This fight is not only your fight

“This fight is not only your fight. This fight is that of all Dominicans who believe in equality, inclusion and equal rights.”

Dominican Republic’s Minister of Women’s Affairs Janet Camilo to over 300 Latin America and Caribbean LGBT activists attending the third annual LGBTI Political Leaderships meeting

From the UN:  Brazilian NGO Grupo Dignidade awarded UNAIDS the LGBTI Citizenship Allies Award in recognition of its human rights-based approach to responding to the AIDS epidemic among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. As Director of Rights, Gender, Prevention and Community Mobilization, Mariângela Simão remarked, “Much of what I have learned in terms of respect for diversity and the importance of the social movements for the response to the AIDS epidemic came from my constant interaction with Grupo Dignidade.”

Marking Trans Day of Visibility (31 March), the UN Free & Equal campaign released an easily shareable factsheet on gender identity with culturally appropriate definitions, key issues, and actions that countries, media, and individuals can take to support trans people. 

UN Free & Equal also released their latest progress report on the global public education campaign for LGBTI equality. Some of the key highlights include the first campaign for intersex awareness, over 4 million views of Free & Equal videos via social media, and supporting national events in 25 countries. 

HIV, Health, and Wellness: The Scottish Medicines Consortium announced that PrEP has been accepted for use to prevent HIV infection and will be available at local Health Boards within three months. The Israeli Health Ministry and the Israel AIDS Task Force announced a joint initiative to distribute free condoms at gay nightclubs and Pride events.

The Lancet published new research on HIV among transgender women in Brazil. The study has been applauded for its use of respondent-driven sampling and engagement of trans community members throughout the design and analysis.

A Zambian study found that men are less likely to get tested for HIV due to the stigma associated with visiting clinics. Researchers recommended new efforts, such as after-hours and off-site testing to bring services to men. 

A systematic review found that peer-led interventions increased HIV testing among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. The positive effect was seen across interventions in the UK, US, Kenya, Peru, and Taiwan; however, authors noted that more high-quality studies are needed to evaluate low and middle-income countries.

A new UK study found that black gay and bisexual men are disproportionately likely to be diagnosed with HIV than their white peers.

The national health board of Portugal announced concerns that the current outbreak of Hepatitis A across 13 European countries will be exacerbated by the summer festival season. Officials suggested “at these events there is an increase in sexual practices and sanitation conditions are bad, which increases the risk of transmission of infection by this virus” and expressed particular concern for Madrid’s LGBT World Pride Parade, expected to have more than 2 million participants. 

GALANG Philippines released the results of the LBT Well-Being Index (WBI) Project, a study on the well-being of lesbian, bisexual, and trans men in the country. Among the results, the comprehensive survey found that 18% have attempted suicide, 29% have poor access to basic services, and a majority smoke and drink alcohol.  

Separate studies from the USUK, and Australia each found that bisexual individuals of all ages have poorer mental health and physical health than their gay and lesbian counterparts. Bisexuals are less likely to be out to friends, family, or healthcare providers. In 2014, only 0.3% of grants aimed at LGBT issues went toward the bisexual community. 

In Canada, five public health agencies united to help gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who wish to transition from the sex industry develop the life and job skills needed to widen their employment options.

For World Autism Awareness Week the UK Metro spoke with Australian activist Rochelle Johnson about growing up with autism and how that affected her ability to come to terms with her gender identity. 

From the World of Politics: In the Netherlands, far-right populist Geert Wilders came second in his bid for Dutch Prime Minister. Wilders had run on a platform that closely melded pro-LGBT rights with anti-Islamic sentiment, pitting immigrants against the gay community. 

The Cabinet of Germany announced its support of a bill that will annul the convictions of gay and bisexual men criminalized due to their sexuality. The bill will also compensate those men still living based on the number of years they spent in jail under this conviction. 

