“Homosexuals are around us, like it or not, this is a fact that has been true since long ago and it is still true today. They might be those closest to us, our children, our siblings, our grandchildren, or our best friends, but sometimes we have no empathy for this issue. They are not people who have invaded from the West but rather they are part of us."
~ Hartoyo, an LGBT activist from Jakarta in an open letter to a newly-elected politician
From the UN: UNAIDS released a new five year strategy to end the AIDS epidemic that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals and incorporates human rights based approach to development. While UNAIDS acknowledges the strategy to be 'bold and ambitious,' some are calling it a 'breath of fresh air' and 'remarkable.'
The strategy recognizes sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, calls for comprehensive sexuality education, and the removal of 'punitive laws, policies and practices that block an effective AIDS response, including travel restrictions and mandatory testing, and those related to HIV transmission, same-sex sexual relations, sex work and drug use.'
With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, governments need a solid framework of indicators and statistical data to monitor progress to the goals. To this end, the UNDP and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights are reaching out to civil society for help determining how LGBTI people should be measured in international development.
HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: Elton John announced a new $10 million partnership between his foundation and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to increase access to HIV medication for LGBT people living in countries with anti-gay laws.
In Tanzania, a new program is training government healthcare workers to help gay men, intravenous drug users, and sex workers in an effort to reduce HIV infection despite ongoing stigma against these communities. In the UK, health authorities collaborated with businesses that cater to the gay community to provide HIV prevention and other health services, including training business staff in sexual health. In the US, a new HIV campaign is targeting men who 'like to party' to destigmatize pre-exposure prophylaxis.
New research suggests a single injection every eight weeks could replace daily HIV medication.
In a recent edition of British Medical Journal, sexual health and drug abuse specialists warn that "chemsex"--using hardcore drugs to engage in lengthy sexual encounters--is a rising public health concern among gay men.
Both the ministers of health in France and Netherlands announced they have lifted the ban on blood donations from gay men, though advocates in both countries have spoken against continued provisions which will treat heterosexual and homosexual blood differently.
The European Commission's latest progress report on states' progress towards EU Membership includes focus on the discrimination and violence faced by LGBTI people in those countries.
Residents in the US city of Houston, Texas voted against an equal rights ordinance that would have banned discrimination against 15 different groups--including LGBT people--after an intense campaign convinced residents that the bill would allow male predators into women's bathrooms.
In China, the sexual assault law has been revised so that it will now specifically protect both men and women from rape.
Members of parliament in Russia have introduced a bill that will punish any public display of 'non-traditional sexual orientation' with fines and up to 15 days in jail.
In Colombia, voters elected right-wing candidate Julián Antonio Bedoya, the first openly gay mayor.
The Politics of Union: Chile has begun issuing legal recognition to cohabiting gay and straight couples under the recently passed Civil Union Agreement.
In Australia, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop voiced her support for a free vote on marriage equality. In Israel, an NGO is petitioning the Supreme Court to recognize same-sex marriages. After 80% of Channel Island Bailiwick of Guernsey residents said they supported equal marriage, the government announced they will debate the policy.
Although the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to legalize same-sex marriage, the majority party--the Democratic Unionists--were able to stop the motion with a parliamentary veto .
Let the Courts Decide: Italy's highest administrative court has ruled that same-sex couples married outside of Italy have no legal rights within the country , and has ordered city officials, including the mayor of Rome to stop recognizing these unions.
A Zambian court has ruled against Hatch Bril, a trans woman accused of having anal sex with a man. Although Bril said the man forced the sexual encounter, she faces a possible life sentence in prison. Meanwhile the man faces no criminal charges as heclaims he was 'deceived' into believing Bril is a woman.
In India, Prithika Yashini has become the first transgender police officer after the Madras High Court directed the police recruitment board to accept trans candidates.
In the US, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Dana Alix Zzyym, the associate director of Intersex International, after the State Department denied Zzyym a passport. Although Zzyym's legal birth certificate lists Zzyym's sex as 'X' and the State Department was provided evidence of Zzyym's intersex identity, the department refused to issue a passport unless a gender was selected.
Eight years after the Nepalese Supreme Court ordered the government to create a third gender category, transgender activist Bhumika Shrestha has become the first Nepali citizen to successfully travel abroad with a passport marked 'O' for 'other.'
Fear and Loathing : The Indonesian province of Aceh passed a new bylaw that explicitly criminalizes sexual activity between people of the same-sex, with apunishment of public caning . Homosexuality is not criminalized elsewhere in the country.
