Politics and Society: April 2017

April 1, 2017 in General

London: One of the UK’s leading gay health charities has launched a new fundraising appeal to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

The GMFA, launched as Gay Men Fighting Aids on 31 March 1992, was founded by a group of men who were unhappy with the scant resources available for people like themselves, and receives no statutory funding.

The appeal aims to raise £25,000 so the charity and its 150 volunteers can continue their vital work, including HIV prevention and information advertising campaigns, and courses covering sex education and life skills. The GMFA also distributes a free health magazine specifically for gay men, FS, across various gay venues and GU clinics, as well as online and in the form of an app.

The charity’s CEO, Ian Howley, said: “Over the last 25 years, GMFA has been at the forefront of innovated measures of HIV prevention, and provided frank and honest information about HIV, STI and safer sex. We’ve also supported gay men living with HIV and led with powerful HIV stigma campaigns.”

The charity says it reaches over 1.5 million people through its website, and its campaigns have a social reach of over 4 million.There were new challenges arising for gay men, Ian added, in addition to HIV and STIs, such as people not being able to deal with the effects of the drugs they use during chemsex, and an increase in self-esteem and self-worth issues, as well as the frequency of depression and suicide within the gay community.

He continued: “GMFA wants to stop HIV and HIV stigma, we want to make sure chemsex does not ruin lives, improve the mental health of gay men, and stop gay men from feeling like suicide is the best option for them.

“GMFA is the biggest gay men’s health charity this country knows – please don’t let the history of GMFA die. Let us survive, thrive and work together to create a better future for you, your partners, your friends and for any young boy sitting in his room wondering if he’s gay – make sure he grows up in a world where being gay is not a health inequality but grows up to be a happy and healthy gay man.”

GMFA was the best in the sector to help gay men take control of their own lives, he added, saying that they did this “as 5 men sitting in an office with the help of our volunteers and donors.”

The charity also recently launched How Risky Am I? – a new survey to help gay and bisexual men assess the level of risk they take when having sex.

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

London: Gay Times, CARE Fertility and Surrogacy UK have collaborated to address many misconceptions about fertility and surrogacy for gay men in the UK.

Let’s get straight down to it and answer the most common raised by gay men.

Is surrogacy available in the UK for gay men?
Yes. For years, so many happy families have already been created by CARE Fertility and Surrogacy UK.

Is going overseas easier than staying in the UK?
No. Legal and financial implications with changing legislation in many overseas countries along with added concerns over ethical practice and profiteering are issues that are occurring for UK gay men trying the international route. The comparison to the regulated, safe and non-commercial practice in the UK will be discussed in the ongoing campaign.

In the UK, is the surrogate more likely to keep the baby?
No. Stop listening to the horror stories and stay tuned to our information and shared experience on how successful the relationship is between gay intended parents and their surrogate.

Will we get the support and guidance we deserve as gay men trying to have a family?
Yes. Reputable, successful clinics employ experienced surrogacy coordinators that support and guide gay couples and your surrogate through this journey. Not to mention your surrogacy organisation that enables you to meet other gay male couples and the surrogacy community that have done this before. We have been doing this for years and it’s an absolute joy and we think we are good at it too.

What the costs for surrogacy in the UK?
In the UK, there are legal restrictions on commercial surrogacy therefore the total of fertility and reimbursing your surrogate for ‘reasonable’ expenses are nothing compared to the US fees of £100k or more.

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

Ottawa: A Conservative leadership hopeful in Canada has pledged to “never” attend a Pride event.
Brad Trost is one of the hopefuls vying to replace former Prime Minister Stephen Harper as leader of the Tory Party.
The politician, an ultra-conservative MP for Saskatoon, is one of 14 leadership candidates vying to lead the right-wing party, which is currently the official opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals. In fundraising emails this week ahead of the May election, Mr Trost wrote: “I have not marched in any ‘gay pride’ parade. Further, I will NOT march in any ‘gay pride’ parade as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, nor will I march in or FUND any ‘gay pride’ event of any kind as prime minister.”
The fundraising email apparently included pictures of multiple other Conservative candidates standing in the leadership election marching under rainbow banners at Pride events.
In a video, Mr Trost’s campaign manager Mike Patton added: “In case you haven’t noticed, Brad is not entirely comfortable with the whole gay thing… Brad is not a big fan of the gay lifestyle.
“What you do in private is your business, but what you literally do in the middle of the street needs to conform to some basic community standards.”
He continued to brand Pride events “inappropriate for public viewing”.
Meanwhile, the Trost campaign website claims that “families across Canada are under attack”, citing a string of LGBT policies.
It states: “Ontario’s legislature just passed Bill 28 replacing ‘mother’ and ‘father’, with ‘parent’ and ‘birth parent’ when registering births. Children can now have up to FOUR ‘parents’ registered.
“If passed, Bill 89 will redefine best interests of the child in Ontario family law to include ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as factors to be considered in custody cases. This will make it much easier to remove children of devout parents from their homes, especially if their parents reject theories of ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’.”
He adds: “As a father, I oppose this elitist assault on the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit. Government should respect and support parents, not undermine their rights. As Leader of the federal Conservative Party, I will push for measures to uphold the parental rights of ALL Canadians.”
Mr Trost argued unsuccessfully at the 2016 Conservative policy convention to retain the party’s definition of marriage as “the Union of one man and one woman”.

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

Winnipeg: A Canadian politician who said teachers should tell parents if their kids join gay-straight alliances has been criticised as “extremist”.
Jason Kenney, the newly elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, on Tuesday suggested that students who join gay-straight alliances should be outed to their parents.
He said: “I do… think that parents have a right to know what’s going on with their kids in the schools unless the parents are abusive. I don’t think it’s right to keep secrets from parents about challenges their kids are going through.”
“I trust teachers, principals and school counsellors to exercise their judgment about such matters, and that there should be a presumption that most parents are loving and caring, seeking only what is best for their children,” added Kenney in a Facebook post.
“The law should neither force schools to release information to parents, nor should it create an adversarial relationship between parents and their children.”
Many have come out against the suggestion, saying that LGBT+ students or allies could be outed to their parents before they have a chance to come out themselves.
David Eggen, the Alberta Education Minister branded the comments as “extremist”.
He said: “If the government is compelling people to out those students in a very compromised situation, then they are only serving to make the situation even worse.”
Adding: “Jason Kenney has shown, once you scratch the paint off a little bit, you find the extremist that he actually is.”
Eggen suggested that the law should be strengthened to prevent schools from speaking to parents about things like gay-straight alliances.
This came after Kenney said if he became the Alberta premier, he would not repeal the law which means schools cannot ban gay-straight alliances.
Kenney was also criticised by two out of Alberta’s four opposition parties.
“We feel that this stance by Mr. Kenney demonstrates his social conservative credentials and why he is not fit to lead Alberta,” Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said in a statement.
Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann said: “It remains to be seen how far Mr. Kenney is willing to push this.
“The appearance is that he wants to interfere in what was a fairly clear statement of principle and practice for these GSAs.
“And we’re quite clear, I think — most of us in the progressive community [feel] that this is appropriate, the way it is written, and it must be followed the way it is written to protect and ensure safe and inclusive schools.”

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

South Sudan: South Sudan has agreed to look at the recruitment of child soldiers, stopping female genital mutilation and to bring an end to ongoing hostility.
However, in turn, they will refuse to end the death penalty and an end to the ban on gay sex citing the country’s ‘traditional culture’.
Amnesty International has told Gay Star News South Sudan is the ‘kind of place, given the lawlessness, where you could easily end up dead because of your actual or perceived sexuality’.
The United Nations Human Rights Council delivered a peer review by the rest of the world to the northeast African country, which gained its independence in 2011.
The Universal Review was delivered in November last year. South Sudan has now given their final position on the recommendations.
Justice Minister Paulino Wanawila claimed the UN Human Rights Council had asked them to legalize marriage equality. This is false. Instead, they were asked to decriminalize homosexuality.
Uruguay’s representative urged on South Sudan to repeal the part of the Penal Code that bans ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ – or gay sex – punishable by up to 10 years in prison. LGBTI people are also subject to local laws, which include the death penalty.
There has only been one LGBTI rights organization in South Sudan, which has since disbanded. Many of its members fled the country after being harassed, attacked or threatened with their lives.
Wanawila told Eye Radio: ‘Same-sex marriage is in conflict with our national laws and our cultures.’
In the response to the Universal Review, South Sudan said decriminalizing gay sex and ending the death penalty was ‘in conflict with national laws and policies’. And so, they would only consider the UN’s recommendations if their ‘traditional culture’ is respected.
Amnesty International South Sudan researcher Elizabeth Deng told GSN that, compared to the rest of Africa, society and government is ‘very hostile’ towards homosexuality.
‘No one can be openly homosexual in South Sudan’
‘No one can be openly homosexual in South Sudan,’ she said. ‘Given the lawlessness, it’s the kind of place where you could easily end up dead because your actual or perceived sexuality.’
Deng suspects it is likely the government will not work on any of the United Nations recommendations.
‘It is not a government which takes human rights seriously,’ she said. ‘When you do not have the basic right to life for its citizens, I’m not expecting [the UN report] to have much impact on the government’s policies.’
She added: ‘Adultery is criminalized. The rate of sexual violence is astounding. I’m sure there are plenty of gay people in South Sudan who suffer in silence. Given what they know to be the cultural hostility, it would be a huge risk to their lives if they came out.’
In 2015, UNICEF helped to free 1,775 child soldiers in South Sudan. However, due to growing violence, there has been a recent surge in ‘new recruitment’.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Taipei: Students at a Taiwan university have staged a number of protests against gender equality classes over fears they will “promote” homosexuality.
Students who stood outside the Ministry of Education called for guidelines in the gender equality curriculum to be “revised” so as “sexual exploration and homosexuality” is discouraged.
Shih Chun-yu, a demonstrator with the Student Alliance for the Protection of Families, said: “We are not opposed to gender equality education, but we are opposed to education that amounts to the exploration of a variety of lusts and the encouragement of homosexual tendencies”.
Along with other protesters, Chun-yu called for the “gender-spectrum” module to be pulled from the module which spans over just four hours in one semester.
“Elementary-school students are still maturing and to tell them they can choose a gender identity different from their biological one just confuses them,” he said.
Hsieh Yu-chan, an executive director with the notoriously homophobic alliance, said that protests are being held across the country in Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung.
Some groups, including the Taiwan Youth Sexual Equality Association are counter-protesting.
Brian Sung is a student at the National Taipei University and is pushing to protect the current education on gender and hopefully improve it in the future.
Sung said: “We approve of these kinds of curriculum materials and we hope that they can expanded to include more people on the gender spectrum.”
Hsieh Chang-yun is the director of the Ministry of Education Special Education.
Chang-yun said that the gender equality education module was established in 2004, and that they would take “into account the views of the public” if further revisions were to be implemented.

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

Cardiff: A Welsh police force is set to introduce gender-neutral uniforms.
The more than 1,000 strong force in Dyfed Powys, will all be subject to the uniform change.
The helmets, hats, ties and cravats will all be made the same for officers or all genders under the new rules. Part of the reason the force said it was changing its uniform policy was to be more inclusive of trans people and has implemented policies to encourage engagement with the trans community.Efforts have been made to make facilities and the force more trans friendly by creating gender-neutral custody cells and toilets, and to avoid using gendered terms like policeman and policewoman.
Assistant Chief Constable Liane James said: “As a force we have learnt that there may have been times when our practices and procedures have adversely impacted our Trans communities and their engagement with us.
“This isn’t right. We have been actively working with these communities to improve our service to them,” James told the Mirror.
The same hat and neckwear is being brought in, the force says, to “minimise gender differences”, adding that gendered uniforms may force people to out themselves when they might not want to.
LGBT rights charity Stonewall praised the decision by chiefs at the 1,195-strong force.
A spokesman told the Mirror: “We know that LGBT people, and trans people in particular, don’t always feel confident that the police will understand their needs.
“It’s crucial therefore that police forces work with LGBT communities in order to improve services and it’s great to see this continued commitment from Dyfed Powys to trans-inclusion as an employer and service provider for all.”
But the move has been criticised by David Davies, a Tory MP, who said the new policy is “ludicrous”.
Davies said: “It strikes me as ludicrous and just a way of trying to win brownie points by pandering to minority groups.
“The only major difference in uniforms now are the hats but I don’t think minority groups are going to be bothered anyway about the headgear worn by men and women officers.”
“It’s a huge amount of work involved for no great gain.”

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

Adelaide: Joel Falcon is the male project worker at the South Australian Sex Industry Network, and also a sex worker himself. South Australia is the only place in Australia where sex work is completely illegal.

He says because the industry is illegal, it’s not restricted by regulations like in most other states.

“Some workers think in a way it’s better than working in say Victoria, where you have to register with the government,” says Joel.

However, workers run the risk of being caught by the police.

“Brothels and street-based sex workers are generally the people most targeted,” says Joel.

