Politics and Religion Shorts: January 2015

January 3, 2015 in General

`Saskatschewan:  Canada made progress on LGBT rights in 2014, although Xtra Canada cautions that significant gaps in human rights legislation, education, and gender-identification regulations exist across different provinces. Although every province explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and sometimes on the basis of gender identity, these rights are unevenly expressed in legislative statutes and exceptions remain where discrimination is still permitted in certain situations. Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code allowed landlords to discriminate on sexual orientation grounds until that provision was struck from the code in December 2014. In the same bill, which passed unanimously, Saskatchewan also became the latest province to add explicit protection for gender identity to its human rights laws, following the lead of Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, and Nova Scotia, which all did so in 2012-13, and Northwest Territories, which led the way in 2002.

Since 2010, Alberta’s Human Rights Act requires parents to be notified in advance and have the right to withdraw their children from classroom discussions of religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Critics say the law effectively creates a gag on LGBT subjects in Alberta schools. In late 2014, the Alberta government tabled a bill to remove the parental notification requirement, and to add “sexual orientation” to the province’s Bill of Rights (which is distinct from the Human Rights Act, in that it applies to the government). The bill also would have enshrined “the right of parents to make informed decisions respecting the education of their children” in the Bill of Rights, and proposed a byzantine system of approvals for students to form gay-straight alliances (GSAs), which combined to cause so much controversy that the government withdrew the entire bill in December.

Only Ontario and Manitoba have laws requiring all schools to provide GSAs when requested by students. New Brunswick added regulations requiring GSAs in schools in 2014.

Alberta also made some progressive moves in 2014, amending its statues to finally recognize same-sex marriages (although these have been legal in Canada since 2005), and allowing trans people to change the gender markers on government ID without having sex-reassignment surgery (SRS).

British Columbia  and Manitoba also removed the SRS requirement for document changes in 2014. Quebec removed the SRS requirement in 2013, but the new government elected in 2014 has not yet put the change in effect. Quebec also restricts legal gender changes to Canadian citizens over age 18. Ontario changed its regulations in 2012, and Nova Scotia has announced plans to follow suit in 2015. In New Brunswick and PEI the problem is compounded by the fact that sex-reassignment surgeries are not covered by provincial health plans as they are in other provinces.

A private member’s bill to add gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as the hate crime provisions of the criminal code, received approval from a majority of elected MPs in 2013 but has been stalled in the Senate. Pundits predict Conservative Senators will allow the bill to die before the next election.   British Columbian  MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert introduced a bill in November 2014 to add protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression to that province’s human rights code. It’s his third attempt, and although no government MLAs publicly support the bill, he says he’s received private support from Liberals.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Luxembourg:  The first same-sex couples have married in Luxembourg – and the country’s openly gay Prime Minister will not be far behind.

United States: US grocery chain Publix has extended its employee insurance benefits to all legally married couples, including same-sex couples.

 Dublin:  An Irish politician has unveiled a new political party – that won’t back  marriage equality.    Irish TD Lucinda Creighton – who previously served as a Minister of State for Fine Gael – lost the party whip after rebelling during an abortion vote. Fine Gael has  previously had to distance itself from Ms Creighton after she insisted marriage was between a man and a woman and attacked inclusive adoption reform.  Today, she announced plans for an entirely new political party, which will become the only party in Ireland not to support marriage equality.   Creighton called for a “reboot” of Irish politics, and pledged that the #RebootIreland party – which is yet to pick a name – would run candidates in every constituency.

 Dublin: However, ahead of a referendum on same-sex marriage this year, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has vowed to “campaign strongly” for a yes vote.

 London: Reverend Carol Stone, the first serving Church of England transgender priest, has died from cancer at the age of 60.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

 Miami: Clerks in several counties have said that they would feel so uncomfortable performing gay weddings that they have decided to end all courthouse marriage ceremonies: ‘So that there wouldn’t be any discrimination’ Meanwhile, Florida’s Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi has announced she will no longer fight Florida’s same-sex marriage ruling. Although Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional in August, a stay was placed on the ruling pending appeal. The Florida Supreme Court voted 7-2 to refuse a request for a second stay to be placed on gay marriages back in December, which meant that gay couples should be able to legally marry in Florida when the stay currently in place expires on January 5.   The first same-sex couples have married in Miami-Dade County, Florida, ahead of a legal deadline bringing equal marriage across the state. Florida’s Catholic bishops have blasted a federal judge’s decision to overturn a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage as an attack on “religious liberty” [even given that the constitutional ban itself is a violation of faith/state separation?!- Craig]

Tel Aviv: Israel’s gay MK Nitzan Horowitz has stated that he intends to quit politics shortly.

Canberra: Newly released archival records demonstrate that the Australian federal government was concerned that 25, 000 Australians were already HIV+ in 1988.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Canberra: Australians for Marriage Equality intend to see that Australia is the very next nation to cross that particular LGBT rights frontier.   They’re steering a  2015 blitz on western Sydney electorates as part of a push across 50 key federal electorates for the enactment of marriage equality legislation before the next election. With public support for same-sex marriage at 72 per cent, according to polling by Crosby/Textor, and a minority of 21 per cent opposed to the reform, marriage equality advocates say the issue may have the ability to turn votes at the election and the major parties ignore it at their peril. Of that 72 per cent in favour, 48 per cent “strongly support” gay marriage, which is a higher figure than the primary vote for both parties, especially the Coalition.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said before the last election that the issue of a conscience  vote would be a “matter for the post-election party room” but it has not yet been dealt with inside the Liberal caucus room , despite Mr Abbott committing in December to allow Liberals a free vote on another major conscience issue, euthanasia. South Australian Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham, marriage equality supporter, said the issue was not a vote-winner for the Coalition but could become a distraction for the government if it was not tackled this parliamentary year.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

Washington DC:  A petition calling on Barack Obama to ban fundamentalist anti-transgender “reparative” therapy in the US has been signed by over 200,000 people.    After facing rejection from her friends and family and being subjected to sessions with “biased” fundamentalist “reparative”  therapists, Leelah Alcorn ended her own life , but not before writing a heartbreaking suicide note outlining her struggle. The petition – called ‘Enact Leelah’s Law to Ban Transgender Conversion Therapy’ – was created in response to Leelah’s suicide note, which blamed her parent’s decision to force her into conversion therapy as one of the reasons for her death: “Transgender youth have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.  We must not allow therapists to increase those rates with therapy methodologies that have been demonstrated in harming trasngender youth,” say the petition creators.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

 London: Blind UK Labour candidate Emily Brothers has revealed that she once attempted to take her own life because of transphobia.

Rhode Island: The Rhode Island Supreme Court has rejected a case from two Catholic firefighters, who claim they were ‘forced’ to drive their fire engine in a Pride parade.

Washington DC: The National Organisation for Marriage – once the leading US Christian Right opponent against marriage equality  - can now only find a handful of people to agree with it on Twitter.

Idaho: Idaho’s Governor, Butch Otter,  has launched a court appeal to try and re-ban same-sex marriage, three months after weddings started. Idaho’s constitutional marriage equality ban was struck down in October by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, bringing marriage equality to the state. However, three months after that ruling, Otter has appealed to the Supreme Court, asking it to halt the weddings. Hundreds of couples have already married in Idaho, meaning that the Governor is directly fighting to re-instate a ban that would void all recognition of their existing unions. His attorney wrote in a court petition that same-sex marriage harms children, leading to an “increased risk of crime, emotional and psychological difficulties, poor performance in school and other ills”. The courts have turned down what seems to have been his last attempt to obstruct marriage equality in that state, happily.

Paris: Statistics have revealed that Paris is becoming a hub for same-sex weddings in France. One in eight weddings are for LGBT couples.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Sacramento: A  first-of-its-kind law in California will require big public utilities companies in the state to report how much work they do with LGBT business owners as they do with other specific groups.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Gambia:  Unfortunately, antigay Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has returned to Gambia unscathed by an attempted coup d’etat by disgruntled military personnel who tried to oust the famously homophobic president while he was out of the country,according to Agence Free Presse. Having stopped in Chad after a trip to Dubai, Jammeh was reportedly shown the bodies of three people allegedly involved in the attempted takeover as soon as he arrived back in Banjul, Gambia’s capital.

Dozens of military personnel and civilians have now been arrested, although the president claims that all of  the participants in the attempted coup were  former military personnel.  It was not immediately clear if or how the aftermath of the coup attempt may effect LGBT Gambians. However, a Dakar-based researcher familiar with the Gambian political landscape told AFP that Jammeh will use the attempted takeover of his government to further oppress his people.

“[There is] major risk of repression extending beyond the military figures involved in the coup attempt,” Gilles Yabi told AFP. “There are fears the regime could take advantage of the situation by blaming people who had nothing to do with it.”

Gambia imposed a repressive new antigay law last October and began arresting people in November. The formal enactment of the draconian law makes Gambia one the most brutal of 36 African countries that prescribe prison sentences for homosexuality.
Gambia is the fourth African nation to impose lifetime prison sentences for homosexuality. The others are Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zambia. Four African countries call for the execution of those “convicted” of being gay: Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, and Nigeria. There are only twelve African nations where homosexuality is not criminalized, and just one, South Africa, with marriage equality.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: Denee Malton, a  74-year-old transgender Army veteran has become the first person to receive gender reassignment surgery on a US government Medicare plan.  Mallon marveled at the view of Lake Michigan from her hospital bed in the Windy City, where she had just made history: The then 74-year-old transgender woman underwent a milestone sex reassignment surgery she’d sought for decades. “Here I am, finally, after all these years,” she said. “It happened.” Her operation will be one of the first paid for by Medicare after she won a challenge in May to end the government insurance program’s ban on covering such procedures for transgender individuals. Mallon’s victory opened the door for other seniors to access this care and may influence whether more insurers — private and public — will cover them. LGBT advocates also hailed her case as another step forward to securing equal rights for transgender people.

The Medicare ban was imposed in 1989, based on  earlier inadequate information years before that which found there was a “lack of well controlled, long-term studies of the safety and effectiveness of the surgical procedures and attendant therapies.” It deemed such treatment “experimental” and noted a “high rate of serious complications.” But since then, ample research has found that sex reassignment surgery is a proven therapy for some individuals suffering from gender dysphoria, with decades-long studies and clinical case reports showing positive results, experts say. There is “agreement among professionals in the field that this is effective treatment,” said Jamison Green, president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association are among the professional medical groups that have in the last decade endorsed sex reassignment surgery.

Dominican Republic: The Dominican Republic will not recognise the marriage of a same-sex couple, after the pair were allowed to wed at the British embassy.

 Arkansas: Antigay Republican Mike Huckabee – who once blamed a school massacre on gay people – has stepped away from his show on Fox News, ahead of a rumoured second run for President during forthcoming Republican Party primaries.

Dublin: Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin  has spoken out against same-sex marriage equality , ahead of the country’s referendum. The Republic of Ireland is set to vote this spring on plans to introduce civil same-sex marriage. s Ireland’s referendum on same-sex marriage approaches, opponents to the potential change have taken to the streets to hand out anti-gay leaflets. Francis Fitzgerald, Ireland’s Minister for Justice has warned people not to take it for granted that same-sex marriage will pass an upcoming referendum.

Delhi:  India has elected its first transgender Mayor, reports New Dehli Television. Madhu Kinnar, an Independent candidate, won the Mayoral election of the Raigarh Municipal Corporation by 4,537 votes, besting the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahaveer Guruji. Kinnar stood as an independent candidate in the election, and funded her campaign by working as a singer and dancer on trains travelling from Howrah to Mumbai. Speaking about her victory, she said: “It was the public support that encouraged me to enter the poll fray for the first time and because of their support only, I emerged as the winner.

“People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I’ll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams.” Kinnar’s victory follows the decision by India’s supreme court to recognise transgender people as a ‘third gender’ last year

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Sydney:  Marriage equality advocates in Australia are urging potential New South Wales Labor leader Luke Foley to meet with same-sex couples and their children to challenge his anti-gay views. Foley, a committed Catholic who is preparing to be elected unopposed as leader of New South Wales Labor on 5 January, has previously voted against marriage equality.  Foley’s record in voting against same sex marriage will plague the newly-crowned NSW opposition leader “just like it plagued Julia Gillard,” a fellow Parliamentarian has said. Labor’s leader in the state Legislative Council, or upper house, was confirmed  as the new leader of the party in NSW after standing unopposed.

