Religion and Politics News: February 2015

February 2, 2015 in General

Belfast: Over a thousand people have attended a protest against a planned service provider discrimination bill, that would permit businesses and other religious individuals or organisations to practice anti-gay discrimination.

Arkansas: Rumoured Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has compared being gay to drinking alcohol. [I'm a teetotaller-Craig]

London: Grant Shapps, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, has ruled out entering a ‘pact’ with UKIP after the General Election.

Warsaw:  Poland’s first openly transgender lawmaker reportedly plans to run for President. Anna Grodzka was elected as a Member of Parliament in Poland in 2011, in what is usually a notoriously conservative country. According to Newsweek Poland, the politician confirmed her plans to run for President later this year for the Polish Green party.

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

Melbourne: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has led the Melbourne Pride march- the first Victorian Premier to do so.

Mumbai: Mumbai Pride saw parents marching alongside their LGBTI children.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Tel Aviv: Israeli Prime Ministerial candidate Tzipi Livni could become one of two rotating premiers if her coalition wins.

Nairobi:  Kenyan police last week arrested two men for gay sex. George Njeri and Caleb Idris were arrested in Kwale county on Thursday (19 February) and reportedly told police they were a married couple, even though gay marriage is illegal in the African country. They were charged with ‘engaging in unnatural acts’ at Kwale law courts on Friday but did not plead to the charges pending investigations. Gay sex is illegal in Kenya and punishable by five to 12 years in jail.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/kenya-arrests-two-men-gay-sex230215

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 

Puerto Rico: A  Puerto Rican minister  is refusing to resign from the church over his gay porn past. Explicit films featuring pastor Jose Santiago, 33 – who is now married to a woman following a supposed religious experience that he alleges turned him “straight” – appeared online in January and were soon brought to the attention of his local community.  Santiago has refused to resign from the church and says that his wife “loves him and his past”.

“In those days I was gay and participated in homosexual activities, but God touched me, God transformed me, God gave me a woman who loves me and she loves my past. I haven’t seen any of these films in years. I don’t receive any money for them and it’s part of a life that is over.”

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

Dublin:  An anti-gay Irish preacher accidentally came out against straight  marriage during a live television debate. On February 1,  on TV3 during a debate on Ireland’s forthcoming referendum on gay marriage, which saw audience member Michael O’Leary accidentally tell the audience that he “doesn’t want to see men and women get married” (!!!)  

“We have family values, and no politician or party should be coming out and calling for a yes vote,” ranted O’Leary. “I say it’s shame on you, we want family values, and we don’t want to see men and women getting married.” The unfortunate slip lead to the audience and debate panel breaking out into laughter.

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

New York: James David Manning of the Atlah Missionary Church  has claimed that Justin Bieber is transgender. [Email to yours truly: "He's cis! He's cis, you transphobic bastard!!!"-Craig]  Now, during an appearance on his YouTube show The Manning Report, the controversial pastor has argued that US popstar Justin Bieber will soon come to regret “cutting his breasts off”.

“These young girls, if we don’t stand, can be led to cut off their breasts once they get into puberty. They can be led to have operations like Justin Bieber,” said Manning.[...]

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

Brisbane: While Queensland waits to find out the political makeup of its next state parliament following 31 January’s  knife-edge election, the state’s LGBTI community may be the recipient of key legislative and funding decisions and changes. The election result has so far seen the formerly nine-member Opposition ALP  unseat a sitting Premier and possibly form either a majority or minority government. Despite the Liberal-National Party’s (LNP) world-record victory last term that saw the Campbell Newman government take control of 78 out of 89 seats in the 2012 state election, voters last weekend delivered a poll result that will again rewrite Queensland parliamentary history.

As the fate of about three to four seats will not be known for a few days, a likely ALP-led minority government is emerging with either the support of two Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) MPs and/or independent MP Peter Wellington. The ALP was the only major party to make a somewhat comprehensive list of LGBTI commitments but all eyes are on whether Labor can form a government that will honour these promises. Restoring Civil Unions, refunding Queensland AIDS Council, implementing the Safe Schools Coalition, expunging historical gay consensual sex convictions, reviewing the state’s age of consent discrepancy and guaranteeing same-sex altruistic surrogacy rights were all part of the ALP pitch to LGBTI voters. Adoption reform and marriage equality were not addressed. Queensland already has trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws.

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

Washington DC:  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in December that it would soon reevaluate policies to allow more gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but health and civil rights advocates say the administration still enforces a “heterosexist bias” [sic-transphobic, surely-Craig] against transgender donors. The policy in place since 1983 indefinitely banned men who have had sex with men from donating blood, but after years of lobbying from medical organizations, activists, and politicians, the FDA said the policy would be reevaluated. Later this year, the FDA is expected to officially lift the lifetime ban, and instead enforce a one-year ban following the last time a man had sex with another man, and remained HIV-negative.  The American Medical Association supports a one-year deferral.

The FDA also excludes transwomen from blood donation, however. It has a policy on the books that disregards the authentic gender expressions of transgender men and women which also prevents them from giving blood.

This policy has nothing to do with the fact that many trans people undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to aid in their gender transition. Although the FDA mentions only hormones taken for menopausal symptoms and prevention of osteoporosis, the American Red Cross certifies this policy on its website: “women on hormone replacement therapy… are eligible to donate.”

So if it’s not the meds, what is it? It’s that, to the Food and Drug Administration, all trans people are gay men. But that information is not on the agency’s website or in a pamphlet. The Advocate has confirmed with the FDA that a trans woman, even one who has undergone gender confirmation surgery and engages in heterosexual relations with a cisgender male, is still considered “male” in terms of her eligibility to donate blood, and that both she and her partner are banned — because their intercourse is considered by the FDA to be two “men”  (sic)  having sex.

In a written statement, spokeswoman Tara Goodin told The Advocate, “The FDA’s current donor deferral policy recommends that men (sic) who have had sex with other men (MSM) at any time since 1977 are indefinitely deferred from donation of blood based on well-documented observations of much higher rates of transmissible diseases among MSM than in the non-MSM population.”

When it comes to transgender people, Goodin says the FDA will continue the policy that the sex of the donor is “determined”  at birth (sic), at least as far as establishing the donor’s eligibility.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 New York:  The prime suspect in the Los Angeles murder of a 33-year-old transgender woman turned himself in to police Sunday, reports local TV station KTLA.  Ezekiel Dear, 25, had been identified by police as the prime suspect in the murder of Michelle (Yazmin) Vash Payne.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London:  An influential evangelical campaigner within the Church of England has come out as a lesbian. Jayne Ozanne – who was previously strongly against LGBT equality within the Church – previously sat on the Archbishop’s Council from 1999 to 2004. Today Ms Ozanne has come out as gay and reversed her previous stance, as she was announced as the new director of lobbying group Accepting Evangelicals – which calls for the Church to become fully LGBT inclusive.

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

Hanoi: Vietnam has banned transwomen from its national women’s football competition.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 London:  MPs have voted in favour of the creation of babies with DNA from two women and one man, in an historic move. The UK is now set to become the first country to introduce laws to allow the creation of babies from three people. In a free vote in the Commons, affirmative MP votes trumped opponents 382-128 when it came to legalisation of  the technique, which  stops genetic diseases being passed from mother to child.

A further vote is required in the House of Lords. It everything goes ahead then the first such baby could be born next year. Proponents said the backing was “good news for progressive medicine” but critics say they will continue to fight against the technique that they say raises too many ethical and safety concerns. Estimates suggest 150 three-person babies could be born each year. BBC News discussed the implications with one woman who lost seven babies to mitochondrial disease. The Catholic and Anglican Churches and Human Genetics Alert sounded warnings, however.

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

London: With less than 100 days until the General Election, Labour have announced plans to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools if elected. In a change of policy from the last Gordon Brown government, the party wants to introduce compulsory sex and relationship education in every state funded school – including academies and faith schools.  Fewer than one in five LGBT student say they received sex ed while in schools – an issue Stonewall founder Michael Cashman discusses in our current issue.

The party’s new document launched today outlines the party’s plans, saying: “Research shows that that without a safe environment to learn about different aspects of same-sex relationships, young people are more susceptible to risk behaviour”.  Hunt says his passion for the issues comes from a constituent who told him of homophobic bullying. That’s why he’s also outlined plans to improve mental health provisions for gay pupils, encourage young people to combat prejudices themselves and to train teachers specifically on how to tackle homophobic bullying.  The Conservatives also announced plans for a £2m fund to help tackle homophobic bullying – Labour says it won’t give extra money for the issue.

Some changes would make it into the history classrooms though, with plans to introduce to Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing into the curriculum. The campaign to get Alan Turing pardoned for his ‘crime’ of homosexuality was cleared when Gordon Brown gave an apology on behalf of the British government.

What about the other 49,000 men convicted? 15,000 are thought to still be alive, after all. “This isn’t my area, but I have a lot of sympathy with the argument. This was not a wrong done uniquely to Alan Turing and surely if we believe he deserved a pardon, as I certainly do, then it is surely right that others convicted under this law simply for who they love should be pardoned too.”

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

Bangkok: The proposed Constitution for Thailand includes the term “third gender” to ensure fairer legal treatment for trans* people throughout the country. The decision to legalise the Constitution will be made on August 6, and if approved, Thailand will join some other Asian countries such as India and Nepal who have already legally recognised third genders. The Constitution Drafting Committee, a panel created by the Thai military junta, began working on a draft for the Constitution in January. Committee spokesperson Kamnoon Sittisamarn said the term “third gender” would ensure all sexes are protected and considered equal.

Thailand’s large LGBT community plays a significant role in its entertainment industry, yet their laws remain largely conservative. The current Constitution recognises people of various religions, ages, and gender, but it does not extend to trans* people.  By accepting a third gender, individuals in Thailand will be apple to correctly identify their gender on government documents.  Although recognising a third gender would not resolve all issues, Thai Transgender Alliance spokesperson Khangpiboon told CNN that it would be “history” for trans* rights and their advocacy work. Thai trans* businessperson Jenisa Limpanilchart told CNN that it could be difficult for trans* people to be hired or accepted by companies, because of human resource issues such as which bathroom they can use.

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

 Tel Aviv:  In January, both Israel and the Canadian province of Manitoba announced that their trans citizens will no longer be required to show proof of gender confirmation surgery to change their gender marker on certain legal identification. Following a petition filed to Israel’s Interior Ministry objecting to the need for surgery before changing national identfication cards, two trans women, Nora Greenberg and Ronit Liran, found victory January 18, reports Israeli newspaper Haaretz.   

Manitoba: Trans Manitobans will no longer need to prove they had gender confirmation surgery in order to change their birth certificates with the Vital Statistics Agency, reports Canadian news site Canoe. Instead, those seeking to change their gender marker will need to officially declare that they are transitioning and provide a corroborating letter from a healthcare provider.