Male workers, being mostly private escorts, are harder to monitor, so they tend to get left alone unless the police receive direct complaints from neighbours.

Joel noted: “Of course it can change at any time, but currently it’s almost unheard of for private workers to be targeted. If there were a gay brothel it’s hard to know if it would be targeted as well. Certainly the rhetoric about sex work is nearly always centred around women, so the cops perhaps wouldn’t even think of men as sex workers.”

Joel says last year’s shutdown of the US Rentboy website was the first action of its kind to directly target male sex workers and their advertising.

“They probably thought they were untouchable for that very reason, the way things are policed according to gender,” he says.

Joel agrees that there’s “huge amounts of whorephobia” in the gay community.

“If you go into any gay bar and out yourself as a sex worker, the first response would probably be: you’re a slut.The lack of support for the sex worker community and the sex worker rights movement is a real shame.” However, Joel hasn’t heard of many gay escorts having trouble with homophobic straight clients.

“My overwhelming experience is dudes who come to see me are really appreciative, and homophobia is kind of the last thing on their list,” he says. “More often than not they see it as a safe space for them to explore. I’ve heard from other workers about times where the client has even used it as like a counselling session, in relation to coming out or being a straight guy who has sex with men.”

What about LGB women sex workers? Sarah*, a queer cis woman, hired a female escort for her 21st birthday. At the time she was in an open relationship with a man, and had also been with women before.

She had recently started doing sex work herself, and looked into other escorts’ advertising to help establish her own business, when she decided to treat herself to some time with a working lady as a birthday indulgence.

“She said she had a few other female clients she saw regularly,” says Sarah. “They were all bisexual women in straight relationships, and most had their appointments bankrolled by their male partners.”

Sarah remembers the session very positively.

“It was pretty great,” she says. “We started with a massage then moved to the bed.”

How did it compare to other experiences she’d had with women?

“It was different in that it was so ‘me focused’. I was there for me, and she was there to provide me with a good time. I think it’s a super worthwhile thing for a woman to do for herself,” says Sarah. “Like a sexy spa day.”

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

United States: US Millennials are more likely to identify as LGBTQ and be accepting of LGBTQ people than older generations, yet overall lack of comfort with LGBTQ people remains substantial, according to a new GLAAD study.

The findings come in GLAAD’s third annual Accelerating Acceptance report, conducted for the organization by Harris Poll. Based on an online survey of 2,037 adults done in November, it was released Thursday.

It found 20 percent of Millennials — people age 18-34 — identify as LGBTQ, compared with 12 percent of Generation Xers (35-51), 7 percent of Baby Boomers (52-71), and 5 percent of Elders (72 and older). Millennials were more likely than others to use terms outside “gay/lesbian” or “man/woman” binaries, reporting they know people who identify as bisexual, queer, pansexual, or gender-fluid.

Among non-LGBTQ people, Millennials were the most likely to be allies. The study counted people as allies if they reported being very or somewhat comfortable with LGBTQ people in all situations. The figure was 63 percent for Millennials, 53 of Gen Xers, 51 percent of Baby Boomers, and 39 percent of Elders.

But progress in acceptance of LGBT people has slowed, according to the report. About two-thirds of respondents said they are generally comfortable with LGBTQ people; the proportion who said they’re somewhat or very uncomfortable remained unchanged from the 2015 numbers. The “somewhat” and “very” uncomfortable proportion had declined about 3 percent from 2014 to 2015, likely due to widespread coverage of the fight for marriage equality leading up to the Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2015.

Thirty-four percent of respondents said they would be uncomfortable learning their child had a lesson on LGBTQ history in school, and 29 percent said they were uncomfortable seeing a same-sex couple holding hands. There was about the same level of discomfort with learning their doctor, their child’s teacher, or a family member was LGBTQ.

Still, there was much good news in the study, and acceptance among young people bodes well for the future, said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “As the [Trump] administration begins to fulfill its pledges to move the country backwards, many are concerned about progress made in recent years for the LGBTQ community,” she said in a press release. “However, this report shows a remarkable new era of understanding and acceptance among young people — an inspiring indication of the future. Though laws can be unwritten, hearts and minds in America have been changed for the better — and that is a reality less easily unraveled.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Salt Lake City: A leading Mormon speaker has called for the religion to become more accepting of diverse sexualities.
Speaking at a biannual Mormon conference in Salt Lake City, Jeffrey Holland spoke to an audience in person and online about the need to accept LGBT people into the religion.
Holland, who has been a long-standing member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that there was “room” in the faith to accept people who may have different “sexual attractions”, as long as they “love God” and “honour” his commandments.
He said: “When we disparage our uniqueness or try to conform to fictitious stereotypes — stereotypes driven by an insatiable consumer culture and idealised beyond any possible realisation by social media we lose the richness of tone and timbre that God intended when he created a world of diversity.
Dale Relund, a newer member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said that being intolerant would be repeating the past.
“We must not be guilty of persecuting anyone inside or outside the church,” Renlund said.
“Church history gives ample evidence of our members being treated with hatred and bigotry. How ironically sad it would be if we were to treat others as we have been treated.”
The Mormon church has a long history of persecuting the LGBT community with its strong belief that homosexuality is sinful.
Although Holland and Renlund’s remarks may signify a move towards increasing acceptance of diversity, the Mormon church is still “fighting” for its right to discriminate against transgender children.

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

Dublin: A new gender recognition bill has been submitted to the Irish Parliament on the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Under current Irish law, only people over the age of 18 are able to change their legal gender through a simple legal process. Gender recognition is available to teenagers from age 16, but only if they secure a court order.
But lawmakers today filed the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the Irish Parliament, which would open up the legal process to younger transgender people.
The Bill, proposed by Senator Warfield, and co-signed by Independent Senator David Norris and Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan, would lower the age for self-determination to 16, allowing transgender teens to change their gender without jumping through legal hurdles.
The law also opens a legal pathway for transgender children under the age of 16 to gain legal recognition as their true gender, though on a more restricted basis. The bill would also commit to reviewing the inclusion of non-binary persons in Ireland’s gender laws.
Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield said: “Sinn Féin are proud to mark International Transgender Day of Visibility with the announcement and launch of the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017.
“[We] wish to introduce a right of self-determination for persons who have reached the age of 16 years, ensuring access to a Gender Recognition Certificate for 16 and 17 year olds on the same terms as currently apply to persons who are 18 years or older.
“Through family consent and the Circuit Family Court, the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill 2017 also seeks to open a legal pathway for those under the age of 16 to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
“The Bill recognises that while medical practitioners can play an important role in transitioning processes for transgender and gender-variant children and their families, legal gender recognition for persons under 16 years should not be conditional upon medical assent.
“The third element to our legislation is focussed on the status of non-binary persons in the two-year review of the operation of the Principal 2015 Act. It requires the Minister to specifically consider the possibility of providing a Gender Recognition Certificate to persons who do not identify as male/man or female/woman, in addition to the topics and questions that the Minister chooses to explore in the review.
“Sinn Féin have consistently been serious about legislating for the rights of the Trans community, and the LGBTQI+ more broadly. It is for that reason we have sought cross chamber support for this important Bill.
“Ireland can be a model republic, as a beacon of hope for Trans and LGBQI+ people everywhere. We must continue to strengthen our global standing as a leader for Trans rights and extend that recognition to young people. Let us recognise and celebrate the existence and visibility of Trans young people in law.”

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

London: Lesbian and bisexual teenage girls are the most likely to smoke, according to a new study.
The study found an overall higher percentage of lesbian, bisexual and gay adolescents smoke compared to heterosexual teens.
Lesbians and bisexual girls are more than twice as likely to smoke as straight girls of the same age.
However, gay teens have roughly the same odds of tobacco use as heterosexual boys.
Overall, 41% of lesbians and gay teens smoke (including e-cigarettes) compared to 30% of heterosexual teens.
39% of bisexual teens also smoke, as well as 32% of people who were unsure about their sexuality.
Lead study author Dr Hongying Dai from the University of Missouri said: ‘Gender does matter in tobacco use among sexual minority youth.’
Dai believes this study offers a unique insight into gender and sexuality differences in tobacco use.
The results highlight the need for tobacco control policies that specifically target youth who aren’t heterosexual, say researchers.
The study concludes: ‘These findings underscore the need to develop evidence-based tobacco control policies for sexual minority youth that consider the heterogeneity within the sexual minority population.’
This Free Life
A campaign launched last year hopes to target LGBTI youth to prevent rates of smoking.
Run by This Free Life, the Be Known For Your Flawless campaign features popular drag queens outlining the risks of smoking.
Manilla Luzon, Trixie Mattel, Shangela and Tammie tell teens: ‘Every cigarette is doing you damage.
‘I live free from tobacco,’ Luzon says in the video.
Director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller said: ‘We want LGBT young adults to know that there is no safe amount of smoking.
‘Even an occasional cigarette can have serious health implications and lead to addiction,’ he added.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Berlin: A huge majority of Germans support same-sex marriage, a new poll has revealed. The poll, conducted for German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag, revealed that 75% of Germans favour full legal equality for gay people in life partnerships. Only 20% of those surveyed opposed same-sex marriage, while 5% had no opinion on the matter. This is a higher level of support than it was in the UK the day before same-sex marriage became legal in 2014 – a poll carried out by the BBC found that 68% supported marriage equality, while 26% opposed it.

Germany has had civil partnerships for same-sex couples since 2001, however it remains one of the only countries in Western Europe where gays and lesbians cannot legally wed. In Germany, those in civil partnerships have gained many of the same benefits as married couples but they do not have full marriage rights, such as being able to adopt children together. The country is governed by a Grand Coalition comprised of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), Angela Merkel’s right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria. All parliamentary parties except the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union support marriage equality.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly dismissed calls to introduce equal marriage – in an interview with German YouTube star LeFloid, Merkel said: “For me, marriage is a man and a woman living together.”

However, Merkel’s biggest election rivals – the Social Democratic Party – are set to publish draft proposals to fight for marriage equality in the country. Thomas Oppermann is the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) Parliamentary Group in the German Bundestag.

According to The Local, Oppermann said: “I hope that the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union can finally change their spots. Marriage should not be based on gender identity, but rather should only be about whether the partners want to be bonded together permanently, and take responsibility for one another.”

A similar study by Germany’s Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency in January found that 83% of Germans supported legal equality for same-sex marriage, and last October research from Berlin’s Dalia Research company revealed that Germany has the largest LGBT+ population in Europe. Thirteen European countries currently recognise and perform same-sex marriages – Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Britain.

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

Canberra: Sex education is accessible for many young people in Australia.

Whether it’s via a condom and a banana in the classroom, an uncomfortable but necessary conversation between a parent and their child, or posted as a photo series on Tumblr, young people are generally taught about reproductive and heteronormative sex as part of their adolescence.

However, for queer youth this education is often neglected, if present at all. The sex lives of sexual and gender diverse teenagers in Australia are often left out of the classroom, making the exploration and affirmation of their queer identities especially difficult. The rise of initiatives like Minus18 and the Safe Schools program has made information more accessible to LGBTI youth, but there is still a long way to go to make it omnipresent. For a number of LGBTI advocates in Australia that are now adults, learning about things like consent, sexual fluidity, and online sex in high school would have helped them immensely as queer youth coming to terms with who they were.

SALLY RUGG LGBTI rights campaigner

In high school a teacher advised Rugg and her classmates to abstain from sex as part of their sex education. It was an all-girls Catholic private school and a religious educator was running the class. The lessons lasted for around one term and were heavily centred on biology, with a particular focus on sexually transmitted infections.

“We were told that condoms weren’t effective and not to trust them. It was like the joke in Mean Girls – the teacher was telling us not to have sex. It wasn’t until much later that I realised so much was missing.”

As someone who began identifying as gay after high school, Rugg believes she was probably always gay but didn’t have the education or tools to understand it. There was simply no visibility or presence of anything other than cisgender, heterosexual, and monogamous intercourse. But her first exposure to queerness was in a narrative arc on The O.C. that involved a queer woman.
It wasn’t until she started having regular sex and engaging in relationships that she realised sex was so much more than anatomical body parts and venereal diseases. Despite the wealth of things to know about queer sex, Rugg wishes high school had equipped her with the understanding of one concept in particular: consent.

“I remember being 13 at the public swimming pool with friends and there were three older boys there. At the time something happened I thought was fun but it was this wildly inappropriate sexual experience – I thought the guys must think I’m cool but I look back now and it was so fucked up, I was a child being taken advantage of. When I look back at it objectively it was assault but I still don’t feel like it was because I wasn’t equipped with the capacity to understand it at the time.”

Rugg believes all students should learn about queer sex and queer relationships, whether they’re queer or not.

“I’ll always find it really amusing when anti-LGBTI people say ‘we can’t teach kids about queer sexuality because it might make them gay’. It’s funny because all gay kids that have grown up learning about straight sexuality are still gay. Having that education is important, and it’s not just about sex. It should be about queer families, queer relationships, and it’s important for everyone in the class to know it’s okay to be gay.”

