“There was a time in our history when we turned thousands of ordinary young men into criminals. And it was profoundly and unimaginably wrong."
~ Victorian State Premier, Daniel Andrews MP in a formal apology to Australians who suffered under the criminalization of homosexuality in the country.
From the UN: The 12th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) was celebrated on 17 May. In recognition of this year's theme of 'mental health and well-being' UN agencies released a joint statement that called for the end of pathologization of LGBT adults and children and noted that: 'branding them as ill based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression - has historically been, and continues to be, one of the root causes behind the human rights violations that they face.'
To mark IDAHOT, the UN Free & Equal campaign released a new music video 'Why We Fight' featuring LGBT activists and allies from around the world.
In a video message UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé remarked that LGBT people are often excluded, living 'in the shadows' without access to lifesaving health services. He stated that to reach the Sustainable Development Goals 'we must end discrimination in all its forms.' And UNAIDS Latin America and Caribbean regional director Dr. César Núñez used IDAHOT to emphasize how LGBT people in the region ‘remain degraded, discriminated against and excluded’ and are driven from seeking health services. Dr Núñez urged that ‘People must be held accountable for hate speech, acts of violence and discrimination.’
During the 72nd Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child both Nepal and the UK were separately questioned over the 'harmful practice' of 'medically unnecessary procedures' on intersex children.
The UN Committee Against Torture's recent evaluation of Tunisia called on the government to end criminalization of homosexuality and immediately ban the use of forced anal examinations against accused homosexuals.
The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released Out in the Open, the 'first global synthesis' of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity in educational settings.
As the UN prepares for the upcoming High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS, some statesraised objections to the participation of NGOs with links to LGBT people. In response UNAIDS released a strongly worded appeal calling 'for inclusion and full participation of civil society organizations.'
The Global Fund released a new Community Guide to the Global Fund's Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Strategy that highlights the Fund's strategic actionsto address the impact of HIV on sexual minorities. And the World Bank hosted an event to explore the economic impact of discrimination against LGBTI people.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: As the Philippines launched its first 'AIDS hour' to commemorate those lost to HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Watch warned that the country's efforts cannot be successful as long as it continues to exclude men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.
From New Zealand the AIDS Epidemiology Group warned that diagnosis of HIV remains high in the country. And the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control saw a significant increase in syphilis rates across Europe, especially among men who have sex with men.
Out of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe came a unique report assessing HIV prevention and care initiatives aimed at gay men and other men who have sex with men. AIDS Alliance launched an online resource of these initiatives to further help these men living in hostile environments.
During a recent webinar, activists and researchers from across the world discussed the widespread usage of PrEP for HIV prevention despite the lack of formally available channels of the medication. Meanwhile the National Health Service (NHS) of England reconfirmed it will not provide PrEP despite protests from leading HIV organizations.
US researchers found that bisexual Americans routinely face biphobia and have statistically poorer health than gay or straight people. And in recognition of the discrimination trans and gender diverse people routinely face in health care, Australia's Victorian AIDS Council launched Equinox, the country's first peer-led health service.
Denmark announced it will no longer classify being transgender as a mental illness—the first country to depathologize transgender people.
Portugal's Parliament voted to extend access to fertility treatments to all women—previously the treatment was restricted to heterosexual couples.
From the World of Politics: The Central Pacific island nation Nauru and the Republic of Seychelles— the 115-island country off the coast of East Africa—both updated their criminal codes to decriminalize same-sex sexual activity.
Australian Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews made a formal apology during parliamentary session to those convicted of homosexuality—decriminalized in 1981—and will introduce legal reforms to expunge criminal convictions. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced the government will expunge the records of the more than 50,000 men convicted of homosexual acts—decriminalized in 1969—and will offer compensation to those convicted.
The UK announced it has earmarked 9% of its human rights budget to aid LGBTI people around the world.
