Religion and Politics: March 2015

March 2, 2015 in General

Limerick, Ireland: A lesbian couple was brutally attacked by two men hurling homophobic slurs in Limerick, Ireland, leaving one of the young women unconscious, the other badly beaten and in shock.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Illinois:  A US Christian Right group is arguing that not only would  Illinois legislators not be protecting children by enacting a ban on “reparative therapy,” they would be engaging in “a form of child abuse,” according to a man who claims to have become “exgay”  three decades ago.

Stephen Black of the “Restored Hope Network”  told the Illinois Family Institute that pseudo-scientific ” reparative therapy”  helps minors who struggle with allegedly “unwanted” lesbian and gay desires. The Restored Hope Network formed after a split within the ‘exgay’ movement and the closure of the Exodus International “exgay’ network.  While LGBT rights advocates have said that psychological counseling to reduce sexual attraction violates truth in advertising laws and borders on torture, Black  is deceptive about its actual extent, describing  it euphemistically as little more than “pastoral care for people who want to come out of homosexuality.”

The Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act (H.B. 217), introduced by Democratic State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, would protect LGBT adolescents through baning  such therapy for minors as well as subjecting medical professionals to discipline by the licensing or medical review board. Black protested that such legislation “undermines the family”, which may wish to steer a child away from homosexuality. Legislation such as H.B. 217 says that “government knows best,” according to Black, and “conflicts with religious liberties.”

Congressman Ted Lieu of California is cited by Black. As a state senator, Lieu introduced the ban on reparative therapy, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lieu said at the time, “The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill.” Barack Obama endorsed Lieu in his successful race for U.S. Congress in 2014. Stephen Black says he “benefited” from reparative therapy himself. After he became a fundamentalist , he says he eventually “abandoned” his gay desires.  He ruminated about ” traditional moral stands” , but he and Restored Hope Network continue to uphold fundamentalist dogma and opposition to any  sexual activity outside straight marriage, however unpopular his view. The Illinois House rejected a reparative therapy ban in April 2014. The Illinois Family Institute and Concerned Women for America, among other US Christian Right pressure groups , have asked citizens to urge elected representatives  to oppose this new legislation.

Auckland:  Conservatives leader Colin Craig says the party decided it would not stand in the Northland byelection because it did not want to split the centre-right vote and help Winston Peters. Its candidate also had a new baby and was not available, he said.

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

Cairo: Reports  have emerged that Egyptian police have arrested seven young people for “debauchery” in the country’s latest anti-LGBTI sting.  A week later, seven trans people were also arrested after being accused of debauchery, after police used fake dating profiles to lure them to a nightclub.

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

 Sacramento: In California, a fundamentalist activist has filed a proposed ballot measure to create a ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’ that would punish homosexuality with death.The measure was filed with the California Attorney General’s by a man identified as Greg McLaughlin. It also prohibits progay “propaganda.” Californian LGBT legislators have called for California lawyer McLaughlin  to be disbarred by the California Bar Association after he filed a proposed law for all gays to be executed. The Attorney General will decide whether the law should go to the public vote, but it is unlikely to gain support in the largely LGBT-friendly state. However, the Attorney-General may have no option but to allow such a petition to circulate within the state.  However, the petition is also said to be a blatant violation of the California state and US Constitutions.

Washington DC: Sandy Rios of US Christian Right group American Family Association said Christians will “engage in battle” against any potential Supreme Court judgement for marriage equality. She threw in some transphobic ‘bathroom bill’ rhetoric as well.

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

 

Dallas: A Texas Republican who is on his fifth marriage has complained – after a judge ruled that two women could not be prevented from marrying once.

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

 London:  A future British Labour government would pave the way for posthumous pardons for gay men convicted under historical indecency laws, Ed Miliband has said. The Labour leader said a new law would allow family and friends of deceased men to seek the quashing of historical convictions for “gross indecency”. The proposed legislation would be known as “Turing’s Law” in memory of Alan Turing, he said. The Enigma code-breaker was convicted of “gross indecency” in 1952 and was only given a posthumous pardon in 2013. Homosexuality was illegal until it was decriminalised in England in 1967. Turing was convicted for gross indecency in 1952 in connection with an affair with a 19-year-old man, after which he was chemically castrated. The conviction meant he lost his security clearance and had to stop the code-cracking work that had proved vital to the Allies in World War Two. The mathematician was only given a royal pardon in 2013, nearly 60 years after his death by suicide in 1954. This followed an official apology by former prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009 for how Mr Turing had been treated. Downing Street has responded to Labour’s pledge of support for a campaign to pardon men convicted of historic gay sex offences by saying David Cameron will look “carefully” at the issue.

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

Sydney:  A fundamentalist Christian Democratic Party candidate has made the bizarre assertion that decriminalising gay sex in the 1980s has somehow led to budget worries now. Goulburn candidate Adrian van der Byl made the comment during a political forum last month, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.   Adrian van der Byl seems to be out on his own on this one – the Herald reports that even his party leader Fred Nile has distanced himself from the comments. Sydney’s 2UE host Justin Smith thought van der Byl needed an opportunity to unpack his meandered thoughts a bit, so invited him onto his radio show this afternoon.  Van der Byl made clear that he didn’t support the Safe Schools Initiative, which challenges homophobic and transphobic bullying  in classrooms. After letting van der Byl reiterate his ramblings, Smith’s patience had run out. The NSW state election is on Saturday 28 March.

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

 Missouri: This US state is still trying to prevent issuances of lesbian and gay marriage equality certificates.

Sacramento:  The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of a ruling mandating disclosure of the names of donors to the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California. In the first week in March, the court  let stand a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which determined that the National Organization for Marriage, ProtectMarriage.com, and other backers of Prop. 8 had to make donors’ names publicly available.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Sarah Mbuyi, a fundamentalist nursery worker, who was fired after giving a Bible to a lesbian colleague and refused to read books about same-sex couples to children, claims there is “state-sponsored hostility” to her religion.

 Edinburgh: A petition which urged politicians to redefine adultery to take into account same-sex marriage has been rejected by Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs).   The petition was submitted by Akri Jones to the Public Petitions Committee in Holyrood, and was intended to make the process of divorce the same for gay and straight couples alike. Jones argued that the current definition of adultery as “sexual intercourse between persons of the opposite sex out with marriage”, would not apply to a same-sex couple.

London: A cross-party group of MPs and peers has criticised the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers detained in immigration detention centres across the United Kingdom.

Washington DC:  Psychology Today, a   leading psychology magazine and website has been heavily criticised by the US Human Rights Campaign for allowing listings promoting the controversial practice of gay ‘reparative therapy.’ Happily, it has now dropped the controversial advertisement from the US Christian Right.

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

London: Protestors from around the world gathered outside Royal Courts of Justice to fight for  Nigerian LGBTI rights activist Aderonke Apata, and her right to seek sanctuary as a legitimate asylum seeker within the United Kingdom. A High Court judge has delayed a decision in the case of a lesbian asylum seeker who is at risk of being deported to Nigeria, although some doubt her ‘authenticity’ as she has children!

Slovenia: Will Slovenia become the first Central European country to introduce marriage equality?

Phnom Penh:  The first in-depth study of LGBTI Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge has uncovered widespread sexual and emotional abuse. All 48 interviewees for the study, which was released on Friday (27 February), reported having to hide their sexuality for fear of being killed, while many said they were subjected to forced marriage, rape and sexual abuse by Khmer Rouge soldiers and officials. All the gay men and most of the transgender women surveyed said they had experienced sexual violence. The Khmer Rouge was the name given to members of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The KR are responsible for the deaths of up to 2,000,000 Cambodians, nearly a quarter of the country’s population, many in mass executions in the now infamous ‘killing fields.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/study-details-khmer-rouge-abuse-gay-and-trans-cambodians030315

Beijing:  A political advisor will propose a ban on group sex between men at the country’s annual legislative sessions which began on March 4. Professor Sun Jianfang from the Institute of Dermatology at Peking Union Medical College said the measure would help prevent the spread of AIDS.  The member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference said current laws on prostitution and group sex were limited to straight men and women and should be amended to explicitly criminalize gay sex, the state-run Xinhua Daily reported.

According to statistics, the proportion of HIV transmission between men who have sex with men rose from 2.5% in 2006 to 25.1% in the first half of last year. Gay sex is now the most common mode of transmission, especially in cities. Section 301 of the Penal Code already criminalizes consensual group sex between three or more people, regardless of gender. China’s leading sexologist, Li Yinhe, said there were no victims when three or more consenting adults had sex and and therefore they should not be punished by criminal law. She opposes criminalisation of gay group sex and wants to see restrictions against straight orgies struck down as well.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/china-political-advisor-proposes-ban-gay-group-sex030315

 Washington DC:   A right-wing US politician has argued that prisons prove that homosexuality is a choice. Ben Carson, a potential Republican African-American Presidential candidate for 2016, made the controversial remarks during an interview on CNN this week when discussing his feelings about the LGBT community comparing the gay rights movement to the black civil rights movement.  Carson went on to add that despite his views, he’s not against gay couples people given the same rights as straight couples –  as long as the “traditional” definition of marriage isn’t altered.

You can’t say it’s the same as slavery because people have no control over their race,” said Carson. “A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question. Why do gay people want to get married? Why do they say they want to get married? Because they want to have various rights – property rights, visitation rights,” he continued. “Why can’t any two human beings, I don’t care what their sexual orientation is, why can’t they have the legal right to do those things? That does not require changing the definition of marriage.” However, he has now contradicted himself- he now claims he supports the rights of states to introduce it.

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

 Slovenia:  Slovenia has become the first central European country to introduce marriage equality!  The landmark bill was approved on March 3  by a vote of 51-28. It makes Slovenia the 21st country around the world to introduce marriage equality for its citizens.  While the vote was being carried out, over 2000 antigay protesters stood outside Parliament and pledged to launch a petition for a referendum to stop the reform bill – which also legalised same-sex adoption – from being signed into law by President  Borut Pahor. Slovenia is the 11th EU nation to introduce marriage equality.  The bill was introduced by United Left, the leading opposition party. United Left was joined by a ruling-party coalition partner in supporting the legislation.

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

South Carolina:  At Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center city bathrooms Monday night, anti-LGBT protesters were practicing what they preach. At least two trans women were accosted while attemping to leave the women’s restroom during a contentious city council debate on an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, reports Charlotte LGBT newspaper Qnotes.   After nearly five hours of often heated public testimony and the removal of some protections for trans residents, the nondiscrimination ordinance failed in a 6-5 vote. The ordinance sought to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s list of classes protected from discrimination in public accomodations and businesses. The proposed ordinance — which is similar to nondiscrimination ordinances in place in cities and some states throughout the country — would have ordered, for instance, that hotels, taxi drivers, and vendors not deny service to anyone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, lest the vendor or business owner lose their business license for two years. But the most vigorious challenges came from conservative community members opposed to trans equality in the use of sex-segregated public bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

New York: Russia is trying to block the United Nations from opening up its employee benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

Belfast: The Anglican  Church of Ireland is split over a proposed bill in Northern Ireland that would allow people to engage in service provision discrimination  against gays on the grounds of religion.

Alabama: The Alabama Supreme Court has issued an order directing probate judges to stop marrying gay couples – but legal experts say it is not enforceable.

London: Tory minister David Lidington has rejected proposals to follow the United States in appointing a specialised LGBT rights envoy.

Falkland Islands: The Falkland Islands will reportedly legislate to introduce civil partnership legislation in the near future.

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

New York: The New York Fire Department now has its first lesbian chaplain.  Reverend Ann Kansfield was sworn in as the New York City Fire Department’s newest religious chaplain after complaints about a lack of diversity inside the organization.

Jakarta: In Indonesia, a transwoman has been arrested because she was carrying ‘fake’ ID papers. The  Malaysian national wants to legally change gender so she can get married.

Tokyo:  The Japanese education ministry has issued a document to schools and the education board requiring educational institutions give attention and support to LGBTI students. Local media reports that LGBTI students are often abused and bullied on Japanese campuses, while experts and scholars are recommending schools carry out effective responses earlier to prevent suicide.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/japan-requires-schools-help-gay-students040315

 Dublin:  An Irish printing firm has refused a gay man’s request to print invitations for his civil partnership ceremony, because of its fundamentalist beliefs. Beulah Print and Design, based in Drogheda, County Louth, confirmed it had declined an order from Jonathon Brennan, one of their former customers. The company said its staff were [fundamentalist] “Bible-believing Christians” who did not support civil partnerships/unions or marriage equality.  Mr Brennan told the Irish Independent he was “infuriated and shocked”. The 29-year-old businessman, who owns a salon in Drogheda, is due to enter a civil partnership with his boyfriend of eight years, John Kierans, in August.

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

 London:  The UK government has asked over 70 countries worldwide to clarify the rights that British LGBTI  people have abroad. Equalities Minister Jo Swinson has requested that countries including the US, Italy, Israel and Australia tell the UK government how safe it is for British gay married couples to visit their countries. She went on to argue that although there are many countries with “dreadful” views on LGBT people, those with a “more positive” approach have no valid reason to not recognise British same-sex marriages.

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

 Washington DC: According to a national survey, 40% of transgender people experience discrimination when official forms of identification aren’t in sync with their visible gender. But changing government-issued IDs (driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, passports) has historically been a challenge. Since 1971, to alter their sex designation on a birth certificate in New York City, trans people have had to demonstrate that they’d undergone gender confirmation surgery and hormone therapy, a burden of proof inaccessible to people without health insurance or substantial financial means — and simply unnecessary for others. To remove these antiquated requirements, gay New York City councilman Corey Johnson, a Democrat from Manhattan, introduced legislation in October to eliminate them. On December 8, when the bill was passed (39 votes to four, with three abstentions), the trans community was abuzz with victory.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Harare: The Zimbabwean Government’s hostility towards gay people is hampering the country’s ability to tackle HIV, a leading gay rights campaigner has warned. Director of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) Chesterfield Samba has urged the government to revise the anti-gay laws that stop necessary discussion into urgent health issues.  In December 2014 the government considered an anti-HIV programme for LGBTI sex workers. Dr. Owen Mugurungi, the head of AIDS and TB unit in the Ministry of Health, supported the initiative.Samba said there will soon be a study revealing the prevalence of HIV among gay and bisexual men across Zimbabwe. An estimated 15% of the entire country are living with HIV. -

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/zimbabwe-anti-gay-laws-are-hurting-fight-stop-hiv-and-aids060315

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

 Washington DC: The Supreme Court will hear arguments on April 28 on whether states can ban marriage equality.

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

 Auckland:  “Colin Craig insists his Conservative Party is not in turmoil, despite questions over his leadership and the expulsion of former MP Larry Baldock. The party’s board met on Saturday and since then rumours have swirled about an attempt to roll Craig as leader and replace him with Napier candidate Garth McVicar, who quit the party after the general election last September. Craig said he was not challenged and was unanimously reinstated as leader. He was unaware a board member had asked McVicar to the meeting – an invitation that was declined. Baldock, a former UnitedFuture MP, is fighting a decision to expel him over two media interviews given during the election campaign. He said publicly he disagreed with the party’s stance on one law for all. Leighton Baker, who stood as a candidate in the Christchurch East by-election in 2013 and again in the general election, has stepped down from the board.”

And now they’re too disorganised to stand a candidate for Northland?!

Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/66936443/colin-craig-conservative-party-doing-fine

Miami: A Florida House subcommittee approved a controversial bill Wednesday that aims to bar citizens from using single-sex public restrooms, dressing rooms, and showers that do not correspond with the gender listed on their legal identification. This ridiculous House Bill 583 has drawn ire from many who claim the bill will unfairly target transgender Floridians, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Equality Florida, and numerous trans rights supporters nationwide.  If it became law, the legislation would subject any citizen “caught” using a single-sex public facility that did not match the gender listed on their legal identification to first-degree misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. The law would also make whoever owned an establishment where such “crimes” took place open to civil lawsuits from other patrons, for violating their “privacy” rights. A second Florida House subcommittee approved a controversial bill  on March 17 that aims to bar citizens from using single-sex public restrooms, dressing rooms, and showers that do not correspond with the gender listed on their legal identification, reported the Miami Herald.   

