If God wanted just another heterosexual, God could have created one, but instead God created me fabulous. My sexual orientation is something I cannot change.”
~ Johann De Joodt, after his years spent engaged in ‘conversion therapy’ in Australia
From the UN: The UN Committee against Torture concluded its 56th session, which included remarks from intersex advocates of the 'cruel and inhuman treatment of intersex persons' from Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, and China. The Committee published strong recommendations, urging states to respect intersex persons autonomy and end unnecessary medical and surgical procedures.
The UN Development Program (UNDP) urged governments, civil society, research institutions, and others to support its initiative to address data gaps through a new LGBTI Inclusion Index.
The UNDP noted that proper data is very important to advocate for policy and programming to protect sexual and gender minorities.
The UN Free and Equal campaign released a new video, The Price of Exclusion, to mark International Human Rights Day. The video highlights the economic cost of LGBTI discrimination to an entire community. As noted in the UN presentation, more LGBTI groups are seeking inclusion in human and economic development programs, where advancement has been miniscule.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in connection with UNAIDS published a regional report on the 'extremely brutal and cruel' violence suffered by LGBTI persons. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the socio-economic factors that influence violence committed against LGBTI individuals and the flawed response from authorities to address those crimes.
And the UN Women office in Papua New Guinea awarded journalist Florence Jonduo for her work on the challenges transgender and male sex workers face. They also awarded journalist Abraham Avidiba for his piece on male sex workers challenges seeking healthcare.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: The Global Forum on MSM & HIV released the first results from the 2014 Global Men's Health and Rights Survey that highlight the continuing gap in access to HIV services among gay men and other men who have sex with men, emphasizing:
"The extent to which healthcare providers continue to shame, humiliate, or chastise men who have sex with men is the degree to which MSM will avoid prevention, care, and treatment services."
US sexual health center 'Magnet' was praised at the National HIV Prevention Conference for its PrEP health program. Magnet director Steve Gibson announced that this year there had been zero new HIV infections among program participants and that self-reported condom use had neither declined or increased.
Also from the US, a new study found that among HIV positive young gay and bisexual men, those who had detectable HIV (not virologically suppressed) were more likely to engage in unprotected sex.
Columnist Zach Stafford writes about the stigma and shame gay men face from within the community if they admit to taking PrEP, the often called 'party drug' that some say will cause the community 'lose our activist roots.'
Meanwhile, winners of Gates Foundation's 'Grand Challenge in Global Health' have announced a 'supercondom,' a non-latex condom enmeshed with a hydrogel that they say would decrease chance of HIV infection if the condom breaks.
Reports of rising syphilis rates worldwide continue with new data from New Zealand that show the infection rate has more than doubled in some areas. And in the US, Dr. Ina Park of the California STD/HIV Prevention Training Center warns syphilis is nearing 'epidemic' levels.
A new study found that older gay men face greater stress and depression over aging than their heterosexual peers. Researchers suggest that overvaluing youth within the gay community and internalized homophobia leads to 'Internalized Gay Agesim.'
And reporter Lane Sainty investigates the ongoing practice of religious based 'conversion therapy' in Australia.
From the World of Politics: In a report to the UN, the Singapore Government defended its decision to continue to criminalize same-sex intimacies between men, noting the issue is culturally sensitive and that the government must 'accommodate' segments of society that 'continue to hold strong views against homosexuality.'
In Guyana, former health minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy called on the Caribbean community to 'demonstrate leadership' and repeal laws that criminalize and discriminate against LGBT people.
And in Malawi, Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu has suspended anti-homosexual laws while the legislation is reviewed. UNAIDS commended authorities for dropping charges against two men who were arrested on sodomy charges.
In Venezuela, Tamara Adrián became the first transgender person elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly. Remarking that demands for equality and a better economy are closely linked, she also said, “My sole presence in the Parliament, it brings fresh air to an environment that was full of homophobia and transphobia."
Kanae Doi, Japan Director of Human Rights Watch, reviews the changing views of Japanese public and politicians on LGBT rights.
In Mexico, legislators voted to ban homosexual men and all foreigners from using surrogacy services in the country. In Australia, parliament passed the Adoption Amendment, allowing children to be legally adopted by their same-sex parents. And in Guyana, the director of the Childcare and Protection Agency has said that no law bars gay couples or single persons from fostering or adopting in Guyana.
Politics of Union: In Armenia, new amendments to the constitution have altered the text to limit freedom to marry to spouses of the opposite sex.
While in Slovenia, a public vote has decided to repeal the marriage equality law enacted by parliament earlier this year. Slovenia had been the only country in Central or Eastern Europe with equal marriage rights.
Let the Courts Decide: In the US, Andras Janos Vass has been convicted of human trafficking and running a 'gay sex slave ring,' bringing Hungarian men to the US and forcing them into sex work. Vass is the first person to be convicted of trafficking gay men under a new Florida law.
In Turkey, a trans woman was punished for filing a complaint against a doctor who discriminated against her. The court ruled that she will serve 14 months in prison for 'insulting' the doctor with her complaint.