The Swedish government announced it will financially compensate trans people who were forcibly sterilized between 1972-2013 in the process of seeking legal gender change.

On Trans Day of Visibility, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released a statement urging Member States of the Organization of American States to adopt policies to “break the cycles of poverty, exclusion, violence, and criminalization that affect trans people in the Americas”.  Separately, the IACHR also condemned the “alarming” number of killings of LGBTI people in the region, with Commissioner Francisco Eguiguren Praeli observing, “This situation is disturbing and unsustainable.” 

India’s Ministry of Sanitation published guidelines declaring that local governments must allow third-gender people to use facilities of either gender, according to their own preferences and stated that there should be “a conscious effort that they are recognized as equal citizens and users of toilets”.

In the US, states continued to debate legislation targeted at transgender people. North Carolina politicians repealed and replaced its 'bathroom bill', though advocates warned the new bill altered the language but kept discriminatory practices. The mayors of many cities, including LA, Atlanta, and New York, reaffirmed that travel bans against the state remain. Arkansas dropped its proposed ‘bathroom bill’, yet continues to consider a bill that will prevent any individual from amending their birth certificate.

The US Census Bureau deleted questions on sexual orientation and gender identity from the 2020 Census. This is the third federal survey to remove LGBT from data collection. Over 90 legislators from the House and Senate signed a letter expressing “strong disapproval” as advocates warned that data is essential to providing social services.

In Cuba, National Assembly representative Mariela Castro Espín told reporters that the Assembly would consider a “legislative package” in 2018 that would improve the rights of LGBT citizens. Although Espín provided no details, as director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex) she has signed an agreement with the UNFPA to promote comprehensive sexuality education and to reduce stigma and discrimination of vulnerable populations.

The Russian Foreign Ministry released new information for Russians traveling abroad that advises them against acting homophobically while in Austria, Denmark, Spain, Canada, and France.  

The Politics of Union: The Native American Osage Nation voted by special referendum to recognize same-sex marriage. Thirty-five tribes now provide legal recognition, including prominent Cherokee Nation, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Tribes. 

The Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands legalized same-sex marriage and voted to grant all civil partnerships equal rights to marriages.

Taiwan's Constitutional Court heard arguments on whether the Civil Code should be amended to include same-sex marriage. The judges will also consider if offering same-sex couples an alternative to marriage would violate their constitutional right to equality. 

In Austria, a ruling came into effect expanding rights to same-sex couples in registered partnerships, including allowing couples to share a family name and register at the district clerk’s office. 

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the country could not accept same-sex marriage despite previously suggesting his support. Local activist Normal Baloro urged supporters and media to focus on other issues that impact the LGBT community, especially transphobia.

Let the Courts Decide: The European Court of Human Rights ruled that it is a violation of human rights to require transgender individuals to undergo sterilization in order to legally change their gender identity. Remarking on the victory, Transgender Europe Executive Director Julia Ehrt said, “This decision ends the dark chapter of state-induced sterilization in Europe. The 22 states in which a sterilization is still mandatory will have to swiftly end this practice.”

France’s Supreme Court heard a case to determine if intersex citizens have the right to be marked as “gender neutral” on their birth certificates. The High Court of Tours originally granted a 64-year-old resident’s petition to change their documentation; however, the Court Appeal of Orleans reversed the judgment, stating that the request would in effect create a third gender category and that only legislators could undertake that action.  

Denmark’s Supreme Court upheld a previous ruling declaring that same-sex marriages conducted in churches do not violate the religious freedom of other citizens nor do they violate the constitution.

In a landmark decision, the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination and is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Earlier this month, the 11th and 2nd Circuit Courts both came to the opposite decision, concluding employers are not prohibited from discriminating against workers due to their sexuality. In light of the 7th Circuit, it is likely the issue will be pushed to the Supreme Court. 

In the Name of Religion:  From Papua New Guinea, Catholic Cardinal Sir John Ribat called for more advocacy among Christian leaders to support people affected by HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, and stigma and discrimination.

