When I told my parents last year I was gay, my father beat me up. My mom took a plastic bag, stuffed it with food and clothes and then I was kicked out. I did not have anywhere to go, didn’t have any money.
I did not dare to go back to school because of all the bullying that was going on. I ended up doing sex work to survive. Through an acquaintance I learnt about this shelter.”
~ Rajan, 18-year-old Albanian, on being expelled from his family home and seeking refuge at the LGBTQ shelter STREHA
From the UN: During the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, all 193 Member States adopted the Olympic Truce Resolution, “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic Ideal”. The resolution was adopted with its full nondiscrimination language intact, despite calls from Egypt and Russia to remove “sexual orientation” from the protected groups.
The UN LGBTI Core Group sponsored “Ethics of Reciprocity”, the first expert-level international discussion of interfaith religious leaders, human rights experts, and LGBTI community members on ending abuses and criminalization of LGBTI people. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, noted that “While plenty of religious leaders are trying to turn the tide and appealing for a more inclusive approach that cherishes LGBTI people like anyone else, their voices are all too often drowned out by more populist leaders” and that he hoped the event would start a “different sort of dialogue”.
The UNDP released a short video showcasing its work supporting the government of Cuba and local LGBTI communities to reduce discrimination and improve access to sexual education, HIV awareness, and other health services.
UNAIDS launched its 2017 World AIDS Day campaign “My Health, My Right”. The campaign emphasizes that the right to health goes beyond access to services and medicines and depends on a range of issues including sanitation, healthy working conditions, clean environment, and access to justice. Executive Director Michel Sidibé added:
“All people, regardless of their age, gender, where they live or who they love, have the right to health.”
HIV, Health, and Wellness: Over 300 HIV and health advocates joined APCOM in Thailand for the RRRAP Summit, a five-day event to focus on HIV, health, and wellness issues especially impacting gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, and youth. APCOM presented eight LGBTI advocates from across Asia the "HERO" award, with the inaugural Shivananda Khan Award for Extraordinary Achievement to activist Ashok Row Kavi for his ongoing work with HIV and gay rights.
The latest issue of The Lancet reflected on the growing success of the U=U campaign to bring awareness to that public that Undetectable = Untransmissable and that evidence shows HIV-positive people who are virally suppressed cannot sexually transmit the virus.
Canadian hospital Casey House, the country’s only stand-alone hospital for people with HIV/AIDS, launched a new campaign to encourage discussion and confront fears about HIV transmission. The “Break Bread Smash Stigma” project opened a pop-up restaurant run entirely by an HIV-positive kitchen staff.
M-Coalition, the first Arab coalition dedicated to the health and human rights of gay men and other men who have sex with men in the Middle East and North Africa, launched a new campaign to urge men to get tested for HIV and other common health problems.
The Human Sciences Research Council released a new study from South Africa and Namibia that found that men who have sex with men have difficulty obtaining proper health care and accessing HIV prevention services due to hostile and discriminatory public health facilities. AMFAR looked at the relationship between HIV and stigmaagainst LGBT people, people who inject drugs, and sex workers in Philippines and Indonesia.
In the US, the “TransLatin@ Coalition” and the National Center for Transgender Equality published the first report that describes the experiences of Latino/a trans people, highlighting the health disparities and discrimination faced by the community.
The Human Rights Watch published a new report on gay conversion therapy in China. The report details first-hand accounts of forced medication, electric shock therapy, and other harmful practices at Chinese hospitals between 2009 and 2017.
In the UK, more medical professionals have spoken out against conversion therapy and a new petition was launched urging the parliament to make offering these therapies a crime.
From the World of Politics: In the US, over 35 LGBTQ candidates won their local elections to become mayors, sheriffs, city council people, and school board members. In Virginia, Danica Roem beat the author of the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill to become the first openly trans person to be elected and seated to a state legislator. And in Minnesota, Andrea Jenkins is the first openly trans black woman to win an election.
