"I like to remind others that LGBT people are just that – they’re people. They are worth just as much as anyone else. And they are born with the same inalienable rights as everyone else."
~ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepting the Elton John AIDS Foundation award for his work in AIDS and LGBT advocacy
From the UN: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accepted the 2016 Founder's Award from the Elton John AIDS Foundation in recognition of his continued contributions to the global effort to end HIV/AIDS and his ongoing vocal support for LGBT human rights.
The UN Human Rights Council's historic vote to create an independent expert to monitor human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is under threat. Only a month following Vitit Muntarbhorn's appointment, the African Group has tabled a motion to defer the appointment by one year—until the next General Assembly—to provide more time to consider the legality of such an expert position.
Many objected to the motion. Paisarn Likhitpreechakul, co-founder of Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice, argued that Muntarbhorn's home country Thailand has a "legal and moral duty" to support the expert. Noting that Thailand is a global south nation and shares many concerns with Africa, he said the country should reach out to African states to "share our experiences, challenges, and concerns on the protection of LGBTI".
Calling South Africa's participation in the motion a "betrayal of its anti-apartheid history, its constitution, and its own actions on the international stage supportive of LGBT rights", the Geneva Director of ARC International, Arvind Narrain, offered an in-depth rebuttal of the motion.
The World Bank announced the selection of Clifton Cortez as the first Advisor on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity issues. The senior-level position is part of the coordinated, strategic approach to improve LGBTI inclusion and gender equality through the Bank's work.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism established by the UN in 2006 to address human rights issues through "country reviews" of all UN nations. A new analysis from ARC International, ILGA, and the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) found that in its first two cycles the UPR has been "one of the most progressive vehicles for the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons all over the world".
HIV, Health, and Wellness: UK researchers are attempting to identify why the incidence of HIV among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men has remained unchanged despite better HIV testing and increased treatment. Using 13 years of behavioral data collected from nearly 12,000 men, researchers determined that people with recently acquired undiagnosed HIV are a primary factor keeping new HIV incidence from declining.
At the HIV Research and Prevention 2016 conference, researchers presented data showing that to achieve a moderate reduction of new HIV infections, the percentage of HIV-infected gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men with suppressed viral loads must be "significantly increased". The UNAIDS call for "90-90-90" remains a powerful target to this effort.
In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City will provide 12,000 rapid HIV tests to high-risk people, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, trans people, drug users, and sex workers.
Journalist Brian Moylan reflected on the increasingly difficult conversation men have negotiating safer sex when PrEP is involved: "In less than a generation, condoms have gone from an imperative, socially policed by the gay community at-large, to a punch line for some."
A new US CDC study of HIV-positive gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men found that only 11% were screened for anal cancer, despite the high rates of anal cancer in this population. Researchers hope more study will lead to the development of appropriate screening guidelines.
Globally LGBT people have significantly higher rates of drug abuse than their heterosexual peers. Indian health workers warned of the increasing use of 'poppers' among gay and bisexual men. The inhalant has been shown to increase the risk of HIV infection.
From the World of Politics: Tanzania's Health Minister reiterated earlier sentiments from the Justice Minister announcing that the government has suspended community-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs for gay health because of reports that NGOs were "promoting and normalizing same-sex relationships".
UK's Prince Harry continued his HIV advocacy work visiting the London sexual health charity NAZ. During the event, several admitted they got tested only after seeing Prince Harry get tested live this summer.
In the US election, several openly LGBT candidates won or kept their positions, including Oregon's new governor Kate Brown, the first openly bisexual person elected to govern. Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, US suicide hotlines received a record number of calls from people frightened over election results, especially from LGBTQ and sexual assault survivors.
Author Sasha Polakow-Suransky discussed the rise of right-wing political parties across Europe that appeal to "fear, nostalgia, and resentment of elites" and the complicated relationship of the far right to the LGBT community.
Scottish politicians crossed party lines to form the LBGTI+ Cross Party Group (CPG) to address issues "largely absent from the mainstream agenda" as well as health, education, equality, bullying, geriatrics, and transgender issues.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced that MP Randy Boissonnault has been named Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues. Boissonnault will advise the Prime Minister on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and two-spirited people (LGBTQ2) issues and serve as liaison with LGBTQ2 organizations.
Also in Canada, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced that the government will update the Criminal Code to decriminalize anal sex for all people over the age of consent.
The South African Cabinet published a draft of the "Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill". Following recent attacks on lesbians, activists say the bill should include specific protection against "corrective rape" assaults.
The Politics of Union: The Parliament of Gibraltar unanimously passed the Civil Marriage Amendment Bill 2016 that gives same-sex couples marriage rights.
The Australian Senate blocked the bill to hold a national vote on marriage equality. The plebiscite was expected to cost $170 million and was opposed by many who feared the campaign would hurt the LGBTI community.
