Politics and Society News Digest: November 2016

November 1, 2016 in General

London: Liberal Democrat Equalities spokeperson Lynne Featherstone says that the May administration wants to do away with civil partnerships altogether.

London: A straight couple trying to get a civil partnership for over a decade are taking their case to the Court of Appeal on November 2. Rebecca Steinfeld and partner Chris Keidan applied for a civil partnership in 2004 but were turned down, as they are only open to same-sex couples, unlike New Zealand’s Civil Union Act 2005. They then took their case to the High Court, however the application was rejected again. Now they are preparing to enter court once more to make their case, to appeal the ruling on November 2. They say if they are denied again, they will go to the Supreme Court and, if that fails, the European Court of Human Rights.

United States: Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulis is making a nuisance of himself again. Yiannopoulos delivered his latest drivel last week at the University of Delaware, where he claimed trans people are “gay men dressing up for attention” and described the trans community as “mentally ill”. The stupid brat also labelled trans people “mutilated trannies” who are “obsessed with being victims and being given special rights.” Yiannopoulos went on to attack gender confirmation surgery, calling it a “travesty of medicine”, before comparing it to “electro-shock therapy to cure homosexuality.” “Trannies can never be women, or men for the small slice of women insane enough to desire to give up female privilege,” he added. He also encouraged the audience to support anti-trans bathroom laws and drop the ‘T’ from the LGBT acronym.

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

London: A Conservative MP has demanded the BBC censor a show about transgender kids. The anti-LGBTI MP for Wellingborough, Peter Bone, made the extraordinary claim after the Mail on Sunday ran a misleading story about a kids’ TV show. The CBBC show, Just A Girl, follows 11-year-old Amy on her journey to get hormone control and begin her transition.
The newspaper claimed the show was “‘sowing the seeds of confusion” into young viewers’ minds and encouraging children to get “sex changes” – even though under-18s do not receive hormones or gender surgery in the UK. Teenagers can receive drugs to delay the onset of puberty, but their effects are entirely reversible. In response to the article Mr Bone, who has been an MP since 2005 and consistently voted against every single LGBT rights measure, called on the broadcaster to censor the show. So has the right-wing Murdoch gutter tabloid, the Mail on Sunday.

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

Canberra: PFLAG are stepping up their campaign arguing against the long-awaited Australian plebiscite on gay marriage goes to Senate on November 7. It says the process of campaigning could be too taxing for Australian gay marriage advocates. The plebiscite, which PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and Australian LGBTI group just.equal describe as ‘hurtful, expensive, divisive and unnecessary’, is due to enter the Australian Senate next week. Both groups behind the anti-plebiscite campaign makeitlaw.com.au fully support marriage equality, but believe the process of campaigning will stress LGBTI families.
‘Public votes on marriage equality put a huge and unnecessary strain on same-sex couples and their families,’ a PFLAG spokesperson, Shelley Argent, said. A major concern of the proposed plebiscite has been the expected cost. It has been estimated that could be as high as $525m (€477m). An online plebiscite has been suggested as an alternative that would be less expensive, but Argent says it ‘misses the point.’ The fundamental problem with a plebiscite is the human cost not the financial cost.’

Instead of having a plebiscite they argue the issue should go straight to the Senate. The campaigners from Ireland’s 2015 constitutional amendment, which passed in favor of marriage equality, said they were targeted by people in their communities for campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote.
‘There was a hidden cost to the Irish referendum,’ Sharon Dane said, a co-author of a University of Queensland and Victoria University study examining the suffering caused specifically to LGBTI people during last year’s campaign. It reported that, among 1,500 respondents, less than a quarter of those surveyed would do it all again.
‘Many same-sex couples and their families are still suffering from the hurtful and negative messages the referendum enabled.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: A gay man has received an apology and an undisclosed amount of compensation after the Metropolitan Police admitted they failed to investigate alleged homophobic abuse against him. David Cary, 54, sued the Metropolitan Police for discrimination, claiming they did not properly investigate allegations he was verbally abused by a neighbour in 2007. The case was due to be heard in the Court of Appeal this week but Scotland Yard agreed to compensate Mr Cary and apologise to him. Mr Cary was cycling home when assailed by a female neighbour who unleashed a verbal torrent of homophobic abuse in 2007. This wasn’t the first time abuse had been reported from this particular neighbour. Mr Cary told Today that she had been convicted of ABH [Actual Bodily Harm] for breaking his jaw four years prior to the abuse. Having appealed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission [IPCC] on two occasions – and had his complaint rejected both times – Mr Cary decided to take legal action against both the Met and the IPCC in January 2010, report BBC News. The IPCC agreed to settle the case in 2012, however, the Met continued to defend the claim. That is, until this week. David’s case was due to be heard on October 31, however Scotland Yard offered to settle the case and issued a written apology – more than nine years after the original homophobic incident.

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

Victoria: AT least 12 members of the LGBTI community have been elected to councils across Victoria following the local government elections over the weekend. The state’s local government previously had the lowest percentage of LGBTI representation of any tier of government, with only five councillors identifying as queer. However, this number has more than doubled and there is now a higher percentage of LGBTI representation in local government than there is in state parliament. Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Sean Mulcahy said the 39 known candidates had a higher success rate than non-LGBTI candidates, dispelling ideas of an anti-LGBTI bias among voters.

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

United States: A study in the US has reaffirmed that children adopted by same-sex parents experience the same behavioural issues as those adopted by heterosexual parents. Professor Rachel Farr at the University of Kentucky studied nearly 100 adoptive families with lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parents, focusing on children that were both pre-school aged and in the middle of their childhood. Any behavioural problems were then reported by parents and teachers and assessed.
In an interview with MedicalResearch.com Farr said there were few behavioural problems overall, regardless of whether the children were adopted by lesbian mothers, gay fathers, or heterosexual parents.

“Any adjustment among children, parents, or couples were not different on the basis of parental sexual orientation. Rather, children’s behaviour problems were predicted by earlier child adjustment issues and parenting stress. There were no differences among these family types.”

She added that although parents showed more stress when children were school-aged, they were also satisfied in their couple relationships overall irrespective of their gender.

“When children were school-aged, parents reported high family functioning, with no differences among lesbian, gay, or heterosexual parent families. In these diverse adoptive families, as has been found in many other family forms, family processes appear to be more important than family structure to longitudinal child outcomes and family functioning.”

Both in Australia and abroad, parenting by lesbian and gay adults and the outcomes for their children are often brought up in debates around LGBTI rights. Farr said it’s important to include research like hers in that dialogue.

“As sexual minority parents increasingly adopt children, research about child development, parenting, and family relationships is crucial for informing such debates. These findings are consistent with previous literature about families headed by LGBTI parents.

“The results have implications for advancing supportive policies, practices, and laws related to adoption and parenting by sexual minority adults. These findings may also help to move public debate forward about parenting and child outcomes across a diversity of family forms.”

Farr believes prospective parents shouldn’t be barred or limited from adopting based on their sexual orientation.

“There is no evidence indicating any reason prospective parents should be barred or limited from adopting based on their sexual orientation. All prospective adoptive parents should be rigorously screened before adopting children, regardless of sexual orientation. Given that children do well with lesbian and gay parents, adoption agencies would do well to reach out to this particular population of prospective adoptive parents.”

Source: http://www.starobserver.com

Vancouver: A fledgling Vancouver charity that supports LGBT refugees says it’s rethinking its approach to fundraising after it saw a dip in donations this past year. The charity, Rainbow Foundation of Hope, raises funds mainly through its annual Strut Walk, held in June for the last two years. Participants wear gender non-conforming footwear and march through downtown Vancouver. The charity — established two years ago — in turn awards the funds raised to other charities that have support programs for LGBT refugees.

This year’s Strut Walk raised roughly $45,000, only 80 percent of the $58,000 volunteers committed to raising, says president Carl Meadows. The $45,000 raised is also down from the previous year’s inaugural Strut Walk, which raised a total of $51,000. The figures contrast with a slight increase in participation. This year, 120 people took part, compared to around 100 the year prior. According to Meadows, the gap between projected and actual donations is an issue to tackle in the run-up to next year’s event.The Rainbow Foundation of Hope received charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency in March 2015, just months before its first Strut Walk. Since then, the charity claims to have raised just over $100,000. The funds are doled out as grants to registered charities for either community service projects or private refugee sponsorships.But the application process is strict, and precludes organizations without registered charitable status — a policy determined by the Canada Revenue Agency. This means some organizations, such as Vancouver’s Rainbow Refugee, aren’t eligible to receive funds directly, Wilkinson says.

Instead, Rainbow Refugee co-founder Chris Morrissey says they have to partner with other charitable groups to apply for and hold funds on their behalf. Those groups, such as the United Church of Canada, can then disperse resources for Rainbow Refugee projects.Morrissey says Rainbow Refugee, which has been helping LGBT refugees escape persecution in their home countries since 2001, sometimes by connecting them with potential private sponsors in Canada, has applied for charitable status and is now awaiting an answer from the Canada Revenue Agency.

In 2015, the Rainbow Foundation of Hope awarded $25,000 in sponsorship and community service grants to two charities, Mosaic BC and Rainbow Railroad, comprising 64 percent of total expenses. This year, roughly $22,000 in community service grants went to Egale Canada Human Rights Trust and the Inland Refugee Society. The Rainbow Foundation of Hope spent 12 percent of its expenses on management and administration, and 24 percent on fundraising in 2015. Those figures, which come directly from the Canada Revenue Agency, aren’t yet available for this year.

According to Darae Lee, manager of Mosaic BC’s settlement and integration program, the $7,500 grant awarded by the Rainbow Foundation of Hope last year was critical to its I Belong program, a free counselling program for LGBT refugees. The program started two years ago under federal government funding. Six months after starting, that funding was cut. The Rainbow Foundation of Hope grant has since allowed the organization to hire three counsellors who specialize in refugee trauma to help LGBT refugees transition to life in Canada.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

New York: Even though a healthcare provider’s role is to assure the best interest of a patient’s health, new research shows that their personal values and moral judgments are likely to interfere when prescribing PrEP, a daily drug preventing an HIV-negative person from contracting HIV during sex. Sarah Calabrese of Yale University presented research at the HIV Research for Prevention conference showing that medical students were less likely to prescribe PrEP to gay men who were not monogamous, as well as to men who acknowledged not using condoms. Contrastingly, men who were at low risk of contracting HIV had a better chance of being prescribed PrEP.

Miami: When Bob Poe announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 10th District last January, he hadn’t yet come out publically about his HIV status. From first glance, he seems like many other politicians: a good-looking, middle aged, successful white entrepreneur. Behind the suit, however, Poe is anything but your run of the mill politico.Poe says he was first diagnosed in 1998, and the early years were especially hard. While he was chair of the state Democratic Party in 2000, Poe would tear the labels off his medicine bottles, shred them, and drive to a far off location to discard the empty bottles in a random dumpster, terrified someone would find out. He lived like this for years until one day he received clarity.

Los Angeles: Every American citizen has the right to vote, including my community of transgender and gender-nonconforming people. However, sometimes we face disenfranchisement because of unreasonable voting requirements, intimidation, or outright discrimination. Exercising our voting right requires that we fight to overcome various legal and/or prejudicial barriers. In March 2016, the Williams Institute — a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law that produces high-quality research with real-world relevance and disseminates studies to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public — published the report “Voter ID Laws and Their Added Costs for Transgender Voters.” Transgender people who have transitioned to live in a gender different from their sex assigned at birth must go through additional steps and face additional costs compared to cisgender people (i.e., people who are not transgender) to meet these strict photo ID requirements. It can be difficult and costly for a transgender person to obtain photo ID that accurately reflects their gender and appearance after transition. These costs impose disparate burdens on transgender individuals who wish to vote in these states.

Fees associated with updating these documents with a change of gender can range from $8 to $358. Court orders, proof of identity and citizenship, and documentation of medical treatment, among other documents, are also sometimes required to make these changes, and some states only allow individuals to update their IDs after receiving transition-related surgery, regardless of whether they need to undergo surgery as part of their transition.

Prior analysis by the Williams Institute estimated that about 24,000 transgender people were disenfranchised in the 2014 election. Recent updates now put that figure at more than 34,000 transgender people.

Fortunately in California, the law does not require voters to present photo ID to be able to vote. However, many transgender and/or gender-nonconforming people fear that poll workers may treat them disrespectfully and therefore choose to not exercise their right to vote.

To help overcome these fears, the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, partnered with the cty of West Hollywood’s Transgender Advisory Board and the city of Los Angeles’s Transgender Advisory Council to provide voter registration and empowerment events for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Representatives from the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk’s Office also participated by providing detailed information about voter rights and how to become paid poll workers.

Further, Drian Juarez, transgender economic empowerment project manager for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, prepared poll worker tips for appropriate interactions at the polls with transgender and gender-nonconforming voters. These tips are being used by the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk to train poll workers for the November 8 election. Variations on these tips about how to interact respectfully have also been provided to voting officials in several other states.

