Will I prioritize [rights] over finding money for food? Labor issues, issues of the workforce are issues of LGBT people. And the sooner we recognize that, then the sooner we can provide responses to the needs of members of our community who need proper attention”
~ Claire, a transgender woman, on the striking workforce at Tanduay Distillers Inc in the Philippines
From the UN: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was awarded the prestigious Harvey Milk Medal for LGBT advocacy. While accepting the award, the Secretary-General spoke on the ongoing challenge of appealing to national leaders for LGBT equality.
In Bangkok, delegations from across Asia-Pacific joined UNDP and UNESCO for the #MyPurpleSchool campaign, which addresses homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. And the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights launched a new series on sexual and reproductive health and rights, including LGBTI people, youth, abortion, and violence against women.
HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: A health alert has been issued in New Zealand, where city of Auckland reports over 150% increase in monthly average cases of syphilis and gonorrhoea last year, especially among gay and bisexual men. In the UK, Public Health England warns that in 2014 there was 46% increase in syphilis, 32% in gonorrhoea, and 26% in chlamydia. The European Center for Disease Control has released a new guidance report on interventions and prevention of HIV and STIs among gay men and other men who have sex with men.
Three UK teenagers have developed a condom that warns users of sexually transmitted diseases, changing colors for chlamydia, herpes, or syphilis. And Apple is joining researchers to launch the 'largest population study' of LGBTQ people that will use personal iPhones to track health data of sexual and gender minority volunteers.
From the World of Politics: With a nearly unanimous vote on the second reading, the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan continues the "Gay Propaganda" bill, which has penalties of up to a year in prison for those violating the ban. The move sparked criticism from many groups, including the OHCR, who noted that in addition to discriminating against LGBT people, the bill will inhibit access to sexual and reproductive health.
In Israel, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation failed to approve an anti-discrimination bill that would protect sexual and gender minorities. Parliament member Ofer Shelah, who proposed the bill, noted these same ministers attended Pride Week and "tried to paint rainbows on their faces" promising changes for LGBT people, but now you see their "true faces."
The NGO PINK Armenia released its 2014 LGBT Human Rights report, summarizing documented human rights violations and condemning the Armenian government for failing to undertake any actions to protect LGBT rights. The US State Department released its annual international human rights report, which includes an emphasis on "pervasive" anti-LGBT persecution and discrimination.
From Japan, openly gay politician Taiga Ishikawa spoke out against the attempts by South Korean conservatives and police to ban the Korean Pride parade and noted the lack of policies to protect sexual minorities throughout Asia.
The Politics of Union: A new poll from the Czech Republic shows voters are now evenly split on same-sex marriage, though 75% support 'registered partnerships.' In Germany, government leaders remain split on support for marriage equality, though a poll found 74% of Germans say they are in favor of full marriage rights for gay people.In Italy, marches in Rome and Milan demonstrated the continued debate within the country. Over 300,000 protested against gay marriage in Rome, while 100,000 in Milan marched in favor.
The Australian Parliament will debate marriage equality in August, with some Liberal MPs pushing for a 'free vote' that would allow them to vote on their personal conscience instead of keeping to the party line. In Austria, the National Assembly has voted overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage.
The smallest country in the world, Pitcairn Island quietly legalized same-sex marriage in May, with a notice of the change posted on the town hall verandah.
Let the Courts Decide: In the UK, two couples are mounting a challenge to the same-sex marriage ban in Northern Ireland's High Court. In Mexico, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, noting that "procreation" is not a purpose for marriage and so should not be limited to heterosexual couples. And the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, with Justice Anthony Kennedy stating:
It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.Despite the decision, some US states are defying the ruling with religious objections.
The Moroccan Court has sentenced two men to 4 months jail for violating public modesty by standing too close together--the police claim the men admitted under questioning to being gay. Activists report that 25 Moroccans have been arrested for homosexuality since February. In Malaysia, a court convicted 9 trans women for crossdressing after they were arrested at a private birthday party.
In Egypt, a Syrian refugee was convicted for 'inciting debauchery' after an undercover police officer used a dating website to entrap him. The defendant was forced to undergo an anal exam, a practice many experts have denounced as torture.
And in the US, a jury found the gay conversion therapy group, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, guilty of consumer fraud for promising to cure participants of their sexuality.
Fear and Loathing: Conservative groups in South Korea staged a vocal anti-gay demonstration during Korea Pride, but failed to stop the festivities. Police in Turkey fired pepper spray, rubber pellets, and sprayed water cannons on Pride participants. The Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week Committee remarked, "We fail to understand how the same government that assured the United Nations on Friday that it would protect LGBTI rights could on Sunday go and attack the 13th annual Istanbul LGBTI Pride Parade without providing a legal justification."
In Syria, ISIS executed 4 more men under suspicion of being gay. Tweeting pictures of the murders, the hashtag #LoveWins was invoked, linking them to tweets supporting marriage equality.
In Cameroon, the president of LGBTI group Humanity First Cameroon was taken from the airport along with two friends, threatened, and abused before finally being released with no official charges. In the UK, a new study finds that LGBT people in rural areas face hate crimes, harassment, and abuse 'everyday.' And out of Zimbabwe, trans woman Tatenda Karigambe spoke on fighting abuse in her community, stating that transgender people are not just from the West.