The Romanian Parliament delayed debate on a referendum to hold a public vote on redefining marriage. A petition signed by nearly 3 million people asked for the constitution to be amended to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Social Democratic Party senators had hoped to hold the referendum in December, but the chairman of the party has asked senators to wait until after the upcoming election.
A committee in Mexico's Congress rejected President Enrique Peña Nieto's proposal to expand marriage equality nationally despite previous rulings from Mexico's Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage remains legal in some jurisdictions and couples retain the ability to sue for their individual right to marry.
In Taiwan, parents of LGBT children rallied outside the Legislative Yuan where the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the New Power Party (NPP) have pledged to work for marriage equality.
Let the Courts Decide: France's Court of Appeal fined activist group ACT UP €800—ruling that the group was guilty of defamation for hanging posters labeling the anti-LGBT group La Manif Pour Tous "homophobes".
The UK Court of Appeal upheld a decision by the High Court which ruled that NHS England can pay for PrEP to stop the spread of HIV. The NHS had argued that it is only responsible for treating those already infected and that local councils are responsible for preventing new infections.
Canadian lawyers in Montreal and Quebec have filed separate class-action lawsuits on behalf of former government employees and military personnel who were removed from service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In Morocco, two teenage girls charged with homosexuality will face the court after a photograph of them kissing on a roof was sent to a family member who turned the girls into the police. Under article 489 of the penal code, they could face a sentence of six months to three years in prison.
The Ugandan Constitutional Court struck down section 15(6)(d) of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act which would have prevented some citizens from being protected. 15(6)(d) stated that the Commission could not investigate any "immoral and socially harmful" behavior considered "unacceptable by the majority", thus potentially preventing LGBT people from the right to a fair hearing.
A Singapore district judge fined a man S$3,500 for posting an "alarming" comment on Facebook in which he stated he would like "permission to open fire" and "see these £@€$^*s die ". Because he posted on an article about the LGBT Pink Dot festival, his defense argued that his comments were made to support authorities who have curbed foreign aid to Pink Dot.
In the Name of Religion: The Vatican reacted quickly against statements made by a Roman priest who suggested "human sins such as civil unions" are to blame for the recent Italian earthquakes. The Vatican’s Substitute for General Affairs, Angelo Becciu, called the statements "offensive" and noted they "do not correspond to Church theology".
The Netherlands' Cardinal Willem Eijk told reporters that "It (gender theory) is spreading and spreading everywhere in the Western world, and we have to warn people." He suggested that the pope might need to publish a letter to the bishops to clarify ideology that rejects so-called gender theory.
In Barbados, a rally themed "Family, Faith, and Freedom" showcased divisive viewpoints with one main speaker warning sex education would lead to "sexual perversions" and turn children into "little sexual deviants". Representatives of Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination called the rally "out of touch and selfish" when the country faces serious issues such as gun violence, child abuse, and water outages.
The head of Grenada's Presbyterian Church spoke out on the rights of the LGBT community during which he argued that although "homosexual practice" is "immoral", it is not a "criminal" offense.
In South Africa, openly gay Imam Muhsin Hendricks continues to open his Cape Town mosque to LGBT worshipers.
Fear and Loathing: The Human Rights Watch published an in-depth report on the impact of Nigeria's Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014 on the LGBT community. The report documents widespread abuses, mob violence, torture, and arbitrary arrest "legitimized" without fear of legal consequence.
US activists reported that already this year the number of murders of known trans people in the country has hit an all-time high.
In Russia, a trans woman was murdered after her father went on television and invited viewers to kill her for marrying a man.
OutRight Action International published a new report, "Transgender in Iran: a Human Rights Report", which explores the complicated relationship of trans rights with political, religious, and cultural attitudes of Iran. Iran has supported gender confirmation surgery and hormone replacement therapy as religiously acceptable practices, however, trans individuals are systematically discriminated against and often face violence and fear.
Winds of Change: The Americas Society and the Council of the Americas (AS/COS) selected Uruguay as the leader of its Social Inclusion Index, an annual survey that measures how countries in the region serve their citizens. Uruguay has ranked number one for three years in part for its support of LGBT citizens, including marriage equality, adoption rights, and progressive gender identity laws. Among the rankings, Argentina and Brazil also scored highly on LGBT issues, while Panama ranked lowest.
Human Dignity Trust hosted a panel of experts to discuss "Breaking the Silence", the first global analysis of criminalization and persecution of lesbian and bisexual women. An audio recording of the discussion is now available to the public.
Organisation Intersex International (OII) Europe launched a new website about being intersex that includes resources and testimonials in 23 languages.
