‘Day after day our children are pushed to jump off of a cliff. Without realizing that intimidation, humiliation and incitement to abuse are not from children, but adults who are unable to break their own paradigms.’
~ Alba Lucía Reyes Arena, while receiving an honorary diploma for her son Sergio David Urrego Reyes. Sergio, only 16 years old, killed himself because of on-going homophobic bullying by school officials and teachers.
World AIDS Day 2014 brought celebrations and solidarity, but the epidemic won't be stopped by 'corrective rape,' door-to-door raids, or calls for a 'holocaust' on LGBT people. These stories and more...
From the UN: December 1st marked the 26th annual World AIDS Day. With the hope to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibésays attention must be paid to those "denied their rights," including LGBT people.
Four Special Rapporteurs with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have spoken out against a new anti-gay bill in Kyrgyzstan that not only discriminates but, experts suggest, will impede education on sexual and reproductive health.
For the first time, UNICEF takes an official stand on sexual orientation, gender identity, and the rights of children. Their position paper sets forth a policy of inclusion and warns against human rights abuses that come from intolerance and discrimination. And as 2015 looms on the horizon, WHO officials warn that Europe will not reach its Millennium Development Goal to reverse the spread of HIV.
HIV, Health, and Well-being: In her commentary, Victoria Noe contemplates the growing distance between the HIV activists of the past and the outlook of young people today. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released data showing that two-thirds of HIV-positive people in the US do not have the virus under control and fewer than half of American HIV-positive young adults know their status. Meanwhile in the UK, Adebisi Alimi, lecturer and fellow from the Aspen Institute, questions why an increasing number of young gay men worldwide are getting infected, despite improved prevention options and better treatment.
Advocacy on the effectiveness of PrEP to protect from new HIV infection may be responsible for the spike in the number of serodiscordant couples. Or, as education coordinator Alex Garner puts it, confidence in safer sex reduces stigma across the negative/positive divide and opens the door for love. And more interesting research suggests that homosexuality may have evolved as a means of forming stronger social groups and bonding among allies.
The Jamaican Ministry of Health is considering a new review of the National HIV Policy suggesting that the country's 'buggery' law impedes implementation of HIV treatment and prevention. And in China, where a quarter of new HIV infections this year were among men who have sex with men, a gay dating app that includes education on risky sex and HIV treatment and prevention has received $30m investment. Meanwhile despite education, myths about HIV persist, even in the LGBT community.
Meanwhile, Brenda, a Kenyan lesbian who was infected with HIV when gang-raped and subsequently gave it to her partner, cries out to be heard. All across Africa reports surface of lesbians suffering "corrective rape," but few local HIV organizations are prepared to support this marginalized and often criminalized group.
Politicking: In an important global development the European Parliament votes to add LGBTI rights, sexual rights, and reproductive health to future development policy.
After passing a bill criminalizing "serial" homosexuals and targeting people living with HIV with a penalty of life imprisonment, Gambian security forces have conducted door-to-door raids arresting people accused of homosexuality.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers are promising that Uganda will pass a new anti-gay law by Christmas despite a new report that documents violation of rights due to sexual identity and orientation. And in spite of anti-gay legislation in some African countries, the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights has joined a multilateral group, including countries, UNAIDS, and UNDP, committed to equality and inclusive development for all persons, including LGBTI people.
Ignorance, fear, and loathing: The insurgent group Islamic State continues to strike fear across the Middle East with a new report from Syria about two young men who were stoned to death on accusation of homosexuality. From Nigeria, Ethan Regal recounts his terrifying personal story of life as a gay man, where, he says, sex isn't about orientation, but about power, violence, and malicious homophobic abuse.
A joint publication from international and local groups explores the depth of suffering and targeted violence perpetrated against LGBT Iraqis. Meanwhile, one-third of all LGBT Nepalis say they are harassed in public spaces despite anti-discrimination laws. And police in the UK see a spike in violent homophobic crimes compared to last year, though activists suggest this reflects a rise in community's willingness to speak up rather than an increase in attacks.
Some gay people seeking asylum in Australia have been placed in Papua New Guinea where homosexuality is illegal. Unfortunately, some asylum seekers say they are regularly sexually assaulted by other detainees but are afraid of being arrested for homosexuality if they report the attacks.
