"While the criminal laws exist, people will feel shame, and the hypocrisy will continue. Hypocrites often look at gay men purely in terms of a sex act, not human beings who love, who work, who pay taxes."
~Eric Gitari, Kenyan lawyer who was outed by tabloids
World AIDS Day 2015: UNAIDS launched an interactive website to mark World AIDS Day 2015. The site presents easy to navigate, comprehensive data to explore how the world can end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Check out available materials in English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
Many leaders spoke out on the occasion, including UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé who called for 'full access to health services delivered with dignity and respect' to 'transgender people, as well as other key populations.' Opening the Community Village at the International Conference on AIDS in Africa, Mr. Sidibé added, 'Key populations are helping us to break the conspiracy of silence."
UNAIDS Global Advocate Princess Tessy of Luxembourg urged schools everywhere to 'offer comprehensive sexuality education' and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova noted the need for 'gender-sensitive and age-appropriate education on sexuality and reproductive health.'
From the UN: UNESCO published a new review 'From Insult to Inclusion' on bullying, violence, and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the Asia-Pacific region. The review notes that in some countries four out of five LGBTI youth are subjected to bullying or violence. It offers resources to encourage readers to 'Learn, Analyse, Advocate, and Act' for change.
HIV, Health, and Well-being: In France, Minister of Health Marisol Touraine announced that PrEP will be available from mid-December, and reimbursable through the French health system from the beginning of January. In the US, a study has shown that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) dropped HIV rates dramatically among transgender women, gay men, and other men who have sex with men. Although that study did not show an increase in other STIs among participants, others are suggesting the recent rise of syphilis and other STIs could be linked to PrEP.
The UK's Human Dignity Trust and the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association warned that the criminalization of same-sex relationships worsens the HIV epidemicin Commonwealth countries, noting that the Commonwealth "accounts for over 60% of HIV cases worldwide even though it only covers 30% of the world’s population."
HIV advocate Sarah Nakimbowa explored how Uganda's anti-gay bill has contributed to HIV prevalence in the region, speaking to local doctors, peer educators, and gay and transgender people.
From China, health officials are reporting a rapid increase of HIV among gay men and young students. Calling the situation 'alarming,' the head of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, Wu Zunyou said that in some cities one out of five gay men is HIV positive.
A comprehensive new website dedicated to the health needs of LGBTI Australians was launched. The site provides insight on special—and often taboo—topics such as drug interactions with HIV meds and hormone therapy.
Global LGBT rights group All Out has launched a new website 'Gay Cure Watch' to track reports of gay conversion therapy and mobilise people 'around the world to fight back.' The site raised awareness to remove an iTunes 'gay cure' app and helped the shutdown of a clinic in China.
In Kenya the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee threw out a proposal by the Republican Liberty Party to add a death penalty of public stoning to current anti-gay laws.
Vietnam passed a new law that will allow people who have transitioned to a new gender while abroad to register with the government, though the operation remains illegal within the country. In Norway, an ethics committee voted to stop the forced-sterilization rule for transgender people seeking legal recognition of their gender. In India, the Kerala state government passed a new policy to provide transgender and intersex people equal rights. As the first policy of its kind, the government will evaluate its implementation in 2018.
The Minister of State for Equality in Ireland announced plans to amend employment laws that currently allow religious, education, and medical institutions to discriminate against LGBT people.
The Politics of Union: Members of Parliament in Cyprus passed the Civil Cohabitation Law. The law provides a legal alternative to traditional marriage for both straight and gay couples. The Supreme Court of Bermuda has ruled that same-sex couples between a Bermudian and a foreign born person should have the same rights to residency and employment that heterosexual marriages allow.
In Slovenia, marriage equality was approved in March, however opponents gathered enough signatures to repeal the law. Under a referendum, Slovenia voters will decide in December whether or not the legislation will be thrown out.
The Supreme Court of Mexico overturned a Jalisco state same-sex marriage ban and added that state authorities cannot deny benefits or "set charges related to the regulation of marriage."
