We remember Joel Gustave Nana Ngongang, who passed away at the age of 33. A leading African LGBT and HIV activist born in Cameroon, Joel was the founding Executive Director of the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), chief executive officer at Partners for Rights and Development (Paridev), and co-founder of Alternatives Cameroun.
"Joel has changed face of HIV and MSM in Africa through his work with Amsher and he has broken barriers many of us on the continent can only dream. Today is a very sad day in Africa and West Africa in particular." ~ Nigerian activist Bisi Alimi
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Speaking at an LGBT core Ministerial meeting held on the sidelines of the General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded the agencies for the joint statement, noting:
There are 17 sustainable development goals all based on a single, guiding principle: to leave no one behind. We will only realize this vision if we reach all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.Also at the GA, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Abel Al-Jubeir insisted that the SDGs should have no references to LGBT rights, announcing that Saudi Arabia would not follow any agenda that is "counter to Islamic Law." President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe told the GA he rejected "new rights" that are "contrary to our values" --adding "We are not gays!" Meanwhile President Obama's statement to the Assembly emphasized that in the US "everybody can contribute" no matter "who they love" and that "that's what makes us strong ." HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: The WHO has released new guidelines on HIV, recommending that all people who test positive for HIV should be given antiretroviral (ARV) treatment immediately. The new recommendations are based on evidence that ARVs promote healthier, longer lives and reduce likelihood of HIV transmission.
A study across South African universities found that students are increasingly exploring sexuality and are at higher risk for HIV, with few programs available to educate and support men who have sex with men and other LGBTI students.
In the US, black gay men continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, however HIV prevention programs geared to black Americans overwhelmingly target heterosexuals. Also from the US, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is campaigning against dating apps Tinder and Grindr, with billboards that associate the companies with sexually transmitted disease.
In Australia, mental health advocates note that though indigenous people are more likely than other Australians to commit suicide, there are few resources for LGBTI Aborigines.
Researchers in the US have revived controversy over the possibility of genetic markers for sexual orientation. Researchers in Australia have identified a genetic variant associated with intersex conditions, though the president of Organisation Intersex International Australia warns the study is an example of 'stigmatising intersex as a disorder.' And activist Dr. Phoebe Hart discusses thecurrent state of the intersex community.
From the US, director of the La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center argues that the connection between methamphetamine use and HIV in the gay community has been ignored for too long. From the World of Politics: Tunisia's Justice Minister Mohamed Saleh Ben Aissa said in a radio interview that he would support ending the country's anti-sodomy law . In an interview, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta said that although Kenyans are not interested in gay rights, he does not support "witch hunts" to persecute or torture gay people. From the UK, activist Peter Tatchell urged Prime Minister David Cameron to use his visit to Jamaica to 'make good' on promises on human rights to the global LGBT community. In the run up to Taiwan's presidential election candidates from both the People's Party and the Democratic Progressive have spoken in favor of LGBT people, as the community protests for marriage equality and equal rights. Isle of Man Chief Minister, Allan Bell emphasized his own sexuality--which was an 'open secret'--while speaking in support of marriage equality for the island. And in an appearance on US television, President Vladimir Putin defended the Russian anti-gay propaganda law and denied that it persecutes LGBT people . From the US, despite support from business leaders, the Obama administration announced it is not ready to endorse the Equality Act which would amend the Civil Rights Act to include protection for LGBT people. Poland's parliament failed to prepare a necessary report on the Gender Accordance Act, leaving the historic law dead without a vote. While UK's parliament is preparing to hear arguments for the introduction of a third gender to the UK legal system.
Let the Courts Decide: The Federal Court of Malaysia overturned a landmark decision that had legalized crossdressing, setting back efforts by transgender activists. The UK Court of Appeal rejected a gay couple's case seeking the right to inherit a spouse's pension, a right given to straight couples. In the US, a Court of Appeals has upheld a decision in favor of transgender customers that were banned from a local bar.