The Agency changed its stance on the issue after consulting with healthcare professionals and other officials, which led to the conclusion that requiring proof of surgery was “out of step with modern society,” notes Canoe. The number of countries that require proof of surgery worldwide has dropped to 27, with Taiwan most recently changing its policies in December.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Brunei: President Obama has been urged to raise the subject of LGBT rights in trade talks with Brunei.

Portland:  A bakery unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple, and is liable to pay up to $150,000 in damages, it was announced on Monday. Now facing a fine of up to $150,000 (£93,000), the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa which refused to provide a cake for a lesbian wedding may go bankrupt. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries announced on Monday that it had concluded its investigation, and that the owners of Sweet Cakes had unlawfully discriminated.

Tennessee:  A US evangelical megachurch has in a surprise move announced support for same-sex marriage, and to fully include LGBT people in its congregation. The GracePointe Church in Franklin, Tennessee voted to support same-sex marriage.

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

Bhutan:  A Bhutanese lama has said that homosexuality does not affect one’s understanding of Buddhism and that lesbians probably reach enlightenment before anyone else. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, who is known for his wit and sense of humor, made the comments in a YouTube video uploaded on 22 January 22, although it is not clear when the clip was recorded.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/bhutan-lama-lesbians-probably-reach-enlightenment-first030215

 Edinburgh: The Law Society of Scotland is to allow solicitors to register without forcing them to specify a gender.

Ottawa: The Canadian Blood Service has come up with a way to allow sexually active gay men to donate blood.

Los Angeles:  A legendary Los Angeles news reporter has made history – by returning to work after transitioning to female. LA-area reporter and helicopter pilot Zoey Tur – previously known on-air as ‘Chopper Bob’ – famously followed OJ Simpson’s 1994 police chase from the skies, and also covered the 1992 LA riots. Ms Tur – who came out as trans in 2013 – has this month returned to work, joining national CBS show Inside Edition.

Dublin: The Irish government has launched its first resource to help primary school teachers tackle homophobic bullying.

Manchester:  A Christian group authorised by UKIP has claimed that being gay is a “vice”, and that Manchester Pride is a parade of “wickedness”. The fringe group, Christian Soldiers of UKIP, distributed a newsletter that lays into the Pride parade, claiming that gay people are “sodomites”. The UK Independence Party claims the group is “authorised but not official” – but UKIP advertised the group’s events at their party’s conference, and Nigel Farage himself has previously written in the newsletter.

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

 Rome: An Italian archbishop has attacked a law banning anti-gay speech, describing it as a ‘crime against humanity’. Luigi Negri, the archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, has taken issue with a law the country has enacted to protect LGBTI people from hate crime.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/archbishop-attacks-law-banning-anti-gay-hate-speech-crime-against-humanity040215

Arkansas:  Several churches in a small town in Arkansas refused to hold a funeral for a gay man, then gave hateful Bible verse to his grieving husband. Even the local firehouse, which was built by the man’s father, would not open its doors for a fellowship after the funeral, as is the custom in Clarkridge. James Stone, 32, died of a genetic autoimmune disease on January 19.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/arkansas-churches-refuse-funeral-gay-man-give-hateful-bible-verses-husband040215

 Ottawa:  Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that doctors may help patients who have severe and incurable medical conditions to die, overturning a 1993 ban. In a unanimous decision, the court said the law impinged on Canadians’ rights. The case was brought by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association  on behalf of two women, Kay Carter and Gloria Taylor, with degenerative diseases. Both have since died. The Harper administration now has a year to repeal  federal law against assisted suicide. If it does not, the current legislation will be struck down. Assisted suicide is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland and four US states-Oregon, Vermont, Montana and Washington state.  In Canada is it illegal to counsel, aid or abet a suicide, and the offence carries a sentence of fourteen years in prison. The Canadian Medical Association and Death With Dignity welcomed the decision, while the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and Canadian Association for Community Living opposed it on disability rights grounds, while the Christian Right’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Campaign Life Campaign opposed it on the basis of religious social conservatism. Quebec has legislated for its own assisted-suicide law, which is expected to take effect by December at the latest, and was passed despite federal opposition and the Criminal Code. Opinion polls in the province showed widespread support for assisted suicide, and  all-party support in Quebec’s provincial legislature.

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

 Slovakia: Slovakia is set to hold a referendum on restrictions on gay rights and the adoption of children by same-sex couples. Pope Francis has given his blessing to a referendum that would ban marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in Slovakia.

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

 Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland’s Equalities Commission has slammed a proposed service providers discrimination bill in the backward British province.

Northern Ireland: The Northern Irish Department of Health has said it does not have any evidence to back up maintaining a lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

London: The head of Ofsted has defended the watchdog against suggestions that inspectors used “inappropriate” questions about LGBT issues. Questions were  used in schools to determine whether there were problems with homophobic bullying, and whether anything was being done to tackle it. Grindon Hall Christian School in Sunderland and The Durham Free School have both complained of “inappropriate questioning” and “undue criticism” by Ofsted inspectors.

Oxford University: More than 200 demonstrators have pledged to protest outside the Oxford Union ahead of a planned evening appearance by neofascist FN leader Marine Le Pen.

London: There has been a steady rise in the number of young people being referred to support services for help with transgender issues, figures from a London National Health Service trust show. This has been attributed to the greater visibility of transgender concerns.

Washington DC: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan ignored a request to help Rock Hudson secure a pioneering AIDS treatment just weeks before he died, it has been revealed.

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

Kathmandu:  Nepal’s minister for information and communication has said the government is ready to amend discriminatory legal provisions against sexual minorities. Speaking on February 4 at the first day of a three-day South Asian transgender and hijra consultation in Kathmandu, Minendra Rijal said the government had started the process by issuing passports with a third gender.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/nepal-minister-government-ready-amend-anti-gay-legal-provisions060215

Birkek, Kyrgyzstan: Anti-LGBTI activists have held a rally in Bishkek where they claimed gay people were linked to pedophiles as lawmakers prepare to debate the controversial piece of legislation again.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 London:  Six months after the BBC promoted news “presenter” — British for anchor — Evan Davis to host of the U.K. television network’s flagship current affairs program, Newsnight, he’s talking about his sexuality and the dangers facing gays.  In an interview with Attitude magazine, Davis also discussed politics and Russell Brand’s call for a British revolution. But the remarks making headlines involve his statements that gays and lesbians are more likely to engage in destructive behavior because they don’t have the “discipline” of straight people who raise children. Speaking in general terms — and ignoring the number of LGBT couples who adopt or do raise their own children — the 52-year-old broadcaster compared gay drug use to a spreading disease: “Once gay people start taking drugs, they’ll take more drugs because it’s socially infectious and one person will take them, then another. I just think it’s something gay people have to watch out for.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Washington DC:  At the end of 2014 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its sexually transmitted disease surveillance data for the previous year, 2013, showing the rates for primary and secondary syphilis, which is the most infectious stage of syphilis, increased by an alarming 10 percent.

“This second year of double-digit increases of syphilis rates is completely unacceptable and also significantly intersects with our HIV epidemic,” says William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “This continues to affect populations already disproportionately impacted by all STDs, including HIV, most notably gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM).” The coalition notes that the rate of syphilis in 2013 was the highest recorded since 1996.  That 10 percent increase in syphilis rates in 2013 was almost entirely increases in men, mainly gay and bi men; no overall increase was seen in women that year. Smith also reports that syphilis and HIV coinfection among gay and bi men is so common that over half (52 percent) of MSM with primary and secondary syphilis also have HIV and that MSM account for 75 percent of the primary and secondary syphilis cases reported to the CDC.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Boston: Having failed to become governor of Massachusetts — not that anyone really expected him to — virulently antigay minister Scott Lively is “contemplating a run for Congress,” he writes in a column published today on the right-wing site BarbWire. Lively, who received only 19,000 votes as an independent candidate for governor last November, says he has switched his registration to Republican and is considering a run this year against U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the Democrat who represents the First Congressional District of Massachusetts, located in the western part of the state. One of his motivations, he writes, is to forge an alliance between the U.S. and Russia. He is concerned that President Obama and “Republican liberals” are “jointly waging a campaign of anti-Russian propaganda designed to deceive conservatives into supporting a hot war with Russia.” The reason he wants to be friends with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin: they’re antigay. He is also connected to Uganda’s antigay legislation.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Dallas: A private school in Texas has defended its right to exclude a student for “homosexual activity”.  17-year-old YouTuber Austin Wallis – who had posted a number of videos about his sexuality while attending Lutheran High North in Houston – was allegedly ordered by the school’s principal to either delete his online presence, or to face expulsion.

Melbourne:  A 17-year-old trans boy has become the first in Australia to be allowed access to gender treatment without permission from his parents. In Australia, anyone under the age of 18 must have parental consent for any kind of transgender-related care, meaning that children whose parents do not respect their gender identity are left unable to seek treatments like puberty blockers and hormones. However, in the first ruling of its kind, the Family Court found that a 17-year-old from Melbourne cannot be denied access to treatment simply because of his parents’ objections.

 Miami:  A bill has been submitted in Florida that would make it a crime for transgender people to use public toilets. Miami Republican Frank Artiles submitted a bill to the Florida House of Representatives yesterday, which would make it a crime for trans people to use single-sex facilities in workplaces, schools or any business that is open to the public. Trans people who violate the law could be jailed for up to a year, charged with a misdemeanour and fined $1000. House Bill 583 , introduced by Republican Rep. Frank Artiles on February 4, would make it so that any trans citizen caught using a single-sex restroom that does not match the gender they were assigned at birth would be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. The law would also make whoever owned the establishment where a trans person uses the restroom open to lawsuits from other patrons, as they would be “liable in a civil action to any person who is lawfully using the same single-sex public facility.”

Artiles filed the bill in response to a December 2 ordinance that banned discrimination based on gender identity and expression in public facilities throughout Miami-Dade County. The lawmaker explained his proposed bill as a way to ensure “public safety,” rather than a means to criminalize trans citizens:

“It’s not that the transgender or the gender identity community is dangerous by any means,” he explained, “but [the ordinance] creates a giant loophole for criminals, sexual predators to walk into a shower, a woman’s locker room under the cover of law.”  The ACLU and several other Florida representatives have vocally opposed this ridiculous proposed legislation.

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

 New Zealand:  A district health board is about to attempt to obtain guardianship of a child. A high court will hear a DHB  application for guardianship  on Monday 9 February, according to court lists. The case centres on an HIV-positive nine-year-old boy, the Weekend Herald reported.  The court action is a bid by the hospital to take a guardianship role for the purposes of medical treatment, which a parent is denying access to.  A spokeswoman for health board concerned did not comment on Sunday 8 February, possibly because greater details were sub judice.