Canada implemented a new Electronic Travel Authorizations system that for the first time allows travelers to identify as male, female, or other. Canadian citizens will soon be able to change gender on their official documents.
Also in Canada, a gay couple have been licensed to open the first LGBT foster agency in Ontario. LGBT youth are over represented in the foster system, and their agency aims to alleviate the stress youth face within traditional channels.
The Government of Queensland Australia passed an amendment to give gay couples and single people the ability to adopt children.
The Belize Youth and Education Minister retracted his threat to rescind an award given to HIV and LGBT activist BDF Lieutenant Derrin Jael Castillo. Castillo had posted on Facebook that she was "the first honored for her work with LGBT"—Minister Faber clarified that she was awarded for HIV work and not work with LGBT community.
On the March: For the first time, Taiwan's Taipei City Hall raised a rainbow flag alongside the national and city flags to support the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade. Reports suggest around 80,000 people marched through downtown Taipei during the parade.
The city council of Perm, Russia is considering defying the country's Anti-Gay Propaganda Ban by allowing the public to hold a Pride parade. Activists urged the council to consider existing laws that protect freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Meanwhile, some residents started a counter-petition arguing they "have a right to live on their land without facing the public promotion of homosexuality".
The Netherlands' Minister for Migration expanded the country's list of "safe countries of origin" to include Algeria, Georgia, Ukraine, and Tunisia. LGBT asylum seekers from Tunisia and Algeria will be able to petition the court to stay in the Netherlands.
A new report from Stonewall and the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group found that LGBT asylum seekers residing in UK refugee detention centers are isolated and routinely face abuse and discrimination.
In South Africa, LGBTI asylum seekers report they face employment discrimination and xenophobia, but the biggest challenge is violence and harassment from fellow refugees who oppose their lifestyle.
In the Albanian capital of Tirana, the first private residential center for LGBT young adults has started accepting LGBT from across Southeast Europe, though director Marsida Cela says that the need far outweighs the center's capacity for care.
School Days: Indonesia's University of Gorontalo announced plans to establish a "special team" to monitor suspected LGBT students. Students identified as LGBT will be forced to attend special sessions to "be normalized". University head Syamsu Qamar Badu said, “This is simply a warning. [LGBT people] must return to their true and correct nature.” A coalition of 16 NGOs spoke out against the plan.
At Uganda's Intergenerational Dialogue (IGC) on Sexuality and Reproductive Health Rights, education took center stage as 3,000 young people spoke out against the Ministry of Gender's recently announced ban on comprehensive sexuality education. On hand for the IGC, local health experts, UN representatives, and the Netherlands Ambassador condemned the ban.
The Human Rights Watch Japan director, Kanae Doi, urged Japan's education ministry to include gender orientation and sexual minority education in the 10-year review of the country's official curriculum guidelines.
Business and Technology: OUTstanding and the Financial Times celebrated the success of the LGBT community with a list of the year's "Leading 100 LGBT Executives" from around the world. The list includes Gigi Chao—Executive Vice Chairman of Hong Kong real estate firm Cheuk Nang Holdings, Jonathan Mildenhall—Chief Marketing Officer of Airbnb, and Peter Arvai—Hungarian CEO and co-founder of Prezi.
Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs announced that all "foreign entities" must now apply for permits before supporting, promoting, or funding events held in the country. The official statement follows ministry warnings to corporate sponsors of the annual LGBT Pink Dot celebration, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Barclays, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, BP, and Twitter.
In Germany, many public wi-fi providers block LGBT-related websites automatically in an effort to censor pornography. Though the blocks can be individually removed by businesses that own the internet hotspots, Jörg Steinert, director of LSVD (Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany) noted that the issue is indicative of a larger issue: "We are not treated as equals, even in comparison to more religious countries."
Sports and Culture: Representatives from 13 European football associations joined the launch of "Heroes of Football"—a campaign to target homophobia in the sport.
US Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, Florida announced plans to spend $2.25 million to purchase the Pulse nightclub. The site where 49 people were murdered and 53 injured will be turned into a public memorial.
The UK's Queer Media Festival will showcase the winner of first the queer mobile documentary contest, inspired by the success of the 2015 iPhone created Tangerine, a drama about trans women of color in Los Angeles.
Over the past five years, Tatiana von Fürstenberg has collected the artwork of LGBTQ prisoners. Her current exhibit On the Inside captures how "biology informs one's identity" and that visitors will be able to send text messages to the prisoners whose are is being featured.
Author Vivek Shraya's new picture book The Boy & The Bindi is dedicated to South Asian "gender-creative" kids. The BBC defended its show Just a Girl, a fictional series about an 11-year-old transitioning from a boy to a girl.
And finally, check out this podcast "In Praise of Incrementalism" from Freakonomics Radio that explores how rights for the US LGBT community were made by taking tiny steps.