We were seen, we were counted...

"We were seen, we were counted...and in the end we were valued."
 ~ Jensen ByrneUN volunteer on the importance of Ireland's National Referendum on marriage equality.

From the UN: UNAIDS published 'How AIDS Changed Everything,' an evaluation of the progress made on the Millennium Development Goal adopted in 2000 to combat HIV/AIDS. The report announced that the target of 15 million people on antiretroviral treatment has been reached, although significant prevention gaps remain among key populations.

Speaking to Caribbean leaders in Barbados at a CARICOM summit, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon highlighted some of these challenges for the region, noting that the epidemic is "only made worse by laws and stigma" and that "we cannot tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or on the basis of gender identity."

While at the International Financing for Development conference in Ethiopia, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé observed that ending the epidemic is not only about giving pills, and that 'bad laws' drive vulnerable people underground: "Gay people are not reached anymore in many places because of homophobic laws."

At the UN Human Rights Council a resolution was passed on the "Protection of the Family," that was swiftly condemned by the Sexual Rights Initiative, a coalition advocating for gender and sexuality in human rights issues, for ignoring intrafamilial violence and diverse family definitions, including LGBT headed households.

HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: A new article published in the Lancet found that gay and bisexual men in Nigeria fear the benefits of accessing healthcare do not outweigh the risks of arrest and torture imposed by the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. In the US, a report found bisexual men and women have worse health outcomes than either gay or straight counterparts. And in Jamaica, a new report found that in 2012 bisexuals accounted for 40% of new HIV infections.

In the UK Nobel-Prize winning scientist, Professor Harald zur Hausen, the virologist who discovered the link between HPV and cancer, has called for the UK to vaccinate all boys against HPV. After years of similar requests in Canada, the Ministry of Health announced it will offer free HPV vaccines for all boys and men under 26. Known to cause cervical cancer, HPV has also been linked to cases of anal and throat cancers among men and women.

In Serbia health officials warn of a flood of counterfeit condoms in Belgrade and Novi Pazar. And elsewhere, Dr. Steven Kurtz presented research on gay men and other men who have sex with men that found the demand for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is creating a 'black market' for PrEP that undermines treatment adherence.

Out of the UK, transgender people spoke out on the prejudice they face accessing basic healthcare services as providers assume all health issues can be blamed on hormone therapy--from migraines to broken bones. And out of Egypt, Dr. Hashem Bahary discussed providing "Gender Identity Disorder" care for 20 years, though Egypt has only approved gender reassignment surgery since 2013.

From the World of Politics: As President Obama prepares to visit Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto has warned he should not speak on LGBT issues, and a local man promises he and 5,000 others will strip in front of Obama in an anti-gay protest.

From Russia senator Konstantin Dobrynin suggests a "don't ask, don't tell" policyshould be implemented towards LGBT Russians, and emphasized the "most important thing is to immediately reduce the intensity of aggression against minorities." His remarks came as a new survey finds 41% of public think Russians with 'untraditional sexual preferences' should be persecuted.

The European Parliament voted to include human rights of LGBTI people in the European Neighborhood Policy, with an aim to improve the situation of LGBTI people living in countries to the east and south of the EU.

Officials in Swaziland, one of many countries whose laws expressly criminalize same-sex activity between men, but neglect to mention women, responded to the recent annual report from ILGA by denying that lesbianism is legal. Although neighboring South Africa fully recognizes all same-sex relationships, in recent years it has hesitated to support gay rights issues.

The Politics of Union: In Spain, 10 years after achieving same-sex marriage, the LGBT community still struggles with daily social equality issues. In Indonesia, officials have rejected the argument by Australian Agricultural Minister saying that marriage equality would negatively impact the economic relationship with Asian partners. And from Peru, some activists warn that the international focus on marriage equality has overshadowed needs for basic human rights.

In Japan over 450 people filed a complaint with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations that accuses the government of a violation of human rights for failing to recognize same-sex marriage. In Taiwan thousands rallied at the Nationalist Kuomintang Party headquarters in support of gay marriage.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said 'marriage' should only be between 'a man and a woman living together,' though she supports 'civil partnerships.' FromRussia Dmitry Kiselyov, the head of state-controlled media, unexpectedly came out in favor of same-sex civil unions, despite previously expressing extreme anti-gay sentiments. And in France, Luc Carvounas became the first French Parliamentarian to marry his same-sex partner while in office.

And Jensen Byrne, an Irish trans person serving internationally with the UN, describes the experience of returning for the referendum and how being recognized by the community, made Byrne finally feel 'at home.'

Let the Courts Decide: The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Italy violates human rights by not providing legal protection and recognition of same-sex couples. The ruling does not force legalization of gay marriage or extend rights to same-sex couples, but puts pressure on all European nations that do not recognize civil unions.

And the Italian Supreme Court has ruled that people seeking to legally change their gender cannot be required to undergo sterilization or genital surgery. With this ruling, 22 European nations still require sterilization before a person's gender is legally recognized.

In the Name of Religion: In Indonesia transgender Muslims, the third gender known as waria, celebrate Ramadan together outside of traditional worship centers that strictly separate women and men during prayers. In Malaysia LGBTI community members are speaking out against increasing violence in the country spurred, they say, by religious authorities' push for increased power.

From the US, two prominent Muslims have made headlines with an open letter and plea to the American Muslim community to accept marriage equality. While in Nigeria, Chief Imam Sheikh Muhammad Khalid told interviewers that his religion prohibits him from supporting same-sex marriage, and that 'no religion in the world should encourage homosexuality.'

