“By now we should all be aware of the poisonous consequences of these ill-informed and hateful bills: they produce hate and lead to impunity for violence and discrimination against minorities. This has no place in a country that has committed itself through its constitution to full protection of human and civil rights.”
Daniele Viotti, Member of the European Parliament in regards to Kyrgyzstan's proposed anti-LGBT bill
The UN Human Rights Committee has recommended to Russia that it consider the "hate motive" when investigating crimes of possible homophobic or transphobic nature. Lawyer Kseniya Kirichenko said this is of "truly historical significance" as the recommendation acknowledges LGBT people as a "social group" and will potentially enable more effective criminal proceedings in Russia.
And World Bank President Jim Young Kim discusses how the Bank is updating "safeguards" for human rights to include LGBT people, including the decision to block a $90 million loan to Uganda following its adoption of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
From the World of Politics: Jamaica's first female prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, was interrupted during a speech in New York City by members of Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand who protested that the government has insufficiently responded to the recent flux of anti-LGBT violence. Elsewhere, Finland's first female president, Tarja Halonen, discussed her participation in Finland's LGBT movement and the future for global LGBT advocacy with the Harvard Political Review.
Former Dominican Republic President Hipólito Mejía apologized for using the derogatory word "mariconcito" -- or "little faggot" -- at a campaign event while in the US. During an official visit by Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev last week, EU leaders sought reassurances over pending new bills seeking to limit the rights of LGBTI people and civil society in general.
Across the US, celebrities cancelled tours, businesses halted contracts, and people spoke out against Indiana state's so-called "Religious Freedom" bill that enabled businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. In response, governor Mike Pence was forced to amend the bill. But the battle continues with 12 more states attempting to pass anti-LGBT discrimination measures, despite a newly released Reuters poll finds that most Americans side with gays in religious freedom disputes.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: Out of Bhutan, a new report from UNDP highlights how stigma and discrimination continue to impact universal access to HIV and health services for transgender people, gay men and other men who have sex with men. A new report from the Eurasian Coalition on Male Health finds that transgender people, gay men and other MSM in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are not represented in their countries' strategic discussions to end HIV. And the New Zealand Parliament is reviewing a petition urging the government to take action to address inadequate health services for trans and intersex Kiwis.
In Cuba, a report finds that lesbian and bisexual women receive unequal health service and are often left out of sexual health treatment campaigns.
In France, the National Ethics Committee has ruled to keep an indefinite ban on gay blood, stating that "giving blood is not a right." The president of the LGBT Federation called the ruling "absurd." And although Brazil lifted its blood ban in 2013, a politician now wants to see "gay blood" separated from other donations, enabling patients the ability to refuse blood from a gay person.
The Brazilian Parliament is considering a new HIV criminal law that has received support after a media frenzy spread panic of "barebacking" among the gay community.
In the Name of Religion: In Ireland, religious leaders attended the Faith in Marriage Equality conference and discussed theology behind supporting the same-sex marriage referendum, with Bishop Michael Burrows adding that gay rights is "the justice issue of our time." African American pastors who support LGBTI rights are touring key African nations where the communities suffer extreme discrimination in an effort to provide an 'alternative narrative' of acceptance within Christian worship.
The Anglican Communion, the international association of Anglican churches, has raised concerns over the appointment of Nigerian Bishop Dr Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon as Secretary General. The Bishop has openly supported anti-gay laws and called the criminalization of homosexuality "good."
In Australia, Anglican Archbishop Dr Phillip Aspinall and Catholic priest Paul Kelly are calling for Queensland common law to end use of "gay panic" in homicide defence which reduces charges if the victim "came on" to the murderer.
From Brazil, a report examines the shifting political climate as evangelical social conservatives try to reverse marriage equality and other gains for LGBT rights. With strong military and cattle-ranching ties, the conservative coalition -- known as the “BBB Bloc” for bibles, bullets, and bulls -- has LGBT Brazilians looking on in fear.
School Days: In the US, another teacher has been fired from his Catholic school post because his sexuality is "inconsistent" with the church. Students at the school walked out of classes in protest. In Russia, where LGBT teachers continue to be targeted by the gay propaganda ban, one dismissed teacher is fighting back.
South Korean teachers were instructed to remove all references to LGBT issuesfrom their school curriculums reflecting a compromise made with conservative groups as the government updates sex-ed standards. In the UK, the largest teacher's union is calling for mandatory education on LGBT issues in a resolution to tackle homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
In China, where no national sex-ed program exists, activist Humphrey Wou's program "Youth Decoding" hopes to provide reproductive health and diversity education to teens. And from Australia, Professor Paula Gerber explains why law schools need to teach courses on LGBTI rights.
As both the first lesbian premier and the first woman premier, Canadian Kathleen Wynne spoke to students about how being open about her sexuality has brought extra responsibility:
There are people who come up to me often and say ‘you have made a difference in my son’s life or my daughter’s life — they’re gay — and they see your presence there as an important signal that our society is changing,’ and that we are a safer and more inclusive place.