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: A court has ordered the US Military to stop referring to prisoner Chelsea Manning as male.

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

 United States: Now this gym is a transphobe-free zone!  A gym in America cancelled a customer’s membership after she repeatedly complained about a transwoman using the women’s changing rooms. Planet Fitness revoked Yvette Cormier of Midland County’s membership after she raised the issue with staff and fellow customers.   When she initially complained to an employee on February 28, Cormier was told that the unidentified individual identified as a woman and was allowed to use the facilities, which include private changing stalls. However, she brought her complaint to the gym’s head office, who further explained the company’s “no judgement zone” policy. Despite this, she is said to have further complained to fellow members, leading to the gym’s decision to cancel her membership. [Good. Well done, Planet Fitness!- Craig] Unfortunately, the obnoxious Ms. Cornier is now suing the gym.

Predictably, criticisms are emanating from the direction of the raving right. A Fox News contributor has argued that it’s “craziness” that a US gym banned a woman for being transphobic. Dr. Keith Albow continually referred to the trans woman in question by the wrong gender and claimed that it’s ridiculous that the gym sided with her desire to use the female changing rooms.

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

 Atlanta:  The Georgia Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday that opponents say will give businesses and individuals a “license to discriminate” against LGBT people and anyone else, through engaging in service provider discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom.”  Senate Bill 129, introduced by Republican Sen. Josh McKoon and rushed through the committee McKoon chairs earlier this week, passed the full state Senate by a vote of 37-15.

Without ever mentioning sexual orientation, gender identity, or marriage equality, the legislation seeks to secure the right of persons — which is not explicitly defined and could therefore be interpreted to include businesses, individuals, and even state employees — to refuse service to LGBT Georgians, or anyone else who supposedly offends someone’s “religious beliefs.” While Senate Democrats had attempted to attach amendments to the bill that would define “person,” the majority Republican leadership voted to “engross” the bill, making it unable to be amended and forcing a vote on the legislation as written.  Advocates of the bill, including its author, claim that the legislation is necessary to protect religious freedom and the free exercise of religion — despite the fact that those protections are already explicitly enshrined in the Georgia and U.S. Constitutions.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London: UK LGBT domestic violence helpline Broken Rainbow has been saved from closure - after fears it could be crippled by a loss of government funding.

Dallas: A Texas Republican’s own son has spoken out to condemn a bill which would abolish protections for LGBT workers. Texas State Representative Rick Miller has filed HB 1556 – an exact copy of an anti-gay law passed in Arkansas last month that voided all equal rights ordinances protecting workers from employment discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. His out gay son, Beau Miller, has condemned his father’s measure. If passed, it would have a devastating effect on local equal rights laws, leaving workers from Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Plano and San Antonio without protection.

Washington DC: President Obama’s Attorney General has filed a powerful legal brief with the Supreme Court, urging them to strike down all bans on same-sex marriage. Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft also support marriage equality. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden has reiterated his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

 London: Home Office homophobia has been slammed following the ordeal of Nigerian lesbian asylum seeker Aderonke Apata, who has applied for asylum in the UK, which she was refused. She could face the death penalty if she is deported. As part of her evidence she submitted a petition containing nearly 30,000 signatures from members of the British public in support of her claim. Explicit video footage and photographs of her with her girlfriend were also submitted.Barrister Andrew Bird, representing the home secretary Theresa May, dismissed this evidence, asserting that as she had previously had a heterosexual relationship and had children, she was “not” lesbian!  Apata’s case hasn’t just revealed an individual  barrister’s poor understanding of how sexuality works – it has shone an unedifying light on a system that still can’t figure out how to handle gay, lesbian and bisexual asylum seekers.  The United Kingdom  has long performed disappointingly when it comes to actually helping LGBT people who are persecuted elsewhere and seek international protection. Seeking asylum on the basis of your sexuality is a complex legal process. Because sexuality is not explicitly recognised within the 1951 Refugee Convention (under article 1a) as part of the definition of a refugee, many cases come down to complex and lengthy legal battles like Apata’s case, which has taken ten years.

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

 Canberra: Australia’s multicultural broadcaster SBS (the Special Broadcasting Service) has yanked an antigay advertisement from its schedule, timed by Australian Christian Right pressure groups to coincide with Mardi Gras. The 43-second TV ad aired on Channel 7 and 9 on Saturday while the parade was under way and shows a mother sitting at a picnic ground table with her young daughter while her husband and son enjoy themselves in the background. The advertisement also features Australian Christian Right activist Dr David van Gend, Queensland-based President of the Australian Marriage Forum pressure group, who is dishonestly and inadequately described on-screen only as a “family doctor”.   Australian Marriage Equality’s national director, Rodney Croome, said the advertisement was “actually harming the many Australian children being raised by same-sex couples because it defends discrimination against their families”. Van Gend is seeking further explanation from SBS, given that it was approved by advertising regulators. Australian Marriage Forum is a front group for a more radical Christian Right pressure group, the “Australian Christian Lobby.” Megan Mitchell, Australia’s  National Children’s Commissioner has also weighed in on the debate surrounding the controversial Australian Marriage Forum advertisement that is critical of gay marriage and same-sex parents. She cited data from the Australian Institute of Family Studies and an Australian Study on Child Health in Same-Sex Families which provided rebuttal to AMF’s biased and mendacious claims.

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

 Canberra: Right-wing Australian media pundit Andrew Bolt has criticised the Sydney Mardi Gras for not including an anti-ISIS float. Fair enough, but like straight Australians, LGBT Aussies (and Kiwis) are divided over the advisability of Australian and New Zealand assistance to Iraqi opponents of ISIS, particularly given the equally dire human rights and civil liberties records of Shia Islamist paramilitary groups and Shia-led government neglect of their harassment, abduction and homicide of LGBT Iraqis.

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

Ghana: Suspected lesbians have been attacked in Ghana’s capital after homophobic bigots put up antigay posters. The incident comes a day after a group of ‘suspected’ lesbians in the same community were stoned and pelted with human faeces by an angry mob, and after a Ghanaian tabloid reprinted antigay comments from the Ghanaian Presbyterian Church moderator.

Earlier this year, a popular entertainment personality – whose name was not disclosed in the media – was reportedly beaten after he was allegedly caught ‘attempting’ to have sex with another man in Accra. In March 2012, nine suspected gays and one lesbian were attacked by an anti-gay vigilante group in the Jamestown district of Accra after the local media reported on two lesbian marriages that have reportedly taken place in the city. Although homosexual acts are not specifically mentioned by the law in Ghana, the law prohibits ‘unnatural carnal knowledge’ involving ‘sexual intercourse with a person in an unnatural manner.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/suspected-lesbians-ghanas-capital-targeted-after-homophobic-residents-put-posters080315

South Dakota: A Republican-led South Dakota Senate committee has voted down two bills that would have prevented transgender students from playing on sports teams – and possibly sharing the shower facilities – of  cisfemale and cismale counterparts.

London:  Many  gay pupils across the UK have experienced homophobic bullying at the hands of their teachers. The shocking findings were released (March 9) by The National Aids Trust (NAT) in a report titled ‘Boys Who Like Boys’, which surveyed over 1000 gay and bisexual male students aged 14-19 across the United Kingdom.  The NAT found that one in five gay and bisexual students have been verbally bullied by at least one of their teachers, or another adult in their lives, because of their sexuality. The study also found that a vast number of students across the UK have received very little education about the dangers of HIV. Over 27 percent were unaware of how the virus is contracted, while almost one third wrongly believe that the virus can be contracted through kissing.

Education Secretary Nicky  Morgan said that she was “devastated” by the statistics, saying that adults should “know better” than to belittle students who are struggling with their sexuality.

“I haven’t had a chance to read the report, but I was pretty devastated actually by reading the article,” she said on LBC Radio. “We have prioritised a £2 million fund to tackle specifically homophobic bullying. We’ve had a lot of organisations come forward with some really good ideas. Last month I was at a Stonewall Champion school, Eastbourne Academy, at the end of LGBT History Month they had posters everywhere, they had talks about it in their PSHE classes, and they were all really engaged, regardless of whether they were gay or straight or trans. It demonstrates to me how important it is the whole school gets together. The sadness in the newspaper article today was that the bullying or name-calling wasn’t just coming from students, it was also coming from adults, who should know better. I think it’s inexcusable,” she concluded.

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

Middle East: In Xtra Canada, Ahmed Danny Ramadan had this to say about the current upsurge in violence against LGBT people within the Middle East:

The casualties of the aftermath of the Arab Spring accumulate daily. Among them, gay people might be the most vulnerable of them all.  Gay victims are voiceless. They die knowing that no one cares. Their governments criminalize them, their society doesn’t care for them, their religion rejects them and terrorists force them to jump off buildings. In Syria, accusations of homosexuality have been used as a tactic by the government to tarnish the reputation of popular opposition figures since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011. In areas controlled by the terrorist group known as the Islamic State across Syria and Iraq, gay men are thrown off buildings as punishment. The local communities gather to watch the executions. When throwing one man from the seventh floor failed to end his life, his community stoned him to death.

In Egypt, following a year of constant and increasing arrests and entrapment of gay men, the Egyptian government reintroduced the anal test. A torturous and invasive medical practice, it’s supposed to determinate the sexual orientation of a person based on the shape, flexibility and size of his anus. As if. Other than the local activists, who are overwhelmed by the outrageous anti-gay developments in the region, no one seems to pay attention to the struggles facing gay men. Their feeling of abandonment is justified. They are everybody’s favourite target in a region torn by conflict: a perfect scapegoat in a perfect storm.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

 Ireland:  An Irish bishop has compared homosexuality to Down’s syndrome , while claiming both are not “what God intended”. The Catholic Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, made the claim to NewsTalk Breakfast radio this morning, ahead of the Spring Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. When questioned as to whether he believed being born gay was as God intended Doran responded: “That would be to suggest that if some people are born with Down’s syndrome or Spina Bifida, that that was what God intended either.” [Bigoted ableist and homophobic idiot- Craig]

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

Kingston:  An angry mob stoned a young, allegedly gay man to death in Jamaica and filmed themselves hurling rocks at his head. The video of the murder of the alleged gay youth, believed to be aged around 19 to 21, has gone viral on social media after being posted last week

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-youth-stoned-death-jamaica090315

Canada:  A transgender woman in Canada has launched a social media campaign to show how ‘ridiculous’ bathroom bans are. Brae Carnes, 23, is posting photos of herself in men’s toilets to protest a proposed law that would make it illegal for trans women to use female bathrooms. The Victoria resident said it is uncomfortable for everyone when she enters a men’s bathroom, and she looks completely out of place applying lipstick and posing for mirror selfies while men urinate in the background. I n 2013, the House of Commons passed a bill to add gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Conservative-led Senate finally approved the measure last month but not before introducing a ridiculous transphobic amendment exempting ‘sex-specific’ facilities such as public washrooms, effectively killing the bill.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/trans-woman-shows-how-ridiculous-bathroom-bans-are-urinal-selfie-campaign090315

 Sydney:  A video of an Australian busker singing to drown out the voice of an anti-gay preacher has gone viral. Musician Axel Winter was performing on the streets of Sydney during the city’s world famous Mardi Grad celebrations last weekend, which included performances from Nick Jonas and Dannii Minogue, when he spotted a religious preacher clinging on to a bible and shouting anti-gay verses at pedestrians.

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

 Brussels: Are LGBT refugees and asylum seekers finding sanctuary in Western Europe?   No European country has a perfect record on LGBT rights; from Sweden to Slovakia, there’s room for improvement, both in policy and practice. The legislative equality enjoyed throughout the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Spain may be the exception, not the rule, but for now homosexuality is at least legal throughout the European Union. For LGBT asylum-seekers escaping the institutional persecution of regimes like Uganda’s and Iran’s, the relative freedoms of the EU are worth risking everything.

But any hope that the same legal protections offered to EU citizens would be extended to them when they arrive in Europe is often egregiously misplaced. In place of greater freedom, many are greeted with prolonged periods of incarceration. Instead of social acceptance, they are treated with contempt and face discrimination, violence, and sexual abuse in detention centers. Rather than understanding, they’re subjected to drawn-out, sometimes humiliating, decision-making processes designed to establish the “credibility” of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This systematic failure to protect happens in spite of an EU directive, adopted in 2004, that states unequivocally that those who face persecution for their sexual orientation qualify as refugees. This directive and others are designed to harmonize standards and procedures across Europe, ensuring the fair treatment of LGBT asylum-seekers across the continent.  Contrasting LGBT-rights landscape across Europe has a significant impact on attitudes toward sexual-minority asylum-seekers. Violence against activists in Serbia, the proposal of propaganda laws similar to Russia’s in Belarus, or the rising antigay rhetoric from ministers in Latvia are unlikely to reassure refugees of a life free from prejudice. But even in the United Kingdom, ranked first in ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Map, the treatment of LGBT asylum-seekers is anything but commendable. Despite its reputation as one of the most progressive countries, increasing numbers of LGBT asylum-seekers, upon arrival, are detained indefinitely by the Home Office, the ministerial department responsible for immigration and security.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London: T he government’s Dementia Strategy for England must include a “specific reference to LGBT issues”, the National Care Forum has warned. Writing in The Guardian, Des Kelly, executive director of the forum, said LGBT people with dementia risk being failed by the care system and forced back into the closet. Estimates from the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggest there are 1.2 million older gay people in Great Britain.

There is no specific reference to LGBT issues in the National Dementia Strategy, he continued.

“Given LGBT older people may be estranged from their relatives and lack family support, formal care is likely to be even more important than it is for their heterosexual peers. We know where some of the biggest challenges lie. For example, prejudice – current or historic – can affect how someone perceives and experiences support.  While some lose their inhibitions due to dementia, others who have previously come out feel unable to be open about their sexuality or transgender status. Dementia causes anguish and confusion; this experience could be exacerbated as older people with the condition struggle to deal with negative perceptions of their sexuality or gender in residential care.”

There are approximately 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with the number expected to hit a million within the next 10 years.

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

 Malawi:  Malawi will not change its laws against homosexuality, the country’s Health Minister has said. Jean Kalilani made the remarks last week as the Malawi Government applied for a grant of around £257.000 from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Malawi wants to use the money for HIV prevention among the country’s gay population.  Campaigners say that Malawi’s anti-gay laws hamper the country’s HIV prevention efforts. Gift Trapence, from the Center for the Development of People (CEDEP), said: “It is difficult to offer HIV and AIDS services to homosexuals when there are sodomy laws on the other hand.

“The same government is crimalising same-sex relationships and the same government wants to help them. This does not make sense.”

In May 2012, President Joyce Banda initially pledged to repeal the laws, but later declared that Malawi was “not ready” to decriminalise homosexuality. Enforcement of anti-gay laws was temporarily halted in November 2012, when then-Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara directed arrests to stop, pending a debate in Parliament. However, after a fierce reaction from churches and lobbying groups, enforcement of the laws was reinstated a few days later. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Malawi with custodial sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment.

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

 Brussels:  The European Court of Human Rights has ruled a law requiring trans people be permanently infertile before they undergo treatment is incompatible with human rights. The judges in Strasbourg made the judgment after a transgender man, ‘YY’, in Turkey was told he would have to be sterile if he wished to undergo gender reassignment surgery in 2005. Three years later, he turned to the ECHR saying his right to respect for privacy and a family life was violated by Turkey’s ‘absurd’ laws. In 2013, the trans man presented his request for permission to undergo surgery to the local court, and this time he was given the green light.

And now a decade on after the initial request, the ECHR has ruled in unanimity that by barring YY from gender reassignment surgery Turkey had violated his right to respect for a private life. The judges explicitly said such medical treatment is not necessary in a democratic society and is in breach of the Convention. They also reiterated trans people have a right to establish one’s own gender as this is an ‘essential part of the right to self-determination.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/europe-ends-law-requiring-trans-people-be-sterile-seeking-treatment100315

 Dublin: Gay Irish Health Minister Varadkar has endorsed calls for marriage equality in Ireland. On May 22nd, Irish people vote whether or not to accept marriage equality in a referendum. A new poll released this week shows that 76% intend to vote yes in Ireland’s marriage referendum. Meanwhile, Sen. Katherine Zappone,  Ireland’s only out lesbian senator has challenged an opponent, fellow Senator Ronan Mullen,  to a public debate, ahead of the country’s referendum on marriage equality. Another antigay Irish senator, Fidelma Healy Eames,  has claimed that Mother’s Day will be “banned” if the country passes marriage equality in the forthcoming referendum.