In Ecuador, the first openly trans woman elected to the National Assembly, Diane Rodriguez spoke to NBC about using her visibility to fight against broad injustices while paving the way for other trans people.
The Guam Legislative Committee on Culture and Justice held a public hearing to discuss a bill to protect against discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and gender expression. Senator Joe San Agustin proposed the bill to protect youth from discrimination at school and individuals seeking employment.
The Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, apologized to people convicted of homosexuality before the law was changed in 1990, stating: “On behalf of the Government of WA I am sorry for the hurt, the prejudice, for the active discrimination that ruined lives.”
The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon made a public apology and announced a new bill to pardon gay men convicted under Scottish anti-gay legislation. In the last year, Ireland, the UK, and New Zealand have made moves to wipe historic convictions, while Germany promised monetary compensation to those convicted.
The Politics of Union: In Australia, an impressive 79.5% of eligible votersparticipated in the postal survey for marriage equality. The “Yes Vote” won decisivelywith 61.6% voting in favor. The parliament will now consider competing marriage equality bills. Meanwhile, some warn that proposed amendments to the future marriage bill to appease "religious freedom" are thinly veiled attempts to roll-back LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws.
Although Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in May, the government announced it has drafted a new “Domestic Partnership Bill”. If passed, the legislation will replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships.
Let the Courts Decide: The Hong Kong government announced it will appeal a Court of Appeals ruling that grants a British lesbian a spousal visa to live and work alongside her wife.
The German Federal Constitutional Court ruled that parliament must pass legislation to include a third gender option in birth registers that will accommodate intersex persons.
The Lusaka High Court of Zambia ordered the Registrar to change the official gender of an intersex adult from female to male after genetic tests showed he has Swyer syndrome, whereby the person has external female appearing genitalia but does not have functional ovaries.
In Brazil, the Santa Catarina Court of Justice ruled that a separating gay couple had been in a "stable relationship" for 10 years despite having an “open” relationship with other sexual partners and must divide their estate equally.
The Constitutional Council of Mozambique struck down a law that said organizations could only be registered if they benefit “the moral, social and economic order of the country and not offend the rights of third parties or the public good”. The change will allow local LGBTQ group Lambda to become a registered association.
In the Name of Religion: On the second anniversary of the Mormon Church policy to excommunicate same-sex couples and bar their children unless they disavow their parents, locals in Utah participated in the eighth "mass resignation" event and rallied against Mormon doctrine.
From the Philippines, Catholic priest RJ talked about serving in the church despite being a gay man. And from the US, Omar Naseef described his relationship with Islam and his family as an out gay man.
The Church of England updated and sent to 4,700 schools its guidance “Valuing all God’s children” with 12 recommendations that aim to improve inclusivity and combat homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying.
Winds of Change: ILGA released the results of the “Global Attitudes Survey on Sexual, Gender and Sex Minorities”. The survey provides “verifiable evidence-based data rather than anecdotal evidence” on a range of issues from religion, to employment, to community and culture. The researchers reflect that the world is “surprisingly more accepting than one might have imagined” and that nearly half of those surveyed believe that one can accept sexual orientation and gender identity and still respect one’s culture. While the survey shows great gains in acceptance, 28.5% across the world still believe same-sex relationships should be criminalized.
In Uganda, some police participated in a workshop to learn how to work with LGBTI people and to recognize that "minorities have rights that should be respected".
Russian activists convinced authorities to confront a local grocery store chain over homophobic signs that refused business to ‘faggots’ and ‘sodomites’. The multimillionaire owner announced he would sell the stores instead of compromise his values by removing the signs.
Writing in the Guardian Nigeria, advocate Olumide Makanjuola argued that Nigerians will better understand and accept lesbian, gay, and bisexuals when they stop sexualizing LGBs and consider them as complete human beings.
In Canada, the group Trans Workforce held the country's first "Transgender Job Fair"to give trans and gender non-conforming people the opportunity to interact with leading employers without fear of discrimination.
