Politics and Society: March 2016

March 1, 2016 in General

Canberra: Leaked pamphlets, to feature in an upcoming campaign against same-sex marriage, suggest children of gay and lesbian parents are more prone to “abuse and neglect” and more likely to be unemployed, abuse drugs and suffer depression. The pamphlets have been authorised by a former parliamentary secretary to John Howard and indicate the potential lines of attack for the “no” campaign at a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Labor and marriage equality campaigners have argued against a plebiscite, saying it will unleash divisive attacks on the gay and lesbian community. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he has faith Australians will participate in a plebiscite in a civil and sensible manner.

The government is finalising the mechanism for the plebiscite to be held after the next election. The pamphlets, obtained by Fairfax Media, have been prepared and funded by Chris Miles, a former Liberal MP and member of the Foreign Investment Review Board. Mr Miles served as the Member for the Tasmanian electorate of Braddon from 1984 until 1998. He co-founded the Lyons Forum, a now disbanded group of conservative Christian MPs including Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz. The pamphlets, which have not yet been distributed, seek to sow doubts about the social impact of legalising same-sex marriage, which they describe as “same-sex mirage”. A list of potential “social outcomes” for the children of same-sex couples includes: “Sexual victimisation”, “sexual transmitted disease”, “drug use/abuse”, “depression” and “suicidal thoughts”. No source is provided to verify these claims. Dr Liz Short, who led a review same-sex parenting research for the Australian Psychological Society, said the pamphlet was “factually incorrect and deeply damaging”. The children of same-sex couples are likely to be at least as well adjusted, socially, emotionally, and academically, as other children, she said. Meanwhile, a Victorian Catholic school is being pressured to withdraw from the programme but has refused to do so. At the same time, Coalition West Australian State Education Minister Peter Collier has said a general anti-bullying programme might be ‘preferable’ (which is against most of the data related to LGBT-specific bullying). It seems as if backbench Coalition MP and troublemaker Cory Bernardi may be sent overseas for a sabbatical to shut him up, indicating that the Turnbull administration may be getting cold feet about pursuing this route. Turnbull has defended the review, while attackers of the programme include Australia’s Catholic Education Commission and conservative academics from the Australian Catholic University, as well as Murdoch newspaper columnist Jennifer Oriel. Other backers of the review include Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy, slammed by Premier Andrews for pandering to conservative Catholic religious social conservative Liberal Legislative Councillor Bernie Finn on this issue.

Meanwhile, a pro-safety petition has attracted 70,000 signatures, compared to an anti-safety petition that could only muster 10,000.

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

Jakarta: Indonesia’s television regulator has banned portrayals of ‘effeminate’ men on TV.The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) issued the restrictive new directive banning gender non-conforming behaviour last Tuesday (Feb 23), following complaints from concerned viewers, reports Gay Star News. The directive prohibits depictions of men wearing feminine fashion and make-up, feminine tone of voice and body language (including, but not limited to, walking style, sitting style and hand gestures).

Other banned material includes ‘depicting justifications or promoting that men can behave effeminately’, ‘depicting a man greeting another man in ways that are supposed to be for women’, and ‘depicting terminologies and colloquial terms that are often used by effeminate males.’ A statement on the regulator’s website reads: “KPI assess these things are not in accordance with the respect for the norms of decency and morality in society and the protection of children and adolescents. Airing this content thus can encourage children to learn and/or justify inappropriate behaviour such as common in everyday life.” The announcement follows a similar directive earlier this month (Feb 18), banning the ‘promotion’ LGBT themes.

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

Sydney: Muslims Against Homophobia Australia want to bridge the gap between the country’s LGBTI and Muslim communities at the 2016 Sydney LGBT Mardi Gras and challenge negative stereotypes.

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

Sheffield: A student at a British university has been allegedly expelled after calling gay people an ‘abomination’ on Facebook. Felix Ngole was told to leave his second year postgraduate course in social work, after the University of Sheffield ruled he had “transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.”

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

Vancouver: Lesbians and bisexual adolescents lose their virginity younger, have more sex partners and engage in risky sexual behaviors at higher rates than heterosexual girls, according to a study released in the March issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Graduate Center and City College of the City University of New York (CUNY) used data from the 2010-2011 Teen Health and Technology Study, which surveyed 2,823 girls aged 13-18 in the US.

Lesbians were found to be significantly younger on average (13.8 years) when they first had sex, compared to bisexual (15.1) and heterosexual (15.5) girls. Bisexual teen girls were more likely to have had sex than their heterosexual peers, and both lesbian and bisexual girls had more lifetime partners.
‘Our findings highlight that sexual orientation labels and sexual behavior don’t always align – especially during the teen years,’ said lead author Michele Ybarra, president of the non-profit research incubator Center for Innovative Public Health Research, in San Clemente, California.
‘This means that lesbian and bisexual girls may be having unprotected sex with boys – and with girls.’ About one in five lesbian and four in five bisexual teen girls who are sexually active had a recent male sex partner. The study also showed about a third (32%) of lesbian teens discussed using barriers such as condoms or dental dams with their most recent sex partner, compared to 62% for bisexual teens and 73% for their straight peers.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Sydney: The ABC’s Q&A current affairs programme covered the Safe Schools debate on Feb 29. The conversation stayed on the Safe Schools initiative for much of the episode, with various audience members casting doubts about the legitimacy of the program, while others defended it. Marriage equality and the upcoming plebiscite was also a heated topic in the episode. The fundmaentalist Australian Christian Lobby’s Lyle Shelton arrived with cherry-picked information from debunked thirtysomething-year-old studies on transgender people in order to pour scorn on Safe Schools’ aim to affirm young people’s divergent gender identities, and always tried to bring discussions around marriage equality around to that fact that same-sex couples can’t “naturally” have children. Fortunately, he was countered by former Australian Medical Association head Dr Keryn Phelps, teacher Chris Bush, daughter of same-sex parents Georgia Weymouth-Large, and Progressive Christian Voice’s John Faulkner, who said that Shelton and the ACL don’t speak for Australian liberal Christians. Meanwhile, Tony Abbott has (true to form) joined other Liberal Party opponents of the SSC, stating that its funding should be ‘terminated.’ [Instead of Abbott's own parliamentary career, you mean?- Craig]

Meanwhile, antigay Australian Labor Party Senator Joe Bullock (apt name!) is retiring from the Australian Senate due to ALP support for marriage equality.

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

Harare: Zimbabwe won’t take ‘gay marriage aid money,’ according to its resident tyrant, President Robert Mugabe. Most rural parts of Zimbabwe have been declared disaster areas because of an horrific drought, which has destroyed up to three-quarters of the staple corn crop in some regions, including the Masvingo province, where Mugabe’s party was held. It threatens the food supply of 3 million people. It’s unclear if any nation or private organization would withhold aid because a country doesn’t have marriage equality, although some have tied assistance to more general questions of LGBT rights. Mugabe received but ignored stinging international criticism for holding the lavish birthday celebration (February 21) at a time when his country is suffering. The party cost the equivalent of $800,000.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Berlin: Germany’s Constitutional Court is set to decide whether or not to ban the “National Democratic Party”- a neofascist anti-immigrant group which has been misbehaving in the context of the influx of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers from its brutal civil war.

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

London: Andre Walker, who was named in the suicide note of the young Conservative Elliott Johnson, has claimed he was in a relationship with the 21-year-old up until his death in September of last year. This is the latest twist in the so-called ‘Tatler Tory’ controversy, which laid the blame for Johnson’s suicide at the feet of former Conservative party activist Mark Clarke. Clarke – who was named as a future Tory star by Tatler magazine in 2008 – created the Road Trip campaigning group at the last election, which took young Conservative activists around the country on a bus. He was later accused of negligence and misconduct after allegations of widespread bullying, sexual harassment and blackmailing within the group were exposed in several British newspaper. Clarke and Walker deny their roles in the tragedy.

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

Ottawa: Canada has approved the use of the Truvada drug as a preventative measure to stop the transmission of HIV. Truvada makes up part of the antiretroviral treatment plan offered to HIV-positive patients, but clinical trials have shown that the drug can also reduce the chances of contracting the virus when taken daily. The method is known as PrEP, and Health Canada has now given the green light for the drug to be prescribed in this way and given to HIV-negative people who are most at risk.

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

Canberra: In Australia, Hepatitis C medication is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Schedule (its Pharmac equivalent), so are easier to access.

Sydney: Independent NSW state MP Alex Greenwich has noted the extent of transgender and intersex discrimination that still exists in Australia:

“There is also an urgent need for trans and intersex reforms. A growing body of evidence shows significantly higher rates of mental health problems among trans people, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse and self-harm. While there are fewer studies into mental health that identify intersex status, international studies and anecdotal evidence point to similar poor mental health outcomes. Stigma, discrimination, isolation and exclusion all contribute to poorer mental health in these communities.

The Human Rights Commission report on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex rights (SOGII) identified extensive reforms needed to remove state-sanctioned discrimination of trans and intersex communities. The report recommended removing barriers to trans people to updating their sex or gender marker on state documentation. This is a serious problem because having incorrect and inconsistent documentation forces trans people to repeatedly explain the deeply personal situation of their transition, subjecting them to judgement, discrimination and stigma.

But a trans person cannot update the sex on their birth certificate if they are married, which forces many to choose between divorcing a loving and supportive spouse and having the correct sex on their birth certificate. That choice is untenable and unfair. The support and stability of a loving spouse during a transition is vital and many couples do not want to divorce.

Trans people also cannot update the sex on their birth certificate without undergoing expensive and often unnecessary surgery. Surgery is not always appropriate and is not the most common form of sex affirmation treatment — many prefer hormonal treatment. Federal agencies do not have this requirement. Instead, they allow a person to change their sex on their passport with a statutory declaration from a medical practitioner. I will be prioritising this reform in NSW Parliament in 2016.

The SOGII report recommends an end to cosmetic surgery to normalise genitals of infants born with atypical sex characteristics such as part or both male and female genitals. The surgery is not life-saving but can have lifelong impacts such as pain, scarring, lost sexual sensation and sterilisation, as well as problems if the child’s later identity differs from their surgically assigned. I am calling on the Health Minister to introduce a model where surgery is delayed until informed consent is possible.

The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages only recognises male and female despite a number of trans and intersex people who have part or both male and female sex characteristics and do not identify with either. Recently, the High Court ruled in favour of a Redfern person named Norrie, stating that the law should recognise that sex is not binary. I note that the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is working with trans and intersex communities to ensure that people who do not identify as wholly male or female have a valid option to register their sex.

Many states are reviewing their anti-discrimination laws for consistency with the federal sex discrimination act and in response to the SOGII report’s recommendations. I hope this encourages governments to remove the ridiculous provisions that allow private educational bodies to discriminate against LGBTI students.”

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

South Dakota: In South Dakota, the deadline approaches for Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard to sign or veto a bill restricting transgender students’ access to restrooms and other gender-segregated facilities. Daugaard had until 11:59 p.m. Central time Tuesday to either sign or veto the legislation, House Bill 1008. If he does not do either, it will become law automatically.The bill would require trans students in public schools to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities designated for the gender they were assigned at birth, not the gender with which they identify. Those who object to using the wrong facilities would have to apply to their school district for a waiver that would allow them to use separate accommodations, essentially singling them out.

If HB 1008 becomes law, South Dakota would be the first state with such a statute, and it would put South Dakota at odds with the U.S. Department of Education, which has held that discriminatory treatment of transgender students is banned under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination. The department can withhold federal funds from schools that violate this law.

Update: (02/03): HB 1008 has now been vetoed. In his decision, Governor Daugaard said that HB 1008 was overbroad regulation and threatened disruption of educational environments through initiating conflict, litigation and diversion of educational policy from its core objectives. Anti-transgender Republican MHR Fred Deutsch said that he wouldn’t seek to override Governor Daugaard’s veto, which placed South Dakota on a collision course with the US federal Department of Education, which interprets this as a “Title IX” case- it holds that transgender civil rights are protected by government antidiscrimination laws. While the US Christian Right’s Heritage Foundation and South Dakota’s Roman Catholic Bishops regretted the outcome, the Human Rights Campaign and American Civil Liberties Union congratulated transgender youth about their victory.

Source: http://www.advocate.com, http://www.nytimes.com

Sacramento: Nearly a year after a federal judge ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to grant a transgender inmate gender-affirming surgery, the woman at the center of the case has reached a historic settlement with the state. In April 2015, Michelle-Lael Norsworthy, a transgender woman who was then incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif., won a landmark legal victory when a federal district court ruled that the state was required to grant her the gender-affirming surgery her doctors had deemed medically necessary. Denial of such medically necessary treatment amounted to a violation of Norsworthy’s constitutional rights, the court decided.

However, before Norsworthy could obtain the surgery, she was paroled in August. Now Norsworthy has won a groundbreaking settlement. The state has agreed to no longer appeal the April ruling and to provide “almost half a million dollars to cover attorney’s fees and costs,” according to a statement from the Transgender Law Center, which represented Norsworthy.

“That means that the ruling will continue to stand as significant legal precedent that other courts across the country will look to when considering cases involving transgender people and health care,” says the center’s statement.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Belatedly, an organisation has formed to make a case for Britain’s departure from the European Union amongst UK LGBT communities. The Out and Proud group may have been formed on the back of polling that shows sixty two percent of respondents in the first LGBT-centred opinion poll on the issue support retention of European Union membership, given positive perceptions of the European Court of Human Rights as a force for change in UK politics. The United Kingdom Independence Party’s public image has serious problems amongst LGBT communities given the homophobia of many of its electoral candidates.

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

Hollywood: Disappointingly, the film company that produced Brokeback Mountain and The Danish Girl is helping sponsor a right-wing conference fpr the US Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) that previously honoured the homophobic star of Duck Dynasty. Focus Features found success producing the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, one of the watershed films to portray homosexuality. The company also distributed Oscar-winning transgender biopic The Danish Girl, which stars Eddie Redmayne.

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

London: UK Conservative Party MP Alec Shelbrooke has spoken out against homophobia in the engineering profession – as he holds an event on the issue. The Conservative MP chaired a report in the House of Commons today supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, to discuss the launch of a report on LGBT issues in the industry. The report co-complied by Mr Shelbrooke is titled ‘Engineering Action: tackling homophobia in engineering’ – and highlights that half of LGBT engineers choose not to come out to colleagues at work because they fear the impact of homophobia on their careers. In a statement, the MP for Elmet and Rothwell, who worked as a mechanical engineer before becoming an MP, said he was “shocked” by the findings about his profession.

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

Rome: A court in Italy has become the first in the country to allow a lesbian couple’s right to adopt each other’s biological daughters. The tribunal in Rome upheld two appeals from gay rights groups on behalf of the women that means they will both be regarded as parents of the children. The court said it had based its decision on “adoptions in special cases” and will allow the two girls to have the same double barrelled surname, but not regard them as sisters. The cases is the first of this nature to be heard since the Italian parliament passed a civil unions bill last week. Francesca Quarato of Rete Lenford, one of the gay rights groups that represented the couple, said that the law “confers lesser guarantees to the minor when compared to the recognition of full, legitimate parenthood”. Although the ruling means that the children will not have the same protections as a heterosexual married couple would have been given, it does provide them with more than they had.

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

Viriginia: Kentucky Fried Chicken has fired a manager who discriminated against Georgia Carter, a transgender employee, on the basis of her gender identity and offered her a job with the fast food company.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Atlanta: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff clashed with a Georgia lawmaker after he threatened to divest from the state if a discriminatory radical ‘religious liberty’ bill becomes law. Benioff asked his Twitter followers Friday (26 February) whether he should move the cloud computing company’s May digital marketing event out of Atlanta if Senate Bill 129 passes the Georgia legislature.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Geneva: After its narrow win for marriage equality in a recent referendum that included a pre-emptive ban, it may be time to note the current state of play. Switzerland currently only allows civil partnerships for same-sex relationships under the Partnership Act of 2007. If an LGBT person’s partner was to die after a long-term relationship they would be entitled to their pension, in the same way a heterosexual person would be. It is believed that in March 2016, the Council of States will also vote on a bill that could include LGBT couples in the second-parent adoption. Maria von Känel of the Swiss Rainbow Families Association reported to The Washington Blade that 70 percent of the Swiss support equal marriage: “The result of the vote strengthens our resolve to continue our struggle for marriage equality, a parliamentary initiative on which topic is currently being discussed.”

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

Canberra: Australian Marriage Equality leader Rodney Croome had this to say in Samesame:

“The Australian Christian Lobby and its allies in Parliament have successfully foisted a costly, unnecessary marriage equality plebiscite on the nation that is likely to be a platform for some of the worst hate Australia has seen this century. This is despite support for the reform from the leaders of both major parties, a majority of MPs and three quarters of the population.

Now, the ACL is framing that plebiscite as a matter of religious freedom and children’s rights. The ACL began its campaign to reframe the plebiscite last year when it stirred up an almighty fuss about a Tasmanian anti-discrimination case against a handful of statements in a Catholic anti-marriage equality booklet, including one statement suggesting married same-sex partners “mess with kids”. The case was the eighth taken in Tasmania against anti-marriage equality materials this decade, with one of the earlier complainants being a senior public servant.

Yet, the ACL and its supporters ignored the hateful statements, and the legal precedents, declaring the booklet to be respectful and the complaint to be a uniquely threatening attack on free speech and religious freedom. The case is currently being conciliated but this hasn’t stopped the ACL keeping the fear alive by launching an ambit claim for the suspension of all anti-vilification laws.

There should be a similar outcry now, especially with the imminent release of leaflets declaring the children of same-sex couples have a higher risk of STDs, alcohol abuse and unemployment.

Next, the ACL launched a nationwide attack on the Safe Schools program which is funded by the federal government to challenge discrimination and create supportive learning environments for same-sex attracted and gender diverse school students.

Like the Tasmanian anti-discrimination case, Safe Schools is hardly ground breaking. It has been running in Victoria for years, with similar programs funded and rolled out in NSW, Tasmania and other states for over a decade.

Yet, suddenly the ACL is on the war path about Safe Schools, taking resources out of context, weaving them into a narrative about cultural relativism and attacking the program for promoting “alternative sexual practices” and “a radical Marxist agenda”. The campaign has been so effective the Government felt compelled to launch an inquiry into Safe Schools, which we can only hope will expose the ACL’s misinformation campaign for what it is.

We can only guess what’s next: gay men and commercial surrogacy perhaps?

Whichever issue is next, mark my words that the misinformation and prejudice will get worse, much worse. So what’s the ACL’s goal, lighting these moral wild fires?

The ACL knows it has lost the argument against equal recognition for the love and commitment in same-sex relationships. Now, its only hope is to frighten people away from supporting the reform. At the height of a plebiscite campaign it will roll out some of the screaming headlines it has manufactured in the last few months about “free speech suppressed” and “children taught gay sex” to scare away middle ground voters, just like its kindred groups in the US. It doesn’t matter that gay-hate laws and challenging homophobia programs obviously pre-date marriage equality. The ACL’s point will be that marriage equality is part of a broader radical agenda. With such tactics the ACL will aim to either win a plebiscite or at least reduce the winning margin so that it can claim “the community is divided”. If I’m right that all these campaigns are strategic manoeuvres to impede marriage equality and win a plebiscite, how can it be stopped?

The first step is obviously to let the Government know we don’t need or want a plebiscite. But if there is to be a plebiscite it’s more important than ever to remain optimistic, dignified, focussed, and, above all, tell our personal stories. We must always remember that the ACL’s campaign is a reaction to positive social change which has already occurred. We must do all we can to consolidate this change not help the ACL drive it into reverse. Consistent with this approach, one suggestion for an immediate response to the growing tide of public prejudice is candlelight vigils outside Parliament House and in the state capitals to highlight the lives that are being lost, and will continue to be lost, because of the foolish policy decisions and hateful statements being made.”

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

Canberra: On the same issue, Sen. Robert Simms (Greens) had this to say:

“The Prime Minister should have immediately condemned these hateful statements, instead they have been legitimised by his silence. In perverse logic, the right to denigrate same-sex attracted people is framed as a fundamental human right by extreme conservatives in this country. For them, the “right to be a bigot” trumps the rights of LGBTI people to feel safe from persecution or simply to be who they are. It was this same “logic” that has permeated the Turnbull and Abbott government’s approach to marriage equality. Apparently, the rights of LGBTI people are a secondary consideration, easily sacrificed at the altar of public opinion. Indeed, the government is not only condoning the bullying of LGBTI people through its costly and divisive plebiscite but facilitating it through the provision of public funds to an extremist group like the Australian Christian Lobby.”

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

Phoenix: Monica Jones, a globally recognized activist in the fight for transgender civil rights, was merely looking to enjoy an evening in a Phoenix bar Friday when she received an alarming message on Facebook: A friend discovered someone had posted a “word of caution” online about her, naming her and identifying where she was. The person posting this “warning” knew she was at the Cruisin’ 7th bar, a watering hole popular with local transgender people, because he had just driven her there. He was her Lyft driver. Jones filed a complained with Lyft, and the company apologized, saying it would take “necessary actions” regarding the driver, who has reportedly been banned from the app. Lyft also refunded $15 to her account, according to the Daily Dot. But that wasn’t any comfort to Jones, who told The Advocate she didn’t dare book another Lyft to get home.

Lyft told the Daily Dot it has a policy against discrimination on the basis of gender identity, protecting both passengers and drivers. What Jones wants from Lyft, she tells The Advocate, is for the company to do a better job of screening its drivers. The article goes on to say that this practice – “doxxing”, the violation of privacy and dissemination of unwanted information intended to harrass people- is spreading.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed its first lawsuits challenging sexual orientation discrimination as unlawful sex discrimination, the federal agency announced today. The EEOC, which ruled last year that sexual orientation discrimination is, by its very nature, discrimination because of sex, and therefore prohibited under federal law, has accused a health care center in Pennsylvania of discriminating against a gay man, and a pallet distribution company in Maryland of discriminating against a lesbian. The EEOC charges that at Scott Medical Health Center, a pain-control and weight-loss clinic in Pittsburgh, a manager used antigay slurs to refer to a gay male telemarketer and “made other highly offensive comments about his sexuality and sex life,” according to an EEOC press release. In the other suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, the EEOC charges that in 2014 at an IFCO Systems location in Baltimore, night shift manager Charles Lowery subjected forklift operator Y., a lesbian, to continual sexual and homophobic harassment.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: London Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has responded to a string of attacks attempting to link him to Muslim extremists – by citing his record on LGBT equality. Mr Khan is currently the Labour MP for Tooting, and has unwaveringly voted for LGBT equality in Parliament since he was first elected in 2005 – making him one of the first Muslim lawmakers to do so. Speaking on LBC this week, he responded to newspaper stories cited by Tory Defence Minister Michael Fallon – who claims Mr Khan is “unfit” to be Mayor because of alleged links to hardline Muslims. In actual fact, the latter hate Mr Khan because he voted for marriage equality as a member of the UK Labour caucus.

Salt Lake City: A Mormon church leader has claimed that there are no lesbians or gay men in the religion. Mormon leader David A Bednar, who sits on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made the claim when asked about the Church’s approach to gay members.

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

Seychelles: Popular holiday destination the Seychelles is hoping to open its arms to LGBT people – by moving forward with plans to scrap a law banning gay sex. Section 151 of the country’s Penal Code states that a man who has sex with a man “against the order of nature” can be jailed for up to fourteen years. The law is a hang-over from British colonial rule, and convictions are already very rare – but the Seychelles government this week renewed a push to scrap the law entirely. Attorney General Ronny Govinden stated: “This is a simple amendment to the penal Code which can be done by the National Assembly and this avoids conflict.
“This amendment will just decriminalize homosexuality in Seychelles.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Barry Faure specifically noted pressures from the UK government, adding: “Seychelles was committed in 2011 to review the law on homosexuality and this had not been done and Britain questions us saying that we have not made progress on this issue.”

