I am proud to stand for the equality of all people

"I am proud to stand for the equality of all people, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. I speak out because laws criminalising consensual, adult same-sex relationships violate basic rights to privacy and to freedom from discrimination. Even if they are not enforced, these laws breed intolerance." 
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in India, Jan 12, 2015.

Uganda arrests for getting STD tests. ISIS tweets pictures as they murder gays. And LGBT equality equal more tourist dollars. These and more from January's Global Equality News...

From the UN: Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon spoke out strongly against criminalization on the basis of sexual orientation while celebrating the United Nations' 70th anniversary at an event in India.

In Geneva, where the 21st session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is underway, Kenya's Attorney General Githu Muigai says his country is making progress on the rights of LGBT people despite the fact that Kenya still criminalizes same sex relations. Meanwhile, a new UN report urges Pakistan to enhance its HIV response by revising laws that target vulnerable populations, especially transgender people and gay men and other men who have sex with men. 

HIV, Health, and Well-Being: The HIV and TB Director with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health, has called for better healthcare for men who have sex with men in prison, despite the nation's laws against same-sex sexual relations. 

From China, a new report finds that transgender sex workers are among the most marginalised people, severely limiting HIV prevention and other healthcare services. In the US, meanwhile, some health officials are hoping to improve healthcare for trans people through "Trans Buddy,"a pilot program to reduce patient anxiety. And a new rigorous study in the Journal of Public Health finds that bisexual women in Europe have poorer mental health and are more likely to self-harm than lesbian and straight women.

In a progressive move the UK National Health Service has released a statement against gay 'conversion therapy' and have told staff not to provide or refer patients to those who provide the controversial therapy. Meanwhile a new report uncovers the poor sexual health education provided to US teenagers, as individual states decide what can and can't be taught about sex and sexual preference. 

Politicking: In India the first transgender mayor makes history winning the office with strong public support. And in Ireland, Minister of Health Leo Varadkar speaks publicly about his sexuality, becoming the first openly gay minister. Two Ugandan gay rights activists hope to become the first openly gay people to run for office in Uganda's 2016 elections.

The progress of equality for LGBT people continues to create an ideological culture divide across Europe, with the European Union on one side, Russia and its allies on the other, and with LGBT citizens trapped in the middle. In an in-depth report, journalist Dimiter Kenarov investigates the hope Ukrainians had that their country would start to look more like Europe. But for members of the LGBT community, things might have gotten worse. Meanwhile Kyrgyzstan is under fire from the European Parliament to drop anti-gay legislation that closely resembles Russia's law with even harsher punishments. 

Recalling the recent arrests in Egypt, German MP Volker Beck is urging western embassies to proactively "take-in" persecuted LGBT people all over the world. And American activists are urging President Obama to ban Gambian President Yahya Jammeh from entry to the US over his 'deplorable human rights record.'

Ignorance, Fear, and Loathing: In Uganda, nine suspected gay men were detained after they visited an STI clinic. In Nigeria, twelve young men were arrested for allegedly participating in a 'gay wedding.' Despite their claim to have been celebrating a birthday, they could face up to 14 years prison or even the death penalty under Nigerian law. And in the Gambia, witnesses say a man accused of homosexuality has been transferred from prison to the hospital with signs of torture. Meanwhile in the UK, gay asylum seekers must prove their sexual orientation or be denied asylum.

In Serbia, the defense ministry has forced a transgender officer to retire to protect the 'reputation' of the army. 

ISIS members in Iraq continue to spread fear after posting several images on Twitter explicitly showing the murder of two allegedly gay men who were thrown from a building in front of a crowd of onlookers. In Jamaica, a woman was viciously attacked by her neighbors because she lives with another woman and is assumed to be a lesbian. And in the US, where two transgender women of color have been killed in just nine days, both police and media continue to misgender trans victims. 

For LGBT people in Russia, their lives are legislated but they are not protected as reports show officials are quick to draft and enforce discriminatory legislation, but do little to protect them. And Hannah Stoddart, from Oxfam, urges international agencies to speak out against homophobia, saying the sector has a proud history of recognizing the connections between oppression of minorities and crucial development issues.

