Politics and Society News Digest: October 2016

October 2, 2016 in General

Australia: Australian Liberal MP Stuart Robert has close ties to an anti-LGBT African church that supports harsh anti-gay laws like Uganda’s defunct Anti-Homosexuality Act and Non-Governmental Organisations Act. It is run by a preacher described by Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha as “one of the most homophobic people in the world.’ Stuart Robert was a founding director of Watoto Australia, an offshoot of the Ugandan-based fundamentalist Pentecostal Watoto Church, and has called church leader Gary Skinner one of the “great influences” on his life.Watoto is a strong influence within Uganda, preaching to 24,000 people across its eleven branch churches and helping children orphaned by war and AIDS. Mr Skinner’s wife Marilyn also advocates for women’s rights. It’s also behind the Watoto Choir, an acclaimed children’s choir that tours the world. It just finished a tour of Australia last week.

But the church has a darker side. Ugandan LGBT activists say Watoto and Skinner are virulently anti-LGBT and have contributed to violent homophobia in recent Ugandan politics and society. Robert – who was also a member of Watoto’s International Board – has travelled to the Ugandan capital Kampala numerous times to assist Skinner. The latter states that homosexuality is “degrading” and an “inhuman sin” and concludes that its ‘spread’ brings disease and ‘destroys families.’ On at least two occasions Robert used taxpayer funds for the travel, with a bill that totalled almost $AU 20,000. On two other occasions he declared free travel to Africa on his register of interests. This was paid for by Watoto.

In 2006, Mr Robert self-published a book about the sect entitled Hope: The Watoto Journey. Robert only resigned his directorship when he became a minister in the Abbott government in 2013. Skinner’s church also advocates so called ‘reparative therapy’- the “reform” and “reintegration” into society of LGBT individuals. On its website, Watoto Church says it “adheres to the biblical standard of sexuality”- sex “…is a gift from God to be enjoyed only within the confines of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage relationship”.

Watoto Church also says it is in favour of “pro-family legislation that reflects and preserves this biblical standard”. Such so-called “pro-family legislation” has included Uganda’s notorious but defunct “Anti-Homosexuality Act,’ struck down by Uganda’s Constitutional Court. Ugandan LGBT campaigners say Watoto and Skinner supported the Anti-Homosexuality Act, a draconian piece of legislation that received overwhelming international condemnation – even in its original version, when it included the death penalty. Watoto Church also asked congregants to sign a petition in support of the bill, which the US State Department has condemned as “atrocious” and compared to the anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany and apartheid in South Africa.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act was toned down and passed without its death penalty clauses included. Instead, it imposed life imprisonment for homosexuality. The new version of the bill – which also imposes seven-year prison terms for “aiding and abetting” homosexuals – was annulled by Uganda’s Constitutional Court but only on procedural grounds. Proponents are agitating to revive it. One of Uganda’s top gay rights advocates, Frank Mugisha, believes that Skinner is”one of the most homophobic people in the world”. But Skinner’s charitable work makes him popular and therefore influential within Uganda. Mugisha, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee says while M Skinner has not been a public proponent of anti-gay laws his church has supported them strongly. He has also supported, endorsed and hosted anti-gay preachers from abroad who have come into Uganda to whip up homophobic sentiment:

“The church has supported anti-gay Christians like Stephen Langa, one of the key supporters of the anti-gay laws,” Dr Mugisha, a winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for his advocacy, told Fairfax Media. “Skinner was also one of the people who invited Lou Engle to Africa.” Langa is a Watoto Church elder who has been one of the primary influences behind Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, publicly and behind the scenes. Langa is a conspiracy theorist who has referred to the LGBTI community as the “kingdom of Satan”. He believes there is a homosexual “plot” for world domination and he also has close ties to a range of virulently anti-LGBT US fundamentalist activists. Langa was the chief organiser of a now notorious March 2009 conference that gave a platform to three US fundamentalist preachers who claimed wealthy Westerners were trying to bribe Ugandan children into becoming gay.

Dr Mugisha and others say this conference was a watershed developed that fomented increased anti-gay hysteria within Uganda. In April 2009, Ugandan National Resistance Movement MP David Bahati introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to rid the country of “homos”. One of the speakers at the conference was the aforementioned Scott Lively, who reportedly also sermonised at Watoto. Author of Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, , a discredited volume which seeks to blame gays for the Holocaust, he has subsequently boasted that his appearance in Uganda was like a “nuclear bomb” against the “gay agenda” in Africa. Langa and Lively have been subsequently named as co-conspirators in a lawsuit over an alleged plot to deprive Ugandan LGBT individuals of their human rights, brought by Dr Mugisha’s Sexual Minorities in Uganda. The case is still continuing within US courts

Skinner was one of the official endorsers of New Apostolic Reformation sect activist Lou Engle’s “TheCall” fundamentalist rally in Kampala in 2010. Engle says homosexuality comes from “the gates of hell” and has advice for anyone struggling with gay desires: “Let the Bible kill you”. One of Roberts’s spokespeople said he was a director of Watoto Australia for almost a decade on an “unpaid and voluntary basis”. Robert has visited Africa more than a dozen times to work in refugee camps and AIDS treatment centres, on orphan programs and with micro-economic training companies.

“He and his family have personally funded and built a number of homes for orphaned children and spent over a decade working for the betterment of orphaned children. Gary Skinner’s views are a matter for him.” But there was no clarification from this spokesperson whether or not Robert agreed with Mr Skinner’s perspectives. Robert is strongly opposed to marriage equality, and has used Parliamentary speeches to rail against “gay IVF” and proclaim that “homosexual relationships are far more unstable than heterosexual ones”.

“Nothing should be done by any Parliament to make it likely that more children will be raised by same-sex couples,” he said in 2008.

In media interviews related to the sect, Robert has described Watoto as a “truly special place” and “a thing of beauty”.

As for Skinner, he grew up in a white missionary family in Zimbabwe, is a continual visitor to Australia and has been a guest preacher at the Pentecostal Hillsong Church in Sydney. Hillsong also endows Watoto financially. It donated $AU 720,000 to Mr Skinner during a 2007 visit. Watoto Australia raises more than $AU 3 million a year for the sect. In 2015, the church raised $48 million worldwide.

In the United States, the US LGBTI community has petitioned to keep Mr Skinner and the Watoto Choir out of the country. US Watoto pastor Louie Giglio withdrew from participating in President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony following uproar from LGBT rights activists over his stance on homosexuality – including his ties to the sect.Comment related to the above has been sought from both the Watoto Church and Watoto Australia from Fairfax Australia, which published the original article about Roberts and his involvement with the sect.

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

Alabama: Justice Roy Moore, Alabama’s top judge has been suspended for the remainder of his term for defying federal court rulings that legalised same-sex marriage. Roy Moore, 69, violated judicial ethics with an order seen as directing probate judges to deny marriage licences to gay couples, a judicial panel ruled. It is the second such suspension from his post for Moore, an outspoken religious social conservative In 2003, he was earlier removed for refusing to take down a monument of the Ten Commandments he installed at an Alabama state building.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news

Edinburgh: A new survey of Scottish citizens shows a rise in acceptance of same-sex couples. The latest data from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, which focuses on attitudes to discrimination, found that “there appears to be a trend towards people in Scotland holding more positive attitudes to diversity”.

In 2015, around three in five (59%) people surveyed said that same-sex relationships were ‘not wrong at all’, while just under one in five (18%) said they were ‘always wrong’ or ‘mostly wrong’. By comparison, in 2000 almost half of the population (48%) said that same-sex relationships were ‘always wrong’ or ‘mostly wrong’, and only 29% said they were ‘not wrong at all’.

Susan Reid, research director at ScotCen Social Research, said: “Today’s findings show a marked decline in levels of prejudice towards lesbian and gay people in Scotland since we last asked in 2010:

“A large part of this is down to a significant decline in negative attitudes among the over-65s. Although older people are still more likely to express prejudiced views, the age gap has narrowed since 2010. However, our research still shows relatively high levels of prejudice towards some groups in society, such as people who cross-dress, those who have undergone gender reassignment and Gypsy/Travellers.” Those who completed the survey were also asked how they would feel about a close relative marrying a person from various groups, including Muslims and those who cross-dress in public.

In 2015, 16% of respondents said they would feel unhappy about a relative marrying someone of the same sex, compared to 30% in 2010.

Meanwhile, 32% of respondents in 2015 said they would be unhappy if a relative married someone who has had a sex change operation, compared to 49% in 2010. The analysis of public attitudes to prejudice and discrimination was commissioned by the Scottish government and the Equality And Human Rights Commission, and carried out by ScotCen Social Research. Hannah Pearson, Policy Coordinator at Equality Network, said: “We very much welcome the continued increase in the majority of people in Scotland who respect and value equally their lesbian, gay and bisexual neighbours.

“Attitudes have changed very fast, and we think that’s in part due to the leadership shown by successive Scottish governments in promoting equality in the law. It’s also because a lot more people have come out. People are less likely to hold discriminatory attitudes if they have a friend or family member they know is lesbian, gay or bisexual. Only 15% of Scots now say they don’t know anyone lesbian or gay.” The full report is available at ssa.natcen.ac.uk

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

Haiti: Haiti’s Afro-Caribbean LGBT festival has been called off after organisers were sent death threats. The Massimadi festival – which is held in Belgium and Montreal and was being brought to Haiti for the first time – celebrates film, art, and performance, but has been cancelled as hosts were threatened with attacks including arson. Anthony Manuel Plagnes Paya, a festival spokesman in Montreal said organisers are “threatened with death and scared to go out”.

While there is no law prohibiting homosexuality in Haiti, the government commissioner of Port au Prince, Jean Danton Leger, is famously anti-LGBT rights, and reportedly told a local radio station he needed to protect “moral and social” values. Senator Jean Renel Senatur also previously criticised plans to start the festival in Haiti, claiming it “aims to promote homosexuality in our country – to convey values that are contrary to our social mores”.

Lorraine Mangones, one of the festival’s organisers, said she and her team had been receiving “threats of outrageous violence”. Jeudy Charlot from Kouraj, an LGBT rights group who were also organising the event, stated: “Our festival was postponed precisely because there has been a verbal ban by the government commissioner of Port au Prince, Jean Danton Leger.

“Homosexually is frowned upon, perceived as evil. At times, they may be ridiculed, they can be attacked.”

However, despite the banning of this festival, Jeudy believes tolerance is generally improving for LGBT people in Haiti: “More LGBT people are coming out and accepting themselves more these days: ‘They walk on the streets very proud.”

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

Sydney: A study recently conducted by Barna Group and Proven Men Ministries found that around 35% of conservative Christian men have extramarital affairs. That’s over one third!

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

Canberra: 45 per cent of LGBTI Australians hide their sexuality or gender diversity at work because they fear it may impact their career, according to a recent report. The finding was revealed during a session on LGBTI inclusive workplaces at Dive In, a diversity and inclusion festival held by and for the insurance sector. Lloyd’s General Representative in Australia, Chris Mackinnon, said helping LGBTI people feel more valued in the workplace had benefits for business.
“Research shows that when LGBTI staff are ‘openly out’ to all, businesses see a 15 to 30 per cent increase in productivity and retention rates improve by 10 per cent,” he said.

In Australia six in ten LGBTI people experience verbal homophobic abuse in the workplace, two in ten experience physical homophobic abuse, and one in ten experience other types of homophobia. Mackinnon said it’s up to business leaders and managers to create and support a working environment where people know they can succeed by being themselves.

“If someone is spending half their energy hiding their reality, leading a dual life and making excuses, then they are not being authentic at work and they won’t be as engaged or productive,” he said.

In its first annual report on diversity and inclusion in the Lloyd’s insurance market, Lloyd’s found that only one third of organisations had a formal diversity and inclusion policy in place. During the session on LGBTI inclusive workplaces, Group Head of Internal Audit for QBE Insurance Liam Buckley said his experience of being gay in the workplace had changed drastically over the past 15 years. In 2000, the culture at one of his former workplaces was very secretive, particularly for queer women.

“Lesbians were completely invisible. A group of us would get together and go out to lunch, it was all very underground.”

Buckley added that fifteen years ago, he dreaded senior executives asking him to bring his partner along to work functions.

“I remember the feeling of panic that used to come over me,” he said.

Mackinnon believes promoting an inclusive and healthy workplace benefits the entire team:

“It’s not just the right thing to do – it makes good business sense,” he said.

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

New York: The United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed it’s first independent expert to investigate the violence and discrimination faced by the LGBT community.
Thai professor, Vitit Muntarbhorn, has been given a three year mandate to look into abuse that the LGBT community suffer. The move to instate the position was passed with 23 votes to 18, with 6 abstentions. The measure ensures that Vitit Muntarbhorn will monitor “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Muntarbhorn is an international law professor at Chilalongkorn University in Bangkok. He has previously served on UN bodies including an inquiry on Syria, as well as working as a special rapporteur on North Korea, child prostitution and child pornography.

Members of the Human Rights Watch have described Muntarbhorn’s appointments as making history. The group’s Geneva director, John Fisher said: “It will bring much-needed attention to human rights violations against LGBT people in all regions of the world.” Executive director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Renato Sabbadin said the move would help give justice to LGBTI people who have been attacked, abused or discriminated against.
“Never has there been a more urgent need to safeguard the human rights of LGBTI persons around the world,” Sabbadin added.

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

Isle of Man: The Isle Of Man is set to introduce a gay pardon law as early as next year. Juan Watterson, the former Home Affairs Minister, announced that he is pushing for the provision to be included in the new Sexual Offences Bill. The bill, which is in it’s late stages, will be put to public consultation before the end of the year.

The announcement follows British Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge to implement the Alan Turing law. The code breaker was a key player in breaking the Nazis’ enigma code and took his life in 1954 after being convicted of gross indecency and undergoing chemical castration just two years before. He was pardoned for his homosexuality in 2013. A petition that was signed by more than half a million people was presented to Downing Street by Turing’s family. The petition called for posthumous pardon of gay men. The legislation being put in place will pardon over 49,000 men who were convicted of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967. Men who were prosecuted before homosexuality was decriminalised in the island could receive a pardon from the start of next year.

Despite England decriminalising homosexuality in 1967, the Isle of Man did not follow suit until 1992. The Manx Rainbow association has campaigned for gay men who were prosecuted before the law was changed to be altered. Lee Vorster, of the Manx Rainbow Association, said: “This is great news. We can’t move forwards without recognising and understanding our recent past. I can’t fathom what those in the LGBT community went through, just because of their sexuality. There was a large number of suicides after conviction.”

The Isle of Man finally approved same-sex marriage in April 2016. The first same-sex wedding took place at the beginning of August 2016. The happy couple returned from their home in Manchester to marry on the island where they were both born.

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

Boston: A new law that prevents public places from discriminating on the basis of gender has taken effect in Massachusetts today. The new bill allows transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.

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

Toronto: which will allow same-sex parents to have the same legal rights as heterosexual parents is being introduced in Ontario today. The All Families are Equal Act updates a law that hasn’t been touched since 1978. The new act means parents who are not biologically related to their children will no longer have to go through the adoption process or get a judicial declaration of parentage. dvocates of the bill hope that it will take effect at the start of next year and will save couples thousands of dollars in legal fees. It will also put an end to parents not being able to get medical treatment for their children if they aren’t officially recognised.
“The best thing for a child is to have parents who can make important decisions about their care from the minute they are born, without any legal uncertainty,” said Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. The law hopes to be passed by christmas so it can take effect in January 2017.

In 2006, the Notarios Superior Court ruled that couples who use sperm donors and other reproductive technologies should enjoy same parental rights as those who conceive naturally. The move to allow same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples is another in a long line of celebrated moves to equality in the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed plans to make ID cards gender neutral at Pride this year. Trudeau also announced groundbreaking new federal legislation that will guarantee full protection to the human rights of trans people across Canada. The country is also making their national anthem gender neutral.

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

Sacramento: Controversial residential programs in California that claim to help troubled youth – including those who are LGBTI – will now be regulated under a new state law.
On September 30, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 524 – also known as the Protecting Youth from Institutional Abuse Act. Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean says the new law will save youth ‘from harm and even death.’
‘These programs can no longer shut down in one California city, after reports of abuse surface, and open in another California town to continue their abuse under a new name,’ Jean says.
California becomes one of the few states in the US to regulate the so-called ‘troubled teen’ industry and it is seen as crucial that its new law does not exempt religious-based businesses.
‘No longer can these programs – many of which claim to be Christian-based – hide behind their cross, asserting religious exemption to continue torturing LGBT youth they claim they can “cure,”‘ says Jean.

The bill was sponsored by The LA LGBT Center and Survivors of Institutional Abuse (SIA) and was introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara.
‘As a survivor of institutional abuse, I have been waiting 20 years for California to regulate these programs,’ says SIA President Jodi Hobbs.
‘Too many kids have died or killed themselves because of what they experienced. Those who survive often suffer life-long trauma.’
There is also a legislative effort to regulate these programs in a national level through a federal bill introduced last year in the US House of Representatives by Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida. SIA has reported the deaths of more than 300 people who are linked to these programs. Since it is common for these programs to re-open in another state under a different name after they are forced to close, federal legislation is considered essential.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Tbilisi: Pope Francis has warned of a “global war” against traditional marriage and the family, saying both were under attack from “gender theory” and divorce.
Francis made his comments on Saturday in an impromptu response to a question at a meeting of the small Catholic community in the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia.

“You mentioned a great enemy of marriage: gender theory,” the Pope said in response to a woman who had asked about it being taught in schools. But he did not elaborate.

Gender theory is broadly the concept that while a person may be biologically male or female, they have the right to identify themselves as male, female, both or neither.

“Today, there is a global war out to destroy marriage,” Francis said. “Not with weapons but with ideas … we have to defend ourselves from ideological colonisation.”

The Pope has used the phrase “ideological colonisation” in the past to denounce what he says are attempts by rich countries to link development aid to the acceptance of social policies such as those allowing gay marriage and contraception. Francis, who has been more accepting of homosexuals than his predecessors but opposes gay marriage, also appeared to be referring to it when he said “marriage is the most beautiful thing that God has created” adding that the Bible says God created man and woman to become one flesh. In the same answer, he said the growing acceptance of divorce was another threat to the family.

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

Sydney: As noted elsewhere on this website, throughout the eighties and nineties, Sydney was convulsed by a largely hidden series of antigay hate crimes that ended the lives of at least eighty young gay men, as well as being involved in at least thirty cold cases. A new Australian Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) documentary, Deep Water: The Real Story, tells the tale of a ‘seriously dangerous time’ and place to be gay, with the paradox of Sydney’s gay mecca status alongside this nightmare. Deep Water contains numerous interviews from survivors, victim families and police. Director Amanda Blue was horrified at the waste of potential involved and that some of the killers are still around today. Indeed, it seems to have been a young, working class straight male ‘blood sport.’ David MacMahon, interviewed about his experiences, was one of the fortunate survivors of this traumatic period of Sydney gay history. Corrective Services New South Wales didn’t cooperate when it came to one convicted murderer of gay men from 1990, who chillingly relates how depredations against Sydney gay men mushroomed from violence through police inaction to murder. As yet, there is no New Zealand screening time available for Deep Water.

Deep Water brings together a stellar cast of talented actors including Wentworth’s Danielle Cormack, Craig McLachlan, Simon Burke and Renee Lim among others. Australian acting veteran, Ben Oxenbould plays revered Sydney NRL Chris Toohey, who may have had links to some of the past crimes. But getting into character as a macho, league playing Aussie affected by the attacks on gay men wasn’t too much of a stretch for Oxenbould who grew up in Sydney’s north shore and whose high school was near an infamous gay beat where some men had been assaulted.

“Toohey was at a point in his life where he was fairly caught up in what was happening around him, which you do as a young guy. In the suburbs where they were growing up… your life was either surf club, surfing, footy and that was a way out for a lot of guys. Toohey was walking that fine line. Perhaps he was a little more conscious than the other guys, a little bit more aware. It was quite bizarre, it wasn’t just isolated to Bondi, there was a lot of stuff happening where my father and I used to fish. It got so prevalent that an assembly was called to say it was happening in the park across the road… it was frightening. They (the crimes) were hideous, they were just hideous. Why is it that those incidents were never addressed properly?”

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

Salt Lake City: Republican Jason Christensen is running for Utah State Senate and went viral on Reddit after making hateful comments to a woman on Facebook who was mourning the death of a gay teenager who committed suicide. Braxton Taylor tragically took his own life at 19 and an obituary Facebook page was setup in his memory, but Christensen trolled the page by calling Taylor a “murderer” which caused outrage amongst friends and family. The Metro reported that Christensen commented on the page by saying, “Yes, this is sad and hopefully God will have mercy on both sins that this boy committed. The sins of homosexuality and the sins of murder.” Friends and family of 19-year-old Braxton David Taylor, who committed suicide last week, called Christensen “cruel” and demanded he leave the page, but the politician didn’t.

He continued making homophobic comments and wrote: “Read the scriptures, stop denying the scriptures. I do feel bad for him and his sins. But one must recognise what’s sin and what is not sin. One must live the Gospel of Jesus Chris and not the Gospel of the Devil.”

A Reddit user, UlyssesRambo, revealed they wrote to the politician about the comments and received the following response:

“Please re-read my comments. I am not a bully at all unlike my opponent. I may have poor tactics to state the facts, but what I did say is truthful and I did show mercy for this poor confused boy. Life is precious and needs to be preserved, but we must also recognise the facts and give hope and encouragement in order to not just save lives, but to change peoples lives. This is our duty as Christians, not the government.” People in Utah are calling for his political career to end. One hopes that this will be the case…

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

London: A British man living with HIV could become the first person to be cured of the disease as scientists edge closer to a irreversible cure. Scientists and doctors from five leading British universities teamed up to design the cure. 50 people took part in a trial of the treatment and one patient is showing signs that he might be cured. The 44 year old man’s early tests failed to detect any trace of HIV in his system. However, those working on the trial programme expect to wait for a few months longer before confirming whether the treatment has worked fully. The newly developed therapy differs from other HIV treatments because it targets dormant cells in order to destroy HIV in every part of the body. If the tests prove to be successful it could become a permanent cure for HIV.

Speaking to the Times, the patient, a social care worker in London, said: “It would be great if a cure has happened. My last blood test was a couple of weeks ago and there is no detectable virus. However, that could be the anti-retroviral therapies, so we have to wait to be sure. I took part in the trial to help others as well as myself. It would be a massive achievement if, after all these years, something is found to cure people of this disease. The fact that I was a part of that would be incredible,” he added.

Scientists and doctors have acknowledged this early undetectable test result could be a cause of the conventional drugs the patient has been taking which can temporarily clear the body of the disease. The treatment differs from the commonly used anti-retroviral therapy (Art) because it targets dormant cells which are infected with the disease.

Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infra­structure, which set up the medical consortium, said: “This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV. We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV. This is a huge challenge and it’s still early days but the progress has been remarkable.”
Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and King’s College London have all collaborated on the treatment.

Professor Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College London, said: “This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones. It has worked in the laboratory and there is good evidence it will work in humans too but we must stress we are still a long way from any actual therapy. We will continue with medical tests for the next five years and at the moment we are not recommending stopping Art but in the future depending on the test results we may explore this.”

Currently, treatment for HIV costs £380,000 for one persons lifetime. However, a number of new treatments are being developed for the disease, including PrEP. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV by up to 99 percent, if taken daily. The High Court recently overturned an NHS England decision not to commission HIV-preventing PrEP drugs. A government minister claimed there was not enough money to fund PrEP, despite no official cost-effectiveness analysis having taken place and experts projecting it would save money in the long term NHS England have been accused of ‘feeding media’ negative stories about HIV-preventing PrEP drugs.

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

Delhi: There are 9m-9.5m transgender people in Asia and the Pacific, according to Sam Winter of Curtin University in Australia, which is equivalent to 0.3% of the aggregate population. Others say the figure could be higher than that, however. In areas of South Asia, in some respects, their life is getting better. Courts or governments in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan have all recognised transgender people as a legal category and defended their rights to a certain extent. A group of Muslim clerics in Pakistan recently declared that it was haram to persecute them. Singapore has allowed hospitals to perform sex changes since the 1970s and formally legalised trans marriages (although not gay ones) in 1996.

However, hijra experiences of discrimination, social exclusion and violence are still horrific. Transgender people are often subjected to hate crime, as a UNDP report highlighted last year. In China, the attackers may even be related to the victim. One survey in Australia reported that three-fifths of trans men (ie, people who were deemed female at birth but now identify as male) suffer abuse from their partners. And in Fiji, forty percent of trans women have been raped.

School dropout rates are starkly high, with an 85% rate among young transwomen in Vietnamese secondary schools. Transwomen face problems of getting stable and durable employment even in relatively tolerant societies.In Hong Kong, trans people languish at an unemployment rate four times the territory’s average. Moreover, transpeople are often stressed and suffer high levels of impaired mental health, yet transphobic stigma makes it hard for them to find suitable assistance

Some transwomen engage in sex work, making them vulnerable to arrest, violence and disease. (Almost a quarter of trans sex workers surveyed in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, were HIV+.) Trans people are often targeted for harassment by the authorities under public nuisance, summary offences and anti-vagrancy laws, too. If jailed, they often face violence from fellow prisoners and worse if imprisoned in gender-inappropriate facilities.

Several Asian societies do have long traditions of relative tolerance for transgender people. In India, for instance, hijras, a category of men who dress as women, many of them castrated, have a certain residual social standing. They are thought to derive spiritual power from their liminal gender status, and so can bestow blessings or curses. They sing and dance at weddings. Failure to pay for their (often unbidden) attendance risks misfortune.

Hijras, and their counterparts in other Asian societies, remain on society’s margins. As Anjaann Joshii of SPACE puts it: “You can sing, dance, bless, curse—but that’s it.” The linguistic roots of the word hijra convey departure from one’s tribal origins. Many hijras find life in a new community, usually called a dera, run by a guru-mother. However, such protection may come at a terrible cost. Three of the five hijras whom Banyan met in Old Delhi had been castrated. In modern practice, the surgical element of a sex change takes place at the very end of a careful process of counselling, hormone therapy and plastic surgery. However, for many South Asian hijras, surgery would be too grand a term for the removal of the testicles and penis and the insertion of a silver pin into the urethra, with no anaesthetic but alcohol and marijuana.

Some Asian countries are beginning to uphold transgender rights, but legislation is often contradictory and enforcement or resources to do so are rare. In 2014 India’s Supreme Court recognised a third gender, yet Section 377 of the British-era Indian penal code still criminalises sexual activities against the “order of nature”- like gay sex. The current draft of a bill working its way through Parliament enshrines transgender rights by mandating inclusive education for trans children, and special employment and health provisions. However, it also denies individuals the right to “self-identify”—ie, choose their own gender, a key desire of many hijra activists. That would be left to medical or scientific “experts” instead. South Asian trans activists are lobbying to have that changed.

Elsewhere in the region, laws are retrograde and offensive. Several Pacific nations ban transvestism (another Victorian legacy). Even in Thailand, supposedly tolerant of cross-dressing men, anti-vagrancy laws are used against transwomen. In Cambodia, corrupt police conduct regular intrusion into transwomen’s lives under so-called “public safety” laws and demand bribes in order to free them. Many Asian (and other) countries still define transsexuality as a mental illness. Trans adoption of children is illegal in most Asian nations. Activist groups like SPACE have made considerable advances in a few short years. Much still needs to be done, however.

Source: http://www.economist.com

Auckland: On Monday 3rd October, the Conservative Party put out its response to the Williams v Craig verdict. Like Colin Craig, they were ‘surprised’ at its verdict, which doesn’t suggest a particularly strong legal advisor within the party, or at least not one conversant with defamation law. The Conservatives paid tribute to Colin Craig as party founder and reaffirmed their religious social conservative core values, and then engaged in brave rhetoric about not giving or lying down, despite the fact that the party had sustained hits lately. Oddly enough, given revelations about Colin Craig’s particular values and character, it affirmed the strong values and character of its ‘many supporters and members.’ Really?