Foley replaced John Robertson who resigned just before Christmas following the emergence of a letter he wrote in 2011 advocating on behalf of Sydney siege killer Man Haron Monis. Robertson, who has a gay son, was in favour of marriage equality. While Foley has voted in favour of adoption for same-sex parents, the axing of the “gay panic” legal defence and the expungement of historical consensual gay sex convictions, he has voted against measures in support of same-sex marriage despite it being official NSW Labor policy following its championing by shadow transport minister Penny Sharpe.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/anti-gay-nsw-labor-leader-luke-foley-urged-meet-same-sex-families040115

Luxembourg: The first same-sex couple was wed Thursday in  Luxembourg.  Henri Huber and Jean Paul Olinger were also the country’s first same-sex couple to register as domestic partners in Luxembourg back in 2004. Now they are its first married gay couple. Differdange Town Hall served as the venue for the couple’s nuptials, while the town’s mayor, Roberto Traversini officiated. Olinger and Huber are both in  their sixties, and the first lesbian couple to marry in Luxembourg were expected to exchange vows on Friday in the town of Walferdange.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London: The Cameron administration  is considering whether to conduct a study into whether gay or bisexual men in monogamous, same-sex relationships should still have to wait 12 months after having sex to donate blood.

Dallas: Louis Gohmert, a  right-wing Republican has announced that he plans to run to become the Speaker in the House of Representatives. Gohmert has previously said that churches should be exempt from antidiscrimination laws or they will be “forced” to hire “cross-dressers or Satanists.”

Miami: Republican Republican Jeb Bush has claimed that same-sex marriage should be left to individual US states to decide.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Sydney: P/crystal meth is a perennial problem in overseas LGBTI communities.  Across the Tasman, however, few services specifically cater to LGBTI substance abusers exist, despite increasing evidence of the impacts of substance abuse on Australian LGBTI communities, and last year’s Victorian Government report into crystal meth use identifying LGBT people as a group facing “problematic” methamphetamine use. A small number of services run by the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and ACON in NSW have begun to address this gap, highlighting the importance of inclusive and community-led support for substance users.

VAC project worker Jeremy Wiggins is setting up a number of the organisation’s new alcohol and other drug (AOD) services, and told the Star Observer that while crystal meth use is often the focus of reporting in the media, in reality, LGBT crystal meth use  is part of a much more complex picture:

“When we focus on that we need to not over-sensationalise it. Alcohol and tobacco are having a more negative impact on more people across our communities, and especially even in the GLBTI communities… that actually has a much bigger impact than say, a small group of sexually active gay men who might be doing ice to enhance their sexual experiences.  Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria’s research  indicated 40.2 per cent of queer, bisexual and same-sex attracted women were drinking at “problem levels”.

Wiggins also addressed recent research from the Prahran Market Clinic investigating the link between HIV transmission and crystal meth, which indicated HIV+ men are significantly more likely to be using the drug. The study also indicated a large majority of HIV+ crystal meth  users — between 73 and 84 per cent — believe meth was a “significant cause” of their HIV infection.

“It’s just about people being aware of the risks involved — if you’re using methamphetamines or ice, it’s perhaps going to impair your judgement. Are you looking after yourself with your nutrition? How is it impacting with your HIV medication? If you’re HIV-negative and you’re using and you’re engaging in group sex with other people, how able are you if you’re really high to take care of your boundaries around safe-sex?”

As well as promoting LGBTI-inclusion among mainstream alcohol and drug services, Wiggins is helping set up specific LGBTI support groups at VAC, including one targeting transgender substance abusers. He said because of how vulnerable people in these situations could be, significant damage could arise from a someone encountering transphobia at a support service.

“Perhaps that person walks away and they remain the same, or perhaps they walk away and their issues get worse, because it just reinforced all of the underlying issues that have contributed to their drug and alcohol use to begin with — just being discriminated against or feeling not valued or treated as a human being,” he said.

Porn star, advocate and trans man Buck Angel worked with Wiggins during his recent trip to Australia, and has faced his own challenges around alcohol and drug use.He argued the need for services that focus on transgender-specific needs is imperative:

“First and foremost, you have to feel comfortable going somewhere. You have to feel comfortable walking in and feeling like you’re not going to be judged, that there are going to be people who are just saying, ‘it’s okay.’ Because it is okay. It happens to people.”

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

 Brisbane: Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has dissolved his state parliament and announced a surprise election date of January 31 – the earliest in Queensland history. Advocates are hoping that LGBTI issues play an important role in the three-and-a-half week campaign and that voters consider the records of the major parties.  Tony Abbott is unwelcome there, too, apparently.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

 Macedonia: Politicians in the Macedonian Assembly have voted to prohibit marriage equality.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

 Harare:  A fundamentalist Zimbabwean  ’prophet’ has spoken out in support of President Mugabe and his latest draconian antigay outbursts.  United Family International Church founder Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa commended the president for ‘principled’ while facing EU economic sanctions that he believes was imposed over the country’s persecution of LGBTI people. Mugabe has previously said gay people are ‘worse than pigs, dogs and birds’ and has also threatened to behead them. Speaking to a congregation of thousands, Makandiwa said: ‘To those countries homosexuality is a right that they have claimed our president is abusing.  The ‘prophet’ has said the president’s position on the LGBTI community is one of the reasons the country ‘culture’ has remained stable and the economy is improving.  However, other than sanctions by the EU, the United States does not maintain sanctions against the country of Zimbabwe, and only target individuals who have abused human rights or are involved in the corruption of the government. The EU also remained a major donor to Zimbabwe since 2002 by channeling funds of €1.5 billion Euros ($2 billion) through non-governmental organizations.

However, despite there being laws against gay sex in Zimbabwe, a health minister has called for better healthcare for men who have sex with men in prison. Calls were made by stakeholders in the health sector, for gay men should be included in HIV and AIDS strategies. Dr Owen Mugurungi, the HIV and TB director at the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health said it would be disastrous to ignore the fact that men have gay sex in prisons.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/zimbabwe-self-proclaimed-prophet-endorses-mugabes-threats-behead-gays060115

 Hanoi:  Gay marriage is no longer banned in Vietnam under an amendment to marriage law that came into effect on 1 January. Same-sex couples can now hold symbolic weddings and cohabitate without interference or fines from authorities. However, they will not receive the same rights as straight married couples, a halfway point some lawmakers have hailed as the first step towards marriage equality.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/same-sex-marriage-no-longer-banned-vietnam-%E2%80%93-still-not-recognized060115

 Dhaka:  More than half of LGBTI Bangladeshis live in constant of being outed in the Muslim country, according to a survey released last month. Many respondents also said they felt their sexual orientation conflicted with their religious identity, some considering it a sin and immoral.  About 59% of those surveyed said they have never faced discrimination due to their sexual orientation, but of the 25.8% who said they did, a higher percentage said they either had no knowledge or no access to legal support.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/more-half-bangladesh-gays-live-fear-being-outed060115

Darwin:  Prominent euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke has lost a legal battle to protect his registration to practice medicine after an Australian medical tribunal ruled he posed a serious risk to the public and could undermine confidence in the medical profession. Nitschke has vowed to appeal the decision by the Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal, saying doctors have to face the “harsh reality” that many people, including those who are not terminally ill, believe they have a right to end their own lives. The tribunal ruled that the Medical Board of Australia’s decision to use its emergency powers to suspend Dr Nitschke’s registration last year was warranted.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au

 London: Amongst the growing furore against Leelah Alcorn’s death, transgender Attitude columnist Paris Lees has added her sadness and questioned why antigay/transphobic ‘reparative therapy’ is still legal when it comes to the lives, mental health and vulnerability of transgender (and LGB) teenagers at risk:

“The world has taken notice of Leelah’s death. Maybe it’s because she was so young. Or so white. Or so clear about her reasons for going. It’s the sort of suicide the media laps up in a slow news month, but her death is not an isolated incident. Some people say we shouldn’t talk about Leelah’s suicide in case we encourage more trans people to kill themselves, but there is already an epidemic of suicide within the trans community. Isolation is the problem. Society is the problem. Talking honestly about why trans people take their own lives, because of the awful way other people often treat us, is the only way things will ever change. Leelah knew this. ‘Fix society’, were her words.
Back in March 2012 I wrote about a primary school teacher called Lucy Meadows who’d been hounded by the press during the final months of her life. Last January, I wrote about a transgender woman called Dr V who was driven to suicide by a journalist threatening to out her as trans. Two months ago, I wrote about Mikki Nicholson, in her 30s, who threw herself under a train following years of depression and social rejection. Yesterday, someone sent me a story of a 24-year-old trans girl in Turkey. She was beautiful. And now she’s gone.
For gay and trans kids, the very people who are supposed to love and support us may turn out to be our primary source of hostility. The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey revealed that trans kids who have suffered family rejection were nearly 60 per cent more likely to commit suicide than those whose families accepted them.
Some of the best responses to Leelah’s death have come from the gay community. Stephen Fry gets it. Dan Savage gets it. Vicky Beeching gets it. Savage suggested that Leelah’s parents be investigated for abuse, while Beeching said the suicide was a ‘wake up call for the church’. They’re both right. Leelah was abused and it’s a scandal that so called ‘conversion therapies’ are still legal in many states in the US. Thank goodness the word is finally starting to get out.
Conversion therapy does not work. There is no medical evidence that you can ‘cure’ someone of being trans. There is, however, evidence that conversion therapy causes huge psychological distress; the World Health Organization describes it as “a serious threat to the health and well-being – even the lives – of affected people”. 
Thank you, Paris. What a beautiful, heartfelt column.  As a parent, I was also profoundly affected by this young woman’s death. Leelah was younger than my own daughter.
Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
Edinburgh: The presbyteries of the Church of Scotland have given their overwhelming approval to proposals for the ordination of gay ministers.
Miami:  Catholic Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski has sent a letter to his employees telling them they could be fired for publicly supporting marriage equality within that US state.
Virginia: Bob Marshall, a Virginia Republican has introduced a state bill that would give people the right to openly engage in service provision  discrimination  against people over “homosexual behaviour”. Marshall was also the author of the US state’s former constitutional ban against marriage equality.
Washington DC: Maggie Gallagher, the former head of the National Organisation for Marriage has claimed that it is up to God to stop the spread of marriage equality.
Nepal: The Nepalese government is to issue passports with a third gender option for citizens who do not identify as male or female.
Jerusalem: A Jewish trans woman was denied access to both the woman’s and the men’s section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Delhi: Over six hundred gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men were arrested for consensual adult gay sex in India, under Section 377 of India’s colonial era penal code.
Northern Ireland:  Maurice Mills, a Northern Irish councillor awarded a MBE despite his homophobic views has said he welcomes the ‘scrutiny’ from opponents. Mills  has said it is a ‘silly’ idea that his honor be removed and then repeated his claim that God punishes the world for homosexuality. Mills has blamed the spread of AIDS in Africa on gay people engaging in the ‘filthy practice of sodomy’ and also blamed Hurricane Katrina on Southern Decadence, an Atlanta gay dance party.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/anti-gay-politician-awarded-mbe-queen-welcomes-scrutiny-ellen-page070115
Atlanta:  Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran has been ousted for self-publishing a book in which he equates homosexuality to pederasty and bestiality. He was fired on 6 January after he returned to work after a 30-day suspension without pay. Cochran distributed his faith-based book titled Who Told You That You Were Naked? to his subordinates without of the city’s permission. In it, he identifies himself as a ‘devout Christian man’ and lists gay sex as one of several ‘vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body-temple and dishonor God.

The Mayor of Atlanta has defended his decision to fire the city’s Fire Chief for making anti-gay comments. Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was sacked this week following the discovery of anti-gay comments in his book Who Told You That You Were Naked, where he describes homosexuality as “a sexual perversion,” “unclean” and vulgar.” Some critics had claimed that Cochran’s firing was against his “religious freedom,” however Mayor Kasim Reed has refused to back down, arguing that religion had nothing to with his decision.

“This is about how we treat one another,” said the Mayor during a press conference on Tuesday (January 6). “And so those folks who are calling me and telling me I should retain him. I just want you to know one thing. His religious decisions are not the basis of the problem. His judgment is the basis of the problem.”