The poll worker rTips information sheet includes definitions of trasgender identity and appearance.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales, writes for PinkNews as the Crown Prosecution Service undertakes a public consultation on its approach to homophobic and transphobic hate crime:

Without question, laws which relate to the rights of gay and transgender people have undergone profound change in recent decades. Campaigners have rightly celebrated the huge strides made towards greater equality. As the Crown Prosecution Service marks its 30th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on how different things are. In October 1986 the CPS became fully operational across England and Wales – a new, independent prosecuting authority brought about by the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985. Before that, the police had the last word over which cases went to trial.
I have been with the CPS since the start and one of the most striking things as I look back, is how our work has changed along with major shifts in the values and beliefs held by the society we serve. As attitudes, technologies and political realities evolve, old offences fall away and new offences emerge. For the public to have confidence in the criminal justice system, it needs to keep pace with changes in social norms as well as legislative changes.
It seems almost unbelievable now, for instance, that until 25 years ago, no-one could be prosecuted for marital rape. It simply wasn’t recognised in law.

Society’s attitudes on a raft of major issues have changed immeasurably since 1986, but few areas has seen such striking progress as gay and trans rights, with milestones including equality in age of consent, civil partnerships and, most recently, gay marriage. It’s telling that no official statistics exist to tell us the extent of homophobic hate crime at that time – the data only goes back as far as 2004, with transphobic hate crime being recorded as a separate category from 2013. The lack of data does not disguise that, for many gay people, discrimination and hostility was all too real.

For most LGBT people, wider society is a very much more welcoming place these days, but as our latest Hate Crime Report showed earlier this year, there is much still to do. In 2015/16 we prosecuted 1,439 cases of homophobic and transphobic hate crime, a rise of 12 per cent on the previous year, with a conviction rate of 83.0%. It’s impossible to know if that reflects a rise in actual offences, better recognition of these types of crimes by victims, the police and the CPS, or a bit of both. From our point of view, we now work very closely with police to ensure that hate crimes of all kinds are recognised and dealt with as such at the earliest opportunity. This provides reassurance to victims that the severity of the crime committed against them is being acknowledged, and, ultimately, can lead to the offender being given an increased sentence. Hate crimes attract an additional penalty when we can provide evidence of hostility based on the victim’s gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion or disability. But we know that we can still do more, and we want to involve interested parties in shaping our policies and how we work.

We recently launched a public consultation on how we deal with homophobic and transphobic hate crime. You can find our draft policy here. This will run alongside consultations on crimes against disabled people and racial and religiously aggravated hate crime until 9 January. Consultations play a crucial role in keeping our guidance relevant and our prosecutors well-equipped to deal with modern crime. We need the comments and opinions of communities and individuals affected by hate crimes to help us inform the way we deal with such cases in the future. We are very keen to hear from members of the LGBT community, from hate crime victims, campaigners, community groups, witnesses and friends. This is an issue that we are determined to tackle and the voice of the LGBT community needs to be heard. I would urge anyone who feels they can contribute to make their views known.

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

Beijing: Chinese television Jin Xing has been trans for the last fourteen years.

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

Chicago: A haunted house in Chicago that claims to be Christian has been stopped from depicting the Pulse massacre as entertainment. ‘The Room: A Journey to Hell’ billed itself as a ‘Christian interactive experience with 12 rooms of ‘action-packed, real and jaw-dropping’ terror’. It was planned to take place in Fernwood Elementary School on 29 and 30 October. Tyrone Tappler Productions, which organized ‘The Room’, put out a call on Facebook asking for volunteers willing to recreate the Pulse shooting where 49 LGBTI people and allies were murdered.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

London: 27 year old Tara Hudson has called for more training for prison staff and clearer rules on trans inmates after being treated “like cattle” while serving a six month sentence, the BBC reports. Tara was initially placed inside HMP Bristol, a men’s prison, because her legal gender was male. During her time there, she was segregated from the rest of the prisoners and kept in her cell, while the rest of the prisoners were able to take part in educational courses or use the gym. It took a national outcry for her to be moved to a women’s prison, HMP Eastwood.

“I could tell that they weren’t really ready for a prisoner like myself. Because of my gender identity they felt they had to lock me up in segregation and keep me away from the main population of the prison. I felt like I was being persecuted by the state… I felt I had no rights.. I felt like an animal in a zoo.”

The Ministry of Justice have since told the BBC that a national review was looking into how to ensure people are placed in the correct prisons, adding that discretion can be shown in cases such as Tara’s. HMP Eastwood’s governor, Suzy Dymong-White, has called for prisoners to be treated as “individuals,” saying, “I would prefer to maintain people as individuals and transgender people are at different states of transition and they have different backgrounds and they’re in different states not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. A basic set of guidelines is always useful but actually we should assess the people as individuals and look at what their needs are.”

MP and Women and Equalities Select Committee member Ben Howlett said that “This issue is systematic of how much prejudice, discrimination and misunderstanding there is around trans community in today’s society.”

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

Rio de Janeiro: A fundamentalist bishop has been elected Mayor of Rio de Janeiro. Marcelo Crivella, of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, was voted into the office of mayor with an overwhelming 59.37% of the vote, compared to 40.6% for his progressive opponent Marcelo Freixo.

It marks a new era for the city, often regarded as a liberal party capital, as it enters a conservative era under Marcelo who has in the past made several anti-LGBT comments, according to Forbes. In his book, Evangelizing Africa, he called homosexuality “maligned conduct” and a “terrible evil”, while during a talk show appearance in 2009 he shared his belief that being gay is a sin and is “not natural”. Despite these past comments, Marcelo has promised that he won’t cut budgeting for the city’s annual LGBT Pride parade, and stated in a recent interview with Extra that his job as a mayor is to “govern for all”, including LGBT people.

Claudio Nascimento, coordinator of the state-backed LGBT rights group Rio Without Homophobia, told CNN: “We are very concerned about the results of the municipal elections.

“We need a guarantee that the new mayor is going to govern for all and not just for one religion and respect the separation of church and state.”

Earlier this year at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Brazilian rugby player Isadora Cerullo got engaged to her girlfriend Marjorie Enya on the pitch after the women’s rugby sevens final.

Marjorie said: “She is the love of my life. The Olympic Games can look like closure but for me it’s starting a new life with someone. I wanted to show people that love wins.”

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

London: Public Health England today awarded £600,000 in funding to support 13 innovative, voluntary-led HIV prevention projects across England. The National HIV Prevention Innovation Fund, now in its second year, supports projects that offer new and inventive ways of delivering information and advice surrounding the many aspects of the HIV epidemic. This year’s collection of 13 successful projects, selected from 102 applications, range from the production of British Sign Language [BSL] videos for deaf sexual health advice, Chemsex/HIV prevention projects that tackle the stigma and discrimination associated with chemsex and online web-chat support for marginalised communities living in rural areas.

In addition to distributing funding out of the cities to more hard-to-reach areas, this year also focuses on Black African communities and the trans community; with one project set to publish materials on sexual health and hormone therapy, alcohol and substance abuse in the trans community and non-binary sexual health.

“It’s an incredibly exciting list of innovations, which offer us hope that in some of the most challenging areas of tackling HIV in the UK, we have some hope of improvement and problem solving.” commented Nicola Blackwood MP, Minister for Public Health, Mental Health and Innovation. “It is a fantastic variety of great projects that focus on different communities and different geographies; some are using technologies to deliver advice and support, while others are taking more tradition models of delivery, but re-focusing them to reach different audiences.”

New diagnoses of HIV remain high among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, with around 3,000 new cases every year. Today’s projects hope to tackle those directly, through a combination of education, prevention and early diagnosis of the virus.

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

Melbourne: The Australian Christian Lobby has renewed its calls for the Victorian Government to remove material from the Respectful Relationships program designed for high school children. The calls come following ex-Liberal candidate, teacher and mother-of-three Moira Deeming appearing on Channel Ten News last night, claiming that she would rather lose her job than teach elements of the Respectful Relationships or Safe Schools programs.

In a press release which hilariously warned readers of describing “sexually degrading concepts”, ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn claimed it was clear that the value of the program was being undermined by inappropriate sexualised material and contested gender theory. Respectful Relationships was designed as an anti-domestic violence program. As was to be expected, upon closer inspection the “sexually degrading concepts” promised in the typically sensationalised press release simply involve the importance of practising safe sex and basic education around same-sex alternatives to heterosexual intercourse.

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

Adelaide: The South Australian Greens are calling for a PrEP trial in that Australian state. There are currently trials underway in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, which have already provided the effective HIV prevention pill to thousands of men who have sex with men. Green State MP Tamm Franks said South Australia must also rise to the international goal of reaching zero new HIV infections by 2020.

“There were still 69 new diagnosed infections in our state [in 2013] and 1,440 in total. Low compared to the mainland eastern states but still unacceptably high when we know we can do so much more. Why should South Australians miss out on a drug that is being trialled and so available just over the border, especially when this drug gives people control over their health and provides peace of mind?”

Franks said the Labor party had been ‘strongly resistant’ to running a trial which prompted her to put the motion up in the first place. During a recent phone conversation the government told her the prospective pool of participants in a PrEP trial would be too small to run one. If Labor votes against the trial, Franks will need both the Liberal, Greens, and independent members to get it passed. However, she hopes the introduction of the motion will start a conversation in the Labor party in the lead up to the vote.

“Rather than sit on the sidelines the South Australian government could be actively preventing potential harm. Surely South Australia Health isn’t in the business of sitting idly by while people get needlessly sick? It’s the Department of Health not the department for doing nothing.”

Each new HIV infection brings with it significant health and personal impacts, with lifelong costs estimated at $200,000 to $300,000.

“Surely if there was a smaller group of participants it would make it both more cheaper and more manageable. In many ways it’s as much a health intervention as a ‘clinical trial.’”

Chief Executive of the Victorian AIDS Council Simon Ruth pointed out that South Australia had committed to ending new HIV infections along with all other Australian governments.

“All Australian governments have committed to a target of no new infections by 2020. This target is unachievable unless all evidence based prevention options are made available. PrEP is by far the most effective form of prevention for those at high risk of HIV and needs to be made available as quickly as possible.”

While PrEP has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), a submission to subsidise it under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) was denied earlier this year. After introducing the motion for a trial in South Australia, it will be voted on November 30 – the day before World AIDS Day. Minister for Health Jack Snelling was contacted for comment.

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

Ottawa: The Canadian federal government faces increasing pressure to deliver on its promise to right historical wrongs against LGBT Canadians, from both activists and members of Parliament — including some Liberals.

On Oct 31, 2016, lawyers filed two class-action lawsuits, seeking at least $600 million in compensation for LGBT Canadians pushed out of the military and public service. Meanwhile, the House defence committee unanimously voted on Oct 25 to ask the government to have the military’s ombudsman probe the issue. Researchers estimate that 800 to 1,200 Canadians were dishonourably discharged due to homosexuality, until the practice was banned in 1992.

During the Cold War, authorities feared LGBT soldiers could be blackmailed by foreign enemies into divulging confidential information. At the Nov 1 press conference, Martine Roy recounted starting her military career as a medical assistant at age 19, and being questioned by investigators about her sex life. Roy was promoted at age 20 and given a top-secret clearance, but four months later she was dishonourably released for homosexuality. Three decades later, after 10 years of supporting other LGBT Canadians who have faced discrimination, Roy said she needs justice. On Oct 31, a lawsuit was filed in a Montreal court for former government employees in Quebec who feel they were wrongly pushed from the public service, while a similar suit filed in Toronto involves Canadians outside Quebec, led by constitutional lawyer Douglas Elliott.Elliott’s case comes a month after nine members of Parliament voted unanimously for a motion asking Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to have the military’s ombudsman, “revise the service records of LGBTQ members of the Canadian Forces who received dishonourable discharges from the military based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.” NDP MP Randall Garrison noted that all five of the committee’s Liberal MPs supported his motion. In a phone call with reporters shortly after the Oct 25 motion, Sajjan wouldn’t say whether he’d get the military ombudsman involved.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Washington DC: November 2 is the deadline for the US Army to issue guidance for how commanders and soldiers are to respond to a transitioning transgender service member in their unit. And unlike the political brouhaha the very word “transgender” causes among many polarized civilians, the Army appears to be taking the changes in stride. There are an estimated 1,320 to 6,630 trans people actively serving in the military out of approximately 1.3 million troops on active duty, according to research conducted for the Department of Defense by the Rand Corp. While formal policies to plan a transition from diagnosis to changing gender markers in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System are being worked out, out gay Army Secretary Eric Fanning tells The Advocate that the Army has already been operating under an interim policy with no observable problems.Fanning notes that the military has experienced resistance to change before. “Going back to integration in the 1940s, it’s the same argument. And it has been proven wrong each time,” says Fanning. “And my experience with the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ — and then the way we have opened up service to women — is that it just kind of hits with a dull thud out in the field. I think most people didn’t realize that transgender wasn’t a part of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ when the policy was repealed.”

Most young soldiers joining the Army are familiar with the fight for equality and LGBT rights, he says. They’re coming from “increasingly diverse communities and they’re used to it. They make it work and in many ways, as we work through some of these things, I always figure the best strategy is for us to just get out of the way because the soldiers in the field figure it out on their own.”

Fanning says much of the resistance to change is generational. He’s surrounded by some senior generals “who get worried about change,” but then he’ll talk to a colonel who says he can work with the situation. “And then I go out into the field and talk to young officers or young soldiers, who kind of look at me like I’m crazy for even asking the question.”

