“[The Minister’s] statement flies in the face of the constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association – and people are afraid to speak up. But we must remember that Tanzania would never have become independent were it not for the voices and actions of people who were opposed to the government at the time.”
~ Neela Ghoshal, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch on the crackdown against LGBT and other rights organizations
From the UN: UNAIDS released a new report that shows more than half of all people living with HIV have access to HIV treatment. Additionally, AIDS-related deaths have continued to fall—from a peak of 1.9 million fatalities in 2005 to 1 million in 2016. The report examines the progress made by countries to reach the 90-90-90 targets of 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV are accessing sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people accessing antiretroviral therapy are virally suppressed.
At the 9th International Conference on HIV Science, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador Kenneth Cole announced the formation of “End AIDS Coalition”—a collaboration of AIDS experts, policy makers, clinicians, faith leaders, businesses, activists, and humanitarians working to end the epidemic by 2030. Speaking at the launch, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said, “We cannot lose our sense of urgency. Without collaboration and investment in innovation, we will never be able to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
The UNDP initiative Being LGBT Asia has released new research that analyzes how news media represents issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression and sex characteristics are portrayed in Thailand. The research calls for a “code of conduct” to be developed for reporting on these issues.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: At the 9th International Conference on HIV Science, a special symposium was held with civil society to discuss the needs of "key populations" in HIV research. Participants crafted a declaration which echoes the refrain “Nothing for us without us”.
Also at the conference, researchers presented results from the study "Opposites Attract" that back up last year's landmark PARTNERS study finding that an HIV-positive person who is on effective treatment will not pass on the virus through sex with their partner.
Chinese advocates say that more gay and bisexual men are traveling to Thailand to obtain PrEP to prevent HIV infection. The drug has been approved by China’s FDA for HIV treatment, but has not been approved for prevention despite the WHO’s recent decision to add PrEP to the Essential Medicines List.
From Kenya, a new study raises ethical questions while evaluating the willingness of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in Kenya to participate in HIV prevention research. Meanwhile, a new Lebanon study evaluated the spread of HIV among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in Beirut.
As part of its MSM Implementation Toolkit, MSMGF launched a digital library of video lectures providing guidance on gay and bisexual men's health.
Both the UK and Canada are addressing national guidelines for health screenings for transgender people, especially breast and cervical cancer.
From the World of Politics: In Puerto Rico, Governor Ricardo Rossello announced a new government advisory board to “champion LGBT issues”. In Japan, five openly gay or trans government officials announced a new league of nearly 80 district and municipal assembly members to protect LGBT people through local initiatives.
President Trump sparked outrage when he tweeted a statement banning transgender people from serving "in any capacity" in the US military. The move came two weeks after the Republican-led House upheld a requirement that the military health system should cover service members' medical treatments related to gender transition. The White House was unable to clarify what would happen to current trans service members—estimated to be between 6,600 and 15,000 people.
The US state of Texas angered families and activists with two new laws barring trans people from using facilities that correspond with their gender identity. Although over 200 activists, 15 corporations, and the presiding officers of the Episcopal Church spoke against the bills, the Texas Senate passed the legislation. The bills must now be passed by the Texas House, though Republican speaker Joe Straus has said: “I’m disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”
The Israeli Justice Ministry responded to a High Court petition asking that common-law couples and same-sex couples be allowed to adopt children. Although the government determined that heterosexual unmarried couples will be allowed to adopt, same-sex couples remain banned. Thousands protested the ruling in Tel Aviv.
The Politics of Union: The Parliament of Malta voted to approve the Marriage Equality Bill, legalizing same-sex marriage and making several laws gender neutral by replacing husband, wife, mother, and father with spouse and parent.
Following Taiwan’s high court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage, Members of the Gender Equality Committee of the Executive Yuan declared that members of the LGBTQ community should be involved in drafting the new legislation.
In Kosovo, activists are looking for same-sex couples willing to challenge the territory’s constitution which presents contradictory definitions of marriage. Although Article 37 states “everyone” has the right to marry, Article 14 specifies marriage must be between persons of different sexes.
Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, several LGBT support groups have launched a campaign “We Are Fair” (“Jsme fér” in Czech) to encourage the public to discuss the possibility of marriage equality.
The US Texas State Supreme Court unanimously voted that the government does not have to provide married LGBT employees with the same spousal benefits as heterosexual employees. Meanwhile, the UK Supreme Court ruled that married gay couples are entitled to equal pension rights.
Let the Courts Decide: The Supreme Court of India is considering if individual privacy is a constitutional right. The case centers on a petition against Aadhaar—the national identity card—which, critics say, link too much personal information. Among other far-reaching implications, Justice DY Chandrachud stated that if privacy is a fundamental right, the court decision to uphold Section 377 criminalizing homosexuality would “fall”. Meanwhile, writing for Hindustan Times, Saanya Mansharamani argued that Section 377 does not reflect all of Indian society.
A gay Chinese man diagnosed with ‘sexual preference disorder’ won damages against the mental hospital that held him against his will. Although the court did not make a statement on conversion therapy, it fined and ordered the hospital to issue a public apology. In 2014, a Beijing court issued a similar judgment in favor of a gay man who sued a clinic and the internet search engine Baidu for false advertising claims that being gay was ‘curable’.
Meanwhile, in the US, the governor of Rhode Island announced she had signed a new ban on conversion therapy—becoming the 10th state to outlaw the practice. The law comes nearly two years after the first US consumer-fraud court case against conversion therapy in the US.