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

Canberra: Australia’s most prominent mental health advocate Patrick McGorry and the nation’s peak mental health group have called for the same-sex marriage plebiscite to be dumped because of the significant harm it would do to gay and lesbian Australians. Ahead of a meeting with Labor leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday, Professor McGorry warned a public campaign could increase the risk of self-harm and suicide in the already-vulnerable lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. “Things will be said which will hurt people. Many of them are already vulnerable. There’s definitely risk involved,” Professor McGorry told Fairfax Media. “Anyone working in mental health would be concerned about it.”

Mental Health Australia, which represents the country’s peak mental health organisations, has called on the Parliament to hold a free vote on marriage equality, arguing laws protecting any part of the population from discrimination should not be contingent on a public vote.LGBTI Australians are already twice as likely to have a high or very high level of psychological distress as their heterosexual peers and are at a higher risk of suicide than the general population. MHA chief executive Frank Quinlan said the same-sex marriage debate was already having a negative impact on LGBTIQ people, especially young people, and urgent additional funding would be required for mental health services if a plebiscite were held.

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

Brisbane: Far North Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality for the past 14 years has revealed his commitment to the issue will not continue after the February 11 plebiscite. Speaking to Star Observer, Entsch said the plebiscite was the closest the country has come to achieving marriage equality since he started campaigning on the issue and to not go ahead with a public vote on the issue would be a squandered opportunity.

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

Washington DC: Donald Trump is pinning his hopes for the presidency on generating high enthusiasm and turnout among conservative white evangelicals, who make up a big part of the Republican Party base and who have been intensely opposed to every advance in legal equality for LGBT Americans. But there’s a group of conservative gays doggedly trying to convince LGBT people that the religious right-embracing Trump would be a better president for LGBT people than Hillary Clinton. It’s absurd, but it’s an absurd election.

Let’s review how Trump has courted members of the religious right: He allowed them to write discrimination into the Republican Party platform; he picked the solidly antigay Mike Pence as his running mate; he has promised to fill the Supreme Court with justices in the mold of the equality-despising Antonin Scalia; and he has promised to make conservative churches more politically powerful by eliminating legal restrictions that prevent churches, like other tax-exempt nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral work. None of those things are remotely good for LGBT Americans.

So what is the rationale for Trump’s gay apologists? At the surreal Gays for Trump party during the Republican National Convention, the focus was on Muslims as the real threat to gay people. The party, which featured speakers from the racist American alt-right and the anti-Muslim European far right, was attended by white nationalist leaders. That’s the message from Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos and from Trump himself.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: Donald Trump today agreed with a soldier who complained about “social engineering” allowing transgender people to serve in the military. Five years after lifting the ban on openly gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in the military, earlier this year the Obama administration made reforms to allow trans people to also serve. The plan altered decades-old regulations that listed “transgenderism” as a mental illness. However, today Donald Trump hinted he would roll back the move when asked by a soldier who claimed it had harmed military readiness.. In a Q&A with the right-wing American Warriors PAC front group chaired by anti-LGBT hate group leader Tony Perkins, Mr Trump was asked whether he would reinstate the ban.

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

Washington DC: Not in our name? Ciswomen do not support attempts to ban transgender women from the female toilets, polling has found. Across the US, states have seen a wave of Republican-backed ‘bathroom bills’ aimed at rolling back LGBT rights protections – which are marketed as a measure to secure “safety” for women by banning transgender people from public toilets.
There’s just one slight hitch in those spurious “women’s safety” arguments – it turns out that they don’t actually work on women. Polling this week from Pew Research Center shows that a majority of women support trans people being able to use the restroom of their chosen gender, with 55% in favour and 40% against. On the flipside, men are apparently more concerned about “women’s safety” than actual women, supporting discrimination against trans people by a margin of 52% to 40%.

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

Cape Town: The Archbishop of Cape Town was driven to tears this week – as his Church voted to reject blessings for same-sex unions. Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006 – and a decade later it remains the only country in Africa with marriage equality, let alone even decriminalising male homosexuality. A decade on from equal marriage first becoming law, last week the country’s Anglican Church overwhelmingly rejected proposals to allow gay clergy, and to allow clergy to “provide for prayers of blessing” for same-sex unions. Thabo Makgoba, the South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, lamented the decision in a letter to the LGBT community.

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

Tel Aviv: A member of the Israeli Knesset has revealed that she is pregnant with the child of a gay male friend. Meira Ben Ari of the centrist Kulanu party shared the news ahead of the Jewish new year, stating that she didn’t want rumours of an unplanned pregnancy to start.

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

Portland: The fundamentalist bakery at the center of a US marriage equality controversy in Oregon has posted a message to its Facebook page announcing its closure. The married couple who operated Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Aaron and Melissa Klein, declined a request to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. The customers who were turned away, Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer, took the Kleins to court. An administrative judge agreed that the bakers had unlawfully discriminated against the women and ruled last April 2015 that the bakers should pay the couple $135,000 compensation.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: According to a new report on HIV transmission released by Public Health England, rates of diagnosis in the UK remain stubborn at over 6,000 per year. In 2015, of the 6,095 people diagnosed with HIV in the UK, 3,320 were men who have sex with men. While this marks a slight decline from 2014, where 3,360 men who have sex with men were diagnosed with HIV, the National AIDS Trust says the figure is still “unacceptably high”.

Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy at NAT, said: “This shows just how inadequate our current HIV prevention efforts are in the UK. We are as a nation sitting back and allowing the HIV epidemic to get worse:

“The high number of new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men shows that we need to do much more to halt the epidemic. Spending money now on prevention saves the NHS budget millions in the near future. We need both to expand current prevention activity and also introduce PrEP as soon as possible, a new prevention option which would mean we at last see reductions in rates of HIV.”

Public Health England reported that there were 88,769 people living with diagnosed HIV and accessing HIV care in 2015, representing a 73% increase on the numbers reported a decade ago. They explained that this rise is likely due to “effective treatment” with few HIV-related deaths, leading to an increase in the average age of people accessing treatment. The research also found that late diagnosis rates are at 39%, meaning almost two in five people are diagnosed at a point where they are likely to have had the virus for more than three years. Late diagnosis can lead to increased health implications for the individual, and also increases the risk of HIV being passed on to sexual partners as they are unaware and not on treatment.

Yusef added: “We need to dramatically improve access to testing. We welcome the gradual decrease in late diagnosis rates over the past 10 years, but it’s still not good enough that we are missing so many opportunities to diagnose people earlier. Now we know just how effective HIV treatment is – not only at giving an individual a long and healthy life but at reducing transmission rates – we have to dramatically upgrade testing efforts and normalise testing for HIV.”

Source: www.gaytimes.co.uk

Tel Aviv: Israel is slowly, but steadily, moving away from ‘Tel-Aviv values’ and moving towards the values of religious, social and political conservatism. Israel’s latest government, elected in 2015, is a coalition of hawkish right-wingers, ultra-orthodox religious parties and other groups, mostly opposed to social progression. Israel’s government flirts with hardline jewish political groups, allowing political parties like ‘Shas’ and ‘United Torah Judaism’ into their coalitions. This movement to the right has lead to numerous events, which paint a dark picture of the future for minorities in Israel, specifically LGBT people. In 2015, a 15-year-old girl was murdered at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, by an ultra-orthodox jewish terrorist. Despite large public outcry against the horrific act, this year, many governing politicians didn’t attend anniversary events, which largely took place on the day of Tel-Aviv pride. Israel’s right wing government did condemn the crime, but how are we meant to take the condemnations seriously when the government producing them continues to work with the very same hardline political groups which lead to such heinous and bigoted crimes taking place?

Israeli society is becoming more conservative, and whether or not one believes this is a good or a bad thing, it is difficult to deny that this shift will change the environment for gays and lesbians in the country.

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

Australia: The antigay Australian Marriage Alliance have today launched a new app which encourages supporters to earn “AP points” by filling in surveys, signing petitions, recruiting friends and reading ‘resources’ (“The green-left: using threats and tantrums to repress democracy”). The bizarre app offers a point score leaderboard, by which opponents of marriage equality are easily able to track their “progress” (ironic, really), unlock various “badges”, and share their personal high scores across social media.

Source: http://www.starobserver.com

Washington DC: Two white, straight, cisgender establishment politicians having what is likely to be a civil discussion doesn’t typically make for a memorable debate. But Tuesday night’s head-to-head between Democratic Virginia senator Tim Kaine and intensely homophobic (not to mention misogynstic, transphobic, and xenophobic) Indiana governor Mike Pence is not part of a typical election. Kaine is, of course, running alongside Hillary Clinton, while Pence has hitched his wagon to roving Republican disaster Donald Trump.

Kaine is known as an affable center-left Democrat; a committed Catholic who stands by marriage equality and reproductive rights; he also supports stronger gun controls and renewable energy. And Pence? Well, he signed into law a “religious freedom” bill (aka the “Turn Away the Gays” bill) just last year — legislation that legalized discrimination against LGBT people until the governor was forced to “fix” discriminatory language in the legislation after intense scrutiny.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: The Chief Medical Officer for England has called on NHS England to fund “cost-effective” HIV-preventing drugs.
Pre-exposure Prophylaxis drug Truvada can reduce the risk of being infected with HIV by up to 86% if taken daily, and has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for at-risk men who have sex with men (MSM).
This year NHS England has taken to the courts in a legal battle to arguing that it is not responsible for commissioning the drugs, alongside a contentious media campaign.
However, as data released this week shows that HIV infections among MSM remain at record high levels, the country’s top medic has called on NHS England to fund treatment.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies told the Financial Times: “Whatever one thinks about it morally or anything, I can tell you it is a cost-effective public health intervention, so I do believe our system should fund it.
“You save infections and therefore money, and it has been thoroughly checked.
“The issue is whether it should be funded, and I think you have to separate the cost-effectiveness from whatever you think as a person.”
Health experts say rolling out PrEP in the UK would be massively cost-effective if it leads to even a small reduction in HIV infections, as the lifetime cost of just one HIV infection can be up to £380,000. Preventing just 100 infections each year would offset the cost of the drugs.
The only current projection of the cost of a PrEP scheme, undertaken by Public Health England, found that even in the worst case scenario – with low uptake and no decrease in drug cost – investment in PrEP would eventually break even.
However, the drug costs are set to decrease tenfold when patents expire in 2018, with generic PrEP drugs costing just £40 a month.
A government minister previously claimed there was “no money” available for the treatment, despite the lack of any official cost-analysis supporting his claim.
Speaking in Parliament, health minister Lord Prior of Brampton claimed “We face the same problems dealing with hepatitis C as we do with PrEP and countless other drugs: there is a limit to the money we have available. There is a cost.
“The fact is that the taxpayer has given us a certain amount of money for the NHS. We would like to spend a lot of it on treating hepatitis C, on PrEP and on other drugs, but we simply do not always have the money to spend as we would like.”

However, HIV infections among men who have sex with men in the UK are still at record-high levels, data has shown. Public Health England released a report today on HIV transmission, following confirmation a year ago that transmissions among gay and bisexual men have reached a new record high. 2015’s data shows that of the 6,095 people newly-infected with HIV in the past year, 3,320 were gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) – a failure to cut transmissions from last year’s high of 3,360). The report confirms that more gay men are now being diagnosed with HIV every year than at any point since records began, during the AIDS crisis.
In total, there are now 88,769 who are living with diagnosed HIV and accessed HIV care, with more than 18,000 people thought to be living undiagnosed.
Sexual health campaigners have cited cuts to HIV-prevention services, a lack of HIV education and awareness, and the failure of NHS England to greenlight HIV-preventing PrEP drugs as some key factors in the out-of-control transmission rates.
In response to the new data Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy at National AIDS Trust, said: “This shows just how inadequate our current HIV prevention efforts are in the UK. We are as a nation sitting back and allowing the HIV epidemic to get worse.The high number of new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men shows that we need to do much more to halt the epidemic. Spending money now on prevention saves the NHS budget millions in the near future. We need both to expand current prevention activity and also introduce PrEP as soon as possible, a new prevention option which would mean we at last see reductions in rates of HIV.”

The report also found that 39% of people were diagnosed late, at a point at which they are likely to have had the virus for more than three years. It has serious implications for the health of the individual and increases the risk that HIV be passed on to others as the person is unaware and not on treatment.
Yusef Azad added, “We need to dramatically improve access to testing. We welcome the gradual decrease in late diagnosis rates over the past 10 years, but it’s still not good enough that we are missing so many opportunities to diagnose people earlier. Now we know just how effective HIV treatment is – not only at giving an individual a long and healthy life but at reducing transmission rates – we have to dramatically upgrade testing efforts and normalise testing for HIV.”

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

London: UKIP’s Diane James has stepped down as its party leader. James became leader despite being an unlikely favourite, winning support from former leader Nigel Farage and party funders. She won after deputy leader Paul Nuttall refused to join the leadership contest, and after the second favourite in the running Steven Woolfe was disqualified.It is expected that former leader Nigel Farage will face fresh calls to step back up as leader, despite his assertion that he would not do so.

Farage stepped down as the leader of the UK Independence Party, declaring that he wanted his “life back” after helping lead the country to vote for Brexit. At the next UKIP conference, he was replaced by political ally Diane James, who saw off competition from fellow MEP Bill Etheridge, councillor Lisa Duffy, and activists Liz Jones and Phillip Broughton. Her election meant that the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties are now the only major UK parties to have never had a female leader.

She previously defended homophobes within the party, insisting there were an “awful lot of people out there” that share the views of fundamentalist UKIP MEP Roger Helmer. Helmer notoriously insisted homosexuality is “not a lifestyle worthy of equal respect” and is “abhorrent to God”. PinkNews reported that Ms James appeared to be trying to play both sides in the election – telling the party’s LGBT group that she’d support equality while telling Christian campaigners she would push to weaken equality laws. However, Ms James backed equality in a Q&A with LGBT supporters – insisting she had “no problem at all” with marriage equality as “it is now enshrined in UK legislation”.

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

London: Anti-gay legislation, globally, is leading to higher rates of transmission for HIV. The countries with the highest populations of HIV positive people all criminalise gay men, or have a recent history of doing so. 77 countries still criminalise being gay. These countries do not allow LGBT people to openly express their identities, thereby preventing the development of LGBT rights movements and exacerbating HIV transmission rates.

Many LGBT people living with HIV face a dual stigma, that of being LGBT and that of being HIV positive. There is a clear link between criminalisation, stigma and HIV transmission. As we move out of the European Union, we must ensure that global LGBT equality remains a priority for UK legislators.

In Africa being gay remains illegal in 36 out of 54 countries. Africa has the highest prevalence of HIV in the world. Gay men in Africa are twice as likely to be HIV positive as their straight counterparts. Most African countries have European colonial era anti-LGBT legislation. Criminalisation entrenches homophobia. The African LGBT community is largely underground. Underground communities are harder to reach and are less informed about HIV or safe sex. LGBT people are less likely to use HIV testing services and are prohibited from accessing antiviral medication. Health professionals often discriminate against LGBT people and there are few government-led LGBT inclusive HIV initiatives.

Uganda and Senegal are among the worst on anti-LGBT legislation and its implementation. In Uganda the legislative situation is actually getting worse for LGBT people. In 2014, the Ugandan government attempted to bring in the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which was only overturned on a technicality. In Uganda, LGBT people are reluctant to discuss their sexual identities with health workers who, technically, are obligated to report them to the authorities for same-sex practices.

Senegal has had a number of arrests and convictions for LGBT activity in recent years. In Senegal homosexuality is punishable by up to five years in prison and it is also one of the few jurisdictions to have criminalised female homosexuality. Last year, in one raid, seven men were arrested and sentenced to six months in prison. Such raids are thankfully uncommon, and their sentencing caused international outrage, but this case is indicative of the hostile atmosphere LGBT people have to deal with in Senegal. Amongst the items found in their possession were condoms. The Senegalese government was effectively punishing these men for practising safe sex, the condoms evidence of their criminality. Ugandan and Senegalese health workers are reluctant to engage with LGBT people, as they may be perceived as encouraging illegal activity.

In Mozambique, unlike in Uganda and Senegal, the existing colonial era anti-LGBT legislation, a legacy of Portuguese colonialism, has been repealed. Although legally there has been an improvement in their status, LGBT people face continued discrimination from government organisations. The government remains reluctant to encourage LGBT inclusive training for sexual health workers, or even register the country’s one LGBT organisation, which is called Lambda. Some LGBT people have been refused treatment for sexually transmitted infections, while trans people have been made to change their clothing before health workers will treat them.

In Caribbean countries where same-sex relationships are criminalised, the rate of incidence for HIV is a one in four, while in Caribbean countries where there is no anti-gay legislation it is one in 15. Approximately thirty per cent of Jamaican men who have sex with men are HIV positive, compared to a rate of 1.6 % in the general population. In Jamaica homophobia is rife. Anti-LGBT legislation creates the perception that violence against LGBT people may be tolerated. LGBT people cannot discuss their sexual identities. Men who are diagnosed as HIV positive are often “accused” of being gay. Here, the dual stigma, of being gay and that of being HIV positive, is at its most apparent. LGBT people who are HIV positive are the most likely to be victimised and face violence.

The LGBT community have been at the forefront of the fight against HIV in the UK. Over the last thirty years, we have pulled together at a time of crisis to save our neighbours, friends and lovers. We ensured our community knew about the HIV virus. We cared for those living with HIV. We confronted the stigma associated with HIV. It was the LGBT rights movement in the UK and the USA which first responded in an empathetic and effective way to the HIV epidemic. Anti-LGBT legislation prevents LGBT people coming together to confront HIV.

To fight HIV effectively we must insist upon the removal of anti-LGBT legislation globally. Where criminalisation exists and homophobia has been institutionalised, access to HIV services is difficult and violence against LGBT people is rife. Moving out of the EU, we must not be shy of using our position as the world’s fifth largest economy to demand concessions for LGBT people. The UK can pride itself on being one of the world’s most tolerant countries on LGBT issues and we should not be afraid of advancing the rights of LGBT people globally. We should not allow our work to promote LGBT rights globally to be diminished by leaving the EU, but instead embrace our freedom to promote LGBT rights more assiduously. Let us embrace this opportunity to increase our global influence on LGBT rights. We are a core part of the global LGBT rights movement.

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

Canberra: Only fifteen people turned up to an Anti-Safe Schools rally in Canberra today, compared to the sixty brave souls who faced the ACT’s chill and unrelenting bigotry in support of the anti-bullying program. Protestors from the group Reclaim Australia came prepared with “Straight Lives Matter” signs and labeled members of the LGBTIQ community as “sick degenerates” and “pedo lovers”, with one trans person being called “mentally ill” to her face. According to Canberra local Troy Simpson, the protest was initially held at the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations building, before police moved it along due to an abortion clinic exclusion zone.

“Most of us responded to their insults with and jibes with laughter. I was quite pleased with everyone’s decorum.” NSW Greens spokesperson on Sexuality and Gender Identity Jenny Leong has recently started a petition to save Safe Schools. They need to get at least 10,000 signatures on paper before they can take it to parliament.

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

Canberra: Representatives of Australia’s leading LGBTI organisations will participate in a teleconference with the Federal Attorney-General George Brandis on Thursday to discuss the plebiscite. One spokesperson from groups including Australian Marriage Equality (AME), Australians 4 Equality (A4E), the NSW and Victorian Gay and Rights Lesbian Lobbies and PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), will each have an opportunity to address the consultation organised at the request of Brandis.

Reports have suggested the meeting may have been organised by Brandis as an opportunity to hear from LGBTI organisations about under what circumstances they might consider compromising on the plebiscite, but marriage equality advocates have denied they will shift their position on a plebiscite.
“My understanding of this meeting is it’s going to be an opportunity for George Brandis to engage with all the organisations that are a part of the national working group on marriage equality, forming a consultation on the plebiscite and gives him the opportunity to have the discussion with us all at once,” said NSW GLRL co-convenor, Chris Pycroft.

“We will obviously reaffirm our position that we are against the plebiscite, that has not and will not change, we will use it as an opportunity to continue the discussion on marriage equality as we have done with all sides of parliament. It’s really appropriate for politicians to continue to engage with LGBTI groups on this issue because it’s our rights that this is about, the more conversation they’re prepared to have with us, that’s great.”

A spokesperson for A4E, who helped coordinate the consultation with Brandis, told Star Observer the organisation will continue to oppose the plebiscite on marriage equality.

“This is a straightforward issue that can be resolved by a free vote in parliament, but it’s also appropriate that all political parties continue directly with the wide and diverse range or LGBTI groups and people. We’ve got to continue to engage the decision makers in the nation, it’s important we engage all political parties moving forward. This is about ensuring all political parties continue to hear the diverse range of voices across the LGBTI community.”

LGBTI groups including ACON, AME, A4E, Rainbow Families NSW, PFLAG NSW, Minus 18, Twenty 10, Pat McGorry and the GLRL groups, met with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek this morning to discuss marriage equality after which Shorten gave a media conference condemning the plebiscite. News of the meeting came as leading mental health organisations issued statements supporting marriage equality. Mental Health Australia said it recognised discrimination based on race, gender or sexuality is detrimental to mental health.

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

Melbourne: The future of a Victorian state bill allowing trans and gender diverse people to easily change the gender on their birth certificate is uncertain, ahead of an expected debate in the upper house next week.

Canberra: ALP Leader Bill Shorten spoke out against the Australian marriage equality plebiscite during a press conference, but Labor’s official decision won’t be stamped down until next week.

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

London: The UK’s drug watchdog NICE has today released a review of HIV-preventing drugs amid a legal battle on the issue.

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce the risk of being infected with HIV by up to 86% if taken daily, and has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for at-risk men who have sex with men (MSM). This year NHS England has taken to the courts to argue that it is not responsible for commissioning the drugs, in a contentious legal battle with HIV activists The body came under renewed pressure to act this month, after data showed HIV infections among MSM remain at record high levels.

Today, a report from drug watchdog NICE emphasises the benefits of PrEP in HIV prevention. The NICE report, which contains only guidance and does not recommend a decision, emphasised the number of studies that have proven the effectiveness of PrEP, affirming: “There is little doubt that Truvada is effective in reducing HIV acquisition in high-risk people who are HIV-negative.” It also noted existing cost projection models that have broadly shown PrEP to be a cost-effective treatment, if “very sensitive to key variables”, and noted guidance suggesting “giving priority for the use of PrEP to the people most at risk of acquiring HIV infection could increase its impact”. Health experts say rolling out PrEP in the UK would be massively cost-effective if it leads to even a small reduction in HIV infections, as the lifetime cost of just one HIV infection can be up to £380,000. Preventing just 100 infections each year could offset the long-term cost of a PrEP scheme.

Activists have welcomed the report, which they say confirms the case for the NHS to commission PrEP. Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Today’s NICE review points to substantial evidence for the effectiveness of PrEP when targeted at those most at risk of HIV. All of the evidence in the review corresponds with our own view that PrEP must be used as part of an overall prevention strategy, which also includes condom use, treatment and regular testing. We believe that PrEP could be the final, vital piece of this jigsaw in helping us end HIV transmission. In particular we are pleased that the review recognises the reassuring evidence that PrEP does not lead to more high risk sexual behaviour – and to WHO’s guidelines which state PrEP may improve opportunities for people to access other services such as HIV testing, STI screening and counselling. We now await the result of NHS England’s appeal, after a High Court decided it did have the legal power to commission PrEP. We hope this evidence review removes another barrier to PrEP being made available in the UK. Every day NHS England delays access to PrEP, 17 people are diagnosed with HIV – and the lifetime cost to the NHS for each diagnosis of HIV is £360,000. We cannot afford not to provide PrEP to those at risk.”

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

United Kingdom: More UK young people than ever before now identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, data shows. The news comes from the Office for National Statistics, which asked young people about their sexual identity as part of its Annual Population Survey. According to the ONS, 3.3% of 16 to 24-year-olds identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual in 2015, up from 2.8% in 2014. This is nearly double the average across all age groups, with 1.7% of people identifying as LGB across the general population. Among over-65s, just 0.6% identify as LGB. The biggest rise in people coming out is among bisexuals, with more young people identifying as bisexual than gay or lesbian. In just one year, the proportion of young people now identifying as bisexual has risen from 1.3% to 1.8%. Other research has suggested a fairly large proportion of young people exhibit bisexual behaviours, even if they do not tick the ‘bisexual’ box on the survey. London has the highest proportion of LGB people across the UK, with 2.6% of people identifying as LGB.

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

Brisbane: An Australian state is to scrap its controversial ‘provocation’ defense by the end of the year, it has been announced. The Queensland Government has said it wants to end the practice that allows accused murderers to receive a reduction in their sentence by claiming there were unwanted sexual advances. Currently, if the defense is accepted, it reduces a murder charge to manslaughter.

Queensland’s Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath tabled a petition on the defense today (October 4).
“I anticipate introducing the amendment to section 304 of the Criminal Code into the Legislative Assembly later this year. Both past and present Queensland Labor governments have demonstrated significant commitment to addressing the issue of the use of an unwanted sexual advance establishing a partial defense to murder.” Coalition Opposition leader Tim Nicholls signaled he would support the change in the law, by saying his party would look “very favourably” on such an amendment.

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

Canberra: In a perversely hopeful sign, fundamentalist Australian hotel owners, bakers and florists who object to marriage equality would have their legal cases bankrolled by a new legal reserve fighting fund to be established by the Australian Christian Lobby. The Human Rights Law Alliance is partly modelled on the notorious US-based conservative Catholic anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom. This spin-off organisation would provide financial support for businesses caught up in service provision anti-discrimination cases. This may imply that they now concede marriage equality is inevitable but still hold out hopes of discriminatory mischief making. Currently, the planned venture is nothing more than a solitary desk at the ACL, based at the same Canberra building that houses the pressure group, run by a former ACL chief of staff, Martyn Iles, and established with the ACL seeding. HRLA is partly based on the US’s Alliance Defending Freedom, established in 1994 to provide legal advocacy and support for US Christian Right activists. The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a prestigious US civil rights organisations, calls ADF a “gay-hate group”. ADF has defended laws that maintain criminalisation for gay sex in several countries. Its top attorney, Jeffrey Ventrella, spoke at an ACL conference earlier this year, while former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott controversially addressed the group in New York in January 2016. ACL has established an antigay coalition with other Australian Christian Right pressure groups such as the Marriage Alliance, Australian Marriage Forum and antigay church groups, to form a campaign bloc in the event that the Turnbull administration can muster enough federal support and pass enabling legislation for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

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

Florida: A right-wing conservative has claimed God sent a hurricane to punish LGBT people in America. Hurricane Matthew reportedly killed at least 16 people as it ravaged its way across the Caribbean, and it’s now on course to hit the coast of Florida, where Orlando will be holding its LGBT pride celebrations this weekend. A columnist for conservative news outlet Shoebat has now claimed that the freak weather is “the wrath of God” fighting against America’s tolerance and acceptance towards LGBT people. Andrew Bieszad, who raises money for ‘persecuted Christians’, expressed dismay that Florida has become “a lot like California” because of the “tremendous amount of sodomites and immoral activity” that apparently takes place there.

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

Global: Over a third of LGBT travellers say they’ve been discriminated against on holiday. According to a new survey, 37% of LGBT travellers experienced some form of discrimination while on holiday, while 6% said they experienced a threat of physical violence over their sexuality. The findings comes as part of Virgin Holiday’s new Lose The Labels campaign, which sees the company commit to becoming one of the UK’s most LGBT-friendly travel operators over the next three years. They found that 63% of LGBT Brits would refuse to travel somewhere that had an unwelcoming attitude to LGBT people, and that 23% change the way they act to try and hide their sexuality while on holiday. Alarmingly, a majority (80%) of respondents said that the travel industry doesn’t do enough to inform the LGBT community about local laws prior to departure. Virgin Holidays will join forces with LGBT charity Stonewall to ensure that proper advice and support is given and that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of staff feel comfortable being themselves. They will also work with partners in regions that have hostile attitudes towards the LGBT community, such as the Caribbean, to encourage them to become more inclusive and welcoming.

