"None of us are free until all of us are free. And make no mistake about it! The ruling today was just the first step. It continues. The struggle continues."
~ Senior Counselor Lisa Shoman who represented plaintiff Caleb Orozco in his complaint that the law criminalizing homosexuality in Belize was unconstitutional. In a landmark ruling, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin struck down the law.
From the UN: The UN Human Rights Council began evaluating candidates for the new independent expert to monitor human rights violations against LGBTI people. A five-member Consultative Group announced three top candidates. However, the Egyptian ambassador to the group refused to participate and released a statement reiterating that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will not recognize or cooperate with the new expert.
In Namibia representatives of the UN Human Rights Committee, government ministers, and civil society members participated in a dialogue regarding the observations made by the Human Rights Council following Namibia's periodic review. UN representatives urged the government to consider decriminalizing homosexuality and to act on the issue of 'corrective rape' perpetrated on LGBT people.
UNDP and the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions published the manual 'Promoting and Protecting Human Rights in relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics' that provides definitions, case studies, and other materials as guidance for National Human Rights Institutions.
A newly published study in the Lancet is further fueling the push at the WHO todeclassify 'transgender identity' as a mental disorder. The reclassification, due for approval in 2018, is contentious as different cultures and languages wrestle with the best way to serve the needs of transgender individuals. For some, classifying trans identity as an illness is beneficial—as in Japan, where a diagnosis is the only path to legal rights.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: A new Cambodian study found that trans women have'alarmingly' high rates of HIV and very poor access to care as local NGOs don't specifically reach out to them. And in China, HIV-positive gay men are often unable to find resources or counseling services and many turn to online forums for support.
A new UK report found that cases of syphilis increased by 163% in London over the last five years. Health officials warn that gay men are disproportionately affected, accounting for 90% of new diagnoses in 2015.
A new study of sub-Saharan Africa evaluated how to reach and provide HIV prevention services to men who have sex with men in Lesotho, Swaziland, and Malawi. The study concluded that respondent-driven sampling is a 'promising method' to identify gaps in information and services in order to reach this underserved community.
Research from Canada revealed that lesbian, gay, and bi youth are more likely to have eating disorders than their heterosexual counterparts. And a new study from the US CDC found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens have significantly higher prevalence of rape, sexual assault, and attempted suicide than heterosexual teens.
From the World of Politics: Colombianpresident Juan Manuel Santos canceled a new anti-bullying program after Catholic bishops led a massive protest against an education booklet on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Parliament of South Australia passed an amendment to revise all legislation to ensure that laws do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status. And in Queensland, Australia new legislation will allow single people and same-sex couples to adopt children.
Tanzanian Justice Minister Harrison Mwakyembe continued the country's recent crackdown on LGBT people, announcing that the government will revoke the registration of any charity or NGO that 'supports homosexuality.'
According to a new report from Human Rights Watch, Indonesian government officials were responsible for sanctioning violence
against LGBT people through their ongoing discriminatory rhetoric and anti-LGBT policies.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced 'progress' on human rights of LGBTI people, noting in particular legislative changes adopted in 2016 in Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and Argentina.
Let the Courts Decide: In a landmark decision, th Belize High Court decriminalized homosexuality with its ruling that Section 53 of the criminal code is unconstitutional. The Belize Government announced it will not appeal, making the country the first in the Caribbean region to remove colonial-era sodomy laws.
Meanwhile, a legal effort is underway i Indonesia's Constitutional Court to criminalize sexual activity between consenting same-sex partners.
The High Court of England ruled that the National Health Service should fund PrEP drugs, saying that health officials had "erred" in declaring it was not the responsibility of the NHS.
A Ukraine court ruled to allow two transgender individuals to change gender in all legal documentation without undergoing sterilization. Although the ruling will not change existing regulations, advocates are hopeful that it may open the door for future petitioners.
A High Court in Colombia ruled that a transgender student may wear the uniform matching their gender identity.
The US District Court of Texas issued a nationwide injunction allowing states to prevent trans students from using their chosen bathroom without repercussion from the federal government. US states continue to be split on the rights of individuals to use public bathrooms—18 states ban discrimination based on gender identity, 4 states restrict access, and another 18 states are considering legislation.