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

Amsterdam: Dutch MPs have backed a motion calling for the establishment of a centre for gay refugees, separated from the main refugee population. The motion was submitted by the progressive Democrats 66 party in the country’s Parliament this week, after repeated reports warned that LGBT people are facing a shocking number of attacks in asylum and refugees centres across Europe. Concerns have been raised about a number of homophobic and transphobic incidents in cases where LGBT people – many of whom have fled execution or persecution – are targeted by other refugees. A centre for LGBT asylum seekers was recently opened by gay rights group Schwulenberatung, a gay rights organisation in Berlin. It will cater for 125 LGBT asylum seekers, out of an estimated 3,500. A recent report noted 95 cases of violence against LGBT people, the majority of which took place inside centres for refugees and asylum seekers. The cases noted include sexual assaults, insults, threats and coercion, as well as physical violence.

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

Berlin: Germany’s ‘father of civil partnerships’, Volker Beck, has stepped down from all political offices after he was allegedly caught with drugs. Beck, who is a member of the Green Party, was arrested last night (1 March) near the Nollendorfplatz in Berlin’s gay quarter. He was found to be in possession of 0.6 grams of a ‘substance suspected to be a narcotic drug’ Martin Steltner, spokesperson of Berlin’s department of public prosecution, told leading tabloid BILD. The nature of the substance has not been clarified; the newspaper alleges Beck was carrying crystal meth. This has not been confirmed either by Beck or by police.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Senegal: Senegalese President Macky Sall has said he will never legalize gay sex. Sall made the statement in response to criticism of a point on secularism in his draft constitution, which will be put to a referendum in May. This has led to fears that it will lead to the legalization of gay sex in the Muslim-majority country. He called an extraordinary meeting of his cabinet Sunday (29 February) to allay such fears. The Senego website reported that Sall in effect said: ‘Never, under my authority, will homosexuality be legalized under the Senegalese sun.’ He then told his lieutenants to spread ‘the good word’ to religious centers across the country. ‘Acts against nature’ are illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to US$2,500 in the former French colony. Eleven men accused of having gay sex were arrested in December. And in August, seven men were jailed for six months after being caught having sex during a police raid.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Gaza Strip: A Hamas commander has reportedly been executed in Palestine for gay sex. Mahmud Ishtiwi, 34, was shot three times in the chest by his former comrades last month after he was suspected of collaborating with Israel. But The New York Times now reports that he was also accused of moral turpitude – a Hamas byword for homosexuality – and had the word ‘zulum’ – wronged – carved into his leg with a nail. During the 2014 war with Israel, Ishtiwi was responsible for 1,000 fighters and a network of attack tunnels.
However, five months later in January 2015, Ishtiwi was interrogated by Qassam intelligence officials, who suspected he had diverted money allocated to his unit for weapons. Ishtiwi admitted that he had kept some of the money, and thus ‘began the telenovela of torture.’ Ishtiwi’s quick confession aroused suspicion that he was hiding something bigger and a dragnet investigation began. Qassam officials found a man who claimed he had had sex with Ishtiwi and provided dates and locations. They concluded that the missing money had been used either to pay for sex or to keep the man quiet.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Georgetown: A human rights organization in Guyana is lobbying the government to extend workplace discrimination protections to include ‘gender identity’, ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘health status’ – despite the fact that same-sex sexual activity remains illegal in the country. Guyana is now the only country in South America where gay sex remains illegal – despite being recommended to do so by the United Nations Human Rights Commission and a number of UN leaders.

The Guyana Government set up a special select committee in 2014 to explore the possibility of decriminalizing same-sex sexual activity, and a public consultation was announced. However, the National Assembly was suspended in February 2015 ahead of fresh elections and the select committee was discontinued. Since the National Assembly reconvened last in June 2015, no legislation proposals have yet been announced and it is not believed to be a priority for the current Government. The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) is calling on the Government to amend the 1997 Prevention of Discrimination Act:
‘The simple amendment would not take more than the inclusion of six words in the 1997 piece of legislation, “Gender Identity”, “Sexual Orientation”, and “Health Status”,’ it said in a statement.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Sydney: Will Kostakis (26), young adult author and gay man, has been prevented from speaking at De La Salle College in Sydney due to the Australian “Christian” Lobby- orchestrated campaign against the Safe Schools Coalition. Dr Michelle Telfer, head of Child and Adolescent Health at Sydney’s Royal Children’s Hospital is angry at ACL and the Turnbull administration for kowtowing to this militant fundamentalist pressure group and its orchestrated campaign against the antibullying prevention and educational retention programme. She is especially concerned about the welfare of her young transgender clients.

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

New Jersey: The Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit petitioning the court to reconsider the ban on conversation therapy in New Jersey, which Gov. Chris Christie signed into law in 2013- but failed to dislodge the ban. For the third time, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit challenging the New Jersey state ban against antigay reparative therapy for minors.
In their challenge, the right wing Liberty Counsel mentioned the case of Doe v. Christie in their lawsuit – an anonymous plaintiff who before conversion therapy was allegedly plagued by thoughts of suicide and depression.

Mat Staver, the Chair of the Liberty Counsel said:

“As a result of today’s decision, our client – whose life was literally saved by this counseling – has been told by his government that it does not care about that or about his values. We pray for our client and countless other minors like him in New Jersey who have now been denied their basic freedom of self-determination.” he added.

The Washington Blade reports that lower courts have pointed out in the past that the ban does not violate free speech or religious freedom in any way. The practice of reparative therapy is condemned by many medical and psychological institutions, and there is mounting evidence that the practice can lead to cases of depression, drug use and suicide. The American Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics all support the ban.

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

Nairobi: The Kenya Films Classification Board has ordered a video geoblock from Google – This would make a song about LGBT equality inaccessible on the search engine within the country. So far, Google have yet to acknowledge the order, which has reportedly infuriated Kenyan officials. The video itself is a remix of Macklemore’s Same Love, with Kenyan rappers Art Attack replacing his lyrics with their own – while the music video features home-shot footage of a gay and a lesbian couple, shots from the TV series Empire and footage from riots and equality marches. So far it has been watched over a hundred thousand times on YouTube since it’s release in February. The Kenyan authorities are reportedly in the process of trying to track down the members of the groups because they have allegedly violated local laws.

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

Vancouver: HIV prevention drug Truvada may now be Health Canada approved, but most of the men who need it most have never even heard of it, according to a new Vancouver study. Only about a quarter of the study’s respondents knew about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs to prevent HIV; the percentage was even lower among men who are HIV-.

Originally designed to treat HIV, Truvada has been found to prevent it as well. Intended for those most at risk of contracting HIV, Truvada can cut new infections as effectively as condoms if taken daily. Researchers at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS found in a study published Feb 16, 2016, that of a group of 700 gay and bisexual men, about 21 percent of HIV-negative men and 27 percent of HIV-positive men knew about PrEP. Of those who knew, most said they did not know much, and only about half had discussed PrEP with their partners. The study also found that men who are young, less likely to use condoms, and tend to bottom were even less knowledgeable about PrEP.

Researchers say this shows an urgent need for doctors and community organizations to spread the word. A similar study last year found that only half of Vancouver gay and bisexual men had heard of treatment as prevention — using drugs to suppress the viral load of HIV-positive people in order to reduce their risk of transmitting HIV and prevent new infections.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

British Columbia: A Trinity Western University graduate’s complaint against the wilderness tourism company that refused to hire her is justified, the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled March 2, 2016. The tribunal awarded Bethany Paquette $8,500 for injury to dignity and self-respect, and $661.08 for expenses. 
Paquette, who describes herself as a “proud Christian,” applied to work as an assistant guide intern for Amaruk Wilderness Corp on Sept 10, 2014. Amaruk’s co-CEO rejected her application and sent her a series of emails in which he attacked her religion and Trinity Western, a Christian university in Langley, BC, that has made headlines for its community covenant (which threatens to discipline or expel students who have sex outside heterosexual marriage) and its contested proposal to open a law school. She succeeded in this case, and quite rightly so. Bona fide religious discrimination is every bit as objectionable as homophobia and transphobia.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

West Virginia: Proposed legislation that would have allowed West Virginia businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people in the name of religion died on the Senate floor (HB 1014). The GOP-controlled legislative body killed the bill by a 7-27 vote.

Slovenia: In Slovenia, marriage equality is an iss ne that’s been ongoing for the last 15 years. Slovenia has had two referendums on the issue: one in 2012 to allow for more rights to people with civil partnerships and one in 2015 for equal marriage. Both issues had government support and yet were called to a referendum by the public and voted down — the first, by 55%, and the second by 63%. The problem is, our political “allies” believe in equality more on a rhetorical level than a practical level, and so we had a complete lack of support in our campaign. It was really difficult seeing Ireland and the United States bringing in equal marriage when we were so close to having it ourselves. The “no” campaign had majority support and the moral backing of the Pope. LGBT Slovenians didn’t have this and could only rely on small donations their community to canvass with. So we took to the media, asking the parents of gay and lesbian children to speak out and show their support for their kids. Slovanian LGBT activists worked a lot with our straight allies — parents, friends, relatives, coworkers, and friendly political parties — to stand for equality. They had to make tactical decisions about how they represented our side of the debate.

Source:http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: Republican presidential nomination aspirant Ted Cruz has formed a social conservative “religious liberty” council for his campaign, filled with antigay activists including Tony Perkins, the Benham brothers, and Bishop Harry Jackson.

The council “seems intent on undermining LGBT rights,” the Washington Blade reports. Cruz announced the council’s formation Monday, the day before he won three of Super Tuesday’s 11 state Republican primaries and caucuses.

Cruz’s press release on the council didn’t mention LGBT issues, but it was clear that the council, which has the task of guiding his policies, would sympathize with government workers and business owners who don’t want to serve LGBT clients, especially same-sex couples seeking marriage-related goods and services.

“Increasingly, renegade government officials seek to coerce people of faith either to act in a manner that violates their faith or forfeit their career,” Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, said in the release. “When I am elected president, that will change.”

Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in the release that he was “honored” to join Cruz’s advisory group. “Never before has religious freedom been more endangered than it is today under the policies of the Obama administration,” Perkins added. “We need a president who upon entering office will immediately begin reversing the damage done to our freedom to believe and our ability to live according to those beliefs.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Atlanta: Major US companies headquartered in Georgia have joined forces to fight a so-called religious freedom bill that is advancing through the state legislature. House Bill 757, originally called the Pastor Protection Act, was amended in a state Senate committee last month to include the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow individuals and faith-based organizations to refuse service to people in relationships they deem objectionable based on a sincerely held “moral or religious conviction.” The controversial legislation has been described by opponents as a “license to discriminate,” and as “RFRA on steroids,” referring to so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, which ignited nationwide backlash when passed in Indiana and Arkansas last year. Both states subsequently amended their RFRAs to explicitly state that the laws could not be used to discriminate against LGBT people. Major companies that have signed on to the Georgia Prospers pledge include Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, and Cox Enterprises, all of which have headquarters in Atlant

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: UK LGBT domestic violence charity Broken Rainbow has had its funding renewed by the government – despite warnings it could be cut. The charity provides the UK’s only national domestic violence helpline for the LGBT community, and is partly funded by a rolling year-on-year government contract. Amid government cutbacks, the charity has repeatedly warned over the past few years that its services could be at risk. However, despite the warnings, this week the government has confirmed that Home Office will renew the charity’s funding until 2017 when Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Hussein-Ece raised the issue in the House of Lords.

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

New York: Jin Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank has opened up about a decision to cut off lending to projects in developing countries which could endanger LGBT rights. The World Bank is an international financial institution that specialises in provides loans to developing countries for projects, assisting in their development and creating infrastructure to help tackle poverty. Explaining why the bank cut off lending after Uganda passed an Anti-Homosexuality Act, he said: “In 2014 the Ugandans had passed a law, and it was quite a bit more draconian than a lot of the laws that exist: it said homosexuality would be punished with life imprisonment, but it became a requirement that anyone who suspects others of homosexuality had to report that as well.” Consequently, the World Bank closed down that project.

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

Beijing: LGBT content will no longer be shown on Chinese TV screens. Any content featuring LGBT couples or romance has been banned from television in China. The China Television Drama Production Industry Association and the China Alliance of Radio, Film and Television ‘TV content production guidelines’ after a popular, gay high school drama was suddenly removed from streaming sites.

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

Sydney: Two gay refugees who fell in love at the Nauru detention camp say they are virtually prisoners in their home: holed up in fear for their lives after being bashed and verbally abused in a nation where homosexuality is illegal. As Sydney prepared for the early March Mardi Gras parade – an event that showcases Australia as a global model of acceptance of gay and lesbian people – the federal government is refusing to rescue the two young Iranian men it sent to a country where they could be jailed for their sexual orientation, according to lawyers. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has so far refused to help the refugees, who say they have been repeatedly beaten, had rocks thrown at them and been called “human rubbish”. His department says refugees at Nauru can accept resettlement in Cambodia. The Human Rights Law Centre and international LGBT rights group All Out have begun a petition calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to urgently intervene and bring the men to Australia. The refugees, known by the pseudonyms Nima and Ashkan, live in the Nauruan community. They say they spend their lives confined in a tiny unit with the doors locked and window shades drawn – leaving just once a week to buy food, escorted by a case manager.

The men, both in their 20s, fled Iran separately after suffering persecution and headed to Australia. They met after being transferred to the Nauru detention camp and their relationship began about two years ago. They claim to have suffered harassment from other detainees while inside the centre. After being found to be refugees and moved into the Nauruan community, they say the attacks escalated.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/gay-refugees-on-nauru-prisoners-in-their-home-as-australia-prepares-to-celebrate-mardi-gras-20160304-gnam2h.html#ixzz41xkuESkb

London: British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has attracted criticism from conservative Labour MPs for saying the “sex industry” should be decriminalised. The Labour leader told students in London he wanted a society “where we don’t automatically criminalise people”, The Guardian reported. Ex-Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said prostitution was “exploitation and abuse” not “an industry”, and supports prohibitionism. Labour sources said Mr Corbyn had been answering a direct question, not making an official party policy announcement. They added that he believed sex workers should not be seen as criminals. In 2014, Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to pass legislation making the purchase of sexual services illegal. In the rest of the United Kingdom , paying for sex is not against the law but many activities linked to it, such as brothel-keeping, kerb-crawling and soliciting sex in a public place, are outlawed. Amnesty International and the English Collective of Prostitutes supported Corbyn’s call.

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

Washington DC: Republican transwoman Caitlyn Jenner supports religious social conservative Republican homophobe and transphobe Ted Cruz. Oh, Cait. No.

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

Washington DC: An US Christian Right campaigner has made a shocking discovery: musicals are a little bit gay.[Gasp!!!-really??!!- Craig] Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council made the claim in a message to supporters.

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

Washington DC: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is doing what she’s best at: shade-y GIFs on Twitter. The Democratic hopeful took to the internet amid the latest Republican Presidential debate, as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich faced off once more. Cruz, Rubio and Trump have all increasingly rallied against equal marriage. She responded: “Marriage equality is the law of the land. Deal with it.”

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

Malta: Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat has come out in favour of marriage equality. The once-conservative country has made a raft of changes on LGBT rights, knocking the United Kingdom off the #1 ranking in Europe on the issue last year. As part of the government’s reformist agenda, Malta has introduced LGBT-inclusive education, passed same-sex civil unions, and pushed through progressive gender laws – even become the first country to outlaw surgery on intersex babies.

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

South Dakota: Right-wing South Dakota Republican politicians hope to override Governor Daugaard’s veto of a bill which hopes to restrict the freedom of trans students to use gender-appropriate bathrooms. Commenting on the decision, the Transgender Legal Defence and Education Fund, said it commended the Governor for taking action against the legislation. Howe ver, the the first item on the docket for the House is a discussion about how to override Governor Daugaard’s veto.

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

Moscow: Tiresome Duma MP and homophobe Vitaly Milonov has raved about arresting participants and spectators at a Russian gay sports event. The Russian LGBT Sports Federation noted that it had received official permission to hold the event.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Ottawa: Before 1992, LGBT Canadians were prevented from serving in its armed forces, but Canada is considering an official apology to those unjustly dismissed or prevented from participation.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Perth: In a DNA article entitled “The Green Rebellion,” there’s an interview with Western Australian Green Senator Rob Simms (31). Rob first realised he was gay at twelve, and experienced antigay school bullying because of it, before meeting his first gay boyfriend at university. Angered at John Howard’s demonization of refugees and asylum seekers during the Tampa asylum tragedy in 2001, he made that one of his core commitments. At 23, he joined the Australian Greens and professes himself inspired by the leadership of Richard diNatale and Scott Ludlam at the federal level, as well as former Greens Senator Bob Brown, the first out gay leader of a major political party anywhere in the British Commonwealth. He’s encouraged by the rise of the Australian Greens voter share, although depressed that the refugee and asylum issue is still so live within Australia. He disliked Tony Abbott (understandably), the current Australian marriage equality plebiscite and the fundamentalist homophobes within the Australian Christian Lobby, not so much new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Hope he visits New Zealand at some point soon.

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

Ontario: The Canadian province has expanded access to gender reassignment surgery.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-broadens-access-to-gender-confirming-surgery/article29040602/

Cyprus: Following the new civil unions law in Cyprus, a same-sex couple have become the first to marry openly. The civil unions bill passed in November last year and the couple have bravely tied the knot earlier this week. Marios Frixou and Fanos Fletheriades have said they want to put their heads above the parapets rather than hide who they are, hoping the message spreads to others.

Keeping with tradition, Frixou’s mother greeted the couple by handing them both a gold coin, old family heirlooms which they hung around their necks. The couple then danced to a violin rendition of the traditional wedding song. While the civil unions bill took effect last year in Cyprus there is still no recognition of trans rights, gay people can remain banned from the military and same-sex adoption still isn’t legal.

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

Ottawa: The Canadian government is considering pardons for people convicted of gay sex before its partial decriminalization in 1969 — but one group says that’s not enough.

“What we’re saying is that a pardon needs to be extended beyond 1969 to include all consensual homosexual activity, and it clearly must include an official state apology to people who were purged from the public service and the military,” says Gary Kinsman, a spokesperson for the We Demand an Apology network and a professor of sociology at Laurentian University.

The network, formed in March 2015, is an alliance of people who were purged from the public service and the military, as well as researchers and allies:

“The Canadian state has never apologized for this at all,” Kinsman says. “People’s careers were destroyed, their lives were destroyed, and nothing’s ever happened in terms of even an official apology to them.” The RMCP employed a variety of methods to root out gay people, he says, including the infamous “fruit machine,” a device that attempted to identify gay people by measuring their physiological responses while watching pornography.

Kinsman says an apology would be an important first step in addressing the many wrongs done by Canada to queer people.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has finalized a new rule that the National LGBTQ Task Force says “codifies discrimination against transgender people.”

Under the rule, the TSA will make widespread use of body-scanning technology that requires TSA agents in airports to identify passengers by their perceived gender, choosing a pink or a blue button, according to a press release sent by the Task Force Friday afternoon. This means that transgender and gender-nonconforming people will often be subject to intrusive examinations, such as pat-downs and inspection of their chests and genital areas. These scanners are already in use at many locations.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Boston: The St Patricks Day Parade has finally ended its ban against LGBT Irish-American floats and participants.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Alabama: The Alabama Supreme Court has shut down a case arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage “does not” apply in Alabama, reports AL.com, a website for several newspapers in the state.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Baltimore: Ben Carson, having failed to gain much support for his presidential run, will now chair a group dedicated to getting fundamentalists to the polls in November. Carson will chair My Faith Votes, CNN reports. The retired neurosurgeon confirmed the report in an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Dublin: Two Canadian gay dads in Toronto have spoken out – after they were stunned to find a photo of them being used by a candidate in Ireland who opposes surrogacy “for [gay] men”. The photo was snapped of partners BJ Barone and Frank Nelson, after their son Milo was delivered via a surrogate in Toronto in 2014.

The photo of the family went viral at the time, and they received thousands of messages of support from around the world. However, they were stunned to find a Parliamentary candidate in Ireland was using the image without permission to rally against LGBT rights. Independent candidate for Kerry Mary Fitzgibbon had posted the image to her Facebook alongside a picture of a mother and baby.

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

London: Austrian Euro MP, Ulrike Lunacek, has said she fears a UK exit from the European Union would set back equality for the remaining member states. Speaking at The Economist’s Pride and Prejudice event in London on March 3, Ms Lunacek said she would “really like” the UK to stay in the multinational organisation.

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

Jakarta: Indonesia is believed to be drafting its own anti-gay ‘propaganda’ bill. Following on from Russia’s 2013 bill, signed by President Putin, banning the ‘promotion of non-traditional sexual relations’, Indonesia could be getting its own. Amid a crackdown on LGBT content on sites like Facebook and Tumblr, the Communications and Information Minister is reportedly drafting a bill to comprehensively ban LGBT “propaganda”.

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

Bangkok: In Thailand, all males turning 21 must participate in the military draft lottery if they do not volunteer to serve months.

For those who choose the annual lottery, which goes on for 10 days in recruitment centers around Thailand, drawing a black card grants exemption. Drawing a red card will however mean having to serve in military for two years. Draft Day, a 10-minute documentary short by Korean-American director film maker Josh Kim (How to Win at Checkers (Every Time)), features four transgender women who participated in the lottery.

As seen in the film, male registrants undergo medical and physical checks including have their chests measured while rubbing shoulders with hundreds of other topless males. As Thai law does not allow for people to change their gender status on national identification documents, transgender women are required to attend the lottery. They will however be almost always exempted from military service.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: At the Economist Pride and Prejudice conference, there were some fairly depressing findings. One in six executives are not convinced that LGBT advancement can boost a business’ bottom line – despite plenty of evidence to the opposite. New global corporate coalition Open for Business produced a comprehensive report on the benefits last year. Furthermore, one out of two executives cannot name a specific measure his or her company is using to monitor progress on LGBT diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This is despite the fact that monitoring, and data, are clearly what is needed to change minds; nothing talks louder than money in the big business world.

On the other hand, providing pretty conclusive proof of the economic benefits of LGBT inclusion was neuroscientist and data analyst Vivienne Ming, who has studied LGBTI entrepreneurs in the US.
More specifically, she looked at where these entrepreneurs originated and where they relocated for business purposes – something all the more illustrative given the patchwork of LGBT anti-discrimination laws across the 50 states. What she found was that LGBT entrepreneurs overwhelmingly remove themselves from the Midwest and central states and instead launch their businesses on the West or East Coasts. In the process, they create thousands of jobs in those areas.

‘Overwhelmingly, people leave discriminatory business environments and take their creative potential somewhere else.’ Ming had also looked at what she called the ‘cost of discrimination’; the money that disadvantaged groups spend to attain the same sort of promotions and career trajectory as cis-gendered, straight white men.

In other words, whether they have go to a better university, take extra vocational courses or put in longer hours in the office to impress future employers. The result, according to Ming, is that a gay man in England may have to spend the equivalent of an extra £38,000 ($54,000/€49,000) over the course of their career to reach the same level as a straight counterpart.

As usual, it’s worse for women- Ming estimates the cost of discrimination for a woman trying to get ahead in the tech industry in Hong Kong or Singapore could be an additional $800,000-$1.5million.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull backed away from a pledge by one of his senior ministers on Sunday that the government would hold a public vote on same-sex marriage later this year if it is re-elected. A spokeswoman for Turnbull said the government was committed to holding a plebiscite, or public vote, as soon as possible after the election but had not committed further to the timing. Attorney-General George Brandis had earlier said the vote would occur before the end of the year and that the legislation would immediately be pushed through parliament if the public voted in favour of marriage equality.

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

Washington DC: Nancy Reagan (94), widow of right-wing US Republican President Ronald Reagan, died on March 5. Nancy Reagan is sometimes credited with pushing her husband to do something about AIDS, and he eventually supported some funding for research. The death of their friend, actor Rock Hudson, is often referred to as a pivotal moment.

