“If we are faithful to our values and to our ideals, love and care in families must naturally extend to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.”
~ Deputy Secretary-General of the U.N. Jan Eliasson on International Human Rights Day at the session ‘Love is a Family Value: Supporting All Family Members and Families.’
Kiss-ins, condoms, conversion therapy... Highs and lows in recent global LGBTI equality this holiday season. Catch up with Equal Eyes.
Around the UN: The UN Core Group of countries on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights marked Human Rights Day on December 10th with a panel discussion examining LGBT and intersex people’s experience of family and the role of the family in the fight for equality. Also in December, ARC International released a new report assessing how far advocacy on sexual orientation and gender identity has come at the UN and where it is heading.
HIV, Health, and Well-being: A new website, published in Kiswahili and English, has been launched to provide sexual health education for men who have sex with men in East Africa. Acknowledging the existence of gay locals for the first time, the Zimbabwean government has plans for an HIV/AIDS program specifically for 'homosexuals and sex workers.'
A study out of the UK finds that two thirds of new infections come from young gay who have undiagnosed and untreated HIV while a survey out of California suggests more men are choosing to forgo condoms and only take PrEP.
In Baguio City in the Philippines, health officials have taken the unusual step to urge the mayor to close down gay bars to prevent the spread of HIV. Meanwhile in Burundi, health workers are speaking out against the criminalization of same sex relationships saying it is preventing people from seeking appropriate health services including HIV prevention and treatment.
Politicking: The European Union has cut off millions of euros in financial support to Gambia and the US has removed Gambia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000 over human rights concerns, including the law to imprison gay people for life. However, efforts to persuade the government to make progress on human rights are being undermined as Gambia pursues development support from Middle East donors.
Ignorance, Fear, And Loathing: Local Egyptian and regional civil society organizations are speaking out against the recent arrests of 26 men and TV presenter Mona Iraqi and her role in the anti-gay campaign that targets suspected gay and transgender people. Swiss film festival 'Shnit' has dropped Ms Iraqi's participation over the incident.
Another man has been murdered by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria as 'punishment' for suspected homosexuality. The man was thrown from a roof and then stoned to death. In Zimbabwe, a private event by the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe was attacked by a dozen men who beat and robbed the participants. And a group of nine men and one woman, identified as 'Neo-Nazis,' attacked a young gay couple in Madrid, sending one boy to the hospital for his injuries.
Human Rights Watch releases a new report that finds anti-LGBT violence has increased since Russia enacted a ban on gay 'propaganda.' Meanwhile the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released a report identifying 594 LGBT people murdered during a 15 month period including 4 who were decapitated. And reporter Jonathan Heaf investigates the 'war' on gay men in Uganda, where 'to be called "homophobic" is a compliment, a signifier of an upstanding, moral citizen.'
In the largest comparative study of its kind, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency finds that trans people experience an 'alarming' amount of discrimination or harassment. And in Taiwan, the Ministry of Interior rejected progressive recommendations that would have allowed transgender people to avoid psychiatric evaluations. In the UK, trans community members take issue with a new electoral registration system that forces them to choose between their privacy and the right to vote.
Unfortunately, it will now take the MIchigan State Senate to stop a bill just passed by lawmakers, the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which will allow people to withhold services from LGBTI people, including healthcare and emergency services.
And journalist Sune Engel Rasmussen takes an intimate look at the danger of living in Iran for gay men.
Heroes: The terrifying 16 hour siege of a Sydney coffee shop ended after cafe manager Tori Johnson rushed the terrorist and hostages fled. Johnson, who was killed in the attempt, happened to be a gay man. Author James Peron discusses Johnson as well as other gay people who have died in terrorist attacks asking the question, don't these heroes deserve equal rights as citizens?
Religiosity: The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has banned evangelical British Columbia's Trinity Western University law students from taking the bar exam until the University allows gay people to become students. However, TWU is fighting the decision over religious freedom.
In the US, some conservative lawmakers are pushing to expand protection of religious rights allowing individuals and businesses to refuse service to LGBT people.