In Turkey, reporters label members of parliament who attended an LGBTI conference "immoral" and dissuaded some MPs from supporting the event. And in an abrupt turn, the "father of Soviet pornography" has become a crusader against "gay propaganda" and the ideology of the West.
Religiosity: The pope accepted a gift of a rainbow scarf from the first openly lesbian member of the Austrian Parliament, Ulrike Lunacek. Later, the pope spoke up about last month's debate over including comments on homosexuality in the Synod, noting that the discussion isn't over. Meanwhile, a Muslim lesbian's father is taking a stand to inspire love and show that Islam and tolerance are not incompatible.
Although there are positive steps underway by faith leaders, it is troubling to hear that a pastor in the US is making headlines by calling for a "holocaust" against LGBT people to "end the AIDS epidemic by Christmas."
Winds of Change: Many may remember Tiwonge Chimbalanga: the transgendered Malawian woman who was arrested, imprisoned, and then released due to the pressure from the UN Secretary General, UNAIDS EXD Sidibé and former Global Fund EXD. Mark Gevisser writes a touching follow-up to her story in the Guardian.
Just weeks after the United Nations Committee Against Torture raised concerns over the practice of 'conversion therapy', the US capital Washington DC has banned the practice among LGBT minors.
Kristie Lu Stout leads a revealing conversation with China's leading gay rights advocates, where the one-child policy puts unusual pressures on the LGBT community to "be normal." Meanwhile, The Atlantic takes a look at research illustrating that the LGBT equality movement goes hand in hand with economic growth world-wide.
For the first time, a citizens' initiative has become law as Finland approves gender-neutral marriages. In Poland, gay rights activist Robert Biedron becomes the first openly gay mayor. And following a successful campaign by Japanese high schoolers to support their trans classmates, Taiwan university students are calling for all males to wear skirts for a month to show support for their transgender colleagues.
On the March: The European Court of Justice has ruled in favor of LGBT people seeking asylum in Europe. Asylum seekers will no longer be forced to undergo tests to 'prove' homosexuality. Fleeing from homophobic abuse and "political humiliation" Russian journalists and LGBT activists are seeking asylum in the US and Germany. Elsewhere, in Georgia, LGBT equality has grown on paper through a number of progressive amendments. However, day-to-day LGBT Georgians continue to face discrimination and abuse.
In India the LGBT community has come out to oppose discrimination during New Delhi's Pride Parade, for the first time since the Supreme Court overturned a decision and re-criminalized same-sex relations.
Zero Tolerance: With one in three lesbian or bisexual women in South Africa victims of "corrective rape," supporters of Duduzile Zozo, a lesbian who was raped and murdered in South Africa last summer, are unimpressed by the court's 30 year sentence against her attacker.
An official from the ruling party in Latvia has resigned after tweeting "thank god" the Nazis shot gay people. In the US, a fire chief has been suspended without pay for distributing a self-published book with homophobic text. And in Ireland, a Dublin clerk refuses to serve a man who calls another customer an anti-gay slur.
Meanwhile, Google removes a game with the goal to "kill gays," though not before it received 10,000 downloads.
Sports and Culture: Award-winning Nigerian author Jude Dibia whose first book depicts the life of a gay Nigerian, is now reporting that gay Nigerians are forced to 'live underground.' And top Indian film director Hansal Mehta is calling for a mainstream debate on sexual orientation.
Trans people and men who have sex with men will make up to half of all new HIV infections in Asia by 2020. The Naz Male Health Alliance in Pakistan and the UNDP have produced two films to highlight their efforts in reaching and meeting the needs of these marginalized populations. A new documentary from Ghana depicts the life of a young HIV positive gay man navigating Ghana's health system despite stigma and discrimination. And in mainstream cinemas across the world, Benedict Cumberbatch's new film The Imitation Game is turning the tide for gay heroes in movies.
The Football Association in UK rules trans players can play at any level. The ruling will allow players to meet directly with the FA to request joining the association, thereby protecting their privacy in the matter. And as more than 100 athletes have come out of the closet this year, editor Cyd Zeigler calls for 'The Gay Athlete' to be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.
Finally, check out this Australian mother's clever and heartwarming response to her transgender child: she took out a birth notice in the local paper, announcing a "correction."