In Jamaica several armed men attacked a group of homeless gay youths . A young man who volunteers with the homeless was reportedly admitted to the hospital in coma.
In Uganda, where eight transphopic attacks have been reported in less than a week, the Chief Executive of Human Dignity noted that: "Criminalization makes the perpetrators of these horrific violent attacks see themselves as vigilantes , upholding the laws which persecute LGBT people."
In the Name of Religion: The Mormon Church revealed that same-sex couples will be subject to excommunication from the church and their children will not be baptized. Children over the age of 18 whose parents are gay must disavow all same-sex relationships if they wish to join the church. Over 1,000 Mormons attended a 'mass resignation' event over the change.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is seeking to forestall a schism in the Anglican church over gay rights and other issues by inviting heads from both conservative and liberal churches across the globe together this winter.
As the Catholic synod concluded with little evolution on issues of marriage and sexuality , Pope Francis warned bishops against sticking too rigidly to doctrine, noting that God, "wants to include above all those kept on the fringes who are crying out to him."
The Church of Norway voted to allow blessings of same-sex marriage . In the US, the Reform Jewish Movement passed a comprehensive resolution on transgender rights .
Winds of Change : In India, a young gay man is being heralded for his courage seeking help after he was sexually and physically assaulted. And the local police are being applauded for their unusually supportive response which led to the arrest of four men.
Sweden has opened the first rape centre dedicated to male victims .
In the US, the Girl Scouts Washington State chapter raised over $365,000 in online donations after media revealed that a donor had revoked a $100,000 donation because the Scouts accept transgender girls.
School Days : In the UK, the non-profit Gendered Intelligence is being accused of 'child abuse' for teaching children who are 'too young' about gender diversity. In the US, a Nebraska school board meeting devolved into screaming and shouting as parents spoke against changes to the sex education curriculum. Reportedly, a group of LGBTI students waiting to speak sat politely despite the vitriol.
In Scotland, a Christian organization has called a proposal to improve sex education that is backed by the National Union of Teachers, a "trojan horse" to indoctrinate students with a "perspective on moral and sexual ethics that is contrary to mainstream Christianity."
In Germany, the LGBT school education group SchLAu NRW says that despite having given workshops to over 70,000 young people over its 15 year history, the demand for sexual and gender diversity education is higher than ever.
On the March: In the US, the State Department has expanded its interpretation of 'spouse' to include partners of same-sex refugees and asylum seekers.
As international campaign marked October 19th - 25th as Asexual Awareness Week , writer Gwendolyn Rosen discussed how the asexual community is expanding human rights issues and the meaning of family.
On October 26th, people around the world celebrated Intersex Awareness Day . Intersex activist Small Luk discusses the diverse challenges intersex people face in China and Hong Kong
In Taiwan over 78,000 people marched in Taipei's LGBT Pride parade. In Jamaica, an intimate crowd celebrated the first successful Pride event in Montego Bay. From Iceland, Bob Christie examines how a close-knit community has made Reykjavik Pride a bigger public event than many national holiday celebrations.
The World of Business and Technology: In Japan, Lifenet Insurance Company is the first company to offer policy plans to cover same-sex partners . From Australia a diversity and inclusion study found that many companies have far to go to support a diversity agenda . And a report from the US finds that same-sex marriages have brought in an estimated $813 million to local economies.
Sports and Culture: In the US, the National Football League is facing pressure towithdraw the Super Bowl from Houston after the city failed to pass protections for LGBT people.
Irish singer-songwriter Hozier, whose international hit song 'Take Me to Church' depicts a gay couple facing violent homophobic backlash, spoke out strongly against institutionalized homophobia and the Pope's lackluster steps towards LGBT rights. In an interview, British musician Labi Siffre known for his anti-apartheid song 'Something Inside So Strong' said that the song was actually written about experiencing homophobia as a black gay man.
A Swedish artist published an erotic 'tactile' book for blind people that includes gay and straight couples. With 'The Gay Men Project' Asian American artist Kevin Truong photographs the gay male experience across six continents . And Ugandan group "Queer Collective" is raising money to create an online archive of stories from LGBTQ Ugandans.
The world's highest ranked transgender military officer, Australian Group Captain Cate McGregor has been named Queensland Australian of the Year . Podcast Radiolab explores how a small conservative town in Oregon redefined what they accept as 'normal' after their mayor Stu Rasmussen came out as transgender in 2008. Rasmussen was the first transgender mayor in the US.
Take this interactive quiz from HIV/AIDS Alliance that asks if your favorite vacation spot is 'Paradise or Persecution .' Watch this humorous short: The Lesbian Bride of Frankenstein .