"When I came out I knew I was going to have bullies, and I knew people were not going to be OK with it. But I never expected it to be from the people who were supposed to protect you from the bullies." ~ Austin Wallis, 17 year old on being told by his school principal to stop being gay or leave the school
Six US trans women killed in one month, Egyptian prisoners sexually assaulted in 'gay' exam, & ISIS throws another man from roof. Yet LGBT advocates join Colombia peace talks, Aussie trans boy wins right to his own body. These stories and more
From the UN: The Human Rights Council’s 21 Session Universal Periodic Review - a review of the human rights record of 14 countries - was held in Geneva. Check out the new list of recommendations to improve the human rights situation regarding people's gender and sexual orientation. The 22nd session will be in May 2015.
The United Nations Development Programme has joined with civil society to produce a new framework committed to leaving no one behind in the Asia-Pacific HIV response. And at the 70th anniversary remembrance of the liberation of Auschwitz, Charles Radcliffe, from the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights praised LGBT rights advances despite recent “worrying trends” including criminalization.
HIV, Health, and Well-Being: With home testing kits gaining in popularity, a new attachment can turn a smartphone into a mobile lab to diagnose HIV and syphilis, which could be good news for the gay and bi men community that accounts for 75% of all syphilis cases. Meanwhile a new study finds that men who have sex with men suffer health inequalities and less funding support than other groups. And in Indonesia AIDS activists are increasingly turning to social media to reach the gay community.
A new study in Psychological Science shows that transgender kids aren't confused or delayed in understanding their identities, while a review of studies shows that children of gay or lesbian parents are not adversely affected by their parentage. In the meantime, a new study in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence finds that teens who talk about sexual orientation with LGBT peers and friends are more likely to become allies.
And in Botswana, NGOs are welcoming a new series of government-sponsored HIV prevention ads aimed at gay men and other key populations.
Politicking: Poland's first transgender politician plans to make history again with a run for president. In Nepal, government leaders have spoken on amending anti-gay legal provisions. In Colombia, LGBT leader Wilson Castañera was one of six human rights advocates to participate in peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. And in the US, lawmakers have introduced a bill that would promote LGBT rights worldwide even as conservatives continue to push discriminatory laws at home.
Ignorance, Fear, and Loathing: In Ghana, police arrested a suspect in connection to the brutal attack against a gay man that was filmed and posted online; local celebrities and prominent personalities have come out to condemn the attack. Another Syrian man has been murdered for being "gay." Although he survived after ISIS threw him from a tower, he was stoned to death by onlookers on the ground. And in the US, a 6th transgender woman has been murdered in less than a month.
In Tanzania, a trans man and his wife were arrested on gay-sex charges. And in Egypt, men arrested on charges of homosexuality are forced to undergo horrific and - according to international human rights and medical experts - completely unscientific anal exams.
A private school in the US claims it has the right to expel a student for openly talking about his sexuality. In Russia, a group has been targeting teachers who have voiced support for LGBT rights, leading to their expulsion.
In Germany, some asylum seekers are fighting back against immigration officials who told them that Uganda is a safe place to be gay. Meanwhile UK officials have warned caseworkers must not "stereotype characteristics" when determining if a person is lesbian, gay or bisexual persons and deserves asylum.
Religiosity: In a speech to followers, Buddhist leader Dzongsat Khyentse Rinpoche spoke on respecting sexual orientation and how it fits with Buddhist teachings. Leading Church of England evangelical activist, Jayne Ozanne announced she is a lesbian and says the time has come for the Church to move towards acceptance of LGBT people.
Leaders from the United Methodist Church proposed a more open stance on homosexuality during an international gathering in Mozambique. Meanwhile the one newly appointed Catholic cardinal who has shown support for LGBT people is balanced by three new cardinals who hold fast to anti-gay dogma. And in Kenya, the Catholic bishops issued their annual Lent message with an attack on homosexuality.
In Switzerland, a village is backing a priest who has refused to resign for blessing a lesbian couple. In the US, the Archbishop of California has added a 'morality clause’ to catholic school staff contracts and will make teachers 'ministers' of the church. The new wording prevents all employees from voicing contradictory opinions, even during personal time. And as ministers are exempt from anti-discrimination employment laws, teachers will be able to be fired for speaking against church doctrine.
Winds of Change: An Australian court has granted a 17-year-old trans boy power over his own body, enabling him to seek testosterone replacement therapy against his parents' wishes. And in Vietnam, a 71-year-old mother has spoken out to support her gay son. Her speech reflects the positive changes felt by 8 out of 10 LGBT Vietnamese people.
In Slovakia a referendum to prevent same-sex marriage and keep gay couples from adopting children failed to pass because of poor voter turnout. Meanwhile in Chile, congress approves same-sex civil unions, though not marriage. In Japan, two Tokyo municipalities have declared their intention to issue certificates equivalent to marriage for same-sex couples. And in China the largest tech company, Alibaba, is teaming up with LGBT groups to support equal marriage with a new marketing campaign.
Author Peter Montgomery investigates what is next for LGBT advocates once same-sex marriage equality is achieved. And gender activist Kate Bornstein urges that now is a pivotal time for trans people as rigid notions of gender is challenged all over the world.
While the Irish government has worked with LGBT groups to tackle homophobia in primary schools with guidelines for inclusive teaching and classroom behavior, Jamaica's first female public defender has vowed to defend rights of all, including the LGBT community.
The Dominican Ministry of Tourism will launch an LGBT tourism campaign that will promote gay rights in the Caribbean. And threatened with losing US contracts, ExxonMobil has added LGBT worker protections.
Out on the street: As hundreds turned out for Mumbai's annual pride parade despite fear and anger churned up by the return of Indian law banning same-sex sexual relations, Justice AP Shah, India's Law Commission Chairman, spoke out on the consequences of those laws, saying they cause: "damage to the psychological well being of homosexuals, encouragement of violence and facilitation of police harassment and discrimination against the LGBT community."
Meanwhile a new tour company is serving “gay Jews and those who love us,” with a "Poland & Prague Pride Trip" -- a tour that begins in Auschwitz and ends at Prague's gay Pride parade.
Culture and Sports: Singer John Legend has joined the boycott of the Sultan of Brunei owned Beverly Hills Hotel. His reps confirmed the singer would not perform for the hotel as long as the Sultan supported policies allowing 'LGBT Bruneians to be stoned to death.' And despite his Russian fans, Sam Smith has vowed never to perform in Russia as long as anti-gay laws continue to discriminate.
The WWE plans to tour the United Arab Emirates but will leave behind gay wrestler Darren Young 'for his safety.' Young spoke out against the decision and was promptly silenced. Openly gay Olympic figure skater Eric Radford and his partner talk about his decision to "come out;" the team is a favourite to win the world championships in Shanghai in March. And an American actor on a popular Russian tv series has shocked fans by coming out of the closet.
Survivors of the 1980s AIDS crisis reflect back on their experiences during the height of the American epidemic and in 'Portrait of the activist' Eric Ohena Lembebe reflects on forming the anti-AIDS group CAMFAIDS. A new documentary explores how obsession with masculinity is negatively impacting young men. Meanwhile from China, a short film encouraging parents to accept their gay children has gone viral.
Jamin Warren explores the importance of having gay characters in video games. LGBT cartoon web series 'McTucky Fried High,' explores queer teen issues.
And finally, check out this cartoon that aims to show the dangers of syphilis to adults with humor.