A US Court of Appeal denied a bisexual Jamaican man asylum despite the violence he has suffered due to his sexuality. In her ruling, the judge concluded the man was not bisexual because of his relationships with women.
The Politics of Union: As a spokesperson for Australian Prime Minister Turnbull announced another delay in holding the plebiscite on same-sex marriage, professor of human rights law Paula Gerber examined the negativeimpact that debating marriage equality is having on the region.
Marriage equality has come to Antarctica as the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office announced plans to bring the British Antarctic Territory in line with domestic UK legislation.
Fear and Loathing: Syrian refugee Mohammed Wissam Sankari was found beheaded and his body mutilated in Istanbul. Friends believe Sankari was targeted for being openly gay. Also in Istanbul, LGBT activist and trans woman named Hande Kader was raped and burned to death. Hundreds demonstrated in Taksim Square in her honor.
Reports came from Iraq that ISIS continues to execute men accused of homosexuality as four men were thrown from a building and then stoned to death in front of a crowd of onlookers.
In Brazil, reports of anti-LGBT violence continue to soar and, according to Transgender Europe, the country has the highest rate of crimes targeting gender-diverse persons.
Participants in a Russian LGBT Sports Federation weekend event near the city of Nizhny Novgorod were beaten and robbed at their campsite by a gang of unknown assailants.
Human Rights Watch released a report on the violence and discrimination faced by gender non-conforming and other LGBTI people in Sri Lanka. The report emphasized how police harassment and arbitrary detention prevents victims from reporting crimes.
And the New York Times examines the ongoing crackdown on LGBT people in Egypt that has led to over 250 arrests and forced the community into hiding.
In the Name of Religion: In Malawi, organization MANERELA+—an interfaith network of religious leaders living or affected by HIV—hosted a regional dialogue with leaders, pastors, and sheiks and openly practicing LGBTI people.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa announced that the Church will consider expanding provisions for LGBT people, including blessing civil unions and allowing LGBT clergy in civil unions to minister.
A survey of US Protestant pastors found that different denominations have vastly differing opinions of how LGBT people should participate in the church. Meanwhile, US members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints continue to participate in'mass resignations' following the 2015 ruling that excommunicated married gay couples and their children.
Winds of Change: The National Security Minister of Malta announced that people will now be assigned to the Corradino Correctional Facility based on the gender on their identity cards, passports, or birth certificates—a move to protect trans, gender variant, and intersex prisoners.
The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice released a new report oninternational Intersex human rights issues that includes terminology, common questions, and human rights and legal issues.
In Myanmar—where homosexuality remains criminalized—advocates are lobbying to include transgender women in the Prevention of Violence Against Women legislation. And in Montenegro group Queer Montenegro has formed a new organization 'KvirA' to support the specific needs of women in the community.
Rainbow Mirrors, an LGBTI group in Uganda, has begun bottling wine as an income generating activity. Group executive director Abdul Jamal says the wine provides an alternative revenue source to members whose only other option is sex work.
In Qatar—where homosexuality is penalized with up to 3 years in prison—an op-ed from a young man on the challenges of being gay sparked fierce backlash on Twitter. Publisher Doha News has since amended the essay with an editor's note reaffirming that they do not 'advocate breaking the law.'
And Dede Oetomo, th founder of the first LGBT organization in Indonesia, continues to work for equal rights despite the current push to criminalize homosexuality in the country.
On the March: Ugandan police raided a beauty pageant on the third night of Uganda's LGBTI Pride. Attendees say police locked the nightclub gates to detain the crowd then assaulted, humiliated, and arrested more than 16 people.
Activists in Odessa, Ukraine convinced authorities t reconsider a last-minute ban that would have canceled the city's first LGBTQ Pride march.
In Nepal, nearly a thousand supporters marched for LGBT equality during Kathmandu's annual Gai Jatra festival.
In Denmark, Princess Marie made history as th first royal to march in Copenhagen Pride. She joined Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and the Danish AIDS Foundation.
