‘We can’t have one group benefitting while another is suffering. We [The Ministry] do not share the view that the rights of citizens are good for one but not the others.’
~ Guyana Minister of Social Protection, Hon. Volda Lawrence
From the UN: The UN joined people across the world to celebrate Zero Discrimination Day with the theme 'Stand Out,' encouraging everyone to stand for fair and just societies. Voicing his support, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted, “When the most marginalized and vulnerable face discrimination and abuse, all of us are diminished.” Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé urged for the end of stigma and discrimination, adding "By celebrating diversity, we can transform the future.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez reported that 'a clear link exists' between criminalization of LGBT people and hate crimes, police abuse, and stigmatization. Méndez warned that these laws foster a climate in which violence is 'condoned.'
UNAIDS issued a call to donors and governments to increase availability of male and female condoms to 20 billion per year by 2020.
UN organizations in Peru and local civil society organizations supported the campaign to reduce discrimination of transgender women through a photo exhibit the highlights their lives, as well as their daily struggles and joys within the community.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: The Czech Republic's public health department filedcriminal charges against 30 gay HIV positive men diagnosed with an additional sexually transmitted infection. Officials claim the men must be having condomless sex, violating national criminal code for HIV+ people.
In Australia a transgender sex worker was arrested after a client accused her of transmitting HIV.
Namibia's Minister of Health and Social Services called for condoms to be distributed in prisons to aid HIV prevention. However the head of Namibia's largest prison says condoms cannot be distributed because they would 'encourage' same sex activity which is illegal.
Also from Namibia, advocates for sex workers and LGBTI people warn that, though undocumented, HIV rates are high among the community due to discrimination in health services.
In the US a new study on LGBT youth who engage in 'survival sex' for money or shelter reports that they often forgo using condoms to earn more.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned that black and Latino gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are in a public health crisis—if current trends continue half of all black MSM and a quarter of Latino MSM will be diagnosed with HIV. And also from the US, new comprehensive research examines the high rates of HIV among transgender people.
From the World of Politics: The Prime Minister of Malta spoke out against gay 'conversion' therapy and noted he would 'never accept a situation where any Maltese was called sick or a pedophile because of their sexual orientation.' Meanwhile, in Brazil, the Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Social Assistance and Human Rights was fired after he spoke in favor of 'gay cure' therapies.
Israel's parliament—the Knesset—voted against multiple gay rights bills, including a ban on conversion therapy and a civil union bill, only a day after the country's first LGBT Rights Day.
The Portuguese Parliament voted to grant same sex couples adoption rights.
In the US, the governor of North Carolina promised 'immediate' action against a regional nondiscrimination bill. The governor's response is just the latest in a rash of anti-LGBT legislation as 16 states debate 44 anti-transgender bills and 32 states consider 175 anti-LGBT bills.
During Turkey's Grand National Assembly Commision on Equal Opportunity, some Members of Parliament proposed that protection of sexual orientation and gender identity should be included in a new national human rights foundation.
Amnesty International released their annual report documenting human rights violations and governments that 'brazenly' break international law. The report highlights ongoing discrimination and violence against LGBTI people across the globe.
The Politics of Union: The Italian senate passed a civil union bill, after months of protest. Despite the success, many activists expressed disappointment over the bill's final text. Elsewhere, the Finnish Parliament finalized legislation allowing same-sex marriages.
And in Australia the Australian Christian Lobby called for a 'temporary' stop on anti-discrimination laws that they claim prevent the lobby from campaigning against same-sex marriage.
Let the Courts Decide: In Malawi the Mzuzu high court ruled that police must continue to arrest people who engage in same sex activity until Parliament revises the penal code, despite former president Joyce Banda's moratorium on anti-gay laws.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Croatia for discriminating against same-sex couples after state authorities refused to issue residency permits that are given to heterosexual couples.
In Tunisia, a trial court ruled against the government and in favor of LGBT rights group 'SHAMS' allowing the group to resume activity organizing against criminalization laws.
A court in Hungary convicted two men of a hate crime after they attacked gay Brazilian students studying in Budapest. Advocate Tamás Dombos noted that the case is representative of the violence 'LGBTQI people face in their everyday life.'
And in Canada, Kael McKenzie was sworn in as the nation's first self-identified transgender judge.
In the Name of Religion: The first ever historic meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill—head of the Russian Orthodox Church—concluded with a joint statement on many international issues, including 'concern' about the 'crisis' of the family and defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
From Cameroon activists issued a plea to the Pope to stop 'institutional hatred' and restrain local archbishops from using extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric.
Although the Anglican Communion recently punished the US branch for accepting marriage equality, the church also 'reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions' against gay people. Adriaan van Klinken examined how they could use sanctions to promote decriminalization. Meanwhile, South Africa's Anglican bishops publishednew guidelines explicitly accepting LGBT parishioners, including the approval of baptisms of children from same-sex unions.
From Indonesia a group of Islamic, Catholic, Buddhist, and Confucianist leaders issued a joint statement calling for a 'peaceful approach' to LGBT people before they could 'turn to faith to be cured.'