London: Gay Men Fighting AIDS and Burrell Street Clinic have launched Safe Chems, a new campaign to insure gay men stay safe while having drug-’enhanced’ sex, given that such sex is now one major way of transmitting HIV/AIDS in the United Kingdom.

Michigan: A fundamentalist university in Michigan has allegedly banned students from raising money for homeless LGBT youth. Students at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, claim that they were forced to cancel a charity bake sale after the university told them that it would “conflict” with the school’s “mission and practices”.  The university’s gay-straight alliance, AULL4One – who were behind the proposed bake sale – have said in a statement that were unable to advertise the charity event due to the university’s affiliation with the church.

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

Launceston: A move to have Tasmania’s Launceston City Council become the latest Australian  local government area  officially in favour of marriage equality has failed.

Brisbane: The new Queensland Health Minister has provided an update to an election commitment to review of government funding for community health groups, linked to the promised restoration of funds to the Queensland AIDS Council.

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

Peru:  A congressional committee in Peru has rejected a bill that would establish civil unions for same-sex couples, after a public debate that saw a Catholic bishop use an antigay slur to describe the gay legislator who drafted the measure. The Congressional Justice and Human Rights Committee Tuesday voted down the bill by a margin of 7-4, with two abstentions.

Washington DC: The Social Security Administration overpaid some supplemental security income recipients because it didn’t recognize their same-sex marriages when it legally should have — and now it wants the money back, but recipients say they shouldn’t be held responsible for the agency’s error.

Dallas: Deep in the hate from Texas? A new Texas bill would not only make it a crime for a transgender student to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity — it would subject schools that allow their trans students equal access to costly fines and litigation.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Brighton: The Coalition ” for ” Marriage, a UK Christian Right organisation which opposed marriage equality, has mounted a campaign to stop a Tory MP who supported marriage equality  from being re-elected in Brighton. Amusingly however, despite their calls to vote for “anyone other than” Simon Kirby because of his support for same-sex marriage, no other candidates in his seat actually oppose it.

 Denver: The Colorado House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban therapy to ‘cure’ homosexuality in minors.

Washington DC: The Family Research Council, a US Christian Right hate group that regularly compares gay rights to the Holocaust has been invited to testify to Congress on ‘religious freedom’.

Winnipeg: The Canadian province of Alberta is set to make gay-straight alliances mandatory for all state-funded schools. Education Minister Gordon Dirks announced Tuesday (10 March) an amendment to Bill 10, which was then passed unanimously by the legislative assembly. The Catholic School Trustees Association, Parents for “Choice” in Education, Faith Beyond Belief Ministry and Hawkwood Baptist all opposed the measure.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/canada-alberta-govt-makes-gay-straight-alliances-mandatory-after-year-fighting-them110315

Bangkok:  A former national softball player has made headlines in Thailand after she proposed to her girlfriend with a two million baht ($61,000) dowry. On the morning of 8 March, Chanut went to her girlfriend’s house in their home province of Chonburi bearing gifts for her future in-laws.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/thailand-lesbian-softball-player-proposes-girlfriend-2-million-baht-dowry110315

Baghdad:  Islamic extremists have beheaded three gay men in Iraq. In pictures published on social media, it shows men blindfolded and knelt in front of a huge crowd in an unidentified province in the northern city of Nineveh. A masked executioner, dressed in black, wields a long, rusty and bloody sword. While the bodies were not shown, it is claimed the three young men were killed for ‘blasphemy’. Under Islamic State-imposed sharia law, homosexuality is punishable by death.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/isis-beheads-three-gay-men-iraq100315

 Minneapolis: Republicans have introduced legislation in the Minnesota state House and Senate that aims to invalidate a policy enacted by the statewide school athletic organization last year, allowing transgender students to play on the sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Tulsa: The Oklahoma House of Representatives has approved a bill that would take public officials out of the business of issuing marriage licenses, a move its sponsor says will “protect” them from having to grant licenses to same-sex couples. However, the attempt to pass a law in Oklahoma that would allow businesses to refuse certain services to LGBT people has stalled, and it could be partly due to an amendment introduced by an opponent to the bill.    Describing herself as ‘adamantly opposed’ to the proposed legislation is Emily Virgin, a Democratic member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. This week, Virgin introduced an amendment to the bill. In brief, the amendment stated that if you were planning on refusing to serve LGBT people on religious grounds, then you must display a public notice to this effect.  Virgin’s move has received praise, with Freedom Oklahoma’s Executive Director Troy Stevenson thanking her for “calling out the level of segregation allowed under this legislation”.  In a Facebook message yesterday (March 13), Virgin said: “It appears that the bill is dead for this session, but we will be keeping an eye out for any discriminatory legislation that might come forward in the rest of the session!”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: The Cameron administration  has revealed that £800,000 of new money will be spent on HIV prevention, and to reduce the numbers of late diagnoses. However, the National AIDS Trust (NAT) has expressed “deep concern” at the Department of Health’s new plans for investment in HIV prevention for the next year.  A 50% cut in HIV prevention funding could have grave consequences, the UK’s National AIDS Trust (NAT) has warned today.  The funding for HIV Prevention England (HPE) has been halved from £2.4 million ($3.5 million €3.4 million) to £1.2 million ($1.8 million €1.7 million). NAT CEO Deborah Gold said today (13 March): ‘We are deeply concerned about the level of upheaval to HIV prevention provision across the country.

‘Important enabling infrastructure will be significantly compromised by the gap in funding.’

In the last 12 months, only £15 million was spent across the UK on HIV prevention, dwarfed by the £55 million which was spent in the years 2001/02 and the £37 million in 2007-8. The number of people living with HIV in the UK has trebled since 2001, and more and more people are being diagnosed with the virus every year. Meanwhile a survey out this week showed three quarters of 14 to 19 year olds were taught nothing about gay or lesbian sex in schools. In 58 areas with high numbers of HIV positive people – more than two with the virus per 1,000 people, only 0.1% of local authority public health cash is spent on prevention. That’s just £0.70 ($1 €1) per person, per year.

In these areas the National Health Service spends 55 times more treating people with HIV than it does stopping people from getting it in the first place. In 2016 a ring-fence, to stop public health funds being spent on anything else, will be lifted which could make the problem worse.

 

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-slashes-hiv-prevention-cash-half130315

London: A higher number of right-wing  United Kingdom Independence Party  supporters believe gay relationships should be taught in schools than those who are against the idea, a YouGov survey has found. However, UKIP would get rid of “irrelevant” anti-discrimination laws, party leader Nigel Farage says.

Berlin: Three Lebanese men have been fined by a Berlin court for allegedly attempting to force a gay 15-year-old relative into a straight marriage.

Harlem:  Atlah World Missionary Baptist Church, a notoriously homophobic African-American church in New York has been hit with a number of violations – for erecting an anti-gay sign without a permit.

Perth:  An Australian politician has claimed that an anti-bullying campaign is a “gay lifestyle promotion programme”. Western Australian Liberal Party  MP Peter Abetz, made the claims about the campaign by the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA), which condemns bullying based on sexuality and gender identity and aims to educate young people about LGBT issues.  The campaign was funded with a four-year AUD$8 million (£4.1 million) Commonwealth grant.   Abetz went on to say that more general anti-bullying programmes should be funded. His comments were described, however, as “misguided and homophobic” by Shadow minister for disability services, mental health and child protection, Stephen Dawson.

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

Geneva: Switzerland has voted for a law to protect LGBTI people from discrimination. The parliament voted with 103 in favor, 73 against and nine abstentions to ensure nobody is targeted with hate speech and discrimination on the basis of their sexual or gender identity. It was an amendment to a law that already protected people of different races or faiths.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/switzerland-votes-law-protect-lgbtis-prejudice120315

 Worcester:  A man has been sent to prison for seven years after pleading guilty to blackmailing two men after he had sex with them separately in a park in the West-Midlands, England. Lee Taylor, 24, waited for his victims (who have not been named) in a public toilet in Worcester. After they had sex, he demanded £100 ($149, €140) from them, threatening he would tell their employers and families they had tried to rape him

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-man-guilty-blackmailing-married-men-he-had-sex-parks120315

 Rome:  Italian schools encouraging children as young as three to be taught gender equality are being accused of turning kids gay. A huge row has erupted as politicians and protestors have warned that it will confuse children about their sexual identity.   The programme has not been been enforced just yet, but teachers in certain schools are attending voluntary training sessions, and the next step is to present it to parents. But there are some challenges. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s coservative party Forza Italia and the rightwing Northern League have rejected the programme outright.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/italy-school-gender-equality-game-accused-turning-kids-gay110315

London: A mother has said the UK government is driving her bisexual son to the brink of a mental breakdown as they prepare to send him back to Jamaica. Vienna Brown, the mother of 33-year-old Orashia Edwards, spoke to GSN in tears as she prepares to hear the final judgment of her son’s asylum case on 15 April. She is not optimistic. In previous judgments, courts have ruled Edwards is ‘dishonest’ about his sexuality.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/mother-uk-driving-my-bisexual-asylum-seeker-son-suicide110315

Auckland:  Five gay men have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection rarely found in New Zealand – and scientists say most of them probably caught it in the country. Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is endemic in developing countries but is uncommon in New Zealand, and when it is diagnosed in the country, the patient usually caught it overseas. But a study published in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal found there were five cases of LGV diagnosed since September 2013, and four of them were likely infected in the country. The first patient – a 59-year-old man – had just got back from an overseas holiday but the other four hadn’t been out of the country recently. Three of the five were infected with the same variation of LGV, while the other two were infected with a second strain.

Source:  http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/gay-kiwi-men-infected-with-rare-sti-2015031305#ixzz3UCognZFy

 Canberra: The Australian Medical Association has voted to expel euthanasia law reform activist Dr Philip Nitschke.

Zurich: The euthanasia organisation Exit has experienced a surge in membership in German- and Italian-speaking Switzerland. Last year, 13,413 people joined – a record number. Figures for the French-speaking part are expected in April. The number of actual assisted suicides went up as well: there were 583 in 2014, a 25% increase on 2013…

London:  The UK government has been accused of “letting gay men die” because of their refusal to vaccinate boys against HPV. Currently in the UK, teenage girls are given a three-course treatment to prevent them from contracting the sexually transmitted virus, which can lie dormant for years and lead to aggressive forms of cancer. They are then protected for life against the virus, as is any man or woman who has sex with them. However, this doesn’t apply to gay men, who remain at high risk of contracting the virus due to not having sexual contact with women. Despite the government’s refusal, other countries around the world including Australia and America have taken steps to vaccinate both men and women against the virus. In response to the controversy, The Department of Health told Buzzfeed that independent advisers are currently reassessing the government’s current plan.

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

 Washington DC: The first out trans woman to head Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit is Sgt. Jessica Hawkins. In her new role, Hawkins will supervise a group of officers dedicated to the public safety needs of LGBT and allied communities throughout D.C. According to its website, the GLLU achieves this by patrolling and responding to citizen complaints, as well as conducting public education campaigns on safety and hate crimes — all with the intent of gaining the trust of LGBT citizens, so that citizens will offer more information about violent crime.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Moscow: He’s not dead! The Kremlin has been forced to deny that Russian President Vladimir Putin has died – after he cancelled a string of public appearances. IKEA has pulled the Russian edition of its Family Life magazine to avoid being in breach of the country’s anti-gay propaganda law. Anti-gay Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov has called for Russia to boycott this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, due to champion Conchita Wurst.

Brussels: A number of UKIP and British Conservative Members of the  European Parliament have voted against or abstained on a motion praising marriage equality, nearly a year after the UK’s first same-sex wedding took place.

Miami: Rumoured Presidential candidate Jeb Bush has hired fundamentalist Jay Sekulow, an anti-gay activist for the “American Centre for Law and Justice”  to join his campaign team.  Sekulow lobbied a number of countries to keep homophobic laws in place, encouraging governments in Africa to make sure gay sex remained illegal. The ACLJ is known to have had influence in a number of countries with anti-gay laws, including Kenya and Zimbabwe. Sekulow, is also chair of US televangelist Pat Robertsons fundamentalist  ”Christian Broadcast Network.”

 Rome: Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana may be gay, but they don’t believe in gay rights. Their latest salvo against equality was a rant against so-called “nontraditional” families. Dolce is a ‘practicing Catholic’ and opposes marriage equality, while Gabbana ‘does not believe’ in inclusive adoption reform. Sir Elton John is  incensed about the gay Italian designers’ comments which called children born outside a male-female parent family ‘synthetic’ and favours a  boycott of the self-hating fashion icons. So are British gay parenting icons Charlie Condou (formerly Marcus Dent on Coronation Street) and his husband Cameron Laux, who compared D&G to a pair of ‘turkeys.’  On the other side of the debate, members of Italian right-wing group “New Centre Right” have compared the legendary singer’s campaign against the designers to the methods “used by the Taliban” in the Charlie Hebdo killings, despite there being no evidence that the Taliban were involved in the terrorist attack. [NB: The NCR is actually a conservative Catholic, religious social conservative party in the Italian Parliament- C]  Ignoring that, straight allies like Victoria Beckham, Courtney Love, and Michelle Visage have backed Elton John in boycotting Dolce & Gabbana – after disparaging comments about ‘non-traditional’ families. In the latest backlash, the Editorial Director of Dolce & Gabbana’s online magazine has resigned over the duo’s controversial comments about gay parents.  Giuliano Federico  has been the Editorial Director of Dolce & Gabbana’s magazine Swide for over seven years. He has announced that he is stepping down from his position. In a Facebook statement discussing his departure, Federico explained that the designer’s anti-gay comments are in “total conflict” with his own personal beliefs. However, Conservative Cabinet Minister Edwin Pickles, UK Christian Concern fundamentalist homophobe Andrea Williams, right-wing pundit Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins have all condemned the boycott. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Stefano Gabbana actually once asked a woman to become a surrogate mum for him and his partner!

Source: http://www.advocate.com, http://attitude.co.uk/charlie-condou-cameron-laux-dg-are-a-pair-of-turkeys/

Washington DC:  LGBT women face challenges that hinder their economic security  in employment, healthcare access  and in obtaining legal recognition for their families. The National LGBTQ Task Force, Movement Advance Project, and Center for American Progress, called their project  Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women in America. It  highlights the numerous obstacles facing LGBT American women, including wage disparities, inflexible workplaces, and insurance coverage exclusions.

1. LGBT women — especially trans women — are at risk of employment discrimination, limiting their opportunities for advancement.

As recently as 2008, 16 percent of LGB people stated that they had lost their job because of their sexual orientation, and 35 percent claimed they were harassed by their employers, the study found. Meanwhile, 62 percent of LGB people surveyed for this study claimed that they heard jokes about gays or lesbians in their workplace. And a staggering 55 percent of trans women surveyed said that they were turned down for a job because of their gender identity.

2. LGBT women are asked to pay higher rates from healthcare providers. 

LGBT women are twice as likely as non-LGBT women not to have a consistent doctor who they visit regularly. And LGBT women with incomes at or below $47,000 annually tend to lack health care coverage, the study revealed. As recently as 2014, 29 percent of LGBT women reported struggling to pay for health insurance for themselves or their families. Exclusions in health care for transition-related care make it prohibitively expensive for trans people to get hormone replacement therapy, mental health services, and gender-affirming surgeries.

3. LGBT women are more likely to be kept from becoming legal parents of their children.

The lack of marriage equality in all 50 states makes it difficult for women who are co-parenting with other women because they are not able to access the same benefits and programs as opposite-sex parents. As a result, these women often lack protected family or medical leave at work, and face challenges in finding safe, affordable health care for their families.

4. LGBT women face higher rents, longer rental applications, and are not provided with special promotional incentives.

A 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development discovered that opposite-sex couples were favored over same-sex couples by 16 percent when applying to the same rentals. Same-sex couples from the study were presented with higher rental prices, given barriers such as longer application procesess, and presented with less information about promotional incentives.