Source http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/district-health-board-seeks-guardianship-of-child-2015020710

 Slovakia: Slovakia’s referendum against marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform has failed.  Only 21.4% of those eligible voted, the national statistics office said on Sunday, well short of the 50% required for the ballot to be valid. Voters were asked three questions including whether marriage can only be a union between a man and a woman. Slovakia’s population of 5.4 million people is predominantly Catholic. Liberals and LGBT rights activists welcomed the outcome, because they had suggested that people  boycott the referendum. Over 90% of voters backed the 2014 constitutional amendment which defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman, effectively banning same-sex unions and adoptions-which means only about eighteen percent of Slovakians feel strongly about the issue . Those who did vote  also supported the right for children to skip classes involving sex education and euthanasia.  Conservatives fear that although the gay marriage ban remains in place, it is fortunately being eroded by liberal policies spreading eastwards from western Europe. European Union  rules allow each of the bloc’s 28 members to pass their own laws on issues like marriage and adoption. Similar agitation is occurring in Hungary and Croatia, however.

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

 Montreal:  The Quebec Superior Court accepted a black gay graduate student’s claim for judicial review on Friday, January 9, after he decided to appeal a decision by the Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission of Quebec that concluded he was not discriminated against for his sexual orientation. Kofi Norsah, who is now writing his thesis within the School of Social Work at McGill University, was dismissed from a field placement in 2011 after he disagreed when his supervisor told him to hide his sexual orientation. The Human Rights Commission filed a motion to dismiss the request for judicial review, which was rejected by the judge. Although Norsah’s case will be heard at the Superior Court, he will not have the chance to receive the $15,000 in compensation he originally asked for, according to the judge’s ruling. While the court cannot change the commission’s decision about whether or not discrimination occurred, it does have the power to order it to redo the investigation. After meeting with a representative from the McGill’s social work school, Norsah claims that he received no support and within days was dismissed from his placement at Saint Columba House, a community centre affiliated with the United Church and situated in a low-income neighbourhood in Montreal. The internship was a prerequisite to entering the graduate programme.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

 Washington DC: Right-wing African-American pundit Alan Keyes has claimed that same-sex marriage equality will lead to the break-up of the United States.

Tunisia: A Swedish man has been sentenced to two years behind bars in Tunisia, for committing “homosexual acts”.  The Swedish Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Swedish citizen is being held in Tunsia, after falling foul of the country’s anti-gay laws. Homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia, and both male and female same-sex sexual activity can lead to up to three years in prison.

Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Athens: Greece’s new centre-left government has announced it will grant legal recognition to same-sex couples.
Cambridge: Deborah Rennie, a UKIP candidate in Cambridgeshire has admitted she “wouldn’t be surprised” if her party has considered plans to repeal marriage equality.
Atlanta:  Ben Carson, a Republican who compared homosexuality to bestiality has been placed on the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s extremist list. Apparently, we are also a “New World Order” plot to ‘establish communism!’
Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Bulgaria: Bulgarian law does not consider homophobic motives as hate crime – they are acts of “hooliganism.”
Latvia:  Latvia may become the next Eastern European state to formally recognize the relationships of unmarried couples in a proposal that would see gay and lesbian couples recognized for the first time in the country’s history Currently gays and lesbians are protected from discrimination in the workplace in Latvia and homosexuality has been legal since it regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1992. But same-sex couples have no way of formalizing their relationships in Latvia or securing their rights and responsibilities to each other – and adoption by them is illegal.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/latvian-parliament-consider-gender-neutral-partnership-law-2015090215
Ghana:  Two students at an all-boys high school were arrested in Ghana after their classmates tried to lynch them for sodomy. Police were called to St Paul’s Senior High School in Danu Friday night (6 February) after students started rioting over two boys they caught having sex. One first-year student was killed in the incident.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/ghana-school-tries-lynch-two-gay-students090215
Brisbane:  Prior comments on homosexuality from two members of Queensland’s revamped Liberal National Party (LNP) — including its new leader — have re-emerged, raising concerns about their personal stances on the LGBTI community. The comments emerge as Queenslanders continue to wait for the official results of the January 31 state election, which at the time of print, so far indicates a win for the former ALP Opposition.  Four-time LNP leader, including as Opposition Leader in three failed election campaigns, and current caretaker Health Minister Lawrence Springborg once voted against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1990, when then-Premier Wayne Goss introduced a bill to amend the Criminal Code. At the time, Springborg voted along National Party lines to not amend the code. However, the amendment still passed with the support of both the Labor and Liberal parties. Shortly after, Springborg — who went on to merge the state’s Liberal and National parties to create the LNP — made comments to the media where he referred to the “disgusting behaviour” of some gay men who allegedly blew him kisses and winked at him from the public gallery.
Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au
Melbourne: Australian animator Michael Cusack collaborated with the Victorian AIDS Council in creating Wayne & Kevin, a clip that highlights the symptoms of syphilis and seeks to break down the stigma attached with sexual health testing. “Syphilis is a real concern for gay men and other MSM in Victoria. [The promotion] is a down-to-earth approach that uses realistic language.”The clip follows Wayne, who is advised by his opinionated but informed  cat Kevin that the rash forming on his chest after a recent hook-up with a guy “is syphilis, dipstick”. Over the last five years there has been a steady rise in the diagnoses rates of syphilis in Victoria, and this latest health message aims to clear some of the misconceptions about it.“The earlier a person recognises their symptoms, the sooner they can be treated, and the less likely the infection will be transmitted,” Melbourne Sexual Health Centre director Professor Christopher Fairley said. Syphilis is highly contagious, and if left untreated, can damage the body’s internal organs and lead to fatal consequences. The clip has received thousands of views after being posted earlier this month.
Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au
Dublin: Research by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network found that some 30% of gay, lesbian and bisexual employees in Ireland are harassed at work, while ten percent have quit after having had enough of it. Ireland does have antidiscrimination laws.
Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Nepal: A Nepalese parliamentary committee has recommended the introduction of marriage equality in the Central East Asian Himalayan nation.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com
Delhi:  Up to 500 people marched against transphobic violence over the weekend at the third Hyderabad Pride. The Hyderabad Queer Swabhimana Pride on Sunday (8 February) was the first large-scale public LGBTI event to be organized in India’s fourth largest city after the formation of the new state of Telangana. The revelers created a festive atmosphere with their singing and dancing but they also conveyed a serious message. The marchers called for justice for the recent spate of transphobic violence in the city and the establishment of a national statutory transgender commission and commissions in each state.
Source http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/hundreds-march-against-anti-trans-violence-hyderabad-pride100215
Little Rock:  Two of the leading candidates to become the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 2016 have taken part in a new documentary that claims that ‘homosexual activists’ want to ban the Christian religion. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Senator Rand Paul have both chosen to appear in the soon to be released documentary ‘Light Win: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity.’ The film’s maker, Janet Porter of far-right Christian group Faith 2 Action, plans to release the film at the US National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention in Nashville at the end of February.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/republican-presidential-hopefuls-appear-documentary-claims-gay-activists-want-ban-christianity100215 
Kuala Lumpur:  On February 10, Malaysia’s top court today  upheld opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction for sodomy, which is illegal in the Muslim-majority nation.Federal Court judge Arifin Zakat said there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ that the former deputy prime minister had sodomized a male aide, and defense allegations that the case was a political conspiracy were ‘unsubstantiated by any facts whatsoever.’ Anwar, 67, was accused of sodomizing his aide Saiful in 2008 but was acquitted by the High Court in 2012. The Appeals Court overturned the acquittal in March last year and handed down a five-year sentence, which he was appealing. In 1998, Anwar was jailed for six years on earlier charges of sodomizing his former family driver. He was freed in 2004 after the Federal Court quashed that sodomy conviction. Critics at home and abroad have accused the Malaysian government of falsifying the sodomy charges against Anwar to end his political career, a move that has also reinforced stigma against the country’s LGBTI community. Gay sex, even consensual, is a crime in Malaysia and punishable by up to 20 years in jail.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/malaysias-top-court-upholds-sodomy-conviction-against-opposition-leader100215
 Zurich: A priest in the Swiss village of Bürglen has refused to resign after blessing a lesbian couple in 2014. The local bishop has called for Wendelin Bucheli’s resignation for violating Catholic doctrine. Bucheli says he sees nothing wrong with blessing a committed couple, however, and many residents of the town have signed a petition in support of their priest.Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com 
Slovenia: Slovenia’s Parliament has in a groundbreaking move debated same-sex marriage, despite gay and lesbian couples being banned from tying the knot there.Kansas: Republican Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback  has rescinded an order that protected LGBT workers from discrimination.
London: The British Conservative Party held its annual Black and White Ball this week, and auctioned off a stay at a hotel owned by the Sultan of Brunei, despite ongoing boycotts of the chain due to a new law which allows gay people to be stoned to death.
Washington DC:  The US Republican Party has indicated it will file no brief to the Supreme Court, ahead of an upcoming case on marriage equality. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has predicted that the Supreme Court will soon make a ruling in favour of same-sex marriage, saying “it doesn’t make sense” to have a “patchwork system”.
Rome: According to Italy’s highest appeals court, same-sex couples have no right to marriage, as there is nothing in the Italian constitution requiring the Government to grant such rights.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk 
New Jersey:  It is a violation of New Jersey state consumer fraud law to misrepresent homosexuality as a “mental disorder”, a New Jersey judge has ruled in a case involving an organization offering “ex-gay” therapy. The ruling came Tuesday in a lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH, a New Jersey–based  Orthodox Jewish fundamentalist “ex-gay” group. “It is a misrepresentation in violation of [New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act], in advertising or selling conversion therapy services, to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease, disorder, or equivalent thereof,” wrote Hudson County Superior Court Judge Peter F. Barsio, Jr. The case is ongoing, as the question remains as to whether JONAH actually made such claims, Barsio wrote in his ruling. If a jury finds that JONAH “represented homosexuality not as a mental disorder but as ‘disordered’ and prohibited by its religion,” he wrote, the claim would be legally protected under the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom. Still, the ruling is significant, said lawyers with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which brought the suit on behalf of former JONAH clients, in partnership with two law firms.Source: http://www.advocate.com 
Arkansas:  An Alabama minister has been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct because she would not leave a probate judge’s office where she was trying to officiate a wedding for two women. Anne Susan Diprizio, a nondenominational ordained minister, was arrested Monday and charged Tuesday after she refused to vacate the office of Autauga County Probate Judge Al Booth in Prattville, Ala., where she was trying to perform a wedding for Courtney Cannon and Morgan Plunkett.Source: http://www.advocate.com
London: British Labour MP Diane Abbott is set to address the issue of growing mental health issues in the London LGBT community.
Tokyo: For the first time in Japan, a district of Tokyo has announced plans to recognise gay couples’ relationships through “partnerships” certificates.
Dublin: Katherine Zappone, Ireland’s only out lesbian senator, says the country “stands poised to become a beacon of freedom” if it passes marriage equality.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk.
Azerbaijan: The Central Asian nation’s only LGBT group has been forced to close over fears about their safety.
San Fransisco:  Members of San Francisco’s trans community staged a ‘die-in’ in front of the city hall this week. More than 20 trans women, dressed in red and black, laid down on the sidewalk and acted dead in a bid to bring attention to the six trans women of color murdered already in 2015. Hundreds of people – trans and their allies – took part in the rally following the murder of Taja deJesus, a trans woman stabbed to death on the steps outside a Bayview apartment on 1 February.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/san-fran-trans-people-lie-dead-protest-violence-killings120215Manila:  A bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity has hurdled the committee level at the Philippine House of Representatives. The committee on women and gender equality Tuesday (10 February) voted 10 to 2 in favor of the bill authored by Dinagat Islands Rep Kaka Bag-ao.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/philippines-anti-gay-discrimination-bill-hurdles-committee-level120215 London:  A UK transgender detainee was called ‘the thing’ and ‘it’ by an officer while waiting to appear in court, it was revealed on 11 February.  According to a report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, this was just one of the shortcomings in custody facilities in courts throughout Sussex and Surrey, including Lewes, Hove and Brighton. The UK chief inspector of prisons  is said to be ‘disturbed’ by the incident. Discrimination against trans people is illegal in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland under the Equality Act.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-trans-detainee-called-thing-and-it-officer110215
Sacramento:  LGBTI people have better self esteem and less depression as young adults if they are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, a study has revealed. Researchers have claimed if you are going to hide your identity to the world, it is far more likely to lead to abuse and depression.   245 LGBTI young adults in California, aged 21 to 25, who said they came out in middle school and high school took surveys to measure depression and life satisfaction. The researchers found those who suffered homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying were more likely to suffer in adulthood, but that abuse occurred regardless of whether the students disguised their identity or not.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-adults-have-better-self-esteem-if-they-came-out-school110215
Washington DC: Chelsea Manning has been allowed access to the hormonal treatment drugs that she needs to start formally transitioning.
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news
Melbourne:  Australian Sex Party leader Fiona Patten’s inaugural speech this week in the Parliament of Victoria got specific about a topic that’s always been at the heart of the sexually liberal party’s policies – LGBTI equality:“I will stand together with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning community to rid our system of inequality. I will fight for better outcomes in the areas of mental and sexual health, and I believe we owe it to our children to take a different approach to sex education and relationship education in our schools. I will continue at every step I can to ensure that everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, gender, race, colour or religion, is able to live the life they choose to live without interference and in freedom.”
Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au
Gambia: Corrupt Gambian antigay despot Yahya Jammeh owns a get-away house in Maryland.
Malta: Several nations are more progressive than the United States, which still hasn’t gotten around to issuing gender neutral passports. These are New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Bangladesh and Nepal, all of which do.
Source: http://www.advocate.com
London: Trans activist Zoe O’Connell has been selected as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Liberal Democrats.
Washington DC:  A transgender former Navy SEAL is planning to challenge one of the most senior Democrats in the House of Representatives. Kristin Beck – who came to prominence in 2013 after she opened up about her gender transition – plans to challenge Democrat Steny Hoyer in the party’s Maryland primaries. Mr Hoyer has represented Maryland’s 5th district since 1981, and currently serves as the House Minority Whip under Nancy Pelosi. If he is defeated in the primary, it would mark a major shake-up for the Democrats.
Alabama: The chief justice of Alabama, who has been attempting to stop judges from marrying same-sex couples, has found some probably unwanted support from the rabidly racist Ku Klux Klan.
Dublin:  Ireland’s former equality minister has come out as gay. Former Fianna Fáil minister Pat Carey, who was Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, revealed today that he is gay. Mr Carey had been a prominent politician within the party, but he left politics when he lost his Dublin seat in the 2011 election.
Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Berlin: Unbelievably, Germany has told prospective asylum seekers that Uganda’s government “protects”  LGBT Ugandans!  Local authorities in Munich refused refugees asylum because ‘Uganda’s government does enough to protect gays [sic]‘
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com
Melbourne:  A leading Orthodox Jewish religious leader in Australia has told a public inquiry into child abuse in institutions that he believes that gay people can change their orientation if they undergo therapy and are given spiritual guidance. Rabbi Zvi Telsner made the comment in response to questions at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia, which is currently examining how Jewish schools in Melbourne and Sydney responded to reports of child abuse since the 1980s.
Update: Head of Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre Rabbi Zvi Telsner told the current royal commission into child abuse last week he believes gay people could be cured “through therapy”, just as he believed the same to be true of paedophiles. In a statement today, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) called Telsner “out of line and out of touch with the community. This is repulsive, ignorant and insulting, demonstrating a serious departure from the views of the mainstream Jewish community. Rabbi Telsner also linked paedophilia and homosexuality in his testimony. Any such linking is disturbing and indeed toxic. Those comments are poisonous to people of diverse sexual preference, their families and friends.”