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/atlanta-fire-chief-ousted-equating-gay-sex-bestiality070115
Florence:  An Italian dentist is the victim of a leaflet campaign, informing his patients to be wary of him because he is gay. Alessandro Bordoni, a gay rights activist based in Tuscany, has said they do not know who made up the ‘health warning’ notices but they plan on finding out.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/italian-pamphlets-are-telling-patients-beware-gay-dentist070115
United States: No one could accuse the Christian Right of good taste when it comes to LGBT subjects. Witness the tragic suicide of Leelah Alcorn, for example.  According to “Renew America’s”  Gina Miller argues, anyone “in open rebellion of God’s design” will “suffer” for it.“According to one study from 2010, over forty percent of transgender people have attempted suicide,” said Miller. “Proponents of transgenderism explain this high figure by mistakenly blaming society’s disapproval for ‘causing’ these people to attempt suicide. That’s not it. Anyone in open rebellion against God’s design for human sexuality will suffer for it, and suicidal tendencies are just one of the many ill effects,” she explained. “Not everyone will like to hear this, but demon possession certainly plays a part in homosexuality and transgenderism,’ she said.She goes on to claim that knowledge of demon possession has been “largely lost or buried” in modern culture, saying:“In the Bible, we see that demon possession was commonly acknowledged and understood to be prevalent, but the knowledge of it has been largely lost or buried today, as if our “modern” culture is too “smart” to give credence to the reality of spiritual forces at work in people today, just as they were then.”   [Exploiting a family's personal tragedy for cheap publicity. Way to go, Ms. Miller- Craig]Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
Northern Ireland: A judge in Nothern Ireland has ruled that the former Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots’ decision to uphold a ban on gay men giving blood was the result of religious bias.
Gibraltar: Gibraltar’s Equality Rights Group have called on the government to provide gender recognition rights for trans people.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk 
Moscow: Russia says transsexual and transgender people will be barred from driving on medical grounds, in a controversial [and ridiculous-C]  move.  Tgus new law in Russia aims to deny driver’s licenses to those deemed “mentally ill” — a broad categorization that, according to the law, expressly includes transgender and transsexual people.  Fetishism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and “pathological” gambling and stealing are also included as “mental disorders” that make citizens ineligible for a driver’s license. Even within Russia there is vocal dissent, including from the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights, which called the new law “discriminatory,” according to the BBC. Similarly, the Russian Psychiatric Association expressed concern that the new restrictions would discourage people from seeking psychiatric help, afraid a diagnosis could result in revocation of their driving privileges — a concern Human Rights First also echoed. Mils Nuizmiek, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has also  attacked a new Russian law which bans transgender people from obtaining driver’s licenses.
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news 
Canberra: The ACT Government has today announced plans to allow the expungement of historical gay sex convictions prior to the territory’s decriminalisation of consensual gay sex.Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au 
Worcester:  A town has rallied to fulfill the dying wish of a terminally ill trans woman, who wants to marry her female partner. Parma Bertoli has less than 12 months to live after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, and had made plans to marry her fiancee Stephanie Nickles in February. The Worcester-based couple – who are both transgender – have stood by each other for more than a decade as they transitioned.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
London: Stuart Russell/Phil Edwards, a former neofascist British National Party (BNP) press officer has said he thinks Stephen Fry and his fiancé Elliott Spencer ”should be arrested for outraging public decency”.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk Miami: Florida Republican Senator Mario Rubio has condemned the courts for introducing access to marriage equality across the United States.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com
 Brisbane:  An Australian politician has been forced to apologise for a homophobic bumper sticker. Former Cooloola Shire Councillor Ron Owen displayed the bumper sticker in question – which said “The only rights gays have is to die” – on his vehicle back in 2005. Following a number of complaints, a ten year court battle then ensued over Owen’s refusal to apologise for causing offense to the LGBT community.  Owen was first found guilty of “inciting hatred” by a court in 2008. However, through a series of appeals the former politician managed to prolong the court battle for a further six years. In a final ruling made in December 2014 by a tribunal, Owen was found guilty of inciting hared and finally ordered by the court to make a “genuine and unqualified” apology for the offensive sticker, reported the Gympie Times.  [A Queenslander. Typical.- Craig]Three local lesbian and bisexual women had lodged a complaint with the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal in 2005. In 2008, the Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found Owen guilty of inciting hatred against homosexuals for displaying a bumper sticker on a car that he was using that read ‘Gay rights? Under God’s law the only rights gays have is the right to die.’ The car was parked outside council offices in Gympie.Australia’s Qnews reported that the tribunal found his first breach of anti-discrimination laws was when he quoted a biblical passage suggesting that gay people ‘shall surely be put to death’ in an August 2005 Cooloola Shire Council report titled ‘Community morals and youth protection.’ He wrote that gay men preyed on children and called for them to be banned from going anywhere near schools, scout halls, churches, government or railways. Owen was ordered to pay A$12,500 to the three women and publish an apology.The issue became public when he was challenged in a council meeting by fellow councillor Peter Cantrell, who questioned why the car carried the bumper sticker when he had claimed to be a champion of individual rights. The Gympie Times quoted Owen, a former president of the National Firearm Owners of Australia, as saying this was probably because he did not regard gays as human.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/australian-former-councilor-forced-apologize-gay-slur-after-9-year-legal-battle100115Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk 
Washington DC: Voice of the Voiceless, a  fundamentalist Christian group that claims to “cure”  homosexuality plans to sue the District of Columbia – after it banned ‘ex-gay’ conversion therapy. The District of Columbia Council voted in December to enact legislation which bans therapists from attempting to ‘cure’ gay teenagers. However:   “We are still seeking a plaintiff (minor and their family) who has been disenfranchised by this law in the District, but at this point, we cannot find a licensed practitioner who even practices SOCE therapy in the District, nor can we identify a client who has been disenfranchised.”Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk 
Brisbane: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays has asked the current Liberal National Party state government to  urgently remedy existing inequalities in the backward Northern Australian state, which include upgrading civil unions back to full strength, age of consent equality for gay men, refunding the Queensland AIDS Council, establishing a state version of the Safe Schools Initiative, and reopening the Brisbane Sexual Health Clinic and its Gender Centre.  The state government is expected to sustain heavy losses due to its unpopularity and Australian federal Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been asked not to “assist” LNP state campaigning.Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au 
Portland: The infamous Westboro Baptist Church homophobes  were protesting outside an NBA basketball game in Portland with their infamous “God Hates Fags” signs on Jan.10, claiming that they were protesting due to the Portland Trailblazers’ outspoken support of same-sex marriage, reported a local media outlet.  However, shortly after the protest began the Westboro Baptist Church were overwhelmed by a mass of pro-gay supporters, who forced the the hate group to leave the area after just fifteen minutes. Sanity 1, bigots 0.Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk 
Mexico City: What would have been the first legal same-sex wedding in Baja California, a city hall ceremony carried that was mandated by Mexico’s Supreme Court, was thwarted again yesterday, according to U-T San Diego’s Sandra Dibble and Mexican media outlets. Fernando Urias (37) and Victor Manuel Aguirre (43)  have been trying to get married legally in Mexico since 2013, and their Saturday Jan. 10 wedding had been scheduled with the city’s civil registry for weeks.Source: http://www.advocate.com
Dublin: The Irish Department of Health is currently examining a policy paper that looks at a range of options surrounding the country’s ban on gay men donating blood.
London: The British armed forces are to begin monitoring the sexuality of new recruits, in order to help tackle homophobia.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk 
Manchester:  Greater Manchester Police have denied claims that a serial killer may be targeting the city’s canals and gay village. The force released a statement after Professor Craig Jackson – head of psychology at Birmingham City University – told The Daily Star  over the weekend that it was “extremely unlikely” that the high number of bodies that have been found in the city’s waterways over the last few years were all the result of accidents. Sixty-one bodies have been pulled from Manchester’s canals in the last six years. The professor added that the idea that someone was targeting gay men on Canal Street shouldn’t be ruled out.Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
United States: Forrest Gump actor Gary Sinise is to speak at a summit for Courage, an anti-gay Catholic group that believes homosexuality can be ‘cured’ through celibacy. However, one day afterward, Gary Sinise announced that he has pulled out of speaking at a summit for an anti-gay Catholic group that believes homosexuality can be ‘cured’ as he was unaware of the nature of the organisation, which opposes marriage equality and supports ‘reparative therapy.’
Dallas: A new Republican proposal in the Texas state legislature would strip state employees of their salaries if they recognise same-sex marriages. 
Washington DC: The US Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against a state court’s marriage equality verdict  in Louisiana. 
Lisbon: Portugal’s opposition Socialist party plans to table a bill which would allow same-sex couples to adopt children and access fertility treatment.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk 
Cairo: All twenty six men in the Cairo ‘gay bathhouse’ criminal case have now been acquitted.
Goa: The Catholic-dominated Indian state of Goa plans a ‘rehabilitation’ facility for lesbian and gay youth. However, one Indian LGBT rights campaigner has replied: ’This would be a disaster, a government-mandated torture chamber for children.’    Ramesh Tawadkar, Goa’s Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, said gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex teenagers need to be ‘helped’ – like young people who have committed crimes or are addicted to drugs. Speaking to reporters at the launch of the Goa State Youth Policy 2015, he reportedly said: ‘We will make them normal. We will have a center for them. Like Alcholic Anonymous centers.’Update: On 13 Jan., Mr.  Tawadkar blamed the media for misunderstanding and misquoting him. He has now denied saying that he planned to set up LGBTI ‘rehabs’ after receiving criticism far beyond the Indian state: ’I was not talking about the LGBT (youths) but about drug addicted and sexually abused youths,’ he told the Press Trust of India.Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/india-state-minister-denies-gay-rehab-plans130115Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/india-state-plans-official-rehab-cure-gay-teens120115 
Lagos:  A Nigerian author and brand expert has taken to Facebook to publicly come out as gay. Kenny Brandmuse, who was married for six years, had also recently disclosed that he is HIV positive. In two separate posts, Brandmuse addressed both his sexuality and his HIV status saying he would continue to write for those who are misunderstood and discriminated against.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/nigerian-author-risks-jail-coming-out-gay120115 
Kyrgyzstan:  A leading Kyrgyz politician has called for the public execution of LGBTI people ‘in order to cleanse society.’ MP Narynbek Maldobaev made the comments in a 26-minute film about the central Asian country by Vocativ.  Although gay sex is legal in Kygryzstan, lawmakers in October overwhelmingly voted in favor of a Russian-style law that will punish ‘gay propaganda’ with up to a year in jail.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/kyrgyzstan-lawmaker-calls-public-execution-all-gays120115
Washington DC: Mike Huckabee, failed former Republican presidential nominee aspirant and Fox News pundit,  isn’t certain about the number of spouses bisexuals want to have. The Republican is about to start a book tour to promote his book God, Guns, Grits and Gravy. In the non-fiction work Huckabee touches on a number of cultural issues, including same-sex marriage. The potential 2016 candidate for the White House wonders if bisexuals want multiple spouses.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/anti-gay-us-pundit-wonders-if-bisexuals-want-two-spouses110115 
Louisville, Kentucky:  Despite Kentucky law that currently bars the recognition of gay marriages performed where they are legal, a Jefferson Family Court judge has granted the state’s first same-sex divorce. In the first ruling of its kind in Kentucky, Judge Joseph O’Reilly permitted the divorce of two Louisville women who were legally married in Massachusetts. Though state law says gay marriages performed elsewhere are void in Kentucky, O’Reilly said that barring same-sex couples to divorce here violates the state constitutional guarantee that all people should be treated as equals.Source: http://www.advocate.com 
United States:  Randy Thomas, a former activist with the now-defunct “ex-gay” group Exodus International, has come out as “gay with some level of bisexual tendencies” in a post on his blog. In the post, published on Jan. 13 and titled “A Peaceful Disclosure,” Thomas writes, “The truth is, that my primary sexual attraction is toward men. It is also true that to date the love of my life has been a woman. I was attracted to her in every way. Many people won’t believe me but what I just shared is true. … My relational history has shown that I can indeed have attractions to either gender if the emotional attachment is there.” He says he has been asked in social settings if he was gay and answered that he was bisexual with a propensity toward men. “As I was thinking through and writing this post it became clear that it is most accurate to say that I am gay with a bisexual propensity that I can’t adequately describe,” he concluded.
United States:  In response, legislators who previously championed marriage bans are now adopting a more subtle tactic: proposing laws that penalize gay couples for marrying or state officials for allowing those marriages. Several states have pursued such service provider discrimination laws in the last year, with varying success: Mississippi passed a so-called license to discriminate law in April 2014 that allowed  businesses to reject customers on the basis of their marriage. But similar laws failed to pass in Arizona, Georgia, Oregon, and Idaho. Indiana is the latest state to jump on this bandwagon, with a proposal from Republican state senator Scott Schneider. His bill, which may be introduced as early as this week, would allow Indiana businesses to refuse service to people who are deemed to offend the “deeply held religious convictions” of the business owner, pharmacist, or state employee. As is generally the case, Schenider has framed the bill as a matter of “religious freedom,” though he has yet to indicate exactly which passage of the Bible addresses cake-baking, floral arrangements, or refusing to fill a prescription for a customer because the medication does not comport with the pharmacist’s particular faith.Source: http://www.advocate.com 
Gambia: Corrupt moronic  Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh has once again spoken out against gay people. In a speech on Saturday he said: “Let me make it very clear that if they think that they can be homosexuals and want to impose homosexuality on the globe, they are doomed.” Or, in full:“Let me make it very clear that if they think that they can be homosexuals and want to impose homosexuality on the globe, they are doomed. All empires before collapsed not at the time they were weakest, but at the peak of their might and when they equated themselves with the Almighty Allah. So this evil empire of homosexuals will also go down the dirty drain and garbage of hell. They say I am intolerant, and that homosexuals are a minority that is being oppressed in this country.Let me warn those countries that think they are powers. They may be evil powers, but the Gambia is a righteous power protected by God. We will prevail by the grace of the Almighty Allah. All forces of evil that have bad intention towards the Gambia will perish. We will not change our way of life.”United States: Saks, a US clothing store,  has tried to dismiss a former employees’ transphobic discrimination case by claiming she has “no right” to be protected from discrimination. [What a shame I don't live in the United States so I can't boycott these idiots- Craig]Source: http://www.pinknews.co.ukLondon: Hammersmith and Fulham council is considering closing London’s only domestic violence shelter for gay and bisexual men.
London:  Henley College Coventry has blocked its students from accessing some sites because of their LGBT content. Students who tried to browse the Birmingham Pride website were met with the message “ACCESS DENIED Request denied by Henley College Coventry”. It gave the reason for the block as “Category ‘Gay or Lesbian or Bisexual Interest’ denied by WebBlocker policy”
Northern Ireland: A legal challenge to Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage has been filed in Belfast’s High Court.
Salt Lake City: A shockingly high number of gay and lesbian Mormons have undergone attempts to “cure” themselves of their same-sex attractions. 
New York: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has criticised India’s gay sex ban, saying it is “intolerant”.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk 
Colorado: The New Hope Ministries church in Lakewood, Colorado cancelled Vanessa Collier’s funeral 15 minutes after it was scheduled to begin. 
Sacramento: “Save California”  activist and Proposition 8 backer Randy Thomasson — who once leveled the accusation that California officials were “dissing God” by not going to bat for the anti–marriage equality measure in court — hasn’t warmed up to the idea of marriage equality since the US Supreme Court struck down the referendum result.  In fact, Thomasson thinks anti–marriage Republican fundamentalist anti- equality governors should task the National Guard with halting the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Cambridge: A headteacher at a fundamentalist school in Sunderland has claimed that Ofsted inspectors asked children “inappropriate” questions about sexuality and sex education.
London:  Organisations across the UK have signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy. The memorandum acknowledges that conversion therapy, or “repareative therapy”, which attempts to change a person’s sexuality, is unethical and harmful. It also sets out plans to tackle conversion therapy and protect patients from it 14 different organisations have signed the memorandum including NHS England, Association of Christian Counsellors, Relate, and the Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists.Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
Colorado:  Corporate executive Peter Coors, actor Gary Sinise, and Fox News anchor Bret Baier have all canceled plans to appear at the annual conference of an antigay Catholic group that supports “ex-gay” therapy. Molson Coors Brewing Co. today sent the blog JoeMyGod  a tweet saying that Peter Coors, its chairman, would not be a speaker at the Legatus annual summit, scheduled for January 29-31 in Naples, Fla. “Pete Coors was previously unaware of the controversy surrounding that organization’s position on LGBT issues and will not be speaking at the summit,” the tweet read in part. Another blog, Good as You, had drawn attention to the fact that Coors, Sinise, and Baier were set to appear at the event.
Dallas:  A Dallas billboard claiming that therapy intended to turn gay people straight “really works” will soon be removed, the president of the advertising company that operates the billboard tells The Advocate. Terry Kafka, president of Dallas-based Impact Advertising, says he was unaware of the billboard over U.S. Highway 75 near the Royal Lane exit until contacted by The Advocate Wednesday morning. 
Florence: The Transgender Law Center Tuesday called for the release of Nicoll Hernández-Polanco, a Guatemalan trans woman currently being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at an all-male detention facility in Florence, Ariz.Source: http://www.advocate.com 
Manchester: Plans to open the first LGBT school in the UK are under way,with funding secured, and a site selected in Manchester.   A petition has been launched against proposals for an LGBT school in Manchester, but it’s not from whom you’d expect.  LGBT Youth North West received a grant to to conduct a study into the feasibility of turning The Joyce Layland LGBT Centre into the country’s first LGBT-inclusive school, which would be designed for – but not limited to – vulnerable gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. The proposal has divided students, teachers and the public, with some saying that the focus should be on creating safe environments for LGBT pupils at mainstream schools.The petition on change.org calls for current plans to be cancelled and “more effort to be put into making our entire education system inclusive and a positive experience for children from all backgrounds”. Tara Hewitt, who is transgender, set up the petition and says separating gay and transgender pupils will not solve the problem of discrimination in schools, Manchester Evening News reports.Ms Hewitt (39) said: “There seems to be a general consensus among the LGBT community that segregating young people from mainstream education would damage our equality. One of the biggest challenges for transgender people is that many people don’t know anyone who is transgender. If you move transgender, gay, lesbian or bisexual pupils away from mainstream education, it will only make discrimination worse. Without a doubt, this would be a step backwards. I thought the petition would provide an extra space to discuss what LGBT Youth North West are suggesting. I hope it will be used as part of the consultation.”In her latest column, Attitude’s Paris Lees writes an open letter to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, where she argues that “the very fact we are discussing the need for a gay and trans-friendly school suggests the education system is failing some of the most vulnerable children trusted into its care.”Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
London: John Ssenkindu says he had his asylum application denied because he failed to “prove” his sexuality.
London: Guidelines on educational books tell authors not to talk about same-sex relationships.West Hollywood: The city of West Hollywood now requires all single-stall toilets to be gender-neutral. 
Michigan: A judge has ruled that Michigan must recognise the same-sex marriages carried out in the brief period same-sex marriage was possible in the state. London: A study reports that gay and bisexual men are more at risk of contracting HIV if they have mental health problems.
Delhi: The governing Bharatiya Janata Party has had a welcome change of heart. It has now vowed to decriminalise homosexuality, saying while gay people are rejected by some, they should be accepted. 