5. LGBT women lack protection from intimate partner violence because of stigma and lack of family recognition.

Women who do not have a legally recognized parent-child relationship may be afraid to leave an abusive relationship, because it could mean they would never see the children they helped raise again. The study also found that bisexual women are less “out” to their employers, and may stay in a poor relationship for the threat of being “outed” by their partner. Additionally, women who do report domestic violence to authorities may not be taken seriously by police officers because of stereotypes that only heterosexual relationships experience abuse.

6. LGBT families may not get the government assistance they require because they are unaware of their eligibility.

The legal patchwork of relationship recognition for same-sex couples can make it challenging for families to navigate state and federal benefit systems, the study notes. LGBT women may also feel uncomfortable to come out to state or federal employees. And while many government programs recognize same-sex marriage, some government employees may not be educated on the latest federal and state-recognized programs for LGBT people.

7. Undocumented LGBT immigrants face deportation, wage discrimination, and threat of violence in immigration detention.

It is estimated that there are 904,000 LGBT immigrants in the U.S. — and 267,000 of those are undocumented and Hispanic. LGBT immigrants face threat of deportation, and extreme violence in immigration detention centers, especially for trans people. The study reports these immigrants fear speaking out against wage discrimination, inflexible schedules, and poor work conditions because they could be reported by their employers for being undocumented, which could result in their deportation.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Dallas:  The latest piece of antigay legislation introduced in Texas would allow almost anyone to engage in service provider discirmination against  LGBT people based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”  It’s euphemistically called the  ”Marriage and Religious Rights Ensured Act.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Washington DC: The antigay US Christian Right pressure group known as the  Family Research Council is encouraging people to “pray and fast”, in order to “thwart”  an expected ruling from the US Supreme Court on marriage equality, expected to be heard in April.

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

 Ottawa: Canada’s main opposition leader, New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair,  has savaged Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his anti-Muslim sectarianism – comparing him to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s homophobia.

Alabama: Patricia Todd, Alabama’s first out elected official, is confused why her colleagues support a so-called  ’religious freedom’ bill that offers protection that is currently law. This past week the Alabama House passed House Bill 56, also called the Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act (69-25).  The legislation gives probate judges and pastors the right to refuse officiating a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/alabamas-only-gay-legislator-votes-against-religious-freedom-bill140315

London:  A decision to start a vaccination program to stop gay and bi men getting anal cancer has been delayed by UK health officials. Why? Because it may not be ‘cost effective’. All girls aged 12 to 13 already get the vaccines which stop them getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) and developing genital warts and cervical cancer. The idea was to extend that to all boys of the same age. However,  that decision has been put off until 2017. The UK Committee on Vaccination and Immunization was expected to at least approve giving the life-saving jabs to men who have sex with men. Clinicians say the rates of HPV and the cancers it causes in gay and bi men are the same as the rates in women before they started the nationwide vaccination program. That, LGBT  health  campaigners argue, makes this a clear gay health inequality. However, government health agencies say it might be cheaper to let gay men get anal cancer and then treat it, rather than prevent it. They say fewer would die than they previously thought.  Their decision to gather more data on the vaccination’s cost-effectiveness pushes an eventual decision to the tail end of 2015 – after the General Election. Even then, there is no guarantee they will agree to the vaccinations. UK LGBT health promotion and HIV prevention organisation the Terrence Higgins Trust has condemned the decision.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-health-bosses-it-may-cost-too-much-save-gay-men-anal-cancer130315

Taipei:  A Taiwanese lesbian couple are fighting against a decision stopping them from adopting their children. In the first case of its kind in the country, Neal Wang hopes to formally adopt the twins she co-parents with her partner of 15 years, Ashley Chou. Chou gave birth to the children six years ago via artificial insemination – but under Taiwanese law, the unmarried partner of a birth mother is not allowed to adopt her children.  The couple applied for adoption in August 2014 as a ‘de facto’ married couple, but were rejected by Shihlin District Court, Taipei.  The court said its decision was based on Taiwan’s Civil Code which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. A bill to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption was drafted by Taiwan’s cabinet in 2003, but was never put to a vote. Another unsuccessful bill was sent to parliament in 2013.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/taiwan-lesbians-fight-court-adopt-landmark-case140315

Miami:  The Republican-dominated Florida House of Representatives has supported a bill amendment removing a gay adoption ban from law, as part of wider changes to incentivise foster care in the state. Same-sex parents in the state have been allowed to adopt since 2010 after an appeals court ruled Florida’s gay adoption ban to be unconstitutional – but the language of the law has remained the same. A large number of conservative Republicans joined the 68-50 vote approving the legislation on 11 March, saying the important part of the bill was that children should be found homes, regardless of the gender of their parents.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-adoption-ban-overturned-florida130315

 Paris:  The French National Assembly has approved primary articles of  new “End of Life” legislation, which creates “new rights for the ill and for persons at the end of life.” While the law stops short of open legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide, its objective is to give all patients whose death is imminent and whose suffering cannot be alleviated the right to obtain “deep and continuous sedation” until death, coupled with withdrawal of all foods and fluids, explicitly considered as “treatments” and not ordinary care under the law. Patients suffering from a “serious condition” – which can be construed to designate a handicap or an illness – also would have a right to deep and continuous sedation should they choose to forego or stop life-maintaining treatment: an amputation for instance, or artificial ventilation. However, kidney dialysis, chemotherapy, and other treatments without which the patient would die are also included.

 Boston:  Two gay and lesbian groups are due to take part in Sunday’s St Patrick’s Day parade in Boston for the first time. Until now, they have been banned by the organisers, who won support for their stance from the US Supreme Court. But the organisers, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, had a change of heart and told Boston Pride and Outvets, representing gay military veterans, they were welcome. St Patrick’s Day parades celebrate Irish and Irish-American culture. The organisers petitioned the US Supreme Court to uphold their ban on gay and lesbian groups and won in 1995. They had argued that such groups ran counter to Roman Catholic doctrine. The court found that forcing organisers to accept the groups’ participation would violate free speech rights. But the Veterans Council changed its position and its commander, Brian Mahoney, is quoted as saying “who am I to judge?” when asked about the issue of sexual orientation.

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

 Manchester:  Coronation Street star Daniel Brocklebank has spoken about the abuse he has received for his role as gay vicar Billy Mayhew. The openly gay actor made his on-screen debut as a new romantic interest for gay Street character Sean Tully (Anthony Cotton).

Hollywood: Dawsons Creek alumni James Van Der Beek was caught with a gay porn parody of the television series in an airport bag. It was called (sigh) Dawson’s Crack (…)

New Jersey: A religious studies  teacher in New Jersey has been suspended after posting an anti-gay rant on Facebook. Patricia Jannuzzi was placed on administrative leave by the Immaculata High School, who said her message was “completely inconsistent with our policy and position as a Catholic Christian community”.

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

 North America: While politicians in North America continue to debate imaginary  ”dangers” of allowing transgender people to use the public or school restrooms that accord with their genders, trans people themselves have taken to social media to show they have only one “agenda”  in the restroom: urination.  The selfie-protest trend started with Canadian trans woman Brae Carnes, who began February 26 posting a series of Facebook pictures of herself  in front of men’s urinals holding a sign stating, “Plett Put Me Here,” in reference to conservative Senator Donald Plett’s statement that the 2013 proposed addition of gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act “allows for pedophiles to take advantage of legislation we have in place.” Gay Star News reports that the Conservative-led Senate finally approved the trans-inclusive addition last month, but then effectively killed it by introducing an amendment exempting “sex-specific” facilities, including public bathrooms, from protection.

Source: www.advocate.com

 Auckland: The fundamentalist-dominated  ”NZ Christian Network”  is encouraging people to support Family First in its upcoming High Court case with the Charities Commission.
“People may hold widely different views on Family First. Not all leaders in the network would agree with everything they say. But there are deeper, more important issues at stake here.  If, as has been reported, the charities commission position is that traditional family values are ‘controversial’ and of ‘of no public benefit’ and that ‘it is in the public interest to remove the trust . . ‘, then we would ask the Charities Commission [sic]  to publish a clear statement about how they measure what is ‘controversial’ and what constitutes ‘public benefit’.” said network national director Glyn Carpenter.  Family First is New Zealand’s core Christian Right pressure group and a lobbying organisation, not a legitimate charity, according to the Charities Registration Board.

Source: http://www.nzcatholic.org.nz

Kent: A homophobic imam who claimed that homosexuality is a ‘scourge’ has reportedly been banned from speaking at the University of Kent by that university’s Vice Chancellor.   Haitham al-Haddad had been due to speak to students from the Kent Union Islamic Society in Canterbury on March 4, as part of Discover Islam week.  The  imam has also made anti-Semitic comments, claimed men should be allowed to beat their wives, and is a strong supporter of female genital mutilation.

 Sacramento: Equality California has backed Hillary Clinton as the next US President.

Washington DC: An openly lesbian rabbi has been appointed as the head of the US Reform Jewish group. Renowned rabbi Denise L Eger was this week elected to lead the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which is the largest rabbinical organization in the world.

Stockholm: Sweden has selected singer Måns Zelmerlöw to represent the country at Eurovision – despite previous controversial comments about gay sex.

Stockton: Ted Strike, a UKIP prospective parliamentary candidate for the Northern constituency of Stockton, has questioned whether storms that battered the country were caused by same-sex marriage and signs of alleged ‘divine displeasure.’

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

Jakarta:  Indonesia’s Islamic authority has proposed the introduction of the death penalty for gay sex. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) on 3 March issued a fatwa calling for a range of punishments, from caning to the death penalty, for homosexual acts.  Hasanuddin AF, chairman of the MUI’s fatwa commission, said the edict was issued because “sexual deviance”  was on the rise and had even infiltrated schools. ’Sodomy, homosexuals, gays and lesbians in Islamic law are forbidden and [sodomy] is a vile act that is punishable by the death penalty,’ he said. Hasanruddin said sexual perversion would hurt national morale, and called on the government to set up rehabilitation centers to ‘cure’ LGBTI people and eradicate homosexuality in the country.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/indonesias-islamic-authority-calls-death-penalty-gay-sex160315

Detroit:  A Michigan fundamentalist minister has sparked protests after he compared LGBTI people to ax murderers. Clint Echols, pastor of First Baptist Church in Zeeland, framed homosexuality as ‘lifestyle choice’ that could be made at any moment in life.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/michigan-pastor-gays-are-ax-murderers160315

 United States: The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest body of Presbyterians in the country, approved a change in the wording of its constitution to allow gay and lesbian weddings within the church, a move that threatens to continue to split the mainline Protestant denomination.  The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest body of Presbyterians in the country, approved a change in the wording of its constitution to allow gay and lesbian weddings within the church, a move that threatens to continue to split the mainline Protestant denomination. The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ allow same-sex marriage. The debate has roiled the United Methodist Church, another mainline denomination. Property disputes and litigation that have occupied the Episcopal Church in the past decade are now taking place among some Presbyterian churches. However, the measure  does let individual congregations and ministers to opt out of allowing same-sex unions — and this is what some, especially in conservative parts of the country, will do. The Advocate cited   Pastors Steve Ramp of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Clark Remsburg Jr. of First Presbyterian Church in Canton, Mississippi,  Rev. Jim Szeyller, pastor of conservative Carmel Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina- although not all Southern PCUSA churches are antigay.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Indiana: With Indiana on the verge of enacting a “license to discriminate” law, major employers and others in the state are speaking out against it. Scott McCorkle, CEO of tech company Salesforce, wrote a letter this week to the state legislature opposing the proposed law, while the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and several companies headquartered in the state, such as Cummins, Eli Lilly, and Eskenazi Health have also voiced concerns about the legislation. Despite the objections, the bill appears to be on a fast track through the House, the Star reports. House Republicans Thursday rejected Democrats’ attempts to attach amendments that “sought to prevent child care ministries from using the proposal to skirt regulation, prohibit religious objections from discriminating or infringing on civil rights, and require businesses to display signs showing which groups they were religiously opposed to serving,” the paper notes. Supporters of the bill claimed these were unnecessary.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: Rumoured Republican Presidential candidate aspirant Jeb Bush has given a confused answer when asked about legislation that would give religious people a “license to discriminate” against gays.

London: Former Daily Telegraph editor and Thatcher hagiographer (oops-biographer!) Charles Moore has complained that “traditional views” are being drowned out by “a form of gay rights sharia”.

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

 Tokyo: Several  Japanese lawmakers have formed a committee that hopes to implement same-sex marriage before the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) member Hiroshi Hase has explained that the committee are desperate for the country to not capture the world’s attention for the wrong reasons, like the media backlash Russia faced during the Sochi Winter Olympics last year because of its anti-gay law.  So far, 38 lawmakers have joined the pro-equality committee, including 13 from Japan’s ruling party LDP. They intend to study overseas anti-discrimination and same-sex marriage laws, hoping to find a way to implement similar legislation into Japanese law.

Currently, same-sex marriage is illegal in Japan. An opinion poll carried out by Nihon Yoron Chosa-ka in 2014 found that 42.3% of the public support same-sex marriage, while 52.4% are still against it.

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

Washington DC:  A US Republican congressperson has resigned from the US House of Representatives over a scandal involving expenses. Aaron Schock, 33, who will remain in office until the end of the month (March), has been at the centre of a wave of media attention over the past week following reports that he had failed to disclose a number of expenses, which included taking a male companion with him – who Schock claims is his photographer – on an official trip to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. Barney Frank, the first openly gay congressman in US history,  has lambasted homophobic lawmakers who remain in the closet – and said they should be outed.

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

Sydney:  Since 2011 gonorrhoea notifications among gay men in inner city Sydney have increased significantly and are now at a four year high, according to the latest NSW public health surveillance data.  Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection passed from penis to mouth or anus that can be easily treated. Condoms provide the most effective protection against gonorrhoea during anal sex. It’s also important for gay men to understand that the presence of STIs like gonorrhoea can increase the risk of HIV transmission. Many people who have gonorrhoea aren’t aware they have it, particularly if it’s in their throat or anus. If you’re going to get symptoms, most commonly in your penis, you may have a clear or yellow milky discharge and a stinging pain when urinating.

The data, which was provided to the Sexually Transmissible Infections in Gay Men Action (STIGMA) group, relates to gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (MSM) who have attended sexual health clinics in inner city Sydney. It stated that there were 1204 gonorrhoea notifications among this particular group of men in 2010, while in 2013, there were 2268 notifications.

Sources: http://www.samesame.com.au, http://www.starobserver.com.au

Puerto Rico: A Puerto Rican newspaper this week reported the government of the U.S. commonwealth is expected to announce that it will no longer defend the island’s discriminatory marriage equality.  El Nuevo Día reported Gov. Alejandro García Padilla’s administration is “contemplating” a “change of posture” and will “withdraw its support of the Puerto Rican statute that only recognizes marriage as a union between a man and a woman.”   The governor — who is named as a defendant in a lawsuit against the U.S. commonwealth’s gay nuptials ban that two women from San Juan filed last March — has until Friday to submit a formal response to the case with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston which is considering the lawsuit. Update: Puerto Rico has announced it will no longer attempt to legally defend its same-sex marriage ban.

Source: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/03/18/report-puerto-rico-government-to-no-longer-defend-marriage-ban

Washington DC: Lawmakers reintroduced a bill in Congress on Wednesday named after an 18-year-old Rutgers University student who committed suicide in 2010 after his roommate posted a video of his private romantic encounter with another man online. The bill, the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, was introduced in the House by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and in the Senate by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The only out lesbian in the U.S. Senate, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), is an original co-sponsor for the Senate bill. In a statement, Murray said the legislation is necessary because students need the opportunity to further their education “without the fear of harassment and bullying.”

According to the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, LGBT students are twice as likely as their straight peers to face harassment, but colleges and universities aren’t required to have policies protecting students either from harassment on electronic communications as well as harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. The Tyler Clementi Act would require universities to put those policies in place in addition to creating a grant program to support campus anti-harassment programs.

Source: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/03/18/tyler-clementi-anti-bullying-bill-reintroduced-in-congress

London: A fundamentalist Christian UK lawyer for the UK Christian Right’s “Christian Institute”  has implied that if a bakery is prosecuted for refusing to bake a ‘support gay marriage’ cake, Muslims could be “forced” to bake images of the Prophet Mohammed. [Where do they get these bizarre ideas?- Craig]

London: Conservative Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles has apologised for his record on gay rights – branding his previous views “narrow-minded” and “prejudiced”

San Francisco: City Church, part of the Reformed Church of America, will no longer require LGBT members to be celibate.