Jewish LGBTI youth organisation Aleph Melbourne praised the JCCV’s response, and called on Orthodox rabbis to follow the example of other Jewish communities.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/rabbi-tells-australian-child-abuse-inquiry-pedophiles-could-be-cured-someone-who-was-gay13022015
Adelaide:  The South Australian Government recently announced plans to review legislative and regulatory discrimination against individuals and families on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or intersex status. With the help of the South Australian Law Reform Institute, the recommendations that come from the review would aim to remove any remaining discrimination towards the state’s LGBTI community. Environment Minister Ian Hunter, South Australia’s only openly-gay state parliamentarian, some of the existing legislation continues to see individuals and families suffer as a result: “Some couples are still unable to adopt, access surrogacy and assisted reproductive treatment, and have their parentage formally recognised,” he said.
Source: http://www.starobserver.com.au
Little Rock: Arkansas is on its way to enshrining anti-LGBT discrimination into law. The state’s House of Representatives Friday approved a bill that would prevent cities and counties from enacting or enforcing laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Source: http://www.advocate.com
London: UKIP has denied that it selected a notoriously anti-gay Christian preacher as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate- Rev. George Hargreaves, former leader of the fundamentalist Christian Party, is now reportedly standing for UKIP in Coventry South. Although in denial, former UKIP Coventry South candidate Mark Taylor has stated that he was “moved aside.” However, UKIP has now deselected Hargreaves.
Dublin: Sinn Féin Member of the European Parliament  Lynn Boylan has attacked the Irish government’s “disgraceful” draft Gender Recognition Bill, claiming that it is an ‘insult to trans people.’ Although the bill will afford trans people legal recognition, activists have reacted with dismay to parts of the law which requires trans people to divorce in order to gain gender recognition, and requires medical evaluation. Amnesty Ireland has also stated that the bill needs to be amended.
Houston: “Thou shalt not bear false witness???” Texas antigay campaigners deliberately falsified signatures on a  petition to trigger a referendum that sought  the repeal of an equal rights law in Houston, ruled a jury.   Houston City Attorney Dave Feldman announced that so many were invalid that the petition was well below the threshold. After a long legal process, and nearly a week deliberating, the jury in the case has delivered a mixed verdict – finding that 12 of the petition’s circulators submitted sheets that contained forgery and other flaws.
Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Alabama: Roy Moore, the court’s chief justice, does not support marriage equality and advised probate judges not to issue certificates to same-sex couples.
Hanoi: A Vietnamese lesbian couple  said their wedding vows and exchanged rings onboard a Vietjet flight on Valentine’s Day, according to an advertorial on a local news website.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com
Whitianga:  A lesbian couple say they’re the victims of discrimination after they were turned down for a job because of their sexuality. The pair were told they weren’t a traditional male/female couple so their application to manage a holiday park was rejected. Emily Carter and Danika Te Moananui consider themselves to be handy women and they like hard work. The couple aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. They’ve worked with cars, on farms and in shops. But they say their skills and experience counted for nothing when they applied to manage Whitianga’s Mercury Bay Holiday Park. [Hang on, that sounds like employment discrimination to me- and that's illegal under the Human Rights Act 1993!  Bloody ignorant yokels- why the hell are they unable to be bothered to know the law of the land- Craig]
Ottawa: Right-wing Sun News Network, a news channel belonging to the Quebecor media group, has gone off the air after failing to find an audience after four years in existence.  The “Fox News of the North,” as the conservative-leaning channel was sometimes called, was never able to recover after Quebecor sold its English-language newspapers to its competitor Postmedia, depriving it of an important source of content. Only the Sun News logo appeared yesterday morning (local time) on the television channel and its corresponding internet site. Two hundred employees lost their jobs.
Dublin: Progay religious lobby groups in Ireland have formed a coalition in support of marriage equality.  Ahead of the poll, a group of religious organisations have formed an interfaith coalition to lobby in support of equality – including both Catholics and Protestants. Faith in Marriage Equality includes representatives from We are Church Ireland, Gay Catholic Voice Ireland and Changing Attitude Ireland.
Beijing: A series of adverts urging people to be more accepting of gay people has launched in China. The ad series, titled ‘Love is not a Choice’, launched on social media in the country – and is aimed at breaking China’s strong cultural taboo surrounding homosexuality. Ahead  of the Lunar New Year holidays next week, PFLAG China has launched a short film to promote family reunions between parents and their gay children.
Washington DC:  An anti-gay group has compared its latest rally to the March on Washington where Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The ailing and indebted  National Organisation for Marriage, which purports to just oppose same-sex marriage but has ties with extreme anti-gay groups, is currently planning its latest ‘March for Marriage’ rally, as the Supreme Court prepares to take up a marriage equality case and with thirty-eight states having already recognised marriage equality.
Brasilia: According to the country’s gay rights group Grupo Gay de Bahia, one LGBTI person is killed every 28 hours. This week the group revealed 2013 saw 312 trans, gay, or bisexual people murdered because of their sexuality. On January 29, six days after Piu’s body was found, members of the trans community took to Rio’s city hall, holding a National Trans Visibility day to protest against the violence and prejudice directed at them:‘Foreigners come to carnival expecting free sex and love, but the image Brazil exports of freedom and liberty is false,’ Beatrice Cordeiro, who works to get trans people into employment, told The Guardian.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/every-28-hours-lgbti-person-killed-brazil130215
Atlanta: The racist and neofascist US hate group the Ku Klux Klan have come out against marriage equality.  As if they didn’t have overlapping membership with white fundie opponents of marriage equality already.  Ugh.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com
Pyongyang:  North Korea has gone on another homophobic rant against the openly gay chair of a 2013 report condemning Pyongyang’s human rights record. The Korean Central News Agency last month published an editorial demanding the US retract and apologize for the UN Commission of Inquiry.The editorial then turned on the authors of the report, singling out the former chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, Michael Kirby.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/north-korea-goes-another-anti-gay-rant-against-un-human-rights-investigator130215
London: British LGB organisation will now widen its remit to include transgender rights after extensive consultation with the transgender community in the United Kingdom.   The report states that over the next 18 months, Stonewall will take steps to make sure that trans expertise is reflected in its board of trustees as well as recruiting new trans experts to work with Stonewall staff. Working in partnership with trans organisations, Stonewall will focus on new projects inclusive of the wider LGBT community. After apologising for previous mistakes, Stonewall started the consultation with trans people by looking at the most effective ways of working in the future.
Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
Dublin:  One in five people are still unsure how they will vote in Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum. Ireland is set to vote on the issue later this year, with a referendum asking the country if they want to legalise gay marriage due to take place in May.   16% have insisted that they will vote against same-sex marriage in May. On a more positive note, 62% revealed that they intend to vote in favour of the referendum. Support for gay marriage is highest among Under 35’s (73%) and Females (63%) and lowest among Conn/Ulster Residents (21%) and Labour Supporters (24%)
Source: http://www.attitude.co.uk
London: British LGBT groups are criticising British Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Sultan of Brunei – who recently enacted shariah law, calling for homosexuals to be stoned to death.
London: A poll has found that the UK Independence Party has overtaken Marmite as Britain’s most hated brand.
London: 31 LGBT organisations from across England and Wales are coming to together to tackle hate crime.
Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Dublin: The Gay and Lesbian Network (GLEN) say that its has had a promising response to its call out for submissions. It will announce Ireland’s first Workplace Equality Ranking in the autumn.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com
Mandaue:  A comprehensive anti-gay discrimination ordinance Wednesday (11 February) passed it first reading in Mandaue City without opposition.  The diversity code was introduced by councilor Nenita Layese and is the first of its kind in the Philippines outside Metro Manila. The ordinance would create a diversity affairs commission to implement comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as well as sexual and transgender health, welfare and inclusivity programs.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/philippines-diversity-code-passes-first-reading-mandaue-city160215
Cairo: A man who was among a group of 26 Egyptian men who were accused by police of taking part in an orgy in a public bath house but were subsequently acquitted has attempted to kill himself.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/egyptian-man-accused-being-gay-over-bath-house-raid-tries-burn-himself-death160215
Kuala Lumpur: No one is born gay and denying people ‘conversion’ therapy is an ‘ethical violation.’ That is according to a flyer distributed by Malaysian religious authorities on Valentine’s Day. The leaflet, titled 10 myths about homosexuality, also claimed that gay people were not seriously disadvantaged by discrimination as they had higher levels of education. Several people distributed the flyers near Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur as well as leaflets titled Say No to Valentine’s Day and Say No to HIV.  The leaflet bore the logo of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department and a verse from the Quran condemning ‘illegal sexual intercourse.’ The Malay Mail Online noted similarities between the flyer and a 2010 brochure by the Family Research Council, a US Christian Right  lobby group  that opposes gay rights, abortion, divorce, embryonic stem-cell research and pornography.
Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/malaysia-issues-list-homosexual-myths160215
United States: Given fundamentalist Christian interference with the wall of faith/state separation, Satanists are getting in on the act, demanding equal time with their own holiday displays, ethical statements, proselytising material, children’s activities and so on. Ah, religious liberty… where if one is religious, one can take all the liberties one pleases…
Source: http://www.motherjones.com
Washington DC: After a flurry of legal filings, a complicated case pending before the Florida Supreme Court could have a major impact on laws that are used, in part, to criminalize sex involving HIV-positive people, though any ruling would not address the criminalization law itself. Initially, in 2011, an earlier state-level court dismissed a charge that Florida resident Gary Debaun had “uninformed HIV-infected sexual intercourse” with his former partner Charles Marlin. However, subsequently,  an appeals court disagreed on the definition of “intercourse,” and now the Florida State Supreme Court will weigh in on the case.  . In 1986, Florida was among four states that became the first to enact laws requiring HIV-positive individuals to disclose their status and seek consent before engaging in “sexual intercourse” with a partner. Violation of the law originally brought a misdemeanor charge, but in 1993 it became a third-degree felony.
Florida is just one of 34 US states and territories that still have HIV-specific laws on the books. (Some that don’t, such as Texas, have still prosecuted people with HIV under more general laws.) Like Florida’s, most of these state laws make it a crime to have sex without disclosing your positive status to your partner, even if you use a condom, have low- or no-risk activity, or have an undetectable viral load and are therefore unlikely to transmit HIV. Most scientists, researchers, and health care workers have come out against such laws in recent years, and Iowa became the first state to undo its own law last summer.
Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com
Alabama:  It’s no secret that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is probably going to lose his crusade against marriage equality in  Alabama. We’ve been down this road before: In 2003, when he insisted that he had the authority to impose religion in his court, he was removed from office. But then voters reelected him in 2012, and now he’s once again making claims that don’t quite have any actual basis in law. His latest fantasy is that US  state judges don’t need to obey rulings from federal courts.
Source: http://www.advocate.com
Baghdad: The brutal murders of allegedly gay men by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which claims the killings were lawful executions for the “crime” of homosexuality under its unprecedented interpretation of Sharia Law, have been documented in what amounts to a perverse “explainer” article published by ISIS in its propaganda magazine.  In addition to displaying images of the men’s horrific slayings, the propaganda piece also spelled out the militants’ rationale for committing the atrocities. By “clamping down on sexual deviance,” ISIS says it will save the Muslim world from the “downward spiral” of morality that the West has allegedly suffered since the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Some LGBT and human rights activists and journalists have complained that straight media outlets  have given the militant occupiers along the Iraq-Syria border only meagre  coverage in terms of the growing number of antigay atrocities.
Source: http://www.advocate.com
London: The Home Office has published new guidance on the treatment of sexual identity issues in asylum claims following last year’s critical report by Borders and Immigration Chief Inspector John Vine. These New Home Office guidance for caseworkers dealing with claims from people fleeing homophobic persecution has been welcomed by Paul Dillane,  head of  Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, a  leading LGBT refugee and asylum rights campaign organisation.
Delhi: Justice AP Shah, chairman of India’s Law Commission has condemned the country’s Supreme Court for recriminalisation of  homosexuality through its refusal to acknowledge repeal of Section 377 of India’s colonial era Penal Code:“Section 377 is discriminatory in its application, unreasonable in its intent, deprives a group of its personal autonomy and violates individual privacy and human dignity,” Justice Shah said yesterday in New Delhi at the launch of a book about LGBT rights. The Supreme Court’s ruling of December 2013 was constitutionally wrong, Justice AP Shah warned: “Consequences of the laws in our country on gay sex include damage to the psychological well-being of homosexuals, encouragement of violence and facilitation of police harassment and discrimination against the LGBT community.”
 Kathmandu: A committee in Nepal has urged the country to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples.
 Stockholm:  Elite Stadshotell at Västerås,  a hotel in Sweden has been accused of refusing access to gay couples, and lying to say they were “closed for refurbishment”, when same-sex couples enquired.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Richmond:  Rick McDaniel, a minister at the fundamentalist Richmond Community Church in Virginia,  is using the publicity surrounding the Fifty Shades of Grey movie to protest against marriage equality. He claims it is a result of divine intervention.  McDaniel has claimed this is the “best way”  to respond to the popularity of EL James’ BDSM novel adaptation. Apart from marriage equality, his five other ‘shades of gray’  are pornography, divorce, cohabitation and adultery.  As for the movie, it  has made over $260,000,000 (€228,000,000) so far at the worldwide box office.Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/pastor-using-fifty-shades-grey-preach-against-gay-marriage170215 
Washington DC: While positive trans visiblity is on the upswing, it’s undeniable that real legal and economic disparities face U.S. trans citizens daily, especially those who are multiply marginalized by intersecting identities of race, gender, and class. The ongoing epidemic of murderous violence and assault against trans women of color is one major indicator.As these deaths go largely overlooked by mainstream media, the the average cisgender (nontrans) American may have difficulty visualizing the concrete harm — both big and small — that antitrans discrimination brings to the trans folks in their communities everyday. In order to help fill that gap with more much-needed information, a new report by the Movement Advancement Project and Center for American Progress, Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being Transgender in America, provides unignorable data that directly links prejudiced attitudes towards trans people with the trans population’s striking economic imbalance.Providing analysis and clear visuals related to fiscal matters — an issue, MAP and CAP states, which resonates with all Americans — the report rephrases a question common among trans advocates, asking, “Is there a financial penalty for being trans in America?” The answer is a resounding yes, and the reasons why are as important to understand as they are damning for the policymakers, health care providers, and educators currently upholding a system that renders trans people uniquely vulnerable to financial destitution, and its accompanying further ostracization and criminalization. In one of its most striking findings, MAP and CAP report that trans people are nearly four times more likely to have a yearly household income below $10,000 (15 percent vs. 4 percent of the nontrans population). The numbers go up if a trans individual is a person of color, with Asian American/Pacific Islander and Latino trans folks nearly six times as likely to be living in poverty as their API or Latino cisgender counterparts. [Horrifying. One wonders about the impact of institutional racism and economic inequality here- Craig]Source: http://www.advocate.com 
Iowa: Iowa could be the third US state to outlaw gay conversion therapy now a bill to ban it has advanced.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Havana: A new strain of HIV has been found in Cuba, which progresses to AIDS twice as fast as the average strain of the virus.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk
Cork: Attackers in Cork in Ireland are using gay dating apps to lure their victims into meeting.Source: http://www.pinknews.co.uk