After a gay couple in London were reprimanded by security for holding hands in a supermarket, activists organized 'Big Gay Kiss'—a protest that filled the store with kissing same-sex couples.
School Days: In Australia, trans teenagers must seek approval from the Family Court system before starting hormone treatment to match their identifying gender. Law professor Fiona Kelly of La Trobe University has published a new guide to help familie navigate the complicated and expensive process.
In the US, Jewish summer camps are struggling with balancing the gendered language of Hebrew with acceptance of trans kids. Habonim Dror, which operates seven North American camps, is the first to introduce gender-neutral form of Hebrew. Meanwhile, author Leah Lax shared the stories of Hasidic gay and trans kids growing up i ultra-orthodox Jewish communities.
In the wake of Ireland's marriage equality referendum, Irish youth group 'BeLonG To' urges the community to fight on-going homophobia and bullying.
The Ministry of Justice and Equality in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt began implementing the first part of its Action Plan to improve acceptance of LGBTI people by distributing 2,00 brochures to primary schools.
In a new survey th Ministry for Families and Youth in Austria found that although 48.5% of respondents personally felt positive about same-sex couples parenting children, 68.5% believed that society at large does not accept same-sex parents.
The African Queer Youth Initiative and Advocates for Youth published the results of their survey on the needs, challenges, and priorities o young LGBTIQ Africans. They are denied access to comprehensive sexuality education, access to information on sexual health and life-saving services.
And a new US survey found that young adults overwhelmingly support LGBT rights. The survey also showed a increase of support for LGBT among young Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Latinos.
Business and Technology: A new Japanese think tank was launched to cater to companies seeking to reach sexual minorities an expand into the LGBT market.
Although the US has yet to pass workplace LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, law firms ar preparing for a spike in lawsuits as LGBT and other gender non-conforming peopl struggle to find work.
Canadian Blood Services came under fire for advertising for blood donations on gay hookup app Grind despite the national ban on donations from sexually active gay men.
Two new studies from Kenya and South Africa analyzed how marginalized communities including LGBTQ people use technology and are impacted by transparency and privacy issues.
Meanwhile, the Associate Press reported that over the past year data dumps by WikiLeaks hav revealed sensitive information of private Saudi Arabians, including medical data and HIV status, rape victims, and names of people arrested for being gay.
During the Rio Olympics, news site the Daily Beast came under fire for an article written by a straight reporter who used the Grindr app to interview gay Olympians. After many readers—including out Olympic swimmer Amini Fonua—accused the author of entrapment and outing athletes from countries with criminalizing laws, the site apologized and deleted the article.
Sports and Culture: Th Rio Summer Olympics had a record 53 publicly out gay, lesbian, and bisexual athletes, 25 of whom won medals, including 10 gold. During the games, Nike revealed a new ad campaign featuring Chris Mosier, the first trans duathlete to qualify for the US National team.
Athletes with hyperandrogenism—a medical condition causing an excess of testosterone—were cleared to participate in the Rio Games, yet debate has still followed Indian sprinter Dutee Chand and South Africa’s gold medallist Caster Semenya fo having an 'unfair advantage.' Professor Silvia Camporesi explores why they have been scrutinized when over 200 other genetic variations are not despite providing advantages in elite sports.
After the games, Semenya was honored as South Africa’s Athlete of the Year, an award she dedicate "to my haters.”
Evita, Israel's oldest, largest, and only explicitly gay bar, closed its doors after 12 years.
South Africa broadcasters hav increasingly restricted LGBT content on mainstream media. PrideTV, a new subscription streaming service for TV and movies, hopes to fill the gap.
In his new series, South African photographer Pieter Hugo captured th 'Gully Queens' of Jamaica—the community of gay men who live in the city's storm drains.
In Shanghai, China the first eve Mr Gay China was crowned after a four-week competition. The event was shut down in 2010, but organizers worked this year to avoid censure by focusing on values of “being healthy, positive and energetic.”
And finally, check out the trailer for Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things, documentary on LGBT Inuit people featured at The Vancouver Queer Film Festival in Canada.