That may be a result in the corresponding change in judging qualifications, as ordered by the Obama administration. Standards are now linked to the job, “not arbitrary standards that you have to jump so high or run so fast or something, but linked to what you actually need to do to do a job. And then everything else goes by the wayside,” says Fanning. “If you can meet these requirements and you want to serve, then you have the opportunity to do so.”

Taking a moment to “brag on the Army,” Fanning notes that this branch of the military has already researched the standard requirements for each job: “You need to lift this much weight this high because that’s actually how much that gun or that round of ammunition weighs and that’s how big the back of the truck is. And then you can just knock everything else out. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, your gender, who you love — anything like that. A requirement is a requirement is a requirement.”

Training on transitioning transgender service members must be integrated into the existing training rotation by next July, with a complete report for the inspector general on compliance due by October 2018.

Fanning speaks with authority on senior civilian oversight of the military. He has served on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee and as deputy undersecretary of the Navy, deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, undersecretary and then acting secretary of the Air Force (in 2013), deputy secretary of Defense (chief of staff), acting undersecretary of the Army, and finally, Secretary of the Army.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: Seven local Log Cabin chapters have so far endorsed Donald Trump for president, even though the national US Log Cabin Republican organization is withholding its own support. Colorado is the latest local chapter confirmed to endorse the Republican nominee. It joins local chapters in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Texas, Georgia, and Orange County, Calif. that the national chapter confirms have issued Trump endorsements.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: UKIP leadership candidate Jonathan Rees-Evans has insisted that it is “entirely acceptable” for a candidate for his party to compare gay people to Nazi stormtroopers. The Brexit-backing UK Independence Party is holding its second leadership election of the year, following the resignations of Nigel Farage and short-lived leader Diane James. During a leadership hustings on Iain Dale’s LBC show, one of the four candidates, Jonathan Rees-Evans brought up notoriously anti-gay UKIP candidate Alan Craig. Asked whether Mr Craig’s views were acceptable for a UKIP candidate, Mr Rees-Evans said: “It is entirely acceptable for a UKIP candidate to have any views that he likes.
“He’s not homophobic, what he’s saying is that the LGBT militant wing, not people who happen to be gay or lesbian, but people who go and protest against Christians’ rights, these people are militants. It’s interesting, because my campaign manager, who happens to identify himself as gay, would say pretty much the same thing. He very much opposes this militant attitude that a lot of the LGBT, you know…”

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

Mexico City: A cardinal has issued a formal apology after condemning same-sex marriage and gay sex, including saying a man’s anus was not ‘designed to receive’. Norberto Rivera Carrera was reacting to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s May announcement he wanted to officially recognize same-sex marriage nationwide. In June 2016, Mexico’s Supreme Court said every civil state authority should ‘recognize marriage as a human right and that people can enter into marriage without any kind of discrimination’.
However, the ruling was not legally binding for all states. This has led to protests in multiple cities across the country from homophobic groups speaking out against marriage equality.
Carrera called the marriage equality bill a ‘terrible stab in the back’ and urged LGBTI Mexicans to ‘abstain from having sex in the Catholic weekly Desde La Fe.
‘A man’s anus is not designed to receive,’ he wrote. But after this was widely mocked by LGBTI activists and liberal politicians, he issued an apology to the LGBTI community on behalf of the Archdiocese of Mexico.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Kampala: Ugandan police are reportedly using the barbaric practice of anal exams to determine whether men they arrest have had sex with other men. The humiliating, painful and totally unacceptable use of anal exams have been brought to light once again in Uganda, after a gay men revealed the horrible reality of the practice. In January 2014, Jackson Mukasa was asleep in his home in Kampala when he was awakened by chanting outside. “The homos are in there!” shouted the crowd, banging pots and pans.

“We opened the door, and there were police and people everywhere. The local councilman was there, yelling ‘Out with the homos! You are scaring people in the area.’ I still have scars from the beatings that followed,” Jackson told Reuters.

After being beaten by the mob, he and his friend were taken by police and allegedly subjected to forced anal examinations.

“We were questioned, beaten again, forced to admit to homosexuality. They took us to … (a) clinic in Kampala where we were examined. It is so painful. The doctor puts a machine up your rectum. It hurts so much, and there is blood.”

Uganda is one of the 36 countries in Africa where homosexuality remains illegal and carries a potential sentence of life in prison. A Kampala police spokesman, Emilian Kayima, denied that the forced examinations took place.

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

London: Gay City worker Paul Newton is suing his former hedge fund employer for more than £1 million after he allegedly experienced ‘constant jibes’ about his sexuality. Mr Newton, 43, claims he was mocked by staff at Balyasny Europe Asset Management. They reportedly made limp-wristed hand gestures and regularly called him a “very camp gay man”. The London Evening Standard report that colleagues allegedly treated Mr Newton like a “curiosity”, made jokes about the size of his genitals and spread rumours that he was having sex with the office cleaner.

Newton was fired on June 28 this year. He claims no reason was given but six weeks later his employers cited poor performance and losses he suffered in the aftermath of the European referendum vote. He claims however, that other straight, male managers who lost more were allowed to keep their jobs. Because of these claims, Mr Newton is suing his former employers for unfair dismissal, arguing that his leaving was actually the result of a sustained ‘campaign of homophobic abuse’.

The firm is fighting the claims, say they are “without merit”, report the Evening Standard, and maintain that they are known for cultivating a “collaborative, collegial culture” in their office. In a writ lodged with the Central London employment tribunal, Newton claims he “was forced to work in an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for individuals with his sexual orientation”. He also alleges “was constantly told that he looked like a woman and asked whether he dyed his hair”. He is seeking an admission by his former hedge fund that he was harassed and discriminated against, an acceptance that he was unlawfully dismissed, and damages for the effects of his alleged treatment.

Balyasny Asset Management said in a statement seen by the Standard that it is “committed, by policy and ethical commitment, to a workforce free from harassment.

“We take seriously any allegations of a hostile work environment and believe these allegations are without merit. We look forward to operating through the legal process and bringing the truth to light in this matter. We regret that Paul has chosen to litigate. It is particularly sad as Balyasny is known industry wide for its collaborative, collegial culture. We believe the case has no merit and will resist the claim vigorously.”

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

Bath: The Conservative MP for Bath, Ben Howlett, has been reportedly questioned by police over an alleged sex assault. The Sun Newspaper reports that Mr Howlett voluntarily attended a police station to speak to detectives after a complaint was made. The alleged attack is said to have taken place in May following a Eurovision Song Contest results party in the MP’s constituency. Avon and Somerset Constabulary said Mr Howlett had not been arrested and inquiries were ongoing.

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

Canberra: In light of Intersex Awareness Day last week, UN experts and the Australian Human Rights Commission have renewed calls to urgently end human rights violations against children and adults with intersex variations.

In a statement, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote: “States must, as a matter of urgency, prohibit medically unnecessary surgery and procedures on intersex children. They must uphold the autonomy of intersex adults and children and their rights to health, to physical and mental integrity, to live free from violence and harmful practices and to be free from torture and ill-treatment. Intersex children and their parents should be provided with support and counselling, including from peers.”

Australian Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow promised that “the Commission will evaluate the current approaches to medical interventions in Australia. We will develop a nationally consistent, human rights based approach to decision making regarding medical interventions.” The Commission has recommitted itself to implementing recommendations made during the 2013 Senate Inquiry into involuntary and coerced sterilization of intersex people in Australia.

OII Australia, an organisation dedicated to supporting Intersex Australians, has warmly commended and welcomed both statements. Co-chair of OII, Morgan Carpenter, told Same Same the statements are “deeply significant”.

“I know from speaking at public events that people are surprised that human rights violations – including sterilisation and genital mutilations – still take place on intersex people in Australia,” Morgan said. “I hope that people might take the time to find out more about the lived realities for many intersex people.”

The statements also commend the work of intersex activists and organisations, like OII, which Carpenter says is great to have recognised.

Currently, many people with intersex variations are subjected to forced surgeries to ‘fix’ such characteristics, which often result in sterilisation, and loss of sensation and sexual function. These surgeries can be carried out on babies, who are unaware and unable to consent to such procedures.

These medical interventions can lead to a great deal of distress and mental health issues, and promote the stigmatisation of intersex bodies. Calls to end such medical interventions are necessary to intersex lives, and the destigmatisation of intersex people.

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

Brisbane: Some great news for same-sex couples in Queensland today, with the Palaszczuk Government last night passing the Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill, allowing same-sex couples, single people and those undergoing fertility treatment to adopt a child in Queensland. The amendment was passed despite rejection from the LNP, which argued that a relaxed policy wasn’t warranted.

“Prospective parents are waiting years to adopt children after getting on the waiting list, meaning there aren’t enough children seeking adoption to warrant a relaxation. There is no demand so there’s no need to expand the eligibility. And it’s also unfair to build unrealistic expectations of any Queenslander wishing to adopt.”

However, Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman hit back, saying that adoption wasn’t a simple matter of supply and demand.

“It is a matter of fairness, it’s a matter of removing unfair discrimination from the Queensland statute books. Expanding the eligibility criteria provides a wider and richer pool of people that we can ultimately find the right home for each child who requires adoption. Loving, nurturing and safe environments are in the best interests of the child. Gender orientation is no barrier to this.”

Ms Fentiman added that the new law would also help streamline an adoptee’s access to information regarding birth parents or other blood relatives. The welcome change brings Queensland into step with the majority of other Australian States, apart from South Australia and the Northern Territory, the lone holdouts.

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

Ottawa: Government officials say Canada’s looming effort to purge criminal convictions for consensual homosexual acts could cost $4.1 million and face “nightmarish” bureaucratic hurdles, Daily Xtra has learned.

Nevertheless, public servants told the government they would have been able to start the process by September 2016, according to documents released under access-to-information laws, raising questions as to why the review still hasn’t started. On Feb 27, 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he would seek a posthumous pardon for Everett Klippert, who was labelled a dangerous offender for consensual gay sex. The next day, his spokesman said the government will review all convictions of “buggery” and “gross indecency” laws prior to 1969, when they were restricted to mostly non-consensual activity. The government has only said publicly and to bureaucrats to look into cases before 1969, but there’s no mention of afterwards.

In 400 pages of exchanges obtained by Daily Xtra, Parole Board of Canada employees say roughly 6,000 sentences could be reviewed, with an RCMP search showing the oldest dating back to October 1939. “A manual review of each file would be needed to determine the circumstances surrounding the convictions,” according to one memorandum.

However, the Parole Board said in the documents that it would be ready, “to post information on its website for September 1, 2016 to inform individuals with the specific convictions that they may apply for clemency.”

The documents suggest the Liberals are interested in modelling an Australian program that involves cost-free reviews of convictions for people who feel they were charged because of homophobia, but bars them from any compensation. The documents also reveal that over 300 Canadians convicted under either charge have requested pardons on their own since 2000, with a success rate of 98 percent.

According to the documents, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale was leaning toward replicating how the Australian state of Victoria is expunging records. A June 6 email says Goodale’s office wants bureaucrats to study how the model “can be applied in the Canadian context. As they point out, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.”

Since, Sept 1, 2015, LGBT Australians in Victoria (or their relatives, if they are deceased) have been able to request a cost-free review of any convictions they feel were motivated by homophobia. Investigators are asked to consider any criminal convictions that requesters feel were motivated by homophobia; they are not restricted to a list of criminal charges associated with homophobia. For example, this allows a review of convictions under vague laws about public sex that were used to arrest men in private bathhouses.

The minister’s office then parses through any available evidence and decides to expunge the records if “on the balance of probabilities” the person would likely not have been charged under present-day laws. The agencies only act on “written evidence” from either court records or from the other person involved in the act, if they are alive.

The government did not respond to Daily Xtra’s request for comment on the documents, which date from February to July 2016. The lack of a timeline and plan of action has frustrated activists. he Australian state’s program has no end date, operates under strict confidentiality and offers an appeal at the state’s civil court, as well as another application if more information becomes available. However, the law states, “a person who has an expunged conviction is not entitled to compensation of any kind,” regardless of whether they served jail time or had to pay fines.

Constitutional lawyer Douglas Elliott, who helped Egale Canada publish an extensive review in June on how the government could issue pardons and apologies to persecuted queer Canadians, says the Liberals have a constitutional obligation to offer compensation.

“When your charter rights are violated, you’re entitled to damages from the state. This isn’t rocket science — this isn’t some special favour that they’re doing,” he says. “They certainly spared no expense in persecuting people.”

Gary Kinsman, who has researched the persecution of LGBT Canadians for decades, notes that in 1992, the Canadian military compensated former soldier Michelle Douglas and other ousted soldiers in a settlement after she sued for employment discrimination.

Prior to Canada’s public safety minister weighing in, bureaucrats had proposed four options to fulfill the federal government’s promise — each with their own shortfalls.

The first option would have applicants ask Parole Board officials to investigate their case. The bureaucrats would probe all existing records, and make a recommendation to the minister of public safety on whether to issue a “free pardon,” which would result in a letter to all relevant agencies notifying them to erase the wrongful convictions.

This would have started with a publicity campaign aimed to start Oct 1, and would fall under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, an exceptional process meant to void individual, unjust convictions that have demonstrably caused harm — compared with the regular pardon system that rewards well-behaving people after they were legitimately convicted.