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

Sydney: Australian Christian Right pressure group Marriage Alliance has produced a Safe Schools ‘information kit’ and has started dropping them in letterboxes. The pamphlet – which has also been published online – is promoted as an “important message for parents” and criticises the Safe Schools program and the ways it teaches children about gender. Concord resident Benjamin found the pamphlet in his letterbox yesterday, as did many of his neighbours on the street. The pamphlet highlights key elements of the Safe Schools program, including its encouragement of giving positive examples of gender diversity in various subjects.An image of The Gender Fairy, an Australian children’s book aimed at raising trans awareness, is also featured in the condemning pamphlet. Author of The Gender Fairy Jo Hirst said her book has been recommended by a lot of people including the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Despite allegedly being a group formed for the sole purpose of advocating against marriage equality, Marriage Alliance has been outspoken in its criticism of Safe Schools. Perhaps aware of how transparent this homophobia or transphobia may appear, the group makes a loose connection between Safe Schools and marriage equality on its website. arriage Alliance came under fire earlier this year for a controversial Twitter post that depicted a rainbow-coloured noose photoshopped on a stock photo of an office desk worker. Last month the Safe Schools program was debated in NSW parliament after Liberal MP Damien Tudehope presented a petition calling for it to be axed.

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

Rome: The Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury have pledged to reunify their churches but remain split over Catholic hierarchy backwardness related to the role of women and attitudes to sexuality. In a joint declaration in Rome yesterday (October 5), Justin Welby and Pope Francis said they remained “undeterred” in bringing the two institutions back together after almost 500 years of separation. The Catholic church said it remained fundamentally opposed to the possibility of blessing same-sex marriages, ordaining gay bishops and allowing female clergy, moves the Church of England is currently taking.

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

Vienna: The Austrian government has drawn up plans to grant more rights to same-sex couples in registered partnerships, but it won’t be pushing forward with equal marriage. The country is currently governed by a grand coalition between the left-wing Social Democrats and the centre-right People’s Party. Same-sex registered partnerships were introduced in 2010, allowing gay and lesbian couples to finally gain some legal recognition. The Social Democrats support reform to bring in equal marriage, but face opposition from their coalition partners, who oppose the plans. As part of a compromise, this week a draft law was submitted to the country’s Parliament that would boost rights for couples in registered partnerships. They will gain a swathe of new rights, allowing couples to register at the district clerk’s office alongside marriages, though separate from them. They were previously managed by a different department.

Couples will also be able to adopt a common “family name” as married couples already can. The law is expected to pass later this year. However, it stops short of granting the right to marry to same-sex couples. Austrian Eurovision icon Conchita Wurst has previously spoken about her frustration with her homeland.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: An army sergeant and his partner have made history as they became the first same-sex couple to wed on a British army base and the first to take place on an overseas army base. Alastair Smith of the 2nd Battalion, married longtime partner Aaron Weston last month in Dhekelia, Cyprus. Mike Wigston, the Air Vice Marshal and commander and administrator of the base, approved and conducted the ceremony himself. Prior to the wedding, Smith confessed in his blog that he was worried about coming out in case it ruined his career. But when he finally did it, he had the full support of his battalion behind him. This is another big move from the British Army as last month a transgender soldier became the first women to serve on the front line.

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

London: Shaykh Hamza Sodagar has previously appeared in a video where he seemingly suggests throwing gay men off a cliff, burning them to death, and crushing them under a falling wall. As reported by the Mirror, he will lecture at a small independent mixed Muslim school that teaches students aged six to seventeen. Run by the Iranian government, it opened in 2001 and follows the Iranian National Curriculum teaching in Farsi. The American-born preacher describes himself as a ‘role model for young Muslims all around the world’.

LGBT rights champion Peter Tatchell questioned via his personal Twitter account why the UK Home Secretary granted a visa to Mr Sodagar. Shaykh Hamza Sodagar will deliver a series of talks at the Islamic Republic of Iran school in London until mid-October.

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

Melbourne: The Victorian Government has called for an official review of the gay blood donation ban to be brought forward. Just.equal spokesperson and long-time advocate against the ban, Rodney Croome, said, “The ban on gay blood donation is discriminatory, it stigmatises gay men as a risk to public health, and it reduces the supply of safe blood to those Australians who need it. There needs to be an entirely new process for assessing potential blood donors that focusses on the risk associated with the donor’s sexual activity, not the gender of their sexual partner. I applaud the Victorian Government for raising this issue and call on the nation’s health ministers to get behind the initiative.”

Mr Croome has a long history on the subject, working a researcher and advisor in the landmark Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal case on gay blood donation taken by Michael Cain several years ago.

“The medical evidence in Mr Cain’s case was very clear – there are many gay men whose blood is safer than many of the heterosexual people who are currently allowed to donate. It’s time we allowed those gay men to give the gift of life.”

Victorian Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, will today call on her state and federal colleagues to support bringing forward the review of blood donation guidelines from 2018 to next year. In 2012 an independent review for the Red Cross was conducted and found sufficient evidence to support the reduction of the deferral period without reducing safety, but was not accepted by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

“Asking men who have sex with men to wait 12 months before donating blood is based on two factors;” Dr Anthony Kellar from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service said in a letter last year, “the statistically higher incidence of some blood borne diseases (including HIV) in this group, and the existence of infections undetectable by testing. Statistics indicate that in Australia HIV continues to be transmitted primarily through sexual contact between men.”

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

Atlanta: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, an interdenominational evangelical Christian ministry with a presence on hundreds of college campuses, is telling employees that those who disagree with its position on human sexuality — including same-sex relationships — probably shouldn’t work there. Still, InterVarsity officials deny that these employees are being fired. In March 2015, InterVarsity released a position paper on sexuality and circulated it to staff, giving them 18 months to study it and decide whether they agree. The paper reiterates what the fellowship has long believed, officials say — that sexual activity is reserved for the marriage of a man and a woman, that premarital and extramarital sex are wrong, that divorce is allowable only in limited circumstances, and that sexual activity between people of the same sex is never acceptable. InterVarsity’s beliefs about sexuality have not changed in its 75-year history. Jao told Time the group issued the paper because of requests for clarification of those beliefs, with many of those coming from students. The organization also asserts that it has members and employees who are LGBT, queer, or intersex and still adhere to its beliefs on sexuality. And it tweeted that no employee will be let go because of beliefs on civil marriage, separate from Christian marriage — which sounds like splitting hairs to some. Even in evangelical circles, beliefs about same-sex marriage (civil or religious) and other LGBT issues are changing, especially among young people.

Some liberal US evangelicals quickly objected to InterVarsity’s stance. Among them were officials with the Reformation Project, which is seeking to promote full acceptance of LGBT people within evangelical Christianity. It posted several tweets on the subject and retweeted several others. InterVarsity has a presence on 667 college campuses, with 1,000 chapters overall in the U.S. Its presence at some colleges has been in dispute because of its objection to LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: UKIP leadership hopeful Raheem Kassam has denied responsibility for Nigel Farage’s HIV patient smears. During his time as UK Independence Party leader, Mr Farage repeatedly came under fire for comments about HIV. Later, during the 2015 election debates, Farage claimed the UK is ‘incapable’ of treating people with HIV because of immigration, citing the high cost of HIV treatment. Mr Farage’s former senior adviser Raheem Kassam, editor of right-wing outlet Breitbart UK, is now running for party leader himself after the resignation of short-lived leader Diane James. Challenged by the BBC, Kassam denied he was responsible for the HIV debate line.

Writing for Breitbart UK, Kassam has published a multitude of stories about the stance of Islam on LGBT rights – despite his own controversial views on LGBT issues. Just months ago Mr Kassam was linked to a petition to protest “insidious political correctness” in UKIP after the suspension of a candidate who advocates ‘gay cure’ therapy. The petition claimed it was written by anonymous ‘UKIP Members and Supporters for Free-Speech’ – but it was first circulated on social media by Mr Kassam, who also took to Breitbart to promote it.

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

Berlin: Germany will compensate more that 50,000 gay men who were jailed for their sexual orientation. The plan will see 30 million euros set aside to compensate gay men who were convicted for their sexuality. Paragraph 175 was part of Germany’s criminal code until 1994 and made sex between men illegal. Over 140,000 men were convicted under this paragraph. Around 50,000 were prosecuted. A draft law will be formally announced this month after the initial announcement was made in May. Records of those convicted will also be cleared.
Germany’s justice Minister, Heiko Maas said the compensations would depend on “concrete individual cases.” When determining compensation, sentence duration will be taken into consideration. We will never be able to remove these outrages committed by this country but we want to rehabilitate the victims. The convicted homosexual men should no longer have to live with the black mark of a criminal conviction,” he added.

The minister expected more than five thousand men to make personal claims. East Germany stopped applying the law in 1968 and West Germany followed suit a year later. However, the code was not completely abolished until 1994. Nazi-era convictions of gay men were lifted in 2002 but there has not yet been a pardon for those sentenced outside of the Nazi timescale. The anti-gay law was strict during this time and led to thousands of gay and bisexual men being taken away to concentration camps. Following the war, gay men were still often arrested and put into prison. Members of the LGBT community often lost their jobs and homes and suffered social exclusion. The Green and Left party in Germany have previously demanded compensation for those affected by the legislation. Spokeswoman for the Green party, Katja Keul described the lack of willingness to make amends before now “a monstrous disgrace.”

The German Justice Ministry plans to allocate the funds in order to compensate the thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under archaic sex laws. The German government has announced that it is making preparations to compensate more than 50,000 men who were jailed for being gay under Paragraph 175 – a law which criminalised homosexuality and was enforced until the late 60s. To say that the law is archaic is a bit of an understatement, as it was introduced in 1871 and wasn’t repealed until 1994. The persecution of gay men by the Nazis during the Second World War was legally based on Paragraph 175, and it was still enforced in both East and West Germany during the Cold War. The convictions of those sentenced during the Nazi years were expunged in 2002, however, until now there has been no movement on pardoning those after the war:

“We will never be able to remove these outrages committed by this country but we want to rehabilitate the victims. The convicted homosexual men should no longer have to live with the black mark of a criminal conviction,” he added.

The news of this move by the German Justice Ministry comes just weeks after Theresa May’s government announced legislation that would pardon gay men in the UK convicted of historical gross indecency laws. Sources close to the PM exclusively told The Independent that the legislation, when passed, would effectively act as an apology to those convicted.

“This government is committed to introducing posthumous pardons for people with certain historical sexual offence convictions who would be innocent of any crime now,” a government spokesperson explained. “We will bring forward our proposals in due course.”

The so-called ‘Alan Turing’ law is in reference to World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing, who was pardoned in 2013, decades after he was convicted of gross indecency in 1952. He had been arrested after having an affair with a 19-year-old man and the resulting conviction meant he lost his security clearance, putting an end to the incredible work for the Allies during the war. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in England in 1967.

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

Baltimore: In order to clarify a story about several transgender students in Pennsylvania, Associated Press sought the ‘expertise’ of discredited professor Paul McHugh. The published article concerns three transgender students at a Pennsylvania high school who have sued their school district for forcing them to use bathrooms according to their biological sex.
‘Policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention,’ McHugh said. The quote comes from an article he wrote in 2014.

McHugh’s opinion was used to contrast other opinions in support of the students. His fellow faculty members at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Medicine in Maryland have tried to distance themselves from McHugh. Almost 700 of them have formally called for Johns Hopkins to make it clear it does not support McHugh’s beliefs, which has been described as ‘pseudoscience’.
They said McHugh’s research is ‘mischaracterizing’ LGBTI people, and will ‘further stigmatize and harm the health of LGBTQ communities.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Washington DC: US religious social conservatives are largely standing behind Donald Trump even after vulgar sexual comments he made about women surfaced. Most fundamentalist leaders did not condemn the Republican candidate and instead pointed to an urgent need to prevent Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency, reshaping the US Supreme Court and implementing liberal policies. The latest blow to Mr Trump’s campaign came after a 2005 video surfaced of the then-reality TV star talking about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman.Republican Vice Presidential running mate Mike Pence said he could not defend Trump’s words. White fundamentalists make up about 20 percent of the US population, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, and represent a crucial voting bloc Mr Trump needs to win the presidency.

They have long represented a pillar of support for Republicans. In 2004, they were instrumental in President George W Bush’s re-election. They turned out in similar numbers in 2008 and 2012, when Mitt Romney, a Mormon who many evangelicals considered too moderate, was the Republican nominee, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. Support from evangelicals for Mr Trump has been strong throughout his campaign, even though it was only late in life that the New York businessman adopted their cause. Social conservatives flocked to his side in opposition other deeply conservative religious Republican presidential candidates, such as Ted Cruz. Much will hinge on Mr Trump’s performance in the second presidential debate on Sunday night, and whether he can convince fundamentalist Christians that he has changed.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted an article slamming fundamentalist apathy over the latest Trump revelations.

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

Hobart: Liberal senator Eric Abetz has blamed media “bias” for not celebrating or honouring people who “go in” and “change” from a homosexual to a heterosexual “lifestyle”, despite the parlous state of the Australian ‘exgay’ movement.

The ALP is expected to finally confirm on Tuesday it will kill off the same-sex marriage plebiscite and vote against it in the Senate, after months of hinting and threatening to do so. That formal decision, once ticked off by the ALP caucus, leaves the legalisation of same-sex marriage in limbo, with the government unlikely to allow a free vote in the Parliament, despite what some advocates of legal change may claim. The Turnbull government’s proposed amendments to the Marriage Act, which would only be implemented if the plebiscite went ahead and was passed, were due to be examined by a committee on October 10, and these amendments would include changes to the Act that would redefine marriage as being between two people, instead of a man and woman, would allow religious and civil celebrants to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies but there would no exemptions for other service providers from anti-discrimination laws.

Cabinet minister Simon Birmingham suggested on Monday night that a request from Labor to remove public funding for the “yes” and “no” campaigns for the plebiscite – a key sticking point – might be “reasonable … and one we could consider ourselves”. such a move would create a firestorm of protest from conservative Coalition MPs and is unlikely to proceed.

Meanwhile, in a speech at the Hobart book launch last week of Stealing from the Child – the injustice of ‘marriage equality’ by Australian Marriage Forum president David van Gend, Senator Abetz said a campaign has been under way since the 1970s to deconstruct marriage and “rob it of its meaning”:

“Ever notice how when some people go from the heterosexual to homosexual lifestyle they are able to be celebrated and honoured for their honesty and courage? They’ve come out. Ever thought why there is no celebration for those that decide to go from the homosexual to heterosexual lifestyle? Are they not honest? Are they not coming out as well? And that is just one of the examples of the one-way traffic and bias from the media.”

The conservative Tasmanian senator is a fierce opponent of same-sex marriage and has warned that changing the definition of marriage is a gross injustice that would “steal from children”, threaten Australian society and will do “irreparable damage to the next generation”. Senator Abetz’s register of interests shows he has stepped up his support of bible groups, including continuing to donate to Bible League, which has promoted using bible teachings to treat mental illness, converting Muslims to Christianity to help end terrorism and demonic possession. One film, published on the Bible League Australia YouTube channel, canvasses ‘Impacting the Muslim World’, with one member discussing how “when you give your money to help us reach out to these people, you are converting terrorists to know Jesus and the terrorism ends”.

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

Canberra: Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has today dismissed the concerns of mental health experts around the country by saying that he doesn’t believe the proposed plebiscite, which will likely be blocked by Labor tomorrow, would be harmful to members of the LGBTI community.

Speaking to ABC radio, Joyce suggested that nobody had been insulted by the debate over marriage equality so far – despite alarming proof to the contrary.

“The idea that this will cause a huge ardent debate – there is already a debate” Joyce said.

“I don’t see anybody’s been assaulted or killed, or even really insulted. I believe and respect the Australian people’s capacity to have that debate.”

Joyce said that the Labor party had taken the proposal of a free vote in parliament to the election and the Australian people had rejected the proposal preferring the government’s plan of a plebiscite.

“The result of the election was that we won. Overwhelmingly at the time that was supported by the Australian people.” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

However, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Equality Terri Butler rebuked Joyce’s comments, telling The Huffington Post that he was clearly out of touch with members of the public.

“I think he has no idea about how hurt people are already feeling in the relation to the fact that their relationships are being openly debated and whether or not they should have the same status as other people is being openly debated. Whether or not they are really equal to other people is being openly debated and whether or not they make as good parents as other parents is being openly debated.”

Referencing a recent report by ACON highlighting the proven impact of the marriage equality debate on same sex couples, Michael Moore, Public Health Association of Australia CEO, used World Mental Health Day as an opportunity to reiterate the potential damage of a plebiscite.

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

Dublin: Drag queen Panti Bliss is seriously considering running to become President of Ireland. In 2014, a heartwarming speech given by the drag artist about the oppression that gay people face went viral, and was even sampled as part of a Pet Shop Boys track. Panti Bliss, real name Rory O’Neill, has since become a household name in Ireland, speaking out for LGBT equality. The drag star became the unlikely face of the Yes campaign in Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum last year, helping bring about a landslide victory.

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

Yaounde: Cameroon police raided a gay bar in Yaoundé, surrounding the site with vans with the intent of arresting every person inside. At around 2.30am on Sunday morning (9 October), officers began to blockade the Mistral bar in the Essos neighborhood of Yaoundé. The Mistral does not advertise itself as a gay bar but was widely considered a place where many gay men could feel safe. After blocking all conceivable entrances and exits with large police vans, two police officers entered the bar at 3am and informed the customers they were all under arrest.

‘People became anxious as they began to think of themselves as hostages. Police then ordered people to leave the bar and checked for identification cards at the exit. Outside, with or without ID cards, all the bar patrons were ordered onto police trucks. Police patrols were stationed at every corner of the cabaret — in front, beside, inside, behind. As if it were a commando operation, armed police searched inside the bar for people hiding there. Some bar-goers tried to escape out the back, but another police truck was parked there.’

It is unclear the number of people who were arrested at the weekend, but some online reports suggest it was ‘dozens’. The charges are also unknown. Cameroon is largely considered one of the worst places in the world to be LGBTI. Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon, punished by up to five years in prison. Attitudes to LGBTI people are hostile and there are frequent reports of arrests, mob violence, assaults, torture and murder.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Warsaw: US Christian Right extremists are once more interfering with societies other than their own. At the beginning of September a new Polish Christian Right pressure group, Family and Life, put a “Stop Deviance” exhibit near a swimming pool at the small rural town of Opoczno in south-central Poland. With the permission from antigay local authorities, the organizers hung large banners on a metal fence.

The banners bore destructive and deceptive antigay propaganda such as, “Homosexuality is seriously harmful to life and health,” “Homosexuality = early death,” “On average homosexuals live 15-20 years less,” and “Most of them don’t live to be 65.” According to the organizers, the purpose of the exhibit was to show “facts” about the medical, psychological, and social “risks” of gay sexuality

Amusingly, however, the posters were stolen during the next evening. Kaja Godek, the head of Family and Life, stated to media that there were no suspects, but the police are still searching for the burglars, using forensics on cigarette butts left at the scene. Godek wants to replace the stolen propaganda placards but the authorities of Opoczno are under pressure from the Polish LGBT community to prevent Godek from doing so. Godek stated that most of the deceptive antigay propaganda displayed on the placards came from the internationally discredited extremist Colorado-based antigay Family Research Institute (FRI). FRI is a non-profit US Christian Right pressure group that publishes empirical research on homosexuality, AIDS, sexual social policy, and other issues. The head of FRI, Dr. Paul Cameron, has inflicted himself on Poland numerous times because he is so marginalised from US LGBT rights debates due to his charlatanism and ethics violations.

Canberra: Marriage equality activists have today welcomed news of the plebiscite’s demise, vowing to continue on in the fight for a free vote in parliament, while organisations Australian Marriage Equality and Australians 4 Equality celebrated the historic first Marriage Amendment Bill by an Australian Government:

“It is important that if the plebiscite is not happening, we shut the door on it this week and focus on a legislative pathway forward from next week,” Alex Greenwich, Co-Chair, Australian Marriage Equality said.“Stopping the plebiscite will not achieve marriage equality, nor will it stop the negative campaign from marriage equality opponents. The Senate must be allowed to vote it down this week so the Parliament can focus on a legislative pathway forward. We will continue to work with our supporters in all parties to advocate that this is a straightforward reform that can be achieved by a parliamentary vote by the end of the year,” Mr Greenwich said.

Co-Chair of Australians for Equality, Anna Brown added that despite the worrying expansion of religious exemptions released in the proposal last night, it was important to recognise this was the first time an Australian Government has proposed legislation on changes to the Marriage Act.

“The legislation is by no means perfect nor is it a final government position, but we now have a starting point to reinvigorate conversations with all Parliamentarians. While the plebiscite is likely to be blocked, the historic importance of Australia’s first Government legislation to change the Marriage Act to enable all Australians to marry should not be understated. We have concerns with aspects of this Bill and will raise these issues with the Parliament over the coming weeks. We will continue to advocate that any proposed legislation designed to achieving marriage equality are in the best interest of the LGBTI community,” Anna Brown concluded.

Meanwhile, GetUp responded to the announcement today by reiterating their unwavering push for a free vote in parliament.

“Avoiding a plebiscite means our country won’t have to endure a divisive, expensive, harmful popular vote on Australians’ right to marry. This is a win for all of Australia. It’s a win for democracy, common sense and solidarity. And it’s a win for the LGBTQIA+ community, who have worked so hard for this outcome. When we reform our discriminatory marriage laws, Australia will know that we didn’t compromise the safety of vulnerable LGBTQIA+ people to do it. We’ll know we didn’t bastardise the processes of representative democracy to appease a fringe group of the Coalition. A free vote on marriage equality is possible, but only if every person in favour of marriage equality keeps pushing for it. Together, people across Australia have shifted public opinion in support of equal marriage rights, and galvanised opposition to a plebiscite in favour of a parliamentary free vote. Don’t underestimate the campaign for marriage equality. It’s won’t end until we have equal rights for all.”

GetUp and Australian Marriage Equality have come together to present a petition with over 59,000 signatures calling for a free vote instead of a plebiscite, which was delivered to parliament during the last sitting season.

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

Washington DC: Donald Trump thinks it’s better to disband the US military than allow transgender service personnel to serve.

London: Are UK GPs oblivious to the health care needs of transgender patients?

Moscow: Russia is set to blacklist a support website for LGBT teens that officials say violates the country’s ‘gay propaganda’ law. Deti-404, which translates to Children-404, acts as an online support system for LGBT teens in Russia, where homophobia and transphobia continues to thrive. The website‘s users often share their stories about the anti-LGBT prejudices endured in their everyday lives. The group’s founder Yelena Klimova has previously been fined under the country’s ‘gay propaganda’ law over the site, and authorities forced Russian social network VK to clamp down on the group. However, Klimova says that authorities have now gone even further, with state media watchdog Roskomnadzor set to blacklist the Deti-404 site for “spreading banned information.”

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

Washington DC: Failed Republican Presidential hopeful Ben Carson has claimed that same-sex marriage will lead to “mass killings” in a world where it’s “every man for himself”. Dr Carson, who dropped out of the Republican race earlier this year and rallied round Donald Trump, made the shocking comments at an event in Springfield, Missouri.
In a speech to the the Pensmore National Symposium on Religious Liberty, the former neurosurgeon warned that conservatives must stand against the “ever-growing government” on issues like gay marriage. According to the Springfield News Leader, he warned that otherwise “there will be mass killings once again”, warning: “The peace that we experience now will be a memory only. This is the nation that stands between peace and utter chaos.”

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

New York: Johns Hopkins University has responded to a hatchet job by octogenerian conservative Catholic transphobe and homophobe Paul McHugh attacking mainstream perspectives on gender identity and sexuality by declaring its “unequivocal and profound commitment to the LGBTQ community” and announcing that it will provide “gender-affirming” surgeries to attempt to change men into women and vice versa.

The reaction to the report, co-authored by former Johns Hopkins psychiatrist-in-chief Dr. Paul McHugh, is significant because McHugh himself, a conservative Catholic, had halted gender reassignment surgeries at the institution in 1979. He did so on the grounds that natural law Catholic dogma should trump evidence-based science. JHU sent out a statement on October 7 laying out their new position:

“In recent months, some have questioned our position, both inside and outside the institution, not because of any change in our practice or policy, but because of the varied individual opinions expressed publicly by members of the Johns Hopkins Medicine community,” according to the statement, signed by Paul B. Rothman, M.D., Dean of the Medical Faculty, and Ronald R. Peterson, President of Johns Hopkins Health System.

JHU President Ronald J. Daniels and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Sunil Kumar sent the statement in a mass email to JHU students and alumni.

“We have taken these concerns seriously,” the statement continued. “We want to reiterate our institutional support for LGBT individuals and update you on the work we are doing to further that commitment.”

JHU’s “deep commitment to providing a welcoming and supportive environment—and the best possible care—for all LGBT individuals who work for or seek help from Johns Hopkins Medicine” means the institution has adopted a multitude of inclusiv policies and practices that the email laid out in detail. These affirmative policies include a JHU and Johns Hopkins Medicine nondiscrimination policy that includes “gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation,” as well as mandating “culturally competent care for every person we are privileged to treat, including training our staff members, faculty members and students in issues related to LGBT health,” and insurance coverage of “transgender health services, including surgical procedures, with no lifetime maximum benefit.”

“Johns Hopkins Children’s Center physicians were responsible for co-ordinating an American Academy of Pediatrics committee that authored the 2013 AAP policy statement that supports access to clinically and culturally competent health care for all LGBT and questioning youth.” More mainstream JHU faculty members used their research to “[advance] understanding of LGBT health and well-being, contributing to the important work of counteracting the negative effects of bias, discrimination and stigma that can hinder LGBT communities from seeking and receiving the best health care. We have committed to and will soon begin providing gender-affirming surgery as another important element of our overall care program, reflecting careful consideration over the past year of best practices and the appropriate provision of care for transgender individuals,” according to the statement.

The Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s wealthiest and most powerful gay rights groups, announced in the wake of McHugh’s study that it was taking this hatchet job seriousl. The US LGBT advocacy organistion “been in communication with Johns Hopkins over the need for an official statement about McHugh and Mayer’s activities” and “met with leadership at Johns Hopkins to express the urgency of this issue and the continued need for action. If Hopkins’ leadership ignores their community’s call to correct the record…its Healthcare Equality Index score will be reduced substantially,” warned HRC . The group recently added hospitals to its equality evaluation systmm. also grades businesses on how friendly they are to the homosexual and transgender cause.

“We also restate that as an academic medical research institution, academic freedom is among our fundamental principles—essential to the self-correcting nature of scientific inquiry, and a privilege that we safeguard. When individuals associated with Johns Hopkins exercise the right of expression, they do not speak on behalf of the institution.” Thus, while McHugh is free to circulate his hatchet job, it also has also distanced itself from this contentious material.

Baltimore: Six in ten US gay and bisexual men haven’t heard of PrEP, according to a new report. The study, conducted in Baltimore by the Johns Hopkins Hospital and published in the American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, also found that a third of US primary care providers don’t know what PrEP is.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, more commonly known as PrEP, is an anti-retroviral drug which, if taken consistently, can help to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV by more than 90%. Epidemiologist Julia R. G. Raifman, of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: “The CDC recently reported that one-third of U.S. primary care providers have not heard of PrEP.

“It is likely that primary-care providers are missing opportunities to discuss and provide PrEP for patients at risk of HIV.”

Worryingly, the study also found that a number of people who had recently been treated for a sexually transmitted infection had’t heard of PrEP, and that only 5% of high-risk individuals are believed to have taken PrEP to prevent HIV. However, despite only 40% of gay and bisexual men saying they know about PrEP, 60% said they would be willing to take the drug for HIV prevention, suggesting more awareness is needed.

Raifman concluded: “This is a new safe and effective tool in our toolbox to prevent HIV. But it does us no good if no one is using it.”

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

London: Hospitals and GP practices are reportedly failing to carry out routine HIV testing on new patients and those admitted to hospital. In 2013, experts recommended that in areas where more than two in 1,000 people live with HIV everyone who registers with a GP in the area or is admitted to a local hospital is given a HIV test. However, many NHS providers aren’t doing so, the BBC reports. A BBC investigation discovered that 82% of hospitals in high-prevelance areas across england were not offering these routine tests in accordance with the 2013 guidelines, while 70% of local authorities in high-prevalence areas were not funding all GP surgeries to test new patients.

Responding to the findings, Dr Chloe Orkin, of the British HIV Association, said: “Testing for HIV is very cost-effective. Deaths due to late diagnosis are completely preventable through excellent treatments.”

With around 17% of people who are living with HIV not aware of their status and not on medication, a lack of routine testing may be aiding the spread of the virus.