With a focus on consent, boundaries, and respect, Rugg also believes many schools need to move away from the Mean Girls, anatomical, STI-fearing form of education.

“Sex is fun and exciting and something really beautiful you do with another person, it’s joyful and romantic and it’s really lovely, rather than being this terrifying thing that gives you diseases,” she said.

MICAH SCOTT CEO of Minus18

One hour was devoted to teaching Scott and his classmates about sex in high school, spread across two classes in physical education. 60 entire minutes. In the time it takes to watch a film, Scott had already been ‘enlightened’ with all the information his school deemed necessary for him to learn as a teenager, and had moved on to his regular class activities.

And the only mention of gay sex during that hour was one throwaway line delivered by the teacher saying that sometimes, two men have sex.

“I completely tuned out, I felt that what was discussed was pretty basic. And I’d already known things from looking online and finding out that way, so the information relevant to me wasn’t covered in class. It was a lot worse as I got older and started to dive into topics like consent, sex online, navigating online sex, and engaging queer sex as a positive thing – those areas were definitely not on my radar as a high school student and it took a lot to discover those.”

A lot of the knowledge Scott acquired as an adolescent was sourced via the internet and through conversations with friends, something he admits was problematic in areas as the stuff he heard and read wasn’t verified, leading to a number of misconceptions. He wishes he’d learned about how to navigate sex online as a gay man.

“It’s such a core component to sex especially in 2017, and that was really new when I was in high school. So it was a lot of trial and error for my own education. From Minus18’s perspective through working with young people we find that a lot of information is learned online which is really cool, but then there’s a lot of misinformation out there as well.”

Scott added that he wants sex education to be less gendered, as his experience saw boys and girls into groups as a means to receive disparate information.

“Schools should come at it from a gender neutral perspective, because a lot of the lessons we’re taught around boundaries were taught to girls even though they applied to me as well. People were split into groups of gender and taught things based on their gender, even though the information was simple and for everyone.”

DANI WEBER Drag performer and presenter for PROJECT ROCKIT

Being bisexual didn’t seem like an option for Dani Weber when they were in high school, with the two sessions of sex education at their school focusing exclusively on penis-in-vagina sex.

And while the education wasn’t fear-mongering, it also wasn’t pleasure-focused and rendered queer sex invisible.

“I thought that when girls kissed girls it was only for a boy’s attention, I didn’t know what sex could look like with someone of the same sex. I literally didn’t think it was an option for me.”

When Weber left high school and started university in Melbourne, they were able to take part in the first radical sex and consent week, tagged as: ‘the sex ed you wished you’d had in high school’. The event was queer-focused, pleasure-focused, and consent-focused, and it was what helped Weber realise they were bisexual. As a non-binary drag performer they play an active role in queer communities, a source of invaluable sex education that was absent in school.

The fluidity and broadness of sex are things Weber wished they’d learned about in high school.

“Honestly I wished I learned that sex can be almost anything. Being non-binary and bisexual as an adult I realise that sex can mean many things but in high school it didn’t feel like that. It’s so important if you have a non-normative body, for instance if you’re trans or intersex, to not only have one model of sex. It’s so harmful. I wished I’d learned that opposite sex relationships can be fluid, experimental, and queer as well. Just because you’re with someone with certain body parts doesn’t mean you have to have heteronormative sex.”

Weber added that learning how to approach sex with someone of the same sex would’ve been helpful as well.

“As a bisexual person I had no idea how to approach same-sex people, I didn’t know how gender roles would play out or how to communicate effectively. You should get sex education around how to ask for what you want respectfully, and how to hear no and take it respectfully.”

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

London: UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is demanding “mandatory equality training” for bus drivers.
The left-wing politician unveiled a new Labour Party “bus strategy” on April Fools Day, though we are assured that the policy document is actually genuine.
The party leader says he wants to “require all bus drivers and staff at bus terminals to complete approved disability equality and awareness training”.
His other promises include “Wi-Fi enabled buses”, “concessionary fares for 16-19 year olds”, and a “commitment to low emissions vehicles”

Mr Corbyn said: “For too long the bus industry has put profit before passengers. Labour will change that.”
He added: “Labour will create the freedom for councils to run first class bus services which the public are proud of. The Tory legacy brought rising fares, plummeting passenger numbers and too many areas where pensioners have a bus pass but no bus. Labour wants to see local communities empowered to determine their own priorities and reverse the decline in bus services.”

The equality training pledge comes after a number of incidents on public transport. In September 2016, a gay couple were allegedly kicked off a London bus after a driver went on a racist and homophobic tirade. There have also been a string of racist incidents on buses. One bus driver who is definitely in need of some equality training is the guy currently touring the US on a bus preaching an anti-transgender message. That bus bears the message: “It’s Biology: Boys are boys…and always will be. Girls are girls…and always will be. You can’t change sex.”

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

Atlanta: TV evangelist Pat Robertson is upset about homosexuals again.
Robertson, 87, is the host of nationally-syndicated Christian Broadcasting Network show The 700 Club, which airs on Disney-ABC channel Freeform.
The TV preacher simply loves putting his overactive imagination to use talking about gay people – whether he’s complaining about how they are all going to be “thrusting” at him or getting upset with gays “getting drunk with the wine of fornication”.
In his latest non-sequitur about homosexuality this week, Mr Robertson revealed he spends a lot of time thinking about getting dominated by gay men. Taking to the airwaves, the long-serving media personality warned that gay people had “dominated” the media, and “infiltrated” academia.
He said: “When you get down to it, Chritians are still the majority in this country, but we have given the ground to a small minority… you figure, lesbians, one percent of the population; homosexuals, two percent of the population. That’s all. That’s statistically all.
“But they have dominated, dominated the media! They’ve dominated the cultural shift and they have infiltrated the major universities. It’s just unbelievable what’s being done.
“A tiny, tiny minority makes a huge difference. The majority… it’s time it wakes up.”
The host attracted fury following the Orlando Massacre last year when he called on evangelicals to “sit back” and let gay people and Muslims wipe eachother out.
He said:”The dilemma of the liberals, the so-called progressives, because they have two favoured groups. One, the Muslims. Number two, the homosexuals.”
“We’re looking at a favoured group by the left, the homosexuals, and that in Islam is punishable by death or imprisonment or some sanction, so what are the left going to do?”
Robertson concluded: “I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.”
The Christian Broadcast Network, which films The 700 Club, has initially insisted that Robertson was using the word “killing” in a “metaphorical” context despite his long history of anti-LGBT comments.
However, the CBN later mysteriously deleted its statement.
Robertson has previously claimed that gay people aren’t capable of feeling love unless they repent their homosexual sins.

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

Sacramento: An anti-LGBT conservative legal group is claiming that religious care homes in California will be forced to operate homosexual brothels for elderly pensioners if discrimination protections are put in place. The surreal claim comes from the so-called Pacific Justice Institute, which is lobbying against a California bill to protect LGBT care home residents. The Democrat-backed LGBT Care Home Residents Bill, would include explicit discrimination protections for elderly residents “on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status”.

The law, which extends existing anti-discrimination protections, is intended to protect vulnerable elderly people who identify as LGBT encountering institutional homophobia.
But the Pacific Justice Institute claims it would lead to the “nuns caring for the elderly and disabled” being forced to run “bordellos” from their Catholic care homes.
In a letter to the bill’s authors they claimed: “For religiously conservative facilities… this [brings] issues related to sexual intimacy and biology.
“SB219 prevents a facility from restricting a resident’s ‘right to sexual intimacy’ which includes receiving visitors.
“Conservative religious institutions typically hold the view that sexual relations are confined to a man and a woman who are married to each other.
“Is it the Author’s position that a Catholic facility should enable residents to have sexual relations with whomever they please? Such an arrangement would resemble a bordello more than a religious healthcare facility.”
The letter continues to claim that forcing care workers to respect the identity and chosen names of transgender people constitutes “compelled speech” that “violates freedom of speech”.
It insists that residents who identify as transgender “may have delusions that should not be imposed on caregivers”.
California has some of the most progressive LGBT legislation in the United States.
The Governor of California recently signed a law introducing education about HIV-preventing PrEP drugs into the standard routine for those undergoing HIV tests.
The law ensures high-risk HIV-negative individuals receive information about methods that reduce the risk of contracting HIV, including PrEP and PEP, during HIV post-test counselling.

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

Washington DC: Hepatitis C rates are shown to be abnormally high among baby boomers, reports CBS Philly. especially with those living in urban areas. In fact, it’s reported that one in 30 baby boomers are living with the virus, and in most of those cases, they transmitted it through intravenous drug use, tattooing, and blood transfusions.

In the state of New Jersey, hep C rates are extremely high even in suburban areas, says NJ.com. The rates have gotten so high that the city of Camden has opened Our Lady of Lourdes, a clinic specifically created to help those living with hep C. Most newly diagnosed hep C cases in New Jersey are heroin users under the age of 35, yet it’s this group who seems to lack accessible treatment. A complete 12-week treatment course can cost upwards of $84,000. Government funded facilities are hesitant to address treating individuals for fear of dwindling funds. So once again, lower income groups will suffer.

Gilead, the company who patented sofosbuvir (Solvaldi), the drug treatment for the virus, are now exploring new ways of cutting the cost of their drug for patients — this has only been taking place outside of the US in places like Egypt, India, Malaysia, and Thailand. In these locations, a fixed dose combination of ravidasvir and sofosbuvir cost as little as $300.

One can hope that the exploration of lower costing treatment for individuals with hep C can make its way to the US. Gilead has stated they are looking into generic drug markets setting the price at $2,000 per treatment course and offer patient assistance for people who aren’t insured. This could be a step forward. Although the cure is out there, many folks are still living with the virus and aren’t undergoing intensive treatments, and often times it’s because those treatments are inaccessible to the poor. It’s time to change that.

Source: http://www.hivplusmag.com

Grozny: Reports that authorities in Chechnya have been rounding up gay people have been verified by human rights groups.
Early reports emerged last week that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that more than 100 gay men had been detained in the last two weeks “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge.Several people were also reportedly feared dead following violent raids.
There was initially little verification of the claims from the remote region, which is largely closed off from the centre of Russia.
However the reports have now been separately confirmed by Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group, both of which cite on-the-ground sources that appear to confirm gay men have been targeted for detention.
In its report, HRW confirmed: “The information published by Novaya Gazeta is consistent with the reports Human Rights Watch recently received from numerous trusted sources, including sources on the ground.
“The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred.”
Ekaterina L. Sokiryanskaya, Russia project coordinator for the International Crisis Group, told the New Tork Times: “I got numerous, numerous signals… it came from too many sources not to be true.”
“Even delivering the information is very difficult… they are just small islands, isolated.”
According to HRW, LGBT Network in Russia opened a special hotline to provide emergency support to those who find themselves in immediate danger.
A spokesman for the Chechen government, Alvi Karimov, previously denied the reports while claiming that gay people haven’t been targeted because “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
They said: “If there were such people in the Chechen republic, law enforcement wouldn’t have a problem with them because their relatives would send them to a place of no return.”
A spokesperson for the Kremlin denied any knowledge of a purge but claimed the Russian government would “investigate” the reports.
In the UK, activists have written to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, calling for the British government to intervene in the crisis.
The letter, signed by Pride in London’s Michael Salter and Alison Camps said: “Pride in London is alarmed to learn that authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have launched a campaign to identify and execute members of the LGBT+ community within the quasi-independent state, formally under Russian control.
“Pride in London would urge the UK Government to take meaningful steps to assist the LGBT+ community in Chechnya and to offer protection and support to what amounts to state sponsored genocide.
“The statements issued by the authorities in Chechnya, that LGBT+ citizens do not exist in the state, are a chilling indictment to the goals of an extermination agenda rather than that of fact.”
The Foreign Office responded to the pressure, telling BuzzFeed: “We are very concerned by reports of mass arrests of individuals in Chechnya due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation. We condemn any and all persecution.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we have voiced our serious concern over these developments with Russian authorities at all levels.”

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

Chicago: The decision to let a trans girl using the girls’ locker room at her school in Chicago has ignited a federal lawsuit and a district-wide battle over access.
Parents for Privacy, a Christian Right front group “representing” more than 50 families of secondary school children, is suing High School District 211 in federal court over the move.
The district board agreed to let a trans girl – known only as Student A – use the locker room of her choosing after pressure from federal officials.
But the move started a backlash that has resulted in the lawsuit and today’s board election, in which three candidates from Parents for Privacy are running in order to roll back trans rights. The activists have been supported financially by Richard Uihlein, a business and long-time Republican donor who has given millions to conservative causes and candidates including Ted Cruz.
Anna Klimkowicz, who has been a board member since 1997, told the Chicago Times that the district’s policy has worked seamlessly, with no violations or bullying that she had heard of.
“It has to be reviewed, but right now restricted access is working,” she said.
The district changed its rules to accommodate Student A after the department of education under Obama ruled that it was discriminating because of her sex.
This was the first time federal officials had come to this conclusion against a school district, and led to the board providing access after the government threatened to withhold millions in funding.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has supported Student A in her legal battle against the Parents for Privacy.
It said that if three of the parents who support that lawsuit win seats on the school board in today’s election, they will probably have enough votes to change the district’s policy.
As for Student A herself, the girl at the forefront of the controversy said trans access to toilets and locker rooms was utterly unimportant to other pupils.
“Honestly, (students) are sick of this issue. They think it’s quite ridiculous.”
However, the student, who is graduating in June, worried that, depending on the outcome of today’s board election, “other students could have to go through what I went through (before the agreement) or even worse.”

