"There is nothing more beautiful than looking out into the world and seeing nothing but support and generosity from our community of brothers. And I can tell you one thing, we are not tired, and we are not going to give up."
~Yuli Rustinawati, co-founder of the Indonesian LGBTIQ rights group Arus Pelangi, accepting an award for her work at an OutRight International gala.
From the UN: A year after the UN Security Council held its first ever meeting to discuss violence against LGBTI people, a tragic attack on a US gay nightclub has prompted the Council to issue its first official statement specifically condemning violence that targets people due to their sexual orientation. In a show of "solidarity" to the LGBTI community, UN diplomats toured the US historic gay barStonewall Inn.
In a historic vote at the UN Human Rights Council, 23 countries voted in favor of a resolution to create a new position of an independent United Nations expertdedicated to monitoring human rights violations on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Originally submitted by 7 Latin American member states, the resolution was supported by over 600 organizations from 147 countries to 'address this urgent protection gap.'
Over 600 participants attended the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS during which countries pledged to end AIDS by 2030. The meeting was praised for creating specific, actionable goals, although some felt the Declaration needed more representation of gay men, other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, prisoners, and people who inject drugs. Throughout the 3-day meeting participants emphasized the importance of addressing the needs of key populations with specific goals and targets. In response, US-based PEPFAR announced a new $100 million fund to expand prevention and treatment for key populations.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released its periodic review of the UK and called for comprehensive sex and relationships education. And 32 countries have joined the Call for Action issued by UNESCO and Ministers of Education to end discrimination, violence and bullying and to provide inclusive and equitable educationfor all students regardless of gender or sexual diversity.
Marking the 'International Day for Victims of Torture,' UN human rights experts calledspecific attention to the needs of LGBTI people who are "deprived of their liberty, be it in prison, in healthcare facilities or in immigration detention" and are routinely subjected to torture and ill-treatment.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: Several governments are reconsidering their bans on accepting blood donations from gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Canada and Northern Ireland both announced they will now allow donations from men who have been celibate for a year. The UK announced that experts are reviewing its 12 month celibacy ban. Meanwhile some US Congress members weresurprised to learn the US also has a 12 month ban. Opponents to blood bans and waiting periods pointed to South Africa where all prohibitions were lifted in 2014.
Canadian journalist Mike Miksche explored what it means to be 'high risk' for HIVand reviewed recommendations for and resistance to PrEP.
The Lancet published a new series of papers on transgender health in "an effort to understand, and provide a framework to improve, the health and lives of transgender people globally."
Swedish adult toy company LELO announced it will release a new condom this summer with a unique hexagon design that improves flexibility and strength—the first major change in male condoms in 100 years.
In a sad development, a Belgium man applied for euthanasia under the argument that he suffers extreme psychological distress due to his homosexuality. His request was accepted for review and will be considered by a committee of lawyers and doctors.
From the World of Politics: Leaders from around the world condemned the attack at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida—the worst mass shooting on US soil. At an event in Guyana Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence remarked that the violence was intolerable and urged the elimination of 'all aspects of radical and extreme behavior.' President Jacob Zuma of South Africa condemned in 'the strongest possible terms any violent attack targeted' at the LGBTI community. And in New Zealand openly gay MP Kevin Hague addressed Parliament to emphatically 'name this as an act of homophobic violence.'
In the US President Obama deemed the massacre an 'act of terror and an act of hate,' noting that 'hatred towards people because of sexual orientation, regardless of where it comes from, is a betrayal of what’s best in us.' US politicians were quick to offer prayers, though some were accused of 'opportunistic turnaround' for supporting anti-LGBT legislation.
Jamaica's attorney general started a social media storm when she tweeted out that a rainbow flag flown outside the US embassy was "disrespectful of Jamaica's laws."The incident drew attention to the region's ongoing criminalization of homosexuality.
For the first time all 28 EU member states reached a broad agreement to support LGBTI equality across Europe. However Co-President of the LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament Ulrike Lunacek warned that the agreement's language could"legitimize continued discrimination against LGBTI" because it states "national identities and constitutional traditions" should be respected.
Spain's Parliament voted in favor of a bill to bring more protections to LGBT citizens.
Moldova's Parliament is considering an anti-LGBT propaganda bill. Human Rights Watch urged the government to reject the bill and remarked that "rhetoric about 'protecting children' around this ill-conceived bill, cynically misuses children’s rights to perpetuate the falsehood that to be gay or lesbian is to be a danger to children."