In South America, the World Congress of LGBT Jews and JAG (Judios Argentinos GLBT) held their first global meeting on LGBT inclusion within the Jewish community. The event brought participants from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, France, Italy, Mexico, and the US. 

The Supreme Council of Bishops of the Philippine Independent Church released a document using scripture to support inclusion of LGBTQI+ people. The Bishops went on to state: “We humbly ask for forgiveness for the many times we have shown indifference, and have made the LGBTIQ+ people feel less human, discriminated against and stigmatized. We apologize for instances they felt that, through our thoughts, words, and deeds, God’s love is selective.”
Fear and Loathing: Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported Chechen officials have detained over 100 gay men and and are holding them in an internment camp. Those few who have escaped claim that they are being tortured, some held for ransom, and at least three have died in custody. The Russian LGBT Networks released a statement demanding an investigation of these crimes and urging the community to evacuate.  The European Parliament, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the US State Department, and others have all condemned the attacks and urged Russian authorities to conduct an investigations. 

From Tanzania, Buzzfeed News spoke to several men arrested during the recent local crackdown on people suspected of homosexuality. The men were forced to undergo “anal examinations” to prove their sexuality—a practice condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture and deemed “medically worthless” by experts. Although Tanzania has not previously been known to use forced anal exams, the Deputy Health Minister, Hamisi Kigwangalla, said he expects testing to become routine. 

The National Council of the Medical Order in Tunisia released a statement calling for the end of forced anal and genital examinations. 

From El Salvador, the Thomson Reuters Foundation profiled trans women who “live in constant fear” following the kidnapping, torture, and murder of at least three women in February. 

In the US, the Trans Women of Color Collective and Black Lives Matter organized a rally to bring attention to the seven trans women of color who have been murdered in the US since January. 

After a trans woman in Brazil was brutally murdered, her friends posted explicit photos on Facebook to urge the media's attention. Within the same day, a gay teen was shot in Alagoas, Brazil. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has said reports indicate that every 28 hours an LGBT person is violently attacked in Brazil. 

A Dutch gay couple holding hands were violently beaten while walking in the city of Arnhem. Following the attack, Dutch politicians, celebrities, and everyday people have posted pictures of themselves holding hands to protest violence against gay people. 

In Indonesia, unidentified men broke into a private residence and apprehended two young men they accused of homosexuality. The young men were forcibly taken to police where they remain in detention until sentencing. The Human Rights Watch has called for their release. 

After being banned in Spain, the International Organization for the family brought their “Free Speech Bus” to the US. The bus, which is covered in anti-transgender messaging, was parked outside the UN New York headquarters to protest discussion on sex education that included gender expression. 

Winds of Change:  From Germany, a new survey found 75% of respondents support full equality for same-sex marriage.

In Argentina, the Buenos Aires City Legislature dedicated a subway station to LGBT activist Carlos Jaúregui, the first president of the Comunidad Homosexual Argentina (CHA). The station which opened this month is decorated throughout in murals and rainbow colors. 

Author Lux Alptraum wrote about the complicated relationship between identity and sexuality and argues that the modern “normalization” of LGBTQ identities has led to an oversimplification of how humans “process and pursue both sex and love”.

Author Samantha Allen discussed how US culture and politics have danced around accepting and denying transgender people since 2014's historic Time magazine cover featuring trans actress Laverne Cox. Meanwhile, parents as diverse as middle-class, conservative Texans and wealthy, liberal New Yorkers find themselves pulled into politics as they struggle to come to terms with their transgender children and those who actively oppose their children’s rights. 

On the March:  Across Romania, thousands marched in anti-abortion rallies organized by the ProVita Humanitarian Foundation and the Coalition for Family. In 2016, these groups successfully raised over 3 million signatures calling for a ban on same-sex marriage. Journalist Ovidiu Tiță attended the Sibiu city march to ask participants about marriage equality and if gay people should be allowed to adopt children.