And she’s not the only one who will be affected by today’s election.
Two other students have intervened in the federal lawsuit to try to stop any rollback of the access provided to Student A.
Another student at a different school is also fighting for access to the girls’ locker room, which has thus far been denied to her.
Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for ACLU Illinois, said while the organisation doesn’t get involved in district board elections, it is “very much concerned” with the situation in the district.
“If these policies get reversed, I can tell you who is going to be harmed: Our clients.”
Fights over trans youth’s access to locker rooms and toilets are going on all over the country, exacerbated by Trump’s decision to reverse Obama’s transgender bathroom protections.
Since Trump’s election, battles have been fought in Missouri and Ohio, while in Oregon, a death threat was scrawled on the wall of a gender-neutral bathroom.
In Wisconsin, teenager Ash Whitaker is set to take on his school district in a federal appeals court.
He alleged he was discriminated against by the district’s bathroom policy, which he said required trans students to use the wrong bathroom and to identify themselves with green bracelets.

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

Cardiff: Men who have sex with men in Wales will be offered the HPV vaccine under a new program.
The vaccine was previously only offered to girls, and to some men who have sex with men who attend sexual health clinics.
But from April 1, the vaccination programme was rolled out across the country.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended the programme be rolled out as men who have sex with men can be at higher risk of HPV infection.
Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans said: “A HPV vaccine programme for adolescent girls has been in place since 2008.
“Vaccinating the majority of girls in the UK means that their future male partners get some protection too. However boys who become men who have sex with men will get far less of this protection.
“I am pleased that a new targeted HPV vaccination programme for gay men up to the age of 45 has been introduced across Wales.
“Gay men attending clinics for sexual health services will now be offered the vaccine.”
But some say the new programme doesn’t go far enough to tackle complications sometimes faced by those who contract various forms of the virus, which can lead to cancer.
Gay men were given HPV vaccines for the first time in the UK under a pilot scheme, the government confirmed back in 2016.
A vaccination programme began in 2008 among school-age girls in the UK to tackle the human papilloma virus, which spreads through genital or oral contact and can cause a number of cancers.
Only girls were vaccinated on the grounds that men who only have sex with women would logically also be protected from transmission through ‘herd immunity’.
However, an obvious flaw in the ‘herd immunity’ plan left gay men vulnerable. As they have sex with eachother and not women, they are effectively left without any protection when HPV spreads through the gay community.
The British government last summer confirmed that a pilot scheme is offering the vaccine to men who have sex with men.
Mike Freer MP had asked the government to confirm “on what date HPV vaccinations were made available to men who have sex with men; and how many such men have received that vaccination since that date.”
Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health, confirmed: “A pilot programme offering human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to men who have sex with men up to the age of 45 who attend participating HIV and [GUM clinics] clinics started on 6 June 2016.
“Information on the number of HPV vaccinations administered during the pilot is being collected and, as such, is not yet available.
“It is anticipated that initial validated data covering the period up to the end of September will be available in late November.”
In a statement to PinkNews, Mr Freer said: “This has been a very long campaign, and although there is still much to do to improve access to the HPV vaccination, the launch of the pilot for MSM is a step in the right direction.
“I am looking forward to working with Nicola on a number of campaigns and will be meeting with her in the near future with fellow MPs, to discuss these issues in person.”
The trial comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation warned that gay men were being left vulnerable.
The JCVI advised that the three dose vaccine should be offered to gay and bisexual men who are at high risk of contracting the virus, provided that the service can be delivered at a cost effective price.

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

Lubbock, Texas: Arguments are being heard on both sides of an argument around a law which would allow anti-LGBT discrimination in Mississippi.
The law, which was halted last July before it could take effect by a federal district judge, would allow merchants and government employees to discriminate if they have religious objections to same-sex marriage.
Both sides have expressed confidence after arguments were heard at the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday in Lubbock, Texas.An attorney for some of the plaintiffs who sued the state, Robert Kaplan, says the law is unconstitutional as it allows specific religious belief to trump civil rights.
Alliance Defending Freedom is defending the state. The Arizona-based legal group’s Kevin Theriot has said the law protects those with genuinely held religious beliefs.
The state’s Republican governor wants federal courts to uphold the law.
Governor Phil Bryant believes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, that a person’s gender is set at birth and that gay sex is an act against God – and he wants the state to agree with him.
The Mississippi native has asked a federal appeals court to introduce the “religious objections” law, despite the fact it was previously blocked by U.S District Judge Carlton Reeves.
Reeves ruled that the law “unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
Mississippi’s Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood later refused to appeal Reeves’ ruling, but that won’t stop Bryant.
The appeal is now being dealt with by private attorneys – including some working for Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based Christian legal group that helped write the measure.
The law would have protected business who claim to have “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions” in objection to same-sex marriage.
Bryant signed the new law in April last year – ignoring pleas from business leaders in the state.
After signing the bill, Bryant won praise from conservative Christian groups and received a religious freedom award from the Family Research Council.
However, he also faced an immense amount of backlash nationally as well as hundreds of protesters who went to his mansion to demand the repeal of the anti-LGBT law.
In June, Governor Bryant said he’d rather be executed through crucifixion than repeal the anti-LGBT legislation.

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

Launceston: Australian Government Senator Eric Abetz has claimed that gay people can be “cured”, in a debate on equal marriage.
Senator Abetz, the former Leader of the Government in the Senate and a member of Malcolm Turnbull’s right-wing coalition, made the extraordinary claim while appearing on Sky News to discuss same-sex marriage.
He insisted: “The reality is, and evidence has been given to the Senate Committees, where people who have been in gay relationships have then gone into heterosexual relationships and I believe that can happen, courtesy of the evidence.
Asked by the stunned host if gay people should ‘try’ to be straight, he said: “Look, it is up to the individual as to what they want to be and how they want to express themselves. That is up to them in a free society.”

He insisted: “I think we all know people that have been in a straight relationship that have gone into a gay relationship, and people doing the opposite.
“The fact that both occur within our society is established fact and why we can’t report on the two-way traffic is something that has bemused me somewhat and I think it’s indicative of certain bias in the media that they only want one side of the equation spoken about.”
Mr Abetz also lashed out at business leaders for pressing the government to make progress on equal marriage.

He said: “Along with free speech comes the right to be critical of CEOs running politically correct campaigns, in effect with shareholders’ money, in circumstances which it means the cost of their product must be that much more expensive to the consumer of Australia because these campaigns don’t come for free.
“Ultimately the Australian consumer pays in circumstances where, as you would know and your viewers would know, I personally believe that any change to the definition of marriage would not be for the benefit of the children of our nation.”
He added: “People will feel uncomfortable either way with campaigns of this nature… I think there has to be some sensitivity.
“I would have thought let’s say the CEO of Qantas or the CEO of a commercial bank might actually be focused on providing the best possible outcome for their consumers rather than engaging in political campaigns, which clearly do divide the community.”
Abetz has previously claimed that people who are ‘cured’ of homosexuality should be celebrated in public.
The politician also previously suggested that even if the public votes for equal marriage in a referendum or plebiscite, he would try to block it in Parliament.
He added: “There will be people in the parliament who could not support the outcome of a plebiscite whichever way it went.”
His brother Peter Abetz is also a politician, and has compared same-sex parenting to stealing children from Aborigines.

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

Montreal: The Canadian province of Quebec has pledged $550,500 in funding for projects to tackle anti-LGBT+ discrimination.
The funding, which will be shared by thirty groups across the province, was announced by Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée on Monday.
It aims to support LGBT+ communities in bolstering their rights, as well as research and public awareness campaigns. A press conference was held at which Vallée said 88 percent of the initiatives to tackle homophobia between 2011 and 2016 had already been implemented.
Media campaigns, said Vallée, had reached three-quarters of the people in Quebec.
“Again this year, numerous organisations responded to our call for project funding through our Fight Against Homophobia program,” Vallée said.
The province did something pretty amazing for its transgender teenagers back in 2016.
The bill which allows trans minors to legally change their gender, became law in the Canadian province back in June.
The Civil Code will be changed to include transgender kids and teenagers, and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms will also be changed to outlaw transphobic discrimination.
The bill against transphobia was tabled late in May.
Teenagers will not need to undergo gender reassignment surgery to change their birth certificates.
However if they are 14 or older and one of their parents or legal guardians objects to the change, it will go to a tribunal.
If they are 13 or under the request to legally change their gender must come from the parent or guardian.
Canadian MPs earlier this month voted to make changes to its national anthem to make it gender-inclusive.
The country’s Parliament is currently addressing a bill, tabled by Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger, which tweaks the country’s national anthem O Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who came to power in Canada last year – has put equality at the heart of his leadership: appointing a diverse, expert-led gender-balanced cabinet, speaking out against homophobia, and becoming the first Canadian PM to march at Pride.
He also made history by flying a rainbow flag from Parliament Hill, and announced a raft of new trans rights protections that will bolster anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of gender identity.

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

Panama: Same-sex marriage could be coming to Panama if LGBTI activists win a legal fight with the Supreme Court of Justice.
Álvaro José López Levy is hoping for the Central American country’s highest court to agree to change the legal definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
Article 26 of the Family Code currently defines marriage as a ‘voluntary union between man and woman, who come together to make and share a life’.
He believes this is unconstitutional.
Panama has no recognition of same-sex couples. In 2008 it became the last Spanish-speaking country in Latin America to abolish historic anti-sodomy laws.
Levy’s petition hopes to declare parts of the sentences unconstitutional, the line ‘between man and woman’.
Transatlantic gay couple launched original petition for same-sex marriage in Panama
It’s the second petition filed over the course of six months.
Levy’s claim joins Enrique Raúl Jelenszky and John Winstaley, who filed for similar claims on 17 October last year.
Jelenszky, a Panamanian lawyer, and Winstanley, a British executive, had a civil union in May 2008 at the British Embassy in Panama.
Eight years later, when a British citizen could marry in the embassy of a different country, this became a marriage.
Panama’s Supreme Court has yet to reach a decision on the petition.
Gay couples may not receive equal rights even if they can get married
Juan Carlos Araúz, president of the National Bar Association, has warned same-sex couples might not receive the same benefits as straight couples even if they win the right to marry.
Araúz told newspaper La Estrella if an LGBTI person wants to insure their partner through the Social Security Fund, they might still be turned down even if same-sex marriage becomes legal.
If that’s the case, they would have to start a process so the institution can recognize their marriage, Araúz said.
Some lawyers have already voiced their opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage.
Lawyer claims no famous gay ‘creative’ ever wanted to get married
Gilberto Boutin, dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Panama, claimed marriage equality was a US concept – or an ‘import of gringolandia’.
He also claimed the Ancient Greeks, who he called the ‘parents of homosexuality’, did not allow same-sex marriage.
‘No monotheistic religion accepts homosexuality, neither Christianity, nor Buddhism nor Islam,’ he said.
‘One has to ask, if what is sought is a homosexual movement to replace a secular state with a homosexual state?’
Boutin also told Panamá Americá his opposition to same-sex marriage was based on how no famous gay man in history ever wished to get married.
‘The condition of being gay was to be happy with a hedonistic freedom’, he said.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Uttar Pradesh: For the first time ever the Lucknow, the capital city of Indian state, Uttar Pradesh (UP) will host its first Pride Walk.
LGBTI organisations Awadh Pride Team and Humsafar Trust are organising the Pride Walk.
UP is the home of the Taj Mahal in the country’s mid-north.
The Pride Walk on April 9 comes at a critical time for Uttar Pradesh’s LGBTI community. Vigilante groups known as ‘anti-Romeo squads’ have been targeting men
The men are either assaulted or taken to the police where they have to pay a bribe to get out of an arrest.
Last week an uncle and nephew were picked up by a squad on the suspicion they were a gay couple according to the Indian Times.
They each had to pay a 5000 rupee bribe (USD77) to secure their release.
The formation of the anti-Romeo squads was an election promise from the now ruling Hindu nationalist party the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in UP.
Yogi Adityanath’s government had said the squad’s purpose was to protect young women in public from ‘eve-teasers’ (men who sexually harass women in the street).
But the squads have turned into vigilante groups – made up of the general public and police officers. They are now targeting suspected LGBTI people and young couples in public.
Pride Walk could not come sooner
Organisers of the Lucknow Pride Walk said it would be a good opportunity to educate the public about LGBTI issues.
‘Beginning next week, we will reach out to schools to spread awareness about the community,’ Humsafar Trust’s Tinesh Chopade told the Times of India.
‘Our basic motive is to get the Supreme Court’s 2014 order implemented. The order calls for 13% reservation to the community among other rights.’
The Awadh Pride Team also hosted the Awadh Queer Film Festival featured movies about India’s LGBTI community.
‘The conservative society has a very narrow view about our community, which makes life difficult for people like us,’ said film festival organizer Yadavendra.
Social activist Sadaf Jafar said: ‘The solution lies in education and from there on we can get together as a civil society to demand basic education for children from the community.’