Belgrade: An activist group in Serbian has submitted a complaint after it says a transgender veteran officer in the country’s military was forcibly retired after coming out as transgender.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Vienna:  On 14 January, Austria’s top court lifted a ban against gay adoption, bringing the country into line with many other European Union countries. The Constitutional Court said the law contravened the European Human Rights Convention. Explaining the decision, chief judge Gerhart Holzinger said there was ‘no objective argument for a differing rule based solely on sexual orientation’ of the parents. Previously, only married couples were allowed to adopt but gay marriage is not yet legal in Austria. However, LGBTI couples can form registered partnerships and have been able to adopt the biological child of their partners since 2013.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/austria-lifts-ban-gay-adoption150115 
London:  James Dawson has backed calls for mandatory PSHE (Personal, Social & Health Education) in all schools in the face of stark statistics on the state of mental health among LGBT youth. In a new column for The Guardian the This Book is Gay author argues that LGBT teens are suffering in silence with depression, self-harm and substance abuse while politicians “dilly-dally” over the need for comprehensive sexuality and gender education classes in schools.  Pointing to statistics from last year which indicate that while 42% of young LGBTQ people sought medical help for depression or anxiety compared to 29% of straight, cisgendered youths; 52% had self-harmed (compared to 35%) and 44% had considered suicide compared to 26% of heterosexual, cisgendered respondents, Dawson says that cases like Leelah Alcorn – the 17-year-old trans teen who tragically took her own life last month (December) – could be avoided.Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
Cairo:  A Cairo judge’s Jan 12 acquittal of 26 men arrested in a journalist-incited bathhouse raid last month may not be the victory for gay rights in Egypt that it seems, local activists say. The men were charged with “debauchery”, a makeshift accusation used by Egyptian authorities to target gay men. Although homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, the country has seen a series of police raids on local gay gatherings. These arrests are usually surrounded by media hype glorifying the police actions and targeting a sexual minority in a conservative country.However, this raid is unique in the way it developed: It began as  local tabloid journalist named Mona Iraqi attempted to film inside the bathhouse, looking for a sensational story about homosexuality in Egypt. When the owner of the bathhouse denied her request,Ms.  Iraqi contacted the police then filmed the ensuing raid as dozens of naked men were dragged from the bathhouse to police cars waiting outside. Iraqi’s actions sparked global outrage on social media and the hashtag #MediaInformant. DailyXtra’s renewed attempts to contact Iraqi, who is currently taking a vacation in Paris, France, were futile. Observers of the court hearing that acquitted the men say it lasted barely a minute. The judge read the names of the 26 men, followed by a single pronouncement of “innocent.” Immediately after the verdict, the men, their family and supporters erupted in a cheer — even as the men reportedly hid their faces out of fear that cameras might reveal their identities.However,  Egypt’s Attorney General has announced its intention to appeal the acquittal. All of the accused men had anal dilation tests, which did not disclose “unusual” responses which might suggest facilitation of anal sex.Source: http://http://dailyxtra.com/world/news/egyptian-acquittal-victory-gay-rights-say-activists-97865
 Manila:  Pope Francis, much lauded for shifting the Catholic church’s tone on LGBT issues, struck a less conciliatory note in a speech he made today in Manila, the Philippines, where he said that the “family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.” These forces, he said, are attempting the “ideological colonization of the family.” According to Crux, a Boston Globe blog covering Catholic issues, the Vatican confirmed that the pontiff was alluding to marriage equality and same-sex parenting. According to Pope Francis, supporters of marriage equality are who support it are attempting  to”redefine the very institution of marriage.”
Gambia:  Yahya Jammeh, dictator of Gambia,  lashed out against foreign governments that have called on him to stop jailing LGBT Gambians, according to Gambia Affairs,  an independent news outlet.”All the religious books condemn homosexuality, and there is a so-called power of democracy that says that homosexuality is a right,” President Yahya Jemmeh said in a speech earlier this month to hundreds of soldiers. “All empires before collapsed not at the time they were weakest, but at the peak of their might and when they equated themselves with the Almighty Allah. So this evil empire of homosexuals will also go down the dirty drain and garbage of hell.”Although Jammeh did not directly mention the U.S. when denouncing the so-called evil empire of homosexuals, there’s little doubt that his ire is aimed at the Obama administration.  Human rights groups are calling on the U.S. and other nations that provide financial aid to the impoverished west African nation to impose sanctions on Gambia until it repeals the law and starts respecting the human rights of its gender and sexual minorities.  It is likely that Jammeh is keenly aware of a similar scenario that played out in Uganda last year. Sanctions were seen as effective in pressuring Uganda to overturn its now-defunct Anti-Homosexuality Act. Notably, language from the antigay law now in force in Gambia is nearly identical to that Ugandan law. Meanwhile Jammeh, who seized power in a military coup in 1994, recently survived a coup attempt. In his recent speech, which was published by Gambia Affairs in its entirety with little context and no analysis, Jammeh blames a trio of culprits for Gambia’s problems, conflating gays, the “evil empire,” and Western leaders such as Barack Obama
Detroit:  Dave Agema, the Republican National Committee member from Michigan who’s drawn fire for homophobic, racist, and anti-Muslim statements, has apparently finally gone too far for the RNC. The RNC’s leaders formally censured Agema Wednesday and called for his resignation in light of his Facebook sharing of an article that characterised African-Americans  as “mentally inferior” to other races and with greater criminal tendencies.Source: http://www.advocate.com 
Denver: Er, you were saying? In a turn of events, an anti-gay activist has filed a ‘religious discrimination’ complaint against a pro-gay bakery, that refused to bake a cake claiming that homosexuals are “detestable”.  The Azucar Bakery in Denver was approached by a customer in March last year, who requested a Bible-shaped cake.The company agreed to bake the cake – but quickly became uncomfortable with the man’s demands for anti-gay messages. Owner Marjorie Silva told Out Front: “We make [Christian-themed] cakes all the time… no problem at all. He wanted us to write God hates… just really radical stuff against gays. He wouldn’t allow me to make a copy of the message, but it was really hateful. I remember the words detestable, disgrace, homosexuality, and sinners. I told him that I would bake the cake in the shape of a Bible. Then I told him I’d sell him a [decorating] bag with the right tip and the right icing so he could write those things himself.”   The bakery later received a letter from the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), informing them that the man had filed a ‘religious discrimination’ complaint. Ms Silva is waiting to file a response to the complaint.
But was it a fix up?  The identity of the man who filed a religious discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery because it wouldn’t put an antigay message on a cake has been revealed. He is Bill Jack, one of the founders of Worldview Academy, according to local media.  Worldview Academy is a fundamentalist Christian  organization that holds conventions, conferences and youth camps meant to indoctrinate young fundamentalists “to think and live in accord with a biblical worldview,” according to its website.
Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
London:  Bisexual women are more likely to suffer poor mental health compared to lesbians. A new study published in the Journal of Public Health has claimed  bisexual women were 65% more likely to report eating problems and 37% were more likely to self-harm than lesbians. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also found they were more likely to have suffered from depression and anxiety than lesbians.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/bisexual-women-are-more-likely-self-harm-lesbians160115
Atlanta:  A fundamentalist Baptist minister invited to give a devotional at the opening of the Georgia House of Representatives on January 14 took the opportunity to rant against gay rights, which he called ‘erotic liberty.’ Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and former president of the Southern Baptist convention, reminded legislators that their role was to protect citizens against the ‘evil,’ in this case gay marriage.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/pastor-preaches-against-erotic-liberty-gays-georgia-house160115
Washington DC:  The US Supreme Court has announced that it is to rule whether gay couples have the right to marry across all states. Following accelerated strike-downs of state marriage equality bans last year, the Supreme Court justices are set to hear cases from four different states – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee – probably by June 2015.  If the courts rule in favour of marriage equality, then it could allow LGBT couples in all fifty states to legally marry.  The four cases will be discussed by the court in April 2015.  Marriage equality  is currently legal in thirty-seven out of fifty US  states.Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
Mosul, Iraq:  Horrifying new pictures depicting extremist group ISIS throwing a man off of a roof for being gay have been released. One of the shocking photographs reveals that the victim was thrown from the top of the highest point in the city of Mosul for allegedly committing the crime of “lutva” meaning an act of sodomy.   Further images – which attitude.co.uk  chose not to publish – show the man’s body on the ground, surrounded by an angry mob. A second gay man is also believed to have been executed in a similar way. ISIS – who inflict a wide range of punishments on those it believes have infringed on Islamic law – allegedly stoned two men to death last November in Syria after claiming they had evidence the men were gay.Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk 
Melbourne: Midsumma (and Mardi Gras) season is almost here, and the Victorian AIDS Council has argued a delay on government spending to tackle crystal meth use will hit the gay community during a critical time.Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au
New York:  The Secretary General of the United Nations offered a pointed critique of laws that criminalize consensual sex between people of the same gender in a speech Tuesday, notably given in a nation that recently re-enacted its own ban on so-called homosexual sodomy: ”I staunchly oppose the criminalization of homosexuality,” said Ban Ki-Moon Tuesday in New Delhi, India, at an event marking the United Nations’ 70th anniversary, reports theWashington Blade. “I speak out because laws criminalizing consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination.”Source: http://www.advocate.com 
Bangkok: The military panel that is drafting Thailand’s new constitution confirmed that the document will include references to a “third gender” for the first time. The nation joins other Asian countries, including India and Nepal, who has recently legally recognized third genders. Thailand’s constitution is currently being rewritten following a military coup in  May 2014. The new ruling junta appointed a Constitution Drafting Committee who has, among other changes, considered how to codify fairer treatment of trans people into law. Thai culture has historically been one of the world’s most open to trans people, according to Asia-Pacific newspaper The Diplomat. Trans singers, actors, and TV personalities remain popular, and the country is host to at least two annual beauty contests for trans women. The nation has seen more gender confirmation surgeries than any other since transition-related medical caretakers began accepting patients in 1972. Although trans people, and especially kathoeys (an identity roughly equivalent to trans women in Western societies), are recognized by many as part of Thai society, The Diplomat notes that most still face social stigma and have not historically been protected by laws regardless of the prevalence of gender-affirming surgery. Trans Thai citizens are still not able to change their gender marker on legally identifying documents and those facing employment discrimination have no legal recourse.Source: http://www.advocate.com 
New York:  A highly publicized workplace discrimination lawsuit filed by a fired trans woman against Saks Fifth Avenue has caught the attention of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He  has sent a letter to Saks informing the store he will investigate its treatment of transgender employees.  Saks is owned by Hudson’s Bay, a retail store in Ontario, Canada, but Saks is headquartered in New York City, where the plaintiff in the case, Leythe Jamal, now lives.  Although gender identity protection has not been enacted by Congress or decided by a federal judge, Schneiderman’s letter stated both the U.S. Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have recognized transgender employees are protected from harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and the New York City human rights law prohibits sex discrimination based on gender identity.Source: http://www.advocate.com 
Vienna: Hundreds of people attended a ‘kiss-in’ protest outside a cafe in Vienna, after a lesbian couple were ejected for kissing.
London: Dr Alan Sked, the founder of the UK Independence Party has spoken out again against his own former party – and predicted it will not win a seat in May 2015′s British election.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk 
Sydney:  In 1988,  senior Australian police officers called in Paul Simes to discuss a terrifying assault he witnessed, and to reveal that the gang of stick-wielding thugs were in fact policemen. So it astounds Simes to discover now – after Surry Hills, Sydney, police took a fresh look at the case last year, and following his two freedom-of-information requests – that any record of his high-level meeting in 1989 has been expunged. Or perhaps it was never committed to paper in the first place. Equally appalled is Alan Rosendale, who came forward in August 2013 to identify himself as the likely victim of the assault. He contacted media as soon as he read a story in which Simes recalled the bashing.Details were identical to his own assault, so Rosendale was horrified to discover that police may have been the culprits. A one-page police report in 1989 had suggested four skinheads beat him unconscious, although Rosendale had never been informed of that theory, either. Simes had approached media after a series of stories ran about unsolved gay-hate bashings and killings, many of them in the late 1980s. Simes had always wondered what became of the victim he saw attacked, and these reports suddenly made him worry that he may have witnessed not only an assault but a murder.Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz
Northern Ireland:  The legal costs incurred by a Northern Ireland government department in relation to a ban against the donation of blood from gay men amounted to nearly £40,000. The cost was detailed following a question at Stormont from the NI Green Party’s Steven Agnew. The Health Department said the policy against blood donation by “men who have had sex with men” totalled £39,100. The ban was put in place during the 1980s HIV/AIDS threat and was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011. New rules now allow donations from gay men who had not had sexual contact with another man for more than a year. However,  former Health Minister Edwin Poots maintained the prohibition in Northern Ireland on the questionable  basis of ensuring public safety.The Department of Health said the costs were made up of £29,200 in charges for barristers, £9,400 in solicitor’s costs and £500 in other charges. Earlier this month, a court ruled that the ban was ”infected by apparent bias”. A judge also backed claims from lawyers for a gay man that Mr Poots’ stance was influenced by his fundamentalist beliefs. The High Court ruling strengthens a previous finding in October 2013 that the ban was irrational. Poots, who is appealing that ruling, was replaced as Stormont’s health minister last year.Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news 
London:  The British Army’s highest-ranked transgender officer has revealed that she felt like she was “living an act” before her transition. Hannah Winterbourne began her transition in 2013 and is now in charge of over 100 other soldiers. Going to to discuss her transition, Winterbourne said that it wasn’t the “easiest” thing to do, but she knew that she couldn’t go on “acting” for everyone around her.
London:  Fourteen UK mental health and public health organisations – including NHS England and the British Psychological Society – have signed an agreement to stop offering so-called “reparative therapy”  patients. While the controversial ‘treatment’ isn’t provided on the National Health Service, it’s understood that in rare cases fundamentalist NHS staff have put patients in touch with organisations who provide it. The new ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) recognises that efforts to try to change or alter sexual orientation through psychological therapies are unethical and potentially harmful. It sets out an agreed framework to tackle the issues raised by the practice of reparative therapy in the United Kingdom.   The memorandum means that NHS England – the organisation which has day-to-day responsibility for running the NHS – “does not endorse or support conversion therapy”, meaning that GPs will not be able to refer patients for therapy and that no-one employed by the NHS can provide it. Chartered psychologist Dr Lyndsey Moon, who represented the British Psychological Society on the MoU working group reiterated BPS opposition to reparative therapy. Organisations   signed up to the MoU are; the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC): British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP): British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP):    British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC): British Psychological Society (BPS):  Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists (GLADD): NHS England:    National Counselling Society:   PACE:   Pink Therapy: Relate:    Royal College of GPs:        Royal College of Psychiatrists; and the  UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has praised a decision by NHS England to stop facilitating access to gay “cure” therapy. The Executive Director of the Telegraph Media Group Lord Black, has said the NHS agreeing to stop referring patients to ‘gay cure’ therapy is a good first step, but vowed to have the practice banned in the UK.
Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk 
Brisbane: The Queensland Labor Opposition have promised to restore funding to the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC), reintroduce state-sanctioned civil unions, protect existing rights around same-sex surrogacy and implement the Safe Schools Coalition to tackle homophobic bullying if re-elected.  On several other LGBTI issues including state-approval of “gay reparative” therapies, same-sex adoption, support for the Brisbane Pride Festival, the majority closure of the Brisbane Sexual Health Clinic and recognition of overseas same-sex marriages, a spokesperson for the Opposition Leader said that Labor was still reviewing them and was “open” to further progress being made.Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au 
Kentucky: A rabidly transphobic Kentucky  state legislator has proposed a bill that would not only ban transgender students from using the bathroom that accords with their gender identity, but would require schools to recompense cisgender students $2,500 each time they told officials they’d shared a bathroom with a transgender schoolmate. Republican state senator C.B. Embry Jr., introduced the Kentucky Student Privacy Act (SB 76) last week. The bill proposes dividing school bathrooms and locker rooms according to “biological sex,” which is determined by an individual’s chromosomes and the gender assigned to them at birth- disregarding any psychological attributes like gender dysphoria.  Embry also argued that cisgender students sharing a bathroom with a trans student would supposedly  experience “psychological, emotional, and physical harm” that opened schools to legal action unless they were explicit about their “biological sex” segregation. The bill would require that trans students who needed alternate accomodations seek out single-stall restrooms, unisex bathrooms, or “controlled access” to faculty bathrooms.Source: http://www.advocate.com 
Washington DC: The US Christian Right’s American Family Association has called for two Supreme Court justices to recuse themselves from an upcoming case on marriage equality. Tel Aviv: Israel is to re-draft its recognition laws, so trans people will no longer be forced to undergo surgery to legally change their gender.
Ankara: Turkey’s first ever sheltered housing project for transgender women has opened in Istanbul.
Baja California: The first same-sex couple have married in the Mexican state of Baja California, after a protracted legal battle and numerous failed attempts. 
Milan: The Mayor of Milan claims he is facing criminal charges, after he agreed to register a number of same-sex marriages carried out abroad. 
London:  A magistrate has been suspended – after he objected to a gay couple being permitted to adopt a child. Richard Page – a  fundamentalist Christian father of two who serves in the Family Court – insisted during an adoption case that it would be better for a child to be placed “with a mother and father” than with their prospective parents, who are gay. Page made the comments in a closed-doors meeting with other magistrates, who reported him to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.  Unsurprisingly, Mr Page is seeking advice from anti-gay pressure group Christian Concern.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Moscow: Russia is set to ban films that ‘defile’ the ‘national character.’ Gay activists fear it willl give governments an excuse to censor LGBTI themes or characters.
Cameroons: A gay Catholic priest has been arrested in this African nation. He claims he was blackmailed and forced to pay out 100,000 francs in order to keep his secrecy.
Sydney:  Paul O’Grady, Australia’s first openly gay state MP, died on Jan. 18 in Sydney after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 57 years old. The ALP politician was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council from 1988 to 1996. He became the first parliamentarian in the state to publicly come out in 1990. O’Grady championed  LGBTI issues in parliament and invited all MPs to march with him at Sydney Mardi Gras in 1992. He revealed that he had AIDS on national TV after retiring from parliament and used the show to highlight discrimination against people living with HIV. O’Grady was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and died in hospital on Sunday morning.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/australias-first-openly-gay-state-mp-dies190115
Beijing:  Transgender female sex workers are among the most marginalized and discriminated populations in China, according to a new report. Based on 10 months of research by Asia Catalyst and two Chinese community-based organizations, Beijing Zuoyou Center and Shanghai CSW (commercial sex worker) and MSM (men who have sex with men) Center, the report found transgender sex workers experience ‘amplified stigma’ due to both their gender identity and their profession.  As sex work is illegal in China, the police are one of the greatest challenges that transgender sex workers face. Interviewees reported police abuse, especially verbal and physical violence leveled at their transgender identity. If transgender women ‘s ID cards designate them as male, they are detained together with men. The report found that criminalization of sex work is a major obstacle to effective HIV interventions for this population. Chinese law allows transgender people to change the gender identity on official documents only after sex reassignment surgery (SRS). For those that do not want SRS, or cannot afford to do so, these requirements leave them with identity documents that do not match their gender identity, resulting in frequent public humiliation, and barriers in accessing basic services.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/trans-sex-workers-among-chinas-most-discriminated-groups190115