In February 2015, BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner reported on a previously overlooked moment in history when Hudson, dying of AIDS in a hospital in France, had sent a telegram to the White House looking for help. He wanted to be admitted to a French military hospital that was believed to have special treatment, but he needed the Reagans to intervene on his behalf to be admitted because he wasn’t a French citizen.

Nancy Reagan responded to the telegram in July 1985 and denied the request, reportedly because helping a Hollywood friend was seen as unfair. But she requested the press be notified that President Reagan had called Rock Hudson.

Hudson had been a guest of the Reagans at the White House, and former social secretary Gahl Hodges Burt recalled the story on MSNBC today of the actor learning of his diagnosis because he’d seen a spot on the back of his neck when looking at a photo of himself at a White House dinner. Burt said Nancy Reagan called her friend Elizabeth Taylor about it and urged her to get involved.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: In stark contrast to Australia, UK Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has unveiled £1 million of new funding to tackle anti-LGBT bullying in schools. Ms Morgan unveiled the funding as stonewall reports that more than half of lesbian, gay or bisexual secondary school pupils have experienced bullying based on their sexual orientation. Stonewall also reports that nine out of ten LGB students have heard homophobic language at school. The minister unveiled £1 million of new funding, in addition to £2 million which was set aside last year to fund eight projects providing training on how to tackle anti-LGBT bullying. Schools such as the Derby Moore Community Sports College have appointed ‘anti bullying ambassadors’ to host clubs and sessions where people can talk about harassment and online bullying. Other schools have created apps to allow students to report incidents of bullying to staff.

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

Ecuador: Azuay province in southern Ecuador unanimously voted in favour of a ‘symbolic gesture’ for gay marriage on March 4.
Various heads of towns and cities in the province came together and agreed on a form of legally-recognized union same-sex couples can register for, but which will not be the same as a marriage. The prefect of Azuay, Paúl Carrasco, said: ‘Ecuador does not recognise civil unions between same-sex people.
‘[However], the Provincial Government of Azuay will recognize, as a symbolic gesture, LGBTI marriage registration, for couples who want to register their partnership.’
The news is especially surprising given Ecuador’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage. De facto gay partnerships do exist in Ecuador but without adoption rights. To date, only three South American countries have equal marriage: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, although Colombia may debate it soon, and moves are underway within Chile’s national legislature.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: Although prohibitionists have lambasted him for it, British sex workers and the organisations that help support and protect them lauded UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s emphatic statement of support for the decriminalisation of sex work in his remarks on Thursday night at a Goldsmiths University campaign stop. It marked his first public confirmation of this view since he was elected UK Labour leader. Corbyn has always supported sex worker rights. His shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has, too, with a history of participation in marches and demonstrations around 17 December, the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers. McDonnell even chaired the pro-decriminalisation November evidence gathering symposium at the House of Commons, organised by the English Collective of Prostitutes. Two things make Corbyn’s statement so groundbreaking – first, that he made it after being elected Labour leader, and, second, that his brief response to an audience question so incisively went to the heart of the matter.

Source: http://www.newstatesman.com

Washington DC: The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a ruling by a court in Alabama, which was preventing a woman from being legally recognised as a co-parent of three children that she had with her partner. Named only as ‘E.L.’ and ‘V.L.’ in the case, the two women had previously been in a long term relationship, although they never married. E.L. gave birth to three children between 2002 and 2004. Although the couple were based in Alabama, they established temporary residency in Georgia to gain adoption rights for V.L. who then legally became co-parent to the children.

After the couple split up, E.L. attempted to prevent V.L. from receiving any custody or visiting rights over the children. In September, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the state of Georgia had mistakenly granted V.L. joint custody, with E.L’s lawyers agreeing that, “the Georgia court had no authority under Georgia law to award such an adoption, which is therefore void and not entitled to full faith and credit.” Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned this ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, effectively stating that V.L. should be recognised as a legal parent to the children.

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

London: The Queen privately opposed civil marriage equality due to her faith, according to one source. However, Buckingham Palace has cited a UK Pinknews article, confirming that is incorrect and that she supported the reform. Historically, the reigning monarch is supposed to be above politics.

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

London: In just under a month, the UK Psychoactive Substances Act will become law – banning the sale of alkyl nitrates, more commonly known as ‘poppers’. Those caught and prosecuted selling the substance that many gay men use to facilitate enjoyable sex, could face up to seven years in prison under the new legislation. In January 2016 , MPs debated in the House of Commons in a last ditch attempt to exempt alkyl nitrates from the ban, but they were outvoted 309 to 228. During the debate, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Conservative Member of Parliament for Reigate, Crispin Blunt, told the House that as a gay man he uses ‘poppers’, and this ban will affect him personally.

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

Rome: Tens of thousands of LGBT activists rallied against government “betrayal” in Italy over the weekend – after plans for same-sex adoptions were hastily dropped.
Italy’s government recently passed same-sex civil unions, but parts of the law dealing with same-sex adoption were dropped after strong opposition from lawmakers and the Catholic Church.
The amended bill was apparently enough to satisfy the rebels – passing through the country’s Senate on a 173-71 vote, after the compromise deal was reached. However, the watered down version has attracted negative responses from LGBT groups, angry at the government’s “betrayal” on the issue which guts it of many legal protections.

Meanwhile, on the religious right, La Reppublica condemned the Senate’s passage of civil unions legislation as related to a process of secularisation [which] : ” began with the introduction of divorce (1970), then the legalization of abortion (1978) and has as its next, imminent step, the legalization of euthanasia. With that in mind, we understand the exaltation of the secular press: “In the long and tortuous history of sexual liberation in Italy – writes Francesco Merlo in “La Repubblica”, February 26th – this law has the same epochal importance as the law on divorce and the law that regulates abortion”.What these three events have in common is an act of betrayal committed by men in Catholic government. Divorce passed under a centre-left government presided over by the Christian Democrat, Emilio Colombo. Abortion was passed by a Christian Democrat government, presided over by Giulio Andreotti. The Christian Democrats were brought down, yet the principal figures responsible for this new law, Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi and the Minister for Internal Affairs, Angelino Alfano depict themselves as practicing Catholics just like Colombo and Andreotti.”

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

Hong Kong: The majority of lesbians in Hong Kong will prioritise working in a LGBT-friendly work environment and reject workplace discrimination in terms of sexual orientation, according to a survey. Conducted by the Women Coalition of HKSAR and funded by HER Fund, the survey was held in July and August 2015 and received a total of 437 valid responses. The survey aimed to understand discrimination faced in the workplace by lesbian individuals and other female sexual minorities. Survey results released yesterday showed that over 86% of those surveyed will choose to work for LGBT-friendly bosses, as compared to working for bosses that are not.

Amongst those interviewed, the survey also found out that there is a correlation between the level of discrimination lesbian individuals face and their educational qualifications – where higher educated lesbian individuals face more apparent discrimination.
In a similar fashion, in terms of seniority at work, it is also revealed that lesbian individuals who have climbed higher up the ladder in their companies’ organisational charts tend to be more outrightly discriminated.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: One of the antigay religious groups campaigning against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia has revealed that they also want atheists and people who have no firm religious beliefs to be able to legally discriminate against gay couples if they work in the wedding industry. The Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) managing director Lyle Shelton revealed this wish in a press release welcoming the news that Australia may hold a $160 million non-legally binding public vote on same-sex marriage to placate the ‘No’ campaign before the end of the year.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Singapore: Renowned lesbian comedienne Margaret Cho has lashed out at Singapore’s anti-gay sex law and one of its strongest advocates, a megachurch pastor, in her shows last weekend. The Grammy and Emmy-nominated Korean-American comedienne was in the Southeast Asian state as part of her tour, The PsyCHO Tour. In both her afternoon and evening shows on Saturday at the Kallang Theatre in Singapore, Cho spared no effort in putting down Section 377a of the nation’s Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex relations between two consenting male adults.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Calgary: As if labelling the United Nations as a “totalitarian organisation” wasn’t weird enough, antifeminist Canadian organisation REAL Women of Canada has gone on the warpath against a new trans-inclusive curriculum in once-conservative Alberta. Like our own Family First, REAL Women of “Canada” are a cravenly dependent satellite of the US Christian Right, which it admires and cites in its propaganda and regurgitates its propaganda on request.

This is the curriculum content and its purpose:

https://www.ecsd.net/BoardofTrustees/Reports-and-Resources/Reports%20of%20Interest/Guidelines%20for%20best%20practices.pdf

These are the guidelines:

-An individual’s self-identification is the sole measure of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
-No student may be referred for counselling to change that student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
-A student’s personal information and privacy must be protected, including, where possible, obtaining a student’s explicit permission before disclosing information related to the student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, to parents, guardians or other adults in their lives.
-If a human sexuality course is organized by gender, students may choose in which class they wish to participate.
Non-gendered, single-stall washroom is a matter of choice for students, staff, volunteers or visiting family, and not a compulsory requirement. They may also use any other washroom they wish.
-Family members may access washrooms that are congruent with their gender identity.
-School forms, websites, letters and other correspondence will use non-gendered language, (e.g., parents/guardians, caregivers, families, partners, etc. instead of Mr., Mrs., mother, father, him, her, etc.)

Sounds reasonable? Not according to this antifeminist, anti-abortion and antigay (and now antitrans) Canadian right-wing pressure group. It huffily comments that this is an attack on ‘parental rights,’ ignoring the fact that the parents of transgender children want their children to be happy, healthy and safe. What about their commitment to parental responsibilities? They then cite a breakaway US Christian Right fundamentalist pressure group entitled the American College of Pediatricians. However, this does not represent the mainstream, evidence-based opinion of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which supports the needs and concerns of transgender children and their parents. Isn’t it dishonest to acknowledge that the ACP is unrepresentative of mainstream pediatric medical practice and opinion within the United States?

And then we get to the real gist of this. REAL Women cites the Albertan Catholic Bishops Conference and Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association. Ah. So the primary reason for REAL Women’s real opposition to transgender rights is because conservative Catholic ‘natural law’ theory says that gender reassignment and hormone treatment are against ‘natural’ male and female biological sex, which are supposedly ‘fixed and essential.’ Sorry, but this is nothing more than a sectarian imposition and interference with faith/state separation and meaningful religious freedom and freedom from religion in the process. Merely because the Christian Right refuses to accept mainstream evidence from pediatrics, developmental psychology, endocrinology and other relevant disciplines is no reason for the rest of us to follow suit.

Not Recommended: http://www.realwomenofcanada.ca

London: The UK medical establishment routinely treats intersex people with cruelty and disrespect: yet public and politicians remain woefully unaware of this. That was the key message put forward in the course of a public seminar at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge on Saturday night, intended to kick off a week of action on intersex rights. Speakers, including socialite and I’m a Celebrity star, Lady Colin Campbell (better known as Lady C), and best-selling author Joe Holliday, gave accounts, often harrowing, of their treatment at the hands of so-called medical experts.

Lady C told how doctors wrongly assigned her as “male” when she was born. When this mistake came to light in her early teens, her father preferred to rely on specialists – including the infamous John Money – who claimed that she could be forcibly socialized into masculinity, rather than endure the ‘scandal’ of publically admitting the earlier error. She was entrusted to the care of psychologists who forcibly injected her with testosterone in an attempt to erase her ‘feminine feelings’. According to Lady C: ‘cruelty was a feature of their treatment’.

At 18, her father wrongly informed her that she had no right to assent to surgery: so she waited until she was 21 when, with help from her grandmother, she paid for the relatively minor surgery that would correct her genitals, and from that point onward has lived her life to the full, as a woman. While reluctant to put herself forward as a spokesperson for intersex people – she describes herself as a ‘flag-carrier by default’ – she is adamant that no-one under the age of 18 should ever be forced to undergo surgery or take hormones against their will – and where there is any doubt, then non-urgent treatment should wait until they are of an age to give full and informed consent.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Wellington: New Zealand’s 61-year-old adoption laws are discriminatory and outdated, according to a new ruling.

A Human Rights Review Tribunal decision, which comes after two years of legal battles, has found the Adoption Act 1955 and the Adult Adoption Information Act 1985 contradicts the Human Rights Act and the Bill of Rights Act by discriminating against people based on sex, age, marital status and disability. The current law stops civil union partners or same-sex de facto couples from adopting. It also places restrictions on single men trying to adopt a female child and stops anyone under the age of 25 from adopting. Adoption Action, an adoption law reform lobby group, says the landmark ruling is a step towards changing New Zealand’s “archaic” adoption legislation. Adoption Action committee member and retired lawyer Robert Ludbrook said the group was delighted with the decision, which would hopefully translate into a law change, giving de facto and same sex civil union couples the same rights as married couples.

However, this process could be stalled or halted by an appeal. The Human Rights Commission said a law change in this area was long-overdue. Chief human rights commissioner David Rutherford said the commission urged Government to make the necessary legislative changes to remove the discriminatory parts of the law so the adoption legislation reflected societal norms and expectations.

“The Adoption Act is more than 60 years old and no longer reflects New Zealand’s values and practices, urgent law reform is needed,” Rutherford said.

In its decision the Human Rights Review Tribunal found seven provisions in New Zealand’s adoption legislation were inconsistent with the Bill of Rights:

- The requirement for sole male applicants to prove “special circumstances” before being permitted to adopt a female child (when there was no such requirement for a single female to prove “special circumstances”).

- The ability for the Court to dispense with the consent of birth fathers in some circumstances before a child was adopted (but not birth mothers).

- The inability of civil union partners or same-sex de-facto couples to adopt.

- The absence of a requirement for unmarried opposite-sex or same sex-partners of a sole applicant for an adoption order to give consent (even when the couple is living together at the time of the application).

- The ability to dispense with consent of a disabled parent or guardian before his or her child is adopted.

- The prohibition on persons under the age of 25 adopting a child.

- In relation to the Adult Adoption Information Act –the prohibition on a person under the age of 20 obtaining a copy of his or her original birth certificate.

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

Auckland:
An Auckland man formerly accused of infecting another man with HIV has had charges against him thrown out.

The defendant, in his 40s, was due to go to trial at Auckland District Court this week on one count of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and one of committing a criminal nuisance by doing an unlawful act. If found guilty, he could have faced up to seven years in prison.

But a recent application to have the charges dismissed by his lawyer Lincoln Burns was granted by the court after the Crown could not come up with the documentary evidence needed to support its case. At a hearing last year there were discussions regarding prosecutors’ problems in trying to obtain waivers so seven other parties’ medical files could be disclosed to the defence. It is understood those men had also been in a physical relationship with the complainant around the same time. It had been alleged that between December 2014 and January 2015, the defendant “failed to take reasonable precaution of a dangerous thing, namely HIV, knowing such an act would endanger the life of [the complainant]“. The former defendant, complainant and all other related parties were given permanent name suppression.

Mikio Filitonga, 36, faces identical charges and, though completely unrelated to this case, was charged just weeks later at Auckland District Court.

He will go to jury trial in June.

In 2005, the first case of its type came before the court when Lower Hutt man Justin Dalley was charged with two counts of criminal nuisance.

But they were dismissed because he used a condom during intercourse.

In 2009, Glenn Richard Albert Mills was facing 28 charges against 14 complainants when he was found dead while on remand in custody.

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

London: With a Lebanese-Palestinian father and a German-Iraqi mother, Saleem Haddad was born in Kuwait in the 1980s, before the first Gulf War moved his family to Cyprus and eventually Jordan. As a writer and an aid worker, his life has been consumed with the issues affecting the Middle East and its peoples. Attitude’s Ben Kelly met with him to discuss his debut novel Guapa – a powerful coming-of-age story about a young gay man growing up in an unnamed, post-Arab spring country:

“When the Arab Spring happened I thought there were a lot of parallels between coming out of the closet and going out into the streets and demanding rights. I began writing the book in late 2011 as the political changes were happening in Egypt, Yemen and Syria, so I was very much involved in meeting activists and politicians and being involved in those discussions. The tone of the book changed throughout the year as a political development happened and something that was once very promising began to darken.”

[...] “I question the idea that the West is this agent of progress in the region, when you look at the support they’ve given to regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that have clamped down on – not just revolutionary movements – but also movements that call for women right and queer rights. So my concern is that a lot of solidarity that is provided by the Eest doesn’t take into account the wider political and economic context.

I think for Western advocates and audiences there is a role to play: listening to different queer stories that are coming from the region, and challenging Western policies that support political oppression. There’s a way of thinking in the region that sees the constructs of LGBT people to be Western constructs, that are imposed on the region and I disagree with that on some level, because I come from such a diverse background. I feel that such a mixing can be a positive thing but it needs to happen both ways. The challenges of queer people in the region are unique to those in the Middle East and they deserve their own unique solution that has to come from the region.”

Atlanta: After months of remaining silent around the “religious liberty” debate brewing in Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal, a Southern Baptist, finally spoke out last week as he took a strong, faith-based stance against the harmful First Amendment Defense Act currently proposed in his state. This bill is just one of over 150 anti-LGBTQI bills proposed across the country — and it is also one of the 79 proposed bills that misuses religion to justify harm to LGBTQI people. Conservative lawmakers across the United States are attempting to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Wisconsin: After progressive groups publicized antigay opinion pieces she had written for a student newspaper in 1992, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley has apologized and said the pieces are “not reflective of my worldview.” Bradley, then known as Rebecca Grassi, called gay people “degenerates” and homosexuality “an abnormal sexual preference” in a column and in letters to the editor published by Marquette University’s Tribune.

Los Angeles: A former Los Angeles police officer who fought against the LAPD for its treatment of gay officers is scheduled to appear in court today on charges of domestic abuse, the Los Angeles Times reported. Mitchell Grobeson, 57, who is best known for his 25-year-long legal battle against the Los Angeles Police Department, was arrested Friday after a standoff with police, and was charged with corporal injury of a spouse.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Missouri: Democratic Senators in Missouri are trying to block an anti-gay law in Missouri – and are talking non-stop in an epic 18-hour filibuster. Senate Joint Resolution 39, which is backed by the state’s Republican majority, would add a constitutional amendment protecting individuals who want to discriminate against married same-sex couples on the ground of religion. Unfortunately, Republicans were able to circumvent the Democrats actions and advance the service providers discrimination bill in question.

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

Brussels: A European agreement to prevent discrimination against LGBT people has been blocked by Hungary. The Dutch government, which currently holds the EU Presidency, had tabled a draft agreement at the Council of the European Union this week, which called on the European Commission to tackle homophobic and transphobic discrimination, promote measures to advance LGBTI equality, and step up efforts to collect data on the treatment of LGBTI citizens. Despite reservations, the agreement had been met by the majority of member countries – with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland lifting their initial reservations. However, the agreement by vetoed by the representatives for Hungary blocked the agreement – the same day it also blocked a proposed deal with Turkey on the migration crisis. Austrian, Italian, British and other MEPs condemned the right-wing Fidesz government’s behaviour.

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

New York: The Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, has granted transgender people the right to pee without being harassed. A number of ‘bathroom bills’ have been filed at state level across the US with the aim of banning transgender people from using their preferred toilets, frequently tied to broader anti-LGBT legislation. However, de Blasio has ruled otherwise.

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

Toronto: Ontario’s out lesbian Premier Kathleen Wynne has called for gender wage equality at a Canadian IWD rally. Ontario’s Equal Pay Coalition, an Ontario group that lobbies for equal pay for men and women, says women in Ontario make 31.5 percent less than men. In 2013, the National Committee on Pay Equity, an American group, found women of colour experience an even greater wage gap, with black women and Hispanic women making 64 percent and 54 percent less than white men, respectively. Also, the BE Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy reported in 2006 that male-to-female transgender employees made nearly a third less after transitioning than they did before.

Toronto: Kids from all over the country came to Toronto to discuss and learn more about Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) in schools. Starting May 11, 2016, and running for five days, the National GSA Forum is run by the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity (CCGSD). It’s is an opportunity for LGBT youth and allies to come together and receive training on how to run, or even start, a GSA back home.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Canberra: The leader of Australia’s main opposition Labor Party has called on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow a free vote in the Parliament on same-sex marriage as soon as next week before Parliament adjourns.
‘Let’s have a conscience vote of our members of Parliament. Why do we need to waste $160 million on a plan devised by the opponents of marriage equality,’ Bill Shorten told reporters in Tasmania on Monday, according to the SBS network. Shorten’s call was echoed when conservative radio broadcaster Alan Jones warned the government would be putting itself further into debt if it funded a public vote on same-sex marriage that was not legally binding on the Parliament.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Kingston: The Jamaican government might hold a ‘referendum’ on the country’s anti-gay law – though the law enjoys overwhelming public support. Under Jamaican law, men who have sex with men can face up to 10 years imprisonment and hard labour. In reality, the toll is often far higher – the country is a hotspot for extreme homophobic violence, and the Jamaican public is overwhelmingly opposed to LGBT equality. The country’s new Prime Minister Andrew Holness hinted at a strategy to get round international pressure on the law this week – by suggesting a referendum.

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

London: Porn auteur Peter de Rome passed away in 2014, but as the man who was known as ‘the Grandfather of Gay Porn’ he left behind a vast legacy of erotic film, which he began making in the 1960s. Armed with only an 8mm movie camera Peter De Rome was an eccentric English gentleman who in the 1960s would politely ask young men to remove their clothes and ‘perform’ on camera. Initially this was filmmaking for his own pleasure, but it wasn’t long before a growing audience wanted to see more, although at the time his work was considered far too subversive and corrupting for general viewing due to Britain’s then archaic censorship legislation. Peter’s extraordinary life story is told in a 2014 documentary, Peter de Rome: Grandfather of Gay Porn, which tells the story of how a Royal Air Force veteran left England for the U.S. and took inspiration from its budding gay scenes, particularly in New York and on Fire Island. The United States afforded Peter a freedom in his work which he was not afforded in the United Kingdom as the early gay rights movement took off in the seventies.

“If my films had been shown in England when I made them I would have been arrested,” he once said, in reference to the fact that homosexuality was not decriminalised until passage of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, and strict codes of decency were imposed on the arts. He had his own way of dodging the censor teams, who would check random films.

“I would shoot something innocuous,” he said, “and then the naughty bits would be in the middle and I would finish off with some innocuous bits at the end again.” Peter made over 20 short films between 1964 and 1979, and legend has it that both theatre legend Sir John Gielgud, and the author William Burroughs wrote porn scripts for him, which remain unmade.

He can, however, claim to be the only director to have filmed a gay sex scene on the New York subway. His 1972 short ‘Underground’ was shot without permission on the city’s underground network. Of the filming, Peter recalled, “It’s about two guys who meet up on a crowded train – one is a hippy looking guy and one is a young executive and they start cruising each other – finally they walk through cars until they start having sex. We started early in the morning and did the sex scenes late at night.” Despite a close call with one policeman the shoot otherwise went without a hitch. Robert Alvarez, one of the cameramen recalls: “I was so involved filming I didn’t notice what other people on the train were doing. It was almost as if they accepted it. That’s New York.”

Peter was well known and respected within gay circles throughout his life, and maintained a cult following which exists even now, after his death in 2014, just weeks shy of his 90th birthday. However, until recently, many of Peter’s original 8mm films had been gathering dust in a box in his New York apartment. But, the BFI have now made him the first porn director to have his films preserved in their National Archive.

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

Nauru: Two gay men fleeing persecution in Iran have been sent to detention on the island of Nauru where homosexuality is illegal. More than 18,000 people have signed a petition to extract the two men from the anti-gay island, after they separately fled to Australia in the hopes of starting a new life. Nima, one of the men who escaped Iran where being gay can result in death, said: “I was told in Australia you could be free to be who you were, you could be openly gay and it would be safe.”

After seeking asylum in Australia in 2013, and after informing Australian authorities he was gay, he was sent to a detention centre on Nauru, where being gay is also a crime. Nima met Ashkan, who had also fled Iran, on Nauru and the two began a relationship and started living together once their asylum plea was approved, however a number of verbal and physical attacks have left them virtually unable to leave their home. He continued: “Whilst we were still going outside, we got beaten up and attacked, spat at, verbally abused and people hit us with rocks and sticks.”