The second option would have applicants pay a $631 fee to request a “record suspension,” formerly known as a pardon, which is a review of their entire criminal record, and not specific convictions. If deemed successful by Parole Board employees, their history of convictions is kept separate in criminal record checks, but put back in if they commit a crime. The waiting period for these requests is five to 10 years.

The third option involves a similar process, with the cost and waiting time waived and a review of just the relevant convictions. This would require a legal amendment to be passed in Parliament, which could be tabled in spring 2017 alongside some unrelated amendments to the pardon system that the government has mulled.

The fourth option, expungement, echoes the first option. Applicants would ask to have their criminal records deleted, but this would be through a new process requiring Parliament to pass an amendment. This process would have bureaucrats make the decision, instead of a government minister.

Bureaucrats also briefly explored more efficient options. One option involved searching for available records and notifying people who were convicted — as well as the families of those who are deceased — that they could have their convictions removed. But Parole Board employees dismissed the idea over privacy concerns, with one noting the department “must be careful not to ‘out’ any individual who does not want to be named or implicated. Self-identification may be the safest way to go about it.”

Another idea proposed wiping all records from the federal police database in one action, including involving pedophilia or rape, but advised against this as it would undermine public trust in the legal system and would not erase older paper records. A third idea would have the government issue an apology and a statute — an official notice posted to the federal database and all record-keeping agencies, that most convictions under both charges are likely not valid — “without the benefit of removal from the record.”

Delays and precedents

As of early June, the Parole Board had a backlog of over 4,000 pardon applications, with most filed more than four years ago. Bureaucrats worry that in reviewing LGBT convictions, “there could be significant costs and/or delays and increases to the current backlog.” The documents include cost estimates for launching a toll-free number and mail room, hiring investigators and reviewers — with a total annual cost ranging from $2.3 to $4.1 million. These costs do not include compensation. Justice Department officials also warn that such a review could prompt a demand for similar programs for old marijuana and prostitution laws.

“We can expect a demand for similar treatment for past convictions under other laws that were subsequently repealed,” reads one Parole Board briefing. “A federal posthumous grant has never been issued and will be precedent-setting; potentially increasing the volume and type of future applicants,” advises another.

Nevertheless, the Parole Board said that, “the application process, eligibility criteria and specialized application forms could be developed over summer 2016,” with a rollout early this fall. However, on Oct 10, Trudeau’s spokesman told the Toronto Star the government still hadn’t chosen a timeline for this process.

In a sit-down interview with Xtra in June, Trudeau said he was committed to making amends with thousands of LGBT people who were mistreated by the state, but said it was still too early to tell how those amends would come to fruition. “We do need to recognize the terrible mistakes made in the past that we need to make sure we learn from, that we reflect on and that we make amends for,” he said. “And however that comes and whatever form that takes will be something that we’ll have to reflect on, and discuss on and exchange on.”

On April 8, 2016, Trudeau’s spokesman Cameron Ahmad told Daily Xtra the Liberals will study repealing Criminal Code section 159 — which forbids anal sex “in a public place or if more than two persons take part or are present” and puts the age of consent for anal sex two years higher than the general consent age of 16. The documents reveal that bureaucrats expected they’d be asked to include such convictions in the review, anticipating a summertime announcement that still has not come. “Plans are underway to announce in June 2016 the tabling of a bill to repeal section 159 of the Criminal Code, which creates the offence of anal intercourse,” reads one memo.

Bureaucrats also noted that no prisoners currently serving sentences under a section 159 conviction would be eligible for a pardon. “A review had revealed that none of the 27 cases involved consensual sexual activity between adults,” reads one email. However, those convicted decades ago might be eligible. That contrasts dramatically from the two charges the government has pledged to review. The documents show that since 2000, 20 people applied for a pardon involving “buggery,” of which 17 were issued, all before pardon rules were tightened in 2012.

For “gross indecency,” 293 of 296 pardon requests were granted, with 13 issued after 2012.

Costly, difficult to access old records. The documents anticipate a lengthy, costly process to access decades-old documentation, but notes that that “without being able to access historical records, there is a risk of granting clemency . . . to unmeritorious individuals.” While Canada has a national, electronic database of criminal records, the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) only dates back to 1972. Bureaucrats note that some jurisdictions throw out decades-old records. “Furthermore, dated material may often only be in hard copy or microfiche, and may require making request to the courts to access and search archived materials.” If no records can be found, a sworn statement could be made, but certifying such affidavits costs money.
While the federal government updates the Criminal Code, city and regional police often arrest people under these federal laws, which are then tried by provincial-court judges. That means conviction records are held across the country. But the federal government can’t compel other jurisdictions to complete searches or to delete their records.

“If the record exists in local municipal or provincial/territorial police records, there would be no obligation to adhere to federal legislation and erase the convictions and associated records,” said one bureaucrat.

Another wrote: “If [the] effect of pardon is to seal the record: notifications may be nightmarish and time consuming and there may be cooperation with provincial authorities issues (court/police forces etc. may be reluctant to be flooded with these requests).”

Kinsman says he hopes the government doesn’t back down on its promise in the face of these obstacles.

“It’s a very complicated situation, but a complicated situation should not be used as an excuse for not bringing about what brings about greater justice for people.”

The Liberals have only publicly endorsed a review of convictions involving buggery and gross indecency until the government curtailed both sentences in 1969. They are also looking at repealing the anal-sex law. But activists want a deeper review. Kinsman says the government should allow persecuted gender and sexual minorities to have authorities review their convictions under all laws, from all time periods — not just when the laws were curtailed in 1969. In the Parole Board documents, officials note that after 1969, buggery and gross indecency convictions persisted, with “over 200 a year until 1988,” when they were removed from the Criminal Code. Kinsman also believes police charged even more queer people after 1969, because officers still enforced vaguely worded laws. For example, the 1981 bathhouse raids saw hundreds of gay men charged under “bawdy-house” laws.

“To not look at what happened after 1969 is a serious problem, given what we know about all the police activity that took place,” says Kinsman, who is part of the We Demand an Apology Network. Both the Network and Egale want the government’s review to consider people who were charged with an offence but not convicted, because some people lost their jobs and marriages after being publicly accused of homosexuality. They also want redress for Canadians kicked out of the public service and the military for suspected homosexuality. On Oct 31, Elliott filed one of two class-action lawsuits seeking $600 million in damages. Both groups say they haven’t been consulted by the government, and fear the Liberals will put forward a policy unilaterally without checking with activists about shortfalls. Elliott claims that the Prime Minister’s Office told him repeatedly this summer that the review would be coming within weeks.

“We’re getting a bit tired of that story. It’s sad, frankly, because I truly believe that there isn’t political resistance,” Kinsman says, noting that Germany and Britain have pushed ahead with similar initiatives. “We’re playing catch-up with other countries. It’s very frustrating, especially when I know that the people who are most affected by this are the pioneers of our community, the people who have experienced the worst years of discrimination — and they’re not getting any younger, And I don’t want the prime minister apologizing to a cemetary. I expected better from this government.”

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Vancouver: British Columbia’s top court has told the BC Law Society that it must accept graduates from a fundamentalist Christian university’s proposed law school. In its 66-page decision released Nov 1, 2016, and signed by Chief Justice Robert Bauman and four other judges, the BC Court of Appeal ruled that Trinity Western University (TWU) has a right to hold and act on its beliefs absent actual harm.

“To do so is an expression of its right to freedom of religion,” the decision says. “The Law Society’s decision not to approve TWU’s faculty of law denies these evangelical Christians the ability to exercise fundamental religious and associative rights which would otherwise be assured to them under s. [section] 2 of the Charter.”

The dispute centres on TWU’s community covenant, which students must sign as a condition for admission. Among other things, the covenant asks students to uphold biblical teachings including no premarital sex and no gay sex. Failure to uphold these commitments, according to a student handbook, could result in disciplinary action including dismissal. The BC Court of Appeal upheld a 2015 ruling by the BC Supreme Court that found the law society had infringed Trinity Western University’s right to religious freedom when they voted to not approve the proposed school of law. In April 2014, the directors of the BC Law Society — called benchers — voted to approve the proposed law school. Six months later, however, they went back on their decision following an outcry from their members which, in turn, prompted a binding referendum. Seventy-four percent of members voted against approval. The Court of Appeal ruled that the benchers failed to fulfil their functions by reaching their decision through a binding referendum instead of weighing their statutory objectives against Charter values.

“A society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society — one in which its citizens are free to think, to disagree, to debate and to challenge the accepted view without fear of reprisal. This case demonstrates that a well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism, can, if unchecked, impose its views on the minority in a manner that is in itself intolerant and illiberal.”

While the court acknowledged that the covenant is “deeply offensive and hurtful to the LGBTQ community,” it noted that the charter does not protect people from offensive and contradictory views outside of hate speech that could incite harm against others.“Disagreement and discomfort with the views of others is unavoidable in a free and democratic society,” reads the decision. “Indeed, it was evident in the case before us that the language of ‘offense and hurt’ is not helpful in balancing competing rights. The beliefs expressed by some Benchers and members of the Law Society that the evangelical Christian community’s view of marriage is ‘abhorrent’, ‘archaic’ and ‘hypocritical’ would no doubt be deeply offensive and hurtful to members of that community.”

TWU spokesperson Amy Robertson says that the decision is a victory for all Canadians.

“It’s a very good day at Trinity Western with this decision which affirms our fundamental identity as Canadians,” she tells Daily Xtra. “In this country, we have the freedom to believe in God or not. In Canada we have the freedom to follow our conscience.

If the BC Law Society decides to appeal, the case would move to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“The BC Court of Appeal decision in the Trinity Western University law school matter released today adds another dimension to an already complex issue,” the society said in an email statement. “The Law Society will be reviewing the decision and considering next steps.”

Lawyer barbara findlay says the latest decision minimizes discrimination faced by gay and lesbian people, and allows people to use religion to justify homophobia.

“The court recognizes that gay and lesbian people are potentially discriminated against by the covenant that Trinity Western has, but they say, first of all, there is no evidence of a particular gay or lesbian student who has been discriminated against,” she says. “Which is kind of ironic because what gay or lesbian students is going to announce their sexual orientation upon signing up at Trinity Western?”

The proposed law school has received accreditation in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador has yet to make a decision. The law societies in Ontario and Nova Scotia, however, both rejected TWU’s application. In June 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal decided in favour of the Law Society of Upper Canada. TWU is challenging that decision in the Supreme Court of Canada. In July 2016, Nova Scotia’s Court of Appeal overturned the decision and the law society chose not to appeal.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

North Carolina: The North Carolina Republican Party attempted to shut down a forum on House Bill 2 held by The Charlotte Observer, one it alleged would amount to an infomercial for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper. The state’s GOP lodged a formal complaint with the elections board on Tuesday, asking it to cancel a public discussion on HB 2 hosted by the Observer and Red Ventures, a marketing firm based in Charlotte. The complaint alleged potential bias. The Observer elected not to endorse Gov. Pat McCrory for the first time in his political career. The Observer had a record stretching back to 1992 of endorsing McCrory. Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias donated to Cooper’s campaign.

Opinion on HB 2 has remained bitterly divided since it was passed in March. Forced through the state’s legislature during an emergency session, the bill was introduced, debated, and signed into law within a single day. The law forces transgender people to use public restrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity when visiting government buildings and schools. It also keeps cities from enacting their own protections to benefit the LGBT community.

The complaint from the GOP alleged that Democrats were attempting to influence the 2016 race, given the “proximity in time to the general election and its focus on an issue repeatedly raised by the Democrat party and Roy Cooper.”

Rick Thames, the executive editor of the Observer, dismissed claims the event was politically motivated.

“It’s ludicrous to suggest that this is anything other than a forum to help voters,” Thames said in a response published in the Charlotte newspaper Tuesday. “We’ve made every effort possible to make this a forum that represents all views.”

Because there were no allegations of wrongdoing that would violate the state’s campaign finance laws, the event was held Wednesday night in the face of Republican opposition. The panel for the forum was a bipartisan coalition that included LGBT activists, journalists, politicians, and even a representative of a GOP think tank. On Wednesday, former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot pointed the finger at the City Council for “making Charlotte a guinea pig,” the Observer reports. In February, the council passed a public accommodations law giving trans people equal access in city parks, restaurants, museums, and public restrooms. According to Vinroot, that act, which he considers government overreach, forced the state’s hand. While he agrees that trans North Carolinians deserve equal rights, the Republican added, “We’re not there yet.”

Forum attendee Pam Burton, a parent of four who identified herself as a born-again Christian, said she worried about the Charlotte ordinance’s impact on young people. McCrory and others who supported HB 2 as a response to the Charlotte law warned that allowing trans people equal access in public bathrooms would be a “free pass” for sexual predators, who would then use the law to target children. But her fear is unfounded. In the more than 200 localities with similar nondiscrimination laws on the books, there has not been a single verified report of a trans person harming someone else in a public bathroom.

Robert E. Hagemann, the Charlotte city attorney, pointed to Columbia, S.C., a city that has had laws banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation on the books since 2008. In the eight years the law has been in place, there hasn’t been an uptick in sexual assaults in public restrooms. Trans activist Fletcher Page argued that the discussion should really be about the transgender people affected by discriminatory legislation. A trans friend, just 16 years old, recently took his own life, and laws like HB 2 don’t make the world easier for him.