In India, the Delhi High Court ruled in favor of a transgender man whose parents tricked him into travelling to India and stole his passport, with hopes of marrying him to a man to 'fix' him.
In Italy, political party Fratelli d'Italia is facing legal action after it misappropriated a picture of a transgender teen for use in a campaign against transgender education in schools.
And for the first time in France, a magistrate has allowed an intersex person to be registered with a gender neutral pronoun “ile” — a combination of the feminine and masculine pronouns “elle” and “il.”
Fear and Loathing : From Kenya, a new Human Rights Watch report links anti-gay laws to increased harassment, discrimination, and several incidents of mob violence against LGBT people. Human Rights Watch warns of similar situations in Tunisia, where accused gay men must undergo invasive physical examinations . And in the UK, new figures from the Home Office showhate crimes against lesbian and gay people rose 22% in the last year.
Jamaican police rescued a gay man from an angry mob after he took refuge in a bank. A man in the crowd was quoted, saying "They should have let him out and give him to us," while others praised the police for their aid.
Moroccan police have arrested men who are accused of beating a teenager and blackmailing his family over his apparent sexuality after a video of the assault was posted online.
In Belgrade, four lesbian women including author Dragoslava Barzut leader of the Campaign Against Homophobia in Sport were beaten. At a press conference Barzut stated:
“As a writer, activist of Labris, and a Lesbian, I think now of all my friends and family members who are suffering because of my sexual orientation, but I choose to love myself today. I feel moral responsibility to condemn the lesbophobic attack on my friends and me.”In Argentina, trans activist and leader within the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Diana Sacayán was found murdered in her apartment .
In Canada and the US, two more transgender people committed suicide--bringing the total known trans suicides in North America up to 17 deaths . Only days previously, Skylar Lee, one of the victims, was featured in a joint report from Equality Federation Institute and the Gay Straight Alliance.
In the Name of Religion: In South Africa, the general synod of the Dutch Reformed Church has passed two proposals in favor gay rights --allowing the blessing of same-sex marriages and permitting the ordination of gay ministers. ThePresbyterian Church of Brazil and Peru have cut ties with the US Presbyterian Church because the US group now allows the blessing of same-sex marriages.
In Jamaica, Christians rallied against same-sex marriage in a move organizers said was meant to 'give heterosexuals a voice' against an 'aggressive homosexual movement .'
UK organization Stonewall has published a new report on Christian role models for LGBT equality to encourage inclusion within the church.
The Vatican fired mid-level official Krzysztof Charamsa after he announced to media that he is a gay priest. Charamsa's announcement came at the start of the Vatican's 2015 Synod of Bishops , which will focus on many family issues including homosexuality and divorce. An early report from the synod included calls by several bishops to stop using exclusionary and derogatory language when speaking about LGBT people.
And from the US, writer Libby Coleman shares the history of Jemima Wilkinson--an evangelist in the late 1700s, Wilkinson openly rejected gender and identified as neither female nor male.
Winds of Change : In Honduras, over 300 people attended a conference to promote LGBT political engagement in the region, including Special U.S. Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry, who noted that activists must hold their governments responsible.
Malta is now ranked the best European country for LGBT rights in a new report from ILGA-Europe. Malta replaced the UK for the top spot with its new legislation protecting intersex babies. Russia and Azerbaijan come in as the countries with the worst human rights violations for LGBT people.
Ugandan activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera was awarded an 'Alternative Nobel Prize' in Sweden for her work supporting LGBT rights in Uganda. Irish activist Lydia Foy is the first transgender person to be honored with a European award, winningEuropean Parliament’s Citizen’s Prize in Brussels for her work on gender recognition laws.
On the March: From Poland, trans activist Wiktor Dynarski urged the LGBT community to speak out in support of the current refugee crises and abandon islamophobia and anti-Semitism . Journalist Michael Lavers spoke with LGBT people in Slovenia, Hungary, and Germany about their efforts to support the refugees .
