most gay friendly businesses 
Community Business, a not-for-profit organization focusing on diversity and inclusion in the corporate world, has today revealed the results of its inaugural Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index.

Earlier this year, companies were invited to make submissions for the Index, which follows the success of similar indexes in the US, UK and Australia.

However, compared with those countries, LGBT diversity and inclusion remains a more controversial subject in Hong Kong and wider Chinese society. Read More
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Austria: Vienna brings in gay pedestrian crossing lights
Dozens of traffic lights in the Austrian capital have been changed to show gay couples crossing the road instead of the traditional lone figure.

Vienna has changed the signal images at 120 pedestrian crossings - also showing heterosexual couples - in preparation for the Eurovision Song Contest. Officials said the signals were a sign of Vienna's open-mindedness. Read More

UK: London transport ‘celebrates diversity’ with pride
It has a rainbow bus and a rainbow crossing – and now London has a rainbow taxi to add to the mix.
Transport for London has unveiled the specially-designed new taxi ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on Sunday. It’s the in a string of moves designed to celebrate the local LGBT community Read More
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Athletes pressure Olympics to take a stand on Kazakhstan's anti-gay legislation
Kazakhstan is heading toward passage of an anti-gay law as it competes to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and a group of athletes wants the International Olympic Committee to pressure the country to drop the legislation.

27 current and former Olympic, Paralympic and professional athletes have written a letter to IOC President Thomas Bach, asking him to ensure that the games' principles of nondiscrimination are upheld. 

"In light of Kazakhstan's aspirations to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and their recent consideration of legislation prohibiting 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation,' we urge the IOC to reiterate to Kazakh authorities that discrimination with regard to sexual orientation is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement," the athletes write. Read More
Latvia: Europride 2015 and Why you should be planning a trip to Riga
It’s not often that you get the chance to be part of history, but that’s exactly what you will be doing if book a trip to Riga, the capital city of Latvia, for the third week in June.

Between 15-21 June, the city will be playing host to this year’s Europride festival, with a Pride parade and park festival. Why is this historic? Because it will be the first time that Europride organizers have chosen a former Eastern bloc country to host the event.

It’s also the first time that the city has hosted a Pride festival in three years – after previous events faced widespread anti-gay protests. Read More
Swedish group deploys gay Morse code sign to deter Russian submarines
When a Russian submarine was spotted several months ago lurking around the Baltic Sea, the Swedes didn’t come out guns blazing. In fact, the most visible response to Russia’s military presence is a sign — a glowing neon sign that was lowered beneath the waves where it could send out Morse code via sonar. Any Russian submarines drifting past would get the message: “This way if you are gay.” Take that Moscow. Read More
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Growing up LGBT in Kenya and Sharing stories of hope for African LGBT youth Watch now
Straight Bodybuilders Speak Out Against LGBT Bullying in Powerful Video Read More
This Guy Had The Best Reaction On “Jeopardy” And Completely Owned Homophobic Haters Read More
Italy: A Dancer Proposed To His Boyfriend In Likely The First Gay Marriage Proposal On Italian TV Read More
Ireland: TV Journalist Ursula Halligan Referendum led me to tell truth about myself Read More 
This Guy’s Mom Wanted To Find Him A Husband, So He Placed India’s First Gay “Groom Wanted” Ad Read More
Equal Eyes is edited by Christina Dideriksen and Richard Burzynski. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the view of UNAIDS or its Cosponsors.
All stories and photographs linked within are the property of the original publishers.
Equal Eyes Copyright © 2015 Richard Burzynski, All rights reserved.

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