From the US, lobbying organization, the Family Research Council, published a 'guide' to the transgender movement that activists call an "embarrassing failure of logic" for it's outdated and biased information. While in Lithuania, the compulsory military draft is asking army candidates if they 'like flowers' or have 'ever considered a career in the floral industry' in order to identify and dismiss gay draftees.
In the Name of Religion: The Vatican released its guide for the upcoming synod on family matters, disappointing many LGBT Catholics, who were described in the document by the outdated term 'homosexual tendencies.' The document follows the Pope's recent comments against marriage equality and "gender theory".
In Ghana, African cardinals and bishops from many countries met to discuss their opposition to divorce and homosexuality. The Mormon Church issued an anti-marriage statement, despite growing pressure for acceptance from within the Mormon community. In Belgium, the United Protestant Church announced it willallow parishes to choose gay pastors as church leaders. And in the US, Episcopal Church leaders voted overwhelmingly to allow same-sex wedding ceremonies.
Winds of Change: In Israel, after a local Islamic leader published an attack on gay people, titled "You make me sick," Israeli Arabs used social media to fight back in support of the LGBT community. In Jamaica, some police attended training on vulnerable people, with a special focus on conscientiously dealing with LGBT, youth, women, and people living with disabilities.
Although Poland's parliament has failed to approve laws to protect the LGBT community, attitudes and social acceptance has spread--with both popular media representation of LGBT people and the opening of central Europe's first homeless shelter for LGBT youth. In Nigeria, a new poll shows acceptance of LGBT people has only improved slightly. However, local advocate Bisi Alimi stated, it demonstrates that Nigerians are "not inherently homophobic," but need education against myths.
From the UK, the Oxford English dictionary has officially added the word 'cisgender,'defined as someone whose identity corresponds to their sex and gender at birth. And in Norway, Health Minister Bent Hoie proposed to allow children as young as 7 to legally change their gender with parent support.
School Days: In Italy, the mayor of Venice has banned children's books about same-sex and single parent families. In the US, a primary school teacher and vice-principal quit when parents complained about the reading of a gay themed fairy tale, used in a lesson against bullying.
In Brazil, the city of Macapa introduced a bill that includes inclusive education for LGBT people, though the evangelical bench has opposed it. And activists in the US report on how the decision for marriage equality will improve LGBT students' experience in schools by increasing social acceptance and decreasing bullying.
The World of Business: From Japan, IBM executive Atsushi Kawada won the award "Best of IBM" for his work as both an outstanding employee and a leader of the LGBT community at Japan IBM. From the Philippines, transgender woman Claire, spoke about her participation in the workers' strike against the Tanduay Distillery, and how the situation affects LGBT people.
In the UK, business leaders met to discuss the importance of engaging LGBT and allies through both policies and advertising. In Argentina, the tourist industry held their annual international conference on LGBT tourism to discuss how best cater to LGBT travelers in a genuine and sensitive way.
Technology: Despite promises to the transgender and drag community last year, Facebook is aggressively pursuing its "Real Name" policy. A new report reveals Facebook is the least safe place for women online, exacerbated by the company posting users' legal names without their consent and then banning users from their accounts. Meanwhile, the Facebook employee responsible for the company's recent progressive gender-inclusive options has become a victim of the policy because, as a transgender person, their username does not match birth documents, despite that username matching their employee badge.
Apple released a new section in the App Store that highlights LGBT content, that includes books, movies, music, and apps that reflect and impact the community. And journalist Eliel Cruz explores how social media and online dating is beneficial to bringing together LGBT millennials, but can also be detrimental to their safety and perceptions of self.
Sports and Culture: The German Historical Museum in Berlin launched an exhibition exploring 150 years of German gay history, from the creation of the term "homosexual," to Nazi repression, to current equality efforts. A new documentary explores the US government's 'cruel, malicious' campaign against gay Americans in the 1950s. And in Canada, the AIDS Activist History Project aims to "fill a void" in Canadian history.
In the US, the Girl Scouts returned a $100,000 donation that was gifted with the caveat that transgender girls not receive support.
British television personality John Oliver used his show to accuse the media ofinappropriate interest in trans people's private parts. An op-ed by Adam Ackley explores the dichotomy between intersex and trans people, explaining how an individual's choice to surgically transition is incredibly personal. And these 'genderfluid' people share what it's like being neither trans nor cisgender.
In Japan, the bridal industry has begun accepting LGBT couples. And In Uganda, a visiting filmmaker was touched by the acceptance he found among those he met.
Author Martin Bichsel documented the experiences of trans people in Switzerland, Europe, Japan, Siberia, and North Africa--including this interview with a transgender sex worker in Greece.
In Nigeria, the women's national football team finds inclusion for differences in faith, but sexuality remains taboo. Sweden has launched a national all-LGBT handball team.
And the Women's World Cup featured out and proud players from all over the world, including the US's Abby Wambach, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year, who celebrated USA's win over Japan by leaping into the stands to kiss her wife.