I didn’t say, It’s OK to be different

From age 12 to 16, I shamed myself for having different feelings from my heterosexual classmates. I didn’t treat myself as I should have. I didn’t say, It’s OK to be different. There weren’t any people in my South African community who validated my feelings. There weren’t any mentors who could help me figure out how to be in the world as a queer female.  ~ Lareto Mokube, South African poet and artist, currently seeking asylum in the US 

"Imminent risk of death" for LGBT Iraqis under ISIS; new anti-gay laws drafted across Africa; and the US is under fire for human rights violations for the continuing use of gay conversion therapy. These stories and more.

From the UN: The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people continue to be debated by countries at the United Nations. Despite recommendations from some Member States, Iranian leaders have declared that under 'no circumstances' will homosexual citizens' rights be recognized. Meanwhile the United Nations Committee Against Torture reviews the practice of gay conversion therapy in the US. 

UNAIDS releases the largest survey of Caribbean gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men. Meanwhile, pop star Conchita Wurst joined Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in support of LGBT equality. Check out her comments and performance. 

HIV, Health, and Well-being: In the midst of a cross-country HIV awareness campaign, Australia has launched several initiatives including the "Lifeguard" program to train gay men to provide mental health support, a rapid HIV testing 'roadshow' that travels the country, and an art-installation of a 60 ft (18.3 m) tall pink condom

In the US, AHF is testing free rapid HIV testing from vending machines in bathhouses. And a project on Twitter usage during the UNAIDS/Brazil "Protect the Goal" campaign to promote HIV awareness is evaluating Twitter's viability as a public health tool.

report from Taiwan finds over 50% of gay people suffer intimate partner abuse and many don't seek help. And a study from Israel finds that gay youth have significantlyhigher suicide rates than their peers. 

Politicking: Reports are coming in of a new draft of the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill. However, Ugandan activists are seeking support from the East African Court to make it clear such anti-gay laws are unacceptable throughout East Africa. And a draft of a new criminal code in Nepal will target people living with HIV and hepatitis B, despite recommendations against the legislation. 

Let the Courts Decide: A landmark decision in the Malaysian courts gives transgender Muslims the right to cross-dress. And in another landmark decision the High Court of Botswana has ruled against the Department of Labour and Home Affairs, giving lesbians, gays, and bisexuals the right to register their own organization. The ruling will have implications across the region.

Marching for Equality, Migrating to Safety: The conservative Indian city Punehosted a Pride parade nearly double the size of the previous years and the Pride parade in conservative Montenegro goes off without a hitch. Meanwhile Rio de Janeiro hosted its 19th Pride Parade with thousands of participants flooding the streets. 

Chalwe Charles Mwansa speaks out on the struggle among LGBT activists in Zambia, while the only LGBT organization in Mozambique continues with its 7-year battle for the right to register as an official association.  On the other side of the world, the Queen of the Cook Islands has spoken out in support of gay rights despite on-going criminalization of same-sex relations.

Central American LGBT youth are fleeing to the US to escape violence and seek out the love and acceptance they can't find at home. Meanwhile, asylum seeker Ender Manuel Martínez describes the abuse he and other LGBT people from Central American suffer from in Mexican detention camps

Ignorance, Fear, and Loathing: Reports from Gambia say police have been going door-to-door arresting people suspected as gay.  A new report from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission warns that LGBT Iraqis face "imminent risk of death" under Islamic State rule.  In the UK, an LGBT choir staged a 'sing-in,'flooding public transit and leading singalongs in support of two gay men who were beaten for singing on a train. And local activists question the anti-gay rhetoric regularly coming from daily newspaper The Jamaica Observer.

The Advocate announces Vladimir Putin as "Person of the Year" for being "the single greatest threat to LGBTs in the world."   Meanwhile, LGBT people in Arctic Russia are speaking out about the violence they face everyday. And in a direct response to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Steve Jobs memorial in Russia has been torn down to "protect family values."

Although the Liberian Council of Churches has claimed ebola is punishment for the gay lifestyle, this isn't the first time LGBT people have been blamed for natural disasters or terrorist attacks.  Check out this roundup of the state of LGBT rightsacross African countries.

Winds of Change: Though discrimination and stigma still exist everywhere, a new study of global attitudes towards LGBT people has found that acceptance of homosexuality has risen worldwideEvangelical minister David P. Gushee articulates why the church must support all LGBTI people.  And Latvia’s foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics has come out as gay via Twitter, earning kudos from supporters and ridicule from Russian leaders.

Students in Japan celebrate "Sexchange Day" and being different by wearing opposite gender school uniforms. And young people in Kenya start their own organization to support LGBT peers and prevent HIV. Unfortunately, as the LGBT community grows in Haiti, so does anti-gay violence. 

Activists in Macau region of China are demanding that a new domestic violence billinclude protection for same-sex cohabitants. Meanwhile, a report from nearby Hong Kong finds that 60% of residents support laws that protect gay people. 

Antonio Simoes, the Chief Executive UK for HSBC banking who came out last year, has criticized other gay business leaders for staying hidden.  The Economist takes a look at the changing scene for LGBT people in the US workforce. Equality is not only a rights issue, but an economic one as well: a new study from the World Bank shows that pro-LGBT laws can spur economic growth in developing countries.  

Remembrance: During this season of reflection Dr. James Waller discusses the history of Nazi anti-homosexuality with an analysis of "Paragraph 175." And culture journal Slate highlights the contributions of two World War I gay soldier poets.

Culture, Entertainment, and Sport: The Canadian Museum of History is adding gay stories to its exhibits. The Country Music Awards gives the Song of the Year title to Kacey Musgraves's gay positive anthem. And Thailand launches the firsttransgender modeling agency in the world.

The International Olympic Committee has announced it will include sexual orientation and gender identity in the new charter to prevent discrimination. Professional Strongman Champion Rob Kearney redefines expectations of masculinity as he comes out as gay. He is in good company as New Zealand Olympic rower Robbie Manson also comes out.

When a story broke that Irish stud bull 'Benjy' prefers male to female company, supporters across the UK rushed to keep him from the slaughterhouse.  Harvard University is offering a course on safe anal sex and check out this Kenyan hip-hop group using music to spread LGBT activism. 

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