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Beijing: Asian businesses fall dramatically behind other countries when it comes to offering LGBTI employees an equal and inclusive environment.
Consultancy company Mercer’s LGBT Benefits around the World Survey was just released. It revealed companies in North America are nearly twice as likely to equal benefits to LGBTI and heterosexual employees than their Asian counterparts.
The survey interviewed businesses in more than 50 countries. Asia rated lowest of the seven regions included in the survey. Only 49% of Asian companies giving its LGBT employees the same level of benefits.
Singapore had the worst with results, with only 15% of companies giving equal benefits.
‘Organizations have started to understand the power they have to influence the markets to protect LGBT employees providing equal and inclusive benefits,’ Diego Ramirez, principal in Mercer’s Global Health business told Human Resources Online.
‘In a climate where key talent is scarce and public scrutiny of corporate behavior is increasing, organizations cannot afford to overlook their global LGBT policy and how it is articulated on the ground consistently across the borders.’
The survey also revealed the different reasons organizations do not offer equal benefits to LGBTI workers.
Half of the businesses said they are restricted by national laws. About one-third said they don’t offer benefits because of cultural or societal preconceptions. Some said their company was unable to implement such a benefit plan.
‘With all the uncertainty of the past year and the spotlight on human rights issues, it is more important than ever for organizations to reassess their position on LGBT-rights issues,’ said Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s Career business.
‘In the global war for top talent, companies perceived as non-discriminatory and progressive enhance their attractiveness as a workplace by creating a welcoming, supportive, and productive environment.’
Anti-discrimination policies
The survey also found many companies have adopted policies protecting LGBTI people from workplace discrimination or harassment.
42% of companies in Singapore have a non-discrimination policy that protects LGBT employees. In Hong Kong 54% of companies have a similar policy as do 58% of Malaysian businesses.
‘In Asia, diversity & inclusion, including LGBT employees, is becoming an increasingly popular topic amongst organisations,’ said Godelieve Van Dooren, regional benefits Leader at Mercer.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com

Chicago: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, based in Chicago, has become the first federal appellate court to rule that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The decision came today in the case of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College. Kimberly Hively (pictured) was a math instructor at the college, located in South Bend, who said she was repeatedly denied promotions and ultimately fired after it became known she was a lesbian. She had been seen kissing her girlfriend in the parking lot at the school.

Lambda Legal, representing Hively, argued that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, which is prohibited by Title VII. It argued that the expectation that people will be heterosexual is a gender stereotype, so discrimination against nonheterosexuals is sex discrimination. Today, a majority of the 11 judges on the Seventh Circuit agreed, reversing a decision that came last year from a three-judge panel of the circuit.

“Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype (at least as understood in a place such as modern America, which views heterosexuality as the norm and other forms of sexuality as exceptional): she is not heterosexual,” Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the court majority in the 8-3 decision. “Our panel described the line between a gender nonconformity claim and one based on sexual orientation as gossamer-thin; we conclude that it does not exist at all. Hively’s claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing. The employers in those cases were policing the boundaries of what jobs or behaviors they found acceptable for a woman (or in some cases, for a man).”

Several federal trial courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have interpreted Title VII in this manner, but the Seventh Circuit, as a federal appeals court, is the highest court to make that finding and sets precedent for the three states it covers, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. It remanded Hively’s case to the trial court, which had dismissed her case, for rehearing, but it is likely that at some point the issue of whether Title VII covers sexual orientation discrimination will come before the U.S. Supreme Court. Some courts and the EEOC have held that Title VII applies to discrimination based on gender identity as well.

Hively, represented by Lambda Legal, filed her lawsuit in August 2014. The trial court dismissed her case on the basis that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination did not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now it will have to decide the case on the basis of whether such discrimination actually took place.

“Love won again today,” said Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven in a press release. “Kim Hively loved her job teaching math at Ivy Tech Community College, but she was fired because she is a lesbian. Today the Seventh Circuit said clearly: That’s wrong. Our movement is about love and pride. Pride in yourself and your work, and the freedom to love and to be treated equally. Even in these challenging times, Lambda Legal continues to win in court and make our country better.”

“I have been saying all this time that what happened to me wasn’t right and was illegal. Now I will have my day in court, thanks to this decision,” Hively said in the release. “No one should be fired for being lesbian, gay, or transgender like happened to me and it’s incredibly powerful to know that the law now protects me and other LGBT workers.”

Other LGBT groups praised the decision as well. “This decision opens the door to a new era for LGBTQ plaintiffs under federal sex discrimination law,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “With this historic decision, the Seventh Circuit is the first federal appellate court to acknowledge that discrimination because a person is gay, lesbian, or bisexual can only reasonably be understood as discrimination based on sex. The court deserves credit for rejecting the tortured rationales of older decisions and undertaking a principled analysis, based on the Supreme Court’s affirmation in Price Waterhouse and other cases, that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 must be broadly construed to prohibit the full range of sex-based discrimination.”

One of the judges who dissented, Diane Sykes, was on Donald Trump’s long list of potential Supreme Court picks. She had previously ruled in favor of a college organization’s right to discriminate against LGBT people even if it receives public funds.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Washington DC: A disproportionate number of queer youth, particular lesbians and bisexual girls, end up in jail or prison in the United States, according to a study released today by researchers at UCLA. Worse, those youth are considerably more likely to be raped during their time in custody.

“The findings support calls by policymakers and advocates for the need to pay attention to the unique needs of LGBT youth in state systems,” says Dr. Bianca D.M. Wilson, lead author on the report, released Tuesday by The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

The study worked on assumptions that 6 to 8 percent of youth and young adults in the general population qualify as sexual minorities, but found that almost 12 percent of youth in state-run and –contracted facilities fall under that same category. The report defines gender minorities as those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual as well as those who “report sexual or romantic attractions to those of the same-sex but do not identify as LGB.”

The report found striking differences in the breakdown of incarcerated boys and girls identified as queer. A survey conducted for the report determined 39.4 percent of girls in juvenile corrections facilities identify as LGB, with an additional 18.5 percent identifying as “mostly straight,” compared to just 3.2 percent of boys who identify as gay or bisexual, with an additional 3.9 percent who self-identify as “mostly straight.” Boys make up a much higher percentage of incarcerated youths. In total, the study found 6.5 percent of all youth in custody identify as LGB, and the number jumps to 11.8 percent when those who describe themselves as “mostly straight” get added to that group.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests nearly 12 of high school girls are lesbian, gay or bisexual compared to 4.5 percent of boys.

Researchers elected not to include trans and gender nonconforming youth in the study due to “major methodological challenges” but the report acknowledges an overlap in the experiences of gender minorities as well.

The study discovered most youth, regardless of sexual orientation, remain in custody less than 12 months, but the chances of spending more time than that are two three times higher for sexual minority youth than for heterosexual youth.

And while in custody, LGB youth are more likely to be sexually victimized. “Reports of sexual victimization by staff were lower for girls than boys and varied from 2.2 percent for straight girls to 15.1 percent for gay/bisexual boys. Youth-perpetrated sexual assaults and injury were the most commonly victimization experienced across all population subgroups. Sexual victimization by other youth using force varied from 1.9 percent for straight boys to 20.6 percent for gay/bisexual boys.”

Social attitudes condoning homophobia could contribute to the likelihood queer youth will be victimized in custody. “These differences may be best understood within correctional environments in which staff biases, disciplinary cultures, and highly gendered programming may endorse or condone homophobic targeting while repressing consensual sexual expression.” Reports of victimization by peers were especially high for gay and bisexual males in the study.

Among sexual minority girls in custody, the study found a greater percentage of Latina inmates, while a greater number of queer boys in custody were white. “The highly disproportionate representation of sexual minority girls, the majority of whom are girls of color, highlights the urgency for explanatory theories, as well as policy and practices, that move beyond uni-dimensional ‘LGBT vs. straight’ frameworks for analyzing juvenile justice disparities. Importantly, these findings mirror those found among adults incarcerated in jails and prisons, which shows that sexual minority women are disproportionately incarcerated, especially sexual minority women of color. The similar findings among girls and women may reflect similar experiences and structural biases across the lifespan leading to incarceration, or that juvenile detention represents an influential pathway to adult incarceration pathways, or both.”

Like all minority groups, law enforcement bias may contribute to overrepresentation, the report says. The study also shows being in a sexual minority can usurp being in an otherwise protected class. “The findings showing that sexual minority boys were far more likely to be white raises questions about the ways in which ‘queerness’ may become a signifier for deviance from social and masculinity norms for a group of youth who have otherwise been protected by white and male privilege,” the report reads.

The study also found that LGB youth remain at higher risk of “traumatic stress, depression, suicidal ideation and substance use” once in custody as well, and that prison staff may take less action to curb that. “Sexual minority youth may be particular targets for sexualized violence and administrative punishment while incarcerated,” the study reads. “Studies with juvenile justice practitioners document widespread misperceptions and negative attitudes toward sexual minority youth that produce and enable inequitable treatment, neglect of health and medical issues, excessive use of force, sexual and physical victimization, and unwillingness to offer protection. Further, scholars suggest that staff stereotypes of lesbian and bisexual girls as sexually predatory and aggressive may result in inequitable administrative sanctioning and further criminalization.”

Writers of the study conclude authorities must broaden their focus in correcting disproportionality of minority representation in jails and prisons. “Girls and sexual minority youth as independent social statuses comprise a relatively small proportion of all youth in custody, and yet sexual minority girls make up a substantial proportion of all girls in custody. This vast overrepresentation warrants future attention in public policy research. As the implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act continues to roll out, attention to the risks faced by LGB and other sexual minority youth in custody should receive particularly focused attention.”

Source: http://www.advocate.com

Indiana: Women who are given additional doses of a sex hormone are more likely to have a bisexual baby, new research has found.
The children whose mothers were exposed to progesterone during the decades-long study were more likely to define as non-heterosexual.
In fact, researchers at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana found that the 17 children whose mothers were given the hormone were nearly five times more likely to be attracted to their own gender.
In contrast, levels of attraction to the opposite gender were the same in the two groups.
Progesterone naturally occurs in men and women, and is often used to increase fertility, maintain foetus development and prevent miscarriages or premature births. The study, which started in 1959, tracked 34 Danish subjects – 17 men and 17 women – half of whose mothers were given the hormone and half who weren’t.
Researchers found that 21 percent of exposed people labelled themselves as something other than heterosexual, compared to zero of those who weren’t exposed.
In this vein, 29 percent of exposed people said they had been attracted to their own gender, whereas just six percent of the other group said the same.
The researchers said their results showed that attraction to men was more common in exposed participants, as “scores on attraction to females did not differ significantly by exposure.”
They reported that “regardless of sex, exposure appeared to be associated with higher rates of bisexuality”.
“The findings challenge the prevailing view of homosexual interest and behaviour as a simple reflection of feminisation/demasculinisation in males and masculinisation/defeminisation in females.”
They concluded that “prenatal progesterone has been an underappreciated factor in human psychosexual development”.
And since progesterone is a common treatment during pregnancy, the scientists urged that use of the hormone “warrants further investigation.”
The news comes after it was revealed that gay men could one day have babies together.
The prospect of babies being born with three parents is an even closer prospect, with a clinic approved last month to start treatment.

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

Washington DC: The US Senate will vote on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court against a multilayered backdrop of opposition. Opposition that, for many LGBTQ rights advocates, only increased after Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings. During these hearings, Gorsuch referred to Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case that recognized marriage equality, as “settled law.”

This acknowledgement should have come as a relief to many, particularly as the team of people with whom I work at the National Center for Lesbian Rights helped bring this case to the Supreme Court. However, it is cold comfort because after a slew of carefully worded answers, Gorsuch refused to affirm the legal reasoning underlying the court’s interpretation of constitutional protections for the LGBTQ community. Gorsuch has also endorsed the view that religious beliefs can justify discrimination, even when others are harmed. A vote to confirm Gorsuch would jeopardize the LGBTQ community’s hard-won achievement of basic freedom and constitutional rights.Gorsuch is deeply skeptical of the fundamental constitutional rights recognized by the Supreme Court that ensure fair and equal treatment for LGBTQ people. The fact that the cases striking down antisodomy laws (Lawrence v. Texas) and recognizing marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges) have already been decided should not make us complacent. Right now there is a concerted effort by anti-LGBTQ organizations and elected officials to nullify Obergefell by contending that while it may require states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it does not require equal treatment of married same-sex couples. The Arkansas Supreme Court recently issued a decision based on that very argument, holding that Obergefell does not require equal treatment of married same-sex couples with respect to the issuance of birth certificates for their children. And a few weeks ago the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case in which state officials are arguing that Obergefell does not require equal employment benefits for same-sex spouses.