Kat Smithson, Policy and Campaigns Manager at NAT (National AIDS Trust), described the findings as “a great shame.” In a statement, she wrote: “Back in 2014/15 NAT found that only a quarter of local authorities with a high prevalence of HIV were commissioning HIV testing in GP surgeries and even fewer in hospital settings. This data shows only a slight increase in commissioning of these testing services in the past year. It’s a great shame that people still cannot access testing as standard in these settings. Testing for HIV in GP surgeries and on admission to hospital has enormous potential to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise test, and to diagnose people earlier. All too often when people are diagnosed with HIV it turns out we’ve missed these vital opportunities somewhere along the way. One thing commissioners of testing told us back in 2015 is that making the funding available for testing doesn’t translate to it being used. There still seem to be significant barriers to normalising testing for HIV in medical settings outside the GUM clinic. Sometimes medical staff don’t feel confident offering the test or don’t see it as relevant. We need to identify these barriers and deal with them to normalise testing. HIV testing is not expensive, but it can have a significant impact if more people are diagnosed on time and are on treatment.”

A Department of Health representative for England said: “Over the next five years, we will invest more than £16bn in local government public health services. While councils have had to make savings, they have also shown that good results can be achieved at the same time, and are best placed to understand where money is best spent”.

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

Canberra: One can’t help but wonder what fresh hell Lyle Shelton and the ACL are preparing to unleash on young members of the Australian LGBTI community in their upstream battle against progress, change and inclusivity. Shelton, the director of the militant fundamentalist Australian Christian Lobby, predictably claimed today that the ALP’s move to block the proposed plebiscite legislation was a good thing for opponents of marriage equality. It will give them more time to plan. Get Up’s Sally Rugg warned:

“If they (the Australian Christian Lobby) follow what’s happened in the other countries, they’ll continue to try to tie other issues such as surrogacy, transgender rights and sex education to marriage equality in a sensational, catastrophic manner. We’ve already seen that with the attacks on the Safe Schools programme, and the backlash against standardising the age of sexual consent laws in Queensland. It’s a frightening prospect, to be honest. These guys have financial backers with deep pockets, and they’re experimenting with tactics like making apps for mining data and gamifying recruitment to the campaign.”

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

Melbourne: Victoria’s first LGBT history month has just been launched.

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

Washington DC: An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, according to recent findings from the Out & Equal Workplace Survey. Conducted by The Harris Poll, the survey found that 67 percent of Americans support equal protections for LGBT individuals in employment, housing, and public accommodations, such as restaurants, city parks, and public restrooms. In addition, 36 percent claimed that they “strongly support” equal opportunity on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, while just 15 percent stated that they “strongly oppose” nondiscrimination.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Sacramento: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three primary care physicians and nurses have never heard of PrEP, the medicinal strategy proven to prevent HIV-negative people from contracting the virus when taken correctly. Could this be why nearly 60 percent of gay/bisexual men are also unaware of PrEP, as the Advocate has reported? Less than 10 percent of all gay and bisexual men in the state of California have used PrEP, Plus reported, and Black and Latinos by far were the least likely to know about the HIV-preventative drug Truvada (the only drug currently approved to use as PrEP). As many as 30,000 people in the U.S. may be using PrEP today, according to AIDSMap — a small number in comparison to the millions of Americans at risk of contracting HIV. So the question remains: why don’t doctors know about PrEP, and why aren’t those who do telling their patients about it?

Dr. Ken Mayer, principal investigator of the ADAPT study, has said that 14.5 percent of his patients who’d started PrEP have already stopped, which is unfortunate due to his estimation that there are 415,000 people in the U.S. (of all orientations) who have the highest risks of contracting HIV, yet are not currently using any kind of protection against the virus. At the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care’s Controlling the HIV Epidemic with Antiretrovirals summit in Paris last year, Dr. Mayer said that PrEP is hard to get for those who can’t afford it. At the time 80 percent of those on PrEP paid for the medication through private insurance, and 80 percent of those recipients were white gay men.

A survey of healthcare practitioners found that the third most common reason practitioners don’t present PrEP as an option to their patients was that these medical professionals felt they lackted the training to appropriately prescribe the prevention treatment. Other reasons included a “lack of demand” and “lack of insurance converage.”

Prescriptions for Truvada more than doubled between 2014 to 2015, and an estimated 8,000 people in 2015 were accessing PrEP via clinical trials, Medicaid, or Gilead’s patient assistance program, AIDSMaps reported.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

London: The NSPCC is under fire for inviting an alleged anti-trans campaigner to a ‘debate’ about transgender children. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children announced yesterday that it is holding a ‘Dare to Debate’ session on October 25, with the subject ‘Is society letting transgender children down?’. However, activists have vowed to shun the session over the invitation to Sarah Ditum, a feminist campaigner who opponents say has a history of extreme comments about trans people. Former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, who came out as trans last year aged 61, is the only trans person set to appear on the panel.

Ditum has previously described reporting on the high rates of suicide among young trans people as “bullshit”, suggesting that trans suicides are caused by “telling people they can become meaningful by killing themselves” rather than bullying and discrimination. On another occasion she wrote: “Some women would like to have spaces without dick, same as a gunshot victim should have rifle-free spaces.”

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

London: A court has quashed the conviction of a woman accused of duping a fellow student into having lesbian sex with her by pretending to be a man.
Gayle Dawn Newland, 25, was originally found guilty of three counts of sexual assault over the 2013 incidents , while both her and the alleged victim were studying at the University of Chester.

Newland’s alleged victim – a woman who cannot be named for legal reasons – had told Chester Crown Court that she had embarked on a relationship a “man” that she met on Facebook, who used the name ‘Kye Fortune’. The woman told the court that when meeting up with ‘Fortune’ in real life to have consensual sex, she was convinced to wear a blindfold at all times during sex sessions, because ‘Fortune’ claimed to have insecurities about his appearance. But after meeting up on a number of occasions, the woman tore off the blindfold during a sexual encounter – and was shocked to find not her supposed boyfriend, but Newland allegedly penetrating her with a prosthetic penis. The woman claims that Newland had manufactured the fake identity, and disguised her appearance by binding her breasts and wearing a hat, in order to pass as the fictional man and trick her into sex.

Newland was initially jailed for eight years, but challenged the conviction in an appeal. Today she watched via video link from prison as Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice King and Mr Justice Dove, quashed her conviction and agreed to release her on bail. Ms Newland’s lawyer had argued the previous conviction was “unsafe” as the trial judge had neglected to be ‘properly fair and balanced’ while summing up the case for the jury. A retrial has been ordered, though no date has been set.

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

Sacramento: According to transfeminist activist Laverne Cox, Hillary Clinton is the best prospect for LGBTI rights in the United States.

Canberra: Marriage equality advocates have delivered what is reportedly “the largest thank you card ever delivered to Parliament House” this morning, thanking MPs for voting against the proposed plebiscite legislation. It had 92,068 signatures.

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

Canberra: Members of the Chinese-Australian community tabled an anti-Safe Schools petition with the Victorian Opposition earlier today. The petition has an alleged 5,000 signatures and appears to have been coordinated in part by previously failed Liberal candidate Gladys Liu and Liberal MP Graham Watt, whose name appears at the bottom of each signed page. While Liu declined to comment, she held the signed petition close to her as she led a group of Chinese men, women, and children through to the private presentation to Liberal MPs in parliament house.

The crowd also drew former Rise Up Australia candidate Peter Dorian, who held a sign suggesting the Safe Schools program would ‘indoctrinate’ children to become pedophiles. Victorian Minister for Equality Martin Foley said he believed the protest was coming from a place of misinformation and a lack of understanding, and stated the government was planning to hold a conference around LGBTI issues to engage with culturally diverse communities.It is also understood that Foley sat down with the petition creators yesterday to explain the program and address their misconceptions – which seemed to primarily be around gender and what it would mean for students using school toilets.

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

Boston: Massachusetts is being forced to put a transgender rights law up for public vote, after a campaign led by anti-LGBT groups. Earlier this year the state passed SB 735, which bans discrimination basis of gender identity in businesses and other places of public accommodation. However, an anti-LGBTI pressure group led a campaign against the law, gathering signatures for a ‘Keep MA Safe’ petition calling for a public vote on the law.

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

Canberra: The Australian Anglican Church has published a guidebook for campaigning against equal marriage. The document, titled ‘What Has God Joined Together’, was distributed to members of the Synod this week amid national discussions on equal marriage.

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

Paris: France has just introduced a new legal gender recognition procedure that will allow transgender citizens who have not gone through sterilisation and medicalisation to have their legal name and gender changed. Thee French parliament voted on the 21st century justice law (La loi sur la justice au XX1eme siècle) which included provisions relating to legal gender recognition. Under the updated process, trans individuals will no longer be needed to be sterilised before being legally recognised in their true gender, ILGA-Europe reports. There will be no requirement to provide proof of medical treatment. Emancipated minors (young people held competent to take important decisions on their own behalf) will also be able to access the updated procedure. However, the revised legislation still holds several restrictions. For instance, a trans individual will still have to go to court to have their gender legally recognised as the procedure is not based on self-determination. Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director congratulated the trans community in the country.

Gay and transgender activists have welcomed the new legislation, which lets transgender people change their legal status without having to be sterilised. The activist group ILGA-Europe called it “clear progress” that “another European country has dispensed with the shameful practice of sterilisation”. However, ILGA also regretted that trans people in France will still have to get a court to recognise their gender change. Laws in Denmark, Malta, Ireland and Norway have advanced beyond the need for medical treatment. In each of those three countries, legal gender recognition relies on the principle of “self-determination” – dispensing with medical or judicial requirements. The Council of Europe – the top European human rights watchdog – also supported such legislative reform in an anti-discrimination resolution last year. It stated that transgender people often face discrimination in Europe, in the workplace, housing, health services or in the form of bullying and hate speech. Gender has to be specified on passports, driving licences and many other essential documents. The new legislation permits adults and minors – the right to change their legal status in court. Previously such a change required proof that the person had been sterilised irrevocably.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Chicago: A 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in the US has vacated a previous ruling and said that it will fully review a case regarding a lesbian who claims that her former employer discriminated against her because of her sexuality. In August, a three-judge panel at the 7th Circuit Court ruled on the case, Hively vs. Ivy Tech College, stating that discrimination based upon sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
This surprised LGBTI advocates, including HRC, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Last year, the EEOC said that gay people were covered from workplace prejudice by the 1964 Act, saying such discrimination was a form of sex bias. Kimberly Hively, a law professor, took employer Ivy Tech Community College to district court alleging workplace discrimination dating back to 2014 and claiming she been denied a promotion six times for being a lesbian. Hively was represented by Lambda Legal. In August, US Circuit Judge Ilana Rovner, in a 42-page ruling, threw out the lawsuit, noting that the current federal law was unclear when it came to handling sexual orientation workplace discrimination cases. At the time, Hively’s legal representatives, Lambda Legal, said they were ‘surprised’ and intended to seek an ‘en banc’ review of the case. This is when the three-judge ruling is reviewed by the wider 7th Circuit Court.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Cincinnati: A new study has found that many men still choose to hide their sexuality form their colleagues. New research by the University of Cincinnati has found that gay men often hide their sexuality at work – especially in corporate roles. The findings show that gay and bisexual men feel they have to “manage” their sexuality and gender identity in the workplace. This may include exhibiting certain behaviours, body language and gestures to avoid “potential negative consequences from co-workers.” Travis Dean Speice – who lead the study – quizzed 30 gay men between 22-52 on the concepts of masculinity, femininity, and gayness. He found that many of the interviewees worried that their sexuality may weaken their chances of being hired or promoted.
“From the initial interview to moving up the ladder at work, if a gay man feels his supervisors don’t agree with a gay population, he may not want to reveal his sexuality to them,” Specie said.

This anxiety leads to a process called “hegemonic sexuality” – which sees gay men change their behaviour in order to fit in with their heterosexual colleagues.Men may change the way they dress, the way they talk and stop them from opening up about their private life at work. The interviewees also worried about being thought of as “too gay” in their body language and dress sense. Some participants also believed that particular colours or patterns on clothing could “give their sexuality away”.

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

Canberra: If this is what the churches have planned as the way to defeat gay marriage within Australia in the seemingly impossible situation that there will be a plebiscite then the LGBTI community can breathe a big sigh of relief.

One document, leaked to the Fairfax newspaper chain, shows the Church is planning to use no-fault divorce laws as a case-study for why gay marriage should not be allowed. Controversially, on the widespread belief that marriage equality is inevitable, the church likens this to communism and invokes child marriage, in its document aimed at educating Anglicans on how to debate the issue in public. The booklet was to be released for the plebiscite campaign which is now dead in the water after Labor confirmed it would block the bills and press for a vote in the Australian federal parliament instead.

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

Washington DC: Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that — if HIV rates continue as they are, one out of every 4 Latino gay and bisexual men will become HIV-positive in their lifetime. Though Latinxs represent seventeen percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 24 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available from the CDC. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men have even higher rates of HIV, and, according to the CDC accounted for 84 percent of the HIV diagnoses among Hispanic/Latino men in 2014.

Those stats are a stark reminder that this population remains disproportionately affected by the US HIV/AIDS epidemic —something that’s rooted in a variety of societal and cultural factors, HIV experts say.In HIVPlus magazine’s review of the HIV epidemic in three California counties, it learnt that the Fresno Latinx population has difficulty accessing medical care due to many reasons, including transportation, language, insurance, and financial barriers (and a culture of seeking medical intervention only for acute needs, rather than preventative care). These factors result in relatively high rates of HIV, and more disturbing, 36 percent of people with HIV in Fresno County were first screened after their disease had already progressed (27 percent were simultaneously diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, another 9 percent diagnosed with AIDS soon after, according to the county’s 2013 Annual Communicable Diseases Report.

While there is great diversity within the Lantinx population, some face language barriers or may distrust the health care system, while those who are undocumented immigrants fear deportation, resulting in reluctance to be tested for HIV or seek treatment if they’re positive. Without that culturally competent education, many Latinx people don’t learn basic facts about how HIV is transmitted (and isn’t), proper condom use, the availability of female condoms, or the existence PrEP (the HIV prevention pill) or treatments that have transformed HIV from a death sentence to a manageable disease.

So, what’s being done to address these issues? Beginning in 2011, the CDC awarded $11 million per year for five years to 34 community-based organizations to provide HIV testing to more than 90,000 young gay and bisexual men of color and transgender youth of color. The CDC recently announced their intentions to extend the program for another five years, but funding for it depends a great deal on who wins the 2016 election and therefore controls the nation’s purse strings.

In communities across the nation, advocates are also employing unique approaches to reach the young gay and bisexual Latino men who are most at risk of becoming HIV-positive. For example, an Oakland, California project is exploiting the strong social networks in the “House Ball community,” to reach the African-American and Latinx men and transwomen who become informal families and compete in glamorous fashion show “Balls.”

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Nottingham: A school that allegedly taught that gay people should be put to death is being closed down. The fee-paying independent faith school, Jamia Al-Hudaa Residential College for Girls in Nottingham, came under scrutiny in 2014 when a former pupil blew the whistle on practises at the school. The UK Times reports that former student Aliyah Saleem says she was expelled in 2011, for owning a disposable camera. The former student alleged that as part of an Islamic-focused education, pupils are taught that gay men are deserving of death, that men should be allowed to beat their wives, and that God hates Jewish people.

An Ofsted inspection earlier this year found the school was failing in many areas, including provisions around its faith-based education. The education watchdog found extreme materials in the school’s library, noting: “Inspectors found that the school does not promote balanced views. Pupils can access books in the library that have been written by controversial authors, for example by one who is not allowed to enter this country.” According to the newspaper, the Department for Education has this month ordered the school to shut its residential operation.

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

Isle of Man: The first straight couple in the British Isles has entered a civil partnership. Adeline Cosson and Kieran Hodgson became civil partners in a small ceremony on October 14 on the Isle of Man.

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

Dallas: Republican Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert has claimed that being sexually abused ‘unversally’ turns boys gay. Gohmert sits in the House of Representatives for Texas’s First Congressional District, and is one of the most anti-LGBT politicians in that chamber. In an appearance on a fundamentalist Christian radio show, Right Wing Watch reported that Gohmert claimed that the “cause” of homosexuality is child abuse.

Philadelphia: Texas pastor Rick Scarborough went on a rant claiming that gay marriage is preventing Christians from holding federal positions in the U.S. government. The rightwing political advocate who is the founder of conservative Christian group, Vision America, was speaking at the American Pastors Network ‘Vote Your Values’ event in Pennsylvania, according to RightWingWatch.org. Scarborough seems to be referring to anti-discrimination laws that serve to protect the rights of LGBTQ citizens, those rules that ban people from using religion to oppress, reject, or refuse service to LGBTQ people. The anti-gay preacher then rebuked marriage equality, saying that it would bring the “judgment of God” on America.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Amsterdam: LGBT Allies: The Power of Friends is a new human resource management report drawn from research undertaken by Netherlands-based Out Now Consulting between January and August 2016. The study sampled 2,584 LGBT allies across 60 countries. Fifty-six per cent of the ‘allies’ who took part in the survey identified as ‘heterosexual’, with 37% identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Among the finding, 13% said that they were more likely to stay with a company if they felt it actively supported their role as an LGBT ally.
When it comes to the factors that determine whether someone is an ally or not, 67% said that an uncertainty over what an ally does plays a part.

Forty-nine per cent thought that by supporting LGBT colleagues, others at work may assume the ally themselves must be LGBT – despite the fact that most of the allies in the study identified as heterosexual. Thirty-one per cent said a ‘fear of ridicule’ was likely to affect some people’s decision, while 25% said that concerns over a negative career impact might have an affect.The most common beneficial action undertaken by allies was to mention LGBT people or topics positively in the workplace (87% of respondents said they did this), followed by speaking out against anti-LGBT discussions that others were having at work (43% said they had done this) and anti-LGBT jokes. With regard to having the confidence to stand up as an ally, 63% said it was ‘very important’ that there is stated and visible support from management around LGBT issues. The experiences of LGBT and non-LGBT allies can differ greatly, and some non-LGBT allies may be missing the concerns or issues being experienced by LGBT people in the workplace. In effect, they may be more blind to anti-LGBT discrimination. Globally, two-third said they ‘sometimes’ heard anti-LGBT jokes or banter in their workplaces. Asked why they chose to become allies, most said they believed LGBT ‘need support’: 79% said they had an LGBT friend outside of work, while three out of 10 said they had a LGBT family member. A majority also said they were motivated by a work colleague being LGBT.

The report features examples of responses, such as this from one US worker on their reasoning for being an ally:
‘We all benefit when people can be their authentic selves, including at work. An inclusive workplace where everyone is valued and respected brings out the best in people.
‘Everyone needs allies, and LGBT people often have a greater need for that support.
‘I work for a conservative company, and many people who believe they are allies are silent in the workplace. People need to understand that being an ally comes with a responsibility. If you witness someone being disrespectful to the LGBT community, speak up. Silence is their permission to continue.’
Ian Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Out Now, discussed the results of the survey at the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit, in Florida. Johnson told GSN that he was surprised by many of the findings:
Johnson said in a statement, ‘We have seen research insights about LGBT people for almost 25 years, but until now there was no research data available about the important issues faced at work by LGBT Allies. In a competitive market environment, this information is invaluable to build workplaces that more effectively support LGBT people — and their Allies — at work. One was the extent of prevailing concern that being seen to be supportive of LGBT people as an ally may cause the ally to then be perceived by colleagues as being gay or lesbian as a result. In my ideal world it would be: “So what if someone thinks you’re gay?” but in reality there are many heterosexual and closeted LGBT people who are potential LGBT allies but who are choosing not to say or do anything because of that fear. That was reported as a barrier by well over half of the total sample. In essence LGBT Allies need to be encouraged to “come out” by management.’
‘Another interesting finding is how difficult people still find it to speak up against anti-LGBT banter. It sounds easy to say, “I would challenge it” but as the report shows it is often easier to address in theory than in practice.’

Among the report’s recommendations, it says companies should make their support for LGBT rights clear, discourage anti-LGBT jokes, provide formal structure to support LGBT colleagues and their allies, and engage in regular feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Canberra: Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek says the ALP could push Malcolm Turnbull to the political edge over marriage equality, even if it costs him the prime ministership. With the Turnbull administration’s thwarted plebiscite on the issue ready to be voted down in the Senate, Ms Plibersek said gay and lesbian families and advocates had told the ALP they were prepared to wait in order to avoid public dissension over marriage equality. Ms Plibersek said Labor accepted the full moral and political consequences of the delay and called on Coalition MPs to back Mr Turnbull’s own previous position of support for a free vote in Parliament on gay marriage.

The comments come as conservative backbenchers say they will abandon Mr Turnbull if he moves to allow a free vote, an apparent breach of the secret Liberal-Nationals Coalition agreement. National MPs George Christensen and Andrew Broad said that they would hold the Coalition to ransom over the issue. Meanwhile, Turnbull has refused to say if he would endorse a free vote ster the ALP, Greens and Nick Xenophon team prevent the plebiscite in the Senate. The proposed legislation is still being considered by the House of Representatives, where the Coalition does have an operational majority, albeit narrowly.

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

Darwin: A federal Australian report which has revealed the shocking rate of suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations has also been hailed as revolutionary for LGBTI people by Indigenous advocates. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) was released today as a way to address the suicide crisis in Indigenous communities as Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, Indigenous affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and Ken Wyatt plan to attend a roundtable with Indigenous leaders and community organisations to address the issue. The ATSISPEP report revealed Indigenous children and young people are particularly vulnerable, comprising 30 per cent of the suicide deaths among those under 18 years of age. Indigenous 15-24 year olds are over five times as likely to suicide as their non-Indigenous peers.

While statistics for the rate of suicide of LGBTI Indigenous people do not exist, anecdotal evidence suggests it is alarmingly high considering both groups have higher rates of suicide than the general population, so the intersectionality of identities make them vulnerable to suicide. However, for the first time in any Indigenous suicide prevention response, the LGBTI community has been acknowledged as needing specialised attention on the issue and need to be included in all Suicide Prevention Plans. Based on advice from the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable held in March last year, one of the general recommendations in today’s ATSISPEP report was that “Indigenous people identifying as LGBTQI should be represented on all Australian Government and other Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention advisory fora. At this, placing Indigenous LGBTQI at the centre of responses was highlighted as a critical principle to guide future suicide prevention activity among this population sub-group at higher risk of suicide,” the report said.

For long time Indigenous LGBTI activist, Dameyon Bonson, the acknowledgement of this section of community in the ATSISPEP is a massive victory.

“I feel absolutely elated, I was on the national advisory committee for this project and credit has to be paid to Professor Tom Calma and Professor Pat Dudgeon for having the foresight to listen and hear these are the issues that are emerging. Considering this is something that needs to happen, I couldn’t be more pleased. It says to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ community that the Aboriginal suicide prevention sector and health sector at large gives a shit and wants to try and right some wrongs. It’s time to get the work done.”

Bonson said the ATSISPEP was going to be a game changer for mainstream health and suicide prevention organisations because for the first time the project serves as a template and “go to document” for culturally appropriate service provision.

Speaking from Kaleidescope’s 2016 LGBTI Pacific Youth Forum, Bonson said the timing of the release of the report was great as he had just finished meeting with US Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons and it shows what advocacy can achieve:

“Hopefully it will be encouraging to the delegates from the Asia-Pacific region that advocacy can work,” he said.

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

Melbourne: A new Victorian project will document the abuse and discrimination faced by LGBTI elders and help them to seek support. LGBTI people aged over 65 can experience discrimination on the basis of their sexual or gender diverse identity, often by members of their own family. In these cases, few access regulatory bodies or complaint services for information or help. The Tango Project will run for 12 months and will involve elders sharing their experiences with project coordinator and director of Alice’s Garage Dr Catherine Barrett, who has previously interviewed more than 200 LGBTI elders through her research.

“They’ve grown up in an era where no-one’s had their back. And while some elders are capable and don’t need our help, we do need to affirm that they’re being recognised. The ones that really need our help though are those that don’t have self-determination, and potentially have family members riding over them.”

In one case researched by Barrett, a lesbian woman’s kids from a previous heterosexual marriage didn’t approve when she came out much later in life and found a same-sex partner. When she got dementia, they told her doctor that she wasn’t and had never been in a same-sex relationship.In another case, a trans woman’s kids didn’t approve of her gender identity when she transitioned at 40, and after getting dementia they told her if she went to an aged care facility as a woman she’d never see them again.

“Older LGBTI people have a different sense of self because they haven’t been exposed to celebratory and affirming discourses,” Barrett said.

“So to be facing discrimination at a time in their lives where they have disabilities, they don’t have the same degree of determination.

“It’s a really challenging point in their lives and it’s when they need family members more than ever.”

Tango Project patron and Victoria’s gender and sexuality commissioner Ro Allen hopes that the data from the project will be used by a number of commissioners to better understand the discrimination faced by LGBTI elders.

“It’s so important to support out elders because they’ve been through hell and back, and they’re completely invisible. But now we’ve got the health services commissioner, the mental health services commissioner, Victoria’s human rights commissioner, all sending the message to LGBTI elders that we’ve got their back. We’re setting the benchmark for Australia and other states for looking after our elders.”

Allen added that through the project LGBTI elders will hopefully become more aware of their rights and reach out to the appropriate commissioner in government.

“I hope we can work in supporting them, particularly with end-of-life planning, to make sure they don’t get abused at all,” Allen said.

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

New York: Peter Thiel, the gay Paypal entrepreneur who endorsed Trump at the Republican National Convention, has just donated $1.25 million to Donald Trump’s ailing presidential campaign.

Paris: Some 24,000 people marched against marriage equality in Paris, almost three years after the Socialist government of Francois Hollande legalized “marriage for all.” While the U.S. presidential race has largely been silent on the subject, members of the “La Manif Pour Tous” (“Demonstration for All”) movement are hoping to inject the issue into next year’s presidential race. “Even if the gay marriage law has been adopted, we will continue the protest to show that it is not good and we want it to be repealed,” one demonstrator told the AP.

“We want to influence the political debate that will take place in the coming months.” Identifiable by its blue-and-pink color scheme, La Manif Pour Tous also opposes in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and other assisted reproductive techniques. The group calls such advances “new offensives against the family and education.” About a dozen counter-demonstrators were arrested, including topless women from the group Femen, some of whom had “Hate is not a family value” written on their chests.

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is trailing Alain Juppe in the race to head the conservative Republicans party, insists he would not repeal same-sex marriage if re-elected: “I believe France has many other important issues to deal with such as security, terrorism and unemployment,” he said on Sunday. rather than recreate conditions for another hysterical debate.” Jean-Frederic Poisson MP attended, as well as the Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the niece of extreme right-wing National Front leader Marine Le Pen. Le Pen has committed to reviewing the same-sex marriage law if she is elected president.None of the leading presidential candidates have said they are interested in repealing the same-sex marriage law. An August 2016 poll found 65% of France citizens support marriage equality up from 51% when it was legalized in 2013.

Source: http://www.newnownext.com

London: The chairman of the Football Association has claimed a gay footballer would face “significant abuse” if they came out. Greg Clarke, appearing before Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Monday, admitted that his governing body still has a long way to go before discrimination in football is eradicated.

He said: “I would be amazed if we haven’t got gay players in the Premier League, and I am personally ashamed that they don’t feel safe to come out.”

The first English professional football player to come out and continue playing was Justin Fashanu, who was also the first black footballer to command a £1 million transfer fee. He took his own life in 1998. When asked if he felt a player would face the same backlash as Justin if they came out now, Greg replied: “I think there would be significant abuse, because I don’t think we’ve cracked the problem yet. I think what we have in football is a cross-section of society. When you get a sample size of 4 million [football fans], they tend towards the behaviour of the general population. There’s a very small minority of people who hurl vile abuse at people who they perceive are different. Our job is to stamp down hard on that behaviour. There was an example at the weekend, where there are allegations that Luton fans were hurling homophobic abuse at a group of men who they perceived to be gay. That behaviour is disgusting and needs stamping out, and I am absolutely determined that we do stamp it out.”

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

Canberra: The Turnbull administration remain stubbornly optimistic about their chances of having Australian marriage equality plebiscite legislation pass, despite it being declared “dead” by activists this week after the ALP unanimously agreed to block it. Federal Cabinet minister Josh Frydenberg today denied claims that Australia would have to wait for a Labor government to get marriage equality.

