“Ke nako ya gore re amogele gore re na le batho ba mohuta oo mo Botswana. Go thola re ganetsa selo se re se itseng kgotsana re se bone ga gona go re thusa ka sepe.
[It is time we accept that we have these people in our lives. To continuously deny these facts would not help us in any way. We live with these people in our societies, we need to embrace them and create enabling and welcoming environment in our society and health facilities]"
~ City councillor Sesupo Jacobs from Bostwana as the Gaborone City Council urged the national government to decriminalise same-sex sexual relationships
From the UN: UNAIDS and OHCHR supported a historic dialogue between the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on ending human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The dialogue was facilitated by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. A comprehensive report has now been released sharing outcomes of the dialogue and resources for stakeholders.
The Global Platform to Fast Track the HIV and Human Rights Responses Among Gay, Bisexual Men and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (The Platform) held a side-event in preparation for the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS. Led by MSMGF, activists, advocates, civil society leaders and UN representatives discussed 'bold actions' to address HIV among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.
The UNDP released a new publication 'Implementing comprehensive HIV prevention programmes with transgender people.' Nicknamed TRANSIT (transgender implementation tool), the tool helps stakeholders to create and improve HIV programs for transgender people.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: In Nigeria strict enforcement of anti-gay laws and subsequent torture of those arrested has stopped many men from seeking help from local AIDS organizations.
And in Mozambique ongoing stigma against LGBT people has kept them from accessing HIV treatment and prevention services.
The president of US Black AIDS Institute Phill Wilson spoke on Cuba's thriving gay scene and positive approach towards treating HIV.
Head of the Scottish Government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke in support of PrEP services, noting that Scotland will not follow the National Health Service (NHS) of England's decision to stop the roll out of the HIV prevention medication. Meanwhile activists from ACT UP London staged a naked protest in front of PrEP manufacturer Gilead to bring attention to the drug's high price tag.
A study of HIV negative men who have sex with men in Brazil, Mexico, and the US found a significant risk for HPV, leading researchers to urge for a policy of vaccinations to protect against anal cancer.
An article in the British Medical Journal warned that 1 in 5 UK doctors refuse to treat gender dysphoria, despite NHS guidelines. Meanwhile in Australia, Victoria's attorney general is working to 'remove barriers to new birth certificates for trans, gender diverse, and intersex Victorians.'
The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) officially condemned conversion therapy or 'so-called treatments of homosexuality.' The American Psychological Association (APA) released a new report on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity that found significantly worse health outcomes for the community.
And from China unmarried women—including lesbian couples married outside of the country—are turning to the US for reproductive technology forbidden to them at home.
From the World of Politics: In Saudi Arabia prosecutors have been seeking the death penalty for accused homosexuals, including LGBT people who 'come out' online. Meanwhile Saudi's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice has reportedly been using undercover agents to target social media accounts that distribute 'pornographic content or social networking tools for LGBT persons in the kingdom.'
In the US, states are divided over LGBT equality with politicians from 12 states introducing discriminatory legislation. In response, governors and city councils across 6 states have banned non-essential travel by state employees to those states with the most extreme anti-LGBT laws. In his op-ed, author Jay Michaelson says the public reaction to these anti-gay laws reflect a positive shift in understanding of LGBT people.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon put forward a 'five pledge plan' to reduce LGBTI discrimination, including a focus on policing hate crimes, homophobia in education, and reformed gender recognition laws.
The City Council of Botswana's capital Gaborone passed a motion calling on the government to repeal Section 164 of the Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality and to provide 'stigma and discrimination free HIV/AIDS services to gay groups.'
The Politics of Union: Costa Rica was the first country in Central America to recognize same-sex common law marriages, however legalization of marriage equality has stalled under pressure from 'evangelical lawmakers.'
Australian political leaders and activists participated in a forum on marriage equality hosted by Guardian Australia and live streamed for the public.
A new book Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law was published that explores how the efforts of early gay rights advocacy led to marriage equality in the US.
Let the Courts Decide: The Constitutional Court of Columbia ruled in favor of marriage equality in a decision that prevents the issue from being decided by congress or public vote.
In Puerto Rico a same-sex marriage ban had been upheld twice despite the US Supreme Court ruling with Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez stating that the Supreme Court does not apply to territories. A federal appeals court has now reversed the decision noting: 'The district court's ruling errs in so many respects that it is hard to know where to begin.'
A district court in China rejected the country's first same-sex marriage case, disappointing the hundreds of supporters who had rallied outside the courthouse.
In Austria where same-sex couples are allowed to adopt but do not have marriage rights, families have sued the government for infringing on the rights of the child and forcing them to grow up 'illegitimately' to unmarried parents.
In Italy the Court of Appeals of Naples ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking adoption rights for both mothers after civil status registrars refused to update the children's birth certificates because the mothers' marriage is not recognized in Italy.
A Canadian court ruled against a nightclub and bouncer who verbally and physically assaulted a trans man in the club bathroom. And a German court ruled against a landlord who refused to rent a villa to a gay couple.
A Moroccan court found guilty 4 men who beat a gay couple in their home and threw them in the street naked after a video of the attack went viral. The court further convicted the victims
to jail time on charges of 'acts against nature' and 'sexual deviancy.' Responding to protests, the court issued an appeal that allowed the victims to be released for 'time served.'
Fear and Loathing: A new video titled "The Voice of Virtue in Deterring Hell” emerged online depicting ISIS members carrying out sharia law, including amputations for accused thievery and the stoning and beheading of accused homosexuals.
Out of Honduras, the Index on Censorship reported a significant increase in murders and mob violence against LGBT people in the last five years.