London:  Trans woman claims that her card was put on hold because security were expecting someone with a ‘higher voice.’

 Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Dallas: A Texas judge has ruled that state’s ban against marriage equality is unconstitutional.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Belfast:  A grieving man who has been the target of a series of homophobic attacks and death threats has said he can no longer live in his north Belfast home. Paul Finlay-Dickson, whose civil partner Maurice died of cancer last month, said the attacks began 18 months ago and continued through his illness.  Police have said they are investigating complaints ranging from threats to kill to harassment and criminal damage. The couple celebrated their civil partnership last November, seven weeks before Maurice died, at the age of 41. Gavin Boyd from the Rainbow Project told the programme that his organisation works very closely with the police and housing authorities on cases where members of the gay community are being victimised and intimidated in their own homes.

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

British Columbia: Maurice Genereux is living a quiet life of semi-retirement, running a small gay guesthouse in Victoria, BC. But when the Supreme Court of Canada issued its explosive decision Feb 6 declaring laws against physician-assisted suicide unconstitutional, Genereux’s past met Canada’s future. Genereux was the first doctor ever convicted under the law the Supreme Court just overturned. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to prescribing barbiturates that were used in a patient’s suicide.  For Genereux, the lack of alternatives in the late 1990s for HIV/AIDS patients made for difficult choices. Despite the emergence of protease inhibitors and new drug cocktails, many patients were effectively resistant to treatment. His conviction centred on two cases, he explains. Both men had HIV but were not facing imminent death. About the same time that Genereux was serving his time in prison, US doctor Jack Kevorkian was making headlines for providing assistance in the suicides of more than 100 people. He was convicted of murder in 1999.  On a personal level, he adds that the decision is reassuring to him in case he ever seeks medical assistance at the end of life. He also can’t help reflecting on his own role in this issue.  He laments that the medical establishment did not support him when the case came up.  A Vernon, BC doctor in 2007 received a two-year conditional sentence to be served in the community and lost his license to practice medicine after he prescribed a 92-year-old patient a deadly dose of medications in what appears to be the only other case in which the law was applied. In 1997, a Nova Scotia doctor was charged with first-degree murder in the death of a cancer patient but a judge declined to bring the case to trial.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Dallas: They say you shouldn’t mess with Texas — and that applies to religious leaders taking a stand for marriage equality in the famously conservative Lone Star State.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Tens of thousands of fundamentalists are preparing to ditch their support for the Tories due to same-sex marriage, the UK Evangelical Alliance has claimed.