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

Canberra: Australian transgender advocates and allies have criticised Channel 7’s Sunday Night program for its recent coverage of the Safe Schools debate, saying that it provided a damaging platform for bigots. On last night’s show, Kirra Carmichael and her trans daughter Briella were interviewed about how the Safe Schools program had positively impacted their lives. However, the program then featured noted homophobe Kevin Donnelly who had previously called LGBT people unnatural, along with mother-of-four Cella White who alleged that young kids were being exposed to “highly sexualised” content through the program. The show comes after a recent petition signed by 5,000 people was presented to Victorian MPs in opposition to Safe Schools, based on many false claims.

Author of trans children’s book Introducing Teddy, Jessica Walton, was also featured in the program and said it wasn’t portrayed in the way she was led to believe it would be when asked for the interview. Trans advocate Jo Hirst said it was damaging to portray the story as a valid debate, and even more so to give increased airtime to those against Safe Schools. Hirst added that Cella White used to troll her on Facebook and send her horrible transphobic messages on Twitter before she deleted her account, and that Kevin Donnelly was wrongly portrayed. Fellow trans advocate Leanne Donnelly said she didn’t watch the program after finding the promotion for the episode frightening. Trans person Ti Butler said it was disappointing to hear the misinformation about Safe Schools presented by not only those interviewed, but by the presenter as well. In Australia 545 schools are currently registered for the Safe Schools program.

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

Washington DC: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday did not announce whether it would hear a transgender Virginia student’s lawsuit against his school district’s bathroom. policy. Gavin Grimm, a student at Gloucester County High School, alleges the Gloucester County School District’s policy that prohibits him from using the boys restroom or locker room because they are not consistent with his “biological gender” is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. His lawsuit also contends the regulation violates Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 that prohibits schools receiving federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled in Grimm’s favor in April.

The Supreme Court in August issued an injunction against the decision that would have allowed Grimm to use the boys restroom during his senior year. The Gloucester County School Board subsequently asked the justices to reverse the 4th Circuit’s ruling. The next time the Supreme Court could announce whether it will accept the Grimm case is on Oct. 31. The Justice Department and the Department of Education’s Office of the General Council filed briefs in support of Grimm. The Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT legal group, and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed his state’s controversial House Bill 2 earlier this year, are among those who have expressed their opposition to Grimm’s claims.

Source: http://www.washingtonblade.com

San Francisco: There has been a dramatic reduction in new HIV infections that put the county on track for reducing HIV transmission and AIDS-related deaths in San Francisco by 90 percent before 2020. Indeed, the county and city of San Francisco (which are one and the same) saw new HIV infections fall 34 percent between 2012 and 2014, and an additional 17 percent between 2014 and ​2015. The city that was once ground zero for HIV is down to only 255 new transmissions a year.

While advocates nationwide are looking to San Francisco’s success to see if it can be replicated, you don’t have to go far for the answer. Plus compared how three California counties were fairing in their prevention efforts, whether they could emulate San Francisco’s model, and whether doing so would produce similar results. What we discovered were a series of hurdles that are barriers to successfully exporting the San Francisco method, even within the same seemingly resource-rich state.

First, San Francisco—a city which occupies the exact same borders as the county it’s in — is uniquely situated when it comes to battling HIV and AIDS. San Francisco has always been a leader in HIV treatment. The first place in the world to begin treatment upon diagnosis, its RAPID Antiretroviral Program Initiative for New Diagnoses is now trying to reduce the time between a positive HIV test and the start of treatment down to 24 hours or less.

San Francisco’s history as an LGBT Mecca meant that many residents became ill at the outset of the epidemic, but it also meant services, activists, community organizations, and fundraising efforts sprang up quickly in response. That large gay voting block also made dealing with HIV a necessity for local politicians.

Thirty-five years into the epidemic, San Francisco has the funding, political will, public education, empowered stakeholders, and a cultural liberalism (willingness to openly discuss sex, distribute condoms to teens, etc.) that few counties in America can rival. It also benefits from being a small, predominately white, and relatively affluent county, which made it possible for them to find other resources when California’s legislature cut the state’s Office of AIDS budget in half, completely eliminating all state-sponsored HIV prevention efforts. That was an $80 million cut to state HIV resources, one that many counties simply could not overcome.

For all of San Francisco’s successes, local leaders acknowledge they haven’t been meeting their goals when it comes to lowering HIV rates for African-Americans, Latinos, and transgender people. Only 67 percent of newly diagnosed African-Americans are in care within a month (vs. 84 percent of the general population), and only 65 percent had undetectable levels within a year (vs. 72 percent overall). Susan Philips, of San Francisco’s Project PriDE, says they are trying to address those health inequities and “PrEP is one way of doing that.” (See our sidebar for more innovative California efforts.)

Other counties, both in California and nationwide, simply don’t have San Francisco’s unique demographics or resources and therein lies the problem with replicating their results. A relatively small city, San Francisco has a population of only 837,442. Elsewhere in the state, Los Angeles County is a sprawling 4,084 square miles with 10 million people, and Fresno County is even larger, though its 6,011 square miles are mostly farm lands. Located in the fertile central valley, Fresno is the nation’s top agricultural producing county, and is home to 955,272 people, half of whom are Latino. Twenty-two percent of Fresno’s population are immigrants and, according to the University of Southern California Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, 37 percent of the county’s Latino immigrant adults are without documentation, making them even more vulnerable to lower wages, labor abuses, and other causes of “social instability.”

In 2011, Fresno County’s new cases of HIV spiked 73 percent over the previous five-year average. For nearly a decade, the county has also been struggling with an explosion of injection drug use under conditions much like those that sparked the rural HIV outbreak in Indiana. Injection drugs users are at an especially high risk for getting HIV, but often have difficulty accessing services that prevent HIV, such as mental health care, PrEP, and clean needles. Despite California’s needle exchange law, users report and studies show access remains extremely limited.

When the California Office of AIDS budget was disemboweled, Jena Adams, head of the HIV/AIDS team at the Fresno County Department of Public Health, says Fresno lost much of its funding for HIV testing and prevention. Efforts in those areas were already stymied by the rural nature of the county, says Adams, where few workers can take off time without losing income. Public transportation from farms and orchards to cities with HIV resources are also limited.

For years, Fresno struggled with the fact that many of those who came in for testing didn’t return for the results. Now they’ve started doing rapid tests, where clients can learn immediately if they are negative or positive. But the next step isn’t always as easy.when the HIV test is positive, there’s no RAPID response-style team to get folks connected with care. The spread out, rural nature of Fresno County also inhibits connecting clients with care quickly and many of Fresno’s population have difficulty accessing medical care due to language, insurance, and financial bar riers (and a culture of seeking medical intervention only for acute needs, rather than preventative care).

All that adds up to, as of 2013, a full 27 percent of all new HIV cases being simultaneously diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. Another 9 percent were diagnosed with AIDS soon afterwards. That means more than 1 in 3 (36 percent) people with HIV in Fresno weren’t diagnosed until after the disease had already progressed, irreparably damaging that person’s immune system, and making it far more difficult for them to achieve viral suppression.

Like Fresno, Los Angeles County is fighting an entirely different epidemic — and needs to use a different approach. While Adams says she can’t recall “the last time I’ve been made aware of a new transgender positive” in Fresno, Los Angeles has over 600 transgender people living with HIV, most of them women of color,

Two of the core elements to the San Francisco “miracle” model are Treatment as Prevention — getting those with HIV on treatment upon diagnosis, and reducing their viral load to a point where they can no longer transmit HIV to their partners — and increasing access to PrEP, the HIV prevention treatment in the form of a once-daily pill that’s nearly 100 percent effective when taken as prescribed. Fresno is still far from seeing the benefits of either PrEP or TasP and Los Angeles just began rolling out its first PrEP program this summer (leading the Los Angeles Times to quip, “Until this week, Los Angeles County hadn’t begun to spread the word and distribute the medicine despite being the second-largest epicenter of HIV and AIDS in the country”).

In 2004, and long before PrEP, the RAND corporation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention teamed up to help organizations and health departments estimate the relative cost- effectiveness of various HIV prevention strategies. They determined that exporting a successful prevention strategy from one location to another is actually quite difficult. This sums up the real potential that — even if a county is able to devote the same resources to the cause and adopt San Francisco’s method wholesale — it simply may not work. Replicating their method in different environments, with different demographics, and different barriers to care, may still be effective, but it may not be as effective as some other intervention.

Because of their 35 years in this fight, San Francisco now has the infrastructure in place to have a real chance at ending this epidemic. It’s likely that infrastructure is even more difficult to replicate than a pro-PrEP philosophy, a testing culture, patient-focused rapid medical care, the political will, and, of course, the funding to pay for it all.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Atlanta: Donald Trump would roll back Barack Obama’s orders on LGBT rights, his running mate Mike Pence has confirmed. The news comes from Trump’s Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence’s interview with Dr James Dobson’s Family Talk radio show, which aired earlier this week. President Obama last year signed an executive order outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity among federal contractors. Earlier this year his administration followed up with guidance to schools, urging them not to discriminate against transgender students. In the interview, Dobson asked Pence whether Obama’s guidance would be reversed. The VP candidate confirmed that the Republicans would roll back Obama’s orders so that transphobes can sabotage transgender child health and safety at schools.

Trump has claimed he would “consider” appointing ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices to repeal equal marriage, came out in favour of North Carolina’s anti-trans law, and confirmed he would sign a Republican-backed bill to directly permit religious homophobic and transphobic discrimination. On September 23, Trump confirmed he would sign the so-called First Amendment Defence Act, an anti-LGBT service provider discrimination authorisation bill. Pence has one of the worst records on LGBT rights of any candidate on a major party’s Presidential ticket in recent times. Pence previously suggested that HIV prevention funding be drained in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy, and earlier this year appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality. An investigation last month found that Pence approved extreme anti-LGBT articles when he was the head of the Indiana Policy Review journal in the 1990s. In an item published under his editorial tenure in the December 1993 issue, Pence’s journal criticised The Wall Street Journal for taking part in a job fair for gay journalists.

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

Belfast: Sinn Fein has signalled a fresh push to secure equal marriage in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is set to be the last place in the British Isles without equal marriage, as Scotland, England and Wales, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey have all passed marriage legislation. All progress continues to be blocked in Northern Ireland however, as the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party has employed peace process powers to veto marriage bills despite a Parliamentary majority in favour.

The DUP ran on a platform of ‘defending marriage’ in Assembly elections earlier this year and remains the largest party, so a resolution to the stalemate is not expected to be forthcoming.
However, Sinn Fein is this week attempting to resolve the impasse by seeking DUP support for a consultation on the issue, aiming towards an equal marriage bill that all parties can support.
Against all the odds, the Belfast News Letter reports Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir is hoping to secure DUP agreement to launch a consultation. He added that any legislation would include protection for religious bodies who object to same-sex marriage.

The DUP has rebuffed all previous attempts to resolve the stalemate on the issue, even rejecting plans to take the issue to a referendum as in the Republic. However, the party has faced criticism for blocking equal marriage via Petitions of Concern, a power designed to ensure cross-community power sharing, despite a clear majority of support across demographics.

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

Mosul: Iraqi forces are planning an assault to retake the ISIS stronghold of Mosul. The city, which has been occupied by Daesh since June 2014, has been central to their homophobic propaganda campaign. Many of the group’s ‘death to gays’ execution videos that have reverberated around the world were filmed in Mosul. The gory clips, dozens of which have been released over the past two years, feature men accused of homosexuality being thrown from rooftops in the city, and pelted with rocks by a crowd below. The terrorist group has been forced to retreat from many of its former strongholds in recent months, after coming under repeated fire from forces in both Iraq and Syria. This week, a major operation to reclaim the city was launched, with Kurdish peshmerga, Iraqi government and allied forces advancing on Mosul.

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

Amsterdam: Police in Amsterdam have received over 20 complaints about an anti-gay leaflet. The leaflet, which state that homosexuality is forbidden in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, has been distributed door to door in western parts of the city, according to Dutch News. As well as calling for the three religious groups to “unite” against homosexuality, it also displays some harmful made-up statistics, including one that claims that 29% of children raised by same-sex parents are sexually abused. The Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, and its capital city Amsterdam is known for being very liberal, but the beliefs expressed in the leaflet marks a direct challenge to these values. It states: “The moral responsibility for these children is all of ours for the coming generations. All Muslims, Christians and Jews must unite.”

The leaflet also quotes a line from Leviticus in The Bible, which states that homosexuality is an “abomination”, and quotes Romans 26-28, which refers to men being “burned in their lust toward one another”.

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

New York: In a “first of it’s kind” report by the UN, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein has concluded that LGBT people are victims of “pervasive violent abuse, harassment and discrimination” in all regions of the world. Citing hundreds of killings throughout the 160 page document, the report detailed the wide-spread violence and discrimination faced by LGBTQ people.

Among the report’s most disturbing findings was that there were 310 documented murders in Brazil “in which homophobia or transphobia was a motive”, with another 1,612 trans murders recorded in 62 countries between 2008 and 2014. It also discovered that at least 76 countries continue to implemenet anti-gay laws used to criminalise and persecute people on the basis of their sexuality and gender identity. The report made 24 recommendations, including a call for all states worldwide to decriminalise same-sex activity between consenting adults, ban ‘gay cure’ therapy and sterilisation of trans people, and to put in place legisaltion to protect LGBT people from discrimination. It also called for the international legal recognition of same-sex couples and their children as well as guaranteeing asylum for any LGBTI people whose lives may be in danger due to their sexuality, and ending forced genital and anal examinations as method of ‘proving’ whether or not someone is LGBT.

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

Adelaide: A South Australian Pentecostal church has broken ties with its former parent denomination in order to stand in solidarity with its LGBTI members. Activate Church announced on Sunday that it would no longer remain a member church of the over 1,1000 strong Australian Christian Churches (ACC) denomination, formerly known as the Assemblies of God. The church already had LGBTI members in leadership which put Activate Church outside the ACC’s position on human sexuality and the ACC’s recent affiliation with the anti-marriage equality group Marriage Alliance helped the church to make the decision to sever ties.

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

Ottawa: Changes to Canadian federal funding criteria have left dozens of HIV/AIDS organizations at risk of closing their doors or reducing services. Following two years of consultations, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) developed new priority populations for the $26.4 million fund it has earmarked for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The result is “destruction” among the organizations that provide services to Canadians with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, says Gary Lacasse, the executive director of the Canadian AIDS Society.

The AIDS Society, which has received funding for the past 25 years from PHAC, was one of the organizations not invited this year to submit a full proposal.

“It’s a blow,” Lacasse says, but vowed the AIDS Society will carry on despite the fact it’s always relied on PHAC for nearly half of its funding. “How we will continue still has to be looked at.”

While it’s too early to gauge the extent of the projects across the country that will be impacted, Lacasse says he’s heard from many organizations who were previously funded, who will now have to weigh whether or not they’ll be able to continue operating once their current funding runs out on March 31, 2017. PHAC received $63 million in funding requests from 224 Letters of Intent, according to Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr Gregory Taylor. Of those letters, 124 organizations were invited to submit full project proposals:

“It was a very difficult decision in terms of which of the organizations that we fund and which organizations that we do not fund. Yes, we’d certainly like to have more money,” he says.

PHAC’s priorities have expanded to include transgender people and sex workers, Taylor says. It’s also shifted to better reflect the variance in disease rates across the country, he adds, to focus on specific geographic locations it feels, “had more of a burden from those diseases.” One of the existing priorities is supporting Canada’s indigenous communities. Many organizations, including the Native Women’s Association of Canada as well as numerous First Nations friendship centres, were funded this year. However, the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) says it remains concerned about the amount of funding available for indigenous communities. CAAN was invited to submit its own proposal, says CEO Ken Clement ─ at 30 percent of its previous funding levels.

“Supporting our indigenous community is pivotal to turning the tide, now more than ever, when Canada is experiencing epidemic AIDS rates,” Clement said in a release. HIV rates in Saskatchewan are two times higher than the national rate.

Forty-one of the projects that will receive PHAC funding have not previously been funded by the Community Action Fund. And while Lacasse is pleased to see new players in the community, he says it shouldn’t have come at the expense of others.

“The money should have been increased to bring in these new players,” he says.

If previously-funded organizations and projects are forced to close, Lacasse worries those who seek their services will be left in the cold. “You know how much courage it takes for somebody to reach out to a community organization? To establish a relationship and to ask for care? That takes a lot,” he says. “So those people are going to be hitting a wall come April 1, with no supports. That’s the danger here.”

It’s Taylor’s hope that those involved with newly funded projects will work with existing organizations to ensure there are no gaps in service. CAF has a $600,000 contingency fund in case PHAC does identify gaps that need to be addressed, he notes. The funding changes mark a significant blow to the more than 250,000 Canadians living with hepatitis C, according to advocacy group Action Hepatitis Canada.

“What we’re concerned about is there’s not going to be a really good solid response . . . because the cuts are everywhere,” says chair Patricia Bacon.

The Pacific Hepatitis C Network in British Columbia was one of the organizations denied funding this year — a situation that president Daryl Luster calls “devastation.”

“We are very disappointed in the direction PHAC is taking and not only because of us but so many other good [organizations] which will not survive the next six months,” he says in an email.

The Canadian AIDS Society, the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network and Action Hepatitis Canada are urging the federal government and PHAC to return to “status quo” funding for one year and revisit the Community Action Fund funding process. In a joint release, the organizations said, “the renewed process would be required to have its goals and criteria posted publicly, and be based on consultations with both community organizations and people living with HIV and hepatitis C.”

The organizations also say PHAC should be working with the community to determine gaps in funding allocation. When asked for his response to the organizations who weren’t funded, Taylor recognizes that many organizations are not happy with the way PHAC has redistributed its funding. And despite concerns from across the country about the impact of the funding changes, Taylor says he doesn’t anticipate a decrease in service available to those with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted blood-borne infections.

“We hope that no organization closes,” he says.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Belfast: A Northern Irish politician has been ejected his role in his local Presbyterian church after nearly three decades, over same-sex marriage. Former Alliance leader and justice minister David Ford, who still sits as an MLA, has been public about his support for equal marriage despite the teachings of his faith. However, his pro-equality stance has not sat well with members of his church, the Second Donegore Presbyterian Church near Templepatrick . According to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Ford has been forced to step down as an elder at the church, because of objections to his stance on same-sex marriage. Despite the local-level action driven by the church’s congregation, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland leadership say he remains in good standing with them.Official Church policy remains opposed to “homosexual relationships”. Mr Ford has likened equal marriage to the battle for civil rights in the past.

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

Berlin: Germany has the largest LGBT population in Europe, according to research. The news comes from Berlin’s Dalia Research GmbH, which published the results of a Europe-wide EuroPulse study, which interviewed 10,000 people across 28 EU countries. According to the study, reported by Vice.de Germany leads Europe in terms of LGBT population size, with 7.4% of Germans identifying themselves as LGBT. When asked to place themselves on a Kinsey scale between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual, 10.9% of Germans said they weren’t exclusively straight. Across Europe, 5.9% defined as LGBT, and 8.6% indicated that they were not exclusively heterosexual. The figure represents a large spike in Germany from 2000, when just 1.3% of men identified as gay, 0.6% of women as lesbian.

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

New York: Republican Senator Ted Cruz is apparently worried that Hillary Clinton will make gender reassignment mandatory. Cruz, who came second to Donald Trump in the Republican primaries earlier this year, is on the extreme anti-LGBT wing of the Republican Party. This week, he tweeted a link to an article which warned about the impact of a Hillary Clinton administration, with precisely these ludicrous warnings, in the Conservative Review publication, but then swiftly erased the link when others objected.

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

London: Trans teens are committing suicide because the NHS is failing to provide appropriate treatment, experts warn. Mermaids, a group providing support for trans youth and families, hosted a seminar in which doctors and parents spoke about how Britain’s health service is failing in three key ways.
-Failing to keep pace with demand
-Not carrying out adequate risk assessment
-Ensure those in greatest distress were treated first

World trans authority Dr Norman Spack, a pediatric endocrinologist (or hormone doctor for children), warned the dangers of failure to treat trans teenagers. He said almost one in three trans individuals will attempt suicide if they do not receive treatment until after puberty.
A more recent study showed trans individuals who receive adequate treatment during puberty will lead to better mental health.
‘If your neighbor is bleeding, you should not stand idly by,’ Spack said, quoting Jewish philosopher Maimonides, and adding: ‘For trans people, the inevitable conclusion is that puberty is noxious.’

His program, copied in over 60 centers across the US, provides treatment including hormone blockers – ideally at the onset of puberty – and hormones for trans teens according to need and capacity to understand the implications of what was being done. Bernard Reed, of UK gender identity research group GIRES, and Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids said the present UK system lacks logic and imposes barriers to treatment that are both irrational and possibly unlawful.
Reed said: ‘It is imperative the NHS reduce delays in treatment, which are often the result not only of lack of resource, but of an inflexible application of one-size-fits-all protocols to every patient.

They need to improve GP training and service provision: and they must stop punishing patients who fail to conform to the rigid requirements set by existing gender identity services.’
Green revealed how the NHS had treated her transgender daughter and their insistence she ‘first undergo a full male puberty before they were prepared to consider her for any treatment’.
Both Reed and Green rejected the current protocols that state, regardless of the young person’s needs and readiness, required fixed intervals before hormone blockers could be administered. The NHS also requires puberty blockers be in place for a year before gender affirming hormones can be considered. Gender affirming hormones can only be given at around age 16.
Referring to this as ‘cruel and unnecessary’, Green said: ‘Puberty can become a nightmare, both because of how teens perceive it, and because of the way their contemporaries react to them with bullying and abuse.
‘This, combined with a lack of treatment, leads them to drop out of school. However, not attending school becomes, in many instances, a reason for not providing treatment.’
We asked the NHS to respond to allegations of difficulties both in respect of capacity and of over-rigid process.

An NHS spokesperson told Gay Star News: ‘Demand for gender identity services among children and adolescents has risen sharply in recent years as young people feel more able to come forward for support. NHS funding for gender identity services has gone up over the last two years and will continue to do so. We are also working with the providers of gender identity services to increase capacity and reduce waiting times as matter of urgency. One of the constraints is the time it takes to train extra staff for these very specialist services, and we are working with Health Education England and professional bodies to address this situation.’

They declined to answer questions about limitations in the current process, and punitive measures taken towards those who did not fit into existing protocols. Polly Carmichael, gender identity development service director and consultant clinical psychologist at the Tavistock Centre, commented on the gender identity guidelines for the service.
‘There’s no pre-set outcomes and coming to the service doesn’t mean young people will take one, pre-prescribed pathway. Age is not a determining factor for hormone blockers but young people and their families take part in a comprehensive psychological and social assessment. In cases where a young person fulfills the criteria for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and is in the early stages of puberty, a referral to the endocrine clinic will be considered with the young person and their family. This referral would follow a comprehensive psychological and social assessment. ‘

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: More than 70% of British LGBT doctors and dentists say they’ve experience homophobia in the NHS. The figure comes from a new survey commissioned by the British Medical Association and the Association of LGBT Doctors & Dentists, which asked 803 doctors and dentists about the discrimination they’ve faced. 70% of respondents say they’ve experienced ‘environmental’ homophobia, which stops short of harassment but includes experiences such as ‘having assumptions made about you’ or ‘feeling unable to talk about your private life’. The survey also found that 12% of doctors and dentists have experienced serious harassment or abuse over their sexuality, and that only a quarter of those had reported the incident to a senior colleague.

One respondent, a hospital consultant named Dominic, said that he was “shocked at the level of ignorance” that he encountered at work when he transitioned.

He added: “I don’t think the NHS is an LGBT-friendly environment. There are pockets of understanding, pockets of openness but there is a large degree of hostility.” BMA representative body chair Anthea Mowat said the association are committed to doing “everything in [their] power” to tackle homophobia in the workplace. She said: “The experiences related in this report show us that too many of our colleagues are still experiencing the NHS as a less than supportive place to work and be themselves.”

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

Brussels: PrEP Access In Europe, a report provided by the PrEP in Europe Initiative [PiEi], a coalition of leading HIV organisations that includes NAM, has called for European governments to make the HIV preventative drug PrEP available to those at imminent risk as a matter of urgency.

In a new report published this week, PiEi also call on governments to provide more information about PrEP and make it widely available to the public, so they can fully comprehend the advantages of the drug themselves. The European Centre for Disease Control estimate that in 2016 at least 30,000 people will be infected with HIV in the European Union, and 140,000 in the whole of the European region. This works out at around 80 infections a day in the EU, with two-thirds of those among gay men.

PiEi also call on the European Commission to approve existing and forthcoming positive recommendations on generic versions of Truvada from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) without delay and a continuation of funding for co-ordinated programmes of HIV prevention research. Europe is home to the fastest growing epidemic of HIV in the world and, according to PiEi, is lagging behind in terms of HIV prevention.

“PrEP has arrived in Europe,” the report concludes, “But in too many cases it is being taken without medical supervision and on an ad-hoc basis that could undermine its proven effectiveness. The official authorities are playing catch up, and failing in their duty to protect public health.”

After the FDA approved PrEP in the US in 2012, several countries around the world including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kenya, France, Peru, South Africa and Thailand have begun processing the introduction of the drug for people at high risk of HIV. A number of the European countries, in particular France, Norway, Sweden and the UK, have national agencies that are able to authorise new medications before or independently of EMA approval. The Norwegian Medicine Agency is expected to approve Truvada, a fixed-dose combination of two antiretroviral drugs used for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, for use as PrEP in late summer 2016, while the Swedish Medical Products Agency is expected to announce a decision on PrEP in October.

Many of these new infections could be averted by the introduction of PrEP; yet to date the only European country in which PrEP is available from the national health system is France. The report also suggests that those with enough money and access to a sympathetic physician are able to access Truvada by paying the cost price of around 500-850 euros/month for a 30-pill bottle. Those without the capability to pay are accessing it from places where they know Truvada is readily available, which is not always the easiest task.

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

Alabama: Alabama’s most powerful justice was bounced from his job last month after being convicted of blocking marriage equality — now, after being ordered to pack up his office, he’s refusing. Suspended chief justice Roy Moore says he shouldn’t have to remove the expensive items from his office because he’s appealing the ruling of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Acting chief justice Lyn Stuart disagrees, saying Moore needs to remove his belongings, which include a giant grandfather clock and portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Moore believes he’ll win his appeal and be allowed to return to the bench, though that looks very unlikely.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

New York: Prominent Trump-backing radio host Dennis Prager has claimed that it is a “left-wing lie” to say straight people get AIDS. he nationally syndicated radio talk show host, an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, made the claims at the Western Conservative Summit.

London: A Parliamentary inquiry into the rules around gay men donating blood has been launched.Currently in the UK, men who have sex with men are only able to donate blood if they abstain from sex for 12 months. Campaigners say that the rules are inconsistent with modern HIV screening technology, with some favouring a system based on individual risk as operated in other countries. Today, the MP for Glasgow South Stewart McDonald chaired an evidence session in Parliament on the issue, as the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Blood Donation begins an inquiry into the rules. The inquiry will seek to inform and provide policy recommendations to the current exclusion of gay men under current blood donation guidelines.

There is a body of evidence which shows the 12-month deferral period for Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) donating blood could be reduced to 3 months and we want to explore all restrictions on donation to ensure as many people as possible are able to do this life-saving act.
“We’re looking forward to taking further evidence later this year.”
Further sessions will look to compile evidence and produce a report on how to ensure as much safe blood as possible is donated. Current figures suggest, only 4 per cent of people in the UK regularly donate blood. Last year, public health minister Jane Ellison MP confirmed the Department of Health would carry out its own review of the policy.
However, the government review is being conducted behind closed doors. The APPG on Blood Donation was launched in March to enable public consultation on the issue and inform a new policy which will ensure people who are able to safely donate blood can do so. The current restriction applies to sexual orientation, rather than to sexual activity.
A gay man who practices safe sex with one partner cannot donate blood whereas a heterosexual person who has unsafe sex with a multitude of partners has no such restrictions on donating blood. The APPG will also consider current restrictions relating to a lifetime ban for those who have ever injected drugs or those who have ever had sex for money.