These are real, not hypothetical, concerns, and we have every reason to be gravely concerned that Judge Gorsuch would permit Obergefell and other decisions involving fundamental rights to be effectively nullified were he to be confirmed.

Gorsuch also espouses a breathtakingly broad view of religious liberty, one that allows virtually anyone who expresses a religious objection to opt out of laws with which they disagree. His ruling in the Hobby Lobby case (involving employee access to contraceptive coverage) before it reached the Supreme Court gave no consideration to the employees’ health care needs and instead endorsed a view of “complicity” that is sweeping and alarming. Under his reasoning, a religious objection to doing something that might even very indirectly facilitate conduct that violates the objector’s faith is enough to allow for an opt-out.

Religious refusals have long been a significant problem in the realm of reproductive health care, and we now see such refusals surfacing around nondiscrimination laws and the right to marry, which are core concerns for the LGBTQ community. Private businesses are fighting in court for the right to deny services to same-sex couples, states are introducing laws to allow sweeping religious opt-outs from nondiscrimination laws, and employers are citing Hobby Lobby to justify firing transgender employees. Elevating Gorsuch to the Supreme Court would be a serious setback to the equality of LGBTQ people for which we have all fought so hard.

What Justice Kennedy wrote so eloquently in Obergefell contrasts sharply with Judge Gorsuch’s exceedingly narrow views regarding our most cherished rights: “The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.” We fear that with Judge Gorsuch on the bench, this continual exercise of securing freedom for all by applying the Constitution’s “central protections” will be halted and many, including LGBTQ people, would be left out in the cold.

Source: http://www.advocate.com

London: Stonewall is calling for the recognition of non-binary people on British passports.
According to the proposal, released today as part of the LGBT charity’s “five-year plan” for trans inclusion, the government would include a new “X” gender category on passports.
The charity is also calling for the spousal veto to be eliminated and changing the Equality Act to protect people’s “gender identity,” eliminating the outdated terms “gender reassignment” and “transsexual”.
Trans people should also not have to provide medical evidence to legally change their gender, the charity has said.
The “X” category would also be on official government forms in the charity’s plan, which it said would help trans and non-binary people to avoid difficulties they have always suffered.“Not having legal recognition means non-binary people must constantly live as someone they are not,” the charity stated, adding that they are “not recognised or protected under law”.
Bex Stinson, head of trans inclusion at Stonewall, said: “Limiting passport gender markers to ‘male’ and ‘female’ often presents hurdles for trans people, and can lead to them choosing not to travel at all.
“If the way a person expresses their gender identity does not ‘match’ the gender in their passport, this can lead to distressing questions.
“This situation would be avoided if ‘X’ markers were available for UK passport holders.”
The document also explained how trans people can face “especially worrying” difficulties while travelling with children, “particularly if they had, or adopted, children when they were legally a different gender.
“The International Civil Aviation Organisation allows passports to be issued with an ‘X’ gender marker, but the UK does not issue these.”
Australia, New Zealand and Nepal already allow third-gender or gender X passports, while Canada allows foreign visitors to identify themselves as “other” on official forms.
Stonewall has also pledged to fight for “better representation of trans people, in both the media and gender equality campaigns, and for LGBT events to be fully trans-inclusive”.
The charity also aims to raise awareness of hate crimes against trans people, as well as ensuring that people know how to report them.
The launch of the five-year plan comes on the heels of HSBC’s announcement that trans and non-binary customers will now be able to choose from 10 new gender-neutral pronouns.
Stonewall recently secured a partnership with Manchester United, the most successful team in British football history, raising the charity’s profile and the prominence of LGBT issues.

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

Chicago: Candidates who pledged to remove trans students’ right to choose their bathroom have lost their local school board election.
Three anti-transgender parents running in Chicago’s High School District 211 were members of Parents for Privacy, which is taking the district board to a federal court over a trans girl being allowed to use the girls’ facilities.
The three members of the group, which allegedly “represents” more than 50 families, had promised to overturn the decision if they were elected to the board yesterday, but they were defeated.
Instead, unofficial results showed that two incumbents and a former member who support trans access were elected, the Associated Press has reported.
“I think the community is aware of the transgender issue, but is supportive of the solution that we came up with because it was the most fair for all students,” Anna Klimkowicz, one of the board members, told the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights. The district board agreed to let a trans girl – known only as Student A – use the locker room of her choosing after pressure from federal officials.
Klimkowicz, who has been a board member since 1997, told the Chicago Times that the district’s policy has functioned seamlessly, with no violations or bullying that she had heard of.
“It has to be reviewed, but right now restricted access is working,” she said.
The district changed its rules to accommodate Student A after the department of education under Obama ruled that it was discriminating because of her sex.
This was the first time federal officials had come to this conclusion against a school district, and led to the board providing access after the government threatened to withhold millions in funding.
As for the girl at the forefront of the controversy, known as Student A, she told the Chicago Times that the issue of trans access to toilets and locker rooms was being blown out of proportion.
“Honestly, (students) are sick of this issue. They think it’s quite ridiculous,” she said.Two other students who have intervened in the federal lawsuit to try to stop any rollback of the access provided to Student A will now also be able to keep using their bathroom of choice.
Another student at a different school is also fighting for access to the girls’ locker room, which has thus far been denied to her.
Parents for Privacy has been supported financially by Richard Uihlein, a business and long-time Republican donor who has given millions to conservative causes and candidates including Ted Cruz.
Fights over trans youth’s access to locker rooms and toilets are going on all over the country, exacerbated by Trump’s decision to reverse Obama’s transgender bathroom protections.
Since Trump’s election, battles have been fought in Missouri and Ohio, while in Oregon, a death threat was scrawled on the wall of a gender-neutral bathroom.
In Wisconsin, teenager Ash Whitaker is set to take on his school district in a federal appeals court.
He alleged he was discriminated against by the district’s bathroom policy, which he said required trans students to use the wrong bathroom and to identify themselves with green bracelets.

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

Pretoria: A body, burned beyond recognition, was discovered meters from an evangelical church in Kroonstad, South Africa yesterday (4 April).
Many believe a gay woman, Nonki Smous, was the victim.
She was just 28 years old.
The charred body was found in the Seeisoville section of the township of Maokeng. Smoke had been spotted by residents the night before.
MambaOnline reports how an identity document discovered on the body indicates it was Smous.
However, police have stated the only way to properly identify the burned body will be with a DNA test.
Local LGBTI rights activist Nthabiseng Mokanyane said her relative Smous was well known for being out about her sexuality in the community.
She said Smous was last seen by her family on Saturday when she left for a funeral.
The 28-year-old has since gone missing. Her family have not heard from her since Saturday.
‘It is not a homophobic area, we always said that it is lesbian and gay friendly, so we are shocked.’ said Mokanyane.
‘We don’t know what to say or do. We are broken. It is really sad.’
The murder came a few days after Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State, held a Pride parade at the weekend.
A OUT LGBT and Love Not Hate campaign study found 41% of LGBTI people in South Africa know someone who’s been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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

Osaka: A city in Japan has become the first in the country to recognise a same-sex couple as foster parents.

A gay couple, who are in their 40s and 30s, has now officially fostered a teenage boy in the city of Osaka, Japan.

The older of the two men – who asked for the family to remain anonymous – welcomed the decision, saying: “I am happy we became foster parents (and recognised) as a single household, not just as individuals.”

The foster child, who has been living with the couple since February, is “living a comfortable life”, he told Japan Times.

The couple registered their intent to foster a child two years ago and has since undergone a series of lectures, training, and scrutiny measures by local authorities.

Same-sex fostering is not banned in Japan but until now it simply didn’t happen.

Compared to other countries where it is more common to see LGBT+ couples fostering children, Japan lags behind because many LGBT+ applicants are turned away at the door.

The latest government figures show that there are 3,703 foster homes nationwide, with the vast majority of them being straight married couples and the remainder being single parents.

A few years ago, a female couple in the Kanto region of Japan were recognised as eligible to become foster parents — but only individually. They raised the one child together after each was individually granted custody.Megumi Fuji heads the charity Rainbow Foster Care, which supports allowing same-sex couples to become foster parents.

Speaking to Japan Times, Megumi Fuji said that many same-sex couples looking to foster have been rejected by public authorities.

They are told, “Children will never be fostered” by same-sex couples or “couples of friends are not accepted.”

“It is very small-minded to think that only couples of men and women can realise an ideal family,” Fuji adds, “Whether they have an aptitude for raising children is what’s important.”

The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare confirmed that there was “no precedent” for a same-sex couple being certified as foster parents.

Osaka, the third largest city in Japan, holds Pride annually, and the first openly lesbian politician, Kanako Otsuji, came out after being elected as an Osaka Assembly member.

Over the past few years, Japan has made significant steps towards LGBT equality.

The country has updated its national anti-bullying policy to protect LGBT+ students at schools and elected its first trans man to public office in March.

And from June this year, Sapporo, with a population of nearly two million people, is set to become the largest city in Japan to recognise same-sex marriage.

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

Canberra: Cross Pharmacy has worked with Australian PrEP activist Rodney Ellis to relaunch its direct service and substantially reduce the cost of PrEP accessed online.

Based overseas, the pharmacy supplies medication to patients in Australia and several other countries.

The relaunched service includes a coupon scheme, funded by sales of PrEP, that continues to provide PrEP free to those who need it most.
“I’m really pleased to be working again with Rodney Ellis to get PrEP into the hands of Australians,” said Noel Offer from Green Cross Pharmacy.

“I’ve never been interested in making money out of this, and the reputation of my business and the community service we provide is my driving force. My customers, and especially my PrEP customers, have always come first.”

Offer and Ellis were dismayed at a recent jump in prices and wanted to work together to build a solution that makes PrEP accessible to as many people as possible, at the lowest price possible. They have removed middleman Dynamix International to reduce costs to customers.

“There have been increased prices for a while and I became alarmed when people were saying they could no longer afford PrEP,” said Ellis.

“The bright side is that Green Cross Pharmacy are back and the prices are back down. I’ll continue working with Noel and Green Cross Pharmacy to see what other overheads we can reduce. Each dollar off the price puts it in another band of customers’ reach.”

Green Cross Pharmacy will continue to offer free PrEP coupons to people on low incomes. Every ten sales generates one free donated coupon.

“The coupon scheme is entirely self funded, not reliant on a government hand-out or the political will of the government of the day,” said Ellis.

“Ultimately this is the gay community providing for its own through the facilities of Green Cross Pharmacy. It will scale up automatically as more people buy PrEP.”

While some states of Australia are currently running trials that allow people to access PrEP free of charge, Ellis said other options are still necessary for people who can’t access these or may not be able to in the future.

“We’ve managed to get about a 30 per cent reduction in price while including those who would normally not be able to afford PrEP,” he said.

“Where there are trials it’s an important community back-up plan in case they are ever taken away.”

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

Hobart: Tasmanian gay rights activists have welcomed the state government’s tabling of legislation to erase the criminal records of men convicted for gay sex.

Tasmania’s laws criminalising gay sex were the last to be repealed in Australia, back in 1997.

“Sex between men should never have been a crime and I welcome the state government’s move to erase the stigma of criminality that still casts a shadow over the lives of many Tasmanians,” said Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson Rodney Croome.
“Men convicted under our old laws will now be able to apply for jobs and volunteer positions without the stigma of a conviction on their record.”

Croome said he looks forward to Premier Will Hodgman’s apology to those who were convicted under the state’s former laws. In 2015 Hodgman was the first Australian political leader to commit to such an apology.

“An apology will help heal the deep wounds of the past and allow not only the LGBTI community but the whole of Tasmanian society to move on from one of the worst periods in our history,” said Croome. The decades-long campaign to repeal Tasmania’s anti-gay laws involved the largest acts of gay rights civil disobedience in Australian history, as well as large anti-gay rallies. The campaign drew in Amnesty International, the United Nations and the High Court, setting new legal precedents for LGBTI rights worldwide.

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

Brussels: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that requiring sterilisation of individuals seeking a change in their legal gender recognition violates human rights.
Twenty two countries in Europe currently still require sterilisation to access gender identity recognition.
But Thursday’s rulings will require all to change their laws and policies regarding the forced sterilisation of trans people seeking to have their gender identity legally recognised.