The Human Rights Law Centre is now partnering with the international LGBT rights group All Out to deliver a petition to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in order to let the couple settle in Australia.

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

Philadelphia: A transgender man in Pennsylvania is taking on his state Medicaid program’s exclusion of coverage for gender-affirming surgery, filing a lawsuit contending that the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) requires the state-funded health care provider to cover a hysterectomy the man’s doctors have deemed medically necessary. Conservative newspaper The Washington Times reports that the lawsuit is the first of its kind. But a trans man in Minnesota won a historic victory last March when a federal court determined that health care providers and hospitals accepting federal Medicare or Medicaid funds are subject to the ACA’s prohibition of discrimination based on sex, which extends to transgender individuals.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Puerto Rico: A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision doesn’t apply in Puerto Rico, as it’s a territory and not a state. U.S. District Court Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez ruled Tuesday that Puerto Rico’s marriage ban remains valid, BuzzFeed reports. The constitutional rights cited in the Obergefell v. Hodges marriage equality decision, including the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws, do not apply because Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory and not “the functional equivalent of a state,” Pérez-Giménez wrote. The Governor of Puerto Rico has spoken out in favour of equal marriage – after a judge attempted to re-ban same-sex weddings by throwing out parts of the US Constitution. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and is not fully recognised as a US state. After the US Supreme Court ruled in May 2015 that equal marriage is a constitutional right, a panel of judges in Puerto Rico also cemented marriage equality – acting to reverse a 2014 ruling that upheld Puerto Rico’s marriage ban.ut he argument doesn’t hold much sway with Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro García Padilla – who insists weddings will proceed regardless. Perez-Gimenez has had rulings against marriage equality overturned before.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: A Democratic US Senator has introduced a bill that would deny visas to foreigners complicit in the persecution of LGBT people. Jeanne Shaheen, the Senator for New Hampshire and a close ally of Hillary Clinton, introduced the Global Respect Act in the Senate this week. The LGBT rights bill takes aim at people who have been complicit in homophobic killings, violence or persecution across the world, creating a list of extreme homophobes and placing them on a no-entry list.

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

Jakarta: Indonesia’s embattled LGBT communities are establishing hotlines to provide emergency assistance to those in need, and legislators are being asked to block international LGBT websites.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has warned the government against enforcing a ban on poppers amid a review. In January 2016, Parliament voted to approve a blanket ‘legal highs’ ban that will prohibit the sale of drugs including alkyl nitrites (poppers), commonly used by gay men to help relax the anal sphincter muscles for anal sex.
Home Secretary Theresa May pushed through the legislation to make poppers illegal alongside substances such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) – but conceded a review of the issue after expert recommendations and unrest among Tory MPs. Conservative backbencher Crispin Blunt had outed himself as a user of poppers in a Parliamentary debate, while another, Michael Fabricant, also admitted to “trying” the drugs – though not for gay sex. Former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg waded into the row and also noted his opposition to the ban.

Source: www.pinknews.co.uk

London: A trans teenager has won the backing of the High Court to divorce his parents. The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, took the decision to go to court after his adoptive parents refused to recognise his transitition and kept referring to him by previous name. Originally born a girl, he was referred to the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic in 2014 with gender dysphoria and changed his name by deed poll.

Since moving into foster care, his parents had petitioned the court for information on his progress, which the local authority had refused to provide due to privacy. Making his ruling on Thursday, Mr Justice Keehan said the boy had suffered annoyance and distress and that he wouldn’t overturn the council’s decision. He said that the boy had come to the conclusion that he didn’t want the couple involved in his life anymore and that they shouldn’t receive information on his treatment.

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

London: Three Uk intersex rights activists handcuffed themselves in front of London’s parliament today to fight for an Intersex Equality Inquiry. Intersex is when you are born with sexual or reproductive parts that do not fit within the typical definitions of male and female. Around 1 in 100 babies are thought to be born intersex. The Council of Europe and Amnesty International have agreed the UK should also launch an intersex inquiry and given them equal human rights in UK law.

The activists are fighting for parliament to recognize the systematic abuse where intersex people are castrated or mutilated against their will. This is thought to happen because many do not understand intersex people exist at all. For example, Holliday was castrated without his consent and brought up as a girl as the result of UK medical establishment recommendations because he was born without a penis. He has been involved in launching a series of protests aimed at the UK government to human rights organizations around the world including the UN. Xora, Holliday and Farmer all chained themselves to the gates, with parliamentary police confronting them over their protest late this afternoon. When they went inside to lobby their MPs, Xora was refused entry for her refusal to remove her mask. She has pledged to not remove her mask until government takes notice of their plight and so intersex people are no longer invisible. Holliday and Farmer cleared the first hurdle, but were then stopped for attempting to enter parliament while in possession of working handcuffs. After a lecture from a senior security person – and after the handcuffs had been impounded, they were allowed to proceed.Unfortunately, by then, all of their representatives in parliament had gone home.
The UK government has yet to respond to the repeated calls for rights for intersex people.

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

Kuala Lumpur: A Malaysian tabloid has publicly identified a park near Kuala Lumpur which it claims is a nocturnal meeting place for gay and bisexual men looking to hook up with each other. The English language the StarMetro newspaper sent its reporters to spy on men in the park and claimed to have identified several people engaged in ‘immoral activities.’ The newspaper published the full name of the park. However GSN will not be identifying the park other than to say that it is to the west of Kuala Lumpur in Petaling Jaya. The newspaper also published anonymous interviews with two men who have sex with men who claimed to use the park as a spot to hook up with other men. The story was criticized by Malaysian LGBTI rights group Seksualiti Merdeka who said it had ‘deliberately exposed’ the privacy of gay men.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Dallas: According to Republican Texas state representative Louis Gohmert, same-sex parenting is ‘wrong’ because we can’t have children without reproductive assistance. Uh, neither can some straight people…?

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Dublin: Over one hundred people have their lived improved by Ireland’s new Gender Recognition Act, which assists transpeople in transitioning without necessarily seeing a doctor or having to have reassignment surgery first. Ireland’s Transgender Equality Council has applauded it as a success, with 114 recognition certificates issued. TECI says there is still work to be done for transgender children and adolescents, and access to healthcare, education and employment, as well as antidiscrimination laws.

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

Hong Kong: A married British lesbian (QT) will be unable to live with her wife in Hong Kong after her wife (SS) relocated there for work, because Hong Kong (and China) do not recognise LGBT spousal equality. All QT can get is a visitors visa, which does not permit her to work there and is only temporary duration.

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

Washington DC: A new survey of US teenagers (13-24) has found out that only 48% identify as exclusively straight. They seem more open-minded and permissive even compared to millenials. They’re more open to gender diversity, and strongly support inclusively gendered facilities if they’re needed.

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

Delhi: Despite a valiant attempt once again from Indian Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, the latest attempt to decriminalise male homosexuality and get rid of India’s Section 377 failed to progress in the lower house of India’s federal parliament (58-14). He blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party federal government for the outcome.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Ottawa: The Anglican Church of Canada will decide whether or not to perform religious gay weddings in 2017.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Vancouver: The ‘public sex’ controversy is back on the books in British Columbia. It may be a little early in the season for al fresco sex, but recent developments concerning Stanley Park’s more secluded areas, and discussions about the future of Jim Deva Plaza (brought back to the front burner by the city’s West End Business Improvement Association’s recent situations vacant request for a plaza coordinator) have led to some interest in the pages of Xtra Canada.

According to recent straight media coverage, some straight West End residents have recently discovered that there are homeless people living in Stanley Park and that they are making a mess. They have also concluded, judging by the number of used condoms left behind, that other people are actually having sex there. Safe sex to be sure, but sex. And that’s environmentally unfriendly too. So these citizens have decided to take to the park to engage in civic beautification. Park Board staff are trying to head them off before they trample the rhododendrons underfoot, and are finally getting down to the job they should have been attending to in the first place — park maintenance. However, such “clean up” efforts have tended not to be neutral in the past, and when needles and condoms are the topic of concern there’s usually a companion campaign to “clean up” (obstruct or banish) the midnight habitués and inhabitants. And that, of course, can translate to sweeping out the homeless, the freedom campers and those having al fresco gay sex all with one big broom.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Auckland: Dakota Hemmingson, 23, is taking her case to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), alleging she was pressured to resign because she was told she would no longer match the company’s “commercial profile”. In March 2015, the hairdresser, formerly known as Ahren, was working at a salon operated by Mensworks owner Matt Swan. It was known as Barkers Groom Room, but Swan operated independently of Barkers Clothing company, which had an adjacent outlet. Hemmingson decided to transition to live as a woman so she could later apply for gender reassignment surgery, a decision she hoped her employer would support. Instead, she was told she was no longer a match for the business and was asked to sign a letter which indicated that it was consensual.

She didn’t. Instead, Dakota approached an advocate for advice and to have her case put before the ERA. She is seeking $15,000 compensation for hurt, humiliation and distress. Swan told the Herald on Sunday he didn’t accept Hemmingson’s claims, but wasn’t willing to comment further until the legal process was completed. Attempts at mediation have so far failed and the case against Swan will be heard by the ERA next month. Communications manager at Rainbow Youth Toni Duder said the situation was a classic “textbook” case that illustrated why transgender youth ended up over-represented in statistics for depression, homelessness and suicide. Duncan Cotterill solicitor Catherine Coup said the situation gave rise to potential claims for a constructive unjustified dismissal and gender discrimination.

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

Melbourne: Hundreds of people rallied in defence of the embattled Australian federal Safe Schools Coalition, while others chalked affirmative remarks in front of Turnbull’s house in the Sydney suburbs.

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

Missouri: After shutting down a historic filibuster aimed at blocking an antigay constitutional amendment that claims to protect “religious freedom,” Missouri’s Republican-led Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to advance Senate Joint Resolution 39 to the House of Representatives. It has not yet been scheduled for a first reading in the House.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: The UK is facing a crisis as tens of thousands of schoolchildren have been caught sexting in recent years. An investigation by The Times, which described the issue as a “sexting crisis”, led former Minister Maria Miller, as well as child protection groups, to call for compulsory sex and relationships education. According to the report, children aged 12 and 13 were involved in more than a third of the cases- and the British age of consent across the board is sixteen. Mrs Miller, who now chairs the women and equalities select committee, said sexting was having an “appalling” effect on young people.e, webcam, digital camera or uploaded online. One tenth of the cases involved a “non-school adult”, dispelling the idea that the sexting happened just between young people. Scaled up, nearly 45,000 pupils nationally have been caught sexting in the last three years. However, the Cameron administration still refuses to accept the need to make physical, sexuality and relationship education mandatory in British schools.

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

Washington DC: A short film shows the appalling response by the White House to the escalating AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Released late in 2015, the film ‘When AIDS Was Funny’, includes real audio from press calls at the White House from 1983-1985. It then explores how the Reagans reacted to the AIDS crisis as hundreds, then thousands of people died. Press secretary Larry Speakes, is heard making jokes about AIDS, saying that he didn’t have it, as the room of journalists breaks down in laughter. Lester Kinsolving, who is heard throughout the tapes, a member of the White House press corps, continually asks whether President Reagan intends to take action.

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

Melbourne: The Catholic Deputy Premier of the Australian state of Victoria has come out in favour of same-sex marriage. The Deputy Premier, James Merlino, had previously opposed equal marriage due to his staunchy Catholic views.

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

Mexico City: An utterly moronic and offensive homophobic Mexican movie, Pink, is filled with homophobic stereotypes, anti-gay caricatures and cliches, and negative messages about same-sex couples adopting children. Directed by Paco del Toro, the Spanish-language film is currently showing in over 200 theatres across Mexico via Cinemex and Henry Cinemas although Cinépolis has refused to show the film, according to the Spanish language El Economista newspaper. The film’s poster asks the question: ‘gay adoption—success or mistake?’
Pink is said to tell the story of a gay couple who adopt a child. One of the protagonists of the film stopped being homosexual through the Bible while his partner is diagnosed with AIDS. A petition on Change.org launched three weeks ago by gay rights activists to ask Mexico’s Human Rights Commission to look into whether the film is homophobic has attracted almost 14,500 signatures, 500 short of its 15,000 target.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Rome: The Catholic Church in Italy has effectively banned Andrew Haigh’s award winning film Weekend after it decreed that it could not be screened in any of the movie theaters it owns across the country.The film is being released in Italy five years after its 2011 debut on the back of Haigh’s success with the film 45 Years which received an Oscar nomination for Charlotte Rampling’s performance in the film. Italy’s official film censors gave Weekend a 14+ rating. However the Catholic Church owns more than 1,100 cinemas across Italy – effectively giving the Italian Conference of Bishops’ Film Evaluation Commission power over what films people can and can’t see in the country.The Italian Conference of Bishops’ Film Evaluation Commission gave its own rating to Weekend and classified it as ‘not advised, unusable and scabrous (indecent or salacious).’

Amusingly, “Weekend” has been a surprise hit with Italian movie goers, taking the biggest box office per screen in the country over the weekend. ‘Weekend’ generated more than $6,221 per screen despite debuting at number 19 on the Italian box office chart and only appearing at ten independent cinemas. One screening in Rome’s Quattro Fontane art house cinema raked in more than $17,000 over the weekend – making it the highest earning film in the Italian capital. on the back of Weekend’s opening weekend success, another eleven independent cinemas have decided they also want to screen the film, bringing the number of cinemas that will screen it to 21. The box office results must console the film’s Italian distributor Teodora Film who accused the Catholic Church of trying to wreck the film’s release. The Catholic Church allowed the screening of the Oscar nominated film The Danish Girl in its cinemas earlier this year but only with the warning to audiences that it dealt with ‘complex’ issues that should be viewed in the context of a societal debate.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: Same-sex couples in the UK currently wait less time for a match with a child than the average for all adopters, according to new figures released this week. According to Link Maker, the online system which helps social workers find adopters for children, the average time it takes for same-sex couples to match with a child is 203.5 days – just over 7.5 months – in comparison to 233.24 days for other adopters. The news coincides with the tenth anniversary of the law change in the United Kingdom, protecting same-sex couples from discrimination when adopting. James Lawrence from New Family Social, a charity which supports LGBTI adopters and foster carers said they felt encouraged by the news, but there was still more to be done to encourage same-sex couples to consider adoption or fostering as a way of realising their dreams of starting a family.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: Tony Abbott’s public ballot on same-sex marriage, now embraced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, will cause major social harm and is now estimated to cost the economy more than $500 million in direct expenses and lost production. The publicly funded for-and-against campaigns, which the Australian “Christian” Lobby have argued should be given special dispensation to transgress hate-speech laws, will cost at least $6 per voter based on overseas experience. That’s the conclusion of modelling undertaken by one of the world’s most respected business accountancy consulting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia.

PWC Australia has examined the proposal and warned it will do more harm than good, leading to high levels of social tension, discrimination, mental health and mood disorders, and will cost taxpayers and business far more than previously understood. It found the plebiscite itself would cost $158 million to stage, not counting the extra $66 million in public funding likely to be committed to promote both the “yes” and “no” arguments. The modelling suggests there would be another $281 million surrendered from the national economy from lost production as people take the time to vote. That is, around $525 million all up.

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

London: British Lord Chancellor Michael Gove will be sued for sacking a fundamentalist Christian magistrate who spoke out against adoption by gay couples. The Independent reports that Richard Page, a fundamentalist Christian magistrate from Kent, was sacked for comments made on the BBC in 2015. In an interview, he said that “as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if was a man and a woman who were the adopted parents.” At the time, Page was suspended and given equality re-training, but was sacked for his “biased and prejudice” views. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office believe that this shows that any “reasonable person” would be able to see his bias against LGBT couples. In a statement about his comments, the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) said Mr Page had been removed from office on March 9. Now Andrea Minichiello Williams, the chief executive of the rabidly antigay UK Christian Right’s “Christian Legal Centre”, which is representing Page, has announced that he will sue Mr Gove.

Washington DC: It has been announced that US spy agencies will be celebrating LGBT spies, in an attempt to hire more LGBT people. The presentation will be made as SXSW Festival next week, as part of a presentation called America’s LGBT Spies: Secret Agents of Change. Reuters reports that the presentation will feature three LGBT spies, who will talk about their experiences working in the industry. The presentation will be the first time the whole industry celebrates it’s LGBT members. The presentation will be introduced by Stephanie O’Sullivan, who is deputy to the Director of National Intelligence, retired General James Clapper. She is expected to touch on the fact that Stonewall named MI5 as the UK’s most gay-friendly employer. Reuters spoke to senior FBI special agent Katrina Gossman, who was the first LGBT person to marry in the FBI after the law changed in 2004. She campaigned within the FBI for same-sex couples to receive the same marriage benefits as heterosexual couples.

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

Sydney: An Australian woman has spoken out about about her horrific experiences of discrimination – after she lost her wife in a car crash. Sydney naturopath Lara Ryan had tied the knot with partner Elise Ryan in a ceremonial ceremony in 2010, as Australia continues to ban federal marriage equality. The pair had two children together, welcoming their baby daughter Skylar in January. Tragically, Elise died in a car crash less than a month after the birth – and Mrs Ryan found herself both battling government discrimination as well as grieving the love of her life. Incident reports, A&E procedures and heterosexist birth certificates did not acknowledge her relationship to Elise.

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

Slovenia: Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar is giving his government’s support to a bill to expand the rights of same-sex couples so that they are equal to married couples in all areas except for the right to adopt and to access invitro fertilization technologies. The bill has been put forward by Jani Moderndorfer, a member of Cerar’s Modern Centre Party, after a 20 December referendum promoted by the Catholic Church struck down an equal marriage law that had been passed by lawmakers. Moderndorfer introduced his bill two days after the referendum and the Government has now signaled its support for the bill. Slovenia has had some kind of civil partnerships for same-sex couples since 2005 but with rights and obligations between the parties much less than married couples. Moderndorfer hopes his bill can correct that and offer a solution to same-sex couples until the parliament can pass another equal marriage law.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Delhi: A grassroots campaign with a wordplay on the title of a renowned movie has been started in India to counter homophobia. Titled ’50 Shades of Gay’ (as opposed to the movie 50 Shades of Grey), the grassroots campaign hopes to attract people’s attention to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code – which criminalizes sexual activities ‘against the order of nature’. Initiated three weeks ago, the campaign also hopes to change perceptions of the LGBT community in India. The campaign was started by Indian journalist and filmmaker Shubham Mehrotra after she noticed a gap in the advocacy work of organizations and mainstream media to highlight LGBT voices in India. The campaign – a photojournalism project featuring LGBT individuals of different ages, social and economic backgrounds – is what Mehrota plans to bring to different parts of the country. As the campaign evolves, Mehrota has also been giving LGBT individuals a platform to tell their stories through Instagram, riding on her own popularity on this social media channel to raise awareness of these individuals’ situations. Another part of the campaign saw Mehrota interviewing members of the transgender community on the streets, hoping to get them involved in the project. Other renowned figures have also stepped in to express their support for the campaign. These examples include local TV personality and gay icon Sushant Divgikar as well as the recently-crowned Mr Gay World India 2016, Anwesh Sahoo.

Homosexuality was declared legal by the Delhi High Court in 2009 but the Indian Supreme Court reversed that ruling in December 2013. Two years later, the attempt to repeal the sodomy law via the introduction of a private members bill failed as the lower house of India’s parliament voted against the bill. In February this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition on legalizing gay sex but decided last week to stick with the current status quo.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Atlanta: Fanatical US fundamentalist zealot Kevin Swanson wants girl scouts ‘put to death’ for being ‘too’ LGBT-inclusive.

Edinburgh: Scotland’s police force has ramped up its commitment to tacking anti-LGBT hate crime. Scottish LGBTI charity the Equality Network is collaborating with Police Scotland to deliver a training programme for police at locations around the country – aimed at helping police support victims of hate crime, and increasing public confidence in police. More than 60 new LGBT Liaison Officers are intended to be the hub of a network across Scotland, that is accessible to the local LGBT and intersex communities.

Tunisia: Of the states engulfed in democratic uprisings during the “Arab Spring”, it is only Tunisia which has blossomed into a stable, functioning democracy.
Back in 2011 Freedom House, an independent democracy watchdog, awarded Tunisia the lowest ‘political rights’ score available. Today the same watchdog granted Tunisia its highest score and upgraded its democracy rating from ‘partly free’ to ‘free’. An extraordinary journey from autocracy to democracy in only five short years. Tunisia has a new constitution. Free and fair elections. As further proof, last year the ‘Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet’ was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their contribution to the building of a ‘pluralistic democracy.’
However, not all have shared in this flourishing of democratic rights.

The gay rights record of Tunisia came under the spotlight in September of last year when a 22-year-old man known by the pseudonym Marwan was arrested upon suspicion of taking part in homosexual acts. An anal examination sealed his guilt. He was sentenced to one year in prison. Following the case, the Minister of Justice Mohamed Salah Ben Aissa made an extraordinary public statement in which he called for the decriminalisation of same-sex relations. A month later, he was sacked, and the Defence Minister assumed the Justice portfolio. No reason was given by the Prime Minister for his dismissal. Despite a progressive constitution, Tunisia’s penal code is a relic of its colonial past. Framed by the French colonial administrators back in 1914 and last updated in 1968, the code is unequivocal: it is illegal to be gay. Article 230 of the code declares that sodomy is illegal. Article 226 has been used by the authorities to arrest transgender people for outrages against ‘public decency’. To be found guilty of sodomy carries with it a jail sentence of up to three years.

To be found guilty of an outrage against public decency can result in a fine or 6 months imprisonment. Against such a backdrop, it is hardly surprising to find that homophobia and hate crimes are commonplace. Most go unreported, the victims too frightened to report the crime. As a matter of course, the government carries out humiliating forced anal examinations on all those suspected of being homosexual to determine whether sodomy has taken place. These examinations are undertaken in violation of international law and medical ethics. Indeed, they have been recognised as a form of torture by the United Nations. The new constitution, supported by every major political party affords every Tunisian citizen the right to privacy and personal liberty, yet the penal code grants the police wide ranging powers to investigate, and the judicial powers wide ranging authority to punish, anyone suspected of being a homosexual.

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

London: A gay Church of England clergyperson who lost an employment tribunal against the Church of England has said he’s won the right to appeal the decision. Canon Jeremy Pemberton took the church to court last year, when he was not allowed to take up a new post as a hospital chaplain because he’d married his partner. The tribunal and subsequent discrimination case against the then acting Bishop of Southwell were dismissed. Mr Pemberton has now revealed that the Employment Appeal Tribunal will hold a two day hearing and decide whether there are grounds to grant an appeal. At the time, the church had argued that he had defied church law by marrying his partner, which the tribunal held as valid and deemed it not to class as discrimination. The appeal will only be hearing the legal argument about how the original tribunal has misinterpreted the law and no new evidence will be presented.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee on grounds of their sexual orientation. However, a number of conditions exist that can be used by the church to exempt it from the legislation. Recently, in a letter to openly gay General Synod (governing body) member, Jayne Ozanne, the Archbishop of York signalled that the chuch may become open to the idea of same-sex marriage.

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

London: The Church of England has promised to change the way it handles sexual abuse claims after a report into alleged abuse of a young man by clergymen. The abuse allegedly took place 40 years ago, and the man’s repeated attempts to get help from the Church resulted in “frustration and failure”, child protection expert Ian Elliott said. His report said “very senior” church figures were reportedly told of abuse. The Church accepted the recommendations of the “deeply uncomfortable” report. The man has already received an “unreserved apology” and a “financial settlement”, the Church added. The independent report by Mr Elliott said the claims made by the man – referred to as Survivor B, or just B – were “credible” and contained a “tragic catalogue of exploitation and harm”. Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s PM programme, B alleged that a clergyman tried to rape him in London when he was 16. Two years later he claims he told another clergyman what had happened during confession and he began an inappropriate relationship with him. BBC News understands that one of the alleged abusers was the Reverend Garth Moore, a senior canon lawyer and vicar of St Mary Abchurch in the City of London. He died in 1990, aged 84. Mr Moore is said to have groomed the victim and plied with him alcohol before abusing him when he was 16 at a flat in London. Another clergyman carried out sexual activity that the report describes as “inappropriate” when the victim was 18, directly after hearing his confession. This alleged perpetrator was later promoted.