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

Canberra: In the end, the ceremony was a fizzer. Fourteen long months after the same-sex marriage plebiscite first emerged from its Coalition party room cocoon, it passed the House of Representatives with barely a whimper or cheer. Maybe that’s because, from every indication, the bill that could finally see marriage equality become reality in Australia is destined for doom in the Senate, where the Turnbull government does not control the numbers.Leader of the House Christopher Pyne opted to gag debate on the plebiscite and bring on the vote, which passed 76 to 67. Warren Entsch, a veteran gay rights advocate in the Coalition, abandoned his usual backbench seat for a spot in the front row. Gay Liberal MP Tim Wilson, a plebiscite sceptic-turned-enthusiast, sat next to Queensland’s maverick Bob Katter, who voted with the government. Independent Andrew Wilkie and the Nick Xenophon Team’s Rebekah Sharkie joined with Labor to oppose the public vote. The Greens’ Adam Bandt, also a staunch opponent, was absent on paternity leave.

But for a bill with such a tortured past, that has at times threatened to rip apart the Coalition, there was little celebration in seeing it finally notch up a success. On the expected numbers, the plebiscite will not pass the Senate. Labor has committed to blocking it, along with the Greens and the Nick Xenophon trio (and the Liberal Party’s own Dean Smith, who has vowed to at least abstain). If nothing changes, that will be enough to kill it off.

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

London: On October 19, the British government announced that up to 75,000 men who were convicted of now-abolished anti-gay sexual offences will receive pardons. The move comes three years after the government committed to pardoning all men convicted of consensual sex with other men in 2013, after World War Two hero Alan Turing received a posthumous pardon in 2013. While men who have since passed away will be automatically pardoned, those who are living must still apply through the Home Office to have their name cleared through a “disregard process”, before receiving their pardon. Justice Minister Sam Gimyah described the move as “hugely important”, while the announcement has been welcomed by MPs from all parties, including out lesbian Labour MP, Angela Eagle, who described the announcement as “great news,” but added that she will be supporting a bill to have convictions completely overturned.Veteran LGBT rights campaigner George Montague, who was convicted of homosexual acts in 1974, appeared on BBC’s Newsnight last night to explain why he couldn’t accept a pardon.

“To accept a pardon means you accept that you were guilty. I was not guilty of anything. I was only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the 93-year-old Attitude Pride Award winner said.

“I think it was wrong to give Alan Turing – one of the heroes of my life – a pardon. What was he guilty of? He was guilty of the same as what they called me guilty of – being born only able to fall in love with another man. If I get an apology, I will not need a pardon.”

Montague added that there “never should have been an offence of gross indecency”, saying: “It didn’t apply to heterosexuals. Heterosexuals could do what they liked, in the doorways, in passageways, the back of their car. It only applied to gay men. That’s not right, surely?”

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

Chicago: The need for PrEP to be used in conjunction with condoms was highlighted this Tuesday (October 18) when scientists announced that a second man taking the daily HIV-prevention pill had contracted a rare, drug-resistant strain of the virus. The patient is a gay man, who had been taking Tuvada daily since January 2016, BuzzFeed reports. According to HIV specialist Howard Grossman, who presented the findings at the 2016 Research for Prevention conference in Chicago, the levels of tenofovir and emtricitabine – the active drugs in the pill – were high enough to provide near-complete protection from the virus.

The man has a long-term, HIV-undetectable partner, but said that they have had condomless sexual encounters with men outside of the relationship. Experts have deduced that the virus was transmitted from one of these encounters, as the patient’s strain did not match that of his partners. While the results may seem alarming, Mitchell Warren, executive director of HIV advocacy group AVAC, told BuzzFeed News that this is only the second case out of someone contracting HIV while on PrEP out of “hundreds of thousands” of patients.

“We know PrEP is not 100% effective, and that’s something we need to be saying loudly and clearly. Truthfully, PrEP is the best intervention we’ve ever had to prevent HIV. I don’t think we’re going to see some huge explosion of failures. I think it’s going to be a sort of trickle, if anything. We have now seen hundreds of thousands of people on oral PrEP, and we’ve only seen two cases of so-called breakthrough infections. We know PrEP is not 100% effective, and that’s something we need to be saying loudly and clearly.”

Warren also suggested that more needs to be done to track drug-resistant HIV. “This is a virus that’s been around for 35 years — it’s so variable and mutates so rapidly — and that’s one of the biggest challenges for developing any prevention,” he explained. Meanwhile, HIV charities are continuing to pressure the government to provide PrEP for at-risk groups here in the UK, with the National AIDS Trust having recently begun a legal battle against NHS England, who refuse to accept responsibility for providing PrEP.

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

London: The UK government today announced it would pardon men convicted of historical gay sex offences but for many people around the world, the laws are far from history. The government today announced that thousands of gay and bisexual men who were convicted under historical anti-gay laws will be posthumously pardoned, creating a Turing’s Law.
However, around the world, anti-gay laws originating in Britain aren’t an archaic part of history – they are an archaic part of the present. Many Commonwealth countries continue to enforce penal codes that were first introduced under the British Empire, and never repealed. In total 40 out of the 53 Commonwealth member states still criminalise homosexuality – from Barbados to Saint Lucia, Sri Lanka to Tonga. India’s government has resisted a push to decriminalise homosexuality, after the country’s Supreme Court restored their Colonial-era penal code in 2013.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland. recently said the Commonwealth needs to build a consensus on the issue.
She said: “What we have to accept is that this [decriminalising homosexuality] is something that will depend on consensus. We do not have the right or opportunity to force states, but we can start a really good conversation to work with them so they understand the economic issues in relations to human rights and make the change. The one thing I have to do is to build consensus and trust and I can hope it will be on the Commonwealth Agenda.”

The UK government recently praised reform in the Seychelles, after it agreed to do so.

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

Jakarta: The President of Indonesia has broken his silence on the country’s rising political culture of homophobia, finally insisting that LGBT people must be protected.
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo made his first comments on Indonesia’s escalating anti-LGBT violence, calling on the police to protect endangered citizens.“The police must act [to protect them],” Jokowi told the BBC. “There should be no discrimination against anyone.”
That doesn’t mean he’s a staunch support of the community however, as he clarified that “in terms of our beliefs, [the LGBT lifestyle] isn’t allowed, Islam does not allow it.”
Violence against the country’s LGBT population has been rising over the last few months, while the police have cracked down as well. Just this month, a gay couple were arrested for a Facebook photo of them kissing.

The anti-LGBT culture has been led in part by a number of the country’s politicians, who have even blocked Grindr and 80 other gay websites and apps in a crackdown on “deviant propaganda.”
“Jokowi’s long-overdue statement in support of LGBT nondiscrimination is a breath of fresh air as Indonesian officials and politicians continue their abusive and ill-informed homophobic onslaught,” said Kyle Knight, LGBT researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“A logical next step would be to repeal discriminatory anti-LGBT directives [by government institutions].”
While Jokowi has remained silent until now, his spokesperson has previously issued a statement in opposition to the country’s LGBT populace.
He said: “Rights of citizens like going to school and getting an ID card are protected, but there is no room in Indonesia for the proliferation of the LGBT movement.”

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

Oslo: Norway is sending a bold message to the world by becoming the first country to make HIV-preventing PrEP drugs available through its National Health Service. Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce the risk of being infected with HIV by up to 86% if taken daily, and has been endorsed by the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for at-risk men who have sex with men (MSM).

It is already available in a number of countries including the United States, Canada, South Africa and France. Norway has this week become the second country in Europe to make PrEP available, announcing that PrEP drugs will be available free of charge to at-risk groups via its National Health Scheme. According to HIV Norway, Minister for Health and Social Care Bent Høie announced the move, making Norway the first country in the world to make the drug free for users. The decision by the minister is taken on recommendations from the Health Directorate and the Institute of Public Health. It is a result of two years of lobbying by HIV Norway – the national organisation for people living with HIV.
Leif-Ove Hansen, the president of HIV Norway, said: “PrEP will contribute to reducing the rate of new infections in the gay community, as gay men are facing a risk of infection much higher than the general population.
“Condom use is on the decline, and we are happy that PrEP now is an integrated part of the public health service.”

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

Bucharest: Romania’s president and Prime Minister have clashed over the rights of same-sex couples in the country.
In a speech on Wednesday, the National Liberal Party leader Klaus Johannis has called for tolerance and acceptance for minorities as the country considers banning same-sex marriage, noting he himself was part of two minorities as he is ethnically German and Lutheran, in a primarily Christian Orthodox country.
Today (20 October), Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș voiced his support for the ‘traditional family’.
‘It’s important to reiterate one thing I believe: You have to go back to the tolerance and acceptance of each other,’ Johannis said when asked where he stands on the possible ban of same-sex marriage.
‘We are not all the same, all ethnic and religious groups.’
At the same time, he made a strong statement against religious fanaticism, saying it was ‘wrong to give obedience and walk the path’ of extreme faith.
‘I don’t believe or support them,’ he said.
‘I believe in tolerance, trust and openness towards each other.’
Johannis also said if being Christian meant leaning towards fanaticism they were sending ‘a wrong signal’; it would also not help society.
Vlad Viski, the president of MozaiQ, a LGBTI rights organization in Romania, told Gay Star News:
‘Klaus Iohannis’ comments are a first for Romania. For the first time, a major politician is coming out in support of diversity.
‘However, his comments don’t go as far as we want, as Iohannis did not specify that he is referring to the LGBTI community, he avoided using a direct reference to LGBTI people. The prime minister of Romania, Dacian Cioloș, however, came out today in support of the so-called “traditional family”, which is disappointing and shows that the struggle of LGBTI people is far from over.’

Source: htt://www.gaystarnews.com

London: A bill that would have wiped clean the criminal records of thousands of gay men has fallen at its first parliamentary hurdle. The private member’s bill would have pardoned all men living with UK convictions for same-sex offences committed before the law was changed. There were emotional scenes with one MP fighting back tears during his speech. The government, which has its own plans for posthumous pardons, “talked out” the bill, which will not now go ahead. Minister Sam Gyimah spoke for 25 minutes, reaching the time limit allotted for the debate.

On October 19, the British government announced that up to 75,000 men who were convicted of now-abolished anti-gay sexual offences will receive automatic posthumous pardons. However, the move did not extend to those who are still alive, must still apply through the Home Office to have their name cleared through a “disregard process”, before receiving their pardon.

SNP MP John Nicolson had introduced the bill to extend automatic posthumous pardons – officially announced by the government yesterday – to living victims. He had previously explained his decision to the BBC’s Daily Politics, saying: “It’s great to forgive all the people who are now dead, but it’s kind of sentimental. I’m more interested in forgiving the people who are still alive, and have lived with this for decades.”

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

Dallas: A year ago, Jason Thomas received a letter from Watermark Community Church telling him he was no longer welcome there. The letter explained that the church had recognised a “destructive pattern” that they believed would prohibit them from welcoming him – namely his “desire to participate in same-sex relationships with another man”. Jason had attended the church’s Re:Generation program, which attempted to ‘cure’ him of his same-sex attractions, but stopped going when he was unable to get rid of his feelings towards his boyfriend.

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

Global: One in three people around the world believe in marriage equality, according to a new survey. The research, conducted by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA), asked almost 100,000 people in 65 countries for their opinions on LGBT rights. It found that 32% of people believe same-sex marriage should be legal everywhere, 45% believe it shouldn’t be legal, and the remaining 23% say they don’t know or are unsure. The survey also found that, at a global average, 67% of the world either strongly or somewhat agrees that human rights should be applied to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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

Ottawa: The Canadian federal government has announced it will finally introduce regulations under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) to govern sperm and egg donation, as well as surrogacy, a move that could have important ramifications for LGBT couples who are planning to have children. The announcement was made on Sept 30, 2016, and government is accepting comments on the act until Nov 29. The AHRA was introduced in 2004 by the Martin government in response to ethical concerns around then-emerging reproductive and genetic technologies. While the act formally banned the creation of clones, chimeras and hybrids — acts that for now remain the realm of science fiction — it also restricted activities that have become more common, including sperm and egg donation and surrogacy. Much of the act was repealed in 2012 by the Conservatives under Stephen Harper, after a 2010 Supreme Court judgment ruled that many of its provisions stepped over into provincial jurisdiction.

However, sections of the act that restrict donors and surrogates from being paid for their services still remain in force. Under the law, they can only be reimbursed for expenses that are enumerated under regulations that were never brought into force. LGBT parenting advocates hope that the new regulations will clarify a legal grey area that many families and service providers have been operating under for years.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: Gun violence is nothing new for the US LGBT community. Between 2012 and 2015, of the 88 LGBT people who lost their lives due to anti-LGBT violence, more than half (47) were shot to death. While these overall numbers may seem small, on a per capita basis LGBT people are much more likely to be the targets of violence than other groups covered in federal hate-crimes law. This violence ― and other types of anti-LGBT discrimination ― is associated with greater mental health burden and, in turn, higher rates of suicide among LGBT people than the general population. Both hate violence and suicide are more deadly when guns are involved. That’s why LGBT individuals and organizations should embrace enactment of a reasonable gun control agenda as a top priority in ensuring the safety of the LGBT community.

Much of the public’s focus on gun control is to prevent massacres like the one that took place in June at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando when 49 people, most of them Latino gay men, were murdered. But of the 33,000 people who are shot to death each year, about 21,000 die by suicide and 11,700 die by homicide. The burden of gun violence falls disproportionately on marginalized populations, and that includes LGBT people.

Studies routinely show that sexual and gender minority Americans report substantially higher rates of suicide attempts than their cisgender and heterosexual peers. The overall U.S. population has a 4.6 percent lifetime suicide attempt rate, but more than 40 percent of transgender adults and 10 percent to 20 percent of sexual minority adults report having attempted suicide at least once in their lives. Stricter gun control laws will not change these shockingly high rates of suicide attempts among LGBT people. But gun control measures enacted at the state level, such as more comprehensive background checks and promotion of safer gun design and storage, strongly correlate with lower suicide rates ― and that can save LGBT lives.

LGBT people are more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other group in America. In 2014, 18.6 percent of reported hate crimes were perpetrated on the basis of the victim’s sexual orientation and 1.8 percent were perpetrated on the basis of the victim’s gender identity. Anti-LGBT hate crimes are also more violent and result in hospitalization more often than those based on race, religion, or disability. In 2015, 15 percent of anti-LGBT hate crimes were classified as aggravated assaults, meaning a gun or other deadly weapon was used. Hate violence claims the lives of LGBT people at a disproportionate rate, especially LGBT people of color, transgender women, and gay men.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: The proportion of LGBT students living in fear of hate crimes has risen in the past year, polling has shown. YouGov polling published ahead of this Saturday’s LGBT Leaders Conference in London revealed that there has been a sharp rise in concern about sexuality-related hate crimes over the past 12 months. The figures show that more than one third (37%) of LGBT university students are worried about hate crime as a result of their sexual orientation – nearly a two-fold increase from 2015, when the figure on last year’s figure of 19%. Nearly one quarter (23%) of LGBT students are also worried about workplace discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation, up from 11%.

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

London: A seven year old ‘boy’ (?sic) has been taken from the custody of ‘his’ (?) mother because she was raising ‘him’ as a girl. The situation has pitted the UK transgender youth group Mermaids against the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Mermaids has refused to accept the removal and has started a petition against the removal, slamming the UK High Court’s decision as transphobic and not based on firm evidence from developmental psychology, pediatrics and endocrinology, and charges that the informant in this context was acting ‘maliciously.’ Whether the child was diagnosed with gender dysphoria is uncertain.

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

Washington DC: The LGBT Republican “Log Cabin Republicans” refuse to back Donald Trump as ‘their’ party’s presidential candidate.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Ottawa: At long last, after years of debate , a Canadian antidiscrimination bill amendment that adds protection for transgender and non-binary people within the Canada Human Rights Act and hate-speech legislation is underway. Bill C-16 had its first parliamentary debate on October 18, 2016, and passed its second reading.

Bill C-16 passed 248-40, with unanimous support from the Liberals and centre-left New Democrat Party (NDP), after almost four hours of debate. C-16 will eventually be studied by the justice select committee, and will likely reach the Canadian Senate by the end of 2016.

Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, who supported the bill, gave her party a free or conscience vote, as the party’s ongoing leadership primary competition causes splits between social conservatives and libertarians within the party. MP Brad Trost, who is seeking to lead the party on a social-conservative platform, twice raised the 1995 dispute involving Kimberly Nixon, a Vancouver transgender woman whom the TERF-dominated Vancouver Rape Crisis Centre barred from volunteering. “This is a big-government solution to a problem that does not exist,” Trost says.

Conservative MP Peter Kent said Bill C-16 is unnecessary, as human rights tribunals have already considered transgender cases under the category of “sex”, as in New Zealand But pro-trans fellow Conservative Cathy McLeod countered that the law still has loopholes that could affect non-binary people.

Conservative MP Harold Albrecht warns the Liberals are going to “legislate ideological conformity” and “impose a cultural shift in our very understanding of human sexuality.” Albrecht says the bill would have an impact “on faith communities, on immigrant groups who, by and large, are not open with this idea of gender fluidity.”

Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall says the bill “gives unfair advantage” to trans people in hate-speech legislation, and would create “a lack of respect for different views and choices.” She says making bathrooms gender-neutral would create conflicts that business would have to resolve. “Would a pervert possibly be kicked out? Where does the onus of responsibility lie?”

Wagantall also alluded to possibly discriminating against customers, in an unspecific statement in the House: “As a small-business owner in a small family community, we have respectfully indicated to a customer that we could not provide them the services they requested. Fortunately, they understood. Our consultation with a lawyer affirmed that we have the right to determine who our clientele is.”

NDP MP Randall Garrison, who previously introduced similar legislation to protect trans people, says the bathroom-bill issue is “the most significant red herring concerning transgender rights [that] has been shown to have no basis in fact.”

“Frankly, I believe its persistence is a sign of the very transphobia we are trying to address in this bill,” he told the House.

Introduced on May 17, 2016, Bill C-16 would also compel judges to consider a victim’s “gender identity or expression” as possible aggravating factors when sentencing people who have committed hate-motivated crimes. It would also formalize protections for trans people in the military and the federal government.

The bill follows a handful of private member’s bills that the House had already passed before it collapsed through election calls and Senate amendments. As a government bill, it is much more likely to become a law.

In the Oct 18 debate, NDP MPs pressed Liberals to tell their Senate colleagues to support Bill C-16. MP Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet also asked the government to limit the bill’s committee debate to just one day, which would likely prompt outcry from the other parties. The government would not say when the committee’s study will start, nor how long it will last.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Alabama: Alabama’s most powerful justice was bounced from his job last month after being convicted of blocking marriage equality — now, after being ordered to pack up his office, he’s refusing. Suspended chief justice Roy Moore says he shouldn’t have to remove the expensive items from his office because he’s appealing the ruling of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Acting chief justice Lyn Stuart disagrees, saying Moore needs to remove his belongings, which include a giant grandfather clock and portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Moore believes he’ll win his appeal and be allowed to return to the bench, though that looks very unlikely.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

New York: Prominent Trump-backing radio host Dennis Prager has claimed that it is a “left-wing lie” to say straight people get AIDS. he nationally syndicated radio talk show host, an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, made the claims at the Western Conservative Summit.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Belfast: The fundamentalist Christian owners of a Northern Ireland bakery have lost their appeal against a ruling that their refusal to make a “gay cake” was discriminatory. Appeal court judges said that, under law, the bakers were not allowed to provide a service only to people who agreed with their religious beliefs. Two years ago, the family-run firm refused to make a cake iced with the slogan: “Support Gay Marriage”. The order was placed at its Belfast shop by gay rights activist Gareth Lee. The firm argued that the cake’s message was against the bakers’ religious views.
Reacting to the ruling, Daniel McArthur from Ashers said he was “extremely disappointed” adding that it undermined “democratic freedom, religious freedom and free speech”.
“If equality law means people can be punished for politely refusing to support other people’s causes then equality law needs to change. “We had served Mr Lee before and we would be happy to serve him again. The judges accepted that we did not know that Mr Lee was gay and that he was not the reason we declined the order. We have always said it was not about the customer, it was about the message.”

The judges also said that Ashers would not have objected to a cake carrying the message: “Support Heterosexual Marriage” or indeed “Support Marriage”.
“We accept that it was the use of the word ‘gay’ in the context of the message which prevented the order from being fulfilled,” they saiThe reason that the order was cancelled was that the appellants would not provide a cake with a message supporting a right to marry for those of a particular sexual orientation. This was a case of association with the gay and bisexual community and the protected personal characteristic was the sexual orientation of that community.The judges said that in the course of the hearing, concern was expressed about the role of the Equality Commission in the pursuit of the case.

They said that they had been assured that the commission was available to give advice and assistance to those such as the appellants “who may find themselves in difficulties as a result of their deeply held religious beliefs. The only correspondence to the appellants that we have seen, however, did not include any offer of such assistance and may have created the impression that the commission was not interested in assisting the faith community where issues of this sort arose,” they added. The judges said it “should not have been beyond the capacity of the commission to provide or arrange for the provision of advice to the appellants at an earlier stage and we would hope that such a course would be followed if a situation such as this were to arise.’

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

London: UKIP leadership hopeful John Rees-Evans has said it was a “mistake” when he claimed a “homosexual donkey” tried to rape his horse in 2015.

“It was a bit of playful banter with a mischievous activist,” he explained to BBC’s Daily Politics show today (October 24) as he announced his bid for the top job in the political party . I’m sorry if i offended anyone in doing that.”

In 2015, when Rees-Evans was running for the Cardiff South and Penarth parliamentary seat, he was filmed being asked if he felt it was right that “some homosexuals prefer sex with animals”.

He replied with: “Actually, I’ve witnessed that,” Rees-Evans said. “I’ve got a horse and it was there in the field. And a donkey came up, which was male, and I’m afraid tried to rape my horse.”

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

Atlanta: The Human Rights Campaign has today released a moving new video emphasising the importance of voting to ensure the repeal of discriminatory laws like HB2 in North Carolina. The video features elderly lesbian couple Lennie Gerber and Pearl Berlin, who have been together for 50 years.“HB2 is totally unconstitutional. It has cost us millions and millions of dollars. Every single vote counts and you can’t say ‘Well my vote doesn’t count.’ It does,” says Lennie in the video.

House Bill 2, also referred to as HB2, is best-known for advocating tough new restrictions on bathroom use in North Carolina, affecting the local trans community.

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

Melbourne: Transgender teenager Georgie Stone wants to end court interference for trans youth seeking medication in Australia, describing it as ‘dangerous’. Young trans people currently wishing to access stage two cross hormone treatment must go through a costly Family Court process to do so. The process, which can cost up to $30,000, creates financial, legal, and geographical roadblocks that can make it difficult or impossible for trans youth to actually receive the treatment.
“I’m trying to raise awareness and rally against court interference for trans young people, because they still have to go to court to access stage two treatment. We need to rally support and get that out of the courts because it’s really dangerous.”

Earlier this year Stone started a petition addressing parliament about access to stage two treatment.

And while the court process is still in place, she said the community shouldn’t give up and should always ask for help if they need it.

“It’s so important – the gender service at the Royal Children’s Hospital is a great place to get help. If not just make sure you have support around you and talk to people. Speaking up can be hard, I know, but it’s a really important thing to do and will help a lot.”

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

Atlanta: Earlier this month, Time magazine reported that InterVarsity USA, an influential Christian organization with chapters on 667 college campuses, was planning to fire all its employees who support same-sex marriage. InterVarsity immediately responded on social media, calling the article “wrong” and suggesting that there was no story to report, because InterVarsity’s views hadn’t changed.

It was a blatantly misleading response. The new policy is real, and as Time accurately noted, it concerns employees’ moral and theological views on marriage, not civil marriage policies. InterVarsity is “involuntarily terminating” staff who do not agree with the “substance and conclusions” of a new 20-page theological document — one that says, among other things, that “same-sex relationships,” including marriage, are morally wrong.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent report showed a growing and alarmingly large increase in STIs in 2015, especially in gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. This may seem shocking to some, and will invariably lead to rhetoric stigmatizing and blaming the rise of STIs among certain groups in particular on the rising use of PrEP. (Although experts have already said that’s not true, as STI rates began rising long before PrEP became more widely used).

This explosion in transmission rates did not occur in a vacuum. It’s no accident that the rise of and popularity of the Donald Trump/Mike Pence presidential ticket is happening concurrently with skyrocketing STI rates.

Here’s why we’re in this dilemma. No one actually reads beyond headlines anymore. No one educates themselves. People often feel their opinions are just as valid as facts. How many times have you seen a response on a Facebook post that says something to this effect of “I didn’t read this [article you posted] but here’s my knee jerk, poorly written and argued [ad hoc, unimformed] opinion on what I think about the headline I just looked at. #ijs [I'm just sayin'].” We’ve already seen this lack of concern for fact-checking in the national primary and presidential debates, to the point that major news outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post are covering which candidate was actually lying on their front pages. And it’s accounted for so many poorly written, poorly structured, false equivalency statements by virtually every major news outlet that I’ve lost count.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Washington DC: Intimate partner violence is definitely an LGBT problem, and for LGBT people, identity plays a part in the violence they face in relationships. The group responsible for collecting data on LGBT intimate partner violence thinks that identity markers like race, gender identity. and disability status also play a key role. The network of nationwide service providers released its somber annual report Tuesday, compiling the instances of intimate partner violence reported by LGBT people in 2015. Though there were fewer instances of violence reported, the data indicates there is still a higher than normal risk for people who are LGBT, especially if they hold other marginalized identities.

The 2015 Report on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence highlighted physical and psychological trauma experienced by LGBT people across the country. The report also shows that marginalized groups, like people of color, transgender people, and people with disabilities have an increased risk for violence in romantic relations.

More people with disabilities reported intimate partner violence in 2015 than in 2014, with 9 percent of victims reporting having a disability. People with disabilities were also twice as likely to be isolated by their partner or subject to financial violence.

People of color accounted for over half of the reported instances of violence, and 77 percent of the homicide victims reported were people of color. All of the transgender women of color reported killed in 2015 were black or Latina.

Transgender women were three times as likely as other to experience physical and financial violence, according to the report. Waters explains that because groups like transgender women, people with disabilities, and LGBT people of color are already disproportionately affected by economic hardship, this type of violence becomes more prevalent.

Additionally, the report found discrepancies in services available for LGBT survivors. Despite the Violence Against Women Act being reauthorized in 2013 to with a proviion to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the reality is less affirming.

“We know that LGBTQ survivors across the country have a really hard time accessing domestic violence resources that are affirming in their identity,” says Waters. Forty-four percent of respondents indicate being denied shelter services, and 77 percent of those say it was because of their gender identity.

Waters says that some programs still operate under the very archaic model of what intimate partner violence looks like, dealing with cisgender men as aggressors and cisgender women as victims.

“We have to start expanding our understanding of intimate partner violence, so that these kinds of unique experiences can fit into the services and the ways that we talk about intimate partner violence,” Waters says.

Another finding showed that when LGBT survivors interacted with law enforcement during incidents, nearly a third of survivors were actually arrested incorrectly, and a quarter reported police as being “indifferent or hostile.”

“We’re often trying to think about is how do we shift away from automatically assuming that people can interact or should interact with law enforcement, and what are some of the other mechanisms that we can use where survivors feel safe,” says Waters.

In total, LGBT survivors reported 1,976 incidents of intimate partner violence last year to 17 NCAVP member organizations from 14 states across the country. Violence reported includes not only physical acts but emotional, psychological, and financial ones, such as threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking, or verbal harassment.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Edinburgh: The boss of one of Scotland’s best-known hotels has apologised after he bragged about never knowingly employing a gay person. Stewart Spence MBE, the owner of five-star Aberdeen hotel the Marcliffe, was alleged to have made the comments at the Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland (HITS) event last week.

United Kingdom: A transgender man was refused service in a Tescos supermarket because the staff didn’t believe the female ID belonged to him. Charlie Diesel, 19, was refused service without explanation when he attempted to buy tobacco with his passport.