“This is more than about bathrooms,” Page said. “This is about lives.”

Although the Observer invited Republican politicians currently holding office at the local and state levels to the Wednesday forum, the paper reports that not one came to the event. Instead, local right-wing groups asked their followers to harass the forum and its moderators, branding it as nothing but a “political stunt.” The tone at the forum was mostly civil, the paper notes, but an exception came where conservative Christian activist Flip Benham interrupted transgender woman Erica Lachowitz by shouting “Abomination!” and then repeatedly asked a minister at the event, “Is sodomy a sin?” He was escorted from the venue by police.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Dallas: A Texas Republican activist has compared gay people to termites, claiming homosexuality was created by the Soviet Union to destroy America.
Steven Hotze of Conservative Republicans of Texas made the shocking comments at the ‘Stand 4 Truth; evangelical conference, which was held over the weekend in Houston.
In the speech, snipped by Right Wing Watch, he warns: “The homosexual movement has really infiltrated… think of them like termites. They get into the wood of the house and they eat away at the very moral fabric of the foundation of our country.“This is exactly what the Marxist movement was all about… If you remember, [Soviet leader] Khrushchev came and said we’re going to get your country one way or another, and the way they want to do it is to destroy the moral fabric and create moral anarchy in our country so that our people no longer live righteous lives but they’re living lives that are ungodly. When you do that, you lack moral courage, because you can’t very well stand up and oppose people doing wicked things if you’re participating in the same activities. Now you’ve got pornography… it’s legal to have pornography on the internet, but we, in some jurisdictions of the country, you can’t stand up and say that homosexuality is wrong or immoral activity, whether it’s the promotion of adultery or premarital sex, we can’t say that that’s wrong because that’s hate speech. But it’s perfectly legal according to allow pornography to be perpetrated upon our public, and even in our public schools to be taught and shown.”

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

Edinburgh: Representatives from all of Scotland’s main political parties have joined a cross-party group to work across party lines on LGBT issues.
The Scottish Parliament today saw the official go ahead for the formation of the LBGTI+ Cross Party Group (CPG), establishing a consensus to tackle many of the issues still surrounding the LGBTI+ community in Scotland.
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Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie will represent their parties, alongside Jamie Greene of the Scottish Conservatives and Ben Macpherson of the Scottish National Party.
The group first met on 28 September to discuss the potential agenda and aims of the group and is scheduled to first meet officially in the Scottish Parliament on 14 December to agree a work programme for the parliamentary term.
The group’s formation was put into motion by recently out Conservative MSP Jamie Greene, to ensure genuine cross party input on key issues of importance to the LGBTI+ community in Scotland.
LGBTI charity The Equality Network will provide a secretarial role, to ensure neutrality in the ongoing management of the group and to provide and administrative and organisational support to group members.
Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale, who won a PinkNews Award last week, said: “I am very pleased to co-convene the LGBTI+ CPG.
“It’s very important to me that we use our voices and the power that we have to make a difference for LGBTI+ people across Scotland, particularly LBGTI+ young people.
“I am looking forward to the CPG discussing the way forward for teaching inclusive education in our schools, as it’s imperative that the classroom reflects our society.”
Jamie Greene MSP said: “When I was sworn into the Scottish Parliament I was surprised to learn that no such group that promoted the rights of LGBTI+ currently existed. In a parliament with such a strong track record of being open and tolerant towards the community it was unthinkable that it didn’t offer a formalised platform to promote and address the core issues that affect this community today.
“The formation of this Cross-Party Group will help us address critical issues facing the LGBTI+ community that have often been largely absent from the mainstream agenda. In addition to issues such as Health, Education, Equality and Bullying, we also hope to look at issues such as geriatrics care, LGBTI life in rural Scotland and Transgender issues.
“By bringing decision-makers and third sector workers under a single umbrella we can create an effective forum both in discussing and tackling the many issues that still impact the LGBTI+ community today. I am very proud to see this group get off the ground and hope it will make a genuine difference in the lives of people across Scotland. That’s why we got into politics after all.”
Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens said: “Holyrood is a parliament created for the modern age, and it’s worth reflecting that it has never once voted to undermine or deny LGBTI people’s equality.
“It’s important that we continue to make progress, from inclusive education to the helping the global equality cause, and from meeting LGBTI health needs to challenging political parties to stop selecting anti-equality candidates. The cross party group will help bring together people who share this agenda.”
The SNP’s Ben Macpherson MSP added: “Scotland is considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe and the world; however, there is still much work to do to tackle the prejudices and inequalities that too many people still face, simply because of their sexuality or gender identity.
“I think it’s extremely important that we’ve established this group to bring people of all sexualities and genders together – to tackle issues affecting the LGBTI+ community and advance change where it’s still needed.
“I look forward to working with everyone in the group to build on the progress made in recent years to create a Scotland that is fully equal and inclusive.”
Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said: “The establishment of the Group demonstrates the cross-party support in the Parliament for LGBTI+ equality.
“Scotland has made a lot of progress on these issues since 1999, but there is a long way still to go, and the Group will be an important focus for mapping the way forward. All credit to Jamie Greene and the other MSPs in the Group for their commitment to this.”

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

Washington DC: A number of senior Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have promised to prioritise passing the Equality Act if they do well enough in next week’s election.
Several Democrats promised the LGBT anti-discrimination bill would be a “top priority,” suggesting it could be discussed in the House within the first 100 days of a Clinton presidency.
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The Equality Act would ban LGBT discrimination across the U.S. by adding protections to existing civil rights laws for sexual orientation and gender identity.
It’s been a top priority for LGBT activists since it was first introduced in 2015, but Republican leaders have consistently worked to block its passage.
“As president, I’ll make fighting discrimination against the LGBT community a top priority – including by working with Congress to pass the Equality Act,” Clinton told The Washington Blade this week.
“And we won’t stop there. We’ll also take on harassment, bullying, and violence – and youth homelessness, which disproportionately hurts LGBT kids.”

One of the obstacles facing her would be getting the bill through the House, which the Republicans are expected to retain control of even if the Democrats do well next week.
“With a Democratic House and Senate, the bill would absolutely be a top priority in the first 100 days,” a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told BuzzFeed.
“The votes for House passage are there today, even in the current Congress, if Speaker Ryan would just get out of the way.”
Meanwhile Senator Chuck Schumer, who could become Senate Majority Leader if the Democrats pick up enough seats next week, suggested it could take two years to pass the measure.
“Democrats will fight hard to get it on the President’s desk in the next Congress,” he said.
The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. David Cicilline, agreed that Democrats would act fast to pass the bill after the election.
“If Democrats hold the White House and win back Congress, the Equality Act should be taken up in the first 100 days of President Clinton’s term,” a spokesman for Cicilline said.
The Equality Act has seen support from major corporations including Apple and Coca-Cola, and has even seen some across-the-aisle support from Republicans.

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

Virginia: The fundamentalist US law firm that represented Kim Davis is pushing anti-LGBT laws in 22 states, it has confirmed. Fundamentalist law firm the Liberty Counsel has received national attention after providing free legal representation to Kim Davis, who ignored court orders to block gay weddings, and disgraced former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who issued illegal extrajudicial orders to try and block gay weddings.

However, when the group isn’t providing free legal representation to anyone in the name of homophobia, it’s pursuing a more sinister political agenda on LGBT rights. An investigation recently found that the group’s head Mat Staver has secretly been helping Republican lawmakers draft anti-LGBT legislation in a number of states, leading to a wave of anti-LGBT ‘conscience’ bills and ‘bathroom laws’ that exploit transgender issues as an excuse to strip back anti-discrimination protections. In a message to supporters calling for donations this week, the group revealed just how many different pies its fingers are in.

Staver bragged: “Liberty Counsel is working pro bono with 22 different states in fighting the outrageous ‘bathroom’ movement.
“It is imperative that the governors and state lawmakers remain strong and fight this misguided agenda – and we will help every step of the way.”
Despite being embraced by Republicans across the country, Staver’s own personal views about gay people are shockingly extreme. He recently directly equated LGBT rights activists and paedophiles. Staver has also previously claimed children will soon be forced into same-sex relationships, while his wife, Liberty Counsel’s president, says she brings a handgun to the toilets to scare off trans women.
He claimed: “When they go into the schools, even schools that want to resist – the Department of Education’s going to threaten their funding if you don’t do this LGBT policy. Schools are going to be changing the curriculum, they’re going to be infiltrating the schools. I’m not in favour of bullying, but what they’re talking about is not bullying. What they’re talking about is ‘Hey, you need to experiment as a kindergarten with whether you’re male or female. You need to, like, have some experiments and go out and have same-sex relationships’ This is happening now, and it will happen at a more rapid pace.”

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

Mississippi: Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is requesting that a federal appeals court uphold a state law that will allow merchants and government employees to engage in service provider discrimination against same-sex couples for “religious” reasons.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the religious discrimination bill before it took effect on July 1. He ruled that it unconstitutionally establishes preferred specific sectarian religious beliefs and is not equal when it comes to the LGBT community. The law backed by Gov. Bryant protects three fundamentalist Christian beliefs:

Marriage is only between a man and a woman and despite faith/state separation, that should also apply in the context of civil marriage.
Sex should only take place in such a marriage, so contraception and divorce are also ‘wrong.’
A person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered, despite research findings to the contrary from medical practitioners groups.

Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood declined to appeal Reeves’ ruling. Now the case is in the hands of private attorneys, including lawyers from the conservative Catholic US Alliance Defending Freedom. The conservative Catholic legal group helped draft the law, and Bryant signed it on April 2016. The measure “gives the opponents of same-sex marriage the same conscientious-objector protections that federal law confers on the opponents of warfare, abortion, capital punishment and physician-assisted suicide,” attorneys for the governor wrote in arguments filed Wednesday at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Source:http://www.itv.com

Atlanta: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s running mate hit the political high marks for fundamentalist voters in an exclusive interview with antigay CBN founder Pat Robertson. Pence named the Supreme Court as possibly the most important issue in this election and called on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to denounce anti-Christian comments made by her communications director. He accused Clinton of engaging in “pay to play” politics during her tenure as secretary of state. Pence listed a number of issues in the upcoming election, before landing on the high court as the most crucial. Pence described Clinton’s view of the judiciary as ‘”legislating from the bench” and said Trump’s picks would adhere to the Constitutional text.

“As we go forward, Donald Trump and I will be making appointments to the federal courts at every level from the Supreme Court down that will strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States, that will stand by our God-given liberties, our liberties enshrined in the First Amendment — the freedom of speech and freedom of religion — and stand by our Second Amendment,” he said.

Source: http://www.itv.com

Rome: The Vatican has condemned a right-wing Catholic radio station after a broadcast said the recent earthquakes in Italy were “God’s punishment” for gay civil unions. The remarks, made on the station Radio Maria, were “offensive and scandalous”, the Vatican said. A Dominican friar said the quakes, including one in August that killed nearly 300, were caused by sins of man. He said these included the approval of same-sex civil unions last May. But the Vatican rejected the remarks as pagan, and said they had nothing to do with Catholic theology.

“They are offensive statements for believers and scandalous for those who do not believe”, said Monsignor Angelo Becciu, deputy secretary of state, who is close to Pope Francis.
Monsignor Becciu said Radio Maria, which has come under criticism in the past for comments seen as anti-Semitic, had to “moderate the tone of its language” and conform to the Church’s message of mercy. But the friar at the centre of the scandal stood by his description of the quakes as divine intervention.
“Just read the catechism,” Father John Cavalcoli said, referring to Roman Catholic religious instruction. Radio Maria has published a statement (in Italian) on its website, saying the offensive comments are not the views of the station. Cavalcoli’s comment led to his suspension from the Catholic station, and also elicited an unprecedented condemnation from the Vatican in the person of Archbishop Angelo Becciu, sostituto (deputy) to the Secretary of State and someone close to Pope Francis.

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

Tel Aviv: Scientists have claimed that they have created a ‘breakthrough’ drug that can make HIV cells ‘self destruct’, according to Times Of Israel. The drug was developed by Abraham Loyter and Assaf Friedler at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Once the drug was added to test tubes containing the blood of 10 HIV patients, it decreased the viral load by 97%. The pair used a peptide in the drug which caused several copies of the virus’s DNA to enter the infected cell, causing it to self-destruct. Speaking to Channel 2, Loyter said:

“With our approach, we are destroying the cells, so there is no chance that the virus will awaken one day, because if there are no cells, there will be no cells that contain the virus.”

He adds, “The drug enhances certain processes in the body during the spreading of the virus and that enhancement kills certain cells.” Treatment for HIV in the UK costs around £380,000 for a lifetime. New treatments are still being worked upon, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) which can reduce the chance of being infected with HIV if taken daily.

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

Melbourne: After the Australian Royal Commission into Domestic and Family Violence recommended domestic violence services become more inclusive of LGBT people, a training session, the first of its kind in Victoria titled ‘The Dark Side of the Rainbow’, was held last week with over 250 people in attendance including police officers, domestic violence workers, relationship councilors, medical professionals and more. They all came together looking at how they can make changes in order to better support the needs of every member of our community when they need it. Breaking up the panels and talks during the training was the unique approach of informing and educating by having everyone watch the one-man cabaret My Other Closet in which domestic violence survivor Russ Vickery’s performed his true account of his personal journey. It’s different to what you’d expect at a session like this and not only broke up the talks, but helped dispel the myths surrounding domestic violence in same sex and gender diverse relationships. Vickery came out of the closet at the age of 42 after he had been married with children, which brought another level to his story.“The information provided in the panel and the cabaret was incredibly powerful.” Sally Marsden, Coordinator of the WIRE Women’s Support Line said, “Russ moved me to many tears of anger and sadness but also to tears of joy when he sang his strength and new happiness.”