Bishop of Crediton Sarah Mullally said the abuse had “clearly devastated” the victim’s life.The recommendations include training for people who “may receive a disclosure of abuse”, and detailed recording of all abuse allegations.

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

Canberra: Religious social conservatives have launched a flaccid ad hominem attack on Price Waterhouse Cooper’s costing of the already expensive Australian plebiscite on marriage equality. There is no accompanying substantive detailed criticism of any of the alleged “faults” within the report.

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

Washington DC: Trans woman Raffi Freedman-Gurspan made history this week by becoming the top liaison to the LGBT community in President Obama’s administration. It marks a big step in LGBT history, as Raffi is the first trans person to win the post – she previously worked as a policy adviser for the National Centre for Transgender Equality’s (NCTE) racial and economic justice initiative. According to BuzzFeed News, Raffi will now be the first point of call for LGBT groups on all issue. It’s not the first time the 28-year-old has broken down barriers for the trans community, as she also became the first trans White House employee last year.

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

Sydney: One of the world’s most respected business accountancy firms says Australia’s upcoming plebiscite on marriage would cost over $500 million in direct expenses and lost production. Economic analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia estimates the true cost of the plebiscite to our economy to be $525 million, taking into account the cost of the “YES” and “NO” campaigns – estimated to be around $6 per Australian based on overseas experience of referenda – and also the time it would take people to vote, plus the impact on mental health of LGBTI people. These figures are based on a standalone plebiscite plan, not a plebiscite happening at the same time as the general election, which would cost considerably less: $113 million.

“The real costs to government, the economy and members of the community to hold a standalone plebiscite are more than three times higher than the numbers commonly quoted,” PwC Australia CEO Luke Sayers explains.

“It’s clear from these findings that a standalone plebiscite on marriage equality is a massive waste of time and money that will remove focus on the economy, growth and jobs which is the real priority for Australia. Our modelling points to a parliamentary vote as the best mechanism for change.” PwC economics and policy partner Jeremy Thorpe adds that “overseas examples show that spending on the ‘for’ and ‘against’ campaigns alone can reach over $6 per voter, as happened in California. That’s a huge waste of money that could be better allocated in our low-growth economy.”

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

Bedfordshire: A Christian prison gardener who told gay people to ‘repent’ has lost his legal challenge – after claiming he was unfairly persecuted for his faith. The row began when the gardener at HMP Littlehey in Bedfordshire, Barry Trayhorn, began helping with chapel services due to his work as a Pentecostal minister. However, during a chapel service in 2014, he told the “sexually immoral” and “men who have sex with men” that they must abandon their “sins” to “inherit the kingdom of God”. Following complaints, Trayhorn was banned from taking part in future services and told to stick to his gardening duties – though he claims he was just “sharing the Bible”. In November 2014, Trayhorn resigned – claiming that he was being ‘harassed’ due to his Christian faith, while facing other questions about his conduct as a gardener. With the help of UK Christian Right pressure groups, he appealed- and has lost.

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

Cyprus: Only 18 years after the nation of Cyprus decriminalized homosexuality, the Eastern Mediterranean island nation has hosted its first same-sex wedding. Greek Cypriot couple Marios Frixou, 36, and Fanos Eleftheriades, 26 celebrated their civil union with each other with a traditional style wedding ceremony that was presided over by the Nicosia District Officer. Frixou’s mother presented the two grooms with antique gold coins which they hung around each other’s necks. The couple exhanged vows accompanied by their “best women” and then headed to their reception where hundreds of relatives and friends were waiting for them. The couple then danced to a traditional Greek wedding song while guests feasted on roast pork and presented them with cash filled envelopes to help the couple start the next faze of their lives together.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Rome: Gucci is extending partner benefits to same-sex employees and their partners, ahead of Italy’s final civil union vote.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: New research from the University of Glasgow reports that men who have sex with men [MSM], including those thought to be at a “high risk” of contracting HIV, are not getting tested often enough. Researchers from the University’s Social and Public Health Sciences Unit found that “fewer than one in five men reported having four or more tests in the last two years.” The authors of the research also estimate that only around 55% of MSM test annually. National guidelines recommend that men who have sex with men get tested at least once a year, while those considered at a “higher risk” from the virus should be testing once every three months.

The worrying study is published in the HIV Medicine Journal today, and is the first of its kind to research the frequency of HIV testing for MSM in theUK.

“HIV testing is a core component of current HIV prevention,” explained Dr Lisa McDaid, the lead author of the study. “But despite substantial increases in the uptake of HIV testing in recent years, our results suggest MSM in the UK do not test frequently enough. Given that current guidelines suggest individuals at risk of HIV test as frequently as every three months – as well as after a risk event – and that men newly diagnosed with HIV are known to have been less frequent testers, there is a clear need to promote frequent testing as routine and address barriers to frequent testing accordingly.”

According to the University’s research, more than half of recent HIV testers reported that their most recent test was part of a regular sexual health check-up, while over a third say they got tested because of a risk event, or HIV scare. The study notes that, at present, the only way to successfully prevent HIV is for men who have sex with men to “incorporate increasingly complex understandings of transmission risks and adaptive behaviours into their sexual lives.” It also went on to declare that there is currently no consensus at to what constitutes an “at risk” group.

Dr McDaid went on to say: “Frequent testing will be central to the success of biomedical HIV prevention. HIV self-testing kits are now available in the UK, but it remains to be seen if these can increase testing frequency. Regional, demographic and behavioural differences and variations in the risk profiles of testers also suggest it is unlikely that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to increasing the frequency of testing will be successful.”

The full study – Frequency of HIV testing among gay and bisexual men in the UK: implications for HIV prevention – was published in HIV Medicine on March 15, 2016.

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

Canberra: An independent review into the government’s anti-bullying Safe Schools program has reported back to a group of Coalition MPs and senators – and the program’s biggest critics aren’t happy with its findings. The review was called by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after several conservative MPs launched a witch-hunt about the program’s alleged “inappropriate content”. Antigay Coalition MPs such as George Christensen, Eric Abetz, Andrew Broad and Cory Bernardi, will not be happy unless the program is scrapped altogether. By contrast, Liberal MP Warren Entsch, Greens Senator Robert Simms and ALP Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten have stated their support for the vindicated programme.

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

Ottawa: Rainbow Railroad has had a breakout year. The Toronto-based organization which helps LGBT refugees get to safe countries has been ramping up its operations and finding new sources for funding. In 2015 Rainbow Railroad was able to provide $125,000 in emergency travel assistance that helped 29 people reach safety, according to executive director Justin Taylor. It also assisted 48 additional people, who didn’t require funding, reach safety.

“It was a very, very big year,” he says. But Taylor says that the organization will be ramping up its efforts even more in the upcoming year. In January 2016 alone, Rainbow Railroad was able to help 20 individuals. Financial support for Rainbow Railroad has also been growing. Taylor says that enough money was raised to match the $300,000 operating budget from last year. And in December, a fundraiser hosted by the Upside Down Tree foundation in Winnipeg netted $200,000 in a single night. The foundation matched those funds, bringing the total to $400,000.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Kentucky:Kentucky’s Republican-controlled Senate today approved a service provider discrimination bill that would allow individuals and businesses to deny service to LGBT people without being penalized under local antidiscrimination ordinances. Senate Bill 180 passed by a vote of 22-16, reports US LGBT blog The New Civil Rights Movement. The bill’s lead sponsor, Republican Sen. Albert Robinson, contends the proposal is “not discriminatory” but rather necessary to protect people of faith from LGBT people who “are trying to force their beliefs down the throats” of those who act upon their religious convictions.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Tennessee: Controversy over the Gay-Straight Alliance at Franklin County High School in Winchester, Tenn., continues to attract national attention, including that of a hate-group leader who has condemned the club as “vile” and promoting “sexual weirdness.” MassResistance and Liberty Counsel, both classified as anti-LGBT hate groups by the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center, have inserted themselves into the fight. Liberty Counsel has reportedly offered legal assistance to the GSA’s opponents, while MassResistance founder Brian Camenker came in from Massachusetts to attend Monday night’s school board meeting. At the meeting, the board considered new policies on school clubs, including a requirement that students have parental permission to join, but ended up deferring action until next month.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: Conservative Catholic US antigay Republican presidential nominee aspirant Marco Rubio has dropped out of the race, which has now shrunken to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: It seems as if malcontent religious social conservative Liberal backbenchers seem determined to act as a divisive caucus presence, even given Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s review of the Safe Schools programme gave it a clean bill of health.

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

Belfast: The Court of Appeal in Belfast has ruled that Stormont’s Health Minister should decide whether a lifetime ban on gay men giving blood in Northern Ireland should be lifted. It means that UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will not have any input into this decision in the future. In England, Scotland and Wales men can to give blood if they have not had sex with another man for at least a year. In Northern Ireland there is a lifetime ban against gay men donating blood. The court dismissed an earlier ruling that former Northern Ireland health minister Edwin Poots had acted irrationally or with apparent bias by keeping the ban in place. By a 2-1 majority, the judges concluded the current maintenance of the lifetime ban was not “disproportionate or contrary to EU law”. The ban on gay men donating blood, which was put in place during the 1980s AIDS threat, was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011.
The courts in Northern Ireland have been deliberating the issue since then

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

London: The Cameron administration has been informed that poppers actually don’t fall under its ‘legal highs’ ban after all.

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

Botswana: The highest court in Botswana has ruled the government cannot ban a gay rights group. In a rare victory for LGBT campaigners in a region that is socially conservative, the President of the Court of Appeal upheld a 2014 ruling that said Lesbian, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana can register and campaign for legislative changes.

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

Edinburgh: The Scottish National Party has backed a motion supporting LGBT inclusive education in all Scottish schools. Seen as one of the biggest steps forward for the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign, the party will now commit to create an education system that educates children on all aspects of LGBT identities and relationships.

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

Brighton: A new evening drop-in centre for victims of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender hate crime is being launched in Swansea. Police officers and staff from the Unity Group will be on hand to discuss LGBT issues, give advice and provide support to victims of such crimes.

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

Paris: A prominently anti-gay French cardinal has been accused of turning a blind eye to pedophile priests abuse in his diocese. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, faces accusations of covering up pedophilia crimes despite a priest admitting to them. French authorities have started a criminal investigation into the allegations, involving not just the Archbishop but wider parts of the Church’s hierarchy. Father Bernard Preynat, a priest in the archdiocese, admitted to sexually abusing boy scouts between 1986 and 1991.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: A mobile billboard has been crowdfunded by international LGBTI rights group All Out, in partnership with Human Rights Law Centre, with the aim of raising awareness on gay Iranian refugees Nima and Ashkan who are currently detained on Nauru. Meanwhile, a new UN report has highlighted how LGBT detainees around the world suffer greater rates of violence than other detainees.

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

Washington DC:
The Republican Party can count on some deeply antigay input at its national convention this year — Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has been elected as a delegate and a member of the platform committee. Perkins announced his selection in a press release posted this week on the website for Family Research Council Action, the FRC’s lobbying arm. Perkins was also a delegate from his home state of Louisiana and a member of the platform committee in 2012, when the party amped up the platform language opposing marriage equality.
Perkins takes much credit for this escalation of official antigay rhetoric. In 2012, the platform reiterated the party’s support for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the antigay language was far more intense than in the 2008 platform. It also added a denunciation of the Obama administration’s decision to cease defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

The FRC has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, because of the damaging misinformation it spreads about LGBT people. Perkins has a long history of anti-LGBT rhetoric, recently claiming that marriage equality has led to “havoc in our homes and blood in our streets.” He has predicted that the enforcement of antidiscrimination laws will lead to Christians being sent to “reeducation camps” and claimed that allowing gay men to serve as Boy Scout leaders will endanger children.

His group also supports the discredited and harmful practice of so-called conversion or ex-gay therapy, has claimed that transgender people are a threat to the safety of women and children, has blamed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” for sexual assault in the military, and has asserted that suicides of LGBT teens can be prevented by discouraging them from identifying as LGBT.

Perkins has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination (a personal endorsement, not from FRC) and is a member of Cruz’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Denver: Colorado is one step closer to outlawing the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors, after the state’s Democrat-controlled House of Representatives today approved House Bill 1210 by a vote of 35-29. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it will be carried by out Sens. Pat Steadman, Lucia Guzmán, and Jessie Ulibarri. The legislation, introduced by out Rep. Paul Rosenthal and cosponsored by fellow gay Reps. Joann Ginal, Dominick Moreno, and Daneya Esgar, would prohibit licensed physicians and mental health care providers from engaging in “efforts that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to the bill. It would not prohibit faith-based counselors from engaging in efforts to pray away the gay, carving out an exemption for “religious ministry,” provided the counselor “is not holding himself or herself out as a licensee at the time of the religious ministry.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Atlanta: A Georgia service provider discrimination bill has been amended to make it even more antigay, and it is now headed to the governor’s desk. The Georgia House of Representatives today approved an amended version of House Bill 757, building on changes the Senate had made to the bill in February. The bill would allow businesses, nonprofits, and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people and others by citing religious grounds. The Senate approved the new version this evening, and it now goes to Republican Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature or veto, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The bill started as the Pastor Protection Act, which would protect clergy members from being forced to perform weddings for same-sex couples — but the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of religion, already enshrines clergy members’ right to decide which couples they’ll marry. In February 2016, the Senate combined this bill with the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prevent the state government from taking any punitive action against an individual or faith-based organization that speaks or behaves according to a sincerely held “religious or moral conviction” that marriage should only take place between two people of the opposite sex, or that sexual relations should be limited to such a marriage. Such faith-based organizations could include social service providers, such as adoption agencies, food pantries, or homeless shelters, which often receive public funding.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Sussex: Parents at a school in Sussex are revolting – because an anti-bullying lesson will teach them that transgender people exist. Emma Maltby, the headdteacher of St Mary the Virgin Primary School, has spoken out to defend lessons on tolerance that would have touched on LGBT issues. The school had informed parents in advance about the discussion, using a toolkit designed by anti-bullying charity Allsorts Youth Project to “empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people to take a lead in raising awareness and challenge prejudice and discrimination”. Ms Maltby told the East Grinstead Courier insisted the discussions were entirely age-appropriate.

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

Atlanta: Superannuated US fundamentalist televangelist Pat Robertson has complained that the US Supreme Court has “ripped up the fabric of American life”. Meanwhile, in retaliation for its antigay service provider discrimination bill, inclusive corporates are already leaving Georgia.

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

Faroe Islands: Faroe Islands, a self-governing archipelago part of Denmark, has rejected same-sex marriage. Comprising of 18 rocky, volcanic islands between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean, it remains the only Nordic country to not have adopted same-sex unions in any form. A majority of 26 out of total 33 members in the Faroe Islands parliament rejected the same-sex marriage proposal on Wednesday (16 March). Denmark introduced marriage equality in 2012. Progress in the Faroe Islands is notoriously slow, but not because of the public. In a 2013 poll, two thirds said they would support same-sex marriage. This led to the first gay person elected to the Faroese parliament in 2015, Sonja Jógvansdóttir, who received the third most votes in the country.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

New York: Subhi Nahas was outed as a gay man in his native Syria, and came under threat from Islamic fundamentalists. He was forced to leave his family and friends behind in 2012. He moved to Lebanon, then to Turkey, and finally found asylum in the U.S. He now lives in San Francisco. In August 2015 he addressed the United Nations and talked of the brutal attacks gay people were facing in Syria and Iraq, in areas controlled by ISIS. He said he was “terrified” as the group began throwing gay men off buildings, adding, “This was to be my fate too.” In his new role as an LGBT activist, he works with the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration, and draws on his own experience to help other refugees acclimate to their new surroundings.

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

Swansea: A drop in centre for victims of LGBT hate crime in Swansea will open in mid March with staff from local police forces being on hand to give advice and help to victims of LGBT related crime. The news follows a report by the BBC in October 2015 that Hate Crime in Wales had seen a 20% increase since 2014. Unity chief executive Andrew Davies told the BBC that the aim was to build trust between the police and the LGBT community, the BBC reports. Explaining the reasons for the drop-in sessions Mr Davies said: “We are trying to break down barriers so that people in the LGBT community feel able to talk to the police about their experiences” The centre will also be staffed by trained individuals who work with the Unity Group.

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

London: A capital-wide HIV prevention campaign has reported that more men are now aware of the importance of regular HIV testing.

If you logged onto Grindr or hopped on a London bus in the last few months, you might have noticed a campaign telling you to “Do it on your lunch break,” or suggesting you can “Do it before work.” Before you you start to make assumptions, we’re talking about testing for HIV. Since its launch in May 2015, Do it London has shared, posted, emailed and tweeted some of the most ‘at-risk’ residents in the British capital, reminding them that it’s quick, easy and painless to get an HIV test. And it looks like all their efforts have paid off – Do it London announced today that 44 % of gay men in London say they are more aware of of the importance of HIV testing following the campaign.

Do it London reported that over the course of their campaign they managed to deliver 22 million adverts to Londoners’ mobiles, tablets and popular websites, to get people testing. Gay men in the capital responded the call – with 22% saying they had been for an HIV test as a result of the campaign, 33% saying it had made them find out where they could take a test and nearly 20% saying that they ordered a home HIV testing kit.

As well as getting the word out by phone, poster and tweet, Do it London – which is funded by London boroughs – also delivered more than 2 million free condoms to help combat the transmission of HIV in the capital.

These statistics make for welcome news following a report that was released this week from the University of Glasgow this week. Researchers estimated that “fewer than one in five men reported having four or more tests in the last two years.” The study, which was published in HIV Medicine today, also estimated that only 55% of men who have sex with men are tested annually for the virus.

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

Sydney: Anti-gay flyers featuring pictures of The Joker have been distributed in Sydney and Adelaide. They were placed through people’s letterboxes just two days after the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, according to BuzzFeed News. The flyers show Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the infamous Batman villain holding up a playing card along with the caption “ya gotta be joking.” The back of the flyers has a list of facts about LGBT health with the title “facts that are no joke,” and tells readers if they want more information they should “read the bible.” Did they actually seek the permission of the film producers from whom the image was taken, or DC Comics? If not, then this strikes me as a violation of the aforementioned’s intellectual property rights. What is it with fundamentalist Christians and copyright violation?!

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

Canberra: Dozens of backbenchers have signed a petition urging Turnbull to de-fund the program, with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott joining in too. The uprising is being led by Queensland Liberal MP George Christensen, who admitted yesterday he hasn’t read all of the Safe Schools resources. Meanwhile, The Australian reports that out gay Liberal candidate and former Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson is the target of a smear campaign against him by conservatives in the party. His critics are pointing out his support for Safe Schools, adoption of children by same-sex couples, and efforts to improve the health and lives of transgender Australians as among the reasons Wilson should not be selected as their candidate for the Liberal seat of Goldstein. In Perth, Mount Lawley Senior High School principal Milton Butcher says he’ll call the police if more students are approached by strangers who are giving them letters opposing the Safe Schools program.

It’s not all bad news for the Safe Schools program though. Government Minister Christopher Pyne has publicly commented that he does not think Safe Schools should be de-funded, and Queensland Liberal National MP Warren Entsch continues to be a strong and reasonable advocate for the program too. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also been speaking out often to confirm his and Labor’s support. If in the unlikely event that the federal government halts its funding to the Safe Schools program, Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews has promised to continue backing it at state level.

Education minister Simon Birmingham has released and responded to the independent review of the LGBTI-themed anti-bullying Safe Schools program being used in over 500 schools across Australia. He says the independent review found that some of the Safe Schools material was not appropriate, and that on “potentially contentious issues,” “parents should have the right to withdraw their child from classes dealing with such matters.”

The Safe Schools program should only apply in secondary schools only, Birmingham stated, and will now “require parental consent for student participation in programme lessons or activities, while maintaining the rights of all students to seek counselling services.” An official fact sheet for the Safe Schools Coalition Australia programme will be sent to parents “so they have access to full and consistent information of its content and the resources that may be used in schools.” The All of Us resource was given the green light by the review as “suitable, robust, age-appropriate, educationally sound and aligned with the Australian Curriculum.” Some of the student-created material was not, however.

The official resources of the program will be moved from the Safe Schools Coalition website to the Safe School hub – a website supported by education departments all around Australia. Birmingham also indicated funding for Safe Schools is unlikely to be renewed when it runs out next year, but its resources will remain available on the Safe School hub.

The problem is: LGBTI or questioning students whose parents will react against Safe Schools are precisely the ones who need and would benefit from the program’s messages the most. Informing students at school that their sexual orientation and gender identity is normal and valuable would benefit their self-esteem greatly, especially if they feel rejected at home.

THE Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) will work with with the Federal Government which announced it plans to make changes to the Safe Schools program after the results of a review into the program, despite confirmation it won’t be funded beyond it’s current contract which expires next year.

The Safe Schools programs was designed by the SSCA to protect LGBTI school students from bullying and to educate teachers and school staff about LGBTI issues. Some of the outcomes of the review found the content of the four guidelines documents was consistent with the aims of the program, reducing homophobic and transphobic behaviour and intersex prejudice, and gender diverse students.

It also found he language and content contained within the guidelines documents were suitable for teachers, parents, and students.

However, the key changes to the Safe Schools program Birmingham announced today are:

-Safe Schools will only be offered in high schools
-Parents will be required to give consent for their children to participate in the program
-Parenting bodies will have to authorise a school’s participation in the program
-Links to third party websites and branding will be removed from the program resources
-The OMG I’m Queer, OMG My Friend’s Queer and Stand Out resources will be restricted from being used in classrooms to only being used in one-on-one discussions between students and key qualified staff
-Some lessons in the All of Us video education series deemed inappropriate will be removed and amendments will be approved by Department of Education and Training

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

Sacramento: A young man stands in a room, swinging a tennis racket into a pillow as hard as he can, gripping the racket until his hands bleed, as an effigy of his mother is also hit. Unfortunately, this is not fiction; it is one of the pseudo-scientific methods used in the underground practice of so-called conversion therapy. It is just one of the ineffective, harmful practices aimed at attempting to “change” a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

We know about this devastating scene from testimony delivered under oath in a New Jersey court — the first-ever trial of conversion therapy practictioners in the United States. The jury found Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality guilty of consumer fraud for promising to be able to change its client’s sexual urges. That jury also determined that JONAH’s commercial practices were “unconscionable.” Despite amazing advances in how our society views LGBT people, homophobia that considers these people to be “wrong” or “abnormal” still persists. Many right-wing religious groups promote the false idea that sexual orientation can be changed through concerted effort. “Reparative” or “ex-gay” therapy manifests the worst kind of this prejudice. It can have profound harm to adults and, far too often, children.

The limited research on this unscientific practice has not only disproven its efficacy but also has indicated that such attempts to change a person’s fundamental being are affirmatively harmful. That’s why every major medical and mental health organization in the United States has denounced the use of so-called reparative therapy, as has President Obama. Thanks to the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center and a major law firm, the JONAH case was the first time the public heard what happens inside the rooms where young men go to be “fixed.” The judge ordered JONAH to shut down last December.