London: A UK Christian Right legal group is defending a family who refuse to accept their transgender teenage son and claim he needs treatment for “gender confusion”.
The UK-based family, none of whom cannot be identified for legal reasons, are locked in a battle with their local authority over their transgender son Gary (identity changed to preserve anonymity)

The fundamentalist family refuse to acknowledge their son’s chosen name and gender, claiming that the 14-year-old is mentally ill and can be ‘cured’. Social Services and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) became involved in the case when Gary attempted to escape the family. He may now be removed from the family after he was flagged as a potential suicide risk. The family is being represented by the “Christian” Legal Centre, an affiliate of Christian Concern, which is led by anti-LGBT activist Andrea Williams. Williams – who has previously called for gay people to ‘repent’ their sexuality, spoken at ‘gay cure’ events, and claimed anti-bullying lessons are designed to promote gay sex – insisted the family were victims of a “gender ideology”. In their release, Christian Concern referred to Gary by a female name, Bethany.

The tabloid Daily Mail has reported that the children’s charity had ‘meddled’ in a dispute concerning a five year old child.
The child’s mother had been allowing him to wear a female uniform to school. The father believes his child is ‘confused’ by this.
He said: “The school, at the beginning, were quite firm with his ex-wife. But then she started getting Mermaids involved. The school backed down completely.”

He said the child’s school has been ‘bullied’ by Mermaids into supporting the mother’s wish that he should wear a dress. The father also believes that Mermaids would ‘accuse authorities and social workers of discrimination’ if they were to become involved, the Daily Mail reported. The mother confirmed Mermaids called the school on her behalf, and that social services had investigated her ex-husband’s complaints and found nothing wrong.
Mermaids was named the PinkNews community group of the year. Formed in 1995 as a support group, Mermaids now works to advocates for and support transgender children and their families.
The charity works to raise awareness about gender issues amongst professionals and the general public, campaigning for the recognition of gender dysphoria in young people and lobbying for improvements in professional services.
A spokesperson for Stonewall said: “Transphobic rhetoric concerning young people and their families is toxic and damaging, and unfortunately it still very much exists.
“This makes it even more important that we all stand by the side of trans people as allies. As an ally to the trans organisation Mermaids, we were deeply shocked to see such unjust and harmful vitriol printed about it in the press this morning. Without Mermaids, many young trans people and their families would feel lost and unsure of the help that is available to them. We have the utmost respect for its staff who continue to work tirelessly to ensure services are available for those that need it.”
The charity came under scrutiny last week by a number of anti-LGBT tabloid media outlets in a similar case.

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

Dallas: The chair of Trump’s campaign in Texas is pushing an anti-transgender ‘Women’s Privacy Act’, ironically claiming that trans people are a sexual assault risk.
A number of women have come forward to allege that Mr Trump abused them and grabbed them inappropriately, after a leaked tape featured the Republican Presidential nominee bragging about how he is able to grab women in their pelvic area without consequence because of his celebrity status. Though the scandals has led a number of senior Republicans to withdraw their support for Mr Trump, Lieutenant Governor of Texas and talk radio host Dan Patrick continues to chair his campaign in the state. But for someone so un-fussed about alleged sexual assault when it comes to the future President of the United States, Patrick is definitely fussed about fictional sexual assaults that might be committed by transgender people.

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

Lynchburg: An anti-LGBT activist who carries a handgun to the bathroom to ward off transgender women is not fussed about allegations that Donald Trump sexually assaulted women.
A number of women have come forward to allege that Mr Trump abused them and grabbed them inappropriately, after a leaked tape featured the Republican Presidential nominee bragging about how he is able to grab women in the pelvic area without consequence because of his celebrity status. One might think that would give cause to concern to Anita Staver of the Liberty Counsel, who claimed to be very very worried about the threat of sexual assault earlier this year.
Ms Staver, the head of the law firm that represented anti-LGBT Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, claimed earlier this year that she takes a Glock handgun into the women’s toilets, just in case there are any transgender women in there who might “rape” her.

She insisted at the time: “I’m taking a Glock .45 to the ladies room. It identifies as my bodyguard. I want protection from the perverts who will use the law to gain access to women.”
However, even given this strong stance against sexual assault at the time, one is unsurprised to see Ms Staver’s name on an email aiming to raise money for evangelicals trying to help elect Mr Trump.

Meanwhile, a Donald Trump supporter told CBS News that she hopes the Republican runner will take America back to a time before abortions and “the homosexuals.”
The supporter was one of many voters that John Dickerson, the Face the Nation host, sat and interviewed about their political stance following the final presidential debate.

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

London: A recent analysis shows when it comes to salaries, bisexual men in the United Kingdom are at the bottom of the wage scale. In an article the the journal Work, Employment & Society, Professor Alex Bryson, of UCL’s Institute of Education, found the average gross hourly earnings for bisexual men is £9.39 (€10.54). This a 31% difference compared to heterosexual men who earn £12.30 (€13.81) per hour.

Gay men earn more than both groups with £13.33 (€14.97) an hour. As for women, lesbians earn £9.87 (€11.08) and heterosexual women £9.97 (€11.19). For bisexual women the average hourly gross is £9.58 (€10.76). As reported by The Guardian, these numbers are tabulated from the 2011 and 2012 Workplace Employment Relations Survey. This kind of study is the first in Britain since the passage of anti-discrimination laws in 2003 and 2012.

When similar occupations were compared, bisexual men still earned 20% less than straight peers. This happened even if the workplace had explicit LGBTI protection policies. No matter the trade, this wage gap persisted. It also appeared in London and other non-city areas. The survey also found lesbians were paid 30% less than heterosexual women if they worked at jobs that lacked specific workplace anti-discrimination rules that include sexual orientation. Bryson admits his sample size is small. It’s based on survey answers from 312 gay men and lesbians, 118 bisexuals, 18,635 heterosexuals, and 986 people who did not identify their sexuality. The professor added the survey did not know if employers knew the sexuality of workers, so it’s impossible to judge if the differences are based on discrimination. Bryson notes his work ‘raised as many questions as it answered.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Washington DC: A US pro-choice Catholic lobby group on abortion, Catholics for Choice, whose head is scheduled to speak at a conference in New Zealand in November, has been described by a conservative Catholic Cardinal as “not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way”, despite the fact that its members are all practising lay Catholics and some clergy are also members.

Catholics for Choice (CFC) president Jon O’Brien is one of the keynote speakers listed for the “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Conference, Aotearoa New Zealand, 2016”, to be held at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, from November 10-12. The conference is being run by New Zealand Family Planning, Abortion Providers Group Aotearoa New Zealand and the New Zealand Sexual Health Society.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops Conference, Simone Olsen, said of Catholics for Choice: “Clearly this group’s message is inconsistent with the Church’s teaching on family which seeks to protect the vulnerable and the voiceless including the unborn and at every stage of life’s journey.” However, while the Catholic hierarchy communicates this message, the majority of Catholics do not comply with the hierarchy’s teaching on contraception or abortion in the United States and there are theological grounds not to do so- the Jesuit-derived philosophy of probabilism, according to some pro-choice Catholic theologians. Social justice grounds are also important to many pro-choice Catholics.

Conference advertising on Family Planning’s website describes Catholics for Choice as “the leading pro-choice organisation advocating for sexual and reproductive rights from a standpoint of culture, faith, justice and morality”. However, there are other such organisations, such as the interfaith US Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice which also uphold women’s reproductive choice. The advertising praised Mr O’Brien for “advancing reproductive health access for all women and increasing public support for abortion and contraception”. The advertising continued: “He speaks for millions of Catholics in the US and abroad when he challenges the powerful Catholic hierarchy on these issues, urging a greater respect for core
Catholic values of individual conscience and social justice.”

Right-wing Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York recently said CFC is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way and does not speak for the “faithful.” The cardinal said this in a September 14 statement in his capacity as the chairman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, which runs anti-abortion activities for the church hierarchy and conservative Catholics. During Dolan’s time as Archbishop of Milwaukee, an estimated eight thousand children suffered from the ravages of Catholic clergy pedophilia. He also ran a slush fund to protect the institution against claims from clergy pedophilia survivors and their families, exposed in 2012. He did not oppose the Bush administration’s Iraqi War and has said Catholics hold a variety of views on the morality of capital punishment. The above outburst came after Catholics for Choice ran a national advertising campaign in the US seeking the restoration of federal tax funds for abortions, so that impoverished women could have abortion access.

Cardinal Dolan said CFC “has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control”. One could equally say the same about the anti-abortion movement, which is notoriously right wing and financed largely by sectarian religious groups arrogantly insisting that they have a monopoly when it comes to religious beliefs about abortion, which has never been the case. The Cardinal does not speak for all US Catholics either.

In the 1990s, the US bishops said the group, formerly called “Catholics for a Free Choice”, had “no affiliation, formal or otherwise, with the Catholic Church”. On the other hand, multinational corporate leaders, military figures, advocates of the death penalty and nuclear warfare are allowed into conservative Catholic churches with little moral scrutiny.

“As the US Catholic bishops have stated for many years,” Cardinal Dolan said, “the use of the name ‘Catholic’ as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.” One might say the same about the use of “Catholic” as a synonym for sectarian attacks on women’s reproductive freedom from an exclusively male clerical hierarchy, compared to a grassroots feminist lay organisation. The Catholic hierarchy does not have a monopoly on Catholicism.

“The organisation rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching – and actually attacks its foundation.” This is incorrect. While it clashes with the hierarchy on contraception and abortion, LGBT rights and safe sex, and clergy pedophilia, some of its members are also active in other Catholic peace and social justice organisations.

“As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland, ‘Life must always be welcomed and protected . . . from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it’.” Evidently numerous Polish Catholic women disagreed with his Holiness, given the recent strong Polish pro-choice mobilisation against prohibitionist anti-abortion legislation.

In 2010, Canada’s Catholic bishops’ conference reiterated that “a small group originating in the United States and using the name “Catholics for a Free Choice”: 1) is not Catholic and 2) does not represent the teachings or views of the Catholic Church”. And again, this is incorrect. Catholics for a Free Choice has affiliates outside the United States and is a growing lay Catholic social and political movement.

Not Recommended: http://www.nzcatholic.org.nz

New York: The United Nations has addressed the I in LGBTI for the first time ever. A new intersex awareness film released by the UN Free & Equal campaign, a branch of the UN Human Rights office, calls on governments and parents to protect intersex children from harm. The short film, titled Perfect Just The Way They Are, was created by social change company Shape History and depicts one family’s journey to discovering and accepting that their child is intersex.

Mike Buonaiuto, Executive Director of Shape History, said: “This is an historic moment for the United Nations and for equal rights.

“Intersex people have long been forgotten along our global path to equality, with many intersex people suffering due to ignorances that have transcended generations. It’s incredible to think that being intersex is as commons as being a redhead, this campaign really puts it into perspective.”

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

New Jersey: A former employee at one of Donald Trump’s golf clubs says he experienced homophobic discrimination.

Eleazar Andres, who worked in maintenance at New Jersey’s Trump National Golf Club in 2014, says he became the target of verbal and physical anti-gay harassment after revealing to co-workers that he was gay. According to Slate, he claims that his co-workers regularly hurled homophobic slurs including “maricón” and “faggot”, and also threw rocks and golf balls at him – he even ended up in hospital after one man threw a rock at his head.

In a lawsuit filed in New Jersey state court, Andres alleges that his supervisor witnessed several incidents of abuse but didn’t step in, and when he told a manager he didn’t feel safe and intended to file a police report, he was fired. He argues that the club is liable for its employees actions because it ignored his complaints and “failed to implement any preventative or remedial measures to protect against unlawful harassment”. While Trump’s attorneys admit that Andres’ co-workers did throw rocks at him, they deny all other claims, and claim that Andres himself is “a wrongdoer” and is “guilty of inequitable conduct”.

Hillary Clinton has strongly criticised her Republican rival over his company’s inability to correctly deal with the discrimination, and questioned if that wasn’t yet another sad commentary on his own competence.

She said: “It is deeply disturbing that instead of stepping in to stop the tormentors, Trump’s golf club turned on the victim for coming forward. If that’s how Donald Trump runs his business, what does that say about how he would run our country?” The Democratic presidential hopeful continued to call the incident a “painful reminder of the harassment, violence, and discrimination that too many LGBT Americans still face every day”.

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

Canberra: It has been revealed by AAP that the Australian federal government has sought legal advice on how to make the marriage equality plebiscite automatically trigger a change to the law should it be successful. By making the proposed plebiscite bill “self-executing”, the LNP remain hopeful that they’ll be able to woo over some much-needed support and defy the odds to get it through the Senate. The changes to the plebiscite would mean that should it pass Senate, and gain a majority of ‘yes’ votes, the Marriage Act would be automatically changed without any further delay – making the process significantly faster than it would’ve been otherwise, particularly considering that some MPs have signalled they could abstain from voting. It’s been reported that AAP attempted to gain access to the legal correspondence between the attorney-general’s department and the solicitor-general’s office relating to self-execution of the plebiscite, without any luck. Attorney-general’s department acting assistant secretary Ashleigh Saint claimed all advice documents were “subject to legal professional privilege” and therefore exempt from Freedom Of Information Act requests.

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

Toronto: Lucas Medina knows that there’s a problem with Ontario’s foster care system. After all, he grew up as a Canadian Crown ward. And from what he can see, the situation hasn’t changed much in the years since he was a gay teenager trying to survive the system.

“It’s just amazing to me that we’ve failed these youth to this degree,” he says.

That’s why Medina felt compelled to start the first LGBT foster agency in the province. Five/Fourteen, which Medina launched with his husband, Chad Craig, in Windsor, Ontario, will help place queer and trans foster children into welcoming homes.

“I just needed to do something because nobody else was actually doing anything about it,” Medina says.

While there are few statistics available on how many queer and trans youth are in foster care in Ontario, studies from other jurisdictions show that LGBT youth tend to be overrepresented in the system.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Edinburgh: The deputy leader of the Scottish National Party has told PinkNews that “of course” people convicted under historic anti-gay laws should receive apologies.
Angus Robertson’s comments come on the same day that the SNP announced plans to introduce its own devolved pardons law, following the UK government’s Turing Act, though did not commit to issuing apologies to those convicted. UK Justice Minister Sam Gyimah frustrated the SNP by blocking an SNP bill to automatically pardon anyone with a conviction under the historic laws.
The government’s own bill will posthumously pardon thousands of men, but requires those surviving men with convictions to apply for pardons. Robertson said that Gyimah’s “parliamentary tactics” were “disappointing” and “reflect badly on the government.” The SNP deputy leader also discussed the Democratic Unionist Party’s continuing efforts to block same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, making it the last part of the United Kingdom to not have marriage equality.

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

New York: Tom Doyle lived with his partner, Bill Cornwell, in a three-story West Village brownstone for 55 years. Over their six decades together, the couple watched the neighborhood transform into a safe haven for the city’s artists and gay population to one of the most expensive locales in the city. Doyle, however, could find himself homeless. Cornwell died in 2014, and his family is contesting the will, a legal battle that could force Doyle out of the home the men shared. Cornwell, who passed away at the age of 88, left Doyle everything in his will. There was, though, just one problem: The document was only signed by one person—Doyle’s niece, Sheila McNichols. Without a second signature on the will, it’s legally invalid. That means that claims on the home goes to his next of kin. Cornwell’s nieces and nephews, thus, argue that they have a legal right to own, operate, and even sell the building, whose appreciated worth is estimated at $7 million.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Edinburgh: Scotland will introduce its own pardons law for historical gay sex offences, the government has announced.
Last week the UK government announced the fulfilment of a 2015 Conservative Party manifesto pledge, by accepting a Lib Dem amendment to a Policing bill that will see men previously convicted for consensual same-sex relationships formally pardoned.

UK Justice Minister Sam Gyimah infuriated the Scottish National Party by scuppering a rival plan submitted by MP John Nicolson, which would see a more broader ‘blanket pardon’ issued without requiring . However, the Scottish government has announced it would pursue its own devolved legislation on the issue. The news came in response to a question from the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Kezia Dugdale. Ms Dugdale had asked the Scottish Government “whether it will quash the convictions and cautions issued to people for now-abolished gay sexual offences and issue pardons.” Scottish Justice Minister Michael Matheson MSP confirmed he would be bringing about its own law to allow men with historic gay sex offences to receive pardons.
He also confirmed he was separately working in partnership with Police Scotland to “determine the practical steps required” to allow men to have their convictions disregarded. Scotland kept sodomy laws until 1980, 13 years longer than England and Wales.
Mr Matheson said: “It is sadly the case that Scotland has only relatively recently modernised our criminal laws so that they no longer discriminate against same-sex sexual activity. It is shocking to consider that consensual sex between men was only decriminalised in Scotland in 1980 and the age of consent for same-sex sexual activity was not equalised for sexual activity between men and women until 2001. Such laws clearly have no place in a modern and inclusive Scotland. However, there are people with criminal convictions for same-sex sexual activity that is now lawful and we must right this wrong. We will introduce an automatic formal pardon for those convicted under these discriminatory laws so they know they are absolved fully. We want to address the injustice that people experienced simply because of their sexual orientation in circumstances that are now legal and this is one way of achieving this.
“Information on these convictions is held on Police Scotland records and we have engaged with Police Scotland to seek views on steps that could be taken to right these historic wrongs. I have instructed my officials, working in partnership with Police Scotland, to determine the practical steps required to establish a scheme to allow men convicted for actions that are now legal to seek to have those convictions disregarded. Where an offence is disregarded a person will be treated as not having been convicted of that offence and so it would not appear on, for example, disclosure checks. I know Parliament will want to work together to resolve these important issues.”
Ms Dugdale, who came out earlier this year, hailed the announcement as a “historic moment” in the country, urging First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to issue a formal apology on behalf of the country for the laws.

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

Texas: A pastor has prophesied that paedophilia will soon be renamed ‘happy’ and legalised. Rick Scarborough of Vision America made the claim while preaching at Trinity Family Church in Forney, Texas.

Taipei: Is Taiwan finally ready for marriage equality? Ten legislators of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have announced that a proposal to amend the Civil Code to legalise same-sex marriage is currently in the works, according to Focus Taiwan. Yu Mei-nu, a convener of the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee that’s working on the law change, said the bill will aim to alter the wording in the Civil Code. Specifically, the amendment pinpoints Article 972 of the Civil Code and seeks to change the description for those who make commitments to marry from the current ‘man and woman’ (or male and female parties) to ‘the two parties.’ In this way, all married couples, gay or straight, will legally be able to assume spousal obligations, hold parental rights and have an equal opportunity to adopt children.

Yu said at a press conference in Taipei that the proposed law change would have to go through different rounds of vetting.
So far the amendment has the endorsement of 33 DPP legislators. Other versions of the amendment coming from other parties and the government are still waiting to be collated before the proposal is sent to the Legislature for a thorough deliberation. Focus Taiwan reports that currently the DPP holds 68 seats in the 113-seat Legislature while the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) holds 35 seats. The caucus of New Power Party (NPP), an opposition party with five seats in the Legislature, announced at a press conference on Monday that its version of the Civil Code amendment will propose changing the terms ‘father and mother’ and ‘husband and wife’ to ‘spouse,’ ‘the two parties’ or ‘parents.’

However, the anti-LGBT Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan has vowed to protest the change.The country’s President, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, previously expressed support for equal marriage.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Wellington: Dubbed the ‘Turing Law’ after gay World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, the United Kingdom has announced it will pardon gay and bisexual men convicted of sexual offences under laws which have now been abolished. The law pardons apply to offenses that are no longer crimes, such as consensual sex, and officials say some men could even be granted compensation.The campaign to pardon gay men in Aotearoa started in 2014, and now has more than 2000 signatures. The petition now awaits consideration by a select committee.

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

London: UK detention offers little sanctuary from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse according to new research from the LGBT charity and the UKLGIG. The UK’s ability to process and protect LGBT asylum seekers has received major criticism from LGBT charity Stonewall and the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group [UKLGIG] in a new report. No Safe Refuge – which was published today reveals the everyday discrimination and violence that LGBT asylum seekers can face through 22 in-depth interviews with detainees.

“Those who are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity often experience harassment and abuse from other detainees,” the report explains. “Many feel forced to hide their sexual orientation and gender identity while in detention as they fear bullying and discrimination.”

The report also highlights the difficulties trans asylum seekers face in the system – with one trans interviewee telling researchers she was “placed in multiple male detention centres,” despite making clear that she identifies as a woman:

“Trans detainees face particular danger in having to share bedrooms and communal showers with other detainees,” the report continues.

During one of the 22 in-depth interviews carried out by Stonewall and UKLGIG, Gasha, a Cameroonian asylum seeker, explained exactly how difficult and distressing living in a detention cell can be. “I got flashbacks of everything I’ve been through in Africa,” Gasha said, “I’ve been free for two or three years and then here I am back in a cell. I was crying the whole night. I could not eat. I had serious headache. I had to request for a paracetamol or anything. They said they couldn’t provide me any medications and I could not sleep the whole night. I didn’t sleep for 48 hours. I didn’t eat for 48 hours because I was so scared.”

While Miremba, a Ugandan asylum seeker, added: “It felt like I was betrayed because if somebody seeks asylum, they’re just trying to get some protection, but then you’re detaining them. It’s like you’re putting them in prison for having come to you for help. It didn’t make sense to me.”

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

Gibraltar: The British overseas territory of Gibraltar has voted to introduce same-sex marriage. Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar announced the news on Twitter, explaining that the Civil Marriage Amendment Bill 2016 was passed in parliament unanimously.

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

Canberra: Intersex people are born with physical or biological sex characteristics that don’t fit binary ideas around male and female bodies. There are at least 40 kinds of intersex variations and according to experts up to 1.7 per cent of the population are born with one or more of them. Some intersex traits are visible at birth while others might not be apparent until puberty. A critical human rights issue currently facing intersex children in Australia is the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of their bodies to erase their intersex traits. The invasive procedures are often irreversible and can cause permanent infertility, pain, a loss of sexual sensation, and lifelong mental health issues like depression.

They also feed into discriminatory views around intersex people and stigmatise those with intersex traits, suggesting they need to be more ‘normalised’ to fit within a male and female binary. There’s usually not a medical emergency warranting the forced surgery on young intersex people, rather it’s justified as a means to temper the child’s parents who may have never heard about intersex variations before. While doctors have a long history of performing these medical interventions, there hasn’t been any long term follow-up studies on their effectiveness.

Because of this, doctors performing these surgeries aren’t able to compare them to the prospective benefits of a ‘no surgery’ scenario. Australia’s new Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow has said he wants to tackle the unnecessary sterilisation of intersex people in the coming year.

He said that people with intersex variations are entitled to the same protection and enjoyment of human rights as other Australians. In Australia, different jurisdictions take different approaches to regulating and guiding clinical decision-making about medical interventions for people with intersex variations.

Santow said the first step will be to evaluate all of these current approaches.

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

Ottawa: Condoms are an imperfect tool. They slip. They break. They leak. In a laboratory setting, condoms are a practically perfect impenetrable barrier against viruses, but in the real world, they struggle to be invincible; condoms have an 80–85 percent reduction rate for HIV infection, and are even less effective against HPV and herpes. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a next-generation condom that not only provided a barrier against infection, but also actively destroyed viruses in semen, mucus or vaginal fluid?

On Sept 13, 2016, pharmaceutical company Starpharma announced that it has secured Health Canada approval for condoms imbued with VivaGel, a drug it says deactivates nearly all HIV, HPV and herpes viruses in the lab. The condoms, marketed as LifeStyles Dual Protect, will hit shelves in Canada in 2017. The size of the asterisk hovering over the company’s health claims, however, should give pause to anyone hoping for a bulletproof defense against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Starpharma’s condoms are coated with an antimicrobial gel full of large organic polymer molecules called astodrimer, which bond to the outside of bacteria and viruses and deactivate them (since viruses aren’t precisely alive, “kill” isn’t quite the right word). In a petri dish, studies show the gel knocks out 99.9 percent of HIV, HPV and herpes virus. Starpharma has also dosed semen and vaginal fluid with the drug, and shown a similar reduction in viral load. Based on this evidence, Starpharma hopes the condoms will provide a double barrier, both physical and pharmaceutical, against viral infection. The condoms have been available in Australia for two years, and during the Rio Olympics, the company even sent packages to Australian athletes to prevent the sexual transmission of Zika.

With all the research, publicity and media coverage the VivaGel condoms have received, you might think we would have a good idea of how well they actually prevent the spread of STIs. But you’d be wrong. There haven’t been any studies at all tracking the condoms’ effectiveness during actual sex. What’s more, she says, it’s unlikely there will ever be a study on the actual effectiveness of VivaGel condoms. The problem is that, when used correctly, condoms are already pretty effective at preventing the spread of STIs, so a study to test the added benefit of VivaGel would require an extremely large number of participants to show any difference. That’s not a study Fairley thinks is feasible.

There’s a logical leap from a medication working in the lab to working in practice, but that leap doesn’t always hold up, says Dr Nathan Lachowsky, a researcher at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and professor of public health at the University of Victoria. VivaGel may be nearly perfectly effective in the lab, Lachowsky points out, but then so are normal latex condoms. Once used by consumers, we don’t know how VivaGel condoms will stand up to slips, breaks and leakage. We also don’t know if they will be effective against the spread of HPV and herpes, which can be transmitted by skin contact outside the area covered by a condom. It seems likely VivaGel will do some good, but how much is entirely conjecture.

More importantly, condom failure isn’t the main concern of doctors on the front lines of HIV prevention. Even people who use condoms rarely use them all the time, and research shows HIV-negative gay men don’t consistently use condoms during sex. That’s why the cutting-edge of HIV prevention is focused on PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), treatment as prevention and rapid testing, techniques that work for those who use condoms and those who don’t. Tellingly, nobody at either the BC Centre for Excellence or the BC Centre for Disease Control has even heard of VivaGel condoms, despite their recent approval. Even if Starpharma’s condoms don’t work any better than conventional ones, the idea alone might convince more people to use them. And conventional condoms, the evidence shows, work beyond a doubt.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Prague: Same-sex couples in the Czech Republic are hoping for extended adoption rights. According to Radio Prague, the government agreed to a law giving couples in a civil partnership the right to adopt their step children. The change in law is supposed to strengthen the rights of LGBTI parents in same-sex relationships.
‘It’s about securing that the other partner has a legal relationships with the child,’ the country’s Minister for Human Rights, Jiří Dienstbier, said.

The change would not grant same-sex couples a general right to adopt, no matter if they are in a registered partnership or not. Introducing equal adoption rights has already been discussed in the former government, but after its collapse, the matter was shelved. In 2014, the current government introduced a new draft law; in July 2016, a debate on the law had to be interrupted after growing too heated. Until the law can pass, both chambers of the Czech government have to agree and vote in favor. It could fall with the Czech Christian Democrat’s vote, who are in a coalition with the Liberals and the Social Democratic Party. In many jurisdictions overseas, most LGBT adoptions are coparental.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Montreal: One of the most demonised PLWAs in history – Gaetan Dugas – has been convincingly cleared of claims that he was the ‘primary instigator’ behind the spread HIV to the United States, say scientists. Mr Dugas, a gay flight attendant, became a ‘black legend’ in the history of HIV/AIDS when he became known as Patient Zero.

However, a new study, recently published in the journal Nature, has shown that he was just one of thousands of infected people in the 1970s. It also showed New York was a crucial hub for the spread of the virus. AIDS only started to be recognised in 1981 when unusual symptoms started appearing in gay men. But researchers were able to look further back in time by analysing stored blood samples, some of them containing HIV, from hepatitis trials in the 1970s.

The team at the University of Arizona developed a new method to reconstruct the genetic code of the virus in those patients and after screening 2,000 samples from New York and San Francisco, the researchers were able to get eight complete HIV genetic codes. That gave those scientists the information they needed to build HIV’s family tree and trace when it arrived in the United States.

Dr Michael Worobey, one of the researchers, said: “The samples contain so much genetic diversity that they could not have originated in the late 1970s. We can place the most precise dates on the origins of the US epidemic at about 1970 or 1971.” The researchers also analysed the genetic code of human immunodeficiency virus taken from Mr Dugas’s blood. Like a failed paternity test, the results showed that the virus in his blood was not the “father” of the US epidemic.