Despite the positive element to the ruling the court stopped short of ruling that medical examinations and mental health diagnoses are in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, commented on the decision, saying: “Today the world moved in the right direction for for trans rights everywhere. Forcing unnecessary medical interventions to access basic human rights like legal recognition of a person’s gender is barbaric. As more countries review laws for gender identity recognition it is essential that they forgo outdated policies and follow legislation from places like Malta or Argentina which prioritise self-determination. The decision from the European Court raises the bar globally.”
Julia Ehrt, Executive Director of Transgender Europe, a human rights organisation that has been at the forefront of of fighting these laws, also commented on the ruling.
She said: “Today is a victory for trans people and human rights in Europe. This decision ends the dark chapter of state-induced sterilisation in Europe. The 22 states in which a sterilisation is still mandatory will have to swiftly end this practice. We are looking forward to supporting those and other countries in reforming their national legislation.”
This ruling results from three cases against France submitted in 2012 and 2013 which leveraged Article 8 of the European Convention of Human rights, the “Right to respect for private and family rights,” Article 3 of the Convention the “Prohibition of torture,” as well as Article 14, “Prohibition of discrimination.”
In 2015 the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, considered an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, submitted a written intervention to the court on this case, positing that states should have the right to address issues as they pertain to transgender individuals based on national contexts, and that the court should not consider the Yogyakarta Principles, a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, when considering the three cases.
Stern commented on the intervention of ADF International, and added: “Alliance Defending Freedom makes a mockery of the word freedom when they put religious dogma over the rights of individuals to be legally recognized. These cases are about every trans person’s right to self-determination and the freedom of every trans person to not be forcibly sterilised. This is without a doubt a fundamental right that must be upheld in every context.”
Since October 2016, France no longer force sterilisation on trans citizens to access gender identity recognition.
Sweden abandoned the requirement of sterilisation in 2013. The Swedish Government has recently announced that anyone who was forced to undergo sterilisation to access legal gender recognition between 1972-2013 is eligible for compensation from the state in the amount of 225,000 SEK ($25,000).
Maria Sjödin, Deputy Executive Director of OutRight and former Execuive Director of Swedens largest LGBTQ organizations RFSL, comments: “Money can never fully compensate the suffering of those that were forced to undergo sterilisation, but it is an admittance from the state that the requirement was a violation of people’s rights.”
Only four countries in Europe, Norway, Ireland, Malta, and Denmark currently have gender identity recognition policies that are based on the principle of self-determination without any medical requirements.

Earlier this year, LGBT activist in Ukraine were pleased to see revisions to the rules which allow trans people to legally change their gender.
The gender recognition process for trans people could get a lot simpler in Ukraine under proposed new rules.
Rights group the Human Rights Watch made a complaint to the Special Rapporteur on torture on abuses of the old system.
The new rules, which will build on or change Order 60 of the Ministry of Health in Ukraine still fall short of other countries, notes the Human Rights Watch, but are a welcome step forward for transgender people there.
Previously trans people were made to undergo psychiatric observation and sterilisation in order to get divorced and get access to gender reassignment surgery.
The steps were all necessary in order for trans people to legally change their gender on official documents.
Those who did not want to undergo the process were subjected to a life of uncertainty with ID which does not match up with their gender identity.
The new rules would do away with the sterilisation element to the process, and the psychiatric evaluations would no longer be fully necessary.
They would also not be made to appear before the State Evaluation Commission, but they would still be made to divorce, and undergo outpatient psychiatric evaluations.
Human rights groups like Human Rights Watch still urge countries like Ukraine to do away with the “archaic” system, and put into place something which recognises the needs of trans people.

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

Chechnya: International figures have urged the Russian government to intervene over reports that authorities in Chechnya are ‘purging’ the gay community.
Early reports emerged last week that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.
Russian newspapers and human rights groups report that more than 100 gay men have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge. Several people were also reportedly feared dead following violent raids.
In a chilling response, a Chechen government spokesperson denied that there are any gay people to detain, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”. The Kremlin denied any knowledge of a purge.
This week, foreign ministers from the US, UK and the European Union have all urged Russia to urgently intervene.
A statement from the US State Department said: “We are aware of troubling reports that local authorities in the Republic of Chechnya have arrested or detained more than 100 men, as well as reports that three of those detained were killed.
“We condemn violence against any individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis. We urge the Russian government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the alleged killings and mass arrests, and hold the perpetrators responsible. We were likewise deeply disturbed by local authorities statements that apparently condone and even incite violence against LGBTI persons.
“We are very concerned by the widespread discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons in Russia or any society. We call on the Russian government to protect all people from discrimination and violence, and allow the free exercise of the freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and religion or belief.”
President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani said: “Appalling reports of gay men murdered in Chechnya. Perpetrators must be prosecuted.”
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also spoke out.
A statement said: “We are very concerned by reports of mass arrests of individuals in Chechnya due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation. We condemn any and all persecution.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we have voiced our serious concern over these developments with Russian authorities at all levels.”
The international concerns come after Human Rights Watch and the International Crisis Group both cited on-the-ground sources that appear to confirm gay men have been targeted in raids.
In its report, HRW confirmed: “The information published by Novaya Gazeta is consistent with the reports Human Rights Watch recently received from numerous trusted sources, including sources on the ground.
“The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred.”
Ekaterina L. Sokiryanskaya, Russia project coordinator for the International Crisis Group, told the New Tork Times: “I got numerous, numerous signals… it came from too many sources not to be true.”
“Even delivering the information is very difficult… they are just small islands, isolated.”
According to HRW, LGBT Network in Russia opened a special hotline to provide emergency support to those who find themselves in immediate danger.

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

Puerto Rico: A federal lawsuit has been filed against Puerto Rico to push the country to allow transgender people to legally change their gender on birth certificates.
The lawsuit, filed by Lambda Legal, states that the country’s policy which doesn’t allow trans people to alter their birth certificates is in breach of another law.
The law the organisation says is it is in breach of is one which allows trans people to legally change their gender on driving licences.
Lambda Legal also states that Puerto Rico’s policy which doesn’t allow birth certificates to be changed is in breach of First Amendment rights to free speech.
The organisation filed the lawsuit on Thursday.
At the same time, a group of trans activists staged a protest against an anti-trans bill being heard in the Senate.
It would scrap the rights of trans people to use bathrooms and choose gendered uniforms which match their gender identity.
Last year the country erected the first LGBT monument to the victims of the massacre in Orlando.
Back in 2015, Puerto Rico’s Education Minister announced changes to a school uniform code that lets boys wear skirts.
A federal court back in 2016 smacked down a judge who tried to re-enforce a ban on same-sex marriage in spite of the Supreme Court ruling.
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and is not fully recognised as a US state.

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

Nebraska: LGBT+ Nebraskans could soon be protected against discrimination in the workplace.
Legislators in the state have begun debating a bill which would extend discrimination protections based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Despite Senators having adjourned on Thursday without reaching a vote on the bill, it is expected to be picked up in the future.
Speaker Jim Scheer will decide the fate of the vote when he brings the bill back to the floor.
The sponsors of the bill have argued that as well as being a civil rights issue, the bill has economic implications for the state.
They say that Nebraska needs to attract and maintain a young and diverse workforce.
But those opposed to it have said it threatens religious freedom.
They say that the bill would threaten the religious freedom of business owners opposed to hiring LGBT+ people.
Earlier this week, a federal appeals court in the US ruled that lesbian, gay and bisexual employees are protected against discrimination.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act already protects LGBT employees from being discriminated against.
As the ruling will not be appealed to the Supreme Court, it takes effect in three states.
A day after the 7th Circuit ruled, another federal judge ruled in favour of a lesbian couple who were discriminated against by a landlord.

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

Aceh: Two men suspected of being gay have been arrest in Indonesia.

Following news that gay men are being rounded up and killed in Chechnya, two men were arrested after their home was raided in Aceh this week.

Neighbours apparently noticed that the students had been “acting lovey dovey” for the past few months and decided to alert the authorities.

When police entered the home, reports claim they caught the men in the middle of having sex. They’ve also claimed that finding condoms in the home “proved” their homosexuality.

If they are convicted, they will face up to 100 lashes, or could face 100 months behind bars.It comes after the world was left stunned when reports claimed 100 men aged 16-50 have been detained by local authorities in Chechnya in recent weeks.

Three men are known to have been killed, and it was estimated that the real figure was even higher.

In a report yesterday (April 6), Human Rights Watch confirmed the shocking claims that have stunned the LGBT+ community around the world.

“The information published by Novaya Gazeta is consistent with the reports Human Rights Watch recently received from numerous trusted sources, including sources on the ground.

“The number of sources and the consistency of the stories leaves us with no doubt that these devastating developments have indeed occurred.”

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

Dallas: A Texas bill that would fine men for masturbating has moved a step closer to becoming law.

House Bill 4260, known as the Man’s Right To Know Act, calls for a $100 fine for “emissions outside of a woman’s vagina” which will be “considered an act against an unborn child, and failing to preserve the sanctity of life”.

Men who seek an elective vasectomy or colonoscopy procedure, or wish to be prescribed Viagra, will also be required to undergo a “medically-unnecessary” digital rectal exam if the bill passes.

HB 4260 received it’s first reading in the state’s House of Representatives this week, and has now been referred to the Texas House State Affairs Committee. It’s proposed that it will become law on 1 September.

This whole thing might sound ridiculous, but that’s because it’s supposed to.

State representative Jessica Farrar, a Houston Democrat, introduced the satirical legislation last month in an attempt to make a statement about the Women’s Right To Know Act which previously passed into Texas law.

Under the controversial act, women who want abortions are forced to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound, listen to the heartbeat, and be given a description of the fetus at least 24 hours before going through the procedure.arrar wrote in a statement: “Although HB 4260 is satirical, there is nothing funny about current health care restrictions for women and the very real legislation that is proposed every legislative session.

“Women are not laughing at state-imposed regulations and obstacles that interfere with their ability to legally access safe healthcare, and subject them to fake science and medically unnecessary procedures.

“Texans deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect when making healthcare decisions, regardless of their gender.”

While she knows that the proposed regulations won’t become law, Farrar hopes that it will ignite debate about women’s rights and encourage lawmakers to reconsider what’s actually important.

She told the Texas Tribune: “What I would like to see is this make people stop and think.

“Maybe my colleagues aren’t capable of that, but the people who voted for them, or the people that didn’t vote at all, I hope that it changes their mind and helps them to decide what their priorities are.”

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

London: A new UK study has found that overall suicide rates amongst men who are HIV positive are double that seen in the general population.

While AIDS defining illnesses account for the most deaths amongst people living with HIV (at 58%), the rate of suicide attributes to 2% of the toll.

The new study collected data across a 15-year period of almost 90,000 people diagnosed with HIV in England and Wales, and compared it against the general population.

It also highlighted that the elevated rate of suicide particularly took place in the first year after diagnosis.

“Our findings highlight the need for a reduction in the stigma surrounding HIV, improvements in psychosocial support and routine screening for depression and drug and alcohol misuse, particularly at the time of diagnosis,” said Sara Croxford of Public Health England.

Aside from increased levels of suicides, studies have found that people diagnosed with HIV also suffer higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

“It’s 2017, we have had effective treatment for HIV for over 20 years. By now, nobody should be dying as a result of HIV infection,” said Matthew Hodson, Executive Director of NAM aidsmap.The shocking data presented at the BHIVA conference demonstrates the importance of testing. Late diagnosis accounts for the majority of HIV related deaths. The data also forcefully shows that there is still much work to be done to challenge the stigma that surrounds an HIV diagnosis.

“It’s urgent that people know that with treatment someone can have a normal life expectancy. Both people living with HIV and those who are not living with the virus need to know that an undetectable viral load on treatment means that you will not pass the infection on to your sexual partners.

“More needs to be done to support people disclosing. The viral closet only creates an environment where misinformation and fear flourish. HIV stigma discourages people from accessing testing and honest conversations about what it means to be living with HIV now. HIV stigma is killing people. It must end.”

The 58% of people who died from AIDS defining illnesses were almost always individuals who were diagnosed very late, with having never attended HIV clinical care or taken treatment.

Other causes of death included cancers (8%), cardiovascular disease or stroke (8%), infections (8%), liver disease (5%), and substance misuse (3%).

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

London: The UK has joined the US in calling for an urgent investigation into reports that authorities in Chechnya are “purging” the gay community.
Reports emerged last week that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.
Russian newspapers and human rights groups reported more than 100 gay men being detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge.
At least three people are feared dead following the violent raids, which have been separately confirmed by the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, both of which cite on-the-ground sources that appear to confirm gay men have been targeted for detention. HRW called the developments “devastating”.
Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, reported detainees saying they were tortured and electrocuted in prison, while others described seeing prisoners beaten to death.
In a chilling response, a spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied that there were any gay people to detain, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
The Kremlin has denied any knowledge of a purge.
Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning.Reports have also suggested that at least three of these men have been killed.
“The statement by the regional government, implying that such treatment towards LGBT people is acceptable, is particularly abhorrent.”
The Foreign Office Minister, who has repeatedly spoken out against homophobia and so-called gay conversion therapies, said the government “condemns any and all persecution”.
The Baroness, who made an impassioned address at last year’s PinkNews Awards, added that the foreign office “calls on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.”
Turning her attention to Russia, she said Putin’s government must act or risk exacerbating the already worsening situation for LGBT people in the country.
“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we continue to voice our serious concern with Russian authorities at all levels.
“Russia’s international human rights obligations require them to protect citizens who may be at risk of persecution.
“We expect the Russian government to fulfil its obligations to this end, and to uphold the rule of law.”

