“If one of you, my church members, is in pain, then I am in pain too...
Nothing that I heard in the last two days takes away from what the bishops have already said to people of LGBTI orientation. You are loved by God and all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ. We urge you to stick with us to play your full part in the deliberations to come."
~ Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba following the South African Anglican Church synod that voted against blessing same-sex unions
From the UN: At the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, international law Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn was appointed as the first independent expert to monitor human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Muntarbhorn has previously served as the Special Rapporteur for North Korea, Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, and has participated on the Commission of Inquiry on Syria since 2012. He has also acted as technical advisor for the UNDP's ‘Being LGBTI in Asia’ initiative.
During the appointment, representatives from Russia and Saudi Arabia made public statements reiterating their rejection of any independent expert on these issues and declared they would not engage or cooperate with Muntarbhorn.
A side event to the Human Rights Council was held to review UN issues specific totransgender and other gender non-conforming individuals. Cohosts Global Action for Trans Equality and ILGA have shared a video of the panel for further discussion.
The UNDP and nonprofit Salzburg Global Seminar convened a four-day forum on 'The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion.' Held in Chiang Rai, Thailand, over 50 advocates, artists, government representatives, and human rights experts discussed the importance of building coalitions between civil society, government, and international organizations.
The WHO and the Philippines Department of Health published a new policy brief 'Transgender Health & HIV in the Philippines.' Drawing from focus groups and surveys of local trans women, activists, and healthcare workers, the brief provides implications for policy making and service delivery.
Activists in Tunisia from five civil society groups submitted a report to the UN describing the systemic discrimination faced by the LGBT community which they say has continued to increase since Tunisia's Revolution of 2011.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: Across the world, rates of new HIV infections have continued to rise among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. In China, where some reports show 80% of new cases are among young gay men, health authorities fear government policies are alienating this high-risk community. Meanwhile, Philippine health officials opened the first clinic specifically for men who have sex with men and trans people to curb the rise in new infections.
Although overall rates of HIV in the US have declined, new infections in the black and Latino community continue to increase, especially in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. To combat stigma, the US CDC has partnered with the League of United Latin American Citizens to improve dialogue and increase testing and counseling.
In Saskatchewan, Canada, the sharp increase of infections—more than double the national average—led local physicians to publish an open letter urging the government to declare a state of emergency.
From the Netherlands, researchers determined that providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to men at high risk for HIV is cost-effective even if the price of PrEP remains high, though they emphasized that a generic price would be cost-saving for the Dutch health system. And in the US state of California, all HIV tests will now come with education on PrEP after Governor Jerry Brown signed first of its kind legislation to promote the medication.
In other news, columnist Liam Lowery reflected on gender-based expectations of 'health,' noting that doctors stopped fat-shaming him after his transition.
From the World of Politics: Israel's Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced the government has earmarked over $5 million (NIS 20 million) to be spent on initiatives for LGBT Israelis over the next two years. Additionally, all government ministries will appoint a person to oversee sexual orientation and gender discrimination issues.
Australia's Tasmanian Parliament has come under fire for considering changes to the anti-discrimination Act of 1998. The new bill would allow religious exemptions and potentially allow 'serious contempt and ridicule' towards the LGBTI community. The Australian Lawyers for Human Rights warned of the impact the watered down legislation would have ahead of the public vote on same-sex marriage.
Although the national plebiscite on marriage equality remains unscheduled, theSouth Australian Parliament went ahead and introduced a bill to legally recognize same-sex couples and couples married overseas.
Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to withhold support for marriage equality as her party, the Christian Democratic Union, reinforces its conservative image. Meanwhile, the Austrian Parliament is reviewing a new law to expand rights to same-sex couples in registered partnerships.
Thailand's Department of Women's Affairs and Family Development collaborated with Thammasat University to evaluate a potential gender recognition law that would benefit the LGBT community and fit within the context of Thai society. And in the UK, mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced that the city wants to reform government surveys to include more diverse gender identification options. However, any changes must be implemented by the Office of National Statistics.
Let the Courts Decide: The East African Court of Justice dismissed a case against Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2015—known colloquially as the 'Kill the Gays Act'—because the Act was previously nullified on a technicality. Advocates had hoped to prevent the Act or any similar legislation from being reintroduced on the grounds that it violates the East African Treaty of citizen rights. The current decision has left open the possibility of a future hearing.
South Africa's Gauteng High Court ruled against the Department of Home Affairs for refusing to issue an ID to a trans man that accurately reflects his gender identity. Although changing one's legal identity has been possible since a parliamentary act in 2003, Home Affairs has repeatedly come under fire for resisting procedure, often preventing trans citizens from obtaining documents such as driver's licenses and visas.
Fear and Loathing: The latest report from the National Crime Records Bureau of India shows that police arrested 1,491 people in 2015 under Section 377 criminalizing homosexuality—a 17% increase in arrests since 2014.
A new report from UK non-profit Galop suggests that hate crimes against LGBT people more than doubled in the months following the Brexit vote.
A former ISIS member spoke out on United Arab Emirates television and recounted the atrocities he saw while serving the group in Afghanistan, including: 'murder of innocents, plunder of property, and raping of homosexuals.'
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights published a new report that found nearly all surveyed trans women experienced verbal or physical abuse and 25% were raped in public spaces.
In the Name of Religion: In Serbia, Christian Demonstrators held a ceremony to 'purify' Belgrade after the annual Pride parade. Participants held banners saying 'Shame on You' and accused the parade of 'recruiting and spoiling' future generations.
