“All I want now is to be in a safe place, unreachable by my dad or anyone with extremist thoughts. I want to be safe, to be free, and to be myself - to get my degree and start living… I just want to start living.”
~ Taim, who escaped Iraq after ISIS members told his father Taim is gay
The WHO released a report that finds widespread discrimination significantly impacts HIV rates and poor healthcare for transgender people. And ARC international published an analysis of debates and resolutions relevant to sexual orientation and gender diversity made at the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council Session.
HIV, Health, and Wellbeing: From the US, president Obama released a new National HIV/AIDS strategy that includes prioritization of gay men and other men who have sex with men "of all races and ethnicities" and transgender women.
Research on US gay Latinos demonstrated the difficulty of getting the community to use pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). While a recent study of high risk populationsfound that transgender women, gay men, bisexual men, and single black women successfully adhered to daily dosing of PrEP in Thailand, South Africa, and the US.
In South Africa, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV brought together health workers, government officials, and advocates to discuss HIV needs of men who have sex with men in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Rwanda Biomedical Centre reported an increase of HIV prevalence among sex workers and gay men. And in Zimbabwe, Health Minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa claims HIV prevalence in prisons shows that "either prisoners are infected already before they get into prisons" or "homosexuality is rampant" in prisons.
In Russia, officials are considering banning foreign brand condoms. Many warn the ban will adversely impact HIV prevention: it will reduce condom access and the quality of Russian brands is questionable. Government advisor Dr. Onischenko claims the ban will "make one more disciplined, more strict, and discriminating in choosing partners, and maybe will do a favor to our society in respect to solving demographic problems."
In Brazil, where transgender people have been able to officially change gender since 2009, many continue to suffer discrimination when seeking healthcare. And India has more foreign transgender people travelling to the country to seek low-cost, high quality sex reassignment surgery.
In Namibia, Deputy Finance Ministry Natangue Ithete accused foreigners of forcing "un-Namibian" ideas about homosexuality, saying they should "keep their gay activities in their countries."
In Uganda, former prime minister and current presidential candidate Amama Mbazazi surprised many, stating he is against homophobia and that "homosexuality is not something new." And George Freeman, a Sierra Leonean refugee in Spain, recounted the violence he faced at home and argues that being "gay and African should not be a crime."
In Venezuela, lawyer and activist Tamara Adrian is the first transgender politician to run for popular election, though she had to register under her given male name as Venezuelan law doesn't recognize sex changes. And in Portugal, Julia Mendes Pereira hopes to be the country's first trans member of parliament.
The Politics of Union: In Australia, thousands across the country rallied for marriage equality. However, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's decision to forbid a "free vote" and force Coalition MPs to vote against marriage equality guarantees an equality vote would fail. Several MPs passionately spoke out against the move.
From Japan, professors Hiroyuki Taniguchi and Noriko Mizuno discuss the global trend towards marriage equality and how it fits with Japanese culture and law.
In the Philippines, a new poll found over 80% of Filipinos oppose same-sex marriage. However, local LGBT political party spokesman Bemz Bendito noted:
“The LGBT agenda should not be reduced to same-sex marriage. It is not the be-all and end-all of our struggle because that is only one of the basic human rights that is being taken away from us.”Let the Courts Decide: In South Korea, film director Kim Jho Gwang-soo and his partner have filed a lawsuit challenging authorities to accept their marriageregistration. In Colombia the Constitutional Court heard testimonies for and against marriage equality, including statements from a broad range of international opinions.
The Mexico Supreme Court ruled a law preventing same-sex couples from adoptingis unconstitutional. And in the US, the adoptive parents of an intersex child are suing doctors who performed gender sexual assignment surgery and state Social Services for allowing the surgery to take place while the child was in the state's care.
Fear and Loathing: Out of Iraq, ISIS released photos of a large crowd at another public execution of a man accused of homosexuality. From Lebanon, a 24 year old gay medical student describes fleeing Iraq after his father threatened to hand him over to ISIS.
In the US, five trans women have been murdered in less than three weeks.
A Russian viral video of a male couple holding hands sparked experiments in Jerusalem, Ukraine, and Portugal. In Jerusalem passersby called out insults, and in the Ukraine the men were violently attacked. But in Portugal, the couple noted they felt "respected and free." In Serbia, where gay people are experiencing violence, lawyer Milena Vasic provides advice on how LGBT people should respond if they are verbally, physically, or sexually assaulted.
Thailand enacted a new law to stop foreign couples from using Thai surrogate mothers, as an American gay couple was blocked from bringing home their child. In Uganda, Minister of State for East African Affairs, Shem Bageine wants to ban gay couples from adopting children born in the East Africa Community (EAC). And in Australia, where opponents argue that same-sex marriage damages children, the Australian Broadcasting Commission reviewed research on the effects of gender on parenting.