Nigerian pastor Elizabeth Funke Obisanya examines why some African Christians struggle to accept LGBT people. And a jamaican priest has caused division in his church for washing the feet of LGBT people and embracing gays during worship service themed 'In Celebration of Human Rights', and in keeping with the liturgical season of advent.
Members of North Carolina church World of Faith Fellowship have been indicted for kidnapping and assaulting a gay parishioner after a prayer service. The members spent two hours attacking him as they tried to cure him of 'homosexual demons.'
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines has released a policy statement on the acceptance and non-discrimination of LGBT people in the church. Meanwhile, Church of England Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Dr Alan Wilson has released a Christmas message condemning the treatment of LGBT people within the church.
Winds of Change: A new survey out of China shows a growing acceptance of gay people, especially among those who personally know a gay person. And a rigorous new study shows that a 20-minute face-to-face conversation is enough to change attitudes over same-sex marriage. Now everyone is asking the obvious question: can this approach be used on other controversial issues. Reflecting on past statements from Namibia's President-elect Hage Geingo, advocates are hopeful that the new president will be 'gay-friendly.'
A couple of firsts: In Victoria, Australia, the government has appointed the first minister to oversee LGBTI equality issues while the first residential shelter for LGBTI has opened in Albania, providing a safe space for those who have lost their homes due to their identities.
Meanwhile in Tunisia, activists are using Facebook to gather supporters against criminalization of homosexuality. In Cuba, Mariela Castro has has led the charge on legislative and societal changes that have given rise to an increasingly visible and empowered community.
With same-sex marriage legalizing across the country, LGBT advocates in the US are preparing for the next battle: passing a civil rights act for LGBT people. Activists and writers Darnell L. Moore and Charles Stephens publish an open letter to mainstream American LGBT organizations asking how they can seek human rights for LGBT people and yet not support the human rights demands of African-American activists.
Let the Courts Decide: In a landmark ruling for intersex rights, a Kenyan court has ruled a 5 year old child with ambiguous genitalia must be issued a birth certificate. A court of appeals in Australia has ruled that a resort is guilty of discrimination for refusing admittance to an teen LGBT suicide prevention group. And outspoken anti-gay preacher Scott Lively will face a US federal court trial for crimes against humanity for his role in influencing the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act.
An Egyptian appeals court has reduced the sentence for 8 men imprisoned over a "gay marriage" video. And in China, a Beijing court has ruled in favor of the gay man suing a clinic for subjecting him to electric shock therapy to 'cure' his gayness.
The California porn industry has lost its appeal to have condomless sex in pornographic films. The case was an attempt to overturn a 2012 Los Angeles ordinance that was put in place to reduce sexually transmitted diseases in the industry. Meanwhile the UK porn industry is under fire from a new regulation that protesters say censors non-heteronormative sex.
On the March: Thousands joined in Quezon City's first pride parade celebrating the 20th anniversary of Philippines pride, while the LGBT community in Vietnam turned out for a diversity event honoring LGBT equality. Meanwhile, South Korean LGBT activists declared victory and ended a six-day sit-in of Seoul City Hall after the Mayor agreed to further meetings.
And 100 people participated in a 'kiss-in' in a Madrid Burger King to show support for a young gay couple that was thrown out for kissing in the restaurant.
Sports and Culture: Legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan says pro wrestling has moved past 'barbaric mindset' about gays and Olympic hopeful swimmer Tom Luchsinger discusses leading a double life in front of the cameras.
A documentary out of Vietnam tells the story of transgender people who live in performance troupes across remote Vietnam.
In technology updates, Google+ now allows users to define their own gender and Security-in-a-box provides tools for LGBTI equality advocates to protect their digital security. Meanwhile writers Tyler Lopez questions how to handle homophobic speech during funerals and weddings and Leo Sheng shares his experience of coming out of the trans closet.
After a primary school teacher came out to his class, one of his nine year old students writes a heartfelt letter of support. And when a Korean school asks its students how gays should be 'punished,' students give some excellent answers.
~ We wish everyone everywhere hope, courage, and wisdom in 2015.