The Pope reiterated his position against gender identity calling education on transgender and gender non-conforming issues 'ideological colonization' that is 'against nature.'
Although he did not speak out during Italy's debate over Civil Unions, the Pope announced his support of Mexican Bishops who have encouraged residents across Mexico to rally against marriage equality. Organized by National Front for the Family, tens of thousands have marched to protest Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's plan for national marriage equality. The backlash surprised advocates as the country has never before had a large anti-LGBT movement and the Supreme Court already ruled same-sex marriage legal in 10 states.
The Pope met with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby—leader of the Church of England—to discuss reunification of Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches. However, the two remain divided over issues of women in the clergy and questions regarding human sexuality.
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa synod failed to pass two proposals to support LGBTI church members. The first, to allow LGBTI clergy to be licensed in the church while in legal same-sex civil unions, was withdrawn with no vote. And the second, to allow bishops to offer blessings on civil unions, failed to pass. After the vote, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba admitted he was moved to tears and "deeply pained by the outcome of the debate."
Winds of Change: Australian advocates are calling for a formal public inquiry after the documentary Deep Water uncovered police mistakes and over 88 unsolved deaths connected to the LGBTIQ community.
The Taiwan International Queer Film Festival is launching Queermosa Awards—the first LGBTI award ceremony in Taiwan. Organizers hope to bring media attention and visibility to individuals and companies who have supported the LGBT community.
LGBT activists in Hungary launched a campaign with the message 'Your vote, their life' to encourage the LGBT community to support migrants in an upcoming national referendum and to reject 'hate mongering.'
On the March: Haiti activists announced that a four-day festival to celebrate theAfro-Caribbean LGBTQ community had been postponed following "threats of outrageous violence" including arson and death threats.
Ugandan LGBT community members and activists continued attempts to celebrate Pride despite a police raid last month where many event participants were physically assaulted, humiliated, and arrested. The latest attempt at a private beach resort ended abruptly when over a dozen police arrived at the scene and forced participants to disperse.
The third annual Hong Kong Pink Dot carnival drew over 10,000 participants, including celebrities, politicians, allies, and activists.
Over 1500 people successfully gathered in St Petersburg, Russia to celebrate QueerFest 2016. Festival coordinator Ana Anisimova cheered, "With no attacks, we were finally able to concentrate on the content, the quality, and the people. This is how a festival should go, and for the first time in 8 years, we are there!"
School Days: The UK's latest Annual Population Survey data shows that 1 in 30 people aged 16-24 identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Over the last three years, the number of young people identifying as bisexual has jumped 45%.
The US Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network published 'From Teasing to Torment: School Climate Revisited,' a comprehensive report that reexamines the experiences of LGBTQ students ten years after their first survey on the topic. The report found that although there have been significant gains for adults, the situation for LGBTQ students has only slightly improved in the last decade.
During a conference on HIV hosted at South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal, educators and LGBT students called on the Department of Higher Education to take action to end the 'nightmare' of discrimination youth face at school.
In a new Canadian study, 30% of surveyed LGBT Indigenous youth—or "two-spirit people"—have considered suicide.
Business and Technology: More Japanese businesses are embracing LGBT employees with extended benefits and sponsoring LGBT events, including the Gay Games and Pink Dot festival.
From Nepal, an experimental video web project uses IBM Watson (the artificial intelligence program that won Jeopardy) and Google voice recognition to allow the public to ask questions to trans activist Bhumika Shrestha.
In the US, backlash against the state of North Carolina continues over anti-LGBT House Bill 2. A collection of long-term major investors with assets totaling $2.1 trillion wrote an open letter asking the state to repeal HB2: "As long-term investors, we can't sit idly by as HB2 undermines fundamental human rights at our expense." Meanwhile, neighboring state of Virginia launched a new campaign to draw business and tourism away from NC as they are "thrilled" to offer resources for the LGBT community.
Sports and Culture: In Asia, LGBTI athletes participated in the 15th annual Straits Games (TSG) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For the first time, the games were recognized and sponsored by international sports and cultural group The Federation of Gay Games.
Brian Anderson—professional skateboarder, 'Skater of the Year' (1999), and winner of Germany's World Cup of Skateboarding (1999)—revealed his sexuality in a new documentary in which he talks about his struggle to accept himself and being 'totally scared' when he started in the 'macho world' of skateboarding.
Speaking at the grand opening of the US National Museum of African American History and Culture, President Obama emphasized the importance of unity between cultures across ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. The Museum features severalAfrican American LGBT artifacts.
From Mexico 84-year-old trans activist and winner of Spain's Transexualia Prize, Samantha Aurelia Vicenta Flores García spoke about her life, saying: “While most women my age are resigned to their fate,” she says, “I find myself with a lot to do.”
The book Queer Wars, by Dennis Altman of Latrobe University, explores how reactions to sexual and gender diversity have become more polarized even as awareness about LGBTQ issues continue to expand.
A new podcast out of Kenya discusses 'Queer Questions' with hosts Immah Reid and Anthony Oluouch. The two LGBTQ activists want to give the East African community the opportunity to ask questions anonymously and clear misunderstandings that lead to violence and discrimination.
Finally, check out this wild video from global non-profit Planting Peace who launched the Pride flag into orbit 21.1 miles above Earth and declared outer space LGBTQ friendly!