In the Name of Religion: Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern visited the victims who were violently stabbed during Israel's gay pride parade. Several ultra-Orthodox figures condemned the attack, and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef remarked, "It's unthinkable that a man can lift his hand against another Jewish soul in the name of religion." Thousands rallied against the violence during a demonstration that had been scheduled to remember the 2009 attack on an LGBT youth center that killed two and wounded 15.
In Switzerland, Catholic bishop Vitus Huonder raised controversy at a religious forum when he quoted scripture implying gay people should be put to death and followed saying that the passages, "clarify unambiguously the church's position on homosexuality." Though Huonder has now apologized, the Swiss Gay Federation Pink Cross filed a criminal complaint.
In Spain, over 36,000 people signed a petition urging the Pope to intercede when the bishop of Cádiz refused to allow a transgendered person to serve as godparent. Following the negative attention, the bishop reversed his decision.
On a positive note, Sister Monica provides ministry and support to trans Catholics. Responding to anti-trans rhetoric, including the pope's rejection of "gender theory," she says: “God made day and night. There was also dusk and dawn and twilight. There’s no light switch.”
And in South Korea, Jonah Lee has gone from running gay clubs in Korea and Japan to becoming a leading spokesperson for Korea's anti-gay Christian movement.
Winds of Change: The India Government Census Bureau acknowledged transgender people for the first time in a survey on deaths and suicides. Though an important 'first step,' activists noted that recognition is more needed for the living, as in separate prison cells and hospital wards.
In Brazil new regulations provide protections for transgender inmates, including access to hormone therapy, strip searches away from other prisoners, and the choice for those identifying as female to serve their sentences in female prisons. And in Vietnam, nearly 600 trans people have applied for new identification papers that reflect their correct gender.
Out of the UK, a new Ministry of Defense campaign against rape includes male victims of sexual assault, challenging a myth that gay people 'want it.'
School Days: The Australian Christian Lobby has accused anti-LGBTI bullying group Safe Schools Coalition Australia of "promoting queer sex" and has called on the Education Minister to cut the organization's funding. ACL director Wendy Francis claimed, "Our society is already over-sexualised without extreme sexual material and gender theory being promoted in schools."
The Boy Scouts of America, one of the largest national youth organizations, lifted its ban against gay scout leaders, causing multiple churches across the US to announce they would no longer support local scout troops.
In the UK, a report from the National Union of Students warns that 49% of universities have no formal policy to address homophobic abuse or sexual harassment. A recent survey found 1 in 2 young British people do not identify as "exclusively heterosexual," as more young people are rejecting old labels and embracing 'fluidity' in both gender and sexuality.
On the March: From Uganda, journalist Isaac Otidi Amuke takes an in-depth look at the situation facing gay asylum seekers that flee Uganda for Kenya. In the US, the Mexican consulate is exploring how to provide better services for LGBT immigrants.
Jamaica successfully and safely held its first gay Pride event--a weeklong celebration including a flashmob, speakers, and art--after last year's events were canceled due to security concerns. In Uganda, hundreds turned out for the 4th annual Pride celebration--the location of which was kept private until the last moment to discourage violence.
Vietnam's Pride parade was celebrated by hundreds on bike. In Hong Kong, Pride events emphasized the tension between traditionalism and a desire to be a "world city." And in the Netherlands, the Pride festival was an opportunity to call attention to the Dutch Caribbean territories that do not support equal rights for LGBT citizens.
The World of Business: In the Czech Republic, European business leaders participated in the 5th annual Pride Business Forum to discuss LGBTI diversity, inclusion, and future opportunities.
Cuba's tourism industry is reaching out to LGBT vacationers, advertising the island as "the new gay paradise." Out of Spain, Rob Horgan looks at the history of LGBT tourism to the city Torremolinos, a "gay hotspot" even during periods of conservative political regimes.
In Germany, the Hamburg Data Protection Authority ruled Facebook cannot force users to provide official ID nor can they unilaterally reveal users' real names. The 'real name' policy has been criticised globally, especially by trans people, drag queens, and domestic abuse groups.
Sports and Culture: From the US, Colin Walmsley explores how the success of the gay rights movement, include marriage equality, has marginalized many trans people, queer people of color, and homeless youths, and also encouraged discrimination within the LGBT community.
Sweden hosted over 5,000 LGBTQ athletes, including lesbian and gay Olympians, at EuroGames 2015. From Switzerland, the Court of Arbitration in Sport struck down a provision that testosterone levels could prohibit females from competing in sports, opening the door for transgender and intersex athletes.
Malaysian cartoonist Kazimir Lee Iskander captured the harassment and arrest of 17 Malaysian trans women. From Israel, drag queens star in a safety video for air travel. And from Egypt, Omar Sharif Jr. talked on Arabic television news about letting gay people "live openly and authentically."
Finally listen to this audio series from Nigeria: NoStrings, a weekly LGBTIQ podcast that "debunks the negative ideas" about LGBTIQ by mainstream media. And watch "The Rejected," the first ever US documentary about homosexuality, released in 1961.