 Bangkok:  A controversial Thai Buddhist abbot has left the monkhood after publicly confessing to having sex with a male disciple. Kasem Duangphaengmar, formerly know by his monk name Phra Kasem Ajinasila,  said he would resign but still observe the dharma associated with his clerical role.  Duangphaengmar, 55,  told an internal inquiry that he had had sex with a 34-year-old follower in the monstery compound, but argued that because he had acted ‘without consciousness,’ it would not be necessary for him to be defrocked. The admission was made to 60 lay people and monks. Buddhist monks take a vow of celibacy when they enter a monastery. The incident was then reported to the National Office of Buddhism and an investigation is ongoing, even though Duangphaengmar has left Buddhist monasticism.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/thailand-abbot-resigns-amid-gay-sex-row190115

 Colombo:  A leading Sri Lankan LGBTI rights group has expressed hope that Sri Lanka will move forward to protect the needs of sexual minorities and transgender people now that the New Democratic Front coalition have taken power. President Maithripala Sirisena was swept into power at the start of this year with the backing of Sri Lanka’s minority Muslim and Tamil communities and rural Sinhalese voters that had become disenchanted after 10 years of government by outgoing president Mahinda Rajapaksa.  Sri Lankan LGBTI rights organisation Equal Ground hopes the new government will decriminalize consensual sex between adults of the same sex, pass laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, introduce hate crimes laws protecting LGBTIs and develop policies and programs to protect LGBTI people from vilification.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/sri-lanka%E2%80%99s-lgbtis-are-hopeful-new-president-will-act-protect-their-rights190115

 Dublin:  ‘I want to be an equal citizen in my own country,’ said Irish Minister for Health Leo Varadkar on the radio this morning (18 January). Varadkar was speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio one this morning when he publicly announced he is gay. He said he wanted to be honest before the forthcoming Irish referendum on gay marriage.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/irish-minister-health-%E2%80%98i%E2%80%99m-gay%E2%80%99180115

London: Hammersmith and Fulham council have clarified their plans regarding London’s only domestic violence shelter for gay and bisexual men.