But as advocates against this harmful policy, we must ask: What’s next? According to the Movement Advancement Project, approximately 77 percent of the LGBT population lives in a state without laws banning the use of this discredited “therapy” on children. Thus, the US Human Rights Campaign, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have filed a joint formal complaint with the FTC in February, calling for Section 5 of the FTC Act to ban reparative therapy as the fraudulent practice that it is. The FTC has used this authority to protect consumers against “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” including filing formal complaints against a company that made fraudulent claims in selling prescription drugs online. Section 5 represents the most viable national strategy to ban conversion therapy. A bill banning it has also been introduced within the US Congress, although Republican leadership has no interest in allowing a vote on the legislation. Republicans continue to obstruct this legislation, but federal regulation would apply to all states and provide the protection all LGBTI children deserve.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Charlotte, North Carolina: Progay protesters lobbied outside the North Carolina capitol in mid-March 2016 to stop the state legislature from repealing a Charlotte ordinance protecting the rights of transgender people. In February 2016, the Charlotte City Council approved an LGBT-inclusive public accommodations ordinance that, among other things, allows trans residents to use the public restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The Charlotte ordinance takes effect April 1. State officials have “proposed holding a special legislative session” in the next two weeks, reports Charlotte’s WRAL. Their hope is to ensure that it never takes effect. If they fail to hold the special session, conservative lawmakers say its repeal is their number 1 priority when the North Carolina General Assembly is back in regular session April 25. LGBT advocates who gathered in Raleigh argued that keeping the ordinance intact is crucial to preserving the safety of trans people. Charlotte’s ordinance also bans discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.” Since passing by a 7-4 margin on February 21, the bill has faced persistent conservative criticism from those who believe it’s a gift to imaginary ‘criminals.’

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Canberra: Australian Family First Party member, Bob Day, argued that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry because they don’t fully commit to their partners.[Hello? Heterosexual divorce rates?!-Craig]

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

London: UK child welfare NGO Barnardo’s has today issued a report to coincide with Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day to highlight the diversity of the victims of abuse.
It has done this in the wake of several UK news stories that have focused on teenage girls being exploited by older gangs of men. The charity says no-one should believe that it is only one group of young people that are the victims of abuse; children of all genders, sexualities, religions and ethnicities can be the victims of sexual exploitation. It also found:

-Children and young people with a disability are three times more likely to be abused than children without a disability.
-Young men find it particularly hard to disclose abuse – and it can sometimes by assumed that those who are engaging in sex are doing so because they are highly sexualized, gay or bisexual, and not because they are being exploited.
-LGBTQ young people may feel isolated and believe there will be a lack of acceptance by other people regarding their sexuality and gender identity. They may seek support via adult-orientated groups, online or, in the case of boys and young men, in public sex environments such as ‘cottages’ or ‘cruising grounds’.
-Possible sexual exploitation in lesbian and trans relationships should be given equal consideration as sexual exploitation within male gay relationships.
-There is little in the way of educational resources or general information that provides advice to LGBTQ young people about what a healthy relationship is.
Societal attitudes towards sexual relationships among lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people can result in unhealthy or unsafe sexual relationships being accepted as ‘normal’.
LGBT communities might be reluctant to talk about or acknowledge CSE for fear of exacerbating homo/bi/transphobia.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Kuala Lumpur: A documentary on Malaysia’s religious police to clamp down on LGBTI Muslims in the country has sparked off an online debate on the treatment these individuals receive.
The documentary ‘Unreported World – 2016’, produced by London-headquartered Channel 4, is slated to air on Friday night – but the channel has already released a snippet online on its Facebook page. In the 2 min 45 sec video, reporter Marcel Theroux is seen following Malaysia’s religious police on their routine rounds to conduct checks in hotels and on the streets. These checks, some of which are tipped off by members of the public, happen in the middle of the night. Some arrests are made, either of unmarried couples staying in the same hotel room, or of LGBTI Muslims who commit offences relating to ‘close proximity’. These people are then escorted back to the police station for ‘further investigation’, and may be incarcerated if found ‘guilty’.

The religious police makes these arrests if they suspect that there are ‘immoral’ acts happening, enforcing the ‘Sharia law’ – a set of Islamic rules that all Muslims abide by, in addition to the civil law for everyone. Part of the Sharia law also prohibits transgender individuals from changing their gender. As the religious police brings Theroux out on the streets in an area known for its transgender sex workers, one of them further points out that a man ‘obviously must be a man’ and a woman ‘must behave like a woman’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Ottawa: A new study conducted by the University of British Columbia has found Gay, lesbian and bisexual Canadians experience more mood and anxiety disorders than other Canadians, and they are more likely to turn to heavy drinking. The study shed light on the mental health of the often-erased bisexual population. Canadians who identified as bisexual reported the highest rates of mood and anxiety disorders and heavy drinking compared to any other group.

“Often gay, lesbian and bisexual people are grouped together in studies, but we found there are important differences in their reported health,” said Basia Pakula, a PhD candidate in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health who led the study. “These findings are extremely useful because this information has not been available for us in Canada until now.”

The findings come from more than 220,000 Canadians who participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey between 2007 and 2012. The study found that gay and lesbian Canadians reported about twice the rates of anxiety and mood disorders compared to heterosexual Canadians. For bisexual Canadians, the rates were nearly four times those of heterosexuals. The study did not look into the causes of the mental health but an extensive body of research suggests gay, lesbian and bisexual people experience chronic stress related to prejudice and stigma, said Pakula. The researchers say the study’s findings can be used to plan and allocate resources for health services that better respond to the issues facing these groups.

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

Edinburgh: John Dramani Mahama, the Ghanaian President, met with the Scottish First Minister while on a trip to promote trade. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon raised the issue of Ghana’s poor record on LGBT rights.

“The First Minister raised the importance of the Commonwealth values of humanity, equality and tolerance, and there was a specific discussion on LGBTI rights,” the spokesperson explained.

Amnesty International’s Scotland Programme Director, Naomi McAuliffe, highlighted the problems faced by gay Ghanaians. “Gay and lesbian 
Ghanaians are at risk because consensual same-sex conduct is a criminal offence, and we have received reports that 
LGBTI people face police harassment.” She told the Scotsman: “MSPs and opposition leaders who declined to meet President John Dramani Mahama at the Scottish Parliament did so due to Ghana’s poor record on human rights.

“Whilst we understand why they took this decision, we did not call for a boycott as this was an opportunity for the First Minister to raise some of our concerns.”

President John Dramani Mahama observed First Minister’s questions and received an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen. Nicola Sturgeon was the only Scottish party leader to applaud President Mahama’s visit in the parliament, Pinknews reported. Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour leader, and Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative leader, refused to do so

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

London: Former Work and Pensions Parliamentary Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s replacement for the Cameron administration has in the past been criticised for links to a group which sponsored a ‘reparative therapy’ event. In 2015, he was appointed Welsh Secretary, but has now been announced as the former Tory leader’s replacement at the DWP, after his shock resignation last night. The Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire in 2014 said he was opposed to gay adoption because same-sex couples can’t provide a “safe and warm environment for the upbringing of children”. He also voted against marriage equality for England and Wales in 2013. Crabb was previously the Parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Wales Office. ast year he was appointed Welsh Secretary, but has now been announced as the former Tory leader’s replacement at the DWP, after his shock resignation last night. He is known to have taken interns from CARE (Christian Action Research and Education) which organised a conference entitled “Sex and the City: Redeeeming Sex Today” in 2012.

The £50-a-head conference included talks on “mentoring the sexually broken” from speakers including Jospeh Nicolosi, president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and author of books on how to clinically “treat” being gay. Arthur Goldberg, co-founder of controversial ex-gay group JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality) was another speaker.

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

Kansas: Yet more bills hoping to pass in the US aim to limit the rights of transgender people – this time in Kansas. Two bills, identical, aim to restrict which bathrooms transgender people, and have been introduced simultaneously in the Kansas House and Senate. Named Senate Bill 513 and House Bill 2737, the legislation are known as “the student physical privacy act”. According to the bills, they aim to “protect the dignity, health and welfare” of students in public schools. [Except if they're transgender- Craig]

However, naturally, trans rights advocates have shot down the facade that somehow non-transgender students need protecting from their trans classmates. Lyn Barnett, the mother of a trans college student, and who is a social worker said the bills would “legislate hate and bigotry.” She added: “Our trans kids right now are nine to 10 times more likely to commit suicide. This bill would just make it worse… They have nowhere that they fit. They have nowhere where they belong.”

Shawnee County Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook claims that transgender people make other students feel “uncomfortable”. The Senator, who introduced bill 513, told KCTV5: “Parents have reached out in fear of their children’s safety. They do not want attention for fear of being called a bigot or their children being ostracised.” he bill would mean trans people using a bathroom not corresponding to their birth sex and chromosomes, as defined by the bill, would be able to be sued.

Per instance, trans people could be fined $2,500. Also in Kansas, human rights groups are urging the Governor of Kansas not to sign a ‘religious freedom’ bill passed in the state which would force educational bodies to fund groups which discriminate against LGBT people. The Kansas SB 175, would force public universities to fund organisations by students which stop LGBT people from joining.

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

Paris: Some 130 doctors in France admitted to having helped same-sex couples conceive children in protest of local laws which ban same-sex couples from doing so.
The Local news website quoted an open letter by doctors, which was published in the French daily Le Monde on Friday, which reads, ‘We doctors, biologists, own up to having helped, accompanied gay couples or single women in their efforts to have children, which is not possible for them in France.’ Although same-sex marriage has been legal in France since 2013, same-sex couples are prohibited from accessing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or medically assisted procreation in the country which is only available only to heterosexual couples. Surrogacy is illegal under any circumstances. The group, which is headed by gynaecologist René Frydman who is well known for creating France’s first ‘test-tube baby’, said they support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to receive IVF treatment. The extension of medically assisted procreation to same-sex couples was originally included in France’s 2013 marriage equality bill but was dropped due to overwhelming strong opposition.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Atlanta: Georgia’s new service provider discrimination bill could enable organisations to lawfully discriminate against anyone that violates the religion’s beliefs, including gay people. The US National Football League have warned, however, that their organisation does not support such discrimination, as they aim to be wholly inclusive. Georgia’s resident NFL team the Falcons, whose new stadium is due to open next year, may be prohibited from hosting the US Super Bowl if Georgia passes the bill.

US Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin urged Hollywood to withdraw from filming in the state of Georgia should the bill be passed. Pink News reports that in 2015, film and television productions in Georgia resulted in an income of over $US 1.7 billion, demonstrating the huge economic value Hollywood’s film industry has on the state. Griffin implored directors, producers and studios to use this monetary power to protest the new bill. He added that the bill is ‘an affront on all the values Hollywood prides itself on’ and that those working on set in Georgia would be subject to ‘state-sanctioned discrimination.’

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

Lviv: Antigay protesters shouting “kill, kill, kill” forced the shutdown of an LGBT event in Ukraine in late March 2016, London’s Guardian reports. About 70 participants had gathered for an LGBT festival at a hotel in Lviv, a city known for tourist attractions. The festival included films, literary discussions, and other sessions. When about 200 far-right protesters surrounded the hotel, organizers called police, who took an hour to arrive, according to the Guardian. The festival attendees were eventually evacuated by bus, while the demonstrators yelled “kill, kill, kill” at them. The organizers had had difficulty finding a venue for the festival, as it did not have official approval from the city government, and police said they could not guarantee attendees’ safety.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: The head of religion at the BBC has warned that migrants from Africa and eastern Europe could be bringing “more assertive” forms of Christianity with “conflicting views” on equal marriage. Aaqil Ahmed wrote for the Independent that the UK needs to address a “chronic lack of religious literacy”, noting migration from Africa and easter Europe. There is a “more muscular Pentecostalism” identifiable within African communities in the UK, and an “upsurge in Catholic numbers” from eastern European countries such as Poland. A BBC documentary will air on Tuesday on BBC1, looking at the changes within Christianity in the United Kingdom. he documentary also looks at the “gay cake” case, which saw a bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland for refusing to make a “support gay marriage” cake, citing the owners’ religious beliefs.

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

Brussels: The right to education and freedom of expression is under attack, says a new report from an EU thinktank. Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are making schools a more difficult place to work for LGBTI students and teachers. The report was released by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), and comes only a month before leaders in education are to meet at the UNESCO summit. It looked at 19 EU member states – including countries with progressive anti-discrimination policies like France, Denmark and the UK – but found in all countries studied, bullying remains a huge problem. The FRA says teachers feel helpless before bullied children because of lack of knowledge about LGBT issues and because they haven’t been trained to.
None of the over 1000 teachers and officials interviewed had any training on LGBT issues as part of their training.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: In a forthcoming Gay Times interview, Ryan Butcher catches up with Ruth Hunt, new CEO of Stonewall, the national UK LGBTI lobby group. Ruth refreshingly discusses the consequences of economic segmentation, low-income, unemployed and unskilled LGBTI individuals. Her work ranges from schools to workplaces to the construction and engineering industry, and Stonewall has recently employed a trans inclusion policy officer.

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

London: Psychiatrist and drug specialist David Nutt has called the UK’s looming ban on ‘poppers’ a “veiled attack on pleasure.” David is a British neuropsychopharmacologist who specialises in the research of drugs that affect the brain and conditions such as addiction, anxiety and sleep. In a comment piece for the Guardian, he also claimed that alkyl nitrites, commonly known as ‘poppers,’ are “among the safest drugs we know.” While David agrees that ‘poppers’ should be removed from the bill, he finishes the piece by arguing that “it would be much more honest to scrap the whole legislation as it is so lacking in justification and logic.”

Previous high-profile figures to have spoken out against the ban on ‘poppers’ include former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who argued that the government “didn’t want to admit they had got it wrong.” Crispin Blunt MP, who outed himself as a ‘poppers’ user during a parliamentary debate on the bill, told GT earlier this month that there has been “no evidence” directly linking the drug to anyone’s death. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs have since claimed that ‘poppers’ should not be banned under the Psychoactive Substances Bill, leading to uncertainty over the drug’s legal future. In their report, they wrote: “In the ACMD’s view, alkyl nitrites (“poppers”) do not fall within the scope of the current definition of a “psychoactive substance” in the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.”

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

Brisbane: Iman and Wadja man Dion Tatow is on the phone from Brisbane with Sandy Gillies who have about 50 years combined experience working in Indigenous health, with focus on mental health. Both attended an Australian-first roundtable looking into the issue of suicide and self-harm among Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people who identify as LGBTI. There are no detailed records about the loss of life from indigenous youth suicide in Australia. Held in 2015, the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable hosted by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) brought together about 25 Indigenous people from around Australia to discuss how to tackle the issue. Black Rainbow founder Dameyon Bonson said the above highlighted the need for self-determination.Without specific data to understand how high the suicide rate is among LGBTI Indigenous people in Australia, Bonson said there was a need to understand how the intersectionality of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and racism was amplified for an LGBTI Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person.

The report from last year’s roundtable, which was released last week, identified the following necessary objectives:

To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present
To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people
To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised
To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate
To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
Bonson said while seeking funding was important to help address the issue, raising awareness was also critical.

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

London: The NHS has abandoned the roll-out of HIV-preventing PrEP drugs in the UK – despite the drugs growing in popularity in other countries. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can drastically reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV by up to 99 percent, if taken daily. The drug has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and is already routinely available to at-risk men in a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, France and Israel.

In the UK, a two-year study found the drug was greatly effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission, with authorities expected to conclude that the drug should be rolled out to men who have sex with men on the NHS. However, in a shock U-turn, NHS England kicked the issue into the long grass today – by ordering a further two-year study at “early implementer test sites”, restricting the drug to a very limited number of test cases rather than rolling it out nationally. The decision has infuriated HIV groups, who have warned that it puts people at risk of HIV transmission and puts the UK well behind other countries.

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

Delhi: An Indian entrepreneur has started a business setting up arranged same-sex marriages for gay Indians. Gay Indian businessman Benhur Samson, who now lives in Chicago, launched the bold venture, setting up arranged marriages for gay couples. The scheme costs $5,000 – a gargantuan sum for most Indians – but Mr Samson claims it is refunded if no suitable match is found. He insists the business is doing well – but there are currently less than 30 people on the company’s books, and it’s unclear how many matches have been found. Equal marriage is not legal in India, and gay sex was re-criminalised by the country’s Supreme Court in 2013 – under India’s Colonial-era Penal code.

In the past few months, India’s Parliament has twice voted down legislation which would decriminalise homosexuality – with an overwhelming majority of lawmakers voting to keep the archaic gay sex ban in place. Though the law has not been explicitly deployed by Indian police since coming back into force, there are fears it is being used to persecute the country’s LGBT community, through blackmail and extortion.

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

Kentucky: A group of secularist campaigners have launched a billboard campaign targeting a Bible-based theme park that won’t employ gay people – which is getting huge government tax breaks. The Kentucky ‘Ark Encounter’ park, backed by fundamentalist anti-LGBT preacher Ken Ham, will contain reproductions of Biblical stories including a ‘life-size’ Noah’s Ark complete with “animatronic, live and static” animals. The park has been under construction for several years – and is finally set to open in July. It has previously attracted controversy over the huge tax breaks handed to the organisation, which will only hire people if they sign a ‘statement of faith’ banning homosexual conduct. Employees at the park have to sign a ‘creation statement’ agreeing that God created the world 6000 years ago, as well as affirming Biblical teachings on ‘sexual morality’.

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

Ghana: A former senior politician from Ghana has said the country must resist homosexuality. Mike Ocquaye, who was the deputy speaker in parliament, said that despite pressure from Western governments to adopt LGBT rights, Ghana must resist. Mr Ocquaye’s comments came as a number of MSPs left the parliamentary chamber when Ghana’s President John Mahama visited Scotland and attended First Minister’s Questions on Thursday. He continued that only if Africa took a strong stand would the world respect its views. Previously, Mr Ocquaye has made numerous accusations about LGBT people, including how they had caused Britain to have “a serious crisis” of family values. He also said that homosexuality is the new sodomy slave trade.

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

London: While the economic market isn’t great for many people, it’s even harder when you’re young, LGBT and homeless. The Albert Kennedy Trust found last year that 24% of the young homeless population identify as LGBT, with recent government changes making a bad situation already pretty dire. Most homeless LGBT people faced discrimination at home from family and friends, prompting them to leave, however matters such as homophobia and transphobia can also be an issue in temporary housing. Emma Jackson, in a piece for the Guardian’s Housing Network, explained some of the difficulties faced by LGBT people in hostels – places with little privacy – with one young trans person telling her: “It’s hard to keep secrets in places like that.”

The majority of people under the age of 35 can only claim housing benefits for a bedroom in a shared house, leaving many LGBT youth to decide between “their safety, their identity or housing.” The majority of single homeless people do not fall under the category of priority need, while The Localism Act 2011 has allowed councils to have more power to restrict social housing. The act also brought in the local connection policy, which means that unless a person has been a resident in a new area for six months, they may be referred to the council of their previous residence, which isn’t good news for those who have ran away from home for their safety.

As homeless LGBT community are more likely to experience mental health issues and substance abuse, government cuts are negatively affecting them even more – as an example, LGBT mental health charity Pace has recently closed due to lack of funding. Many believe that the planned withdrawal of housing benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds in April 2017 will mean even more young LGBT homeless will be risking their safety for shelter.

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

Brisbane: Under Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s backward fundamentalist rule, Queensland’s early HIV/AIDS response was hopelessly inadequate. In the 1980s, the gay community across the country was mobilised to address the epidemic and in most states, it was given a key role in the country’s response: a role that was supported by state and federal governments who encouraged a partnership approach between key stakeholders. It’s a response that has long been credited as defining best-practice for health authorities both here and around the world.
However, not every state contributed to this pioneering response. In Queensland the government of Bjelke-Petersen would have no part in what the rest of the country was doing to prevent the deaths of people living what he called “a degenerate lifestyle”.

Early in 2016, a release of Queensland Bjelke-Petersen era cabinet documents from 1985 prompted a review of the epidemic’s history in Queensland — documents that revealed the extent at which the Bjelke-Petersen government went to prevent an effective response, essentially leaving the state’s gay community to fend for themselves in their greatest time of need. Homosexuality was also still a crime in Queensland throughout the 1980s, which added to the challenges the community faced. The Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) was established in October 1984. According to QAC’s Phil Carswell:

“In terms of the gay community itself, I was told of people being arrested outside gay venues, strip searching on the street and examples of young gay men stopped outside venues, being interrogated and when they revealed that they had engaged in gay sex, being arrested and subsequently jailed. The evangelical homophobia of the Lutheran Premier and his cabinet gave free rein to the basest forms of homophobic violence in the police, media and the wider community. Understandably, gay men and lesbians either retreated into the closet or escaped south as soon as they could.”

QuAC formed with 14 members amid an atmosphere of paranoia and fear, and within a few months it was publishing material on safe sex practices — years before official health bodies did it themselves. However, funding for the newly-formed organisation was impossible to come by at a state level, and commonwealth funds had to be passed on in secret — via brown paper bags — by the Sisters of Mercy and Sister Angela Mary. The release of the 1985 cabinet documents only reaffirmed the dark chapter in Queensland’s early response to HIV and AIDS. For example, the minutes reveal how the cabinet considered the issue of AIDS during eight meetings throughout 1985 and what it could do to prevent the its spread in Queensland. Dr Wendell Rosevear was also involved with the epidemic from its earliest days and often faced the catastrophic consequences of the then-government’s ignorance and refusal to act. It was also common knowledge the state government once condoned police brutality against the LGBTI community.

The election of the Goss ALP government in 1989 and the subsequent decriminalisation of homosexuality a year later, as well as antidiscrimination legislation, allowed for a closer relationship between QuAC and the state government. It also saw funding expansion for the organisation and the state’s response to the epidemic markedly improved to become consistent with the rest of the country. While it may be almost 27 years since Bjelke-Petersen’s era came to an end in Queensland, for many who lived through it some of the residual effects from the state’s bleak initial response to HIV and AIDS still remains.

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

Myanmar: Much like most former British colonies, Section 377 of the Myanmar Penal Code criminalises consensual same-sex conduct, and has done so since 1860. While charges under Section 377 are increasingly rare, it is well documented that Myanmar police discriminate and persecute LGBTI people under the guise of other indirect laws. As recently as August 2015, the minister for border and security affairs Dr Myint Kyu called for Myanmar police to arrest gay people. Other examples of laws that discriminate against LGBTI persons include: Section 269 of the Penal Code which criminalises the negligent spread of sexual disease; Section 5(j) of the Emergency Provisions Act which criminalised any activity that may negatively “affect the morality” society or an individual; and Section 35c of the Police Act which states that being found “between sunset and sunrise with a covered face or being otherwise disguised and therefore unable to give satisfactory account of oneself” is grounds for arrest. For example, in 2013 20 undercover police violently arrested 10 gay men and trans women in Mandalay, the former capital of Myanmar. LGBTI advocacy organisation Outright Action International (formerly known as the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) reported one person was set free, but the others were verbally, physically and sexually abused.

In March 2015 Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation, in partnership with local organisations Myanmar LGBT Rights Network and Equality Myanmar, submitted a report on LGBTI rights in Myanmar to the UN Universal Periodic Review outlining five key recommendations:

-At a minimum, amend Section 377 of the Penal Code to decimalise consensual same-sex conduct;
-Ratify the key international human rights treaties including, but not limited to, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
-Enact comprehensive anti-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity;
-Amend Section 348 of the Constitution to include sexual orientation and gender identity among the grounds upon which a person cannot be discriminated against; and
-Enact laws that expressly recognise same-sex marriage.

However, things are changing.In 2015 there were 16 events in celebration of International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) Day and the US Embassy flew the rainbow flag in solidarity. In January 2016, Myanmar saw the celebration of &Proud, the country’s only LGBT film festival, for the second time ever. The focus was on the often invisible plight of the lesbian community. And as of February 2016, Colors Rainbow had over 500 people nationwide enrolled in its programme aimed at empowering LGBT people.