“We have taken the training on board and will be working on making many improvements to our service and we will be pushing our management/board hard to do so as a priority.”

Support services want to know more and are trying to learn so that they can provide every individual with support in their time of need, irrespective of their sexuality and gender.

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

Hobart: The Safe Schools Program was today labelled “disgusting” as Tasmanian Liberal Party members passed a motion calling for it to be abolished. Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff was among those who voted against the motion, on the condition that the program adopts a broader focus while placing a new emphasis on cyber bullying. Still, he defended the educational program, which has been implemented in twenty Tasmanian schools.

“This program has nothing, in my view, to do with bullying. This is a disgusting, belligerent, activist tool with a radical left-wing agenda that is unapologetic by those who designed it.”

Labor and the Greens described the move as “shameful”, with Michelle O’Byrne saying the party should “hang its head in shame. The fact that this motion to abolish Safe Schools even came up at the Liberal’s conference should give every Tasmanian a very clear picture of where this party and where this Government’s priorities are,” Ms O’Byrne said.

Greens MP Andrea Dawkins joined O’Byrne in defending the program, saying that she feared the Liberal’s motion sent a frightening message to the local LGBTI community.

“Safe Schools is a program that helps to create safe and supportive environments for young LGBTI people. It is a critical resource for teachers to help end discrimination and bullying in schools.”

It’s been reported that the Safe Schools program will be replaced with a state-based anti-bullying program next year. SameSame have been working with Greens MP Jenny Leong to collect the signatures needed to table a petition in parliament to save the programme, which was designed to minimalise bullying in schools.

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

Colorado Springs: Canvassing in Colorado, Donald Trump spotted something he wanted in the crowd. He gestured to a supporter, who handed a wad of rainbow fabric up to the stage. Trump unfurled it for the fans and cameras — a pride flag scrawled with the words “LGBTs for Trump.” Both Trump and his supporters have nurtured this LGBT-cozy image, diverging from past Republican presidential candidates. That coziness was on display during the Republican National Convention in July, when a group calling itself Twinks for Trump held a soiree festooned with poster-size photos of lithe, shirtless young men in Trump caps. Inside the convention two days later, Trump pledged to protect “LGBTQ” citizens, taking care to enunciate the “Q” — a gesture to queer people.

Trump’s most prominent LGBT supporters and surrogates are not a spectrum of LGBT diversity, but rather, are overwhelmingly white gay men. Which is to say, “LGBTs for Trump” reflects much of same homogenous bloc of dudes who make up the rest of his base.His most formal constituency support is LGBT for Trump, a non-campaign group operated by gay Republican activist Chris Barron- a Facebook page. Barron has become the most public face of LGBT for Trump supporters, pressing his message in cable TV interviews. He built bridges in the past between Republicans and gays with the group GOProud. And this year, he said, he has been in touch with the Trump campaign to consult on media and other LGBT issues. He brushed aside any concern that Trump lacks an LGBT platform or that he supports certain anti-LGBT positions, because, he said, Trump “tolerates” LGBT people around him. Trump’s most prominent gay supporters are Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder who spoke at the RNC, and Milo Yiannopoulos, a columnist of the white nationalist alt-right.

There is no doubt that Trump has backing from some lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people — though polls show the numbers are quite slim and they don’t compare to Hillary Clinton’s hearty LGBT support. Yet in July, they appeared in short support supply at the “Twinks for Trump” event. Finding a lesbian Trump supporter became a goal for Jennifer Bendery, a Huffington Post reporter. Statistics bear out Trump’s paltry LGBT support — and he struggles particularly among women. A Gallup poll this month found LGBT voters view Clinton almost five times more favorably than Trump, but LGBT women were especially wary. Only 9% of LBT women reported favorable feelings for Trump; GBT men were at 16%.

Trump lost many voters by picking running mate Mike Pence, who, as Indiana governor and former Congressman, opposed LGBT-rights bills. Trump also created furor in September with a pledge to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill in Congress that would protect those with religious objections to same-sex marriage. The country’s top LGBT Republican group, the Log Cabin Republicans, declined to endorse Trump this year due to his anti-LGBT advisors and support for anti-LGBT legislation.

Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com

Ottawa: While LGBT refugees face similar challenges to their heterosexual counterparts, their integration into the Canadian community is much more complicated. It is interesting that the material provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada on integration focuses on the logistical needs of a refugee: providing for the cost of food, rent and household utilities, providing clothing, selecting a family physician and dentist, enrolling children in schools and adults in language training, and offering support in finding employment. All of these elements are indeed vital when it comes to relocating a refugee to help them feel settled in their new home. However, the material disregards the emotional, mental and spiritual needs of a newcomer with a refugee experience as they land in their new home.

When LGBT refugees arise in the context of this conversation, Canadian LGBTs need to recognize that they face a mental and emotional disconnect that needs to be addressed by their sponsors, since they’re the primary providers of stability in the refugee’s new home. LGBT refugees have left behind years of living within homophobic and transphobic societies, where they were branded with shame, and struggled for too long. When they arrive here, they won’t be able to integrate easily into the local community of immigrants from their homeland, either. They might fear repeating the experiences of coming out and homophobia from home. It might be easy to assume that a gay newcomer would be the one putting the effort into integrating themselves into the gay community in Vancouver. But for a healthy integration to happen, the refugee himself has to open up about his sexuality in a way that he likely never experienced before.

For many LGBT refugees, walking out of the airport at YVR, also means coming out of the closet right into his new community. This is liberating for many folks, but it’s a sudden change that needs to be addressed. That’s why people who sponsor gay refugees should prioritize the newcomers’ mental health. Finding a counsellor with experience working with LGBT folks is an important first step.

But sponsors absolutely should not force refugees into anything. While I appreciate the sense of responsibility sponsors may have felt over the years of filing and pursuing the application, the refugee is not a child who needs your constant protection and guidance.

It’s a sponsor’s responsibility to protect a refugee’s agency: offer the refugee the option of counselling but don’t force them into anything. This applies to everything. There is an imbalanced power dynamic between a sponsor — an established Canadian in a gay-friendly society — and a refugee who has just arrived, who has faced challenges that most sponsors can’t even imagine.

To balance that dynamic, sponsors should be careful never to force the refugee into anything: a specific employment you think is good for them, a location you believe is the best for them to live in, or even a fun event you want them to attend. Give them options then let them make their own mistakes.

You’re their safety net for the first year and protecting their agency, their ability to make their own choices, is more important than impatiently expecting them to do everything the Canadian way the minute they arrive.

It takes most Canadians a lifetime to learn the Canadian way; a refugee has the right of a year or two to absorb it.

Ultimately, a sponsor’s job is to help a newcomer integrate into the Canadian community. Integration in its basic meaning is to combine many things and make them whole. My advice to sponsors: make sure that as time passes by, this gay newcomer can have the experiences you have. They have the right to be part of the community, without being pointed at as different. They have the right to live in the country, without constantly having to express how grateful they are to you for sponsoring them. There should come a time when the newcomer is not a “newcomer” anymore, but another Canadian among us.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Kentucky: The couples who sued Kim Davis are lobbying the Rowan County, Ky., clerk to pay their legal fees, amounting to over $230,000, but lawyers for Davis are attempting to block the request.

Liberty Counsel, the right-wing legal firm based in Florida, has been representing Davis since she was briefly jailed for contempt of court in September 2015 after shutting down all marriage license operations to avoid issuing same-sex couples marriage licenses. Davis’s attorney, Roger K. Gannam, argued that because the case was resolved after the state of Kentucky opted to take clerks’ names off marriage licenses, she shouldn’t be forced to pay. The state legislature passed that law in April, codifying what Gov. Matt Bevin had done through executive order in December 2015, shortly after he took office. Couples who sued disagree with that assessment, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. They say it doesn’t change the fact that Davis blocked their right to be wed and they had to sue to be able to exercise their legal rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union is leading the effort to recoup their expenses. “Courts recognize that when successful civil rights plaintiffs obtain a direct benefit from a court-ordered victory, such as in this case, they can be entitled to their legal expenses to deter future civil rights violations by government officials,” said ACLU of Kentucky legal director William Sharp in a press release issued in September. “By filing today’s motion, we hope to achieve that very objective — to send a message to government officials that willful violations of individuals’ rights will be costly.” The decision on this matter will go to U.S. District Judge David Bunning, the same judge who issued a contempt of court ruling against Davis last year. No matter Bunning’s verdict, Rowan County has already said that it would not foot her bill, claiming that Davis acted on her own behalf in refusing to issue licenses.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: The UK government is fighting to prevent transgender women from collecting their state pension. A series of court cases over the last few years have shown that government lawyers are fighting to deny equality for a group of trans women. Four women ranging in their sixties and seventies have been wrapped up in the legal case which has been affected by policies and legislation that prevents them from accessing the pension they were entitled too at 60.

One of the pensioners lives in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency. Corbyn said he was “appalled” by the case. The lawyer for the ladies estimates the legal case against the Department of Work and Pensions is costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds, more than the combined cost of the pensions that are being withheld. BuzzFeed News exposed the details of the case as none of the claimants involved had spoken to press previously.

One of the pensioners called Letitia said that she is determined to continue fighting her claim into her seventies, despite having arthritis and glaucoma – and hopes to win “before it’s too late”.
The cases is highly dependent on whether transgender women have obtained a gender recognition certificate (GRC) – a document introduced in 2005 that helps legally establish gender status.
While trans women who have the certificate can receive their pension at 60, the DWP argues that without one, they must wait until they are 65, the pension age for men.
A loophole in this certificate means some of the claimants would have to divorce before obtaining one because they married and later transitioned before same-sex marriage was legal in the UK. The government’s women and equalities committee suggested certificates should be abolished and replaced with an online gender self-declaration form. However, whilst these plans are being considered it may be too late to help the pensioners.

Another issue the transgender women face is that if they have worked after the age of 60 without the GRC, then they can’t claim for the time when their pension should have been building up.
Letitia obtained the GRC document but was told she would not be backdated on her pension which she should have received. The claimants plan to be persistent with their legal battles, no matter how long it takes:
“If I have proved nothing else in this life, I have proved I don’t give up. I am fearsomely stubborn – had I not been, I wouldn’t still be here. I will dig myself out of this as long as I have breath in my body. Let’s hope I win before it’s too late,” said Letitia.

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

Kampala: Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa has blamed the country’s anti-LGBT laws on British Colonialism. 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. Under Uganda’s archaic penal code, “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” between two males carries a potential penalty of life imprisonment.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act was signed into law in 2013, but it was later thrown out by the country’s Supreme Court on technical grounds. Speaking before a United Nations human rights panel this week, Ugandan minister Sam Kutesa contended that his country was not to blame for its current anti-LGBT laws. After being challenged about the persecution of LGBT people in his country, Kutesa insisted: “Some people seem to think there is a law prohibiting LGBT people as a new act. We have previous laws that we inherited as many countries have done, that relate to sexual offences. Yes, those do exist, but it’s not a new law. We have previous laws that we inherited as many countries have done, that relate to sexual offences. Yes, those do exist, but it’s not a new law. Let me give you the history on this issue. There was a private members’ motion that was introduced in our Parliament to criminalise the activities of the LGBTI community. That motion was passed by Parliament and assented to – however, it was challenged in our Courts of Law, and the Courts of Law struck it out. It is not in place.”
Kutesa claimed that his country was “tolerant” of homosexuals, but admitted persecuting gay people for “promotion”. Earlier this year, Pride events in Kampala were raided by police.

The minister said: “It is true that people of that orientation, even in Africa, have been there for centuries. We have never harassed them, however, we are not entirely enthusiastic about promotion. If that’s how you are, that’s how you are, but why promote it? I am what I am, but I don’t go around promoting it. We also will not accept exhibition. It’s your private life, live it. Nobody will discriminate against you or harass you. Let me say to you, we have had cases of harassment, where perpetrators have been arrested and charged, other cases are under investigation. There is no tolerance for that. It is a complicated matter and different countries are at different stages of developing with it, the acceptance, the change in cultural laws, it takes time. It hasn’t taken time in any country that I know of, it hasn’t come overnight . It will take time, but even as we go on, we do not accept and will not tolerate any discrimination because of sexual orientation. We do not accept any discrimination. We do not accept harassment of those people.”

The country’s so-called Minister of State for Ethics & Integrity Simon Lokodo recently threatened to arrest anyone who celebrates LGBT rights. In a shameless attempt to link the gay rights activists to paedophilia and prostitution, he claimed: “We are aware that there are inducements, including money, being offered to young people to promote the practice. “

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

New York: The United Nation’s new LGBT rights expert may loose his position on Tuesday as a vote will commence which is designed to prevent the position. The independent expert position was filed by Thai law professor Vitit Muntarbhorn who previously served as a rapporteur on North Korea and worked on the Independent International Commission of inquiry on Syria. he role was created in June after a vote by the Human Rights Council with the mandate to monitor “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Supporters of the position have said the vote, which will take place on Tuesday, was planned in an attempt to prevent LGBT rights from being considered as human rights within the UN.
A diplomat who works for human rights issues at the UN said the “proposal threatens the authority of the Human Rights Council and the integrity of the entire special procedures system.”
The vote, which was introduced on behalf of the Group of African States, will determine whether the position is required. All members of the General Assembly must vote. The text in the proposal proposes to “defer consideration” of the resolution “in order to allow time for further consultations to determine the legal basis” for the position. The effort may politicise a human rights issue and weaken the framework for safeguarding human rights in the international system.