Human Rights Watch published the accounts of Tunisian students arrested for homosexuality and tortured by the police during their detention.
In South Africa a lesbian teenager was murdered on her birthday. A spokesperson for support group OUT remarked that despite a rise in hate crimes, police are failing to arrest suspects: 'The system is really failing us.' Meanwhile from the UK, journalist Max Daly reports the slow response of London police to investigate a string of murdered gay men.
From Ukraine activists spoke out on the continued 'persecution and prejudice' the LGBT community has suffered since the 2014 political uprising.
Transgender Europe's Trans Murder Monitoring Project stated that one trans person is murdered every 21 hours in Brazil. Activist Kelli Busey spoke on the ongoing crisis and how advocates worldwide should respond.
In the Name of Religion: In Malawi the Young Pastors Coalition called on the government to arrest the suspected 4,000 gay people living in Mzuzu city. From the UK the head of the Church of Wales issued a statement 'apologizing unreservedly for prejudice within the church' against same-sex couples. And Bishops of the Church of Norway (Den Norske Kirke) voted to approve same-sex church marriages.
Openly gay US ambassador James Wally Brewster spoke on the insults he has faced as diplomat to the Dominican Republic, including homophobic statements from Cardinal López that led the US to lodge a complaint with the Vatican. Meanwhile the French government ended a year long stalemate with the Vatican over France's attempted appointment of openly gay diplomat Laurent Stefanini.
And a new survey of Orthodox Jews found that parents of LGBT children remain closeted in fear of discrimination from within the Orthodox community.
Winds of Change: Out of the US a new study published in Science finds that a 10 minute in-person conversation can reduce negative feelings about transgender people.
Out of the UK the 16th biannual Equal Rights Review was published with a special focus on intersectionality. Dr Dimitrina Petrova kicks of the journal with an editorial that asks how the theoretical concept of 'intersectionality' affects the on-the-ground fight to end discrimination.
In Kosovo activists have begun the country's first public database to document violence and discrimination faced by the LGBT community with the goal of improving evidence-based advocacy.
From Australia a new survey of LGBTI people found that their top local issue is availability of inclusive health and community services.
Writer Leo Igwe, the Western and Southern African representative to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, explored the relationship between religion and politics in Africa and discussed how embracing secularism could lead to stronger human rights for the disenfranchised and LGBTI persons.
Malaysian trans activist Nisha Ayub became the first trans woman to win the US Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award. And the seventh annual International Day of Trans Visibility was celebrated on 31 March, with the theme 'More Than Visibility' and calling for 'direct action against transphobia around the world.'
School Days: At South Africa's University of Witwatersrand a violent clash erupted between student activist groups, causing a partial shutdown of the campus as self-identified feminist and queer student activists were allegedly assaulted and a lecture hall was set on fire by others.
In Greece, support group LGBTQ+ TEI Athens spoke out against a string of homophobic attacks students have faced in the last month.
Although the UK Department For Education plans a £3 million investment in anti-LGBT bullying programming, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers called for revision of poor 'sex and relationships education' (SRE), with special attention to the significant lack of support for trans students and education on gender issues. Meanwhile in Germany Katrin Ebner-Steiner, a leader within right-wing Alternative für Deutschland party, condemned a state-wide education plan to include LGBTI issues in sex education.
And from Australia the government debate over anti-bullying program Safe Schools Coalition ended as PM Malcolm Turnbull dramatically altered the program, cut funding, and—according to program supporters—'gutted' it content.
Business and Technology: In the US many businesses joined the protest against anti-LGBT legislation. In the state of Georgia, opposition from Disney and Marvel studios helped defeat HB757. In North Carolina backlash continues against HB2, including Deutsche Bank and PayPal cancelling multi-million dollar expansions in the area. Local businesses have joined the protest, including NC craft beer brewers developing "Don't Be Mean to People: A Golden Rule Saison" with 100% of profits supporting EqualityNC and a summer camp for LGBTQ kids.
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan is interviewing Japanese companies—including the local Goldman Sachs branch, IBM Japan, and Panasonic—on their LGBT policies for employees. The interviews will help guide the LDP committee drafting proposals on LGBT issues.
A new startup aimed at Indian and Indian-American consumers is bringing the tradition of arranged marriages to gay couples, despite Indian laws criminalizing same-sex activity.
Sports and Culture: The Mexican Soccer Federation launched 'Embrace by Soccer'—a campaign to end homophobic chants at games. Earlier this year, FIFA fined Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile and Uruguay for 'insulting and discriminatory' chants by fans. Openly gay olympic diver Greg Louganis will feature on Wheaties cereal box 32 years after winning the first of his 4 gold medals.
Openly gay South African musician and author Nakhane Toure spoke to the BBC on how his sexuality influences his writing. Rock stars Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Bryan Adams all canceled concerts in US states with anti-LGBT laws.
A new book Curing Queers: Mental Nurses and Their Patients, 1935-74 explores the the history of 'aversion therapy' to treat homosexuality, including chemical castration and electric shock treatment, in post-war Britain.
Author Saleem Haddad explains the complicated culture and identification of Arab people who engage in same-sex practices that shaped his new fiction novel Guapa, which tells the story of a gay man living in the Middle East.
After a ten year hiatus, organizers in the Cook Islands revived a popular trans and drag queen pageant as part of a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality.
Global non-profit humanitarian group Planting Peace planted Pride flags around Antarctica in a symbolic effort to declare it the 'World’s First LGBT-Friendly Continent’ And finally, check out this video from Belgium of gay parents discussing the decision to adopt.