London: British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledges that more needs to be done to tackle “specific issues of discrimination” against the transgender community.

Washington DC: Washington DC has become the third jurisdiction to ban gay-to-straight conversion therapy in the United States.

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

Canberra: The federal Australian Senate has called for a conscience vote on marriage equality.

Ghana:  Young men who have acted in gay porn films in Ghana are to be hunted down and arrested and possibly tortured, following a call from the country’s media. Most of the students who have performed in the films are now in hiding. StarrFMonline and Breeze FM ‘exposed’ the ‘festering underground gay porn movie industry’. In their reports, the Ghanaian news sources directly blamed ‘foreign producers preying on jobless men’ at the University of Ghana. The Bureau of National Investigations, the internal intelligence agency, are trying to find the young men. They have the jurisdiction to arrest, detain without trial indefinitely and ‘interrogate’ any of their targets.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/ghana-gay-porn-stars-be-hunted-down-and-punished170315

 Burnley:  An unemployed gay man has claimed he was discriminated against by staff at a job centre after he wore a ‘Nobody Knows I’m Gay’ T-shirt. Shaun Clark, 28, claims staff were unhappy by the slogan and told him he should not wear it at the JobCentre Plus in Burnley, Lancashire.  He has been on Job Seekers Allowance for the past four years. A Department for Work and Pensions said staff advise job-seekers on the best possible ways to find work.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/unemployed-gay-man-shamed-job-centre-wearing-gay-top170315

Lima:  A Peru congressman has said he was inspired by Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf to block civil unions for same-sex couples. Ruben Condori Cusi, a congressman for the right-wing Nationalist Party, made the comments to Arroba Radio saying that Hitler “wasn’t wrong about everything.”

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/peru-congressman-says-hitler-wasnt-wrong-about-everything-blocking-civil-unions170315

 Kampala:  A prominent Muslim cleric has blamed the prolonged drought in Uganda on moral decay, such as homosexuality. Speaking on 16 March at Kibuli Mosque in the Kadhi district of Kampala, Sheikh Siliman Kasule Ndirangwa told the faithful they must repent for their sins if the country was to see rain.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uganda-prominent-muslim-cleric-blames-drought-gays170315

Los Angeles: A gay speaker at the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles annual conference for religious educators on the weekend denounced the Catholic hierarchy’s antigay teaching on homosexuality, saying the Catechism’s language on the issue is “abusive” and “gravely evil.” Speaking at a conference of 800 catechists from across the United States and Canada, Arthur Fitzmaurice,  resource director for the Oakland-based Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry and a former co-chair of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons, criticized what he called the Church’s “poor and dangerous theology” on homosexuality and its practice of firing lesbian or gay employees when they came out to their employers.

Canberra: Australian Liberal MPs could decide the party’s position on same-sex marriage as early as 24 March, with internal pressure mounting on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to enable a free vote on the matter.  But Mr Abbott has downplayed the idea he will initiate a party room discussion, noting that private senators’ business, such as David Leyonhjelm’s same-sex marriage bill, is “not normally” put on the joint party room agenda.  Some Liberal MPs have been quietly agitating for the free vote question to be resolved, anxious to see progress on an issue that has languished in the Parliament under the Coalition government.  The matter was brought to a head on Thursday, when Senator Leyonhjelm announced he would kickstart the parliamentary debate on his “freedom to marry” bill with a second reading speech on 26 March.

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

 London:  David Cameron has admitted that he is “depressed” about the idea that teenagers from the UK would want to join ISIS. The Prime Minister made the remarks in an interview with Buzzfeed this week, following the release of three British teenage girls on March 16, who were arrested after they allegedly left the country in a failed attempt to join ISIS, given that it reportedly throws gay men off buildings.

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

Brisbane: Queensland gay men will soon have the chance to participate in a state-wide PrEP trial starting in June. The details were provided at a community forum held this week, which also tackled questions and issues surrounding the latest HIV prevention measures available.

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

Dallas:  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wants his state and others to be able to deny federally guaranteed family and medical leave benefits to married same-sex couples. Paxton filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday challenging the Obama administration on a new rule making time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act available to all legally married same-sex couples, even if the state where they live doesn’t recognize their marriage. The legislation guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for an employee who has a serious illness or needs to care for a spouse, child, or parent (26 weeks if the family member is in the military and has a serious illness or injury). Both public and private employers have to provide the leave, with the exception of those that have fewer than fifty employees.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

West Virginia:  Three antigay “religious liberty”  bills have died in the West Virginia legislature with the end of the session. Lawmakers closed their 2015 legislative session Saturday at midnight without passing two bills that would have permitted businesses to discriminate against customers under the guise of religious freedom and one that would have prohibited cities and counties from enacting or enforcing LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination laws.

Alabama:  As the battle over marriage equality continues in Alabama, the state has submitted a friend of the court brief in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case making the tired and unfounded argument that same-sex marriage harms children. The brief, submitted Tuesday by lawyers for Gov. Robert Bentley, “said marriage is a natural reality and that same-sex marriage destroys the ‘rights of children to be connected to their biological parents,’

Washington DC: In a first-of-its-kind decision, a federal court ruled Monday that the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) prohibits disrimination against a patient based on their gender identity, reported the US National Center for Transgender Equality.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Moscow: Maxim Martsinkevich, the leader of the anti-LGBTI group Occupy Pedophilia, could now face a longer time in jail for torturing gay teenage captives.

Carribean:  A prominent gay rights activist Wednesday (18 March) challenged laws barring LGBTI people from entering Belize and Trinidad and Tabago at the region’s top court. Maurice Tomlinson argued that obscure immigration rules barring entry to LGBTI people violated his freedom of movement rights, enshrined in a key Caribbean Community treaty. The Jamaican testified before the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice via video link so as not to break the country’s immigration laws.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/landmark-case-challenges-anti-gay-laws-belize-and-trinidad-and-tobago190315

 London: Britain’s right-wing antigay United Kingdom Independence Party is in turmoil, forced to sack two unsuitable election candidates, while a Scottish candidate quit.  MEP and general election candidate Janice Atkinson was suspended over allegations that a member of her staff tried to overcharge EU expenses Stephen Howd was suspended after harassment allegations were made against him, which he denies.  Jonathan Stanley quit claiming there was “open racism and sanctimonious bullying” within the party. UKIP’s political rivals were quick to seize on the party’s latest woes. Meanwhile, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has claimed he has been “utterly ruthless” at weeding out unsuitable parliamentary candidates. [No. really he has... Craig]

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

 London: According to Attitude magazine, one in three UK Christians is (…) ‘closeted’ (…) about their support for marriage equality. The UK-based research, carried out by the Oasis Trust, found that almost 50% of Christians – from the 11 main denominations in the UK – believe that same-sex marriage should be supported and embraced by their faith.   Despite this, 37% admitted that they are “nervous” of sharing their pro-gay marriage views with other members of the church for fear of being looking down upon.

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

United States: After being brainwashed by her new fundamentalist peer group when she experienced a religious conversion, a woman raised by lesbian parents now says she opposes marriage equality.  Heather Barwick, a 31-year-old mother of four, was raised by two women after her mother chose to leave her husband when Barwick was just a toddler, so she could be with the woman she loved. Barwick went on to reveal that it was only when she found Christ that she was able to heal her “father wound”, adding that the lack of father figure in her life made it difficult for her to understand how to be with her husband.

[Well, my partner and I have a daughter, Nat, from his previous marriage. She got really angry when she read about Heather and this is her reply:

 I am also a straight woman brought by a same-sex couple. Heather is talking utter rot. In my case, there were lots of female role models- my biological mum, and aunts and nannas on the side of my biological mum, biological dad and co-dads families. I have never had any conflict about being straight or relating to men. Heather, you were brainwashed by your fundamentalist conversion and you're trying to score points by your pandering to your new peer group by betraying the two women who loved and raised you. That stinks. Nat.

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

 Canberra:  Senator David Leyonhjelm has announced today he’ll forward his Freedom to Marry Bill for debate in the federal Australian  Senate next week. But Labor MP Tanya Plibersek says she’s had her own marriage equality bill ready for quite some time – but will only introduce it when Prime Minister Tony Abbott grants his Coalition MPs an individual conscience vote on the issue, to avoid another crushing defeat. Leyonhjelm himself admits his bill is unlikely to succeed. “I’m not the expert on this but I don’t think the numbers are there if it came to a vote, at the moment, that it would pass,” he told a press conference.   But the bill would force the government to consider same-sex marriage anew, and perhaps decide on the all-important conscience vote.

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

Sydney: Some of the most gay-centric electorates in Australia go to the polls in the NSW State Election at the end of March. But the Star Observer has been given access to research that suggests the way lesbians vote differs greatly from gay men — and that could have an effect on the result.

The NSW State Election is imminent and politicians are doing their utmost to win the LGBTI vote in Sydney’s inner city electorates. Five of the country’s top 10 most populous suburbs for gay male couples according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data — places such as Potts Point and Darlinghurst — are wholly or partially within the electorate of Sydney. Meanwhile, seven of Australia’s top 10 lesbian suburbs have at least part of their borders within Newtown, an electorate ABC election analyst Antony Green tells the Star Observer is “the state’s newest, smartest and funkiest electorate”. Created by the split of the former Labor-held seat of Marrickville into two, Newtown is the top Greens target in NSW.

Luke Mansillo, a political science PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, has used electoral and census data to have a stab at just what the gay effect might be. A key finding is that under preferential voting, lesbians vote differently to gay men and this could have an effect in Newtown. While the Liberal’s Rachael Wheldall is contesting the seat, analysts put Newtown as a neck-and-neck battle between the Greens and Labor.

Looking at the past two federal elections, Mansillo found the voting habits of gay men were broadly in line with the electorate average, except they were slightly less inclined to vote Green. Not so for lesbians who were much less likely to vote for the Coalition and had a strong bias towards Labor followed by the Greens. Meanwhile, marriage equality is more of a driver for lesbians than gay  men. This may be because lesbians settle down and get hitched twenty years or so younger than gay men do.

Canberra:  LGBTI Australians have celebrated and mourned former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser today, who died early this morning after a short illness. Fraser was Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party from 1975 until 1983, coming to power following the dismissal of Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. While he was the object of significant resentment from the progressive side of politics during his time in office, in large part due to his role in the Whitlam dismissal, in his later years Fraser became estranged from the Liberal Party. He left the party in 2010, after  increasing public criticism of its policies, particularly around foreign affairs and asylum seekers. Fraser was a supporter of marriage equality, and argued the Liberal Party’s failure to grant its MPs a conscience vote on the issue was evidence that the ideology of the party had shifted from classical liberalism to religious social conservatism.

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

United States: Legislation that would ban the use of “reparative” therapy against vulnerable LGBT minors has advanced in Oregon, Iowa, and Colorado.  Oregon’s House of Representatives Tuesday passed a bill that would prohibit state-licensed mental health care professionals from subjecting people under age 18 to counseling aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Iowa Senate approved a similar bill by a narrow margin of 26-24, with all Democrats in favor, all Republicans against. Last week, Colorado’s House passed an anti–conversion therapy measure, with just one Republican joining Democrats in supporting it. Of the three bills, Oregons proposed legislation has the best chance for success as the Iowa and Colorado legislation has to pass hostile Republican majorities in other state legislature houses. California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., have all enacted laws barring licensed professionals from subjecting minors to 'reparative'  therapy, which has been deemed ineffective and harmful by all of the major US mental health organizations.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

San Francisco: San Francisco continues to be a gay mecca, counting 6.2 percent of its population as LGBT — the highest rate of any urban area in the United States, according to new numbers from Gallup. The other fifteen American metro areas with the highest rates of LGBTs are spread across the nation, including the Midwest (Columbus, Ohio with 4.3 percent) and the South (Jacksonville, Fla., also with 4.3 percent). But the West, especially the coast, continues to be a hub of gay life. The second highest LGBT rate is found in hip Portland, Oregon, with 5.4 percent. Seattle is fifth with 4.8 percent, and Los Angeles comes in 10th, with 4.6 percent (tying it with Denver and Hartford, Connecticut.)  Austin, the liberal, tech-influenced capital of Texas, was third with 5.3 percent. Resurgent New Orleans was fourth with 5.1 percent. Meanwhile, Mormon-dominated Salt Lake City had a higher rate of LGBTs than even Los Angeles, with 4.7 percent. Surprisingly, New York City, Chicago, and Miami did not rank in the top fifteen.

Unsurprisingly, the South and Midwest did dominate the lowest slots among the fifty  most populous U.S. metropolitan areas. Birmingham, Alabama., was at the bottom with 2.6 percent, with Pittsburgh (3 percent), Memphis, Tenn., (3.1 percent), Raleigh, N.C. (3.2 percent), and Cincinnati (3.2 percent) rounding close behind.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Miami: Legislation that would allow adoption agencies contracting with the state to refuse to place children with same-sex couples or LGBT people has moved forward in Michigan and Florida.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Rome: Pope Francis has formally accepted the resignation of former British Cardinal Keith O'Brien, after allegations he had engaged in 'inappropriate sexual conduct' with junior priests.

Dublin: The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmaird Martin,  has slammed some opponents of marriage equality, for "permitting"  anti-gay rhetoric  that is 'obnoxious, insulting and unchristian.'  Martin made the comments in a speech to the Iona Institue, which opposes LGBT rights, ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s referendum on May 22.  While opposing marriage equality himself, Martin slammed other opponents:

"[...]  I have received in recent time correspondence from people who support a ‘no’ vote in the referendum in which the language used is not just intemperate but obnoxious, insulting and, unchristian in regard to gay and lesbian people. If people use such language to support a position they feel is Christian, then all I can say is that they have forgotten something essential about the Christian message.”

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

 Kampala:  Uganda has wasted over 600 million shillings on PR trying to deal with the backlash over the anti-gay law. In an attempt to clear the country’s image after legalizing the Anti-Homosexuality Act, they spent 614 million Ugandan shillings ($208,000, €195,000). Aston Kajara, the State Minister for Finance in charge of privatization, said Uganda needed some good publicity in the US congressional caucus after the president’s visit.  Edwin Sesange, director of the African gay rights organization Out and Proud Diamond group, said:

‘The question is, how much and how long are they willing to spend money that can be used to build schools, hospitals or roads something that can be solved without spending any taxpayers’ money.”

Ugandan President Museveni has since  faced members of parliament who were angry that the country had spent 600,000 Ugandan shillings ($205,000) on a public relations campaign aimed at cleaning up damage done to Uganda’s image by the country’s now-defunct Anti-Homosexuality Act, according to several media reports.  Apparently,  it is doubtful the president would sign a new bill. An NTV Uganda video  features  a Ugandan government official describing how Museveni purportedly had to change hotels during last year’s U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington D.C. because the AHA had tarnished Uganda’s image in America to the extent that the unnamed hotel originally booked didn’t want him as a guest.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uganda-spent-600-million-pr-deal-anti-gay-law-backlash200315

 Manila:  The Philippines church has stated its support for a gay-inclusive antidiscrimination bill, as long as it does not infringe on its ‘exclusive right’ to choose priests – ‘even on the basis of sexual orientation.’ Earlier this month, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) clarified its stance on LGBTI issues as Congress is set to approve the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Bill.

Source http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/philippines-church-backs-anti-gay-discrimination-bill200315

 Boston:  The organisers of Boston’s St Patrick’s Day parade have warned that they will take legal action against gay pride marchers who carried multicoloured umbrellas during the annual event. The commander of the South Boston veterans group Brian Mahoney has hit out at Boston Pride for carrying the rainbow coloured Pride umbrellas to make a political statement, allegedly violating terms they had agreed to.  Mahoney said that “a million details” had been dealt with by organisers who had “innocently believed” the group to be an “off-shoot of ‘Boston Strong’”, which was set up following the 2013 marathon attacks.Congressman Stephen Lynch described the commander’s article as “unfortunate”, adding that he had been “happy” to have the OUTVETs group march alongside himself and others for the first time.