Dublin: Irish Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow has spoken about the Irish same-sex marriage referendum, saying that love between two human beings should be respected “whatever their sex”.  However, a senior Catholic bishop has warned against the “danger of groupthink” on the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum. The Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Denis Nulty, claimed the Irish media and Parliament was already supportive of marriage equality.

Seattle: A US judge this week ruled that a florist which refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding was in violation of the state of Washington’s anti-discrimination laws.

A Washington state judge has ruled that florist Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, broke state antidiscrimination law when she refused to provide flowers for the wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. Stutzman, represented by anti-LGBT legal juggernaut the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), had been sued by the same-sex couple and the state’s attorney general for breaking both the Washington Law Against Discrimination and the state’s Consumer Protection Act. She countersued, seeking the right to engage in such discrimination based on her religious beliefs.

Though Stutzman has become a heroine of the religious right for asserting her Southern Baptist beliefs against marriage equality, her “religious freedom” argument  fell flat in court. Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom concluded in his decision that “to accept any [of] the Defendants’ arguments would be to disregard well-settled law.” In fact, the case was rather open-and-shut. On March 1, 2013, “Stutzman refused to provide to Ingersoll a service she provided to others,” Ekstrom wrote. What she believes about marriage equality is immaterial, because the law’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation “address conduct, not beliefs.” Agreeing with the plaintiffs and the attorney general, Ekstrom asserted that “no Court has ever held that religiously motivated conduct, expressive or otherwise, trumps state discrimination law in public accommodations.” Stutzman is not a minister nor is Arlene’s Flowers a religious organization. Likewise, the law does not specifically target her because of her beliefs, but is “neutral and generally applicable” to all people of all beliefs. Fundamentalist televangelist Pat Robertson has compared the decision to zoophile wedding cakes (???). The florist,  who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, has rejected a proposed legal settlement.

Detroit:  A doctor has refused to treat a 4-month-old child, saying she her religion had prevented her from being able to, because the parents are gay. Bay Windsor was born to married couple Krista and Jami Contreras. After registering with Dr Roi, and making an appointment once Bay arrived, the couple arrived at the hospital.

Atlanta: A fundamentalist Southern US fire chief, Kevin Cochran, who was fired for publishing a book comparing being gay to bestiality, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Atlanta.

Bogota: Columbia’s Constitutional Court has refused to support adoption reform for LGBT Columbians.

Ghana: A homophobic attack on Ghanaian musician  Kinto has opened up a rare debate about homophobic oppression in Ghanaian society and it is condemned by celebrities in that nation.

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

Rome:  Pope Francis has compared trans people to nuclear weapons, saying both do not ‘recognize the order of creation’. The head of the Catholic Church has claimed people who ‘manipulate’ their bodies are similar to ‘Herods’ that ‘destroy, that plot designs of death, that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation.’ [What utterly ridiculous hyperbole.-Craig] Pope Francis is writing about “Herods” that ” disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation,” and here are some quotes from the pontiff featured in Pope Francis: This Economy Kills:

Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings. Let’s think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation. With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator. The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate. God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth. The design of the Creator is written in nature.

The pope has also been criticized for a lack of policy changes (which most observers grant are unlikely) and critical statements about same-sex marriage and nontraditional families. It’s possible that some of his statements are an effort to appear more conservative after a bishops’ meeting last year that initially seemed promising for LGBT inclusion but did not turn out that way. Another synod on LGBT and other family-related issues will follow in October.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/pope-francis-compares-trans-people-nuclear-weapons190215

Washington DC:  The US Army is reportedly considering making it easier for transgender people to serve in the military. A draft document obtained by USA Today proposes raising the authorisation level needed to initiate dismissal proceedings against trans service members. The leaked report, which has not been adopted as official directive, does not rescind current Army policy, which considers transgender people “administratively unfit” for service.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/will-us-army-finally-accept-trans-soldiers190215

London:  A petition calling on the British government to pardon tens of thousands of men convicted under anti-gay UK laws has reached a milestone almost half a million signatures. Spurred on by the recent portrayal of war-time codebreaker and gay man Alan Turing, played by Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, 450,000 people have thrown their weight behind the campaign.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/nearly-half-million-call-49000-persecuted-gay-men-be-pardoned190215

 Tokyo: According to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Constitution does not envisage marriage equality.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 London:  Current UK HIV  prevention spending  isn’t enough to have any impact on the rate of new infection rates, the UK  National AIDS Trust (NAT) has found. A new report by the charity has found that in local authorities with high prevalence of HIV, only 0.1% of local authority public health allocation is spent on HIV prevention. In 2013, the NHS spent 55 times more on HIV treatment and care in these areas than local authorities spent on HIV prevention.In 2014/15 just £15 million was spent nationally on HIV prevention, compared with £55 million allocated in 2001/02. In that time, the number of people living with HIV has trebled whilst the amount spent on prevention has decreased to less than a third of the original budget.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of the NAT, said that there was currently “no correlation” between local HIV rates and levels of spending, creating a “postcode lottery” of HIV services.

“Our research found, shockingly, in the 58 areas of highest prevalence of HIV in England, seven local authorities weren’t spending anything on primary HIV prevention or on additional testing services. Testing for HIV is an important prevention intervention as we know that up to 80% of people get HIV from someone who doesn’t know they have it. Worryingly 35 out of 58 local authorities were not investing anything in HIV testing outside sexual health clinics in 2014-15. This is despite NICE guidelines clearly stating they should be offering tests in GPs surgeries, hospitals and community settings in order to have any hope of reducing the number of people with undiagnosed HIV, and further transmissions, in their areas.”

The charity has also predicted that the situation will worsen when ring-fencing for the public health budget is removed from April 2016. Gold continued: “In the current climate of cuts and pressure on budgets we are extremely worried this money will be used to shore up other areas of council spend. This would be a disaster for public health in this country.” The government has already come under fire for its plans to halve HIV funding from April this year, while figures published by Public Health England indicated that 3,250 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with the virus during 2013 – the highest annual figure on record.

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

 London:  An anti-gay conservative Muslim preacher is scheduled to speak at Westminster University later this month (February). Sheikh Haitham Al Haddad, an advisor of the Islamic Sharia Council, has been invited to speak at the University on February 26.

Haddad – who has been invited to speak by the University’s Islamic Society – has previously argued that homosexuality is a “criminal act,” defended men who physically abuse their wives and insisted that female circumcision is “proper”. Shortly after news of Haddad’s visit broke, Westminster University’s LGBTI society created a petition calling on the University to cancel his appearance, saying that it’s “not possible to create a safe space for thousands of LGBT students if an Anti-gay preacher is allowed on campus a day before”. The petition has already received more than 750 signatures.

In response to these concerns, a  Westminster University spokesperson said:

“The University of Westminster is committed to maintaining freedom of speech and a range of views as set out in the Education Act 1986. As a diverse community of local and international students of many faiths, respect and tolerance is our foremost concern and we will be monitoring the event carefully and any student concerns. The University has a strict speaker policy which means that all speakers are required to give their agreement to abide by a code of practice. Speakers who do not comply with this policy while on campus will not be permitted to speak at the University in the future.”  Haddad, who is the subject of a petition to ban him from speaking at a London university has accused the LGBT community of attempting to “shut down” his “dialogue” (sic).

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

 Sydney:  More HIV+  men need to think about starting treatment straight after diagnosis if ambitious targets to end HIV transmission by 2020 are to be met, the head of NSW-based LGBTI health body ACON has said. The comments come as the organisation launches a major new sexual health campaign that also aims to clear up confusion surrounding one of the newest buzzwords in the HIV lexicon. Following its “test more” and “stay safe” campaigns, from this weekend ACON will begin blitzing social media, in print and venues with the “treat early” message. Talking to the Star Observer, ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said there was increasing evidence that starting medication sooner had personal health benefits as well as protecting others.

Initial findings from Europe’s Partner study, released last year, found there was generally a one per cent chance, and at most a four per cent chance, of a person with HIV passing the virus onto their partner if their viral load was practically nil. Taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) is effective in lowering viral loads but, previously, starting treatment hadn’t been recommended until after a person’s CD4 count had fallen below 350 – often some time after the initial diagnosis when viral loads are high. Australian guidelines now recommend starting ART at any time after infection. ACON has launched its annual survey, which  aims to gain information and an understanding from Sydney’s gay men on sexual behaviour, sexual health, drug use, and more.

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

 Dublin: Ireland has set a provisional date for the country’s referendum on marriage equality.

Dallas:  A day after a lesbian couple were allowed to marry in the state of Texas on medical grounds, Republican  Attorney General Ken Paxton there has argued that it should be deemed void. The couple, who married in Austin, were allowed to marry for medical reasons, and a rabbi preceded over the ceremony, after the marriage licence was issued. The couple, who were described by officials as “medically fragile”, as Goodfriend has ovarian cancer, were allowed to marry after a state district court ordered that officials should not rely on the unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state.

Helsinki: The President of Finland has signed a law legalising gender-neutral marriage – but couples will face a long wait before they are allowed to marry.  However, due to the legal changes required, the new law will not come into force until March 1, 2017 – leaving same-sex couples who wish to marry unable to do so for two years. The waiting period is necessary for the country’s Justice Ministry to make revisions to a raft of other legislation, to bring it into line with gender neutral marriage. Legislation on a number of issues, from health to welfare and social care will require revision. revision. The secondary legislation will be submitted to Parliament beginning in Autumn.

London: NHS England has affirmed the rights of trans people to be treated within 18 weeks of referral – despite growing backlogs in the system leaving some waiting years.

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

 London:  As many as one in 100 people could in some way could be described as intersex, scientists have said. Dr Claire Ainsworth, a developmental biologist, has argued advances in research mean the traditional two-sex ‘male’ and ‘female’ notion is outdated, and that chromosomes, anatomy, cells and hormones often don’t all conform. While it was once thought that one in 2000 babies are born intersex, this could be a vast underestimation. Ainsworth, and other researchers, have done new research on differences in sex development (DSDs), which could lead to a difference in a person’s anatomical or physiological sex.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/could-you-be-intersex-scientists-say-you-now-have-1-100-chance190215

Washington DC:  Several prominent LGBTI members of the US Congress have urged US President Barack Obama to drop Brunei and Malaysia from a major trade deal if they do not repeal their severe anti-gay laws. In a letter dated 18 February, five of the six co-chairs of the LGBT Equality Caucus praised the president’s gay rights record but sought clarification on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership free trade agreement  (TPP), which his administration is trying to fast-track through Congress.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/gay-members-congress-urge-obama-drop-brunei-and-malaysia-trade-deal200215

 Melbourne:  Same-sex couples in Victoria who want to adopt children are now one step closer to having their dreams realised with the Victorian Government today announcing a review of family laws that could legislate for equality. As part of the review process, the government has invited public submissions to permit adoption of children by same-sex couples under Victorian law. Equality Minister Martin Foley said same-sex couples and their families find themselves unrecognised by the current adoption laws. Foley said the review would examine how best to legislate for adoption equality, not whether the law changes should happen.