Dr Richard McKay, a science historian at the University of Cambridge, said: “Gaetan Dugas is one of the most demonised patients in history and one of a long line of individuals and groups vilified in the belief that they somehow fuelled epidemics with malicious intent.” The Air Canada employee was labelled Patient O (the letter, not the number) by the US Centres for Disease Control because he was a case “Out-of-California”. Over time the O became a 0 and the term Patient Zero was born. It is still used to this day to describe the index case of an outbreak as with Ebola in west Africa. Mr Dugas died in 1984, but was identified as Patient Zero in Randy Shilts’ account of the early US HIV/AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On.

Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo was seen as the city that started the global pandemic. From there it spread to the Caribbean and the US around 1970.
Dr Worobey said: “In New York City, the virus encountered a population that was like dry tinder, causing the epidemic to burn hotter and faster and infecting enough people that it grabs the world’s attention for the first time.
“Just as Kinshasa was a key turning point for the pandemic virus as a whole, New York City looks like a turning point and acts as this hub from which the virus moves to the west coast and eventually to Western Europe, Australia, Japan, South America and all sorts of other places.”
Prof Oliver Pybus, from the University of Oxford, commented: “This new data helps confirm the picture of HIV’s origins in the US.
“It makes a very interesting point about Patient Zero, who has become a talking point in the origins of Aids, yet no matter how attractive a narrative it is, it doesn’t have any scientific basis and it’s really unfortunate that this person was identified.”

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news

London: Jeremy Corbyn has suggested an LGBT history month could be brought into schools if he becomes the next Prime Minister. Speaking at the Pink News awards last night (October 26), the Labour leader said that the national curriculum needs to be updated to show the fight for equality through LGBT rights and important LGBT figures.

By doing this he hopes it would normalise the LGBT community instead of seeing them as an other. He said that children should be taught about the likes of Oscar Wilde, an Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing, both of whom were persecuted and prosecuted for homosexual acts, while also being hugely significant historical figures.

“So, bring forward those figures as the heroes they were of the time, and help to bring forward an atmosphere of people respecting each other’s sexuality,” he said.

He was asked if the LGBT education would take a similar form to black history month, he replied saying: “There could be that, or there could be part of the core curriculum to understand the change in law, the way in which we have changed homosexual law from the illegality of homosexual acts until the 1960’s, when the original homosexual law reform came in.

“Then through to the period when same sex marriage was agreed by Parliament two years ago. I want it to become part of the norm of discussion in schools, so discussing it in literature, discussing it in history, so that we don’t treat it as separate. Let’s get a new generation to rejoice at the huge contribution LGBT people have made throughout history.”

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

Vancouver: British Columbia’s eighth premier, Alexander Davie, was that Canadian province’s first “openly homosexual politician” and the name of its beloved Davie Village is dedicated to the memory of such a pioneering queer.

But consider the times. Davie was premier from 1887 to 1889.

In 1835, only a decade before Davie’s birth, James Pratt and John Smith became the last two men in England to be executed, by hanging, for sodomy. In 1885, when Davie was 38, deep in the thick of a rather checkered political career and only four years away from his untimely death from a long illness, the British Parliament enacted section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which prohibited gross indecency between males. (The vague wording of the Act was later interpreted broadly to apply to any consensual same-sex acts between adults.) In 1895, six year’s after Davie’s death, Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour, for said gross indecency.

Davie was married “late in life” to a “homely” and much older woman, and that they had no children — which the author considered to be suggestive. Actually, Davie was married in 1874, to Constance Langford Skinner. He was 27, she was 32, and they had seven children. Which of course is also suggestive, though of course not definitive. There is little evidence of Davie having spent much time in Vancouver, being a resident of first the Cowichan Valley and later Victoria, and elected MLA first for the Cariboo, where he had briefly practiced law, and later for Lillooet, where he was a carpetbagger seeking a safe seat. Water lines weren’t installed down Davie Street until 1889, which would mean that any “clubhouse” built there before that year wouldn’t have had water for the gentlemen’s whiskey, never mind the loo. And except for a few early houses, development didn’t really take off in that part of the West End until the Rogers family built their famous Gabriola mansion in 1901.

Toronto: Sam Oosterhoff, the newly minted Progressive Conservative candidate for Niagara West-Glanbrook in the upcoming Nov 17 byelection, is evidence of party leader Patrick Brown’s inability to actually lead the PCs away from divisive stances on social issues that could cost them the next provincial election. Oosterhoff, a first-year political science student at Brock University who recently gained the right to purchase alcohol in Ontario, secured the nomination by aggressively courting the extremely religious community in the riding, beating out party leader Patrick Brown’s favourite, Rick Dykstra. If Oosterhoff wins, he will become the youngest MPP in Ontario’s history. The reportedly homeschooled youngster campaigned on his support for “parents as primary educators” — code for opposition to the new sex-ed curriculum.

He also boasted about being a “principled voice for family values.” His Facebook page called on supporters to oppose Bill 28, the new law that would make it easier for queer families who use surrogates to register their children’s births. The leader lost significant political capital after the humiliating admission that anti-sex ed campaign materials in last month’s Scarborough by-election went out without his approval, and after he wrote a lengthy op-ed in the Toronto Star, retracting his previous opposition to the new sex-ed program in August 2016.

The issue was clouded further when it emerged that he’d promised Christian Right groups that he would scrap the sex-ed curriculum if elected and told them to disregard contradictory statements he’d made to the media. Having a high-profile candidate loudly repudiate Brown’s official position on sex ed certainly won’t help his case. Should Oosterhoff win the byelection — as he is expected to, given the riding’s history as a PC stronghold — he will be a gift to the Wynne Liberals, who’ll be able to use him as the poster child for the knuckle-dragging boogeymen they’ve always labelled the PCs as. Handing the Liberals a deeply polarizing and losing social issue to run against is the same strategy that failed for the PCs in the last three elections

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: Hillary Clinton has released a $US 500 million strategy to address the “urgent crisis” [bullying] that is harming LGBT students and other young people from vulnerable populations.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: President Barack Obama Obama is prepared to once again stand up for the LGBTI community. Obama is vowing to veto a $600 billion military spending bill if congressional Republicans insist on adding an anti-LGBTI ‘Religious Freedom’ provision to it. Obama has previously vetoed 12 other bills during his two terms as president. The provision is sponsored by Republican Congressman Steve Russell of Oklahoma. It adds protections snd exemptions to ‘any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society’ that receives a federal contract while undertaking anti-LGBT service provision discrimination. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough has personally reached out to key lawmakers on the issue to let them know about Obama’s stance on The Russell Amendment, according to Roll Call. More than 40 Democrats in the US Senate have signed on to a letter to leaders of the Armed Services committees in the House and Senate voicing their opposition to the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which covers 2017 military spending.

Source: www.gaystarnews.com

Taipei: Taiwan could become the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. Over 80,000 LGBT activists and supporters are expected to take to the streets of the country’s capital city Taipei this weekend, in what is thought to be Asia’s largest ever LGBT Pride event. But the event will hold a special meaning to the community, as it comes just weeks after gay French teacher Jacques Picoux died after falling from the 10th floor of his apartment block.

Friends believe he had taken his own life, and blamed depression brought on after the death of his Taiwanese partner of 35 years, Tseng Ching-chao, who had been living with cancer, according to The Guardian. Jacques, who taught at the National Taiwan University, had been denied the right to make decisions in Tseng’s final moments and later found had no legal claim over their shared property – all because they weren’t married. The Taiwain LGBT Hotline Association, a prominent rights group, said: “How many more human lives do we have to lose as a result of the government’s gross negligence?”

Despite the tragedy, LGBT activists have called it a “pivotal moment” in the equal rights movement, and have placed pressure onto President Tsai Ing-wen, who pledged to improve equality when he was elected in January. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party tabled a new draft bill earlier this week which aims to introduce marriage equality, and has been described as a “breakthrough” for equal rights. DPP member Yu Mei-nu, who drafted the new law, said: “This story touched people. The LGBT group were very angry. It has put a lot of pressure on our party and on other parties.”

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

Washington DC: During a campaign visit to the state on Thursday, Hillary appeared alongside First Lady Michelle Obama to call out Governor Pat McCrory and encourage North Carolinians to vote for his opponent Roy Cooper in the November elections. She said: “Let’s be sure to elect Roy Cooper the next governor of North Carolina. He will repeal HB2, because he knows that discrimination is wrong. It’s bad for business and it’s against North Carolina’s values.”

Hillary’s right to suggest that HB2 has been bad for business – the state has seen a drop in tourism since passing the law, while money giant PayPal scrapped plans to expand its business in the state costing hundreds of potential jobs. The law, which bans local non-discrimination ordinances and stops transgender people using bathrooms that match their identity, has also been called out by big names including Elton John, Beyoncé, Nick Jonas, Duran Duran. Hillary then spoke about the all-important presidential vote, arguing that LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage, are also at risk if her Republican opponent Donald Trump was to win instead of her. She said: “Marriage equality is at stake too. If you believe everyone deserves to be treated equally in America no matter who they are or who they love, then you’ve got to turn our and vote in this election.”

Trump’s record on LGBT rights is far from stellar – he previously stated that he would “strongly consider” appointing justices who expressed a desire to overturn same-sex marriage laws across the United States.

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

Topeka: The Equality House in Topeka, Kansas, which stands opposite the Westboro Baptist Church has been attacked this week. Planting Peace, a non-profit organisation that does exactly what its name suggests, have been spreading love all over the world for a while now. They traveled to Antartica to declare it ‘the world’s first LGBT-friendly continent’ and even sent a Pride flag into space in the past. But it looks like one of their earliest, and most famous, projects is under attack. The equality house, a glorious rainbow painted house that sits opposite the hate-mongering Westboro Baptist church, acts as a symbol of hope and peace in a very dark place. But that house was this week spray-painted with anti-gay and bullet holes were found on the exterior in what the organisation believe to be a homophobic attack.

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

Canberra: An anti-LGBTI group in the U.S. has distributed a booklet in Australia to warn the ‘average person’ of what might happen if same-sex marriage is legalised in the country. The booklet was published in 2008 by Massachusetts-based ‘pro-family activist organisation’ MassResistance which claims to supporters and activists across America and around the world. However, it recently made the rounds at a presentation in Victoria on redefining marriage hosted by state president of the Australian Family Association Terri Kelleher.
At the presentation, Kelleher condemned the inclusive and recently-awarded efforts of the Safe Schools program, and activists handed out the booklet to attendees and touted it as helping people understand what was ‘really’ at stake.

It had previously been sent to all federal MPs in 2012 when a same-sex marriage bill was being voted on in parliament.

According to the booklet, marriage equality in the United States has directly led to a spike in HIV rates and cases of domestic violence.

“Since homosexual marriage became ‘legal’ the rates of HIV have gone up considerably in Massachusetts. And given the extreme dysfunctional nature of homosexual relationships, the Massachusetts Legislature has felt the need to spend more money every year to deal with skyrocketing homosexual domestic violence.”

It also warns with incredulity of the potential ‘homosexual marriage onslaught’ in public schools if same-sex marriage is legalised.

“[In Massachusetts] kindergartners were given picture books telling them that same-sex couples are just another kind of family, like their own parents. It’s also become commonplace in Massachusetts schools for teachers to prominently display photos of their same-sex ‘spouses’ and occasionally bring them to school functions.”

Pause for shock-horror. You can’t make this stuff up.

The booklet then addressed the growing visibility of the trans community, who unfortunately weren’t immune from the group’s bigotry either.

“The schools are already moving on to normalise transgender people. In the elementary school where my daughter went to Kindergarten, the parents of a third-grader were forced to take their child out of school because a man undergoing a sex-change operation was being brought into class to teach the children there are now different kinds of families.”

In a post earlier this week, MassResistance founder Brian Camenker said whatever direction the marriage equality movement in Australia takes, they’ll waste no time preparing for what will likely be their biggest battle.

“Our booklet has been reprinted in Australia and activists began passing it out this month. In Warrnambool last Tuesday more than 60 people attended a presentation on what redefining marriage would mean for Australians. When the audience was asked by [Terri Kelleher] if they’d been enlightened, hands went up and she was given a round of applause.” Terri Kelleher from the Australian Family Association was contacted for comment.

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

New York: Being intersex is different from sexual orientation or gender – an intersex person can be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or asexual, and they might be a woman, a man, both, or neither. The United Nations for Intersex Awareness campaign aims to educate people about what it means to be intersex, and to highlight the human rights issues they face.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said intersex people face stigma from the moment they’re born.

“Because their bodies don’t comply with typical definitions of male or female, intersex children and adults are frequently subjected to forced sterilisation and irreversible surgery, and suffer discrimination in schools, workplaces, and other settings,” he said.

In Australia and many other places around the world intersex children have involuntary or coerced medical interventions at a young age to ‘sterilise’ their bodies and erase their intersex traits. The campaign highlights a number of people in the intersex community, who each speak about the discrimination they’ve faced. One such voice is that of Esan.

“Some intersex people are born with the sexual anatomy of both genders. I was raised as a girl, but when I reached the age of thirteen I started growing as a boy. When I went to school, people would make fun of me. They would look at my girl’s name and not understand why I looked like a boy. My friends didn’t want me around them, even my teachers looked down on me. I felt so alone.”

Another person highlighted in the campaign is Julius, who said he has to constantly hide the fact he’s intersex to feel accepted and safe.

“It is exhausting, depressing, and kills you slowly. I have suffered harassment throughout my life, and was taught growing up that my body is not mine, it is a public spectacle to be abused and examined against my will.”

Alongside the campaign the UN also published a statement signed by UN Treaty Bodies, Special Rapporteurs and experts, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“Intersex children and adults should be the only ones who decide whether they wish to modify the appearance of their own bodies. While awareness of the existence and rights of intersex people is slowly growing thanks to the work of intersex human rights defenders, only a handful of countries have taken concrete measures to uphold their rights and protect them from abuses. States should investigate human rights violations against intersex people, hold those found guilty of perpetrating such violations accountable and provide intersex people subjected to abuse with compensation.”

The campaign was launched to coincide with Intersex Awareness Day.

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

Virginia: The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday it will hear a school board’s appeal of a lower court decision affirming transgender students’ access to facilities appropriate for their gender identity — and if it lets that decision stand, it will be a major victory for trans students in several states. The attorneys for Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy who attends Gloucester High School in Virginia, would have preferred that the high court not take up the case, as that would have meant the earlier decision stood and could go into effect immediately. The American Civil Liberties Union and its Virginia affiliate sued the Gloucester County School Board in 2015 because of a policy requiring trans students to use only single-stall restrooms. The board adopted the policy in December 2014, when Grimm was in 10th grade, even though he had been using the boys’ restroom for nearly two months. A U.S. District Court dismissed Grimm’s suit, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit begged to differ. In April a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in Grimm’s favor, and in May the 15 judges of the court declined the school board’s request that the full court reconsider the case. So the school board appealed to the Supreme Court, which in August put the appellate ruling on hold until it hears the case.

If the Supreme Court lets the Fourth Circuit ruling stand, it will reverberate beyond Gloucester County. It will become binding precedent for all five states in the circuit — Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, and North Carolina. And it will strike down a portion of the latter state’s infamous anti-LGBT House Bill 2.

HB 2, passed in March of this year, bars trans people from using restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities that match their gender identity, when those are located in government buildings, including public schools. The law has several other provisions, including one that prevents cities and counties from enacting or enforcing LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinances. But the section restricting trans people’s restroom use, at least in schools, would appear to be invalidated if the Fourth Circuit ruling stands. Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed HB 2 into law, has said North Carolina will obey the final federal court ruling.

Now that the Supreme Court has taken up Grimm’s case, there is the possibility it would rule in his favor as well. But the ACLU did not encourage the high court to hear the case. Similar cases are making their way through other courts, and the ACLU urged the Supreme Court to wait and see if there is a so-called circuit split — that is, if appeals courts in different federal circuits take differing positions. That would call for the high court to resolve the matter, according to the ACLU.

And if the Fourth Circuit ruling had been allowed to stand right now, that would have been all the better for Grimm, along with trans students throughout the circuit. “From our standpoint, Gavin needs to be using the bathroom, and the only thing standing between him and using the bathroom is the stay issued by the Supreme Court,” ACLU attorney Joshua Block told The 74, a website covering education policy, earlier this week.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Belfast: Northern Ireland’s First Minister has claimed a row over her use of peace process powers to block equal marriage is a “storm in a teacup”.
All progress on same-sex marriage continues to be blocked in Northern Ireland, as the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party employs Petitions of Concern – a power designed to ensure cross-community power sharing – to veto marriage bills despite a Parliamentary majority in favour. The DUP ran on a platform of ‘defending marriage’ in Assembly elections earlier this year, and First Minister Arlene Foster today reaffirmed plans to continue employing powers to block any future marriage legislation. Earlier today Foster claimed that she was still blocking same-sex marriage due to “abuse” from LGBT activists.The DUP is one of the only remaining political parties in the UK with anti-LGBT policies in a position of power.

Brussels: Conservative MEP Dr Ian Duncan, Vice President of the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup, writes for PinkNews about the status of LGBT rights.
Gay rights are not equal across the EU. Nor are they equal across those states bound by the European Convention of Human Rights (which includes non-EU states such as Russia, Ukraine and Turkey). The EU is a strong advocate of LGBT employment rights, but a silent witness when it comes to LGBT social and family rights.

The European Court of Human Rights is a staunch defender of certain gay rights but is anything but an advocate, even when afforded the opportunity: in a recent ruling the Strasbourg-based court declared that gay marriage was not a human right. The EU has a complex relationship with its LGBT community. Family law – recognition of marriage, spousal rights, adoption etc. – is reserved to Member States, resulting in a mosaic of rights across the Union. Employment issues on the other hand are an EU competence and so inequality in the workplace is outlawed.
EU law recognises LGBT status as a qualification for asylum and it takes it into account when foreign aid is granted. The EU often speaks in code, enough to suggest activism but not so much as to offend traditionalism.

Gay rights in Europe as a whole are even less certain. In Turkey, violence is a common companion of LGBT gatherings; Istanbul Pride was cancelled outright this year.
The LGBT community in Russia faces even greater persecution (and prosecution): physical violence, intimidation, discrimination in the workplace and beyond, hate speech, all combined with a police force and judiciary which is part of the problem. In Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus gay rights are similarly precarious.

Whilst LGBT rights are not priorities in the lands where ‘there be dragons,’ we are rightly troubled when we witness discrimination within the EU. Take the right to marry. Fully supported by all states when it comes to a man and a woman, not even close to being fully supported for same sex couples. The UK Parliament legislated for gay marriage on the 29th March 2014 (the Scottish Parliament shortly thereafter).\ France, which adopted its gay marriage legislation before us, has witnessed regular marches in protest ever since. Germany does not allow gay marriage, and Chancellor Merkel has made clear gay marriage is not a priority of her administration. Indeed 15 EU member states do not recognise gay marriage (or any of the rights which stem from it). A further six of these states do not formally recognise gay relationships in any form whilst seven have a constitutional interdiction on gay marriage.

According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association (ILGA) both the Czech Republic and Italy rated pretty poorly in 2015 when it comes to gay rights, ranking 21st and 23rd respectively (out of 28 EU states). Until May this year, Italy did not recognise civil partnerships for same-sex couples and is still a long way from gay marriage. It took a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights and a confidence vote orchestrated by the Italian PM to secure progress. Whilst civil partnerships are now on the statute books, opposition to equal marriage rights remains strong. (The ruling itself was the first time that the Court had given legal recognition to sex-same couples, a notable step forward after its rejection of same sex marriage as a human right earlier in the year). In the Czech Republic civil partnership legislation has been recognised for some time. Indeed the Czech Republic was one of the first countries in Central and Eastern Europe to do so. However, equal marriage remains a distant prospect. That being said, this year the Czech Constitutional Court has ruled that banning same-sex couples from adopting children, ‘interferes with their human dignity and breaches their right to private life.’ Progress with gay adoption is likely to promote the Czech Republic up the Rainbow rankings.

The UK is third in the EU in terms of the rights enjoyed by its LGBT community, behind Malta and Belgium. Not bad, but there is room for improvement. Northern Ireland lags behind the rest of the UK in terms of gay marriage, and there is still much to be done on trans and intersex rights. Addressing the blood ban would also be a step forward. The UK does have a strong record in human rights, as befits a key drafter of the original European Convention. Going forward, the rights of the British LGBT community will not be diminished by the UK’s departure from the EU, but its influence for good on the other EU member states will be. The UK is a voice for tolerance in the councils of Europe, and Brexit risks this voice being hushed.

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

Washington DC: Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor has called for LGBT equality to be made central to US foreign policy. Susan Rice is the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and currently serves as President Obama’s National Security Advisor. She gave an address on LGBT rights at DC’s American University yesterday, calling for greater US intervention.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Washington DC: The United States Supreme Court is to rule in a case where a Virginia school district is fighting to stop a female born transgender student from using the boys’ toilet.The high school’s board has appealed an earlier ruling favouring the student and the justices have now agreed to hear the appeal. It is the first time the highest US court has agreed to rule on transgender rights.

In April 2016, a lower court ruled that transgender students are protected under US laws barring sex-based discrimination. The case involves a 17-year-old transgender student named Gavin Grimm, who identifies as male and sued in 2015 to win the right to use the Gloucester County school’s boys’ toilet.

“I never thought that my restroom use would ever turn into any kind of national debate. The only thing I ever asked for was the right to be treated like everyone else,” he said in a statement.

Gavin’s lawyer, Josh Block, said the court’s decision to take the case means he will not be able to use the boys’ toilet before graduating from high school next year. The school board’s chairman, Troy Anderson, welcomed the court’s decision to hear the case, saying the board’s policy “carefully balances the interests of all students and parents”.

Conservative groups have backed the school board, saying the fight is about student privacy rights.US President Barack Obama’s administration concluded that transgender people are protected by the ban on gender discrimination, but a legal fight has ensued over whether judges are required to defer to the government’s view. The justices could side-step a major ruling by focusing their decision on whether the administration followed the correct procedure when it gave public notice about that legal conclusion.

The Supreme Court remains one justice short following the death in February of Antonin Scalia, which left it with four conservatives and four liberals.

That raises the possibility of a 4-4 ruling that would leave in place an earlier decision favoring Gavin Grimm by a Court of Appeal. However, a 4-4 ruling would not set a nationwide legal precedent. The court has until now steered clear of taking potentially divisive cases while it remains shorthanded. Although it has not directly ruled on transgender rights before, the Supreme Court did rule in 1994 in favour of a transgender prison inmate who was held with male prisoners and said she was beaten and raped by another inmate. Whether to allow transgender people to use public toilets that correspond to their gender identity rather than their birth gender has become the latest flashpoint in the long US battle over lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

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

Washington DC: A new report has found that videos of attacks against transgender people are being uploaded to social media sites for entertainment, according to Fusion. The report was published on Tuesday (October 25) by the human rights organisation Witness who analysed the ratings and comments of 329 videos posted on sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Vine and even Twitter. In most of the videos, transgender people are seen being beaten and harassed in public. Around 230,262 comments were made on these videos and Witness reveals that the majority of them were negative about transgender people or celebratory in the attacks. Trans activist Kylar Broadus star in a video by Witness that discusses some of the terrifying social media comments that were made over the videos.

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

Washington DC: The (LGBT) Log Cabin Republicans’ decision not to endorse Donald Trump for president was based largely on something others have cited about him as well: unpredictability. Log Cabin’s political action committee announced last weekend that it was not endorsing Trump, and Angelo spoke with The Advocate a few days later. The group has no particular litmus test, he said, and it has noted that Trump has eschewed anti-LGBT rhetoric.

Its press release on the lack of an endorsement even called him “perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party.” In his Republican National Convention speech accepting the presidential nomination, he cited the June mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub and promised, “As your president I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ citizens.”

That may ring hollow to many, given that Trump has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn marriage equality if they have the opportunity, and indeed, many on the list from which he says he will draw nominees have anti-LGBT records. He also supports the First Amendment Defense Act, proposed in Congress, which would give legal cover to discrimination against LGBT people and anyone else if it’s done in the name of religious freedom.

Log Cabin did mention those factors in its press release, along with the fact that Trump is surrounded by anti-LGBT types, including members of various advisory committees and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed state-level legislation similar to the First Amendment Defense Act. (After public outcry, the Indiana law was amended so that it ostensibly could not be used to justify discrimination.)

Angelo mentioned these factors in speaking with The Advocate too. But he said there’s little chance the Supreme Court will get a case that would challenge marriage equality — it would take someone bringing a case claiming they were somehow harmed by the right of same-sex couples to marry, and Angelo called that an impossibility.

And the First Amendment Defense Act will probably go nowhere, he said, as some on the religious right have withdrawn support for it. Since new language in the bill offers protection to those whose religious or moral convictions lead them to believe in the recognition of opposite-sex or same-sex marriages, the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, for one, no longer supports the bill, saying it should not protect multiple views of marriage.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Berlin: Liberal Social Democrat Justice Minister Heiko Maas has turned his back on Angela Merkel and promised same-sex marriage will be a key issue debated ahead of the 2017 general election. Maas has expressed his support for marriage equality in an open letter published in honour of the fifth anniversary of the Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld, a foundation that work towards ending discrimination against the LGBT community. Maas was involved in the recent law that would pardon gay men who were prosecuted for homosexuality. However the law has been criticised for not doing enough.

Germany allows same-sex couples to enter into registered life partnerships that provide some of the benefits of marriage – but the Chancellor’s CDU/CSU coalition continues to oppose same-sex marriage. These partnerships are limited when it comes to adoption. Maas, who represents the Social Democrats, said they are likely to face opposition from the conservative Christian Democrats, who are part of the coalition government. Earlier this month research found that Germany has the largest LGBT population in Europe. The news came from Berlin’s Dalia Research, which published the results of a Europe-wide EuroPulse study, which interviewed 12,000 people across 28 EU countries. A spokesperson for German chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out introducing same-sex marriage last year.

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

Mexico City: Businesses and travel industry representatives heard more about the importance of embracing diversity and inclusion in their policies and marketing at this year’s LGBT Confex, which drew to a close in Mexico City recently. LGBT Confex has been running for the past five years. It has previously taken place in tourist resort towns and cities such as Puerto Vallarta. This sixth outing is the first time it has taken place in the country’s capital, Mexico City.

The two-day event featured an exhibition space, workshops and speakers. Today’s event featured persuasive presentations by two US-based LGBT travel experts: Ed Salvato, Editor-in-Chief of ManAboutWorld and IGLTA board representive; and Tom Roth, of San Francisco-based Community Marketing. Salvato stressed the importance of appealing across LGBTI communities, and not just targeting gay men – pointing out that travel for many trans people can prove stressful if they are worried about passport gender discrepancies or how they might be treated abroad.
For Salvato, promoting tourism to the LGBT market was simply ‘smart business’: Not only is the right thing to do, but it demonstrates that a company is progressive and accepting – both values that LGBTI consumers show loyalty towards.

LGBTI people are a ‘small group that punches above its weight’, as many gay people are less likely to have kids and are known to travel twice as much as their heterosexual counterparts.
They also prioritize safety when travelling, and unlike some parts of the world that have experienced terrorist atrocities, Mexico is actually seen by some as relatively safe.
Salvato’s message was echoed by Roth. His organization, Community Marketing, takes regular surveys of LGBTI communities and has found that 79% of LGBT people have a passport in the US, compared with just 25% of the general US population. Of those 79%, 51% said they had used their passport in the last year. Roth also highlighted growing trends, such as lesbians with kids wanting family holidays in LGBTI-friendly destinations, and gay grandparents (who may have previously been in heterosexual relationships) who want to take their grandkids to resorts such as those run by Disney. He said just over 50% of millennial gay men and lesbians have expressed a desire to have kids some day.

Mexico, which is predominantly Catholic, is slowly coming around to the idea of embracing LGBTI consumers and employees. The legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide earlier this year has helped to change attitudes – even if the church and many of its members still strongly opposes such unions. Although multinational corporations generally understand the benefits of fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace – and promoting the fact to their customers – work still needs to be done in getting the message through to more small and medium sized businesses. However, the message does seem to be beginning to trickle down. At the LGBT Confex exhibition space, one of the smaller exhibitors, Cargo Rechy, echoed Salvato’s notion that marketing to the LGBT community is smart business.Other exhibitors tended towards the travel and boutique hotel market, alongside some of those larger corporates such as PepsiCo, Scotiabank and AT&T (who sponsored the event).

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

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