New York:  Russia has called on the United Nations to vote to stop providing benefits to couples in same-sex marriages. The move comes after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon previously said the organisation would recognise all staff’s same-sex marriages and allow them to receive benefits.    However, Russia now wants the General Assembly Fifth Committee, who handle the budget, to vote on the issue, which will take place on Tuesday (March 24). The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s Director of Programs Jessica Stern previously warned that Russia was “looking for any excuse to curtain” Ban Ki-moon’s authority.   Reuters reports that an anonymous diplomat has warned that it is unclear how much support Russia will receive from other members. Ban Ki-moon previously criticised Russia for its antigay legislation.

Knoxville, Ten:  A Tennessee fundamentalist  church has been criticised for attempting to compare the LGBT community to Satan. The Knoxville Baptist Tabernacle Church displayed a sign reading: “Remember Satan was the first to demand equal rights”.

However, the explanation was questioned, with one Knoxville resident asking: “And when you say you’re asking for your equal rights, who’s asking for their equal rights and who are you comparing to Satan? That was very strong language.”

Another concluded: “It’s clearly a sign that was meant to offend a particular community – the LGBT community. Because of (the church’s) lack of foresight, they ended up offending everybody who had ever fought for equality or civil rights in general.”

Edinburgh:  The Church of Scotland’s proposal to allow gay ministers is facing further opposition. The proposed legislation could be approved at the next General Assembly meeting in May.

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

Missouri: A Republican legislator in the state of Missouri is attempting to put an outright ban on toilets that aren’t male or female. [Like disabled peoples ablutions?! Talk sense, man!- Craig]

London: The Church of England’s first female Bishop, Right Reverend Libby Lane, has refused to say whether she would be willing to marry same-sex couples.

London: The Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Stowell of Beeston, has said it will be impossible to forget the “wrong” done by the British Conservatives through policies such as Section 28 during the Thatcher era.

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

Moscow:  Russian LGBT youth support group Children-404 is facing the danger of being shut down for breaching the country’s ‘anti-gay propaganda’ laws. Demands from the country’s media authority Roskomnadzor and the Kremlin-loyal youth organization Young Guard forced the General Prosecutor’s office into action, according to Russian newspaper Vedomosti and German news website queer.de.

A court will have to decide whether the group’s online presence, giving LGBTI teens and children a community to talk about their experiences, violates they country’s law; the court date is set for 6 April. Roskomnadzor announced it had received more than 150 complaints from citizens; the authority’s investigation showed a ‘potential breach of the law’ by ‘advertising non-traditional sexual relationships among minors’. If the court’s decision matches the General Prosecutor’s claim and Children-404 is banned on 6 April the media authority also intends to ‘meet community needs’ by publishing a single list of banned information.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/authorities-try-shut-down-russias-only-support-group-lgbti-youths-because-gay-propaganda210315

San Francisco:  A new study of gay and bisexual men in the United States has found that they get skin cancer at twice the rate of heterosexual men but lesbians and bisexual women do not have the same problem. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) looked at data from government health surveys conducted in California between 2001 and 2009 which found elevated rates of skin cancers among gay and bisexual men but not lesbians or bisexual women.  Gay and bisexual men were much more likely to engage in indoor tanning than straight men were but gay and bisexual women were no more likely than straight women to tan indoors.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/new-study-finds-gay-men-have-double-risk-skin-cancer200315

 Paris: In late March 2015,  France went to the polls for its departmental elections, where voters will decide the makeup of more than 2,000 local councils. The day is being talked of as an important milestone for Marine Le Pen, leader of the increasingly popular neofascist Front National, as she prepares to bid for the presidency in two years’ time. “This is the big straight line to 2017,” she said in a speech early this month in Paris. “There is no minor election, no minor vote.”  The  Front National are seen as a right-wing eurosceptic party with a chance of wielding real power—more so than Britain’s Ukip or Greece’s Golden Dawn.  According to novelist Lucy Wadham, the answer is yes- “ The Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has been taking a calculatingly alarmist tone over the rise of Marine Le Pen, particularly in the run-up to these elections, summed up the situation fairly accurately on French national radio last week” -referring to its alarming opinion poll rise.  Valls may harbour ambitions related to succeeding Francois Hollande as French President. No, says Catherine Fieschi (Counterpoint)-  she’ll probably end up consolidating her party’s existing local gains, but that’s all. Update: Perhaps not even that, as exit polls show that the UMP centre-right opposition has pushed the Front National into second place.

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

 Kuala Lumpur: Opposition groups are criticising Malaysia’s governing UMNO for assisting the opposition Islamic Party to pass hudud (Islamic criminal law) provisions which sentence adulterers to death by stoning and thieves with amputation.

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

 Tulsa: Bob Jones III, the former president of the evangelical Bob Jones University, has finally apologised for calling for homosexuals to be stoned to death. In 1980.

Washington DC: Anti-gay Republican Ted Cruz has formally launched his Presidential campaign …at fundamentalist Liberty “University”, founded  by Jerry Falwell, the late US televangelist. He grandstanded against abortion rights, for radical so-called “religious liberty” to oppress non-fundamentalists, and against Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Ugh!!!

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

West Bengal: This Indian state has set up the first development agency for hijras.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Melbourne:  A major shift towards same-sex marriage is under way within the Liberal Party, with marriage equality advocates saying 11 Liberal MPs have privately switched to supporting a change since January. Liberal MPs could discuss whether they should be granted a free vote on the issue as early as Tuesday, with Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm due to begin the parliamentary debate on his “freedom to marry” bill on Thursday.  So far, only a small group of Liberal MPs, including frontbenchers Malcolm Turnbull, Simon Birmingham and Kelly O’Dwyer, have come out publicly in favour of marriage equality.

Supporters of marriage equality within Parliament are optimistic that if Liberal MPs were allowed a free vote, Senator Leyonhjelm’s bill would pass the Senate with a slim majority. There is less hope that  marriage equality would pass the Lower House. Mr Croome described the numbers in the House as “unpredictable”.  Liberal MPs and senators have been inundated with emails arguing for and against marriage equality ahead of Tuesday’s Liberal Party meeting.

Mr Croome said more than 1 million emails had been sent by more than 7600 Australians through the Australian Marriage Equality website.  He said that to “alleviate the burden on MPs’ offices” the emails have been packaged up into files to send the messages to MPs all at once.  On the other side of the debate, the fundamentalist Australian Christian Lobby has also been encouraging Australians to email MPs.

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

Canberra:  There has been swift action after Australian rugby player – and outspoken LGBT straight ally – David Pocock accused a rival player of making homophobic remarks during a game in Sydney over the weekend. In the final 15 minutes of the game, vice captain Pocock (pictured, right) – a strong supporter of marriage equality in Australia – approached referee Craig Joubert twice to highlight slurs he said came from New South Wales Waratahs back rower Jacques Potgieter. [Damn it! Why does this bloke have to play for the AB's mortal enemies? Perhaps we could convince him to defect across the Tasman! -Craig] 

After promising to look into the incident, the Australian Rugby Union announced they were fining Potgieter $20,000 (with $10,000 suspended), saying that the player had “admitted making comments contrary to the Australian Rugby Union’s Inclusion Policy”. He will also be required to undergo additional education and awareness training.

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

United States: Celebrated widely in February as one of the U.S.’s first out trans news correspondents, Zoey Tur is once again a hot topic among trans rights supporters — but the tone has become decidedly less triumphant. This month, the Los Angeles-based reporter has received increasing criticism over conservative remarks she’s made on national television about hormone therapy, trans youth in sports, and trans women in locker rooms, among other topics. This week, Inside Edition confirmed to The Advocate that the show has ended its relationship with Tur, but claimed the decision was not influenced by an increasing transgender outcry against  Tur’s public comments.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Belfast:  First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson has criticised the Equality Commission, for spending funds taking a bakery to court over anti-gay discrimination.

Dublin: Meanwhile, happily, south of the border, the founder of an anti-gay conservative Catholic pressure group has admitted that same-sex marriage is likely to pass an upcoming referendum in Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is set to vote on May 22 on a proposal to introduce civil marriage equality.  David Quinn of the Catholic Iona Institute – which  opposes gay rights in Ireland – conceded that the campaign against equality was “behind.” He continued to question how Amnesty Ireland can support equality as a charity. [It's very easy- Ireland is no longer a virtual theocracy and wants to be like the rest of Western Europe, and Amnesty's mission is to support human rights- Craig] As noted beforehand, Amnesty International has launched a campaign to help pass marriage equality in Ireland’s upcoming referendum. Two months before the country goes to the polls, human rights charity Amnesty International has launched their “Vote Yes” campaign in Dublin – to ensure that voters in favour of equality turn out to vote. Former Fianna Fáil minister Pat Carey spoke at the event to call for older people to support equality. Amnesty International has officially supported equal marriage since 2007.

Newcastle: Nine people were arrested during neofascist  demonstrations in Newcastle, during which rainbow flags were burnt and racist speeches were made.  The ‘White Man March’ was held in late March 2015 at the Quayside in Newcastle.The event was organised by National Action, which has an openly racist agenda. As well as chanting “Hitler was right”, demonstrators burnt the rainbow flag during the event which lasted around two hours.  Around a hundred demonstrators turned up, with around the same number turning up for a counter demonstration by Newcastle Unite, an anti-fascist group, nearby.

Taunton:  A fundamentalist Christian preacher has been convicted of delivering homophobic sermons in the middle of the high street, and ordered to pay a fine. Michael Overd, from Creech St Michael, has been convicted of delivering homophobic sermons on Taunton high street in Somerset following remarks he made last summer. He was cleared of a second similar charge as well as another for causing “racially-aggravated” harassment targeting Muslims. Overd was fined £200 and ordered to pay compensation and costs totalling £1,200 at Bristol Crown Court.

United States:   Famous children’s book ‘Heather Has Two Mummies’ – which is routinely used to teach children about diversity – has been updated to reflect same-sex marriage. The book, which features a girl named Heather who has two lesbian mothers, was thought to be “the first lesbian-themed children’s book ever published” when it was released by Lesléa Newman in 1989. Due to its subject nature and content, the book is also one of the most commonly challenged and banned books in the US – ranking 11th on American Library Association’s censorship rankings for the 1990s. However, more than 25 years later, the book has received an update – to reflect that Heather’s parents can now get married.

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

 New York: BBC News reports that the United Nations has voted to extend staff benefits to same-sex couples working for the UN, defeating Russian-led opposition to the measure. The UN Budget Committee recognised gay spouses, regardless of whether or not gay marriage is legal in their country of origin. Previously, the UN followed national legislation on the issue. The vote went 80-43 against Russia’s resolution, which had backing from China, India and Muslim countries. EU member states and the US lobbied hard against the resolution and for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s plan to include gay couples in the staff benefits scheme.

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

Canberra: The Star Observer reports that the subject of a marriage equality  conscience vote not brought up at all as the government met in the party room today, despite a pre-election statement from Prime Minister Tony Abbott that it would be decided there should a marriage equality bill be presented in Australia’s federal parliament. Australian Marriage Equality and other advocates have called on the Government to set a timetable for allowing a free vote on marriage equality. The call comes in the wake of March 24′s government party room where the issue was not raised despite a cross bench bill being brought on for debate later this week.

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

London: The Cameron administration  has awarded funding of up to £2 million to “innovative” new projects to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

London: A report has been submitted by international law firm Clifford Chance to the HM Passport Office, which favours introducing gender ‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom, questioning their current absence.

London: An escaped killer previously convicted of murdering one gay man and the manslaughter of another – who then killed again – should never have been allowed to leave an open prison, the Chief Inspector of Prisons says.

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

Swaziland: In an horrific hate crime, a lesbian has been slaughtered by an axe murderer in Swaziland. Mother and girlfriend are mourning the loss of their loved one.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Ottawa: Bill Whatcott, a Canadian Christian Right activist who was fired from his job as a nurse over his anti-abortion activism and was sued after he claimed that homosexual activists were “pedophiles” trying to” recruit” children via the public school system has left the country – saying there is no longer room for people like him in Canada. Unfortunately for the Philippines, he’s chosen to inflict himself on that beautiful, undeserving country instead, as he has now relocated there. He estimates he’s handed out half a million antigay pamphlets.

Whatcott claimed in his flyers that programs aimed at creating tolerance for LGBTI people in the public school system were intended to recruit children into homosexuality – though he denies ever claiming that all gays and lesbians are pedophiles. In one of his pamphlets he claimed that children would be taught ‘how wonderful it is for two men to sodomize each other,’ saying that teachers in Ontario seemed ‘more interested in the sexual politics of a perverted type’ rather than preparing children for their adult lives. Whatcott says he and his wife only took a little money with them to the Philippines and they are not sure how they will get by – although he is thinking of becoming a mechanic.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/canadian-anti-gay-activist-claims-he%E2%80%99s-been-forced-leave-country-over-his-activism240315

 Melbourne:  The head of the Australian Catholic Right’s Melbourne-based pressure group campaigning against same-sex marriage in Australia has attended and blessed his lesbian daughter’s wedding to another woman in New Zealand. Peter Westmore is the successor to the late consevative Catholic firebrand B. A. Santamaria as president of the National Civic Council (NCC), a religious social conservative group that for decades has sought to  shape public opinion and policy on key social and political issues, including against marriage equality and same-sex parenting, within Australia.  The NCC is one of the religious groups opposed to Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm’s “freedom to marry” bill, scheduled for debate in Federal Parliament on Thursday. It is encouraging supporters to use their email accounts to lobby MPs against the bill.  Westmore has railed against Australian and international moves toward marriage equality. In 2013 he questioned marriage equality legislation in New Zealand. Yet on Tuesday he confirmed that in November he attended his daughter Trish’s marriage to partner Christy in New Zealand, where same sex marriage was made legal in 2013. He said his daughter’s wedding had his blessing. Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome said the revelation of Mr Westmore’s support for his daughter’s wedding was a reminder that marriage equality affected Australian families across the political spectrum. 

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

 Vancouver:  The British Columbian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled Vancouver Police must find better ways to deal with transgender people after officers called a trans woman by male pronouns and failed to provide post-surgery care in jail. A decision released Tuesday ordered the Vancouver Police Board to pay Angela Dawson $15,000 for injuries to her dignity, feelings and self-respect. Tribunal member Catherine McCreary also said the force committed “systemic discrimination” over how it identified transgender people and must now adopt new policies within a year. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who is chair of the police board, said in a statement that he will be reviewing the decision with the department.

While McCreary dismissed several of her complaints, she found that police engaged in discrimination twice in 2010. In March 2010, Dawson spent a night in jail shortly after she had completed her sex reassignment surgery. Even though she told jail nurses she needed to do certain post-surgery procedures, she was not given the appropriate equipment or taken to hospital, wrote McCreary. The decision says Dawson was “very concerned” about undertaking these procedures, called dilations. The risks of not doing them include infections or irreversible damage to the vaginal canal.

Source: http://www.globeandmail.com

 Kentucky: Happily, the Advocate reports that a proposed transphobic  Kentucky law that trans advocates say would have enabled malicious cissexist students to become “bathroom bullies” against their transgender classmates failed on the last working day of the State Senate’s current session. Senate Bill 76 would have restricted trans students’ access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and other gender-segreated facilities on school campuses.

Once SB 76 moved to the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, however, it was unable to advance in its original form, reports the Fairness Coalition. The House refused to hear to the the bill, which would have required all students to use the bathroom that accorded with their “biological sex” — a “physical condition of being male or female” that the bill stated was determined by a student’s chromosomes and anatomy at birth. The legislation also suggested that trans students may use a single-stall, unisex bathroom, and that cisgender (nontrans) students sharing a bathroom with a trans student would experience ”psychological, emotional, and physical harm” that opened schools to legal action. On Tuesday, in what the Fairness Coalition called a “last-ditch effort,” transphobic Republican Senator C.S. Embry (the bill’s Senate sponsor) added the proposed legislation as an amendment, along with a second piece of failed legislation titled the “Student Religious Speech Bill.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Maharashtra, India:  Maharashtra’s health minister has come under fire for saying LGBTI people need ‘psychological treatment.’ Deepak Sawant made the comment Monday (23 March) in response to an opposition lawmaker’s question about the state government’s plan to curb HIV transmission in the LGBTI community.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/india-maharashtra-health-minister-says-gays-need-psychological-treatment250315

Washington DC: Leader of perhaps the most extreme and outspoken anti-gay lobby group in the United States, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has implied that the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the country by the Supreme Court would provoke “acts of violence” by [fundamentalist]  American “Christians.”