Dublin: Ahead of this May’s Irish referendum on same-sex marriage, the country’s Students Union has announced that 90% of students plan to vote to approve the measure.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Vilnius:  A Lithuanian politician has warned a gay group that it is ‘playing with fire’ and its activities could lead to a massacre similar to what happened in Paris. Algirdas Vaclovas Patackas, previously of the Way of Courage political party, told the leader of gay rights group LGL to expect ‘dead bodies’ if they continue to ‘provocate’ (sic). ’Because in Lithuania, as in every land which calls itself Christian, not everyone turns the left cheek; there are many, who believe in the principle “an eye for an eye”, i.e., the main cause of what has happened in Paris.’ LGL are taking the statement as a threat, approaching the police in order to investigate. They are calling on Patackas to share any information, if he has any, about planned attacks against the group with the police.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/lithuania-mp-warns-gay-group-will-face-massacre-paris200115

Canberra: Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Labor lawmaker Yvette Berry has become only the second person in the history of Australian politics to be given a ministerial portfolio that covers LGBTI Equality.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/2nd-australian-jurisdiction-appoints-government-minister-lgbti-equality200115#sthash.CkO1QcAY.dpuf

 Edinburgh: The UK’s first official Pagan same-sex wedding took place yesterday (18 January). Tom Lanting, 34, and Iain Robertson, 39, tied the knot (literally) in the handfasting ceremony held in Marlin’s Wynd, Edinburgh. What once served as an interrogating room during the grisly witch hunts of the 16th century now served as the enchanting venue for the blessed couple, encompassing ancient Pagan traditions. They cast a circle, invoked the elements, exchanged rings, drank mead out of a two handed cup called a quaich and jumped the broom.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-holds-first-official-pagan-gay-wedding190115

 Chennai:  An Indian film that humiliates a transgender character has sparked a weekend of protests in Chennai. About 35 transgender activists recently (19 January) gathered outside Censor Board offices demanding an unconditional apology from director Shankar Shanmugham and the removal of the offending scenes.  In the offending scene, a transgender make-up artist played by Ojas Rajini makes overtly sexual advances on the lead actor Vikram, who rebuffs her after finding out her gender identity. He then sings and dances around her while she suggestively eats a sausage and she  joins the villains to plot her revenge.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/anti-trans-film-sparks-protests-india200115

 Ottawa:  Dying with Dignity Canada, a prominent voice in the fight for improving end-of-life care and legalizing medically assisted suicide in this country, has lost its charitable status after the Canada Revenue Agency conducted a political-activity audit of the organization. The CRA has annulled Dying with Dignity’s charitable status – rather than revoking it outright – because the federal tax agency concluded the organization did not meet the definition of a charity when it first applied back in 1982. The organization was “registered in error,” the CRA wrote in a letter to Dying with Dignity dated Jan. 16. The annulment means that Dying with Dignity can keep its existing assets of about $500,000, but will no longer be able to issue charitable receipts at some point after Feb. 15, according to Wanda Morris, the chief executive officer of Dying with Dignity. The organization does not plan to appeal the CRA decision. Instead, it intends to become a non-profit organization that will no longer be bound by CRA rules that limit political activity to less than 10 per cent of a charity’s overall work.

Source: http://www.globeandmail.com

 Ottawa: “Canadian Psycho” Luka Rocco Magnotta will appeal his conviction and life sentence for murdering a Chinese student then sexually abusing and dismembering his corpse.

Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz

 San Diego:  A student at San Diego State University says he was demeaned by a schoolmate in a university locker room and eventually kicked out by school staff. Transmasculine graduate student A.T. Furuya told San Diego TV station KGTV Friday that he was fixing his hair in the Aztec Recreation Center men’s locker room on January 14 when he was verbally abused and then sexually harrassed by a cismale student.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London: Doctor Who has been nominated for a GLAAD award – for an episode which featured the show’s first lesbian kiss between Silurian Lady Vastra and her human wife, Jenny Flint.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Arkansas: Former Republican Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee says that in the event the Supreme Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage, states “don’t’ need to start issuing licences. [Sore loser- Craig]  Huckabee is to speak at a summit for Legatus,  an anti-gay Catholic group that believes homosexuality can be ‘cured.’

Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland’s new Health Minister Jim Wells has said he supports the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.

 London: Grindon Hall Christian School has been placed in special measures – after the principal complained that Ofsted inspectors asked children “inappropriate” questions about sexuality.

Ofsted found the school ‘inadequate’ in a regulatory overview report published this week – citing a number of factors, including the leadership’s failure to challenge homophobic bullying, and a lack of appropriate sex education:

“Prejudice-based bullying, while reported on, is not tackled effectively enough. Discrimination through racist or homophobic language persists. Leaders have not instigated a review of the curriculum to ensure it takes account of pupils’ lack of awareness about e-safety and aspects of sex and relationships education. There is no open forum for pupils to discuss these issues in school and they are inadequately prepared to enable them to assess the risks to which they may be exposed in Britain today. While incidents are reported and logged, the use of derogatory language relating to race or sexual orientation persists because the curriculum does not teach pupils about equality, diversity and the need to be tolerant and respectful towards those who are different to themselves. Pupils are not taught to develop appropriate levels of respect or tolerance for those from other faiths, cultures or communities. The school’s efforts to promote equality of opportunity and tackle discrimination are inadequate.”

The school was rated ‘inadequate’ across three areas, and ‘requires improvement’ across another three – and has since been placed in special measures.

Chris Gray, principal of Grindon Hall, said: “It is now well known that the manner in which inspectors questioned our pupils in November was hostile, inappropriate and raises serious safeguarding issues. Ofsted’s approach to us was negative at every stage, as if the data collected had to fit a predetermined outcome.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said of Grindon Hall: “This school has been troubled for some time and Ofsted have been monitoring it carefully. This report shows that problems persist and there are continued concerns about leadership, the quality of learning and safeguarding.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

 Dublin: Irish politician Dominic Hannigan has become the first member of the Irish parliament to enter into a same-sex marriage, ahead of a forthcoming Irish referendum on the issue. Meanwhile, the Irish government has also promised to enact legislation to allow for same-sex adoption before the referendum on same-sex marriage.

Delhi: The Indian LGBT community is calling on Barack Obama to offer his support to them ahead of his visit to the country this weekend.

 Macedonia: The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has moved to ban same-sex marriage, as well as making it extremely difficult for any future legislation to allow same-sex civil unions to pass. The vote was 72-4.

Hyderabad:  Transgender activists in the Indian city of Hyderabad have called for a panel similar to the Human Rights Commission, citing a rise in anti-trans violence in Telangana state. The Telangana Hijra Transgender Samithi (THTS) collective made the demand on Monday (19 January) after the murder of one of their sisters.   The group also called for the implementation of a Supreme Court judgement recognizing transgender citizens as a third sex and granting provisions in education and employment. Parvilaka was a MBA graduate, but she was unable to find employment and was forced to eke out a living through begging and sex work.

‘Transgenders and Hijras, who are largely shunned by mainstream society, have no source of employment and livelihood. We don’t get jobs even if they were to try hard and the fact is that no one gives us jobs. We are consequently forced to live off beggary and sex work. Despite the recent… judgement of the Supreme court of India on 15 April 2014 , the living conditions of transgenders remain deplorable and sub-human.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/india-trans-activists-demand-protection-amid-rise-violence210115

 Hanoi:  Vietnam may house LGBTI prisoners in separate jails to protect them from sexual harassment. The plan was proposed to the Ministry of Public Security by the Social, Economic and Environmental Institute, which has studied gender-related issues for years. A 2014 report found that the majority of transgender inmates wanted separate jails to avoid the risk of sexual harassment. LGBTI prisoners are at greatest risk of sexual harassment.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/vietnam-proposes-separate-jails-gays210115

Washington DC:  Senior US fundamentalists  and Catholics have joined together to release a statement that insists same-sex marriages are not “real”  marriages, “irrespective” of what the the law says. Following a wave of same-sex marriages bans being struck down last year, the Supreme Court justices are set to hear cases from four different states – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee – later this year.    The statement, which will feature in the March 2015 edition of US conservative religious journal First Things, states that people with (fundamentalist) Christian beliefs “cannot” embrace the “falsification of reality,” and argues that society’s “dignity is diminished” when the image of God is “obscured” by gay marriage.

“We must say, as clearly as possible, that same-sex unions, even when sanctioned by the state, are not marriages,” the statement, titled “The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage,” they say. “Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scriptures and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law. The revolution in our marriage and family law, already well advanced, marches under the banners of freedom and equality. But these noble ideals are here gravely misapplied. When society systematically denies the difference between male and female in law and custom, our fundamental dignity is diminished, the image of God within us is obscured, unreality becomes legally established, and those who refuse to conform are regarded as irrational bigots.”

The religious groups go on to argue they “owe it to their fellow citizens” to reinforce the “unalterable” image of the traditional family:

“Keeping in mind the obligation to speak the truth in love, we must find ways to distinguish true marriage from its distortion, and we must do so without abandoning the public square,” the statement says. “We owe our fellow citizens a socially engaged witness to the truth about marriage, which, with the family, is the unalterable foundation of a healthy, humane society.”

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

 Arizona: Marichuy Leal Gamino, a 24-year-old transgender Mexican woman who was allegedly raped while in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention, then placed in solitary confincement by officials, will be released this month on bond, according to the Arcoíris Liberation Team. Gamino has been held for more than a year at Eloy Detention Center, a privately run facility in Arizona, after she was detained at the U.S.-Mexico border will seeking asylum from her home country, where she says she had faced a transphobic assault. Gamino had spent her childhood in the U.S. but was deported as a young woman.   While held in the men’s detention facility last August, Gamino says she was raped by her cellmate, but when she informed officials she was coerced into signing a statement claiming the sexual assault was consensual. Gamino contends she had informed officials that her assailant made derogatory remarks and threated her with rape before the assault, but officials reportedly took no action to prevent it. After the alleged assault, Gamino was placed in solitary confinement for “protection” according to offiicials — though advocates called the move “punishment” for speaking out about her treatment.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 United States: Across the United States, the issue of education rights for trans students is becoming a bigger issue. There are extremes of opinion from state to state. Whereas in Maine, a trans girl was awarded damages after she sued for the right to use the girls toilets, in Kentucky a lawmaker is proposing to offer a bounty to anyone who finds a trans student in the “wrong” toilet. California passed a law in 2013 ensuring the bathroom rights of trans students, and a school board in Virginia voted against a similar provision in December last year. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favour of a young trans girl, and in the same state a school board member said that trans people should be castrated before being allowed into toilets.  Only thirteen sates, and the District of Columbia, has specific protections for trans students. Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality told The Advocate: “Most of these have specific statutory language, interpretive guidance, and/or case law spelling out that the law requires equal access to facilities for transgender students. These explicit protections and interpretations have certainly helped raise awareness of the rights of students.”

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Cairo: The Egyptian government is reported to be encouraging the country’s media to report on arrests of gay people.