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

Tennessee: An anti-transgender “bathroom bill” has died in committee in the Tennessee legislature. The House Education Administration and Planning Committee voted unaimously today to send the legislation, House Bill 2412, to summer study, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee reports. The bill would have required transgender students in public schools and state universities to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities designated for the gender they were assigned at birth. A bill of this type was recently vetoed by the governor of South Dakota, but similar bills remain pending in several states. Several transgender students had testified against the bill in a subcommittee hearing last week. “The powerful voices of transgender students and their families who spoke out against this bill truly increased understanding of what it means to be transgender and moved legislators to recognize that this legislation was extremely harmful,” said ACLU of Tennessee executive director Hedy Weinberg in a media release.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Hawaii: In 2014, marriage equality had just arrived in Hawaii when House Bill 1789 was introduced into the Hawaiian State House to ban conversion therapy for minors, the dangerous practice of trying to turn LGBT kids straight or cisgender (nontrans). The bill received a hearing in the House Education committee but it failed to even get a vote. The LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i realized it needed to do more education for its fellow Democrats about what exactly reparative therapy was and why Hawaii needed to end it. Two years later, in 2016, four US states and Washington, D.C., have banned reparative therapy for minors (and more evidence of its very serious dangers). Those bans have been court-tested and approved by the Supreme Court, and have the support of President Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, along with many recognized medical organizations. In February 2016, the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i added passing the ban as a top legislative priority for 2016 by a unanimous vote. The opposition is being led by former Hawaii’s Lt. Governor (a Republican) and two-time unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate — Duke Aiona. The opposition is a lot smaller than in 2014 — no official Mormon presence — just Hawaii Family Advocates (Aiona’s group), Hawaii Family Forum (a coalition of evangelical churches led by the Roman Catholic Church), the Roman Catholic Church, and a handful of ill-informed individuals.

The legal language found in the bill mirrors what appears in the laws of California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia. Many of those laws have been challenged in court, all the way up to the Supreme Court, which has rejected all challenges. It should be noted that none of those laws have religious exemptions and they have passed constitutional muster. SB2615 passed with the sole Republican voting against the bill in both committees. They did amend the bill taking the public teachers out, even with HSTA’s support. This was an amendment we could live with, as any teacher giving therapy at a public school is required to be a licensed therapist and would still be covered by the bill.

The next hearing was the Senate’s Committee on Judiciary and Labor, where the opposition failed to show up but they still submitted testimony. The bill was amended again in committee to simplify the language and it passed with only Sen. Mike Gabbard, Hawaii’s version of Fred Phelps, voting against it. SB 2615 then went to the Senate floor where it passed with a vote of 22 – 2, which is huge. It is currently referred to three committees in the House but efforts are under way to get it referred to two committees given the amendments made in the Senate.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: The Cameron administration has dropped plans to ban poppers – just weeks before the law was set to come into force. In January 2016, Parliament voted to approve a blanket ‘legal highs’ ban that would prohibit the sale of drugs including alkyl nitrites (poppers), commonly used by gay men to help relax the anal sphincter muscles for anal sex. Home Secretary Theresa May pushed through the legislation to make poppers illegal alongside substances such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) – but conceded a review of the issue after expert recommendations and unrest among Tory MPs. The law had been set to come into force on April 6 – but in a drastic last-minute intervention, the government this week intervened to ensure that the ban on poppers will now not go into effect.

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

London: he National Union of Students’ LGBT Campaign has passed a motion calling for the abolition of representatives for gay men – because they “don’t face oppression” in the LGBT community. The NUS LGBT+ Campaign discussed the issue at its annual conference, which took place in Sheffield this week. At the event, delegates passed a motion that blames “cis gay men” for “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia”.

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

Canberra: A right-wing Senator in Australia has claimed that the Safe Schools anti-bullying programme teaches children how to buy sex toys and visit bondage clubs. The Australian government recently ordered that issues related to transgender people be censored from federal anti-bullying materials, following a campaign led by Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi. Bernardi is a militant opponent of LGBT rights who was branded a homophobe by the leader of the opposition Bill Shorten after claiming the Safe Schools programme amounted to “brainwashing” from the LGBT rights movement.

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

Senegal: A mob in Senegal have “burned” and “ransacked” buildings at a university in search of a gay student. The crowd formed last Tuesday at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, after one student accused another of hitting on him in the showers.

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

Moscow: A same-sex couple have found the ultimate loophole to get married in Russia. Sofia Grozovsky and Lynne Reid got married on 19 March at the Tagansky registry office in Moscow. Over 40 friends and family were there to celebrate the wedding. How did they do it? As Grozovsky, the bride in white, is legally regarded as male, the civil registry office had no choice but to hand over a marriage certificate.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Aceh: This fundamentalist Islamist province of Indonesia has told beauty parlours to stop employing waria/transwomen.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: Thousands of UK gay and bisexual men have been let down by the decision of NHS England not to offer Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Activists, HIV and LGBT organisations are aghast. Over 3,300 UK gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV in 2014; unless we add to our prevention options, we will see similar figures, or worse, in the years to come. Here was the opportunity to make a significant contribution towards ending HIV and the authorities have muffed it. As the NHS statement admits, numerous studies, including the Proud study, have found that found that PrEP massively reduced the risk of infection. For preventing HIV, PrEP is more effective than condom use. Gay Men Fighting AIDS argues that the NHS don’t need to waste more time with further trials, and the offer of £2 million to fund a trial for just 500 gay men is merely insulting in the context of the thousands who are likely to become diagnosed in that time.

Most men diagnosed with HIV knew that condoms can prevent infection. Some of these men had been prescribed PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) to prevent infection, some of them more than once, and many of them had been diagnosed with a number of other STIs. PrEP wasn’t available for these men and as a result they will need treatment and care for the rest of their lives.
There is a group of gay men who clearly would benefit from PrEP and who are already demanding it. Not offering PrEP to these men will result in many of them becoming HIV-positive. This is not acceptable. PrEP is not a magic bullet. It won’t prevent other STIs, some men will struggle to take it often enough to be effective (although Proud found that men who needed it most, and were highly motivated, did take it) and it is expensive. However it is a very useful weapon in our anti-HIV armoury, able to prevent infections in the highest of high-risk groups. And unlike HIV treatment, which is for life, PrEP can be limited to those periods when men are at greatest risk of acquiring HIV, and therefore effectively much cheaper.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: Barrister Henry Hendron has admitted to supplying the party drugs which killed his 18-year-old boyfriend Miguel Jimenez in January 2015. Appearing in the dock at the Old Bailey this week, Hendron, 35, said that he bought £1000 worth of drugs from BBC producer Alexander Parkin, 41,which he intended on selling on to guests at a chemsex party at his flat at the country’s most prestigious legal chambers. The drugs led to the death of Jimenez, whose body was found by the sobbing lawyer after the two day party held over 19-20 January 2015. Hendron, who notably represented winner of The Apprentice Stella English as she sued a company owned by Sir Alan Sugar, pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing drugs with intent to supply. BBC producer Parkin pleaded guilty to the same charges earlier this month, according to London24.com. Both men will face likely jail time and will be sentenced at a later date.

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

London: Positive East, London’s largest HIV charity, have put together an exhibition and oral history project which looks at the emergence of HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom during the 1980s. Created in partnership with the Eastside Community Heritage, ’30 Years of Living with HIV’ looks at everything from the government’s response to the epidemic, including the notorious Don’t Die of Ignorance adverts, through to the impact the crisis had on the general public’s attitude towards the gay community. The project was built around the testimonies of 20 people who all had some link to HIV. Some were HIV positive, others were medical professionals or campaigners. Even the those responsible for the government’s response were interviewed. As an oral history project, the interviews focused on each individuals’ personal stories and recollections and built up a picture of how the crisis unfolded and what the current situation looks like. The exhibition will be touring various locations across East London. More information about the ’30 Years of Living with HIV’ exhibition and documentary film can be found at eastsidech.wix.com/30yearshiv

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

Toronto: When Rob Ford was just a sole Toronto ward councillor representing a distant suburban ward and alienating fellow councillors with his quixotic demands to end snacks at council meetings and reduce office budgets, his racist and homophobic remarks were initially paid little heed. After all, even centre-right councillors despised him — it’s not like he would ever wield power or influence. As Ford’s bigoted remarks accumulated, he became an embarrassment. Urban progressives of all types clutched our pearls in shock and denial that a person could hold such retrograde views in a country where LGBT people had won so many legal rights. Future city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam staged a die-in at his office to protest his comments about “Orientals.”

While Toronto progressives laughed among themselves, Ford was out building a constituency. When Ford announced his run for mayor, NOW Magazine put a fat joke in its headline – and they were not alone in reducing the man to jokes about his weight. The Star’s Royson James called him a “barbarian at the gate” and scoffed at his chances.

As the 2010 mayoral race dragged on, the community belatedly realized that Ford had built a following and had become a danger. There were attempts to fight back. Protesters appeared at his events. His record of bigotry was dug up and became a kind of mantra that progressives repeated to each other through the summer of 2010. But it was too late. With no other inspiring options to vote for, the fight was unfocused and undisciplined. Ford captured nearly half the mayoral vote in the city. He even won around 20 percent of the vote in downtown wards, including in the Village.

In the wake of Ford’s victory, Gandhi’s words played out again. It turned out the 2010 election was just round one. Despite fantasies of downtown progressives, ignorance isn’t something that had been eliminated in Toronto until Ford brought it back like bedbugs from a hotel. Ford spoke to a decade of resentments built up since the city was forcibly amalgamated with its suburbs, and to fears stemming from a major recession. Over the first year of his term, the demands of activists were ignored and laughed at and dismissed as the concerns of downtown elites. Ford’s victory spilled over into the federal election, where Harper captured a plurality of Toronto ridings.

As his term dragged on, Ford lurched from scandal to humiliation to disgrace even as his centre-right allies helped him attempt to push through an agenda of cuts, often directed at LGBT groups and services. Ford himself became a kind of avatar for the kind of unthinking bigotry and homophobia that the Conservative Party of Canada is usually too pragmatic to endorse. When violence erupted against LGBT protesters at a Ford campaign event in 2014, it exposed a truth that should be have been evident all along: these attitudes are still out there.

Yet while his mayoralty was disastrous in many respects, the Ford era was a time of unprecedented civic action and activism. A generation of activists was born out of Ford’s election and they learned the skills needed to advocate for policy change by fighting Ford for four years. Crucially, Ford awakened a metropolitan LGBT community that had become complacent in the wake of its marriage equality victory a half-decade earlier. Ordinary LGBT people recognized the importance of having allies at Toronto’s city council and counted themselves as activists — some for the first time ever — and rebuilt networks across the city to broaden our reach. Pride Toronto’s recent cooperation with Black Lives Matter Toronto is a good example of the kind of important outreach and collaboration that is needed to do to consolidate LGBT movements.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Atlanta: Disney and Marvel have both threatened to boycott Georgia over its service provider discrimination anti-LGBT bill.

Kansas: Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback on Tuesday signed into law legislation that allows student groups at public colleges and universities to engage in discrimination without penalty — as long as the discrimination is rooted in “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Brownback, who has a long history of outspoken opposition to LGBT equality, “didn’t sign the bill quietly,” reports The Washington Blade. “The governor signed the measure during a ceremony surrounded by lawmakers and lobbyists for the Kansas Catholic Conference and the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony for Senate Bill 175, Brownback echoed claims advanced by the bill’s Republican sponsors, namely that the legislation protects “religious freedom” and ensures “that college students can also enjoy this bedrock American principle.” The legislation, officially titled the Campus Religious Freedom Bill, prohibits schools from denying funds or space on campus to faith-based groups that make adherence to certain beliefs a condition of membership or leadership.

Kansas has also introduced a set of bills that critics say effectively place a bounty on the state’s transgender student population. Together known as the “Student Physical Privacy Act,” Senate Bill 513 and House Bill 2737 mandate that any student who witnesses a trans classmate heading into a bathroom that doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth can sue their school for $2,500.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: The American Psychological Association’s recently released Stress in America report found that nearly one-quarter of adults who are LGBT say that they have been unfairly stopped, searched, questioned, physically threatened or abused by the police, and a third say they have been unfairly not hired for a job. Other forms of discrimination reported by LGBT respondents include day-to-day discrimination such as being threatened or harassed, receiving poorer service than others, or being treated with less courtesy or respect. Regardless of the cause, experiencing discrimination is associated with higher reported stress and poorer reported health. This certainly holds true of the LGBT population. Adults who are LGBT who have experienced discrimination report higher average stress levels than those who say that they have not. And LGBT adults, whether they say they have faced discrimination or not, report higher stress levels than those who are not LGBT.

Adults who are LGBT are more likely to say their stress has increased in the prior year and are also more likely to report extreme stress levels compared to others (39 percent versus 23 percent). The survey found that money and work typically top the list of stressors, but LGBT adults are also stressed about their continued employment, with almost six in 10 saying that job stability is a source of stress for them, compared to just one-third of their non-LGBT counterparts. This is hardly surprising when you consider that 29 states offer no protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 32 states offer no protection against discrimination based on gender identity.

Clearly, discrimination can contribute to the negative health outcomes of a community where the youth are more likely to attempt suicide; lesbians are less likely to get preventive screenings for cancer; gay men are at higher risk for HIV and other STDs; and individuals who are transgender have a higher prevalence of mental health issues. Adults who are LGBT are less likely than others to report that they are in very good or excellent health (24 percent vs. 36 percent). And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, LGBT people are two and a half times more likely to experience depression, anxiety and substance misuse.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Kentucky: A prison warden is facing action from the ACLU – after banning inmates from reading ‘gay’ magazines and books. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has stepped up over the allegations of the practise at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, prison warden Kathy Litteral allegedly directed staff to censor books, magazines, letters and pictures sent to inmates that “promote homosexuality”. This means that books with ‘gay’ themes may be removed from circulation, LGBT magazines are not permitted, and pictures of same-sex lovers may also potentially be confiscated from inmates.

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

Glasgow: A petition signed by nearly two thousand people hopes to halt the deportation of a lesbian and her son to antigay Namibia. Beverley Vaanda Kandjiii claimed asylum in the UK on the same day as she arrived back in 2013, reported the Glasgow Evening Times. Ms Kanjiii sought asylum after being the victim suffered physical and verbal abuse because of her sexual orientation. Kandjiii was reportedly removed from her home in the Bridgeton area of Glasgow in an immigration raid. A petition by the LGBT Unity Centre on Change.org has now been signed over 1,800 times. It calls on UK Home Secretary Theresa May and the Home Office to halt her deportation.

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

London: The UK Labour Party has renewed a pledge to introduce statutory Sex and Relationships Education – after the government blocked progress on the issue.
Parliament’s Education Select Committee last year recommended that inclusive sex and relationship education (SRE) should become a statutory requirement in all schools as part of PSHE – but the government rejected the plans last month, with sources suggesting a rift in the Cabinet on the issue. Labour has renewed a push on the issue today, calling for statutory Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) in schools – including age-appropriate SRE.

It comes as figures show that a growth in the UK use of camera-equipped smartphones has led to a growth in sexting and the trading of explicit images among under-16s – with figures obtained via Freedom of Information requests showing a 1200 percent rise in incidents between 2013 and 2015. Labour’s plans include updating the guidance for sex and relationship education – which has not been amended since 2000 – in order to reflect legislative advances such as equal marriage, as well as the issues surrounding modern technology.

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

Global: The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) has called for homosexuality to be decriminalised and for “harmful” and “discriminatory” practices to be ended.
The organisation, which represents over 200,000 psychiatrists worldwide, has said that LGBT people should be regarded as “valued members of society, who have the same rights and responsibilities as all other citizens”.

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

North Carolina: The US state of North Carolina has enacted a law that bars its cities and counties from having their own anti-discrimination rules. Legislators pushed for the bill after Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use restrooms according to gender identity. A Republican-controlled General Assembly voted on Wednesday to invalidate the ordinance.

The governor, who signed the bill, called it a matter of “basic privacy”. Governor Patrick McCrory said in a release that “the basic expectation of privacy in the most personal of settings” was violated by “government overreach and intrusion” by Charlotte’s city council. Lawmakers several other US states have proposed similar legislation – sometimes referred to as “bathroom bills”. A Houston anti-discrimination ordinance that offered protections for gay and transgender people was overturned by voters in November. Democrats in North Carolina’s Senate walked off their chamber floor in protest as the bill was being debated. It later passed 82-26. IBM, Microsoft, the National Basketball Association, American Airlines and Red Hat Software have all condemned the new legislation and have threatened to close down services in the antigay/antigay Southern US state.

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

London: Zimbabwean lesbian asylum seeker Skhumbuzo Khumalo has disclosed her experience in Zimbabwe and how she fled her home country after a violent attack by the police. Male homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe and, though female homosexuality is not a crime, the LGBT community faces violence encouraged by President Mugabe. Khumalo, after fleeing to the UK and claiming asylum in 2014, spent weeks in a detention centre and just narrowly avoided deportation back to Zimbabwe. She was finally granted asylum in June 2015. Khumalo goes on, saying that she “was asked lots of personal questions and then I was asked if I could go back home and live in another city and hide the fact that I’m gay. I thought, ‘how can you hide the fact that you love a certain person? It’s ridiculous. When I thought I might be sent back to Zimbabwe, I felt like committing suicide, because me ending my life is better than people back home ending it for me.” She recalled the horrific attack that forced her to flee to the UK. Khumalo explains how the police forced themselves into the house and started to beat her. They then reached for a teapot and “threw the boiling water over me.”

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

Melbourne: The stories of LGBTI Victorians before male homosexuality was decriminalised will be collected as a part of a project tying in with the state government’s upcoming apology to those who were convicted of consensual gay sex offences. The project, titled Illegal Love, will record and present first-hand stories of gay Victorian life before decriminalisation in 1980. The initiative is being developed by ABC Open and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA), with the latter also planning to showcase an exhibition about the history of law reform around decriminalisation. ALGA committee member Nick Henderson said the project and the government’s apology would both help reduce the stigma faced by those previously convicted. Illegal Love will be presented in the lead up to the apology in May, and the ALGA’s exhibition will be showcased in Queens Hall at Parliament House in Melbourne.

Henderson believes the process of Victoria’s apology and reform has played out far better than it has in other instances. The exhibition will feature expansive content covering the history of decriminalisation in Victoria and the road to law reform.

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

Dallas: “Christian bakers, florists, and wedding planners will be safe under a Ted Cruz presidency,” promises a new plan from the Texas Senator’s religious liberty counsel (sounds like a federal service provider discrimination bill, then?- Craig)

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Teachers in the UK are being bullied by parents and pupils, a new survey has warned. Cases of homophobic, racist and sexist attacks on social media are becoming the norm according to teachers unions. In an annual survey of more than 1300 teachers by NASUWT, more than half said they have received threatening or abusive comments from both pupils and parents.

In some of the worst cases, teachers were threatened with rape and in one school a teacher who told a pupil off for swearing was called a “f***ing little lesbian” and told she would be “knocked out”. In the last 12 months, online abuse has risen from 48% to 55% and effective responses by local government, schools and the police remain low. The survey showed that 79% of abuse from pupils came from Facebook, with almost a third reporting having seen video of them posted online. Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, said there should be a “zero tolerance approach” towards online abuse. He added, however, that only 28% of teachers said their school had an internet policy that makes specific reference to protecting staff from abuse by social media.

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

Beijing: A transgender man from China has been sacked after a week in a new job because he wore men’s clothes. Chen, from the country’s Guizhou province in the southwest, was hired by Ciming Checkup, but after a week it let him go stating that his choice of clothing was “incompatible with the company’s image”. Seeking damages and one week’s pay at a local arbitration commission in Guiyang, the 28-year-old said he thought the company’s decision was “over the top”. Ciming Checkup confirmed that Chen had been dismissed from the company because his image was “incompatible” with its requirements. However, it would not provide more details of what they were. A manager from the company also added that because Chen met with “senior leaders” from other companies his image was important. Although advocates have said there is some progression on LGBT issues in China, there is still a deeply rooted social stigma for identifying as LGBT.

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

Bangkok: A gay couple is fighting for full custody of their surrogate daughter in Thailand, where she was born to a local surrogate. American Gordon Lake and his Spanish husband Manuel Santos, both 41, went to court in Bangkok on Wednesday to demand for the right to bring their 14-month-old daughter, Carmen, back to Spain where the pair was living. The couple have been staying back in Thailand for more than a year now, after they were refused cooperation from the surrogate, Thai woman Patidta Kusolsang, to have the necessary paperwork completed for the child:
“We need two things to leave,” Lake told US NPR reporter Michael Sullivan. “One thing would be [Carmen’s] passport. The second would be paperwork to get through immigration.’
Without these special documents, Carmen will not be allowed to leave Thailand. It is reported that after Kusolsang personally handed the baby over to her new fathers at the hospital, she had a sudden change of mind and said that she was not aware that the parents are same-sex in the ‘English contract’ she signed.
‘They are not natural parents in Thai society. They are same-sex, not like male and female that can take care of babies,’ Kusolsang said.

Mariam Kukunashvili, co-founder of New Life, the organisation that facilitated the surrogacy, confirmed that Kusolsang knew that Lake and Santos are a gay couple right from the start, and added that the contract was bilingual.

Last year, the New Life office in Bangkok shut down after the Thai government passed a new law which makes commercial surrogacy illegal.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Malawi: The Catholic Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi have publicly called on the Malawian Government to resume criminalizing members of the LGBTI community and end its moratorium on prosecuting those accused of indulging in gay sex. The government, under President Joyce Banda, announced that authorities would no longer enforce Malawi’s laws criminalizing same-sex activities so that the country could have a conversation about whether to legalize homosexuality in 2012. In the meantime Malawi’s High Court has been reviewing the constitutionality of the country’s laws criminalizing LGBTI people for several years but has not yet come to a decision. However the Catholic Church in Malawi has now had enough and wants the law enforced again, saying the government only suspended the law because of “foreign pressure.”

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Mexico City: Two married New Zealand gay men have just become parents but now the couple are calling on the Government to help bring their three babies stranded in Mexico home. The couple told Fairfax newspapers they had one simple request: “David, Nicky, Lachlan, Blake and Kelly simply want to come home to their family.” Aucklanders David and Nicky Beard are appealing to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse to help bring back their three newborn children from Mexico after they were scammed in a surrogacy deal. The babies, Lachlan, Kelly and Blake, were born last month to two surrogate mums in Mexico, in an arrangement with their Auckland parents, David and Nicky Beard, and an Argentinian egg donor.

David Beard, 41, the biological father, is a prominent Auckland lawyer and the owner of Auckland law firm LegalStreet. His husband, Nicky Leonard Beard, 32, is from Ireland. Fairfax reported it is believed they are the last gay male couple allowed to use international surrogates to give birth to their children, as Mexico tightens its IVF laws to ban most international surrogacy agreements. Friends and family have been asked to help, and a social fundraising page has been established, along with a request to the New Zealand and Mexican Governments to cut through red tape and allow the family reunification.

Fairfax reported the Mexican Government had assured them they would be allowed to take their children out of the country but New Zealand had told them international surrogacy was a legal minefield with risks attached. Lesbian and gay international surrogacy by lesbian and gay couples was only recently banned in Mexico, but the Beards said government officials assured them they would be able to honour the agreement to adopt the children because the surrogates were already pregnant. Their case has been complicated after the couple allege the Cancun adoption agency absconded with all the money they had sent for medical and hospital bills, legal costs and care for the surrogates. The women gave birth in Villahermosa in reportedly marginal conditions. The couple are requesting that Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse intervene, so the three babies could be given New Zealand passports at once by the New Zealand Embassy in Mexico City, rather than go through the circuitous bureaucratic routine of application for, and access to, Mexican passports. The Ministry of Social Development’s Paula Attrill said the New Zealand Government was aware of the case and had provided advice to the Beards. She told Fairfax any further assistance would be focused on the adoption process by the non-biological parent, once the children arrived in New Zealand.

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

Atlanta: The Democrat Governor of the US state of Georgia has vetoed a “religious freedom” bill after facing pressure from business interests. The bill would have allowed faith-based organisations to refuse service to gay and transgender people. Disney, the National Football League, Coca-Cola and others threatened to pull business out of the state. The veto comes as other US states enacted similar laws that enshrine service provider discrimination in state law. Anti-LGBT Georgia Republican state legislators said the bill would protect religious people who believe serving gay and transgender people violates their beliefs. The bill also would have protected clergy not wishing to perform gay marriages, and people who would not attend weddings based on religious beliefs. If passed, progay opponents said it would have legalised service provider discrimination and erased progressive local ordinances passed to protect lesbian, gay and transgender people. North Carolina has already gone down the same road without reservations.