In multiple Brazilian cities, LGBT groups used the annual Carnival festival to protest prejudice and violence against the community. Grupo Gay da Bahia (GGB) director Luiz Mott opened this year’s gay Carnival parade in Salvador, Bahia with a warning: “Protect yourselves from violence. Don’t go to areas that don’t seem safe. And if you’re being attacked, run.”

In a new report on asylum claims based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights noted that few EU Member States have specific guidelines for LGBTI asylum seekers or sufficient training on specific vulnerabilities LGBTI persons face.

In the US, estimates suggest over 260,000 undocumented persons identify as LGBTQ. Artist Diana Clock and journalist Melissa Pandika profiled four “undocuqueer” about navigating the deportation crackdown and stigma within their immigrant communities. 

School Days:  wo related studies were published on sexual assault and sexual and gender identity on US college campuses. The first, which surveyed over 70,000 students, found that students of intersecting minority identities—such as LGBT people of color—have significantly higher odds of sexual assault than their peers.  The second found that when colleges are perceived as being inclusive of LGBTQ people, all students are less likely to be victims of assault.  Researchers suggest that inclusive campuses empower students to stand up for themselves and embolden bystanders to intervene. 

Some schools in New Zealand and Australia are showing support for their gender-fluid youth with new policies that introduce alternative gender-neutral student uniforms or permit any gender to choose between trousers, skirts, and kilts.

In Pakistan, a shelter for transgender women has opened its doors to street children in need of education. Shelter residents, many of whom have completed their education but are unable to find employment due to their gender identity, lead children through English language, hygiene, and character building classes. 

Business and Technology:   Last year, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced a ban on foreign “interference” in domestic “controversial social” issues—a move intended to prevent international corporations from funding the country’s annual LGBT “Pink Dot” festival.  Far from undermining the event, organizers announced local sponsorship has more than doubled as Singapore brands fill the gap left behind.  

The Williams Institute released a new report that analyzes the impact of human rights violations against sexual and gender minorities on Indonesia’s economy and estimates that discrimination costs the country GDP between $900 million to $12 billion USD per year.

In Australia, Airbnb, Google, Qantas, and ANZ Banking joined a campaign to support marriage equality called “Until We All Belong”.

Fortune magazine named Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) executive director Frank Mugisha as one of the ‘World’s 50 Greatest Leaders’ for his work fighting homophobia and the criminalization of homosexuality. 

Sports and Culture:  Gay rights activist and artist Gilbert Baker passed away at the age of 65. Baker is credited with designing the iconic rainbow flag for the 1978 New York Pride parade, leading 30 volunteers to hand-dye and stitch the original eight color emblem—representing sex, life, healing, sunlight, nature, art, harmony, and spirit.

Israel hosted its first “Tel Aviv Games”, an international LGBT event with participants from 20 countries competing in soccer, basketball, tennis, and swimming. 

Check out the video posted by US transgender triathlete Chris Mosier describing his fear while competing in races held in North Carolina. Mosier has joined the Human Rights Campaign to warn that the state's "repeal" of transphobic legislation is a "repackaging of the same discriminatory policy".

Author and intersex activist Hilda Viloria spoke to Rolling Stone about Viloria’s new memoir Born Both that explores self-discovery, love, racism, and joining the intersex movement. 

A heartwarming new documentary The Freedom to Marry follows US activist Evan Wolfson and his work leading to the historic Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. 

If you're in the UK this summer, check out the Tate Gallery's first exhibition dedicated to Queer British Art. With paintings, drawings, photography, and film from 1861-1967, the exhibit celebrates sexuality and desire before modern labels of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans were recognized. 

Finally, check out this video of "Dance for Pride" — a flashmob of Indian LGBTQ volunteers dancing in the streets of Delhi.