Jamaica's main newspaper, the Jamaica Gleaner has come out in support of a lawsuit challenging the criminalization of sexual activity between men, noting that the 'colonial relic' law 'provides license for abuse' and is detrimental to Jamaican public health.
In Tunisia, six men accused of 'gay sex acts' have been sentenced to 3 years in prison, followed by 'banishment' from the city of Kairouan for an additional 5 years. Meanwhile a Tunisian appeals court has reduced the sentence of a young person accused of homosexual activity to time served after international outcry against the ruling. All the Tunisian men have been forced to undergo invasive anal exams in the course of their trials.
In the US, a gay couple is suing the federal government after they were denied a tax deduction for fertility issues--an allowance made for heterosexual couples--because the IRS stated being gay is a 'choice.'
A four year old in Switzerland is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights after the Swiss Supreme Court ruled his two fathers cannot both be registered as his father.
Fear and Loathing: A Kenyan man was attacked by 4 men, raped, and his house set on fire. The men accused the victim of spreading 'gay gospel' and 'demonic denomination,' echoing sentiments preached by local clergymen.
Television group Global's 16x9 has made available to watch online their investigation of the link between transphobia and suicide. In the UK, two transgender women have died while serving time in male prisons in the past month, highlighting the need for the Ministry of Justice to reevaluate how transgender prisoners are incarcerated.
In Vietnam, the Hanoi Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population is documenting the discrimination and violence, as well as loves and victories in an 'unflinching account' of Vietnam's hidden LGBT community.
In the Name of Religion: From Malaysia, an imam used twitter to anonymously speak out about being gay and Muslim. His posts claiming Islam accepts gay relationships as long as they are not consummated--as it forbids sex out of wedlock--sparked debate across the platform.
Although the UK's Archbishop of Canterbury told parliament that the Same-Sex Marriage Act would 'weaken' the idea of the 'family in its normal sense,' he says he would support his own children should they ask for his blessing in a same-sex relationship.
From the Dominican Republic, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of Santo Domingo has come under fire for repeatedly using homophobic slurs against openly gay ambassador James Brewster and his husband. US Senator Dick Durbin is seeking a response from Pope Francis over the incidents.
School Days: In the US, 27 religious colleges and universities have been granted the ability to discriminate against LGBT students and teachers based on the school's religious principles, allowing them to deny enrollment, expel, and fire individuals. At least 9 more schools have applied for this waiver to the Title IX anti-discrimination law.
The struggle for comprehensive sexuality education across the world continues as a new report from the CDC found that fewer than half US high schools follow the national guidelines for topics of sexual health education.
And from China the first ever Chinese Rhodes Scholars have been announced. One of the four young people to win the prestigious award is LGBT activist and Tsinghua University student Ren Naying.
Winds of Change: The US and UK based Arcus Foundation and US based NoVo Foundation have pledged a combined $20 million to support global transgender issues, including ending violence, expanding economic opportunities, and increasing the inclusion of transgender people in society.
The Human Dignity Trust has published a series of reports analyzing how criminalization of homosexuality damages a country's various development, public health, democratic and economic goals.
The Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality has released a 2-year study of Lebanese attitudes towards sexuality and gender identity. The largest in scope of its kind, the study provides strategic information for policy work in the region.
In Cambodia, LGBTI people and NGO CamAsean demonstrated outside of the FCC Mansion of Phnom Penh to bring attention to the need for economic opportunity and education for marginalized people.
Business and Technology: Over a year after drag queens and trans activists protested Facebook's 'real name' policy, the company has finally started rolling out a new policy to support any user whose name is sensitive, "especially for communities who are marginalized or face discrimination."
Gay dating app Hornet has collaborated with the Global Forum on MSM and HIV to 'modernize safe sex messages.' The app will prompt users to answer a short survey on sexual health and mark users with a blue ribbon for 'committing to sexual health' regardless of HIV status.
Two apps have recently come under fire for massive data breaches. Hzone, a dating app for HIV positive people, leaked HIV status and personal details of over 5,000 users and fitness app iFit exposed over 567,000 users health, address, and credit card details.
Sports and Culture: Entrepreneur Neo Sandja has started the world's first transgender bodybuilding competition in the US.
In the US, after pro basketball player Rajon Rondo hurled homophobic slurs at referee Bill Kennedy during an NBA game, Kennedy decided to come out publically to 'send a message to young people in sports that 'you must allow no one to make you feel ashamed of who you are.'
Listen to this story from RadioLab that takes a thorough look at surrogacy between gay men and international women. As more countries ban surrogacy, questions of rights, nationality, and women empowerment become ever more complex.
The international list includes Nigerian author Kehinde Bademosi, South Korean university student Kim Bo-mo, and former NAACP president Rachel Dolezal.
Find a holiday gift from OUT's list of LGBT-positive children's books.
A local UK hardware store went viral when it jumped on the bandwagon of using positive gay messages in TV advertisements in the strangest way. And finally, this humorous drag parody of pop song True Colors that promotes PrEP drug Truvada might have some safer sex advocates shuddering with its message to 'throw all those condoms away.'