The Swiss Parliament approved stepchild adoption, improving protections and rights of children of same-sex parents.
As the UK public voted to leave the European Union, activists around the world worried that there will be a significant step backwards in LGBT rights. The first test could prove to be Ukraine where the government has struggled to meet the LGBT rights requirements to become an EU member.
In Canada, the House of Commons voted to update the national anthem O Canadawith gender neutral language. And in the US, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the Pentagon has repealed the ban against transgender people serving in the military, effective immediately.
The Politics of Union: The European Parliament renewed calls for all EU members to recognize same-sex marriages performed in countries where the ceremony is legal. In Pakistan a group of clerics issued a religious decree stating that trans people with "visible signs" indicating their gender may marry individuals of the opposite sex, though they may not enter into same-sex marriage.
Speaking at an international forum on economics, former president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan said that the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act should be reconsidered. In addition to outlawing gay marriage, the Act penalizes public displays of affection and 'gay organizations' with up to 10 years in prison.
In Barbados the Attorney General spoke at a panel titled Same Sex Relations — A Right or an Abomination? and said the government would never legalize gay marriage. Meanwhile president of rights group BLGAD argued that all LGBT people want is freedom to live free of harassment and discrimination.
In Bermuda voters rejected legalizing both same sex marriage and civil unions—however with only 46% participation of the electorate, the referendum is not considered valid.
Let the Courts Decide: The High Court of Kenya ruled that the use of anal examinations to determine sexuality is legal and there is "no violation of human dignity, right to privacy and right to freedom of the petitioners." The UN special rapporteur on torture previously called the practice "medically worthless and amounts to torture or ill-treatment."
India's Supreme Court refused to hear a case brought forward by several gay celebrities against the law criminalizing homosexuality. Though the law has been petitioned against in the past, the case marked the first time people directly harmed by the law have challenged its validity.
The Caribbean Court of Justice dismissed a case raised by activist Maurice Tomlinson against Belize and Trinidad and Tobago for laws that prohibit gay people from entering the countries. The Court did note that gay CARICOM nationals must be granted entry equal to other CARICOM nationals, however both Belize and Trinidad and Tobago were able to show that their laws were only prohibitive towards sex workers and non CARICOM nationals.
In China a woman is suing the Ministry of Education over textbooks that call homosexuality a 'disorder'—homosexuality was removed from the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders in 2001. And a Chinese man is suing an asylum in the Henan province for confining and forcing him into sexual correction therapy.
In Pakistan an inquiry into the death of a transgender person at Lady Reading Hospital found both the medical and hospital directors, as well as the surgery and orthopaedic wards, guilty of criminal negligence and has recommended "strict action" to prevent future cases.
The Jerusalem District Court sentenced the man who attacked the 2015 Jerusalem Pride parade—murdering a 16 year old and injuring 6 others—to life in prison.
A high court in Germany granted citizenship to a child born to a South African mother who is married to a German woman. Although Germany does not grant same-sex marriages, the couple married legally in South Africa. And elsewhere, Italy's Court of Cassation upheld a ruling granting step-child adoption between a lesbian couple.
In the Name of Religion: Prosecutors in Spain are investigating Cardinal Antonio Canizares over possible hate speech spoken during a homily. The Cardinal issued a letter of apology and claimed he was misinterpreted.
During a papal flight the Pope told the press that the Church should apologize to gay people, the poor, exploited women and children.
The Scottish Episcopal Church synod approved a major change in the definition of marriage—deleting the portion that reads that marriage is the union "of one man and one woman." Bishop Dr Gregor Duncan explained that this is "the beginning of aformal process of canonical change." If the church moves forward it could face sanctions from the Anglican Communion similar to those faced by the US Episcopal Church.
A Muslim mullah fled Iran after he was exposed for conducting "gay weddings."
Although Nigerian gay asylum seeker Davis Mac-Iyalla was—as he described—the target of a "smear campaign from the Church of Nigeria," he shared why he continues to work to support LGBTI Anglicans.
Fear and Loathing: In the US, data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows that LGBT people are the most common target of hate crimes in the country. In Honduras, research from the Index on Censorship shows a spike in violence against LGBT people since President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in 2009.
From Mexico reports emerged about a mass shooting at the gay bar La Madam at which five people were murdered and 14 injured.