Norway's Minister of Health proposed new legislation to allow transgender people to legally change gender without undergoing medical treatment. The Congress of Bolivia approved a new law giving trans people the right to legally change their gender with a psychological review. And Canada introduced progressive legislation to protect transgender people that, if passed, prevents discrimination based on gender expression or identity and updates the criminal code to protect trans people from hate speech and violence.
In the US, the Obama administration is pushing pro-transgender rights initiatives—from issuing nation-wide guidance on rights of transgender students to prohibiting discrimination of transgender patients in health care. Meanwhile the US House of Representatives held a "chaotic" vote that resulted in approval of legislation to permitdiscrimination of LGBT federal workers and left many lawmakers openly booing and yelling "Shame!"
The European Union released a statement that condemned anti-LGBTI legislation in US states and declared that these laws violate international human rights laws.
In the UK, Hannah Blythyn was elected to the Welsh Assembly, the first openly gay official to office. And in the Philippines, Geraldine Roman was elected to Congress, the first openly trans person elected to office.
The Politics of Union: A new survey in Mexico found that a majority of people believe in marriage equality—whereby same sex couples are permitted to marry and receive equal protections under the law.
The Italian Parliament voted to approve same-sex civil unions, although they stopped short of extending adoption rights to couples.
Let the Courts Decide: The US state of North Carolina kicked off a round of lawsuits by suing the federal government over transgender rights. The Justice Department countersued declaring that the state law violates federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. Days later the Obama administration released federal guidelines clarifying that transgender rights are protected within the Title IX Education Act. In response, 11 states have sued the government to stop the expansion of transgender student rights.
The Australian state Queensland has drafted an amendment to strike the 'Homosexual Advance Defence' —or 'gay panic defence' through which one claims temporary insanity caused by a homosexual sexual advance—from the criminal code.
Fear and Loathing: In Syria another man accused of homosexuality was executed—thrown from a building and stoned to death while residents, including small children, stood witness. Days later a 15 year old boy was also accused of homosexuality and stoned to death.
In the US state of Idaho a man was brutally beaten after responding to an online gay escort ad. The victim reported the attack and later died at the hospital. In Pakistan trans activist Alisha was taken to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, however disagreement over which ward she should be admitted to delayed care and Alisha passed away.
Nigerian police arrested six men suspected of homosexuality and released their names and addresses to the media. The charge carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison. And Canadian police are investigating the arson of the country's main gender affirmation surgery clinic as a hate crime.
From the Philippines author Laurel Fantauzzo described the daily struggle and fear she faces when deciding whether to be public about her homosexuality.
In the Name of Religion: The Coalition for the Family, an organization of the Romanian Orthodox Church, says it has collected 3 million signatures to block same-sex unions.
Protesting the United Methodist Church policy that bans LGBT people from serving in the church, over 100 clergy released a statement 'coming out' as LGBT and over 5,000 signed a petition calling for reforms.
The South African Anglican Church revoked the license of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's daughter the Reverend Mpho Tutu-Van Furth due to her recent marriage to her wife—Professor Marceline Van Furth. She will retain the ability to practice within the US Episcopal Church.
Meanwhile the Church of Scotland's general assembly voted to allow ministers to enter into marriage with their same-sex partners.
In an interview the Pope said that Catholic government officials should have the 'freedom of conscience' to discriminate against same-sex marriages. And in Australia the Catholic Church has refused to revise a booklet for school children titled 'Don't mess with marriage' that—according to complaints—contains 'insulting, offensive, and humiliating' language towards gay people.
Winds of Change: The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) released its latest edition of the Rainbow Index, a multifactor evaluation of the best and worst places to be gay in Europe. Since last year's Index, Malta and Belgium overtook the UK for the best ranking—with Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan retaining the lowest ranking.
The East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative released several new reports on the situation faced by LGBT and sex workers in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.
The Human Dignity Trust published a new report with specific focus on the impact of criminalization of lesbian and bisexual women around the world. And the Harvard Kennedy School published the 6th edition of LGBTQ Policy Journal with a focus on global and local policy issues affecting trans people.