On the March: After reports emerged that the Canadian government would not accept single male refugees, officials clarified that single men 'identified as vulnerable due to membership in the LGBTI community' would be allowed to be seek asylum in the country. In the UK, LGBT refugees face 'trauma' as they struggle to prove their sexuality to the Home Office in order to be granted asylum.
As LGBTI people continue to seek refuge from oppressive governments, reporter Lester Feeder profiled one man who sold his kidney to escape Iran, only to enter an overburdened refugee system in Turkey. And reporter Emmanuel Igunza investigates the experiences of LGBT Ugandan's in Kenya who are facing violence, extortion, and harassment.
In the US, gay and bisexual lawmakers came under fire for voting to prevent Syrian and Iraqi refugees from coming to America.
Let the Courts Decide: The East African Court of Justice has ruled that UNAIDS may act as amicus curiae or 'friend of the court' in a case charging the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014 of violating the good governance and rule of law principles of the East African Treaty. In this role UNAIDS will be allowed to provide expertise to the court.
In Kenya two men are suing the government for forcing them to undergo invasive anal examinations to prove their sexuality, calling the procedures 'non-consensual, degrading, and therefore unconstitutional.'
A student in China is suing the ministry of education for approving materials and textbooks that call homosexuality a 'psychological disorder.' Although China removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses in 2001, local non-profit LGBT Rights Advocacy says 42% of library available textbooks present it as a disease or abnormality.
A lesbian couple in Costa Rica may face jail time after a clerical error listing one of the women as male enabled them to get married this summer.
In Egypt, reporter Mona Iraqi was sentenced to six months in jail for her part in orchestrating a televised raid on a bathhouse from which 26 men were arrested on debauchery charges. The men were later released due to lack of evidence.
Fear and Loathing: From Iraq, ISIS members posted photos online showing themmurdering another two men accused of being gay. A Dutch citizen and self-described fighter for the Islamic State in Syria hosted a Q&A on his blog in which hejoked about throwing gay men from buildings and taking women as 'spoils of war.' The New York Times called the exchange a 'fascinating glimpse into the thinking of a Western-educated jihadist.'
From Nigeria, correspondent Nick Schifrin presents a week-long series on the abuse and extortion LGBT Nigerians face from 'state-sponsored vigilantes, police, and public mobs.'
In the US state of Texas, protesters gathered at police headquarters after the 12th known attack on local gay men left the victim with a cracked skull and no arrests.
In Armenia, members of the LGBT rights organization PINK are being targeted with threats of violence and death. The Human Rights House Network has accused the authorities of staying silent and called for them to protect human rights workers.
Across the world people honored Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th, using the opportunity to highlight the high rate of murders of trans people everywhere. In a new report Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring Project noted at least 1,700 trans and 'gender expansive' people have been murdered in the last seven years, with the highest rates in Brazil and Mexico. The US has had at least 22 homicides of trans or gender nonconforming people in 2015, the majority of whom were of transgender women of color.
In China, NGO Asia Catalyst estimates there are 4 million transgender people forced to live in secret. And in Pakistan transgender people officially have rights, but in practice continue to suffer violence, rape, and stigma.
In the Name of Religion: Pope Francis made his first trip to Kenya, Uganda, and Central African Republic with messages of peace and hope. Local advocates had hoped the pope would speak directly to urge that LGBT Africans should be'treated like any other children of God.'
The first openly gay Imam in the the US has established the 'Mecca Institute,' an online school of Islam that includes tolerance and full acceptance for LGBTQ people.
Winds of Change: The Turkish military has instituted a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that ends the invasive medical exams to determine sexuality. Gay men are exempt from the compulsory 12-month military term, however they face discrimination and social exclusion if they reveal themselves.
In Serbia, the police department of Kragujevac are participating in a pilot project to support LGBT people and reduce hate crimes.
From the Ukraine, author Nikolas Kozloff captures the frustrations of the LGBT community who participated in the revolution of 2014, overthrowing President Yanukovych, only to be abandoned by the new government. As one activist states 'Look, you are not important right now. We cannot discuss gay issues. It's all about the war.'