In South Africa leader of the Dutch Reformed Church called for equal rights for gay pastors, including civil unions. And in Paraguay, married gay activist Simón Cazal and a delegation of Paraguayan civil society members met with Pope Francis who gave a "very productive" speech.

Fear and Loathing: Only a week after Istanbul police violently shut down Turkey's pride parade, an Islamist group in the capital city has claimed responsibility for posters that call for gay people to be killed. Also in Turkey, Kemal Ördek, a prominent LGBT and sex worker activist, spoke out after police neglected to help after Ördek was robbed and raped. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a public call to Turkish authorities to "take active measures to combat homophobic and transphobic violence."

From Russia, a viral video exposes the verbal and physical abuse two men experienced holding hands in public. In France, world champion swimmer Mélanie Hénique was forced to withdraw from a competition after she and friends were beaten in a homophobic attack. And in Germany, after Marcel Rohrlack and his friends were beaten, the teen took to Facebook to implore an end to violence against LGBT people.

School Days: Out of Kenya, young LGBTIQ activists from 8 African countriesreleased a joint statement that spoke for a future where all Africans would be free from oppression and discrimination, adding "Young people have a huge role to play in this shared vision and are ready and able to contribute!" Elsewhere, 19 Kenyan high school students were suspended for arguing in favor of gay rights.

And in Saudi Arabia, a school administrator has been jailed and the school fined $25,000 for painting a rainbow "emblems of homosexuality" on the school wall, according to an official tweet from a government agency.

In Croatia LGBT youth are using street art to spread messages of equality in their own words. In Ireland a new bill amended employment legislation to protect openly LGBT teachers. And in Jamaica, after meeting with LGBT civil society groups, the Minister of Education is launching a new security manual with zero tolerance for bullying.

Meanwhile in the US, the Senate voted against a measure to ban LGBT discrimination in schools. Noting that bullying of LGBT students is "becoming an epidemic," Senator Al Franken said that "you can't learn if you are afraid."

Winds of Change: Journalist P Sudhakaran explores the shifting attitudes towards gender and sexual diversity in India, where gay and transgender activists may openly work abroad, but are still fearful in their own communities.

And from the US, Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP Julian Bond warns that marriage equality means little when LGBT people can still lose their jobs, be denied services, and be kicked out of their homes because of their identity.

On the March: At this year's pride parade in Hungary, participants hoped to combat previous violence by making the parade have less of a party atmosphere and more of a political statement. Out of Australia, human rights group Kaleidoscope has published a practical guide for assessing refugees fleeing persecution due to their sexual or gender identity. And from Russia, LGBT activist Alexander Ermoshkin fled the country after he was accused by authorities of collaborating with US spies.

The World of Business: In Italy, the GLBT Diversity Index for 2015 was published listing Telecom Italia as the 'best company' for LGBTI inclusion. Though the public in China has become increasingly accepting, LGBT workers say disclosing sexuality in the workplace is "impossible." And in the US, a rigorous poll found that the majority of small business owners do not believe LGBT people should be discriminated against based on business owners' religious beliefs--despite international media attention to individual cases.

Technology: In India, thieves are using online dating services to extort and violate gay men, but laws criminalizing gay sex make victims afraid of seeking help from the police. While in Vietnam, dating apps are used to connect gay tourists with locals to navigate the culture. Facebook's 'real name policy' has banned an Ethiopian LGBT activist who runs popular groups for gay Ethiopians. The activist uses an alias because homosexuality is criminalized and he could face up to 15 years in prison.

Samsung and Google confirmed they regularly censor and remove apps from their international stores "due to the local moral values or laws," and that LGBT content is limited on country by country basis. And a new app, 'MyTransHealth,' uses crowdsourcing to link healthcare professionals reviewed by others in the community so that patients can choose the most trans-friendly providers.

Sports and Culture: From the US, a new documentary, "Do I Sound Gay?" explores stereotypes, internalized homophobia, and linguistic markers of marginalized groups. An Asian film group goes to the street to ask Chinese, Korean, and Japanese peopletheir feelings on being gay or having gay children.

Antonio Mihaylov, president of Subverzivnog Fronta (Subversive Fronts), a group forgender and sexuality in Macedonia, discussed how LGBT people continue to live in the margins of society and what the next steps should be for LGBT activists. In Egypt, transgender women discussed living in fear of police and having little option for work outside of the sex trade. From Australia, genderqueer activist Andrew Farrell discussed the need for LGBTI groups to be inclusive of Indigenous peoplewho are often forced to "forfeit their cultural identity" to be accepted by the LGBTI community.

And from the US, Professor Georgiann Davis explores how legalized same-sex marriage is forcing intersex people, like herself, to reevaluate their personal gendersand position in society.

Puerto Rican Junior National Swimmer Javier Ruisanchez came out by tweeting:‘Yes… I AM GAY… Who cares?’ While former Australian footballer Lachlan Beatonshared the pain of coming out in a new video. And popular Italian magazine SportWeek stirred controversy by publishing two male rugby players kissing on the cover.

From Finland, a viral video shows an HIV positive man's emotional experience when he invited strangers to touch him. Out of the US, a video from celebrity scientist Bill Nye explains how homosexuality exists across species, and is perfectly natural. Out of Sri Lanka, the group Equal Ground has released a music video "Nothing but Pride," shot entirely in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

And finally, check out this humorous and weird video from the UK with talking bananas that educate gay men on using condoms.