Connecticut: Trans woman Francesca Quaranta is suing a Connecticut city for firing her after she came out as trans.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Tokyo: Japanese pro soccer player Riku Matsuda has denied he appeared in two gay porn films.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/japanese-pro-soccer-star-denies-he-did-gay-porn-college220115

 Santiago: Chile has approved civil unions for its LGBT inhabitants.  Chile is poised to become the next South American country to recognize same-sex unions after its House of Representatives approved a ‘civil union’ bill this week. A significant majority passed the bill on Tuesday 20 Jan. (86-23).  The bill has the backing of the Government, with President Michelle Bachelet saying that she believes civil unions are a stepping-stone towards full same-sex marriage

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/chile-approves-same-sex-civil-unions230115

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Philadelphia:  Dr. Rachel Levine is poised to become the highest-ranking out transgender woman in Pennsylvania’s state government after being selected by Gov.-elect Tom Wolf as his physician general, reports Philadelphia magazine. Wolf publicly announced several members of his cabinet Saturday, all of whom are still awaiting confirmation by the Pennsylvania Senate before assuming their new positions. If confirmed, Levine will be advising the governor and the state’s Department of Health on medical and public health-related issues.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Roanoke:  A proposal to bar licensed professionals in Virginia from subjecting minors to “ex-gay” therapy has been effectively quashed by the state legislature. The Senate Education and Health Committee Thursday voted 8-7 to table the bill, thus not sending it to the full Senate for consideration, theWashington Blade reports. Sen. Louise Lucas had introduced it a matter of days ago.

United States:  Advocates who want to see the United States  become the nineteenth nation to allow transgender citizens to serve openly in the armed forces are ramping up pressure on the Pentagon to revise an outdated policy that currently prohibits trans Americans from serving in the U.S. military.  Former Army captain and West Point graduate Allyson Robinson — one of the most visible advocates pushing for open service — offered some of her sharpest remarks to date on the issue.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Edinburgh: The Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia – who was criticised for making offensive remarks about the late gay Labour MP David Cairns – has suffered a heart attack.

Sheffield:  A Sheffield trans woman has alleged she was sacked by an employer because she refused to stop using gender-appropriate women’s toilets. Keira James, 31, had worked for insurance company Aviva in Sheffield since June 2014, through a third-party recruitment agency.

 Riyadh: Tributes have been paid to the late King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who has died, with flags being flown at half mast on UK Government buildings. The 90-year-old monarch died after suffering from a lung infection, and is succeeded by his half-brother Salman.   There are no legal protections for LGBT people in Saudi Arabia, and Britain and the US have often been criticised for being close to the oil-rich nation where gay people are stoned to death. Concerns were raised in during a state visit to the UK by the late King in 2007 about the treatment of women and gay people by the Saudi kingdom.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Singapore:  Singaporean LGBTI rights activist and blogger Alex Au has been found guilty for a post critical of Section 377A of Singapore’s colonial era Penal Code. The High Court  (22 January) ruled that an article published in October 2013 posed ‘a real threat of undermining public confidence in the administration of justice in Singapore.  I therefore find the respondent guilty of scandalizing contempt in respect of that article,’ Justice Belinda Ang wrote in her judgement.  The attorney-general accused Au, 61, of insinuating that judiciary had rigged the dates of two constitutional challenges to Section 377A , which punishes gay sex with up to two years in jail.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/singapore-blogger-found-guilty-contempt-post-criticizing-anti-gay-law230115

 Lisbon:  Portugal’s parliament yesterday (22 January) rejected draft laws that would allow gay couples to adopt children for the third time, although the vote margin was smaller than ever. The bills were all defeated by some 30 votes in the Lisbon assembly, which 220 deputies attended. The majority ruling right refused to back similar measures in 2012 and 2013.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/portugal-parliament-votes-down-gay-adoption230115

 Canberra: Australia’s National Association of People Living With HIV/AIDS (NAPWHA) has identified several key issues dealing with HIV/AIDS across the Tasman. These are (i) improved palliative drug access; (ii) Truvada PrEP trials in Victoria and Queensland; (iii) the expansion of rapid HIV testing; (iv) the Therapeutic Goods Administration is set to adjudicate access to several new medications- triumeq, dolutegravir, lamivudine, abacavir, and cobicstat is about to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme so its use can be subsidised; (v) HIV criminalisation (Victoria); (vi) stigmatisation and (vii) strategies to end HIV transmission.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au

Oklahoma: Oklahoma state legislators are introducing several antigay bills in an effort to reverse the progress LGBT people have made by blocking marriage equality, ensuring “freedom” to discriminate, and protecting the use of conversion therapy.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Harry Hendron, a top London lawyer has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, after his boyfriend Miguel Jimenez died of a suspected drug overdose.

London: Louise Bours, UKIP’s health spokesperson has contradicted UKIP  party leader Nigel Farage’s claim that migrants with HIV should be banned from the UK.

London: The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre has apologised to anti-gay group Christian Concern, after it was sued for cancelling the group’s event booking.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

 Moscow: Russia’s anti-promotion law has resulted in online LGBT  Children-404’s Lena Klimova being fined thousands of roubles.

London: Figures released by the Department of Education show 300+ kids went to live with same-sex parents last year.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

ISIS:  The Islamic State has released a list of punishments to be enforced in the areas of Iraq and Syria under its control – and the punishment for gay sex is death. Those who have committed blasphemy or adultery, or are found spying for ‘non-believers’, will also be sentenced to death, according to the terrifying document which has now become widely available. Other punishments include amputation for stealing, and 80 lashes for slandering or drinking alcohol. The document was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri). It is titled ‘Clarification [regarding] the Hudud [Koranic punishments]‘, according to Memri’s website.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/releases-evil-penal-code-sodomy-punished-death240115

 Tennessee: Davidson Academy, a “non-denomination” fundamentalist Christian  private school in Tennessee has declined to accept two children who are being raised by a married same-sex couple. Brian Copeland and Greg Bullard, who married in California in 2013, have been searching for a school in which to enroll their children – a son of pre-kindergarten age and a daughter, who is eight months old. Bullard is a minister at Madison’s Covenant of the Cross Church. However, predictably, finding an inclusive evangelical school is proving a major effort.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/nashville-school-rejects-children-being-raised-two-gay-dads240115

 Birmingham:  A multi-faith rally partly prompted by David Emerson, a right-wing Fox News television pundit who claimed Birmingham was a “no-go zone” for non-Muslims has been held in the city. The gathering of more than 200 people outside the council house was also a show of unity in the wake of the recent Paris terror attacks, organisers said. Rev Richard Tetlow, of the Inter Faith Forum, said it was a chance for faith groups to “stand up for Birmingham”.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news

London: A closeted British Army general is on the cusp of publicly announcing his sexuality, which would make him the most senior gay officer in the British armed forces.  The general, who is married to a woman, says he knows of others senior military who are similarly fearful of discussing their sexuality


Washington DC:  The US government has spent nearly half-a-million dollars on a study of gay hookup apps. It has emerged that The National Institutes of Health awarded Columbia University $432,000 to interview 60 gay men who use the apps regularly to determine whether they increase the chances of engaging in high-risk sexual activity:

“Given the expediency with which men are able to arrange sexual encounters using these applications, there is cause to question if, when, and how sexual negotiation and serostatus disclosure occurs. The overall study goal is to understand how sexual risk behaviors among MSM [men who have sex with men] may be facilitated by the nature of GPS-enabled smartphone applications, the way they are used, and the process by which sexual partnering occurs via smartphone applications.” The study also looked at the arousal levels of gay men while they use the apps, in an effort to discover the “sexual and emotional states” that gay men experience when they actively seek out a partner on their mobile phones.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

 London: Recordings have emerged of UKIP General Secretary Matthew ­Richardson using the transphobic “she-male”  slur to refer to transgender women.

Washington DC: Sarah Palin has said that she is “seriously interested” in running for President in 2016. Meanwhile, Republican pundit Ben Carson has made a ‘joke’ about putting poison in the wedding cakes of same-sex couples.

Dublin: Ireland is likely to relax its permanent ban on gay men giving blood to one year, as with New Zealand.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: In a welcome development,  a prestigious medical journal has called for sex work to be legalized, enabled, and even embraced.  The Lancet called for the worldwide decriminalization of “sex work” to address the prevalence of HIV among prostitutes. Its  ”action agenda” calls for greater access to products and services including “condoms and lubricants, safe abortions…[and] contraception services” for sex workers. The Lancet’s series of articles denounces the “rescue and rehabilitate” approach to prostitution and efforts by public officials to enforce laws against the sex trade. “Sex work is part of the human story,” said co-author Richard Horton, Lancet’s editor, who advocates “accepting and embracing sex work.”

One article argued  that sex workers’ human rights are routinely violated, and the solution is not to discourage the sex trade, but to adapt the concept of human rights to protect the occupation of selling a person for sex:

“Historically, human rights bodies have been reluctant to address human rights violations against sex workers because of perceived morality concerns,” the authors write. “Human rights organisations and bodies have a duty to move beyond debates about the morality of sex work.”

 Dublin: According to Yahoo News Ireland,  debate in the same-sex marriage referendum has grown during recent months, tweaked by the publication of the wording of the proposed referendum vote. The move has been broadly welcomed by politicians and Irish LGBTI groups. However, Ireland’s Christian Right has expressed their concerns over the potential addition of the following line to article 41 of the Constitution:

‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.’

Speaking on Morning Ireland (a breakfast hour current affairs programme), Breda O’Brien (from   the Irish Christian Right’s Iona Institute) said that, if passed, the referendum will make it impossible to “say that it is preferable for a child to be adopted, where it is possible, by a man and a woman”. She said it was “very clear” that heterosexual relationships were the best environment in which to raise children.  O’Brien said she didn’t oppose civil partnerships for lesbian and gay couples but drew the line at marriage as children became involved due to the current limitations of Irish adoption law.

However, the Irish government is  planning to enact its new Children and Family Relationships Bill – which covers several issues including gay adoption – before the marriage equality referendum in May 2015. The legislation will enable lesbian andgay couples to jointly apply to adopt, which they can now currently only do as individuals.  Labour TD Dominic Hannigan also appeared on the programme. He married his long-term partner, Chris, in London late last year, where marriage equality has already happened.Hannigan said debating marriage and adoption issues at the same time wasn’t ideal and the “timing could have been better”. However, he noted that even in formerly conservative Catholic Ireland,  one in four children in Ireland don’t live in the “traditional family structure” of a mother and father. The Meath East TD said the government supported the  rights of children and has placed them “at the forefront of legislation” since it took office. He said the new law was about “making sure their futures are protected”.    Irish opinion polls have shown considerable  support for marriage equality in recent months, but Hannigan cautioned by saying: “Far too many people assume this is in the bag.” He said the marriage equality debate would mean that  “very, very difficult campaign would have to be fought” and encouraged people not only to vote but to actively campaign for marriage equality.  “We cannot allow this to be lost because of complacency or apathy,” he added.

Source: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/allow-mothers-marry-daughters-101052574.html

 Madrid: King Felipe VI has become one of the first reigning monarchs to appear on the cover of an LGBT magazine.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

 Beijing: What is believed to be the first ever lawsuit over anti-gay workplace discrimination has taken place in a Chinese court.   The case alleges that the plaintiff was fired from his job after he was revealed as gay in a viral online video. A lawyer, Liu Xiaohu, representing the man said: “We’re very optimistic”, and that the case “will definitely have an impact” on gay rights in China. The case was heard last week in the Nanshan District People’s Court in the southern city of Shenzhen. It was filed in November by the affected gay man, who was only identified using the pseudonym Mu Yi. He was filmed in October 2014 by police, as he had an argument with another gay man in a street in Shenzhen.  Mu was sacked form his job as a designer. He seeks 50,000 yuan in compensation, and an apology. However, his former employer  said it dismissed him because of he had a “poor service attitude”, and wore inappropriate clothing.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

New York:  Microsoft founder Bill Gates has predicted that a vaccine, and new more intensive drugs to combat HIV will be available by 2030.

Maryland: Maryland’s new Republican Governor Tom Hogan has axed state anti-discrimination provisions, just days into his term in office.

Greece:  After this month’s Greek election, the anti-austerity party is set to pick up 149 of the 300 seats in the Greek Parliament with 36.34% of the vote – more than doubling the number of seats it had in 2012. Syriza is the only Greek parliamentary party to have previously expressed support for same-sex marriage, with new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling for a number of gay rights reforms in the past. Same-sex couples are banned from adopting in Greece, and the country does not recognise same-sex relationships. Syriza tabled a bill that would have given couples cohabitation rights in 2013, but was defeated on the measure.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London: United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage’s aide Matthew Richardson has  indicated that  a UKIP government would cancel funding for treating gender dysphoria if elected later this year.

Louisiana: Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wants to amend his state’s constitution to re-ban marriage equality. He also wants a Federal Marriage Amendment (against marriage equality).