Fear and Loathing: The Egyptian National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) has rejected all UN UPR recommendations on human rights that are considered "incompatible" with Muslim faith. The NCHR is also supporting an administrative court ruling that forbids suspected gay people from entering the country. However, Mohammad Zare, a human rights lawyer and the President of the Arab Organization for Penal Reform, called the court's ruling unenforceable and said it will only tarnish Egypt's international image.
Russian ombudsman Alexander Shislov presented his report to St Petersburg's Legislative Assembly on violence perpetrated on LGBT Russians and expressed concern over "increasing aggression in society." Meanwhile, a Russian court has authorized the closure of LGBT youth support group "Children-404" for violating the gay propaganda ban.
From India, gay men reveal the blackmail and abuse they have suffered since the Indian Supreme Court reinstated the ban on gay sex. And from Cameroon, a man describes how he lost everything after his sexuality was discovered.
South Korea has come under fire for hosting anti-LGBT groups that promote gay "cures" in government buildings. UK journalist Patrick Strudwick discloses his terrifying experience investigating gay conversion therapy and why he became an advocate against the practice. And in the US, President Obama has issued an official statement calling for the end of conversion therapy for gay and transgender youth.
In Pakistan, a trans person was ganged raped and her two friends murdered. In the UK, police are searching for information on the murder of a trans tourist. In South Africa, another bisexual woman was gang raped to "cure" her lifestyle. In Turkey, a gay university student was beaten while bystanders watched. And in the US, trans teen Taylor Alesena, well known on Youtube for documenting her experiences with bullying, committed suicide during spring break.
On the Move: Nigerian gay rights activist Aderonke Apata has lost her long struggle for asylum and faces deportation after a UK High Court judge ruled she "fabricated" her sexuality. Several hundred thousand people had signed a petition urging the court to grant her asylum.
Across Asia, some LGBT people are fleeing conservative and patriarchal environments of their family homes to migrate to countries that appear more progressive.
In Peru, thousands marched to demand equal rights for LGBTI people, including recognition of civil unions and laws to explicitly protect sexual orientation and gender identity. TV star Rodrigo González showed his support for the rally by "coming out" via Facebook.
From the World of Business: New Zealand's leading developer of nation-wide standards has published a new guide for inclusive gender and sexual diversity in employment. In the US, the Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination has gone into effect, setting new standards on anti-discrimination among all federal contractors and employees.
And Bob Witeck, LGBT consultant to US retail giant Walmart, discusses how he encouraged the notoriously conservative business to stand for LGBT workers' rights.
Winds of Change: During a speech to local college students, Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie said conservative nations must consider how to react tochanging global social realities, stating, "we must co-exist."
Malta has passed Europe's most progressive gender identity and expression law. It joins Denmark in allowing trans people to change legal identity without surgery or sterilization and becomes the first country in the world to prohibit medically unnecessary surgery on intersex infants.
Sweden has added a gender neutral pronoun to its official dictionary, to be used when gender is unknown, a person is transgender, or when the gender is considered superfluous information. And in India, Panjab University is embracing a third gender category--adding it to everything from admissions to washrooms.
In Ireland, senators approved same-sex adoption with a standing ovation. In Japan, following Shibuya Ward's headline grabbing recognition of same-sex partnerships,gay wedding ceremonies are gaining wider acceptance. And in Chile, President Michelle Bachelet signed into law a same-sex civil union bill, stating: “The civil union law is a vindication in the struggle for sexual diversity rights.”
And finally, representatives from 16 Asia-Pacific countries, along with civil society groups, have released a new roadmap for improving LGBTI rights across the region.
Sports and Culture: An in-depth report on culture attitudes in the US found that the millennial generation are less likely to apply black-and-white rules and more often identify as LGBT than any previous generation. From Peru, an ambitious photo project, Virgenes de la Puerta documents marginalized trans women to capture the country's emerging transgender pride movement.
Latina supermodel Patricia Velasquz discusses her inspiration to come out. AndKenyan gospel singer Darlan Rukih Moses comes out as intersex and "proud."
Meet M-Coalition, the first Arab coalition dedicated to the health and human rights of gay men and other men who have sex with men in the region. In South Africa,Miscast, the first local young adult novel about coming to grips with your gender identity has been published.
India's Film Board has banned local film Unfreedom, a story of the entwined relationship between religion, violence, sexuality and intolerance. Featuring a lesbian couple, the controversial film will screen in North America. A new revival of the Broadway play The Heidi Chronicles underlines the connections between feminism and gay men.
Australian Group Captain Catherine McGregor, the highest ranked transgender military officer in the world, delivered a moving address to the National Press Club on her experience coming out and the pain of gender dysphoria.
Finally, check out the photo of President Obama shooting a rainbow across Jamaica, that has some joking he has magical powers for gays!