Gay Iraqi refugee Amir Ashour, founder of the first organization for Iraqi LGBT rights, argues that Iraq is excusing the human rights violations perpetrated on LGBT people because "it is fighting terrorism and it is 'normal' for a country in that situation to have such violations."
Kenyan activist and lawyer Eric Gitari took questions online and shared his experiences being publicly shamed after a local tabloid ran his picture and labeled him 'top gay.'
Across East Asia, LGBT people are finding more acceptance from within their Confucian culture, from the 80,000 attendees to Taiwan Pride, to same-sex marriage certificates in Tokyo.
School Days: In China, where most schools only teach basic anatomy, poor sex education is being blamed for high pregnancy rates among unmarried young women and a rise in sexually transmitted disease.
A Japanese primary school teacher has created her own textbook for teaching LGBT issues, following a call from the Education Ministry that schools should take measures to prevent bullying. In Australia, the Department of Education is supporting the first federally funded program to provide video lessons and classroom activitiesto teach about homophobia and transphobia.
In the US, residents of an Alaskan town are protesting the public library for carryingThis Book is Gay, a nonfiction book intended to make "young LGBT+ people feel less isolated and alone."
Business and Technology: Dating apps Grindr, Hornet, and Planet Romeo announced a collaboration with health agencies to support the European HIV Testing Week with free advertising for testing clinics. Demonstrating its commitment to 'sexual health,' Grindr shared results from their survey of users' experiences with PrEP. Meanwhile a report on HIV and adolescents in the Asia-Pacific region warns that these types of dating apps may be a driver in the HIV epidemic.
UK based InterTech, a network for LGBT people in the tech industries, and Facebook are hosting a 24-hour 'hackathon' to encourage tech workers to create products that spread tolerance or promote health.
The Human Rights Campaign has released its first LGBT scorecard that takes into consideration an international business' practices across countries of operations, including nations with harsh LGBT laws.
In the US, coffee chain Starbucks is rolling out 'Safe Place' program with the Seattle police department that will enable victims of hate crimes to stay in cafes with trained staff until police arrive.
Sports and Culture: In South Africa, lesbian couples balance their gay identity with the expectations of their cultural traditions as they struggle to be allowed to participate in 'lobola'— the negotiation and exchange of bride price for the purpose of building relations between the couple's families. From Nigeria, podcast host Mike Daemon discusses the isolation that people face after coming out.
And the Russian edition of Maxim magazine published a list of openly gay international celebrities they have 'forgiven'—"We, men, do not consider men who love men to be men. This is the rule. But there are exceptions."
In the US the NCAA, the organization that regulates college sports, has announced it will reconsider cities to host national championships based on their protections for LGBT people. A new documentary was released about the international gay rugby world cup — the organization founded in the memory of Mark Bingham, who was killed in the terrorist attack on United Flight 93.
UK gay men's health organization GMFA released a new campaign for World AIDS Day. In the video HIV positive men read out the 'mean' messages they've been sent over dating apps and are given a chance to respond to stigma. From the US, Celebrity Charlie Sheen revealed he is HIV positive, after a slew of tabloid speculation. Remarking on the resulting media 'hysteria,' reporter Tim Teeman called the public response a 'cruel' throwback to 1980s era discrimination.
In Germany, broadcasters were forced to revoke their nomination of singer Xavier Naidoo for international Eurovision contest after an intense public backlash over the 'homophobic' performer.
The Academy of Motions Arts announced it will consider trans actresses from the indy film Tangerine in their proper gender category for Oscar nominations. A new biopic about black trans activist Marsha P Johnson offers an alternative to the summer-flop Stonewall, which faced backlash for featuring a white male protagonist.
British actor Eddie Redmayne has won reviews for his portrayal of LIli Elbe, one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery in Denmark in 1930, and Cate Blanchett's turn as an American socialite (and secret lesbian) in 1950s has been called 'revolutionary.'
Finally, check in with this formal for LGBTI teens in Australia, where over 120 queer young people got to experience the dance they never enjoyed at their own schools. And enjoy Transvengers, a webcomic created by teen trans people in the UK