In Jamaica, religious groups filed with the Supreme Court to join against activist Maurice Tomilson's constitutional motion to end the 'anti-sodomy law', because they contend decriminalization will promote homosexuality.
Fear and Loathing: Out of Saudi Arabia, YouTube stars "Fe2aFala" posted a video calling for gay people to be 'executed in the most horrific ways.' Meanwhile on Twitter the hashtag “#اقترح_طريقة_لقتل_الشواذ” or 'suggest a way to kill gays' spread across Arabic-language social media.
From Indonesia the trending hashtag #TolakLGBT or 'reject LGBT' was reflective of a wave of anti-LGBT sentiment across the nation—from police shutting down pro-LGBT rallies, to the closure of a school for trans women, to statements from Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu that the gay community is a threat akin to 'a kind of modern warfare.'
After multiple trans men were murdered in Brazil, author Mitch Kellaway explored the complicated dynamics behind the violence.
Reports of violence surfaced across the world, including attacks on people who 'appeared' gay in Australia, Sweden, Russia and the US.
A new comprehensive report on US criminal justice and LGBT people found that LGBT people face higher rates of incarceration and abuse than other groups. The report notes that the community, especially low income and LGBT people of color 'pay an extraordinarily high price for the failures' of the system.
Winds of Change: The Ministry of Information of Cambodia announced it is working with local LGBT rights groups to develop a nationwide radio show that will promote LGBT community issues.
Nigerian author Ethan Regal explored the slowly shifting attitudes of local communities towards gay Nigerians. And journalist Naomi Larsson examined howawareness of intersex issues are changing from Chile to Uganda.
On the March: LGBT migrants and refugees have reported physical, verbal, and sexual abuse in shelters across Europe, including the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.
Over 1,300 refugees to Australia have been detained in Papua New Guinea in a center Amnesty International has described as resembling a 'prison and a military camp.' The center is particularly dangerous to LGBT asylum seekers as Papua New Guinea criminalizes homosexuality.
Author Jang Yeong-jin spoke about his experience fleeing North Korea and discovering his place in the LGBT movement of South Korea.
And in Peru activists attending a Valentine’s Day 'kiss in' for LGBT rights were confronted by the police who blasted them with water cannons and kerosene.
School Days: The UK's Secretary of State for Education rejected calls from MPs and from the National AIDS Trust to make sex education compulsory in all schools.
Also from the UK, primary school teacher Andrew Moffat, a gay man forced to resign his position after coming out who now teaches diversity at a predominately Muslim school, has published a guide for teaching children about the Equality Act.
In Australia Prime Minister Turnbull ordered an investigation into the government funded anti-bullying program for LGBTI students—'Safe Schools Coalition'—which conservative MPs accuse of sexualizing kids and forcing them to conform to a 'gay agenda.' Meanwhile, after the anti-gay 'Stop Safe Schools Coalition' group attempted to block an LGBTI youth formal, social media raised over $48,000 for Aussie teens to attend for free.
And as US schools struggle with questions of trans students in bathrooms, Turkish students from Boğaziçi University celebrated 'success' with their 'All Gender Bathroom Initiative.'
Business and Technology: Gay social media network Hornet announced its expansion into Southeast Asia with a new Health and Innovation Strategist to promote health and through 'fun, creative and sex-positive' campaigns. From Thailand, APCOM launched a new YouTube series "GayOk Bangkok" that dramatizes the lives of six men while emphasizing good sexual health.
Twitter announced a new 'Trust & Safety Council,' a joint initiative with 50 nonprofits to reduce bullying and create a 'safe space' online.
Japanese tech company Panasonic announced it will extend employee benefits to same-sex couples throughout its global workforce, despite a lack of recognition for couples in Japan. Also in Japan, the city of Nara has budgeted ¥2.08 million toeducate local businesses about 'LGBT culture' in an effort to improve service and attract LGBT tourism.
And from the US, trans activist Chelsea Manning urged the LGBT community to support Apple in its refusal to hack an iPhone. She warned that a 'backdoor' to the device threatens the safety and privacy of queer and trans people all over the world.
Sports and Culture: International businesses, athletes, and charities convened in London to discuss 'the intersection of sports and the LGBT experience.' Nike ended boxer Manny Pacquiao's contract after he stated that gay people are 'worse than animals.' Celebrity athletes from Magic Johnson to Ronda Rousey condemned his statements.
As the UK museums celebrated LGBT History Month, author Steve Slack examines what makes historical objects straight or gay. National Geographic photographer Robin Hammond's new photo series captures the secret lives of LGBT people all over the world 'Where Love is Illegal.'
Actress Mya Taylor is the first trans actress to win a major acting award, taking homeBest Supporting Actress from the 2016 Independent Spirit Awards for her work inTangerine. Indian film Aligarh is winning rave reviews, including the British Film Institute who called it the 'best film yet on the Indian gay male experience.'
Finally check out this spoken word piece "Our Love Is Valid" by Kenyan artist Grammo Suspect.