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

Target: Target’s losses from an anti-LGBT boycott against the brand were apparently too insignificant to report to investors, despite the chain’s financial woes.
More than a million people joined an online ‘boycott’ of the superstore in 2016 led by the extreme anti-LGBT American Family Association after Target confirmed that transgender people would not be discriminated against by store policies.
Target had confirmed online that it “welcomes transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity”.
The action led to a string of homophobic and transphobic incidents in Target stores – included a woman who waved a Bible while warning customers “the devil will rape your children”, a man screaming about against homosexual “abominations”, and an incident that sparked an ‘active shooter’ lockdown.
But one thing the protests might not have impacted is the superstore’s bottom line.
Though its sales have been on the slide in recent years thanks to competition from Amazon and other shopping giants, insiders within the company have pretty much dismissed the potential impact of the boycott as a source of its financial woes. According to an insider piece in the Wall Street Journal, execs at the company continue to insist that “any lost sales from the boycott weren’t significant enough to require reporting to investors”, despite a decline in shoppers in some markets, particularly Southern states.
The article reports that consumer research indicates Target’s shoppers are largely liberal or moderate on social issues; and that many of those who supported the online boycott petition still shop there.
One initial boycotter, Mari Arnett, explained: “I tried not to go there, but it’s hard when you like the store. I just don’t care too much for Wal-Mart.”
The WSJ piece also reveals there was a sense of confusion at the top of the organisation over the boycott, which arose over standard LGBT policies in place at most major retailers. Target’s policies had been in place for a number of years.
Sources told the outlet that execs were “perplexed that they were pilloried for a policy common to retailers”. CEO Brian Cornell resisted pressure to change course despite the flood of negative publicity, though he reportedly “felt very stuck” and lamented the decision to publish details of the policy online.
The chain has since amended guidelines to ensure that “public pronouncements on hot-button issues” require the CEO’s consent.
The American Family Association claimed the report as a ‘victory’.
AFA President Tim Wildmon wrote: “Since the boycott started, Target’s stock has lost 35% of its value, and shuttered plans for major expansion projects.
“Together we are making an unprecedented financial impact on a corporation whose policy is to allow men to use women’s restrooms and dressing rooms.
“Target’s decision is unacceptable for families, and their dangerous and misguided policy continues to put women and children in harm’s way.”
He added: “It is urgent the Target boycott reach 1.5 million signers by the end of April. At that point, I will personally return to Minneapolis with an additional 500,000 names.
“I will then discuss how Target can invite 1.5 million AFA supporters back to their stores by having a common sense bathroom and dressing room policy that links use of these rooms to a person’s biological sex.”
Target continues to insist it wants to “make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed”, but acknowledges: “We know our guests have many different points of view on this topic and we respect that.”

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

London: LGBT charity London Friend has launched a new service supporting LGBT refugees.
The charity, which works to improve health and well-being for LGBT people, has today launched a new service alongside Say It Loud Club, a community group that supports LGBT people who have fled persecution in their home countries.
The project will provide social, emotional, and educational support, with regular workshops helping LGBT asylum seekers and refugees to become active citizens in the UK.The partnership, funded via the People’s Postcode Lottery, also includes sessions on rights and responsibilities as LGBT citizens, accessing health care and engaging in local communities.
Regular social groups will help build confidence and self-esteem, and “reduce the isolation many LGBT people can feel from having to leave friends and families behind”.
London Friend will also provide conversational English learning groups, “helping to build language skills and confidence”.
London Friend’s Chief Executive, Monty Moncrieff, said: “We know that LGBT asylum seekers and refugees can feel isolated, and that many feel uncomfortable disclosing their identity in mainstream services, having come from countries where it can be unsafe to do so.
“By supporting them to gain confidence and make connections with other LGBT people with similar experiences this will help them to feel more able to engage in their wider communities, and access support to improve their health and wellbeing.
“We’re delighted to build on our partnership with Say It Loud Club to deliver this project.”
Aloysius Ssali, Coordinator of Say It Loud Club, said: “I am extremely grateful that we will work together with London Friend in reaching out to LGBT refugees.
“London Friend is a place of inspiration to the men and women who have had to flee their countries of origin due to harassment and persecution because of their sexual orientation.
“Working with London friend will give LGBT refugees a unique opportunity to compare experiences and confront mutual challenges in a safe and comfortable environment which will lead to improved wellbeing.”
London Friend clarified: “We are not able to provide legal advice on immigration. We suggest contacting the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group for specialist immigration support.”

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

Minneapolis: Former congresswoman Michele Bachmann has claimed that Donald Trump’s election victory was a “supernatural” intervention by God to stop protections for transgender people.
In his first 100 days as President, Trump has already axed Obama-era guidance on transgender rights, taking an axe to education policies which had extended civil rights protections to transgender children in schools.
He also dropped federal government opposition to state-level anti-LGBT laws, and helped kick a Supreme Court case over discrimination protections into the long grass.
Bachmann, an ultra-conservative Republican who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Minnesota until 2015, has claimed that God made a “supernatural” intervention in the election to secure Trump’s victory. Speaking on ‘Understanding the Times with Jan Markell’, she claimed: “We know that [Trump’s election] just wasn’t in the natural. This was in the supernatural where God sovereignly, I believe, answered the prayers of believers beseeching him and he’s given us a reprieve.”
Of course, many people sensed the mysterious hands of an unknown power interfering in the US election, but most of them have concluded that it was the Russian government – or the electoral college system that allowed Trump to gain power with three million fewer votes than his opponent.
But Bachmann is certain it was actually God.
In the clip transcribed by Right Wing Watch, she explained: “This was the last exit ramp for the country and if we were not going to see a political change,
“We were in a situation where the president of the United States on his own just issued a sheet of paper and said, overnight, every single public school in the country would have to have the girls’ bathrooms open to the boys and the boys’ bathrooms open to the girls.
“What we were told from the White House, is that when we look at our body in a shower, our body isn’t reality anymore, so we actually get to choose if we’re a boy, if we’re a girl, if we’re one of like 58 different whatever that we decide we want to be that day.
“In other words, we were all told that we were forced to repeat a lie, not the truth… and when you repeat lies, Romans 1 tells us, that’s when you fall into deception, God’s gives us over to our own delusion.
“[But] we were given a reprieve… God has privileged us in this country that we get to be able to vote for the laws and the people we live under so people decided to take that vote. It was completely unprobable… I know it was a reprieve.”
The former politician who served on Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board during the election, has grown steadily more extreme and disturbing in her public statements.
Earlier this year she claimed that gay people are working alongside Islamist terrorists and the Black Lives Matter movement to undermine American values.
Ms Bachmann claimed in 2014: “I think [gays] want to abolish age of consent laws, which means we will do away with statutory rape laws so that adults would be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That’s the deviance that we’re seeing embraced in our culture today.” A 2011 investigation found a religious counselling centre owned by Ms Bachmann attempts gay ‘cure’ therapy and aims to repress “homosexual urges”. Her husband, Marcus Bachmann, ran the service.
She has also claimed that God would destroy America because of the “sin-sick” culture of same-sex marriage.

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

Albequerque: The Republican Governor of New Mexico has signed a bill into law which bans gay ‘cure’, or ‘conversion’ therapy for minors.
LGBT rights campaigner and senator, Jacob Candelaria, put the measure forward to the New Mexico state senate.
The Democrat, who represents Albuquerque, convinced politicians to pass the measure in a landmark vote of 32-6, earlier this year. It later went to the state House and passed.
He said ahead of the vote: “When you’re a young Hispanic Catholic kid growing up in Albuquerque and folks use some horrible words to describe you, both to your face and behind your back … that hurts.
“That is abuse. And I hope we don’t adopt the assumption that the only form of abuse is physical abuse.”
Of the victory, Candelaria added: “Today’s historic action by Governor Martinez confirms that our shared commitment to protecting all children from abuse transcends party labels and ideological differences.
“In New Mexico, we value and celebrate every child for who they are. I want to thank Governor Martinez for having the courage to stand up for the simple truth that every LGBTQ kid in New Mexico is born perfect. I also want to thank the victims of conversion ‘therapy’ who came forward to support this bill. Their stories did not fall on deaf ears. They turned their suffering into a force for good, and because of them, and for them, we have made history.”
“This is an incredible victory for LGBTQ youth in New Mexico,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “No child should be subjected to this dangerous practice that amounts to nothing more than child abuse. By signing this crucially important legislation into law, Governor Martinez is standing up for vulnerable youth who deserve to be loved and supported for who they are.”
“As a survivor of conversion therapy that happened right here in my home state of New Mexico, it’s a very special day to see this barbaric and dangerous practice banned in the place that I grew up and call home,” said Equality New Mexico Executive Director Amber Royster. “My hope is that parents and families everywhere will think twice before seeking to change their LGBTQ child or loved one, and now we have the legal mechanism to ensure it doesn’t happen at the hands of licensed practitioners in New Mexico.”
Malta became the first place in Europe to completely ban gay conversion therapy recently, despite not yet having marriage equality.
Conversion therapy has already been banned in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington DC.
Gay conversion therapy is not illegal in the UK, but any medical professional found practicing it would be struck off by their professional body
Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director with Human Rights Campaign, welcome the New Mexico vote: “No child should ever be subjected to the incredibly dangerous practice of so-called conversion therapy.
“This crucially important legislation will help protect LGBTQ youth in New Mexico from a pseudoscience denounced by every mainstream medical and mental health association.
“For the sake of some of the state’s most vulnerable youth, the New Mexico House of Representatives should quickly pass this legislation and help end this barbaric form of child abuse.”

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

Delhi: The Indian government has told its states to view trans people as equal, and allow them to use any public toilet they choose “without any embarrassment.”
Three years ago, the Indian Supreme Court granted ‘third gender’ status to trans people, and endorsed people’s right to determine the gender they identify with.
The verdict also included a directive for toilets to be allocated to trans people in public places, but most states have not implemented this rule.
The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation issued guidelines earlier this week highlighting that “in many communities, the third-gender may often be dissociated from the mainstream.”State authorities should therefore “make a conscious effort that they are recognised as equal citizens and users of toilets,” the letter continues.
“They should be allowed to use the facility of their choice (men or women) in community or public toilets.”
The government department also emphasised the important work done by trans people in improving sanitation in India.
“There are also examples from around the country, where people belonging to the third gender have come up as Swachhta (hygiene) champions and have played a huge role in taking the message of Swachhta to households in the community,” the letter read.
“Where suitable, their support can be enlisted in engaging communities, and their efforts duly recognised and honoured to break any stigma around them, and to also enable them to use facilities without any embarrassment.”
The letter to authorities also encouraged states to promote gender equality to its citizens, in order to – among other reasons – ensure women are not disproportionately made to clean family toilets.
Sangama, an Indian sexuality and gender NGO, told Reuters today that the government’s decision was a good start.

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

Bangkok: Trans Thai women who have not had gender reassignment surgery still have to serve in the country’s military under conscription laws.
At the age of 21 men in Thailand can either serve a voluntary six month stint in the army or risk their chances in a lottery. The annual lottery is held in April.
If they receive a black ticket in the lottery they are free to go home. But if they draw a red ticket the men are forced to serve two years.
For trans women the conscription process can be a stressful nightmare. Some consider taking their own lives to avoid serving in the army.
‘Most are stressed and worried that they will be undressed, stared at, or humiliated in public,’ Jetsada Taesombat, executive director of the Thai Transgender Alliance for Human Rights told Reuters.
Proving your gender
Exceptions are made for people with mental illness or who are not physically able to serve. Trans women are offered exemptions but have to go through a humiliating medical examination to prove they are not lying.
While trans women are generally accepted in Thailand they are not allowed to update their official documents to reflect their true gender. A doctor will examine her to check if she has breasts or had reassignment surgery to see if she is telling the truth.
If a woman has undergone surgery she is exempt for two years from serving. But if an army hospital decides a trans woman has a ‘gender identity disorder’, she is exempt for life.
Trans women said describing them as having a disorder is wrong and stigmatizing. But the army argued it has improved its attitude to trans women.
‘The army is instructed to treat and respect transgender women as women,’ Lieutenant Colonel Ongard Jamdee, who is in charge of a recruitment center told Reuters.
Thai men try to avoid serving in the army as there is a chance they could serve in the south fighting Muslim Malay separatists.
The brutal army cultural is also a deterrent for men. Last week, 10 soldiers allegedly beat to death a conscript.
This prompted Human Rights Watch to call for the end of corporal punishment in the Thai army.

Source: http://www.gaystarnews.com