Religiosity: While acknowledging the tension in Barbados around LGBT equality, Anglican Reverend Davidson Bowen is urging the church to 'extend love' to homosexuals. Although Mormon leaders have made strong anti-discrimination statements in support of the gay community, journalist Samantha Allen questions the strength of the announcement. 

Meanwhile, Cardinal Raymond Burke who stirred debate last summer when he criticized Pope Francis' progressive policies is now blaming ‘feminization’ for the Catholic Church’s problems. And another first for the Pope: an Italian transgender man has told the press that he was given a private meeting with the pontiff

From South Africa, Dr. Taj Hargey is speaking out about founding the women and gay-friendly mosque and what has led him to keep the place of worship open despite violence. And LGBT people from all over are travelling to Taiwan to visit the Taoist Wei-Ming 'Rabbit' temple that celebrates the deity who watches over homosexuals.

Winds of Change: The Vietnam National Assembly is hoping to capitalize on LGBT tourism now that the new marriage equality law is in effect. For the first time, the World Economic Forum has focused on LGBT equality with a panel to discuss ways to ensure that employers help the LGBT community and other minorities feel valued in the workplace. And Former BP CEO and first openly gay chief executive, John Browne discusses Apple CEO Tim Cook and the future of LGBT in business leadership.

Leading Chinese sexologist Li Yinhe has sparked public discussion in China about the transgender community after revealing she has been in a relationship with a transgender man for the past 17 years. Meanwhile the panel reviewing Thailand's constitution has announced that the new constitution will recognize a 'third gender.'  

And in the United Kingdom, LGBT community members and others are debating a plan to establish the first 'LGBT School.'

Let the Courts Decide: The Austria Constitutional Court has lifted the restrictions on gay couples wanting to adopt children, while Portugal's parliament refuses to consider LGBT adoption rights. Meanwhile, in the UK, where LGBT people have had adoption rights since 2007, a UK Family Court magistrate has been suspended for making derogatory comments about potential gay parents during court. 

Stating that it doesn't recognize homosexuality, the Botswana government is appealing a high court case that allowed a Botswana LGBT organization the right to register. And the leader of a Russian LGBT youth support group has been fined for breaking the anti-gay propaganda law. 

After refusing to hear the case this past fall, the US Supreme court has agreed to hear the case for same-sex marriage equality and the related question on whether states must recognize those marriages.

An Italian court has ruled that the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport are guilty of 'homophobic behavior' for revoking a soldier's drivers license due to his sexuality.  And in a landmark case, a French court has found Twitter users guilty of hate speech for posting anti-gay tweets that use the hashtag, #BrûlonsLesGaysSurdu 'Let's burn the gays.'

Remembrance: The suicide of trans teenager Leelah Alcorn this January has sparked discussion about how family and friends can support and understand trans people.  And on this 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell recalls the horrors faced by gay victims of the Holocaust.

Culture and Sports: American soccer player Robbie Rogers is speaking out against the Fédération Internationale de Football Association for choosing anti-gay Russia and Qatar for the next two World Cup competitions. Elsewhere, Equatorial Guinea's football team leader speaks out about gender testing after she and other teammates were forced to 'prove' they are women. 

In China, lesbians and gay men are using a new app to find each other for ‘cooperative marriages’ that will provide society approved marriages. 

Oscar nominated film Selma has brought together  LGBT and ethnic minority communities to honor the role of activists of the 1960s civil rights movement. Meanwhile, US distributors of the award winning film Pride, which tells the story of gay activists that fought for British miner's rights in the 1980s, have removed all gay references from the packaging. 

Over a thousand people staged a kiss-in at a Vienna café after the owner called a lesbian couple 'disgusting' and threw them out for kissing. 

Three new hilarious and explicitly gay-television shows are being dubbed England's 'event of the week.' And actors Stephen Fry and Benedict Cumberbatch campaign to formally pardon the 49,000 gay men who were persecuted under British law for being gay. Meanwhile, the first openly gay Nigerian actor Adebisi Alimi talks about being an advocate for LGBT people in Nigeria.

In Ecuador, a group has published Ecuador's first kids book about being trans. A new photo exhibit documents the next generation of queer youth. And in Rome, the Vatican's gay-themed art goes on display.

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