The continued onslaught of sexual assault allegations against ‘powerful’ men has spurred some to reflect on what it means to be a man. Declaring “masculinity is in crisis”, editor Matt Cain, dedicated an issue of Attitude to reflect on the relationship between gay men and masculinity. GLAAD started the discussion on social media to gain insight on masculinity from the perspective of trans men. And writing for them., Alexander Chee described:
“Men are regularly taught to have power over, rather than power through — power through community, friendship, love, attraction, consensus. It’s a commonplace of toxic masculinity to think you have to grab something and make a show of it, rather than just be comfortable with yourself, your desires, and your relationships.”
Fear and Loathing: The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus released a new report that summarizes the various human rights issues facing LGBTIQ people in Southeast Asia amidst "the rising influence of conservative political forces". The Caucus also published a report focusing on the lives of lesbian, bisexual, and trans people of East Timor, that found a majority have experienced extreme homophobia and violence, often from family members. And in a report on
From Bhutan, journalist Chencho Dema examined the risks LGBTQ+ individuals face as they become more visible in a society that criminalizes homosexuality. From Singapore, Kristen Han looked at the growth of Pride event Pink Dot and the creation of ‘safe spaces’ even as the government refuses to decriminalize same-sex relations.
The Human Rights Watch’s Graeme Reid argued that many countries are using rhetoric of “so-called traditional values” as a weapon to sabotage LGBT people’s rights, noting that “the idea of a timeless, unchanging tradition is particularly powerful in these times of social uncertainty, political instability, and economic pressure.”
In Turkey, the government has banned all events hosted by LGBTI groups from the capital city Ankara, claiming that such events pose an "open and imminent danger" to public safety.
Meanwhile, activists drew attention to the meeting of well-known US anti-LGBTQ leaders and evangelicals with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as Egypt cracks down on gay people.
In the UK, gay activist Tom Knight was attacked in public. Also in London, LGBTI activist Julian Aubrey was found murdered in his home. According to Stonewall UK, hate crimes against LGBTQ have risen 80% over the last four years.
From Russia, friends of pop singer Zelimkhan Bakaev say that the singer was apprehended by Chechen officials three months ago on suspicion of homosexuality and they fear he has been tortured to death. Officials have denied his detainment, yet have also refused to open an investigation into his disappearance. In Nigeria, internet celebrity and gender-nonconforming artist Bobrisky was arrested after posting on social media that they are gay.
On the March: From Canada, activists fear that funding shortfalls will prevent LGBT refugees from being sponsored for resettlement. In the US, Heartland Alliance described the challenge of resettling LGBTQ refugees who are rejected by people from the same region. And in the UK, Micro Rainbow International is building safe houses exclusively for LGBTQ refugees to protect them from harassment from non-LGBTQ asylum seekers.
Meanwhile, Ugandan LGBTI refugees housed in the Kenyan Kakuma refugee camp continue to suffer from hostility from other camp residents despite promises from UNHCR and Refugee Affairs representatives for support. With funding shortages impacting the entire camp, international activists are pleading for help.
Sports and Culture: Hong Kong beat the US and Mexico in its bid to host the 2022 Gay Games, an event expected to bring a HK$1 billion (USD $128 million) boost to the economy.
In Switzerland, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that FIFA was wrong to fine the Mexico soccer federation for chanting gay slurs at goalkeepers during the World Cup qualifying games. CAS accepted Mexico’s argument that the chant was insulting, but not meant to offend.
From the US, GLAAD released a new report on LGBTQ representation in television. GLAAD applauded more LGBTQ characters than ever before, however it noted that the quality of representation remains low, with characters on the fringes or routinely killed off—a trope known commonly as “Bury Your Gays”.
From Australia, the Muslim-owned fashion label MOGA released rainbow headscarves to show support to the LGBT+ community and the efforts for marriage equality.
Finally, check out this excerpt from artist Tillie Walden’s “gay ice skating graphic memoir” Spinning about growing up and coming out of the locker room and closet.
photo via PROLGBT/Youtube