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

 Washington DC:  Homeless transgender and gender-nonconforming people can breathe a little easier after a long-awaited announcement Friday: the federal government has issued guidance to all shelters and transitional housing programs to allow residents access based on their self-determined gender. Though not binding regulations, this decision from the department of Housing and Urban Development is a significant step in the right direction, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 Dublin: A leaflet distributed in Dublin claims that gay people have a life expectancy of 60 because they “contract cancers earlier in life”.   The leaflet was circulated to urge people to vote no in the Republic of Ireland’s upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage, which is set to be held on May 22.  It was reportedly handed to an Irish Herald reporter during the Divine Mercy Apostolate Conference at the Royal Dublin Society. The leaflet claims it was issued by the Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage (ADFAM).   The document, titled ‘Why Should I Vote Against Same-Sex Marriage?’ lists a number of reasons designed to encourage voters not to support same-sex marriage. Branding it a “confidence trick”, the list claims that same-sex marriage is “very short-lived, and promiscuous”:

“They will still contract cancers earlier in life. The average life expectancy in same-sex relationships is 60 years. Statistically they are, more than average, subject to alcoholism, illegal drug abuse, depression and suicide,” it stated. ADFAM went on to add that a ‘yes’ vote would be like “voting for the Islamist law known as ‘sharia law’,” before claiming that “persecution of Christians surely will follow, and it will become a climb to teach and preach Christian morality”. Meanwhile, an Irishman living in London is urging Irish people to return home to vote in the same-sex marriage referendum.

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

 London: The UK Christian Right’s “Family Education Trust”  has warned in the Daily Mail that an increase in lesbians having babies could lead to more “emotional problems”. The Family Education Trust bills itself as a “non-religious” group – but the widely-discredited study to which Dr Stammers appears to be referring was conducted by researchers at the Catholic University of America. The study states that “children in same-sex families are at 2.38 times the risk of emotional problems compared to children in opposite-sex families” – not four times as Dr Stammers claims. The research has also has been criticized by a multitude of researchers, with an independent study in Denmark finding that the children of lesbian parents “showed no significant differences” from others.

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

 Bogota:  LGBTI rights activists in Colombia are disappointed after the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the only circumstance where gays and lesbians should be allowed to adopt is where the child in question is the biological child of their partner. The issue had been winding its way through the courts and there were hopes it might lead to full adoption rights for LGBTI Colombians,

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/colombia-court-allows-gays-and-lesbians-adopt-their-spouse%E2%80%99s-children-only200215

Baton Rouge:  Two men were arrested in Louisiana earlier this month under the state’s law barring “unnatural carnal copulation” between two people of the same gender. The unnamed men were arrested after engaging in sexual activity in a car, and charged under the law, even thought it was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court 12 years ago under the landmark case, Lawrence v. Texas. Following the incident, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie issued a reminder to officers to stop arresting people under that statute.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London: Relatives of codebreaker Alan Turing will deliver a petition to 10 Downing Street, calling for all men persecuted for their sexuality to be pardoned.

London: An image of former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey will reportedly be removed from a building at King’s College London, after objections from LGBT campaigners.

Washington DC: Former Saturday Night Live actress-turned Tea Party activist Victoria Jackson has claimed that Barack Obama is an “Islamic jihadist” who supports marriage equality.

United States:  A fundamentalist  book publisher has scrapped an author’s book deal – after he came out as gay! Evangelical writer Brandan Robertson had signed a deal last year for fundamentalist imprint Destiny Image to publish his book, ‘Nomad: Not-So-Religious Thoughts On Faith, Doubt, and the Journey In Between’.   After the imprint found out that he was gay, he alleges that he was asked to sign a statement affirming that he does not “condone, encourage, or accept the homosexual lifestyle”. Mr Robertson, who is a spokesperson for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, refused to sign the statement, and days later he was contacted by the publisher again – and told his book had been dropped.

Washington DC: Mike Honda, a prominent Democratic congressman and supporter of LGBT rights  has revealed that he has a transgender granddaughter, while speaking out in favour of trans rights.

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

Alabama: Robert Bentley, the governor of Alabama, vows to follow the federal courts when it comes to marriage equality.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/alabama-governor-promises-obey-federal-court-same-sex-marriage-ruling210215

 Belfast: The Catholic Church has said it supports the general objective of a DUP Private Member’s Bill seeking to build an anti-equality service providers discrimination clause into equality law. The bill was drawn up by DUP MLA Paul Givan, after a fundamentalist bakery faced legal action for refusing to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan. The clause would allow businesses to refuse to provide some services if they clash with their religious convictions. A delegation led by the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor met the DUP for talks. After meeting Mr Givan and the DUP leader Peter Robinson at Stormont, the Catholic delegation said that any change to the law would have to be carefully defined, to prevent it from leading to “spurious” claims of religious conscience.  The Catholic Church has concerns about the impact of anti-discrimination law on its adoption agency and, potentially, its marriage guidance service.

Mr Givan is currently carrying out a consultation into a Private Member’s Bill, but opponents have pledged to block the conscience clause bill if it ever gets to the Stormont chamber. Sinn Féin said it had gathered enough support for a petition of concern, which means that the bill would need cross-community support and, therefore, would not pass into law. Sinn Féin’s 28 MLAs have pledged to sign the petition, as have the Green MLA Steven Agnew and NI21 MLA Basil McCrea.This brought the potential petition to 30 signatures, which is the number needed to make it valid. The Alliance and Social Democratic Labour Parties have also pledged their opposition.

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

Washington DC: Less than a week after he was sworn in, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter offered the most encouraging statements from a Pentagon official to date indicating a change in the longstanding military policy that bars transgender Americans from serving openly.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Paris: French President Francois Hollande has vowed to introduce tougher penalties for racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic crimes.

Geneva: A Swiss legislative committee has overwhelmingly recommended that the country extends marriage rights to same-sex couples.  The legal affairs committee last week recommended that the National Council adopt a parliamentary initiative called Marriage for All. The vote was 12 in favor, two opposed, with one abstention. The initiative, which was submitted by the Green Liberal Party, calls on the legislature to open up marriage to gay couples, and registered partnerships to straight couples. Registered partnerships for Swiss gay couples have been recognized since January 2007.

Source:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/swiss-legislative-panel-backs-gay-marriage240215

 London: A High Court judge has granted permission for a legal case against the British Government for its refusal to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, to proceed. Unlike New Zealand’s Civil Union Act, the Civil Partnership Act excludes straight couples who might want to take that spousal recognition option instead of marriage proper.

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

Topeka: The US Federal Bureau of Investigations kept records on the late hatemongering homophobic and misanthropic fundamentalist US pastor Fred Phelps over four decades but ultimately dismissed him as a time wasting attention seeker who deliberately sought to provoke death threats against himself.

Manila:  A Philippine court has entered a not guilty plea on behalf of a US marine charged with the murder of a transgender woman. Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, 19, refused to enter a plea at his arraignment on Monday (23 February).

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/philippine-court-enters-not-guilty-plea-us-marine-charged-murder-trans-woman240215

Delhi:  In a first for India, Chhattisgarh state has set aside a 2% housing quota for its estimated 3,000 transgender residents. The move comes nearly a year after the Supreme Court recognized transgender citizens as third gender. In its ruling, the apex court directed governments to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs, education and basic amenities in line with other minorities. AK Saxena, additional commissioner at the Chhattisgarh housing board, said from now on transgender residents would have the quota in all government housing scheme

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/india-state-sets-aside-2-housing-quota-trans-residents240215

London:  The  UK Labour Party Opposition  recently announced it would make Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) LGBT-inclusive and compulsory in state schools across the country to combat homophobic bullying, should they win the May elections. Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt made the announcement at the Little Ilford School in London. He said the policy would apply to all state-funded primary and secondary schools. The initiative is part of a larger education report tabled by Labour called Ending Homophobia Together — Supporting LGBT Young People and Teachers

Hunt said in the report that “no young person should ever feel that their sexuality or gender identity prevents them from fulfilling their potential. Tackling homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools… is a Labour priority,” he said. A recent Cambridge University report entitled The School Report (2012)found that LGBT pupils who were bullied were at a higher risk of depression, self-harm and suicide. Hunt told  PinkNews that “the use of homophobic language and other forms of homophobic bullying is damaging the life chances of so many young people”.

For this reason, he said his latest plan has a strong focus on mental health and well-being so that students can perform at their highest potentialMeanwhile, in the US, a recent study revealed that students who come out in high school were less likely to experience depression and abuse. Stephen Russell wrote in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry that “what’s needed are supporting environments so that all kids can figure out and be as true to themselves as they can be”.

Moreover, the UK’s National Union of Student’s latest survey of 2500 university students revealed that the poor standards of sex education have had negative outcomes on young people. These included abusive relationships, lack of sexual fulfillment, unwanted pregnancies, and high rates of HIV and other STIs.

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

 Cambridge:  Scientists have claimed that same-sex parents could have children that are biologically their own within as little as two years.  Researchers at Cambridge University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have found that it is possible to create human egg and sperm cells from the stem cells in the skin of two adults. They claim that by using the same technique, same-sex couples could have children that are biologically theirs in as little as two years.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/scientists-claim-babies-biological-same-sex-parents-could-be-possible-two-years230215

 North Carolina: The North Carolina Senate approved a bill Wednesday morning that would allow state and county officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses or perform same-sex weddings on the basis of “sincerely held religious objections,” reports North Carolina LGBT outlet Q Notes.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Brisbane: The new ALP Queensland state government has reinstated full civil unions for LGBT couples- albeit without the right to adopt as yet.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

 Ottawa:  Canada’s transgender people will have to wait at least another year for inclusion within federal antidiscrimination laws after a Conservative-dominated Senate committee effectively killed a bill adding “gender identity” to both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act, according to its New Democrat Party sponsor. The legal and constitutional affairs committee voted in favour of several amendments to Bill C-279 during the last week in February 2015 that would need further approval from the House of Commons. The Houseof Commons  is unlikely to debate the bill again before it breaks for summer and then dissolves for a federal election scheduled this fall, according to its author, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca NDP MP Randall Garrison.