A number of controversial rapporteurs and independent experts have been appointed by the UN, but there has never been a vote on an individual position created by the HRC before.
Graeme Reid, director of the Human Rights Watch LGBT Program said that the language used in the resolution is “insidious” because “the implication is that LGBT rights don’t belong in the human rights system at all.” Muntarbhorn has already begun work in his position so it is unsure if he will be put at a halt if the vote passes. The resolution has a chance of passing as it only needs 97 votes. It is already backed by the 54-member Africa Group who raised the vote, and is assumed to have the support of most nations within the organisation of Islamic Cooperations – which would mean 20 extra votes. Albania is the only member of this group which supports the LGBT watchdog position.

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

London: The National Audit Office is probing the Home Office’s relationship with a failed LGBT domestic violence charity that closed amid allegations of financial mismanagement. Broken Rainbow had provided the UK’s only national domestic violence helpline and support services tailored for the LGBT community. The charity received substantial backing from the Home Office, but collapsed earlier this year amid a funding crisis – with an insider blaming “major mismanagement” of funds for the issues.

Internal documents from the charity were leaked to Buzzfeed showing that donated funds were reportedly squandered on first-class travel for the charity’s execs, as well as luxury gifts. A whistleblower alleged that large grants from the government and Comic Relief were often spent within 24 hours of payment – used to cover running costs, staff salaries and office expenses.
The charity was already facing an investigation from the Charity Commission, but this week the National Audit Office also opened a probe.

In a release, the NAO said: “Broken Rainbow was a charity that ran a national LGBT domestic violence helpline. It received specific grant funding from the Home Office for this purpose. Broken Rainbow went into liquidation in June 2016. This investigation will establish the facts around the collapse of Broken Rainbow, including:
-The financial management of the charity
-Home Office oversight and the clarity of grant agreements
-The role of the Charity Commission and other public sector bodies
“If you would like to provide evidence for our study please email the study team on enquiries@nao.gsi.gov.uk, putting the study title in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide. Please note that due to the volume of information we receive we may not respond to you directly. If you need to raise a concern please use our contact form.”
Scheduled to be published in Spring 2017, the investigation will be led by Director Louise Bladen and Audit Manager Eleanor Murray.

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

Paris: A Parisian court has ruled that using the term homophobe to describe somebody is defamatory, despite context. The ruling comes as Laure Pora, former president of the Paris branch of ACT UP was ordered to pay €800 to the anti-LGBT group La Manif Pour Tous.On top of that Pora had to cough up the €1500 in judicial costs. ACT UP staged a protest in 2013 against the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, an anti-abortion foundation which provide research, care and advocacy for people with genetic intellectual disabilities.

The protest was staged because of the foundations support for La Manif Pour Tous and because they employed Ludivine La Rochère, the founder of the group. Activists threw condoms filled with fake blood at the wall of the office, and carried posters showing images of La Rochère and La Manif with homophobe printed on them. La Manif Pour Tous oppose same-sex marriage, adoption rights for same-sex couples, transgender people and gender theory.

The organisation’s lawyer, Henri de Beauregard, said: “Describing La Manif Pour Tous as homophobic is a criminal offence.” Karine Géronimi, representing ACT UP, called the court’s decision ‘particularly unfair’ and said she couldn’t see an insult. The courts initially deemed Manif Pour Tous’ complaint “inappropriate for a procedural problem”, reported the french publication Le Monde. The ruling comes following an anti equality march, which was organised by La Manif Pour Tous, in Paris that drew tens of thousand of people. The march attracted 80,000 people to the capital who marched to call for the repeal of the Taubira law which legalised same-sex marriage. Marchers also protested against the use of assisted reproduction techniques and surrogate mothers to enable same-sex couples to have children.

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

Montreal: A member of Canadian group ATG (“Anti Gay”) was spotted wearing a sweater saying he’d “kill” any gay person who approached him. The group, based in Ottawa, said they are unrepentant about the aggressive shirt, which went viral on Facebook. Criminal defence lawyer Paul Lewandowski said: “In my view, the shirt, when it starts saying things like ‘if you approach me, I will kill you’ and you’re the member of an identifiable group, in this case somebody who’s homosexual, then yes, it could constitute Section 319 of the Criminal Code and could be prosecuted.” Conversely, Justin Trudeau, prime minister for Canada, has shown eagerness to improve equality for LGBT people living in Canada. In June 2016, he said he would lower the age of consent for anal sex down from 18, to 16, as it is from normal intercourse. Trudeau issued a far-reaching apology to those convicted of historic gay sex offences, also this year.

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

Canberra: The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has come out against a public vote on marriage equality, claiming it would affect the psychological health and wellbeing of the LGBTI community. While Labor has committed to blocking Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s same-sex marriage plebiscite when it hits the Senate, the looming threat of a public vote has been hanging over Australia for quite a while. This has caused many in the community to worry about the homophobia that would be given a national platform in the months leading up to a prospective vote APS President Anthony Cichello said there’s evidence a plebiscite would present significant risks to the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, given the stress of a public campaign.

“The APS fully supports full marriage equality for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. But not by means of a popular vote.”

Evidence from a suite of studies has shown that in the process of putting marriage equality to a public vote, gender and sexually diverse people suffer higher levels of negative emotions than positive ones. It has also shown that they experience significant distress over the negative rhetoric, display increases in psychiatric illness and feel negative, depressed, lonely, disenfranchised, and powerless. Children and the family members of LGBTI people are also adversely affected by public displays of discrimination.

In their statement the APS said marriage equality is a human rights issue and should be a matter for Australian law and our parliamentary system – not a popular vote. They added that denying people the right to marry based on their gender or sexuality is discriminatory and places them unfairly as second-class citizens. The APS has previously come out in support of the LGBTI community, after recently recommending that mental health practices affirm the experiences of trans people in Australia.

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

Canberra: Until recently, Australian LGBTI couples couldn’t access fertility clinics, forcing them to be resourceful when becoming parents. Lesbian couples used home insemination and known doctors and the only way gay men could become parents was via overseas surrogacy. However, after an Australian High Court challenge in 2002 Victoria brought down its ban on lesbian and gay couples accessing fertility clinics and most states followed suit, changing their laws over the past five years.

Kelly believes the new frontier is LGBTI experiences of the fertility industry, which has had to adapt quickly to this new ‘market’.

“There hasn’t been any research yet on how the industry has responded to the LGBTI community and, in particular, whether it has been welcoming and accommodating of the unique needs of the LGBTI communities. There have been a lot of attacks on same-sex parenting in the context of the equal marriage debate with various groups arguing that it is harmful to children to be raised in a same-sex household. While same-sex couples are able to access fertility services and become parents, they do so in a social environment that still questions their right to do so.”

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

Washington DC: The American Federation of Teachers hears from teachers and school staff every day about the real, severe toll bullying takes on students, especially students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, students of color, and others who are vulnerable or historically marginalized. There is still so much work to do to make all schools safe and welcoming places for the students who come there to learn and for the educators and other adults who work to make a difference in students’ lives.

One of the reasons the AFT endorsed Hillary Clinton for president is that she listened to LGBTI families and communities. Clinton’s “Better than Bullying” plan is a clear example of how she listens to educators and uses their input to inform her policy proposals. She has heard us on this issue and has taken the time to develop a plan that can really combat bullying and hate. Her plan will give states the incentive to develop comprehensive antibullying plans, and provide parents, educators, school staff, and communities with the resources and skills they need to prevent bullying and support those who experience it.

Clinton’s comprehensive plan includes support for professional development for educators and other school employees, and that it recognizes the important role of school counselors and wraparound services. It also rightly acknowledges both the need to prioritize school climate as part of implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act and the importance of bullying prevention in creating and maintaining positive and constructive school climates.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: A British husband and wife have claimed that their chances of adopting two foster children already in their care were skewed when they expressed the opinion that the children should have a “mummy and daddy”, not LGBTI parents. The straight couple have two young children in their foster care and requested to fully adopt the children after they were “concerned” about the possibility of a same-sex couple becoming the adoptive parents. The fundamentalist UK Christian Right group have urged the Church to expel all gay priests and ask that it teach homosexuals to ‘repent’ their sexuality.

Williams has also attacked gay rights group Stonewall, and claimed that Education minister Nicky Morgan is playing into the hands of a gay “Trojan Horse” by backing campaigns to stop homophobic bullying in schools. Campaigners including Williams have called the treatment of the heterosexual couple disturbing, citing that people could be penalised by the authorities for expressing support for “traditional parenting.” The straight couple said that they have always wanted to adopt the children, and have since wrote to the council to protest being barred from being considered as potential adopters on what they believe is the basis of “some opinions” and “views” they expressed.
They stressed they had “not expressed homophobic views, unless Christian beliefs are, by definition, homophobic.”
The couple have had the children in their care since the beginning of the year, but when they were told a gay couple were put forward as adoptive parents they found the idea “challenging.”
The couple admitted they “expressed a degree of shock and asked if this was a ‘joke’.”
Two days after being told the children would potentially have gay adoptive parents, the straight couple formally applied to adopt the children.
They said this would be the “best option for them [the children] and their emotional wellbeing.”
The husband and wife also stressed that they were both “highly educated people” with a “very mature and stable relationship with each other and a great parental relationship” with their other children.
However, the council said that “having heard that the prospective adopters were a same-sex couple you shared some opinions in relation to this proposed placement which are concerning and which would not enable the service to progress an inquiry to be assessed as prospective adopters, as these views could be detrimental to the long-term needs of the children”.

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

Jakarta: The head of an Indonesian university has initiated a program to “normalise” gay students. The State University of Gorontalo (UNG) in northern Indonesia issued the new policies which target members of the LGBT community.

Syamsu Qamar Badu, the rector of the university, announced that a “special team” will be employed to look out for and offer counselling too students who they suspect may be within the community.
“This identification process will not be easy, but we can’t just let it happen if there are male students wearing lipstick on campus,” Badu said.
Badu hopes the programme will create a “college of civilisation”, and that the new guidance will help bring LGBT people “back to normalcy.”
LGBT advocacy groups have protested the plan. One activist said: “UNG must guarantee non-discriminatory education for people of whatever sexual orientation.”
Wahiyudin Mamonto, head of the Institute for Research and Human Resources Development of Nahdlatul Ulama, told the Jakarta Post: “The policy is based on mere hatred.
Homosexuality has never been illegal in the Islamic country, but attitudes towards LGBT people have become steadily more extreme in recent years despite a growing gay population. The Indonesia Psychiatric Association (PDSKJI) still classifies homosexuality as an illness.

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

Canberra: The Turnbull government’s proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage has formally been killed off by the Senate, where it was defeated 29-33 in a late-night vote on Monday, amid a warning the decision would delay marriage equality “for years”. Months of speculation and political posturing culminated in Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch combining to defeat the proposal, which would have seen same-sex marriage decided by the Australian people in February 2017. The decision – an inevitability since Labor pledged to oppose the plebiscite four weeks ago – will force a new conversation about marriage equality that will divide the Coalition and threatens to destabilise the Turnbull government.

Conservatives will resist any attempt to shift away from the plebiscite policy, demanding no action on same-sex marriage until at least the next election. Most observers expect any change on that front would blow up Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership. In a final defence of the policy he once opposed, Attorney-General George Brandis warned that a plebiscite was the only foreseeable way to achieve same-sex marriage and that if defeated, “the cause of marriage equality will be delayed for years”.

Senator Brandis, a supporter of marriage equality, said Labor’s decision to block the plebiscite was “one of the more cynical exercises in politics that I have ever seen”. He implored the Senate to “stop playing politics with gay people’s lives” and “get out of the way”But senators had already made up their minds, voting 29-33 against the plebiscite just after 9.30pm on Monday. Australian Marriage Equality chairman Alex Greenwich said the focus would now shift to netting a parliamentary vote before the next election.

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

Brisbane: More than 600 Queenslanders have already expressed interest in joining the state government’s $6 million dollar expanded pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trial that kicked off today. State Minister for Health Cameron Dick believes PrEP can play a huge role in preventing the spread of HIV.

In 2015 there were 203 new diagnoses of HIV, a 17 per cent decrease on the previous year and a two per cent decrease on the previous four-year average.
“While it is pleasing to see a reduction in the number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV, the fact remains that there are still too many Queenslanders with the diagnosis. Twenty trial sites have been registered, including sexual health services, general practices, and community-based organisations in twelve hospital and health services across Queensland. Implementation will be staggered over three months but some sites in Cairns, Townsville, and Brisbane will start enrolling participants from today.”

The state government announced it would invest $6 million over four years to expand the PrEP implementation trial earlier this year. The expanded trial will allow up to 2,000 Queenslanders to take part, particularly those at high risk of acquiring HIV.