Ugandan trans activist and journalist Val Kalende has been granted asylum in Canada .
In Algeria the LGBT community held the 9th annual remembrance for LGBT rights , despite the existing penal code that punishes 'homosexual acts' with up to three years in prison. Meanwhile Montenegro's Pride event has been cancelled for the third time this year over threats to security.
Tunisian LGBT organization 'Shams' held a conference to protest the arrest and unlawful invasive examination of a young man accused of being gay. Participants rallied to abolish Article 230 that criminalizes men who have sex with men. In New Zealand, LGBT group 'No Pride in Prisons' held a rally to protest the treatment of a trans woman who was physically assaulted and raped by other prisoners after she was placed in general custody of the men's prison.
School Days : From Russia, a website for LGBT youth group 'Children-404' was reinstated on a new host only hours after a district court shut down their original site, ruling that it violates the anti-gay propaganda law. The attention also brought the group nearly 10,000 new members overnight.
In the UK, Prince William participated in a session against homophobia in a visit to Hammersmith Academy. As the first public statement by the future King on LGBT rights , a spokesman noted that William hopes to 'destigmatize bullying issues in schools.'
From Puerto Rico, education secretary Rafael Roman announced new regulations that will allow public school children--regardless of gender--to choose whether they wear pants or skirts with their school uniform.
A licensed adult store in Canada was fined for selling a chest binder to an under-aged teen. The incident evoked an outpouring of support for the store, which sells both binders and gaffs--a garment used to smooth the genital area. Meanwhile Girl Guides of Canada have released new guidelines that empower all children identifying as girls are welcomed and protected in the organization.
And from Australia, teacher Elizabeth Sutherland presents strategies for discussing gender diversity with children of all ages.
The World of Business and Technology: Major global corporations, including Google, IBM, and Coca-Cola, joined a new coalition to promote rights for global LGBT employees . Analyst group Economy Watch explores thesignificant economic and development cost of homophobia in African states.
In the US, many large corporations are adding health insurance benefits that will cover needs of transgender employees. Yale professor James Baron, noted that the move allows companies to promote equality at relative low costs as the percentage of employees that will take advantage of the benefits is extremely low.
Campbell Soup is the latest company to incorporate 'real' gay families in a marketing campaign, and sparking outrage from conservative group One Million Moms who accused Campbell of "attempting to desensitize viewers ."
Sports and Culture: In the US, Coach Chris Burns is the first NCAA men's head basketball coach to come out publicly. In the UK, Olympic hopeful Tom Bosworth is the first British track and field athlete to come out, saying "anybody can succeed in sport , and if more people can come out, then that will be evident. And from Norway, supermarket billionaire Stein Erik Hagen came out on a popular local chat show, making him the 2nd richest gay man in the world.
From Iran, researchers Mehran Rezaei and Babak Salimizadeh offer a theoretical framework on Iranian LGBT rights based on existential philosophy. A new UK documentary exposes Chinese hospitals that are still practicing gay “cure” therapy, with drug regimens and electric shock therapy. And Kenyan filmmakers of the award winning “Stories of Our Lives” have published an anthology that expands the narratives of the LGBT Kenyans presented in the film.
Australian activist Margot Fink is a finalist for the prestigious award: Young Australian of the Year.” Fink would be the first trans person to win the award . A new exhibit in Canada is honoring missing and murdered two-spirited people ’—the term used by some Indigenous people in Canada’s LGBT communities. And in the US, October is LGBT history month . Check out the official website that features a different LGBT icon each day of October.
Watch this gay couple’s surprise engagement on the Beijing subway that’s become a viral sensation. Although China has not legalized same-sex marriage, many of the commuters in the video responded in support of the couple.
Finally check out this moving video from Spain , in which locals respond to a homophobic message sent to a visiting gay couple.