South African LGBTI community members gathered in the Limpopo province to protest recent hate crimes and violence. In Uganda the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum held a workshop to educate LGBTI and sex worker organizations about taking advantage of the protections afforded in the new 'NGO Act 2016'.
Led by the efforts of Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology Hiroshi Hase, local LGBT activists are hoping that hosting the 2020 Olympic games will put a spotlight on LGBT rights issues in the country.
From Kyrgyzstan, journalist Andrew North explores how the country's ties with Russia influenced a rising tide of homophobic violence.
And from Australia, bloggers express the frustration over the biphobia faced by many bisexuals even during events like International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT).
On the March: Author Mark Gevisser explored the highly nuanced and dangerous situation of gay Ugandans seeking asylum in Kenya, where help from foreigners can be a double-edged sword.
Daughter of president Raúl Castro, MP Mariela Castro led Cuba's largest ever Pride event marching through Havana. In Brazil hundreds of thousands marched in possibly the world's largest Pride parade ever. And in South Africa around 500 people marched through Langa, Cape Town for 'Khumbulani Pride'—khumbulani meaning 'remember' in Xhosa—to honor LGBTI people who have lost their lives to violence.
In Lebanon activists supporting the LGBT community protested for the first time in 4 years. They staged a sit-in outside the morality police headquarters, called for an end to criminalization of 'relations against nature' and demanded the release of 4 trans women.
School Days: Echoing the themes of UNESCO's global report on violence against LGBT students, Human Rights Watch released a new report on the 'epidemic' levels of LGBT bullying in Japanese schools.
In Australia, documentary film producers of banned film Gayby Baby distributed a tool-kit to encourage inclusive classrooms and support diverse families.
Students in the UK are petitioning for housing exclusive to LGBT students to end 'victimisation' from straight roommates.
In the US, where trans student rights have become a divisive issue, a federally funded school in Wisconsin told parents they will discipline or expel gay and trans students for 'an outwardly sinful lifestyle'. Meanwhile in China two male college students went viral and risked expulsion by declaring their love in a public demonstration on campus.
Business and Technology: Openly gay Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss Apple's expansion in the country—a move that had some calling attention to India's ongoing criminalization of homosexuality.
Heralded video game 'Fragments of Him' —a game about coping with death told through the sudden passing of a bisexual man—is now available to the public.
YouTube bowed to Kenyan censors by adding a warning to 'Same Love,' a music video supporting equality that the Kenyan board claimed 'promotes' homosexuality. Meanwhile, the Union des étudiants juifs de France—Union of French Jewish Students—announced plans for legal action against YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook over hate speech and bullying, accusing the social media sites for taking more action against female nudity than racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or violence inciting speech.
And from China LGBTI activist Xiaogang Wei has run webcast 'Queer Comrades' for nearly a decade, giving a voice to the local queer community despite stringent Chinese censors.
Sports and Culture: In the US the National Football League upheld its promise to keep the Superbowl in states without anti-LGBT legislation through 2021—the announcement included awarding the 2019 event to Georgia following the governor's veto of a local 'religious liberty' bill.
South Africa's first gay rugby club is recruiting new members with a provocative campaign that pairs homophobic slurs with pictures of players defying stereotypes.
From Europe author Fiona Zublin highlights the expanding segment of YA fiction featuring intersex protagonists.
In China the Dutch embassy hosted China's 'First LGBT Stamp Design Competition'. Traditional paper-cut artist Xiyadie won with his stamps honoring 'peace, harmony, and happiness to LGBT people everywhere.'
Check out this video by the Asian Pride Project showcasing LGBT Muslims and their allies, family, and friends. And this short video from Egypt explains how LGBTQ+ people are targeted by officials and victimized by local legislation.
And finally, you can check out and vote now for Bangladeshi artist Gazi Nafis Ahmed—shortlisted for the Prix Levallois Award for his “Inner Face” photographic series, addressing human rights of LGBT community in Bangladesh.