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

Karachi: A 24-year-old woman in Pakistan has filed a petition to the Lahore High Court to seek permission to have gender re assignment surgery. Doctors in the country initially refused to perform the surgery without a court order. The woman filed the petition with the help of trans advocate Naseer Husain Sindhu. She began to experience gender dysphoria at the age of 14 and began to consult gynaecologists at a local hospital.
“Doctors at Fatima Memorial Hospital, Lahore have suggested me to immediately undergo surgery for a sex-change. However, the surgeons I approached refused to conduct the required surgical procedure apprehending possible legal action against them as they are not clear about what the law says in this regard. The doctors have advised me to first get permission for the surgery from a court of law,” she said.

The procedure is not available the Fatima Memorial Hospital so she has requested that the court allow her to have gender reassignment surgery. Sindhu said there has been no bar in the Pakistani law to undergo sex change surgery: “Since some social stigma is attached to this kind of thing, surgeons are usually apprehensive and shy away from performing such procedures here,” Sindhu said. Violence against the transgender community in Pakistan is rife.

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

United States: Scott Lively, the US pastor accused of ‘crimes against humanity’ while preaching homophobia in Uganda, is trying in a last-ditch effort to stop the lawsuit.
The minister has repeatedly attempted to delay the case after a federal US judge ruled in August 2013 a gay Ugandan group could sue for violation of international law.
He is accused of bringing a homophobic campaign to Uganda, acampaign that led to the introduction of a ‘Kill The Gays’ bill. That bill was later rejected from the Supreme Court on technical grounds. Lively claims the lawsuit is ‘absurd’ and ‘completely frivolous’.
He said he claims he did not preach for the death of LGBTI people, but rather for ‘gay cure’ therapy. Also known as ‘conversion therapy, it is deemed a con and dangerous to a person’s mental and physical health by mainstream global health groups.
A hearing will be held in US District Court in Springfield on Lively’s request for summary judgment to keep the case from going to trial.
The founder of Abiding Truth Ministries, Lively has made a career of stirring up anti-gay feelings in the USA and across the world.
He co-authored The Pink Swastika, which suggests ‘homosexuals were the truth inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities’ and the rainbow flag is a symbol of the ‘end times’. In 2007, Lively also toured 50 cities in Russia where he is accused of recommending a ban on ‘gay propaganda’.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Dallas: Texas is not among the most LGBTI-friendly states in the US. Following a wave of proposed bills during the 2015 legislative session, the 2017 session is likely to again include proposals for anti-LGBT laws. Chief among these is the announcement from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to introduce a bill similar to North Carolina’s controversial HB 2. This legislation prohibits transgender people from using public bathrooms in fitting with their gender identity. North Carolina’s HB 2 has faced widespread condemnation when introduced earlier this year, not least from the business community. Companies have abandoned expansion plans in the state, pulled conferences and trade shows, or cancelled business deals. Performers such as Bruce Springsteen have cancelled concerts. Last week, LGBTI advocacy group Equality Texas published an open letter signed by 200 small business owners. They are fearful that a bill similar to HB 2 could have a similar detrimental impact on business in the state.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

United States: The American Philosophical Association (APA) has revised its Code of Conduct for professional philosophers to exclude conservative dissent by labeling disagreement as “discrimination.” Unnamed members of the association petitioned the APA to update its behavioural code of conduct to include discrimination based on “gender identity.” The APA’s board approved the updated code of conduct.

Source: http://www.pbs.org

Ottawa: The Canadian Senate will soon debate the latest version of a bill to encode trans people in Canada’s human-rights and hate-speech laws — a proposal the red chamber had gutted and delayed during past similar bills. Introduced in May 2016, Bill C-16 would add both gender identity and expression to Canada’s anti-discrimination laws, and would let judges deem attacks against trans people as an aggravating factor in criminal sentencing.

On Oct 18, the bill had its first heated parliamentary debate and passed a second reading with unanimous support from the Liberals and NDP, after almost four hours of deliberation. During the House discussion, MPs warned that Bill C-16 “gives unfair advantage” to trans people, would “legislate ideological conformity” and allow “perverts” into washrooms. On Oct 27, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould spoke to the House of Commons justice committee. She said she’d push the Senate to pass the bill, meeting senators individually or at their committees, “to provide any background evidence and studies they would require in making their determination.” On Nov 3, Bill C-16 faced 15 minutes of clause-by-clause study. The federal Liberals fast-tracked the bill’s committee phase to just 2.5 hours, drawing a mix of praise and criticism.

Conservative members of Parliament on the committee quoted statements from politicians and legal experts, saying trans people are already protected under existing codes that outlaw gender discrimination. Wilson-Raybould countered that Bill C-16 was needed, “to make the law clear” for trans people.

“This was pretty much a no-brainer,” Wilson-Raybould told her colleagues. On Nov 3, Bill C-16 was passed with no amendments, with just one of the 10 committee members voting opposed: Conservative MP Ted Falk.

Falk, who represents the southeast Manitoba riding of Provencher, decried the committee for hosting no witnesses other than the justice minister and department officials.

“Do we really know if this bill will have an impact on free speech? No, we don’t,” Falk said, adding that the committee hasn’t studied “explicit safeguards” for “immigrant and religious groups, who have some deeply held convictions with respect to human sexuality.”

Falk said the bill could cause logistical issues, giving the example of male athletes applying for women’s athletic scholarships. But Liberal MP Anthony Housefather rebutted that concern, noting that the International Olympic Committee uses a hormone-level test to decide who can compete in women’s sports. Prior to the committee vote, NDP MP Randall Garrison, who tabled similar legislation in the past, praised the Liberal government for accelerating Bill C-16’s committee phase.

“This is a daily struggle for transgendered people across the country. It’s going to be very much appreciated that the House of Commons has acted expeditiously,” he said, noting that more than 35 witnesses had spoken during previous studies of similar bills.

Bill C-16 will likely face its third reading shortly after the House resumes from a week-long break on Nov 14. That would give the Senate a month to start debating the bill, before its four-week Christmas break. However, the justice minister did not answer questions about how the Liberals will introduce legislation to accommodate trans and non-binary people in passports and in prisons, or whether they will compel police forces to log data on incidents involving trans people.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

Vancouver: Depression and suicide are usually not welcome topics, which is exactly the stigma Olivier Ferlatte is trying to fight with the art exhibit still here.

“Sometimes when you have a topic that’s highly taboo, it’s very difficult to talk about,” he says. Still here is part of Man-Up Against Suicide, a research project conducted through the University of British Columbia’s Men’s Health Research Program. Its aim is to de-stigmatize the issue of men’s depression and suicide. The exhibit’s 29 subjects are gay and bisexual men who have been directly affected by suicide or suicidal ideation. We wanted to engage people, so we gave them cameras,” Ferlatte explains.

The participants were instructed to shoot anything that helped to describe their experience — things that triggered them, made them think about suicide, or helped them manage their suicidal thoughts — then bring the photos back as qualitative research. “One of the great opportunities is we have all those images that are very powerful, so we want to show the photos to people to create a conversation,” Ferlatte says. “Art is often a very powerful way to talk about suicide.”

Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death among Canadian men, with gay and bisexual men being four times more likely than heterosexual men to attempt suicide, according to the research team. Ferlatte joined the team last year to study queer men specifically. “There’s not necessarily a single answer, but a complexity of factors. It’s feeling like you don’t belong, like you don’t have a place, and stories of trauma and violence, and a loss of hope,” he says.

“It’s not really talked about, it’s very hush-hush,” he says. “When people have those thoughts about suicide they feel they’re isolated, they think they’re the only person in the whole world who has experienced that pain or those thoughts.”Ferlatte hopes the exhibit will help create awareness and lobby for prevention services for queer men in general, and then all queer people.

“I think people may think that it will be very depressing,” he says, “but it’s my experience that people felt very inspired by the strength and courage of the people who took the photos, and they felt empowered to talk about it.”

“It’s definitely affected me for the better,” says Jason Henrickson, who worked with visual artist Foster Eastman to create pieces based on his photos.

“When I first got involved in all of this, I didn’t think it was going to amount to what it has — I didn’t think it would reach so many people, so I’m very proud of it. It’s done a lot of positive things for me, my self esteem – it’s made me more artistic, too,” he says.

Source: http://www.dailyxtra.com

London: The British government will not recognise opposite-sex civil partnerships entered into on the Isle of Man, and has ruled out opening up civil partnerships to straight couples. Civil partnerships were introduced across the UK in 2004 by Tony Blair’s government, as a way to grant rights to same-sex couples separate from marriage.After marriage was opened up to same-sex couples in 2014, a legal challenge was filed to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples too. The issue is currently before the courts.

The Isle of Man, which maintains autonomy as a Crown Dependency, became the first place in the British Isles to legalise civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples this summer, as it passed an equal marriage law. Some couples have already travelled from the UK to enter a partnership on the Isle of Man. However, a UK government minister ruled out any reform on the issue in a statement to Parliament last week – also confirming that the government will not recognise the civil partnerships of opposite-sex couples who entered unions on the Isle of Man.

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

London: The UK government has vowed to fight “in every capital of the world” to defend the UN’s LGBT rights expert amid a plot to oust him. The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council voted in June to appoint an independent LGBT expert for the first time to monitor “violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” around the world. Thai professor Vitit Muntarbhorn was handed the role last month, beginning to investigate abuse that the global LGBT community suffer. However, over the weekend it emerged that the Group of African States plan to bring forward a resolution at the General Assembly that would revoke Mr Muntarbhorn’s position, in an attempt to prevent LGBT rights being protected.

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

London: The government is again reviewing whether to make inclusive sex and relationship education statutory in all schools, a minister has confirmed. Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan previously supported calls to make inclusive sex and relationship education (SRE) a statutory requirement in all schools, but failed to bring about reform, with rumours at the time that figures inside the Cabinet had intervened to block progress. As Justine Greening took over as Education Secretary following the change in Prime Minister, she hinted that the issue was near the top of her “in tray”. This week, junior Education Minister Lord Nash confirmed the issue was again under review. The minister was responding to a written question from hereditary peer Lord Northbourne, who had asked “whether they plan to introduce legislation to require all schools, including academies, to provide high quality sex and relationship education as part of their syllabus”.

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

Canberra: A Liberal Senator has called for his government to support a fresh equal marriage effort in the Australian Parliament, after plans for a public vote on the issue were defeated. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suffered a humiliating defeat earlier this week when the Senate voted down a government bill to take same-sex marriage to a public vote in a non-binding plebiscite. Critics saw the plebiscite plan as expensive, divisive and largely redundant, given overwhelming public and Parliamentary support for equality, and Turnbull’s opponents accused him of using a plebiscite to circumnavigate internal government rifts. With support from major LGBT groups, opposition parties voted down the plebiscite bill by 33-29. Following the defeat of the plebiscite plan, activists are now calling on the government to support a fresh bill to bring about equal marriage by a simple vote in Parliament. One Liberal backbench Senator has openly called for a vote on a new bill.

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

Romania: The Romanian government will not debate a referendum banning same-sex marriage for now. On Monday (7 October), Parliament was supposed to debate a potential referendum which would see citizens vote on whether the constitution should define marriage as between a man and a woman. It was introduced by the anti-gay Coalition for the Family.
In a petition, signed by more than three million people, they demand the constitution should be changed to state ‘the family is founded on the freely consented marriage between a man and a woman, their equality and the right and duty of parents to ensure the upbringing, education and instruction of children.’

At the moment, the constitution states a marriage is between two spouses. As a result, a positive vote on the referendum would automatically place a ban on same-sex marriage and make full equality impossible:
‘The push to change the Constitution of Romania and ban gay marriage right before the beginning of the electoral campaign for legislative elections would have gravely affected the status of the Romanian democracy,’ Vlad Viski, president of Romanian LGBTI organization MozaiQ, told Gay Star News.
‘The main proponents of the change, the Coalition for Family, pressured politicians to schedule a referendum concerning the ban on gay marriage simultaneously with the elections for a new Parliament, in order to make sure the required 30% threshold participation rate be met.’ Senators Ovidiu Dontu and Titus Corlatean, representing the Social Democrats, introduced a draft law which would’ve seen the referendum fast-tracked to be held on 11 December – the same day as Romania’s parliamentary election. The date was set because both senators hope it will encourage voter turnout and limit smaller parties entering parliament. By not debating the matter, it is now unlikely, if not impossible, the referendum will be held on that date, as the government is due to enter a holiday period while candidates campaign for their election.
Liviu Dragnea, head of the Social Democrats, asked the senators to withdraw their draft law, because the election and the referendum on same-sex marriage ‘are not related with each other’.
If they decide to ignore his demand, Parliament has two weeks to decide on the matter.
‘As all of the political party leaders in the Parliament came out in support of the so-called “traditional family”, local NGOs wrote to the Parliament, public opinion leaders expressed their outrage at such a push to ban gay marriage, even a few politicians expressed opposition to such a process, most of them privately. The campaign to ban gay marriage in the Constitution is turning out to be an opportunity for the LGBTI community in Romania, with an avalanche of support from numerous allies throughout society. The Coalition for Family and the Orthodox Church seemed desperate these days to use all of their influence to undermine Romania’s democracy. They’ve failed, so far, but there is yet a long battle ahead.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

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