The US Justice Department filed an amicus brief in a Court of Appeals stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act cannot be used to protect LGBT employees. Elsewhere, LGBT civil rights group Lambda Legal, announced they have appealed to the Supreme Court to hear the workplace discrimination case of a lesbian fired in the state of Georgia.
In Canada, a baby was issued the first health card with the gender marked “unknown”. The child’s non-binary trans parent—meaning they do not identify as either male or female—is one of eight trans and intersex people who have applied to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal to rule that birth certificates may also be issued without gender.
In the Name of Religion: The Church of England’s general synod voted overwhelmingly to affirm trans people in parish churches, including offering people a special liturgy to mark gender transition. Additionally, the synod voted to denounce “conversion therapy”.
In the UK, a group of key Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, and Jewish faith leaders sent an open letter congratulating the government for passing the Children and School Work Act 2017, which requires that relationship and sex education (RSE) be taught in all UK schools. The letter also urges the Education Secretary to ensure that RSE is inclusive of LGBT issues and promote acceptance.
Some African archbishops have said they will boycott the upcoming international summit of Anglican leaders due to Archbishop Justin Welby’s liberal approach to same-sex marriage.
A new book called “Cross-National Public Opinion About Homosexuality: Examining Attitudes Across the Globe” examines how the intricate play of religion, culture, economic development and political system impacts tolerance for homosexuality.
Fear and Loathing: Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that officials in Chechnya have resumed the violent assault on gay and bisexual men. The paper also released the identities of the twenty-seven 18 to 33-year-old men who are believed to have been killed so far.
In Indonesia, authorities in the Aceh province have suggested that police floggings will no longer be held publically after international outcry over a viral video of the flogging of men accused of homosexuality. Local media has reported that Acehnese leaders are concerned the videos make the province unappealing for investors.
In Tanzania, officials continue to target the LGBT community as Tanzania’s Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba announced that any organization campaigning for gay rights would be deregistered, any Tanzanian national involved would be arrested, and any foreigner involved would be immediately deported.
Twenty-two national and international organizations have signed a joint statement calling on the government of Tanzania to “end its hostile rhetoric toward civil society groups and threats to obstruct their work”.
Journalist Ryan Roschke explored the epidemic of violence against trans women of color in the US, including at least 15 murders in 2017 although that number could be far higher as many hate crimes go unreported. From Brazil, journalist Tyler Strobl struggled to reconcile the advancements in LGBT rights with the country’s high violence statistics—in 2016 at least 331 LGBT Brazilians were murdered.
Winds of Change: In China, the organization PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) organizes discrete events and supports a national hotline through which callers can reach parents of LGBT children for support and information.
In Hong Kong, after a 25-year-old transgender woman committed suicide at the Tai Wai Station, over 1,000 individuals and several LGBTQ support groups signed a petition calling on the government to enact legislation to ban discrimination against diverse gender identities. It also calls upon the media and individuals to treat people with privacy and respect to live with dignity.
From India, writer and transgender woman Zainab Patel reflected on the changing face of parenthood and the place for hijra and transgender people in Indian society. From the US, author and trans activist Julia Serano discussed the roots of the argument that “trans women are not women” and the debate among some over whether trans women should be included in the feminist movement.
On the March: Residents of Guadalajara, Mexico protested a transphobic bus by wrapping it in a giant rainbow flag. Identical orange buses proclaiming transphobic messages and funded by anti-LGBT groups have caused protests in Spain, Chile, and the US.
Chinese LGBT group Speak Out announced it will suspend its LGBT conference indefinitely after multiple venues repeatedly canceled the organization’s bookings with no explanation.
In Serbia, LGBT community members joined protests organized by Women Against Violence Network and Women in Black to fight “the escalating violence against women” in the country.
In Turkey, the leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu led a 25-day “March for Justice”. Alderwoman Sedef Çakmak discussed how the march impacts the LGBTI movement and the increasing role of Turkish LGBTI in policy development.
South Korea held a record-setting Pride with an estimated 85,000 LGBT and supporters in central Seoul. Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian nation Timor-Leste held its first ever Pride with an estimated 500-1,000 people attending the week long event.
School Days: rom Brazil, Maria Rehder, project coordinator of the Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education, posted a video explaining why it is important to keep gender identity and sexual orientation issues in the public educational curriculum.
From China, the Communist Youth League condemned officials for censoring content related to homosexuality as “abnormal sexual behavior” in a post on China’s social media site Weibo. The post has gone viral with over 17000 comments and 11000 shares.
And from the US, psychiatrist Laura Erickson-Schroth discussed five “myths” about trans kids that schools and other educators must “unlearn” to combat misinformation, discrimination, and to provide a safe environment for learning.
Sports and Culture: Television broadcast company Multichoice Uganda followed Kenya’s lead to ban six so-called “pro gay” children’s shows that are “not fit for young viewers” including popular Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network programs.
In Japan, Tokai Television Broadcasting released a series of commercials that explore the lives of LGBT Japanese and Tokyo-based publisher Otsuki Shoten Co. published children's books on LGBT issues to "to deepen understanding about sexual minorities".
From South Africa, MambaOnline selected its favorite new local queer themed books.
The winner of TV competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sasha Velour, is using her newfound celebrity to promote queer theory and the nuances of gender and performance art.
Writer and activist Eliel Cruz-Lopez used Twitter to discuss why bisexuals feel the need to identify as “gay” to avoid biphobia. Writer and activist Lauren Harsh described what it’s like to be autistic and a lesbian.
Finally, check out this global collection of "favorite LGBT animals" that showcase same-sex mates known to bond and raise children together!