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

Riyadh: A Saudi man was arrested for unintentionally flying an LGBT rainbow pride flag. The straight dad said he was “unaware” of the symbolism and he had bought it online because one of his children thought the colours were pretty. The man flew the flag above his home in Jeddah and was arrested soon after. However, the man was bailed and agreed to remove the flag from his home after he was revealed to be unaware of its origins. Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and punishments for homosexuality include death, castration and more, although migrant workers are usually most of those so punished.

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

London: A fundamentalist Christian UK magistrate, Richard Page, was fired for suggesting that same-sex couples shouldn’t bring up children and now he may lose his NHS directorship. Last year the 69-year-old from Headcorn was reprimanded and sent on an equality course because he said it was “natural and in the interests of a child to be brought up by a mother and father.”

Page who also works as an NHS manager in mental health services has been told by the NHS Trust Development Authority, which can fire directors on behalf of the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, that he has been suspended. He was told that his views may have a “negative impact” on the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust which he is a non-executive director. He has held the position for five years and has denied being homophobic, saying he’s had gay friends and colleagues and that his wife had nursed a man dying of AIDS related illness.

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

Puerto Rico: Same-sex marriages are continuing uninterrupted in Puerto Rico despite a federal judge’s ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision doesn’t apply there — and some legal advocates are seeking to assure that there will be no interruption. U.S. District Court Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez’s March 8 ruling goes against “both logic and settled law,” says Lambda Legal staff attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan. Pérez-Giménez ruled that the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling establishing national marriage equality doesn’t affect Puerto Rico because it is an unincorporated territory and not yet a US state. But there’s a long history, Gonzalez-Pagan says, of U.S. courts agreeing that decisions on fundamental rights apply in both states and territories — and in Obergefell, the Supreme Court found that the right to marry is indeed fundamental, no matter the gender of one’s chosen spouse.

The day after Pérez-Giménez issued his decision, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla told residents of the territory to ignore it. He said the fundamental right to marry was validated by higher courts than the district court — that is, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit — and that he would respect their rulings. But to make sure that marriage equality for the territory remains enshrined in law, Lambda attorneys and their co-counsels from private law firms have turned to the First Circuit.

Last week they filed a petition asking the First Circuit to make clear that the Obergefell ruling applies in Puerto Rico and to assign the case to a different judge at the district level to enter a judgment that all provisions of Puerto Rico law that ban licensing and recognition of same-sex marriage are to be stricken as unconstitutional and no longer enforceable.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

North Carolina: Less than a week after North Carolina officials rescinded LGBT-specific nondiscrimination protections following a smear campaign against transgender people, three organizations are filing a federal lawsuit against the much-maligned HB 2. The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal, and Equality NC plan to announce the lawsuit on Monday at noon Eastern. The organizations are filing the case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina “on behalf of several organizations and individuals who will be harmed by the law,” the groups said in a joint statement on Sunday.

Meanwhile, though, while progressive activists, major businesses, Democratic presidential candidates, and The New York Times have denounced North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law, there’s one segment of the population that’s very pleased with it — the US Christian Right. Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, the Benham brothers, and Franklin Graham are among those praising state legislators and Gov. Pat McCrory for the law, which strikes down LGBT-inclusive municipal antidiscrimination ordinances and prohibits cities from adopting any new ones. A war of words is also reportedly escalating, given that Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed North Carolina’s anti-LGBT HB 2, while his attorney general — Democrat Roy Cooper — said he refuses to defend a challenge against its constitutionality.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: UKIP members including a serving local councillor posted shocking racist and sectarian slurs about Labour’s Sadiq Khan on the page of the party’s LGBTQ* group. The issue arose after the group LGBTQ* in UKIP posted a Facebook picture of UKIP’s London Mayoral candidate Peter Whittle at the Pride in London hustings last week.However, nearly all of the comments focussed on Labour’s Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan – who was pictured sitting next to Mr Whittle. Mr Khan is a Muslim and has strongly supported LGBT rights in Parliament. However, the group is yet to comment on revelations that the party suspended candidate and Parliamentary Spokesperson Suzanne Evans for criticising a ‘gay cure’ candidate. Court documents seen by UK LGBT media outlet PinkNews last week revealed that Ms Evans is facing action under UKIP party rules after she spoke out to condemn against an extreme anti-gay UKIP candidate who believes in ‘reparative therapy.’

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

London: The UK LGBTI lobby organisation Stonewall has criticised the UK National Union of Students for urging university LGBTI organisations to abolish gay mens reps, stating that it overlooks that there is still tangible oppression and discrimination within the wider society and that gay men face it because they’re gay.

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

St Louis: A baseball coach who told a player that gays should be put to death has apologised – and will be allowed to keep his job. Tyler Dunnington, a former minor league pitcher with the St Louis Cardinals, made allegations earlier this month in an interview with Outsports.

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

Tennessee: Tennessee Freemasons have closed their doors to gay and unmarried straight men.

Canberra: The peak body for Australian sex workers has called for better education to help children deal with pornography if they are exposed to it, rather than increased censorship. Scarlet Alliance has also cautioned that pornography is “often the scapegoat for broader societal issues” as renewed concerns are raised about young people’s exposure to explicit material online. A Senate inquiry into the potential harm being done to Australian children “through access to pornography on the internet” has been inundated by more than 140 submissions. A submission from Children’s eSafety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon notes: “The proliferation of smart phones, tablets and devices [has] changed the amount and ease of access to sexually explicit content”.

The Australian Medical Association also told the inquiry “children and young people are being exposed to a vast range [of] pornography, which is readily available on the internet”. But Scarlet Alliance – the Australian Sex Workers Association – has cautioned: “It is easier to blame sex workers and porn for misogyny and violence than to acknowledge that violence against women, sexual assault and sex education are issues that need to be dealt with by society at a foundational​ level.”

At the same time, it stressed that porn producers “aren’t marketing their material to children and porn performers have been vocal about the fact that their content is not made for minors”.
It said the federal government and the porn industry should work together to stop children accessing explicit material online. Rather than adopting internet filters or censorship, Scarlet Alliance is calling for “open communication” with parents and teachers, so kids are able to talk about issues and material they may encounter.
It also encourages “practical” sex education that covers “relationships, boundaries and consent” as well as basic biology and health. This will help them understand pornography is “fantasy” and “not necessarily fully representative of what sex and relationships are like for most people”.
The call comes as the Turnbull government makes changes to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program, amid concerns it contains material that is not age-appropriate for young people.

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

London: Gay Men Fighting AIDS CEO Matthew Hodson is still angry that PrEP will not be available on the NHS. He argues that this is shocking waste of an opportunity and thousands of gay men will suffer as a result.

For the last 18 months a medical working group had been looking at how to introduce Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Having studied the data they concluded that it would be cost effective. The £25m price tag paled in comparison with the almost £800m currently spent each year on treatment for those of us living with HIV. Then, to the shock of HIV organisations and activists, the NHS suddenly pulled the plug. It cited the fact that prevention is now the responsibility of Local Authorities – it is, although the NHS continues to provide other preventative health treatments, such as contraception and statins – it announced instead that it would run a small preliminary clinical trial, providing PrEP to a mere 500 gay men for the next two years.

GMFA argues that this trial will have too few active participants to provide the evidence of feasibility and affordability that the NHS is claiming they wish to explore. As the NHS statement admits, numerous studies, including the Proud study, have already found that PrEP massively reduced the risk of infection. For preventing HIV, PrEP is more effective than condom use. Treating just 500 gay men is merely insulting in the context of the thousands who are likely to be diagnosed HIV+ at that time. The decision was swiftly condemned, not only by UK HIV prevention organisations and activists but also by the London Councils (“a wasted opportunity”) and the Local Government Association, as well as by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

Despite all of the advances in treatment we have seen there is still no cure for HIV infection; once you have it, you have it for life. The best currently available treatment is a daily regimen of drugs which you have to take for the rest of your life. PrEP medication can be limited to those periods when men are at greatest risk of acquiring HIV, and is therefore effectively much cheaper. Given all of this it is appalling that the NHS has taken this decision not to fund PrEP, which could have made a radical difference to the number of new HIV infections (and also the amount that is paid out every year in treatment) within the United Kingdom. Every year since the virus was first detected, the number of HIV+ people has grown. PrEP provided a real opportunity to reverse this trend, bring down the number of new diagnoses and mark the beginning of the end of this epidemic. Once again it seems that prevention is not a priority for the Cameron administration or National Health Service.

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

Ottawa: LGBT groups were pleased to see that the federal government budget tabled March 22, 2016, granted a $12 million windfall to the Court Challenges Program, an independent agency that provides funding for minority groups to pursue equality challenges against provincial and federal governments. The new funding reverses a controversial action of the first Harper Conservative budget, which eliminated federal support for the program in 2006. The Liberal Party had promised to reinstate the program’s funding in its election platform last year.

The Court Challenges Program dates back to 1978 and was originally tasked with supporting official language rights. It was expanded by the Mulroney government in 1985 after the Charter of Rights and Freedoms became law. Harper eliminated funding for all but language challenges. As the government’s resources are virtually unlimited, mounting an adequate legal case through all levels of the court system can be prohibitively expensive for minority groups and individuals. Legal fees, research and expert witnesses can easily cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars as a case winds its way through the courts.

LGBT activists had taken advantage of the Court Challenges Program to mitigate these costs in cases that successfully fought for workplace, relationship, marriage and parenting equality. Vancouver’s iconic queer bookshop, Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium, relied on Court Challenges Program funding for its years-long anti-censorship fight against the Canada Border Services Agency (formerly known as Canada Customs). The government agency was illegally seizing and destroying books, magazines and videos which Little Sister’s was importing to sell. Egale, Canada’s national LGBT lobby group, benefited from access to the Court Challenges Program up to 2006, but has since had to rely on pro-bono lawyers to argue cases it has pursued, including a hate speech case that went to the Supreme Court and a case against the gay blood donation ban. Helen Kennedy, Egale’s executive director, says the organization is currently involved in a Quebec case related to parental rights for trans people. It welcomed the news.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

North Carolina: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today that his department won’t defend new state anti-trans legislation. The attorney general believes the law — known as House Bill 2 — is wholly unconstitutional, and will not defend it in court, noting that HB 2 effectively gutted existing nondiscrimination protections that had been in place at the state’s Department of Justice since 2001.

“We should not even be here today, but we are,” said the Democratic attorney general, who is also running for governor. Cooper is hoping to remove incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who continues to support the first-of-its-kind law.

“We are here because the governor has signed statewide legislation that puts discrimination into the law,” he added. “Obviously, the LGBT community is targeted, but also people who are discriminated against based on race, and religion, and other classes of people, could likely have a harder time bringing actions to protect themselves.” One day after a coalition of LGBT groups announced a lawsuit challenging HB 2, Cooper held a press conference declaring that his office will not defend the constitutionality of the law, which repeals existing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination protections statewide and mandates that trans people use public bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match their gender identity, among other things.

“Not only is this new law a national embarrassment, it will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t repeal it,” continued Cooper. “The threats to our economy will grow even darker the longer this law stays in effect.” Cooper went on to warn that the law will prompt “a flood of litigation,” pointing to the lawsuit filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Equality North Carolina, which seeks an injunction to the law on the grounds that it is patently unconstitutional.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

New Orleans: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards will soon rescind an antigay executive order issued by his predecessor, Bobby Jindal, Deadline Hollywood reports.

“As far as Jindal’s religious liberty order, the governor intends to rescind it in the near future,” Edwards’s press secretary, Shauna Sanford, said in response to a Deadline inquiry today in the wake of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a so-called religious liberty bill that would have allowed discrimination against LGBT people based on religious objections.

Jindal, a fundamentalist Republican who once sought his party’s presidential nomination, last year issued the Marriage and Conscience Order, which bars the state from taking punitive action against an individual, business, or nonprofit group acting in accordance with a “religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” While the order says this should “not be construed to authorize any act of discrimination,” it was designed to protect those with antigay views — for instance, business owners who don’t want to provide goods or services for same-sex couples’ weddings. Jindal issued the order after legislation to this effect failed to pass. His order stands until another governor repeals it, and that is what Edwards, a Democrat who took office in January, intends to do.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: UKIP has ruled out punishing a transgender deputy mayor who told Londoners to vote for “anyone but a Muslim” in reference to Sadiq Khan. PinkNews yesterday reported the comments made by Sarah Larkins, the Deputy Mayor of Ramsgate, after the Facebook group LGBTQ* in UKIP posted a picture of UKIP’s Mayoral candidate Peter Whittle at the Pride in London hustings.

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

United States: Right-wing antigay Fox News pundit Todd Starnes has claimed that it’s “open season” on Christians in Georgia after the state’s governor blocked an anti-LGBT law. The state’s Republican-controlled legislature has greenlit HB 757, which would ban the government from taking action against anyone who discriminates against LGBT people – as long as they do so based on a sincerely held “religious or moral conviction”. The law would apply even in adoption agencies or homeless shelters – which opponents say is a gross violation of human rights. Warner Bros and Disney were among the big businesses to threaten to boycott the state if the law was allowed to pass – and Republican Governor Nathan Deal yesterday confirmed that he will veto it, blocking it from coming into effect. He said: “Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people – and that is what we should want.”

However, Fox News host Todd Starnes is not happy about the turnaround – declaring it “open season” on Christians in Georgia.

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

New York: A college will take the bold step of removing the gender markers on all of its bathrooms. The privately-funded Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, in New York’s East Village, is home to nearly a thousand students. The college decided to make a change amid a battle over transgender rights across the US, with a number of Republican-backed ‘bathroom bills’ aiming to ban trans people from using their preferred toilet – many of which are also contain provisions to block LGBT rights protections.

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

Alabama: Republican Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama, a strong believer of ‘traditional marriage’ and vocal opponent of equal rights for same-sex couples, is caught in an extra-marital scandal which is further fuelled by newly released sexually explicit phone sex recording.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Kentucky: Kentucky’s House of Representatives has passed a bill, SB216, supporting the creation of a common marriage license form for all couples, gay or straight.
This new bill, which proposes that a marriage license applicant shall have the option of checking ‘bride,’ ”groom’ or ‘spouse’ beside their name, was approved by the Democratic-led House last Friday without debate, reports Yahoo News. SB216 would also do away with having the names of county clerks on the licenses, in response to the widely debated controversy last year surrounding Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the grounds of her Christian beliefs, even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed last June. The bill still has to go through another round of voting in the Republican-controlled Senate, which has recently passed a rather contrasting motion, wanting two versions of marriage license form: one for gay couples which will use terms like ‘first party’ and ‘second party,’ while straight couples will use a form with the conventional language of ‘bride’ and ‘groom.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Kampala: A Muslim cleric in Uganda has vowed to fight anyone who stands in the way of a potential new anti-gay bill being passed. Sheikh Nuhu Mazaata brought up the subject while addressing prayers at at mosque in Kampala, saying that anyone defending LGBTI people will face a ‘rough’ time.Uganda is notorious for its dangerous rhetoric against LGBTI people.
In 2014, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, which called for tough penalties for homosexual acts, and encouraged members of the public to report LGBTI people to the authorities. However, the courts in Uganda were later able to invalidate the law on the grounds of a technicality. Despite this, the situation for LGBTI Ugandans remains dire, with activists believing the situation will get worse in the near future.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

United States: statistics show no trans person arrested for sexual misconduct in a public bathroom, BUT surprise, surprise (or not?), three Republicans lawmakers had been arrested for doing very naughty things in there. Who are they? One didn’t have to dig too far into recent history to find these bathroom-seeking politicians: Back in 1981, Mississippi congressman Jon Hinson was arrested for engaging in oral sex with a male staffer in the House of Representatives bathroom. In 2007, Idaho Republican Larry Craig was arrested in the restroom of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. Also in 2007, Florida state Representative Bob Allen was arrested after he agreed to give an undercover police officer $20 for oral sex in the men’s room of a public park.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Malawi: A number of young religious people in Malawi have threatened to sue the government, if they don’t arrest 4,000 homosexuals living in one of the country’s northern cities. The Young Pastors Coalition of Malawi (YPCM) has said the government is breaking the law in Mzuru because to not arrest LGBT people amounts to ‘promotion of homosexuality.’ There is currently a moratorium on LGBT prosecutions in Malawi as the government say they will review existing legislation, however anyone who is convicted under current laws faces a jail term of up to 14 years.

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

North Carolina: Eighty businesses have joined a growing backlash against a new North Carolina law ending anti-discrimination protections across the state. Bank of America, based in Charlotte, has joined dozens of major US firms publicly objecting to the law. Bank of America added its name to an open letter written to Mr McCrory compiled by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an anti-discrimination group, urging the governor to repeal the law. The company joins more than 80 chief executives who signed onto the letter, including Timothy Cook of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

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

Virginia: The Governor of Virginia has vetoed a ‘religious freedom’ bill which he claimed would legalise discrimination against LGBT people. Governor Terry McAuliffe made the announcement during an interview on radio station WTOP, where he said: “We’re not going to tolerate discrimination. Virginia will be open and welcoming.” Critics of the bill argued that it would lead to the legalisation of discrimination against LGBT people, while supporters said it would protect people who wanted to express their religious beliefs.

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

London: Lian Berry today pledged to oppose the gentrification threatening London’s iconic LGBT scene as part of her manifesto for the community. The Green Party’s candidate for Mayor of London made her campaign pledge during a visit to the boarded up frontage of The Joiners Arms in Shoreditch, alongside landlord David Pollard, Assembly Member Darren Johnson, City Hall candidate Ronald Stewart and fellow candidate Caroline Russell. The Joiners Arms, which tragically closed in 2015, is just one of a series of iconic LGBT spaces that have been forced to shut their doors over the past few years. Due mostly to rising tenancy prices, powerful property developers and the popularity of mobile dating and hookup apps, London’s LGBT scene is shrinking and it’s a hot button topic in the capital.

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

North Queensland: The LNP has confirmed an up-and-coming out gay agricultural economist as its candidate in the regional North Queensland electorate of Kennedy – taking on the formidable far right anti-gay incumbent federal MP Bob Katter. It’s funny that Jonathan Pavetto has stepped up to challenge Katter there, considering how the big-hatted, hard-hearted homophobe often insists there’s no gay people anywhere in his local area. Pavetto is proving him wrong, and has a good chance of winning. The LNP candidate at the 2010 election scored almost 10,000 more votes than Katter, but the ‘Katter’s Australian Party’ leader won due to preference deals.

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

Illinois: TimberCreek Bed-and-Breakfast was ordered to pay $US 30,000 to Illinois couple Todd and Mark Wathen of Tuscola for emotional distress and damages and $50,000 in fees plus $1,218 in costs to their lawyers, after refusing to host the couple’s civil union in 2011, as The Advocate previously reported. In addition to these fees, the bed and breakfast is required to offer the couple access for a celebration of their civil union within one year. The venue is owned by Jim Walder and his wife and is described as “A Christian bed and breakfast” on its website. Despite the court order to “cease and desist” in violating the state’s human rights law by engaging in service provider discrimination, the venue continues to state on its website that it will not host civil unions or same-sex weddings.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: The US Supreme Court has split 4-4 in a case surrounding union fees – after right-wing Christian teachers sued a teaching union for funding an equal marriage campaign. Fundamentalist elementary school teacher Rebecca Friedrichs brought a case against the California Teachers Association in 2013 on the grounds of her First Amendment rights – after finding out the union had financially backed an ad campaign opposing a ban on gay marriage. Ms Friedrichs was not a member of the CTA – but California law requires non-union teachers to pay ‘agency fees’ to the union as a condition of employment, covering the costs of representing her through collective bargaining. Filing a case along with nine other teachers at the time, she claimed that her agency fees going to the union violates her religious freedom, because of the marriage equality adverts. Happily, the split means that the decision not to give way to Friedrichs antigay, anti-union litigation stands.

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

Oxford: Did Oxford City Council just – accidentally – introduce draconian new laws that allow public officials to fine gay men on suspicion of cruising in a public convenience? Despite protestations to the contrary, that appears to be the impact of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that states: ‘No person shall remain in a public toilet without reasonable excuse.’ This order can be enforced by a range of officials, including a police officer, a police community support officer, designated council officers and even ’employees of other delegated organizations’.

A breach of the PSPO can be dealt with through the issuing of a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £100, or a level 3 fine, of £1000, on prosecution. Sexual activity in a public lavatory is already illegal in the UK, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (S71). However, the wording of this PSPO creates an offence that is much wider than the act of having sex, and could potentially criminalise both individuals using public conveniences as a place to link up, as well as individuals who have, for whatever reason, agreed to meet a friend in that location.
The Manifesto Club, who are currently campaigning against PSPOs, and civil rights pressure group Liberty, argue that PSPOs are dangerous on other grounds. Before criminalizing an individual, traditional by-laws require Councils to take them to court, and prove that an offense has been committed: PSPOs, by contrast, criminalize individuals on the say-so of a petty, sometimes very junior, official. According to Oxford Council, LGBTI issues were completely absent from their minds when they carried out a public consultation on the introduction of PSPO’s back in June 2015. Their focus was, rather, on drug-taking in public conveniences – and people sleeping in such places and offending local residents.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Bogota: Colombia’s Constitutional Court recognised the adoptive parent responsibilities of lesbians and gay men in November 2015, but conservative Catholics are demanding a referendum on the matter. The campaign to have same-sex couples’ adoption rights put to a popular vote in Colombia has managed to gather more than the 1.8 million signatures needed to move forward with a referendum on the issue. More than two million Colombians have signed the petition which was put forward by “Liberal” Party Senator Viviane Morales. Another 45 senators from Colombia’s Democratic Center and Conservative parties have also backed the initiative. Morales began her campaign in response to Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruling that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children they aren’t related to in November of 2015. The court had ruled the year before that people in same-sex relationships can apply to become the legal parent of their partner’s children.

The same court is expected to hand down a ruling on same-sex marriage later this year. However the campaign to have Colombians vote on whether to allow same-sex marriage still has a number of hurdles to cross. If Colombia’s Registrar accepts the signatures on the petition as genuine it will then go to the Congress where it must be debated and passed by a majority in both it’s chambers, twice. The request for a referendum must then be approved.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: A study undertaken in February 2016 has found that 60% of transgender people have experienced discrimination at work.
The UK survey questioned 435 people who identified as trans. For the purposes of the study, this was taken as an umbrella term to describe anyone who feels that the sex assigned to them at birth incompletely describes or fails to describe them.
Key findings included:
60% have experienced trans discrimination at work – 38% from colleagues, 25% from management and 29% during job interview.
53% have felt the need to hide their trans status from colleagues.
51% believe acceptance and understanding of trans employees has improved in the workplace due to increased media focus on trans issues.
50% received positive reactions from colleagues when they transitioned.
29% reported not experiencing discrimination at work.
43% actively look for companies with trans-friendly policies when applying for jobs.
36% of trans people surveyed said they had left a job because the atmosphere at work was unwelcoming to them.
43% said they received support and/or guidance from their HR department when transitioning, while 21% said they received no support.
In terms of employer provisions to avoid trans discrimination:
21% had no provisions for transgender employees.
23% had information on gender identity

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Cologne: A German landlord has been fined for refusing to rent a property to a same-sex couple. The unnamed landlord had been charged with accomodation provider discrimination and was order to pay €1,700 in compensation to the couple by the regional court in Cologne. The man owned a villa in the city, which he regularly rented to newly-weds to earn a bit more cash. On discovering the couple were gay, he refused to allow them to stay.

The court held that his refusal to rent the property on the grounds of sexual orientation violated German law and was illegal. It added it could not find a substantive reason as to why he had discriminated the couple. The man argued that to rent to the couple would have conflicted with his “sense of morality and decency”. However, the court said that there was no reason he should be more offended by a gay couple using the villa than a straight one. Although the German Government has repeated refused to introduce marriage equality in the country, the law does still offer some strong protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is illegal for an LGBT person to be refused access to good and services based on their identity and employers cannot fire someone because of it either. Germany currently recognises civil unions, but doesn’t grant equal rights on things such as adoption.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

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