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/us-family-research-council-president-warns-christian-uprising-if-gay-marriage-comes-all-50-s

 Sacramento:  Men who watch more porn have better sex lives, according to a new study. A team of researchers at the University of California asked 280 men in their 20s – nearly half of whom were in long-term relationships – how often they spend watching porn over the course of a week, before making them fill out a questionnaire about their sexual desires and activity.  Despite the common misunderstanding that men who watch porn become desensitised to sex, the research found that men who watch more than two hours of porn per week had the highest levels of arousal among all respondents. Further more, men who regularly use pornographic material were less likely to have experienced erectile dysfunction.

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

Indianapolis: Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence has signed Indiana’s controversial “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”, which upholds service provider “rights-to-discriminate” against LGBT people at a private ceremony. Gen Con, a major gaming convention held in Indiana,  threatened to move its event out the state if  that “Religious freedom” bill passed. Nor are they the only ones. A progay corporate backlash against the signing of the bill has already swung into action, with several American businesses today announcing they are re-evaluating their business ties to Indiana in the wake of the decision. CEO of computer company Salesforce, Marc Benioff took the most decisive action, taking to twitter to announce that his company is “cancelling all programs” that require travel to Indiana, and calling on other CEOs to take similar steps. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) also  posted a statement on their website, saying they are “deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events. We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees. We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill. Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.” San Francisco’s mayor has banned council employees from flying there. Ellen de Generes, Tim Cook, Ashton Kutcher, Hillary Clinton and Miley Cyrus are amongst the latest national figures to condemn Indiana’s backwardness.  The business review groups Yelp and Angie’s List have withdrawn support for operations as well.

Thousands of people have also protested against the Indiana Governor’s decision to allow the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to come into effect in the state. Thousands marched in the state capital of Indianapolis yesterday, while several hundred joined a rally outside the Indiana Statehouse. Pence is now trying to dilute this criticism and  has also confirmed that he will support clarification that the act will not promote discrimination against the LGBT community. Similar clarifications are in effect in some of the 20 states which have enforced versions of the RFRA.  However, Mike Pence dodged as many direct questions as he could, but there were two predominant impressions left from an interview with him on ABC’s This Week.  First, nothing is going to change. Second, Pence refused to give a simple yes or no on whether the law, as written, protects business owners who want to discriminate against same-sex couples and LGBT people broadly. Some commentators, such as the Advocate’s Lucas Grindley, have argued that everything else Pence did in the interview was an effort to cast himself and the people of Indiana as the real “victims” of “discrimination.” The Human Rights Campaign and Freedom Indiana quickly issued a statement calling out Pence for saying he wouldn’t amend the state’s non-discrimination language, arguing that the RFRA will be discriminatory without it, unless Indiana implements LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination laws. Indiana’s Democrats have stated that they support RFRA’s repeal. Now, the Pence administration is being forced to backtrack, introducing an amendment that nullifies RFRA’s discriminatory effect. What. A. Mess!

Indiana Governor Mike Pence didn’t waste any time last week in signing SB 101 into law in a private ceremony.

While Pence is insisting his support of the so-called ‘religious freedom’ bill is not about discriminating against gays and lesbians, he was flanked by a pack of local Christian Right anti-gay activists when he placed his signature on it. They include  Micah Clark who believes homosexuality is a treatable disorder. He publicly raged against a lesbian high school student who wanted to wear a tuxedo to her prom; Curt Smith,  who equates homosexuality with bestiality and adultery. He helped to write the bill that Pence signed. Eric Miller distributed a flier that falsely claimed pastors could be jailed for preaching against homosexuality after same-sex marriage became legal in the state. SB101 allows anyone – including private businesses and organizations – to discriminate against LGBTI people and others due to religious beliefs. [If it oinks, has a curly tail and tastes like bacon, then it's probably a pig, I suspect-Craig]

Indiana’s universities have also come out in opposition. The the presidents of Butler University, DePauw University, and Indiana University issued letters, on 29 March, requesting state leaders to reconsider the law and its impact. Pence is whineing about the boycott, labelling opponents of Indiana’s service provider discrimination law as ‘intolerant.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/three-indiana-colleges-ask-state-leaders-reconsider-religious-freedom-law300315

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/indiana-governor-was-surrounded-anti-gay-activists-when-he-signed-religious-freedom-bill3003

 

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

Atlanta: On his 700 Club, US televangelist Pat Robertson has whined that ‘only prayer can halt’ marriage equality within the United States.

Sacramento:  California’s State Democratic Party Attorney General Kamala Harris is asking a state court for permission not to circulate a proposed ballot measure that calls for the killing of gay people. The state allows citizens to file a ballot initiative on almost any subject, and the attorney general is required to create a summary and title, and OK each measure for signature-gathering after a 30-day public comment period, no matter the content. But Harris says the proposed Sodomite Suppression Act “not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” according to a statement issued by her office today.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Cameroon: Cameroonian lawyer Alice Nkom says her country will never get on top of its HIV epidemic if it continues to prevent gay citizens from accessing healthcare through repressive laws.

Belfast: A case surrounding a discriminatory fundamentalist bakery which refused to bake a pro-same-sex marriage cake has gone to court in Northern Ireland.

United States: Transgender women’s tennis player Renee Richards reflects on how she feels now about her ground breaking battle to play professional women’s tennis.

London: According to the British Social Attitudes survey, forty eight percent of far right United Kingdom Independence Party supporters also endorse marriage equality, with only thirty-one percent opposed.

London: British Prime Minister David Cameron has apologised over a report which revealed that hundreds of people were given blood infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

Missouri: Four Presbyterian churches have received arson threats over their support of marriage equality.

Washington DC : Anti-gay “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality” campaigner Peter LaBarbera has compared the work of LGBT activists to recruiting children like Hitler.

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

Canberra: A planned debate on a bill that would have legalized gay marriage in Australia did not take place after the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Tony Abbott yet again failed to give its MPs a free vote on the issue. Given that it didn’t discuss it, the fundamentalist antigay Australian Christian Lobby is claiming “victory.”

Bangkok: Thailand is to ban gay men from Buddhist monasticism.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Dublin:  Support for same-sex marriage in Ireland is down 6%, according to a new poll. However, it still enjoys a commanding lead of nearly fifty percentage points against opposition.  The research, carried out by Ipsos MRBI in anticipation of Ireland’s upcoming referendum on equal marriage in May, found that support for gay marriage has dropped to a low of 74%, while opposition to the referendum has risen to 26%.   Surprisingly, despite outspoken support from numerous politicians and celebrities including Colin Farrell, this is the first time support for equal marriage in Ireland has dropped since the question was first asked back in 2012. The news will be cause for minor celebration among conservative Catholics like the Iona Institute in Ireland, who have been campaigning aggressively for a ‘No’ vote, saying in December that equal marriage would be a “grave injustice” for the country.

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

 Melbourne:  Higher rates of harmful alcohol use and worse mental health outcomes for women in the community were among the issues addressed at Australia’s first ever conference on lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health. Over 100 people turned out for the inaugural Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Conference in Melbourne, with organisers arguing it indicated the huge demand for more research, services and discussion on the subject.  Keynote speaker Dr Ruth McNair from the Australian Lesbian Medical Association argued a conference focusing specifically on women’s health in the community is needed in part because of a history of lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health being overlooked in funding, policy and LGBTI community services.

McNair presented data from the ALICE study into alcohol use and culture among same-sex attracted women. The study looked at higher rates of drinking among lesbian and bisexual women compared to heterosexual women, and found lesbian and bisexual women were also more likely to be drinking at harmful levels. McNair also argued the study showed alcohol use was often used as a coping mechanism for dealing with discrimination and resulting mental health use. The study examined the connection between alcohol use and the LBQ community, and suggested that while alcohol use was connected to involvement with the community, that involvement did not increase harmful alcohol use.

Liam Leonard from Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV) talked about the importance of understanding health at the intersection of both sexuality and gender, rather than only looking at different sexualities as the basis for looking at the LGBTI community’s health needs. A closer analysis along gender lines of data from GLHV’s Private Lives 2 survey on LGBT health and wellbeing showed marked differences between men and women in the community in areas such as psychological distress and resilience. Leonard said the Private Lives 2 data showed not only that lesbian and bisexual women report higher levels of psychological distress than women in the general population, but also that the rates were even higher for bisexual women, who also reported greater psychological distress than bisexual men. The analysis also found differences patterns of substance, with data indicating more frequent cannabis use among bisexual women, but generally lower rates of party drug use among women than men.

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

 Stockholm:  Gender-neutral pronouns are becoming more common as a growing number of LGBT people and allies strive to use language that accurately and respectfully reflects the broad range of gender identities people embrace. And the trend toward inclusive language isn’t limited to English-speaking locales, according to U.K. newspaper The Guardian. Sweden will formally add the gender-neutral pronoun ‘hen’ to the Swedish Academy’s dictionary on April 15, the Guardian reported Tuesday. ‘Hen’ will join other existing prounouns  —‘han’ (he) and ‘hon’ (she) — as one of the 13,000 new words added to the dictionary that is amended every decade. ‘Hen’ may be used to refer to someone’s gender who is transgender, transitioning, or someone whose gender is unknown.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Indianapolis:  An unprecedented outbreak of HIV continues to sweep across southeastern Indiana, caused primarily by intravenous drug users sharing needles. The latest tally shows that 68 people have been infected in the past month. The crisis is prompting a Republican state lawmaker and the Indiana State Department of Health to introduce legislation to create a needle exchange program.    State officials did not respond Wednesday to specific questions posed by concerned individuals  related to the outbreak. A media coordinator in the state’s health office initially expressed confusion about the media request. He later acknowledged receipt of the additional information he needed but didn’t respond again. The outbreak affects a largely white, rural area in the southeastern section of the state. It includes Scott County and the nearby vicinity.   Carrie Elizabeth Foote is a professor of sociology at Indiana University. She also is a former intravenous drug user with HIV. In a statement to Healthline, she said she suspects the outbreak in Indiana isn’t going to stop there. Indiana’s criminalization laws and lack of literacy about HIV makes the current situation even more precarious.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Boston: However, in  Massachusetts, there has been extraordinary success in fighting HIV. Last November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that just one-third of Americans living with HIV had the virus under control — meaning it is nearly undetectable in their blood. Yet in Massachusetts it is the reverse: almost two thirds, or 64 percent, of residents with HIV have nearly undetectable levels of the virus. Given that those who have achieved this level of viral suppression are unlikely to pass along HIV to others, it is not surprising that Massachusetts has seen a 41 percent decline in the rate of new HIV diagnoses since 2000.

The good news is that any state in the country can achieve what Massachusetts has achieved — provided there is the political will to do so. The first step is to give those living with HIV access to health insurance that will cover HIV care. In 2001, Massachusetts extended access to its Medicaid program to anyone living with a diagnosis of HIV. The second step is to fund a strong network of case management and community-based support services to help those living with HIV adhere to treatment regimens. After all, it’s next to impossible to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor if you are living in a homeless shelter and do not have a safe place to store your medicine. Last, and most importantly for gay and bisexual men, the state’s long history of leadership on advancing LGBT equality has dramatically lessened the antigay stigma that research has shown makes gay men more vulnerable to HIV infection.

And the bad news? There might be particular problems for older gay men due to the closure of gay pubs, given that they don’t usually access seniors services for fear of homophobia. Which could lead to HIV risk.

Dallas: Federal judge Reed O’Connor, an appointee of George W. Bush, blocked the Family and Medical Leave Act from applying to all legally-married couples regardless if they live in states that don’t recognize their marriage.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London:  The former chair of the LGBT group for UKIP has branded the party a “cult” that is “too willing to entertain bigots” Tom Booker, who founded and chaired LGBT in UKIP, publicly quit his position and rescinded his party membership last month, citing “dissatisfaction at the failure of the leadership to set a gay-friendly tone”.

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

Toronto:  Ontario looks to become the next North American jurisdiction to ban so-called ‘ex-gay’ therapies aimed at ‘curing’ young people of their sexual orientation or gender identity after provincial Health Minister Eric Hoskins said he would move to ban the practice. Hoskins said he would write to medical regulatory bodies to instruct them to prohibit the practice after New Democrat lawmaker Cheri Di Novo introduced her own bill to ban the practice earlier this month.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/ontario-canada-ban-%E2%80%98ex-gay%E2%80%99-therapies-lgbti-minors270315

Beijing:  A manager at a state-owned enterprise has been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party for having a gay affair. Chen Peijiang, a vice-general manager at Zhejiang Energy in Hangzhou, was punished for his ‘unethical lifestyle’ after his ex-boyfriend posted photos of them having sex online. His ex, a 23-year-old college student surnamed Lu, also accused the older man of corruption and threatening to harm him and his family.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/manager-state-owned-enterprise-expelled-chinese-communist-party-over-gay-affair270315

 London: In the United Kingdom, the first same-sex marriage has occurred within a British prison. Convicted murderers Mikhail Gallatinov and Marc Goodwin have married. The decision to allow the wedding at the maximum-security HM Prison Full Sutton in Yorkshire was first reported last month. The pair were married in a twenty minute ceremony in the prison’s visitor centre on March 27.  They are said to have described each other as “soul partners” in their vows, stating that they would be “forever together”. Goodwin was jailed for the homophobic murder of Malcolm Benfold in 2007, a decade after Gallatinov handed a life sentence for the murder of Adrian Kaminsky. The Ministry of Defence said that prisoners are “entitled to apply to be married in prison under the Marriages Act 1983″, adding that there was “no cost to the taxpayer”. The couple will continue to serve their sentences apart, following confirmation that they will not be allowed to share a cell. [Good. If  marriages are permitted for straight prisoners in equivalent circumstances, then they should be allowed for same-sex couples. However, the punitive interests of imprisonment are met by their being kept apart. An excellent balancing act-Craig]

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

London: In the lead-up to May’s British general election, Leader of the Labour Opposition Ed Miliband   has told Attitude that promoting LGBT rights abroad would be a “big priority” under a future Labour government. Speaking to Attitude ahead of the general election, the Labour Party leader says he is “proud” of appointing former Eastenders actor and Labour peer Michael Cashman as an international LGBT rights envoy in shadow, calling him a “great hero” of his.  Miliband has stated that there will be an increased focus on LGBT foreign affairs concerns, as well as plans to tackle homophobic bullying and implement better sex and relationship education, and why mental health services have suffered under the Tories.

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

Washington DC: According to the Advocate and the US Human Rights Campaign, twenty-three more US states could pass “religious liberty”/service provider discrimination bills. These are listed below:

Western: Hawaii, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado

Midwest: South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan

South: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama

East Coast: Maine, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Kentucky: Pseudo-libertarian Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a  likely 2016 presidential hopeful, wants to return to the days of tent revivals and a more “moral” America. He said so in a clip, initially posted by US televangelist Par Robertson’s  Christian Broadcasting Network and then excerpted by the progay Right Wing Watch website. The excerpt features Paul speaking with religious leaders at a prayer breakfast. He then used the  term “moral crisis” twice, the second time as a direct reference to marriage equality. He also vowed to bring back the days of tent revivals, where the religious demanded “reform” from immorality.  Paul’s pseudo- libertarian  brand of Republicanism was initially welcomed on the basis that it  might eventually allow for tacit support of marriage equality. However, earlier this year the Kentucky senator backed away from supporting the word “marriage” to describe the legal recognition of a relationship between two committed, loving adults (of the same sex). Calling such unions marriage “offends” Paul. [And his refusal to do so offends many of us- Craig]

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Ohio: A videographer in Ohio blatantly turned down a lesbian couple seeking to have their wedding filmed.  Jenn Moffitt and Jerra Kincely, a same-sex couple in Ohio were told by a videographer after requesting information for their upcoming nuptials.  Kincely and Moffitt were reaching out to vendors for their February wedding, including a small video production business, “Next Door Stories,” in Bexley Ohio when they got this answer, prompting them to contact the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce, which now opposes antigay legislation.