Louisiana:  Anti-gay radio “American Family Association”  campaigner Bryan Fischer (63) has launched a particularly bizarre attack on the gay community, saying it is propelled by “the unvarnished energy of Satan himself”. The AFA Director of Issues Analysis was reacting to protests against the group’s anti-gay stance that took place at a prayer rally for Lousiana Governor and possible presidential candidate Bobby Jindal over the weekend of January 24.  Fischer   has called same-sex parenting a form of child abuse in the past – took a call on his radio show from a listener who asserted the ‘Devil is mad [about the rally] and that’s why he sent those protestors there.”

He agreed, saying: “I don’t think you will ever find a more directly demonic energy than when you deal with the homosexual agenda…They’re vicious. They are mean. You literally are staring into virtually the unvarnished energy of Satan himself when you come up against the forces that are pushing the homosexual agenda forward.” The AFA was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in November 2010 for it’s aggressively anti-gay stance, which includes the “propagation of known falsehoods” and the use of “demonizing propaganda” against LGBT people.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

 Salt Lake City: The Mormon Church has agreed to support antidiscrimination reform if it includes “religious freedom” exemptions.

Auschwitz:  The world today marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps, with memorials including those who were ordered to the Nazi camps because they were gay. British Prime Minister David Cameron paid special tribute to all those who were persecuted under Nazi Germany in his Holocaust Memorial Day speech: [Holocaust Memorial Day]  is ”a day to remember the victims of the Holocaust as well as the gay people, disabled people and Roma who suffered alongside the Jewish people during that awful time and those who have been persecuted in genocides that have taken place since.” David Cameron’s Holocaust Commission has also recommended that a new National Memorial should recognise all victims of Nazi persecution, including gays.

U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said non-Jewish people who were persecuted under the Nazi regime should also be acknowledged in a national memorial, particularly LGBT victims:

“As we pay tribute to them, we must never forget the tens of thousands of gay people who were so brutally persecuted and executed at the hands of the Nazis, simply because of their sexuality,” he said, according to Britain’s Jewish News. There are memorials in Berlin, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, and San Francisco that honor the lives of those who were persecuted under Nazi Germany for their sexual orientation.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Cardiff: David Grewar, a Welsh UKIP parliamentary candidate who praised a statement branding gay people as “fascist perverts” and “paedophiles” is being investigated by party officials.

Manhattan: Notoriously homophobic preacher James David Manning, who thinks Starbucks flavour their coffees with semen, has admitted he is “tempted” by the gay lifestyle.

 Gambia: The US Human Rights Campaign has joined 13 other human rights groups in urging the Obama Administration to take additional action against anti-gay Gambian leaders.

Alabama:  Attorney General of Alabama Luther Strange has filed an appeal against a ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. District court Judge Callie VS Granade ruled last week that the state’s ‘Sanctity of Marriage Amendment’ – which defined marriage as between a man and a woman – was unconstitutional.

Lagos: Twelve gay teenagers have been arrested after being imprisoned for allegedly planning a gay wedding- under Nigerian antigay legislation they might be put to death.

Philippines: Vigan has become the lastest city in the Philippines to ban anti-gay hate. The anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) covering sexual orientation and gender identity was passed in November but was embargoed until last week pending further study. Like Quezon City, Vigan’s ADO bans discrimination in employment, education, access to goods and services, accommodation, access to public places/facilities/meeting places, and access to commercial establishments. However, the city went one step further by banning discrimination in political participation, wrongful portrayal and inciting others to commit acts of discrimination.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/philippines-vigan-city-bans-anti-gay-hate270115

 Toulon:  Closeted Catholic priests will be the only gay men drinking in a gay bar in the French city of Toulon after a hardline Catholic group managed to purchase the building this month. The Missionaries of Mercy took the opportunity to buy the bar when its owners filed for bankruptcy recently – meaning it would have to be sold to whoever was the highest bidder.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/french-catholic-group-buys-gay-bar-just-close-it-down270115

 London: Benedict Cumberbatch has joined Stephen Fry’s campaign, supported by Attitude, to overturn historic gay sex convictions in the United Kingdom. The Imitation Game star has joined the likes of Fry and Hollywood media mogul Harvey Weinstein in calling for official pardons for the estimated 50,000 men who are believed to have been persecuted, imprisoned or chemically castrated under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, which was eventually overturned in 1967.

The campaigns follows the release of The Imitation Game, the Oscar-nominated Alan Turing biopic which starred Cumberbatch as the WWII codebreaker and was produced by Weinstein. Turing was convicted of homosexual acts in 1952, before committing suicide two years later after undergoing a series of hormone treatments as part of his punishment. Turing was pardoned by the Labour government in 2009, leading to calls for all men convicted under the law to receive the same gesture. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has also added his voice to campaign, while Fry is also calling for Turing’s image to be added to the back of the £10 note.

Brighton:  The headmaster of a leading independent school has criticised the government for failing to include gay rights in its campaign to promote ‘British values’ in schools. Speaking at a teaching conference on British values on January 29, Brighton College headmaster Richard Cairns told around 100 head teachers that that former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s directive that all schools should promote ‘British values’ does not go far enough to support LGBT people.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

 Rome:  Marriage equality proponents are celebrating a step forward in Rome, where the mayor and a liberal wing of the City Council have won the right for same-sex couples to register their civil partnerships.  The legislation passed on January 28 and also included a provision that will automatically register same-sex marriages that were conducted abroad. The move is in direct defiance of an order issued by Italy’s interior minister, Angelino Alfano, but was supported by a coalition of multiple left-leaning political parties, including Mayor Ignazio Marino’s Democratic Party.

Indeed, several Italian municipalities have already ignored Alfano’s decree that no Italian city government has the authority to register same-sex civil unions, reports ANSA. Italy’s national government does not provide legal recognition for civil unions or same-sex marriages performed abroad, nor does Italian law permit same-sex couples to be legally married domestically.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: UK Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan has strongly defended the decision of Ofsted inspectors to ask children in fundamentalist Christian and other religious schools about their knowledge of same-sex relationships.  Meanwhile,  UK education regulator Ofsted’s Chief Inspector has defended the regulator’s questioning while investigating a fundamentalist school, Durham College.

United States: Rapid US fundamentalist homophobe Bryan Fischer has finally been sacked by the US Christian Right’s  American Family Association (AFA),  who on his anti-gay talk show, has said “militant homosexuals” are “destroying America”.

Paris: A court in France has ruled that a Moroccan should be allowed to marry their French same-sex partner, in spite of a long-standing convention between the two countries.

Kiev: The Ukraine has abandoned a Russian style “anti-promotion’ censorship bill which would have provided repressive barriers to LGBT rights in the former Soviet constituent state.

Kampala:  Nine young gay men, who were attacked by a homophobic mob, were arrested by Uganda police and tortured while in jail. They could face charges of sodomy, and could be punished with life imprisonment. On 15 January, the Rainbow Health Foundation helped the nine men go to an STI screening and treatment visit to a rural area in western Uganda.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/nine-young-gay-men-attacked-mob-arrested-and-tortured-uganda-police280115

Dublin:  A Dublin school has cancelled workshops to tackle homophobic bullying in order for ‘both sides’ of the issue to be represented. Voluntary organization ShoutOut was booked to run four classes at the school Coláiste Eoin in Stillorgan, Co Dublin before Christmas. On Tuesday 27 January,when they were due to teach 80 students, they were told at 10.30am via email the workshop was cancelled.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/dublin-school-cancels-anti-gay-bullying-workshops-both-sides-should-be-represented280115

 Kuala Lumpur: On 26 Januar,  Malaysia’s Federal Court Monday (26 January) allowed Negeri Sembilan state to challenge the Court of Appeal’s ruling against its Islamic cross-dressing ban. However, the five-judge panel said it would only rule on whether the Shariah enactment contravened the constitution and would not hear arguments about whether religious law can be repealed by a civil court.  Muslim-majority Malaysia has a dual-justice system that separates secular and Sharia law. The latter only applies to Muslims and is a state matter.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/malaysia-state-challenge-repeal-cross-dressing-ban280115

 Washington DC:  A Republican Congressman has argued that gay rights are not human rights. Chris Smith (New Jersey’s 4th district, US House of Representatives) made the comments following the arrest of 12 men in Nigeria this week who are being charged for allegedly attending a gay wedding. Smith told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee during a meeting this week that people “must not construe homosexual rights as human rights,” before then going on to question whether the US government’s opposition to anti-gay legislation has negatively affected their relationship with Nigeria. In response, the Human Rights Campaign’s  HRC’s Global Director Ty Cobb calling the comments “incredibly disappointing” in a statement.
Washington DC: The International Human Rights Defense Act – which has been sponsored by Sen Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep Alan Lowenthal of California – would create a group of representatives at the State Department who would help coordinate efforts to help prevent and respond to the discrimination of LGBT people around the world. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) have praised the bill saying that it “sends a clear message” to those that don’t believe that gay rights are human rights.

Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk

 Philadelphia: Kate Lynn Blatt, the Pennsylvania trans woman allegedly harassed by coworkers and then fired from a Cabela’s sporting goods store nearly eight years ago, has this month taken an uncoventional route in her antitrans discrimination lawsuit: suing under both a more common Title VII claim and the American Disabilities Act. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, part of which bans “sex discrimination,” has been increasingly used with success in claims of trans workers being mistreated by employers or coworkers because of their gender identities. Some trans employees may also be able to make the case that workplace discrimination is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The possibility has simply gone untested until now.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Lithuania: A court in Lithuania has told gay students who received a barrage of violent threats after they posted a photo of them kissing that they should have “anticipated” that they would be abused by posting such an act.

Virginia: Lawmakers in Virginia have successfully stopped a bill that would have legalised discrimination against LGBT people.

Hanoi: Transgender women have been banned from participating in the National Women’s Football Championship in Vietnam.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Tanzania: A 24-year-old male and 23-year-old female could face life imprisonment for “gay sex.” Maua Sadick, a 24-year-old trans man, and his partner Lucy Fred, 23, were detained for two days after their arrest in Dar es Salaam, the largest city in east Africa.  Neighbors informed police they suspected the couple were ‘married’ and engaging in same-sex intimacy, a ‘crime’ that could see them in jail.   Tanzania considers anal sex, and attempted anal sex, no matter by whom, to be punishable with up to five years in prison. But the law states any violations of the law against ‘carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature’, which means homosexuality, is punishable with up to life imprisonment.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/straight-couple-arrested-gay-sex-tanzania300115

 Slovakia:  Slovaks will vote in a referendum on Saturday 7 February that is designed to show lawmakers how they feel about recognizing same-sex relationships and adoption by gay couples in the EU member state. The referendum was brought on after a coalition of chruch groups and ‘family values’ groups managed to convince 400,000 people to sign a petition in favor of the referendum – 50,000 more than was needed to force a popular vote on the issue.  Slovaks will be asked three questions in the referendum:

‘Do you agree that no other cohabitation of persons other than a bond between one man and one woman can be called marriage?’

‘Do you agree that same-sex couples or groups shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children and subsequently raise them?’

‘Do you agree that schools cannot require children to participate in education pertaining to sexual behavior or euthanasia, if their parents or the children themselves do not agree with the content of the education?’

The referendum is being held despite the fact that Slovakian lawmakers approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in June and that same-sex couples may not currently adopt in Slovakia. Voters were to be asked a fourth question in the referendum on civil partnerships but Slovakia’s Constitutional Court ruled that including that question would have been discriminatory. However there are hopes that the voter turnout will be less than the half of Slovakia’s 4.4 million eligible votes needed for the referendum to be considered valid.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/anti-gay-referendum-looms-slovakia-may-apathy-save-day300115

 Idaho: Idaho Republicans have effectively killed a bill that seeks to add ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ to the state’s anti-discrimination law, after more than 20 hours of emotional testimony from LGBTI residents.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/idaho-republicans-kill-gay-protections-bill300115

 Manila:  A U.S. Marine charged with the October murder of Filipina trans woman Jennifer Laude lost his bid Tuesday to have his murder changes dropped.  A Philippine Department of Justice panel rejected Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton’s appeal due to evidence from prosecutors which the panel determined showed Pemberton had killed Laude after meeting her in a bar and accompanying her to an Olongapo city hotel. The case will now proceed to trial.

Ohio: Thomas McLaughlin, a Lakewood, Oh., detective, is in hot water after loudly playing Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” and the Kinks’ “Lola” while a trans woman was in the police station being booked for shoplifting.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Cambridge: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William and Kate have declined to back a campaign to pardon at least 49,000 gay men who were convicted of gay sex convictions.

Harare: The President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, who is a staunch opponent of gay rights, has been appointed as the president of the African Union.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

Belfast: Northern Ireland LGBT activists are fighting a bill that will legitimise service provision discrimination against LGBT individuals, couples and families.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com
















































































































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