In China a father was arrested for repeated attempts to murder his child born with intersex characteristics.
And from Canada, Toronto Chief of Police Mark Saunders spoke on the police raids of gay bathhouses in 1981 that saw over 300 men arrested— 87% of cases were thrown out in court—and led to mass protests. Saunders issued an official apology for the treatment of the gay community.
On the March: Ukraine successfully held its largest official Pride event with over athousand peaceful participants despite prior threats of a 'bloodbath.' European Parliament members Sophie in ‘t Veld, Ana Gomes, and Rebecca Harms and US Special Envoy Randy Berry attended the event.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, participants of a silent protest were moved to march through the streets in an unofficial parade to express solidarity with the LGBTQI community.
Nearly 2,000 people participated in the Baltic Pride parade held this year in Lithuania. The event—which rotates between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—included ambassadors, politicians, and LGBT community members and allies from across the region.
After Turkey officials banned organizers from holding schedule Pride events, some participants marched anyway— with supporters embracing the Twitter hashtag #izinistemedikki, which translates to "We did not ask for your permission." Istanbul riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.
In Singapore the Ministry of Home Affairs warned foreign groups and businesses tostop supporting gay pride events or events advocating "the LGBT clause."
US Pride events were given increased police presence. In California, the Black Lives Matter group, St. James Infirmary (a sex workers support group), and TGI Justice Project (an advocacy group for trans, intersex, and other gender non-conforming people in prison) announced they would not participate. Grand Marshal Janetta Johnson remarked: “While I am thankful for this honor, and grateful to Pride for bringing our work to the front this year, the decision to add more police to Pride does not make me, or my community, more safe.”
From Greece reports revealed more migrant men and asylum seekers are turning to sex work to survive.
And the nephew of Gambian President Yahya Jammah, Alagie Jammeh was granted asylum in the US after his family demanded he revoke his public support for the LGBT community.
School Days: In the UK the Union of University and College staff (UCU) declared that no white, able-bodied men will be allowed to participate in an equality conference. Members will have to declare if they are gay, disabled, female or from an ethnic minority when applying to attend.
In Charlotte, North Carolina—the US city that began the nation's trans bathroom debate—a public school system announced a new policy that allows students to use the bathrooms and lockers rooms appropriate to their gender identity. The NC governor condemned the school system in a statement for 'purposefully breaking state law' and going against House Bill 2.
From Japan, researcher Kyle Knight explored how LGBT youth are filling the gap in school curriculums with comic books—the only place to learn about sexual orientation and gender identity.
And Australian families spoke out about the ongoing struggles trans kids face,especially at school.
Business and Technology: Funders for LGBTQ Issues and the Global Philanthropy Project released a new "Global LGBTI Resources Report"—the first comprehensive review of funding from foundations, corporations, governments, and multilateral agencies for LGBTI issues.
Several local and national US businesses showed their support to the victims in Orlando, including Publix Super Markets, Target, and Disney who all lost employees in the attack. Disney donated $1 million and announced it would match all employee donations. And in the immediate aftermath, ride service Uber offered free rides in 40 cities to people headed to LGBTQ centers and select clubs.
The Colgate toothpaste company gave Mexico its first advertisement featuring a gay couple.
Thirty companies in Japan, including IBM, Sony, and Panasonic have collaborated on workplace guidelines for LGBT employees that includes topics such as spousal benefits, dress codes, lavatories, and support for sexual assignment surgery.
Sports and Culture: US President Obama declared the Stonewall Inn and surrounding area in New York City a national monument and newest addition to the national park system. The Stonewall National Monument will be the first to commemorate LGBT rights.
UK's Prince William appeared on the cover of gay magazine Attitude after he invited members of the LGBT+ community to Kensington Palace to discuss bullying and mental health issues.
In Thailand social media star and trans model Jyb opened 'Transfit'— the first fitness center exclusively staffed by trans men.
A new video from Mongolia explored what it is like to be an LGBTQI person. And Muslim LGBTQ people reached out across social media to combat the intersection of Islamophobia and homophobia.
From Lebanon openly gay singer Hamed Sinno and his band Mashrou' Leila are topping global music charts with their progressive messages of gender and LGBT rights. And music app Spotify launched #PressPlayForPride featuring playlists and commentary from LGBT celebrities and allies.
In a video interview Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow pride flag, explained how the symbol came to be. And finally, check out this animated series from South Africa: Squeers, a show about two gay squirrels.