Source: http://www.shewired.com

New Orleans: Fundamentalist weirdo and homophobic Duck Dynasty preacher Phil Robertson has delivered a lurid and graphic sermon about the graphic rape and murder of atheists, in a sermon at the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast,  where the elderly Robertson made possibly his most disturbed comments yet.

Arkansas: Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson wants Indiana’s religious freedom/service provider discrimination law for his state too.

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

Los Angeles:  Thousands of youth have been abused and hundreds have died while in residential programs that claim to help ‘troubled’ youth, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The Los Angeles LGBT Center announced at a news conference Friday that it has joined forces with Survivors of Institutional Abuse (SIA) to launch a national campaign to regulate these programs on a federal level.  The industry of residential schools, camps and wilderness programs that are entrusted with the lives of these LGBT kids and other youth is poorly regulated, leading to involuntary electroshock, food and water deprivation and physical battery, as well as reported deaths.

California State Senator Ricardo Lara has announced the introduction of his Protecting Youth from Institutional Abuse Act (SB 524). The bill is co-sponsored by the LA LGBT Center and SIA to regulate the troubled teen industry and calls for no exemption for religious-based groups. Lara  explained that the bill would define private alternative youth treatment and education institutions and require them to obtain a license from the Department of Social Services and ensure youth’s rights are protected. SIA reports the deaths of more than 300 people who are linked to these programs. Since it is common for these programs to re-open in another state under a different name after they are forced to close, federal legislation is considered essential. Fortunately, US Congressman Adam Schiff, a staunch LGBT ally, is working to introduce legislation that will hold all residential treatment programs accountable for instances of child abuse.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/effort-launched-crack-down-camps-where-troubled-lgbti-kids-are-sent-parents280315

 London: UK Liberal Democrat leader  Nick Clegg has blamed his  Tory coalition partners for the Cameron administration’s lack of progress on the issue of sex education over the last five years. Speaking to Attitude ahead of the general election, the Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister admits that while the sex and relationship education is “incredibly important”, the Lib Dems have failed to persuade the Conservative party that it should be made a mandatory requirement in all schools in England and Wales. He argued:
“You should ask them. They’ve got this rather odd ideological objection to the idea, because Michael Gove et al. have got this zany belief that if your child goes to an academy or free school they should be taught to a different standard than everyone else. We haven’t been able to persuade him and the Tories that we can make progress, but we will. It’s such a batty idea that a little boy or girl is taught proper sex education classes in one school but if it’s an academy there’s no such requirement. We need to have a more grown-up and universal approach with all children – gay or straight – to deal with the challenges of a highly sexualised environment and online world.”

In a wide-ranging interview ahead of the general election, Britain’s  Attitude talked to Nick Clegg about a variety of LGBT issues, including the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers and the state of the country’s HIV prevention budget.

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

Bristol: A street preacher has been fined for using “threatening” language, after quoting a Bible passage which branded homosexuality an “abomination”.    Mike Overd (50) initially refused to pay £250 in compensation to a gay man he offended, but backed down when told that he could face 45 days in prison. Overall he was fined £200 and ordered to pay £1,200 in costs and compensation. The judge told Overd, who was convicted under section five of the Public Order Act, that he “knew full well the power of words to hurt”, and told the former paratrooper that he could have used less offensive words when preaching in Taunton.   Overd   was acquitted of similar charges in 2012, while current charges for harassing Muslims in a “racially aggravated” manner were dismissed.

The UK Christian Right’s fundamentalist “Christian” Legal Centre criticised the ruling, stating that the judge was “effectively censoring the Bible and saying that certain verses aren’t fit for public consumption”. Terry Sanderson from the National Secular Society president added: “Whilst we all want to encourage public civility, there is a higher principle at stake. As long as there is no incitement to violence, then people should be allowed to speak freely without fearing legal repercussions.

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

Jakarta:  Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world, is the focus of a new ABC Australia Dateline feature exploring its trans* culture and tradition. The show will reveal the rise of intolerance in recent years for trans* people, or waria, a term that mixes the Indonesian words for man and woman. The episode follows David O’Shea documenting transgender human rights campaigner Mama Yuli as she embarks on a national movement, lobbying for acceptance of warias in Indonesian society. Dateline documents the threat from small but vocal Muslim transphobic extremist groups who refuse to accept warias as humans, targeting waria events by shutting down their meetings and beauty pageants.

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

 London:  Male students are becoming increasingly likely to turn to sex work to make ends meet at university, a study has found. The Student Sex Work Project, which was conducted by researchers at Swansea University, surveyed 6,773 students from across the UK. It found that 2.4% of male respondents had been involved in direct sex work – such as prostitution and escort services – while 3.5% had made money through indirect sex work – such as webcam shows, phone sex chat lines, or starring in porn.  A vast number of men had also considered indirect sex work – with 14.7% considering it to make money, compared to 8.8% for direct sex work. The majority of respondents who were involved in sex work said they had turned to it to help fund their education and lifestyle, and to avoid getting into debt.

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

London:  Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying may one day be a distant memory, thanks to a £2 million ($3.23 million, €2.53 million) grant awarded by the UK government today (24 March). The money is going to eight charitable and not-for-profit organisations to help them stamp out bullying in Britain’s schools, following a consultation process started in October 2014. Organisations supported by the fund are wide-ranging, including the Anne Frank Trust, who will educate young people about the impact of the Holocaust on LGBTI people, Show Racism the Red Card, who are holding training workshops at football clubs, and Barnado’s, who are providing face-to-face support for bullying victims.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/homophobic-biphobic-and-transphobic-bullying-fund-announced240315

 London: UK transgender columnist and activist Paris Lees has spoken out about the tragedy of transgender youth suicide:

Research conducted by mental health charity Pace reveals that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide. Half. Unsurprisingly, those who have suffered discrimination or violence are at highest risk, according to researchers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Out of those who had been turned away by a doctor because they were transgender or gender-nonconforming, make that 60% said they had tried to kill themselves. Made homeless for being trans? Make that 69%.

Suicide is never, ever the right option. It does get better. It feels dangerous to suggest that anything good could come out of highly publicised suicides, but if there is a silver lining, it’s the sympathetic media coverage, and subsequent public awareness, they’ve helped generate. Like the problem of gay teen suicides, the issue of trans youth taking their own lives has become an increasingly mainstream talking point. MailOnline has covered many of these deaths, and everything I’ve read so far has been sympathetic and respectful. It’s a shame it seems to takes a suicide to illicit responsible reporting, but credit where it’s due.  [One can only wonder what these horrendous statistics are like in New Zealand-Craig]

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

New York: The CEO of Apple has slammed the creation of service provider discrimination laws under the bogus guise of  ‘religious freedom’, akin to the one Indiana has just passed into law.  Apple CEO Tim Cook – himself gay – told the newspaper that “it’s time for us all to be courageous” and take a stand against discrimination.

“A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbours. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous.”

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

Vancouver:  A potentially blindness-causing strain of syphilis is spreading down the US Pacific coast, mostly affecting men who have sex with men, but there are no signs it has reached Vancouver yet. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, people at high risk of syphilis, such as gay men and people with HIV, should look out for inexplicable floating spots, a blue tinge, or flashing lights in their vision. Normally, syphilis only rarely develops into ocular syphilis or causes blindness. In December, however, six men in Washington State were struck by ocular syphilis and two went permanently blind. Four of the men are in King County, which includes Seattle. Three of them reportedly have sex with men, and three of them are HIV-positive, according to an advisory from King County health officials.

At present,  cases of ocular syphilis have spread to San Francisco and then Los Angeles, prompting outbreak warnings from California health officials. There are no signs yet, however, that the disease is spreading north and across the Canadian border.  Dr Troy Grennan, the head of the STI program at the British Columbian  Centre for Disease Control, says that while his team monitors all new cases of syphilis in the province, they haven’t seen any sign of the outbreak in Vancouver. Grennan says gay men and people with HIV should take the same precautions as usual: get regular STI testing, watch out for symptoms, and see a doctor for unexplained vision problems. British Columbia already has one of the highest rates of syphilis infection in Canada, and over three quarters of new cases are among men who have sex with men.  In the past decade, syphilis rates among both heterosexuals and sex workers have declined, while rates among gay men have risen and then spiked dramatically in the past four years.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

 London: All British general election candidates have been asked to pledge support for transgender  rights. Unlike New Zealand, the Equalities Act 2010 includes gender identity within its national anti-discrimination legislation. British Labour candidate and transwoman Emily Brothers has welcomed the aforementioned Trans Manifesto.

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

Delhi:  India’s Central Board of Film Certification has banned a lesbian film which it claims would ‘ignite unnatural passions’ in viewers. Unfreedom is the story of a young woman who resists an arranged marriage to be with her girlfriend and contains nudity and lesbian sex scenes, which irked the board. A parallel storyline revolves a terrorist who kidnaps a liberal Muslim.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/india-censors-ban-lesbian-film-claim-it-will-ignite-unnatural-passions%E2%80%99300315

Perth:  Two men were found guilty of murder Friday (27 March) in what prosecutors described as a ‘vigilante attack’ to rid a park in Perth of gay men. Daniel Wade Jones and Mark Taylor were accused of fatally injuring Warren Batchelor, 48, after they caught him having sex with another man in a disabled toilet in November 2013. Both men denied the charges but a jury found them guilty after five hours of deliberation.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/australia-two-men-found-guilty-gay-bashing-murder300315

 Canberra:  Corporate giants are coming out in support of same-sex marriage as part of a letter-writing campaign to increase pressure on Federal Parliament to pass the reform.   Organisations including Qantas, PricewaterhouseCoopers, SBS and Football Federation Australia have signed an open letter that argues same-sex marriage is not just “the only truly fair option” but “a sound economic option” – as it will keep workforces happy and therefore productive as well as competitive for talent worldwide.  FFA chief executive David Gallop told Fairfax Media: “A sport like ours is uniquely placed to raise awareness about this kind of social issue. And we take seriously our support for diversity and inclusion.”  Over the past decade, organisations such as Telstra, Optus, ANZ, Westpac, IBM and David Jones have indicated their support for marriage equality.

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

 Paris:  France’s Senate has rejected a planned 2013 law penalising people who pay for sex, and has chosen to maintain the “offence” of soliciting. Although prostitution is legal in France, soliciting in public and pimping are not. The National Assembly voted 16 months ago to impose a €1,500 (£1,090; $1,600) fine on clients, allegedly shifting the criminal burden from prostitutes, according to apologists for the Nordic model of ‘penalising the purchaser’ that now prevails within the current Hollande administration. Swedish feminist critics complain that the Nordic model doesn’t eliminate risk of sexual violence, assault and homicide from commercial sex transactions at all, nor does it refrain from punishing women (and men) who undertake street sex work.  The upper house’s decision to scrap the fine will now go back to the assembly. Social affairs minister Marisol Touraine said that Monday night’s vote was “absolutely unbelievable and contemptuous towards women”. [With all due respect for Ms. Touraine, that term could be applied to the whole of her administration's unworkable legislation- Craig]

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

Shibuya: This Japanese ward has become the first to recognise marriage equality, thus triggering off debate within Japan. Although the certificates will only have symbolic significance due to the country’s current legislation that outlaws gay marriage, officials have insisted that they will be encouraging hospitals and businesses throughout the district to treat gay couples with a certificate in the same way they would treat a heterosexual married couple.

Source: http://www.globeandmail.com

London:  A  BritishTory MP  told a woman “never bother him again” after she informed him that she had married her female partner. Laura Hawes, who married her long-term girlfriend Jess O’Sullivan last year, celebrated the commitment by changing her name to O’Sullivan shortly after the wedding. After receiving a letter from Peterborough Tory MP Stewart Jackson that was addressed to her former surname, she decided to respond, explaining to Jackson in a letter that because of his opposition to same-sex marriage, she would not be voting for him in the future.

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

 Cardiff: Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru has released its LGBT inclusive election policies:  To ensure that all schools and local authorities record incidents of homophobic bullying and seek to eradicate it by providing support and training to teachers, building on work that Plaid Cymru has already carried out. This will help them to better identify victims and act appropriately in cases of LGBT bullying in schools; To end the 12 month ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men; To provide support wherever possible to tackle isolation and provide safe spaces for individuals and groups; To toughen sentencing on homo, bi and transphobic hate crime and work closely with police authorities to ensure widespread recording; To work towards the implementation of a framework for Primary Care Service for Trans and Intersex people and the development of a Gender Identity Clinic in Wales; and to  support the Human Rights Act and work with international organisation to ensure that LGBT rights are understood and implemented on a global scale.

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

London: Current British Prime Minister  David Cameron has named British lesbian television presenter Clare Balding as his LGBT hero in a new interview with Attitude. Asked which LGBT person he most admired in the new issue, the Prime Minister says that while World War Two code breaker Alan Turing was also an “amazing man”, he’s a “big fan” of the 44-year-old sports broadcaster.

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

 Hamilton, Ontario: As transgender people across the world assert their right to use public washrooms, a trans woman from Hamilton, Ontario, is taking the fight to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after allegedly being barred from using the women’s washroom at a Hamilton bus terminal.  The woman was allegedly told by a security guard at the MacNab Bus Terminal in downtown Hamilton to use the men’s or accessible bathroom, rather than the women’s bathroom. Though representatives for the City of Hamilton did apologize for the incident, they did not acknowledge any wrongdoing. Spokespeople for the City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) have not responded to Daily Xtra’s request for comment. In a statement provided to the Spectator, City of Hamilton spokesperson Mike Kirkopoulos said that it recognizes the rights of trans people and is committed to not forcing a trans person to use a separate bathroom because of the preferences of others. Ontario has trans-inclusive provincial antidiscrimination laws.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

 London: Ten percent of those aged 12-13 have expressed concern tha they are “addicted” to pornography, a survey has found. This, despite the absence of any empirical evidence for ‘pornography addiction’ or ‘sex addiction.’

Oklahoma:  A lawsuit has been filed against Southeastern Oklahoma State University for denying a woman a promotion because she is trans. It is claimed that the university fired Rachel Tudor in 2011 when she complained she had not been granted tenure – despite a favourable tenure review. This would have guaranteed her employment, and she says she was only denied because she is trans. She had been working as an English professor at the school since 2004 and had transitioned in 2007.

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

Nairobi:  Ugandan LGBTI asylum seekers are being stoned and poisoned in the world’s third largest refugee camp. That injustice has been disclosed  in a new video about life in Kakuma camp in northern Kenya. It has seen an influx of refugees fleeing Ugandan antigay legislation, but  life in the camp is often dangerous. Jaw Desmond recounted that antigay Muslim refugee camp inhabitants had assaulted him with stones, tried to poison him and forced him into sex work. He is urging the United Nations Human Rights Commission to intervene on their behalf.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/we-are-going-drink-your-blood-gay-refugees-kenya-reveal-horror-stories310315

Canberra:  Despite widespread support in Australia for the legalization of same-sex marriage, the message that it’s ok for people to be gay isn’t getting across to teenage boys according to new research. Australia’s national depression initiative BeyondBlue surveyed more than 300 14-to-17-year-old males and found that one in five still said they found it difficult to treat same-sex attracted people the same as everybody else. Six in ten said they had personally witnessed people being bullied because of their sexuality and four in ten said they had seen homophobic bullying via social media, while one in four said that using terms like ‘homo,’ ‘dyke’ or ‘confused’ to describe gays and lesbians were ‘not really that bad’ and a similar number said that it was alright to call something they didn’t like ‘gay.’ Four in ten of the boys the researchers spoke to said they felt anxious or uncomfortable about being around gay people and a similar number said they would have a problem with someone in their friendship circle being gay or lesbian. BeyondBlue released the research to coincide with their relaunch of their ‘Stop. Think. Respect: Left Hand’ campaign which intends to spread the message that bullying someone because they are gay is as stupid as bullying someone for being left handed.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/new-study-finds-homophobia-still-rife-among-teenage-boys-australia310315

 United States: Happily, service provider discrimination/’religious liberty’ bills have stalled in North Carolina and Georgia due to backlash against Indiana’s bigot bill.  Demonstrating fools rush in where angels fear to tread, Jeb Bush, Mario Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Ben Carson all blindly supported Indiana’s legislation.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 

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