Garrison said, on one level, the public debate generated by his bill has had a positive impact, noting six provinces – Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan – have adopted similar antidiscrimination reforms since he first introduced it in the House of Commons. The bill was passed by MPs on March 20, 2013, with the support of 18 Conservative MPs. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the majority of Conservatives voted against it, while the NDP, Liberal, Bloc Québécois and Green Party MPs who cast votes unanimously supported it. The bill moved to the Senate a day later, but has since languished thanks largely to summer recess and Mr. Harper’s prorogation of Parliament.

C-279 added gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and would also add it to the list of distinguishing characteristics of “identifiable groups” protected by hate speech provisions in the Criminal Code. Garrison said he would probably vote against the amended bill if it miraculously gets back into the House before the summer break, particularly because of a bizarre wrecking amendment introduced by Conservative Senator Don Plett that would bar transgender people from entering single-sex washrooms.

Source: http://www.globeandmail.com

 London:  A quarter of homeless youths in the UK identify as LGBT, a shocking new report has found. The study by the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) – a charity which seeks to help LGBT youth suffering from, or at risk of, homelessness – examined the experiences of homeless youths aged 16-25 who identify as LGBT, and issued a survey consisting of 36 questions to 473 housing providers across England, Scotland and Wales.   The report found that LGBT youth – who are more likely to find themselves homeless than their non-LGBT peers – currently make up 24% of the homeless youth population in the UK. Of these, 77% said that their sexual orientation was a causal factor in their rejection from the family home.69% cited parental rejection due to their sexuality as a reason for their homelessness, while other causal factors included physical, emotional and sexual abuse (69%) and aggression or violence within the family (62%). The study also found that homeless LGBT youth were more likely to suffer from sexual exploitation, mental health issues, homophobic bullying and substance abuse problems. he main reasons that LGBT youths find themselves living on the street include parental rejection, abuse within the family or that they’ve become victim to aggression and violence.

And once homeless, LGBT young people are increasingly more likely than their non-LGBT peers to experience negative outcomes across physical, mental and sexual health, drug and alcohol use and dependency, discrimination and victimisation, and domestic violence. The Albert Kennedy Trust is now calling on the government to hold local authorities and hosing providers accountable for the accurate and consistent collection, monitoring and application of sexuality and gender identity data. What this means is that the charity is calling for more attention to be paid to the differences between homeless LGBT youths, and those on the streets who don’t identify as LGBT.

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

London:  Two in three British voters agree that the government should pardon all men convicted of historical gay sex offences, a new survey has revealed. In a poll conducted by YouGov, two-thirds of British people (65%) said the government should pardon the 49,000 men it prosecuted for gross indecency before 1967, while 21% say it should not.   A quarter (25%) of Conservatives and over a third (37%) of UKIP voters oppose issuing pardons, compared to 14% of Labour voters. The figures come just three days after the family of WWII codebreaker Alan Turing, joined by Attitude editor Matthew Todd, delivered a petition to Downing Street calling for the men to be pardoned, which had been signed by more than half a million people. The Pardon 49k campaign calls for pardons for all men convicted, after Turing himself was officially pardoned in 2009. The number of signatures on the petition – signed by people in at least 74 countries – currently stands at more than 577,000.

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

 Toronto:  When the news broke  that Somali-Canadian trans woman Sumaya Dasia Dalmar — also known as Sumaya Ysl — had been found dead reached friends and others in the Toronto trans community Sunday, speculation began on social media about whether or not the 26-year-old model and actress had been murdered.  But Toronto police have since stated on Facebook and Twitter that their investigation had found that Dalmar was not a homicide victim, reports Canadian LGBT publication Daily Xtra.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London:  A cleric who previously was accused of linking homosexuality with the “sexual abuse of children, polyandry and cannibalism” has been invited to speak at the Islamic society of a leading London university. Hamza Andreas Tzortzis was due to give a speech entitled ‘Why Islam?’ at the Islamic Society of Goldsmiths, University of London.

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

United States: Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle has proposed a bill that would make it illegal to allow a trans person to use gender-appropriate toilets, while the Indiana Senate has passed a bill allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people in the name of “religious freedom” (and West Virginia is considering one)  and North Carolina’s State Senate voted to allow state government officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

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

Kazakhstan:  The national Senate of Kazakhstan has passed a draft bill outlawing promotion of “non-traditional sexual orientation”.

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

Belfast: More than 148,000 people have signed a petition against a Northern Ireland DUP-backed “conscience clause” bill that would permit anti-gay service provider discrimination.

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

Edinburgh: Lloyds  Banking Group hosted an event at its Edinburgh headquarters to celebrate the top employers on Stonewall’s recent Workplace Equality Index.

New York:  Homeless LGBTI youth in New York City are engaging in ‘survival sex’ to their meet basic needs such as food and shelter, a federally funded study has found. Many of the 283 young people interviewed by the Urban Institute were forced onto the street after being kicked out of their homes or aging out of foster care.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/homeless-gay-youth-new-york-engage-survival-sex-food-and-shelter-study260215

 South Carolina:  Erkine College, a  private South Carolina fundamentalist college with two openly gay volleyball players has banned  gay sex. Erskine is  the college attended by Drew Davis and Juan Varona, two gay athletes who last year shared their stories in LGBT sports publication OutSports. The piece highlighted how accepting Davis and Varona’s teammates were of them. According to the Erskine website, the college was established by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church — separate from the more LGBT-friendly Presbyterian Church (USA) — which has on its website several position statements. The statement on homosexuality argues that homosexuality is a ‘changeable’ condition.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Phoenix: Arizona prosecutors for the city of Phoenix have dropped all charges against Monica Jones, a transgender woman of color and sex-workers rights advocate convicted of “manifesting prostitution” after she accepted a ride from an undercover police officer in an antiprostitution sting in May 2013.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 New York: DC continues to move the needle forward for LGBT visibility in comics by establishing Selina Kyle as one of the comic publisher’s highest-profile LGBT characters. After years of fan speculation, the original Catwoman has officially been outed as bisexual.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London: The Liberal Democrats are set to pledge support for a campaign to pardon men convicted of historic gay sex offences – despite fears it could end up helping paedophiles.

London: Dr Richard Curtis, a  doctor who provides specialist healthcare for trans people will not face action from the General Medical Council. Complaints were made that Dr Curtis had too readily prescribed treatments – with allegations he had failed to treat patients in accordance with standard procedures for trans people, and had been “misleading” in two endorsements for gender reassignment surgery.

Washington DC: The FBI has revealed that it kept an extensive file on hate preacher Fred Phelps, the man behind the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church.

Canberra: Australian Prime Minister Toby Abbott would attend his lesbian sister’s wedding, despite being against marriage equality.

Cape Town: Two men who ran a camp linked to “gay conversions” have been found guilty of murder, child abuse and assault.  Three teenage boys died after attending the Echo Wild Game Rangers military-style camp which was intended to “make men” out of teenage boys. Raymond Buys died after two weeks in hospital on life support. He was beaten, starved and forced to eat his own faeces at the camp in 2011. He had brain damage, a broken arm, severe dehydration, and cigarette burns all over his body. His mother was told his chances of survival were “virtually zero”. Alex de Koker and Michael Erasmus beat Buys with a spade, sticks and a pipe, forced him to eat soap powder and faeces and chained him to a bed when he tried to escape.

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

Delhi: India’s largest online shopping site has been sued for ’abetting gay sex and exhibiting obscene products.’ Snapdeal.com sells vibrators and lubrication, which a Supreme Court advocate said broke laws banning gay sex and public obscenity.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/india-shopping-site-selling-vibrators-and-lube-sued-abetting-gay-sex270215

 Seoul:  South Korea’s Constitutional Court has struck down a 60-year-old statute outlawing adultery under which violators faced up to two years in prison. The nine-member bench ruled by seven to two that the 1953 law was unconstitutional.  It was the fifth time the apex court had considered the constitutional legality of the legislation which had made South Korea one of the few non-Muslim countries to regard marital infidelity as a criminal act.

In the past six years, close to 5500 people have been formerly arraigned on adultery charges – including nearly 900 in 2014. But the numbers had been falling, with cases that end in prison terms increasingly rare. Whereas 216 people were jailed under the law in 2004, that figure had dropped to 42 by 2008, and since then only 22 have found themselves behind bars, according to figures from the state prosecution office. The downward trend was partly a reflection of changing societal trends in a country where rapid modernisation has frequently clashed with traditionally conservative norms.

Source: http://www.3news.co.nz/world/south-korea-kills-adultery-law-2015022621

 Kentucky: The Kentucky state Senate Friday approved a bill that would restrict transgender students’ access to bathrooms, locker rooms, and other gender-segregated facilities on campus.  SB 76  declares “an emergency” “relating to the physical privacy of students.” The bill, authored by Republican Sen. C.B. Embry Jr., seeks to create a new law that requires students to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and showers which correspond with their sex assigned at birth, which the bill refers to as “biological sex.”  The legislation defines “biological sex” as “the physical condition of being male or female, which is determined by a person’s chromosomes, and is identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.” It specifically prohibits transgender students from using facilities that correspond with their gender identity, if that identity does not match what they were assigned at birth. Instead, the bill suggests that trans students may use a single-stall, unisex bathroom.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

 London: Amanda Pattell, a Daily Mail columnist and former aide to former Tory Leader of the Opposition William Hague,  has claimed that HIV-preventing drugs like Truvada should not be available through the National Health Service – because it would “only encourage reckless behaviour”.  HIV/AIDS charities have called for the drug to be available to gay men on the NHS, following the study – but  Platell claimed  that it would encourage “risky behaviour”. She also said the NHS had already spent “million of pounds” on AIDS prevention – and suggested money be spent on cancer treatments instead.

London: The United Kingdom Independence Party would scrap the role of Minister for Women and Equalities, it announced.

Miami: Rumoured Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush has reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage – after claims he would soften his approach.

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

London: An Alan Turing-style general  pardon will be made for men who had consensual sex when homosexuality was still illegal.

Bangkok: Over 200 LGBTI advocates have arrived in Bangkok  for a meeting convened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The meeting is the first of its kind to bring together LGBTI activists, government and private sector representatives from over 30 countries.

Moscow: A Russian lesbian  club’s management are being investigated after an anti-LGBTI group sent complaints about them to the local prosecutor’s office. Meanwhile, a gay man has died after being stabbed twenty-six times.  Two men claim they stabbed the man after he sexually propositioned them.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Wellington: Matt Hooton is asking questions about Colin Craig’s whereabouts:

Prime Minister John Key has again been photographed being kissed by drag queens. Police commissioner Mike Bush has allowed uniformed officers to march in the annual Pride parade. Same-sex marriage continues with gay abandon. Schools are teaching students as young as five the correct names of body parts and what kinds of personal interaction is allowed and not allowed, rather than leaving them to work it out in the playground as they did in the good old days. Parents are still not allowed to smack their kids. God is displeased, sending drought to the South Island and [Queensland fruit flies]  to Auckland’s Sodom and Gomorrah, Grey Lynn.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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